Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bob Mead's realistic mosquitoes

As I mentioned in my post the other day, I spent some time with Bob at the Marlboro Fly Fishing Show a couple of weekends ago. We talked and he allowed me to take a couple of photos of one of his realistic mosquito flies.

With the addition of these photos, I just completed an article about Bob's size 20 mosquitoes and their use in a Sarnia anti-itch lotion advertisement.  I have posted it on my Web site in the "Flies With a Story" section, here:

I hope you have time to read the article.  But if you don't, below at least are the pictures I included in the article.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Marlboro Fly Fishing Show 2012

The Fly Fishing Show appears for three days each January at the Royal Plaza in Marlborough, Massachusetts. It's not more than a 30 minute drive from my house, and I use the event as an excuse to take Friday off from work.  The doors open at 10 o'clock.  This gives me time to relax at home with a long cup of coffee or two while sitting around the fireplace in our family room, and to cook a big breakfast before heading out on the highway to Marlboro.  Ah, "so civilized a morning," as my wife would say.

I miss Charlie Collins and his rooster and hen hackles. I would think it's been at least five years since he had a booth in Marlborough. I loved the fact that he sold the neck and saddle together as one package.  And both for a price that would have been reasonable for the neck alone. Because I ended up with more hackles than I needed, I would split them down the middle with a razor blade and sell half the neck and saddle to Internet friends who did not have easy access to Charlie's hackles.  I bought my first (and only) cree rooster set from Charlie. It's pretty used up at this point.

Charlie lives in New York and the last time I checked he still sells feathers by phone or mail order (A google search provided the following: Collins Hackle Farm, 436 Kinner Hill Road, Pine City, NY 14871 Phone 607-734-1765.)  But as far as the Marlborough show, I've been told that he just didn't make enough money to justify the expense and time committment.  It seemed to me that he sold a lot of feathers at the show, but I have no idea what it costs to have table.  (Someone else told me he does go to the Somerset, NJ show, from time to time; but I don't see him on the 2012 listing of vendors at the upcoming Somerset show.) 

In recent years, what I like best is talking to old friends and meeting a few new ones.  I seem to spend most of my time around the fly tying tables.  This year, most of my talking time was with Bob Mead, Dave Brandt, Dave Benoit and Don Bastian.  I met for the first time tyer Sharon Wright from Maine.  Dave Whitlock was there with his wife, Emily, selling his gorgeous artwork, and I met both of them for the first time.  What an artist he is!  I loved his drawing called "Six Gentlemen", a photo of which I have included in my flyfishing show photo gallery.  It is six beautifully colored sunfish, one each of six varieties.

I posted 45 images from the show here:

Below are just a few pictures, of the people I mentioned in my post.

David Brandt

Bob Mead

Don Bastian

Sharon Wright

Emily Whitlock

My fishing friend Paul DiNolo talking with Dave Whitlock

David Benoit

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reflections on a Serious Hobby

It's been a long while since I've seriously tied flies.  If asked, I would still list flyfishing/flytying as one of my two most serious hobbies; but it has nowhere near the intensity for me that it did 10 years ago.  This isn't a good thing or a bad thing.  Life moves along and interests change and evolve.  I feel very lucky to have had, throughout my life, interests I felt passionate about.  Usually, they involved some sort of outdoor activity and have an equipment component, with two past examples for me being backpacking and triathlons.

I remember a relationship expert saying that honeymoons last five to ten years, and that at some point it just becomes too difficult to maintain the intensity that goes along with a new relationship.  Perhaps the same is true of hobbies?

In terms of fishing "outings", I've pretty much maintained a constant interest in getting on the water.  I've never been a 100-day flyfisherman like a couple of my closest fishing buddies.  For me 20-30 days a year has always given me the balance I needed.

But other things have changed:

Though I still maintain this blog and my fishingwithflies.com website, additions are less frequent (but not inconsequential, IMO.)  Blog: I see I wrote 26 blog postings in 2011 and 25 in 2012. And there were over 4,000 visits last year. Website: Though I have only added a couple of pages this past year, because of the website having 10+ years on the world wide web, readership is still high. It numbered 60,000 visits last year.

I no longer thumb through the latest catalogs, putting "stickies" on pages with equipment or supplies I wanted to consider buying.  I have all the equipment I need or want.  I probably had all the equipment I "needed" years before I stopped buying all the equipment I "wanted".  I can't remember the last time I even flipped through a Cabelas Flyfishing Catalog. I used to love the Feather-Craft catalog, but don't even know if I still get it.  I used to speak frequently with Jim Kruel at English Angling Trappings and Chris Helm at Whitetail Flytieing [his spelling] about tying materials.

As far as fishing equipment, I have more than many and less than others.  My rod rack is full with about 8 rods and the little drawer under it has 5 reels in it.  The past several years I have used only two of the rods and two of the reels.

I am sure there have been many fly line "upgrades" over recent years and all kinds of specialized lines for all sorts of fish.  But I am perfectly happy with my classic Cortland 444 (peach colored) lines. All the smallies, largies, trout, sunfish, pickerel, perch, rock bass, fall fish, and crappies that I caught last year were perfectly happy with the distance, accuracy and color of the 444 peach!

I am amazed that I have four tying vises.  I plan to sell my Regal and Dan Vise.  That would leave me with two vises that go well beyond my skills: the LAW bench vise and the JVice.  Both were bought during more passionate times.  They are beautiful machines.

The LAW Bench Vise is a thing of beauty.  Though my skills can not match its capabilities, it is an absolute joy to use.

I can't believe all the tying materials I have.  During a three year period (ending perhaps 4 years ago) I believe my supplies increased about 10 times.  I will never use this stuff up.  But I think it is the result of fishing have many sub-hobbies.  Acquiring good tools can be a hobby all unto itself.  The same goes for the acquisition of nice materials, such as buying yet another hen neck from Charlie Collins or Denny Conrad.

Finally, I have just now broken away from writing this post for a minute...to look at my fishing bookcase (3 shelves on a wall) and to take a photo of it.  It's hard to believe that I have read all of these books.  I doubt I have looked at any of these books during the last five years.

...No, that's not true.  I have spent some time with the awesome Leeson and Schollmeyer's Benchside Reference, Hughes' Trout Flies, and Hellikson's Fish Flies.

These are all fishing books, except the several Dummies books stacked horizontally on the second shelf.

My other current "Serious Hobby" is photography.  It consumes the energy and dollars that I once applied to flyfishing.  As hobbies go, it is actually quite similar to flyfishing.  I have a photography Web site (see link in the left side-bar) which includes a blog, just like I do with flyfishing!  I might blog about the similarities some time.  In the meantime I am wondering if I should sell most of my flyfishing books to make room for all the photography books I am buying.

... No, I don't think so.  More likely, I will just build another shelf (or two or three) in my den (a.k.a.  Pete's Playroom).  I think the two hobbies live pretty well together.