So I am not sure what has got into me lately but over the past year I seem to be obsessed with building rather than buying. Perhaps I am getting in touch with my inner frontiersman? Whether it is my home renovations or my fly fishing I cannot get this vintage, repurposing, build it yourself mentality out of my mind.
If you have been following me at all, you know I am building a skiff which will launch in March. (yes, that is a hard launch date!) I think that was my leaping off point. Yes, go big or go home! A few weeks ago I decided to build my first fly rod and I am totally pumped about it. My wraps are not quite perfect and I definitely made a few mistakes for my first build but overall it came out pretty darn sweet! The blank is a Blue Halo glass blank, 8′ 5 wt 3 piece. I outfitted it with a half wells grip and Ti plated guides and aluminum reel seat. It looks like CW and I are heading out on Jan 2nd to do some damage so I will let you all know how she fishes next week. Big thanks needs to go out to Cameron Mortenson at TFM since almost every resource I pulled for the build came from his blog. And before anyone bothers to point it out, yes I know I overlapped a few wraps and yes I know I have a bubble or two in my epoxy….
For any of you that were wondering about dipping your toe into rod building, the basics are not all that complex. It does take a fair amount of patience and a willingness to do a bit of learning but if you can tie flies you can build rods. No disrespect to Zeb Tonkavich, Shane Gray, or any of the other folks that are true artists when it comes to building rods intended. That is a whole other level of build and finish. I was just thrilled that nothing has fallen off (yet) and it doesn’t look like a 3rd grader put it together! Hopefully I will take a few more risks with my second build and we can see how we do.
My other holiday endeavor was to start building my own dubbing brushes. I thought about building my own station but when I added up the cost and the time, the good folks at Twister System already had this thing wired… get it? wired! So I picked up one for me and sent one over to CW for his Birthday. I quickly spun up a few squirrel tail brushes and pumped out my favorite sculpin pattern. Yes, I know I need to tie up a bunch of midges for Friday but I couldn’t help myself. Something inside just had meat on the brain.
Yes, this is madness! Where does it stop? Do I start sewing my own clothes? Forging my own tools? Brewing my own beer? Wait a moment. OK, sanity is creeping back in. Definitely not brewing my own beer. There are some things that I just can’t compete with.
So what have we learned today? Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and build something! It is part of our primal nature. For the stuff you aren’t going to build, Ditch the big box stores and support your local shops! Otherwise you will be asking some clueless dude at Bass Pro the next time you need help. I had someone reply to me the other day that they didn’t live near a local shop so that is why they shopped big box! Sorry, I’m calling bullshit. Almost every local shop that will survive the next 5 years has a pretty darn good web presence and good customer service over the phone to support it. Many will even ship for free. So buy local or at the very least, stop calling for free advice and then buying somewhere else. That just makes you a douche. Just sayin….
Anyhow enough preaching. I hope you all had a fantastic 2014 and are looking forward to a very fishy 2015.
Tight Lines and Loose Pants,
Just a quick heads up. I will be teaching a seminar at International Angler on fly tying for carp and smallmouth bass. It will be on March 9th at 10:00AM. There have been so many cool innovations in patterns over the last couple of years and I am excited to share some of what I have seen out there with all of you.
It should be a couple hours of fun and learning. Look forward to seeing you there!
I am not normal…..
If you are Mrs. Brownliner you can attest to this with certainty. If you are the Carp Whisperer, you can echo that sentiment as well. In fact, if you have ever read this blog it was probably fairly apparent rather quickly.
Most fly fishers begin with trout. From there they branch out into the salt or other warm water predatory species. Some never branch out at all. As a life long bass and still water fisherman, streams and trout just didn’t speak to me for a very long time. I was used to big water, big hardware, and big boats. So it was logical that my greenhorn years as a fly fisherman were spent chasing bass and stripers in the salt. Double hauling a 1/0 Clouser into the wind made much more sense to me than a reach cast and three mends to float an elk hair caddis with no drag did.
I was living in the DC area at the time and chucking lead in Baltimore for schoolies was big fun. This was also when I began to tie flies. I took a class at the Orvis store in Tyson’s Corner, VA and I was hooked. The idea of creating was absolutely fascinating to me. I went out and bought (on VHS!) Lefty Kreh’s fly tying series as well and I began a journey that has been near and dear to my heart for the past 15 years.
I recently was going through some fly boxes as I was prepping for my annual trip to Presque Isle with CW and I found some flies that I had tied back when I had first began. I recall at the time being very proud of some of my ties and even more so when they yielded a take. Evolution is a funny thing…. My hackle turns were sloppy, my heads were not finished well… in general, they looked like they had been tied by a child. In many ways they had.
So as I sat down to the vise to tie for my trip, I couldn’t help but to notice the attention to detail that only comes with years and mistakes. It took me ages before I was comfortable tying flies for trout. I don’t think I even owned hooks smaller than a size 2!
So as I sat down and began to tie, my mind started to wander down amnesia lane. I had vivid memories of pulling specific patterns from the jaws of specific fish. I remember driving a chartreuse over white 1/0 Clouser Minnow into the back of my head while fishing some bridge pilings at night in Virginia Beach…. I think I still have a small lump from that one a decade later.
Tying meat is just different. Big hooks, big profiles, big dumbells, big popper heads, big weed guards, etc…. Hopefully yielding big fish! The truth is I have enough flies tied to last for years yet I still tie more. At times I wonder if it is a sickness or some kind of compulsion? I give flies to friends…. hell I give them to complete strangers as well. (good karma)
So just for the record….. this is the first fly I ever tied. I landed a massive 12″ grunt on it and promptly retired it to the top of my desk where it remains!
Where has your tying journey taken you? Fond memories? Crazy stories? Love to hear them if you care to share. And if you have never tied meat…. go for it! It will give you a good excuse to go buy that 8 or 9 weight rod you had your eye on.
Good Luck, Tight Lines, and Lots of Beef Jerkey,
I crave the salt like a land locked salmon. It is in my blood and in my dreams. Most people cut their teeth as trout fisherman and migrate to the salt with a bit of curiosity… at least that has how it has historically been. Ironically, in my entire fly fishing career I have caught two (no that was not a typo) trout on the fly. The largest reason is that I don’t really trout fish much. The other is that the whole entomology game just bugs me. My fly fishing journey started in salt water and a day does not go by that I don’t miss it.
According to my wife, the rumors are true and yes… size matters. I am not just talking about the length of the rod or the full wells grip. I hate tying flies smaller than a size 10. I don’t like tying knots in 7x tippet. And I am sorry to all of the trout purists in the crowd, but the notion of chasing a 6″ brookie because it is native and has pretty spots just does not turn my crank.
The notion of hooking into a fish that can rip your arm from the socket is just an amazing thought. I love the struggle, my inner Ahab is brought out as I peer into the eyes of the great white whale (metaphorically speaking of course). Man vs. Beast…..
At the end of the month I have 4 days in the Florida Keys and I find myself tying far too many flies and going through my gear list a few too many times. Before I leave all of my hooks will be razor sharp and fingernail tested. My one concern is wondering whether or not my wife will have a head injury from all of the excessive eye rolling that is being sent in my direction. To be honest I really don’t care!
Keep your eyes peeled Moby…. Ahab is coming!