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Getting the most out of two bucks

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POSTED September 29, 2010 2:18 a.m.
Two dollars bought me a polar shrimp that was sawed beyond recognition by the teeth of Alaskan cutthroat and Dolly Varden.

Even after the orange body was completely gone, the carefully-secured orange hackle caught me a few more fish. I could probably be there now still catching fish and maybe even a black bear with that thing. A few weeks back I came across another harrowingly loyal nymph and pulled it from the mouths of plenty of trout before losing it in a log. I was horrified.

That fly was epically effective and was unlike what I had seen other anglers use on the Stanislaus. I felt brilliant, for maybe the third time in my life. The second was when I presented a hand-tied fly that looked like an anemic caddis but still hooked two on the same river.

I’m not sure what the first was, so maybe there have only been two.

Anyway, those 200 cents were well spent.
Two bucks also got me a fly that disintegrated in the water like those two-for- $5 t-shirts once they hit the wash. Pathetic.

I should have known it was from a spot other than my usual fly purchasing spots.

Five bucks can get me pretty much anything I could ever need when it comes to a single lure or fly, but getting more than one adds up quick.

I just updated my nymph box and ended up spending $28. That included shipping but I still got it in two days despite going the cheapest route.

Local fly-shops usually provide the best bang for your buck and keep in stock what will work, though their local might not be your local. Every few months I order a dozen of a certain nymph from a fly shop in Montana, not because I want to sound pretentious, but because they catch fish and I haven’t found them in California.

Fish get used to patterns, and a lot of the pre-loaded kits include what has traditionally worked, but the difference between okay fishing and great fishing could be a blue copper john rather than the green, or birds nest nymph rather than a dark hare’s ear or prince from the plastic container.

Places like The Fly Shop and River’s Edge understand this.

On the spinner and spoon front, Mepps and Blue Fox was the Pepsi vs. Coke of my childhood. You chose one and were loyal.

To this day I’m a Blue Fox guy, throwing the big-bladed No. 5 vibrax lures and bringing back salmon. I’ve found the same big company trout lures work here.

Still, something should be said for the attention paid by local artists that construct lures fix any problems with the mass produced spinners. Not that Shasta Tackle is tiny, but its obvious from their online catalog that there is obvious insight.

That’s how loyalty starts.
Jim’s Silver-Getter is a simple, silver-bladed spinner available with a large orange and small white bead. It’s the go-to lure for most locals on Prince of Wales Island because it works. One only needs to make sure its spinning.

It has a special place for me, as it was the lure that I used when I renewed my passion for fishing a few summers ago. I had previously not been in Alaska during the runs, but now plan accordingly and always buy at least one Silver-Getter to support the local economy, and of course to catch lunch.

I was leery about broadening my lure box, but Kodiak Custom Fishing Tackle is another local-ish company that makes an impressively effective lure. The sleek, hand-crafted design is well balanced and holds up after snags and fish. The spinners are similar to many of the lures I’ve seen used in Central Valley lakes for kokanee and is available in a bunch of colors and styles. They also offer a bunch of jigs and skirt-spinners.

Of course, you could research these places, buy the lures and catch no fish. If there was one perfect lure, there would be one lure for sale. Gear doesn’t make you a good fisherman, experience and attention to detail does, though you might want to pay a little attention to what the locals are saying and using. If nothing else, it gives you a place to start.

To contact Jeff Lund, e-mail
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