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brown trout paintingBrown, 18″ x 24″ acrylic on panel

It’s the second painting in two weeks. Woohoo! I’m on a roll. Well, not exactly. I’ve got a nasty cold, and I’m trying to make the best of my time indoors. Here are a few shots of the process…

It all started with a pencil sketch.


Then I blocked in the whole surface with a little bit of color.


Whoa, that was a little too light. So, I then darkened it up a bit and added some color variation along the flank.


Then I added a few more layers and highlights.


Next, I lightened the whole piece up a bit putting subtle browns  in the brown trout which couldn’t be complete without a few beautiful red spots.


Finally, I added the reflection, eye detail, and mouth corner. I’m not sure it’s done yet, but I’m done for now.

brown trout painting


greenback cutthroat trout paintingGreenback, acrylic on 18″x24″ panel

Nice Video on Why Fly Fishers Do What They Do

If I had to explain to a non-fisherman why I love fishing so much, I’d just show them this short film by Peter Vong.

Self-portrait in Stream


This was a really fun experiment. It’s (8″ x 24″) acrylic on plywood like many of my paintings, but it takes a different approach than most of my work. I sketched a scene entirely from my imagination without the aid of a photograph or any other visualization (that’s a first), I painted quickly (another first), used bold colors, and didn’t fuss over things (and another first). I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Maybe I’ll do some more like this.

It all started with a sketch done with a Sharpie on a piece of gesso’d scrap plywood…


Quickly dash in some sky and purple mountains…


Keeping the colors bold, add some foothills and a stream bank …


Add some water…


And a few trees…


Finally, put myself fishing in the stream to complete the self-portrait…


Hudson’s Shag Nasty

Over the last two weekends, I introduced a bunch of local pike to the Shag Nasty. It’s a rather small streamer designed for pike, bass, and fall brown trout. The pike I introduced last Sunday were definitely not hatin’…well they hated it after they got a little taste.  The “shag carpet-like” yarn used to create the body has a really nice flow in the water, and the stinger hook rarely fouls.

I’m kinda lazy when it comes to fly tying. So the Shag Nasty, like most of my flies, is really, really easy to tie. Enjoy!

Material for Hudson’s Shag Nasty:

Hook: Gamakatsu Octopus 02408 #4
Hook Shank: Fish Skull Articulated Shank 35-55mm
Head: Medium Fish Skull (pictured below) or Large Black Nickel Coneheads (much cheaper and same results)
Eyes: 3/16″ Oval Pupil 3D Red/Black
Tail: Dark Olive Marabou
Body: Fun Fur yarn
Thread: red and black


Step 1: If you are using the Conehead instead of the Fish Skull, you’ll want to add that to the shank first. You will need to bend the tail of the shank just enough so you can get the cone on the shank. Then bend the shank tail back into position. In these destructions, I’m using the Fish Head instead. Next, add the stinger hook.

Step 2: Start the thread toward the back of the shank. A few tight wraps will ensure the hook stays in place. While you’re there, tie in a small bit of marabou. This gives the nice place to hide, and it gives the tail a bit of extra action.

Step 3: Next, tie in some of the Fun Fur and wrap forward making sure all the loose strands get pulled back. Many wraps will (obviously) produce a bushier fly, and fewer wraps will craft a thinner fly. Your call, Boss.

Step 4: Tie off right behind hook eye, and a few drops of Zap-O will allow you to place and solidify the Fish Skull. If you opted for the conehead instead of the Fish Skull, you’ll tie off tightly behind the cone.

Step 5: Finish off the fly with a few wraps of red thread in front of the Fish Skull or conehead. Top the thread with a drop of Zap-O. Finally, glue on some 3D eyes for that finished look.

Step 6: Because that was so easy, go tie a half dozen more in silver, red, and purple. It’s an almost indestructible fly, so you don’t need too many. After a dozen pike thrashings, it still looks brand new.

Colorado Greenback Cutthroat Trout


See the painting.

Easiest Egg Pattern Ever

It’s that time of the year. The ice shelves are breaking up and the ever-present cold wind gives way to the trickle of running water. Other than the occasional crocus peeking through the snow and the moans of allergy sufferers, increased fish activity give us an indication that winter will soon be over. It’s also spring spawn time, and egg patterns can be effective producers. Are you looking to tie the easiest egg pattern this side of the Mississippi (or maybe even both sides)? This pattern probably ranks in the top 10 as the easiest fly pattern to master. All you need are plastic beads, a few hooks, Loon UV Knot Sense, and a beer.

Step 1: Open a beer and round up some hooks. Umpqua U501 hooks in #6 or #8 work great. You can alternatively use just about any scud or nymph hook with a decent gap. A pair of pliers are always useful for tweaking the proper gap when necessary.

Step 2: Raid your kid’s art supplies to scrounge up a few plastic beads that might pass off as a fish egg. No kids? Go down to the closest hobby store and plunder their craft bins. In a flash you could mimic a salmon egg, rainbow or cutthroat egg sac, or even mountain whitefish roe.

Step 3: Here’s the most difficult part, place a nice glob of UV Knot Sense on the hook, slide it over the hook, and then shine the Loon UV light on the bead for a few seconds. Finally, drink your beer.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. What the hell did you think it was gonna be? You could be completely shit-faced drunk and still pull off a dozen of these killer flies in a half an hour. So, get ‘er done.

Hudson’s Mud Bugger and Sand Bugger Variations

There seems to be quite a few variations of the Hudson’s Mud Bugger fly that have appeared, and there’s probably no end to the fun stuff you could do with it.

Here are a few variations:

Hudson's Mud Bugger
Hudson's Mud Bugger
Hudson's Mud Bugger
Hudson's Mud Bugger

Tier: Gregg Martin.
Notes: I use predominately a scud type hook size 6, but some also the M3366 or equiv. I try to match the tail to the hackle, either sili-legs or spanflex, sometimes centipede or tarantula legs. I like staight up tan for carp, but only recently came upon good hackle so only have a few tied up.

If any other tiers have other variations, send a pic or a link, and I’ll post them here.

Best Outdoor Sports Related “Sh*t People Say” Videos

I’m sure you’ve seen a number of “Shit People Say” videos lately. Yeah, I know, that’s sooo last week, and you’re probably tired of them by now. That said, here are a few outdoor sports iterations of the popular internet meme.

Sh*t Cyclists Say

Sh*t Runners Say

Sh*t Ultrarunners Say

Sh*t Fly Fishermen Say

Sh*t Triathletes Say

Sh*t Kayakers Say

Sh*t Skiers Say

If you come across any other interesting ones, let me know.

The Color of a Crayfish

When I’m tying flies, I’m always conscious of material colors. Sometimes it doesn’t really make a difference, but sometimes it does. Present a strange color (or size) to a pressured fish and they’ll likely bolt in the opposite direction. When I fish crayfish patterns, I typically have the best results with shades of green. But why?

Hudson's Mud Bugger
An army of Hudson’s Mud Buggers ready for deployment.

If you were to ask the average person to draw and color a crayfish, you’d probably end up with something that looked like a bright red dwarf cooked lobster. In fact, the only red crayfish I’ve ever seen was a cooked one at a Cajun crayfish boil. So why are there so many crawfish dubbing colors offered in the shade of red and/or orange? Most of the mud bugs I see in the wild are various shades of brown, rust, green, and even blue.

A 1901 article in The American Naturalist  sheds some light on the color of the crayfish…

“It was first noticed, while studying the habits of crayfish by observations in field work, that the color of itzulmunis in nearly all cases closely resembled the color of the environment. In one small pond of water, where the soil at the bottom was a blue clay, the crayfish were all blue in color. In another pond with a black, muddy bottom they were all black, and in still other places of different colors. But in nearly all cases they were of the same color as the environment”

Blue Crayfish

Crayfish can adapt their color to their surroundings. Here a crayfish blends in with the blue gravel of an aquarium.

The article also explains the occasional red or rust color observed in a few crayfish…

“One exception to this was found with those which were red. These were confined entirely to the shallow water in the small streams, and the color was not always similar to the color of the environment. The crayfish in all colors except red were found almost entirely in the ponds with deeper water and muddy bottoms. But it was discovered later that this red color in crayfish may be caused by exposure to sunlight.”

So, in addition to environment, it appears color variations in crayfish can be attributed to age, size, molting stage, and migratory pattern. Next time you see a crayfish note its color and the color of the surroundings. It might help you become a better fisherman.

Source: W. J. Kent, The Colors of the Crayfish, The American Naturalist, Vol. 35, No. 419 (Nov., 1901) (pp. 933-936)

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