echo muskie rod

Echo Muskie Rod Review

New Echo Muskie Rod

This fall, during our annual Muskie adventure up North, we had the chance to put the new Echo Muskie Rod to the test. Echo Rods reached out to Ed McCoy and myself to see if we would be interested in testing out their new predator rod and then provide them with some feedback. Absolutely we were in, and to sum up our experience in just a few words, We liked it a lot!

Postive Feedback

The first thing that Ed and I both noticed right away is that this 11 weight rod doesn’t feel like an 11 weight at all! Ed and I have both had several of these bigger rods in our arsenal before and have either sold them or just quit using the bigger 11 weight rods with our clients. What I have found over the years is the bigger rods are just too much rod for my typical client. Honestly these bigger rods aren’t even for me, I just don’t enjoy throwing an 11 weight for that many casts. The new Echo Muskie Rod doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact if you were to blind fold me and ask me to guess what weight this rod feels like, I would probably guess it was an 8 weight.

The next great surprise is that this rod, even though it is very light in the hand, has tremendous hidden power! The 8’8″ 11 weight – 4pc we tested had no problem throwing the 450 grain lines we prefer. The rod handled both the Sonar Titan 3/5/7 and the Sonar Musky lines with no problem at all. This rod demonstrated the ability to deliver flies of all sizes and materials at distance. It even handled Ed’s super sized game-changers. The new Echo Muskie Rod had no problem delivering flies we commonly fish for Muskie. This rod received positive feedback from all who fished it. Watch the video below from our friends at the Northern Angler to see more of this rod in action.

Echo Muskie Rod
photo by Eric Rambo

Fighting Grip

The next piece of positive feed back we had for this rod regards the integrated fighting grip and extended butt handle. The fighting grip combination received a lot of positive complements from our clients. Throwing these silly sized flies all day is taxing on the body! Your arm fatigues, your grip gets a work out, but the size and feel of the new Echo Muskie Rod’s fighting grip is really well designed. The extended fighting grip butt section helps immensely when doing a proper figure 8. It can also be used as a two-hand overhead casting tool when your shoulder starts to feel it. It’s one of the only rods where Ed and I both agree on the fighting grip design. We both walked away from our experiences with a positive review.

Echo Rod Video Review

Shop Local

The new Echo Muskie Rod is truly a great rod for muskie fishing. I can also see this rod being used for Golden Dorado and various saltwater fishing applications. Plus this rod won’t break the bank at the price point of $299! This is truly a great rod for the value. If you are looking for a new predator rod, make sure to check out your local fly shop. If you need help finding this rod, please let Ed and I know and we are happy to put you in touch with a local shop carrying this rod.

Jon Ray

Scott Sector S 8107

Scott Sector S 8107

Scott Sector S 8107
Smallmouth Bass Fly Rod

Scott Sector

The Scott Sector S 8107 is one of the newest fly rods in the Scott Fly rod line up. The Sector series is geared toward the Saltwater market. Needing a new seven weight I decided to pick up the 8 foot 10 inch 7 weight in this new series. While understanding it’s one of the fastest rod actions in their lineup, it would give me diversity in my fly rod selection. If I have to be completely honest, I tend to lean heavy on the Scott Radians.

As soon as I picked up the Scott Sector S 8107 the first words out of my mouth were “man this is light”. Being a guy that is known to break pretty much anything, having the lightest usually isn’t what I’m most thrilled about. But after taking the Sector through a Hex season on the Upper Manistee and giving it a good test during the first part of my Smallmouth Season, this rod gave me a good first impression.

Positive Feedback

Scott’s all new Carbon Web technolody improves torsional stability and rod durability by encasing the unidirectional fibers in a web of ultra-light multi-directional carbon fiber.

As I mentioned the rod is super light, and the above quote from Scott Fly Rods gives some of the techie stuff that I don’t really understand, but makes it sound super fancy. What I know is that you can cast this rod all day, especially if you balance it with a light reel. I have a Ross Revolution LTX on the Sector I am running and it seems to balance well on this rod at 4.65 oz.

The next thing I noticed with the Scott Sector S 8107 is the stripping guides. I love a big stripping guide and these are some of the largest diameter guides I can remember seeing on a 7 weight rod. The Sector features all new CeRecoil stripping guides with nickel titanium frames and super slick Zirconia inserts, along with Recoil nickel titanium snake guides for low friction and corrosion free performance. The guide sets are PVD coated in a low reflective coating for even greater durability and stealth. Large guides allow greater line speed when you cast, thus a farther cast.

The S 8107 seems to team up well with the short quick line tapers that are now common from most fly line companies. I’ve been running the SA Glow Line during my Hex Hatch season, which is on the Frequency Magnum taper, and the SA Bass Bug Taper for my smallmouth fishing trips. These rods have very little swing weight and are great with short head lines.

8 Foot 10

I decided to go with the S 8107 because smallmouth bass was the main target for this rod, having a quick responding easy casting rod that can quickly fire into small pockets is what I was looking for with the Scott Sector S 8107. This is exactly the situation in which the Sector excels. This rod is fast, much faster than the Scott Radians, which I have to note here again is my personal favorite trout rod!

When I’m fishing topwater flies for Smallmouth Bass I like to make longer casts, chugging or popping the popper a few feet off the bank, and then quickly picking up the line and firing it back towards the shore. No complaints when it comes to picking up longer amounts of line with the Sector. This rod has handled every range of casts I have thrown at it.

Cons

Really the only cons of the Scott Sector S 8107 are some minor points, but really they are little facts about the rod that it actually wasn’t designed to do anyway. The rod seems too fast for dry flies and casting at slow rising trout isn’t really in its wheel house. While as a mousing stick I think it will work out about perfect, but jet setting on a trout with this quick stick seems to be a common occurrence. Also I wouldn’t buy this length if I planned on roll casting, the Sector is designed to be fast, so roll casting isn’t really what it’s known for. Also because the rod fishes so well with the short head fly lines we already mentioned, those lines to are not going to help you in the roll cast department either.

Overall Review

While the new Scott Sector S 8107 isn’t going to take the place of my Scott Radians during the Hex Hatch or even on my next trout streamer trip, it defiantly has a place in my arsenal. Especially when I know it’s going to be a long day of casting, the rod is so light and so far very durable. It casts tight loops, throws poppers and frogs into heavy cover, and has plenty of power to pull smallmouth bass away from logs and stumps. It’s going to be a great rod next time I get to travel again to the salt. If your looking for a fast rod the Sector should be first on your list of new fly rods to cast, so please go check one out at your Local Fly Shop.

Fly Fishing Insider Guided Podcast

Fly Fishing Insider Guided Podcast

Scientific Anglers

I am honored to be selected to be part of the Fly Fishing Insiders Guided Podcast series, this series features the Scientific Anglers Ambassador’s and Advisors . This being episode 15 in the series, the host of the show Greg Keenan and I decided to discuss Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass.

Smallmouth Bass

Greg mentioned he had not had the opportunity to interview anyone yet as it relates to smallmouth bass. I did my best to cover the different ways that I like to target smallmouth bass in Northern Michigan. Going over a few different lines and setups. A key tip I disclose is how I use smallmouth bass to help me later in the year show me those off the radar steelhead spots. Make sure to give the podcast a listen and let me know what you think.

Podcast

Jon Ray

Hendrickson Hatch

Prepping for Trout Opener

Trout Opener

With the Michigan Trout Opener quickly approaching, are you ready and prepped for Trout Opener? It seems like a simple question, but there is a series of steps you can follow to make sure you have covered most of your basic needs for success. My hope here is to outline some routine things I try to do while prepping for Trout Opener and the upcoming season. Spending a few short hours inspecting my gear aids in its performance and ultimately contributes to my overall success, especially on the Upper Manistee. The goal here is to eliminate the obvious shortfalls that will hinder our outcomes.

Fly Box Organization

Most of us spend our winter tying flies and trying to bulk up our fly inventories so we don’t have to spend as much time tying during our fishing seasons. This is a great way to pass the idle winter months and it gives us something constructive to do. One important step you can take prepping for Trout Opener and the upcoming season is to organize your fly boxes on a per “hatch” basis.

I will typically organize my fly boxes around a single “hatch”. For example, I will have one box that is completely focused on the Hendrickson hatch and another box for Sulphurs, and so on and so forth. In each of these “hatch” boxes I will have a sample of nymphs, emergers, duns, and spinners in all the appropriate sizes and colors to match all the stages of each hatch. Having all of your fly choices laid out in front of you is a good way to determine if your fly selection has any shortfalls.

Another recommendation would be to carry a second box filled with basic “attractor” patterns. This box should contain an assortment of your favourite old stand-byes such as the Adams, Robert’s Yellow Drakes, Borcher’s Drakes, Stimulators, and Elk Hair Caddis. Organizing my fly boxes in this manner allows me to carry less as the season progresses from one hatch to the next. When we begin to transition from one hatch to another, just replace the previous “hatch” box from your vest or boat bag with the next series.

Prepping for Trout Opener
Organizing your fly box
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Ice Dub Minnow

Ice Dub Minnow

Tying Ice Dub Minnow

Our latest upload to our YouTube Channel is a super simple baitfish pattern that we call the Ice Dub Minnow. A favorite pattern to fish below Tippy Dam, but also works great below Hodenpyle Dam and in the backwaters for smallmouth bass on Tippy Pond. Of course these are only a few of our favorite spots, as it has worked really well for bluegills in the spring when they are shallow and pre-spawn.

If you honestly haven’t tried hunting big pre-spawn bluegills, and you want to test your skills this is a great activity during quarantine. No motor needed for this type of fishing. Get ready to be humbled by the big gills. Great casting practice before the big bugs start hatching on our trout rivers.

Kids Fishing

What also makes the Ice Dub Minnow so great is that you can easily teach it to kids and get them started in fly tying, but also it’s a great pattern to fish with kids, to get them a taste of fly fishing. As I mention in the video this minnow pattern really does fish well by itself, with a tiny split shot. I tend to like Sure Shot, but black bird shot will just work as well. Size No 4 or No 6, are both really small and easy to cast.

Let this fry pattern swing in the current with small twitches of the rod, and it will fish itself. Small minnows can’t swim very fast for very long, so they become easy meals for hungry trout. Fish this pattern in the shallows where small baitfish tend to hide. Good luck and Stay Safe.

Jon Ray

Tying Brown Drakes

Tying Brown Drakes

Brown Drake Video Series

Excited to announce a new video series to our YouTube Channel, this past week we focused on tying Brown Drakes. The video series is a 4 part series walking you through the step by step process of tying Ed McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner Pattern and McCoy’s All Day Dun . To make it easy we created a Playlist so you can watch all 4 videos in succession, make sure to smash that like button and subscribe to our channel as well. During this quarantine of 2020, have goals of uploading some additional content while also abiding to the social distance requirements.

Cutting Foam

The video series starts off with the simple process of cutting the foam, we filmed this video series back in February 2018 for the sole purpose of brining Montana Fly Company up to speed on how Ed McCoy was tying brown drakes. So not all the details were layout within the videos so please if you have questions about something please leave a comment and we will do our best to get back with you ASAP. Already one question that has been asked is what size foam are you using. The Answer is 2mm foam, so before you start tying Brown Drakes make sure you have the right size foam on hand.

Tying Brown Drakes, Cutting Foam

YouTube

As I mentioned before make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as more content is on the way. Also drop us a line and let us know what you might be interested in seeing. In the mean time stay safe, and we will see you on the water here soon. Thanks for following MangledFly.

Jon Ray

Chestnut Lamprey

Chestnut Lamprey

Chestnut Lamprey
Chestnut Lamprey attached to a Brown Trout

Chestnut Lamprey

The Chestnut Lamprey, Ichthyomyzon castaneus, is a Native Species commonly found in Lakes and Rivers throughout the Great Lakes region. They are considered to be an indicator species and their presence in a body of water has been closely associated with healthy clean water. There is, however, one negative component to their presence in a watershed and that is the negative impact they can have on fish populations during their parasitic phase.

The chestnut Lamprey has two primary life stages to complete its life cycle. The first life stage is the larval phase, commonly referred to as ammocoetes, in which the larval form is primarily a filter feeding organism. The larva will live in the fine and silty bottom sediments in slower backwater pools for an average of 5-7 years. When the larva reach 4-6 years of age they go through a metamorphosis and develop teeth and a sucking mouth disk characterized by the adult parasitic phase of their life cycle.

The metamorphic phase appears to take place from October through the end of January as the ammocoetes enter the second life stage as parasitic adults. As the water begins to warm up in April the larva exit their burrows and enter the parasitic feeding phase of their life cycle. The Chestnut Lamprey tends to be more active at night and during low light periods. Peak feeding periods for the adults range from May through July with some adults holding over until the following spring to spawn. The adult chestnut lamprey will continue to feed until the peak spawning season occurs from June to July. After spawning the adults will die and the cycle is repeated. (Hall, 1963)

Manistee River

In Michigan, most of our trout streams have an established population of Chestnut Lamprey, but, the Manistee River has been mentioned as having a highly abundant population in the upper portions of the watershed, especially from County Road 612 to Sharon Road. As the water temperature reaches 50 F degrees the adults begin to feed. (Hall, 1963) This temperature change coincides nicely with the obvious annual appearance of Chestnut Lamprey on the trout we catch throughout the first half of our trout season. Most of the trout in our streams will react to streamer patterns tied with a long and “leechy” appearance and lots of undulating movement in the materials.

Matching the Hatch

Chestnut Lamprey will range in size from 4-5” early in their adult development and will attain lengths of +7” at maturity. It’s not a coincidence that as the lamprey continue to become more active that the streamer fishing becomes more consistent for us, especially on the Manistee River. The trout are not only actively feeding at this time, but they are also combating the presence of an “alien intruder” that will parasitize them if they let their guard down! It is not uncommon to see some pretty exciting visuals while fishing “leechy” patterns at this time of year. Some fish will recklessly chase them out of their territory and oftentimes will strike with violent takes.

Take this information for what it is worth, but having an understanding of the natural phenomenon that occurs during this time of the year can only help you. Fly selection, fly movement, and presentation are all critical components to angling success and having one more arrow in the quiver can only be a positive. The Chestnut Lamprey life cycle is really just an example of one more hatch that you should pay close attention to as we move closer to the opening day of trout season here in Michigan.

Hall, J. 1963. An ecological study of the chestnut lamprey, Ichthyomyzon castaneus, in the Manistee River, Michigan. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

Changing Floats based on Water Type

Changing Floats based on Water Type

I can still remember the day when the light bulb turned on and I finally understood the need to change my float to match the water type I was fishing. Changing floats based on water type isn’t something you hear much about. Actually it’s a simple change that can make a big difference, especially in the spring, when steelhead themselves are changing the water types they utilize.

Fishing Story

Let’s start with a real world scenario, or as I like to commonly refer to it, my lightbulb moment. It was December and I just spent the past 60 days fishing for steelhead on the lower Manistee River, the section closest to Lake Michigan. Most of those days were spent primarily fishing floats in the lower end of the river. I had my confidence rig all setup and ready to go and for whatever reason I decided to change it up and shift the guide trip towards Tippy Dam.

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Dry Flies for Trout

Dry Flies for Trout

Dry Flies

As many of you already know, in 2019 I entered a new partnership with Montana Fly Company to produce and sell some of my favorite patterns. Last season I released several new Dry Flies for Trout. These new releases are patterns from my personal arsenal that I rely upon heavily for catching fish within our region. I am excited to have Montana Fly Company producing and selling my signature fly patterns as we move forward, the quality and attention to detail is second to none! Their is a limited quantity available for sale on our site, but please shop local at your nearest Fly Shop.

The flies that I currently have in production are available in two series. All of the flies are foam based Mayfly patterns that are designed to be fished all day with a touch of realism and an impressionistic silhouette that fish can’t resist. They are all mainstays in my arsenal and have been tied in multiple forms to imitate the Isonychia, Brown Drake, and Hex hatches that are found in Northern Michigan.

Here is a breakdown of all the flies that are currently available through MFC to complete your arsenal of Northern Michigan dry flies for trout . Ask your local fly shop about these patterns and pick some up today!

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McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner

New Fly Release

McCoys Boondoggle Spinner
McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

Montana Fly Company New Fly Release for 2020 – McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner – Burgundy Isonychia

I am very excited to announce a new fly pattern that will be released by Montana Fly Company in 2020! This fly will be available in two sizes and will help to fill the Isonychia spinner gap in a series of foam based dry flies that I released through MFC in 2019. The McCoys Boondoggle Spinner is very durable, has an irresistible profile, and is generally a must have pattern for the streams in Northern Michigan. Check with your local fly shops for availability, a limited quantity is available here online at Mangled Fly.

Shop Local

As with anything new it can sometimes be hard to predict demand so make sure to stock up before the supply becomes limited. If you are having difficulty finding the McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner pattern or any of my other fly patterns locally, please drop us a line and we will do our best to help you get these dry flies in your fly box for the upcoming season.

More Flies

Look for several more fly releases with MFC in the near future as I have been expanding upon some old favorites and tinkering with some new stuff for release. Good luck with all of your angling pursuits throughout the upcoming 2020 fishing season!!

Ed McCoy