Waterfowl Decoy: Geese

Thanks for continuing with our waterfowl decoy series!  In Part One, we discussed the duck.  Let's get crackin' on  Part Two!

The Geese

Most common in Tennessee is the Canada goose. These are the classic big black headed, white cheeked geese and “heronk” sound that is the stuff of legend. At home on land, flooded fields, marshes and open water, Canadian geese are familiar to everyone that has been to a park or golf course. Less familiar are the white fronted geese or specklebelly and the snow and blue geese. Specks tend to be earlier migrators than the hardier Canadian, but they are just as challenging.  They have a yodel type call and are more common as you get closer to and west of the Mississippi River. Snow and blue geese are the blessing and curse of the waterfowl world right now. Their abundance is the stuff of modern day legends, but they are so plentiful that the habitat destruction they have caused has led to liberal limits in fall as well as a nearly no holds barred approach to hunting them in the special spring conservation season in many parts of the country. While their numbers are high and juvenile birds can be fairly gullible, some of these adult birds have seen practically nonstop hunting pressure their whole lives and are true trophies in their own right. Canadian and Speck geese tend to get along quite nicely but due to massive flocks and how they feed, snows and blues tend to be by themselves in a field.

Cory Brown, Hunting Associate

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Waterfowl Decoy: Ducks

I love decoys. For me, decoys are one of the most enjoyable aspects of waterfowl hunting and as such I am a decoy junkie much to the chagrin of my better half. More than once have I heard the phrase “How many decoys do you need?!?” The answer typically is just a few more, which we both know is only true for that given year. In my travels, I have been fortunate to hunt waterfowl in several states, latitudes and flyways and am going to attempt to help you build an adaptable, multi-purpose waterfowl spread.  Follow us over the next few weeks while we discuss waterfowl decoys at further length.

Part One:  The Ducks

In most parts of North America the Mallard is King, and our area is no exception. They are the most widespread and universal of all ducks today, but there are others out there that are equally challenging and exciting to hunt. Puddle Ducks are the group of ducks that are most common and sought after by duck hunters.  In the marshes, crop fields and flooded timber of the Mid-South, wood ducks, gadwalls, pintails, widgeons, black ducks and green wing teal are the most common to join Mallards on the hunters strap. The second group is the diver ducks. These include bluebills, redheads, canvasbacks, and ring necks and are common to the bigger rivers and reservoirs of the area often in massive flocks. They live life finding both food and sanctuary in the deeper areas by diving under the water to find a meal. While not credited with an overabundance of brains, divers make for challenging shooting and contrary to the misconception of some, fine table fair among these four species in particular.

Stay tuned for Part Two:  The Geese!

Cory Brown,  Hunting Associate

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Family Summer Camp

Summer is in full swing here at BPS Nashville!  That means our annual Family Summer Camp is well underway. 

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday until July 26th, we have workshops from noon to 5pm on everything outdoors including Archery, Hunting, Water Safety and Backyard Adventures.  In addition, we have our Daisy BB gun range set up on our boat canopy along with a Bear archery range and a casting challenge where kids can practice their technique and cast from one of our boats.

We also have a weekly craft and each completed workshop earns kiddos a lanyard and pin so they can collect all 9!

Crafts:

Turkey Track Magnet   July 7, 9, 11 and 12

Turtle Sun Catcher   July 14, 16, 18 and 19

Lady Bug Clip Magnet   July 21, 23, 25 and 26

Workshops:

Tuesday

Noon   Bird Watching

1pm   Fishing

2pm   Archery

3pm   Kayaking

4pm   Backyard Adventure

 

Thursday

Noon   Archery

1pm   Shooting/Hunting

2pm   Travel Safety

3pm   Water Safety

4pm   Camping

 

Saturday

Noon   Fishing

1pm   Water Safety

2pm   Shooting/Hunting

3pm   Kayaking

4pm   Bird Watching

 

Sunday

Noon   Shooting/Hunting

1pm   Archery

2pm   Travel Safety

3pm  Camping

4pm   Backyard Adventure

 

Bring the family in for an afternoon of fun and educational outdoor activities!

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Ten Amazing Father's Day Gifts

In honor of Father's Day on June 21st, we've put together a list of awesome Father's Day gift ideas.  Take a look!

1)  Bass Pro Shops Aluminum Fish Fryer

2)  Hobb's Creek Polos and Poplins

3)  Masterbuilt Sportsman Elite Series Extra Wide Propane Smoker

4)  Ascend FS12T Sit-On-Top Angler Kayak

5)  Char-Broil 6-Burner Gas Grill with Side Burner

6)  Nikon ProStaff 3i Rangefinder

7)  RedHead Toxik XT Compound Bow Packages

8)  Portal 10 Person Cabin Tent

9)  Bass Pro Shops Big Outdoorsman Lounger Chair

10)  Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Spinning Reel

You can also check out our first time gun buyers guide for additional gift ideas.  And as always, we have a great selection of Father's Day cards and gift cards to choose from.  It's the perfect way to make sure Dad gets exactly what he needs for his next outdoor adventure!

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Bass Pro Nashville's 15th Anniversary!!

Bass Pro Nashville celebrated it's 15th Anniversary this month!  To commemorate the occasion, we had a potluck/fish fry on our boat canopy.  We played corn hole, gave away some amazing prizes and talked about how far our store has come and all we've been through.  

One of the most memorable times in our store's history was the Cumberland River flood of 2010.  Opry Mills Mall, which our store is attached to, was closed for two years after the flood with water levels reported at 10 feet deep.  Bass Pro held our Grand Re-Opening in October of 2010, just 6 months after the initial damage took place.  Johnny Morris was of course in attendance along with Kevin Van Dam, Little Jimmy Dickens and the Nashville Predators Dancers.

We were also able to reflect on the fun we've had, from employee fishing and golf tournaments to helping with kids fishing rodeos and MS and Breast Cancer walks.  We honored those from our team who passed in the last 15 years and celebrated those who have worked for the company for as long as we've been open.  All in all, it was a great night for us to reflect on the past 15 years and look forward to the next 15 here in beautiful Nashville, Tennessee!

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First Time Gun Buyer's Guide

“What gun should I buy?” 

This question is repeated at gun retailers across the country constantly. Given the plethora of gun options out there, it’s understandably daunting to a first time gun buyer or even an experienced shooter who is new to a specific type of firearm. The following are some tips to help you make the right decision.

 

What Do You Want To Do With The Gun?

While the most basic answer is to shoot, certain guns do certain things better than others. For example, a lot of folks are getting concealed carry permits and want a gun they can carry. Obviously in that case the choice would be a handgun, but which one out of the huge number of models on the market? One thing to keep in mind is the size of the gun and by size I don’t mean the caliber, we’ll cover that in a bit. By size I mean the physical size of the gun. A small gun, like a Smith and Wesson Shield is more portable; however a larger sized gun like a Glock 19 in the same caliber shoots more comfortably. Therefore, the buyer has to decide the size gun that works for them including the thickness of that gun as that may come into play regarding comfort in holding, shooting, and carrying the gun on a day in and day out basis. These same considerations come into play when it comes to shotguns and rifles as well.

Shotguns are kind of like golf clubs in that all clubs will knock a ball along the course, but some do certain things better than others. Sporting clays, hunting, and home defense all find shotguns being a go to choice in firearm. Again the size of the gun is matched to the activity the owner intends to do, but luckily a bread and butter pump shotgun like a Benelli SuperNova will do anything and everything reasonably well.

Rifles are all about downrange accuracy so if you like reaching out and hitting a target you can barely see with your naked eye a bolt action rifle like the Browning X-Bolt is the way to go. Remember, in this application a quality optic is key. The other popular rifle right now is the AR style. This IS NOT short for “assault rifle”, it stands for Armalite Rifle. Armalite was the company that originally designed the platform and put it into production. AR style rifles are really fun to shoot and are great for dealing with predator control such as coyotes. An example of this kind of rifle is the Bushmaster M4-A3 and is ready to shoot right out of the box after a thorough cleaning.

Caliber is something everyone gets hung up on and new shooters worry about recoil a lot. Adding to the confusion is the fact that calibers are measured in both fractions of an inch as well as in metric measurements depending on where the caliber was developed. The simple rule is to shoot as large of a caliber as you can comfortably and more importantly, accurately. Extremely technical people will quote all kinds of ballistic and energy transfer data and confuse the heck out of even seasoned shooters but in short, bigger bullets hit harder and do more damage but a big bullet is no good if you can’t hit what you’re shooting at. The best way to judge the caliber you’re comfortable with is to consider your intended target and to go shoot some guns.

What Do You Want To Spend?

The term I like to use in this regard is that you tend to get what you pay for but the question is how much do you need? Someone that wants to shoot a lot needs a better, more durable firearm than the person that may never shoot the gun more than 100 times. This again is a double edged sword as while it may seem like you’re saving money by going the cheap route, you have to consider the cost of repairing the firearm or replacing it. My usual advice to a new shooter is to look for their given choice of gun somewhere in the middle of the price scale and then be prepared if they find they really get into it that they will want to buy a new gun. We all want more guns once we find we enjoy shooting so this isn’t exactly a problem and a good excuse to get at least one more gun. Also, consider any accessories you may need with the gun you’re buying as that may play a significant role in the overall price.

Can I Get Ammunition For My New Gun?

If you’re getting a popular caliber firearm you shouldn't have a problem getting ammunition for your firearm but the best way is to check the shelves before you settle on a caliber and anyone in our hunting department will be happy to tell you what your best bets are to find ammunition in.

So, Where Do I Start?

Reading this blog article and asking yourself these questions is a good place to start. Then come see us and look at some firearms.  We've got tons of knowledgeable associates in the store ready to help you out.  Or, if you have buddies, go shooting with them.  That’s another great option to get your feet wet in firearms. Ask shooters what they like and don’t like and why. Ironically, as you’re reading this on the internet, I would caution you to take what you read on the internet with caution. A lot of people pass their opinions, prejudices and personal experiences off as facts. There are a few cold and hard facts in firearms that I’ve attempted to cover here admittedly in a basic and simple fashion but there are a lot of things out there that are personal opinion and preference and the only person that can answer those things for you is indeed yourself. And remember with all the information you’re going to have coming at you, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Cory Brown, Hunting Department

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2015 Employee Fishing Tournament

We had our Annual Fishing Tournament yesterday morning!  Each year we swap back and forth between the two big lakes in the area, Percy Priest and Old Hickory.  This year's tournament was held on Old Hickory and turned out to be a really great day.  It started out a little on the cool side and speeding across the water on the boat didn't help.  But once the sun came out, it warmed up and we got to enjoy a beautiful day on the water.

We had about 18 boats registered for the tournament and 3 people in most boats.  On Old Hickory, all Large Mouth and Kentucky Spotted Bass must be 14 inches long and Small Mouth Bass must measure 18 inches long.  The team with the most fish ended with 10.65lbs and the biggest fish was a little over 4 lbs.  We had 3 teams tied for third place all with 4 fish and a total of 9.95lbs.

After the weigh in, we had a cookout with BBQ pork, chicken, potato salad and cheesecake thanks to our amazing Gifts and Hunting Team Leaders.  It's so nice to get to enjoy the outdoors (since we all work for Bass Pro!) and have the chance to hangout with the people we work with everyday.

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Earth Day Hiking Trip

A few weeks ago, our footwear Team Leader approached me about putting together a group hiking trip.  He had recently hiked in one of our Tennessee state parks and noticed that there was a lot of trash along the trail.  He thought it might be nice to take a day hike and also give back a little bit at the same time.  We set the date for April 22nd and got a group together.  We didn't even realize in advance that it was Earth Day!

We met at our store at 9 a.m. and drove to Long Hunter State Park in Hermitage,TN.  It was only maybe 25 minutes from our store at Opry Mills which is one of the most incredible things about being a lover of the outdoors in Nashville.  Even right in the middle of the city, we're spoiled with lakes, rivers and the Greenway just a short drive from Downtown or any neighborhood in the area.  We spent the first couple of hours hiking the 4 mile Day Loop Trail.  It had been a rainy week so it was a little muddy, but with the correct layers to stay warm and dry, it was an enjoyable hike.  The trail begins relatively close to the water which makes the area perfect for creek fishing.  As the trail gains a little elevation, there were spots with boulders where you could stop for a rest and look out over Percy Priest Lake.  We saw sailboats and a couple of groups that looked to be on a fishing trip.

After our trip around the Day Loop, we arrived back at the point where the two trails split/meet (depending on which way you're hiking).  Instead of heading back to our cars, we decided to hike some of the 5.5 mile Volunteer Trail.  There were a few creeks with small wooden bridges for easy crossing and a spot or two where I stepped my way across on the rocks.  I ended the day with dry feet despite hiking in Nikes, but I intend to get myself some better footwear for next time.  We made it all the way to the end of the trail marked by a group of campsites right near the edge of the lake and had lunch there, which we'd packed in with us.  On the way back (this trail was out and back, not a loop) we collected trash into the bags we'd brought with us.  It was a nice way to care for the environment that gives so much to us and about half way back when we realized it was Earth Day, we were even more excited.

In all, the 15 or so miles took us about 7 hours including stopping for a couple of breaks and lunch at the campsite.  I plan to do the hike again with some friends and camp overnight at the site and hike out the next day!

 

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My Quest: Can the AR platform effectively take a Whitetail?

Hunting is a passion I was raised on by my father. He started me as a very young boy and, as I got older, my passion for hunting the great American whitetail grew and grew.  I have hunted them from the southeast all the way up into to the midwest. As with hunting, so too did my love of firearms and even more recently, my love for the much debated AR platform rifles.  I have read many internet postings going back and forth about whether an AR could effectively take down a whitetail deer or not.  The more I research I did, the more it sparked my interest.  After much debating inside my head, I decided I wanted to give it a shot. I looked at many different AR platforms before purchasing a CMMG AR chambered in 300 Blackout from my local Bass Pro Shops. While there, I also bought one of the Redfield scopes, scope mount and a box of Hornady 110 V-Max ammo.  Once everything was all sighted in and ready to go, it was time for the hunt.

It was an unusually cold morning in Northern Alabama as we set out to Freedom Hills Management Area located in Cherokee, Alabama.  I remember reading the temperature gauge in the truck, a whopping 6 degrees.  I zipped up my Redhead jacket and headed out on my quest.  The morning was cold and quiet as the sun started to come up and nature started to come to life.  It was still early morning as I watched the squirrels chase each other through the trees.  "This is the life," I sat there, thinking to myself.  Right then I caught a shadow silently moving through the woods to my left.  As I turned to see what it was, I saw this nice mature doe emerge through the trees.  She moved quietly through the woods without the slightest hint that I was even there.  I got ready to take the shot when behind her, I could see another body moving in the brush.  There he was, a very nice six point moving right in behind her.  I waited for him to step out, put the cross arrows on and squeezed the trigger.  As I regained my composure, the deer jumped right back into the thick brush followed by a loud crash of leaves.  Had the much debated AR done it's job?  I gave it a little time and walked over to see what the results were.

There he was, not 45 yards from where I had first seen him.  In the end, I had answered my question:  Yes the AR platform can effectively take a whitetail.

I look forward to my next hunt as I have now chambered another AR in the mighty 450 Bushmaster.

 

Justin K., Apparel Associate

Bass Pro Shops, Nashville

 

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Duck Hunt: HIGH SCORE

The end of duck hunting season is almost upon us!  That usually means last minute deals and a great chance to stock up for next season.  At Bass Pro Shops, we've got the right tools and gear to get you ready at the start of the season or for that impromptu season closer.  Here's a couple of great ideas!

Calls are an awesome tool to utilize no matter what type of bird you're hunting.  Bass Pro carries a wide variety of calls and accessories.  This Buck Gardner Double Nasty II Duck Call is very popular and only $23.99.

In addition to calls, decoys can be really useful to lure hesitant birds, especially at the end of the season.  This Avian-X Floating Mallard Duck Decoy has great reviews and is only $79.99.   "Each decoy is oversized for extra attraction, measuring about 14.5'' breast-to-tail. Open Water pack includes 4 drakes (2 high-heads, 2 low-heads), and 2 hens (high-head and swimmer)."

Lastly, with the temperatures being cooler, warmth and comfort are a top priority.  Dressing in layers is always a great idea when spending time outdoors, but the proper waterproof protection can make the difference between an enjoyable morning spent on the water and calling it a day early because you're a dripping, shivering mess.  Waders are available in tons of sizes, colors and degrees of insulation.  If you're simply looking for good footwear, check out our boot selection and don't forget socks and warmers!

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Layer it on! Winter is here!

Winter has finally arrived in Nashville!

With that, we’re seeing temperatures drop into the teen’s and even a couple of single digit days.  Being from Arizona, I am not at all prepared for this surge of cold weather and my chilly drive to work this morning reminded me that I need to get myself some warmer clothing for these cold days.  Good thing I work for Bass Pro Shops!

We’ve got a great selection of fleece, jackets and hoodies to top off your winter look.  But my personal favorite thing about the cold is getting to layer all those comfy clothes for some extra warmth.  Here’s a look at some of our Top Sellers from the online shop.

For the guys, let’s start with the RedHead Thermal Henley Shirts.  They are currently on sale starting at $19.97 and are available in 8 colors.  The 3 button Henley look is popular and stylish and the waffle texture is soft and comfortable.

Sticking with the Henley look, we also have RedHead Layered Henleys in five colors for Men currently on sale for $14.97.  These shirts are 100% jersey cotton, have a chest pocket and feature a double collar for the layered look.

Both are perfect for an extra layer when spending time outdoors or just a weekend working around the house.

For the ladies, our Bob Timberlake Waffle Pintuck Henleys are pretty and comfortable.  They have a smaller waffle texture that’s easy to wear and front embellishments that make them a little more feminine.  These start at $26.97 and come in four colors.

I also love our Ladies’ Natural Reflections Flannel Shirts.  They currently start at $24.99 and also come in four colors.  They are 100% flannel for a soft, flattering fit.  Perfect with jeans and boots!

Hopefully this gives you an idea of our great cold weather clothing selection at Bass Pro Shops.  Stop in and get ‘em before it’s too cold!

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Leaders and Tippet

This topic is the one topic in fly fishing that creates the most confusion for fly fishers. We’re going to break down some of the terminology of these two fly fishing items and discuss how to choose the right one for the circumstances you may be fishing.

There are a few different types of leaders in fly fishing. Folks use steel leaders, braided leaders, compound leaders, furled leaders and the most common, knotless leaders. We’re going to talk about the most common type: knotless leaders. These leaders are usually made out of one of two types of materials: nylon monofilament or fluorocarbon monofilament (polyvinylidene fluouride). Fluorocarbon is a denser material which will not float as well as monofilament. This is ideal when fishing small nymphs or midges subsurface. Monofilament is the most common type of knotless leader because most fly fishers tend to fish dry flies during hatches. Monofilament is about the same density as water and will float or ride on the surface film easily, especially if it is greased. Fluorocarbon is denser, stronger, and more clear than mono. This is why many fishers prefer it over mono. The only disadvantage is that fluorocarbon costs more than mono.

float

A knotless leader is made up of three sections; the butt section, the tapered section and the tip, also known as the tippet. The butt section of the leader is the thickest part of the leader and is the part of the leader that is attached to your fly line, and usually comprises of about 20% of the overall length. The tapered section is the longest section of the leader. This comprises of approximately 60% of the overall length and tapers to the tippet section. The tippet section also comprises about 20% of the overall length and is the part of the leader that dictates the leader’s “size”. Here’s an example of a tapered leader: a nine foot 5X leader will have a butt section of about 25 or 30 lb. test and taper down to a 5 lb. test. When constructing leaders most fishers will discuss leader formulas with diameter in mind not test strength.

Leader length is usually decided based on the conditions such as “spookiness” of the fish you are chasing; the spookier the fish, the longer the leader. For example: fishing popping bugs on a pond might require a 7 to 8 ft leader, while fishing a river for trout might require a 9 to 12 foot leader. Some waters that hold easily spooked fish may call for a leader 14 to 16 feet in length.

 

leader

Sizing is the most confusing part of leader and tippet selection. Leaders were made from cat-gut many years ago and in order for a person to decrease the size (diameter) of their leader one would “draw” their leader through a board of grommet holes. Every time you’d draw your leader it would decrease its size. So if you were to run your leader through your draw board it would be a size 1X leader, if you were to draw it again it would be a 2X leader, and so on. When leaders were made from nylon during the first half of the last century, the sizing stuck. Today when you buy a 7X leader it has a smaller diameter (and weight class/pound test) than a 3X leader.

Leader and tippet size is dictated by the size of fly you are casting. There is a general rule of thumb when figuring out what size you may need. Divide the size of your fly by the number three and this will give you the right leader/tippet size. For example: a size twelve prince nymph is what you’d like to cast. You’d want to use a 4X tippet/leader, but an 18 midge would require a 6X leader/tippet. You’d like to keep this as close as possible for the best presentation and casting of your fly.

flouro

Tippet spools are bought for two main reasons; to lengthen a leader and to change the tippet size at the end of the leader. When fishing over the period of a day one may find that after changing flies several times that their leader had shortened. Let’s say a nine foot leader is now only six feet long. This would be about the time you’d change your leader for a longer one. Having several different sized spools of tippet you could easily just cut a 3 foot section of tippet from the spool and tie it to the end of your 6 foot leader. The overall length of your leader now would be about 9 feet. You’d be back in business efficiently and with minimal costs (changing leaders every time would cost you quite a bit more). Let’s say you’re fishing with size 14 flies most of your day and are using a size 5X leader, you decide you’d like to go smaller, maybe down to a size 18 fly. Rather than change your leader you could cut a length of 6X tippet and tie it to the end of your 5X leader. The taper will continue downward and you won’t have to tie on a new leader, again, this is more cost effective and efficient (efficiency is everything in fly fishing).

Hope this helps. If it doesn’t, stop in the fly shop and we’ll help you out one on one.

 

William Walter

White River Fly Shop/Bass Pro Nashville

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Memorial Day is fast approaching!

For the last several years I have wanted to purchase a smoker and try my hand with this method of cooking.  I never did because I was too aprehensive - was it difficult to operate? Did it take a lot of prep work? What seasonings should I use? A week before this last Christmas, I made a comment (and not with the intention of this being a hint for a gift) about this while in the grocery store shopping with my wife.  Unbeknownst to me, she made a phone call and with the assistance of several of my co-workers at Bass Pro Shops, she was educated on the many different types of smokers we carried, made a purchase of one and with the help of our three children, presented me with a new Masterbuilt 30" Electric Smoker complete with digital keypad (price $239.99) on Christmas Day.

Smoker

For the next several weeks, they continually asked me when I was going to use the smoker and what I planned on cooking.  I decided that even if I wasn't going to use it at the time, I would take some time and put it together.  Bad planning on my part - it took longer to remove the smoker from the box and take the components out of their wrapping, than it did to put it together.  The only tool needed was a Phillips-head screwdriver (for two screws) and within 10 minutes my smoker was assembled.  I read the owner's manual and learned that for best results I needed to "season" the smoker before first using it.  I bought a small bag of mesquite wood chips from Bass Pro Shops (price $4.99) and began the simple "seasoning" process - I plugged the smoker into an electrical outlet outside my garage, set the temperature (275 degrees) and time (3 hours) using the digital controller and went about completing some other tasks.  I added a small amount of chips at the specified time and after three hours, the process was complete.

For my first attempt at using the smoker, I decided to try something that I thought would be easy and inexpensive - chicken.  I bought two whole chickens from the grocery (price $11) and applied some dry-rub seasoning (purchased from the wide selection available at Bass Pro Shops - price $6.99) to them.  I completed a few other preparation steps - added wood chips, filled pan with water, lined the bottom pan with aluminum foil and set the temperature and time.  Three and a half hours later, I removed the chickens from the smoker, let them cool for 20 minutes and ate dinner - everyone raving about the taste and tenderness of the food.  The meat, literally, fell off the bone.

Prepping and cooking the food was easy.  Now came the hard part - the clean up.  Or so I thought. 

I removed and cleaned the racks, emptied and cleaned the water pan, removed the aluminum foil from the bottom pan, wiped it clean and wiped down the door seal.  I hand-dried all of the components, placed them back in the smoker and was done in just under 20 minutes.

The entire process was simple and easy.  The food tasted great and everyone gave suggestions on what to fix next. 

Thanks to all of my co-workers for their time, suggestions, guidance and advice.  All of it resulted in a great meal and turned a "smoking" novice into someone eager to use this cooking method again.

If you are interested and intrigued in this cooking method, don't wait to get started.  All of us want to be the talk of the family, friends, neighborhood, etc. when it comes to cooking.  Everything you need for cooking outdoors is available at Bass Pro Shops.  We have a great selection of products, excellent prices and a knowledge staff.  Remember ... Memorial Day is fast approaching.

 

Kirk Pickel

Group Sales Manager

Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World

 

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Beginner Fly Tying

 

Winter is usually the time of year most fly fishers sit inside, tie flies, and dream about the approaching fishing season. Fly tying can be a daunting hobby for a beginner, especially if you have no idea what kind of tools and materials you may need. This month’s blog is going to go over some of the basics of fly tying.

vise

There are three basic tools that you need to tie flies: scissors, bobbins, and a vise (buy for quality when it comes to these three tools). There are many other tools that you may want to purchase; whip finish tool, bodkin, and hackle pliers, and there are many options of quality with these tools.

bobbin

Tying materials like feathers, fur and flashing also come in different “Grades”. Most craft stores carry similar materials but they are usually not strong enough for fly tying. You should really stick to fly shops for the best feathers and fur for tying flies.

pliers

DVD’s can help and are much easier to understand than books. You can watch someone tie the actual fly and freeze frame, or go back and watch again anything you may not understand the first time. Books are really great for experienced tiers. I personally have a large collection of fly tying books that I have collected over the years – primarily for the patterns (recipes).

scissors

Classes are the best way to get started tying flies. Classes can offer one on one experience with an established tier. Many times we may think we “know” something or how to “do” something but not until we are actually confronted with the task do we realize that we may be out of our depth. I have taught hundreds of tying classes and have seen students exchange ideas or help one another in ways that even a teacher may not be able to. Classes give you an opportunity to ask questions and get feedback on any ideas you may have. Information on Nashville Bass Pro Shops tying classes can be found on the website.

 

Here are a few tips:

  1. When you tie a pattern – tie a dozen flies of that pattern. Many times people will believe they have “mastered” a fly after tying two, three or even one fly.  If you tie a dozen of that fly you will have perfected the techniques to tie that fly and will, in the long run, not forget how to tie that specific fly.
  2. Find the most comfortable chair and desk or table for you to tie. This may encourage you to tie more rather than less.
  3. A table top magnifying glass may not be a necessity for some, but it may be for others.
  4. Learn everything you can about the materials you are using. How are threads sized? Why are some dubbings easier to spin? Why this hook over that one? These questions can be learned from books but are always better understood through experience.
  5. A well lit tying station is a must.

 

William Walter

White River Fly Shop Nashville

class

 

 

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Winter Fly Fishing

Some people are crazy enough to fish through the winter – I am definitely one of them. The winter, with the wind and cold it brings, can still offer some great fishing opportunities. Getting to your favorite spot may be much easier in the winter with the decline in people actually fishing as well as boating, canoeing or kayaking. But, you should also keep in mind that the number of daylight hours will have diminished since summer.

Planning is everything. Go by the Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared.” Dress in layers. It is easier to take off a layer that you may not need than to mysteriously knit a layer out of thin air. Your first layer should be one that will wick moisture away from your skin. Many thermal type shirts and underwear are specifically designed to wick away moisture. The second layer is the insulation that will keep heat in and colder air out. The third layer should be the one that will keep you dry from rain and windproof like most GORE-TEX® wading jackets.

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Gloves, for me, are a must. I prefer the cut-off wool type but many options are now available for fishers. There are neoprene gloves with or without fingers, gloves with fleece linings and those with flip mitts. Some folks swear by one type over another but ultimately the best thing to be aware of is to keep your hands out of the frigid water and wind as much as possible.

gloves

One way to ensure your hands will stay out of the freezing water is to use a net when landing fish. Many people who fly fish choose to not use a net, especially during the summer. But, using a net in the winter will help keep your hands out of the water and may actual help releasing fish more efficiently as a person can fumble fish with frozen hands. 

net

 

Hand warmers are a luxury for some and a necessity for others. I like using them in the pockets of my jacket. I then can place a cold hand in the pocket – warming it up for a bit. They make warmers for feet, hands and body. These can help warm you up just enough to make a blustery day bearable.

warmers

These are a few items to keep in mind when fishing during the winter months. The main thing is to keep yourself dry as possible and be prepared  (even on days when it looks as though the sun will be high in the sky – we all know how fast the weather can change).

Keep an eye on the Nashville Bass Pro Shops website for upcoming fly fishing and fly tying classes coming in January 2013.

 

William Walter

White River Fly Shop - Nashville, TN

 

 

 

 

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Packing it in for the Year: Gear Storage    

Some folks pack their gear away at the end of autumn and get ready for winter. This article talks about some things you should be thinking about if you’re going to pack it in for the year.

The first thing to think about is storage of gear (especially line and reels). Most folks set their gear in a closet and forget about it only to discover in the spring that their line has mildew and the drag on their reel doesn’t seem to work as well. Fly lines should be cleaned before storage and more importantly, completely dried. Most manufacturers will suggest cleaning line with a small amount of mild soap and water. Some suggest using cleaners that they provide. The main thing to think about is the dryness of the line before storage. I run my line through a damp sponge two or three times to remove any dirt. Then I hang the line for a couple days in safe space. Winter is usually very dry and lines will dry fast in an arid climate. Once I am sure the line is completely dry I rewind it on a reel and store it. If you leave your damp line in a bag or box there is a chance that the line may develop mildew. Mildew can ‘break down’ the line’s buoyancy. You may find that the line will not float as well the next time you fish in the spring. Most lines today do not need line dressing but dressings are still available if you believe you need one.

Fly reels should have drag knobs adjusted to the lowest setting –meaning turn the drag off. If you leave a drag knob “on” you may find the reel has developed a weaker drag over a period of time. Cleaning and greasing any parts needed before storage is desirable.

Rods are simple to store: a good wipe down with mild soap and water and maybe a whack with a vinyl cleaner like Star-Brite. The main thing is to verify that the cork is dry and that no corrosion is taking place on or around the guides.

If you plan on fishing through the winter like some of us crazy fishers do, then look out for next month’s blog when we discuss aspects of winter fly fishing.

William Walter

White River Fly Shop Nashville

 

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Dressed for Success throughout the Year

          What to wear….what to wear? This question runs across your mind the night before fishing and like a mosquito buzzes around the inside of your worrisome head. One of the most common comments I hear from people concerning their fly fishing is the fact they feel uncomfortable, underprepared or, sometimes, overdressed.

          Most folks fish days when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees. During those trips most of us have a favorite angler’s shirt and waders or may even wet wade in a pair of shorts. But what about the days it rains? On those days a wader jacket or light rain jacket does a fine job. Lightning is really the only issue to really be concerned with. When lightning is a problem you really need to get out of the water and stop waving the long lightning rod we call a fly rod. Take shelter or just call it a day (this will ensure you another opportunity to fish again). If the temp drops a little during some light rain a wading jacket will help keep the chill off.

          During most of the summer the issue is the sun. We need to keep from burning and using sunscreen can definitely help. A couple other items to think about are “buffs” and sun gloves. These will protect your face and hands from sunburn and most times will do a better job than sunscreen. Another item to think about is insect repellent. This one small item can change a day of horror, pure horror, into a wonderful day of fly fishing. “Got your bug dope?” my father used to ask.

          When the summer passes and the autumn leaves fall we usually dress a little warmer. I like to wear synthetic materials that can wick away moisture and sweat. Wearing earthen colors or maybe a little bit of camouflage can’t hurt. I watch many anglers spook fish in various ways and one particular way is wearing bright colored hats and moving over the fish erratically. Bright colors reflect more light and act like a beacon. Find a hat a bit dark or camouflage that may blend in with your surroundings. Most waters this time of the year tend to be very clear and make fish more “spooky”.

          If you are like me you don’t let the cold of winter stop you from fishing. I fish more in the winter. I find less people on the river and I like the cold. The days are much shorter so your fishing may be short compared to the long days of summer. Again, I wear materials that wick away moisture and in layers. I use rag wool gloves as they can still keep your hands warm even when wet and dry quickly if needed. I use a net all throughout the winter. The less your hands are in the water the warmer they will be. Hats that cover your ears and hand warmers can help. I put hand warmers in my gloves but also in the pockets of my wading jacket. These keep my finger tips warm for short spells.

          Dressing for outdoor activities like fly fishing usually requires us to think about temperature, weather, and ultimately, comfort. The more comfortable we are, the better our days on the water can be.

William Walter

White River  Fly Shop Nashville

White River

 

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Flingin’ Flies from a Pick-up: A Nashville fly fishing Blog

Rod Selection Part II

 Last month’s blog we talked about selecting a fly rod based on type of fishing. We also discussed rod length and weight class when choosing a rod. This month we will finish this topic and discuss rod “action” and quality of rods.

Fly rod “actions” are described as fast-action, medium- action, or slow-action. Ultimately these terms are describing the flex action of a rod. A fast-action rod will typically bend only up near the tip top of the rod making for an overall stiffer feel. A slower action rod will generally flex through most of the rod right down to the handle making for a very flexible or slower feeling rod. And, of course, the medium action or mid flex rods will normally feel as they bend or flex mid way through the rod shaft. A fast action rod, feeling much stiffer than others is a tool used for fishing fast and hard especially on windy days. This does not mean by any means that a fast action rod is better than the other two types.

I explain to folks that fly rods are a lot like cars. Slower rods can be found more often in the less expensive style fly rods and tend to be the rod a novice tends to afford in the beginning. Reminds me of my first car – a pre-owned rust bucket, it wasn’t expensive and was a bit sloppy looking, but it got me around. On the other hand a fast action rod many times can be some of the most expensive rods out there. Like a fast sports car, expensive and really nice to look at, and a joy to use in specific situations. Sports cars are wonderful on a beautiful sunny day just as a fast-action fly rod would make a wonderful choice on a drift boat floating a windy river. The problem with a sports car is that you really wouldn’t want to drive it in a blizzard.

Keeping this in mind, fast action rods are really not the work horse of fly fishing and in most cases what we’d like is a “Pick-up truck” - something a bit more functional than a “sports car”. If you want to fly fish at any given time and not only when a hatch is on, then you will most likely be fishing nymphs and streamers –subsurface flies. These types of flies fish a bit better with a rod that provides a little more flex. This allows for the fish to pull a subsurface fly without “popping” it from their mouth. Faster and stiffer rods have a tendency to do this while slower rods offer a bit to the fish like a shock absorber –absorbing the take of the fish. Real stiff or taught lines tend to spring flies from fishes mouths (this is why a proper drift is so important). A stiff rod can do the same.

Some folks talk about this in a slightly different manner. They call this “Tippet protection,” which is the ability of a rod to flex enough so that the tippet will not break immediately upon the strike of a fish. Again, a stiffer rod has less “tippet protection” and because of its stiffness can allow for the breaking of the tippet quickly upon a strike.

Before anyone fillets me for overgeneralization I would like to suggest that there are some wonderful high quality slow action rods and low quality faster action rods out there, so keep that in mind as well.

Most of us graduate with our technical expertise to different types of rods for different techniques. No rod will cast for you nor make you a better caster because of its quality. Fly casting is only one step in fly fishing and a rod is not only designed for casting. Elements include: mending efficiency, line pick-up, and tip sensitivity (as well as others). It is not just a tool to deliver line to the water and the “fishing” aspect of a rod should be considered as well.

William Walter

White River Fly Shop/Nashville, TN

 

 

 

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“Tech”ing Advantage of Waterproof Membranes

 

There is nothing that could ruin a hunt and end it more abruptly than being out in the elements and coming unprepared for whatever weather may be approaching. I know, I know, a little rain never hurt anybody; I understand that, however, a lot of rain in near freezing temperatures has and will if you are not properly equipped with insulated clothing lined with a waterproof membrane.

A waterproof membrane (such as Gore-Tex or BoneDry) consists of a waterproof fabric with billions of microscopic pores that are thousands of times smaller than a water droplet but hundreds of times larger than a water vapor molecule. This means that moisture created from perspiration will be able to escape but rain water will not be able to enter the clothing. These liners are also windproof which is a huge factor in keeping you warm in the colder months because we all know what a cold sharp wind feels like when it cuts through that 10 year old hunting coat you bought at the supercenter on the way to deer camp.

The Red Head C.W.S. Parka and Bibs are just examples of the vast selection of insulated waterproof clothing we have here in the store. C.W.S. stands for Cold Weather System meaning that this parka is more than just a standard hunting coat. The inside liner zips out and can be worn earlier in the season when the weather is not so frigid. For early to late bow season, the inside liner also zips down to a full camo vest for complete mobility and minimal insulation. The outer shell can be worn anytime from early deer season to the end of turkey season the following year as a completely BoneDry waterproof outer layer. When worn as a full system, the C.W.S. Parka and Bibs will keep you BoneDry and toasty warm through the coldest of the winter months.

Don’t let that surprise rainstorm or the icy conditions prematurely kick you out of the woods any longer. Come by Bass Pro Shops in Nashville, Tennessee and see our knowledgeable Hunting Clothing associates to find which system of clothing suits you best.

Ray Engels

Bass Pro Shops

Nashville, Tennessee

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Flingin' Flies from a Pick-Up: A Nashville Fly Fishing Blog

Rod Selection Part I

Selecting a fly rod can be an exciting but sometimes off-putting task for many beginner or intermediate fly fishers. We’re going to discuss some of the terminology used by some fly fishers and clarify the meaning behind the tech jargon we hear so often when discussing fly rods. Most importantly, we’re going to give you a few things to think about when you set out to purchase a new rod. 

The first thing to think about when purchasing a fly rod is to decide specifically what type of fly fishing you plan on doing. Rods are made for different types of fish, conditions, and flies. You will see heavy 10 weight rods for saltwater, lighter 5 weight rods for trout streams, 8 weight rods for bass fishing on lakes and tiny 3 weights for little brook fishing, and everything in between. Find your weight class and then decide on length of rod – which is mostly dictated by distance needed for casting, and equally important, mending efficiency. A longer rod can cast line further than a shorter one. When fly fishing a small creek we may not seem to think long casts are a necessity and choosing a shorter rod may be better suited for tighter conditions (as many small creeks tend to be in dense wooded areas). Casting on a wide river or lake one may desire a longer cast and choose a longer rod. Not only will this help with casting distance it will also make for more efficient casting coverage of water – meaning  - one would not have to move around the water to reach further fishing areas, instead, we could cast shorter distances followed by longer distances and cover a greater area of water.

This is also true for line mending. A longer rod may mend line a bit easier with more efficiency than a short one. Mending of line is the movement of the line we create after the cast has been delivered and comes to rest on the body of water. This aspect of fly fishing tends to be shadowed by the enormity of discussion about casting. Casting is important, but a river can destroy a beautiful cast if the angler does not mend the line properly. On the other hand – a poor cast can be fixed by a proper mend. This is not to say casting is not important but that mending is equally important.

This is a reasonable amount of information to use when a beginner is choosing a rod, but an intermediate fly fisher may narrow down their rod choice a little further. Recently a very experienced fly fisher wanted a trout rod exclusively for streamer fishing. She planned on using this rod for larger rivers, larger trout and larger flies. She chose a 9 foot 7 weight St. Croix® Bank Robber Fly Rod and loves it. Fishing for trout is a generalized statement- what kind of water, what types of flies will narrow down your choice of fly rod. You may choose a longer 4 weight Temple Fork Outfitters™ Lefty Kreh Finesse Fly Fishing Rod for tiny midge fishing or a small White River Fly Shop® Classic Ultralight Fly Rod for trout in higher elevation mountain – these are all trout rods but very different from each other. The more experience you develop fishing the more you will understand exactly why one would choose a specific length, weight and action (more on action next month).

Here are a couple of small items also to think about when first looking at fly rods. First - does it come with a rod tube (a hard case)? And second - What kind of warranty is attached to the rod? Both of these items may add cost to the overall price of the rod. A rod without a rod tube may be a great fly rod regardless, but purchasing a tube in addition adds to the final cost. Warranties can be a confusing aspect when thinking about fly rods, but the main thing to think about is whether or not the rod has some kind of warranty and most importantly – understanding what the warranty covers.

More on rod selection next blog…

 

William Walter

WR Fly Shop Nashville

Fly Class

 

 

 

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