There are days you need to get out of the office, and not solely because of work. Friday I needed out before the phone rang again and one more depressing piece of news came over the transom.

A friend facing surgery. A family member facing heart surgery. An infant facing the aftereffects of malnutrition.

I wanted to cry.

So I did what any thinking person would do.

I ran.

But not just anywhere. I ran for my nearby Emergency Escape Stream.

Little Rainbow Trout

In the event of emergency, break the glass on your Emergency Escape Stream…

Everybody should have one. It’s the place you go when you don’t have time, but sanity suggests you don’t have a choice.

Unfortunately, it’s been hot, and I feared the water temperatures in the Underground’s Emergency Escape Stream might have crept up near the 70 degree mark.

Which is too warm if you’re a trout.

Making it too warm if you’re a responsible trout fisherman.

Then again, things had become dire enough at TU/Man Cave World Headquarters that warm water wasn’t going to stop me; I’d just cut the bend off the hook and fish anyway.

Happily, the thermometer delivered the day’s first good news; the water temperature was a cool, trout-friendly 58 degrees.

Fish away, gloomy boy.

And I did.

To the tune of eight pretty rainbows, only two of which exceeded 9″ — a number guaranteed to draw the bare of minimum of “where?” inquiries.

This is a very small stream filled with innocent trout, but the water was low and the trout aren’t pushovers. And no fly fishermen wants to see trout fleeing like torpedoes, which is what happens when my reflexes come between me and reality.

Initially, I bypassed the tails of pools in favor of the whitewater plunges. Because, you know, when it’s hot, they’re in the oxygenated water.

Fortunately, I’m an expert at this small stream stuff, so I only had to spook four fish out of “dead” water before the dim fluorescent bulb flickered to life.

The Wonderdog Rises

Wally the Wonderdog’s been on a slow downward spiral, courtesy arthritis and his anti-seizure medicine, which offered up all kinds of unpleasant side effects (gluttony, dopiness and significant liver problems).

We got fed up watching him slide, raided the vet’s office, stamped our feet, held our breath, and found out another medicine existed — one largely without side effects.

Thanks guys.

It’s even just gone generic, so it’s only about 2x as expensive. The vet, interestingly, didn’t say anything before because he thought the cost was prohibitive.


We’re not even fully transitioned to the new stuff, but the Wonderdog’s already noticeably perking up, so I did what I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing just a week ago.

I took him along.

Wally the Wonderdog

Man’s best friend (assuming “Man’s” not a fisherman). Wally the Wonderdog Just before launching himself into the fishy part of the pool…

Arthritis still exerts a powerful hold on his back legs — and a couple hours after spending two hours climbing up and down a rocky streambed he’s already feeling it.

But I guarantee you he’d do it again tomorrow.

So would I, though the fly fisherman in me would think twice; the Wonderdog’s enthusiasm makes my heart soar, but once he sees a fish rise (or eat a fly), he’s basically headed for the deep end of the pool in the hopes of catching that long-gone trout.

Which means you’d better enjoy that fish you just caught, because it’s the last from that particular pool.

Simply put, he’s a pain in the ass, but he’s also sheer joy on the hoof, and the trade was worth it. For at least a little while, we get our dog back.

You’d make the same deal.

We Talk (Briefly) Helios 2

To this tiny, low-tech stream I dragged an expensive, high-tech fly rod, proving that overkill isn’t restricted to the military world.

Orvis sent one of their not-yet-released Helios 2 fly rods out on loan — an 8’4″ 2wt that Tom Rosenbauer’s apparently fishing on smaller stuff but also casting over picky, flatwater fish on larger rivers (he’s using braided leaders and very long, fine tippets).

The Orvis Helios 2 fly rod

Not yet available, but already on a stream near you: the Helios 2.

I fished it with a 3wt line, reasoning that at short ranges, the heavier line would load better, a theory helped along by the fact I don’t own a 2wt line (notice how neatly science fits into the real world when you’re me).

I only fished for two hours, so this isn’t a full review. I will say the rod flexed nicely and yes, the little fish put a nice bend in it. And — combined with the [Name Redacted] short leader, it’s damned accurate.

This 8’4″ 2wt is a mid-flex rod, and like so many modern, high-end ultralight fly rods, it fishes and casts like you’re holding a toothpick, yet it has the reserve power of a 4wt.

The “standard” trout rod used to be a 6wt. Now it’s closer to a 4wt, and these little rods suggest that standard may slip downward over time.

I’ll leave the full review until after it’s been put the wringer, but if you’re wondering what’s different about the “2” version, heres what Orvis had to say:

Featuring all-new tapers fine-tuned to transfer energy along a smoother curve, the Helios 2 offers unrivaled tracking and additional lifting power while maintaining tippet protection. Built with a proprietary material integrated into the tip, the Helios 2’s impact strength and dampening have increased, and the swing weight has been reduced by 20% from the original Helios.


Like Sage did with their ONE series, Orvis is suggesting you’ll enjoy more accurate “tracking” from their new rod (Sage touted accuracy, Orvis touted tracking; it’s the same thing).

It’s a tough one to sell. Fly fishermen naturally assume the odd piece of brilliance is the product of their genius. Who’s going to say “My talent never would have made that cast; thank goodness the fly rod was here to make it for me.”

You see the problem.

Unfortunately, Orvis has also been infected by the hypervirus sweeping the rest of the industry:

The Helios 2 is a featherlight war club that defies the laws of physics and has the backbone of an I-beam. Lighter in hand and stronger than any rod we’ve ever developed, it transitions energy directly from your brain to the fly and casts with the precision of a laser pointer.

C’mon guys. It’s a fly rod, not a particle beam linked to your cerebellum.

See you on your Emergency Escape Stream, Tom Chandler.