Building the First Chironomid Kit


The first "Chironomid Style" Kit builder, Steve Harrie in Nova Scotia, Canada, with a fine specimen of a Sea-run Brook Trout he caught this summer while Atlantic Salmon fishing.

Well as some of you probably know we introduced what I call a "Chironomid Style Kit" to our line-up this year. This will be the story of how that came about.

I had an email a way back from an interesting guy, Steve Harrie, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Steve asked me if he could buy and build a kit from the Chironomid rigging as he already had a canoe. My short answer was: "Yes and no; give me a call and we can discuss it further." Steve did just that.

The Chironomid is a purpose built fishing boat and not just accessories added to a canoe, but many canoes can be turned into what I call a "Chironomid style boat", with the Chironomid rigging, IF the canoe hull falls within certain parameters. This is not a major problem in our shop but it requires access to specific tools and equipment, enough space, say 300 square feet, mechanical aptitude, detailed instructions, and a very specific template to match the dimensions of the canoe hull.

After talking with Steve for a short while I realized he would be well suited to building the first kit. Steve has recently retired from the Canadian Coast Guard. Part of his job involved custom fabrication and repairs on sea going vessels. He's still a young and fit guy in his mid fifties :) He also has access to a good shop full of equipment. If fact, in his retirement he still does a lot of custom work on other peoples boats.

I became a bit concerned when he told me his canoe was an 11'10" Old Town... I believe that would make it in the Packer model category, although it is labelled "GUIDE". That makes it over two feet shorter than the Chironomid! I asked him how he was using it now and Steve said: "I sit on the centre thwart and paddle it with a kayak paddle." 'Wow' was my immediate thought, quickly followed by the thought that if he could get away with that then adding the Chironomid rigging should make piloting it a piece of cake... but I had to lay out a Chironomid on my shop floor and start sketching on a piece of graph paper before I was confident. The placement of the seat mount and the receiver tubes needs to be not only different on different dimensioned boats, but the relative placement must differ as well in order for the function AND ergonomics to work out. I find that a lot of watercraft (and inevitable necessary accessory add-ons) sold these days for stillwater fishers just fail miserably in this respect.

Once Steve decided to go ahead with the project a flurry of emails, texts and phone calls started. Steve started measuring (with photos) the things I needed to know. I've included a sample collection of his photos here:

From these photos I noticed that one detail could be an issue and one other detail fooled me because of the angle of the photo. First I confirmed something that I was expecting ... the deck plate in the top right photo confirmed that the triangle shape which it defined did not have the same angles as the Chironomid, which meant that the custom deck plates (which incorporated the custom anchor guide) manufactured specifically for the Chironomid might not work on Steve's Old Town. We discussed this and I decided to send him two deck plated that I considered as "seconds" just to see what might happen. I also sent Steve a piece of HDPE plastic material so he could manufacture his own if necessary.

Here is a photo of the Chironomid deck plate:


Eventually it turned out that Steve was able to use the Chironomid deck plates on his Old Town. He was able to simply bolt them onto the top of his canoe's deck plates. This was not quite as ecstatically pleasing, but perfectly functional. Here is a photo of the plate just before it was bolted on:


After all the initial communication, and I had determined that Steve and his canoe were a good candidates for developing the first "Kit" I set about designing a template for the receiver plates and holes through the hull; the detailed instructions on how to proceed; and the photographs to accompany the instructions. I won't list all those details here. Suffice to say I proceeded as if I were building the kit myself and took pictures of an already constructed Chironomid and a partially constructed one as I went along. Here is a sample of some of the photographs that went with the instructions:

You'll notice (actually many of you reading this blog post will know as you own a Chironomid) that the plates sandwiching the hull on the inside and outside of the Chironomid all overlap the gunwales. You'll also remember I said that one of Steve's photos fooled me into thinking wrongly about his boat. Well in the series of six sample photos near the beginning of this blog the bottom middle photo shows the inside of the Old Town black gunwale. I could not tell from this photo that the profile of this gunwale was quite different than the profile of the Chironomid's gunwale. Specifically, the inside of the black gunwale does not bend in flat against the hull but is rather a square hollow tube running along the inside of the hull. This is presumably done to give the Old Town more rigidity. This meant, of course, that the receiver plates could not be attached to the Old Town overlapping the gunwale, as in my instructional photos. The simple solution was to install all the plates below the entire gunwale as in Steve's photo here:


This photo also illustrates the template which is a simple ribbon. Overlapping the gunwale was originally intended to add strength to the overall design. In retrospect it is not necessary and may lead, in the future, to a minor design change for ALL Cunningham Boats.

Here is the kit (minus deck plates) that Cunningham Boats now has for sale on our website that was developed from the experience Steve and I had together:

You can read the review of the results of our project, which Steve graciously wrote for me, on the home page of our website. 

 Steve Harrie in his "Chironomid Style" Kit Boat ... during the mayfly hatch somewhere in Nova Scotia. *his oars are backwards in this shot on purpose for a logical reason which I can't remember :)

Steve Harrie in his "Chironomid Style" Kit Boat ... during the mayfly hatch somewhere in Nova Scotia. *his oars are backwards in this shot on purpose for a logical reason which I can't remember :)

Fall fishing.When almost everybody else has left the lake.

  Crisp, clear days minus the smoke and no need to rise early! The summer RVs are gone, as are the mosquitos.

Crisp, clear days minus the smoke and no need to rise early! The summer RVs are gone, as are the mosquitos.

    The lake fishing season ... "palindromesque" ... ( I think that's a made up word :) ... it is a bit like a palindrome in this part of the world, at least in some ways. Both ends of the natural lake season have crescendos of activity. The Spring crescendo is well known and heavily fished. The water warms up, the hatches get more plentiful, and fishing comes alive. Everybody and his dog may show up when the Chironomid hatches, for example, are in full swing in May. It all peters out quite a bit by July and we are all familiar with the hot August doldrums when many tug-thirsty lake anglers will take to the rivers for a while before Fall cooling starts.

  Fall cooling ... that's the start of the other crescendo. It begins slowly through September and builds through October. This crescendo is not heavily fished. I don't know why. Maybe a lot of the Spring fishers are now hunting. Maybe it's the lack of hatches. Maybe children of the intrepid Spring fishers need extra attention during the beginning of the school year. Maybe there's no good reason, although weather-wise it's usually about the same average temperature as in the Spring. However, fisher psychology is certainly different. In the Spring the intrepid stillwater fishers have been anticipating the coming of "the bite" for months. The agonizing wait through the long winter has intensified that hunger for Spring and "the tug". On the other hand the Fall cooling brings the realization that open water fishing will soon be over. A quiet melancholy may set in which some stillwater anglers may wish to avoid. I don't really know.

    Whatever is going on one thing is for sure ... the Fall feeding crescendo happens for a different reason. There are no major insect hatches in the Fall. But the fish need to put on weight at a great rate to see them through a long winter. And fortunately over the early days of September the water temperature has been gradually falling back to a point that is much more comfortable for them. As the trend continues we hit the point where the fish actively seek out the warmer water of the shoals during the heat of midday, just as they did in the Spring. But this time it's "every fish for himself" opportunism that reigns. They turn to the stuff that's always there for them - shrimp, bloodworms, baitfish and leeches ... lots of leeches ... and the bugs that moved towards the shoreline from deeper water in the Spring now start to migrate back. The fish know this.

   Although that psychology of the impending end of the season does hold some sway this is still a favourite time of year for me. It's quiet for one thing ... except for the crashing back to surface, for instance, of a leaping Pennask rainbow on the end of your line!

  Here's my wife Janice.There was no one else here on this beautiful and serene BC lake for two days except me, Janice and the fish.

Here's my wife Janice.There was no one else here on this beautiful and serene BC lake for two days except me, Janice and the fish.


Jim at Police Outpost

Some friends...

Well, the first time I fished the Elk River with Jim he was really, really nice to me. Of course, his daughter Deanna, "all growed up" now, but about eight at the time, was with us as well, so ... you know. The next time (might be usin' a bit a poetic licensing stuff here, time-wise anyway) it was different. 

I was haulin' 'em in, as usual. Jim seemed a might antsy, even perturbed you might say. It might a had somethin' to do with how many fish he was catchin'.

"Don't worry Jim", says I, "they're only cutthroat. Ya might even say there's even a certain kinda quaint virtue in NOT catchin' 'em in a place like this." I don't mind tellin' you that made me kinda proud o' my councellin' skills right there at that moment.

Jim didn't say much right off. I was kinda thinkin' ..."well that's a fine howdy do. Not so much as a 'thankee kindly'."

"Let me have a look at that there fly, Jobob." suddenly says Jim.

"Sure thing, Jimbo." I flicked my line in his direction. I aimed for his nose. I knew he would appreciate the jocular, goofy, light-hearted gesture 'o brotherly camaraderie.

Well,what happened next is somethin' I think you will all agree is beyond belief... somethin' from the twilight zone. Jim grabbed my tippet outa tha air. What the.... You're never gonna believe this ... He hauled off and just ripped my "Abomination" (a beautiful fly, if I do say so myself) plum right offa the leader ... with a thunderous snap that shook me to my bones. Then he tied it on his own tippet!!


Ever since that day I've been mighty careful around Jim. Whenever Jim is givin' me a new wack o' his old rods, or takin' pictures o' my boat, or his wife, Lynda, is takin' pictures o' my boat, or Lynda is changin' her schedule so she can drive with me into the wilderness o' BC with my boat, or Lynda is drivin' me around, or they is givin' me money, or askin' other people ta give me money, I feel like I hafta walk on eggshells. Just for example ... in thisy here picture ... that one up above ... while Jim was standin' in my boat... to help sell 'em ... he asked if I wanted him to hold onta a fly rod. Well, I don't know if any a you guys have seen Jimmy castin' ... I mean he flings that stuff all over the place. Also, I remembered that time on the Elk River. "Jimbo," says I," jus' maybe hold onta yer guitar fer dear life ... you know... I do with some friends."