Monday, January 30, 2012

The Beaded Boatman

I'm not one to usually hand out tying instructions and often times you will find me looking through blogs and YouTube videos for direction for myself but the other day I stumbled upon on idea for a great little water bug.  The idea came from reading about the little water-bug called the boatman.  I have never really given them much of a shot when I have fished these little guys before but after doing a little research I may have found out why.
What I discovered was that these little guys frequently rise to the surface to gather air under their bodies and then dive down to the bottom of slow moving parts of rivers and lakes.  It struck me that this 'air pocket' has been missing from nearly ever pattern I have ever seen.  For a time I forgot about this tidbit until I was at the craft store with my wife the other day and I saw these tiny glass beads that looked just like water / air drop-lips. They were the perfect size for small hooks and 'Bonus' they were half off.

I started off with centering three small beads on the hook - building up material in front and in the back of the beads.

I then took a small bundle of pheasant tail fibers and secured them behind the last bead.  I allowed a small amount of fibers to spray out hoping that it will give the insect a bit more life.  After tying off the black tread in the back I moved to the front of the bug.

The rest of the bug is simple made pulling the fibers forward to the eye, splitting the fibers, and then tying them in the boatman leg style.  I finished this little bug with a layer of clear varnish to hold the fibers together.

Not a hard bug to tie at all.  In fact, I whipped out quite a few in a very short amount of time.  If you look at an actual boatman, this fly is almost spot on and I believe that the beads will pay off while fishing these bugs.  Of course this all depends on the fish but I figure if the trout don't like them then the bluegills will eat them up.

On a side note, I actually got out to do a little fishing this week both at the trout stream as well as the bass pond.  Unfortunately even the usually productive pond came up zip.  There was a few exciting moments on the stream however when after four hours of searching for fish, I stripped a blue buck tail streamer (a variation of my favorite black nose dace) over a submerged rock and got a nice trout to leap clean out of the water.  He did this another three times as I tried to hook him and on the fourth strip I hooked him........ For all of a half a heartbeat.  He quickly shook the hook and swam off never to return.  Oh Well - Next time I guess.....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Painting The Ring-necked Pheasant

So why is a die-hard fly fisherman painting something other than a fish?  Quite simply, sometimes you have got to deviate from the norm and test your skills on other subjects.  As a avid outdoor enthusiast I see fowl like these Ring-Necked Pheasants as beautiful majestic birds.... as well as a great source of material for fishing.  Whether you are hunting them, watching them on the hiking trail, or using their feathers to catch fish, these birds are great creations.
I have only painted feathered creatures one other time but never is such great detail.  Honestly I have always been a bit intimidated by the level of detail and accuracy it takes to paint these birds well.  Even as I started working on this bird I was unsure how it would turn out.  Would it be a frame worthy piece or would it be a good decoration for the trash bin.

As I began to build up the color with rich browns, golden colors, and the classic red head of this pheasant I also added a but of iridescent additive into the paint.  I don't usually use this but when I broke out my Pheasant cape from my desk and began to study it I felt that this would be the perfect painting to have this additive.  Like the true colors of the actual Ring-neck Pheasant, the colors of this painting now have a subtle sparkle and shine as the light catches it.

Some of the people that stumble on this blog may now be wondering why I have a Pheasant cape in my house.  Others of you that frequent my blog understand that as a fly fisherman the pheasant cape, pheasant tail, as well as many other birds feathers are a key part to our sport.  Now, knowing this key piece of information, painting this bird doesn't seem so out of the realm of the fly fisherman artist in me.
As I came to this point in the painting I thought about calling it good.  I was extremely proud of how this turned out and thought, 'why spoil it with a bad background job'.  I mulled it over and took some time away from it for a bit but eventually settled on the idea that it just needed that little something extra to put this over the top.
In the end I was very pleased with how this turned out. The colors turned out great, the feather detail was a pain in the butt but ended looking spot on, and even the simple grass turned out great.  Who knows, maybe you will begin to see a few more birds on this blog.  Maybe a California Quail or a Wood Duck perhaps?

"Ring-Necked Pheasant"
@ 9"x 11"
Watercolor and Gouache on Paper
For Sale Here

On a lighter note, I was reading the paper the other day and came to one of my favorite parts of the paper - the Comics!  Seriously, I usualy have to page through the entire paper to find this section but it is always worth it.  I think that they set it up that way because once you get depressed from all the poor news and the state of our country, you need the comics to end your morning paper with a high note.  This Peanuts strip made me chuckle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tying Journal & A Givaway

A little while ago I used the vast power of the internet and a coupon to make myself a little journal to store my fly tying recipes in.  I very seldom tie standard patterns because...- well, I like to create.  Also even if the stuff I tie has been tied before, I typically don't follow the strict ingredients listed in the published books . Of course no ordinary off the rack journal will do for this fly fishing fool, no - I had one custom printed with my art on the cover.
With the addition of my new desk I recently began filling this book with recipes and drawings of my flies.  My hope is that with this new journal I will be able to keep track of the materials I have used as well as when I fish these flies and how well they produce.  In the past I have created a few flies that did well but after loosing them at the bottom of the stream I soon  forget about them and the materials I used to tie them.  I know the rule of three's when tying flies (Always tie three flies - use two and save the third to copy later) but I seldom follow it mainly because I am lazy.  This journal was part of my New Years resolution to become a better fly tyer.  Hopefully it will help to organize my fly tying and record keeping when it comes to fly fishing.
Keeping a journal like this is a helpful tool for any serious fly fisherman.  My hope is that I will stick with it and keep it up to date.
I hesitate to offer this journal - with my art - for sale on this site due to the cost associated with having such small quantities printed and shipped but I know a few other fly fisherman are going to ask so here it goes.  If you would like a journal like this with my art on the cover - Email me here.  I will even allow you to pick the print from my available prints for the cover of your custom Journal.  Each
Now here is the tough part - the price.  I realistically can not do this for less that $30 per journal plus $4 shipping.  Unfortunately I know this is steep and I don't expect much if any takers on this but I know I will be asked about it so there you go.  I wish I could make it less, but any cheaper and I will be paying you to order one.  In the future I might try to find a better printer if interest in this peeks.

And  Now For the FREE Stuff!!!   Lightload Towels sent me another package of towels for a review I did thanks to the Outdoor Blogger Network.  Actually they sent me this extra package of towels due to the original package of towels that got temporary lost in the mail.  I will save you the boring details but needless to say, sometimes our mail service down here in the south leave much to be desired.  Anyway, I didn't feel right keeping this extra package of Lightload Towels because a mix-up in shipping so I am passing this on to my followers.  I also hope to give this great company a little buzz in the process.  If you would like to receive a FREE package of these towels simply 1: be a follower of this blog and 2: leave a comment on this post.  The opportunity to win this little gift will end at on February 10th and midnight.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Deer Stew & A Prince

I made some great deer stew a while back and with the hunting season coming to a close and a lot of meat now coming back from the processors I thought that I would share this recipe with you.  This was a random recipe I found on the internet that sounded not only easy but quite tasty.  There is no doubt after making this stew that it will go into the wife's book.  It is a sweeter recipe than normally made but I am telling you that it is good.  I had a few friends over to sample it and there was not much left after second and third helpings.  Good stuff!!
From some random source I cant remember:

Crockpot Venison Apple Cider Stew
1 pound beef or venison stew meat -- (up to 2) 8 carrots -- sliced thin 6 potatoes -- sliced thin 2 apples -- chopped 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon thyme 2 tablespoons minced onion 2 cups apple cider (I used spiced cider)
Place carrots, potatoes, and apples in crock pot. Add meat and sprinkle with salt, thyme, and onion. Pour cider over meat and cover. Cook in crock pot on low heat 10-12 hours. Thicken gravy.
And not to forget about my painting, I sat down and flipped a little paint to paper to come up with this version of the "Egg Sucking Prince Nymph".   I saw it in a recent edition of Fly Tyer magazine and figured what the heck.  I would love to tie this up but searching my supplies I found no hot orange beads.  I guess that is mainly due to my ignorant reluctance to use egg patterns for fishing.  I am beginning to loose this 'high minded' attitude but I guess this fly still will have to wait till my next trip to the fly shop.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A New Fly Tying Desk And Midges

I have mentioned in past posts that I was upgrading my fly tying station from a portable chest to a full fledged desk.  There is no real art associated with this post but I am happy to report that as of yesterday, my project is complete and last night I tested it out with a few fresh midges.
My first box for storing my fly tying material was a simple twelve by ten by ten wood box that I quickly out grew an material began over flowing into a many shoe boxes.  My second attempt was a large chest I constructed from knotty pine (pic to the left).  I was very proud of this chest with its fold down table and inset drawers and wood burned fly fishing scene but as my hobby grew and material collection expended, I again began to fill bags and boxes with the over flow material.  I also got tired of lugging the box up onto the coffee table in order to tie up some flies.
Late last year I made up my mind to begin looking for a replacement for my chest.  I settled on a what was once a very popular form of desk called a secretary.  These desk are perfectly constructed for the novice fly tier since they have usually have  a drop front desk potion and numerous compartments to hold fly tying material.
I also like the fact that many of these desks have built in book shelves and with the drop leave table, they hide the mess of fly tying.  An added bonus is that most of these are antiques and are no longer manufactured.  I did toy with the idea of constructing my own version of the secretary but with the cost involved in procuring good wood I chose to spend the money on a classic piece of American history.
This particular desk was made by the Larkin Soap & Furniture company and in 1890 sold for about $3.50 brand new.  It was also given out to housewives that sold more than $10 worth of soap products as an encouraging to start their own business.  If one looks up the history of Larkin you will find a company dedicated to the lives of their employees.
Last night, after a month of slaving away at work, I finally had some time to finish the restoration of this beautiful desk.  With the rain falling outside and the temperatures around mid thirties, it was a good quiet way to spend an evening.  Soon after moving it into the house, I filled it with much of the overflow from my tying chest and settled down to tie some flies and drink a few beers.   I was glad that it performed as good as expected and look forward to utilizing this piece for years to come.
Below I have added a few pics showing off a few midges from last nights tying.  I'm not saying that the desk had anything to do with it but I believe that these were vast improvements on my last tying attempts at midges.
Give This Bead Head Midge A Name
I'm not sure what to call this one but as far as a bead head nymphs go, i think it might entice a fish or two to strike.  Maybe you can name it.
January Firecracker
These I call January Firecracker Midges.  While emptying my chest I stumbled upon some old material that had wool and small strips of a foil like material inter-woven to create a sparkle effect.  It was a great fine and although I only had about eight inches of material, it was more than enough for these #16 size midges.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Classic Salmon Fly

Childers Salmon Fly
Just because I don't salmon fish doesn't mean I cant enjoy the absolute beauty of the flies that have been created to catch them.  There are literally hundreds of books dedicated to the salmon and the salmon flies.  To the untrained eye these flies can look fairly similar but when you delve deeper into their creation you begin to see all the unique characteristics that these flies so special.
Even among tiers of the same fly you can find variations that make the flies look completely different.  I did this Childers Salmon fly in a more sparse style.  I also used a iridescent paint that under a little light makes the paint really come alive.  As far as my experience tying these beautiful flies, my bench count is a big fat ZERO.  I mean, where am I going to fish these.  If I ever do sit down to tie one up it will be just for show and I will probably place it right under one of my paintings.
"Childers Salmon fly"
Gouache On Paper
For Sale
And here is an update on a recent painting I did for an anglers first Brown on a fly rod.  He didn't waste any time getting it framed and boy does it look sweet.  I had a slot cut in the mat and he ended up placing the fly he used to hook his memorable catch.
In truth, this type of project is a perfect example of why I started painting in the first place.  My first few paintings and sketches where of my fish.  Although I enjoy a good taxidermied wall hanger, I am still a big proponent of catch and release. 
 Unfortunately if you release the fish, you cant get a good wall hanger to remind you of that day.  My solution was to paint a few of my memorable catches from photographs and the walla - beautiful wall hanger.  Add in the fly that the fish was caught on and the memory is complete.  I would like to thank Mat for setting me to work on this piece for him.  May it hang on your wall for many years to come.
If you would like a similar wall hanger of a catch you have had, EMAIL me and I will see what I can do to help you out.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lightload Towels Review

I recently was lucky enough to be sent a package of these Lightload Towels to try out from our friends over at The Outdoor Blogger Network.  As a responsible blogger and one always appreciative of free stuff I thought I'd share a few thoughts on these towels.
1: These things are a miracle of packaging.  Its amazing what they compress into such a small package.
2:  Extremely portable.  As an avid day hiker and occasional overnight back packer, these little babies have everything you look for in a backpacking towel.
3:  Fairly absorbent for their sizes.  I wouldn't use the smaller towel (I got the .3oz 12"x12") for a beach blanket but I would use it for about everything a standard hand towel would be used for.
4:  Disposable.  Unlike the hand towel I usually carry, these towels can be used and abused and then disposed of after a trip - or dry them out and use it as a fire starter during the trip. 
In short these little towels do what the advertise and at a price worth the trip.  These 12"x12" are only just over $2.50 for a package of two towels.  I wouldn't expect you to start hanging them in your bathroom or kitchen but  on the trail or on a camping trip, these are killer.  I think that I might try out there larger beach towels on the next camping trip to the beach.   Check these guys out next time you plan to hit the trail.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brown Trout With Blue Winged

"Brown Trout With Blue Winged"
The start of 2012 has been a hectic one.  No fishing, constant work, and very little time to put paint to paper.  There has been a few bright spots though and a few tidbits of news that gives me hope that the rest of 2012 will be an exciting one.
First was the news that I was accepted into a large juried artist festival located in the upstate of SC.  Since I have never attempted to enter such an event, it is a bit overwhelming by the amount of work I need to do in preparation for the even.
Getting an appropriate display ready, organizing prints and paintings to display, actually doing more paintings for the event, and all the stuff that goes into selling these items is going to fill my time for the next few months.  Still, I am excited to get the chance to display my work in a setting with other skilled artists.
As the event closes in I will give you a bit more information and you can expect more posts on my frantic attempt to get ready for this show.
The second piece of good news is that I might soon be a 'published' artists.  I recently have completed a  set of drawings for a book to be published over seas and then just the other day I was contacted about the opportunity to collaborate in a book project here in the states.  Again, as these projects develop I will surely share the information with you but for as of right now all you get is a bit of a teaser.
With this year off to such a great start and it only being the second week in, I am eager to see what the rest of 2012 has in store.  Now if I could only get some time off from my day job I might be able to get to work on this art thing.  Then again.... If I didn't have a job I wouldn't be able to do this fishing art thing.  All things have their place I guess and I need to remind myself of that.

Now for the painting you see here.  I did this work first thing before work this morning and rushed to get it done.  I call it 'Brown Trout With Blue Winged" - not difficult to figure out how I got that name.
Its a smaller work - only @6" x 5" but with the time crunch it was all I could get an expect to make a post today.  I have been slacking lately and have felt a bit guilty for neglecting the blogs but such is life.  I hope you enjoy it and it inspires you to get out and fish.  Once I get a chance I will be hitting that stream and maybe I can get a few REAL browns in hand pictures to share with you.
Fishing in Idaho 2011

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Bass 2012

I 'll admit, I am off to a rather slow start this year.  One post and its it already the 7th, seriously?  a whole week gone already?  Truth is that sometimes life just wears you out and with the horrendous work schedule I have had over the holidays I have had barely enough time to see my family much less sit down and surf the blogs.  And time spent painting or  fishing?  You can just forget about that.
So just in case some of you that frequent my blog (and even more of you whose blogs I frequent) have started to believe that the Year On the Fly Blog has passed on, or its owner has lost interest and gone on to other waters, let me reassure you that I am still here and am planning on continuing on with year 3 of this one year project.
I did manage to sit down last night for an hour or two and toss a bit of paint to paper for this recollection of a cold river smallmouth bass I hooked into last year while on the Chattooga.  What I remember most about the surprise bass in waters where trout usually roam was the bright red of the eye.  That clean bright red eye surprised me almost as much as finding a leaping bass on the end of my line where I expected a trout to be.
This was also my first smallmouth bass I have ever painted.  I suppose that even if we are already a week into the new year, it is quite fitting to have my first painting of the year be a new species for my watercolor.  Maybe as the year progresses I will work up enough courage to paint one of the big mouths leaping from tranquil water.  For now this head shot will have to do.

So on other news, I have recently procured an antique secretary desk for my fly tying station and as soon as I have a bit of time I will put together a dedicated post on the subject, including the restoration and conversion of this beauty for the purpose of fly tying.  Of course I have to have the time to restore it but I figure that its been sitting around for a hundred years, a few more weeks wont hurt it.  anyway, before the month is out I will have a post ready on the subject.
I have also been looking for a bit of small antique fly fishing advertisements to frame up and add old world ambiance to my tying station.  I figure that these classic adds will compliment the antique secretary desk nicely.  So if any of you out there have pre 1950's fly fishing or outdoor magazines cluttering up your floor space I would be happy to take a few of them (or just the advertisement clipping) off your hands.  Just Email me and we will work it out.

And finally, since the end of 2011 was such a hectic time for me I figured that I would add a bit of thanks for the followers, comments, and support that all of you have given this angler over the past two years.  Without you this project that started as a single year commitment would not be ebbing into its third year.  Thanks again for helping me improve with each and every cast of my fly rod and stroke of my paint brush.  Since I can't buy you all a beer, go get one of your own and raise a glass and just know I am toasting you.  Cheers.