Monday, August 19, 2013

Spey resources:
Poppy's Red Shed Fly Shop

We all want to support our local shop, and we all should. At the same time, being able to spread a few bucks across the world wide web is nice, especially when you find a good shop run by good folks. I first encountered Poppy's Red Shed Fly Shop after kicking around Speypages. Once I started to better understand rod lining, heads, Skagit, Scandi, Mid/Long belly lines, I started to look around Poppy's site. Definitely more gear than I could ever want. Even a decent selection of "experienced" gear too.

Here's a cool little clip I found the other day:
Poppy's Red Shed

Just looking through what Red Shed has to offer sparks my interest around cutting heads and messing around with lines. But, as much as I would love to jump on that train, I'll stick with pre-made skagit and scandi heads for the time being. I've got too much to learn around wing setting and other tying techniques.

I'd like to make it out Poppy's way one day. If Mordor had a fly shop, it might be this one.

Support local, but when you can't - look for shops like Poppy's. Giving to angling programs, supporting the sport and habit, and being an all-around good guy add up to reasons I've bought from Poppy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

When you're busy...
For over a year now, I have returned to this site often asking myself when it is I will write next, or find something of relevance to post. Things started to settle recently. Life is always full of change and surprise - some good, some bad. We lost a huge part of our lives this year, and recovering from that will take a lifetime. In between a new son, raising our other children, work, numerous fly swaps, and focusing on learning traditional Spey/Dee/Salmon patterns - there really hasn't been much time at all for posting or writing. Add in the fact that I often tell myself I need to write just to write, and I started to shy away.
Part of writing is reading, and most of my time has gone towards technical manuals or books on angling/tying. As much passion as I have for reading the latter, I did not feel the need to regurgitate what I read just for the sake of writing. Sure, I could have done comparative readings - but I survived enough of that in my Post Grad years.
However, I feel I have fully entered into the realm of fly tying that has intrigued me since my introduction to two-handed casting and its origins in Scotland. The flies used for angling for Scottish salmon are wondrous in their complexities and construction. At the start, it all looked impossible. The thread control, the materials, the feather manipulations - so very daunting to the uninitiated. Book after book, DVD upon DVD...the amount of ingested information regarding selection, technique, historical significance...there is so much to learn. I am also realizing that for the level of tying I am at, there is much to set aside for the time being. I am not interested in artistic fly tying at the moment. I tie with the intent of using the fly. While some of the flies are amazing in composition, I don't have the time to complete them or money to invest in the rare feathers "needed" to be considered a quality fly. I often laugh at the last part. Somewhere someone is laughing all the way to the bank selling $300 feathers to people hellbent on tying a 7/0 gaudy fly. God bless them too.
Recently, I participated in a Spey fly swap, and had a lot of fun with tying 13 different Spey patterns. I scoured "Autumns on the Spey" and Radencich's "Classic Salmon Fly Patterns" for interesting patterns; something outside the Lady Carolines of the tying world. The journey was interesting to say the least. I pushed my patience to new boundaries in attempting a perfect tie. Tinsel spacing, wing setting, hook selecting - all new ground for me. The coolest part was the additional fly we were asked to tie for a well-known outdoor activist and fly fishing enthusiast. The picture above are the flies tied for this man, and the two of mine were included (one is a pattern I developed, the other is a Glasso style). Some of the folks involved with this effort are well-known steelheaders and tyers. To be associated with them in this project is quite the honor. One I won't forget.

I'll post up the pattern I tied in the near future...

Sunday, April 8, 2012


This year continues to bring interesting days on the water. I've picked up spey casting, and it has become a favorite angling methodology. As in my first single-hand fly fishing casts, spey casting carries the same renewing properties. The element of immersion exists on a whole other plane. The weather is usually pure crap (cold/rain/wind/sleet/snow), and sight fishing is not really something in the equation as I have experienced yet. The casting and covering techniques are very rhythmic, with the only syncopation coming from a fish on the iron. Swinging flies through grayed winter waters is something else. When the toes go numb and the headwinds pick up, the moment slips on a sisyphean mask. At the end of a good cast, the line belly gliding casually atop the river, guiding the fly towards what one hopes is a holding steelhead, we do it again.
I have really enjoyed my outings, even without having caught my quarry. Folks say there are still fish in. I'll wait until next season...

Yesterday, a buddy and I headed north and got into a few spring browns:

We started off using parachute BWO in 18, but after seeing no surface action, we went down and dirty, using Bethke's Pink Squirrel with great results.

this little fella was awful pretty.

Having stood in a cool stream on a bluebird day is a big shift from the chilling rigors on WI steelheading. And every ounce as challenging - and rewarding.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Silence on the swing

Last Saturday, I ventured out amidst the mists and fog in search of migrating steelhead. The weather is out of whack - we've had temperatures as high as 80 degrees in early March. I am not sure our spring steel know when to swim anymore. The river is sparsely populated with wintered trout - dark, slouching, lumbering slowly upstream as they seek out a home they never truly had. The numbers are not there. Yet. One friend I saw later that day remains hopeful, and said the unpredictability was still a good bet. The steel may still come.

As I set foot in the river, I noticed just how blown out it was, and remained. There is a nervousness that finds me before I make my first cast. A few times, I thought I would lose my footing and wash downstream. I am not a fan of that happening, so I moved a few steps back and scouted blindly for better submerged ground. I got my bearings and began casting, working river right, then river left - three steps, repeat. Spey casting is brand spanking new to me. The tempo created by the rushing water often changed my casting rhythm. Mentally I would correct my speed, and then think each step:

Rod down, then up slightly and to the side. Arc it back, then forward and down. Wait. Rod up, gently twisting inward, then forward. Swing. The lines shivers in my wake, buffeted by ever-renewing water. If done right, it will slowly center on me downstream. Now river left.

Each movement carried focus, and the world's voices fell into the background. Nothing made a noise. There is love woven into that silence. A silence that deafens the river around me.

I have found a new doorstep to my home on the water.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fly Fishing Film Tour: Milwaukee - Wednesday, April 18th.

Have you ever wanted to see some of the best clips from fly fishing films in a theater? What about in a brewery? This year, The Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) stops in Milwaukee, and will show fly fishing short films at Sprecher Brewery! The show includes over 10 short films on fly fishing from a variety of perspectives - there is something for everyone, and new views into the realm of fly fishing too. Pat Ehlers and The Fly Fishers (Milwaukee, WI) are sponsoring it, and will have a lot of great swag for attendees - to include a special craft brew from Sprecher just for the F3T! Pat has also donated one of his Echo Edge84 8wt rods, an Echo Ion reel, and an Airflo Bass/Muskie line to match! The rod/reel/line combo will be raffled off with all proceeds going to Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited (www.sewtu.org).
Tickets for the movie are available at The Fly Fishers in Milwaukee, the F3T website, through SEWTU (http://sewtu.org/ - there is an email address listed at the bottom of the page). You can also obtain raffle tickets in advance through SEWTU. If you use SEWTU for your ticket purchase, please title your email "F3T tickets."
Don't miss out on a great night - films, craft beer, gear raffles, great people - the makings of a memorable night!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Year of Steel
Kyle and I went out on the MKE for one last go at 2011 Lake Michigan trib steelhead. Had a great day on some new water, and rounded out the year with a decent Northern that took a Chubby Muffin. Kyle took a steel hen that hammered some conventional gear he brought with - not such a bad idea actually.
All in all, I set out in 2011 with my sight on Northern and Musky, so it was a fitting way to finish.

Kyle also noticed my WI Delorme. He smiled, and knew better than to ask why I have it between the seat in my car.

I am going to make 2012 my year of steel.

Here's a nice little piece that talks about my favorite waters (and more):

The featured angler is none other than Erik Helm. He gave a great presentation to our TU organization on steelheading last year. He is a hell of an angler, tyer, and works at our local Orvis. Great resource, great guy. Congrats Erik!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Josh and I met back in 1991, when I showed up on the steps of A Co 2/187th. He was in the 1PLT CP talking to SSG Witherspoon, our acting PLT SGT at the time. Josh shook my hand and welcomed me to the best fighting outfit the 101st had to offer. I later realized that 1PLT owed that title to guys like him. He grew up in Oregon, somewhere remote, where the biggest threat to his family's plumbing system was a bear chewing on their water lines. He's direct without being inconsiderate. There is a recurve bow in his home that he uses with great precision in hunting deer. He'll throw a trout to the bank, as long as it was earned. In 2009, I asked him to be a groomsman in my wedding, having to drive 10+hrs each way. I hadn't seen him since 1993 we he left Fort Campbell.

Fast forward to 2011: Josh returned from AFGH - he's home for the holidays for a two week stint. The call was kept brief as he is home with his family, and I know how much that means to him. We didn't talk about the war - I didn't care to ask, and Josh is comfortable with what he does. He asked about my steelhead season, and how he remembers vividly the salmonids from the West Coast. If there was a big push of water how they would still have sea lice on them even though Josh's favorite spot was well upriver. Did Lake Michigan salmon and trout have pink flesh or was is red? And the question of lake-run steelhead vs. true anadromous fish. We agreed that once Josh finishes his last tour of duty, we'll go back to his old haunts and see what kind of fish we can get to rise.
He never says goodbye, a fact that I realized years ago. He says it's better that way. Goodbye, to Josh, is final.