Friday, September 30, 2011

Southern Plantation

Some times I like to deviate from my normal work and try something different. This 5 x 7 watercolor is a South Carolina Plantation with a few artistic freedoms added for effect.  I don't often paint structures or buildings but this old southern mansion stood out as something I thought would look good in a painting. I kept the style of this piece a bit loose and sketched as one would do if painting on site. Who knows, maybe I'll use this in a larger work some day. I know this has nothing to do with fish or flies but figured I'd share it anyway.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Young Brook Trout Watercolor

It has been quite a while since my last watercolor trout so I thought I would break out the colors and paint up a little brook trout.  I am not certain what draws us anglers to these wonderful fish but if I had to guess it would have to be the brilliant variety of colors they sport along with the elusive nature and stunning habitat in which they thrive.  Whole books have been written on them, dedicated fly fisherman will scale a mountain in order to hunt them, and artists such as my self just cant get enough of painting them.  They are by far my favorite trout to paint and top the short list of fish I like to see jumping at the end of my 6x leader.
I have added a little progressive photo log of my attempt to capture this trout in watercolor.  The lighting for these photos left much to be desired but I hope you get the idea.
As always I start with a rough pencil sketch of the trout.  This gives me a general idea of what I am looking for as far as the form and position of the trout on the paper as well as some basic lines for me to go to while laying down paint.
I then started this painting with some basic underlying colors such as a muted yellow, olive greens, and light cerulean blue.  Depending on the effect I am looking for, I will either wait for the paint to dry completely or only slightly before adding additional layers of color.
Gently working up the layers without over doing it, I start to add the pigments where they are needed.  I generally paint the lightest colors first then add progressively darker colors to add the dynamic contrasts that make a painting really stand out.  There are a few exceptions to this but I find this rule of thumb very effective.  It does however take a bit of planning in advance to get the color sequence correct.
As you can see here, I've added deeper greenish blues to the flanks of the trout to show the tell tale marking of a younger fish.  I have also been careful to allow much of the underlying yellows to show through as spots and swirls on the sides and back of the trout.
After I get much of the color down where I want it I then go on to add the detailed touches that bring the painting to live.  I try whenever possible to leave the white of the paper to shine through as a sparkle in the eye.  I do not like to use paint for this effect because I feel that it dulls the intended effect.  I also have added here the blue rings that surround the red spots so distinctive to these trout.  These spots are iconic and are key to the beauty of these fish.  After the blues have dried I then go back and drop in small spots of bright red to the center of each circle.  After that it is just finishing up with minute little details.
This piece measures 7" x 4"
"Young Brook"
Acid Free 100% Cotton Paper
Affordable & Available for Purchase via Email
Piece will come shipped with its own acid free mat.
(All proceeds go to my habitual pursuit of these great little fish in the mountains of the South East.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Barbel Oil Painting

Just thought that I would share a resent oil painting with you of a Spanish Barbel - a whiskered carp like fish highly sought after for its active fighting style at the end of a fly line.  I am not an avid oil color artist and find myself more comfortable in the realm of watercolor.  That being said I feel a need to continuously explore new mediums and styles in order to grow as an artist.  I also easily get board doing the same things over and over again.
"Barbel Study"
This piece is an 8"x10" oil on art board.
On the fishing front, I have not been out on the water for quite some time mostly due to weather, injuries, and other time commitments but next month I am looking forward to a little salt water fishing down in Florida.  The last time I fished down there I hauled in a two and a half foot snook that fought me hard and bent the hook nearly strait.  I am not expecting to do that again but hope to hook into some decent sheepheads and various others.  With any luck I will have a decent picture or two for a post.  At this point I am still debating weather or not to bring my salt friendly 6w and rig it up with saltwater line.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tenkara Technique 4-The Waterfall Plunge

The fourth and final edition of the Tenkara techniques posts is the Waterfall Plunge.  Is this the last and final technique for fishing Tenkara?  Of course not.  There are many more techniques you can use while fishing with the Tenkara rod and line but I have chosen the four I tend to use the most often.  For me the Waterfall Plunge Technique is one of the most exciting as well as challenging ways of fishing a Tenkara setup.  This technique is tough not only because you loose sight of the fly in the plunge or the possibility to loose the fly on underwater snags but also because of the natural beauty and rocky structure you have to go through to use this technique.
Fishing this technique is actually not that difficult but the judgement used while fishing the Waterfall Plunge needs to be honed before you cast the perfectly tied fly into an obvious underwater snag.  So how do you fish a waterfall successfully?
1 - Take a good look at the structure surrounding the waterfall.  If there are log jams, loose branches, or obvious snags blocking the waterfall then you might want to choose another technique to fish that hole.
2 - If no obvious snags look to be blocking your drop into the hole then cast your wet fly or nymph above the waterfall and let it flow with the current.
3 - Track the course of you fly in as natural a way as you can over the fall.
4 - As the fly plunges into the hole, lower you rod tip to track the progress of the fly and allow a more free movement as it tumbles through the white water and into the deeper water of the hole beyond the waterfall.
5 - As the fly exits the white water into the smoother waters beyond, begin to lift the rod tip and smoothly draw the fly to the surface.  This simulates the natural buoyancy and activity of a fly or nymph as they tumble through the broil of a waterfall and emerge in the pool below.
It probably will also go without saying but I will mention it anyway. The use of a dry fly with this technique is somewhat pointless. I have used the standard Japanese style wet flies and American nymphs with varying success. Some work well in the immediate plunge and others work well in the tailing pool but I really like the Sawyar's Killer Bug. I not only find this bug highly visible in active water but quite in-tune with the natural entomology of a small mountain stream.
 As a warning I feel I must tell you that I have lost more flies with this technique than with any other yet I continue to come back to it time and time again.  The reason I love this technique is simply because it is fun and it is effective.  All fly fishermen know that trout love the highly oxygenated water of a waterfall pool and generally hold deep in these pools sucking up fly after fly.  This technique produces fish.

I hope that these techniques have been helpful to you in your tenkara fishing and if not then I suggest that you visit , , , or many other helpful sites or bloggers out there.  I believe that the Internet is a great tool for us anglers and if it wasn't for the bloggers out there I would have never started fishing with a Tenkara rod.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tenkara Technique 3-Pull Up Stream

Number three in my series of Tenkara Techniques is the Pull Up Stream.  This is probably going to be the most used of the techniques because is can be accomplished in conjunction with a majority of the techniques I will cover.  I normally do not cast my fly with the intention of using this Pull Up Stream technique but I find myself using it more and more at the tail end of a Pull and Pause or Normal (Dead) Drift cast.  I have also found that once again, this technique is best utilized with a deep drifted wet fly or nymph.  Using this with a dry fly pattern will normally only succeed in drowning your fly and soaking the hackles making your next presentation fall a little flat. So how do you incorporate this into your drift?
1 - While nearing the end of you drift, before the fly has reached the end of the line, begin to gently pull you rod up stream while slightly raising the tip of your Tenkara rod bringing you fly to the surface.
2 - If you wait to long to use this technique you fly will have already begun its rise to the surface due to the tension on the fly line and the Pull Up Stream will be shortened.  To fully utilize this technique it is important to begin this retrieve early enough to control the rise effectively.
3 - Once the fly has reached the surface you can pause a moment and allow the fly to drift slightly down stream once again and give the fish one last shot at it or simply retrieve it for another cast.
 I have received a fair amount of strikes while utilizing this technique at the tail end of a drift and every time it surprises me.  Usually I do not see the fish taking the fly or see where they come from but when they hit it is unmistakable.  The tension on the line is already there and if a fish is going to take a fly on the Pull Up Stream, they are going to hit it fast and hard.  I suppose this is due to their perception that the fly is on the way up and will soon disappear so it is a 'now or never' type of take.  Besides the leap one sees of a fish breaking the surface for a freshly presented dry fly, this kind of take is one of my favorite.
Being a fan of small streamers like the Black Nose Dace, I have also found that this technique works extremely well with heavier weighted patterns.  The extra weight allows for an extended time beneath the surface and longer pull time as well as a natural swimming up stream type of behavior one might see from a small bait fish.
The only other comment I have on this type of technique is that success largely depends on the current speed.  Obviously in faster moving water your fly is going to rise quickly and thus shortening the effective time this technique can be used.  I find that using this method in gentle streams or at the tail end of a gentle bend is the most effective.
Visit or for more info on equipment, flies, and more Tenkara Advice.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tenkara Technique 2 - Pull & Pause

Continuing with the techniques used in fishing with a Tenkara rod, the subtle change from the Normal Drift of a fly is to add a little life and hopefully provoke a strike.  I call this the Pull and Pause Technique and is most effective with a wet or emerger fly pattern. 
The theory is that if you see that the fish are lazily ignoring your fly with a normal dead drift technique, then with the addition of something lively in the water you might evoke a hunter prey response and get them to chase your fly.  I briefly touched on something like this in my Normal Drift post a few days ago when talking about fishing a small streamer pattern and adding a bit of a twitch to imitate a struggling bait fish.  The thought here is much the same only now you are trying to simulate the rise of an emerging bug to the surface or a mayfly struggling to get free of the surface tension.
1 - To utilize this technique, first cast up stream letting the fly fall gently on the surface and wait or pause for a few seconds to allow any fish to investigate the new addition to the environment. If you are fishing a wet fly of nymph allow enough time for the fly to sink to the desired depth.
2 - After a few seconds gently pull the fly down stream for 6in up to a few feet.  the length of the pull can very with the conditions.  The speed of the current or fly choice will effect how long you make your pull.  If a long pull does not work for you try shortening it up till you find something that works.
3 - After you have executed your pull, let the fly rest.  The pause in action will do two things for you.  It will allow any wary fish to come up and investigate the little fly that is so active in their stream and it will the fly to drift (or sink if nymph fishing) in the natural way a struggling bug would normally act in the water. 
4 - After a brief pause simply repeat steps 2 and 3 again and again until the fly has drifted down stream.  At a minimum you should get between 5 to 10 pulls out of a cast but this my very depending on the speed of the current.
I have used this technique with a moderate amount of success on gently flowing streams where fish have been holding deep.  I find that it is most effective with the wet flies, emergers, or very small streamer pattens.  As you can guess, the use of this technique with a dry pattern will not evoke as much of a response from the fish because it does not simulate the natural behavior of a true dry fly.  I have however had good results from fishing with emergers and wet flies since the gentle pull the angler gives the fly has the desired response of rising the fly to the surface in much the same way a fly will natural rise.
With fishing a wet, or particularly an emerger pattern, you might find that the majority of stikes are going to occur at the tail end of the drift (i.e. once the fly has past you on the stream).  The reason for this is the natural way a fly will rise to the surface.  Fish might find this rising motion against the current more natural and thus more appealing.
Again, if you find that a Normal Dead Drift is not producing any strikes, this Pull And Pause technique will be an easy way for you to alter you cast and hopefully produce a fish.  For more information of Tenkara rods, flies, or advise check out or and have fun fishing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tenkara Technique 1-Normal Drift

 I am sure frequent bloggers have heard of and even might know quite a bit about Tenkara but for those new comers to the Tenkara style, this week I decided to start a little series on illustrating a few techniques for fishing with a Tenkara rod.  This first technique I call - The Normal Drift.
I am always a big advocate of  the KISS Theory.  Keep It Simple Stupid.  This first technique embodies this theory better than any other.
Basically the Normal Drift is done the same as one would drift a fly with the standard fly fishing system but doing it with a Tenkara rod will dramatically increase the realistic drift a bug would make while floating down stream.  The reason why a Tenkara setup is better than a standard fly fishing setup for fishing this technique is simple.  You dramatically reduce the drag of excess fly line being pulled by variant currents on the surface of the stream and so the fly is able to drift in a more normal pattern.
1- First cast your fly up stream, letting it fall on the surface of the water as gently as possible.  Keep as much of the line off the water in order to avoid veering currents from catching the excess line and dragging the fly through the water.
2- Next, as you let the fly drift down stream in its natural coarse you want to follow the fly with the rod, all the while slowly raising the the tip of the rod in order to take up the slack in the fly line.  This action will allow you to avoid excess line from being dragged by the currents and thus effecting the drift of the fly.
3- Finally as the fly begins to pass you, you will have to slowly lower the rod tip in order to allow the fly to continue its natural drift.
4- Wait for that killer hookup.
This technique can be used for dries as well as wet flies and nymphs.  Depending on what depth you desire, you will have to lower the rod tip accordingly.  The key to using this technique successfully is controlling the amount of line on the water in order not to control how the fly drifts with the current.  I have even used this technique successfully for a small streamer pattern like a #14 Black Nose Dace or small Woolly Bugger.  For a small streamer I have added a bit of a twitch to the rod tip during the drift to imitate a struggling bait fish or bug.
If you have a Tenkara rod then you have probably used the Normal Drift but I you are looking at trying this type of fishing, check out or for some killer gear and more great advice.  In a few days I will post another Technique for Tenkara.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Newbie Fly Fishing RMNP

No this is not me holding this wonderful looking trout but I sure wish it was.  This is in fact a fellow coworker of mine who has recently took up the addicting behavior of casting flies at eager trout and then fighting them for all their worth.  I like to believe I had a hand in steering this virgin of feathered angling into the world of fly fishing but I suspect that he would have found his way there sooner or later.  Regardless, Adam and I have been exchanging emails after I told him to keep me up to date with his progress and now I must say I am a bit jealous of his success.
Adam tells me that he started the hike from Bear Lake trail head and crossed waterfalls and streams to get to the more secluded section along the trail.  First hitting The Lock for a few fish then bounding up a waterfall to the Lake Of Glass, Adam went to town.  Hooking into some beautifull cutthroat and soaking in the natural wonder that is the world around him, I believe Adam has discovered what draws us anglers to this sport. 
The last time he emailed me I believe it was his first trip out and I think he plum forgot to take some picture.  I believe I reminded him that a fish story without pictures is just that.... a story.  This time he delivered the goods.  Below you will see just a fraction of the picture taken over the hike.
Adam also tells me that he has now taken up tying his own flies.  This is how I know he is now an angling addict and in a place like Colorado how could you not continue flipping flies to eager Cuts in those high mountain lakes.  Someday I hope to make the journey out there and fish with you mountain anglers.  Maybe when I do I can tie on one of Adams flies and be as successful as he is on the pristine mountain lakes and streams.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fishing The Chattooga

I took a chance the other day and headed up the Chattooga river despite the dingy, high waters.  It was not a banner day but my buddy Kevin and I did manage to hook into a few fish.
After about two hours of searching holes I knew once held nice sized brown and rainbow trout I managed to hook into the first fish of the day.  It was the largest bass I had ever hooked in the river and I began to fear the worst.  I had expected the waters to be warm due to a hot summer but I would have never expected to hook a good sized bass in the holes that once held trout.  I am not sure what is happening to my favorite waters but it seems like I am catching less and less trout in them.  This big bass might be a sign of colder waters becoming more scarce.  Or it might just be a hearty bass enjoying a cool mountain river. 
I knew this was not a good sign for the brookies I was hoping to catch.  A few minutes later Kevin hooked into a chub, or horny head, or junk fish and I began see my hopes for trout disappearing in this stretch of river.
We tried to hike up river in hopes of finding a deep hole a few trout might have held out.  Giving it our best effort we tried to keep our hopes up but after searching hole after hole, ripple after ripple, and every promising looking stretch of water for about a mile up stream, we finally cut our losses and hiked back to the car.  We figured that if we wanted trout, then we would have to drive further north and find the cold water beyond our hiking limit.
It was a nice day for fishing with a cool overcast layer and a bit of clouds still hugging the mountain tops.  We only saw the sun a few times and got wet more often with an occasional passing drizzle.  After our drive and a bit of lunch, we unloaded and went looking for trout.  We didn't have to look very hard.
None of them were very big but they were fun to catch.
All together we hooking into about a dozen or so small rainbows, browns, and even a small brookie.
After a few of our tough little trout had been caught a released, we found that we had an audience.  This copperhead, who had been eyeing out progress from the far bank, decided that he had enough of watching us fish and came over to our side for a closer look.
I have seen snakes nearly every time I've been out fishing.  I have even had two snakes take fish right from me.  I've nearly been bitten by a copperhead and a rattler while hiking the river bank and I have learned to try and keep my distance from these unpredictable little guys.  Me and Kevin hung around for a few more casts and then decided that it was enough for the day.  All in all it was a nice day spent with fish and a good friend.
I also thought that I would add a bit of a sketch to today's post since this is a art/fishing blog.  I hope you all have a good weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Barbel Sketch & Dean Brody CD Winner

First off, Congrats to the winner of the free Dean Brody cd.  Robert Dares of the Cottage Chronicles ( ).  It was not overly hard for the random number generator to select from the entries but non the less Robert will be receiving this great album in the next week.
As for the fish pictured above, it is a Barbel. I know it looks like an American carp but apparently there is a few species of this fish in Europe that are a blast to hook o a fly rod. I'm sure they are in the same family as our carp but it will take bit more research to determine the specifics.  In the mean time check out , hit the translate option and do a bit or reading. It's always good to expand ones knowledge beyond your own world and see what makes those Spanish anglers tick.
'Barbel 9-1'. - 7in x 6in. ink on paper.  Email me for purchasing information.