Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Modern Terrestrials

A few of my flies are found in a new book called Modern Terrestrials from Stackpole Publishing

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oak Orchard Fly Shop Demo 1/18/14

Havent been feeling very inspired lately.  My trip to Oak Orchard Fly Shop revived me a bit.  One of the best demos for me on a personal level.  I had a lot of fun and the crowd was engaging.  I can't say enough about the folks at the shop and my buddy Eric.  Thanks for making the trek worth it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Bat Banger Article in Hatches online

DISCLAIMER:  The blog page has been a royal pain in the ass to maintain, so I apologize in advance for any formatting issues...enjoy the article
Bat Banger- by Vern-o
Read and see more at http://vern-o.blogspot.com/
I knew who Rich Strolis of http://www.catching-shadows.com/ was long before ever actually meeting him in person. I kept bumping into his web forum posts on the far too many forums I visit to pacify my need for fly tying satisfaction. Rich always seemed to have some Vimeo video attachment of a tantalizing trout catching pattern that incorporated some element or function that left me thinking “why didn’t I think of that?” Rich’s videos grew and developed into the nicely produced and informative videos that they are today. Then along came the Headbanger sculpin a spinoff of his Hog Snare fly.
I am a big fan of sculpins, and I don’t really know why. Yes, they are tremendous fish catchers, but that aside, I am still fascinated by them. When the Flymen Fishing Company launched their Sculpin Helmets, I was hooked on them before I had them in my hands. I created some very pleasing patterns with them and fished them mostly tied on HMH tubes. Then Rich comes out with his Headbanger articulated sculpin. See the step by step video here I was impressed to say the least, but if there was a downside to the Sculpin Helmets, it was that they could be a bit heavy cast. Sculpins are river bottom lurkers, so the helmets need to be heavy. Around the same time as Rich was working his Headbanger, I was creating my Batwings fly that was tied on a shank and meant to swing nice and smooth through pools and rely on its marabou in drab colors to entice the fish into crushing it. The Batwings was a keeper fly right away for me.

The Headbanger

Then in November of 2012 while at the International Fly Tying Symposium, I had the opportunity to meet Rich face to face. I think there was that mutual feeling of “hey, I’ve’ve been wanting to meet you”. We didn’t get a lot of time to chat, but enough to realize that we had some common piscatorial interests, especially when it came to fly tying. I too got to see the Headbanger tied in front of me and understand the internal workings of it. The thing that really stuck with me was Rich’s use of plastic beads between the articulations. Again, that “why didn’t I think of that?”, popped into my head. After the symposium Rich and I kept in contact on and off through the social media vortexes. The plastic beads kept dancing in my head and while tying at an event in Syracuse, NY I threw in some egg beads that I had rediscovered in a box. While at the demo I started fooling around trying a variation of the Batwings and incorporating a pseudo rear section of the Headbanger. I had brought my swim tank to the demo and threw the fly in to watch it swim. The beads were a bit too big for the rest of the fly, but the swimming motion was exactly what I had envisioned. This fly was alive! I fooled around with a few color variations and combinations. This developing pattern constantly swirled in my head and I needed to advance with it. Not long after that Tying Show, I was home with my daughter who happened to be ill from school. I was fueled with too much coffee and sent Rich a message.
                                                The Bat Banger and Headbanger

I inquired about working together to create a fly pattern that incorporated our two patterns. Rich was on board and we were off to the races. Rich sent me a Headbanger sculpin for reference and a few of the right sized beads. From there we collaborated on a pattern. The end result was to keep the rear articulation pretty much unchanged from the Headbanger sculpin, other than to move the artic fox wing to the rear of the shank portion and replace the rubber legs with DNA Holofusion fibers. For the shank portion again things are kept pretty close to the original. I thinned down the artic fox wings a bit, to keep the fly a little lighter and for the body I used polar chenille which gives a little more flash and movement. Again the legs were replaced this time with Krenik’s copper flash. In front of the artic fox wing, I added a collar of Whiting Farms spey hackle bird fur. This stuff is a lot like marabou, but not as dense and adds a ton of fluidity in the water. Keeping with the Bat Wing tradition I added downward angled jungle cock eyes and a pheasant rump feather topping. I experimented with the Bat Wing, the Bat & Balls Banger, and the Headbanger in the test tank. My hopes were met. The Bat Wing wants to ride high, the Bat & Balls Banger was intermediate, and the Headbanger hugged the bottom. The water column is now covered. The articulation on the Bat & Balls Banger was precisely what I was hoping for. The holofusion and copper flash added a little more flash to draw the strikes. The test run for the Bat & Balls Banger resulted in an early season smallmouth that thrashed it on the strip back. I have taken this fly for several “test swings” and each outing it’s gaining more stream credibility.

The Bat Banger

Victim of the Bat Banger

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Troutoberfest 2013

Pre Tying garb...Barvarian Redneck style

The second annual Troutoberfest in Roscoe, NY was October 12+13, 2013.  Last years event was good, but this year was over the top.  Fishing tournament, Orvis vs. Hardy cook-off, Tiers galore, two days of jam packed seminars and classes, and a pig roast to close the event on Sunday.  Shop manager Matt Nelson and Shop Owner Evan Lavery went above and beyond your typical shop sponsored event.  This truly was a "Fest".  I was glad to be a part of it and I look forward to next year.  A special thansk to William Anderson and Eric for putting up with my antics and being willing to tie next to me.  Always nice to see John Shaner, Lance Hidy, Pat Cohen, and Eric Reed.  As has been the norm for me lately fishing was a bust.

Vickie's cupcakes taking a hit Saturday morning

Matt, Evan and Tom taking care of business.
Eric and William Anderson talking flies
Dan Thomas
The Willow

Wooly Bugger Contest Entries

Pat Cohen getting ready to twist them up.


The coolest t-shirt in ages....IMHO


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Quest For Heady Topper

The Quest For Heady Topper.
When countless friends of mine that don’t know each other start recommending the same beer repeatedly, I take notice.  First off, what is all the hype?  Don’t get me wrong, I love my craft brews but to the extent that people get that faraway look in their eye at the sheer mention of it. Enter the Heady Topper brewed by the Alchemist Brewery in Middlebury, Vermont.  Geography time, Vermont borders New York.  No problem right, I’ll run to the local Wegmans grocery store known for its tremendous selection of crafty brews……no go.  A buddy mentions that the stuff is really hard to come by.  I begin calling several beer specialty stores in a two hour driving radius in search of….no dice.  Enough of this stuff I say and google the brewery itself to find out what the deal is.  The website has a distribution map that shows a cluster of retail locations all crammed into one area of Vermont.  Geography lesson: Vermont is not a monster sized state.  By now the “what the fuck?” has entered my head.  I attempt to call the brewery and get the scoop.  Of course no human answers the phone and I listen to the “come early in the week because we sell out quickly” recording…again WTF? pops into my head.  It is beer!  How good can it be?  I start contemplating whether or not to end the summer with a weekend trip to Vermont.  No, that is ridiculous to drive five hours for beer.  A lucky break came.  A co-worker was headed to the eastern edge of New York and volunteered to pick up some Heady Topper for me across the border into Vermont.  I mention that I want a case of this stuff sight un-tasted. A case will run roughly $72….not a keg, 24 cans of beer= $72.  My co-worker is certain I have lost my freaking mind at the absurdity I am bestowing upon her.  She was soon going to learn of the insanity even within the state of Vermont for BEER….not just any beer, Heady Topper beer.  She trekked to the actual brewery and they were sold out of cans of Heady Topper.  Dejected and rejected she was sent on a mini-mart quest for the said product.  Rejection followed more rejection, when low and behold she scored a display at one mini mart with a limit of one.  One four pack of beer per customer!  She was able to secure me a single four pack of the heady stuff.  Cash for beer was exchanged in upstate New York and I raced home from work to plan my course of action on how to consume said beverage.  It was easy, just get all the bullshit stuff done, kick back and taste the nirvana in a can.  I kicked on the classic rock radio station and sat on the screen porch, put me feet up and opened a can.  By now I am so annoyed at the ordeal to get a beer  that I’m ready to criticize everything I can about the beer.  I go to taste that first sip when the aroma hits me.  No, I’m not nosing a glass of fine merlot.  I’m drinking beer from a can….that telltale hoppy scent hits me nicely.  Then the taste encompasses my tongue and mouth……it’s hoppy, piney, citrusy, and overwhelming.  Heady Topper is a double IPA (India Pale Ale)….in a nut shell it’s supposed to be hoppy tasting.  It’s not obnoxiously hoppy by IPA standards.  It is wonderfully hoppy.  Descriptions abound for the actual taste, but it is so intriguingly satisfyingly complex.  Hands down I can find no fault with it.  By now the family dog is staring at me wanting to know what mental cloud I have landed on to not notice her.  I reassure her that it would be ok to pull up a chair and sit with me.  Careful not to consume the whole can to quickly I am surprised at every pull from the can how great this is.  Then “Turn the Page” by Bob Segar comes on and I cherish the solitude.  At 8% alcohol content these are somewhat potent by normal beer standards, but not out of control.  Then flowed Pink Floyd.  It’s a classic rock station not Pandora.  By now the can is nearly empty, and in order to fully understand the beer I needed to have another.  I begin to carry on a one way conversation with the family dog. 

When a 4:20 trivia contest comes over the radio.  I am certain at this point I can answer any trivia question in the world and start dialing.  The answer is a Popcorn Maker and my call gets through.  It matters not the actual question, just that I am a winner.  A winner to a pair of Bacon Fest tickets.  In all my glory of consuming Heady Topper, I am now the proud winner of tickets to festival featuring BACON.  I now understand why those countless friends got that faraway look in their eyes at the sheer mention of HEADY TOPPER.  It is magic in a can. 

After the second can dissolved into nothingness I reached into the frig to open a craft beer IPA to compare.  It was like comparing Guiness to Miller Lite for those of you not familiar with crafty beers.  Heady Topper is worth the quest.