Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Trout Painting On A Burl Of Palm Wood

  This past fall the family and I took our usual camping trip to the South Carolina coast.  Besides collecting the assortment of fun memories and photos, I collected a few drift wood pieces of knotty Palm wood.  "What are you going to do with those" my wife asked - my answer 'I have no idea'.
  Well this morning I found a purpose for at least one of those knotty burls.  I cut it in half and using the beautifully smooth inside of the burl I used some paint and painted up a head of a rainbow trout.  I had never attempted this before but figuring that it cant be to much different than painting on paper, I gave it a go.
   First I found the obvious place to place the head and sketched out a trout.  I didn't want the whole piece of wood to be covered with paint so I stopped at the tail end of the gill plate.
    Next step was use the paint to do what I do and paint up the trout.  I used acrylic for this because that is the best medium for this kind of project.  I have never really used Acrylic in  painting and am very new to the process.  It is quite a bit different than my usual watercolors and it take some getting use to but with time I worked it out.
    After I painted it up and added the spots and highlights, I then coated the whole project with a clear coat of gloss.  The picture may not show the true beauty of this piece but in the end I believed that I achieved what I set out to do.  I honestly have no idea what I am going to do with it (as with most of my paintings that are in the studio) but it made a nice shelf piece and I think that's where it will end up; right above my tying desk until it finds a new home.

    And finally as a reminder, if you have not entered to win one of the three prizes listed in my previous post then I suggest you head over and fill out a comment and share the post for your chance to win.  Many of you have already done so and I thank you.
1st Prize

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FREE Original ART!!! Plus A Trip Report Fishing The East Fork With My New Abel Reel

French Broad Rainbow On The Abel Reel
   In my last post I mentioned that I was taking my new Fly Reel on a test 'drive' of sorts on the waters of the Chattooga River - and that I would be giving away something to one loyal follower of this humble blog.  Well I didn't end up going to the Chattooga but if you read through this trip report you will find at the end a way you can win a special piece of original art.
    Packing my new Abel Reel and Fall River Bamboo rod I went in search of new water.  The Chattooga was preempted by a desire to do something different.   My target - The delayed harvest section of the East Fork French Broad River in western North Carolina.
  For Those in the South Eastern U.S. the French Broad is a river system that we are all familiar with but for you that have never heard of it, here is the skinny.  Starting from the headwaters of the Eastern Continental Divide, the French Broad snakes its way through the N.C. mountains gathering water and momentum until it empties into the Tennessee river basin.  Throughout its course it is fed by some of the finest fly fishing waters in North America.  The section I was after was a little feeder river on the upper French Broad (or Poelico Agiqua -Broad River - as called by the original Cherokee language).  Today we know it as the East Fork.
    I had never fished The East Fork but it is somewhat legendary among the TU chapters and Fly shops around the South East.  I figured with my Abel Reel and Bamboo stick as my weapons I would finally go and see what all the fuss was about.
    Waking before the sun was thinking about cresting the horizon I packed the jeep, grabbed a coffee, and hit the road.  The trip from Greenville SC over the Eastern Divide is a good 1:45 slog over a switch-backed,  hairpin mule trail that bares the remnants of time.  Outhouses and rusted metal are a common site as you climb reminding you that this is a land that time has forgot.  This truck was only one example of what happens when you break down up here.  At the bottom of one switchback I swore I saw the carcass of a wrecked Model T.
   When I arrived at the East Fork, I suited up and braced myself for the cold water.  As expected, the cool mountain nights had chilled the water and with a few shadows along the river bank still showing traces of snow, I began to fish.
  Those of us that are accustom to fishing in the winter are also aware of that annoying problem of having to clear the ice from the guides every third cast.  This morning was no different for me only I tried to keep them as clean as I could for fear that the ice would do unbearable harm to my new Bamboo rod.  Luckily not long after the sun cleared the trees, the ice gave way to a great morning and plenty of fish to be caught.
    The cold can sometimes have a positive effect.  Take for example sticking a #14 red and white Icicle Nymph deep into your index finger.  with frozen fingers you don't even feel it and the hook removal is quite easy.  All you need to do it yank it out and brush the blood away.
    After trying my luck with nymphing and having only the moderate success of hooking into four fish (not landing any of them) and hooking myself, I paused a moment to look over the water.  It was then that I noticed fish rising to take small midges.  Quickly I cut the nymphs loose and tied on a small hackled fly I call the Orange Brookie Killer.  To be honest I am sure it has another name since I got the recipe from an old man I met at the last Fly Fishing Show up in Ashville but He never named it and and I never asked.
    Basically it is a fly that doesn't need a name because it is so simple to tie.  I only call it the Brookie Killer because I have tried fishing it on rising Browns and Rainbows with little or no success.  On Brook Trout however this little orange fly is deadly.
The Brookie Killer
-Dry Fly Hook
-Hot Orange 6/0 Thread
-Orange Dubbing
-Light Dun Hackle

All the brookies I caught with a dry fly on this trip (with the exception of one caught on a black midge) were caught using this simple Orange fly.  As if to prove my point, a Brown I tried catching late in the day refused this very fly time and time again until I changed it to a black version of the same fly.  The brook trout pictured above however tore the hackle right off the fly.
    As the temperatures rose so did the fish and by mid day I could see them choosing their targets and their bugs.  If I wanted to nymph fish there were still plenty of fish down deep but with the abundance of rising trout who wants to guess at a strike.
    If you were wondering how my new Abel Reel worked on the Bamboo well I can honestly say that this Abel was the finest reel I have ever fished with.  If you looked up smooth in the dictionary I believe that it would have a picture of this reel next to it.  It looked awesome on the Fall River Bamboo rod and it had the perfect weight to balance the fishing action.  The 5W line I put on with the modest 25y of backing was the perfect fit.  The color, the clicking, the drag, even the reel seat made this the absolute perfect fit for this rod.
    When I was looking though the Abel web site I was amazed at their take on ordering your own reel.  Their new Reel Designing tool allows you to pick your reel, choose the style, and then gives you so many options for customization that it makes your head spin.  They even have an option to have beautiful artwork from the likes of Derek DeYoung (although it is pronounced the same - there is no relation to your truly)  as a finish on your reel.  If that isn't enough, you can choose the color of the working parts of the reel such as the handle and drag knob.  Finally to top it all off - this is an American made product.  How could I not try and send some business their way.
    The price for the customization can get a bit pricey but the quality of this product is something you cant beat.  It is something you could save up for and have no regrets purchasing.  I feel proud that I will be able to hand this down to my kids and hopefully they could do the same for theirs.  This Abel Reel will be in my family for a long long time.

    And now for the FREE STUFF.  I have been blessed with the growing success of my art and this blog.  I have been presented with ever expanding opportunities to grow my artistic talents as well as my fishing knowledge through the use of this blog and my HexFishing.com site.  Over the years many of you have purchased or received something of mine and many more have encouraged me more than you will know so I have decided to do something special.  Today I will give away an few gifts to those that have kept me going.
    But as my dad always says, nothing is free.  This contest is however very easy to enter. Just follow the instructions at the bottom of the post.
The Prizes:
1st Prize
West Slope Cutthroat
    I Love the Cutthroat trout and when I had the chance to fish them a few summers ago up in Idaho I had an absolute blast.  This painting is an Original Watercolor painted on archival paper with top quality pigments.  It measures @ 12.5in by 6in and will come in its own mat.  I will leave it up to the winner to decide how to frame it.

2nd Prize
    For the seacond prize the winner will get a matted print of my painting 'The Apache Trout' plus a Hexfishing Tee in a size of their choice.

3rd Prize
    And Finally the 3rd place winner will receive a matted print of my painting 'Brown In Hand'.

How to enter:
   All you need to do is leave a comment on this post no later than midnight EST on March 15th indicating that you would like enter.
   For additional points towards winning these prizes indicate that you have shared or re-posted this contest on your own blog.
   For extreme extra points indicate you have shared this contest on a social networking site(s) (such as Facebook or Google+).  I am not on Facebook (please hold your smirks) but I am told you can re-post something there.

   On March 15 (or 16th) I will post the winner of these prizes which will be chosen by taking all the entries and doing it old school - drawing names from a hat.  I will then get in contact with you for your shipping address.  That is people, it just that simple.  Good Luck and share the wealth!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Abel Reel - Super 5N

Super 5N Abel Reel
    From the moment I first picked up a fly rod I have had a desire to own one of these American made Abel Reels.  When it comes to quality and beauty there just isn't much around today that can hold a candle to the precision engineering that goes into the making of these reels.  In short, Abel makes some of the best fly fishing equipment available.  What better way to compliment my new bamboo rod.
    Well, Thanks to my success in this blogging artistic Fly fishing adventure, I have finally got my chance to own one.  After spending time drooling over Abels Reel Selection Page last week I settled on a beauty of a reel.
   It came this morning as I was finishing up a painting of a West-slope Cutthroat.  Taking the box from the FedEx delivery man, I tore into it like a kid on Christmas morning.  First chance I get I am going to take this beauty along with my Fall River Bamboo rod and give it one heck of a test on the waters of my native Chattooga River.
     For those of you that are in the market for a new fly reel or just like seeing this beauty in action, keep your eye out for my next post using this Abel Reel.  Just to wet your appetite a bit more I will also be adding a 'special' giveaway to accompany the next post.  Before you ask - No its not my new Abel Reel.  That baby is all mine but as a thank you to all of you that have supported me and my fly fishing art I will be giving away an original painting for one of you to hang on your wall.  Details will soon be coming your way soon.  I might even add a few other prizes in there as well so keep a look out.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Artwork Around The Web & Around The World

    Its time to do a little bragging.  I am not really that big into self promotion but I felt really proud of the opportunities I have had recently and thought I would share a few of the projects I had going on with those that have made my continued success as an artist and illustrator possible.

    Last year some of you might remember that I was asked to help illustrate a a book on carp fishing for a fellow angler over in Spain.  I have been supporting my fly fishing habit through art sales for quite a while but illustrating this little piece of work was a first to showcase my artwork as an illustrator.  Carlos over at barbosconmosca.com is a great angler with countless articles in Spanish publications on angling and is considered a real professional across the pond in the art of 'rough' fishing.
    Honestly I cant read a word of this Spanish book but if you are fluent in Spanish and want to know more about the art hooking into European carp or Barbels then you are going to want to pick up this book.

    Another author that has recently decided to use my artwork for their book was Darren MacEachern over at Streamers 365.  Darren has compiled a years worth of streamers tied by some of the worlds top fly tyers.  I was lucky enough to be asked to help with the cover art on volume #2.
    This book just recently came on the market and you can purchase it - as well as Volume #1 by clicking over to to Streamers365.com and following the links.  Volume # 3 I am told will be arriving soon so keep checking in for your copy.  This comprehensive collection of streamers will not only be a valued addition to your fishing library but would make a great coffee table book.  In addition to having great cover art - wink, wink - it is also stocked full of beautifully tied streamers and amazing photos.

    Continuing the international exporting of my artwork, I also recently did some work for Dennis and his emerging business in China.  China Fly Outfitters asked me to paint a pair of Lenok Trout for their logo and I was extremely happy to do it.  Not only was I thrilled to see how international my work was going but I was able to branch and paint a fish i otherwise never knew existed.
   Do yourself a favor and click over to see what they got going on over there.  Dennis and his team are not only great guys to work with but he is a class act and could be your connection to fishing trout us Americans would otherwise never see.

    I have discovered that as an illustrator there is a real need for quality illustrations specifically designed by outdoor enthusiasts for outdoor sports companies.   Along these lines, this past December I was also contacted by a great guy down in Florida to help him design a number of logos and illustrations for a bait, tackle, and apparel company he was launching this year.  Although this company is not fully up and running - expect more posts on them in the coming months - you NEED to check them out.  Angler 360 plans not only to service the Tampa area with the best bait and tackle around but also is looking forward to distributing their products and apparel world wide.  I look forward to long partnership with them for years to come and once their apparel line becomes available I will be able to tell you when and where to get it.  If you love fishing the salt then this is a place you are going to have to keep an eye on.

    In addition to the big fly fishing and angling companies, along with the occasional book illustration, I have also bee working on graphics for fellow bloggers.  Most recently I designed the logo for Northern California Trout.  Mark is not only an avid angler and blogger but has also recently authored a book of stories on his experiences in life and on the water.  Please click over to check out his site and pick up a copy of his book.  Tell him I sent you.
    In case you were wondering what else my artwork has been plastered on besides the world wide net, company logos, and books, you can also see it on the arm of a dedicated angler in the North East.  This past fall Nate from the Swamp Yankee asked me to illustrate the life cycle of the mayfly for a tattoo.  Before you ask, no sane man will allow me near his arm with a tattoo gun but I did do the pen and ink illustrations for him.  The end result looked sweet and I am happy that Nate was pleased enough with my work to make it permanent. 
     Currently I am working on a few projects including work for other bloggers - which I will show you once they are completed - a few original paintings, and lastly - illustrating a children's book.  The illustration at the top of this post is just one of many illustrations I have already completed for this project and once it is completed I can fill you in on the details.  For now however I am just wetting your appetite and letting you know all I have going on.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday FlyDreams Of Pompano

  This Friday finds me trying to get back home from a trip and dreaming of fishing the Florida coast. Not that I've done much of that mind you but I recently did some work for a Florida fly shop and it got my mind on the salt. My experience in the salt is pretty much limited to a dozen plus seatrout, about fifty ladyfish, and one redfish but drawing up this Pompano and doing the research got me dreaming of this fish and returning to the salt.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Simple Bugs Catch Fish - Tying The Black Beetle

  Sometimes its the simple bugs that are the most effective.  Take for example the deer hair Beetle.  The other day I took some time to quickly tie up some beetles to replenish my terrestrial fly box.  I had used these little bugs quite a bit near the end of last year and when I looked through my box I noticed that I only had one beetle left.  As I head into spring I knew that one beetle wouldn't cut it, especially when I remembered what I found in the stomach of a fresh caught stocky a few months ago.
    Besides the standard collection of bug wings, midges, and mashed exoskeletons, I had noticed that there where an abundance of beetle parts and the occasional whole beetle.  I even found a few ladybugs which is as we all know is just a colorful beetle.
    For my beetles I use a very simple tying pattern that is not only extremely easy to tie but also uses only three ingredients beyond the hook.
Black Peacock Beetle
1- Size 16-12 dry fly hook
2- Black Thread 6/0
3- Black Deer Hair
4- Peacock Hurl

To tie this beetle I secure the deer hair to the hook using the black thread and then tie in the peacock hurl and wrap it forward.  After tying off the hurl slightly back from the eye of the hook I bring the black Deer Hair  over the hurl to form the back of the beetle.  I then tie it off and trim the rest of the hair at an angle equal to the bend of the eye.  I then used a little white nail polish to add a spot to the back of the beetle just so I can easily pick this black bug up on a flowing river.
    If trout are coming up to feed this beetle will be a good fly to tie on.  I have found that on warm afternoons this fly is the most effective.  It truly is a VERY simple fly and has out-fished the more attractive flies on more than a few occasions.  For those that enjoy an afternoon of Bream fishing, the Black Beetle is a fly that cant be beat.  If you are wondering why I just don't use the new foam styles of beetles and the simple truth is that I just don't like it as much as natural materials.  Call it personal taste but that's how I roll.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Simple Friday Fly

    A whole lot of work this week and no time to think to much about fly fishing and only a little time to work on the 'art' of fly fishing.  I am disappointed that it ruined my plans to go to the NC Fly fishing Show this year but I'll make due.  There are worse things that could happen in life and to quote a saying I have repeating a whole lot lately, "Just Roll With It."
    This little nymph is just a simple doodle as I attempt to 'roll with it'.  Without work I suppose I'd appreciate my time off a whole lot less.  Of course without work we would all get to do a whole lot more fishing....

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Fishing

   Its a rather late post for this Friday but I have a good excuse - I went fishing.  Before I get to that, The image above is a preliminary illustration for a project I have started on.  I am not going to reveal much more than that for the time being but I thought I would give you a taste of what I have been working on lately.
    This morning I woke up with the kids and on the spur of the moment, decided to try a little fishing.  I packed the new bamboo, a few boxes of flies, my hiking shoes and headed for the mountains.  I chose a stretch of river I had never been to before but required a 2.5 mile hike from atop a mountain on down to the bottom of a gorge.
    The hike was beautiful even if it was a strenuous hike out, and the water was a bit high, but the gorge was amazing.  The fish however decided to take the day off.  I only had one fish look at my fly all day.  It was the only fish I saw all day despite running through nearly every fly and nymph in the box.
    Besides the one fish, the only other aquatic life I saw was this frog.  I was at the tail end of a forty foot waterfall where the gorge narrows to a slim six foot across.  This little guy was so cold that he could barely keep himself afloat.  There was ice hanging from the ferns above my head and it looked like this frog could use some sun so I scoped him up and placed him on a sunny part of rock just out of the water.  He must have liked it because he stayed right where I placed him for the next ten minutes while I tried to fish.  When I left I think I caught him laughing at me.  As I left the hole for the hike back to the jeep, I could have sworn I heard him say, 'No fish is ever going to be fooled with a cast like that.'
   Oh'well.  Like they say, I bad day fishing is better than....... any day not fishing.