Friday, December 7, 2012

The Water Was Dirty, But I Feel So Clean

Monday 12/3/12
I occasionally have a few extra vacation days to use before the end of the year or I will lose them.  I try to carefully account for all my planned fishing trips.  This year has been no different.  A buddy of mine from Florida comes up every year to go steelhead fishing with Loren Williams of Fly Guy’s Guide Service.  I try my best to tag a long for at least one day with them.  I had planned to fish with them on Tuesday since the weather was still suppose to be balmy to say the least. On a last minute thought, I decided to take Monday off and go fishing on some of the Western, NY tributaries and streams. I hopped into the car Monday morning at 0530 and the car just didn’t want to turn over.  Again and again I tried, eventually I got it started.  Now for the dilemma, I got it started, but will it start again after I turn it off.  I am considered a Deadhead in some circles, but I was never one to just quit my job and follow the Grateful Dead around the country.  I am a bit more type A personality and I need to have a steady income and can’t just drop everything and hope for the best.  I deduced in my head the possible automotive pit falls possible and decided to travel to an inland stream for some year round resident trout fishing and then call the service garage when they opened to see about a diagnosis and a remedy.  I certainly didn’t want to be down a vehicle on Tuesday morning to fish with the Boyz.  I made it to the stream right a sunrise and had the place to myself.  I had already decided that I was going to swing wet flies and streams in hopes of some great grabs.  The flow was very low, but on the upside just a little off color.  I stuck to the plan and started tossing some streamer like patterns.  A quick tug happened rather quickly.  This was going to be fun.  I worked the sections quickly since the flow was really not conducive  for swinging in some areas. Again the line went tight this time the fish had some power behind it as it darted downstream and made three buttery flanked leaps before coming unbuttoned.  Curses!  After a jolt of reality I scheduled to get the vehicle in the garage later that morning, and kept fishing for another hour.  I hooked an lost another fish as time was winding down.  It was go time and I had to have something to show for my efforts.  I fished three other spots that just screamed to hold fish, but they didn’t produce.  I headed back toward the vehicle and hit one more spot.  The line tightened and I soon beached a little brown, but I was thankful for the hurried experience.  The ventured to the garage only to learn there was nothing noticeable wrong.  A self healing vehicle or a fluke.  My day didn’t quite go as planned, but some memorable times.
Tuesday 12/4/12
To the Salmon River I went to meet Gary and Loren.  The morning air temp was 48 degrees and the fellow anglers were out in force.  Doesn’t anybody work anymore?  The area had fifteen inches of snow the week before and now it was springtime balmy.  Loren’s call was to head North to a different tributary in hopes of solitude.  We had the solitude except for the part Saint Bernard dog that greeted us as we geared up.  
The stream was flowing high and off color with visibility being about a foot.  Loren set us up for swinging flies with two handed rods. Which had me grinning from ear to ear.  I’ve fished with Loren a few times before, but this was a the first time swinging spey style.  Every experience with Loren has been a learning experience that goes beyond expectation.  Knowing my spey casting is mediocre at best, this was sure to be a treat.  It wasn’t fifteen minutes into fishing and I could see my buddy hooked up briefly with a fish.  This put the energy in us that the day may just be exceptional. Instead it was an omen.  Not another tug all day.  As the air temperature rose to fifty degrees plus, we enjoyed the solitude and the experience.  Loren proved his abilities by taking time to show me some new casting strokes and improve on the ones I already knew.  It really isn’t about the catching but the beauty of what we have before us and what we make of it.  Our new found friend the Saint Bernard returned to greet us again in the parking lot and see how the fishing was.  Actually it was more to see if we would scratch his ears some more.

Monday, November 19, 2012

November 17-18, 2012 Somerset, NJ International Fly Tying Symposium

November 17-18, 2012 Somerset, NJ International Fly Tying Symposium

I believe this is my fourth year tying at the symposium and I have to say I take something new away every year.  Not necessarily tying materials, but perspectives and experiences.  This year was the second year that I was invited to tie at the Flymen Fishing Company booth.  The show started Saturday morning with a surprise gift from Russian tier Yuri Dyachenko in the form of a stunning calender with his extraordinary salmon flies. Not able to communicate very well, I hope he had as much fun as I did….good karma to start the show.  It is very rewarding to see the folks who come up and comment on how much they like a product, or talk about their experiences with a product, or what they would change about the product, and even the not so nice "why do your products cost so much?".  I have little to do with any of the design or pricing, but I always appreciate upfront and honest comments.  What do I take away from promoting a product or tying at a product booth?  I love being able to interact with folks and share ideas.  I had a few folks come back this year and say, "I still have that fly you tied for me last year…" or "I really liked the way you tyed this", that for me makes the trip worth it.  I gain so much from just the one on one interaction and exchange of ideas, stories, and life experiences.  What I really benefit from as well is feedback.  New to the symposium this year was the "swimming pond", and area where you could tie on a fly and see the action in the non-flowing water.  This was a good idea since who doesn't tie a fly on while fishing and drag it through the water to see what it looks like.  I had wanted to see my articulated sculpin pattern in the water and decided to give it a go.  Martin Bawdin the owner of Flymen Fishing company wanted me to see his new crawfish bodies once they were wet as well.  We fooled around a bit at the pond which was not being utilized very much.  Martin was right, the crawfish bodies look pretty damn snappy in the water.  I have to confess that I wasn't overly impressed with them originally, but my opinion has changed since then.  The articulated sculpin was much better than what I had expected.  Before long we had a few folks watching our flies swimming.  Before I knew it, Bob Clouser was standing there and watching the action.  Soon we had his mostly synthetic clouser and my sculpin swimming in the water.  This was a real treat for me and he commented on how good the sculpin looked.  I mentioned that I had concerns whether the materials would collapse too much.  He said to me "the fly looks the same in the water as it does when it's in the vise…..remember that".  We commented back and forth about the two flies, and the affect that current has as well.  His clouser sits almost vertical in still water, but add some current and you have a swimming bait fish.  Bob almost was interested in the life like crawfish bodies as well.  Before long there was a small crowd around us and Bob started telling stories about fishing with Lefty Kreh.  Bob then took the time to show everyone a loop type knot that he gave credit to Lefty for coming up with.  I was really impressed with his casualness and confidence.  It was a nice experience that I will remember for quite some time.  After that I did some experimenting with the crawfish bodies and trying to determine placement of weight on the shank to ensure  that the hook point rides up.  The latest addition to the Flymen Fishing Company was Abbi Bagwell and before long Martin had her tying flies and meeting all the fine folks/tiers at the show.  A welcome addition.  Mid afternoon I took a break and walked around to see what the others were tying and experiencing.  This part for me has become very difficult, for I spend the majority of the time mindlessly wandering and unable to focus on much.  I often walk right past people I intended to see.  The time away from the vise is welcomed, but my head while wandering is often in the clouds. Saturday night was interesting and entertaining.  A handful of tiers met at Freddies Sports Bar for food and drinks.  I ventured off to decompress and take in some tasty Thai food and then joined the others for drinks.  Apparently some of the out of state Hurricane Sandy clean up crews got into a brawl outside the bar.  Too much drama, too early.  The good part was I got to shoot pool with Spring Creek Strategies another Mike Heck for a while.  A pool shark I am not.  The Fly Tying Bar Crew was a ton of laughs and I had a chance to catch up with the likes of Anthony Giaquinto, John Collins, Allen Landheer, Kevin Compton, Mike Schmidt, John Kavanaugh, and a slew of others. Sunday morning was my annual trip to Carlos bakery in Hoboken, NJ and then back to the show by 9AM to tie again.  Sunday morning is also my chance to make my rounds and try to say hello to the folks I had missed previously.  Rich Strolis at was a guy I've known online for a while and finally got to meet.  This was a treat since Rich and I have similar ideas when it comes to tying. Rich's stuff is always top notch and impressive.  Noon time is when I hit the road for the five hour drive back home.  Another experience to add to the list of why I love what I do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

November 13, 2012

Every year around mid November I try to head to a well known Western, NY tributary to fish with my buddy Eric....aka "E".  This year was no different...only I had been suffering a case of the no steelhead on the swing blues.  I was going to do everything in my power to connect with a fish.  This trib is what I would consider too small to swing a spey rod, but my 4wt switch would be perfect, and I could dirty nymph if it got that bad.  It got that bad.....there were plenty of fish present, but no takers on the swing.  I decided to dead drift some soft hackles and it got the job done.  It was refreshing to say the least and it gave me insight into the time of the year and what the fish tend to is not always eggs!!!  Anyway for me, I am off to the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset, NJ this weekend and look forward to talking shop with all the fine folks there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Short Holed Again

The stench of decay lingers in the air from the swimming dead of a month ago.  Fall foliage now litters the ground and the leaf hatch has settled into the edges and eddies.  The elbow-to-elbowers have left their remains treating the majestic river as their drains.  The stacked like cord wood days are gone and the carcasses are sand bagging the bottom.  If the circus has left town it must mean that chrome and brown should now surround?  Not in solitude, but swinging with the like minded attitude.  Methodical and deliberate each cast has meaning, into the void and left to dangle.  Gliding my way to the heart of the run.  One can almost taste the take.  Numbing breeze and drizzle to stay, it’s the pursuit that makes me stay.  Fishy is the water and anticipating the strike is there.  Then the crash from outta no where.  The trance leads to a glance, then a stare. You look up the flow and down. How can you not know? Don’t side step, just go! You’ve got the gear all in tow. Trek your way to the clearing going the other way.  I’m not a prude, just ask, it’s a simple task.  You choose to ignore and there you go, short holed again! My swing lends right where you stepped in, might as well be up to your chin.  Why can’t you think?  With this rod as a sword I shall shove you in the drink.  Next time don’t be a dink there’s miles of river from which these fish drink. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Troutoberfest 2012 Recap

I had anticipated driving down to the Catskills on Friday afternoon to rendezvous with some old friends and drink a few beers before Troutoberfest.  As life would have it, I needed to use my Friday night to catch up on some last minute fly tying business.  Here is how my Friday into Saturday went.  I was up at 5:00am, at the real job by 6:00am, back home to get the kids off the bus by 2:30pm, off on a microbrew quest to Rochester, NY for a friend  until 6:00pm, start fly tying at 8:00pm, pack the fly tying gear at 11:30pm, in bed by 12:30am, up at 5:00am to hit the road for the Catskills.  Needless to say it was a busy start to the weekend but I was in the right mind set and looking forward to tying and chatting with the folks who were at the Beaverkill Angler in not-so- sunny Roscoe, NY. 
 I made it to the shop early and got set up to tie and we were off to the races.  Not long after I was getting things set up, fellow tier Johnny King arrived to tie next to me.  If you have not seen Johnny King’s work I highly recommend that you do.  He has a great  level of skill in both fresh and salt water realms. His comfort level behind the vise and in front of people is infectious and a pleasure to experience firsthand.  The demo from my perspective went well and there was a nice steady flow of people in the morning.  Loren Williams of Fly Guy’s Guide Service drew in  people to his talks on traveling , fly fishing, and steelheading.  I was able to relax and tie an assortment of soft hackles and some steelhead flies.  I was surprised at the number of folks who were just learning or fairly new to fly tying and wanting to learn more.  One of the neat things was to meet a follower of my blog whom I had not met previously.  We talked about tube flies a bit.  I’m going to try to incorporate a tubes into a demo in the near future.  The free burgers and hot dogs were a perfect way to break away from the tying.  By early afternoon the crowds had thinned a bit and I took the opportunity to pack up and make room for Loren Williams to tie a bit.  That means time to hit some water.  After consulting with shop owner Evan Lavery and shop manager Matt Nelson on where to prospect for line tuggers, my buddies and I set off.  As my buddies and I geared up I gave each of them a different fly that I had tied at the demo.  The first spot just didn’t have the right vibe for me, but my buddy Matt had come around and said he scored a brown trout on the fly I gave him. 
I joked that I needed it back right away and that I had given him the wrong one.  We moved to another spot and I felt the presence of fish in the cool afternoon weather.  I had it in my mind that I wasn’t leaving this spot until I moved a fish.  I tied on an experimental fly that I had whipped up late Friday to see if bright and flashy would move a fish. It did, but I lost the fish as quickly as the strike came.  Then I moved  down a bit and connected with a cookie cutter brown, but I was happy to say the least. 

Eventually my buddy Eric worked his way down and I told him to go back through and fish the run I had just fished.  He did so and about ten minutes later he was into a fish of his own.  Come to find out he caught the fish on the other fly I had done at the morning demo. 

For me this was a huge reward.  Three fish, three friends, and three different flies that I had tied.  We headed to the cabin for a night that got real fuzzy in the memory, but lasting in the friendship.  There is a lot to be said about good friends, good music, good homebrew, and good microbrew (Naked Dove’s  45 fathoms porter and hopulus localus mixed).  I spent Sunday morning licking my wounds and preparing for the drive home.  I fished the West Branch of the Delaware with no fish, but the time on the water eased my aching cerebelum.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Troutober Fest 2012

TroutoberFest 2012

Saturday, October 6th - Sunday, October 7th

Fall is just around the corner and the hot days of summer will soon be behind us. This means shorter days, colorful leaves, and FALL TROUT FISHING! As the days get cooler the insects and the fish start getting active, and to celebrate we are holding our First Annual TroutoberFest!
This two day event will feature fly tyers, instructional classes, presentations, new products, tackle appraisal, special deals, and FREE FOOD! It is also a chance to get together with other anglers and share you fish stories from the summer…or hit the rivers one more time in pursuit of "the one that got away"!

If you have any questions, or would like to sign up for a class, please contact us at (607) 498-5194

Some of the highlights so far include:

Loren Williams - chosen as Fly Fishing Team USA's first fly tyer in 2005 and an angling member of the team since 2007, Loren is an experienced nymph and streamer fisherman as well as an accomplished spey caster who guides for steelhead and salmon on New York's Lake Ontario tributaries. Saturday, October 6th: 9:30am - 10:30am "Fly Fishing for Steelhead" presentation; 11:00am - Noon "Experiencing the World Through Fly Fishing" presentation; Afternoon Fly Tying Demonstration. Sunday, October 7th: 9:00am - Noon "Nymph Tricks" on the water nymphing class. $50/person, limited to 4 people. Call to sign up; Afternoon Fly Tying Demonstration.Detailed class and presentation description can be found by clicking here.
Dave Brandt - an award winning fly tyer and senior instructor at the Wulff Fly Fishing School who also teaches fly fishing coursed at SUNY Oneonta, Dave will be behind the vise whipping up some of the patterns you may have seen in the magazines or his DVD "Traditional Catskill Dry Flies". Dave will be tying from 10:00am-1:00pm on Sunday, and his presentation "After The Hook-Set: How To Play Your Fish" will start at 2:00pm
Tom Zemianek - our Orvis representative who ran our Memorial Day casting competition, benefiting Casting For Recovery, will be here with the new Helios H2 fly rods. This is one of the first chances for the general public to get a look at these highly anticipated rods, and Tom will have them all set up and ready to cast. H2 test casting will take place on both Saturday and Sunday, Orvis Fly Fishing 101 classes will also be held both days starting at 2:00pm. Tom will also be hosting a free cookout on Orvis's behalf on Saturday, October 6th from 11:00am - 1:00pm
John Shaner - our Hardy representative will be in the shop offering free cleaning and maintenance for your Hardy fly reels. John is a scholar of the sport and very knowledgeable about fly fishing's history and tradition. If you have an old bamboo rod or other fly fishing gear you would like to know a little more about, bring it in and John can look it over.Sunday, October 7th: 10:00am - 11:30am tackle appraisals; 1:00pm - 2:00pm Intermediate Fly Casting Course; 2:30 - ? Fly Tying Demonstration
Eric Reed - our Beulah and William Joseph representative has also taught the two handed casting classes we have held in the spring these past two years. Eric is back again to help you polish your switch and spey casting before the steelhead season really heats up. When Eric is not on the water, he will by tying tube flies and saltwater flies in the shop, and will also have a strong selection of Beulah and William Joseph products for you to check out. Sunday, October 7th: 1:30pm - 3:30pm Switch & Spey Casting Class, $25/person limited to 4 people. Call to sign up; Morning and afternoon Tube Fly and Saltwater Fly Tying Demonstration
TROUTOBERFEST Fly Tying Contest - send us your favorite interpretation of a Woolly Bugger and we will display it throughout the weekend as a part of our Fly Tying Contest. The winner will be chosen by people attending the event, and afterwards all flies will be donated to local Trout Unlimited Chapter. For full details click here Deadline for fly submissions is Friday, October 5th
Fly Tying Material Sale - 25% to 50% off all fly tying material except tools, Whiting products, and Daiichi hooks. Fur, feathers, dubbing, will all be on sale so you can stock up for the winter ahead!
Vern Burm - Vern Burm, owner of Custom Flies by Vern-O, will be with us tying soft hackles and steelhead flies. Vern has a passion for flymphs, soft hackles, and flowing steelhead flies as well as two handed casting. He has his own fly fishing blog "Custom Flies by Vern-O" and has written numerous articles for Hatches Fly Tying Magazine. So stop on by to see him in action! Vern will be tying from 10:00am - 2:00pm on Saturday, October 6th
Jonny King - Born and raised in Manhattan, Jonny is an accomplished Jazz musician, attorney, and fly tyer. He has been tying for over 30 years, and tying saltwater flies since 1990. Jonny is known for his innovative use of materials, and has been featured in many of the top fly fishing magazines. The Delaware River system is one of Jonny's favorite places to fish for trout, and he has developed a series of patterns to help fool some of those picky fish. Jonny will be tying from 10:00am - 2:00pm on Saturday, October 6th
ORVIS Fly Fishing 101 Classes - great for the beginner or people looking to get into the sport. It has been so popular for us the past two years that we wanted to make it a part of the event! Classes will be held Saturday, October 6th and Sunday, October 7th at 2:00pm. More details can be found here

Keep checking back as we hear from other participants and will be posting and revising the itinerary.

If you have any questions, or would like to sign up for a class, please contact us at (607) 498-5194

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tying For A Cause and Skunks

As you may or may not know, HMH vises and Casting For Recovery have teamed up and now HMH offers a pink colored vise.   $25 from each pink vise sold goes to Casting For Recovery.

Casting for Recovery was founded in 1996 in Manchester, Vermont, the unique brainchild of a breast cancer reconstructive surgeon and a professional fly fisher (at right, Dr. Benita Walton and Gwenn Perkins). CFR began as a local grassroots group with a big heart and an original national vision, and quickly received endorsements from medical and psycho-social experts for its innovative healing program model while at the same time provoking intense interest by national media.
Casting for Recovery was founded on the principles that the natural world is a healing force and that cancer survivors deserve one weekend — free of charge and free of the stresses from medical treatment, home, or workplace — to experience something new and challenging while enjoying beautiful surroundings within an intimate, safe, and nurturing structure.
The Program
We provide an opportunity for women whose lives have been profoundly affected by the disease to gather in a natural setting and learn the sport of fly fishing. Just as importantly, the retreats offer an opportunity to meet new friends, network, exchange information, and have fun.
Our weekend retreats incorporate counseling, educational services, and the trained facilitators that staff each retreat, including a psycho-social therapist, a health care professional (e.g. physical therapist, nurse), as well as fly-fishing instructors and river helpers.
Casting for Recovery has inspired the generous and loyal support of donors large and small, and continues to believe in its mission of providing women with powerful tools for healing at no expense to them.

 I decided to jump on helping to promote the vise. In the future I will be doing all my tying demos on the vise to help get the word out and hopefully inspire some people to make donations to the cause and maybe buy a vise in support......and oohh yeah my daughters think it's a pretty cool vise!  I wanted to come up with some fancy fly to tie and showcase the vise, but realized a better way to get peoples attention was to tie a fly that works.  The first steelhead  I landed on my two handed spey rod was my version of the green-butt skunk.  The largest steelhead I have landed came to hand with the rose-bud skunk.  Fairly easy flies to tie and they work.  For those in recovery and learning to tie flies, there is no need to feel overwhelmed with this pattern.  It's a joy to tie and fish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Theriault Family Farm

As you travel North from Bangor, Maine the exits get fewer, the mountains get taller, and the speed limit signs on the interstate read 75 mph. 
 In the shadow of Mount Katahdin lies a small town known as Stacyville, Maine.  Stacyville has a population shy of five hundred people.  Among those few folks residues a family farm.  Not just any old cow and corn farm.  A unique farm much like the natural environment that engulfs the area.  The farm is owned and run by the Theriault family, mostly just Alvin and his wife Connie nowadays. 

 Their daughter Holly has moved to the Texas oil fields as a geologist. As a youngster she used to raise prized rabbits for show competition and fly tying materials. Holly at one point had over 200 rabbits and was winning praise and prize for her wonderful animals.  She gained respect quickly and soon had folks asking her for advice on raise such prized rabbits. Holly is no stranger to a fly tying vise, at the age of four she was tying her own flies.  For many years she supplied Mainers with the famous Maple Syrup  Nymph.  These days the Theriault farm consists of perennials, vegetables, goats, six llamas, and fly tying birds.  Lots of birds for fly tying; hens, roosters,  guinea fowl, and even jungle cocks.  Along with the farm they run a rock and gem shop and a fly tying material shop that can easily consume any fly tier for half a day or more.  The shop is spacious with so many bird skins to pick through it is tough to know where to begin.

There are several fly tying books worth cruising through when you become overwhelmed in the hackle inventory.  Then there are the furs, dubbing, synthetics, the custom dyed colors, vises, and tools.  The list goes on and could sound like any ordinary fly shop, but this place has charm, and that down home feel.  Alvin is a blast of knowledge and stories that seems to fit the niche of the shop to a tee.  It should since Alvin built and expanded the shop twice, himself.  Alvin is a retired Game Warden for the State of Maine.  His wife Connie ran the fly shop and tied flies while Alvin was a Game Warden.  She now works for Baxter State Park full time.

Alvin claims to have fished so many days in his life that he is satisfied being busy with his business and supplying fly tiers from all over. A big portion of his business is supplying flies to other stores and mail orders.  At the age of twelve he was tying his own flies and at fifteen he was raising chickens for fly tying. Alvin reminisces about fishing everyday at the camps which his father ran for family and private cliental. Alvin thrived on a daily lunch on soda and a large bag of potato chips.  The stories that Alvin shares are full of detail and passion, even to a virtual stranger like myself.  When our conversation switches to raising birds for fly tying, Alvin quickly shows his knowledge and thirty plus years experience.  Confidence glows from him as he fills an open ear with tales of success, trial, and error.  Fascinating to me is the difficulty of raising jungle cock. Alvin tells me of the first batch of jungle cock he tried to raise, that ended in instant disaster and a $500 investment was gone as quickly as it had started. These birds are so sensitive to human contact, that disrupting their daily routine can send them into days of sulking or even suicide.  Even after years of breeding jungle cock still remain a tough bird to raise.  As Alvin tells his stories  I paw through the bin of jungle cock skins and notice that none are alike.  Getting the perfect cape of jungle cock eyes is very difficult, and time consuming.  Once you’ve raised a good bird it is hard to sacrifice them for their cape since you want to keep the bloodlines strong for future generations.  It’s easy to see why jungle cock capes can fetch $100+. 

Searching through all the variations of not so perfect jungle cock, I’m enthralled at the uniqueness of each one and envision the endless possibilities of flies to be tied in my mind’s eye. As our visit wraps up, my family takes me to see some of the Theriault’s family farm and animals.  It really makes you appreciate the fact that you can still find good people and American run businesses.
As we pile in the family vehicle and head back to the coastal shore of lobster land I ponder all the facets to the Theriault Farm and Maine itself, with all the hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
You can visit their shop in person or online

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bat Wings Article

Birth of the Bat Wings

For me when it comes to fly tying materials, if it catches my eye I have a hard time resisting the urge to impulse buy.  I often visualize the material in use, its durability, ease of use, ease of purchasing again, and cost.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've impulse purchased a material and had it sit in a drawer and never see the shank of a hook. Or try the material once and not like the result. Then there are those times when you purchase the right material and can never again find it in any shop or catalog.  Nothing beats the old I'll try this material only to find out that the material makes about a dozen flies and the cost is not realistic to throw the new fly and material in a tree or burry it in the bottom of some famous river.  None the less the impulse to try is always there. That visualization of a material on the shelf forms into a useable fly and fish a catcher beyond imagination.  A while back I fell victim to some olive dyed blood quill marabou with the top half of the quills dyed black, two-tone marabou if you will.  Total impulse, inflated price, and it sat in a drawer for close to a year.  The idea spawned, but the fry never developed.  I rediscovered the material this spring as I was packing supplies for an upcoming fly tying show.  The fly flashed in my brain again and I threw the marabou in the box along with some other materials that could if I wanted to, experiment.  When it comes to tying shows, I usually like to have a plan in my head of what to tie and I pack materials accordingly. This particular show was a little more laid back and I wasn't sure where in the tying realm I wanted to drift. My buddies and I were sitting around the cabin the night before the show enjoying libations, one buddy asked, "so what's on the menu for tying tomorrow?"  I said, "I have no idea, I'm just going to wing it".  He probed a little more, and I said "I'll figure it out in the morning".  As the morning came around the plan formed and I went the spey style flies for the demo.  I worked out a few soft hackles to get warmed up and jumped into setting bronze mallard wing.  This for me is not fun to do alone, let alone in front of a half dozen people.  The bronze mallard wing took several attempts to get it set just right, but in the end the result was eye pleasing and worth the effort. Needing to recover from that not-so-great performance, I dove into the same pattern with an alternate upright wing, which turned out fair at best in my opnion.  At this point it was time to let the shackles go and just take the tying to new territory.  Out came the two toned marabou, I lashed materials to spey hook and counter-ribbed for durability, winged with a pheasant rump dyed black.  The fly had presence and I was feeling a sort of satisfaction, all the stumbles along the way were being utilized and absorbed into a new creation.  I added jungle cock eyes just below the wing and the fly commanded respect.  The dark tones now had glowing eyes that looked furrowed under a heavy brow of the flat wing style.  I thought instantly that it looked stealthy and bat like.  Impulse material buy, equals satisfaction the newspaper headline would read.  I held onto the fly and once I got back home I set it on my tying bench and pondered it while filling orders.  A couple weeks later it hit me, drop the spey hook and had a shank.  I did this and the results were even more impressive.  I added just a touch of marabou for the tail and a stinger hook attached by some scrap red monofilament.  The shank body stretched the fly more and looked even sleeker than the prototype.  Thus the name bat wings came about.

Now for the test drive.  Father's Day weekend I wanted to take my oldest daughter to experience the Salmon River for the first time.  Summer is the ideal time to take a younger person to experience a river of this nature.  The crowds are down, the flows are too, and if you happen to take a slip the water is pleasant.  All of these played true that day.  It also gave her a chance to work on getting some distance with her cast, and she is still very new to fly fishing.  I really wanted her to experience the pull of a fish on a swung fly.  I worked with her extensively to get the casting to improve, which it did.  Feeling the pull didn't come so easy.  I fished behind her trying to give instruction to improve.  I could tell she was feeling the pressure and I tried to back off.  I was switching flies often and put my new bat wings on to try it out. As our trip was winding down I had hooked one fish and gave her the rod only to have it come unhooked.  I pointed out a likely spot to her and myself moved away a bit to give her some room.  I made a couple of drifts near one of the bridge abutments when the grab happened.  My daughter seeing that I was hooked up again wanted to reel it in.  I said "this is a good fish, here you go".  I coached her through it telling her to let it run if it wanted to as the 4 weight switch rod was bent over.  She listened well and it took her a while, but the fifteen inch smallmouth bass was soon at her feet. I could see the adrenaline filled smile on her face and I knew we were both sharing the same feeling.  We took a couple of quick pictures, even though she was unwilling to touch the fish.  Something to work on later.  The ride home and the days to follow were filled with laughing and re-living that summer morning and the bat wings that swing.

Test drive number two.  I took a solo trip to try out some new-to-me patterns and re-swing the bat wings.  By now it's summer time and the driest it's been in years.   Low and clear are an understatement, but the targeted smallmouth should be cooperative. My foam bomber wasn't the floating machine I had hoped for, but the fallfish attacked it nonetheless.  Need to find a lighter wire hook for that one.  The next was a hair wing fly that was modernized by tier Wild Bill, I add my flare to it, and again the fallfish inhaled it.  I went back to the bat wings to see if I could muster up something bigger in the catch column.  It didn't take long and I was into a small bass, not as big as I was hoping, but the change of species was welcomed.  Next came a bigger bass and worthy fish for this river.  As I moved to the next spot I had some tricky fast water that plunged into a nice pool with some boulders inter mixed.  The initial swings were with large bellies and would swing the fly too fast.  I mended as needed and moved down the small pool.  Right about mid pool the drift was perfect and the swing was slow, spooky slow.  Then the rod jolted and I connected to much better fish.  The fight was on and I was starting to gain the lead, when the fish darted down stream and wrapped around a boulder.  I was stunned at the quickness that the battle went south on me.  I tried to un-wedge the leader, but the current was giving the advantage.  I  attempted to wade out and free it, but the water was quickly going to be well above my waist.  I was not about to take a swim for a leader and I had assumed the fish was long gone.  I tried to break the leader off when after several tugs, It came free, leader intact and the fish still thrashing for freedom after having time to rest while the leader was tangled.  Adrenaline took over as I was elated to see the fish still hooked.  I tried to quickly maneuver the fish into the shallows but as I made my attempt the fish darted back toward the depths and turned a 180 degrees and hid between two rocks.  This time he was hidden in knee deep water.  I was able to grab the leader and work my way down.  I could feel the eye of the fly and with some difficulty I tried to grab the lip of the smallmouth, but he wanted no part of it and swam from his  rock crevasse.  I quickly put the brakes on him and turned him back around and slid his fourteen inches of determination in to the shallows.  I quickly snapped a couple of pictures and released him.  Any fish with that much determination deserved to fight again. Never have I experienced so much fight and trickery in a fish.  The bat wings keeps making memories for me and is deserving of a spot in my fly wallet. Bring on the steelhead, it's time to dance with the bat wings.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bat Wings and Vacation

I'm away on vacation, but here are a couple of links to a recent article.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Art of Life and a Dose of Reality

I don't recall exactly when I first came across Travis Sylvester's artwork, but when I did I fell in love with it.  It was while I was spending too much time on Facebook that his work etched my retinas.  It was this stunning vibrant color image of a brook trout rising to the surface. I had to know more about this artist and his work.  I've always been a sort of closet art geek.  When the media is environmental and ichthyological oriented I tend to gravitate toward it.  I've seen his other works on ipad covers and fancy flask covers, but didn't realize these were creations of his.  The other oddity was that I learned the brook trout photo that Travis used was taken by none other than Kevin Hospodar a Hatches magazine man behind the scenes.  Kevin and I have been working together for a year or so and he has always been over the top in helping me get articles submitted into Hatches online magazine.  I had shown my family several of the pieces that Travis had created and mentioned how much I like them.  As father's day was approaching, my wife informed me that the there was surprise coming in the mail, and that it might not be here by father's day.  This was fine by me, but I wondered what it could be, since artwork from my kids, a fine craft brew, and some barbeque are usually enough to make my day.  As my day came and went my wife would ask every couple of days, "no package came in the mail today?" After several days it became apparent that something wasn't right with the mystery gift.  My wife filled me in that she had ordered a print from Travis for me and it may be lost in the mail.  I could see the frustration she was feeling and she contacted Travis to let him know.  The package was suppose to have been delivered by Fed Ex.   Fed Ex claimed that they had delivered it to our back door almost a week before.  In order for Fed EX to deliver to our back door they would have to go around a fence, around a work shed, and then through the fence to deliver it.  We searched the entire perimeter of our house. There is no way a Fed Ex driver would go through all that.  It became apparent that they must have delivered it to the wrong house.  Not to drag this out, but for the next five weeks we came to learn that our neighbors who rent a portion of their house out, have a scumbag for a tenant. What kind of person steals a package that was delivered to the wrong house, and that house being fifty yards away?  A scumbag whore with scumbag children that's who.  You can't blame the kids, but if you raise them without morals, they grow into adults without morals.  The Fed Ex driver is at fault as well, but it was an honest mistake and he returned to the wrong house to investigate the incident to no avail. Enough said, not really but it still makes bile in my throat to think about it.  My wife, Travis, and Fed Ex went through countless emails and claim forms.  Travis was top notch through the entire thing and it was embarrassing for us to have to jump through all these hoops because of dishonesty and human error. Eventually a replaced print was delivered and father's day was complete.  Stunning to say the least is what I can say of the heart that went into the photo, the print, and my family to make this gift so memorable.  The print is now situated into my tying room for me to reflect and pull inspiration from.  Thank you all for art and hearts. 
Inspiration move me brightly....Terrapin Station, Grateful Dead  
Links to Kevin's photography and Travis's Art are here:


Monday, July 16, 2012

Spey Nation V and Oinks

This has to be one of my favorite events to attend.....Spey Nation that is.  This year marks the fifth year and what an event it was.  Moving from it's usual June slot to a July slot was not a pleasing point for me, but judging by the masses it worked for many others.  The drawing of the masses may have been in part by the big names as well, Topher Brown, Simon Gawesworth, Rick Kustich, and Tim Rajeff just to name a few.  Did I mention free food too? Sponsored by Nick and the boyz at Oak Orchard Fly Shop.  Absent was the free beer, but hey we all know how to pack a cooler ourselves. One of the best parts for me is connecting with new and re-connecting with old friends. I get a lot out of this event by being a spectator!

 This is the time to test drive a rod...only you miss the presentation.
 Frank Swarner III and Mike Nutto talking shop.
 What an un-manned Hardy booth?.....Walt's gonna be pissed.
 Every Hippie's fantasy!!!!! Do I smell patchouli oil?
 The mastermind behind the Nation
 T&T on display and ready to swing.
The morning started like all the other Spey Nations for me, up as early as possible, meet up with my buddy Martin for some fishing and laughing before test driving a few rods at the Nation.  There were a few willing takers in the smallmouth bass department, many falling victim to Hagrid's Dragon sculpin pattern.  To add to the story, I will mention that there was an epic battle and a fish weighing in the pound rather than inches ranges was lost before eyes could be laid upon it.  I had to depart by Noon due a previous engangement of a pig roasting nature.

  It wouldn't be a trip with out a stop at Malinda's Fly Shop. 
 Can't wait til next year! Thanks to all those who put forth the effort to pull this event is greatly appreciated.