"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..."

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Great Waters Expo, Day 2

Today was Day 2 of the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo here in the Twin Cities. It was a lot like yesterday, only there were way more people there today. I'm sure the fact that it was a beautiful 50 degree day here on the frozen tundra made people want to get out and do something, and a large portion of those people came to the Expo. I spent a majority of the day tying more flies. I had a lot of people stop by my table to watch me tie, including two of my former students from my Joy of Fly Tying classes. Coincidentally enough, both of those former students are named Steve... Maybe I should make a rule that all of my future students are named Steve, since it seems that my tutelage only really works on Steves... It's something to think about at least.

The best part of the day was when The Wife and The Four Kids stopped by to see me. They got to see me tie a Stimulator and interact with the public. I'm pretty sure they were amazed at my ability in both those regards. Actually it was quite obvious that they were more impressed with the live aquatic insects that local esteemed entomologist Dean Hansen had at the show. All four of my kids ooohed and aaahed while peering into the plethora of tubs that held countless mayfly, caddisfly, stonefly, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs. They were speechless when they saw the enormous hellgrammites. And they squealed with disgust when Dean picked up a 5-inch-long hellgrammite and asked them if they wanted to pet it. I like bugs, but even I didn't want to pet that thing! It looked like it could take my pinky finger off with a slash of its jaws. No thank you!
The King Daddy of all hellgrammites!

Other than that, the day pretty much revolved around flies. I started out tying more rubber-leg Stimulators like yesterday, only in different colors. From there I moved on to some yellow Madame X's, but I wasn't real happy with the way they were looking, so I went back to tying more Stimulators in even more colors.
Rubber Leg Stimulator
Yellow Madame X. Meh...
Regular old Stimulator
Tomorrow is the last day of the Expo for this year. If you are anywhere near the Twin Cities and are in any way interested in fly fishing, I highly suggest you drop everything and head over there. If you do, swing on through the fly tying area and say Hi!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Great Waters Expo, Day 1

Today was the first day of the annual Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo here in the Twin Cities. Over the years it's been held at several different venues in various parts of the metro area, from Bloomington to Blaine to White Bear Lake. Now, for what I believe is the third year, it is being held on the campus of Hamline University in St. Paul. I have enjoyed this current venue the best, and I'm not just saying that because it's the closest it's ever been to my house. It also is a great venue! Lots of space, the presentation rooms are close to the main area, and the fly tying area is huge. That's where I usually spend most of my time, and this year is no exception. I did some demonstration tying today from 1-7pm, I will be there tomorrow from 9am-6pm, and I will also be there on Sunday afternoon as well. I have a feeling I am going to get a lot of flies tied...

Today I tied up a bunch of rubber-leg Stimulators and a couple of Madame X's. there was a good crowd for a Friday, but there were also a couple of lulls, so I had a chance to walk around and look at booths, as well. I also had a chance to head outside to get some food at a food truck called Potter's Pasties and Pies. I got my very first pastie, which is not as titillating as the name might suggest. It's essentially a gourmet Hot Pocket, with meat, veggies, potatoes, and gravy inside of it. It was very good! And big! If you are heading down to the Expo over the next couple of days and find yourself hankering for some food, I would recommend you try one.

Let's take a look at day one of the 2018 Great Water Fly Fishing Expo, as seen through my phone!

My fly tying table at the Expo
Rubber Leg Stimulator
What was left of my pastie when I realized I should take a picture of it...
A T-shirt that was for sale at one of the booths. I want one...

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Joy of Fly Tying: Peacock and Brown

The Peacock & Brown is the third fly my students learn to tie in my Joy of Fly Tying classes. It's a pretty straightforward wet fly that is very effective on brook trout. With the Peacock & Brown, students pick up where they left off on the two previous flies, the Rubber Leg Spider and the Wooly Bugger, and learn a couple of new skills. Specifically they learn how to handle peacock herl and how to tie in and wrap a collar hackle. They do all this on a much smaller hook than anything they have tied on before, a size 12 wet fly hook.

Peacock & Brown

Let's see how it's tied, shall we...

Peacock & Brown Pattern Recipe
Hook: Any standard nymph or wet fly hook, size 12-16
Thread: Black 8/0
Tail: Red floss, one or two strands
Body: 3-5 peacock herls
Hackle: Brown hen hackle, sized to match the hook

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Film Fest!

You probably have already heard of the Fly Fishing Film Fest. If you haven't, it's a fun event where a plethora of short fly fishing-themed films are shown back to back, and fly fishing enthusiasts get together to watch, critique, and tell each other their fishing-related tall tales. At least that's what has happened at all the Film Fests I have been to. They are all great fun!

I was lucky enough to be asked to do some demonstration tying at the Film Fest that occurred last night in River Falls, Wisconsin. I and three other guys tied flies and chit-chatted with patrons for the 2 hours before the films started. I like to tie flies, but my favorite part of events like this is seeing old friends I haven't seen in a while and getting caught up on their lives and their fishing escapades. And I saw plenty of old friends, so the time went quickly.
Three Stimulators
I did get a few flies tied, as well. I tied Stimulators, since they are fairly large and people could see what I was doing fairly easily. It always takes me some time to figure out what to tie at events like this because my specialties are small dry flies, but small dry flies aren't very visible for people unless they are standing right behind me or sitting on my lap, and generally speaking, things like that are frowned upon by event organizers.

I didn't get to see all the films since I was off doing other things, but the ones I saw were very good. I especially enjoyed a film that I believe was titled "Confluentas", but don't quote me on that. It was about small river fishing for Bull Trout somewhere in North America. The story was good, and the video of huge Bull Trout being caught in a tiny creek was jaw-dropping.

All in all, it was a great night. Over 500 of my fellow fly fishers enjoyed great films, fantastic food, and exciting fellowship centered around our finny friends. If you have a chance to attend a Fly Fishing Film Fest in your area, I would suggest you do.
A box of flies I donated to the bucket raffle.

Look at all the tickets of people who wanted to win my flies! Woot!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Joy of Fly Tying: Wooly Bugger

The next fly we are going to learn in my Joy of Fly Tying series is the Wooly Bugger. The Wooly Bugger is one of the most delicious looking flies you can fish with, at least according to the fish. Of all the species of fish I have caught in my life, most of the biggest of each species was caught on a Wooly Bugger. There's just something about the buggy-looking saddle hackle and the titillatingly wavy marabou tail that has the ability to drive fish crazy. This is one of the most important flies to carry in your arsenal.

You can tie Wooly Buggers in any color scheme you can think of. For trout I like to carry them in brown, olive, black, silver, yellow, and one of my favorites is a variegated brown and tan and olive Bugger that I have called the Mushroom & Swiss Bugger. Panfish love yellow and chartreuse, amongst other colors. Bass like big Buggers in silver and chartreuse. My largest smallmouth bass was caught on a rusty colored Wooly Bugger which the big ol' bass may or may not have mistaken for a crayfish. I didn't think to ask him... I have often heard that all white Wooly Buggers can be very effective for an assortment of species, but I have never caught anything on one. You could even tie big Wooly Buggers in red and white or red and yellow color combinations for pike. There are no limits when it comes to Wooly Buggers, and I am pretty sure any color combo will catch something at some point in time.
Mushroom & Swiss Bugger

I put beads on 100% of the Wooly Buggers I tie for myself, but I don't have my students use beads until later on in class. So the Wooly Bugger in the video will be beadless. In the first fly of the class we tied a Rubber Legged Spider, which is a pretty basic fly that allows students to learn how to tie materials on the hook, how to start the thread, and how to tie off the thread. The Wooly Bugger adds to those skills with the ability to measure tails, wrap lead wire, wrap body materials and ribbing, and how to size and wrap hackle. That's a lot of new skills! Let's watch how to tie one!

Wooly Bugger Pattern Recipe
Hook: Any 2X or 3X long streamer hook. The Tiemco 5263 is a good choice
Thread: 6/0, color to match the body
Weight: 8-12 wraps of lead wire
Tail: Marabou of any color you choose
Rib: Fine wire
Body: Medium chenille, any color you choose
Hackle: Saddle hackle sized for the hook

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Rods From the Past...

As I have mentioned before, I love to acquire new fly rods. After all, fly rods are the most awesome tool ever created by man, and they are all different, so I might as well try them all out, right? Actually, I have no intention of trying them all out, since I know some of them will not be to my liking. But I am more than happy to try out any and all fiberglass rods I can get my grubby mitts on, whether vintage or new. And older, softer graphite rods are always fun to try, too.

So, over the years I have owned a bunch of rods, most of which turned out to not be the best fit for my casting stroke. So, those rods got moved on to a new owner, while I have kept the ones I like. I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the rods from the past, and talk about what I liked and didn't like about them. Here are some of my Rods From the Past...

First up is my first Shakespeare Wonderod model 910UL, a 7' 5 weight. If you don't know much about Wonderods, they were some of the first fiberglass rods made. Wonderods burst onto the scene in 1947, and were manufactured up until the early 80s. A majority of them were white in color, although you can sometimes find green, black, and other colors of Wonderods. I had heard a lot about the casting prowess of the shorter Wonderods, so when I had a chance to get this 7-footer, I snapped it up. It really was a fun little rod, but for some reason that I can't seem to recall at the moment, I decided to move this one on. I'm sure it was a good reason...

I had always wanted a Heddon fly rod. I think probably because my dad had a rod tube made by Heddon, and he seemed to think they were a well-made rod, even though he himself didn't own one. Over the past few years I have owned several Heddons, but there was always something I didn't like about them. Mostly it was that they were too heavy for my liking. I did like this Heddon Mark #8251, which was supposed to have a "Wet Fly Action", whatever that means. It's the only Heddon I have owned that didn't have a metal ferrule, which probably helped keep the weight down. Over time, though, I realized it was too slow and whippy for me, so I sold it.

Next up is my old Orvis Silver Label graphite 7'6" 3weight. This is one of the few rods I have owned that I bought new. I had it for a long time, and caught a lot of trout on it. But there came a point in my life that I stopped using 3 weights. I just really liked the greater flexibility that a 5 or 6 weight gave me. I liked having the ability to throw bigger nymphs if need be, so I decided that I would never have a need for a 3 weight again, and I sold it. It didn't take me too long to realize that a 3 weight can be a lot of fun sometimes, so now I am back to owning a couple of them, neither of which have the soul that my old Orvis had...

My second Shakespeare Wonderod Model 910UL came shortly after I sold the first one. I got a great deal on one that turned out to be brand new, still with the tags on it. Never been cast! I couldn't believe my fortune! But I also couldn't get myself to take it out on the water. It was over 50 years old and had never been fished! I could hold onto it for another 50 years and sell it to the Smithsonian...or I could move it on to someone who would appreciate it more than me. After all, I'm a fisherman, not a rod collector. I did move it on, and I haven't regretted it once. But I did get myself another 910UL a couple of months ago...

My last rod that I will talk about today is an old Winston 8'6" 5weight fiberglass rod I acquired a couple of years ago. I was super pumped to own my first Winston rod. Winstons are the Rolls Royces of fly rods, and I had been used to casting Geo Prisms. But there was something weird about this Winston. I never could figure it out, but it just didn't feel right. All my buddies who tried it out felt the same way. I guess even Rolls Royce makes a few lemons every once in a while...

Well, I hope you enjoyed this virtual walk down memory lane. There are a bunch of other rods from the past that I might write about some day. I will dig through my old photos some time and see what I can find.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Joy of Fly Tying: Rubber Leg Spider

I teach a lot of Beginning Fly Tying classes through various Community Education departments in my area. For some reason, when I first started to offer these classes, I called them The Joy of Fly Tying. I don't know if all of my students have actually found fly tying to be joy-filled, but I do try to make it fun, and I have never had a student stand up during class, throw their bobbin at me, and storm out, so that's a good sign.

In my classes, which typically last for three weeks, I teach my students how to tie 9 different flies. We start with the easiest, and then work our way up to the more difficult, adding new techniques along the way. It can be a lot of info for a new fly tyer to digest, so I thought I should post some video tutorials of all the flies we tie in class, so my students, or anybody, can watch and relearn anything they might have forgotten.
A gaggle of rubber legged spiders. Eeek.

So, here we are at the first of 9 videos in my Joy of Fly Tying series. The first fly is a rubber-legged spider, which I think is one of the easiest flies to learn, and a good jumping off point into the world of fly tying. Whether you are one of my past students, or just happened upon this post by chance, I hope you enjoy the video...

Rubber Legged Spider Pattern Recipe

Hook: Mustad 33903 size 10
Thread: 6/0 in whatever color you like
Body: Foam spider shaped body in whatever color you like
Legs: 2 sets of rubber legs on each side of body.