Archive | November 2011

Cold Murder

Acrylic with pen and ink on canvas, 11″ x 14″, 2011

Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

It’s been about a year since I’ve finished my first painting, and this is it. I’m posting this now as I’m reorganizing my office, and I’m trying to figure out where to hang it.

It was done in acrylic on plywood (2′ x 4′), and painted over a few months during graduate school. I was originally attempting to just throw down some paint to teach myself about mixing color and getting used to the medium, but I think it turned out pretty good.

This painting was inspired blatantly copied from the cover shot of Catch Magazine, March 2010. The photo was taken by Brian O’Keefe of a nice rainbow being released into the Beaverhead River, Montana. I purchased the image through the magazine and used it as my computer background image for several months before I decided to attempt to paint it.

If you are not a subscriber to Catch Magazine (it’s free!), I highly recommend you check it out if you are an artist or a fly fisher. Brian O’Keefe and Todd Moen have created a beautiful publication that never ends to inspire me to fish, photograph, and paint.

Nowadays, I usually don’t copy paintings from other works, but you gotta start somewhere.

John the Baptist

“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing. We lived at the junction of great trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his own flies and taught others. He told us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we were left to assume, as my brother and I did, that all first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were fly fishermen and that John, the favorite, was a dry-fly fisherman.”
― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories

Hudson’s Sand Bugger

For a recent bonefishing trip to Andros Island, I took my Hudson’s Mud Bugger fly pattern and turned it into a bonefish fly. It was a total experiment, but it turned out to be an awesome fly. The only problem was that I didn’t tie enough of them. Well, unfortunately, I’m not heading off to another tropical trip anytime soon, but my dad has been spending the fall chasing redfish and speckled trout down in Texas. So, I tied up and sent him a few variations of the Hudson’s Sand Bugger for his Texas flats adventures.

If you’re interested in the carp variation, Hudson’s Mud Bugger, you can find it here –

Is it a shrimp? Is it a crab? Who cares. It’s damn easy to tie. So, let’s get started…

Materials for Hudson’s Sand Bugger:

Hook: Umpqua Tiemco TMC 811S #4-8
Thread: UTC 140, florescent orange or fl. shell pink
Eyes: Large lead dumbbell or bead chain, silver
Tail: Turkey biot quills, hendrickson (also try variations of tan and brown)
Hackle: Whiting Bugger Pack, ghost barred white (also try grizzly brown or a combination of brown and white)

Optional: .025 lead wire for extra weight


Step 1: Tie in the eyes directly behind the hook eye leaving only enough room to whip finish at the end. I apply a spot of Zap-A-Gap to solidly anchor the eyes. This is a pretty durable fly, so let’s just make it bomb-proof.

Optional: This fly lands very softly on the surface, but you can play with the sink rate by adding 12-14 twists of 0.25 lead wire to the hook shank. Otherwise, leave off the extra weight as the large eyes are enough for most skinny water applications.

Step 2: Wrap the thread a bit past the bend of the hook, and build a small thread ball. This helps keep the turkey biots splayed out for a consistent presentation.

Step 3: Clip two small sections from the turkey feather. Match them up evenly by the tips and tie onto either side of the hook just in front of the thread ball. The turkey feathers should extend outward past the tie in point approximately 3/4 to a full hook shank length.

Step 4: Pull two feathers from the Bugger Pack that has fibers approximately 1 1/2 to 2x the hook gap. Strip off the fuzzy fibers and tie in just in front of the turkey biots. Wrap the thread all the way up to the eye.

Optional: Experiment with using one feather or two. I definitely use two feathers on a size 4 or 6 hook, but I sometimes just use one feather on a size 8 hook. Your call. Also, try one white feather and one brown. Mix it up because you never know what type of bottom you may be fishing.

Step 5: Palmer the hackle all the way (past the bead chain) up to the eye. I usually make a few wraps around the eyes if I have enough feather left. Anchor the feather down behind the eye and whip-finish.

Step 6: Now it’s time for a haircut. The head-stand effect of this fly is caused by the angle at which the hackle is trimmed. First run your fingers through the fly and get all the fibers sticking straight out. Take your scissors and start cutting as close as you can to the bead chain and eyes. You’ll want to angle your cut at an approximate 30-40 degree angle from the hook shank. After I’m done with the haircut, I’ll usually dab a bit of Hard as Hull head cement on the whip-finish.

That’s it.

What? You expected more?

Now tie them in different colors.  Legs and a bit of flash are other easy additions that could be fun, but I’ve found I didn’t really need them.

If this fly works for you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment.

The Beauty of the Brown Trout

On the surface, a brown trout may not be that beautiful, but have you ever really examined one up close? They are a lot like snowflakes. As a whole, they’re very similar. Study a single fish for just a moment and you start to see the unique patterns and colors each fish possesses. Then compare different trout against each other and you’ll start to see the beauty of this fish. There are no two alike. This series was originally inspired by a day on the Williams Fork early this. I caught two dozen fish in a mile stretch of the river, and I was amazed at the color and pattern difference between those fish…all caught in the same river at the same time. Now, compare a selection of the brilliantly colored fall spawners, and you’d have an ever larger spectrum to enjoy.

The first two paintings were from two trout I caught this year. The last painting was directly inspired by Rocky Mountain Angler Randy Hick’s monster brown he caught on the South Platte a few weeks ago. All paintings were done in acrylic on 5″x5″x2″ primed wooden cradle board…in case you’re interested.

Since you’re here, check out Randy’s nice brown he caught on the South Platte a few weeks ago.

The Summer of Carp

As a self-diagnosed hypomanic, I tend to get caught up in obsessions. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s running, and sometimes it’s fly fishing. This summer my obsession was fly fishing for carp, and it was a good year. With over 150 golden ghosts landed this season, I’m still not terribly excited to see snow falling outside my window right now. I suppose I should give it up, and move on to other endeavors for the next few months.

Maybe I’ll go for a run.

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BTW, I caught almost every carp this year on a single fly pattern – Hudson’s Mud Bugger. Give it a try next year.

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