My buddy Mike and I swapped a few flies around this winter and he got the chance to take the ones I sent him for a spin this past week. Mike ties some of the best trout streamers of anyone I know, so we decided to swap 6 each. I'll be posting some pics of his flies in the mouths of fish shortly, but for now check out these great Utah browns that fell for some Montana tied goodness.
If there is one thing I am particular about as an angler and fly tier it is hooks. As the connection point between you and the goal, I absolutely never skimp on hooks. Ever. So when my buddy Evan at Allen Fly Fishing asked me if I wanted some of their hooks to tie on I was skeptical. Granted there are not that many places on earth making hooks, but if they were Mustads repackaged with the Allen logo they would have hit the envelope right back to where they came from.
Fortunately, this couldn't be further from the truth. When the hooks arrived I cracked open a package of #4 streamer hooks and started wrapping some sparklers. The finish on them is every bit as good as any other trout hook on the market, and the point was absolutely as sticky as a tiemco trout hook. One thing I have found when I buy cheap hooks (read Dai Riki) is the finish is very inconsistent and there is typically one hook per pack that has a major defect. There were no such issues, and I have now tied on several packs of Allen Hooks with the same success. When it comes to trout hooks, I don't see myself tying on much else this upcoming summer.
Reading through the FB this morning and my buddy Dave had one of my favorite quotes from possibly my favorite author, Ed Abbey.
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast... a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards. - Edward Abbey
A day early, the new issue of Swing The Fly dropped yesterday, and as expected is full of some incredible imagery and writing. Not surprising for a March release date it is heavily oriented to winter steelhead fishing, but that's what we're all thinking about right now anyways right? As always I feel privileged to be part of such a great project, and excited about the things to come with it. I'll even be able to write about trout again for 2.1!
Note: Last week one of the greatest men that any of us have ever met passed away after more than 90 great years. This is an article that I have been thinking about for more than two years, and how do you wrap up the life of someone who is so special in words. I never knew if I would write it before or after Reg had passed. I have found after much writing and deleting you cannot come close, but here is my best attempt.
The ability to captivate a room of 20 guests at a busy fishing lodge full of puffed chests and inflated egos is not an easy thing to do. For Reggie Miller, this was something that came as natural as his effortless backcast, and is a talent that wouldn't even make his personal top 50 list. As cliche as it is, a comparison to the Dos Equis Man is the only way to come close to putting into words what Reggie had done in his life, and there is no way that you could capture the lives that he has touched. A WWII British B-24 bomber pilot, a world renewed lapidary and as many of us in Twin Bridges knew him, a phenomenal fly fisherman.
As a fishing guide we get to spend time with many different people from many different backgrounds, and if there is one thing the best guests have it is a positive energy. You can tell when you first meet them that they are passionate, fun, energetic and truly enjoy what they are doing. Reggie embodied these characteristics, and it showed not only in his angling but in the fact that at over 90 years old he would show up to the lodge and fish for 6 weeks straight, nearly everyday.
A typical Reggie day was not your 8 hour float through the heat. Rather it was usually 4 hours of fishing and could often include an errand or too. If you were going to the Beaverhead you knew that your trip would include a stop by "the tack shop" (fly shop) or a random drive through KFC for a giant bucket of chicken. Back in time for a nap, Reggie would certainly be the last one every night by the campfire, enjoying a vodka or a bush mills, and of course a cigar, of which he had shipped to Montana by the brick so that he could share with anyone who cared to partake.
The outpouring of thoughts about Reggie on social media outlets has been amazing, and it's incredible just how many people Reggie impacted when you think about the odds of them meeting in Montana. If you met Reggie and didn't immediately feel the energy to go completely after whatever it is you dig, than you just really don't get it. Rest in peace old friend, I know you're not wasting your time staring at "the bloody bobber" on the other side.
Not going to make the cut for STF spring issue, but oh so fresh!
Just a heads up, only three weeks before the release of the spring issue of Swing The Fly. The only e-zine dedicated to two handed fishing, if you aren't reading it you're really missing out. This issue I will have an article about winter steelhead fishing and the guides that do it. Be sure to check it out on April 1st.
Millsdawg threw up a post yesterday about the transitions in tying that got me to thinking. I am very fortunate that I was exposed to fly fishing at the very young age of 12. At this time I also began tying flies. I don't know why, I had plenty of other hobbies, but went hand in hand with fly fishing, and I loved it from the very beginning. It likely comes from my mothers side and her creative ability. I still remember some of the very basic steps that my uncle (one of the best fly tiers I know) gave me the one time that we tied together. Wrap three times to keep your material stuck to the hook. After nearly 20 years of tying, it has become therapy to me, as much if not more than fishing. This winter I have been trying to crank it up a notch, and above is the results.
With the current round of social media it is amazing to see the great tiers from all over the world. It would be so cool to be a kid getting into our sport right now. Every fly you could ever imagine has a video of how to tie it on youtube, and the ability to connect with those that tie is unparalleled. It has also created a network that is so strong for pushing the envelope. Seeing flies from tiers like Stuart Foxall or my buddy Chou always keep the motor running. What a great time to be wrapping bugs.