Raspberryfisher's Blog

notes on fishing & travel

Hollow Flies

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Early Review – as earlier stated, I do not like doing reviews until I have an extended time with the product or experience, et cetera.  In this case, I am impressed enough to provide some feedback before the usual year has gone.

    1. Gunnar Brammer Flies – Excellent!  I have really enjoyed fishing his Catnip and Jerk Jr.  90+% of the flies I fish with I tie, but I have, will and continue to use well-tied flies by others.
    2. Gunnar Brammer Fly Tying Video – Excellent. The information provided is not just to tie a fly, but how to improve as a tyer.
    3. Steve Farrar Fiber Blend – Excellent for Hollow-Point Flies.

So here is my first hollow fly (preparing for Pike Season for next spring), and even though this was an experiment (with some errors and improvements are required (see notes below)), it is an excellent and fishable pike 6″ (150cm) long fly.


hollow 1_DSC1490

hollow 2_DSC1484


  • Hook – Mustad 34007 1/0 (some of my spares), but probably would goto the Ahrex Aberdeen Predator PR330 (once all of my 34007 are gone) or Partridge ACS/E Attitude Hook.
  • Tail – Old Standby – White Deer.  This is a fine choice, but if you want a really long tail, consider some robust (saltwater) rooster saddles.
  • Top Body – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Olive. Until this week, I have not had a good word for artificial winging hairs, but I have changed my view. These “hairs” are light, do no absorb water and with the wave pattern you can build bulk-shape easily. I have a limited selection of colours (as illustrate above), but I will be investing more.
    Like EP fibers, SF Blend is not cheap, but this material allows you to build a large fly that will not be heavy!
  • Under Body – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Off-White.  Of the starting 5 colours I have, this one did not have the same pattern and does not build up as well. I will be looking at other light colours that have the same “volume” as the Olive.
    These materials are not available to me locally, so I have to mail order them, and sometimes you are disappointed.
  • Top Wing – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Bleeding Black. Excellent.
  • Tie in Technique – The fibers were tied to the back and given the body of the SF Hairs, this worked well. Never-the-less, traditionally Hollow Point flies are tied points forward, then push back and held in place by a thread dam. I will need try this on test 2.
  • Lateral Scale – I should been more careful on the placement, length and clipped off the curl. My bad and I got sloppy as I was so focus on the artificial hair.
  • Eyes – And though not illustrated, my initial experiments with traditional eyes was not satisfactory. Yes, compressing flies to the head is great for “jerk” flies, but destroys the body for a hollow fly.  So either go with no eyes or tab eyes.
    I have some tab eyes on order, and will experiment with them.

So, some experiments are still outstanding, but if you are looking to some large flies for Pike or the Salt, look at Gunnar’s site and give Steve Farrar Flash Blend a try.

If you want to get some additional pointers from youtube, then search for ” aswfstevefarrar  “, and my intent is still stick with this, and improve.



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/08 at 23:45

Duty Free – might not be a good buy!

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Another travel note.

Duty free alcohol is rarely a great buy, but it can provide for a selection that you may not get at home. So, if you intend to buy duty free alcohol on your next trip, I recommend the following steps ….

  1. Know what you want and your local price.
  2. Consider buying your alcohol on the plane, it is often cheaper on a plane than in a store in an airport.
    1. Investigate before you fly, what the airline sells it for.
  3. Think exotic, id est, an alcohol not available back home.

Lets compare, with a look at volume and price.

Bombay Sapphire London Dry Gin

  • A 750ml bottle of Bombay Gin at the LCBO (Ontario) – 28 CDN$, plus taxes.
    • 1L equivalent is 35 CDN$, plus tax, so less than 40$.
  • A 1L bottle on Air Canada – 32 CDN$, if within your import limit, then no taxes.
  • A 0.7l bottle at an Heathrow, converted to 38+CDN$, and when you adjust to a later, that bottle is nearly 49 CDN$. Ouch!

Another good buy on an airline:

  • 750ml Johnnie Walker Blue at the LCBO – 299
  • On Air Canada, 229 CDN$ for the same 750ml.
  • At Heathrow, expect to pay 204 Sterling for a 1L or the equivalent of 250+ CDN$ for 750ml. At least this time it is cheaper than local.
    And scotch is not cheaper flying out of Scotland either! The only positive I will admit, there are scotches there that are NOT available elsewhere. I do recommend, highly, the Caol Ila 18yr Distiller’s Edition.

Morale of story, duty free is no assurance you are making a good purchase.

So what did I get on last trips?  I go the exotic route, which is typical for me, with Croatian Schnapp / Brandy (Aura Fig – Suha Smokva) and Australian Bundaberg Rum (smooth).

rum IMG_8856


schanpps IMG_7847


As I get older, I no longer want souvenirs. I am happy to buy something unique that I will use regularly, gift or consume.



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/06 at 21:30

Posted in Work Travel

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Chicken Curry Soup

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chicken curry IMG_8952


An adaption of a Mulligatawny Soup.

The night before barbecue the chicken and 1-2 onion(s).

The ingredients

  • Butter
  • 2-3 Medium Onions
  • 1 tbsp of Curry Power
  • 1/4 tsp of Garam Masala
  • 4-5 Medium Apples, like Cortland or Sweetango
  • 4-6 cups of Chicken Stock
  • 2-3 cups of cubed Chicken Thighs-Legs
  • 2 carrots, diced – optional
  • 1/2c Table Cream, 18%
  • Green Tabasco

Steps and Notes

Curry and Garam Masala: Curries and Masalas are “mixes of spice”. As most Canadian curries blend to a sweeter side, I like using a blend of a generic curry and a little hot Garam Masala. If at the end of the day, you want a little more “heat”, add some Green Tabasco into your bowl.

Barbecue: Barbecuing transforms vegetabes and meat with its intensity of heat and flaring of oils. So the night before:

  • Cook 1-2 onions, cut in half, softening it and allow some grill marks come out.
  • Cut the dark meat chicken with skin and bones on. I do about 3 minutes on high (oils will flare), then move the chicken in a basket for 3 minutes on medium and then let it cook for 6 minutes on low in the cool corner.

Apples: I prefer cooking apples, such as Cortlands, versus the hard eating Delicious or Granny Smiths, for the juices that release during cooking and how they soften under heat. Some apples, such as “macs” can break down too much, but this is your choice as a cook.

Dutch Oven: Nothing better than a good dutch oven, such as a Staub, when used with patience to make a soup.

  1. Night before:
    1. Cook 1-2 Onions on the Barbecue
    2. Cook Chicken with Skin and Bones On.
    3. In the morning dice the onions.
    4. For the chicken, remove skins and bones and then tear-break into some cubes.
  2. In a Pot, combine:
    1. 1/4c Butter or more.
    2. All diced onions.
    3. Curry and Garam Masala
    4. With patiences, soften the onions – 10 minutes+
  3. Combine Applies, with patience, allow apples to blend juices with butter, curry and onions.
  4. Mix in flour.
  5. Add in Chicken Stock.
  6. Under medium to low heat, bring to light boil and allow mixture to thicken.
  7. Patience, write a blog or clean the kitchen.
  8. Add-in Chicen and Carrots.
  9. Lower heat and simmer for 20+ minutes.
  10. Add stock and-or salt to taste.
  11. Add in cream and let the soup heat for 5 minutes.
  12. It is ready and its flavours will improve over the next 2 days.


Serve with a Baguette or other similar bread.




Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/05 at 20:33

Posted in Weekend Cooking


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Continue to receive the suggestion that I continue to put up some advisory posts about my travels, so let me discuss luggage – the best things to consider.

If I travel for 4 days or less, I do travel light and do not check in bags, but as often travel in 2 week chunks and may need substantial clothing to cover extremes, I do check-in bags. So with 500,000 miles in the past 3 years under my seat, what are my recommendations and guidelines for checked-in luggage:

1. Form – Your luggage will be damaged, so reduce the risk and investment.  Make sure, it is clean in form and function, such that the handles are hidden, wheels have reduce exposure and avoid pockets-zippers.

2. Again, avoid secondary pockets, as they offer limit value by increasing risk of handling damage and add weight.

3. Weight – As airlines impose greater limits et cetera, be conscious of the weight of the bag and be aware that the largest bags are easy to go over the weight limit!  Keep to a 29″ bag, if you can.

Air Canada basic weight limit starts at 23kg, with the cost of overweight starting at 113.50 CDN$. And you should expect you will lose 5+kg (20+% of this lower limit from the bag alone!)

4. Weight the bag at the store, as often the specifications listed on the website are optimistic light (being kind!).

Lies, dammed lies and datasheets!

5. Clear identification – – For theft management of the bag – do not get black.  Make sure it stands out from a crowd.

6. Your bag’s contents are not secure. Breaking into most bags is simple and with TSA locks et cetera required with simple bypass, that if the thieves after check-in want your bag’s contents, they will get it.

Once you checked-in the bag, you must rely upon the security measure of the airlines and their employees and contractors.

For this reason, I rather use an low cost bag, versus a premium bag that says I have “money”.  Make the bag stand out, but not scream I have money!

Be humble.

7. Always take a spare duffel bag with you. Luggage may break, you may get-buy more than you expect or have an agent (last trip) that demands you to repack – check in your carry-on et cetera.

8. Moving it – 4 Wheels and make sure you can handle it with 22kg inside.

So what do I use?  Samsonite Orange F’Lite and how does it rank:

  1. Cost of Replacement – A
  2. Clean Form – A
  3. Weight – B
  4. Bag Identification – A+
  5. Humble – B+


The internet is great discount store of the world, but like shoes I would buy this at a store. Verify the weight, ensire the form is clean and make sure if moves-carries well.


Sidebar, story from my last travel. I had to repack my bags 2 days ago in Brisbane, as the Virgin Australia Agent demand I limited my Carry-On to 1 bag of 7kg. My camera bag and camera along is 3.5kg, and I was eventually force to pack my laptop, charger, et cetera into my luggage, and protected my camera and ipad

Now, as I tried to register my compliant, Virgin Australia state this was a function and limitation of my ticket from Air Canada and if I have an issue, I need to address it with Air Canada.

Air Canada says this was an incorrect interpretation of the ticket and the compliant should be with register with Virgin Australia at the orgin (which they refused to do).

In short, I had no recourse, but to respond to arbitrary rules imposed on me at Brisbane, with no mechanism to formally identify the fault.

The Qantas return flight from Brisbane to Cairns was just fine!

Morale of the story, if you come across the power tripping person Agent or Security staff, whether they are right or wrong, you just need to accept the fact and go with the flow.

All I can do, is never fly Virgin Australia nor buy a codeshare Virgin Australia flight with Air-Canada.








Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/01 at 19:29

Posted in Work Travel

Simms’ Flats Boots

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First and last: Recommended, but you must fit your boats in a store or be prepared to ship back boots!

I pick these boots up for saltwater fishing, but having using them extensively as my water boats launching, handling et cetera, Judy’s boat this summer, I have had enough time to “bond” with them. With the neoprene socks (ordered separately), they are great.

I would note that Judy’s Seadoo boats did not last 5 days in the Bahamas before they fell apart, but mine dp show some wear, but are in great shape, protect my feet, easy to walk in, and keep the sand out.

Any warnings or disappointments:

  • As others pointed out, Simms sizing is way out to lunch!  I usually fit in a size a Size 10 to 10 1/2 wide shoe.  In this case, I am in a Size 13 Boat and a Large thin Simms Neoprene sock.
  • Availability – though I live near a city of a Million People, there was no store that had any. I was able to get my, while travelling through Dallas last year at a Bass Pro.
  • Size again, no-one makes a boot for a small lady (my wife, hence the try with the poor Seadoo boot).

simms boats_DSC0436

Yes, this is a great boot and sock combination, but as others noted, the sizing information does not reflect what you may be wearing in shoes, boots, waders, et cetera. Find a store.

As a reference, this year, I also purchased a new pair of walking shoes (Merrell’s size 10) and dress shoes (ECCO, size 44 (10 1/2)), and the SIMMs are 13s.

I hope this helps.



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/09/22 at 00:01

Judy’s Lutra Laker

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lutra laker IMG_7631

First, this is not an easy boat to build from plans, if you never built a boat. You have to learn how to interpret plans into a 3D shape, build forms, et cetera.  Yes, there are instructions and a video, but some experience is strongly recommended.

Now, this is not my boat, but my wife’s – Judy. She built it and I supported her, but I am the “blogger in the family”, but she is the Captain!

As you can see in the video, it is on the water, after several months (built across 2 summers) it is running. There are finishing touches to be made, but it sea-worthy.

My summary is it an excellent boat for inland waters, and better than any production boat in its class.  So the points:

  • Wood, it rides well and carves through the water (fun).
  • It is stable, I am very comfortable and standing on the front desk and casting.
  • Lots of space for the day.
  • It runs 20 knots + on 10hp, so it does not eat fuel.

So we been taking it out on local water, before I begin my fall travel period (I leave Saturday).

Changes and suggestions:

  • Judy’s change to a low profile hatch was perfect.
  • Gas tank will be staying to the back, as Judy (the Captain) likes when I sit low on the floor and place my legs under the front deck. For me, it feels sporty, and she gets a clear view and the ride is smoother for those long runs.  Now we need to create a little seat.
  • Looking to add a trolling motor, and the transom could have been wider OR the top of the side wells flat to hold the motor.
  • Transom could be 5cm taller for better propeller placement.

Maybe before the season is over, I will get some detail images up.



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/09/20 at 06:08

Scott Meridian 8wt

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I have not posted for some time, with the rain this summer and the deer eating my garden, I have little to post on the usual subjects. Never-the-less there are some updates, which I like to share.

I bought the Scott Meridian 8wt last winter as a backup rod for bonefishing, and now it is my preferred rod for Saltwater, Pike and Bass. It has displaced a 20+ year favoured Loomis GL3 and a more current Winston BL5.

Why has it gain such favour? It is light, responsive and I can really feel the load in the rod, allowing me to time my cast well. It is fun!

It does not have the stiff body as my older Sage RPLXi, where you need to over-line the rod to feel it, but feels alive with the designated line weight. Being responsive, you can apply some complex setups with ease.

Like my new Meiser 13668 (previous post), and the Guideline in the picture below, it has exploited the new fast recovery graphite’s available to the rod designers.

As I get no gain or advantage et cetera with any posting, I share my thoughts, as a individual with no pressure to produce, but forcing me to solidified my thoughts. Hopefully a reader or two will benefit.

I do recommend (like the many fly fishing pundits), if you are looking for a 8wt, fresh or saltwater, get a Scott Meridan.

I did buy a second rod, for Judy and I.



Is there any concern? Small one, maybe as a result of the mass of the flies, maybe an error in production or my cast, my sections do come lose after a few hours. You can use the standard spey two-hand long-rod technique of some wax, a little tape. or keep an eye on your rod.



It is a light rod, so I encourage you to look for a light reel.  As I self declared earlier this spring, I prefer the engineering and supply stability from Danielsson, so on my rod is a L5W 8twelve, suited for the salt and any other other challenge I can put on her.

Right now, I am using the Airflo Beach 8wt for Bass and Pike. Once you get the head to the tip, the line just flies over the water.


And yes, I am using a Streamside Furled Leader. In some of the forums, I see debate (often not so kind and focus on the flotation issue) from several of the furled leader manufacturers, but Mike Moline at Streamside lays low and just delivers a very nice leader MADE TO ORDER, and suitable for a 8wt.

Judy more than I likes how these leaders cast too and presents a fly.

So another set of recommendations for my Meridian 8 wt – Airflo Beach and Streamside Furled Leaders

On furled leaders, if dry fly fishing, may I suggest you use the Phoenix Braided Leader and use a little Red Muclin to support it if you feel it is necessary. I would also contend, a leader that is under the surface and NOT dragging your dry fly under is better than a mono-leader on top when fishing slick water for trout. Maybe I have not spent enough time dry fishing on slick water to get annoy about leaders not floating and prefer the subtle look of a furled leader in the water.

All of these recommendations-comments has been based on months to years of use, so hopefully this helps, if you are searching for a new rod for Bonefish, Bass or Pike.  The Meridan is a great rod, for fresh or saltwater.

Oh yes, the 11wt Guideline RSi Rod in the above picture is new, and has not seen the same usage as the Meridian. I like it, but it has not seen the same level of punishment as the 8wt, so I reserve any recommendation until it has seen a season or two.

Last comment for today and to close up the opening message. It has been a cool and wet year, so it has been a banner year for our local tree frogs.  I scared this one our of my Lemongrass pot on the deck, in the back.

tree frog_DSC0446



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/09/20 at 02:17