Monday, November 28, 2011

Life and Fly (One Bug Is Fake)

Written and contributed by Brandon Robinson

Fly fishing sometimes is located between a therapist’s office, and the Catholic “Sacrament of Penance”.  The angler plays the role of both therapist and patient or, sinner and priest.  Ex-girlfriend is dating again, and you found out about it?  2 hours on the water equates 20mgs of Prozac, 40 double-hauls replace 40 Hail-Marys.  However, when your problems fade away, fly fishing adapts as well, returning to pure enjoyment.   In the meantime, the 4 weight is there; along with weight forward floating line, #12 Caddis, and some pocket water, ready to work through your troubles with you.  The rhythm of the cast becomes a melodic chant; the sound of the line pulling through the guides preparing the mind for meditation.  Similar to Prozac or the rote of Confession, it doesn’t solve your problems for you; it’s only a starting point.  The rest is up to you.  I don’t know how to proceed but, I do know where I am hurts.

The sky never criticizes, and the water will never judge.  The wind is too busy traveling to share your secrets with anyone and the fish are fearfully preoccupied with what the giant will decide of their fates, to care about your problems. I think it is better that way. I always felt that if the choices you made put you on a path of destruction or pain, and you followed through knowing the outcome, you lost the right to have any pity-parties.  That is the time for you to work through your problems on your own time.  Instead of complaining to whoever will listen, I will yell into the wind.  No good can come from explaining pain to the person who hurt me, instead I will whisper to myself; all the while fishing through decisions and turmoil.

Sometimes the therapist is passive, forcing one to work through issues with no fish-tractions.  This of course only frustrates the angler more, yet in time the issue fades and the dedicated angler overcomes the slump.  They work it out by observing the issues at play: what possibly caused the fish to refuse the chosen flies, or which tactic to use to overcome weather conditions.  In that, the priest shows the sinner a metaphor for life.  Change out what isn’t working and push through.  Pay attention to your gut.  I personally believe that your mind registers observations that you don’t.  That is where your gut feeling comes from, listen to it.  I know what is coming; I will become an awkward footnote.  Shane rode away when he saw his time was finished.

I learned this by chance.  No one warned me of the therapeutic powers one unlocked when divining fish to hand, yet they were there.  After the first cast, 4 years of post-service issues immediately began losing the battlefield advantage.  Suddenly I had the ringmaster’s chair and whip to fight the beast off with.  Life started improving, more current issues began to loosen their grip, and I started living.  The ex and I learned together, and suddenly we felt even closer than ever before.  Just over two years later, the curtain was pulled back, revealing the end of a relationship that never was.  Immediately I was catatonic, only the primary functions survived.  Work was my only escape, but it was an exhausting distraction.  I tried to fish, and found instead bitter heartsickness.  Everywhere there was a sign of us.  We had a great day here; she caught her first over there…  Suddenly my therapist had her picture hanging above the couch. 
I stubbornly kept trying, looking and searching for the key.  Slowly a “medicine road” showed up like the faintest of trails in the sparse brush of a desert.  I had to make it [fly fishing] my own again.  I had to take it with me down the road and open up new experiences.  I needed friends and a world she didn’t exist in.  I turned to the internet, and eventually found Twitter.  I made a simple list I would accomplish.  I started to enjoy my time off.  By following the list, I was becoming whole again.
1.       Fish more.
2.       Fish longer.
3.       Fish different.

      I met new people; the first of many was Shawn and Ena Bischel.  I entered tournaments as the fly fishing “David” going up against spin tackle “Goliaths”.  I made a connection with an awesome company called Diablo Paddle Sports.  I went out and fished so hard and so often that people quit asking, “How are you feeling/handling/doing?”, and replaced it with a disinterested and near-rhetorical, “How’s the fishing?”  Meanwhile, I pushed further forward; allowing for new experiences to be had and healing to continue.  Eventually a disjointed group of webmasters convinced me to develop my Twitter account into something bigger.  One accidental posting, a couple of repeat queries into the status of a website, and a request to write laid the ground work for a new direction, destination unknown.  There was plenty of fishing involved, and it was forward progression, so I stuck with it.  I’ll let you know where it ends when I get there and find out.

The beautiful thing is the fishing experience slowly turned off depressing, drove straight through healing, and turned back on fun.  No longer did I think of her, like I used to.  Even if she was there, I wasn’t fishing with her; she was fishing with me.  It wasn’t the same, and I was glad for both the change and the company.  Then the inevitable happened.  I smelled the smoke long before I knew what was burning.  Suddenly, I was being replaced.  Sub-consciously it seemed, but replaced none-the-less.  Slowly I understood (and eventually I saw) that even though the fishing was different, few things had changed for the two of us.  I knew I was headed for a repeat heartache.  I was stubbornly immobile, determined to sink the unsinkable rather than change course.  She is a great person, we get along fine, and it’s easy.  It wasn’t until I thought I had run aground that I snapped out of it.  The jolt still hurt, and I knew the real moment (where I’m transformed from needed friend to awkward explanation) would set me back further.  I had to get back to my Medicine Road, swiftly before the pain multiplied.
So here I am, back in the confessional.  I bought a pipe (it’s new), I still follow my list, and I am determined to write more.  I remain her friend, but I am trying to move her out of the “default friend” spot.  It’s depressing, but after a year and a half it’s beyond necessary.  I decided that 120 spent on strippers, was more desperate than spending the same on 3 months of eHarmony, which is a start at least.  Finally, I am looking to relocate, somewhere I have never lived before like Colorado, Arkansas, or Washington… When you see me out there in the universe, be it at the Church of the Flowing Waters or the various social networks, and something strikes you as out of focus, remember that this picture is still developing.  Keep checking back, I’m just grateful you took the time to look.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tip of the Week

Go buy a frozen turkey today. No...seriously. This photo may have you wanting to hurl because you have eaten so much bird in the last few days...but you can get an 18 pounder for dirt cheap this weekend. And you know, come February you will be, like, "Dude! Wanna cook an 18 pound turkey!?"

Friday, November 25, 2011

$17, One Hour and 15 Minutes

That is about what it takes to set yourself up for success this winter--roughly a 20 dollar bill and a couple of hours some Sunday afternoon when your team is getting blown out on the television by division rivals. This season has enough unpleasantness...favorite lakes are frozen over, it is already dark when work lets out and everyone in the country gets to witness how bad my Cleavland Browns are... But you don't have to add to all that a fly tying debt spiral. Choose the one fly pattern you know you will be pulling out of your box the most and take an hour or two to save yourself a good deal of cash. Pick the pattern that you use the most and that is the easiest and fastest to tie, and that takes the least amount of materials. This should be easy, because the best winter flies are tiny and simple. You can choose the RS2, Poison Tung or Zebra Midge. Here is the ingredient list for the $17 (for fifty!) Zebra Midge:

Umpqua Feather Merchants U201 #20
Two 25 packs of Spirit River Brite Beads 2mm (5/64") Black Nickel (or Silver)
Small Silver UTC Ultra Wire
6/0 Black UNI-Thread

There, $100 worth of flies...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friends Follies

A good friend of mine recently moved out to the west coast...and is getting into steelhead. He also just started a new website. It will show his trials and tribulations of catching a steelhead in the traditional manner. Let me know what you think: Steelheading, The Hard Way

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tip of the Week

On those cold and windy Winter careful opening your favorite dry fly box.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hungry Fish!

As cooler weather and colder water set in to stay, most local fly fishers make the seasonal switch to nothing but tiny flies. This is logical...the bugs that are out and getting eaten are all midges and the smaller of the Blue Wing Olive mayflies. I will often still use some bigger stuff, especially when searching a creek I haven't been on for awhile. I like to use a bigger, bushier hair wing dry (such as a Stimulator or Clown Shoe) with a midge pupa imitation (#20 Zebra Midge or Poison Tung) hanging off the hook bend about 12 to 18 inches. Most of the trout willingly take the subsurface midge, but every now and again one of the big boys (relative term, of course) will inhale the dry!

I like this type of fishing because the big dry is always easy to spot on the water and is always nicer to cast than a strike indicator.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Backcountry Journal

The Backcountry Journal is a new online periodical created and edited by hunter, fly fisherman, fly designer, and writer, Ben Smith of Arizona Wanderings.

Read it here! The Backcountry Journal.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fly Tying (With Common Household Materials)

"Jay Fullum is one of Fly Tyer magazine's most beloved authors. His regular column, titled "Creative Tying," is a favorite with our readers."--David Klausmeyer, Editor Fly Tyer

Seriously...this is a great addition to your fly tying book library. It will stand out amongst the more conventional tying how-tos. Jay Fullum goes into detail about some real cool (and cheap!) everyday materials you probably already have laying around down in the know, "organized" loosely on that unfinished wooden Home Depot shelving you got right after you moved in. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. Jay has chapters on plastic bags, foam packing material, weatherseal, embroidery floss, fake fingernails, paintbrushes and hair brushes. Lots of stuff. I love it. But, the thing I may love the most about this book is what this book can do emotionally to a beginning tyer. It erases this notion that a good fly has to be made with very specific ingredients. These are not tiny magic spells we are creating on a hook shank...they are tools of the sport of fishing. That is all. And you can use whatever works for you at the time. So, yeah...order a copy.

Lyons Press $21.95 Click Here!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Enjoy Your Veterans" Day

Today is the day we celebrate all those 19-year-old borderline alcoholics with automatic weapons. Enjoy them. Don't thank them...they don't take praise or the spotlight well. But definitely appreciate them. Buy them a beer at the bar. Or take one out back behind the bar and let them get to second base. Hell, hire one! Trust me, they will work harder and longer for you than some trust-fund baby looking for direction... 
Keep it real, boys!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Be veddy, veddy sneaky...

When the creek and river flows get skinny the trout get spooky. They know they can be easily seen by predators (herons, raccoons...and fishermen). The upside is that the fish are still hungry and don't have quite as much food available as they did in the summer. This makes them relatively easy to catch so long as you are sneaky!
Wear drab clothing, be aware of your shadow and take advantage of whatever natural or man made concealment is available.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Free Fly Tying Classes! (At RMA)

At Rocky Mountain Anglers we are approaching our fly tying classes a bit differently this Winter. We will be offering ONLY one-on-one classes and I will be very open to scheduling. The problems I have always found with the way Intro-Fly Tying has been taught is twofold. First: These classes have usually been group events (3 to 5 students) mainly to maximise the profits for the shop offering the class, not necessarily with the benefit of the beginning tier in mind. Second: We all are busy these days, so it is hard to make extracurricular things happen on the calendar. My intent is to get someone trained and as fluent as possible on the tying vise without delay. Hence the one-on-one classes with open scheduling...If next Tuesday morning before work is your only opening, then let's do it!
Fly Tying Classes are $25 an hour (We do gift cards!) but we are offering free classes with purchase of certain essential tying equipment....such as this Peak Rotary Vise (made here in Loveland, CO!) that sells for $149. RMA will honor two free one-hour tying sessions. With the perchase of a Dr. Slick 7-piece tool kit ($54) you get one free class.

Call Rocky Mountain Anglers in Boulder: (303) 447-2400

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tip of the Week

When sight casting to tailing fish...don't waist too much time on the ones that have not moved in awhile.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Krystowski Minnow (Step by Step Tying Instructions)

The Krystowski Minnow is one of my early original fly designs. I began tying this fly long before I was part of the fly fishing industry and a contract fly designer. It was at a point in my life when I had very limited time to spend behind a vise and, more influentially, when I had very little money to spend on tying material. I needed an all-purpose baitfish streamer that I could use for every occasion. I could not afford to have multiple fly boxes for every species of fish, but I was fishing everywhere and often. I needed a fly for river smallmouth, farm pond largemouth, Spring steelhead, Fall browns, wiper, walleye and northern pike. If I had a handful of Krystowski Minnows in my box I was all set. The fly needed to be cheap to tie, fast to tie and never fall apart...even after being chewed on by northern pike. I have old fishing buddies back in my home town who fish this fly over everything else. The fly is named after a family in northern Ohio who owned a small bass pond and would let me fish and invite me in for dinner. The earliest prototypes of this fly were fished in their pond.

Step 1: Begin with Gamakatsu B10S #2 hook. Create a ¼ inch thread base of black 6/0 UNI-Thread behind the hook eye.

Step 2: Tie in a clump of white Icelandic Sheep to “bottom” of hook shank.

 Step 3: Tie in a clump of chartreuse Icelandic Sheep on “top” side of hook shank.

Step 4: Securely mount ex-small white painted lead dumbbell eyes to “bottom” of hook shank. It is important that you wait until this point to tie in the lead eyes. Because the eyes are ex-small (this fly fishes best as a light-weight streamer) it is crucial there be distance between the arbor of the lead eyes and the hook shank. This ensures the fly swims hook point up.

Step 5: Tie in a clump of black Icelandic Sheep on top. Be sure to leave several inches of the black sheep hair extending out past the hook eye.

Step 6: Take the black sheep hair clump that you left extending past the hook eye and part it evenly. Be sure to leave the thread at the rear of the fly head.

Step 7: Wrap each piece of the black sheep hair back separately (being sure to cross between the lead eyes) and tie off and trim.

Step 8: Wrap black tying thread thoroughly over entire head of fly, being sure to secure any loose sheep hair and give the entire head an overall tightening. Then whip finish twice for durability and trim thread.

Step 9: Cut fly down to 2 ½ inches long (trim up the end nice and tapered). Then apply multiple coats of head cement over entire head, to include the painted lead eyes. I prefer at least five coats of Hard-as-Hull.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Colors (Good Grief It's November Already)

Throughout most of the year I recommend using a white colored strike indicator when nymphing deep runs and pools (if, of course, bobbers are your bag). The idea is for the indicator to blend in with the foam and not spook fish. This strategy works so long as you can still identify what is your indicator!
This time of year there can be a lot of light brown and bright yellow leaves drifting down stream and congregating in back eddys. If you have a tendency to use white or yellow strike could be in for a long and frustrating day. Be sure to have some really gaudy bobbers. They may be the only thing to stand out on the water.