Private Conversations

Mac-o-Cheek Creek, Clint Bova, tonal field study, oil on wood panel 6"x8"

“Somebody behind you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”
~Ernest Hemingway


Soaking Quills Effectively & Conveniently

 above photo: I made a simple test tube stand with a block of Koa and a drill press. A very effective way to soak large quantities of quills with no color bleed using very little space on your table. The footprint is that of a 4x5 index card.
Many of us fly tiers love using quills for bodies, but the problem has always been manufacturers over bleaching quills or not effectively creating a stop bath. The result is quills  that have a tendency to crack while you are winding them up a hook shank (even after soaking for a few days). I have bought many packages of quills over the years only to find that a large majority of them really are unusable.

About 17 years ago I purchased a crate of feather dusters from China. The feathers were all made of Chinese rooster with beautiful long quills! I now have a lifetime supply of quills. So if your looking around hardware stores or general stores always look for feather dusters! I have gotten over 200 quills out of one feather duster that costed me only three dollars. A packet of roughly 20 quills will cost you between four and eight dollars depending upon what country you buy them in. If you do the math its a very expensive proposition to tie with quills purchased at retail.

Soaking quills effectively is also part of the problem. I built myself a wooden test tube rack and I can fully immerse and soak multiple colors of quills. Using up valuable space and time with dishes and wet paper towels really is not the way to go if your cranking out a whole bunch of quill bodied flys. I built a test tube rack about four by five inches that holds eight test tubes. With this set up you can soak multiple colors without color bleeding and hundreds of quills if need be.
I hope this is helpful for anyone wanting to tie with quills.

*Also Check out A.K. Best's book Production Fly Tying the 1st edition. This book is great to learn how to strip and dye quills.

~Clint Joseph Bova

The Delta Wing Adult Midge Pattern

We often see pictures of midges with their wings pulled together and resting on the back of their abdomen. The wings often splay when they are stuck in the surface film along creeks, rivers, and ponds. Typically the pictures do not capture that struggle that the insect experiences. The wings of a midge are proportionately shorter than their abdomens and angle out and back like the delta wing on a fighter jet. The following pattern is one that I've developed myself over the years and really has saved me on the stream from getting skunked especially in the late fall (click on photos below to enlarge) This is a relatively easy pattern to tie and master in a few hours. Pay close attention to proportions and you will find it is a very useful pattern year round.

Delta Wing Midge~
Hook: TMC 531sizes #18-22
Thread: Veevus 16/0 black
Body:  SLF Spikey Squirrel black, clear Uni Mylar stretched thin
Legs: Knotted pheasant tail black (double knotted segmentation)
Wing: Med or light gray Hen Tips
Hackle: Black

 Tie in mylar to your hook then dub loosely your SLF squirrel three quarters up hook shank, Wrap mylar and tie off
 Tie in pheasant tail legs two on either side of thorax area
Tie in Hen tips that are length of hook shank or shorter. Dub in a tiny doughnut collar just in front of the set of wings. This will keep them splayed back towards the end of the fly.
Wrap a horizontal hackle collar with your black hackle, three or four turns is more than enough.
This is a relatively easy fly to tie and the knotted legs give your fly stability and splay to form little outriggers to keep your fly on top of the surface film.

This fly has been a blessing and has saved me on the river countless times especially when the fish are very finicky!
           ~Clint Joseph Bova


Fitting Veevus Spools to Your Fly Tying Bobbins

Many people lately have asked me what kind of bobbin I use for Veevus threads. Some have said that the spools rotate too tightly others say that it makes a horrible squeaking noise when the bobbin turns. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, there is a simple solution that I have employed since I started using Veevus threads around eight years ago.
First take the outside cap off of the side of the spool. Then get a drop point pocket knife and run it along the edge of the center hole. You need to knock down the edge and create a slight chamfer on both sides of the spool. This will allow you to adjust the tension of the spool. The more you chamfer the center hole edge the looser the spool becomes.  Do not get too aggressive with your blade when you first start. keep popping it back on your bobbin to check the tension you desire.

This operation takes all of a minute or so. (Note: I have tried chamfering the inner hole using a #11 xacto blade but it is too aggressive and leaves a serrated bevel so I have used my EDC drop point for chamfering and the edge is much more consistent) This is well worth the small effort because I have grown to love using Veevus threads for most if not all my trout flies. If you have an adjustable bobbin it’s not really an issue. 

 above photo: Biot wing midge #20 Tied with 16/0 Black Veevus
I have never found an adjustable bobbin I really like so for the time being this is how I have addressed this dilemma. Hopefully this is a helpful solution that is relatively simple.
                ~Clint Bova


Seldom Seen Cane Rods ~ the Silent Partner

“Seldom Seen Pond” oil on wood panel 6x8 
Field Study by Clint Bova 2017

An early fall and hot weather has made for some interesting color this year as well as some interesting insects that have been hatching out of season. Fumbling through fly boxes that are out of season and modifying patterns to keep up with the idiosyncrasies are a common fly fishing occurrence for the last three or so weeks. I suppose it keeps the angler on his toes and keep the creative juices flowing. My motto is “failure is always an option” just don't let it get you down.
I think my bamboo rod is the only familiar partner I have during this strange uncharacteristic season.

Some fall signs in the middle of August, the little black 
surface midges prove a worthy fly to carry


Mad River Summer 2017

 “Mad Storms Coming 
field study, Oil on 6x8 wood panel, by Clint Bova

The summer of 2017 to many fisherman was a very disappointing summer. It was a summer of constant rain and wind with fronts coming in from the west that seemed never ending. Relentless patience and perseverance was really the only tactic to track down the Brown Trout. As for myself I often put down my rod and lifted up a brush instead of fighting it. I was amazed at the light, color, and atmosphere these storms presented. I can only say failure sometimes brings new perspective. I failed often this season only to find consolation and beauty in and out of the Mad. I suppose at some point I just embraced whatever Mother Nature slammed down on me and tried to capture the moment.
         ~Clint Bova


“Downstream Winds”

“Downstream Winds” 6x8 oil on wood panel by Clint Bova
Field Study, Mad River June 11th 2017

“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay at eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain”
~Henry David Thoreau
Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/henrydavid106919.html


CB's Japanese Beetles

 above photo: Provided by Debbi T. Walker an Ohio Photographer. 
Debbi is a talented outdoor photographer who loves to take pictures of insects, animals, and landscapes and often shoots photography around the Mad River and Cedar Bog.

In the heat of the summer many fish hunker down during the day and will pass up the occasional Caddis, midge, or ant floating overhead. Often fish conserve energy for a larger more nourishing food item. During the summer months fish want to conserve energy and exert themselves only for the most significant meal. 
This is called the “Pounds Per Meat Law” again the least amount of energy is expelled for the most nourishment possible. This should be the mid-summer mantra for both fishers and fish!  Large ants are another food item that fish will come off of the bottom for during the midday sun and heat.

Japanese Beetles are one of those items on the surface menu that will spark a fishes interest when nothing else seems to work. Rises to beetles can be vicious and lightning fast by both large and smaller trout. This pattern has saved my summer days on the stream time and time again especially when its hot or windy on the river.

This Japanese Beetle pattern is one I have refined over the years and even have changed up since the advent of some better synthetics. Sheet foam over the years has become more accessible as far as thicknesses and color range.

I'm particular about foam thickness as much as I am about feathers and color ranges. Hopefully this pattern will serve you well as a close imitation to the naturals. This particular pattern is always in my vest from July through October.

CB's Japanese Beetle
Thread~ Veevus 14/0 Black
Hook~ TMC 531 #14
Body~ Beaver Belly Dubbing
            Peacock Herl x3 strands
            Uni Wire Fine green
Wing Case~ Loco Foam Beetle Green
Rear Legs~ Knotted Black or green Pheasant Tail
Front Legs~ Black Hackle Collar x3 wraps

1) Near the hook bend:
Tie in Green Loco foam a .25" wide segment.
Tie in 2 to 3 strands of peacock herl.
Tie in Green Uni Wire.

2) Begin by dubbing black Beaver Belly into an egg or football shape to create the profile of the beetles abdomen. Now wrap the Peacock Herl covering 1/2 of the hook shank over the dubbing profile. Now wrap the Uni wire in the opposite direction that you wrapped the Peacock Herl. Now tie in 4 knotted pheasant tail legs, two on each side of the hook. the Legs should extend about .125" behind the hook bend. The tie in point fore the legs is right in front of your abdomen. See all images below.

3) Now pull Loco Foam over entire abdomen section and make 4-5 tight wraps while pinching foam between your index finger and thumb. Snip off tag end of foam and secure down tightly. Now you will have a defined wing case segment. Tie in black hackle in front of tied off section of foam. Now wrap black hackle 4-5 turns. This will imitate the front legs and give the fly more stability.

4) Build up a thorax section using black dubbing in front of hackle collar.Make sure you do not crowd the hook eye. This is actually the hardest part when tying this fly, get your proportions correctly early on and the whip finish will not leave you spewing explatives.

5) Waterproof the fly with CDC floatant. I recommend this because float foams react to chemicals in many floatants and you may cause the finish on the Loco Foam to melt.

         ~Clint Bova


Mac-o-Cheek Reflections and The Piatt Castles

 “Mac-o-Cheek Wet Bridge” oil on 6x8 wood panel 
field study ~ Clint Bova spring 2017
The Mecoche Division of the Shawnee lived along the Mac-o-Cheek creek hundreds of years ago. Today the creek is still flowing just north east of West Liberty Ohio. Its a tiny creek that in most sections is no wider than a pickup truck. It runs cold year around and supports Brown trout that were stocked originally by the Piatt's in the late 1880's. The Mac-o-Cheek is one of my favorite little creeks not only in Ohio but in the North East. I designed the “Little Mecoche” cane rod specifically for this little creek which can be referenced in my main site under rod types.

A visit to the Piatt Castles is a must for any fly fisherman to uncover the mysteries of this little gem.
please visit: www.piattcastles.org
                              ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Upstream Approach

“Upstream Under Cover” field study, N. Lippencott 
oil on 6x8 wood panel ~Clint Bova

When fishing in narrow creeks and smallish streams the mantra has always been move slowly and fish in the upstream position. There is a lot of truth to these precepts for about a half dozen different reasons. If you have ever read In the Ring of the Rise by Vince Marinaro he speaks about moving in the upstream position with great conviction. Marinaro is a master of deception when it comes to remaining invisible to trout and moving with catlike stealth.

~The upstream position or 12 o'clock position allows you to move without creating any siltation that will often trigger a flight response from fish.

~The upstream position allows you to stay out of the fishes peripheral vision and what we call the absolute window. Just recently marine biologists are discovering that the fishes eyesight is much more acute above the surface than previously understood.

~The upstream position allows the fisherman to reposition casts without creating splashes and water disturbances that will eventually move over the fish.

Some simple common sense stuff that will make for a better day of fishing.
                 ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Venerable TMC 212Y Dry Fly Hook

Many people ask me what kind of emerger hooks I prefer to use on  my patterns? Specifically for caddis, midges, and mayflies. For many years I used the TMC 2488, 2487, Dai-Riki 125's, Gamakatsu C-15's, Daiichi 1167...and the list goes on. What I have found is that these are all good hooks in general BUT what makes a good all around emerger hook? There are three traits to the hook geometry that make it a great hook. 

~The first great hook trait is the fine wire diameter for properly suspending a fly in the surface film cast after cast. The hook needs to be strong and fine. The hook cannot be to heavy since the gossamer materials used to mimic this life stage need to be somewhat minimal or sparse in appearance.

~The Second trait is the hook profile needs to offer you enough real estate to actually tie a proportional facsimile. If the hook is too long it may only be appropriate for a very narrow genre of insects. If the hook is too short in gape, bite, shank, or bend, the materials used can inhibit the hooking potential. This is a bigger issue than you think and unfortunately not discussed enough among tyers.

~The Third Trait is what I call “hook mojo” in order for you to feel confident and actually use the fly on stream you need to have a good track record with a particular hook. You have to believe in it!

The TMC 212Y has always been very consistent in holding power and control in my experience. It offers the golden mean for proportion when it comes to gape and bite. If there ever was a Vitruvian Emerger Hook the TMC 212Y would fit the build.

                   ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Importance of Observation

“Deer Crossing” Oil Tonal Study, 6x8 wood panel
Mad River Spring 2017, Clint Joseph Bova
Often in the spring I just go for long walks along the river to observe all the changes that take place over the winter. Root wads move, limbs break, entire trees come down creating new prime lies.
Compound lies are created by sand bars and bank erosion that are really subtle indicators that will help you map in your brain where the fish may be before you even set foot in the water. 
“Deer Crossing” Oil on 6x8 wood panel
Mad River Spring 2017, Clint Joseph Bova
I create both visual maps and mental maps. Everyone who knows me knows that I spend a lot of time wandering about (often aimlessly and confused) sketching and writing in my journal. I think I would feel a bit lost if I didn't observe as much as possible. Taking notes in whatever form you feel comfortable with always pays big dividends in the long run.
Nice Spring Brown caught on a CDC midge emerger 
Mad River Spring 2017
Spring fishing can be confusing and often frustrating when dealing with hatches that last only a few minutes or weather patterns that change hourly. Being in the right place at the right time always helps. Simple observation and patience over time is a great means to a successful day.
Happy and productive spring fishing to all!
~Clint Joseph Bova


Early Spring on The Mad River

 “Old Iron” The Mad River, 6x8 Oil Field Study on Wood Panel 
Clint Bova Spring 2017

Spring 2017 has proven to be a great one thus far with some spectacular early hatches and some early warm weather. The peculiar spring weather has been a refreshing blessing. 

“Color is only beautiful when it means something”
~Robert Henri


The Four Season Emerger

Fellow fly fishers ask me all the time what kind of “staple” emerger pattern I use so I decided to share my “Four Season Emerger” pattern. The following is a simple emerger pattern that I use season after season. This fly is very durable, very convincing, and the TMC 212Y hook is a perfect canvas for this style fly.

The Four Season Emerger
Thread: Veevus 14/0
Hook: TMC 212Y 14-22
Wing: CDC natural or desired tint
Body: Dyed Peacock quill
Dubbing: (Thorax) Beaver Belly w/guard hairs
Legs: Knotted dyed Pheasant tail (double knotted)
Varnish: SH Hard as Nails

You can tie this up as a midge, mayfly, or even caddis imitation depending on your proportions and material selections.
First create a body on a TMC 212Y sizes #14-22 by winding a stripped and dyed peacock quill. Varnish with 2 coats of SH Hard as Nails.
After your bodies have dried tie in some knotted pheasant tail. Notice the two knotted strands, two legs on both sides of the hook.
Dub over your thread bump where the legs begin with Beaver Belly. Make sure you get a lot of guard hairs in your thorax area so loosely dub it on the thread.
Three CDC feathers will be more than adequate to float this hook. Tie in your CDC so that the feather tips are just shy of the rear of the hook, slightly over or under is fine. Now tie in a clump of Beaver Belly loosely dubbed at the head of your hook. It takes a little practice to get the proportions correct but after your third fly you should be getting the hang of it!

I carry these patterns in my boxes year round and I tie it up using a half dozen different colors. You can use legs on it or choose to leave them off. Either way it is one of my most killing patterns.
~Clint Joseph Bova


Cedar Bog ~ Urbana Ohio

 “Cedar Bog Treeline” Morning Field Study 
Oil on wood panel, 6x8 inches, Clint Bova

“Paint the flying spirit of the bird 
rather than its feathers”
       ~Robert Henri

Don't miss the Great Backyard Bird Count founded by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. The Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. 

Contact Cedar Bog Nature Preserve at 937-484-3744 or cedarbog@ctcn.net to learn how you can participate.

Stay outside this winter!
~Clint Joseph Bova


The Infamous RS2 and Beyond

 above photo: One of my RS2 patterns, tied with three fibers of coq de leon, CDC puff, and dyed beaver belly using Ritt dyes.
The RS2 has been a deadly combination of materials and proportions for quite some time. For over forty years this fly has been a “last ditch fly” for many anglers. The RS2 is a fly that I have tied in many variations using a multitude of different materials both synthetic and natural. Rim Chung who originated the fly opened the floodgates and introduced a CDC fly that really could fool the most weary of fish.
After many years of fishing this fly and its many variations like many anglers I have some some common theories about it. One is that the RS2 could very well be imitating a cripple. Because its thorax is so close to the surface film and there are no hackles on the pattern the shuck may very well be represented by the CDC puff. Contrary to this theory the pattern has a completely exposed or freed tail and often the tail is still trying to escape after the body has broken free of the shuck. As far as imitating an adult fly I suppose its up to the imagination of both you and the trout. Regardless I have had great success with this fly in all kinds of circumstances.

Beyond the RS2 there is a lot of experimentation that an angler can immerse themselves in. While not trying to imitate an adult fly directly or rather in a traditional sense I reflect upon some of Vince Marinaro's theories and patterns and reinvestigate combinations of thorax patterns. A fly I have successfully used for a while is a hybrid of Rim's pattern and Vince's thorax patterns. What I have come up with is a fly that floats flat in the surface film, bears a pronounced thorax, wings, V-cut hackles, and a fine fanned tail using 2 or 3 coq de leon fibers or bristles from a sable brush.

above photos: Step 1/A dyed peacock quill, and two or three fibers of coq de leon separated by a strand of lose thread on a #20 TMC 531

 above photo: After tying in hen tips for wings, dub in a thorax using dyed beaver belly, the football shaped thorax is important to get the hackle fibers to splay out sideways.
above photo: Two or three turns of hackle is all that is needed to finish the fly, one directly behind the wings and one directly in front.

This pattern has served me well and has been just as deadly as my RS2 patterns. It is a relatively easy pattern to tie, and see, and floats well right in the surface film. With the elimination of the CDC I have observed nothing out of the ordinary and with the addition of the peacock quill nice segmentation is achieved. I carry these two patterns in my fly box year round in all sizes and color combinations. I will always continue to tinker with this fly...its what keeps me both on the water and up all night!
~Clint Joseph Bova