Friday, February 24, 2017

A while back I posted about Joe Mahlers excellent fly called the "Strawboss".  Hoping to take a trip to FL in April to visit my Mother In Law, and based on the very well chewed status of my current Strawboss population I needed to do a few up.  this is the first time I've tried them with craft fur for the tail and subwing - or with rubber legs.  The first one's I did were just bucktail and thread.  I was rusty with the whole folding over of the bucktail thing, but these will catch.  Cant wait to get them into the brine in search of snook, lady fish (aka - poor man's baby tarpon) red's and whatever else swims past!

We have a little challenge - a first world problem for sure.  I'm self employed and work via a home office... We have 3 bedrooms in our house.  We also have two kids.  They have been ok in one room, but they are reaching the age where having their own spaces will be really positive for them.  So, what's an economic way for me to gain a work space?  While also helping us store the results of our book addictions?  Have floor to ceiling shelves and a desk built into a wall in the dining room.  It may be dicey when the kids are home, but for the most part they are at camp and school or outside... so this will work for a while until we figure something else out (perhaps building office space in the basement).  Last fall we got a bunch of estimates for this project via highly regarded contractors we found on Home Advisor.  If you need work done, check that site, it resulted in two awesome professionals for us between the landscape folks who did our patio last year, and this project.  I'm just letting the paint dry and will start moving books.  Very happy with how this came out!

About 3-4 years ago I moved to a sling pack for my "big water" fishing v the necklace I use for small streams.  I'd been given a 100 dollar gift card to the excellent Concord Outfitters here in MA, and used it on a nice Orvis sling pack.  It's worked well, though I always wished it was a little bigger, because, well, I always seem to need "one more" fly box (more on that issue in a coming post).  Well, within a few weeks I met a guy at a fly show who looked familiar, turned out he lived about 2.5 miles from me and was the owner of a company I'd heard of and seen in various reports online and in print called Vedavoo.  I had no idea they were "local".  We have fished a few times together since, and I have wanted to buy a bag, but having just got that Orvis one, I had a hard time justifying.  So, I just got one (I paid for it, this is not promotion for someone I know as thanks for a freebie).  Wish I had done it sooner.  simple, fit's great, and I can pack the heck out of this dang thing if I want - it's the TL Beast model.  If you want to move to a sling style bag, check them out - very well made, local to New England, customizable colors and super functional!  Looking forward to years of enjoyment with this bag - and I wont feel guilty when I see Scott (the bag's maker) on the water in coming weeks!

Note that the dangly rope is my "string" for my stream thermometer... 

The guys at posted a great Kelly Gallop video yesterday.  I'd seen it at some point in the past, and completely forgotten about it.  Watching though, I thought I should try it out.  Cool little use of some UV white ice dub on what is really a PT variant to create sort of a sheath under water.  It will be interesting to see if it fishes as well as Gallop suggests - the guy sure ties some awesome flies.

 Tim Flagler of laid down a neat video showing a really cool little "worm" varient.  could be a skinny caddis, a big chironomid or something similar to those... But, watching, it made me think of some wormish looking bugs Ive seen on the swift here in MA, so I tied up a few of them... I really like the look of the olive and the cream, but it's going to be fun to try them all...

The green is a bit chubbier because I didnt have micro size green nymph tubing, so I used small... I still like it.

These, to me, look so much like the ones I've seen on the swift.  Cant wait to try them.  I did modify from Tim's approach by using black sally hansens nail polish for the heads.

This weather is amazing - looking forward to getting on the water soon!

Have an awesome day!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Funny stuff, flies and snow

Maybe at the ripe age of 42, I'm old school.  I dont know.  But I would rather read a real, made of paper, news paper than get my news off web sites.  One bonus is the quick review of the funnies - makes me feel like a kid.  Well, the other day my local paper had the cartoon below.  Cracked me up!

The other day, Ken over on had a nice post about a fly he's been having good luck with on a local tailwater.  I liked the looks of it, and tossed out the idea of trying black nail polish rather than tying off the fly with black thread (over the olive used for the body).  Ken thought it may be a good idea and was going to try it, and my next time at the vice I did as well.  Kept the fly slim and looks good, I think it will workout well! 

Tied on a size 22 scud hook, olive 8/0, small copper wire, a smidge of krystal flash midge size and some black nail polish instead of head cement.

 New England has been getting some solid snow for the first time this winter.  After a little "half way through the storm" snow blowing last night, we got the kids down, and then I tied up a few flies.  Yes, we have Xmas lights up still - they make us happy, and, it's easier next year :) ha ha ha!

I've been working on my perch fly, and I think I'm there.  This one is the same as the one I posted the other day, but with only 1 wrap of the puglisi material.  I increased the amount of polar flash by twisting it round the extra large estaz (olive) body... I like it, but next version I may use orange polar flash instead of olive.  Overall, this one is slimmer, shows the body a little more, and should compress a bit more in the water... I think I'm onto a winner with this one.  It's got the nice scruffy look I like, but still has a lot of movement coupled with decent, but not overbearing flash... Whens' open water again? (See pic above, it's not for a WHILE!)

Have a great day and enjoy the outside!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Perch Fly 2...

Ok, here's my second experiment with the cool Puglisi stuff I got the other day.  Thought this would be solid, and it will fish, but what I thought would be ok, was just to much material.  I need to try again with only 1 wrap v 2.  It's a bit thick and I dont think the nice eztaz body underneath and the olive flash hackle ribbed over that will show through as well as I'd hoped, and less material will keep slimmer in the water.  

I think this will catch, but, I'm going to give it another evolution... 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Antlers, flies and figuring things out...

I'm typing this taking a hiatus from work while watching the Pat's Super Bowl Parade on my phone.  What a game!  If you love sport, even if you are not a Pat's fan, you had to see the amazing spectacle that was the Super Bowl as everything amazing about sports of any type!  Amazing.

We host "Super Bowl" thanksgiving on years my wife does not work (she has a rotating schedule).  The die hards who stayed to the games end, got a treat.  Lots of hugs and high fives... And one friends consistent calls of "HOGAN" (Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan) have changed everyone's Pats cheering strategies permanently - I cant see a pic of the guy without the sound of those attended saying "HOGAN" ha ha ha!

Ok, on to fun outdoor things.  Took the kids antler hunting a few weeks back and they were fortunate to find a few.  Took me about 25 years to find my first one, and here they go and get lucky within the first couple hundred yards of their first antler hunt.  As any fisherman knows, it's better to be lucky than good :) ha ha ha!

Near our antler hunting grounds, runs this stream.  it always looks like it should have wild trout in it... but i've never caught one.  Maybe they used to be here, but now, there are minnows that seem to go in and out of a beaver pond about 1/2 mile upstream from here, but that's about it.  The river it flows into, quarter mile below this pic, does have wild brookies, but a series of 5-10 foot cascades between the main river and this pic must have prevented the fish from making it up here.

Ive finally had a chance to do some tying.  I tend to be eclectic.  I rarely tie more than two of one fly in a sitting.  And I have a hard time tying flies the same way twice.  Ill do it, but only when it's certain to really work that way!  I like to tinker too.  So, last week I stopped at a local fly shop and, while there only for some non lead wire, I ended up buying some Pugliese brushes.  This stuff is spendy, and you can "make" it pretty easily with other things... but, in this case I bought it because, well, look at the color on the right in the pic below.  It screamed perch to me - great for many fresh water fish I like to chase.  So I bought some.  I think the color is actually called crustacean and my guess is that its really intended for lobster and crab patterns.

My first idea was just to do a super simple little fly based on a fly I fished a lot last summer.  So it's olive over orange craft fur for the tail, the new brush for the body and a fish mask.  Not sure I really like those yet... I still feel like sticking eyes on and then using UV resin looks better.  I need to add a little to this fly actually to make sure the eyes never come unglued... That said, that's more about me, than this fly.  I'm confident this will catch the range of warmwater fish I hope to use it for.  Not pretty, but functional, durable, and going to be fun this spring to play with.  I have some ideas in mind that I'm excited to try with this stuff that will be a little more complicated, but will be fun to tie and should really move and move water - when I get to those, Ill post em.

You can never have to many spiders... So I did a few of those up too - orange pearsals silk, hungarian partridge and a tuft of brown possum dubbing.  You can see my lack of tying practice lately though - the head is big for a spider.  Oh well, the fly will fish great, and I'm excited to swim it.

I dont remember if it was last or this year... but BrkTrt on Small Stream Reflections had a pic of a brookie he caught with a caddis dry variant... sort of an elk hair caddis but with an orange body - a very orange body.  I tied a version up and it was a great dry for me last year on my local wild trout streams.  So, after tying a few orange and partridge up, I saw the orange flat waxed that worked on that other fly, and got an idea in mind to try.  Not sure Ill tie a bunch, the other version (without heavy hackle up front - more of a elk hair caddis head) is just a simpler tie and certainly durable as heck.  This will work I'm sure, but just didnt fire me up like the other one.  That's the fun of tying though - unless you are commercial tying, you can just play, and treat each fly like an experiment.

Here's the "experiment":

Last thing is a pic I saw of a coach who I really respect, admire and basically read / attend anything I can of his - Jim Radcliffe.  Within the human performance field, Jim's work has been ground breaking for its simplicity and sound pedagogical roots.  While he's super bright and knowledgeable, he's a coaches coach - all about the atheltes first!  Ill be stealing this slide of his. because, well - it's just awesome.

So often when it comes to learning, we want to be told, then assume we know.  Or maybe we see it once and feel like we know it.  The trick though, is that we need a little challenge, a little struggle, if we are going to really learn something.  And by learn it, I'm talking about owning a concept and understanding how it relates to the broader context of things.  In other words, what's your foundation of knowledge attained via formal learning and experience - how does this new information fit and relate to the greater field of "vision" before you.

When it comes to learning, a little friction is glue.  a bit of challenge is glue.  Effort towards the process is glue.   That is where "figuring it out" comes in.

Figuring out requires some struggle and effort.  It helps you attain the contextual knowledge required to place new information into the proper cranial folders if you follow me.

Be it fly fishing, human performance, a test in school or a task at work... Figure it out!  Take on the challenge, investigate, embrace difficulties or uncertainties and use them to learn.

Embracing that spirit, the spirit of "figuring it out" can really help all areas of our lives.

So, this year, as we all flow through our life experiences, take a kids attitude to things and, well, embrace the idea of figuring things out.  Long term, it's amazing what that can do for you!

Be well

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Winter Times

It's been a busy winter.  Fall too.  I feel spring on the horizon though - even if, technically, we are in the grips of winter.  It's oddly warm for mid January and looks like it will be until late next week.  My theory, is that for every mid winter warm patch, you have fewer total days that can be super cold... So, even if March is really wintery, we are closing in on the end relatively easily compared to a winter like 2 years ago when we had about 4 feet of snow on the ground most of the way!

Normally by this point, I've tied up a lot of flies by mid January.  This year, I havent viced a hook yet!  Some is due to work busy-ness, and some life.  I have a webinar I'm doing for USACycling's coach ed program in a week, that's got me crunched on time... But, tomorrow is the fly fishing show here and I'm looking forward to attending for a hour or two... Hopefully once I'm through the webinar I can get to the vice... Ill be rusty.

That said, good things are going on to.  A few weeks ago when my wife was working we took in the final night of a local botanical garden's winter light show.  The pic's dont do justice here - it was amazing!  What you see below are trained vines which form rooms and towers, they had them all lit up different ways, and the surrounding hardwood forest was speckled laser lights for acres - it was surreal. that's my son moving fast in the orange snow pants...

Inside, they had cleared out one room of the indoor plant displays and built an igloo - those are galon milk jugs!  The kids thought it was amazing!  I did too...

With deer season done, I get back to my cycling habit.  I added to my bike quiver late last summer with a "fat" bike.  These are goofy looking mountain bikes with 4-5" wide tires.  The traction is unreal, and they feel like an older full suspension bike with 1.5-2" of poorly modulated suspension with really bad damping.  If you are old enough (or a mountain biker at all) to remember the old proflex full suspension bikes... It's not dissimilar.  I mean, with these giant tires you can ride 4-10PSI without burping the tire off the rim or pinchflatting.  So you get a lot of compression in the tires for "suspension".  For the winter I ride slightly slimmer tires which are studded.  If you have to deal with ice, studs are mandatory, and 3.6-4" tires cut through soft snow allowing the studs to hook up with rocks or ice when riding over soft snow.  Still super low PSI though.

In the pic below, I'm riding in 6" of fresh powder on top of 2-3 of sort of crusty stuff.

Once we got some warm weather though... things cleared up and the sunny spots became snow free - cold spots became just 2-4" thick ice or corn snow so hard you go over the top of it.  Below, is a view from a hill I love to climb in my home town.  This view is great, because of many memories, but also because I know that about 3-400 feet below is one of the first wild brook trout streams I ever fished, and off to the right is the second or third :)

That far bank (above) has resulted in many a nice brookie as well as a few surprising fish - like pickerel and an occasional perch and lots of dace and fall fish.

That little plunge is pretty new, maybe 10 years old.  the pool above and below it have yielded brookies over the years.  It's a nice shady section with the hemlocks, and while it was a fraction of this flow last september, and I do mean a fraction... it still supported fish.

Well - hope I can get more frequent again here.  Have a super week!

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Strawboss... and other simple and great flies

When flipping through the latest Fly Tyer magazine, I was excited to see Joe Mahler's StrawBoss as one of the featured flies this month.

I learned of this creation, maybe 3 years ago.  I was at a local fly shop that has closed now, called "The Lower Forty" (owner retired after 30 years or so in business) and as we all do, got to chit chatting with the owner and a fellow customer.

The customer had just returned from Florida and I was about to go... We were discussing the fun of fly fishing down there given the variety of species, the amount of water to fish, and access to that water.... He mentioned that while at the barber of all places - and bear in mind, this was the other guy's story, so I have no way to know how true this all is - he met this guy who was a casting instructor and artist.  He said the guy took him out to the grass outside the barber shop and they did some casting on grass and "Wow, he transformed my casting"... He said the guy had some articles and things and I should look him up: "Joe Mahler is his name".

I looked him up, and enjoyed his articles, especially a few about snook from the beach...

Then I bumbled into an article he wrote about a fly he ties (created) called the StrawBoss.  It looked a bit ridiculous.  Almost like half a Thunder Creek Streamer, with the bucktail left sloppy sticking out to the sides, almost like fins.  The fly sounded killer, and as we all tend to do when going on a trip and hearing about a local killer pattern, I tied a bunch... Good thing to!

They caught a bunch of fish.

The next year they caught even more.  It was the best fly fishing I've had down there.  A few nights I probably caught 25-30 fish and over half were snook in the 20-28" range.  Want to experience a good fight on an 8 wt... Catch a snook!

Since, I've tried the StawBoss for stripers a couple times and for freshwater bass - it works.  I bet tiny ones would work for trout, I may try that...

The version in the Fly Tyer Mag article is different than the simpler version I first learned about.  It uses some craft fur, some silli legs, a counter weight and some foam... but the basic shape is the same.  Ill be trying some this winter for sure, and look forward to fishing them.

If you have not tried a StrawBoss, and you fish salt water or fresh for predatory fish... Tie some - you wont regret it...

Here's one of my StrawBoss flies, very, very well chewed.  Probably have caught 40-50 fish on this one.  You can see the discoloration  and broken hair - note, that is WITH some Clear Cure Goo Hydro on the fly's head end... after you catch enough on a fly, I guess everything breaks down at some point :)

Same fly different angle .  They look pretty goofy, they dont have the "sexy" look of a deceiver or flatwing... But dang do they catch fish...

Pulling the StrawBoss out of my box I was reminded of another simple, plain looking, but brutally effective fly... This may be an incorrect name, but I think it's "Lefty's Shrimp".  It's a pattern Lefty Kreh made which is basically a craft fur tail, a bushy dubbing loop of craft fur palmered up and around some bead chain eyes.  Add some stripes with a sharpie and you are done.  That's my #2 Florida fly of all time - both in this pic have caught snook, lady fish, jack's, blues, flounder and a few other species.  Like the strawboss here, they are really beat... but still catch just fine!  

Simple flies work great... Plain looking flies work great too (heck, look at how good walt's worms work, or the MopFly everyone is so excited about of late works)...

Ok, given my lack of blog time this fall, I should wish you all a happy Christmas - or holiday season, pending your beliefs.  Have a super weekend, stay safe and keep living great!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Long time, no see...

Since late August I've had a few fun trips.  For some reason a great trip to Red Brook looking for Salter brook trout, which was very fun resulted in only 1 pic actually being saved - no idea what happened.  Kids had a total blast playing in buttermilk bay though :).  I've fished Quabbin and the Millers and caught a bunch of smallish smallies, and a micro largemouth as well.  I've done a couple mountain bike rides and trail runs... but overall, just have not been in the blogging mindset.

So, hopefully I can get back on track here.  But for now, a photo dump :) of the past several weeks...

Quabbin's low, but man, still gorgeous.  I caught a couple sunnies and small mouths at this point on poppers and Thunder Creek Streamers.

Thunder creek's are one of my favorite streamers.  Simple, and they catch everything.

We put in a new Patio, and at the start of the month, the final grade was done and grass seed planted.  If I took this pic today you would see a lot of grass where dirt is here.  The fire is the ultimate smore machine - the kids love that!

Another hike at the Quabbin with the family... How could you not love this place!

At the mouth of Red Brook my wife and kids found this cool hermit crab.  

Ooph, the Millers is LOW! 

Lots of these excited to eat though :).  They are super fun!

Playing around with a craft fur streamer with large eyes... green on top, orange on the bottom, with gold sparkle hackle wound up the shank.  I see this in smaller sizes as deadly "baby brookie" style streamer on the swift... But here, a little bigger as I figure it out... and it's a great little baby perch.

I've never caught a largemouth is this lower section of the Millers, so I had to take a pic.  He was really pretty too.

Walked the kids to the store in my home town with my folks.  This was awesome because it was my dad's first walk with the kids since his second hip replacement inside a year, and, because the kids enjoyed playing at the town library.  Just a really fun, relaxed fall day.  Walking home this frog literally hopped onto my dad's foot.  The kids went nuts for him - they were mad at me for letting him go - they felt he would like our house better than the stream.  No luck kiddos :)

Ok - that's all for now.  Hopefully more posts soon!  Keep well everyone!