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Iím not starting with fiction this year, but with the real thing. Michael Chin called recently and told us he was using a #16 Pheasant Tail flashback nymph as a dropper fishing for steelhead in California. The steelhead hit the dropper! Anybody else with stories like that one?

Even though the general public has been crying out for it to come back, there will still be no LDF Fly Fishing Tackle float in the 2005 Rose Parade.

As I write this, Iím seeing a story about three feet of snow in southern California. They said even the desert had a little snow. You all have been talking to me the last few years about lack of snow and summer flows. This looks like it could be the beginning of a big break in the drought. I know the Sierras have been getting good snow this fall and early winter. So far the Rockies look good, too.

LDF has one new pattern this year. Itís a soft hackle and goes under the name ďLe BugĒ. (Photos of these flies can be found in the online version of this newsletter and you can find the flies on the internet site itself.) Weíve got two versions. Olive and orange. They are all gold bead headed, they have a body made of fur dubbing, a thorax made from peacock herl, and the usual hun partridge hackle. Mr. Ed Lynch of New Jersey brought these to our attention. He liked them and had us tie some up for him. He was hoping we might bring them into our fly selection for the year í05. We tried them last year and liked them so weíre obliging. My best luck was with the olive. Itís the standard light olive antron mix, which we use for the Olive Helgramite and the Light Olive Parachute Emerger.

Above is the orange LeBug.

We got an interesting call from Bobby Curtis of Tennessee in the middle of last year. It seems he was fishing some pondsósmall lakes near his home. He was using the Egghead Flashabugger. Well, itís true that at some time anything will catch fish. You can catch catfish on red cloth and white bass on white cloth. So, why canít you catch bass at some time on an Egghead Flashabugger? However, from what Bobby Curtis told me, this wasnít just a onetime fluke. I went out with that pattern this fall and had good luck myself. Mr. Curtis told me he caught some four pounders. That was a whole lot better than I did, but I canít complain.

So whatís the point here? Iíve told customers for years that to catch largemouth and smallmouth on the fly rod, you donít have to go to expensive, elaborate, hard to tie, hard to cast and hard to work flies. Familiar trout flies in larger than familiar sizes can do the trick. I canít tell you how many times Iíve had customers call for recommendations for smallmouth and when I tell them use a big brown or olive or black marabou streamer, they have a hard time believing me. Or I tell them use a size 8 or even size 10 black or brown Woolybugger. Theyíre not particularly ready to believe that, either! Fact is, those flies catch fish. They probably give the fish a fair impression of a crawdad or leech. More important, in my mind, is that the fisherman is familiar with the lure. Heíll be able to throw it easily and that means accurately. Heíll also have an easier time working it through the water. That means confidence in using the fly. That means bass on the line.

Hey, whatís going on? Is it safe to get out in the country these days? A few months ago I read a report about gang wars up in Caldwell, Idaho. Is this real? Where I live when you go out in the country the big risk is running into a meth lab staffed by those wonderful people usually referred to as ďmeth cookersĒ. Those people are meaner than the liquor makers ever were.

Iím happy to report that so far, thanks to many loyal and knowledgeable customers, LDF FlyFishing Tackle has survived its continuing guerilla fight with the foreignbased fly tying factories. Survival, however, doesnít mean that we havenít been bloodied and bloodied badly. Iím sure that many of you go online and search for trout flies and fly fishing tackle. If you have, I know you have seen websites selling flies of all sorts for less than seventy five cents each. In 2004, as the year progressed, I noticed that fly prices on these sites were declining. The fall of 2004 brought the first sub fifty cent trout fly that Iíve ever seen. In addition to low prices, many of these sites showed some lack of business responsibility in not publishing a phone number, physical address, or name of a responsible person.

What can I say to this? The obvious response is that no American based manufacturer can compete with websites that sell flies manufactured in third world factories. At LDF, we have always tried to be fair with our customers, but we canít give anyoneís labor away. Thatís why we canít really compete with these factories on a price basis. Their cost per fly including labor cost is probably under ten cents. For these companies, however, there is one fly in the ointment. By using cheap labor to produce their product, theyíre turning trout flies into a pure commodity. They have already started to glut the market and, I suspect, the glut will only get worse this year of 2005. There will be a falling away of these operators as prices get so low that it just wonít be worth it anymore to go overseas and open a fly tying factory. So if you can hang on, weíll do our best to hang on with you. We promise we will maintain our commitment to quality and responsiblity.

Say folks! We do have a news section on our websiteówww.lddflyfishingtackle.com. Itís mainly for you customers. If you have stories or incidents, send them along and weíll put them up. In fact, we welcome not just fishing info, but hunting stories and info, too. Something Iíd like to hear about are the bear hunts starting to take place in the east. Last year, there was one in New Jersey and just last fall there was one in Maryland. If any of you participated in those hunts, let us know.

Iíve got a couple of tackle notes for you guys. How about circle hooks? Iíve had a number of calls about small, that is, fly sized, circle hooks. People tell me theyíve seen them down to 16. Believe me, I look regularly because Iíd like to try them myself. Folks, I still canít find them. Circle hooks are available in the big sizes, but nothing for an ordinary fly rod sized lure.

Iím very interested in your thoughts on fluorocarbon versus ordinary monofilament. I know the basic pros and cons, but Iíd like your experiences. Fluorocarbon is very expensive, but if it means more fish landed, then it would be worth it to most people. However, have you found that fluorocarbon does make such a big difference? Weíve been wondering whether to switch our selection for a couple of years now, but we need some opinion and experiences from you.

We still have some discontinued and overstocked patterns. OV means overstocked and DC means discontinued. As we usually say, there is nothing wrong with these flies, we have just stopped selling them, either because there was lack of customer demand, or materials became impossible to get or became too expensive. Or we just have too many. Buy online or over the phone or through the mail! The quantities are indicated in ( ) parentheses. Once weíve sold them all, we are out. No rainchecks.

Remember our online ordering! You can order from our site with no trouble. Just go to the site and click on the tabs on the left hand side. Photos accompany our products. Those photos can be enlarged to full size just by clicking on them twice.

The White Wooly Bugger was a pattern we introduced last year. It didnít sell well, but weíre hanging on to it because we continue to have luck with it for crappie and white bass around here. Just use a size 10 or 12. Weíd also like to thank you for taking to the Crystal Loopwing Emergeróthe ordinary loopwing with the clear bead . Finally, during this year of 2005, we will be testing Wooly Buggers with colored bead heads. The best selling pattern of the year? Still the Olive Helgramite.

As usual, good health and good fishing to all!

Robert Schneider
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