Thursday, February 27, 2014

Salute The U.S. Navy Seal Frogman

  This graphic I cooked up pretty much sums it up - The US Tactical Divers are the some of the most skilled soldiers in the entire world.  In a day where there is a lot of talk about troop draw downs and reducing our armed forced size to pre-WWII levels I encourage every American to set politics aside and just remember and appreciate what these men have sacrificed for our American freedoms.  You might not have ever heard of their accomplishments but that's the point.  They come from the sea quietly, do their job, and then silently return without a word.  These men and numerous other members our our military do their jobs and you never know about it but their actions keep you safe.  You hear about the exploits of some Hollywood actor every second of the day while these true heroes are busy preserving freedoms around the world.  Take time to thank a service person today.  Tomorrow they just might save your live.

  (If you like this graphic and want to read more then check out my previous salute to the Air Cav HERE)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Watercolor Brook Trout 'Feeding Brookie'

    I had a little time yesterday morning so I broke out the watercolor paints and a Bristol sheet of paper and flipped a little paint around to come up with this brightly colored 'Feeding Brookie' painting.  I am not going to cloud this work with a lot of mumbo jumbo on how I painted it or how much I love hooking into these unique fish, so instead I'll just let the painting do the talking.

  'Feeding Brookie'
Watercolor on Bristol Paper
14in x 11in
For Sale - Email for purchasing.
This painting will soon be posted on

The fly is small #16 red and green beadhead mayfly nymph I have used many times on secluded streams.  Brookies love the color red and orange.  I cant explain it, they just do.
  I hope all you enjoy the rest of the week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Trout Tails

   How about a little abstract Trout Tails to start your Monday morning off.  I recently completed a 12in x 24in canvas painting of the 'big three' of the trout world from a slightly different view.  What started as an experiment in color ended up being this portrait of a Brook trout, Brown trout, and Rainbow trout exiting the scene.  Painted in acrylic on canvas, this painting was done more as a study for future works but as it hangs in my office I have grown to enjoy the brightness and simple lines which is a departure from my standard style.  I will no doubt do another painting with this scene but instead of trying to duplicate the natural photo realistic qualities of the fish I think I will use more abstract lines and simplify it further than it already is.  That being the case I will price this 'study' cheap.  Feel free to contact me for purchasing details.

'Trout Tails'
12in. X  24in.
Acrylic on Canvas
For Sale  

   For those of you who could care less about the painting and are wondering when the weather will break so we can get out fishing, my answer is soon.  Only a week ago we were burried up to... okay we had only about 6inches of snow but for the south it was a lot.  This week however finds us in the full bright sun-filled sky of spring.  70 degrees, flowers blooming, and the grill already warmed up for the endless parade of red meat that await.  It also means the waters will be warming up soon and that means the bass will soon be coming to surface.  
   And just in case some of you don't already know, I am now on facebook at .  What does that mean to you?  more frequent updates on my art, special offers and contests, gear reviews, and more fishing reports.  Click over, like, and share my page.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Graphic Designs For The Angler

    I'm not a guy that keeps his eye on the changing styles of fashion.  My last graphic designed shirt I purchased was a generic fishing tee on the sales rack about two years ago and my go-to shirts lately have been a selection of sweatshirts and flannels.  The fact is that fashion isn't on the forefront of my mind when I hit up the fly shops but maybe these designs will change that.
     No I am not getting into the tee-shirt selling business nor am I launching a new line of clothing but for some reason I feel the need to showcase my graphic designs on the back of clothing.  Stick them on a wearable canvass and they just look cool - plus it looks as if my artistic talents could actually be used in a functional manner instead of wasting away in a file somewhere unused.
  My latest sketch was a digital doodle of a brown trout and the slogan 'Brown Ain't Boring' arched over his back.  The graphic itself is okay but its missing a canvas.  Stick this on the back of a comfy brown hooded sweatshirt and Bamm!  We got a cool looking piece of streamside outerwear.

    Some of you might remember the inked sketch I did a little while ago of this fly.  It looked good on paper but what could I do with it.  Well I dug it up from the files and transferred into digital form and stuck it on the back of another hooded sweatshirt, this time as a black on black design.  End result looks like it could fit in in any one of those trendy stores in the mall.  I can totally see the guys from Southern Culture On The Fly wearing these sweatshirts at the next local show.  Heck, I might even look at making it my next purchase.  Screw the box stores.  I make my own designer shirts!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I Go Mainstream - Hexfishing Now On Facebook

  That's right.  I have fought it as long as I could but I now give in. Hexfishing and this artist are now a members of Facebook. You will now be able to viewed, shared, thumb, poke, like... or what ever else Facebook feature you choose to my future art. is your additional source for quick updates to this blog, paintings and projects I am working on, trip reports, gear reviews, and all things fishy.
    Last week at the Fly Fishing Show in Winston North Carolina I ran into so many fans of my art that asked if I had a Facebook page that I felt obliged to give followers of this blog what they want.  In addition to that news - In the coming month or so I will be posting a contest to promote this new outlet for my art so if you are already a member of Facebook and follow this blog, click the link and become a Facebook follower of the Hexfishing page.  If you are not on Facebook don't stress, I will still be regularly posting on this blog so you wont miss out.
    As for the Facebook logo you see here, no, it is not a new look for social networking site.  It is a little illustration I cooked up just for this post.  It is yet another example of some of the computerized art I have been fooling with lately.  It isn't a bad look for the simple f logo though.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Dutch Poster Design

    Yes, I know this has nothing to do with Fly Fishing or Flies, or Trout but since this is also a blog on my art I thought that I would share this recent piece with you.  I was recently commissioned to submit a poster for festival in Manhattan Montana.  Nothing says Dutch like Tulips and a wooden shoe clad in a delft blue floral design. Celebrating the regions Dutch heritage, this annual event benefits Manhattan Christian School and helps to provide quality education to the areas youth.
    As with all Dutch events, food will be a key draw but the auction should provide some interesting finds for those that can attend.  From art to antiques, the items up for sale often get the crowd bidding.  In the past there has also been a number of fly fishing trip, rods, reels, and fly fishing art up for sale so if you are in the neighborhood next month, you might just want to stop by on your way to hitting the Madison River.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February Rainbow Trout - Acrylic On Canvas

   In my last post you saw that I hit up a South Carolina mountain stream and battled my way up a cold and steep gorge all in search of that perfect rainbow trout.  Well with the snow and treacherous roads keeping me bottled up indoors I decided that I should be a little productive and paint up a rainbow trout while the beauty of my recent trip was still fresh in my mind.
   For this painting I took out a 24x12in stretch of canvas and some new top quality acrylics.  Sketching out the basic form of the trout in pencil I then began to lay down a base color of pale yellow for the body of the trout.  Then just like I do in my watercolors I began to build up the colors and adjust them as they get laid down.
    Surprisingly I find that working in acrylics is in many ways easier than working with watercolors.  They are a little more forgiving and if I don't care for something then I can cover it up or re-work it in a way that more readily represents what I am trying to accomplish on the canvas.  In watercolors it is more a difficult to correct something once it is on the paper.  Often the little mistakes end up being just part of the uniqueness of the finished work.
  There is a different set of challenges with acrylics which I am learning how to deal with along the way but I think I am getting the hang of it.  Once the base layers of colors are set, I then begin to work in the details of the painting which end up making the finished piece a work of art instead of just a rough representation of a trout.
February Rainbow
    I call this painting 'February Rainbow' because the model in my mind while painting this work was the single rainbow I caught while fishing on Monday.
February Rainbow
24in x 12in.
Acrylic On Canvas
Email me for Purchasing

    As an added bonus I sketched out this crazy looking bug the other day.  Its a random design, just me messing with an ink pen and a blank piece of paper.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Taking Tenkara To The Mountain Before The Snow

    I was so inspired by my recent trip to the Fly Fishing Show up in Winston Salem that regardless of the weather I was going to hit the mountains for a bit of secluded river fishing.  I had been wanting to hit this little known blue line way off the main road so with my trusty Tenkara rod and a small box of flies I made my way up stream to start off on one of the hardest fishing trips I have made in the past few years.
  For two hours I battled my way up river fighting and yet thoroughly enjoying the dense stream side vegetation, frequent downpours of cold rain and sleet, cascading waterfalls, and crystal clear waters.  Without a fin to show for my effort, I came to realize that the fish that live here are few and extremely skittish.  In my mind I knew they were there - they had to be, It was just to beautiful of a habitat for trout not to live there. Then, finally, through one of the most remote gorges in the area, I stalked my prey until eventually I came to this beautiful bottleneck with a bend that ran into a long plunge pool.
  Crawling on my hands and knees I approached the bank of the pool and tossed a black bead head stone at the waterfall.  As it emerged from the boiling head of the pool I saw a flash from the deep and instantly knew I had hooked what I was hunting.  After a fun fight with the fish, the Tenkara rod, and an overhanging rhododendron I soon had one of the crown jewels of back country fishing.  A perfect stream raised rainbow; brilliant colored cheeks, deep green back, and a set of crisp fins that were as close to perfect as you can get.
   I ended up fishing for another four hours, struggling with every bend in the river and downed tree, to make my way up stream four miles where I thought a trail crossed.  Eventually I came to a waterfall much to large to climb so I decided to pack it in for the day and set off cross country in hopes of hitting the trail.  On the way I came across some interesting signs of wildlife.
   In the picture to the left I came across a termite ravaged tree which in itself isn't that interesting but as I looked around the tree I saw what appeared to be claw prints all around the tree.  It may not show up in the photo but this large claw print was eight feet up the tree with a whole lot more even higher.  I suspect a black bear was eager to get at the tasty termites.  Scat around the area confirmed this for me. (My wife is going to cringe when she hears this since it is not a piece of information I shared with her.  No dobt she is going to pitch a fit the next time I hit a remote blueline.)  Needless to say, as I beat my way through the brush trying to locate the trail, I made sure to made a whole lot of noise just in case.

  Eventually I found the trail on the opposite side of a large ridge and made the easier hike back down the mountain to my car.  Its amazing how one perfect fish can make the day and effort all worth it.  I love hooking into big fish as much as the next guy but a stunningly beautiful wild trout is in a category unto itself.  Add to that the knowledge that the place he was caught was so remote that maybe only a handful of anglers (but probably less) a year make the effort to reach it and I leave with a large smile on my face.
   Today, as I write this post, the snow is coming down in large flakes covering everything in a blanket of white.  School is of course cancelled - because in the south we share our one snow plow with the whole state - the kids are itching to go play, and I feel blessed to live in a land so filled with beauty everywhere I look.
   This coming weekend the temperatures will again be in the high fifties and spring will be coming around the corner soon.  The fishing will pick up, the bugs will hatch and nature will again be alive with new growth.  Until then I am going to adapt the philosophy of embracing the day.  A warm Irish Coffee and my fly tying bench is calling.... right after I finish building a snowman with the kids.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The People Of The Fly Fishing Show

    How do you know that you are obsessed with fly fishing?  The realization for me came last year when I got a final wisdom tooth pulled.  The previous three were pulled many years ago the old fashion way with the doc simple telling me to hold tight and pulling hard.  It was unpleasant but cheap.  Unfortunately when I went the last time the doctor told me that anesthesia was necessary and to make a long story a bit shorter, I was later told - because I have no recollection of the event - that I awoke telling the nurses a very animated story of this massive fish I had caught on a fly rod.  It was at this point that I can fully admit that I might be a bit obsessed.
    So, fully embracing the obsession, I made the long trip up to Winston Salem NC for the day to spend my time drooling over new fishing gear and meeting a collection of like minded people equally obsessed with the fly.

Southern Water Design
  One of the first guys I gravitated to was Brad McMinn - fellow angler and artist.  Specializing in large scale works of art he paints on wood, Brad and I share a similar upbringing in art.  Aside from a few small art classes years ago, we both are self taught artists who stumbled upon the fact that people like what we do.  His works are simply amazing and I am proud to share them with you.  Innovative and unique, the clean lines and bold colors are signs that he is well on his way to a success.  Please visit his site at
    Another guy I ran into while walking around the show was a blogger I have admired for years.  If you have yet to find Mike Sepelak's blog then take the time to flip on over and indulge your senses in some great photos and fantastic writing.  It was great to finally meet the man behind the words.  As suspected, Mike is as genuine a guy as I imagined him to be.
  Continuing the string of great people to run into at a fly fishing show, I quickly met up with Lance at the, of all places, TenkaraUSA information booth.  I have exchanged numerous emails with lance over the years regarding art and fishing expeditions but have never had the privileged of meeting the man face to face.  After a great conversation I wouldn't be surprised if we someday find ourselves fishing the same stretch of river.
  Cameron Mortenson is quite possibly the most knowledgeable person on glass rods that this angler has ever met.  He of course will humbly deny it but as the owner of the Fiberglass Manifesto and key author in the rise of glass in popularity over the past few years, you cant deny his contribution to the sport.  I once again had the opportunity to talk with him and have a laugh at the amount of people that actually recognize our work from the web.  I also managed to squeeze in his lecture on glass at the end of the day and was so glad that I did.  If ever you have a question on glass then Cameron is the guy to go to.  If he can't answer it then he will personally put you in touch with the guy that can.
Jay "Fishy" Fullum
  A few years ago I first ran into Jay and immediately I knew that this was an angler after my own heart.  An artist, illustrator, author, and remarkably creative fly tier Jay can make a fly that hooks fish out of just about anything - including an old seat-belt.  This year I not only got some key pointers from him on how to promote and sell my art but also how to tie a killer trico fly with the use of a seat-belt.  If you don't have one of his book - GET IT.  You will not regret it.  It will not only allow you to save money but it will make your fly tying more diverse.
  As many of you know, I love to fish Tenkara.  I might not be as dedicated to it as many out there but I am constantly drawn to it and its simplicity.  Years ago when I first started off with this blog thing, Daniel Galhardo was one of the first people to purchase some of my art - including a few watercolors of Tenkara flies I did for my 'one fly an day' for a year series.  Since then I have had continued contact with him about art and Tenkara techniques.  This year I finally had the opportunity to meet him face to face.  As anyone that has met him can attest, he is a not only a pleasure to talk to but is about as knowledgeable a guy on Tenkara as you will find in the US.   I dropped in on his lecture on Tenkara which made me want to attend the Tenkara Summit in Colorado all the more.  If you want to know how Tenkara made it to the US then look no further than Daniel and Tenkara USA.  He is the reason the fly fishing industry has been in a tissy over this ancient for of fishing and he is one heck of an ambassador for fly fishing.  There may now be others selling Tenkara rods out there but make no mistake -TenkaraUSA was the first and continues to be the benchmark.

  I met a whole lot more great guys and presenters at the show - way to many to mention here- and anyone that made it out will agree that it was well worth the effort to get there.  It was also great to finally put faces to they emails and comments.  Someday I hope to make it out to the NJ or CO show to meet the rest of you but until then, hopefully I'll see you on the river.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fly Fishing Show Roundup - New Gear

    This past Friday I managed to get the time off of work to make the pilgrimage up to Winston Salem for the annual Fly Fishing Show.  It is a journey I try to make every year but unfortunately last year I was unable to get the time off.  This year however I planned out my time and took the three hour car trip from Greenville SC up 85 to the Southeasts premier fly fishing event.
    It was a little smaller of a show than I remember when it was held in Raleigh two years ago but it was still jam packed with enough gear and presenters to keep this angler busy.  It was also too big to jam it all in one post so I have split it up into a few posts.  For this one I'll showcase two new manufactures that really stood out.

The Gear
    First off, quite a few of us love these shows because the new gear we find there.  From waders to reels to a new fly tying setup, these companies wait all year for an opportunity like this show to present their products to people like me.
   This year a few new companies to me really stood out both in quality and usability.

Smith Fly
  First to catch my eye was gear manufacture - Smith Fly.  Specializing in packs and fly gear storage, this company represented by Ethan Smith showed real promise.  Not only are these companies products are manufactured in the US, ( A BIG deal in an age of global trade) they are quite possibly the most bullet proof gear storage kits I have ever found.  Not only do they share my love for simplicity in design (very little extra junk attached to a pack you will never use) but they use the same materials our military uses for their gear.  Fantastic looking gear and I will be keeping my eye on this company.

  Fairly new to the fly fishing world with just over ten years of manufacturing top quality reels, Hatch may still be a little known company but that will change.  They took the time to discuss their product with me including a little info on the process they use to create their quality products.  As advertised on their reels with a red blazed 'Made In USA', these guys are dedicated to bring the US back to the forefront of fly gear manufacturing.  In a market where there is a lot of quality reel companies, these guys are on the right track.  I of course took quite a bit of time clicking the drags on their reels and was impressed with the smoothness of action.  They definitely have the quality of a top manufacture and these are another company to keep an eye on.

There was of course quite a few other quality companies presenting their products but these two were the ones that stood out to this angler as both new and unique and guys you might not have heard of.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Salute To Our Military - Air Cavalry Tribute

U.S. Air Cavalry Tribute
    I know this has nothing to do with fly fishing, tying flies, or fish but it doesn't make it any less worthy of a post.  As Americans it is our duty to support the men and women that have made and continue to make this a land worth living in.
 The dedicated soldiers and service personnel that fight on unknown shores do so with a sense of duty that runs deep.  As civilians we share that responsibility to the extent that we not only support them in their cause but also educate ourselves as to the reasons they do what they do.  Unfortunately we all have seen those countless news commentaries by talking heads that pretend to know what they talking about when they spout off about the military and the ideals they fight for.  To often these media types have never talked to the men and women with boots on the ground.  The unintended effect of the reporters ignorance is that they end up marginalizing the service our military personnel have given for all our freedoms.
  In a recent interview by a CNN reporter to Marcus Luttrell (U.S. Navy Seal & The Lone Survivor Author) the reporter basically asked Luttrell how he felt about loosing his friends for a pointless cause.  At its best it was an obviously poorly worded and thought-out question but it demonstrated to me a complete lack of understanding what our men and women do for us out there in the rest of the world.  It was fun to see Luttrell not only field the question but made the little reporter squirm as he was educated as to the nature of the fighting men of our military.  I'm sure it was not the reporters intent to marginalize the deaths of Luttrell's brothers but by asking a soldier such a thoughtless questions does a real disservice to us as Americans.
    As a civilian I can never express my gratitude enough for those that have given the ultimate sacrifice.  I appreciate all they have given and continue to give so that we can live free.  With that in mind I have decided to start a little series of graphic art illustrations to honor the special branches and units of our military.  For my first sketches I picked the U.S. Army Air Cavalry.  As a pilot I can't help but admire this special unit that has proven the effectiveness of close quarter air assault through numerous engagements.  Today it is one of the most decorated combat divisions in the US Army.
    For all those who have served and continue to serve in this elite unit I salute you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Angry Fish Sketching

    For those of you that have been following my blog for the past few months you might have noticed an increase in the digital illustration drawings that I have been doing.  The reason for this is three fold; First off I recently purchased a digital drawing pad and have been experimenting with its use.  Similar to sketching on a pad of paper, this digital pen and pad also allow me to quickly erase and color.  It also allows for crisp, sharp lines and a variety of other effects I would be unable to do with a pen and paper.  Second is that I have been on the road a whole lot lately and unlike paints, brushes, and watercolor paper, the digital sketching pad is a very portable tool.  And third, I have had an encouraging increase in the number of requests from clients for digital art.  From a poster design for a Dutch Dinner and Live Auction in Manhattan Montana to a variety of tee-shirt designs for a company focusing on, you guessed it, fishing.
    The 'Angry Fish' design is not a design for any particular company only a little sketch I did the other day while tooling around with my digital sketch pad.  However, It is for sale if you would like to have exclusive use of it for your company or personal use.  Just shoot me an email for purchasing.