Saturday, October 30, 2010


   I had a nice, long, funny post typed up, and was almost ready to put it up, and some glitch occurred of a sort that is reputed not to happen to Mac users. I always was the odd duck out.

   So I am sorry for all three of you who read this, but this post is going to suck, due to my basic lack of motivation to try and type up a new one. 

  My waders are "in hospital" as the Brits say, and I just do not feel like bothering the trout in Bear Creek again so soon. (Familiarity breeds contempt.) So I tied some bugs and voted. The former activity will no doubt prove to be of greater utility to the world than the latter. 

I submit the following for your approval.

Not bad for three sittings.

No. 20 TMC 2488 flash back PT.  
 I must admit this came out well.

No. 22 Daiichi 1110 PT'ish lil' nymph.
I would eat it, wouldn't you?

"Waylon, no ordinary dude" 

I was driving through Littlefield,TX on the return trip from seeing my grandparents this summer. I was listening to "Honkytonk Heros" from the album "WANTED: The Outlaws" and I looked up and saw this mural. It literally sent a chill down my spine. Turns out the gas station/liquor store it was painted on, a joint called "Waymore's" is owned by Waylon's brother. In the back of my head I did happen to know Waylon was from Littlefield, but it just took me by complete surprise. So I got to buy a bottle of Beam from Waylon's brother, and he took my picture with the mural. If that is not cool, I don't know what is.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

A couple of firsts

   Hey there all y'all out there in cyber-fly-fishing-blog-land, just thought I would share what I have done with the last several hours... I tied five dozen flies, which I think is a record for me, and cooked up a new midge pupae that looks to me like a real winner in the process! Yippie!

   I am big on weird things, done oddly, for the sake of strangeness. For example, I like to put ice in my cereal... no, just kidding. But Rainy Riding actually does do that, or so I have been told. I am just so pleased someone is doing that, and also that I didn't have to come up with it myself.

   A weird thing that I don't do anymore is drink soda. That fact, in and of itself is weird to some, but consider this: a single package of sugar, like the pack you would tear open and pour into iced-tea, is one gram. The label on a bottle of Coke (®, ©, ™) says 47g sugar... this means that if you drink this 12oz. bottle, it would be like drinking iced tea with forty seven packs of sugar. Now, I am from Texas, and we like to drink our tea plenty sweet down there, but I think if you did this one in a Lubby's, you might be asked to leave.

   Things are sure getting weird in the American political landscape, and I am sure those on both sides of the isle would agree with that assessment...

   Hunter S. Thompson said it best, "...when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro..."

   Oh, yeah, fishing... this pattern is a touch weird.

   So anyway, here is my pupae, no name yet, never fished it, it might suck... But I doubt it!

TMC 2488H #22, flex floss, Loon UV goop, markers.
absolutely, positively no thread whatsoever. Ha!
Take that John Barr.

You pro's out there might snicker, but five dozen is a 
LOT for me to crank out in a day. I want to do a crazy
crowded, over packed flat foam box like Dorsey's... it 
will take some time. One dozen #20 olive flashback B3's,
one dozen #22 "new midge pupae", one dozen # 22 brown 
thread B3's, one dozen #24 unnamed midges with a pearl 
flashabou abdomen over black thread and an organza wing, 
and one dozen same midge with a black flashabou abdomen.

This one is for Shaun Downey, apparently he got quite
a chuckle watching me chase this fish up and down the river.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

B3 nymph tutorial


   Here is the recipe for my B3, or "Basic Baetis Bug."

   It was the "Biot Baetis Bug" until I started doing a few with a thread body, and I realized that "Basic" worked for the first "B" as well as biot did.

   I know that this thing looks like a lot of other bugs, but it is just such a simple thing to tie that it is going to resemble some other patterns.

TMC 2488 #20, 
Coq De Leon,
Goose Biot,
Mirror Tinsel,
TMC 16/0 thread.

start the thread at the midpoint of the hook, 
and tie in the Coq De Leon in a sparse bundle...

tie in the moistened biot with the notch facing up to
facilitate a smooth body. build a slight thread taper.

wind up the biot like so. build a thread thorax...

tie in the Mirror Tinsel

tie in a sparse clump of Antron, 8 - 10 strands. I tie it 
in with a short section extending over the eye of the hook,
and a longer section extending over the bend. this way
when you divide and pull forward the fibers, you can 
grasp the short section first, lash it down, then grab
the longer section and tie it down. you get exactly the 
same numbers of legs on both sides this way, every time.

note the un-equel length of the Antron fibers...

pull forward tinsel over thorax... 
whip finish, (be nicer to the thread than I was here)
clip the tinsel, pull the Antron back to the rear and trim
even with the barb.


Fish eat this thing's ass in the canyon.

these are twin Sitka fawns, about a foot at the 
shoulder, on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

this is a punk rock clown, rendering first
 aid to a bleeding man on stage in a diaper.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Just another victim

   There are those among us that are 100% dedicated to the idea of catching fish with maximum efficiency.

   These folks utilize the methods and tactics that are best suited to generate photo-ops and elevate their status as heros among men. Having become familiar with a range of tactics myself, I will freely admit that if you want to "git 'r' dun" (sorry about that) some methods are more productive than others.

   I have observed with regularity anglers utilizing spin fishing tactics gloat over the fish they catch when they do so in the presence of a number of fly anglers. It just does not make a lot of sense to me that they would do so, as spin fishing is so goddamn easy compared to fly fishing that it is almost laughable. If there is a better way got get trout stink on your hands than tossing a black marabou crappie jig on four pound test I for one have yet to find it, and this includes the time tested technique of free drifting crawlers.

   I am willing to bet that these guys would get a real crack out of a canned bison hunt.

   Hey, I don't care how a person gets their jollys, but let's have some perspective here! I like to fly fish because it is not a mechanical method for dredging out volumes of fish. You do at times lay down the law, but this tends to be an exceptional circumstance. I hate to say it, but this is why you will not find any wooly buggers on my person. Just too damn easy.

   When I first began to fly fish a few years ago, my first instinct was to go where the fishing was tough. I asked many people where that was, and the answer I got again and again was Cheesman Canyon. I got the feeling that if I could get a few fish in that place, it would be cake to do so elsewhere. Therefore it was where I went. I fished "the" canyon as much as possible, not because it was easy, but because it would force me to learn some things.

   One of the greatest strengths an angler can have is an open, inquisitive mind. The willingness to zig when others zag will put you in the position of being one of few anglers utilizing a method. It may not always guarantee success, but at least you won't get stuck in a rut.

Mike DeMarco with a chromer.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Evolution of an angler?

   I have been thinking about a particular question for a few hours. Namely, is there a place at which an angler will arrive at in the fullness of time? In other words, is there an "end", a "game over", besides death?

   If we assume that such a place exists, it it even desirable to attain it?

   Anthropological perspectives have shifted throughout the years from believing that one culture represented the pinnacle of evolution (western, anglo) to the idea that to understand another culture, we must evaluate that culture in it's own context. We may be informed by our own cultural experiences, but we must not allow ourselves to compare aspects of foreign cultures directly in an evaluative manner.  In this worldview it is not the case that one cultural model is superior, and another inferior. Cultural anthropologists call this relativism.

   What does this have to do with fishing?

   Perhaps more than meets the eye. If we assume that what is right for us is right for everyone, (or that what is right for us now will continue to be right for us for the duration of our lifespan) we are in for a  shocker.

   It is my understanding that in certain weather conditions, it is possible to catch bluewater fish like sails and dorado from the beach in Baja. In contemplation of this fact, I have sometimes made the statement that if I were lucky enough to land a sailfish, on a fly, from the beach, I would quit fishing and do something else with my life. But of course that is not true.

   There is no path walked by more than one, and it is to our benefit that this should be so. Even an earnest attempt to duplicate another's experiences, accomplishments, and understandings will be met with the most essential of failure. But this is not something that is to be lamented, it is instead to be celebrated!

   My choice as an angler is to be willing to go where the spirit moves me. I have no pre-concieved ideas concerning what my eventual destination will be. I do in fact question on a routine basis what it is that compels me on a visceral basis to go out an harass fish over and over and over and over and over and over and over... and I never come close to an answer. It just seems to ridiculous to contemplate. And yet... so is life!

   My opinion is that there is NO reason to fish that can be put into words that another human could understand. You either get it or you don't. As Sir Edmund Hillary said, we do it "because it is there." Being engaged in a pursuit both trivial and profound, we can no more justify our obsession than we can describe infinity. So to assume that there is a universal, sequential order to an angler's development, something that indicates our progress, is as useless as saying painting is art but photography is not.

   That is not to say that there is no way to gauge our relationship to the game. We may improve our skills. We may observe the development of abilities, and note that priorities have changed. But these things are as personal as they are subjective. In a material sense, I may improve my casting ability by an order of magnitude, but I will never cast as well as Joan Wulff. I may one day decide that the only way to fish is with traditional Catskill dries...

   But then again, I might quit fly fishing all together and just soak worms...



Friday, October 15, 2010

3 WT's & #30's

   Today has been a long day... jury duty followed by an hour and twenty minutes of sitting in the lobby of a tire shop just to have my tires rotated. In for a penny, in for a pound. It is what I get for putting it off.

   When I got home I decided to get the heck out of Dodge. Well, at least Denver. I grabbed my three weight and headed for the nearby hills. I was going to partake of a bit of a lark I have been indulging lately. Fishing very small flies. VERY small flies... 

   Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Tiemco model 2488, and may be aware that it comes in sizes to thirty. Due to the unique geometry of the hook, it is possible to have a (moderately) fishable fly in that size. The fish love it, but it is a bit of a chore to keep them buttoned. One must exercise restraint with the hookset, and playing the fish is a very delicate procedure. It is great fun! 

   Most of the fish are not landed. You get a jump or two, and that is really all you need from a little fish anyway. I would not fish these things over anything better than 18 to 20 inches... it would not be fair to the fish, due to the excessive time involved in landing trout that size on whispy tippets and micro hooks. 

   But there is something satisfying about catching trout on those dumb little things. I cant quite put my finger on it, but it just makes the game somehow... different. You should try it. 

   I will also put in a plug for my buddy Carl Pennington here. He won't shut up about his CP Biot Emerger. I'm like most of you in that I would prefer to fish my own patterns, but guys like John Barr and Rim Chung make that a tough one. So does Carl! I finally tied up some of those emergers of his, and the trout would not quit munching the the damn thing. I went up to Evergreen and fished the Bear Creek for two or three hours, and boy did I whack 'em. The CP Emerger is a wonderful fly, and I will be stocking up. I have a feeling that it will compliment my B3 (Basic Baetis Bug) very well when fished as a tandem. Hats off to Carl.

   Of course,fishing Bear Creek, I got nothing large, but I guess it is relative. My three weight is a lovely seven foot two piece built by L.A. Garcia on a St. Croix avid blank featuring oversize single foot guides and an ultra-light reel seat with a jam ring instead of threads. It is a real peach, the lucky few who have an example of L.A.'s work in their arsenal know what I mean! Any fish on this stick feels solid.

                                                All fish pictured landed on 30's. Rainbows were well fed. 



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flies and Lies

   No, Not the shop. The great Jeremy Hyatt, whitewater kayak guru and trout guide par excellence works at the shop in scenic and historic Deckers, Colorado. Nice place to grab emergency bugs or tippet and shoot the breeze, but not the topic of this post.

   Todays topic has more to do with a dirty little secret. I hate to be the one to tell you this, but, well, there is just no nice way to say it... fisherman lie about their catches. I know, I know, shocking. But take it from me, it does happen.

   There are several ways to process this information. One is that the offending persons are simply not able to accurately estimate lengths and girths. This notion is not completely divorced from the reality that the great majority of anglers (of all types, not just fly fisherman) are male, and males are so often known to extend the length and girth of... objects by as much as 25 to 50%. Thus an object having a length of five inches and a girth of one and one half inches becomes seven to ten inches in length and two to three inches in diameter. The determined overestimation of the size of objects by male persons is at this point a well documented phenomenon. It would seem that this trend "extends" to other areas of interest. Shame is not a limiting factor in the equation. It does in fact appear to exacerbate the problem.

  Another more benign, if slightly fantastic possibility is that spatial relationships and physical reality are  being influenced by the mind of the observer, are in fact altered by the act of observation, and are perhaps even non-linear in scope! Therefore, not only do we all live in a separate, discreet reality, our very process of cognition alters this subjective reality in a way that is both personal AND fluid! Compounding length and weight estimates would thus be forgiven, as there could be no established criterion upon which to make a valid and useful measurement. Several powerful intellects at Cambridge, CalState and MIT are working on this quandary even as I type.

   No matter what the reason for the in-accuracy, there is a simple, reliable way to put the matter to rest. CARRY A SCALE AND TAPE MEASURE!!! Don't estimate; measure. The fact that the measurement equipment has no ego to bolster or in fact any opinion whatsoever concerning anything is immensely useful in obtaining accurate results!

   I do not want to ever have to be subjected to the indignity of a story concerning a ten pound Colorado largemouth again as long as I shall live because some jackass cant be bothered to carry a scale. I have never caught a double digit bass in this state, despite catching dozens of bass in the high single weight class, topping out at eight pounds. Yes, there have been two largemouth weighed in the state's history that bested the magic ten pound mark, but it's like this... you did not catch them, buddy. Your fish weighs (or should I say weighed, 'cause fish loose a lot of weight as soon as you freeze them) at best six pounds, and probably a lot less. If you saw a ten pound bass, you would faint dead away, I promise.

   This rant was precipitated by a post on a local fishing forum that need not be named. A fellow posted a picture of a large brown trout and indicated it was thirty inches in length. Let me be the first to say it is hard to get a feel for the true size of a fish by looking at a picture, but I was not "feeling" 30" for this one. At any rate, my feelings are not relevant, as the gentleman then confessed he did not measure the fish! Why then list  figure for it's length? Is it not enough to state simply "I done got me a big 'un!" and leave it at that?

   As I have stated prior, I am always thinking of the health an safety of our quarry. There are those that observe, rightly, that the act of weighing a fish stresses it. Well, to those who make that argument, let me humbly submit this fact: so does hooking and fighting it. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that our game involves giving hell to an innocent critter that is by and large overmatched by us. It is what it is. But there are ways to prevent or at least lessen the harm inflicted.

   I have a high quality spring scale made by Chatillion that has a micro-adjustment enabling the user to calibrate the scale to exclude the weight of the net. I simply "zero" the scale with the net attached, and any object placed in it after the fact is weighed accurately and quickly. As for length and girth, I carry a seamstress' tape, a small tape used by tailors and nurses and easily stowed in any small pocket or vest compartment. I almost never use it, preferring to weigh fish than tape them, but I carry it so that if I catch something truly huge and am interested in a fiberglass reproduction mount, something I have yet to indulge myself, I can get accurate measurements of length and girth to provide the taxidermist. Along with clear color photos, length and girth are all that is needed for a stunning Catch and release trophy.

ten pounds?

ten pounds.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Color

Got this buck brown on a 5mm Tangerine Trout Bead.
Close up
This fish ate a Faerie Circus, one of the sample ties I got from Rainy's at the Fly Tackle Retailer Show.
As above. Faerie Circus. Fishing in absolute darkness. What a hoot. 

Over all, the day was productive, if sometimes frustrating. There were quite a few people on the Dream Stream, and many have NO IDEA how to behave when in the presence of other anglers. I had one particularly annoying experience with a couple net draggers in cowboy hats. They walked up on top of a bluff opposite a VERY large (could eat any of the fish in the pictures above) buck brown I was working.  The long shadow they cast sent my fish dashing for cover... they then high-holed me. Wow. OK, I guess they must be new at this. When they started casting, and were worse than me, I had my suspicion confirmed. Poor bastards. The next guy up was having none of it, and gave them double barrels of rock salt when they climbed up his @$$. I gave the stalwart angler a hearty thumbs up for that one. I think we were on the same page with those guys.

I caught fish here and there, mostly by accident. The flows bumped mid day by 16 CFS and filled the water column with dead grass and tumbleweeds. Also gave it a nice Lipton look... between the crowds gathered at all "fishy" locations like a raiding party of Somali pirates, and the iffy water, it is a minor miracle I got anything at all. But I just chugged along, looking more than fishing, and if by chance i spied a fish, I would set up camp for a while. 

I caught a short, very thick rainbow missing half it's face. Blind in one eye, lips destroyed. Looked like the work of a gear head to me, why cant they figure out how to treat a fish? Barbs and treble hooks should be illegal on C&R waters, period. That is not the philosophy of a snob, it is the philosophy of a hardcore angler that likes to be able to take pictures of nice, healthy fish. 

The fish are in, and nasty weather would help the cause a ton. All this high sun indian summer crap has got the fish skittish and the crowds out in force.

But hey, beats a swift kick in the teeth.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

blog v1.0

   Greetings citizens.

   I am pleased to present the first in what I hope will be a long line of insightful, inspiring, and illuminating accounts of life as an itinerant fishing and tying junkie. The use of the term "junkie" in this case is deliberate, and is in no way intended as a commentary on the habits of individuals afflicted with opioid addiction... I have nothing to add on that score that is in any sense useful or relevant. Bill Burroughs would likely have had nothing to say of any great utility concerning the black arts of fish deception.

   If it is not yet crystal clear, please allow me to explain a few things about me. I am a smart ass. Sorry. Also, I have a keenly developed, arcane, and perverse sense of humor. Again, I apologize, I know that humor and trout fishing have long been at odds... at least we ain't talking Atlantic Salmon. I would hate to be shot.

   Please allow me to say a few things that will hopefully establish me as a credible source of angling information. I have fished in tropical, temperate, and arctic marine and freshwater environments, with conventional, spinning, and fly tackle. I am somewhat knowledgeable concerning the use of bait, and have no compunction about pinning garden hackle to a hook if the situation demands. Fish hate getting hooked, and they do not care if the hook is concealed within a doughball or a size 20 Adams fished on fine gut tethered to a silk line on a vintage split cane sissy stick... they hate it. 100% cant stand it. So the idea of getting worked up over how anyone chooses to hook a fish is not something I will get sucked in to.

   That is not to say I am not conservation minded. Treble hooks and trout don't mix. Nor for that matter do trout and barbs. So I do get bent when I see a net dragger hucking #11 Rapalas with three gang hooks at any trout, in particular on waters that have catch and release restrictions. And I seldom fish anywhere that does not carry such restrictions.

   I dont kill many fish, but it is not written in stone that I will not keep a few here and there. I like to eat fish, and so do you.

   I have a strong bass and warmwater background. However, the last five years have seen me fishing the majority of the time with sissy wands, AKA fly gear. I also have, regrettably, begun to tie flies, something I will no doubt bang on about at great length. Rainy's has even been convinced to produce one of my patterns commercially, a trend I am not ashamed to say I hope continues.

   I am a horrible caster, and possess all the natural athletic grace of the lobster. Thus, I tend to do a lot of high stick nymphing. My eyes are very bad, so sight fishing would at first not appear to be a strength. But odd as it is, my brain is good at it. So sight fishing to visible trout, using short line tactics, with small flies, is my game of choice at the moment.

   I have always had a soft spot for big fish... who don't? So I hope it is not an issue, but I am going to talk about it.

   I am a creative person by nature, and am always tinkering with fly designs, lure designs, rigs, blah blah blah. Some of this will weasel it's way in.

   I might even draw a picture or two.

   Cheers, Shaun