Frog Hair – a product soon to be supplied by Riverworks.
It took me a while to come around to the stuff, but I’m there now. This is how it happened…
Some time during the middle of the fishing season Rob sent me some new tapered leaders and tippet material to try out.
I was a bit dubious to begin with. When it comes to my set up there are two main things I need to have absolute faith in. Hooks, and tippet. You can get by with a less than perfect rod, but I won’t compromise when it comes to the hooks and tippet I use, for obvious reasons.
So this stuff shows up in a courier package, I divvied it up and gave Jack his share. From there it sat in my vest for a while… Even though Rob was keen for us to try it out and get back to him with the results, I wasn’t quite ready just yet.
I’d been using the same brand for a few years now. I had, and still have, absolute faith in it. I can count on one hand the amount of times it has failed on a fish. It takes a lot for me to move away from that.
The first time I used Frog Hair was on a day when jack and I were in the High Country chasing big fish. The fish were as spooky as anything you have ever come across and we were having a tough time. Just before lunch we spotted another fish, and I made the call to change things up a bit and tied some 4x (6lb) Frog Hair on as tippet material.
The cast landed as it should, and to mine and Jack’s surprise the fish actually took the fly. Unfortunately when I struck the line came shooting back at me… an inspection revealed the line had snapped. At that point in time I was none too happy, and the Frog Hair went back into the vest for a while after that.
A few weeks later and we were in the deep south. Again I was fishing with Jack, and again the fish were playing hard to get. This time it was Jack who decided to take the plunge. He tied on the mighty Frog Hair in an attempt to get the result which had so far eluded us for the day. This time around the Frog Hair proved a success… the first fish took the fly, put up one hell of a fight, and was successfully landed…. with a wind knot in the tippet to boot!
With my confidence restored I replaced my leader and tippet with Frog Hair and we both went on to have a pretty successful day. The fish we caught were as hard fighting as you can expect to find anywhere, so the line was well tested. I’ll even own up to discovering a wind knot in my line after I landed a fish later in the day.
I used Frog Hair for the remainder of the season without any issues. I’ll have no problem using it from now on… we got off to a rough start, but now I’m a believer.
Keep an eye out for this magic string in your local tackle shop. It shouldn’t be too far away. here are some photos of some of the fish we’ve caught on Frog Hair so far. (You may have seen these fish already)
I’ve spent years working in the tackle industry and I realize every angler is different, some view reels as an important part of the fishing arsenal, while others think that they are just over priced line holders and would rather “palm drag” their fish. Well, to be honest in the early days I was a line holder kind of guy, but have now been converted to the ways of the gear freak. I love nothing more than a hot looking reel, that has an exceptional drag. Sometimes we depend on a good drag, a stroppy sea run brown or a wild back country pocket water rainbow will test your gear to the limits, and generally a palm isn’t going to give you the upper hand (excuse the pun) especially when you need a hand on the rod and the other helping you to negotiate the rough country.
Many many reel companies have redesigned the disc drag system over the years. Whether its conical, disc, click, cork, stainless, teflon etc they all work on the same principal. They all exert pressure on the spool to slow its rotation down, thus slowing down the line peeling off and in turn the fish pulling on your line.
Here the more complicated physics comes into it, we start looking at torque, inertia and centrifugal forces. But I’m not going to get stuck into the nitty gritty, simply put, if something is spinning, its much easier to stop it spinning at the outer edge than if you tried to grab it in the middle. For example a bike wheel, you would have all turned your bike upside down as a kid and spun the pedals, well try stopping that wheel spinning, its way easier to grab the tire than it is to grab the spokes by the axle. This is torque or turning power created by the reel, or in this example the bike wheel. The further you move from the axle or center of rotation the larger amount of torque can be applied to the axle or center of rotation, basically meaning its easier to stop or start spinning.
So why would we want some kind of compact drag? with small surface area, small diameter or funny angled cone systems, which in turn mean little stopping power? I can’t actually answer that. It beats me, and goes against all physics based laws of motion. It would be great to have a drag the size of the reel itself, but we have to be practical. There will be trade offs somewhere with size vs drag, the tricky part is finding the balance.
I’m not about to go slagging other companies designs and systems, but I am going to draw some real world comparisons and explain why these work and why we have tweaked our design to be better.
Take a car disc brake. Fundamentally unchanged for ages I know, but they work. Bigger and faster cars have bigger brakes, not more of them. Space and weight is at a premium on a performance car and brakes are super important. Much like a fly reel, we want a light weight reel that isn’t bulky and stops fish. When we designed the R series reels we started with the 3 reel sizes, and designed a drag around these. We soon realised that we could use the same drag in all the reels reducing our production costs and in turn the end cost of the reel to you guys. The drag needed some prerequisites however, it needed to be laterally compact, light, durable, smooth, sealed and easy to maintain.
We came up with the “Orbit disc drag”, a simple system based around car disc brakes. The “Orbit” drag consists of a stainless steel pressure plate to which a high quality cork brake pad is bonded, and another stainless pressure plate which spins with the spool. We realize we probably could have saved some weight by using a different material other than stainless, but its the strongest most durable corrosion resistant material that could be used in this application with out pushing the price through the roof. Stainless steel responds well to polishing, giving us an unbelievably smooth drag surface, which means a super smooth drag. We also realized that even though, as I stated before the drag size is directly proportional to the amount of drag exerted, we only needed a drag size of 32mm diameter to give us more than enough drag for any fish that one may encounter in the size reels we designed.
Cork? you ask, yeah we could have made up some fancy name for it, but at the end of the day its cork. Its old school, its proven and best of all makes awesome drags! We could have used teflon, rulon, carbon or any combination of all these plastics, but they just don’t give you the same feel and longevity of a good quality cork drag. I have to emphasize “Good Quality” here, there is cork and there is cork, all are not created equal. We have found a really good quality product and have tested it extensively in both fresh and light salt water applications in New Zealand and it stood up just fine to the abuse.
Cork wont get as hot and it also wont melt when it gets hot. Because as another rule of physics informs us, energy can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred. In this case, rotational kinetic energy is turned into thermal energy (heat) through friction from the drag. So the drag will get hot, now if in the real world we happen to be connected to a stroppy back country fish that is really working our gear through some gnarly water, the last thing we want is our drag to get hot, then fail because the designer didn’t think about how hard our New Zealand fish pull. Luckily for you guys Riverworks gear is designed by kiwis who are out there thrashing it hard at every opportunity. The last thing we want is for one of our customers to take a reel to Atutaki and get spooled by a massive Bonefish, our reel fails, their trip is ruined. Cork is also relatively inert, its properties don’t change much with temperature, whether your swinging big streamers and drifting bombs in the depths of winter, or tiny dries and large terrestrials in the summer heat, our cork drags will always perform at the same level.
An often overlooked function of the drag is its ability to slip. We don’t want it to stay rock solid when we are hooked up, otherwise we would snap tippets, loose fish or worse, break rods. The Orbit drag system is easily adjustable to cover a huge range of drags. The pitch on the drag knob thread has been designed so that with less than 2 full rotations you have gone from full drag to no drag. This allows the angler to quickly adjust the drag not only a substantial amount at a time but also easily fine tune the drag mid fight for the best feel and control over your fish. The best of both worlds.
As the last Reel related blog post said we have a real flash reel coming later in the year, now the drag in this is different again, but based on similar principals. Keep an eye out for a post explaining its drag system in the near future……..
First of all thank you all for your help and suggestions for the new wading jacket. We really appreciate our customers input.
It appears we definitely have 2 very separate camps here, 1 for the wading jacket similar to what is already on the market and 1 for the more compact, simple, packable shell. All I have to do now is convince Rob to do 2 jackets so everyone has an option!
I received a few jacket designs, which were all really good and well thought out. Here they are:
From Calum McKenzie, a keen young fisherman and outdoorsman:
From Lisa McKenzie:
From Daren Gamble:
Thanks very much guys for all the effort you put in.
Everyone’s ideas have been taken into consideration and will form a check list to help us design a wading jacket for our customers. The design process for this jacket will be blogged continuously and at every stage our readers will be included in the discussions and decisions relating to this. We want you guys to see and be involved in everything from the concept right through to production.
Thanks again and keep an eye out next month for the initial concept sketches, we will need your votes!
This is a letter given to me by a former store owner. John has been great at giving feedback over the years. Below is a letter from John on the Riverworks XRT Wading boots.
Well another season has finished and it is time to drop you a line on the performance of the XRT Wading Boot that I purchased in December 2010.
Since December through to June 30, 2011 I have clocked up just on 450 hours, no mean feat but they have covered bush walking, cutting tracks, coastal estuaries, Hawke’s Bay rivers right through to back country streams covering mud, sand, boulders and stones.
During this time I found the boots extremely comfortable and supportive, even after a 10 hour day they were still great to have on. The total design of the boot gives you maximum support from the balls of your feet right through to your ankles. The hexaform inner sole was especially noticeable when boulder hopping, cushioning the shock allowing the feet to take less impact during each step. Just a quick note, I do wear neoprene inners when I am not in breathables which does give a little extra cushioning. I have even used them during a morning hunt before continuing a fishing afternoon saving weight and space with no effect.
The only downside which is only minor, is that I am onto my third lot of studs. I find the soft nature of these tends to wear them out a little quicker than usual. Maybe a stainless stud will help solve this and a loss of weight on my part! Looking at the boot as I write it is hard to see any exccessive wear from either the uppers or soles for the hours I have spent in them.
Robert, I would not have any hesitation in recommending these boots to anybody who wants 100% satisfaction from an excellent product that will serve them well in the years to come.
I know you are continually trying to improve through research and development on all your products you source and I wish you all the very best in the years to come.