IMAGE OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
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Influences ................ February 10, 2014
The first chapter of Matching Major Eastern Hatches is titled "Modernizing Marinaro". I was influenced as a fly tyer by Vince Marinaro more than any other writer. Vince was a true student angler that didn't accept the status quo of angling traditions, and developed an interesting concept in the development of the "Thorax Dun". In my book I took Vince's thoughts a little further with materials that weren't available in his day in an attempt to modernize and improve on his work. The resulting fly is a very effective design that captures the illusion of a mayfly dun sitting low on the surface of the water quite nicely. Pictured here is my variation to imitate the Eastern Green Drake.
Fishing Hats ................ January 06, 2014
Nearly all of us wear some sort of a hat when we fish right? They satisfy a variety of purposes, mainly to protect us from the elements. From protection from the dangers of sun, rain, glare, snow, cold, bugs and on and on......... Most of us have a favorite fishing hat which often becomes part of our identity. My personal fishing hat is an orange ball cap, and most of the time that's what I'm wearing with few exceptions. One of my best fishing friends usually wears a PBR trucker hat, it's just the way he rolls. Some peoples fishing hats go to another level, often becoming an expression of their individuality and an extension of their personality. A picture here of another friends hat that is just too cool and too individual not to be preserved in picture form. By far one of the coolest fishing hats I've seen in a long time, and yes a very cool dude that wears it on the stream. Enjoy!
Clinging Nymphs ................ January 13, 2014
There was a period during my teen years where I really wanted to learn about aquatic insects and I would often capture nymphs and put them in an aquarium to watch. Mayfly nymphs fall into four distinct categories and the one that always amazed me were the clinging type; the Quill Gordons, March Browns and Cahills. These seem to be almost pressed to the stones on the stream bed and live in the strongest currents, but are very poor swimmers which seem to be almost helpless when they drift in the current. Their profiles are very flat and they keep their tails spread wide almost as a means to balance themselves in the current. The study of these nymphs led to the eventual design shown here, a very effective fly fished on the bottom, but also as a dropper suspended below a dry pattern during a hatch when the nymphs are readily available and drifting in the current as they move toward the surface to hatch. ,
The CDC Adult Caddis ................ January 20, 2014
My home stream is the Tulpehocken Creek in southeastern Pennsylvania. While the stream has a number of mayflies present, the trout focus primarily on caddis flies. The low gradient character of the stream gives fish a chance to look closely before they eat and a good fly is critical to success there. Pictured here is my "CDC Adult Caddis" which has been effective everywhere I've fished it. A simple, unique and effective fly design that gets the fly low in the film like a real caddis fly. The pattern below matches the first caddis we see each spring, the "Grannom" or "Shad Fly" of the Brachycentrus genus in both the male and female versions. Chapter 13 of "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" is devoted to this pattern; the thought process behind the design, the instruction for tying it and presenting it to the fish. A super pattern you should try this spring.
The DNA Spinner ................ January 27, 2014
One of the fly designs I talked about in my presentations at the Somerset show this past weekend was the "DNA Spinner". One of my favorite fly patterns and one that has been tremendously successful for me, especially on larger fish. The wing material used to tie this pattern is a synthetic fiber called "DNA Frosty Fish Fiber" which has a remarkable blend of qualities that make it the perfect choice for imitating mayfly spinner wings. Pictured here is my pattern to match the little Baetis Olives in a size #20.
Something New ................ February 03, 2014
A project that I worked on in 2012 is finally finished and ready to be released in March this year. I was asked to shoot new insect images for a previously published book written by Tom Rosenbauer of Orvis. The work involved shooting 42 images of insects and other organisms that trout feed on for a revised edition of Tom's book "The Orvis Streamside Guide to Trout Foods and Their Imitations". It was a true honor to get to work with Tom and Jay Cassell of Skyhorse Publishing on this type of a project, and a huge honor to have one of my images for the cover shot. Thank you Tom for reaching out and inviting me to work on this one!
The Half & Half Emerger ................ February 17, 2014
This week I will be giving a presentation at the monthly Angler's Club of Philadelphia's dinner event which will talk about the thought process behind the design of some of my favorite original fly patterns. One of those is my "Ace in the Hole" Half and Half Emerger shown here in the Pale Olive version for matching some of the larger Blue Wing Olives of the Attenella and Drunella genus. A highly effective pattern that captures that transitional moment in the mayfly lifecycle when the insect transforms from nymph to dun. The resulting pattern sits suspended in the surface film, imitating components of both stages and presenting a very vulnerable and easy to capture meal.
Soft Hackled Flies ........................ February 24, 2014
More than anything else in fly tying, I truly enjoy making intricate flies that are imitative. There is a tremendous satisfaction in developing something that works on those super tough conditions where trout are selective; something that solves a problem on the stream. On the other hand; simple flies such as the old Yorkshire Soft Hackles, are both fun to tie and highly effective under a lot of conditions. Probably one of the most famous of these old patterns in the "Partridge and Orange" which has been tied and fished for well over 120 years. I find myself fishing them more often than I ever did in years past and yes, they work quite nicely...................
Mystery Mayfly ........................ March 03, 2014
Last year I posted a few "Mystery Bugs" on here which a lot of people seemed to enjoy, so in that spirit the first installment in this year's "Mystery Bug" game. I'm going to limit the clues here, but can tell you that these can happen at different times of the year..... sorry, only a single clue. To qualify your guess, I need the correct scientific name of the specie, the sex of the bug and the stage as presented here. Nail all three and you might be the "Bug Geek of the Week". I wish I could offer up some great prizes, but until we can get some sponsorship contributions the honor alone will have to be enough. Now that you know the rules give it your worst.......
Mystery Mayfly Part II........................ March 10, 2014
Back by popular demand. Last week's "Mystery Mayfly" post got some good action, so we will have another round. Ace fly tyer John "Sculpin Man" Collins was last weeks official "Bug Geek of the Week", so who out there is ready to bring home the gold this week? Again, to be in the running we need the correct latin name, sex and stage. No hokey nick names will count! Go for it .................................
Friends........................ March 17, 2014
I've been a very fortunate man and have had a chance to meet some really interesting people in the fly fishing world and to fish in some truly remarkable places. One of my favorites has been the chance to fish the famous Henryville Fly Fishers Club in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. The Henryville water is beautiful and remarkable and a special place where you feel like you are fishing in the footsteps of legends in the sport because you really are. It's also a place where I've made some friends and enjoy fishing there with them. One of those is pictured here; Peter Leibundgut, a good fisherman and a very good friend. I enjoy every time we get a chance to fish and look forward to things warming up and getting a chance to fish soon................
Iso's ........................ June 24, 2014
If you have a chance check out the August / September issue of Fly Fisherman Magazine. I have an article in that issue about my killer "Swimming Isonychia Nymph". the Iso is a really remarkable mayfly and the nymph stage is unique in appearance and behavior. The nymph pattern presented here is one of my original designs presented in my book "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" and is one of my designs available through Umpqua Feather Merchants. A huge thank you to Ross Purnell for giving me another opportunity to be published in Fly Fisherman. I hope you enjoy it!
That Time of Year Again ........................ July 07, 2014
If you haven't figured it out yet I'm a "match the hatch" geek. Cracking the code is a great challenge that's deeply satisfying when you manage to do it. Over the years though, one of my favorite patterns year in and year out are ants. My Parachute Ant patterns see a lot of time on the water, even during those heavy spinner falls of Tricorythodes. I tie them in a number of colors including Black, Cinnamon, Red, Carpenter and my all-time favorite, the "Red - Headed Ant". Most trout will seldom pass up the opportunity to take one and a good downstream and across cast with a clean drift is a deadly approach. Check out chapter 16 of "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" which is appropriately titled "All About Ants"......
Cedar Creek .............. July 14, 2014
Pennsylvania boasts a total of 56 streams that are classified as "Limestone Streams". Many of those have been widely written about such as the Letort Spring Run, Big Spring, Penns Creek among others. The Lehigh Valley in eastern Pennsylvania is home to a number of these stream as well. One of the more obscure of these is Cedar Creek which flows through the city of Allentown who manages one of the best city park systems you will ever find, and it is amazing that streams such as the Little Lehigh and Monocacy creek hold healthy populations of wild brown trout that will provide a great challenge in a beautiful park setting. This weeks image is a beautifully colored brown from Cedar Creek that fell victim to a Letort Cricket drifted tight against the bank. If you enjoy the challenge of limestone creek fishing Cedar is one that you should try .........................
Hay Creek .............. July 21, 2014
The highest recognition a stream in Pennsylvania can receive is "Exceptional Value" by the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection. One of those in Berks County flows only about a mile from my home. It's a stream that I've fished more times than I can forget, and is the place where I caught my first trout on a dry fly almost forty years ago. In my next book project I will be talking about this little gem of a creek because it is a place where you will find wild browns and occasional brookies in the upper water, and good fishing all summer long in the remainder of the stream which stays cold all year. The stream is named "Hay Creek" and it is a fun place to explore.
The Letort Hopper July 28, 2014
I can't recall exactly where I learned of this pattern, but know that it was probably thirty or more years ago. In the years since I've tied and tried just about any grasshopper pattern that exists, and remarkably I always come back to this one. Here in Pennsylvania is where terrestrial patterns really came into being and this little gem of a pattern was created on one of our most famous limestoners, the legendary Letort Spring Run. Grasshoppers are very small in the beginning of their life cycle and gain in size as the season progresses. This pattern is a perfect imitation of the smaller meadow hoppers at that earlier juvenile stage. Several versions exist; one by Ernie Schweibert and another by Ed Shenk. This is my favorite version which replaces the fragile turkey wing which is prone to splitting with a strip of Web Wing. By far my favorite hopper pattern! Tie a few and give them a try, a classic and terribly effective pattern.
Mystery Mayfly August 25, 2014
I haven't posted one of these for a while, so here goes. This one is almost too easy and any legit "Bug Geek" should find that to be true. One of my favorite mayflies and one that most trout will pass up on when they are hatching. So, for all of the prestige and honor that the title of "Bug Geek of the Week" can give you, let's see what you got. Only complete specie, sex and stage entries will be considered. Ready, set ....................
Colorful People ............... September 2, 2014
The world is full of colorful people, and some are more colorful than others. Even in the fly fishing world colorful people exist and no one pulls it off better than this man; the man, the myth, the legendary "Whitefish Ed". A Pennsylvania native who is the fly fishing fraternities equivalent to Lady Gaga, Liberace or Elton John. Ed can be found prowling the banks of the Henry's Fork in Idaho and is by far one of the more colorful people I know and a true original. Ed is in the process of wrapping up a book which I am anxious to read and wish him the best with that project. I want a signed copy Ed! Stay crazy buddy, hopefully I'll see you next June. Till then ............
Summer Bugs ............... September 9, 2014
The late summer / early autumn brings a cool perspective to fly fishing, even when the weather is less than cool. Imitations of terrestrial insects can be incredibly effective and bring surprising results. Grasshopper can play an important role in that where meadow habitats are adjacent to a trout stream. They come in an array of colors and sizes which should be part of your imitation strategy. Right now I'm in the process of writing a new presentation which will focus on land based insects, imitations of them and tactics for fishing them. If you have a group, club or Trout Unlimited Chapter give me a call of send an email to discuss having this or one of my other presentations for your group.
Cool Places I've Been ......................... September 15, 2014
I've been fortunate to have been able to fish in some remarkable places, fortunate to have shared some of them with good friends and fortunate to have made some memories along the way. We were invited to fish a section of the Middle Branch of the South Platte River a few years ago in Colorado. The Middle Fork meanders through a beautiful meadow valley just north of the Mosquito Mountains and is one of the more beautiful places I've had the chance to fish. The owner of the property was a unique man who loved his river and treated us to a special day of fishing and great ranch food. thanks Darrell! Pictured here is one of my friends Steve Spurgeon working one of those meadow pools.
Confession Time ........................... September 22, 2014
Ok, time to roll out a confession of sorts. Alot of people inquire about how I get photos of bugs and the answers they get often seem to amuse them. To begin you need to be there. Some hatches are short and you find the hatch and catch the bug or wait a year for the next cycle. Once you find the bug you want, the real game begins...... lights, camera, backgrounds and action! Well that's where it often gets weird. Most bugs are more problematic than a two year old and don't cooperate by sitting still for the camera, so how do I work around that? Well some spend the night in the fridge which makes them slow down for a few shots before they warm up, but others need a little something else. Some of them get a little additional help and are actually anesthetized when I photograph them, just enough to take off the edge. If done right I get a few minutes to work before it wears off, but sometimes things just go to hell. Pictured here is one of my recent wrecks...... I unintentionally overdosed this guy, and although it doesn't appear to be so, my photo shoot turned into a murder scene. Yep, I killed it! One of my close friends told me I had just ruined my families lives for generations to come, and i should be more careful than normal. Crickets are treated highly in some cultures and are believed to be enchanted and killing one, even by accident can be bad mojo. A cool shot of a cricket I needed for a project, but a word to my friends; if my site seems to go suddenly unattended, there is some legitimacy to the crickets powers...............
An Advertisement ........................... September 29, 2014
It's that time of year again and already my dance card is starting to fill up. I've booked some speaking engagements at a number of shows, shops and Trout Unlimited Chapters during the next few months and am busy working on some new programs that your members will enjoy. If you are a member of a club, TU Chapter or a show and are looking for presentations, demonstrations or speakers for your group event give a shout. My presentations run from 45 to 55 minutes in length and have a lot of great images of insects, fly patterns, fish and some of my favorite streams. My rates are very affordable and I will provide references upon request. Give me a call! Pictured here is an image of a female Green Drake dun from the West Branch of the Delaware. Till next week ..........................
Mystery Mayfly ........................... October 13, 2014
I just returned from a few days in the Catskills, and caught this pretty little bug on the West Branch of the Delaware River. This one isn't all that common and really had messed up emergence timing. It should have hatched months ago, so probably out of luck for finding some love. Who will be the first person to guess what bug this one is? Remember, to qualify I need the correct Latin name, stage and sex of the bug. Let's see who this weeks "Bug Geek of the Week" is ............................................
By the way, I will be offering matted and signed images of this one. Contact me if you are interested.
Parachute Ants ........................... October 27, 2014
I can't remember how many years ago I started tying parachute style ants and it's even harder to remember how many fish have been fooled with one of them. Ants have played an important role in my fishing for a long time, and I always carry a good assortment of colors and sizes. The parachute style shown here is unique in the way the parachute post is tied to preserve the profile of real ants with their characteristic narrow waists. The post is made from Darlon yarn which provides a good post to wrap the hackle around and serves as a bright sight post for visibility. I tie these in sizes from #14 down to 22 and in a range of colors. It's hard to beat a standby color like black or cinnamon, but I like the two toned ant pictured here the best. I call this one the "Red-Headed Ant" which is often the one that gets knotted on my leader more than any other.
Triggers ........................... November 10, 2014
I really don't know what triggered this thought today; but I was thinking about some old friends that I've lost. I guess it's another part of getting older and it made me want to break out one of my favorite bamboo rods. The rod pictured here is one that came together over a winter of Saturdays in the shop of George Maurer. It's seven feet of darkly flamed cane that makes me remember him and the time we spent building it. George thought of himself as a "spirit on a human journey" which is an accurate story for his short life. The reel is an old Hardy 3 1/8" Uniqua that I horse traded with another friend Steve Pioso, who has also moved on to better water. Steve and I traded many things over the years and we always walked away from each trade kidding that the other had come out on the better end of the deal. The banter during the negotiation was the best part, and I bartered a full dress "Kate" I tied for this reel and certainly came out on the better end that time. The fly pictured here is an extended body drake given to me by another friend, Ernie Schweibert who has moved on as well. Ernie was a huge inspiration for me to become a writer and is sadly missed as well. I've been fortunate to have these and other people as friends over the years and to think back.
Other Influences ........................... November 17, 2014
Beginning my career as a fly tyer back in the early 1970's there were a few authors that were very influential. Watching the changes in fly designs, materials and hooks evolve over the past forty something years has been a cool thing to watch and a very cool thing to participate in. Vince Marinaro was by far the biggest influence in designing fly patterns, but a few older generation writers were major influences as well. Ernest Schweibert was one of those and another that I always respected was the man that developed this patterns years ago in the Catskills. This nymph pattern is Art Flick's March Brown nymph; a very cool pattern from his "Streamside Guide". Nymph patterns have come a long way in the years since; but a big thank you to Art for his contribution!
Visitors ................................ December 01, 2014
Living where I do in the country I've seen a multitude of visitors in the past few weeks; a beautiful Red Fox this past weekend, a variety of birds and quite a few Whitetail Deer. Tonight on my front porch light was this interesting bug; a Frenesia specie caddisfly. Frenesia caddis; or "Dot-Winged Sedges" are the latest emerging specie of caddis found in the eastern U.S. and are easily confused with some of the other reddish toned sedges that we see in the fall such as the various Pycnopsyche and Neophylax species. They run rather large is size and are equivalent to a size #12 or 14 hook. A very cool caddisfly hatching on what has been the warmest day we've had here in eastern Pennsylvania in a while.
Looking Back ...................... December 08, 2014
It was thirty nine years ago that I caught my first trout on a dry fly on a stream not far from where I live now. I can picture it like it happened yesterday. In those days Catskill style dry flies were the standard and I still enjoy tying them at times and appreciate their balance and symmetry. This weeks image is a look back at where my fly tying career started years ago with a group of Catskill style March Browns.
Beginnings ...................... December 15, 2014
My entry into the world of fly fishing began 42 years ago at the ripe age of eleven. Most people don't know this, but my true attraction to the sport was the flies and more than anything else I wanted to be a fly tyer. All these years later I still enjoy the tying as much as the fishing and at times enjoy it more. In the beginning it was learning to tie wet flies and picture here are a few of the favorites from those days. Some of them still get knotted on my leader from time to time..................
Classics .................... December 22, 2014
There was a time when tying these took a strong precedent over everything else I wanted to tie. This week's image is the "John Ferguson" as described in George M. Kelson's "The Salmon Fly" published in 1895. A mixed wing pattern that was featured in "The Art of Angling Journal", Volume 1, issue 4. The pattern was dressed on a size 5/0 Harrison Bartleet iron hand made by Ray Smith.