Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fly Fishing the Delta Part 1 by Headwaters Fly Shop

In the last five years I have taught myself how to fly fish the California Delta from various human powered craft. The delta is such an amazing fishery, that I feel it would be selfish of me not to share, so I decided that I would write up a multi-part series how to on fly fishing the delta, so that hopefully others will come to appreciate just how awesome the California Delta is. In this first installment, I will talk about rod, reel and line choices geared toward the average fly fisherman, who is most likely transitioning from fly fishing from trout to fly fishing for bass.

The first part of this equation is finding a suitable rod. My personal favorite rod for learning to fly fish for warm water species, as well as being a flat out fun rod to catch warm water species on is the Gloomis 8 foot 5 weight Shorestalker. I chose this rod for several reasons, and there were several rods tested before I found this one. The prime reason for my love of this particular rod is castability, or more plainly put, ease of casting. Because it is a 5wt, there is plenty of flex in the blank and because the vast majority of fly fisherman chase trout as their primary targets, they are used to the blank flexing during the cast, so having a blank that does this makes transitioning to a new type of fly fishing easier, and in this article you will see me use the word easier a lot, because let's face it, if something is easier to do it's more fun and we are more likely to continue doing it. The other reason this is one of my favorite rods is it has a very wide grain window so it is easier to find a line that will properly work with this rod, compared to competitors bass fly rods. Anything from 190 up to 290 grains (yes that is not a typo, 290 grains on a 5 weight is a lot) will work well with this rod (more on this later in the article). Finally, due to the fact that the blank of this rod is fairly flexible for a warmwater rod, it makes catching small fish more fun. Let's face it, if you are learning a new fishery there are a ton more small fish out there than there are big fish, so if you want to learn about a new fishery, targeting small fish makes sense. The only con of of this rod is the price. At $350, it is a big initial investment, but I have a solution to this problem. At the Headwaters Fly Shop I keep demo rods of everything I sell, and I keep extra demos of this particular rod, so I would be happy to let a prospective buyer rent one of these and try it out on the water. As an alternative, The Headwaters Fly Shop has a guide service operating on the California Delta and I can show you how great this rod is.

The Shorestalker easily manages fish up to a couple pounds and is light enough to make small fish fun too.
The second decision you need to make is choosing a reel. I will be upfront and honest, in this category there really isn't one right choice, literally any kind of reel will work, from click and pawl to the most high tech reels out there. My choice for reel really comes down to personal preference and experience. The reel on my shorestalker is a Galvan Rush Light R-6. I chose to go with Galvan because they are a small, local business, that makes a top notch quality product and I know from personal experience you don't start a small local business to get rich or become famous, you do it out of love of what you do and you want to share your passion with others. I chose the Rush Light Series because it is the least expensive reel they offer with a one way clutch bearing, so you can adjust tension of the reel as you are pulling line off the reel, without affecting tension on the reel while you are reeling up. Not to mention with colors other than just black and clear metal finish, these reels look awesome in photos!
The Galvan R-6 spooled with Airflo Bass 8wt line. A great combo for the delta.
The third part of this puzzle is choosing fly line. I could do an entire article just about fly line, and I probably will in a future part of this series, but since we are talking about getting started I will keep my selection simple. The line on your delta fly rod should carry as much grain weight as the rod blank will handle without breaking. As you further master fly fishing the the delta, you will want to throw bigger flies, and more grain weight will turn over bigger flies easier than less grain weight will. The fish inhabiting the delta are far from spooky and a strong splash down on the water will more likely draw a strike than spook a fish. My personal preference thus far is an airflo Bass/Muskie weight forward floating fly line in 8 weight. This line has a 40 foot head and the entire head weighs 290 grains. If I were throwing the entire 40 foot head, 290 grains would completely overload 5 weight shorestalker. In my application, which is usually kneeling in my ultralight canoe, I am only getting 15 to 25 feet of the head up in the air and piling a bunch of line into a line management device and then shooting the line to complete my cast, so I am really only carrying between 108 and 181 grains . Also because this is an 8 weight line, it is very large diameter, which bigger or wind resistant flies easier, which is a lot of what is thrown on the delta. I know that this setup sounds outlandish, but you don't have to take my word for it, come out to the shop and try it, it works.

To this line there are two options for leaders: a furled leader or a poly leader mated to 3-5 feet of 20lb high quality fluorocarbon, such as Airflo G5 or Seaguar. The goal of this setup is to make turning over bigger flies easier and furled leaders or poly leaders along with large diameter tippet accomplish this task. The advantage of the furled leader is you can get it with a swivel which keeps flies like gurglers from twisting up your line. The advantages of the poly leader is it will last you several season and you can also get it in various sink rates, turning your floating fly line into a sink tip, creating a less expensive system for covering the water column compared to keeping three full setups (a floating, intermediate, and full sink), and will cover the majority of fishing conditions you will encounter in the delta. I use the bass/pike 4ft polyleaders from Airflo. The reasons for my choice of fluorocarbon line in 20lb test are it is large enough to turn over the largest flies you will throw on this setup, but slightly smaller than 20 lb test mono, so it will sink more easily than 20lb test mono, and then I only need to carry one tippet spool and if there are less items I need to remember to pack for a trip, it it easier for me to get out and fish, not to mention the downsides of using a human powered craft is there is less space and your speed is greatly affected by how much weight you are trying to move.

The final and probably most important part of this whole setup is the flies you will be using. Now as you progress you will have many, many flies in your delta box ( I know from experience, I currently have three fairly large boxes full), but right now we are just trying to a catch fish, any fish, and build your confidence, so you should keep it simple. I recommend 2 flies: 1 topwater and 1 subsurface. My personal recommendations would be: A Pultz bluegill special size 8 (topwater) in chartreuse and an umpqua perch darter (subsurface) also in size 8. I have caught everything that swims in the delta on these 2 flies.

A few examples or delta fish that fell for the size 8 perch colored darter.
So there you have it folks, the nuts and bolts of getting started fly fishing the California Delta. If you wish to discuss this topic further, or to book a guided trip on the delta, call The Headwaters Kayak Shop at 209-224-8367 and ask for Bill. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of the series, where I discuss choosing a craft for fly fishing the delta, and recommendations for spots on the delta to catch your first fish.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kayak Bass Fishing Lake Hogan By Team Member James Snyder

Hey guys, today I (James Snyder) had the privilege of fishing with some shop friends this afternoon Andy Rau And Ken Shields at New Hogan Reservoir here in beautiful California. We left Lodi around 6 am to arrive to the lake around 6:45 to some amazing air temps of 67 degrees. Forecast said it would be in the high 70's with winds from 0-12 mph gusts. For once the weatherman was correct!!! We made it on the water around 7:15 with light to no winds for the first 3-4 hours and the water was glass. Water temps started at 58 degrees and steadily climbed to over 63 degrees in some of the sun exposed and wind protected coves. Water was very dirty with only a few inches of visibility.

We started out with bass, striper and carp slashing all around us this morning. our fish finders were lit up with marks all over our selected area to fish this morning, its been a long time since I've personally had that many marks on my graph it was a nice change of pace. we started out hoping for a Topwater bite, WRONG! no luck there but we slowed down and started chucking A-rigs. no takers for me but Andy got a nice little 10in Striper early in the morning. We then slowed way down and broke out the fairy wands. our baits of choice today was the Ned Rig and drop shot. My colors of choice were green pumpkin red flake and green pumpkin purple flake for Ned rig and mm3 and Arron's morning dawn for my Roboworms. Instead of your traditional drop shot with the hook 8-12 inches from the weight we instead tied the hook then instead of a weight we tied on the Ned rig. This allowed us to cover more of the water column and produced more fish! Luckily we figured this out early on and was able to put a pretty solid pattern together in a short time, I found that the green pumpkin purple flake Ned with a MM3 Roboworm was my ticket today.

Most fish were caught in 8-18 feet of water off bank points where rock and brush met the water line. between the 3 of us we had 30-40 fish caught. Andy pours all of my Neds and Drop shot weights and if your interested at saving a little money for a amazing product hit him up on his Facebook @ his prices are far lower then any big named product and has fast shipping. now for the fun part pictures! -

Thanks for taking the time to read about my day- feel free to reach out to me on Facebook @ or on Instagram @ Yakin_James always willing to help and answer any questions you might have about kayaks, fishing, or our northern California waterways. Tight lines and look for more reports in the future!





Andy Rau - Ned Rigs contact him @





Map of New Hogan Res. gives you a rough idea of where to target different species of fish

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stealth Fisha and Pro Fisha Review

I was sent this review from Tim Bauer one of our customer in Hawaii on the Island of Kona. He is retired and fishes from his Stealth almost daily. If there was ever a customer who put our gear to the test, Tim would be the guy. Here is his review.

"I had been fascinated by Stealth for many years but was detoured by two unfounded concerns :
1) That the ski would be destroyed by the lava rock launches of Hawaii
2) that a fixed rudder would be damaged and that fish would wrap themselves around it.

Neither turns out to be an issue, a trolly facilitates a easy launch and retrieval with solo use and the fixed rudder withstands very significant accidental impact. The new line guards are a snap to install and prevent any entanglement.
Another barrier was that the closest ski was 296 miles away on a neighbor island and the closest dealer was 3,907 miles away on the mainland thus making a test paddle all but impossible. This sent me on a search to read everything possible about Stealth and to watch every You Tube video I could find. I was easily convinced to order a ski but was left a bit confused as to which one. To make a long story short, I ended up starting with a Fisha 500 and after paddling it for a few months ordered a Pro Fisha 575. This had nothing to do with any unhappiness with the 500 rather it gave me the ability to see what different qualities the Pro Fisha would offer and I am very pleased to have both. The characteristics chart on the Stealth web site is very helpful, but does not tell the full story as to how each ski may apply
to your specific fishery or physical needs. If possible it is well worth a bit of a trip to paddle the full line. If this is not possible (as was my case) I hope the following is helpful. The Fisha has a slightly wider and flatter hull. It is approximately 1 mph faster than a similar rotomolded polyethylene kayak. It is nimble and turns on a dime. The foot wells are a bit wider so those who typically paddle in a colder environment
may find that dry suits and boots fit better. It has a larger carrying capacity and its flatter hull may be better suited to those carrying more or heavier gear. Anglers carrying crab pots, using downriggers, or fishing depths for bottom fish with heavy leads may find it advantageous. Likewise pulling divers and flashers for salmon may be better suited to the Fisha.

The Pro Fisha is approximately 1mph faster than the Fisha. It's turning radius is not as tight and with it's longer hull it takes a few extra strokes to turn it up into a stiff wind. That said, once you are headed into a short choppy sea it moves more steadily than the Fisha and seems not to stall as easily and overall gives you a quicker ride in those conditions. It has a quicker moment which is not to be confused with instability. For those changing from plastic the ride will feel a bit twitchy at first but that feeling goes away quickly. The glide is longer and like the Fisha uses less energy over a day on the water. I have found that while it does not drastically effect performance or speed you do feel some sluggishness with significant weight in the fish hatch(50 lbs and above) with the Pro Fisha while it does not seem to effect the Fisha as much.

There is a lot of talk about stability in kayak fishing. Neither of these ski's should be considered unstable, as previously mentioned the Pro Fisha has a quicker moment but I have leaders Marlin in the 150lb range with no more concern about stability than the Fisha. While there are many reasons to chose one Stealth ski over another I personally do not think stability is one of them. While the perfect fishing kayak may not have been conceived as yet, Stealth is by far at the top of the pack. They combine a fast stable ride and outstanding comfort with a no nonsense fishing platform that has been extremely well thought out. Both have a fish hatch that will accommodate the largest catch. The manufacturing quality is outstanding and superior customer service accompanies the sale. In essence, these are all custom built ski's and there are color and accessory options available with a factory order. While this will delay your acquisition the special attention to you needs is well worth the wait.

If I give the impression that I am a true's because I am. These ski's are truly outstanding in every aspect and for off shore fishing they provide a transformational experience. If I can be of any assistance to you please do not hesitate to contact me by email at I can't say enough about the USA distributor Dan Arbuckle at the Headwaters kayak shop in Lodi Ca. Dan can be contacted at Lastly, Mahalo Nui to Adam King for bringing Stealth to
the mid Pacific and giving us the impetus to make the change to Stealth !!!"

Eat, Sleep, Paddle, Fish
Tim Bauer

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Crabfest 2017

Crabfest is the first event of the year for NCKA (Nor Cal Kayal Anglers Forum) anglers. This event is only open for memebers of NCKA. If you would like more information on future events visit and become a member.

Crabfest has always had variable weather year to year and it was nice to arrive Friday to a sunny and non-windy day in Bodega Bay. It has been the event that brings NCKA together for the New Year. The first thing I noticed when we arrived on Friday was that anglers were already on the water searching for crab while families enjoyed their time on the beach. I knew this was going to be a great weekend.

Crabfest 2017 did not disappoint, the weather and crab decided to cooperate and gave us some of the best conditions Crabfest has ever seen. The day use area had a line of vehicles waiting for the gate to open with anglers waiting to register. The day started off with some wind, but soon turned out to be a beautiful winter day on the Sonoma Coast.

The Dungeness crab were in attendance this year with many anglers bringing in limits, while some still struggled to find one of legal size. There were over 40 crabs brought to the measuring station, with some red crab reaching the size of jumbo Dungeness crab.

Lunch time rolled around shortly after the check-in table closed and once again the potluck was brimming with good dishes to be shared by all. Some of the items that stood out to me were the ab chowder, fried striper and sturgeon, Crabfest pie, duck, oysters, crab, and bistek. There was so much food, and you could hear people talking about the spread. I didn’t get to eat much since I was getting ready for the awards, but next year I will make sure to check out everything and take a moment to grab some food.

This event has been free since day one and runs on the donations from sponsors. This year’s primary sponsor was Native Watercraft and they donated a Manta Ray Propel kayak to the raffle that was won by "Big Al". There were demo kayaks from Native Watercraft available the day of the event and the day after provided by The Headwaters kayak shop. The Headwaters kayak shop was another primary sponsor this year, including Promar/Ahi USA. Both Promar and the Headwaters have been sponsors since the first Crabfest at Doran Beach in 2011. Crabfest 2017 marked the sixth year of this event. Supporting sponsors included Orion Coolers, YakAttack, Kala Brand Music, Kokatat, Hoo-Rag and 707 Embroidery Zone.

There were some big crabs this year and all the winning crabs measured in over 7 inches. There was a perch category this year, but none were entered.

Biggest Red Rock Crab-

                The biggest Red Rock Crab went to Brian Turner, who has one this category before. His crab weighed in at 2.2 lbs and measured in at 7.11”. This crab was almost as big as the third place Dungeness crab.

3rd Place Dungeness Crab-
                Third place went to Myong-Jae Kin whose crab weighed in at 2.51 lbs and measured in at 7.23 inches. Myong-Jae had several crabs that measured over 7 inches.

2nd Place Dungeness Crab-

                Second place went to one of the most kind and positive person I know. Raydon Shippey took home 2nd place with his biggest crab weighing in at 2.55 lbs and measuring in at 7.31 inches.

1st Place Dungeness Crab-
Annie Nagel took home 1st place this year at Crabfest. Her biggest Dungeness crab measured in at 2.47 lbs and measured in at 7.40 inches. Annie continues to amaze all of us with her fishing skills. She caught the winning crab while still having time to fry up the sturgeon she caught just a week before.  Congrats Annie on the win!

This year’s raffle raised over $3500 and all proceeds will be going to Diabetes Youth Families (, an organization that supports families and children living with type 1 diabetes. The funds raised will help send some kids to camp for an experience they will never forget.

Each year, there is so much work that goes into putting this event together. My goal has always been to keep it free and family friendly. This weekend reminded me why I continue to do this event. Thank you to all of the NCKA family that make this event possible.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

When will the Feelfree Overdrive Pedal Drive Be Out?

When Will the Feelfree Overdrive Pedal System Be Out?

So the questions keeps getting asked all over the internet, and I get at least 2-3 phone calls or emails a day on the subject, so I decided to do some investigative work for you guys.

I had a long talk with Jim Hager (President of Feelfree US) and he filled me in on whats been going on behind the scenes.

At this time it's a bit of a good news bad news situation. Feelfree has been working incredibly hard to source the best quality parts for the drive. They are working with folks in the marine outboard industry and have found a couple vendors who are the best in the field. The main concern for Feelfree right now, is making sure the drive that hits the market is dialed in, and is the best quality they can possibly get. The last thing any of us want is have them rush to market with a drive only to be met with failures and warranties.

So the most accurate lead time I was able to pull out of Jim was early Summer 2017. I know I know, don't kill the messenger! At I cast they were forecasting a spring delivery, but as with many new products, those time frames get pushed back as the product gets closer to launch. He did say that all the tooling was done, and production parts for the drives are rolling in daily. He also said that he was able to test the production drive and was blown away by the leaps and bounds that have been made since the prototype was tested in July. See that video here.

In my talk with Jim he seemed to have way more up his sleeve than he was leading on. Although he's disappointed in the delay, he's also very excited about the future. I get the feeling the Overdrive system is just the tip of the Ice Burg of what may be coming down the pipe for Feelfree, but only time will tell.

For now I will leave you with my interview with Feelfree's head designer and mastermind behind the Overdrive Peter Murphy.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Cold Weather finess Fishing in the Delta by Matt Guthrie

I had the chance to do a lot of fishing during the holidays out in the Walnut Grove area. Originally we were looking for bass, but stumbled onto a school of crappie and panfish. So, over the next few days I went out with an assortment of crappie jigs, kastmasters, and trout-worms to fool these cold weather fish. I ended up catching sunfish, crappie, spotted and largemouth bass, and even a real nice striper.

I used a few different techniques to catch these fish, I started with the kastmaster as my go to and did catch fish but it was slow fishing.  Then I tried hair crappie jigs which also caught fish, but the best bait I found to be working was 1.5in Kalin's curly-tail grub. I cycled through a few colors from pink to motor oil and they all seemed to work. I did notice that I'd have to change up now and then because they would stop biting on a particular color. Jigging or casting these baits worked well but the real killer was just a slow drift with the current about 2ft off the bottom. These fish couldn't help themselves!

I also put a bit of effort into bass fishing between the ultra-lite fishing with some success. Everything had to be fished very slow but I was able to pick up bass on a Yamamoto Hula Grub with a flipping jig head. I suggest the flipping jig head over the football because it comes through weeds and brush well, if you are fishing mostly rock I'd go with the football head. This bait was crawled very slowly over the bottom with a foot or so lift between. When the bait gets stuck for a second on a limb or some grass that is the perfect time to lift it and let it sink on a tight line. Most of the bites were happening on this fall.

Lastly I was doing well on a small 3in swim bait from Gambler lures. I was fishing this on a 1/8 oz ball jig head and 6lb test. Letting the bait hit the bottom and doing a slow steady retrieve back to the kayak. I like this technique because it caught bass, large crappie and stripers. Even one sunfish took a wack at it and came to the boat. Any swim bait I'm sure will work in the 4in or less size and the best colors were natural shad colors.

Don't let the cold put you off your fishing. Downsizing line, lures, rods and reels can make the difference in a day of cold weather fishing. Loosen those drags and tight lines!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Installing a Lowrance 7TI on a Hobie Outback

Hey guys James Snyder here with the Headwaters Fishing Team. I recently upgraded to the Lowrance 7 ti want wanted to give a detailed how to on what i used and how i did it.

Parts used-
Lowrance 7ti

Heavy duty Ram Mount 1.5 ball

Yak Attack 1.5 ball

Yak Attack Gear tack - cut to fit

Berley Pro total scan transducer mount

12v 22ah battery

water proof quick connector

Ring terminals

silver soldier

heat shrink tubing

Hobie through hull kit

Hobie Multi wire through hull kit

soldiering iron
phillips screw driver 

after unpacking everything i took my quick disconnect and the fuse holder provided with the fish finder and tinned the ends 
useing the silver soldier i prepped the wires by adding soldier to the wire tips (tinning)
i heated both of the wires to allow the soldier to become fluid and joined the two wires together and let cool

pro tip: apply heat shrink to the wires before soldiering-
i then soldiered up the power cable to the other side of the quick connector in the same way

add ring terminals to the positive and negative wire and test fit on the battery.

i had a lowrance elite 4 hdi allready installed and needed to remove the power and transducer from that unit as well as the old ram mounting system

unscrew the 3 mounting screws on the lowrance transducer cover

this is what happens when you dont clean out your transducer correctly

remove the wireing from the old transducer

you can see here why a berley pro transducer mount is required

sorry its upside down ill fix later- full kit from berley pro- extremely well made!

attach total scan transducer to the mounting plate using supplied screws from lowrance kit

reinstall transducer mounting plate and traducer cover with original screws and screws from the berley pro kit. 

using the Hobie through hull kit run  the wire from under the kayak through the kayak

run all 3 wires from inside of hull using the Hobie 3 wire through hull kit and install ram mount with yak attack 1.5 ball

the lowrance 7ti mounts easy on the ram mounting arm 

hook up the battery and connect connectors to fish finder and turn on

this unit is very popular for kayak fisherman!

the lowrance 7ti is a fairly easy install with the kit i have assembled here and i hope this helps you in your future fish finder installs. i will follow this up with a review on the system after i have a month or 2 of using the unit and have first hand knowledge of how it works. thanks for taking the time to read my install guide and if you have any questions feel free to hit me up on Facebook or Instagram
Facebook - James Snyder
Insta- Yakin_James

also look for more awsome how toos and product reviews here on our team blog and dont forget to give a like to
Headwaters Kayak shop
Headwaters Fishing team
and follow us on you tube

thanks for checking us out! - James Snyder Headwaters Kayak Fishing Team