Friday, November 30, 2012

Fly Friday - A Few Inked Flies

  I've been doing a bit of traveling this past week and spent most of my free time doodling on a pad of paper.  The results were a few mayflies, fishing flies, and fish (you saw the bass on Wednesdays post).  Here is a fly whose name caught my eye while surfing the net.  It comes from Classic Trout and inspired by a fly from the vise of J.B. Martin.

The Irish Whiskey
Hook Size: 8 - 14 2x 
Thread: Black
Tag: Flat Gold Tinsel.
Tail: Duck Quill of Orange, White and Green.
Butt: Green Peacock Herl.
Body: Flat Gold Tinsel with mid-point of black ostrich herl.
Ribbing: Fine Oval Gold Tinsel.
Throat: Green Peacock herl with Claret, Green, Black and White hackle fibers as beard. 

Wing: Lemon Wood Duck fibers with Claret , Green, Black and White hackle fibers.
    Anyone that loves the history of fly fishing has got to love the look of these wet flies.  Even if the success of wet flies for me is a checkered affair, I respect the look and heritage behind them.

    And then there is the classic streamers. Beautifully simple and effective, flies like this Jungle Cock cheeked Rainbow Trout streamer have proven time and time again that for hooking aggressive trout, the streamer is king.  I leave it to you to decide how to create this beauty.

Have a great weekend...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sketching Bass

    Today I found myself on the road and stuck in a hotel room so what else am I going to do but think about fishing and break out the pen and paper for a bit of bass sketching.  I rarely ink much now a-days and I'm not sure why.  I really enjoy the simple process of black and white sketching.  High contrasts images always have a clarity that I can appreciate.  Its also relaxing to just pick up a pen and not worry about color choices.  Another good thing about inking out images is if I ever decide to write a book about fishing I at least have the skills to illustrate it myself.  Whats a good fishing book without pictures and illustrations right?
    I went out bass fishing a few days ago and got skunked.  That was a big disappointment since I had some big old bass flies I tied up using a new batch of Clear Cure Glue I had received in the mail.  Dreaming of big bass like this one, I had sat down and tied up a good dozen heavy swimmers and couldn't wait to test them out.  Unfortunately I only had a limited time and the day turned out to be cold and breezy.  After giving it the ol' college try for three hours, I packed it in and resigned myself to to the fact that the fish just were not going to bite my beautiful flies.
    Am I the only one that is starting to wish spring would come soon?

 Anyway, with some more time to kill, I loaded the bass image into the computer and began toying with it.  I have no real purpose for the image other than I was just board.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyber Sale - Holiday Cards, Prints, & Original Art

    Jumping on the after Turkey Day band wagon of cyber sales, I have caved in and had my art put on greeting cards.  I have received a number of requests for this but until now thought the cost out weighed the benefit.  Truth be told it still does but I have decided to offer a limited quantity of these cards to readers at the cost I had to have them printed.  Right now I am offering only SIX sets of these cards for sale at the low rate of $13.50 per pack + FREE SHIPPING.  That's a price equal to or below any card you'll get at a Hallmark store.
    Each pack has five cards (envelopes included) featuring my newest painting - the beautiful Winter Brook Trout.  Printed on heavy card stock paper with a brilliant gloss finish, these are the perfect holiday cards for the fisherman to send out.  Inside is a grey-scale image of the same Brook Trout with the greeting - Seasons Greeting - May your New Year be filled with beautiful things -.
    When painting this fish it hit me that the deep colors of greens, reds, and white (snow like) tipped fins of the Brookie was the perfect colored fish for the holidays.  Wrap a wreath around its neck and you have a trout (Char) that screams Christmas so why not put him on a card.
    You can purchase a set of these cards by EMAILING ME HERE.  Each set is $13.50 (FREE SHIPPING) and I will email you a PayPal invoice which can be paid via paypal account or ANY major credit card.  As I said before, Quantities are VERY limited so don't delay.  Once they are gone you will be out of luck.
    For those that would like a 8x10 matted PRINT of this painting, shoot me an email and I will send you out a paypal invoice at the cost listed on my BUY A PRINT page.  Hopefully I will get some time to actually list this painting on that page but until then...
    And finally, for the ones interested in purchasing the ORIGINAL painting, it is still available!  I have set the price at $130 - a real steal for any original piece of art.  Truth be told, I would love to hang this on my own wall but if I put any more fish in my house I think my wife will go nuts.  Shoot me an email if you are interested.  This baby would be a perfect present for yourself... or the fisherman/woman in your life.
Let the holiday madness begin!

Fly Friday - A Guest Post By My Little Girl

  So I was all set to do a 'Fly Friday' post of a the ' Little Rainbow' buck-tail streamer but my little girl trumped me.  In the time it took me to do the research, draw the fly, and upload it to my computer my little artist had seven top notch flies put to paper.  Pretty soon I may have to hand off this blog to her.
  Somehow she managed to cover the spectrum of flies as well.  Roughly from top to bottom - A Popsicle, a Blacknose Dace, the salt water Crab (Center), the Drake Edison Tiger (top right), The Telico, a Red and White Bass Hair Bug, and finally Lefty's Bug.  I truly am a proud papa.
  I hope you all had a great turkey day and may you all enjoy the rest of the long weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fly (Fish) Friday - The Brook Trout

    I took the morning the other day to put a little paint to paper and made a portrait of one of my favorite fish.  Because of that I have substituted my 'Fly Friday' post with a Fish Friday' post.  I hope you don't mind but if you do... deal with it.
    I absolutely LOVE the look of these beauties.   The brook trout is one of the most brilliant and varied of nearly all the char species.
   The Salvelinus fontinalis - the scientific name of the Brook Trout - is not actually a trout.  A member of the Salmon Family, the Brookie is a close relative to other char species like the Lake and Bull Trout, the Arctic Char, and the Dolly Varden.  I believe the 'fontinalis' in its name indicates that that unlike other members of this family, the Brook Trout resides mostly in cool spring fed streams which is yet another reason I love this fish.  What better place to hunt a beautiful fish than in a beautiful remote habitat?
   To paint this fish I start off like I normally do, with a detailed drawing.  I sketch this out very lightly because I don't want the pencil marks to show through the paint and if I want to erase them later, it is much easier to get rid of a light pencil mark then a thick black one.  
    Once the blueprint is laid out I start to put down the color.  Layer by layer I build up color, careful to blend the right mixes of dark and light pigment.  Of course the photos are not that great since they are with my cell phone camera - and the script below the fish is just a later addition not on the original- but you get the idea. I could go on about the process but you don't want to hear about that.  You just want to look at a great looking fish. 

Winter Brook Trout
Watercolor and Gouache on Paper
@ 11 in. x 7 in.
Status of Original Art - AVAILABLE
Prints soon available
  Also I am working on printing up some Holiday cards.  I have received a few requests to have my art put on a greeting card so for this year I decided to cave in and have some cards professionally printed.  The one you see here is a mock up and the actual ones are currently at the printers.  When they get here next week I will do a post and let you know how you can get your own set just in time for Holiday Season.  There will be only a very limited quantity of these cards printed, priced at a rate to cover the cost of printing.  
   Have a great weekend. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Do Trout Eat, & Educating Kids

   When my little boys school teacher found out that I was an avid fisherman as well as a hunter she got very excited.  I was soon recruited for the special task of supplying food for a class full of four and five year old kids.  WHAT, you ask?  Feeding school kids deer meat and fresh fish.  Has the world gone completely nuts? Well.... yes it has but that's beside the point.  The truth is that this teacher takes her job very seriously and when she teaches kids about stuff, she wants it to be as authentic as possible and I respect her for it.
  Now before you get all up in arms about killing fish, let me clear the air.  95% of the time I am a catch and release angler and always try to keep the natives populations of trout in the rivers.  That being said, occasionally I do enjoy a fresh caught trout.  There just isn't much better than fresh trout over an open flame covered in butter, onions, and lemon juice and if you haven't had fresh fish then you are missing out.
   However, when that desire to have fresh caught trout hits I do not raid the native streams.  I instead head right for the put and take stream that is stocked in season nearly once a week.  These fish rarely will survive the winter and are put there just for that purpose.  I could get into the ethics behind it but that for another post.  Today I am talking about supplying fish for pre-K children.

   So anyway, as I was saying, my kids teacher wanted deer meat and fresh trout for an example of what the Native Americans ate.  The feast was going to be the culmination of a long course on Native American Indians and Eskimos and she wanted me to supply the food.  The deer meat was not a problem since I had a freezer full of it and the trout... well what better excuse is there to go fishing.
    After an enjoyable few hours on the 'put and take' stream full of stocked trout I had three nice fish to serve up.  Two of them were caught on size #16 dry midges while a third was hooked on an ugly looking BWO.  I hooked a few more but let them go on their way.  I had enough for my purpose and there is no need to get greedy.  Immediately I headed back home and began to clean them.
    I am never one to miss an opportunity to educate the kids so I asked them to pull up a chair and watch me clean then.  Eagerly they watch as I gutted and cleaned them, then I took it one step further and emptied all three trouts stomach contents for the kids to analyze.  As we sifted through the first (and smallest trouts stomach contents) we began to see things the kids recognized like a millipede, an ant, and of course a ladybug.
    The rest was a mixture of wings, insect casings, and legs.   Next was the second and slightly bigger trout.  I had a lot less bugs but they were bigger insects.  the ant to the left was one of only a few bugs we found in that one.  It was about this time that I noticed my little boy was missing in action.  I left my seven year old girl to look for more bugs in the mess and soon found my boy on the couch.  His stomach wasn't feeling 'to well'.  I guess decomposed bugs were just to much for him.  I turned on Phineous and Ferb (Its a Disney cartoon) for him and returned to help my little girl sift through the last and biggest trouts meal for the day.
    The last trout had nearly nothing in his belly but what he did have was amazing.  Besides a few large wings from some sort of beetle, he had a wasp.  As you can see from the pic to the right, trout are apparently not to effected by stings.  This amazed my daughter.  She couldn't believe that a fish would eat a wasp.  Bugs, Yes.. but a wasp?  It was too much.
    I finished cleaning the fish and cleaned up the bug guts before my wife saw them on her kitchen counter.    As for the kids special Indian feast, I am told that it was a mega hit.  There is only about twelve kids in the class and they finished off three whole trout and a pound of deer meat.  My boy was star and the only complaint I heard of was from one other little boy that was real angry that his daddy didn't fish or hunt.
    The moral of the story, take your kids out into the great outdoors and teach them about the world in which we live.  They will thank you for it for the rest of your life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fly Fridays - Black Caddis

  Its Fly Friday again and time for me to do a blog post on one of those flies that lacks a traceable history.  Despite a long internet research, I was unable to locate the first angler to tie up a black caddis.

  This is not to surprising.  The black caddis is just on of those flies that come to life.  The truth about this flies origin is probably more natural than one might think.  I am sure that as the Black Caddis Fly hatch was watched by many anglers recovering from a long winter ans the pattern for the fly was conceived by many anglers over a period of time.  Its creation is so obvious to one who has tied a caddis fly before that it is as simple as adding color to match the actual fly.

One thing is certain, when mothers day rolls around and the first flies of the year are hatching, the Black Caddis is one of those flies that hungry trout go for.  Hatching when the stream temps reach @ 50 degrees, the Black Caddis will be a pattern that is sure to produce, but I take it a step further.  I have used this pattern in late summer and fall with enormous success.  Not only does this pattern mimic the caddis fly to a T but it is also a very effective pattern for terrestrials.  In smaller sizes this black fly can look like an ant, beetle, or even a spider to the hungry trout.

Black Caddis
Hook    - #12 - #20 fine dry
Thread  - Black
Body    - Black Dry Dubbing
Hackle  - Black
Wing    - Black Elk Hair
(the smaller sizes work well in the fall even when the black caddis is not hatching.  For the warm water guys - Bluegill LOVE this fly! but what don't they love right?)

  Tying the Black Caddis is fairly simple even for the beginner   In fact, after the woolly Bugger, this fly was my first fly I tied that caught a fish.
- Start by securing the thread to your hook and then attaching a black hackle to the tail of the hook.
- After wrapping the shank of your hook with fine dry fly dubbing, secure the dubbing near the head and then work on wrapping the hackle forward.  Be careful while securing the hackle to allow for enough space between last wrap and the eye for the overwing.
-  Using a hair stacker, even out a pinch of black elk hair and secure it on top of the fly.  Tie off the thread with a few half hitches and add a small touch of head cement to thread.
-To finish this fly off, simple trim the excess hair near the eye at an angle to match the slope of the wing.

  I recently used this fly with great success in the 'mountains' of SC (those out west please hold your laughter.  I know what you are saying, 'Our mountains are your mole hills.').  Not only did this little fly destroy the Brookies I was hunting but it managed to catch one larger species as you can see from the above photo.  I think it is called a "Dopeious Idiotious".  I ended up fighting with that odd species for a long time till the hook came free and he got away.

Have a great Weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fly Fishing Show Roundup - Big Post!! Big Fun!!

    What better way to spend a Saturday morning than with a few hundred other fly fishing fanatics browsing new gear, talking about fly designs, and listening to guys that have literally written the book on fly fishing techniques. This past weekend I was fortunate enough to have a few hours to make the trip up to Ashville NC for the Western NC Fly Fishing Expo. My wife dropped me off and headed out to do her own shopping in town and left me to my own nirvana. As a benefit to you, I thought that I would share a few of the highlights with those that were unable to make the trip.

Right off the bat I saw a bunch of guys I was looking forward to chatting with. 
 The guys of Southern CultureOn The Fly – SCOF – had a booth right near the front of the expo and throughout the day the place was humming. 
 I have been reading this new Ezine since its first publication and love the take these guys have on fly fishing. Toss out the old ideas you have of the classic mags and get ready to embrace the new breed of fly angler. These guys aren't the snooty 'dry fly only' fly anglers and the design and style of their mag shows it. One of their logos has a skull with a fly on the brain for crying out loud. So if you want a younger take on fly fishing with a clear rebel punk feel then you need to check them out.

Another booth I couldn't shy away from was one run by artist Jim Wiley. A fish carver extraordinaire, Jim's work was not only unique but so well done that I swear I saw one of those brookies last week while fishing a hidden stream.
 Jim took these burled root knots of wood and transformed them into wonderful pieces of art. It is truly fantastic stuff and if you have a minute click over and check his stuff out.

After making the first round trip to survey the lay of the land I settled into chair to listen to a lecture by renown fly fishing expert Kelly Galloup. As a guy that loves to fish streamers and have caught 'the drug of the tug' so to speak, Kelly's 'Tactics For Modern Streamers' lecture was one I was really looking forward to. In short it didn't disappoint. Fantastic advice and techniques for fishing the big streamers for big fish.
 The energy and obvious knowledge Kelly gave during the lecture no doubt opened the eyes of many of the classic anglers in the audience and after it was over I couldn't help myself and made my way over to his corner to pick up his co-authored book -Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout-.  After a brief talk I got him to sign it and couldn't wait to crack it open. As of right now I am nearly done with it and happily recommend it to anyone looking to bump their streamer fishing to a whole new level. As an added bonus you might want to check out Kelly's impromptu video on youtube where he has a big brown take two small trout he has hooked before he finally switch over from a nymph to a streamer and hooked him – and himself in the process.
Another great stop was the True Flies booth. Granted, I am not a big salt guy due to pure geography but if I lived on the coast I can guaranty that I would have my own skiff, a nice big hefty fly rod, and a load a flies that would dwarf the midge box. In fact, after my first experience last year fishing Redfish, Seatrout, and Ladyfish near Tampa FL, I am hooked and can't help but bring the gear anytime I come near the beach. Coming all the way from Florida, True Flies offers some of the best top quality clothing on the market. Complete with great designs and some very fine material – True Flies clothing line offers a much better alternative to all the Guy Harvey stuff you see on the market. I had a good time talking to them and could tell these guys are much more than another vender at a show. These guys are anglers offering great stuff for fellow anglers.
Of course there was the standard collection of dream gear, fly rods and reels including Hardy and Abel to tempt a guy with cash in his pocket but I managed to force myself to 'test' them out only and leave the purchasing for a later time when my mind was a bit more rational. The excitement of so much fly fishing stuff in one place tends to open places in your wallet that normally would be sealed up tighter than the space shuttle before a launch.

Another booth I was looking forward to was the one ran by the Southern Trout online magazine. More on the traditional side, this mag offers a wealth of information every angler in the south should read. Every issue is jam packed with years of knowledge from guys fishing the back country and legendary rivers of the south. I had a great conversation with the publisher – Don Kirk -and its good to know that such a mag is run by guys that have a true love for fly fishing and are more out to share their love of the sport than just make a buck. If you ever plan to fish trout in the south then you need to check them out.

And finally while I was wandering around for the fourth circle of the booths, I spotted a guy with a shirt on I recognized instantly. I had heard rumors that Cameron from the Fiberglass Manifesto would be at the show so when I spotted him I had to stop and finally meet the guy I had been swapping emails and blog comments with for years. If you fish glass then he is the only source you need to know about.  Check him out and fill your rod holder with glass.

When it was over and I had made the rounds for a fifth time, I called the wife and told her to come get me before I spent any more money. With a backpack of goodies and a smile, I headed home to watch my Irish give me yet another heart attack. It was a great show and I was happy to have attended. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fly Friday - Griffith's Gnat & The Contest Winner

   One of the most overlooked and productive flies in every fly anglers box.... or at least is should be.  The Griffith's Gnat is a constant that produces strikes time and again yet we pass by it often in favor of the bigger, more elaborate flies.
  A small controversy surrounds this tiny little fly regarding the author who first tied the Gnat but one thing everyone can agree on is that there is only one man that made it famous.  George Griffith - that's right, one of the founders of Trout Unlimited - is not only widely credited with making this fly world renown but is also blessed with his name on it.
  Thought to be created on the same banks of the Au Sable River that Trout Limited was later formed, the Griffith's Gnat as we know it today was first fished sometime in the mid 1950's.  It proved to be deadly for finicky trout that were feeding on small midges and emerging flies.
    Its effectiveness is in its simplicity.  When you look at the small bugs buzzing around the streams and rivers you don't look at the anatomy of each of the varied species.  You see tiny nondescript bugs, tiny little things that bite you and annoy you insistently.   For a trout it is much the same only they see a meal, a constant source of food to feed on.  It doesn't need to be flashy or complicated, it only needs to be about the same size and shape of a small bug.
    To tie this bug all you are going to need are a small - & I mean SMALL- hook, peacock herl, grizzly hackle, and thread.  A magnifying glass might also be handy not only for tying but for when you try and feed a tippet through that eye.
Hook - Dry #18-#26
Thread - Black 12/0 (although I have used other colors like red to spice it up)
Body - Peacock Herl
Hackle - Grizzly 

Tying is simple even for the beginner, 
1. Secure the hackle and herl to the back shaft of the hook.
2. After wrapping the thread forward, wrap the herl forward making sure not to crowd the eye.
3. Now wrap the hackle forward again making sure not to crowd the eye.  If you do you will find it frustrating trying to slide that tippet in later on.

(Pictured to the right is George Griffith - co-founder of Trout Unlimited and the man that made the Griffith's Gnat famous)
  Now for the WINNER of the March Brown framed Painting.  Thanks to all of those that entered.  If you didn't win keep checking back in the future.  I plan on giving away a few more small fly paintings in the coming months.
  As I do in all my contests and giveaways  I used a Random Number Generator to select the winner from the list of comments.   Steven Smith - comment number 8 - is our winner.  Congrats Steven, shoot me an email with your address and I'll send you out this fly tying table topper.  Enjoy.

   One final note - I will heading up to Ashville on Saturday for the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Expo.  It looks like its going to be a good show with a lot of good booths and demonstrations.  If you are heading up there shoot me a line.  I'd love to meet a few more bloggers in person.  Expect a full recap next week.  
    Until then, enjoy the weekend and a shout out to my fellow ND fans - GO IRISH!!