Monday, February 28, 2011

The Koi Study

So talking to a friend the other day she told me that she really enjoyed the look of Koi and had even put a Koi pond in her back yard.  It got me thinking that that was not a fish I had even thought of painting.  I mean, Koi, really?  Is that a fish one thinks of fishing for and as such, is that a fish I would want to paint? 
Why Not.  After a bit of google research I even found a few fly fisherman proudly holding up massive Koi.  I am not sure how these seemingly sleepy fish will act on a hook since the only ones I have ever seen were pets in a pond.  Anyway, here is an afternoon quick study to see how my eye sees the Koi.  I got to say that I'm not that disappointed in the result.
 I decided to document my attempt at this new study so here is a progressive picture record of the Koi Study.  Being an Asian fish I decided that the classic yin-yang style of pose was appropriate.
 After I finalised the sketch I worked in a watery backdrop for the subjects to set on. 
Then I added in a mix of colors for the Koi.  Deep reds, bright yellows, and dark blue all added at the same time and then allowed to flow together to allow the look of life and the movement of the fish.  I then added all the details to get the finished painting you see at the top of the post.
Over all I was pleased with the finish product and as this was just a study to work on my technique with this type of subject, you might just see a larger work some time down the road.  That is if I get some free time at home someday this month.  As it is right now I haven't even had enough time to break away and awake the bass that are warming up down here in the south.
As a parting photo I leave you with a shot taken on one of my latest trips.  You just cant get that kind of view at ground level.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Trout, A Lure, And A Sketch

 It has been quite a while since my last post and I must admit I have felt a bit guilty.  It has also been a while since I last picked up a brush or pencil so I thought I would ease my mind and lessen my guilt by adding three pics for today.
First is a very loose watercolor of a winter bow.  It was not really more than my desire to toss a little paint around and get a bit of practice in because just like anything else - if you don't practice , you cant get any better. 
 Next is this little guy and really the first of his kind to show up on this blog.  No, this brown trout lure is not a fly and to those of you purist fly casters out there, the treble hooks might cut something deep inside you but never the less, this brown deep diving lure is quite effective for those big lake dwellers that the fly can never hope to reach.  Also this was just an idle practice piece to get my mind back into the frame it needs to be in to do good paintings.
And finally there is this little sketch that I whipped up the other day with an actual purpose in mind.  What that purpose was you might never know but I thought Id share it with you anyway.  Call it a study for a larger work and really just a way for me to get a few ideas that have been floating around down on paper in visible form.
OK so they aren't any great masterpieces nor will they win awards but they are a glimpse into the spirit of this blog and one mans obsession with fly fishing.  

Also, I have notice in my absence of blogging over the past weeks that this blog has reached over 100 followers.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you that have and still continue to follow this blog and support my art and fishing.  Your support keeps me driven to continue .....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Poudre Canyon Special

 The Poudre Canyon Special.  This is roughly a 8'x10' watercolor and ink work done at the request of the Midgeman to honor the great work of another great fly tier. 
Some of you have already seen this fly and know the distinct style as the work of the blog
If you have yet to visit his site then do yourself a favor and click on over.  Also, an institution on the blogs of fly fishers, you have no doubt heard talk of the midgeman.  Again if this is the first time hearing of him, click on over and see a man obsessed with perfecting the smallest flies one can catch trout with.  Both blogs are worthy of your time and no doubt will find a way into your list of blogs you will follow.

The pic to the left is a 'work in progress' photo of the PC Special just starting off.  I started off doing something I am not particularly fond of - Lettering.  For those that know me well they know my penmanship is pathetic so adding letters to a work is a painful process for me.  For these I sketched them out in pencil and went over them with an archival ink then added the parchment effect to the background of the fly.  To keep the watercolor effect I allowed the paint to partially dry then I dropped in fresh water to spread the paint around naturally and give the work texture.
After that was finished I got to work layering the colors of the fly which is a process of painting and waiting, painting and waiting, and repeat.  Overall I am pleased with the effect and hope the recipient is happy with the end result.

Now for the shameless plug so if your hate this sort of thing then promptly stop reading and go visit these two great fly anglers blogs.  If you would like an original work of art like this of a fly or fish that is special to you or a family member, Email me your request and as many details as you can supply - as always, a photo is a good way to start.  Turn around time for a work varies on size and my work load but most works get done in a weeks time (this was three days because my schedule had a big open day available) up to three weeks.  For larger works I might request a down payment but no full payment is due until the work is complete. 
If you took the time to read that, thank you.  Every time I have a purchase like this it gives me not only ammunition to blog about but also pads my 'man account' so I can afford more fly fishing gear.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

New Tenkara Fly 'The Grinch' & (Warning) A Fish Heavy Post

 On Tuesday I spent the morning playing with the kids and tying a few flies.  When I brought out my gear to tie a few Tenkara Style Flies my 5 year old daughter - who loves to watch and critique my flies - told me I had to use the neon green hackles for a new fly.  I got these bright green hackles for a few salmon flies I was tying for a trip to Washington and have never used them since.  So on my little girls advise I tied a reverse hackled fly with black thread body and copper ribbing that she immediately named "The Grinch" after the Doctor Seuss cartoon.  I kind of liked the look after it was finished so I tied another and then moved on.  Little did I know that 'the Grinch' would be the go to fly of the day when we hit the water a few hours later.
     The next fly I tied was another new creation I am sure has been tied before.  I called it the "Black Widow" due to the black thread body with bright red floss for a center marking.  I used some Starling hackles for the legs on this scary looking spider and a bit of copper wire to hold this thing together.  Like the "Grinch" it is tied on a #16 nymph hook.  Both simple flies but as you see from the pictures below - Both are effective!!!
 After the the morning tying session, the family and I packed up a lunch, loaded up the car and headed up to the mountains for a bit of trout fishing.  I took my Tenkara rod and my box of new flies with hopes of good fishing.  I was not disappointed.
    Again with my daughters advise and to give her gaudy Grinch a fair shot, I rigged it up on the Tenkara rod and tossed it out in the stream.  BAM!!!  The fish to the left was caught on the second or third cast.  And the two fish below soon followed with very little effort. 
 My daughter - always excited at the prospect of fishing - got to control the rod and bring this bad boy in.  After it was hooked good I handed her the rod and waited - net in hand - for her to bring it in. I was truly amazed at the effectiveness of this fly.  I mean this fly flat out performed.  There was a guy fishing just down the way and he eventually just reeled in his bait and watched the action.
Mark this post - THE GRINCH - a killer for holding trout.
If you look close at most of the fish above you can see this fly in the lip of every one.  There was more fish that fell victim to this fly that never made the photo bucket just because, well you just cant whip out the camera for every fish.  It just looks weird.  The fish to the left is the only one you cant see the fly.  That is because he just inhaled it!

After I wore out the "Grinch" I thought I'd give my "Black Widow" a shot at the action.  Unlike the Grinch, the Widow was much harder to see under water and although I saw fish following it around, it took quite a while before a hook-up took place.

I did have a few takes but was unable to bring them in.  That was until this guy showed up.  It was probably the best colored trout of the day.  I had to put down the camera phone and have my wife break out the good camera for this one.  As the saying goes - I have saved the best for last.
As you can see, The Widow is aptly named.  After this fish and an only a bit over an hour of fishing time, we packed up our lunch from our stream side picnic site and took the kids to go see the South Carolina trout hatchery.
In the end it was truly one of the best days I have spent fishing in a long while.  The kids had a great time and I believe that even though the temp never reached above 40 deg, my wife had a great time. (She hates the cold more than anything).  Below is a pic of the trout swimming around the holding tanks in the hatchery.  The kids loved it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tenkara Fishing (Kind Of) & The Big Bowl

This is the Tenkara style fly "Takayama Sakasa Kebari".  Tied in the familiar Tenkara styled reverse hackle, I have fished this with great success for rainbows holding in a deep bend pool and recommend it.  Most of my readers know of Tenkara and regardless of if you are a addict to the new - old style of fly fishing are mildly curious about it, you should check out both the and for info into this great form of fishing. 
As far as me doing a bit of Tenkara fishing lately, I did participate in a bit of it this morning - sort of.  As you can see I got a whopper to the right, this beauty was caught on my little boys rotating fish pond.  He eventually out fished his old man but I think he was using bait on the end of that plastic pole.  In the end fun was had by all and if he recovers from his cold soon I hope I can take him to daddy's secret pond to do the real thing. 

Also as a Green Bay fan - I just lost everyone from Pennsylvania for ever - I'd just like to voice my excitement that the VLT will be returning to its home up in the great white north.  It was a heart stopping game I was glad to be off work to watch.  It was a joy to see two classic, old school teams battle in a game that had echos back to the days of leather helmets and minimal pads.  In the End the Pack won out but the Steelers have nothing to hang their heads about.  Now with football done all I got is fishing to fill the time till August rolls around again. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sketching A Copper John & A Book Review

Just a quick sketch of a Copper John I saw while visiting the blog of the  I frequent his site often to check out his carp action.  This sketch is just a simple 4"x6" penciled work while wasting time on the road.
Speaking of on the road I thought I give you a random book review.  I am an avid reader while traveling and have read everything from Hemingway to Cussler, from the Biography of Admiral Nelson to a variety of fishing stories, some true and some not so much.
Recently I picked up an old book while browsing a used bookstore in the Northeast and thought Id share it with you.
The book- Kon Tiki and no its not a fly fishing book but there is fishing in there.
I often like to mix my reading up, for instance my last book was on the American Revolution and the one before it was a bit of Twain, so when I saw this book on the shelf I had to pick it up.  It wasn't a first edition but It was published and printed in 1950.  I had heard of the story before but thought it was about time I read the real account from the man that lived it.
Basically the author of this crazy adventure, Thor Heyerdahl, had this idea that the south sea islands were not populated by the Asians but by the people of Peru.  The only problem was that no one would buy into his theory mainly due to the vast distance (some 4000 miles of desolate ocean) that separated the two locals.  They just couldn't believe that a primitive people in rafts could make such a journey and live.  So to prove his theory was possible, he and 5 of his friends built a Balsa wood raft - that's right, the soft wood you see in a hobby store that splits in two when you look at it funny - and set out on the three month journey across the pacific.  Crazy.  Keep in mind that he did this in 1947 without the aid of GPS. 
Throughout the journey the crew lived off Dolphin - the fish not the mammal - shark and flying fish.  he says that the dolphins where constantly surrounding his boat and were eager to bite nearly anything they tossed into the water.  As an avid fly fisherman I salivated at the thought of catching these fish daily (they are great eating).  Thor used standard tackle but I would have defiantly brought my fly rod on such a trip!!!

Anyway - thought that those of you that have not already read this book might like a change in pace.  I enjoyed it and thought Id pass it on.  For all you readers that are only inspired to read about fly fishing, my next book is "Bassin' With A Fly Rod" by Jack Ellis.
I thought that I'd brush up on my bass knowledge before the season warms enough for the bass to move in more than Kev's work pond.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Whole Lot Of Work To Get A Squirel Tail & Fishing In SC

 Last Saturday was my regions big FLY FISHING SHOW up in NC and I was hoping to convince the wife to let me drag them along on the trip but something unexpected came up.  In short it was a squirrel in the chimney - AGAIN.  So this past saturday was spent ripping up my siding around my chimney to retrieve a squirrel that had lodged himself between the flu and the fire box.

 What I found once I had ripped open a hole was not one expired squirrel but three - well sort - of and the remains of a bird.  The two others and the bird had been there a while and were mainly reduced to charred bones but the squirrel I was after was just visible.  It had expired the day before judging from the noises my wife had heard on Friday so there was no smell or flies yet. 
It was a huge hassle to get the bugger out as you can see from the pic below.  He was wedged good and tight and it took a good effort to pull him out.  I was glad I pulled him out when I did.  Any longer and the smell would have been unbearable and any sooner and I would have had a real mess trying to pull a live squirrel out of that space.
 In the end It was about a seven hour job to rip open the wall - retrieve the squirrel - clean the fire box - repair the wall - and place a new squirrel proof cage around the top of the chimney.  It was a whole lot of work and effort to get new material for my fly tying.  As you can see below - I'm not one to waste a good squirrel tail so I whacked it off the critter, washed it good in an alcohol salt solution, coated the cut end in a salty paste, and set it up on a board to dry.  Soon I will have some good squirrel tail streamers to fish with.  My wife thinks I'm nuts but I'm sure some of you can relate.
 Well since my fly fishing show was interrupted and I had recently gotten my jeep back from the shop, I took Monday to do a little fishing.  As you can see, the trip didn't yield much in the way of fish but this native beauty was taken on a fly of my own creation and just as the squirrel, it was worth the effort.  What was the fly you ask?  Well lost it on the very next cast to an underwater log and since it was a solo fly tied up as a fling (unforgivable mistake) it was the only one that caught a fish, so short of the bad cell phone pics below, all you get is the VERY simple ingredients. 
-#12 nymph hook (might be a bit to big)
-Hot Orange Floss for the body
-Black Soft Hackle
(Next time I plan on adding a little wire ribbing to keep the whole thing secure.)