Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hitting the Stride

The Holidaze are around the corner. If not for my kids these days would be pointless. If I could turn the other way I would.  The fishing for me this fall has been lack luster to say the least and I hope to resolve this soon.  The fly tying had at one point been very overwhelming and the point of burnout was very close.  I relaxed a bit and just took on the "I'll fill what orders I can" attitude until I could get my batteries recharged. It didn't take long.  Something clicked and I felt refreshed.  Flies came out of the vise faster and new attempts came out as I had hoped.  For a second time now I experienced a Tiers High.  That feeling of pure reward and confidence that is so often sought in life.  The energy peaked with the trio of Winters Hope.  Everything came out as I had hoped.  I made some slight judgement calls on numbers of wraps, lenghts, but that's what I like to do.  Then came a sample of Scottish Highland Cattle from http://www.tiethefly.com/ and I experimented with dyeing this close polar bear substitute.  Choclate brown was the color of choice and then came the prawn star.  The outcome again was exceptional in my mind and I enjoyed positive feed back on both.  Hopefully this extra push will get me through the Holidaze.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Annual Friends

For the last four years now, a buddy who I tie flies for comes up from Florida for some steelhead fishing with a friend and fellow guide Loren Williams (http://www.flyguysoutfitting.com/).  I am usually lucky enough to tag along for a day or two.  It's always an adventure and the ball busting is always entertaining no matter the weather.  Loren is top notch in knowing where to locate steelhead, hooking them is up to you.  Often easier said than done.  Some of my best days steelheading have been with Gary and Loren.  This year was entertaining, but the bite wasn't happening.  The flow on the Salmon River was at 1500 cfs and should have been drawing fresh fish in.  It just wasn't happening the way it should.  I did hook into one slob of a steelie that tossed the hook after a brief battle and that summed up the days efforts.  The next two days were all Garys, as I had work to attend to.  The fishing didn't get any easier, but a few fish found Gary's hook point. Did I mention that Gary tie full dress Atlantic Salmon flies that are nothing less than stunning?  I hope these annual friends continue through the years to come.  Thanks for the good times.

       Where is that pizza delivery guy?
 Nice run
          Gary's brown
Gary's bow

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A little Christmas Cheer....Let It Snow!

A few years back I had a buddy from work help me build some snow globes for my girls.  I had tyed specific flies for each.  Unfortunately over time, the one snow globe just didn't hold up.  As my girls are getting older they appreciate snow globes even more.  My oldest daughter wanted to know if I would fix hers.  It's taken me a while to get to it, but it should make for a little extra Christmas suprise. I love stuff that glows-in-the-dark, and of course what kid doesn't like glow-in-the dark stuff too?!!!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Decade of Hits

We're not talking about the Allman Brothers album.  We are talking about life. When I turned thirty my wife got me a guided trip on the Salmon River.  It was a learning experience on waters that I fished when I could, usually unsuccessfully.  These were the days of slinkies and chuck & duck.  Really not my bag of tricks, but it was the norm back then.  To say thanks to my wife I made a sign  to hold in case I caught a monster steelhead.  The monster fish never happened, though a decent fish was lost.  I learned some new waters and enjoyed the gift.  I saved the sign and hung it in our garage as a reminder of happy memories.

Well a decade has gone by and my wife (and now two wonderful kids) asked what I wanted to do for my birthday.  Ideas of great fishing trips to the Gaspe, Ireland, New Zealand, and the like came to mind.  Reality came to me and I said, I really need spey casting help.  What better place than the waters I now prefer to think of as home, the Salmon River.  Ten years of fishing, ditching the slinkies, and the indicators I've come to the realization that two handed fishing is what I deem the most enjoyable.  The flies are typically elegant and flowing, the casts are graceful, the drifts are captivating, and the grabs are jolts of lightning.  I spent the day with Walt Geryk of Northeast Fly Fishing Guide Service (http://www.neffguide.com/). Walt and I had spent a good amount of time going over some basic casts and fishing all at the same time.  Walt of course had to score a fish while going over some techniques....nice way to start the morning.  It wasn't long and I too had a grab and a decent steelie was off to the races.  I lost the fish while trying to turn it around.  No worries the take was great.  The pressure on the upper end of the river this day was heavy and the flow was low, so conditions were not ideal.  I did manage one small fish and had another jolting grab. The day for me was perfect and the knowledge I gained was worth the price of admission.  I still find the Salmon River a challenge every time I set foot in her flows. I hope this challenge, as frustrating as it can be will carry me another ten years because the rewards in life aren't measured by the size of your fish, but more the size of love in your life. The same sign, though altered slightly, and a little weathered, the same guy but looking a little like the sign, altered and a little weathered.

Monday, November 21, 2011

International Fly Tying Symposium Nov. 19+20, 2011

The International Fly Tying Symposium Somerset, NJ November 19+20, 2011.  This is my third year tying at the Symposium.  I have to say that I've been welcomed and treated well.  I look forward to the event with the thought of meeting some new folks, learning something new, and sharing ideas.  This has happened every year, so I guess the need to keep going back is there.  The change for me this year was the opportunity to tie at the Flymen Fishing Company's booth instead of my own table.  I really struggled with this invitation for one reason, I enjoy the one on one interaction of being a tier and having the freedom to tie what I want.  The introduction of the Articulated Shank by the Flymen Fishing Company gave me the freedom to pretty much tie what I want, so I accepted the invitation.  I am not a salesman, but I am a promoter of products I believe in. Enough said, an opportunity presented and I seized it.  The Saturday portion of the event was very intense with masses of people coming through and made for a great day.  By the end of the day I was spent and starting to question a lot of things.  Saturday evening was fun socializing with a couple of fellow tiers and I was starting to feel more centered.  Sunday started at 5am with my annual trip to Carlos Bakery and back in time to tie away the morning.  Sunday morning is also the time to meet fellow tiers I had missed the day before and do a bit of shopping.  I was able to connect with some fellow tiers from the newly resurrected Fly Tyer forum. I am not a big fan of the magazine, but the folks on the forum are really tight and I'm glad to be able to interact with them and meet a few face to face. Sunday turned out to be better than expected for me, and the generosity people showed was a bit overwhelming, but it left me a lot to ponder on the long drive home. Now for the pictures....Martin Bawden and I were talking about, it's hard to have a bad time at a tying show, so as I took a few pictures of people I said "look angry"....enjoy!

Ralph (NJ Troutbum) and myself
 Martin Bawden and myself
 John Mclain of FeathersMC....the winner of the look angry photo contest!
 Feathers MC goods!
 John Collins
 Lyle Graff of Rite Bobbins
 Bruce Corwin and Fishy Fulum getting technical.
 Frank G Swarner III
 Pat Cohen flies
 Mike Schmidt (Angler's Choice Flies) runner up for looking angry.
Angler's Choice Flies

Thursday, November 17, 2011

39 > 40 and Numerology

Well numbers don't mean a lot to me, but I do have a few lucky ones.  Then there are milestone numbers 39 to 40 now there is something to get excited about.  Not really! The fact that in life you reach a certain point when you have as a global-ball-buster that I work with reassured me, "you probably have more birthdays behind you than ahead of you".  Well that's a great way to look at it.  That to me means I need to fish a whole lot more.  As the change from 39 to 40 was quickly approaching, I took the opportunity to fish with a few friends that I rarely get to do so with.  In the course of a week I took three days to fish three different tributaries, on two different Great Lakes, with two different friends, and one solo outing.  Now what do I have to show for it?  I appreciate my friends more than ever, my car doesn't know whether or not I catch any fish, I spent way too much in gas money, cold Italian sausage with pepper and onions is becoming a way of life, and though I don't have a lot to show for it I wouldn't change a thing. 
Now for the fly tying.  On the eve of the big day I spent a few hours trying to fill fly tying orders.  When I reached to point of exhaustion I took the time to tie one more fly for me.  Inspired by an article in the UK's Fly Fishing and Fly Tying August 2011 issue about Dick's Blue Bottle fly and midnight was just around the corner I tyed number 39 a small winter steelhead fly.  Looking toward the future if you will. 
                                                                 Number 39
I went to bed now a little older than when I started.  The following morning I was treated to my wife and kids making me pumpkin pancakes and chasing me through the house to give me my forty lashings.  Later that morning I retreated to the basement to tie number 40.  This was inspired by an article I've been working on, which involves adapting a traditional nymph into a Spey fly pattern.  This fly has really gotten some water time from a fellow guide and shows great promise.  All the smaller versions have been to my liking, but adapting it to size 1.5 Alec Jackson Spey hook has been a hurdle.  A post by Kevin Hospodar on http://www.flytyingforum.com/ clicked the switch for me and I had an idea.  Number 40 looks back at where I left off.  Two very different flies, one great life even if I don't have a fishy picture to show.  Next stop the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, NJ.

                                                            Number 40 and 39

Number 40 Head On
Number 40

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Catt Fight

She sure was pretty, but she didn't want to give up any steel on the swing.  It's been about 8 years since I fished the Catt and she doesn't reward easily if you don't visit her more frequently.  Did get to fish with fellow two handed enthusiast Wylie, which is always a good time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spooky Water and a Clear Head

I've spent a few days this fall trying to swing up a fish or two on the Salmon River.  I've spent most days tuggless or just a quick grab.  It's still early and swinging is not a numbers game.  It turns mental after a while as you cruise through your gear, your fly, the water, the weather, the conditions, the cast (oh the bloody casts), the moon, the stars, the sun, gravitational pull, and the list goes on.  I fished a stretch last weekend to no avail, only to have 3 drift boats come through and spank out eight fish.  Yeah that gets in your head for sure.  The appeal of drifting a tiny plastic bead under a float just isn't my thing on this river.  As one guide put it, "when the steelies are on the eggs, it's hard to turn them off". "Good for them", was the comment from another Spey angler.  He was right, good for them.  I'll take one grab on a swung fly for every 6 that watch a float stop moving.  To clear my head, I went back to the river and sat stream side til fishable light and pondered a lot of things, some fishing, some just life.  I fished some really great looking water and not a thing.  I soaked in the day and covered lots of water.  I fished down through a known run and kept going as I approached a spot I call "the spooky water".  As I described it to my buddy a few weeks back as we fished it together, it just screams monster steelhead lying in wait to thrash a fly.  The water rushes fast and drowns out all other noise, the choppy looking seams, the over hanging trees, it's just plain spooky.  Well the spooky water came through in the end.  It wasn't a monster steelie, but a steelie none the less.  Head is back in check.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Doctor will see you now...

I've been swamped with stuff to tie lately as the Salmon River's salmon run is peaking now.  I did have a couple of non-fly tier "thank yous" to do and had a buddy tie me up some blind eye hooks.  I decided to tie and old favorite.  The Silver Doctor.  Keep in mind 99.9% of my flies are intended to be fished, no displayed.  The recipients aren't fly tiers, so they won't notice the chunky yellow floss that covers the poor tag job, or the synthetic underwing, or the gobby head cement job. The one is intentionally overhackled. I was still pleased with the out come and it gives me motivation to improve the next time.....evolution if you will.

I Don't Need No Doctor

Friday, September 30, 2011

Flies For A Buddy

Things have been busy lately between real life and reel life.  Actually they never seem to slow down only get faster, but that's why they call it a ride.  Anyway the fall salmon run is starting to crank up and so are the calls for more flies.  It seems that lately I need to break away and tie a few distractions to recharge my batteries.  When it comes to fishing, I often prefer to go alone and have only a few friends that I can say that I actually look forward to fishing with.  My buddy Martin is one of those who I look forward to fishing with.  On one of our recent fishing trips he commented on how much he loved a fly that I had given him a while back.  There is usually one main reason someone REALLY likes a fly, because it produces fish!  The funny thing about the fly is that it combines two colors of insects commonly found on the Salmon River during steelhead season, little black stoneflies and the chartreuse green of caddis.  I had toyed with this color combo years ago and came up with the camo copper john.  All I can say is that for whatever reason, the two colors together work.  With Martin's birthday quickly approaching, what better gift than a few variations of the fly he enjoys.  I have of course given verbal instructions on how to tie his own and when we get time behind the vise, I'll show him hands on. Enjoy Martin!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Arctic Circle Flies Part Two

If you remember back in July of this year I posted about tying some flies for a friend who was headed to the Arctic Circle for some Arctic Char fishing. The original post can be found here: http://vern-o.blogspot.com/2011/07/ordinary-fliesextraordinary-location.html . Anyway it's time to bring you up to speed on the results.  First I get the following email:

Dear Mr. VERN-O..I would like to request a partial credit for two (identical) pink flies that after 5 days of being cast thousands of time over rock beds each lost the green color on one eye. Those char are  both 37+ inches and weigh 24 and 28 lbs..on an eight weight 13.5' spey rod--the larger one had 300 yds of backing out (25 minutes to land)....Two largest fish since 2008 on Ekaluk.  

Now I have to say this was the best complaint ever....he was kidding about the partial credit request.  I was tickled pink (pun intended) to say the least that his trip went so well.  I borrowed a couple of pictures that he later sent and blacked out the smiles of all parties to protect their indentity.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Different kids, different fishing approach...same result.

As you may have read before my oldest daughter is the able and ready angler and her younger sister is less so.  My youngest has some reservations about standing in flowing waters and seeking out viable quarry that lurk within the area streams and rivers.  She does how ever get the urge to go fishing with Dad every now and then.  She usually wants to go fishing in our backyard pond for bullheads, but this summer the drought had really made the pond undesirable, so I suggested hitting the local canal public boat launch for some worm dunking and Barbie pole fishing.  I woke my youngest early Saturday morning and said "Wanna go fishing?"....she was sure she was still dreaming, so I repeated the question and she sprang awake.  I gathered the gear and pastries and away we went.  We arrived at the launch while it seemed the rest of the world was a sleep. She's evolving into quite the caster and is content with the Barbie action.  Not wanting to push fishing on her, I allow her to set the pace and I act as guide making suggestions.  She really needs to work on setting the hook as we chummed the waters well with missed fish and lost worms.  The only downside came when the casting went a wry and the worm and hook grazed her arm.  She immediately dropped the rod and teared up.  She claimed she was ready to go home and I assured her that I wasn't going to end the fun we had up to this point on a tearful end.  I let her calm herself and made some casts for her til she was back in the swing of it.  We ended our morning casting our worries away and creating memories to cherish.  Nothing makes me smile when I hear, "Daddy I like going fish with you."....and I get to reply "I like fishing with you too".

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sculpin Helmets and Dragons

I've been holding back on another new product from Flymen Fishing Company.  Martin Baudin is in the process of releasing the Sculpin Helmet to his line of Fish Skulls.  When he told me of his idea for the product I instantly had patterns swimming in my head.  Sculpins are bottom hugging river and stream dwelling fish that are a favorite of many freshwater gamefish. They are found in a range of earthy tones.  These Helmets were designed to be heavy and wider in profile to the Fish Skulls.  When I got samples into my hands, I couldn't tie fast enough to get the pattern down.  My expectations were met both with the product and the pattern I came up with.  It's one thing to come up with a cool looking pattern, it's another to come up with a cool looking pattern that catches fish.  I took my new pattern "Hagrid's Dragon" out for test swim.  I was fishing the run and fly kind of half heartedly and ready to switch flies, but I said to myself that this was experimental and to ride it out a little longer.  I was swinging the helmet through the middle of the run when the line went tight.  I connected with a fish that put a bend in the 4wt switch that had me more than excited.  I was rewarded / surprised when I landed a fourteen inch fallfish.  Typical fallfish in this area run between 6 and 10 inches.  Though fallfish aren't as exciting as fresh chrome, this is late summer fishing.  I renewed my confidence and kept fishing the run.  Next I was into smallmouth bass!  I fished the rest of the run and landed seven bass and two fallfish (both of which were over 13 inches).  It was safe to say I was hooked or sold, depending on how you look at it on the sculpin helmets.  Here is a sneak peek at the product and the results.  The helmets will be available in small and large sizes and brown or olive colors.