Thursday, February 25, 2010

The other day while perusing the internet I came across some fantastic drawings done by Thomas Weiergang, and as the style was nothing I had attempted before I thought I’d give it a try. This little rainbow and the treatment of the water was fun to do.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I’m gonna have to call Orvis. A week ago I ordered what is called a “head loupe” to salvage what’s left of my eyesight. It has variable magnification, and as I am forever trying to increase the lighting on my work, the headlights that came with it also got my attention. That and the price. I’ve been abusing my eyesight for decades now. Going back to the early seventies when I got involved in jewelry design and gemology, a head loupe was firmly affixed to my brow while at work and at night as I slaved over my artwork. With all the years of close-up, highly detailed work it’s a wonder I’m not cross-eyed.

Anyway, this head loupe is no good. It’s no slam against Orvis...most everything they sell is first quality, and they can’t be expected to be experts on everything...especially something as specialized as head loupes. The point of focus on these is off and the so-called head lights, which are nonadjustable, point in opposite directions away from the work zone. (Maybe if I were cross-eyed...) So I’m sending them back, and will continue using my old one.

Not to worry. I’m sure in a future catalog they’ll be pushing an updated version. I wonder how many catalogs Orvis sends out a year. Seems like I get one about every other week, which truly tests my will power and threatens my status as the cheapest guy on the block. It didn’t used to be this way. I was always cheap but I never had this much temptation. Long before the days of multiple Orvis catalogs, those from Cabelas, Bass Pro and the hundreds of other fishing gear proprietors, there was only one. Herter’s. And you only got one catalog a year.

Growing up in a house full of anglers, the yearly arrival of their catalog was special. To see the latest and greatest gear and stuff on the market; to study each and every item and imagine its usage; to dog ear the favorites and day dream of the fish they would catch come spring kept us going through many winters.

Dad gave me free rein to order anything and everything that I thought might be effective. To this day, I still have a number of hook assortments from Herter’s in my fly tying kit along with some old deer tails, floss, chenille, rusted tinsel and moleskins. (Did you ever notice how those little skins look like miniature bearskin rugs, tanned and preserved by a tribe of Lilliputian hunter/gatherers?)

I recently came across a familiar yellow and black envelop full of size 24 hooks. I’ll probably pass those along to my least he can see them. Since they’ve been in there for over 40 years now, I doubt I’ll ever tie them up. And another’ll never catch me breaking out my tying stuff at any of the festivals I attend, ‘cause the first thing I’d have to set up would be my vise. As the other tiers would be setting up their $400 Renzetti vises, I would be sheepishly setting up my old Herter’s model...the same one you can find on EBay for just a buck or two.

I’ve been tying as the need arises for many years now, without one bit of improvement in my skill level. My flies were, and are, functional. I’ve never been accused of being an artist with hooks and feathers. Nowadays, I tie out of necessity. And my tying is an ongoing experiment in creativity.

Fishing Bennett Spring in Missouri one year I walked by a shallow pool where a good number of trout had been cleaned and witnessed fish gorging on the entrails, which got me to thinkin’. Later, with a tube of white silicone caulking, in a very unorthodox method of “matching the hatch” I created some pretty good replicas. Did they catch any fish? Not one, but I had a lot of fun trying. My buddy Jerry still ribs me about it, but last year he too succumbed to creativity. Jerry supplied me with a selection of his “Nub Worms” which were tied with a secret product found in the automotive department of every Wal-Mart in the country. Does his creation catch fish? Yes indeed. Does it replicate anything ever seen by a trout? Not unless they are hanging out at Wal-Mart.

But I still experience the joy that comes from catching trout on a home-made fly...I remember the first one and the last one, but the in between ones, like my vision, are a little blurred now.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Finally. Finally a Brook Trout that I can be proud of. Of all the fishes, the colors of the Brookie have always given me the most trouble. It must be that red/green color blind thing that I’m stuck with. Anyway, I like the way this one turned out.

I really can’t identify a number of colors. While I can obviously “see” the colors, duplicating them takes a lot of trial and error. And even then it’s questionable that you’ll see them the same way that I do. Color blindness is a fascinating thing. We all say that the sky is blue. We associate the color we see with the word “blue”... but do we all really see the same color? Is my green your blue...or vice-versa?

Friday, February 12, 2010


Here’s a sneak peak of a new commission piece that I’m working on. A few of you over the past year have indicated an interest in seeing the process that I use and this is a pretty good example.

I start each piece with a very faint pencil drawing to get the basic details and layout in place. From there I go to the pens, employing a pointillism technique to show depth and detail. I will typically complete the entire piece in pen and ink before touching the colored pencils. Some may consider it redundant to add this much detail at this point, but if I don’t have it right at this stage, then it’s time to start all over again.

Once the ink is dry I can gently erase the pencil marks from the design and begin applying the color. In this example I haven’t decided how to handle the hands...Not sure if I’ll use the pens or if I’ll just go with the colored pencils with no pen and ink underlayment. I’ll probably color the fish before deciding...

45,000? That’s about how many dots I figure it took to get the piece to this point. No, I haven’t counted each one of them, but I have a rough idea of the average number I apply per minute. That number times the number of minutes spent equals 45,000!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We Are Not Alone

Zach Clayton, who happens to be just about the savviest marketing guru on the planet, has reported on his blog some very interesting news about social networking. The info comes from the emarketer Report and it confirms that I am not unique regarding my recent entry into the world of social networking.

I jumped into the Facebook deal about a month ago as an experiment. I had been getting those mysterious emails inviting me to be a “Friend” and in the hustle bustle of going through my emails each morning I just about wore out the delete button in getting rid of them. Then one day I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try.

As an outsider I had always viewed Facebook as the place where so-called celebrities had their nude photos anonymously posted to boost their careers. But much to my surprise, just about everyone I know in the fly fishing world was already there (fully clothed, thankfully)....and their numbers are growing daily.

According to recent research, the geezer community (of which I am a proud member) has embraced social networking in dramatic numbers. In 2009 Boomers (aged 44-62) and Matures (aged 63-75) “saw dramatic 15% and 22% increases in social network activity from 2008 to 2009—that jump is particularly surprising when compared to the activity increase from 2007-2008, when Boomers and Matures increased their presence by a mere 1% and 4%, respectively.”

Lisa Phillips, eMarketer senior analyist and author of the “Boomers and Social Media” report, supports this idea, saying “Boomers expect that technology will help them live longer and better lives and keep them connected to family, friends, co-workers and, eventually, healthcare providers. To fulfill these expectations, boomers are turning to social media.”

Seventy-three percent of Boomers and 90% of Matures claimed to maintain profiles on Facebook in 2009.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Crawfish Etouffee

Add a roux (dark please) onions, garlic, celery and green pepper and the feast is on. Of course this gentleman prefers his raw, but in honor of the Saint's victory tonight I thought I'd fancy it up a bit.

This is the brown trout that I was imagining in my post of last week. Like the cutthroat in that posting, I was going to add a fly to this one, but the mud bug seemed a better choice.