Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Bushwackin' vs Glamping?

I've got a foot in at least two camps here; I'd really like to follow in Gary from Bearclaws Bushcraft's tracks and take to the woods with only a blade, a pot and a blanket. As that's so much more in the spirit of Ishi and Pope who are a big part of my inspiration for this blog. It would do me good and take me further towards being able to travel lightly across the wilderness, dulled senses awakened, to my moment with Mr Elk.


Mrs SBW is more on the 'Glamping' side of things, where she takes hair straighteners with her and chooses her wellie boots not on the grounds of design or build quality but because "those are what Kate Moss wears to Glastonbury". If she knew you could buy a portable microwave she'd have one already!

Tom from Trout Underground is sure that any form of comfort afield is weakening the gene pool to an intolerable degree
'Glamping is the fast-growing segment of the travel industry where people pretend to interface with nature while a staff of servile lackeys hover in the background, keeping the food coming, the heated tents clean, the private bathrooms in tip-top condition, and (presumably) the animals at a nice, safe distance.'

Go on Tom, don't sit on the fence tell us how you really feel!!

“forget checking for numbered birthmarks. Look to glamping for a sign the Cloven Hooved Deceiver is on the way.”

But (and it's a perfectly formed butt) Mrs SBW looks a lot like Ms Moss, and if a little luxury is the price a purist like myself must indure to snuggle up next to her in tent, then (sigh) so be it.

So what is a suburban dad to do? Sometimes it's going to be 'dump camping' by the side of the car, one day it'll be just me and you Mr Elk.

Sigh! Such is suburban life
Thanks for reading

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Friday, 15 August 2008

UnBoxing - Greys' GLA 80 AKA LL Bean's Quest

Unboxing is either:
A review at the time of delivery
The ritual opening of a box - recorded and broadcast on Youtube. The auteur director CheapyD is credited with being the first Unboxer with a staggering 694,390 viewings of his seminal work

'CheapyD Gets His PS3 - Unboxing'

The fishing trip with Jeremiah was all the encouragement I needed, I thought I'd like fly fishing, now I know I like fly fishing, so I've been cobbling together some kit of my own. On a strict budget.

Fathers day was keenly anticipated at the lair of the bushwackers this year, despite her much repeated (and dare I say ludicrous) claim that "You have more than enough fishing equipment to last a lifetime" Mrs SBW, SBW jnr, and The Littlest Bushwacker chipped in to buy me a fly reel.

I'd got a fly line, travel rod (essential for the urban fisherman who travels by bus, train or scooter) made a rod tube for it and all I needed was the reel.
There seem to be two rival camps when it comes to fly reels; first there are those who believe the reel is a place to store the line and then there are the advocates of 'low start inertia drags' who feel that no reel could be worth mentioning (let alone taking to the water) if its drag takes more than the weight of a single cigarette paper to spin into action and cannot withstand testing against the off the line acceleration of a 1000 cc sports bike.

So having been baptised in the waters of confusion by the magazines and websites, I made a few calls. As usual with fishing (or any new pastime) advice veered wildly between 'any old crap will do', and 'you've got to spend at least £500-£1000 to get anything worthy of the name'. Fortunately Jeremiah seems a level-headed sort of chap and recommended 'drop £30 on ebay, buy a brand you've heard of and see how often you actually use it before you spend any more!'

Fly reels are another of those guy things, like watches and firearms, where we go all misty eyed at the way metal has been worked, believing that the god of the forge and goddess of the hunt will somehow allow us special favour if only we drop a bit more cash, shave off another two grams and use some space age technology. Yeah right!

I own a couple of Magnesium bodied spinning reels, sound great don't they? They're certainly very light but Magnesium is slightly porous, so they have to be coated in special paint, which can be scratched off. The same reels also have hype features which make them sound more 'technical', they have 'infinite anti reverse' sounds good but all it means is the spool only turns one way and the thing that stops it turning back has no play in it. Still 'infinite anti reverse' sounds more 'cutting edge' than 'it does what it's supposed to'.

In comparison to spinning reels fly reels are incredibly simple things, but can be huge money. I've seen one on sale for £5,000 YES that's $10,000!! No not gold, just titanium. As theses are toys for boys, no amount of money is considered too much to spend. I spent an enjoyable few hours clicking around on the net looking at reels that cost as much as a holiday. After I'd spent a while ooh!-ing and ah!-ing over the reels on offer I started looking at the cost of a combined desktop mill and lathe and some aluminium bar stock; for the price of a nice looking reel with a pair of spare spools you could set yourself up with a real cool home machine shop.....

Enough already! Get to the Point! What's it like?

Greys are a well known brand in the UK (part of the House of Hardy empire) and their missionary rods are for many people the default travel rod. That fitted in with Jeremiah's advice, and the price was bang on £30 too. So I put in my fathers day request for the 4 weight reel.

As coincidence would have it during the writing of this post I was re reading an old copy of Field and Stream (Dec06-Jan07) when I saw the self same reel recommended. In the US LL Bean sell them as the Quest range - Loads cheaper $29-$39. The F&S guys gave it best for the money status.

The reel is polycarbonate (gasp sacrilege) and here's for why. Aluminium is very easy to scratch even when its been hardened and as most of the places where I'm after those urban trout are in concrete canyons I thought a hard wearing plastic would be a better bet than a cheap aluminium. It's immune to corrosion and after all the heartache that I've expended over cleaning and rinsing those spinning reels I felt like getting something 'wash 'n' go'. I was tempted by a supposedly more up market version of the same idea in clear plastic, but it would have meant doubling the budget and I later saw this post on UrbanFlyFisher revealing the design to be 'mince'.

The drag
I've caught big mean fish with reels considerably less refined than this one. In comparison Jeremiah's Orvis' were a lot quieter clicking - will that make a difference? Only time will tell.

With cast plastics there's not a whole lot to go wrong, it isn't going to make you drool, but then my rods no great shakes either.

The one area where the maker has really let themselves down is the cage and spool fit.
Where the spool meets the spindle the fit is fine but there is a 2mm gap where the cage meets the frame of the spool. Most of the time its fine, but if you have the drag set quite loose, the line often appears on the outside of the cage. Which is not what you want. At all.

I've been thinking of way to correct this and at some point I'll do a post called Pimpin - the GLA 80/Quest.

Hmm where's that machine shop catalogue again....?

Thanks for dropping by, leave some comments - I'd love to know what kit you're using and whether you reckon it makes any difference to the fish.


Sunday, 10 August 2008

Pot Hunting And More Bushman Bargains

While I was looking at the American Bushman's gear sale I noticed that he has these light my fire meal kits WAY CHEAP. I've never seen them for less than £15 ($30) so I was delighted to see that he has them for $10 (i.e £5) The last time I bought a Spork on it's own it was £2.50. I've wanted a set for a while now, but because I really need to by four sets - one for each of us, I'd always found something else to spend the £60 ($120) on. The way the postage worked out I could buy that knife and ship two sets of these for free. Silly not to I told myself.

Now let the justification begin!
  1. What a handy set up - bowl and plate, cup with a lid , another bowl-cup-tub thingy, a chopping board/strainer and a spork to eat it all with.
  2. I could use them to take a packed lunch instead of going to the curry hut - nutrition,weight loss, cost saving. All good things.
  3. Mrs SBW could use them for her lunch too.
  4. They would be handy for family days out -picnics and educational trips
  5. They were a bargain
  6. They last a long time.
  7. They pack up neatly, much less fuss than what we use at the moment.
  8. Joachim Nordwall has done such a good job - they really are a great piece of design
  9. Have you seen the price of Sporks?
  10. Did I mention that they float?
I'll do a full review on arrival
Thanks for reading

Saturday, 9 August 2008

A Tale Of Two Bushmen AKA Bargain Alert

I've been reading the blog written by the American Bushman for ages and marvelling at his knife collection - he doesn't just think 'that looks cool I wonder what it's like to use' he buys one and finds out just exactly how cool each design is. As you probably know after a while it's easy to end up with more stuff than one bushman can practically carry so he's decided to lighten his load by having a bit of a clear out.

Good news for us!

Inspired by the Backyard Bushman's posts about his EDC I've snaffled the Mikro Canadian II by the Bark River Knife and Tool Co. and a few other bits which I'll review as usage allows.
There are still loads of handsome blades for sale - take a look.
Happy Hunting

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Trota! Rod? Line? Nah!

Our friend who is yet to get his TLA (three letter acronym) lets call him jon, has just sent me this picture from his place in Italy. Apparently he was standing by his trout stream (you think that's jammy - he has Boar and Deer too!) wondering weather or not to take up fishing (I know! Some people!) when he saw this one had invited itself to lunch by marooning itself in a shallow pool.
So he picked it up and took it home, as yer would!
Thanks for reading