Monday, March 31, 2008

Random Ramblings

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fly Tying 101

Hi Folks, I'm finally getting to the post I promised the other day.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of fly tying demonstrations and after doing my last one, at Shannon's fly shop, I realized there was a common "thread" to the conversations I was having with people. That the single biggest solution/answer to many of the fly tyers problems is thread control. Yeah, I know, duh! What I am really talking about here is how to increase thread control with one very simple change in how you tie.

With proper thread control, many other tying issues can be overcome, such as material placement/tie down, compensating for poor material quality, big heads, loose wraps that lead to materials creeping around the hook shank and moving out of place, gaps between materials, etc.

So, how do you get the best thread control. Simple, keep the distance between the end of your bobbin and the hook shank as short as possible. Unless I need a long length of thread to dub on, or for forming a loop, or whatever else we do at times, I keep the length of thread I have out to around 1 inch or so, 1 1/2 inches at most.

Keeping your thread short accomplishes a number of things that will help any tyer overcome a multitude of problems and make the process more natural: It reduces the thread angle at the hook allowing the tyer to keep the thread perpendicular, which allows the tyer to keep each wrap more secure and in the exact place they want them; it allows the tyer to maintain a more uniform thread tension; it gives the tyer more control when tying materials onto the hook shank by reducing the amount of thread that must be looped over the material making binding much easier. I could go on, but try it, and you'll see how much it changes the way you tie and how your finished flies look.

Of course, if you already do this, you know what I am talking about.

Good luck and have fun.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fishing This Morning

The early morning sun brightened the sky above as I walked down to the river. The only sounds were songbirds, the soft whisper of the currents, and crunching of gravel under my feet. Along the river banks a thin blanket of mist wrapped the bare trees and evergreens in silver. Who needs church when one can come to places like this?

The cool air chilled my fingers as I prepared my leader by first tying on a length of 5X tippet, my every breath visible in the windless morning. I then tied a size 12 dark hare's ear nymph to that tippet, being careful to make a clean knot. To the eye of the hare's ear, I then clinch-knotted a 15" length of 6X tippet, to which I then tied a bright orange, size 16, Chimarra caddis larva imitation. After adding what I thought would be the right amount of split shot to my leader about 8 inches above the point fly, I checked each of the fly's hooks to make sure they were sharp, and I was ready to go.

I waded slowly into the eddy at the bottom of a long, smooth pool and stopped when I knew I had enough room behind me for a clean backcast. The clear greenish water was up about mid-calf on my legs and I felt its pleasant coolness quickly through the waders. I pulled some line off the reel and after wiggling it through the rod guides and out the tip, I began to cast.

The first cast dropped my flies about 25 feet up along a current tongue, and they immediately began sinking and drifting back toward my lowered rod tip. I recovered line with my left hand at a rate just short of the water speed, and when the flies reached the end of their drift, I lifted and cast again, dropping the flies just slightly to the left of my first cast.

As the flies settled into their drift and to the bottom, my line suddenly straightened. I lifted the rod and was fast to a nice rainbow, that came blasting out of the water surface, showing me its speckled crimson sides. It then dogged deep in the current, taking line is it moved quickly up into the head of the pool. It fought hard and strong, before surrendering quietly in the calm water to my right. For a moment, I admired its bright, well fed flanks and wide tail before reaching down to back the small orange fly in its upper jaw out. The fish hesitated once free, as though surprised, and then with a quick flutter of its tail it was gone.

By the time I had to head off to work, the sun was still behind the mountain, but the air was warmer and brighter. A soft breeze had carried off the mist, and the birds continued to hail another day. I had brought five trout to hand, the largest being the first, and although I was leaving this place, it was coming with me until next time.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I'm beat, but it's been too long since I vented on our state of affairs. So here's a quickie.....

Hillary - Open mouth insert both feet. What the heck is wrong with this gal? How stupid do you have to be to not know that every move you have made the last 16 years has been memorialized by multiple camera crews? It's one thing to embellish a story, but she wasn't talking about a fishing trip with the boys and she caught a big one.....she just told a big one.

Obama lama-ding-dong - He is running on a platform of hope and change. Yup, he HOPES the people who back him won't CHANGE their minds in November when they realize he really has no substantive plan to bring the ideas he so eloquently speaks about to fruition.

J.S. McCain - Chameleon man. What color will he be tomorrow? The guy needs to figure out where his own compass points to, and follow it unfailingly. Seems he gets up everyday and goes in the direction he thinks will get him the most "atta boy"s. Problem is, no one can follow you when the trail you are blazing back-tracks all the time...........either they run into you, or they tell you to get out of the way. tying 101. Had a lot of interesting conversations with fellow fly tyers at Shannon's on Saturday and just about all of them had one thing in common...thread control. See you then.

Life is good. Go fishing and make it better.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Fly Tying, Book Signing and Bears

It was a fun day today at Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon. Signed a bunch of books, tied a bunch of flies, and met a whole lot of nice people. Jim and Chris seined the South Branch of the Raritan River and brought back lots of aquatic insect nymphs, including stonefly nymphs, hendricksons, sulphurs, caddis and scuds. I tied and shared the flies that imitate them, and learned some good stuff from those that came to watch. You can't beat this stuff - everyone I have met the last few months has been great.....with one exception - the Devil in a Clown Suit (see Jan. 29 '08 post). Karen took a few pictures and I'll post them tomorrow.

L-R: George, Sign, Me and Jim
After we got done at the shop, we drove over to Oldwick to go by the house that will soon be my home. In front, on small rock outcropping, there is a cedar tree that had some fresh bear scratchings on it. The claw pattern was small so it must have been a small bear. Looks like I'll be keeping the garbage in the garage until it has to go out to the curb. I talked to some people that live in town, and they said they see an occasional bear, but they have not been a problem at all. I'd rather have an occasional bear and lots of land than traffic, noise, and high taxes. Can't wait to get into the place.

Time for scrabble...........Happy Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

California Dreaming..............

My mind is wandering. It's cold and windy out, and all I want to do is fish and soak up the wonders that surround me while casting a fly on clear, cold waters...........

McCloud River '07

Don't worry, I'll get back to politics and the travesty of our republic, I'm just burned out from work, school, and too little fishing and trouble making. That's not to say I am complaining, far from it, I couldn't be happier with all the shit I have going on right now.

Oh, and come to Shannon's on Saturday, it'll be a blast.

Life is good, you just have to believe it. And of course, do it with your eyes open.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Jersey Still Has Natives......

Good news, native brook trout whose DNA dates back to the last glacial period are still found in New Jersey waters! Click on the link below for more........

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What time is it?

Who cares? It's late and I'm hanging out after a long day. Meetings in Bayonne in the morning stringing out into the afternoon, the docks across the water silent, cranes and containers still as the night and ships without life. Beyond the docks loaded with containers and cars by the mile, I saw the planes easing down and lifting off filled with strangers coming and going places only they know for whom and for what. Some to make a life, and some to change a life or lives, all doing the best they can. Some days the sun comes out and others it hides behind the thick mist we call clouds.

Do you hide behind the clouds some days? Do you bask in the sun on others? Or do you bask in the light of day no matter how bright, to make it sunny even when it rains?

That's all. No fishing, no politics, nothing but some random thoughts from where I do not know. Sometimes you just have to write what seeps out of the cracks in your mind.

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open, and for crying out loud find something positive in your day.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Funnies

And you thought the Sunday funnies were found in the entertainment or living section of the Sunday paper. Four or five pages of three-color panels full of cartoons and imaginary story lines. Well, not today, and not lately for that matter. These are the real Sunday funnies.......

Do you think this guy realizes he comes across as such a goof ball?

On to other good stuff. The Lehigh Valley Chapters of Trout Unlimited Annual Spring fund raiser was a blast yesterday morning. Spoke to a full, standing room only crowd, and they raised some serious funds for conservation projects and trout fisheries enhancement. Kudos to Ryan Rush for organizing the event.

As you can tell, I canceled my trip to the Georgia coast this week to hunt redfish and do bad Tiger Woods imitations. Too busy with other things.......found the perfect home today. I'm finally going to be out of this apartment and into a house again, not that its a bad place, I'm just ready for space. And, my oldest daughter is graduating from college in May and I told her I would be out of here and she could have it. Awesome, I can have a garden again and my own pet trout....yes, a small spring-fed pond! Who needs a dog? Trout don't bark, you don't have to clean up after them, they don't jump on you or guests when you least want them to, and they don't shed. The perfect pets - brook and brown trout - and you can eat them! Just kidding......

That's it for now. Look for some gut-wrenching stuff though soon. You just know Hillary and Obama are going go at it this week and try to kick one another's butt over something. It's sad I think, that this thing is going to come down to a personality contest, when what this country really needs right now is a contest over policy. I guess it rarely happens that way anymore.......meanwhile, J.S. McCain rolls on watching from the sidelines and planning his next move.

I'm planning on fishing at least once this week, so look for a report in the near future.

Life is good. Open your damn eyes and enjoy it.

You guys are crazy...

I'll explain tomorrow........

Oh, and Jack won the best St. Patrick's Day costume award. Way to go kid! Yeah, the party tonight was great. Nothing like a good Irish get together with family and friends. The only thing missing was the Lagavulin.....still, the party was a hit..................

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Be the Wise Man....

Can you see the young and pretty
Confident as cops
Blooming laughing in the shops
Till the sun turns black
Can you see the old and lonely
Walking through the park
Pushing grocery carts
Till the sun turns black
Can you see the corporate man
He's winning on the telephone
His possessions are his throne
Till the sun turns black
Can you see him in his lounger
Watching tv in the dark
Waiting for the spark
Till the sun turns black.....

Can you see the working classes
Trudging through their days
Time goes slowly
when you're only waiting
Till the sun turns black
Can you see the wise man simply
Living loving quietly
Every breath he takes eternity
Till the sun turns black

Ray LaMontagne-

Carpe diem

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First the Birds, and now the Buds and Bugs

The sights and sounds of the coming spring are mounting as we add days to the year.

We talked about the morning chorus in previous posts, and now........

I look out my window here and I see the buds on the maple tree expanding with the fluids of life daily. Right now they are a deep, purpley brown in color.

AND the Blue-winged Olives, genus Baetis, have begun to hatch in earnest almost daily along with Little-black and now brown stoneflies. Remember, the timing for most hatches is that they occur during the most pleasant time of the day. Right now, that means early to mid-afternoon.

Its also important to know that the BWO's that hatch this time of the year tend to take their time hatching and leaving the water surface. So, when you see them hatching and the fish taking them, don't go straight to an adult imitation. Fish an emerger instead, preferably one that sits right in the surface film and that gives a clear impression of a dark wing bulge at the thorax. Keep it simple. Sparse tail, dark brown/olive dubbed body and thorax, and a ball of dark gray poly for the emerging wing. If you feel the need for hackle, wrap a couple of turns of medium dun around the base of the ball parachute style. I also like to fish a no-hackle dun for this hatch.

Go get them and have fun doing it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spitzer.........Summed Up

Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there. ~Eric Hoffer, Passionate State of Mind, 1955

That's it. What did you expect? Tonight I had to work on my program for Saturday morning in PA - see Whereabouts ------>

I'm going to bed and looking forward to tomorrow morning's free concert courtesy of our feathered friends. OPEN THE WINDOW!

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes (and ears) open.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Last night I was pissy, as you might have noticed. That's what happens when you read a bunch of articles on something you love, and then watch the evening news.....I "think."

Anyway, I just got off the phone with my oldest daughter. She is graduating from college this May and I couldn't be more proud of her. I call her my Magic, because like always, I am feeling so good after speaking with her. What a wonderful child. She can tie a mean fly, too. And, she is a natural at fly fishing.

Now for some clarification on last night's rant.........a couple of people emailed me about it. The bottom line is that trout, and all fish for that matter, have a single motivation - self-preservation. Their DNA is hard wired to that end, which governs all of their behavior.

One other thing. I went to bed last night and left the window open and this morning it was so wonderful to hear the songbirds welcoming the coming of spring. And its only the start. Over the next few weeks, more will find their way north and join the chorus that sings the joy of the rising sun. What could be better than waking to the songs that bring in the dawn of a new day? Try it for yourself, tomorrow morning when you awake, open your window and just listen. Don't think about anything. Open your ears and close your eyes, soak in the sounds that truly let you know you are alive and kicking and make the most of the day.

Faith is the song that the songbird sings just before the dawn. - Buddist proverb

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.

Monday, March 10, 2008

We can think, yet don't. And trout can't think, but some like to think they do....

Go figure.

How ironic, we humans have a neural system that permits us to use our senses (sight, sound, smell, etc), think (analyze), and then make a decision based on those thoughts. Yet some of us do everything but use that system. Especially politicians. I'm too tired to talk about idiots in government except to say that if you think I'm wrong, here's proof - Bush "thinks" the US economy is fine, Spitzer "thinks" with his dick, Hillary "thinks" she will be in a position to offer Obama lama-ding-dong the Vice Presidency, and many others "think" global warming is political hype proffered by liberals and tree huggers. Enough of that............

Now for the trout. I read everything I can about all kinds of stuff and a good portion of it is about fly fishing, trout, and related stuff. One of my pet peeves is how many fishing writers seem to "think" that trout "think". As in when thetrout sees one of our artificial flies they surmise, "Hey, that looks edible. I'm going to swim over to it and suck it in and swallow it." Or, "That fly is not drifting like it's natural, I'm out of here." Or, "What's that walking into my hole? Hmmm, I don't like it, I'm going to sulk here on the bottom and not move until it goes away."

News flash......trout do not think. They do not have language, thoughts, or any other means to process information in their brains that may remotely resemble cognitive activity. What they do have are finely tuned senses and instincts that have developed over many thousands of years of natural selection. In other words, trout react to external stimuli in either a positive or a negative way depending on how their instincts have been tuned over generations and by recent events.

I also believe that trout have a memory of sorts. Not like ours, but in the sense that they "remember" recent positive or negative events. This also is a form of instinctual behavior in that what they are remembering is more of a recognition of both good and bad experiences.

I could go on in more depth, and I have, but that stuff I'm saving for a later publication.

And fishing? Nada. Went to Cromwell, CT on Friday for a conference with intentions to fish the Farmington River when it was over on Saturday. But the near hurricane we had made the river resemble roaring chocolate milk. The Housatonic was no better, so I headed home earlier than intended, which was no picnic in that mess. At least it wasn't snow!

Here in Jersey, many of the rivers reached flood stage, or near flood stage, so that was out for Sunday, too. The rivers need a good flushing once in a while. At least I "think" they do. And come to think of it, do you think the fish think that high, turbid water is a bummer on a Saturday? Or do they just hunker down and dream about how in a few days the water will clear and they won't have to find a soft spot in the current to save energy and be safe?

I wonder if trout dream............

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Al Troth and Son Video

There are a ton of skilled fly fisherman and tyers throughout the world, some well known, others little known, all of whom we can learn something from. Al Troth is very well known for his now ubiquitous creation - the Elk Hair Caddis. Like other master fly tyers, Al has a much broader knowledge of fly fishing, and has always fascinated me with his quiet, out-of-the-box approach to fly fishing and its mysteries.

Thanks to Chris DelPlato - Mr. Streamer - for sending me this. Enjoy......

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We want to matter again........

So, Hillary got a reprieve yesterday. She resorted to her manwoman ways and made some headway. It's still anyone's guess when the other shoe will fall.

Of course, Obama lama-ding-dong continues on as the alka-seltzer man. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, it is what it is. Got a belly ache? I'll tell you what you want to hear so you can sleep tonight..........but nothing will be changed in the morning. Same old stuff, different day. Ever hear of the Flim Flam Man? Great movie - George C. Scott, the smooth talking, rail riding hobo.........going everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

And now John Sidney is the master of his domain, endorsed by "W" and basking in glory today. Should we tell him that no one truly wants 4 more years of the crap we have been dealing with the last 8?

So the jury is still out. The big question is, when will one of them tell us something that actually makes sense. We don't want miracles, yet it seems they all think that's what we want. No, no, and no, that is not it.

Think about it......Kids don't need to catch the big one every time out, they just want to feel like someone wants to teach them something they didn't know before, because then they feel like they matter. WE (Americans) want to feel like we matter's really that simple.

And that brings us to fly fishing. Sometimes you just have to get back to basics and leave the other shit back in the car trunk, including the camera. There's nothing to prove to anyone, just do what you know works and maybe catch a few fish. Let them go, and keep the experience where it counts your heart. Mission accomplished.

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open.

Deschutes River Salmonfly Hatch

Check out this great video of a salmonfly hatch. There's Some awesome shots of rainbows taking on top! Enjoy.

Found on Moldy Chum.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Blogger's Block..Is There Such an Animal?

Yes, there is and it has bitten me. I can think of all kinds of stuff to write about, but then I sit down to perform, and I have BD - blog-dysfunction. Thank God there isn't a little blue pill for this one! Imagine that?

As much of a freak show our election process has become, we have to be thankful we live in the good old USA. After all, we can write and say what we want about the candidates without fear of being locked up, or worse.

In Russia they held their elections this weekend for the successor to Putin. His hand picked puppet, Medvedev, won as was expected........funny how in the last couple of months the two other serious candidates in the election were disqualified. One was accused of forging some of the signatures on his petition, and the other was denied a permit to the hall where he was to hold his requisite nomination convention. No nominating convention, no running for office. Could it be Putin's boys had something to do with the charges against the candidates? There was a lot of other serious funny business going on to. But my point is, as much as the current slate of candidates here leaves much to be desired, they all get an equal opportunity to make asses of themselves.

And finally, it was a cell phone smack down in NJ this past weekend. The cops were out and handing out tickets to those caught talking and driving on a hand held phone. Sure its a revenue raiser, but I'm all for it. For example, on Friday night on the way home from the city on the turnpike there was this idiot up ahead in the fast lane weaving back and forth and hitting his brakes every time he got close to the concrete median. Sure enough, as we passed him in the right lane, he had both hands on the top of the steering wheel and was texting away. MORON!

I also know of three people who got tickets on Saturday for talking on their cell phones while driving. How hard is it to get a hands-free device? Especially if you are on the phone a lot?

That's all I have tonight...can't get blood from a stone. It'll come back, I just need to regroup. I'll have my mojo back next blog.

Oh, and one other thing. What is the deal with all the shootings we are having in this country lately? It scares the crap out of me that my kids have to deal with this stuff. We never had to worry about it growing up, and neither should they. I know the likelyhood of it happening to one of them is slim, but it is a reality of the world in which we live. I'm not sure what the answer is, but we have to figure something out.

I'm going to bed. Maybe I'll catch a nice one in my dreams...........

Life is good. Just do it with your eyes open....and a hands-free device!