The Rats Nest

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tying Tips, Partridge Excerpt

I just finished a piece on tying tips for the Partridge Blog.  I personally think there are a bunch of good tidbits in there and thought it would benefit many by sharing the link.  Bare in mind this is only 8 of the many tips that I have learned over my time at the vise.  I may even do a second or third volume at a later date.  In the meantime, grab a coffee or something warm on this bitter day and give this one a read, you won't be disappointed.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow-mageddon 2015. Post Jersey Fly Fishing Show Tidbits.

As I sit and type this, all hell in the form of snow is raining down outside and everyone has lost their minds.  The weekend grocery shopping excursion was much more action packed too, so much so it was laughable on the drive home.  The level of discourteous behavior was off the scale as a result of the mass hysteria being created by the local meteorologists and their overzealous energy that rivaled Sister Mary Catherine Gallagher after one of her furniture smashing gymnastic moves.  It just so happens I drove down to Somerset this weekend a day early to circumvent any issues with a small nor'easter coming up the coast.  As luck would have it I escaped unscathed, and for the first time in a few years I came home early rather than committing to an entire weekend of tying.  I opted for the cameo appearance at the Regal Booth for Saturday as it was all I could swing, and did some visiting on Friday, my personal life just couldn't allow me the luxury of a full weekend away.
Some Recent Goat Roadeo's Drying Before Hitting The Mail

I was a little eager this year to get down to Jersey despite my short but rather painful 6 hour plus round trip on some of the scariest roads this side of the country has to offer.  I had several things on my agenda for the short trip; meet with my book editor, grab Sharon Wright's new book, get another Mug from Jeff Currier and personalized Bugger Beast too ($$$), share a beer with all my fellow tying buddies, and last but not least, meet with Ben Scribner and Brandon Collett over at Flycraft.

Ben and Brandon reached out a short while back inquiring if I was going to the show this year as they were well aware of my interest in their craft.  Seeing this thing in person was of top priority, and I quickly made my way directly to their booth upon arrival.  Well, after the 15 minute hike that is from my truck that was practically parked in the next county.   The show was buzzing on Friday to say the least. 

To say that this craft was everything I had envisioned is an understatement.  "Bitchin" is the first word that comes to mind when you see this rig, it's a pure strike of genius in my opinion.  Being a drift boat owner for over a decade, I have always been in search of that perfect smaller craft for me and a buddy that could get into just about anywhere.  You see, up here in the northeast we have a surplus of smaller water and/or rugged places that one just can't get a drift boat into.  I have come very close to purchasing a full sized raft several times, but in the end I knew that it just wouldn't be the solution.

The ideal craft I have been looking for needed to be portable, light enough to handle by myself and not require a trailer.  I have played around with smaller pontoons and kayaks and I have hated both for a plethora of reasons.  I can safely say that my first impressions of the Flycraft  were simple, this is the craft I have been waiting for.  Friday further confirmed my suspicions.  Lets just say it's a done deal.  Aside from that, I forged a very good friendship with Ben and Brandon and will have some other great announcements in the months that follow, but that's for another day. 

For show stuff, the folks at Regal did it again, they have now after loads of pestering by the tying community including myself, introduced the stainless steel jaw for the Regal Revolution.  I actually tinkered with one on Saturday and it is everything we've asked for.  Super smooth and holds hooks solidly, I am very certain that I will add one to the arsenal of jaws very shortly.  Another smaller new addition which is actually a god send in my opinion, is the new Regal Tool Bar.  The tool bar affixes to the stem of your vise and will hold several of your most utilized tools.   Now you can keep all of those important tools right next to your vise at all times, and in an easy format to quickly use them and put them back.  I highly recommend this little gadget, it will greatly speed up your tying and also prevent you from losing those important tools in the piles of refuse that we all generate on our tying desks.

On another note, I got definitive word that my book is slated to be on the shelves for January 1, 2016 for all of you out there who've been inquiring.  We are on the doorstep of the full on editing phase, I should have a concrete book title in the weeks to come, so stay tuned for that announcement as well.  My lack of appearances this winter will be the complete opposite next year as I will be all over promoting this book.

As you can see,  things are rolling in the right direction thus far in 2015.  That being said, I gotta get back to putting together my materials for this weekends tying class, but most importantly,  securing my fortress as the snow crazies are running around en mass in my neighborhood.  I could understand their frenzy  if something of significance was actually going to happen.  It's only snow people, get a grip.......

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Goat Rodeo Streamer

As promised, I put the tying video together for the Goat Rodeo streamer that some of you have inquired about, or heard a bit about in the last year and a half.  The file is a bit longer than usual mostly because I opted to not speed any of it up, so I apologize if my voice annoys you or the video appears to drag on. 

Check The Video HERE.
Real flashy videos with techno music and crazy effects are not in my repertoire, what you see is pretty much what you get from this self taught amateur video production outfit.  I guess you could say my basement studio budget and time isn't quite up to industry standards,  but I make do with what I've got.  What my tying videos may lack in special effects, I'd like to think they make up for in content, so bare with my inadequacy and watch and listen closely as you just might learn a thing or two, or maybe you'll learn nothing, I don't know you be the judge. 

I also know some of my streamer brethren around the country who are of the mindset that the "only streamers" to fish are those that are neutrally buoyant and weightless are going to call me a sinner for this halibut jig of a fly.  Well, forgive me boys for I have sinned, my home waters ain't Michigan and us "Yankees" (boy do I hate saying that word being a former Mass-hole and lifelong Red Sox fan) often we have to think outside of different boxes around these parts to get the job done. It's all relative in the end, so if this flies use of tungsten intimidates you, simply substitute the weight with brass and have at it. 
Like I said in the video, this particular fly was designed primarily to penetrate into the depths of plunge pools and fast riffles, and so far she's done her job.   Have fun tying this one too by the way, she's been an awfully good one to me in the last year as some of these familiar pictures will tell you pretty much all you'll need to know.  Oh, and by the way, make sure you leave your 6 weight home for this one and opt for that stouter stick, well of course unless you want a pile of graphite straws to sip your chocolate milk.......

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Keep Em Wet, What Do You Think?

Circa 2012
Recently a pretty interesting campaign was launched in regards to the negative effects of air exposure on wild fish.  The "Keep Em Wet" campaign is spearheaded by the native fish society and has already begun to gain steam.  If you enter their season long contest you could actually win something.  It should be a fun year seeing all of the creative pictures that emerge from this campaign to heighten awareness to this topic.   Cameron over at the Fiberglass Manifesto has already introduced anglers to the idea, as well as several of others across the internet and social media.

Circa 2013
Personally, I didn't really have a definitive New Years Resolution for 2015, so I figured why not adopt the practice.  Although I will admit I am a repeat offender of the grip n grin from time to time, but the whole idea of keeping them wet really got me  thinking.  I know over the years my ability to rope a fish in and get a solid photo opportunity has become efficient and streamlined to the point that it is a very unobtrusive process, but there were times when I wondered if the time I spent to get that glory shot had negative effects on the fish that I was lucky enough to catch.   

Circa 2014
I think some would most definitely speculate that yes, very much so that many a nice fish have succumbed to stress as a result of anglers over handling them just to get that photo.  I think we'd all like to think we are doing things by the numbers and ethically, but I am certain we all could probably improve.  Now mind you, I am not going to sit here and blow smoke up your backside and tell you that I won't still take a grip or grin shot of a memorable fish.  I will probably just take less of them, and save them for that extra special fish or location to capture the memory.  I will however not post them on the internet because I can already see the internet trolls and kings of the popularity contest we call social media have already started spewing some of their negativity on this topic.  

Circa 2012
As you can already see, making this transition should be a pretty easy task as I've been taking part in for years now.   To be honest, some of my favorite pictures of memorable fish don't even involve my pasty white baldness anyway.  Guess I have a good start or maybe I was subconsciously more of a forward thinker, either way it is irrelevant as long as those guys in the pictures swim another day. 

Some interesting discussions have spawned as a result of this topic, I still wonder though are we as catch and release anglers doing enough to make sure we protect our resource?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Updated Video File

Just for some fun, I started updating a few of the older videos in between shooting fresh material.  Here is one of the older one's that is rather timely.  Check out the updated Crippled Midge.
Crippled Midge

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Should A Hatchery Brood Stock Be Considered The Next State Record?

Now I know that this topic has been kicking around the Internet for almost a month now, I figured after the dust was about settled why not rekindle the flame.  I am talking about this topic today because it is a hot topic in my area after a recent brood stocking of Seeflorellen Brown Trout in several of our Connecticut waterways.

This topic in general gained the most steam in the last month after an administrator from the Connecticut DEEP Facebook page stated, “A good debate and discussion. Many states struggle with the same issue. For now DEEP will be keeping the process the same. Meaning, yes, one of these fish could be the new state record fish...”.   The current state record brown trout is 18 pounds, 5 ounces caught by angler Tony Urbanowicz from the Saugatuck Reservoir in 2011, and there are many fish that were stocked in the last month that eclipsed the 20 pound mark with the overall average right around 15 pounds.  The regional magazine, On The Water did a quick write up on the subject which got an abundance of replies by anglers from all over with varying degrees of receptiveness to the notion that the next potential record could come from one of these hatchery raised leviathans.

If you recall back to 2009 there was an equally intriguing story line that unfolded on Diefenbaker Lake in Saskatchewan Canada involving the pending record rainbow trout.  The Konrad brothers have the knack for catching big fish.   That particular trout was a triploid also raised in a hatchery, which the prior record was caught in the same lake in 2007 by the brother of the new record holder.  Both fish were over the 40 pound mark but due to the nature of the catch and how they entered that particular body of water, were scrutinized by many as to the validity of rendering them "World records" as many felt they should have their own category as they are a genetically altered strain of fish.   I am not 100% certain on the back story on those fish, if memory serves me an entire hatchery of these triploids were released into that lake.   Are brood stock in the same category?   Good question.  Personally, I don't see that a fish raised in the hatchery to monstrous proportions only to be released for a few days in the wild should qualify as a new record.

Judging by the number of responses online I'd say many feel the same way.  Maybe we need to speculate some sort of a system be instituted for these types of catches; something along the lines of what many sportscasters have proposed for those suspect record holders in the steroid era of Major League Baseball.  You know, maybe add an asterisk to the record if it was confirmed to have grown in the hatchery to monstrous proportions.  Maybe we just designate an entirely different category to them exclusively.  I suppose that would suffice, but some checks and balances would have to be put in place to validate the assumptions made on the status of those pending records.  Something along the line of scale sampling quickly comes to mind, or maybe some other means of verification.  I can't say for certain as I'm not a fisheries biologist, but something of the sort would be a high priority.   I mean god forbid somebody actually caught a real monster in the wild that just happened to have grown to that size on its own, granted there are some very easily distinguishable things that most people can use to identify those types of fish; clipped adipose fins, die marks if any, missing fins and damaged tails, heck sometimes even the color of the fish can help.   You could easily see how problems could arise in either scenario.

I honestly do not know what the answer is in this situation, it is a bit controversial and is a great topic of debate.  What I do know however, regardless of whether or not these fish account for any new state records, they have many people excited and interested in going fishing.  I think overall that is the most important aspect of these fish that many of us are being a bit shortsighted about. 

For many of us, they would in fact be a fish of a lifetime regardless of their origin.  What makes me smile the most, is not too far from where I live these opportunities are there, and that just maybe, somebodies child will actually be fortunate enough to hook into one of these fish.  The rewards for our youth are what intrigue me the most if you look at it from that perspective.  These fish have the opportunity to change kids lives, I know if one of my daughters hooked one of these fish they'd be hooked for life.  I think we all need to sit back and take this for what it is, another great reason to build excitement about our sport and get young people into the sport.  I think we as a whole have a duty to ensure that the next generation of anglers keeps the torch lit.  In the end, we all should be thanking the DEEP for these types of angling opportunities regardless of your stance on the other topics.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Are Their Really Any Secrets In Fly Fishing Anymore?

Happy New Year, for 2015 I have made a pact with myself to write on the blog more.  I am going to start you off lightly with something that struck me the other day.  Feel free to comment, good bad or indifferent.  Heck, I may even respond.
The other day while  I was walking out of a not so familiar fishery with a good friend we had a pretty deep discussion.  The premise of our conversation stemmed mostly as the result of our freezing our rear ends off with little success on what at times had been a rather productive stretch of water.  We both began belly aching about how this particular piece of water had been "blown up" so to speak, and it got me thinking that evening. 

Regardless of how forthcoming any of us fisherman are, we all are secretive about certain aspects of our sport to varying degrees.  I would be outright lying  if I stated that I have never been in the many years that I have fished, but I have also struggled with what is the linear demarcation between giving up too much, and not giving up enough. 

When I guided, my morals had me constantly re-evaluating situations in an effort to constantly do the right thing so as not to disrespect the fisheries I guided on.  I quickly found that it was a conundrum that I struggled with a lot, but somehow a little reflection or thought kept me on the right side of that thin line of ethical decisions.  Granted, there will always be some that disagree with you no matter what you do, and that is just human nature, but overall by putting the river and fish first I seemed to always make the right decisions with a clear head.

A perfect example lies in the volume of fly tying videos I have concocted over the last 5-6 years.  Most of the people I encounter are more than thankful that I have freely put them up there for the masses to indulge without charging a fee or asking for something in return.  The payment for me is the many nice emails and quick mentions I get from fellow fisherman who have had successes of their own after watching the videos and tying the fly flies for themselves. 

The very small minority who have commented on why I would put those videos out there for the masses to see without something in return I take with a grain of salt.  My simple answer to the few who ask this is always the same.  I really don't see the need to keep something like fly patterns a secret, the concepts and ideals behind all of them were influenced by people before me who found that sharing them was their way of giving back.     Besides, no matter how many patterns you show somebody, they still need to be able to deliver the "goods" so to speak in an effective manner in order to get that positive response from the fish.  To the less than 2% of you out there who are of this mindset, I understand your concern, but in the end I disagree with you whole heartily. 

The Internet has made many of these "secrets" not so much a secret anymore.  If you are willing and able, you can pretty much find a plethora of information on the web just by strategically plugging in a few key words in a search engine.  So after our conversation about spot burning, and the dissemination of fishing Intel, I got on my computer over a cup of coffee (I gotta admit it was more like 3, I have a caffeine problem), and began typing in random fly fishing related topics just to see what I could find. 

In the end here's what I found, it is rather interesting albeit even if my topics were rather limited.  A quick search on Bing found the following:

Fly Fishing Secrets = 9,170,000 results
Fly Fishing = 5,170,00 results
Fly Tying Secrets = 4,670,000 results
Fly Tying = 7,170,000 results
Fly Fishing Places = 11,800,000 results
Fly Fishing Maps = 18,300,000 results

Millions and millions of results.  The average human couldn't peruse a quarter of them all in a lifetime.  I can tell you too, I am not the most Internet savvy individual either, and I am fairly certain that somebody who is could most likely narrow the searches to precisely what they are looking for.  But, for starters, that is a whole hell of a lot of information for a rather small cottage sized community hobby don't you think?

So, I guess the moral of this story is all of us (including myself) need to realize that there really isn't many secrets left out there, as you can find them if you know where to look.  I will say this however, there are some secrets that  the Internet just can't find, and for those I am willing to take my time searching them out with a good friend or my two kids, and like most things you only get out of things what you put into them.   My good friend Tommy summed it up rather well last week, "I need to be out there finding these places cuz it drives me to know that they exist, and exist not too far from me".

Many of us are all looking for that hot fly, hot piece of water or what have you, always striving to stay in front of that curve.  In actuality, everything is cyclical, almost like fads in clothing and design.  Heck, skinny jeans are in again, something I never quite understood when I was in high school let alone now.  I think the same can be said about fly patterns and fishing locales alike.  There has been a slight resurgence in wet flies and soft hackles in the last couple of years; euro nymphing has recently run it's course and like most who've been at this sport for a while would tell you, it is what it is, but the luster has sort of worn off.  I guess in the end, history repeats itself, and the only way to stay relevant or on top of things is to be ahead of the curve, but only if that's what excites you.  

In the end, there truly aren't too many secrets out there anymore, but I guess you really have to be mindful of who and how you share them if you run into any conundrums of your own.

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