Monday, April 30, 2012

Lost Memories Found

Yesterday I was cleaning out some of my fishing tackle. I was basically just trying to get a handle on what I had. Most of my tackle was ruined in a flood and I did not know what I needed to restock. Under a pile of old, beat up tackle boxes I found a particularly sad box. It was my first one. The box I had as a kid.

Momentarily forgetting my task, I took my old box inside to see if there were any surprises. I probably hadn't opened it in a decade. Most of it's content was junk. It had been spared from the worst of the flood, but it only contained old, disintegrating lures and rusty tools. There was one gem though; an old disposable camera with only one exposure left. What could be on this camera? I didn't even remember using or owning it.

It was a film camera. A asked myself "Can this stuff still be developed? If it can, would it still be good after all this time?" A quick search online found a drug store near my house that still did one hour development. I ran it down, explaining to the person behind the desk that the film was old and to just do their best.

A very good picture of my dad. Apparently I took this picture over ten years ago.
Sadly, my suspicions were correct. After they processed the negatives, they could not make prints. I took the ruined negatives home, disappointed. Then I had an idea. I'm good with computers, actually, it is my profession. Maybe I can do a CSI maneuver and grab some images off the negatives!

Sure enough, I could!

If I remember correctly, this was taken at Beverdam Lake in Virginia.
It took some work, and the pictures will never win any awards, but I can tell what was on the roll and it did bring back memories long forgotten.

The pictures look like they have gone through one of those trendy photo filters, but they haven't. This is the best I could make them look.

My sister with a very decent Bass.
The pictures show a younger and thinner me. They were taken before I met my wife and had a family. I cannot put in words the nostalgia I experience seeing these.

We don't catch many fish. I'm sure every big fish of that season was recorded on this camera. As the roll progressed the picture quality got poorer and poorer.

Eventually, there was nothing worth fixing. CSI might be able to take a blurry picture and make it sharp, but that is fiction. The truth is that you cannot show something that isn't there. 

No matter how damaged they are, this roll of film is worth more to me than a brand new camera. Memories are priceless. Take pictures. Your family will thank you. You will thank you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Couple Good Places To Buy Flies

I don't tie my own flies. I have no intention to ever start. Why? Economics. Once I factored in the cost of fly tying equipment, plus the supplies, plus the cost of practicing, I could buy decades worth of flies for the same price. Also, I doubt the I would ever be able to make flies as nice as I can buy them. I do understand the allure of catching a fish with a lure you made. If I ever do try my hand at fly tying it will be for this reason, not an economic one.

Every time I shop for flies I get sticker shock. On one hand they are tiny works of art, its hard to believe they can sell them for so cheap. On the other hand: $4.00 for that little thing! The few places in my area that sell flies are ridiculously expensive. So, I shop online.

I know, I know, shopping in a locally owned fly shop is the trendy thing to do. I don't admit to others on the water that I shop online. Fly fishermen I meet are standoffish and snobbish enough. If I knew a local angler that tied flies and did not charge an arm and a leg I would go there. However, as it stands, I have found two excellent places to buy flies online.

The English Fly Shop

GASP! It's not even US based! I know. I don't like that either, but their selection and price cannot be beat.  The quality is not top noch, but as good or better than what you will find at Bass Pro or Cabales. It has the best descriptors of the individual flies I have ever seen, sometimes several pages long.

Free worldwide shipping and 75 cents to $1.50 a fly. It takes a couple weeks to get them.

It is a fun old school web site. As an American I find the section on how "dangerous fishing in America" is very funny. Apparently "Tourist Fishermen visiting North America are in danger of being killed or seriously injured!!!" I think they are being serious, but it is hard to tell. If it is serious, then they are pussies.

Caylor Custom Flies

A small, US based fly fishing shop. They specialize in flies for Southern Appalachian streams and tailraces. The selection is moderate, but the prices are excellent and the quality is very high. Each fly is a work of art.

$2 shipping and $1 a fly, no minimums. They cost less if you buy a dozen. I got mine within three days.

It is a bare bones site, but it gets the job done. Where else can you get a size 6 crayfish for $1? My local bass pro shops charges $5 for a crayfish pattern less detailed!

I'm sure there are other great places to buy flies. These are the only two I have tried. I personally don't see the need to try any others.

No one paid me for this these reviews. I wish! I have purchased flies from these shops with my own money.

Friday, April 20, 2012

DIY Fly Fishing Lanyard

I have a few fly fishing trips scheduled for the next few months. Most notably, my Dad and I have a guided trip planned for the western part of Virginia. I am not an experienced fly fisherman. I did it a lot in high school, but that was 15 years ago. So, I am still learning the gear and all of the ins and outs of the sport.

While trying to figure out how I am going to lug all of the delicate equipment required, I came across a disturbing trend. I have the tendency to carry everything I own with me in the field. Now, when deer hunting from a stand this is not a bad thing. Sometimes the better prepared you are the more successful you can be. However, fishing a small stream is an entirely different story.

Fly fishing is a frustrating endeavor. There is all sorts of stuff that can get caught on other stuff. I have literally had my fly line completely wrapped around my body and the fly snagged on both my net and pants. The less stuff you have on you, the less chance there is of becoming a human tangle.

 For this reason I chose to forgo my normal fishing vest, which I can cram with ten pounds of crap, and go with a fly fishing lanyard. For those of you that do not know, a fly fishing lanyard is basically a necklace with snaps that hold your essential gear. They are light weight and convenient. You can find them for between $20 and $50. When I went shopping for one I was drawn to the more expensive ones. I did not end up buying a fly fishing lanyard because every time I looked at one I thought "I can make that".

I went home and sure enough, I could make one. It is not as pretty as the ones in the store, but it does exactly what I want and literally cost me $0. I found everything I needed lying around. If I had to buy the materials it would have cost me about $5, not including the equipment (nippers, fly box, etc...).

I started out with a few feet of paracord, some 1/4" id latex tubing, and some 1/4" id clear plastic tubing. The latex tubing is to add padding around the neck and the plastic tubing is to space out the equipment clasps.

I used large snap swivels and clasps like you see above (I forget their name). I threaded a cheap foam bobber onto the string to act as a fly holder.

I have ordered some zingers for the clippers and hemostat. I found them on eBay for about $2.50. I have room for a bottle of floatant, but am out, so it is not pictured.

The fly box I attached to the lanyard is one of those small foam ones. The lid clasps with magnets, it floats, and weighs almost nothing. The entire box filled with flies weighs less than my clippers. I purchased the box from L. L. Bean.

At the bottom of the lanyard I attached one of those file clasps that are always laying around at work. This easily attaches to my shirt and keeps the lanyard from swinging when I bend over.

I added a pouch that hangs over my shoulder. This contains miscellaneous stuff like strike indicators, leaders, and tippet. There is enough room for a small container of bug spray or candy bar if needed. I have not seen this added to a lanyard before, but it works very well.

My wife made me the pouch out of some canvas and paracord.

I think this pouch is genius. When I hang it over my shoulder it is out if the way and counter balances the stuff on the front, making the lanyard even more comfortable.

I think it is a great design and can't wait to try it out on the water. Maybe next week....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Slower Pace From Now On

Those of you who follow my blog may have noticed that I have not posted in a while. There are a few reasons for this. I started a bathroom remodel at my house that has take all of my time and energy. When I am done for the day I just want to sleep, writing takes up way too much energy!

In my absence, I have noticed that I did not miss blogging. The constant feeling that I needed to crank out at least three posts a week was getting stressful without me even realizing it. Coming up with unique, relevant content is hard. In my hunting and fishing adventures I hold to one overriding rule: If it is not fun, don't do it. That is why I do not fish in a cold rain, or hunt in a mosquito infested swamp, it is not fun. Blogging was beginning to not be fun.

The second reason I have slowed down blogging is because I have come to realize the goal I set for myself in unattainable. Starting out, I had one goal: to make enough money to offset the cost of hunting. Over little less than a year I have clocked over 400 hours working on this blog. I have made a little less than $200 and spent a little over $300. I doubt I will ever make money. It seems that this is a trend for most outdoor bloggers. I simply cannot figure out how to monetize The Unlucky Hunter.

Any idea what type of fish this is? It is from a fresh water lake. 
The last, and probably most important, reason is that I simply have not done anything worth writing about. I have gone fishing, but not caught much. The last time I went we only caught one fish, and it was a little guy that I could not even identify. Most people do not want to read about unsuccessful trips.

I'm not closing the blog. In fact, knowing me, I'll pick it back up full force in a few months. For now , I will just be taking it slower. When I do post, it will be good!

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