The Rats Nest

Friday, March 22, 2013

Help Some Worthy People Out, Make A Donation

When Brian Carson from Clear Cure Goo hit me up on Facebook about a really awesome opportunity to help out some people whom I think a majority of us take for granted, I was all ears.  I am packing up a care package of all kinds of stuff as I write this to help with the cause.  I know most of you out there probably have some materials to spare, and think about where these are going folks.  Read on....
( photo of FOB Apache courtesy of Tim Wimborne/Reuters )

Clear Cure Goo has been approached to help some soldiers that are stationed at Forward Operating Base Apache to get them some tying supplies. They are in need of everything- Hooks, thread, materials anything and everything else you can think of.
They have a group that gets together at tie to blow off steam.
If you wish to donate anything we will be shipping off our box on Friday the 29th-
Please send donations to:
Clear Cure Goo
PO Box 92661
Southlake Tx 76092

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Flyfishing Film Tour Coming To Connecticut

You read it right, the film tour is coming to Connecticut.  Pretty cool to say the least, I plan on attending as I didn't get a chance to see this in it's entirety this show season.  For more on the particulars check here:

FF Film Tour

Location: La Salle's Market 104 Main St., Collinsville, CT
(La Salle's kitchen and bar will be open!)
When: Thurday April 11th
Doors open at: 6:30pm
Show Starts at: 7:00pm
Tickets: $20.00

The Fly Fishing Film Tour is brought to Central Connecticut by and  All proceeds from this event will benefit Rivers Alliance of CT, a small and efficient organization leading the charge to stop water diversion from the Farmington River to UConn.  

More on the  Film tour here:  2013 Flyfishing Film Tour 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crunch Time

After last weeks thumb incident, a week from hell at the day job, a full schedule of kids appointments and other nonsense, I guess you could say it's been a little bit of overload here.  I have been spinning the tails for the remainder 15 dozen articulated flies I have to finish in a rather large order as evidenced by the picture below.  Really sucked yesterday when I realized that I was down to about a foot of olive cactus chenille and would have to wait to finish off the olive/black tails that make up the remaining 3 dozen.   Sometimes you lose track of your inventory when your being pulled in a 100 directions.
Tails, Tails Tails....

I have gotten several requests for several variations in the shade of black for my headbanger sculpin.  I myself understand the request wholeheartedly, but being a bit of a perfectionist, not having a matching colored skull was preventing me from making this fly available.  Well folks, I caved in, here is a much requested black and red version I spun up using the dark brown skull, and to be honest, I am pretty happy with the end result.  The one in the picture was actually fished too.
One Of The Many Shades Of Black Now Available In The Store

So, as I always do, flies I spin get water time to make the grade.  This pattern already makes the grade, but as we all know, I always field test flies just to be certain that they will  be as effective as I perceive they will.  Yesterday was my only option as the rest of my week is pretty well shot to say the least. 

Morning temperatures in the low teens were a rather discomforting reminder that winter is still here unfortunately.  Ice on the guides was a reality for the short 3 hour jaunt that I made to the river, and the ensuing snowstorm that left us with another 5 inches of the white stuff this morning also forced me to shorten my trip (actually the flies on the agenda helped make that decision too). 

I guess you could say the black and red Headbanger was well received as evidenced by this guy below.  The take on this one was extra special in my book.  In short, I watched this fish chase down my fly, magically appearing out of thin air (or water) from behind a submerged boulder.  As I pulled my fly out of the water I watched him veer back to his rock.  A quick short cast across and above his position I let the streamer dead drift and BAM!, she smoked it.  Fun Fun, man do I love this stuff.  The new Headbanger Sculpin and Groupie Patterns are now available in the Store.
Butter On The Brain

After a great show from a very large fish, I moved on to fling some new stuff I've been working on. One of which I have put some sneak peeks up on the facebook page about.  I can tell you, when the fish get cranking in another month or so, this particular fly is not going to disappoint.  I will warn you though, your 6 weight will not handle it.......
Nice Specimen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sometimes Things Just Don't Go As Planned

My new boat finally showed up in the Northeast late last week, and I managed to pick her up on Friday.   Did I mention she had a foot of snow in her?  (Should've looked at this as the first sign).
Parked In Her New Home

The good weather came over the weekend, so I pulled her out, hosed her off and removed all the snow.  Kinda looks like a real boat now eh?
Some Decals To Start

Well the plan was to get out and fish this week, and although the weather looked good for Monday, Monday wasn't to be for me.  I just had too many obligations and no help. (Should've realized this was sign #2).

Tuesday was the day, but the weather wasn't looking very good, 1-2 inches of rain.  Rain really doesn't bother me much, I do realize that during this time of the year it can be problematic, but I never let conditions (within reason) deter me from fishing, and I have learned over the years to adapt on the water.  For the most part it has paid off and I can honestly say that through adversity I have evolved as a fisherman, just wish some of my buddies would follow suit.

So the plan was to take out the new boat today, no pressure, no worries, just get out on the water and man the sticks and maybe move some fish on big stuff, something I really enjoy.  I cooked up a nice pot of Hot Italian Venison Sausage, courtesy of my very generous neighbor who hunts,  sauteed some onions and peppers and dumped them in a healthy serving of my wife's homemade sauce.  Hearty food for a wet day; add some freshly baked Portuguese rolls and some mozzarella and now your talking.

Last night rolls around and the companions voice their concerns about the amount of rain and wind being channeled by the weatherman.   Look, I get it, wind this time of year is a bitch, habitually blowing up river making the guy on the sticks work twice as hard to stay on track.  Couple that with  gusts in excess of 25mph can make for very miserable conditions.  After some back and forth banter via text message, it was evident that only one person was going fishing today;  me.   (should've recognized the pattern by now).

Bagging my initial plans, I stayed local and made the quick 12 minute drive to my local tail water, a rather good one too I might add, and decided to make a go of it.  After hearing a mix of reports from various people over the weekend I had a good idea of what kind of water to target to strike gold.

The high note of the day came on the first cast, literally, a big buttery brown over 20", but under 24" crushed my streamer and the fight was on.  Feeling like this was going to be a magical day, a smile graced my face.  Then it happened, "PING", unbuttoned.  Hmm?  WTF?  Oh well, it happens, fish on.  Hero to zero.

I work the run a bit longer and hook up to another nice fish about 10 minutes later, not as nice but still in the 20" range.  Same thing, "PING", unbuttoned again.  Now I'm pissed.   I pull my fly in and check the hook only to find the front hook point to be flattened out like a pancake.  (Seeing a pattern here?)

I clip the fly off and tie on a new one and quickly get back to business.  I end up finally netting some fish, nice one' albeit, but not what I am after.  Now don't take this the wrong way, I've got nothing against an 18 inch brown, it is still fun to catch and I love em all like children, but when I throw meat religiously, the guys in that mid to upper 20 range are more what I'm hoping for.
And On A New Stick Too

After a cool half dozen similar sized fish were to hand, I packed it in and headed for a stretch of water that has been really good to me over the years, and has the propensity to cough up a fish in that magical range.

I started from the bottom and started working my way to the top.  Things were going great till I hooked a small branch on a rather large poplar tree.  As I waded over and realized that the fly wasn't to come out very easily, I reached for the branch to pull her out (big mistake and the icing on the cake).  As I pulled the branch down it snapped and I felt an instant burning sensation in my thumb.  I only guessed what happened.  A distinct and very strong sense of rage and embarassment filled my head and I could actually hear my heart pounding in my melon.   Well you guessed it, the #2 SP11 on the rear section of my streamer was now buried halfway up the bend into the meat of my left thumb, oh and this one had a barb.  I snipped the front half of the fly off off and contemplated my options.

Realizing that my situation just got really shitty, I tried to take her out myself, but once I realized that it wasn't to be, I packed my stuff and went to the Urgent Care Clinic in hopes of saving my day.  Nothing like leaving slowly rising water and what could be really stellar streamer conditions to fix a problem like this.  I mean really, don't think for a second I didn't contemplate sticking it out with this half fly stuck  in my thumb.  Only problem is we're talking about my stripping hand here so all bets were off.

I managed to get right in and out at the clinic, and thankfully suffered no other injury.  A little gauze, and a healthy batch of antibiotics later and I made my way back to where I left off, but at this point it was raining cats and dogs and my stomach was growling.  Time for lunch!
Post Op

I broke out the stove and put the venison sausage in the pot for round  1.  Within minutes I was choking down a very nice meal, and I noticed that I also had the river to myself, bonus.  Well so I thought.

After my gluttony I gave it my best, but my best wasn't good enough as the conditions got progressively worse, and the fish tight lipped.  Sometimes you gotta quit while you're ahead I guess.  I ended up pushing off for the day and went home.

Although I had some minor slip ups today, I still had a good day despite some adversity.  If you've been wondering why the blog has been pretty quiet lately, let the following pictures paint the picture why.  I have been a tying machine, trying to catch up on all the orders I had backed up during the show season.  I have a couple of really big ones I am still working on, so it's gonna get quiet again I'm afraid.

Customer And Happy Fly Emails

There's nothing more satisfying to a commercial fly tyer than getting some pictures of fish caught on your flies, and stories to go with it.  I have been getting an influx of these lately, and I apologize if I missed a few of yours out there, I've been in robot mode on the vise now that the show season is over.  Here are a couple of recent shots and stories to wet your whistle.

"Hey Rich,

got out for a few hours today, the DDT nymph was really effective. these were the fish of the day, used the DDT as my dropper and rotated the rock candy and shimmer stones in brown and gold for my anchor. wanted to share the photos with you.  spring is on deck!"

Hey Rich,

Here's the pics.  A couple didn't come out so clear and not all have the bug in the steelheads face.  The tan bug was from this weekend.  The 2 I hit this winter were on the the black and olive.   I've never done well on steelhead pulling bugs but for whatever reason they go nuts for that Headbanger.  I gotta say it as realistic a sculpin as there is on the market and it's movement is killer.  I've moved some giant browns on them, one of which was around an 8lb lake run.  It ate and I pulled the hook, I wanted to cry.  Was on the same day I hit the 2 steelhead...was already a great day and could have been epic."


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fishermen Unite

If you enjoy fishing in CT regardless of whether or not you're a resident, you might wanna get involved in this really important topic.  The state is looking to close the Kensington Hatchery due to budgetary reasons. 

For the sake of not repeating what is out there, I am giving you the link to my friend Kierran's blog, The Connecticut Yankee.  Kierran explained the situation very well and lays the details out there for you, so read on here:

A Call For Action

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Where To Begin?

This past weekend was for me, the last fly fishing show of my winter season.  To say that it was a really nice venue is an understatement.  Lancaster Pennsylvania has been by far one of the more enjoyable if not the most for me thus far, and I look forward to doing this show again in the near future.
Scene As I Rolled Into Town

I was fortunate enough to share a table with my good friend and fellow streamer fanatic, Mike Schmidt of Anglers Choice Flies.  To say we had a good time is putting mildly, Mike even wrote a great write up of our weekend, so for the sake of not repeating myself, check out Mikes HERE.
Mike Spinning Up One Meaty Muskie Slider

What I will say though, is Mike and I were both a bit bummed as our last couple of shows left us both with nothing to offer at the table other than what came off our vises.  We both got cleaned out at our last shows, and with orders piling up, there was just no way to replenish our stocks.  As I do more of these shows, I learn a little more and more each time, and the lesson this year has been tie for the shows throughout the year.

I also inevitably make some new friends as a result of these shows, and this show didn't disappoint.  My newest acquaintance is Scott Hunter from Vedavoo.  Scott is the owner of a great new company that specializes in 100% American made packs and accessories for fly fishing.  Scott is a great guy and his products are really cool too, check em out for yourself.   Just so happens Scott isn't too far from me, so I think a couple fishing trips are in the works to boot. 
Even Scored Me Some Goods Too!

Day one found me completing 48 mini headbanger sculpins for a couple of retail and shop orders, so tinkering wasn't on the agenda that day.  It was a very productive day to say the least, let the picture do the talking.
Dozens Of Mini Headbanger Sculpins

Day two found me playing around a bit, and I think I have the Juggernaut dialed in, and I also have the brown and yellow version of the Headbanger Sculpin ready for release now available in the fly store.
Brown And Yellow Juggernaut

Newly Added Brown And Yellow Headbanger

Part of the weekend was supposed to find me connected with my new boat, but as I type this, the new ride is still in Iowa heading east.  I am perfectly alright with that to be honest, I got another week of craziness here so it's fitting I will have to wait a bit more, besides, what's a couple more days right?

I did however manage to get out on the water for a few hours yesterday on my way home.  I met up at my buddy Mikes on Sunday after the show with hopes of hitting some water on Monday morning.  While Mike worked, I proceeded to destroy his kitchen with tying materials, getting into production mode in a foreign place.  What's a guy to do when he's a bit backed up?  It's what I call managing ones free time wisely. 
The Mess I Made At Mikes

When we woke up Monday morning after a night of some more Backeast Brewery Amber and Golden Ale, we were greeted with below freezing temperatures and winds that made it feel  closer to zero than thirty.  I also woke up with a nice bout of lower back spasms as the result of a minor slip on the ice the night prior.  I gritted it out and we made our way stream side, the first time in 2013 for both of us.  My back wouldn't have it and we ended up cutting it short after only 2 hours, but all wasn't lost as we still managed a good time out there despite less than desirable conditions.

Mike got his first taste of the Headbanger and it's bottom related effectiveness and he scored one nice fish, and lost a Toad a little later.  Although I came up empty handed, I managed a couple of bumps and a really nice follow in my limited time on the water.  It was really good to get back on the water despite being in agony with a good friend who I didn't fish with at all for the most part in 2012.  Oh, and for the record, these flies were manipulated in the water column folks, not on the swing, which made a big believer in Mike that swung streamers are NOT the only streamer game in the winter.
Nom Nom Nom

So here I am finishing off this post, a couple of new sticks in the mix (talk about those later)  and a few more orders in the pile as well.  For the next four weeks its a full on tying marathon with a couple club presentations mixed in.  I have a couple of new ideas brewing in my melon, but in order for me to get going on those, I gotta catch up a bit.  This week, the last two orders of January will be finished and in the mail by Friday for those of you still waiting.  That last sentence should paint a very vivid picture of just how much I've been tying and the ever increasing volume of orders coming in.  So, back to the vise and see you all soon, next few posts should be fly riddled photo driven posts.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Headbanger Sculpin In The News

 So my good friend Dan Harrison of Harrison Anglers sent me a great email yesterday.  Apparently he had some success yesterday with the "banger" as I like to call it these days.  Dan and his brother Tom have taken an affinity to a few of my flies, I think they found their new favorite.  Great fish Dan, let the pictures do the talking, and as I tell people, streamers will take fish in the winter, and this was not on the swing folks. 

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