The crafts that are the building blocks for the sport as we know it are all based on skills that take months if not decades to become adept in. Mastery is a hollow term since the creative process is never mastered instead it is constantly pursued. The minute somebody claims to be “an authority” or a “master” than this individual has ceased to evolve. The joy of fishing is about the pursuit, the getting there, and the fleeting moment that makes “the pursuit” worthwhile.
A state of anxiousness suffocates “the pursuit” so rest easy and make practice a ritual, make tying a habit, and make entering a river as intuitive and natural as a conversation with your closest friend.
Happy Winter 2013
~Clint Joseph Bova
Above: CJ Bova Rod Co. 7'9" 3pc. 4wt.
Some fisherman are pretty ritualistic about long term storage of their cane rods. Bamboo rods are made to take a beating but some simple steps can be taken from season to season to ensure your rod is in tip top shape for your next trip to the river.
~Gently wipe your rod sections with warm soapy water at the end of a season. Use a mild soap like Dove. Once thoroughly dry store your rod in its given rod bag and simply hang it up in a cool closet. You can use clothes pins to hold your rod sack by both ends. Bamboo rods are just fine in rod tubes for extended periods in time just make sure they are stored in a cool dry place. Honestly I get so much use out of my own personal rods that I keep them in their tubes and then rotate them from my rod racks.
~If your rods have water stains or have any scratches you can use Novus products to restore your finish www.novuspolish.com Novus makes three different grades of polish that will keep the finish drop dead gorgeous. They are incredibly easy to use and will condition both polyurethane and spar finishes. I have been using this product now for many years.
~If your cork grips have been soiled simply wipe them down with a wash cloth and warm soapy water.
~If your nickel hardware needs a polish I recommend Flitz made by TCP Global, typically you can find this product in most hardware stores. You only need to use a very very small amount of this polishing creme on a swatch of t-shirt material. A little goes a long way.
~Spacers are bound to get dirty after years of fishing. Clean your spacer with a small amount of denatured alcohol and a rag. Then apply a very sparse amount of tung oil and wipe clean. If you can find a product called Arm-R-Seal from General Finishes it will help you to keep all of your wood spacers pristine. Strictly a wipe on wipe off product that is very easy to use. I also condition my wood handled nets with this product.
With a little extra time after each season you can keep your rod quiver looking well loved.
illustration: by Clint Bova graphite on tea stained paper
His pretty dragonfly
now exposed his boyish rashness
he slid down into the pond
and slipped away
into the shade of melancholy and iris blossoms
~found poem from the 1800's, a children's magazine
Clint's Porcupine Damsel:
Hook: TMC 212Y
Thread: Aquamarine 8/0, Veevus Black 14/0
Wire: Fine French Silver wire
Wings: Light Dun hackle tips
Thorax: Beaver Belly dyed with Ritt or Veniards aquamarine
Extended Abdomen: Small porcupine quill dyed aquamarine
Wing Case: Blue Razor Foam .5mm
Legs: Black knotted Pheasant tail
Eyes: Singed 20lb. monofilament painted with Loon Soft head cement
(for a larger image of instructions click on image below)
The North American Porcupine, otherwise known as the Canadian Porcupine, is a large rodent that can potentially change the way you tie flies overnight.
Porcupine quills vary in size from very short and slender to thick and long, with these variables you can use them for extended abdomens on just about any insect. If you happen upon a porcupine carcass do not pass it up, one specimen can provide you a lifetime supply of quills. I found my first porcupine up in the Alleghenies along a train track. I spent nearly two hours carefully plucking quills using my forceps and placing them into a few fly boxes from my vest. Be careful!
How to Dye Your Quills:
1) Porcupine quills are hollow making them perfect for extended bodies. Quills are very bouyant. The quills are easily dyed using Veniard's or Ritt. After acquiring your porcupine quills carefully soak them in a warm Dove soap solution. Place them in a large tea infuser and submerge them in the solution for around 30 minutes. After soaking them wash them thoroughly, still in the infuser, with warm water under the faucet. Place each quill individually on a paper towel and let them dry thoroughly.
2) Your quills are now ready to be dyed once you remove the very sharp tips at both ends. Simply use a cuticle scissor and snip the very tips but do not cut into the chambered portion of the quill.
The above photo shows the removed quill
points and before and after color
3) Select the size quill you will be using for the specific insect. If its a mayfly you might want a smallish sized quill or if its a Drake a medium sized one etc... The great thing about the North American Porcupine is that it has many different sized quills suitable for a myriad of different insects.
4) Use this recipe for dying your quills:
I use an old coffee maker and pour 8 cups of water into the coffee maker or heat 8 cups of water on your stove top in a Pyrex vessel. Pour 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar in and heat to 140 degrees. Then take your liquid dye and mix 3 tablespoons of desired color. Agitate the solution and stir well. Place the quills back into the large tea infuser and place it into the dye bath. Agitate the infuser every two minutes. The longer you keep your quills in the bath the more saturated the color will become so use artistic license when it comes to your desired insect color of choice. After you get the color desired place the infuser immediately under cold water spigot. This stop bath of cold water is an important step. After two minutes under the stop bath take your quills out of the infuser and let them dry on a paper towel thoroughly.
The porcupine quill is the perfect material for extended bodies simply snip it at an angle to the desired length and tie it onto the hook shank. In my Part 2 section next you can see how I tie my “Porcupine Damsel Fly”
As human beings we quantify and categorically bucket everything we see. We put labels on things and file them away in our minds. When we step outside of this categorical tendency we find ourselves uncomfortable and struggle with placing ourselves into context with the things we cannot see. In nature and fishing the unseen is what we seek. When the unseen suddenly reveals itself Mother Nature stares back at us with a certain truth. This is a sudden glimmer of honesty in its pure form that awakes and replenishes our senses. We seek it out again and again like a child reaching into an empty or full cookie jar high up on a counter top.~Clint Joseph Bova
From season to season insect forecasting is always a crap shoot. Every season certain insects can appear in prolific numbers or may not appear at all. Masked hatches, flooding, temperature, barometric pressure, and wind all play an important role in the comings and goings of insects. This accounts for not only water born insects but terrestrials alike. So the question that begs an answer is can we count on the same fly season after season to produce consistent results? The answer is a definite no.
The cycles of mother nature are very fickle. As an example during the fishing season of 2012 Japanese beetles were prolific around our rivers. I even had to spray insecticide on my dwarf maple trees to kill off the beetles. I live less than a mile from the nearest trout stream. Because there were so many beetles in 2012 the fish zeroed in on them. Doug Swisher explains this phenomenon as the “pounds per meat law”. The most plentiful and attainable insects are at the top of the trout’s menu. I used a Japanese Beetle pattern for the better half of the fishing season of 2012 with incredibly consistent results. Coincidentally this season of 2013 (regional to my location) there were literally no Japanese Beetles to be found. The same beetle pattern produced a few results but nothing out of the ordinary as in 2012. So the old stand by meat and potato flys may work but they may not be that “sweet spot pattern” season after season. The season of 2013 I managed to find the fly that worked consistently for my home river and it was a size #20 quilled Blue Wing Olive. I always have that one fly that is the “seasonal special”. I suppose this is why fly fishing is such an engaging sport, Mother Nature keeps you on your toes season after season. Complacency and hard and fast rules about fly selection is a sure way to get frustrated and defeated. Keep your eyes open and keep discovering season after season.