Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cabela's & Maine

Maine Brook Trout- Seriously...
If you get a chance  to check out the Cabela's 2012 Fly Fishing Catalog you might notice a pretty thick brook trout gracing the cover. Well, I can tell you for a fact that the fish is indeed a Maine brook trout.

I know, because that's my hand holding the fish.

Earlier this summer I was contacted by Maine based photographer Dennis Welsh who was  looking to set up a freshwater fly fishing photo shoot for a "client". The deal was pretty simple. Help set up a location, and stand around and have photos taken of me while I "fish"- and I get paid.

After scouting some locations with Dennis we settled on the Upper Andro at a spot between Gilead and W. Bethel. The location had certain advantages: easily accessible, beautiful surrounding landscapes with dramatic cliffs and mountain views, and within striking distance of the coast, where they also planned on doing a saltwater shoot.

The whole process was definately a unique experience and I think I even managed to pick up a few photography techniques. According to Dennis, this was the first time that Cabela's had done a photo shoot for their fly fishing catalog on the East Coast. It was cool to be part of that.

"You want me to cast with which hand?"
On the inside of the cover there is a shot where I'm throwing a cast with my right hand-  except I'm a lefty.

Photographers (good ones that is) are constantly worried about the direction of the light and how it interacts with the subject. In this case, they were looking for a dark back ground with back light to illuminate the line in mid air. To get it right, Dennis asked me if I could cast with my right hand. "Huh?" I've done it before messing around, but I wasn't sure what the results would be. So I gave it a shot- and I've got say it looks like I even managed to get a haul in there resulting a fairly decent loop for the shot. No doubt the presentation on the water probably looked like a I was beating the water with a bullwhip.

So there it is, the beginning- and most likely the end- of my "modeling" career.

Definitely a fun experience, and I'm proud to have been a part of helping Maine's exposure in the fly fishing world. A big thanks to the Cabela's, Dennis Welsh, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries for their support.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wiggle Your Dub

Harline Hare's Wiggle Dub
I've been messing around with some new tying material lately. One of my new favorites is Hare's Wiggle Dub from Hareline. This a basically a hare dub that has tiny little stretchy rubber legs mixed in. The little rubber legs actually appear to be tiny shreds of Spanflex or Stretch Floss, which means they won't dry out and crack like traditional rubber legs.

Buggy Mix.
I've found the best way to dress with this stuff is to make a dubbing loop, spin a dubbing brush, and wrap. Sometimes the rubber legs can be a bit long, depending on how they are captured in the dubbing loop, trimming to length helps get the proportions right.

Here is one use I've found for it. Sort of a take on the venerable Guide's Choice Hares Ear. Instead of using peacock for the thorax, Wiggle Dub is substituted. Kind of a cool, buggy effect with a lot of life. I can see this stuff being used in a lot of patterns- stonefly nymphs anyone?

Check your local fly shop, if you are in Maine, check Eldredge Brothers in Cape Neddick. Eldredge might just be the last best fly shop in Maine. Those guys are serious about their business and stay up to date on the latest patterns and tying materials. They are definitely not centrally located, but it's worth the trip. If you haven't checked them out, do yourself a favor and get down there!



Friday, January 13, 2012


Tying 24's, not recommend after a couple of cold ones.
Since it's winter, and there isn't a lot of angling going on, and there is a lot more tying taking place, we figured it would be fun to share some of what we've been working on. I actually enjoy winter, because it's a bit of break from fishing and a chance to focus on tying. To me personally, tying is the other part of being a fly angler. An important part. Do I tie all of my own flies? No- I'm not that fast. There are certain patterns that I purchase by the dozen. Then there are times when tying feels like a chore- like in July, at 9:30 at night, when I need to slam out half a dozen Slumpbusters and get lunch together for a trip the next day. 

But winter is a chance to sit back, and enjoy the process. Brew some good coffee for an early morning session, maybe get together with some friends in the evening and crack some cold ones and fill the empty spots in the boxes, whip up some hot new pattern, and maybe even dream up the next fishy concoction that just might be THE ONE. 

With the streamer boxes full, lately I've been cranking out some bugs on the vise. Spinners. Don't underestimate them. I like to carry them in a range of sizes. Rusty colored ones cover a pretty wide range of bugs. Make sure to carry some small ones like those above to cover trico and BWO's. I tie them in a bunch of sizes, colors and styles. Dubbed bodies, quill bodies, thread bodies, micro-fibbett tails, hackle tails, yarn wings, poly wings, hackle wings. They all work. Spinner wings are generally clear, and the spent egg layers usually lie flat on the water, wings extended out to the sides and flush on the water, as opposed to upright like a recently hatched dun.

The easiest to tie might be the Compara-Spinner as described in Caucci and Nastasi's classic Hatches. Real simple, tie in tail fibers, dub a tapered body with some super fine, tie in a dry fly hackle in a light dun or cream color (spinner wings are clear), dub to the eye, wrap the hackle over the thorax dry fly style, tie off the head, then clip the hackle flat on the top and bottom so the fly rides low on the water (hackles only extending off the sides of the fly). Fish them on top or just below the film. Can't see them? Add a small dab of strike putty two feet up the leader, or fish them as a dropper off a visible dry fly that acts like an indicator.

Think spinners aren't important? One of the better browns that I've seen come out of the Kennebec in the last couple of years (a solid 20" fish) sipped a size 12 Compara-style March Brown spinner on a bright sunny afternoon in May. 
Spinner Sipper.
The next time you run into rising fish eating something "invisible" on top or in the film, pay close attention. Are there mayflies hovering en masse above? Look in the scum lines where the garbage collects. Look closely at the water. Usually a spent mayfly is flush in the film or subsurface and very hard to see on a casual glance. And finally, break out a seine. A small piece of screen works fine and can save you some fly changes as you start dialing in the code. 

Have fun out there!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Dog Days... Of Winter

It's official, the first fish of the year were landed today, a couple of decent browns- with a fly rod, not an ice trap. It was cold, and a few hours were plenty. Followed by a good bottle of wine, a fire ripping in the stove, a couple hours of tying, some good company, and some good food. This is what makes 5 months of winter tolerable.
And those new sculpin patterns are going to be a whole lot of fun to throw come May.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Men at Work

I had a chance to share some photos via the focalFISH photo blog run the by Mark Raisler and John Arnold, the honchos at Headhunters Fly Shop in Craig, Montana. focal is a great place to take in some fishy imagery, especially in the dead of winter here in Maine.

Frankly, it's a little humbling to have some of my images up there with folks who actually have talent.

The first photo essay I submitted was all about Maine landlocks, and features water from around the state, and admittedly, one fish from Massachusetts. More recently I submitted a piece in black and white from a steelhead trip last season. The black and white worked, especially since it was the dead of winter and there was no real color to capture anyway. The land lock essay can be found here and the steelhead essay can be found here.

If you ever have a chance to visit Craig, MT and fish the Mighty Mo', do it.  It's an amazing place and will likely leave you shaking your head wondering if what just went down was for real as your whole trout fishing schema makes a radical shift.

If you find yourself there, don't forget to visit the Headhunters and buy a fly or two.