Story last updated at 12/2/2009 - 12:14 pm
Usually in this column, I share a technique or showcase a specific seasonal fishery unique to our local waters here in Southeast Alaska. With the holiday season upon us, this Outdoors column takes a slight departure. Given that most of our rivers and lakes are now dormant, resting peacefully under a growing blanket of ice and snow, and the angling season is now behind us, I'd like to commit this column to all anglers (young and old, beginner or advanced) and present to their loved ones an angler's wish list for the holidays.
Generally speaking, all fly-fishers are notorious gear-junkies and speaking from experience, one item that they can never have enough of is fly rods. Today's contemporary fly rods are very specific, and they are available in a variety of lengths and tapers all designed specifically to address precise fishing needs and requirements.
In the past decade, the fly-fishing community has witnessed an explosion in the popularity in long rods, or spey rods, particularly in the Pacific Northwest where fishing large watersheds are more the rule rather than the exception. These longer, "two-handed" rods offer tremendous advantages to the angler when long repetitive casts are required and advanced line control and mending are essential.
With these fundamental advantages in mind, fly rod designers have now launched a unique hybrid rod the fly-fishing community refers to as "switch or two-hand assist rods." The concept of a switch or two-hand assist rod is to have a fly rod that can harvest the inherent advantages found in a spey rod while at the same time retaining the practicality of a standard, light-weight, single-handed fly rod. The result is a highly versatile fly rod of moderate length (usually 10 and a half to eleven feet) that can be fished using either single-handed or double-handed styles.
This holiday season, the Scott Fly Rod Company has introduced the first fiberglass two-handed assist rod, the Scott Fiberhammer. The Fiberhammer rod gives anglers a traditional feeling rod that flexes deeply due to the fiberglass construction but also applies steady, even pressure when fighting strong fish like salmon and steelhead. The Scott Fiberhammer would be an ideal gift to find under the tree this holiday season and it's definitely on my wish list.
To compliment that new fly rod, or any personal favorite fly rod designed for targeting salmon and steelhead, the new Tactical Steelhead fly line by AirFlo sets new industry standards to the terms versatility and performance.
Available in line weights from 400 to 670 grains, the AirFlo Tactical Steelhead line combines a unique and powerful front taper to help cut through the wind with tight loops and to make casting modest sink tips with heavy bulky flies easier. To add versatility, the ridged 8-foot floating tip section is designed to be easily (and quickly) removed, which now allows you to connect your favorite sink tip to the line to get your fly down in a variety of water conditions.
But there's another item high on every sport angler's wish list that has nothing to do with gear: the wish for sustainable fisheries that are both local and readily accessible, fisheries that offer quality angling opportunities for everyone regardless of age, culture or economics. A healthy, sustainable roadside fishery in all Southeast Alaska communities is not only vital to their local economy and culture, but also critical to reconnecting youths with nature.
Currently, a back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors is burgeoning in the Lower 48, and this awareness needs to be rediscovered and nurtured here in Alaska. Recreational sport fishing is an ideal avenue to get our youths engaged in a healthy outdoor activity that also fosters an appreciation for aquatic environments and a love for the out of doors. But in order to ensure our youths the opportunity to engage and enjoy in the pleasures of fishing, and to grow and learn through these life experiences, we first need to make angling opportunities for youths a priority. And this begins with a commitment from our local governing agencies. This holiday season, I am not only wishing for a new rod, reel or fly line, but I'm also wishing (like many others in the community) for a sustainable roadside fishery that offers quality angling opportunities for everyone and for future generations. May you and your loved ones enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday season!
Rich Culver is a fly-fishing freelance writer and photographer and member of the Scott Fly Rod Company's Pro Staff. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.