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The thrill is back!

by JJ
(Upstate SC)

I grew up fishing with my father, great grandfather, and occasionally my great uncle. It was primarily done on the lakes in the midlands and upstate of South Carolina. It was a very typical rite of passage for a southern boy.

When it was just my father and I, the main targets were largemouth bass. We both enjoyed the action of tossing lures all day. However, when my great grandfather was with us it was a different experience. Being born in 1896, and living thru both world wars, and the Great Depression, the idea of throwing back keeper sized fish was foreign to him. Grandma preferred crappie, or bream. However, catfish or bass would do. I spent many nights in a boat anchored near a creek channel or tied to a bridge snagging shad with a line of trebles to burn off the excess energy of my pre-teen youth.

Fast forward to my late teens, and along with the freedom a drivers license affords, mountain streams were discovered. This changed everything. It started slowly. With a spinning rod, a stocking schedule, and a few maps, a new world had just opened up. Being an adventurous soul, I eventually discovered that WILD trout live in damned beautiful places. It was also obvious that I had to learn to fly fish. This old book, ”A River Runs Thru It”, was about to become a movie, and catapult the fly fishing industry into the mainstream. So went the next couple of decades of my life.

As the years went by, I found the smaller headwater streams, with their rugged beauty and solitude was where I wanted to be. From time to time I would wonder if my “short” 7’9” Sage was the best tool for the job. I would now argue, it is not. The four piece 5’ Tenryu Integral that I purchased from Chris has restored the missing thrill of my adventures.

As all fishermen are liars, take this next bit as you may. I have been shocked by the size and quantity of fish that I am finding in places that I have fished dozens of times previously with a fly rod. I have never gotten caught up in how many fish I catch. For me an outing is about so much more than that. Curiosity is what pushes me up the next set of falls. Just being able to catch one fish in a stretch of stream to verify that yes, they do indeed still live here, is often all it takes. For me, a quality, short, portable spinning outfit is the perfect tool for this task. It has allowed me to verify suspicions that in the past have remained just that, suspicions. Thanks Chris, for taking the chance that those of us out there, do indeed exist.

Comments for The thrill is back!

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Jul 10, 2018
Sounds familiar
by: Les Albjerg

JJ - Your story reminds me of my own. Even down to the Sage rod. I have not used my 1 weight since discovering Tenkara and ultra-light spinning. One difference with my grandpa and dad is it was walleye we were after.

During my last adventure, I was surprised by the size of several fish that came out of such small holes. I also laughed at the little fish following the spoons. I am now convinced that they were not trying to figure out how to eat something their size, but rather they thought the spoon was leading them to food.

Yes, the thrill is back for me too!

Jul 10, 2018
Kindred spirits.
by: JJ

I am sure there are many more out there reading this blog that have a similar story. Matters not where we come from, or how we got here, as long as we are still out there exploring.

Speaking of exploring, I too am doing a little experimenting with lure choices. I’ll post when I have a bit more time invested, but interestingly enough, early findings have homemade spinners producing a little better for me. Spoons and plugs are getting lots of attention, but fewer actual hook ups. The plugs in particular seem to get escorted all of the way out of the run, as if it is a territorial thing. I’ll keep at it, and post when I feel there is some conclusion.

Jul 11, 2018
XUL is the way to go...
by: Jerry in SC


My eyesight just isn't good enough to see a size #18 on the water anymore. I fished Scott F2 Glass rods for a few years before I gave up fly fishing.

I've been fishing the upstate and NE GA for 50 years (with a fly rod and spinning rod). The restored brook trout streams seldom over 5' wide at best, most just pass them by. The XUL JDM rods and corresponding reels are perfect for those small fish, an underhand cast is almost a necessity.


Jul 11, 2018
Underhand cast
by: Chris Stewart

Just a couple days ago I got a message from a guy who was just getting back into UL spinning after years as a tenkara angler. He said his accuracy left a lot to be desired (not an exact quote, but kids read these pages), and wanted to know if there were any good videos.

I have found one that looks very good on the underhand flip cast. It is on YouTube and the title is "The Underhand Flip Cast with Jay Thurston." It's only a couple minutes long. You can run YouTube videos at 1/2 or 1/4 speed to watch his cast in slow motion. (Click on the gear in the lower right hand corner.)

Like everything else, it will take practice, but if you point your rod directly at the target, you should be almost dead on from a side to side standpoint. You only have to work on distance (and trajectory so you can cast under branches).

Jul 12, 2018
Combat fishing!
by: JJ


I have always intended to spend more time exploring the streams of north Georgia. Turns out, only 24 hours in a day isn’t nearly enough time to satisfy my desire for exploration, as well as deal with the trappings of life. Not to mention the hundreds of stream miles I’d have to pass to get there.

At 48 years young, I too have finally reached the point that tying on and following anything smaller than a sized 14 or 16 dry fly is futile. Especially in the dense canopy that tends to accompany headwaters. Age is a fickle thing. In good light, I can still see a fly on the wall at 100 yards, but can’t read the newspaper in my hand.


Jul 13, 2018
Age catches up..
by: Jerry in SC


I have you by almost 20 years :) got really tough over the last 10 years to see well enough to tie a fly on. The small diameter Sunline in #3 is still pretty difficult to see, but I can tie on a snap if necessary should I want to change lures often. I wish I had some type of line threader for the Daiwa AGS 54XUL-S rod I got from Chris. Those guides are super tiny...


Jul 17, 2018
by: bill piatek

And I've got you by a few years Jerry.

Try a little red or black marker on the last few inches of line. Makes threading easier for me.

I fish the 2.5gm Crusaders downstream where I can slowly retrieve and hang them in the current. I agree that spinners MOST TIMES get the best action for me in 1/16-1/8 oz. Wish I could rationalize an XUL setup.

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The hooks are sharp.
The coffee's hot.
The fish are slippery when wet.