Lamson Cobalt Saltwater Fly Reel Review

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The Lamson Cobalt is a big game fly reel with a pedigree.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always thought of Lamson as a trout reel company. I don’t mean that to be dismissive, but I think of them as making great trout reels and, for saltwater reels, I never really thought of them at all. The demands placed on saltwater fly reels, by both the elements and the fish, are so extreme that they are almost a thing unto themselves. When I heard that Lamson was making a serous saltwater reel, I was instantly interested.

From the very beginning, the buzz about the Cobalt was pretty exuberant. When I got my hands on one for the first time it was immediately obvious why. This reel is lovely and elegant on the outside but a beast to its core. A thoughtful design and an inspired execution.

Everything about the Cobalt is top quality. It’s not a budget reel. It’s built to last and to dominate strong saltwater species, season after season. I feel confident saying that. I come from a family of machinists. I grew up in a machine shop and I know good machining when I see it. The fit and finish on the Cobalt is as good as you will find and the materials are top quality, down to the titanium fasteners.

There is a ton of cool tech in this reel. Below is a video in which Tim Volk talks about the Cobalt in detail. I’ll hit a few of the highlights I especially like.

Dual Axis Machining

One of the first things I noticed about the Cobalt is its sleek design. Clean and elegant. No edges to punish line or hands. Not even a counter balance. Lawson achieves this by machining the spool so that it balances perfectly with the handle. The operation is smooth as silk. It might not sound like a big deal but when that reel is screaming, you’ll appreciate it.

Seriously Sealed Drag

There are some fly reels on the market, at a higher price point, that don’t have sealed drags, and other that kinda do. The drag housing on the Cobalt is rated waterproof to thirty meters. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of that.

Micro Crystalline Anodizing

Micralox coatings are the final word in corrosion resistance. The molecules in the coating are

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Understanding Leaders Means Better Fly-fishing

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When it cones to fly-fishing leaders there are lots of right answers.

There has been an ocean of ink spilled over the subject of leader formulas. It’s pretty common for anglers who are learning to tie leaders to obsess over leader formulas, and the press has made the most of it. I’ll warn you now, I’m not going to give you any leader formulas. What I am going to do is try and help you understand how a leader functions and how to start designing leaders that will work best in a wide range of conditions.

What does a leader do?

To understand how to craft a leader that’s best for the fishing conditions, you need to understand what a leader does. A fly fishing leader has one purpose.

A leader translates the energy of the fly line to the fly in a way that creates the best presentation.

That’s it. Period. If, like me, you believe that there is nothing more important in fly fishing than presentation, you have to appreciate the importance of the leader. If you look closely at that sentence, you will also recognize that the term, ‘best presentation’ is highly subjective. What, exactly, the best presentation means is dependent on a factors like target species, fishing conditions and fly selection, just to name a few. It’s easy to see that no one leader formula can deliver the best presentation in every situation.

A word about store bought leaders. They are fine and you can get by with a store bought leader for most of your fly fishing. They will never work as well as a hand tied leader because there are limitations in the manufacturing. In general, pre-made tapered leaders all have hinge points and, in many situations, have butt sections which do not effectively transfer energy. Quite a few anglers will protest that the knots on a hand tied leader cause tangles. That’s simply not true. I’m not trying to be a wise -guy, but if you are having that issue, it’s a casting problem not your leader. Read this to fix it.

What determines how a leader functions?

A hand tied leader is made up of short sections of conventional fishing line which transfer and dissipate energy from the fly line. There are several choices the angler makes about each section when crafting a leader that control how it functions. Let’s look at each of these choices and how it effects leader performance.

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Sunday Classic / Guiding Tip: Set Your Client Free to Build Confidence

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I’ve taken great pride over the years with my hands on style of trout guiding. When you take the time to explain the little details to your clients, and freely share what’s going on in your head, it really makes a big difference in them understanding the big picture. I’ve always believed catching fish should take a back seat to learning the how-tos of fly fishing. I’ve never seen much value in a client catching fish during a guide trip, if they can’t go out and replicate it on their own without me. It wasn’t until a few months ago, in fact, that I strayed away from my familiar guiding routine of holding onto the reigns.

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Saturday Shoutout / The Leader Man

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3 Great Videos!

Understanding how leaders function, and how to tie them, leads to successful fly fishing.

The leader is possibly the most important part of your fly fishing tackle. It is, after all, the part of the set up closest to the fish and the part that makes the actual presentation. If you believe, as i do, that presentation is the single most important factor in fly fishing, then you have to recognize the importance of the leader.

Still, many anglers don’t fully understand how their leaders work in the system and simply buy a tapered leader with the picture of the fish they’d like to catch on the package. In reality, you can always tie a leader that will function better than pre-made tapered leaders. Once you understand how leaders work, a world of versatile options is at your finger tips.

I will follow up soon with a more in-depth article on understanding leaders, but for now, here are three great videos from the guy who taught me, Bruce Chard. In these videos Bruce shows you how he ties leaders for bonefish, permit and tarpon. He also covers some of the fundamentals you need to understand to tie leaders that work with your fly line.

Some wisdom from the Leader man.

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Bob Never Gives Up

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Bob is no quitter. Look closely at this one.

See more of Bob and the angling art of Andrea Larko

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Trash On The Flats

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I was in the Bahamas last month for a little DIY bonefishing. I love DIY trips. They have a whole different vibe from a guided lodge experience. I’m sure I miss some opportunities fishing without a guide. I may not catch as many fish, or as big a fish but I fish at my own pace and am a whole lot more relaxed. I appreciate a guide who works their ass off for me but it’s nice to just walk the flats, sometimes with my wife who doesn’t fish, and just explore.

This last trip was one of those and it allowed me to do something I really enjoy. Catching a few saltwater trash fish. On a guided trip there is always this pressure to stay on task and boat as many, or as big a specimen of what ever the target species may be. I’m generally curious about all kinds of fish and when I see something different, well, I just want to put a hook in it.
Some guys get really serious about it. They wouldn’t consider casting to a barracuda, for example. I think anyone who doesn’t enjoy catching a cuda on the fly is seriously missing something awesome. I get the whole idea of sticking to the program, and nobody loves catching bonefish more than me, but at some point

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Fly Fishing Fast Water Chutes for Trout

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Watch the video!

There are multiple ways for anglers to fly fish fast water chutes, but most of the time, I find it most effective to wade to the sides of the chutes, and fly fish perpendicular to them. Doing so, it gives me better control of my drifting flies and improves my line management. Positioning to the side of a chute also improves my stealth, because I’m able to present my flies in front of the trout with just my leader, keeping my fly line out of site. Check out the video below that demonstrates how I prefer to fish fast water chutes.

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Sacred Fishing Holes

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By Alice Tesar

It might have been the coyotes that kept me awake the night prior.

More likely it was thoughts about the section of river we planned to visit that day. I’d heard a lot about the spot and debated it’s worthiness. I had heard that those who wander this stretch of river alone rarely find success, that it was imperative to partner fish, where one person spots the fish from a vantage point and the other casts from the hole below or further down river from the bank. My fishing partner had fished here many times and I was forced to swear secrecy.

“Don’t tell anyone about this spot you wouldn’t mind running into out there,” he told me.

The cool wet morning was filled with anticipation — I sipped my coffee and watched the sunlight peeking over land making everything shimmer. After loading up the truck, my fishing partner and I drove down the dirt road to the river. Pulling off at a nondescript field, we rigged up, took a swig of Fireball (hair of the dog), and hopped the fence startling the nearby grazing cattle. Off to a remote bend in the river we went.

We stumbled through the lumpy pasture to the river, where a drop created by a large fallen cottonwood made a deep pool in the otherwise shallow river. Standing far back on the shore, careful not to scare off any feeding trout in the pool, I cast in.

My indicator drifted along to a tangle of sticks that had accumulated where the river shallowed. Releasing the snagged fly proved difficult without disturbing the water and I feared I’d ruined our chances of catching anything in this hole. A few more casts and my bright orange indicator sunk fast and hard.

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It’s Time To Book Bonefishing At Abaco Lodge

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Bonefish dates are selling out quickly

Abaco is a unique and diverse fishery. This trip to Abaco Lodge is always a blast and I look forward to it all year. Whether it’s poling the Marls, hunting big bones on the ocean side or casting to huge permit, or just sipping cocktails by the pool, Abaco always offers something special. It’s great fishing in a great location and the perfect trip to bring a spouse, even if they don’t fish.

Price for the March 7th – 12th (5/4) is $ 5,200.00 + $ 195.00 vat tax

If you’re looking for the absolute best Bahamas experience available, you’ve found it. I can honestly say that Abaco lodge is the best fishing lodge I’ve ever visited. On every count it exceeds expectations. The facility itself is ridiculously nice. Huge single occupancy rooms with big plush beds and fine linens. Luxurious baths with every amenity. Doors that open onto decks overlooking the water. A beautiful pool and fire pit, large covered communal deck with a superb bar.

The whole place shines like a new penny, including the sweet new Mavric skiffs. Best of all, it offers access to the most diverse and productive fisheries in the Bahamas. Anglers can expect great numbers of bonefish as well as quality shots at permit and tarpon. Abaco offers a legitimate chance at the grand slam.

All lodging is single occupancy and the amenities are on par with any luxury hotel. Fabulous meals and a well stocked bar are included. The lodge has it’s own fly shop and a selection of fine cigars. The skiffs can be easily trailered to any part of the island, eliminating long painful boat rides. It’s an amazing 4-day, 5-night trip.

Travel to Abaco is easy, with some major airlines offering direct flights to Marsh Harbor from the US, and the lodge only 10 minutes from the airport. Half days of fishing are possible on arrival and departure days, if your flight schedule allows.

I hope you will be able to join me and the other fans of Gink and Gasoline on this amazing trip. Don’t hesitate to email me if you’d like more detailed information about any aspect of the hosted trip program. I’m happy to help in any way. If you’re not sure how hosted trips work, follow this link to learn all of the details.

Drop me a line at to reserve you spot.

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Sunday Classic / 10 Tips For Spotting Permit

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Maybe it’s not your thing but if there truly is a fish of ten-thousand casts, it’s the permit. There is enough to catching permit to fill a bookshelf or magazine rack. It’s a complicated game, but where it starts is simple. To catch a permit, you must find a permit. And to find a permit, the angler must know what to look for. With that in mind, here are 10 tips to help you spot a permit.

Have the right glasses
This is stupid simple but it really is the most important piece of equipment for the saltwater angler. There is no replacement for quality polarized sunglasses. Good saltwater glasses have a rosy color to the lenses. Pass on green or grey. Copper, rose or brown will offer better contrast. A lighter tint to the lens is valuable on darker days and a frame that shade your eyes is a plus. Glass lenses offer the sharpest vision and, unless you have a heavy coke-bottle prescription, that’s what I recommend.

The long, graceful forked tail of the permit is its most distinctive feature. It is black in color and stands out when the fish shows its profile. Often the permit’s broad, silver body disappears completely and it is the black double sickle tail that gives him away. This sight is never more exciting than when the tail is held up out of the water. Called ‘”tailing” this happens when the fish feeds off the bottom in shallow water. This means that the fish is actively feeding and the chances of him eating your fly are good.

The permit’s long, sickle-shaped dorsal fin will often give him away. When the fish is

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