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


  1. Will, you have 2 great kids.
    That P&O will take it's share of fish. The caddis variant is a fish taker. Just a week or so ago it took several brookies. Nice job of tying.
    Remember Steve Grogan?

    1. I was so sad when they started Easson in the super bowl in 86 v Grogan Alan... That guy could play :)

      I appreciate the comments, and fully agree - the kids are awesome :)

    2. It's to bad they didnt figure a way to hold on to Plunket, we may have seen 30 years worth of an amazing run v 17-20 (if you include 1996) :)

  2. Hi, Will.... those sure are some good looking "Antler Hunters" you have there.

    Thanks for sharing your fly tying patterns. I need to work on a Perch pattern, just for the heck of it, too. I have not used Puglisi Fibers due to cost.......

    Inspiration is what all of us will need going into 2017. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Agreed Mel - I actually started posting goofy kid jokes on facebook for that very purpose Mel - just making smiles in 2017. :) When I get the next one done (perch) tonight, Ill post it up in the next few days so you can have a look.

      I'm with you on the Puglisi stuff. I normally make my own version with his "EP Fibers" or craft fur, or even marabou. But that color just totally hooked me :)

      Have a super day Mel!