Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Are You Missing Strikes In Your Caddis Box?

  How diverse is your Caddis pattern box?  Does it just have a few elk hairs or is it stacked with a wide range of flies of all colors and material?  Well if it doesn't have a wide range of different patterns and sizes of these abundant flies then you could be missing out on even more fish.
   The truth is that Caddis flies populate the earth with more than 12,000 known species providing an abundant food resource for trout and other smaller fish.  The adult form of this varied species resembles more of a moth but has fine hairs that coat their wings instead of the scales.  Like moths, not all caddis flies are made the same.  They range in size, shape, and color and for trout fishing it matters.
  A few years ago I met fished with a buddy that had come down to fish trout in the hidden streams of the southeast.  We stumbled across this beautiful,yet small, bend in the river with rises all through the edge of a deep pool.  We took turns casting into the bend with a dry elkhair caddis, both the same size and shape but mine was just a slightly darker clay color than his.  The difference was almost undetectable but to the fish it made all the difference.  One after another I hooked up while he struggled to get a second look.  Our casts were identical, his presentation flawless, but it was color that made the difference.
  A few years later he got his revenge when he out fished me on his home waters of the Driftless waters in Southern Wisconsin but that event solidified in mind that a varied caddis box was essential if I was to have a successful dry fly outing.
  This winter I spent a good amount of time organizing and restocking a dedicated Caddis box with as many examples of caddis patterns as I could tie.  Deer hair in various colors, caribou hair (a favorite natural looking sedge wing material), and a few colors of elk hair all are important in a diverse caddis box.
  If you are worried that your caddis tying is lacking in quality, I can offer this advice; Don't. Through years of fishing them I have discovered that the rougher they look the better the trout like them.  Color and size seem to be more important to the fish than the exactness of a well stacked elk hair.  I seldom buy my flies anymore but when I do come across a store bough caddis I rub it in the mud and rough it up before I fish it. If you doubt the sense in this than I point you to the fly itself.  There is nothing pretty about a caddis struggling in the water film.  To put it another way, if a mayfly is the Porsche 911 of dry flies then the Caddis is the Ford Escort.  It may not be the best looking thing in your box but it will reliably get you form point A to point B.
And don't forget to tie up a number of good larvae patterns to compliment the dry fly.  Caddis flies also make excellent strike indicators for fish feeding on the larvae of these, and other underwater insects.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Back At The Art Thing With Dots

  The other day my little girls asked if I could sketch a butterfly for her so I got out the pad and started inking out a monarch using nothing but ink dots.  Its a technique called stippling and I had only dabbled in using it in the past.  It had always struck me that, although beautiful in the end, it was tedious and time consuming form of illustration.  For this subject I decided it was more of a challenge so I dove in head first and started to dot up the paper like a manic telegraph operator.
  Not a bad way to ease myself back into an artistic mindset especially after such a long absence.

  Of course I have to ask, Does anyone have proof that Trout eat butterflies?  I am sure it happens but I'd love to see any fly patterns people have used successfully.
If it worked on a butterfly, why not a trout?
Have a good week.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Bassmasters 2015 Swag (this ain't about trout) and I Meet Guy Harvey

  Its not about trout but its fishing and if involves hooking into any type of fish and getting some free swag - count me in.  I of course am talking about the Bassmasters Classic.
  I literally own only two poles for spin fishing. One is a salt water rod that I bought for pier fishing 10 years ago for $20 and the other is a 4.5 foot light weight trout spin rod I got before I started fly fishing and haven't used in over ten years.  This fact however does not prohibit me from attending one of the largest fishing events known to mankind.  Especially when it is only a few miles from my front door.
  So yesterday, with the temperatures below the freezing mark, a buddy of mine (who is strictly a spin fishing guy) and I went to check out the expo.
  After a few minutes of walking around I was stunned to see an icon in the fishing art world.  A personal inspiration to me and my artwork as well as a marketing genius when it comes to selling his artwork, Guy Harvey is known the world over for stunning portraits of fish.
  That there was enough to make the entire day worth it for me.  His art is by far one of the most recognizable of any fish artist, I dare say in history, and graces the backs of many a fisherman searching for ocean going fish.  Originals of his work can run you quite a few thousand dollars and they are worth it.  The quality in his work is fantastic.  The marketing of his work might be a bit overwhelming (you honestly can't walk around a sporting good store or fishing pier without seeing his shirts) but you can't argue with success.

  Another plus of the expo was the amount of toys both big and small.  Toyota had a huge booth I spent a good deal of time at - and had a bit of fun with.  Big trucks, and enough bling on boats that Snoop Dog might look under dressed.  The only thing that was missing was a party barge... wait,, I think I saw one of those as well.

St. Croix was the only manufacture with a fly rod at the booth so it was no wonder that I spent a good deal of time talking fly fishing with one of their marketing guys.  I happen to own a St. Croix 7w strictly for my bass fishing and love it but after looking over a few of their other new bass setups, I might be looking at an upgrade.  Specifically a fly rod called 'The Bank Robber'. this strong backed rod would kill some bass and I even like the name.

  An of course I hit the Simms booth - notice the bass on the logo in place of the standard trout.  I took a turn in the their GORE-TEX rain suit and a wet booth set up to test the use of the gear.  After five minutes of getting drenched, I was still completely dry.  I will on the lookout for these.  As one would expect from Simms - another quality product.

In all I came home with a tone more stuff than I can talk about in a short blog post and a load of free swag - including some Old Milwaukee shirts which are sure to be worn.
With all these sponsors throwing money and gear around like confetti I wonder - could a fly angler break into the Bassmasters Tournament and come out on top???  I might have a new mission. :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Its Been A While

I wont go into why its been so long since my last post except to say, occasionally a few things in life are more important than fishing and art.  Of course I haven't been all idle in my absence from the web so here is just a few doodles and pics I have done recently to pass the very few idle moments.
.Sketching goofy fish...
A random streamer illustration
An illustration for a friend that is a big Auburn fan but stuck in the frozen tundra.
yes.. I know this has nothing to do with fishing but I am a big fan of old movies and Grace Kelly inspired me.

Hopefully I can break out of this frozen cycle of winter and get to a trout stream soon.  Here are just a few more pics of my recent activities relating to fishing.

I even found time to sneak in a movie... or two.  Ironically I caught up with the Fly Fishing Film Tour in Billings Montana... Don't ask how or why I was there, unfortunately I was not there for fishing but this find was a much needed break from a rough schedule.

And now you are caught up.  Come spring I hope to get in more fishing and even more art.