I suppose tending to rods, tying flies, taking the time to study rivers, and even going through the mental visualizations prior to even getting into rivers can stir up anxiousness in many fly fishers. I look at anxiousness as an enemy of sorts especially when it comes to the creative process. Fly fishing and the crafts that are the foundations of the sport can seemingly be an intimidating and convoluted amalgam of processes. Athletic and mental dexterity, tools, techniques, materials, equipment, and a myriad of disciplines frame up the very act of fly fishing. It can be downright overwhelming when you look at it all from a distance. This was a topic of conversation that I had with a friend of mine that is a well known fly tyer. We both agreed that if you are “results oriented” fly fishing is not the sport for you. Most river guides will reiterate this behind closed doors but not to their clients faces.
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
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.
Tying a convincing Damselfly can be a little difficult given the range of materials that we can get our hands on. Some damselfly patterns look muddled and overworked with markers, others appear so synthetic that they look like they came off sprue in a model airplane kit. A pattern that I came up with after a roadkill epiphany many years ago has payed dividends on the water especially with difficult trout. Extended bodies keep many fly tyers up at night. Many revert to what is available in online catalogs and local fly shops. What you may not see often are porcupine quills. Porcupine quills have changed the way I tie many patterns. This material is very very bouyant and has the tensile strength of a soft drink straw. It IS FLEXIBLE and it easily accepts liquid dyes and marker. 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.