thoughts on fly tying and art

Art Led Me to Fly Fishing by Cheech at Fly Fish Food

gotta love the colder months. people are inspired enough to take the time to dish out some real gems and here’s yet another.

“We didn’t have guns to shoot, ATVs to ride, or animals to feed. I really was fueled by sports, mainly soccer, through my younger years but I always had access and drive to create art. In about 5th grade I realized that I couldn’t draw anything that was realistic, so I’d draw and create caricatures and abstract stuff (like the flyfishfood logo) that would freak out my teachers. I guess the sculpture of a figure in a hooded robe with his mouth sewn shut was the kicker for her… ”
Art Mascots Cheech FlyFishFood

and it gets groovier and groovier from thereon.

click the moustache for the whole bit and be sure to dig through the Fly Fish Food site for tons of awesome reggae-inspired flies. enjoy !

“ALL HAIL THE BLACK PRINCE !!!

if you got here via a skull & bones/sucky music worshipping-type freak search go headbang elsewhere.

on the other hand, if you’re interested in the re-vamping of historical flies and beauty on a hook read the few excerpts below !

“The Black Prince wet fly is an old pattern. It is shown on the Lake Flies in Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, by Mary Orvis Marbury. It is also in Trout, 1938, by Ray Bergman. It was a popular pattern and has appeared in other publications as well. The Orvis version has a body made entirely of flat gold tinsel, while the later version in Trout sports a black floss body with a gold tinsel ribbing. Both have red tails, the version in Marbury’s book also has a jungle cock cheek.”
black-prince Don Bastian
“Like so many classic wet flies, trout do not see them, and one ace-in-the-hole trick you can tuck up your sleeve is to hit the water with something different than what everyone else is fishing. How about the Black Prince?”

those being the opening and closing lines of yet another great page on Don Bastion‘s Wet Fly blog, click His Majesty for the complete article, materials list and more on this classic fly’s history. enjoy !

proportion perfect

a delightful blast from the not-so-far past from Jeff Kennedy and the much missed Drawing Flies 52 project.
i’m not the nostalgic type but Jeff’s and Jason Borger‘s fly and fish art collaboration where very special. their art is still out there, easily viewable for anyone willing to do a little research. i guess its the “what’ll they come with next week ?” i miss most.

proportionally perfect - Jeff Kennedy

Caenis insights

or enlarged views of the ‘angler’s curse‘.
just that common name alone should get our attention even if it sounds a bit masochistic fishing-wise, even for those of us who love a challenge !

“When the important hatches of Tricorythodes were first discovered by anglers, Caenis was given the credit. We now know that the Caenis mayflies are a different group, smaller and less common in trout streams, and they hatch in the evening instead of the morning.

They very rarely elicit selective feeding, but when they do they’re very tough to match because they’re often much smaller than size 28. This difficulty has earned them the nickname “Angler’s Curse.”

simple enough to say, even if these early observers didn’t have a watch or map… what comes out in the end in practical terms for us fly anglers is these thingies are very-very small and their proportions are completely off from the larger mayfly species as they have stout bodies, specially the thorax and long tails and antennae and the wings tend to sit out on the sides ‘spent-like’ instead of the usual top: basically the trigger points we’ll want to recreate when tying these flies.

here’s some reference vintage plates of our beautiful little friends to use while we’re at the tying bench. enjoy !

caenis_luctuosa_by_guiguiblitz-d5zfqamcaenis 2caenis 3and just because its so cool to see details millions of times bigger than life size,
caenis parts

angler’s curse quote via TroutNut.com
vintage plates via Google Images

Spider Perfection

what else is there to say ?

Moorhen & Gold by Hans Weilenmann 

moorhen_gold Hans Weilenmann

Hook: Grip 14723BL #14
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk (Antique Gold)
Hackle: Moorhen marginal wing covert – one side stripped
Body: Tying silk

Fly Tier Showcase- Mike Townend

545103_422258894469883_1460751799_n

most salmon flies make me think of drag queens: ghastly, tarty-tasteless gaudy caricature creatures haphazardly put together with ill-died feathers and plastic diamonds.
whether they catch fish or not is irrelevant, it’s the human factor and the horrendous side effects of complacency and a general sense of ineptitude induced to both viewers and creators of such tackiness that’s still wreaking havoc (of sorts) in the fly tying world after hundreds of years.
one could say they are the neon lights used to lure in trucker-cap crowds to the local strip mall. (please use your imagination for that last part and don’t actually go there) anyhow, this is some serious shit and not something to be taken lightly so let’s see what a recognized  expert has to say about this phenomenon.

“Hence man’s otherwise inexplicable passion for salmon flies and hence his attribution to precious stones of therapeutic and magical virtue…. In other words, precious stones are precious because they bear a faint resemblance to the glowing marvels seen with the inner eye of the visionary. “

Aldous Huxley’s pretty in-deep quote from his marvelous essay Fly Tying Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell’ shows a much higher understanding than i ever could as to why these gaudy flies are so popular and get the most ‘likes’ on Facebook.

now, on the other hand and thank goodness !, we have these quasi-mystical shrine-like flies tied by Mike Townend of Aberdeen, Scotland prompting aw-inspiring reflections such as:
“The hook, for example, of that fly–how miraculous it’s tubularity, how supernatural it’s polished smoothness! I spent several minutes–or was it several centuries?–not merely gazing at this salmon fly, but actually being it—or rather being myself in it; or, to be still more accurate (for “I” was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were “it”) being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the salmon fly.”

right. rendering the acquisition of  illegal lotions and potions pointless, thanks to Monsieur Townend we get to view, absorb and be the sublime and not have to wait eight hours for it all to wear off.
(hmmm, the more i re-read all this the more it all makes sense but in case it don’t, if you ignore the words you’ll at least enjoy these awesomely stunning examples of what can only be considered ‘feather poetry’)
298724_290002111028896_37989057_n

316459_314630335232740_489625541_n 229758_258272157535225_5413472_n 395349_352470248115415_2053622851_n 316459_314630331899407_1992105736_n

related articles

Sunday’s Cake

Fly Tyin’ with Uncle Ken – The Fatty Longtail via Fly Fish Food

sundays are just another day in the week but with a different name: nothing special.
rituals and sickly-sweet treats however, (as long as there’s cake, chocolate and coffee involved) are something to be performed on a daily basis: and that’s special.
considering that today is sunday and no longer saturday and not yet monday, and that i’ve promised to share some fantabulous new tying videos a treat is in order so here goes !

PA Roya Gurgle Fuck lightshift19

today’s tasty molasses-filled exotic-materials stuffed cake come straight to us from the land of Corn between your teeth. bon appétit  !

CrabWips

by Matthew Cousineau

not usually attracted to digitally reworked images, Matthews’s ‘paintings’ leave a strong deep-dark mysterious and appealing aftertaste. his flies are alive, beautiful and they mean business. they tell their own story while complementing the originals.
i like this and i like it a lot.

crabwips cousineau

in the film below we’ll see sort of a visual step-by-step of how the image was created. not being bored by any technical details we can just go along for the ride and enjoy it’s various transformations in the same manner as a timelapse film of a blooming flower.

be sure to click the image or the following link to access Matthew’s page Custom Fly Art  for more beauties.  enjoy !

Quill Gordon, Theodore Gordon-style…

by David Stenström

” The Quill Gordon is undoubtedly one of the worlds most well known dry fly patterns. The flies tied by Gordon back in the day looked quite different to the version we are accustomed to today. The other day I was looking through some of my books and came across a few pictures of flies tied by Theodore Gordon himself, and realized…   “

funny thing is i’m not particularly attracted to the historical aspect of fly fishing or tying but i just can’t get enough of David’s flies. from one of the best tiers specializing in the Catskills style, the fly below leaves me breathless.

Theodore Gordon style 640p

for more awesomeness and modern variants of the Quill Gordon click the pic. enjoy !

the ‘Henryville Special’

previously showcased David Stenström outdoes himself once again both in tying virtuoso and in photography skills with this little caddisy beauty originally created by Hiram Brobst of the Pocono Mountains region of Eastern Pennsylvania.

the Henryvile Special - David Stenström

i don’t like the concept of perfection but if i did, this would be very close. woW…

Jason’s catching up

as a lot of us casting geeks know, Jason Borger‘s been working on his  soon to be out (and looooong-awaited !) ‘Single-Handed Fly Casting – A Modular Approach’ book so we’ll half-pardon him for not keeping up with Jeff Kennedy and their Drawing Fish and Flies 52 weekly challenge but once again, the wait was worth it !
here’s a Popsicle splash
50dff52-popsicle-121512-large
and here a Royal Wulff 49dff52-rwulff-120812
one for every flavor, both gorgeous.
enjoy !

i was going to yell ‘Humbug’,

but thought you might like this super-sweet Christmas Fly by Jeff Kennedy better.

xmas fly jeff kennedy 25-12-12

ok ! now that the shenanigans are over let’s get back to serious business !

the Royal Wulff: an interesting paradox

in fly selection, once we take away the fish-enticing elements and practical issues aspects we’re left with what’s to me at least, the most important.
the fly’s aesthetic appeal and the confidence that goes with it: two very combined elements. if i feel ‘inspired’ by a certain fly i’ll not only enjoy fishing it more but will believe with a much higher degree of (semi) certainty that this is the one that will fool the fish.
now, to define exactly how that aesthetic appeal happens is about as intangible as trying to explain why i prefer to do it from behind or why chocolate tastes so good. it’s simplistic to say but simply put, it feels good and that’s about it.

anyway… today’s paradox has to do with the Royal Wulff. it’s a mega-classic fly all over the world, has caught tons and tons of fish and will continue to do so. legions of fly fishers swear by it and will probably have several at all times in their box. it’s the kind of fly that can bring far-away gazes, images of epic catches and produce buckets full of drool.
well, i happen to think it’s butt-ugly, is as devoid of mojo as it gets and i wouldn’t want to touch one with a stick.
seriously, for the life of me i can’t think of another fly that has the same effect. it’s almost as bad as if i where told that to continue fishing i would have to fish with worms.
experience has taught me that ‘never say never’ is a pretty good saying but as with the worm, i’d prefer to put the tackle away and take photos or just sit there and watch the water than to tie on that fly, let alone present it to some lovely fish.
now, Jeff Kennedy recently put up the image below on facebook stating that it was only half way done and several of us quickly suggested that he should stop right there. (“It’s PERFECT ! STOP !!!”)  and here i am with what i think is the nicest painting of a fly ever, and the big and blown-up subject is none other than the dreaded Royal Wulff…

DF&F52_48

who knows, maybe i just exorcized the Royal Wulff within me and may get to like it some day. not.

“Brings back the kid in me”

by Jeff Kennedy

here’s a sneak-peek on a current  and absolutely gorgeous work in progress.

“My first attempt at acrylic painting. 24″ x 36″ Green Butt Skunk. 70% done via finger painting! Brings back the kid in me.”

i like that kind of kid…

click the pic for more of Jeff’s artwork previously featured here. enjoy !

the Bunyan Bug stone

more fantabulous heavy medium fly art by Jason Borger

“This is decidedly non-traditional, thanks to my wife, Kel. We were fishing on a stream near Missoula (the River Runs Through It town), and she spotted this pale, flat rock along with a little dark-orange stone that happened to be soft enough to use as chalk. Well, it took her about two seconds to put the two together and hand me my palette. And since the Bunyan Bug was on tap, I could think of no better way to draw it (and with materials from no better place).”

Missoula, nostalgia and A River Runs Through It. read more HERE