Monday, January 28, 2013

Streamers365 Cover Art - The Bloody Marry

  I'd like to announce the arrival of the new edition of Darren MacEachern's Streamers 365 vol #2 complete with cover art created by non other than yours truly.  Last year Darren set out on a quest to post a new streamer on his site every day for the entire year and with the help of a host of avid and professional fly tying masters he got the job done.
  I started this blog with a similar goal in mind a few years ago when I set out to post a small painted or drawn fly each day for an entire year.  It was a goal I came up with a few days before new years way back in 2009 and it has blossomed into something I could have never predicted.  Mainly I started doing it as a self imposed challenge in an attempt to not only get me back into sketching on a regular basis but also to try and pick up a little added knowledge on my love of fly fishing along the way.  I also wanted to see if I had the fortitude to stick with a project like this for an entire year.
Bloody Marry Streamer by Joel DeJong
Original tied by Davie Mcphail
  In the end I stuck with it - even when the days were tough and the last thing I wanted to do after a long day of traveling was to sit down and sketch out some stupid fly.  As a guy that has gone through a whole year of posting on a daily basis I can assure that what Darren accomplished was not as easy as it might sound.  How he did it with such a consistent quality of post is even more of an amazing feat.  Congrats to Darren and the many fantastic streamer enthusiasts that helped to make this series of blog posts and Books possible.
  When Darren asked me to contribute to this project I was thrilled.  I didn't hesitate one bit and gladly took on the challenge of painting a streamer for this fantastic blog.  After going through countless photos of wild and crazy streamers I ended up choosing the Bloody Marry tied by non other than the Scottish fly tying master and you tube sensation - Davie Mcphail.  If you have some time and want to see a master at work, click over and see Davie's YouTube page and be one of the over 6 million viewers of his crazy skills. (that right- 6 million +!!!!!)
  If you would like to own a copy of your own, check out Darren's site at to order volume 1 & 2 and see just how beautiful a streamer really can be.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fly - Trout On Yarn -Channeling F. Sawyer

    For today's Friday Fly I give you evidence that a fly doesn't need to be fancy or involve a lot of material in order to be productive.
 On Monday I tied up a simple yarn bug under the influence of Frank Sawyer and his killer bug.  I had been watching a fishing show on the internet that documented a few of England fathers of fly fishing. Frank Sawyer obviously was a key part of that history and his Killer Bug and simply tied Pheasant Tail are as iconic as any flies fished in the last hundred years.  What amazed me was not how he came up with them but the materials he used to create them; simple wool yarn, and copper wire.
   Two materials, that's it.  As a guy that can appreciate the keep it simple stupid thought process, this approach to tying flies struck a cord with me and I dug through my wife's yarn box for something to I could use.  What I found was a Acrylic/Poly blend in light taupe color.
   Using some bright red wire I got from the craft store (used for jewelry making I believe), an olive thread, and a #16 nymph hook, I came up with a Killer Bug of my own.  Unlike Sawyers bug I left a little extra yarn near the head and clipped it short as a wing casing or legs, or whatever a trout might think it might imitate.
   Yesterday I got a chance to try it out.  After going through a box of previously productive flies and still not having a fish to show for it, I tied it on gave it a shot.  In short order I drifted it deep in a pool below a line of boulders and got the only fish of the day.
   I never named it and not sure I should since it is a direct result of watching Frank Sawyer's bio but it might just be different enough to lay claim to a name of its own.  It also got a fish so it has at least earned a place in my box. Maybe the Sawyers Poly Killer?

   The trip out was also my first outing as the new owner of a Fall river Bamboo fly rod received through the OBN.  I had been itching to get it some action since receiving it but other obligations and a bad stretch of weather had held up any chance of it seeing water.  After spending five plus hours casting it on a stretch of the Saluda river I finally feel that it is mine and am still excited to have such a beautiful piece of work to fish with.

Jetflow Hydration Review

  The other day I finally had a chance to test out a piece of equipment received from the Jetflow and the Outdoor Blogger Network. I often find myself on a secluded back-country stretch of river far from any source of water.  Usually I bring a bulky backpack with nothing but an extra fly box or two and a water bottle to fill it.
  Every time I needed a drink I had to un-sling the backpack and dig into the pack for the water bottle.  For anyone that has done this in the midst of fishing knows that its annoying and time consuming at best.  Do this dressed in winter gear, in the middle of the river during a hatch and your bound to miss out on a lot of fish and possibly get your gear wet in the process.
  This small pack with its patented Jetflow technology not only gives you a place to hold a few extra pieces of emergency and fishing equipment (boxes and tippet material, ec.) in the small pouch in the back but also gives you immediate access to clean water through a supply tube.
   But this isn't your average hydration pack with a bladder system that needs to be washed out and cleaned after every use.  Those systems have a tendency to 'sour' with age - grow mold or bacteria in the bladder with disuse - but this Jetflow system brings the ease of hydration with an easily replaceable and washable bottle that can be bought at any gas station or convenience store.
   For anyone that is as active in the outdoors as I am, this pack (and the many other styles like it) is the perfect solution for those outdated bladder hydration systems.  If you go on day hikes, go mountain or road biking, canoe or kayak  or go skiing, this pack will be a valued piece of equipment for you  Check them out today and get yours before spring comes.  After using it once I can guarantee that this will be a constant piece of equipment of mine on every day trip!  I highly recommend it.

(I did not receive any compensation for this review other than the equipment itself.  I only recommend products on this site that I find useful and live up to the quality and effectiveness they advertise.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tying Flies With Kids

  This afternoon found me wrapping up some work and settling down to a cozy fire and a little instruction in the art of tying flies - or as the kiddos call it Fly Tying.  After finishing up a bunch of nymphs (More on that later) My daughter wanted to tie her own bugger and after a short demonstration she settled in and took feather and thread in hand.
  Along with some instruction on the way, she began to create her own Woolly Bugger. 
  After a little trouble trying to get those little fingers to do what she wanted them to, do she began to get the hang of it and before I knew it she had a good first attempt on the vice.
  I promised her that when we next visited the stream (or bass pond ;-) we would give her hairy bugger a chance to hook into some fishy gills.  Her hopes were high and inevitably she brought up the last time she had a hand in making a fly.  We called it the Grinch due to the season and the color she had chosen for the non-traditional Tenkara fly.  It had done well - 5 fish in about as many casts - and she never has forgotten it.  Hopefully this time with a fly tied by her hand, she will not be disappointed.  As it is I am tempted to set it aside as a memento but I will probably wait till she gets a chance to fish it.

    As for my attempts at tying, I took inspiration from Frank Sawyer and his Killer bug to create this little bug.  It doesn't have any name and is NOT made from the legendary Chadwicks 477 wool yarn ($200 a pop !!!  My word, that stuff better hook fish!) but I think it might do just fine.  I added a little tuff near the head for effect.  I thank my wife and her yarn box for the use of a few strands of her Acrylic/Polly blend. 

And finally here is my take on the southern inch worm pattern The Green Weenie.  Basically I added a green pearl bead.  Nothing to imaginative but I made it my own and the next chance I get I will try it out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fly Friday - Trout Graphics

    For today's Fly Friday, since I still can't go fishing thanks to work, I wanted to demonstrate a little of the graphic work I have been doing lately for a client down in Florida.  I am not able to show you the actual work at this current time but I thought that I would mess around with some ideas I had floating around in my noggin and demonstrate this new medium for me.
  Paper and canvas artwork look good hanging on your wall but when you transfer it to print form and advertising it usually does not translate well.  Often times the painted work is too complex, too involved to be used as a promotional or advertising work, so sometimes you need something simpler, easily reproduced, and able to be blown up to any size you want.  That is where vectored graphics come in.
  Often guys that work on vector graphics will go from nothing to final image without picking up a pencil but I like to work with my hands and make quick changes on the fly.  In the image above I stuck with my 'roots' of using pen and paper.  Sketching it out yesterday while stuck in a hotel, I then took a black and white pic of it and uploaded it.  After cleaning up the edges in the computer I then converted it to graphic form.
   After the initial cleanup I then began the process of using the software to shade and color the image into a easily scale-able graphic image.  Every color is a layer that is laid down and then tweaked to my needs.  After a long time of tedious work (I am sure a skilled graphic artist with an updated computer would take much less time) I end up with the image to the left.
  Once I had the final trout image it is a simple step of placing it in the advertising, in this case the word TROUT.
  In the end, you end up with a fine piece of advertising that can be used as a header for your webpage, company store, business card, merchandise, or even billboards   These images have been converted back to JPEG form for ease of placing them hear but in the vectored graphics form they can be blown up to any size desired as long as your computer can handle it and your printer has enough ink.
  What does this have to do with fly fishing, trout, or flies???  Nothing, but I hope you like the image.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Steelhead Trout Tribute

For this Tuesday I give you a tribute to the Steelhead in the form of ink.  Having a little fun with the computer graphics and my own pen and ink I came up with a few images that I thought looked rather cool.  I have been doing a lot of line vector graphics lately and have really grown to love this medium.  It might not be as challenging as dropping paint to paper but it is time consuming and the finished product is about as clean an image as you can get.
  I really think this image would be sick on the back of a sweatshirt.  I don't have any plans for that, I'm just saying that I think I could wear this proudly.

Fall River Bamboo - The End Of A Journey, The Beginning Of The Story

   This past weekend I had the luck of experiencing a 'second Christmas'.   I KNOW you all are tired of hearing about this but I still cant get over it!!  I received a much awaited gift in the mail this past weekend from OBN and Fall River Fly rods and from the amount of stickers and mailing addresses plastered on the pvc shipping tube, this fly rod has been on one heck of a wild ride.
    Last July when I was lucky enough to get a chance to fish this rod, I was one of the anglers near the beginning of its lengthy journey and as I recall the tube was still a rather clean tube.  Well, after traveling the country, gathering stickers and postage, being ruffed up by the mailing service, and coveted by lucky anglers on the way this case has collected a whole lot of character.  Some might just toss this pvc shipping case away but not me.  Its almost has as much appeal to me as the bamboo itself..... what am I saying....  I have a FREAKING BAMBOO FLY ROD!!!
    Even if my dog was none too impressed with my 'second Christmas' gift, I couldn't wait to crack it open.  A little worn from its journey and the amount of gills it has hooked into, the wood case bearing the signs of a well used piece of equipment, but still it is just as beautiful as I remember!
    I literally had only 10 minute between cracking it open and having to leave sprint out the door to catch a flight but I cant wait to get back and delve into the dogeared journal.  I am sure it will be a treasured compliment to the fly rod for generations to come.  What a story to pass on and this wont be the end.  I plan on adding many chapters to the story as I utilize this piece of art to hook valley hawgs and colorful mountain brookies for year to come.  Thanks too you all!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fly Friday - Winter Vice Dreams

I had planned to add an article to go along with this illustration but time is at a premium so I leave you on this Fly Friday with only this thought:
  Winter is in full swing and the fishing is, for most of us, just a day dream, so if you have the time sit down at that vice and start cranking them out.  It wont be long till the weather breaks and you are going to need those bugs for browns.  If you are like me, there are countless patterns in the books that clog your shelves that you have never tied or fished so tie them up and anticipate the day you can test them out.  Don't waste your time this winter watching TV or the news and worrying about that tax (Payroll) addition that the government promised wouldn't effect you.  just turn on some Yonder Mountain String Band tunes, sit down at that vice and get to it.  Fill those boxes with as much as they can hold - And if you have a few extra flies you are sure you wont need come spring - send a few my way.  I will be busy with pen and paintbrush in hand dreaming of that Brookie on the end of my line.... that is when I can break away from my day job.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Watercolor Woodpecker - Off To A Slow Start

   No, this isn't a trout but it might still be something that the followers could appreciate even if they can no longer use feathers from this bird to dress flies.  However, if I catch this guy pecking at my eves again he might just accidently get hit by some freak 'natural' event such as a meteor.
     I am off to a rather slow start this year.  As far as flinging flies at fish and posting to this blog goes, they just haven't been a priority.  I wont bore you with the details except to say that illustrating projects for a big client and my day job have kept me busy ever since Christmas.  Today however I sat down with some time on my hands and spent the better part of the morning staring at a blank piece of paper without the slightest idea of what to paint.
    Sometimes a blank sheet of paper is a great thing, full of potential and a place where endless opportunities abound but today it was a brick wall; a hurdle, a fence I could not break through.  It was only after a few hours that the idea struck me to deviate from the norm and branch out into something slightly different.  This painting took me more time to set up then to actually paint and it shows but it at least got me through that barrier.
    Like I said, this isn't a normal painting for this blog but I hope you enjoy it anyways.  May all of you have a fun fish filled new year.