Fishing Report: Fly fishing on Devils Lake was a challenge in the wind on Sunday. I spent the first hour casting big Pike flies around all the hot spots. I didnt catch any Pike but I have to say that my new Rio sink tip fly line is the best line I’ve ever casted. It was recommened by the guys at Schultz Outfitters in Dexter, MI. Anyway, when I got tired of the wind I tucked myself into a calm cove and cast for Crappies. On this day they preferred a fast retrieve. Most of them took the fly as I was pulling my line out of the water getting ready to make the next cast. I’m not sure where I bought this fly? I think I bought it over 15 years ago at Gate’s Lodge on the AuSable. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to imitate a rainbow trout fry. There are no trout in Devil’s Lake but dont tell the Crappie that. They still hit it pretty hard.
I just wanted to give a little plug to Schultz Outfitters for organizing the “Bar Flies” classes at the Dexter Pub. The instructors have been top notch. I’m loving all the warm water patterns they have provided over the past few weeks. Now I just need to get out and get a few of these wet.
Yesterday I attended the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo for the third year in a row with my friend Eddie. The Expo is perfect for getting your fly fishing juices flowing after three months of winter. I wanted to touch on the subject of “progress” in the fly fishing community. I realize that progress can be defined in many ways. We can’t live in the past. The world is always changing. Fly fishing is no different. For example, Flashabou (sparkly plastic strips) is being used a lot more. I mean “a lot” more. Five years ago I think it would be safe to say it was only used to show a hint of flash. Now flies are being tied that are 50 – 90% Flashabou. When I saw this trend I had to ask myself, “what’s the difference between a flashabou fly and a Rapala?” The only difference being one doesn’t use treble hooks. Dont get me wrong, I’m not a fly fishing purist. I’m as guilty as the next person for using spin fishing techniques. But, that may change. Like an alcoholic in AA I will probably always say, “Hi my name is Gregg and I’m a spin fisherman”. But I’m going to try to move away from the so-called progress in fly fishing towards spin fishing. That being said, my heroes of the day at the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo were the guys at the Hog Creek booth making furled leaders. No, it’s not a new science in leader technology. Furled leaders were first mentioned in Isaac Walton’s book, “The Compleat Angler” in 1766. They were originally made with horse hair but these leaders were eventually replaced by silk, gut and then nylon. I bought one for my trip to the Smoky Mountains this spring. Sure I’ll have to take extra care with it. No, it’s probably not perfect. But this is the sort of progress that I like to see. But that’s just me. I’m the same guy who drinks Shlitz Beer because I like old things sometimes. I’m the same guy who pitches 6″ Rapalas for Pike with my spinning gear. I’m also the guy who knows the difference between fly fishing and spin fishing. When I want to spin fish I’ll get out my Ugly Stick. When I want to fly fish…well, keep your flashabou outta my face. I’m fly fishing.
I love Winter. I loved the skiing. I loved the snow shoe hiking. I loved the ice fishing. But spring fever is in my veins now. Every Spring we make an annual trip to Tennessee to visit Ma and Pa…..ummm, I mean mom and dad. I love the Smoky Mountains. I love the Little River. I love the views from Mt. LeConte. I love it so much I put away my blocks and cutting tools for a while. I’m on a fly tying roll. Time to dust off the fly rods. Time to build some leaders. Time to get out the maps. What trails will I hit? I don’t need more gear. I don’t clean my vest or waders. Stains and dirt are a like maple leafs on a football helmet. All stand for glory days. The more holes in my vest the better. I don’t want to look like I stepped right out of a catalog. I want look like I havent slept in days. I don’t smoke cigars to look hip. I smoke em’ to keep the bugs away. No need for anything more than a pack of Swisher Sweets for that. I don’t rush down to the river. I sit on a boulder and observe. The river is like a woman who needs some attention first. Sit quietly and listen. Admire her beauty. When the time is right I step softly. I go slow. I make my first cast. Usually my first cast ends up in a tree…..rejection! I laugh. I gather myself up. I try again. Suddenly I notice it’s dark. Where did the last few hours go? I would stay but I’m thirsty. There’s a cold beer waiting at the cabin. Dad’s probably smokin’ chicken in the egg….crankin’ the Tejano. Better get busy tying flies. That’s cold weather work. I’d rather be sitting on the deck under the moonlight in Tennessee than squinting under the dim light of the kitchen wrapping feathers around tiny hooks.
The Blue Damselfly is one of my favorite nymph patterns when fishing Devils Lake. I don’t know who invented the nymph pattern in this sketch, but it’s the one I use to take Crappies one after another in the Spring.
Process: Made a few sketches on my lunch break. Scanned them. Emailed them home. Get home from work. Open a bottle of Pentamere Wine called Fireside. Pour myself a glass. Hop on the computer while dinner is cooking. Open the scanned jpg image in Autodesk Sketch. Add color. Save. Upload to blog.
Black Ant was an experiment using a Dremel Tool on Shina plywood. This may be the fastest I’ve ever gone from a bare wood to a finished print. I spent more time looking for a missing Dremel chuck than I did making this. I dont think I would call this a successful experiment. I believe the shina is a bit too soft for a a dremel, but maybe that’s just inexperience speaking? On the plus side the dremel definitely allowed me to loosen up. It also helped capture the look of fur, which was one of my goals. If I were to do this fly again. I think it might be a good idea to use both traditional tools and the dremel. But, that will have to be done some other time. Dirty Dozen fly no. 3 is calling.
What possesses a person to spend all day on a frozen lake? For me it’s the thought of pulling in a Northern Pike by hand. I don’t fish for perch, crappie or gills through the ice. I put out a few tip-ups and kick back. My nephew Garrett joined me this weekend. He brought his girlfriend who has never been ice fishing before. I wanted to show her a Pike badly. When a flag finally went up I was happy for me, but also happy that Lacie would get to see a Pike. But, fishing trips don’t always end happily. I lost the Pike when bringing him in. Actually, I think when he bolted for the weeds the line tangled and probably ripped the minnow out before I even had a chance to set the hook. When I did set the hook it felt like a snag, and not that noticable throb that you feel when you hook a Pike. I’ll add another chapter to my book titled, “The one that got Away”. It’s good cold therapy anyway. My house doesn’t feel cold anymore. It feels comfortably warm, and I know I’ll sleep good tonight.
I sketched out a few ants on my lunch break today. A black ant is easy to draw, but printing a black ant may not be so easy. I think the easiest way is to make a simplified two dimensional rendition similar to my “Caja de Mosca” print. But, that’s not what I had in mind for this fly. I’m going to attempt some techniques that I rarely use. It’s Dremel tool time! You gotta love using power tools to make art.
One down…eleven to go. This is the first print of the Dirty Dozen project. The DD project is about making one print every 12 days until I make 12 prints. The subjects are my favorite flies. This one is a Pheasant Tail Nymph. After this spends a week or so drying it will get painted with watercolor. While this guy is on the hanger, I’ll start working on sketches for the next fly. What’s it going to be???? Honestly I’m not sure. I have my Dirty Dozen flies picked out, but I’m not sure which one to do next. I’ll think about it tomorrow when I’m tying flies with friends.
Ink- Akua Color
Wood- Shina plywood
Tools- Flexcut and Namisei
Press- Richeson Baby Press
The wood was treated with Elmers Carpenter Glue (PVA) and sanded prior to cutting. I’ve been experimenting with PVA and Shellac. The glue method is definitely easier. And, I think it may have worked better as far as clean up. I’m still experiencing a lot of chipping with the Shina plywood. Since I have very few pieces left I’m not too concerned. I intend to buy some thicker plywood and some Cherry. I’m really curious how the Cherry will cut. I’ve yet to cut into solid wood. If you asked me how I feel about this print I probably wouldnt say much. It’s definitely a “just do it” print. I could have spent more time working on the composition. I could have been more careful with cutting. But, I didn’t. Which is why this print fits the theme perfectly. It’s a down and dirty print. Eleven more to go.