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Product Review
USGS Water Data Goes Mobile

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/30/2013 (1960 reads)
One of the first useful websites I found for anglers on the Internet was the USGS Water Data site. The website provides real-time streamflow conditions for over 9,000 streams and rivers across the country. Detailed information about stream discharge levels and water gage level heights are provided. The USGS has just started a beta (early release) version on the web for mobile users to get easier access to the data.

USGS Mobile Water Data

The desktop version has always been an incredibly useful trip planning tool for me before I headed out on fly fishing trips. Nothing worse than driving flippin four hours to that great mountain stream for the weekend only to find out that it blown out along with ten surrounding counties that looked like a hurricane just rolled thought the region. I use this almost every time I go fly fishing and have changed my plans by hundreds of miles based on the reliable data from this web site. Sometime those plans involve me just driving to a closer bar, but it works.

The new mobile site is pretty straight-forward to work with and can be found here: m.waterdata.usgs.gov. No need to install any app, just point your browser to the url and you are good to go. Right away it feels like it was designed to be navigated with you just the use of your index finger.

That is good because the other designed point for the site is for it to work with newer smart phones. A data connection and browser on your iPhone or Android based phone is really all you need. Works with my iPads and other tablets as well. The USGS does mention that it may not older devices or older browsers.

I found the mobile site is very responsive and with very detailed terrain map as the base. The graphs show a seven day view at the gauging station, which can show if the water is going up, down or staying the same. Knowledge of the stream discharge levels does help indicate if the stream is high or low.

Hope in future updates they provide some access to selective date ranges of the stream gauges like in the desktop version. Right now they are only fixed on the last seven days.

Nice new update from the USGS! The full USGS Water Data for your desktop computer can be found here.






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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 07/29/2013 (1608 reads)
Book Review by Dave Weaver

My Life was This Big And Other True Fishing Tales
Authored By Lefty Kreh
Introduction by Nick Lyons.
Skyhorse Publishing, New York, NY 2008. 262 pp


Lefty KrehThis is an enjoyable auto biography by Lefty Kreh – arguably the current dean of fly fishing. It has long been my opinion that the Greatest Generation has made a unique and permanent impact on world history and Lefty Kreh remains today among the few fly fishing authors from this generation that are still alive and active in the sport (Stu Apt comes to mind too). So many of them, like AJ McLane, Charles Waterman, Jack Sampson, Ted Williams and others – men whose lives were steeled in the cauldron of World War II - have since passed on. Lefty, amazingly, is still going strong. When I watched this octogenarian teaching his casting seminar recently at the Fly Fishing Show I remain amazed. To say someone is a national treasure, or living legend, has become trite…….but if there’s a person in the fly fishing realm today who can live up to this description, it’s Lefty Kreh: the great fly fisherman who never seems to age. I’ve certainly never fished with, or really even spoke to, Lefty but having had the great privilege of having many friends from his generation (something I appreciate a lot more now than I did when I was younger and these friends were still alive) I recognize the humor and humility that so many of them seem to have when I watch Lefty at shows. If you’ve never watched Lefty at a fly fishing show, don’t miss the next opportunity. He’s a hoot. If only I could have learned more from my WWII veteran friends when they were still around….. So watch Lefty if you can – time is running short.

This book follows the basic autobiography format with the Lefty’s recollections of his life and involvement in the sport. Lefty was born in the mid 1920s in Frederick Maryland and grew up the hardscrabble life so typical of dirt poor kids in the Great Depression. His stories of childhood and the challenges of the day are the stuff that made Baby Boomers roll their eyes a generation ago: food shortages, ragged clothes, walking miles to school in the snow. Nevertheless Lefty had a happy childhood growing up in a mixed race neighborhood and lived a life of adventure catching catfish for money on his home stream, the Monocacy River. He also developed his lifelong affinity for improvisation during these years.

Naturally, I was particularly interested in Lefty’s chapter on the war. Drafted like so many of his generation, Lefty hated the Army. It just rubbed him wrong with so many of the petty trivialities and rigidness that anyone who has attended basic training can relate to. He served in Europe as an artillery forward observer in the 69th Division, a dangerous but critical job and suffered in the cold and terror of the Battle of the Bulge. Lefty still has some residual effects of frostbite. Always focused on the next good thing coming down the pike, Lefty noted that he didn’t really think much about the conflict for many years afterwards.

His career as an outdoor writer started after the war, like most writers of the time, with local newspaper gigs and grew into national writing for the well known magazines of the day. Much of Lefty’s early career is dominated by his time in south Florida managing fishing tournaments and improvising fly fishing technique. He fished with Ted Williams, Earnest Hemingway, Joe Brooks, and even Fidel Castro and virtually everyone who was part of the dynamic south Florida fishing scene in the 1960s. Interestingly, when he screwed up the courage to ask Hemingway the secret to good writing, Papa answered, “It can’t be edited” – a comment Lefty found fascinating. He also tells the story of the Lefty’s Deceiver, quite possibly the best known salt water fly pattern of all time.

Lefty, like many of us, just loves smallmouth bass but, like many of his generation, tends to feel that fishing today is nowhere near as good as it once was. He describes the Potomac River and river bass fishing in the Mid Atlantic generally as much worse than it used to be and, partly, attributes this to rivers being “too clean” today. He’s also skeptical of many biologists who feel that bass populations are excellent and the rivers are healthy today, feeling that many of these biologists lack perspective and are not from this part of the country. Personally, I found these contentions among the few fishing related opinions expounded by Lefty with which I’m personally skeptical. Perhaps if I’d known what the Potomac was like 50 years ago, I’d have a different opinion, but alas, we’re all prisoners of our own perspective and times.

Of course, Lefty is well known for his knowledge and teaching of fly casting and he explains his Four Principles of fly casting. He has also been a long time critic of the old “10 and 2” concept that has been taught to countless beginners for years. Lefty thinks its nonsense and rails against this maxim in page after page of this book.. Among the many stories about famous fishermen he’s known, Lefty describes George Harvey as, “the best trout angler I’ve ever fished with.”

On the subject of writing and, generally, the business side of the sport of fly fishing, Lefty offers some interesting perspectives. He feels that “fly fishers are the only anglers who habitually buy books” and argues that there are probably more books about fly fishing than any other outdoor topic. However, Lefty feels that avid fishermen don’t have much money and this has put a crimp in the willingness of corporate sponsors to get behind TV shows and such and, due in part to this, sport fishing is fading in America. The angling TV shows today focus mostly on bass fishing, and trout or salt water fly fishing shows aren’t thriving. He also doesn’t care much for the new fly fishing tournament scene writing, “Most real fly fishermen are resisting this influence” and frequently points out that fly fishing is (or should be) a non competitive endeavor.

One topic I’d hoped Lefty would touch on is the rise of fly fishing blogs and the future of fly fishing print media but, other than this, his perspective on the sport is vast and he has fished with most everyone that is famous in our sport in the last half century and this book is replete with descriptions of these folks as well as all sorts of wisdom about all the famous game fishes we chase (or hope someday to chase). Lefty closes the book with, “That’s life. That’s fishing. I’ve loved them both.” A more fitting and essential philosophy could not be articulated for a guy whose life really was this big.

David "Fishidiot" Weaver is a moderator and regular contributor on Paflyfish. Folks can find more about David and his artwork at www.rodandbrush.com






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Published by David Weaver [Fishidiot] on 08/30/2011 (2654 reads)
Fly Fishing for Striped Bass
Rich Murphy
Wild River Press, 2007
457pp

The claim that any book is “definitive” has always caused me to dismiss the reviewers glowing claims that inevitably follow – and I’ll not use the term in this review – but Fly Fishing for Striped Bass by Rich Murphy comes close to meeting this ideal. I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with Rich at the Somerset show in the past and marveling at his beautiful and innovative fly patterns. When I asked him if he’d ever caught a tautog on a fly (something I’ve tried to do for years, without any luck) he responded with a tone suggesting that it was downright easy.

Looking at his crab patterns, it doesn’t surprise me that ole Mr Tog would fall for ‘em. Anyway, this book, is simply put, a pleasure to read or just peruse. Replete with color photos on every page, it’s a coffee table book that reads just as well. In its 9 chapters, FFfSB starts with an intriguing chapter that follows the migration of “Sax,” a fictional, fifty pound cow bass on her migration up the coast.

rich murphyOther chapters describe the various techniques for flats, rocks, bays, etc as well as Rich’s excellent flies and other gear. Murphy, a driven, rail thin runner and type A angler is highly intelligent and you can sense his intense focus on every page. The book can be difficult to read in a bit too many sections and sometimes it seems that Murphy tries a bit too hard by half to find a sophisticated voice, writing too many passages like this:

We know from Chapter 2 that a major physiological change happens in her eyes at sundown – the color receptors or cones on the surface of her eye’s retina retract and contrast detecting receptors, or rods are deployed in their place. This enhances her capacity to detect subtle changes in the contrast gradient of the water column around her caused by the movement of her prey or predators…My surface night patterns are configured to generate a significant and/or unusual acoustical air/water intersurface rip, and like my subsurface patterns, to develop a long and sinuous horizontal profile to as maximize their silhouette against the night sky.

If you can get past some of this wordy verbiage, however (Tom Pero admits that editing the book was a challenge), there is a tremendous amount of useful information. I particularly found his water temp charts by season to be fascinating. Murphy also covers fly fishing the coast of California for stripers, a region often overlooked in other striped bass fly fishing books. This is a big book and not cheap to buy but I’d highly recommend it, especially if you’re a bit past the stage of beginning striper angler and are looking to learn some more innovative tactics and outside conventional fishing methods.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/13/2011 (3933 reads)
Simms Guide BootsMy old felt wading boots of six years were getting a little long in the tooth this past winter. With Maryland and other states banning felt soled boots it seemed like a good opportunity for some new boots.

I picked up the Simms Guide Boot at the Fly Fishing Show at Somerset from TCO Flyshop. I have had plenty of time in these boots over while in the past few months.

The Vibram rubber soled StreamTread with HardBite Star Cleats are awesome! I was really worried this combo could not stack up to my old felts and studs, but not so. I could get around easily even during the high waters this spring on the Little J and First Fork.

The leather construction is very solid. Simms put a lot of time into the design of the support and you can really feel the difference. The Simms Guide Boots are easy to put on and feel great even have been in them for all day.

I really like the speed lacing design and quality of the of the laces. Seems small, but my old boots the laces always seemed to come undone.

Really unmatched quality in the construction and comfort these wading boots provide.

Net Net: Awesome boots, worth the investment and get the HardBite Star Cleats.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/30/2011 (2648 reads)
USGS River ReaderThis spring the water levels in the region have almost been biblical. I have had to change my plans and cancelled several trips as result of the high water conditions.

I regularly use and enjoy the USGS Real-Time Water Data website as the best way to keep up with this data. With these conditions I have been considering building an ark. To help me quickly keep up with the water levels away from my computer I started using the River Reader app by James Graham for my iPhone. I get a straight-forward way to get a quick graph of my favorite streams as the rise higher and higher each day.

There is a favorite list which you can create. The charts give you a few different time periods to view and a quick map to see your push-pins.

For $0.99 it is a quick and easy way to keep up with your favorite streams. A special drought version will be in view I am sure by the summer.

I have heard there is similar app for Android called River Flows, but don't know a lot about yet. Please comment if you are using it. Thanks @funcfish for the tweet on this!
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 08/30/2010 (8196 reads)
Last fall I decided to retire my old vest. Not that new things are always better, but my approach to fly fishing had change since I purchased my old vest 20 years ago.

More recently I find myself hiking into many spots and need to be a little more nimble. I am not fooling myself, I do realize nimble and me parted ways many years ago. Damn carbs! It seemed I was overstuffing my vest with loads of fly boxes and too much extra gear. Quite frankly casting was a bother as I had eight - ten different boxes crammed in all over my vest. One big final new requirement was being able to bring my camera and reach it with relative ease.

Of course I did a lot of research on the Internet and ultimately made my way to over to a fly shop and get the touchy feely thing going. Stopped into TCO Flyshop while on one of my daughters college road shows (please pick PSU, please pick PSU) and got some help from Chris. He was a big help and I settled in on the William Joseph Confluence chest pack. Now this pack has been out for a couple of years, but I still get asked a lot about vests and chest packs.

williamOnce I made the switch I really enjoyed using the chest pack this season. First I had to repack all my fly boxes and gear, which in itself was a good thing. (See blog post here.)

The front of the pack has plenty of room for all my essential small gear. The zippers are awesome. Nothing worse than trying to keep things contained and getting held up on stuck zipper. In the front zippered section I can load up plenty of spools of tippet, split shot, a small knife and sunglasses.

The main front compartment is designed for fly storage. William Joseph provides a foam fly holder, which I keep loaded with several of my go to flies, nymphs and streamers. About the only thing I didn't like with the pack is the mesh that is inside this compartment to separate items like fly boxes and the foam board. Often the flies on the foam would easily fall off and get stuck in the mesh separator. There is room for a couple of fly boxes. I think I found myself with three of varying size in the front. Two zingers and small side pockets were well thought out.

The back compartments had plenty of room for my camera, rain gear, and an extra fly box or two. Most importantly I could unbuckle the side straps and spin the pack around to get to these items. I used to pull my arm out of its socket trying to get my camera in the old vest.

I found the pack very comfortable even in the warm months and easy to move around. Casting is much easier now. What has worked best is the convenience of all my essential flies and gear right in front of me easily zipped up and secure.

Pro's: Comfort and convenience
Con's: Design of mesh separator

Update from William Joseph
The 2011 Confluence Pack will be continued with a few minor upgrades. Mostly the front pockets will have new earth magnets holding the pockets together instead of the zippers. Pretty cool!
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 06/09/2010 (2935 reads)
dwight landisOne of my favorite fly-fishing books is back in print after several years. Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, 3rd edition by Dwight Landis is must have book for anyone who spends any time fly-fishing in Pennsylvania. .

Landis provides an amazing amount of detail covering the most important streams across the state. Inspired by the streams and their surrounding landscapes, he wrote this 1st edition of this Pennsylvania fly-fishing guidebook in 1991 at a time when there were very few books of it's type.

His book was one of the inspirations for Paflyfish.com and I personally pack his book with me as I trek out on my fly-fishing jaunts.

The reprinted 3rd edition (no changes) can be found at many local fly shops and online Trout Streams of Pennsylvania: An Angler's Guide, Third Edition.

An interview with Dwight on Paflyfish can be found here.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/12/2010 (1831 reads)
Much like Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" Ross provides a more personal tour to show the entire process of machining and manufacturing of the Ross Reel.


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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/13/2010 (4287 reads)


Spirit River Flies have been posting a few “getting started” videos for beginning fly tiers over the past month. These brief eight minute YouTube videos can be found on the Spirit River Flies Channel. They cover how to tie each fly from beginner kits they sell. Seems like a great way to provide new tiers the know-how to get started with easy to learn methods for some popular flies.

The Spirit River Flies channel can be found here.
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Published by Dave Kile [davekile] on 09/23/2009 (4644 reads)
There is a hatch in my iPhone
I was looking through some pictures my friend LukeC had posted on Flickr. I really admire his photography as they are mostly beautiful pictures of bugs, fish and tying flies. All good things any angler would enjoy. He caught my attention when he posted a picture of a screen capture from an iPhone for an application called The Hatch V2.0. Anxious to learn more I download the application immediately.

The Hatch for the iPhone and iPod Touch was recently released by Cory Pratt. The application provides hatch charts for you to carry with you while on the stream and includes some photographs of insects. With the recent update there are now 33 states and 300 rivers. Six of Pennsylvania’s more popular streams have now been added including: Fishing Creek, Letort Spring, Little Lehigh, Penns Creek, Slate Run and Spruce Creek.

The application provides a very straightforward way of selecting your month, state and river to access a very thorough hatch list.

The Hatch works off line so it will function if you are using an iPod Touch too. The hatch information is relatively brief and concise. If you have Internet access, there are additional suggested imitations via a link that takes you to Flyrecipes.com.

There are still more insect photographs and streams to be added, but Cory admittedly is asking for comments and feedback at his website which can be found at here. Found at the http://iTunes.com/apps/thehatch" rel="external" title="">iTunes store for the price of $0.99 your can take The Hatch with you on the stream. There is a free "lite" version to try out too!

Some of LukeC’s pictures are used in The Hatch application and more of his wonderful fly-fishing photography can be found here on Flickr.
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