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Getting Started With Fly Fishing

Once upon a time, someone gave me a fly rod & reel after I mentioned that I wanted to learn to how flyfish. Years later, I finally had the opportunity to take a class through the local forest preserve to learn how to use the thing and, of course, I ended up picking up new gear. This lead to setting up yet another kit for yet another hobby, though technically I never had a proper kit for the first fly rod. Based on what I’ve read in past and present, decisions (right or wrong) were made. Here’s what I assembled and why.

Assembling the Kit

Your gamefish of choice will dictate which kind of rod you should buy. Usually, I’m fishing for panfish like blue gills and small mouth (“smallies”) are all landable with a 5 weight rig. The fly rod I bought was a Browning 4 piece 5-6 weight because my casting instructor recommended it as a traveling rid. I was intrigued by the idea of having a small kit I could reasonable take everywhere I thought there would be an opportunity to fish.

Selecting a reel was harder. I finally elected to go with an Orivs Battenkill II, which will handle 3-5 weight line. First, I sorted through the chinese offerings from Amazon, as well as higher quality offerings from Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s. While Bass Pro’s were better quality reels then Amazon’s chinese offerings, the reels were ~$60-70, cast aluminum and had disc drag systems. Looking at the offerings as an engineer, the Battenkill enticed me because it is made from solid bar stock (instead of castings), and a mechanically simple click and pawl drag system versus a disc drag. I believe the mechanically simple click & pawl, milled bar stock reel would be stronger & more durable then a cast reel with a disc drag of equivalent price. I also feel that the price was reasonably fair. The Reddington Fly Reel Zero gave me pause but I decided on the Battenkill for the same reason I don’t like glocks – plastic is for tupperware. I should note that the reel came set up as a left handed retrieve and I left it this way. My favored spincast, the Zebco 11t is also configured this way. A note – with this rod and reel combo, I can “cheat” down to 4 weight line on the rod or “cheat” up to 6 weight line on the reel which is a pretty comfortable range all things considered.

Then I had to select backing, fly line, leaders, and tippets. I would recommend using a dacron backing line and finally settled on some RIO backing from Ebay comparing price & shipping times. I had considered using mono as backing, but after purchasing dacron I’m a convert. Also, while researching the idea I found that the expansion of mono will cause damage to the spool. The dacron line is a bit like embroidery floss and bites the fly line better then mono could dream of. I only put roughly 1/2 the spool of backing on as I had seen some recommendations in my Orvis book to do so. Panfish are unlikely to run a 90′ length of fly line I think, but even 150′ of dacron backing should be more then enough.

For my fly line, I chose a weight forward, floating line in 5 weight. Typically, the floating line is considered the most flexible across the different applications of fly lines. Weight forward is good casting material for beginner and experienced alike per the Orvis book. I have read that sinking is recommended for panfish, my intended quarry, but I think I can compensate for this with my leader easily enough. If not, I’ll try a roll of sinking line then. I went with the White River due to the low cost of the line. I actually thought it was 90 yds … don’t be an idiot like me. The battenkill has enough capacity for the full 90′ spool of fly line. Unlike my last roll of fly line, the backing end was labeled.

For a leader, I will be making furled leaders of 6/0 unithread. I’m going to make a separate blog post on the construction of furled leaders but you can see the general idea by checking out these furled leaders on ebay. I decided on furled leaders because of the relatively low cost of raw materials. Several leaders can be made from a single roll of unithread. To keep the leaders from getting tangled during storage I 3d printed some leader holders that I found on Thingiverse.

I’ll use a piece of simple 2lb test monofilament as a tippet. I haven’t seen a reason not to.

I did buy a fly fishing vest, and went with one that is 100% cotton. Realize that fishing is likely to impart a certain fishy smell dirty done right. While the newer nylon vests are neat, they won’t handle a washer & dryer like a good cotton vest will. I also figured that being a germophobe I would want to was the vest often enough. I found a lightly used offering on Ebay. $20 later it was mine and it arrived in a few days. Until I get my preferences settled out, I do tend to buy a cheap. No need to buy twice cry twice because I couldn’t try it out in a store.

Tying it All Together

There are many different knots that need to be used to put a fly reel together. Here is the list, sorted from the reel to the tippet. These are the knots recommended by my LL Bean Fly Fishing book I purchased.

Final Thoughts

I’m not saying that I made the right decisions, but I feel that this kit has as much ability to catch a fish as the next. That’s what I’m after. If its sub-optimal then there’s a good chance its user preference and not something I can find in a book or youtube videos online. I’ll leave a list of my complete kit below, as well as some recommended resources. Thanks for reading.

Complete Outfit

Recommended Resources

Amsat Rig

Details of Current Satellite Contact System:

Apologies for the potato ...

Apologies for the potato …

SO-50/AO-85 Configuration.

Follow my progress and learn from my experiences.

Fedora 28 Move In Day

Fedora 28 was released this month. Here are my notes from moving into a new install. I make periodic backups on some external hard drives, so for $BACKUPDIRECTORY$ I’m using the path to my backups on the externals. The $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$ refers to where I store the key that I made for my UEFI system to self-sign my virtual box drivers.

Notes are offered, questions may be answered.

use ‘mediawriter’ (install from repos first) to make a bootable USB

when installing, delete sda8 & sda9. These are the /boot/efi && luks-encrypted root partition (Note – I’m using a guided install but not separating my Home folder from the root drive like Fedora does. Your sda8/9 will vary.)

use the guided partioning, then delete /home, and delete the partition size of /. Apply, so that /home is stored in /

Reboot to fresh os

copy dotfiles back from backup drive


pop a terminal run this:
time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Documents/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Music/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Pictures/ . > /dev/null && time cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/Downloads/ . > /dev/null

pop a new terminal and run this:
su -c “dnf install -y cura youtube-dl chromium firefox thunderbird wget pulseaudio-equalizer hexchat vlc geany geany-plugins-* gimp yakuake keepassx ImageMagick optipng php && dnf groupinstall -y ‘Development Tools’ && dnf -y update”

With firefox & thunderbird installed:
cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.mozilla/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.thunderbird/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.config/chromium/ ./config/

Now at least you can get firefox & thunderbird back up

With thunderbird, you’ll need to do “Repair Folder” on your inboxes/folders/etc

Fixing themes:
Window Borders: Adapta
Icons: Breeze-dark
Controls: Adwaita-dark
Desktop: Adara-Dark

Install Virtual Box:
su -c “dnf install VirtualBox system-config-users VirtualBox akmod-VirtualBox kmod-VirtualBox -y”
add user to groups vboxsf & vboxusers
reloadvbox in .bashrc

And copy over all your old VirtualBox stuff:
cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/VirtualBox\ VMs/ . && cp -r $BACKUPDIRECTORY$/.config/VirtualBox/ .config/

Sign the drivers with:
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxdrv)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxpci)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxsf)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxnetflt)
/usr/src/kernels/$(uname -r)/scripts/sign-file sha256 $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.priv $DRIVER KEY DIRECTORY$/driversigningkey.der $(modinfo -n vboxnetadp)
systemctl restart systemd-modules-load.service

Thanks to

Cura preferences – Cura does not like restoring from the backup.

Install your printer software again, HP Deskjet 2600 is still not supported:
su -c “dnf install hplip-libs hplip”
Add with the system-config-printer wizard
Change the page size – right click the printer, properties, Printer Options, Page size

Add user to tty group
will have to reboot to take effect, or you can su – $(whoami) && chirpw to get around it temporary like

Good time to make a waypoint in your backups

Alinco DR-735T: Initial Thoughts

I recently purchased a new VHF\UHF radio. I intend to purchase 2 of the same radios, one of which will reside in my go-box and one which will be installed in my new car (that I do not own yet). One of the things that attracted me to the was the crossbanding feature.  Another was that it was not yaesu\icom.

Another one of the things that attracted me to the Alinco’s DR-735 Clone Utility was the programming software … which is actually terrible and undocumented. I’m going to relate a few things about the programming software as I haven’t seen any documentation.  Hopefully this will help someone having a bonehead day.

First – it requires .Net 4.5 which is happily installs … with a japanese installer.  Good thing we just keep clicking next right?  Ugh.  But it does actually install, and run.

Configuring channels is hard – let’s export from my CHIRP config and remix that to import as the clone utility.  But … it appears that the cvs import is broken.  I received strange errors like “Subtone NG : Line=3” until I managed to craft a CVS file that the program was happy with:

Once I was able to edit my cvs file to match the exported format from the software, … I was barely able to import simplex channels. I could not load repeaters from the cvs file (even one that was exported by the software itself). I don’t understand the problem and ended up putting in the first memory manually. Copy/paste does work though, so once you struggle through setting up the first repeater you can copy\paste and then edit the rest:

But here’s what really screwed me up (for to long).  If you’re working on a smaller computer, like a netbook you’ll get a cryptic error message.  If you’ve worked serial ports before you’ll instinctively know what the problem is.   Until you get a larger screen though, you won’t be able to do anything about it.  Here’s from a VM shrunk down:

And here’s from a VM that I left at the full 1920×1080 of my new computer:
You’ll notice off in the right hand side a dropdown saying “COM3.”  Yes, that’s right.  You lose the option to configure the com port the clone software expects to use!   Once I tried a bigger monitor (for some reason the external display on my netbook goes to 1280) I was able to select the proper COM port and then only upload the first channel of my config.  Turns out you have to select all the channels you want to upload.

In my mind, the com port selection should be with the File\Write menus, not where it can get lost.  I can understand the CVS import failing (to an extent).  But a properly crafted CVS, or indeed, one exported by the program itself should import more then just the simplex options in the config.

I have to give the clone utility 1 star since it seems mostly broken.  How does the radio follow suite?  Suffice it to say I am glad I did not buy 2 from the start.  I look forward to the radio functioning well enough that I have no reservations about buying a second.

A Simple Pencil Cup

I just bought myself a new camera lens for my rebel.  The venerable nifty fifty.  I also just built this, so … photo time.

Smart self would have also taken photos with the kit lens to compare against, but I was not operating as smart me at the time.


Bonus feature:  my janky photo booth!  That’s three sheets of Dollar Store foam board (in eggshell or white or ivory or puce if you like) on a tv tray and a <a href=”″>Aputure Camera Light</a> duct taped to a microphone stand.  Janky for sure, but it works.  Remember, if it works, it works and 90% of the time – that’s what matters.

AAR: Pumpkin Fest

On October, I helped out my local ham club doing background logistics for the floats in the Pumpkin Fest Parade.  Our job was to get the floats out in the order they should be, monitor the progress of the floats through the parade, and radio if something went south.  Pretty interesting work, if a bit boring.  If you get the chance you should definitely help out your local club with a parade.

Here is my “kombat rig” that I wore while helping out.


The list of things I’d do differently is pretty short. I’d dress a bit warmer. I’ll also wear my electronic muffs. I wasn’t thrilled about cutting off my hearing entirely – if something happens I want to hear. But if the noise gets to loud it will cut off. And I should have packed some snackage to munch on once the parade got started.

Previously I had used a back pack. It worked, but it was really over kill for the situations I have worked. My car is always within walking distance, so now I prefer this super simple, light weight rig. I will be adding this radio carrier to the mix.

Parts from left to right:

  • Dump pouch
  • Organizing pouch, good for holding maps and a spare battery for your radio.
  • Baofeng Radio setup:
    • Signal Stuff Antenna. My antenna and radio are setup for BNC.
    • Baofeng BF-F8HP radio
    • Extended battery. The 8 watts really drains the stock battery. Keep it for a spare.
    • A Handset. I’ve goofed around with the throat mics, and honestly these are the best no muss solution. Quality control it yourself and make sure everything works before you hit the field, or you’ll do my screw all over again.
    • Acoustic Tube. You definitely should be using an acoustic tube so you can actually hear the communications over the din of the crowd.
  • A few nondescript carabiners for attaching things to. I had my drinking bottle clasped to my belt as well as my volunteer flag.
  • An earplug for the other ear. The noise of the crowd started to mess with me and put me into sensory overload. Not fun, and not acceptable when working an event. Additionally, when a 100 year old steam engine whistle goes off 5 feet in front of you, you’ll appreciate the lowly ear plug..

Little Stinger Slingshot

Just a fun little project.



Building a Ham Radio Power Supply

Ham Radio Isn’t Cheap

Much like shooting, ham radio is expensive. I think all fun hobbies are. But after spending $820 for the radio, I wasn’t in the mood (or the financial state) to drop another $100 to $150 on an Alinco Power Supply. Slick as spit, but not worth it.

So, here is what I came up with:

My power supply has the following features:

  • Hacker cred. I put it together, and it looks nice and works great, on 2M at least.
  • Dual USB ports, for keeping a phone topped off.
  • A cigarette lighter, for powering/charging a baofeng or anything 12V compatible.
  • Dual Anderson Powerpoles on the rear, for the ham’s favorite 12V connector
  • Uses a standard computer power supply cable.

So, here is my Bill of Materials:

A few build notes:

  • I crimped the powerpoles using my standard channelock wire strippers and then soldered them with my hakko. This gives about as good as a connected as you can get.
  • I used standard spade connectors (though mine are from Menards), again crimped and soldered, to connect everything to the power supply unit.
  • Most ham radios expect 13.8VDC, instead of the 12V this one was outputting. That’s okay, there’s a dandy reostat you can use to adjust the output power. I had mine set for 13.81V and its drifted to 13.84/5. I suspect it has to do with the construction and actually powering the unit up. However, my 857 will tolerate a +/- 10% range, so eh. I’ll adjust it again the next time I fire it up.
  • Take care when making the AC Mains connections. I am using a cut\trimmed piece of a PC power cord, with crimped and soldered spade terminals connected to the socket and to the power supply unit. I used some push on connecters to make a removable/solid connection to my socket, then put heat shrink over the arrangement to make sure I had removed and electrocution hazard, as best as possible. 14VDC will tickle, 120VAC will kill, and hurt the entire time.
  • Cut outs for the Chassis mount and PC powersupply socket were done with an x-acto knife, a ruler, and a little bit of caliper work. Everything fits perfectly. Lay out the holes you need, then visually check the marks are in the right place. Make light passes with the x-acto to cut through the plastic of the dry box.
  • This is such a gadgety thing, but it makes doing zip ties so much easier, tighter, and with practice the cut offs cleaner.

The total cost of the arrangement? Not counting the sundries I had on hand, $54.04. Not bad, a third of the cost and quite a bit more fun. You could do this even cheaper if you skipped the power powerpoles and the other features, but charging phones is good. When I first made it, I had the radio and a cut off power cord running directly to the power supply unit. It worked, and worked well, but I wanted to make things cleaner for sure.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below. 73, and good night all.

Edit: I posted this to /r/amatuerradio and generated a fair response. I would like to highlight Megas3300’s RF Choke. This is probably needed for mine as well, but so far I’ve only used this on VHF. A proper HF antenna system awaits.

Another Skip Month

This time, 4 months have come and gone. What have I been doing this time?

As luck would have it, not much. I have honestly been quite stagnant over the last few months. But I’ll try to mention a few things.


To follow up on last month’s comments building a diplexer, I ended up deciding that the completed ones I have are functional. My meter shows the same amount of reflected power regardless of if an antenna is connected directly or if I have the diplexers connected into the circuit.

I did learn something. Crossing coax causes the signal to “jump” from one line to the other. How I learned was this that the line going into my SWR meter and then out to the antenna was crossed. Also, it looks like the BF-F8HP has built in SWR protection.

I do have another board with coax connected. Anyone want to buy one? I’m selling for about 1/2 the price of the Arrow diplexers – basically cover the parts and a pittance of time.

National Parks On The Air

My amatuer radio club recently did an activation for the ARRL’s National Parks On The Air. I did the 2M station, managing about 7 quick QSO’s. I did learn about band plans, in a capability I didn’t have before. I purchased a Yaesu FT-857. The event went well, and we qualified (10 LotW certified contacts).

Speaking of ham radio, I also tested and passed for the General Class license. This means I have useful HF privileges. Only an autotuner and HF antenna away from getting on the HF bands.

Oh the HandiFinder

Well, I won’t be uploading of a soldering the Handi-Finder. It works fairly well. I will try to get a video of it in use …. sometime. It’s not the best kit or instructions but it is doable.

Anything Else New?

Well, no, not really. Over the course of the summer I decided to forgo my vacations this year instead to purchase firearm parts and gear. So I did.

Nerf Maverick. None are like it, and it is Mine.