Friday, February 25, 2011

Throwing My Hat (And Flies) Into the Ring

Some of my best flies, clockwise from the top left, Trout Fin Sakasa Kebari, Bubble Kebari, Brassie Sakasa Kebari & Ausable Kebari
 Back at the end of January the good people at The Outdoor Blogger Network and The Montana Fly Company decided to present the opportunity of a lifetime to members of the outdoor blogging community.  This opportunity was just to good to pass up and therefore I have thrown my hat (and flies) into the ring.  Briefly, The Montana Fly Company is offering a chance to have a fly or flies that you have designed selected and included in their MFC catalog.  In addition, if your fly or flies are selected you will be included as a paid fly designer by The MFC.  How awesome is that?  There are some pretty talented individuals out there who have submitted flies and the competition should be stiff. If one of my flies were to be selected and  to know that perhaps other fisherman from around the country will use a fly I designed would be cool beyond words.  There is still time to enter for anyone else who may be interested.  All you have to do is follow the guidelines outlined by the OBN link above which includes writing your own post about your flies and then sending your flies sent to Rebecca at the OBN by March 15th, 2011. Be sure to "like" the MFC on their Facebook Page when you enter the contest.  This will help them to facilitate easier communication with people about important updates and new products they have.  And they always have some really cool stuff to check out.
Now for the flies I have chosen to send.  I decided I will submit my Ausable Kebari, Bubble Kebari, Trout Fin Sakasa Kebari, and last, but not least, the Brassie Sakasa Kebari. I have several reasons for selecting these four.  One of the biggest reasons is simply how many times the posts about these particular flies have been viewed.  These four have generated hundreds and hundreds of views, especially the Ausable Kebari.  In addition, when it comes down to fly swaps and giving flies to friends and other fisherman, these are the most requested.  I believe with the popularity of Tenkara in the US and overseas increasing so fast it will only be a matter of time before sakasa kebari and other types of flies, which developed in conjunction with Tenkara rods, begin showing up in major fly catalogs.  Sakasa Kebari are essentially soft hackle flies with the hackle oriented in the reverse direction.  Soft hackle flies have been around for hundreds of years for good reason...they work!  The best part of these flies is that one does not have to fish Tenkara style only to use them.  They will work just as well with traditional western fly gear. My flies are not exactly traditional Japanese kebari.  I have incorporated many aspects of American fly designs into them because I feel these flies benefit from the ideas of two different fly fishing cultures.  The bottom line is they do and will catch fish.  If my flies don't make the cut, that's OK, there are some very talented people out there with some great flies.  I just think someday it would be very gratifying to come across another fisherman streamside asking him or her how the fishing is going and see them unhooking a beautiful trout with the fly you designed in it's mouth.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


American Marten
 I was reading a good post a couple of weeks ago on The Average Joe Fisherman about an encounter he had with a beaver.  You should check out his blog when you get a chance, it is very well written and entertaining.  That story got me thinking about previous encounters I have had with wildlife during various hiking, camping and fishing trips.  During one hike a few years ago a biker farther along the trail spooked a woodchuck into running full steam back in my direction.  Apparently it was so scared it didn't even notice me and ran literally between my legs and kept going without looking back.  Three or four years ago I was camping and hiking with a friend in the Adirondacks when I had an encounter that especially stands out in my memory.  We were staying at Heart Lake in the high peaks region of the Adirondacks.  I have had some beautiful and scary encounters at this particular camp ground in the past.  As an example, one morning, in the span of 20 minutes I woke to he beautiful sounds of a wild loon on the lake behind me to staring face to face with a large black bear while holding my breakfast of pepperoni and crackers in my hand.  Both firsts for me.  But I digress....The moment I'm especially fond of was an encounter I had with an American marten (a large member of the weasel family).  While my friend signed the trail register, I waited about 20 yards up the trail.  I was looking off into the woods when I noticed a cat-sized animal bounding down a log headed directly for me.  At first I didn't know what it was until it stopped three feet in front of me.  I stood still for what seemed a long time and we just stared at each other.  It had the blackest eyes I have ever seen.  It seems weird, but there seemed to be a connection between two thinking individuals.  A moment later the spell was broken when my friend called to me to ask what I was looking at.  At that moment the marten realized there was somewhere else it needed to be and took off, literally running over my big toe, and bounding back off into the woods.  I stood there speechless.  All I could think was.....That was sooo cool!  Since then I have had a few other moments here and there with other wildlife, mostly deer and have even watched Bella stalk a cotton tail rabbit with amusement.  And I still get great satisfaction when I connect with a small brookie from a mountain stream, but nothing compares with that moment with the marten in the Adirondacks.  It's an encounter I still marvel at.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Classic Inspired Sakasa Kebari

The Abbey, a classic wet fly.
One of my favorite sources for ideas to tie new sakasa kebari come from that beautiful group of flies known as classic wet flies.  Many of these flies could be considered miniature works of art in my opinion.  The color schemes, names, and histories of these flies make for very interesting reading.  Since I do not tie elaborate salmon flies that make your jaw drop when you look at them, these classic wet flies are as close as I can come to feeling a deep connection with fly fishermen of the past.  I tie these kind of flies once and a while but I don't fish with them.  I like the challenge of making them but the time, effort and materials that go into them do not seem worth it when you have to fill a fly box with them or you loose a number of them in stream side vegetation.  There are a few people out there who continue to tie and fish them, but not many and that number is probably decreasing.  I think that is a shame but I think some characteristics of these flies can still be useful.  Therefore, I looked to a classic wet that I'm fond of, the Abbey, for a new sakasa kebari. My newest fly I simply call an Abbey Sakasa Kebari to acknowledge it's origins and the inspiration for creating it.  Will it catch trout? I don't know but the way I figure it, if the original Abbey did, why not this fly?  I will post my experiences with it if winter ever decides to pack it's bags and leave.

Abbey Sakasa Kebari

Abbey Sakasa Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S #12
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Thread: black Uni-Thread 6/0
Body: red Pearsall's silk
Rib: small gold wire
Tag: gold mylar tinsel
Tail: golden pheasant tippets

PS I also have done a Grizzly King Sakasa Kebari which I will post at a later date.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

North River Flies

Some of my fly tying supplies
 Today is a quick post for anyone out there who may be interested.  I have decided to sell some of the flies that I tie.  I love to tie and do it almost every night.  It has become a creative outlet and something relaxing for me to do while watching TV with my wife.  Other than a couple of fly swaps and giving flies away to friends and family, I have begun to accumulate flies that I may not get the chance to use.  New flies still require supplies to make them and cost money. Therefore. I have decided to sell some of them to offset the money used to purchase materials and maybe even make a few dollars to be used towards the purchase of a couple of Tenkara rods.  I ask that if you or anyone else that you know might be interested that you please take a peek at my new site North River Flies.  I have posts on the site that explain what I will be offering and how you can purchase them.  Thanks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Next Swap

Royal Sakasa Kebari's
 The calendar says we have about 33 more days till spring and the temperatures have been a little milder than is usual for this time of year lately.  It gives me hope that winter will soon be over and we can all get back to the business of fishing the way we like to.  In the mean time while I bide my time, I have entered another fly swap with the folks on the Tenkara USA forum.  This time I decided to tie my Royal Sakasa Kebari.  It's an easy tie and a very effective fly.  I did quite well this past year with it when I went after small stream brook trout.  You may notice one fly in the picture has an orange band in the middle and not red.  This is the "prize fly."  In the last tenkara fly swap, Daniel at Tenkara USA tied one fly differently and the person who received it (I was the lucky winner) also received a tin of Tenkara green tea as a prize.  For this swap, I thought I might do the same thing.  For the winner, I will tie up 6 sakasa kebari's that I have posted on this blog and mail them to them following the swap.  I think this adds a little more fun to the fly swap.  When the swap is over I plan to post the pictures.  In the meantime another Tenkara fly swap was completed on the Tenkara-Fisher forum.  You can get a good look at the flies by going to Tenkara on the Fly.  All of the flies are done very well and I think it's cool to see the different ideas that go into tying these type of flies.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mickey Finn Sakasa Kebari

Mickey Finn Sakasa Kebari
Today is just a quick post about a fly I did very well with this past year.  I call it a Mickey Finn Sakasa Kebari.  One quick look at it and it becomes very apparent where the inspiration for this fly came from.  The original Mickey Finn was developed prior to the 1930's and was originally called a red & yellow bucktail and then an assassin.  In the early 30's a journalist popularized the fly and rechristened it the Mickey Finn after a poisoned-laced drink which was reported to have caused the death of the famous actor Rudolph Valentino.  Prior to tying this particular kebari, I had used Mickey Finn's and could attest to their effectiveness. I thought the color scheme would work well on a sakasa kebari and was not disappointed.  I was able to catch some small brookies with it and also did well at the millpond with the panfish.  Though I have come up with a number of new flies I'm eager to try this spring, I think I will keep a few of these guys in my fly box, as well as it's forerunner the Mickey Finn Streamer.

Mickey Finn Sakasa Kebari
Hook: Mustad C49S
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Body: Yellow Pearsall's silk thread with a red band mid body

An original Mickey Finn streamer

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Old "Mudhole"

Isabella's first fishing trip, age 3
The other day I was going through old pictures on my computer when I came across the picture of Bella above.  She was three years old in it and it was her very first fishing trip.  We had just purchased her first fishing pole, a small pink barbie rod from a local sports store.  Prior to going to the millpond, we practised casting out in the backyard and she got the hang of it pretty quickly. Now I don't remember my first fishing trip with my dad, or even many of the particular trips that I went on, but this picture does bring back memories of fishing when I was a kid.  I can still remember my first fishing pole and tackle box.  The pole was a spinning outfit about 5 foot and a hideous yellow and black color and I wore it out from so much use.  One place I used it frequently was the "Mudhole." The Mudhole was a community park with a small lake/big pond in the town where my parents grew up and according to my dad that's what most people called it.  One end of the lake had a picnic and playground.  The other side had a public beach where you could swim.  My grandmother used to work at the gate to the beach checking resident passes and collecting fees.  In the summer, my sister and I would spend a week at a time going with grandma to the lake each and everyday.  I was only a couple years older than Bella is now when I first started going.  It was great, my grandmother would give my sister and I the run of the park for the day.  My sister spent most of the day hanging around the picnic pavillion and I chose to go fishing. At the far end of the pond, beyond the swimmers, I could spend the entire day by myself fishing with that ugly little yellow pole.  With some spinners and a can of worms I would rake in panfish, bass, perch, and catfish by the dozens.  Grandma was usually happy to have some extra fish brought home for dinner but more often than not was not pleased when I refused to clean the fish.  These summer fishing trips lasted for quite a few years and I never grew tired of them and they are among my fondest memories.  I realize that Bella and her sister will probably never fish quite the same amount that I did.  I am happy to know that she does enjoy it when we do go and that someday she will look back at this photo and it will bring her happy memories. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Krystal Kebari's

Three versions of a sakasa kebari.....Sparkle Kebari, Olive Sakasa Kebari, Krystal Kebari
 Last night I was doing a little tying and watching TV with my wife.  I just wanted to tie a few simple flies to fill spots in my fly box for the upcoming trout season.....if it ever gets here.  I was in the middle of tying some simple olive colored sakasa kebari when I began to think about the new materials sitting on the table next to me that had just arrived.  There were some spools of different colored wire, holographic stick on eyes, and some krystal flash (pearl).  I began to think of how I might incorporate the krystal flash into a sakasa kebari.  I originally bought the flash for salt water flies I'm tying, but that is another post all together.  I have tied a fair number of my Bubble Kebari using silver mylar tinsel to simulate a bubble or some flash to a potential trout.  The problem is that I hate using mylar tinsel. So I began to wonder if the krystal flash could accomplish the same thing with less hassle.  I'm not sure if anyone else has had the same idea but I think it could make a useful fly.  The two flies above (on the left and right of center) are what I came up with.  The first one, I call a Sparkle Kebari because the tail reminds me of the Sparkle dun with it's "shuck."  The other, I'm calling a Krystal Kebari for lack of a better name.  It has a rib of a single strand of krystal flash and gives the fly a cool coloration.  It's not exactly like a bubble but it may add a bit of attraction under the right light without spooking a fish.  Below I took another out-of-focus picture to exaggerate the sparkle ( I don't think my "expert" photographs can fully due these flies justice).

Yeah, it's out-of-focus, on purpose!

Sparkle Kebari & Krystal Kebari

Hook: Mustad C49S #12
Hackle: Hungarian partridge
Body: Uni-Thread 6/0, olive (or any other color)
Rib:  Krystal flash, pearl (on Krystal Kebari)
Tail: Krystal flash, pearl (on Sparkle Kebari)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brassie Sakasa Kebari Update

Different flavors of the Brassie Sakasa Kebari 
 I still feel very new to this blogging thing.  I'm still trying to learn how to get this blog the way I would like it to look.  The problem is that I only get a few minutes here or there to figure things out.  Fort instance, I have been trying to place a picture in my header and for the life of me can not get that to happen.  Every time I try the picture disappears right after the whole blog gets loaded down.  But I keep fiddling with it.  In the course of trying new things I discover new features that I had not played with or ignored for one reason or another.  Just recently I started to look at the stats section of my dashboard and I was kind of blown away.  I originally started this blog for me personally as sort of an on-line diary with the idea that maybe a few friends and family might look at it.  My blog has become more to me than I intended and I have enjoyed the kind and informative comments I have received.  However, I have become a little addicted to looking at the stats section. Accidentally or not, my blog has been looked at almost 3,000 times and there have been viewers from as far away as Argentina and Indonesia.  There have been quite a few from Russia and Europe too.  I find that very cool.  I also find it very interesting to see how certain posts are still being looked at over and over again.  By far the most popular was my original post about the Ausable Sakasa Kebari.  The next post that has been viewed quite a few times is about my Brassie Sakasa Kebari.  This is one of my five favorite patterns that I have come up with in the past year and I plan on fishing it hard this year.  Along with other ideas I have been playing with, I have tinkered with this pattern a little by changing the color wire used. I'm hoping the red will be a little more attractive to trout and that the green will be a little more subtle than the copper on very bright days.  In addition, I think the green is a little more realistic, in terms of bug color.  I have a few more colors of wire on the way (i.e. blue and charteuse) and am hoping to add a few more variations to this pattern.  So until winter lets up a little I'm going to keep it up at the fly tying snack tray table and try not to become obsessed about who might be reading my words from half way around the world.