Posts tagged: Snook
Words + Photos by: Josh Thelin
I recently got my hands on a couple of the new fly rods that Echo will be releasing mid November. One of them is their newest premier saltwater rod, and the other is their top end trout rod. Both of them will be at the highest end (price-wise) of Echo's offerings in the $350-$525 zone. This is smack in the center of the "mid-priced" rod category that has seen a lot of attention and growth in the fly fishing industry over the past few years. There is good reason for this as well. For some people, a high end rod is either unaffordable or irrational. Most high end rods are a combination of meticulous construction and peak performance. What makes the mid-price range so alluring in most cases however, is that you get all (or most of) the performance, but the rod might lack higher quality finishes and/or materials like reel seat inserts and hardware. However, this is not to say that every rod under $700 is ugly and falls apart after a season by any means. But, for a company like Echo who tends to make their rods with function as their top priority, it tends to attract anglers who are likeminded in their fishing endeavors...
The first rod I cast was the Echo Prime. A saltwater rod available in either 4pc or 2pc configuration, the Prime comes in 8-12wt options (8, 10, 11wt for 2pc) and is 8'10" across the board. According to Echo: "when targeting flats fish, things happen quickly and usually in the 40-60 foot "kill zone." Everything about the Echo Prime rod has been optimized to help you succeed in the zone." This is interesting because one of the first things I thought about while working out line was "man this would be a good bonefish rod." The slightly shorter length and not incredibly stiff action helped me dial in accuracy quickly and confidently. There was not much wind that afternoon, so the Prime was not tested much in this department. But I could create good line speed and felt it would do well if breezy. (Better in the wind, I believe, than the Echo Bad Ass Glass Quickshot I reviewed recently)
Fly line used: Airflo Ridge Striper WF8F (290gr)
Fly rod tested: Echo Prime Fly Rod 8'10" 8wt (4pc) - $469.99
The Echo Prime boasts a "Dual Zone" (cork) handle, which I'm still not 100% what that means...but I will say the larger half wells front lip and overall size of the cork felt good in my larger hands. This can be an afterthought for most consumers, but I do find it makes a difference. For instance there are some rods, like the TFO Mangrove, which is a great rod, but the cork handle is small and sometimes uncomfortable casting for long periods of time.
Overall I was very impressed with the Prime. With a moderately aggressive floating line it cast incredibly well within 70ft with good reserved power. I am not sure how it would do with heavier aggressive heads or sinking lines. But, as this road is advertised with flats fishing in mind, it seems incredibly capable within that capacity. I am going to try very hard to bring this on my next bonefish trip.
The Echo Trout is tuned in a very similar manner as the Prime. Specifically, it has a certain distance or "zone" which Echo feels is the proper area in which the fly rod should excel. For the Trout, it is the 30-50 foot "sweet spot." Additionally, each model/wt of the Trout series has a "unique action suited to that rod's typical application." For instance, the 6wt has been refined even further in the tip section to help negotiate sinking tips and heavier flies.
Fly line used: Airflo Super-DRI Elite WF5F
Fly rod tested: Echo Trout 9' 5wt - $349.99
In the lighter weight options, the Trout has been made to help protect lighter tippets and softer presentations with a softer tip section. So, seeing as this rod is only available in 4-6wts, if the 6wt has a stiffer tip and the 4wt has a softer tip, I would think it's safe to say the 5wt is right down the middle of the road. I would tend to agree with this thinking after casting it as well. I did not get the impression that the rod was only dialed in for dry flies, nor did I get the feeling it was hungry to only throw sinking lines and meat. I think the Echo Trout 5wt is going to be a great rod for those looking to buy one trout rod that can handle dry flies to nymph rigs.
One added perk I thought was interesting, was the included fighting butt (similar to the Echo Shadow X) that will be available in the other models as well from the 4-6wts. This would allow anglers to adjust the rod to specific styles/techniques such as nymphing.
Overall the Echo Trout was a pleasure to cast. Similar to the testing of the Prime, these were just preliminary reactions while casting in my parking lot, but for what I got out of the tests I was certainly impressed. I will be curious to cast the Trout and the Boost 6wts side-by-side to see which would be better for streamers...
Leif is back with another great trout streamer! This fly is tied using mostly Craft Fur. Varied slightly, this can also be deadly in the salt for Snook/Baby Tarpon/Redfish in the mangroves.
Check out the video below!
- Craft Fur: https://allpointsflyfishing.com/products/hareline-extra-select-craft-fur
- Senyo's Laser Dub: https://allpointsflyfishing.com/products/senyos-laser-dub
- B10S Stinger Hook: https://allpointsflyfishing.com/products/gamakatsu-b10s-hook-stinger
- Flashabou: https://allpointsflyfishing.com/products/flashabou
Some of you may have seen the phrase "Never Stop Learning, Never Stop Exploring" at the bottom of the website, on a gift certificate you received, or even hashtagged at the end of an Instagram post. This is a phrase that I decided to use as sort of All Points' motto or mantra. Although I believe it to be a great general life theme, it is extremely applicable specifically within fly fishing. In my opinion there is no ceiling to fly fishing. At no point could a half-reasonable angler ever say "well, I think I've learned it all" or "I've seen everything that fly fishing can show me." If you have said this, I believe you picked the wrong hobby/sport. This phrase is what drives me to constantly keep searching. I love fly fishing because of everything that it encompasses. It teaches people not just about fish, but about life.
Last week I took a trip to Costa Rica. I had read and heard many stories about the incredible year-round tarpon fishery that is hardly available in other places around the world. Large resident and migratory tarpon are available regularly in the 125+ pound range. When a client and friend of mine wanted me to arrange a trip for him to a lodge he had previously attended, my immense curiosity for this fishery took over and I decided to tag along.
Along the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, there are numerous freshwater rivers that flow into the ocean. These rivers hold bait for the various fish in the area, especially the tarpon. The bread + butter of this fishery is to get you outside of the river mouths and fish along them using bait and/or jigs in 40-60ft of water. Lodges in this area about 10 or so years ago gained significant success when they started to use sardines fished deep. So, with a fly rod this would equate to heavy rods in the 12wt range with 500gr (or more) sinking lines. To limit the amount of false casting and to also keep flies fishing deeper out in the ocean, I found it better to cast out and work the fly in the current with a couple occasional arm/elbow pumps of the rod. This proved better, but with the heavier seas while I was there, logistically this was very difficult. The larger more seaworthy boats used to "get out" were not really setup for fly fishing.
(Above you will see one of the areas rivers connecting to the ocean)
The first morning that we arrived, we rigged up our gear and headed out to fish the ocean side of these rivers. If there is one tricky part about this type of fishing it is to actually get out. Weather conditions, larger seas, heavy current and the combination of all of this being forced to a pinch-point at the shallow sand bars along the mouths creates an interesting adventure in the building surf. We just so happened to arrive there with unusually heavy water.
That morning, the lead safety boat was able to negotiate a decent line out of the river along with a couple of the other boats. On our first effort we hit some large almost-breaking waves that shot our boat out of the water landing us essentially perpendicular. The first landing took out the legs of my fishing partner and he ended up fracturing a few ribs upon him landing on the deck. The tough guy that he is, we made effort to fish that morning, but he was eventually air lifted out of our area and back to the hospital in San Jose later that afternoon (currently now resting at home, thankfully!). He was not alone as another guest also suffered leg contusions and a foot injury on their same attempt out of the river. So, with the combination of injury and higher water, we were not allowed to try and attempt to exit the river a majority of my stay. An effort on the last day was made as well, but an almost capsizing boat put a quick end to that. With those logistics including the lack of efficiency in trying to fish the ocean with a fly rod, I stuck mostly to the rivers in a smaller "jon boat" and would also fish the surf occasionally.
My guide and I prowled around for the remaining days. Rolling tarpon were present in the rivers in certain areas. He knew of a few good spots which we would see them regularly. But the fishing was tough, even for those other guests trolling, spin fishing, and using bait in the same zones. I was the only one there targeting tarpon with a fly rod. Mainly using shrimp imitations and larger bushy baitfish flies, I hooked into a large tarpon in one of the smaller channels. I quickly lost the fish, but to see and feel a 100+ pound silver king take my offering gave promise to the possibility of this area on fly. With the size of that fish, it would have been an interesting fight if I had landed it, especially in those close quarters. But that's the fun stuff!
This type of tarpon fishing is very different that any tarpon fishing I had done in the past. It is by no means sight fishing on clear Caribbean flats. This is what is commonly referred to as "dirty water tarpon fishing." Beyond about 6 inches there is no visibility at all. The fly disappears in short order. Repetitive blind casting with heavy lines on heavy rods in an effort to get your fly down deep to where the fish are is the goal. Unless there are multiple tarpon rolling, the ones you would see roll would then immediately dive back down usually to about 15-20ft of water in the rivers. The beast that I hooked into did not roll and took my fly fairly deep in the channel.
I was offered on many occasions by my guide and lodge staff to try and use spin/conventional gear because of the difficulty of the area and current conditions, but I declined. The lodge was well outfitted with fishing gear, none of it fly fishing. My highest interest was to try and tap into these waters on fly. I caught Machaca in the rivers and my guide picked up a Snook in the surf to help round out the fishing. There are clearly large fish there however, but approaching them on fly I do not think has been fully dialed in yet. I do though believe there is great opportunity and I would certainly be curious to return to that fishery.
The trip as a whole was the epitome of a learning experience. From the logistics of simply fly fishing there to the specific issues we experienced with injuries, tough water and tough fishing, I was constantly replaying that phrase "never stop learning, never stop exploring" in my head throughout the week. It's these types of trips and experiences that grow you as an angler and as a person.
Words + Photos By: Josh Thelin