Archive for July, 2011


Ernest Schwiebert

“I fish because of beauty” Ernest Schwiebert

I recently received an early edition of Ernest Schwiebert’s Nymphs, published in 1973. The artwork is extraordinary and the information requires study by today’s spoon fed standards. But, in studying Schwiebert, I discovered he was so gifted in expressing his recollections. I like that. As a rule, I am drawn to the visual for inspiration. But, I also am drawn to simple recollections that provide a glimpse of early inspirations and good times. I must confess that beyond techniques, I have not studied the fly fishing legends. I have a propensity to not idolize much these days, because it eventually leads to disappointment. But, Schwiebert seems to have been a bit of a Renaissance man with regard to fly fishing: science, art, literature, persona.  


Fly Fishing: Mending a fly line…what’s the big deal?

“One of the difficulties in mending for most anglers is that their technique eliminates slack in the line and leader, rather than creating slack or moving it to a new position. If the angler starts with no slack, and starts yanking on the line at the rod tip, the fly will move. At worst, the mend will negate casting accuracy by pulling the fly out of the fish’s feeding lane or cause enough drag to spook the target fish. “Mending Your Ways” by Brant Oswald

Middle Fork Willy: To mend now will move the fly as it moves along that far seam. An earlier, bigger mend would have kept the fly in the zone longer. The fish were rising along a 10′ stretch of the seam. I was maybe presenting to half that distance without drag ensuing. Notice the competing current speeds on the fly line. (SwittersB)

Oswald writes a nice beginner’s tutorial (intermediate’s reminder) on mending the fly line. The effort is to develop a balance in feeding line up trough the guides and/or adjusting the speed of the fly, via mends, without disturbing the fly and alarming the fish. The correct tension upon the fly line that maintains natural speed (moving at the speed of the current, not speeding up because of drag on the flyline/fly) is a skill that is much more important than how long a cast you can make. It is an important act that is often performed too hard.


Drano Bottle Bombs

I generally shy away from alerts re computers viruses, scams or Obama’s birth certificate. I thought this one interesting to share considering cleanup projects.  A little scrutiny of suspicious bottles. Would be hard in major cleanup.

Drano Water Bottle Bomb Alert (SwittersB)

Bottle Bombs & Snope’s Confirmation………………The Dipshits That Make These


Fly Tying & Fishing: On The Edge…Hoppers

Hot Summer days and the dusty shoreline and grass are buzzing with grass hoppers. This is a perfect beginner’s pattern where presentation may be more important than size, shape or color. Whether it is a Joe’s, Dave’s or some other buoyant hopper pattern, work it near the shoreline, close to the edge. Depending upon the size of the river, primarily focus within five feet or so on windy days. When it is hot and still, cast right in toward shore. If the waters allow you to safely wade in, then wade out a ways and cast in toward shore. If you are lucky enough to get an invite on a friend’s drift boat, then a hopper pattern will be a nice morsel to throw in off the grass and dirt banks. Hopper patterns are also, as you may have read in your studies, part of the touted Hopper/Dropper set up, providing an indicator/dry fly offering with a trailing subsurface pattern. Some people also fish two dries, say a Hopper and a Caddis pattern. I know an older gent, who years ago traveled the West, while working for the U.S. Forest Service, and primarily fished the Joe’s Hopper. There are newer Hopper patterns constructed of the new synthetics as well.  

Joe's Hopper (Montana Riverboats)


Fly Fishing: Size Matters (Don’t Be Sad)

The common factors for the beginning-intermediate fly fisher in fly selection are commonly stated as size, color and shape for trout. 

For the beginning fly fisher, the best advice I can offer is identify size as best as you can  (usually smaller than you would think, save those Drakes and Hex hatches). Then color and then shape or stage. This is important whether fishing a nymph, larva, pupa or dun/spinner.

Study up on the hatches for the bodies of water you intend to fish and then study those hatches for size, variances of color and overall shape.     

Also, not to be forgotten is action/presentation. This can be movement to suggest life or lack of movement, but presenting the fly, untroubled, into the zone. Fly above: I tied a smaller version of the Zug Bug. 


No Tell Motel Fly Tying

On the road. Near good waters, but no time to fish. All the gear is with me. Trout, Steelhead…I have it all save my pontoon boat. Sitting on a beaten down mattress. No high end here. Those nights in $130.+ rooms are gone. Lower rates. Lower expectations. Not even a muffin in the morning. Near the railroad tracks. Near the ebb and flow of vacationing transients. 

Year ’round, I have some form of  fly tying materials with me. I usually forecast ahead what I would need to have with me for Spring, Summer or Fall tying. I load up my little containers with materials for whatever I have not tied enough of earlier (usually after that long Winter tying binge).

Now I know this is really only applicable to the guy primarily confined to a vehicle or checking luggage on a flight. I drive the I-5 Corridor between Portland and Medford. I stay in motels, not hotels. More often than not, my outdoor experience is having the room window open to better hear the sirens.

I rarely wet a line. But regardless, I do keep tying, imagining and planning. If you can tie in a No Tell Motel, with all the noise, door slamming, yelling and trains rumbling by, you can certainly tie just about anywhere else, except maybe in an upriver, afternoon wind.

When the economy turns, if ever, I will be able to stay at a place with that skinny bacon, instant scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy. Geeze, those were the days.  


Fly Tying: Tippet Spool Tenders (Hair Ties)

Hair Ties Used for Tippet Tenders (SwittersB)

If you have ladies in your life with longer hair, you no doubt come across these little gems everywhere. On the floor, in beds, counter tops…they seem to be everywhere except in their hair. Well, as they inadvertently discard them, you should gather them and use them to wrap around tippet spools as the original rubber bands break. They work nicely on the Maxima size spools and even the smaller, more prevalent tippet spools.


Fly Tying: Fore & Aft Patterns

I am by no means a fly pattern historian. I leave it to others to delve back through the annals of fly tying. The fore and aft style fly pattern is reputed to have originated in England over a century ago. Most patterns (save those with new synthetic materials) probably had multiple originators in the far corners of the fly tying/fishing world.

The fore and aft is often offered up as a midge cluster. Well, that seems fine for a very small pattern, say size 16 to 20, but my experience with say the Renegade pattern is it has done amazingly well in B.C. lakes as a Caddis pattern beneath the surface. I recall a small, remote lake near Wavy L. that to this day afforded some of the most amazing fly fishing I have ever experienced. The Renegade pattern was in tatters, with the tinsel and rear hackle trailing behind. There were no chironomid/midge in sight. Only, Caddis/Sedge were emerging and skittering. As tempting as it was to put on a large dry Caddis pattern, the sunken Renegade was intoxicating to the fish and to me. I will never forget the fly line zipping through the water as the Kamloops took the fly and jetted off across my path. 

Whether the body in tied thinly or rather plump, like the Renegade, experiment with the fore and aft hackling on a pattern. Try it as a searching pattern where exact dry fly /emerger pattern presentations are not called for. Lakes and busy surface streams would be good choices. The hackles can be the dry fly quality feather or even a softer hackles for a busier look. I have include a Renegade I tied and a Stick Fly (midge) pattern that shows Ostrich Herl for the hackle. 


Habitat Lost: Swifts, Coyotes and Teenagers…where will they go?

Habitat Gone...Just LIke That

I awoke to a rumbling on Monday. It was heavy equipment, off in the distance. Must be freeway work I thought. Yet, when I drove down the freeway there were no signs of construction or heavy equipment.

Again, yesterday, I heard the rumbling, but did not pursue further. This morning, when I got up, I looked out the back window and some giant piece of equipment loomed high into the air spewing forth wood chips. A mountain of wood chips.

The holly orchard (top of picture left) was being obliterated. I knew the land had been owned by a 90+ year old gent, whose kids lived somewhere in Washington State. I knew the Nature Conservancy had tried to talk the old man into bequeathing this parcel to them. It was one of the largest, undeveloped areas in my County surrounded as it were by developments.

The area has been home to coyotes, raccoons, hawks, deer, owls, squirrels and experimenting teenagers. In addition, it has been a longtime habitat to an enormous flock of Vaux’s Swifts (every bit the equal or superior to the Chapman Grade School Chimney flock). Now that habitat was leveled in two days with the biggest chippers I have ever laid eyes upon (like semi trailer sized). There now stands a giant pile of chips and a mound of trees yet to be chipped.

I don’t know if the family sold the property or what the intent is for the property now that it has been leveled. I can guess. More houses or apartments in an already overly developed area with little infrastructure to handle the traffic.

I don’t challenge private property rights to level some trees. But, the plans, if they exist, to build a bunch of ‘affordable’ housing has already degraded the area.  More to follow?

Update 7/28/11: A City Park. Land donated by old timer. Nice, better than homes. But, there is a park not 100 yards away. The street is at least partially occupied by the type that don’t move out of the way as you drive up. You know, on their sorry ass terms. The picnic benches are occupied by saggy pants thugs who sit atop the bench and put their feet on the seats. I don’t see many families except early in the day near the small play ground. Moms come early while the players sleep. So another park. Hmmm, ‘community’ (love that damn word) hearings are being held in a week. Sounds like with the rapidity with which the land is being cleared they already have their plan. Public input? Seeing as how I seldom see a cruiser at the park a block away, not much to say except roust the MFer’s. Keep them moving. Introduce yourself blue suit. Keep them moving like the Swifts and Coyotes.

Habitat Gone. The future of the land is unknown, but suspected. The picture is not very inspiring...just a scraped piece of land now. SwittersB

Maybe the critters have headed South toward the tall trees and the freeway beyond. My point to post this simply to note the loss of  a buffer zone, a natural area (granted a man made holly orchard) has disappeared. We always read about these disappearing wild areas. Here’s one in my own backyard. Neighbor tells me those Swifts had roosted in that orchard for over 25 years. Guess they roosted someplace else before the orchard. 

Rural America Declines


Fly Tying & Fishing: Open Eye Hooks

The Gateway Hook Company unveiled their product about a year ago. I haven’t yet come across this open eyed hook in the shops I frequent. The concept is evident: no threading the eye of a hook, particularly a small hook. You or someone ties the flies on a Gateway No Tie Hook. A loop is constructed on the end of your tippet and cinched down around the open eyed hook. A blocking nub is at the end of the hook’s open wire eye to prevent the loop from sliding off. I will leave to your imagination/assessment as to what is saved or avoided with the product.  Gateway No Tie Hook Loop Knot Tutorials

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July 2011

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