Saturday, January 30, 2010


The show is going strong. The turn out is good, the seminars and isles are packed, there seems to be a lot of "business" transactions taking place. We also set up a tying table close to the theater which I think assisted with increasing traffic to that area of the hall. Now its time for a beer break, I mean lunch.
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last night

The show opened on time yesterday. With two presentors (Sara Sanford and Jeff "Bear" Andrews) under our belt, it looks like we have most of the bugs worked out. I took a lot of pictures with the SLR and will share some of them later.

Dinner was had at a "dry" pizza joint and was pretty ok, but not what were looking for. I feel a do over may be necessary.

Afterwards about a dozen of the usual suspects had set camp up in lounge and we enjoyed great conversations in spite of our obviously board cocktail waitress.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday a.m. Setup

We arrived at Pheasant run hotel west of Chicago at around 1:30am this morning. We had a couple of beers and retired at 3am.

We were up by 8am and went to the local iHop for Swedish crepes. Set up went very quickly this time and we even have audio on our dvd recorder this time. I got to say some quick hello's to some friends I hadn't seen in awhile.

Now we are kicking back with a couple of brews before the gates open.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ready...get set...

So I stopped by the fly shop last night for a couple of items.  The boys were a blur as they were packing up stuff for the Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo in Chicago.  We are all hoping for a fun and successful weekend.  Last year we got hit with a small snow storm over Friday night through Saturday morning.  Looks like the forcast for this weekend is just cold and cloudy, I can deal with that.

The crew members "representing" our club, will be Mother Feiker, Andy, Anderson, and myself.  We'll be taking off tomorrow after work and I'm really hoping for easy traffic.  At this point, it sounds like our main duties to help Tom Helgeson out at Chicago expo will be setting up and running the "Fly tying Theater" and all the Audio/Video stuff that goes along with it,  possible assisting with the local fly Tying group(s) with the "Teach a kid to tie a Fly" program (I'll be leaving that for the others who know how to talk short-people speak), and making sure that the Audio/Video stuff works for each of the featured presenters as they swap in their own equipment.  

I'd like to give a shout out to my pops, who just had knee surgery yesterday and sounds like things went ok.  I wish him a speedy recovery!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A fly filled week.

It's been a busy week for me in Critter-world of it being the middle of winter.

Back on Tuesday night Jen and I participated in the open-tying night at the Fly Angler.  I think around ten or twelve people brought their vises and materials for their fly du jour.  Like many fly tier gatherings, the group was an eclectic bunch with varying backgrounds and specialties.  All were outgoing and very sociable and  shared stories, laughs, and even some impromptu teaching of tying tricks.  We had a great time and met a couple of people we hadn't seen before and was a great way to get out of the house.  For those who attended, there was also the added bonus of a 10% discount on fly tying materials for the night.  I'd like to give a special thanks to Mike Rolek for hosting the event, I look forward to the next open-tying night next month!

Then on Thursday the club had our annual business meeting where we elected new officers for the year, appointed volunteers for various committee chairs, and set a tentative schedule for the fly fishing outings.  The results have been updated to the Officers page of the club website for those who are curious.  My three year term as a board member has ended with the passing of the meeting, but I was elected to serve as club Treasurer for 2010 and will still be actively participating with the clubs business meetings.  Congrats to all the new Officers, and thanks to the past Officers for your contributions to the club in 2009.

On Friday night, after a long and mentally draining week at work, I had decided to do something about my frustration with not being able to remember off the top of my head, the web address to this blog.  Not a big deal for those of you who subscribe and get emails sent to you automatically.  But when trying to give it to someone who is interested, I needed an address that was easy for me to remember so that I can pass it around.  Well, I fixed that.  I bought a domain name for the year which cost me eight-whole-dollars at, coincidentally the same company I use for the St. Paul Fly Tiers website that I manage.  Which I think was worth the money to squash out my frustration and embarrassment when people asked about my blog and I got the deer in the headlights look when trying to recall the URL.  People can still find me with the current/old address, but now I can be found at:  and be redirected here.  Much MUCH easier than the for me to remember and for others to write down.

On Saturday, I was able to finally attend the Screaming Chicken's annual Lie-N-Tie after several years of missing out for various reasons.  I had set this in my schedule back in early December, and am very glad I did.  We had a good sized group attend, many of them were members of the Wis Fly board, so I knew most of them, if not by face, then by their on-line aliases.  So it was good to connect the names with the faces.  The Screaming Chicken was a very nice gentleman who had a great "Man-Cave" for the event which was very cozy and visually stimulating.  We had five tables of fly tiers in the middle of a large wood heated building, surrounded by tons and tons of hand made bows, arrows, Native American style painted jaws and skulls, and leather & bead garments.  It was the Possum lodge meets fly fishing meets the Anchor meets Native American archery.  Stuffed animals such as raccoons, deer, and a full size standing black bear looking over us.  Then there was the tom cat who checked each of us out and returned to playing with one of the fly tiers squirrel tail it was so enamored with.  While tying we had the chickens and very vocal turkeys outside letting us know they were there too.  I have to say, I loved it all.  And of course the most memorable thing to me was the old Herters vise that one of the grand kids of Mr. Screaming chicken was tying on.  I think it was an early model as it looked to weigh a good ten pounds and of old-school metal work.  I got a little crap from the gang for tying so many flies this time and not chatting as much as I normally do.  I didn't think I was too quiet, I was just "multi-tasking" more than usual as I really need to get my fly boxes refilled for this spring.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Program Night at the club house: Scott Thorpe on Steelhead

Last night, we had a great guest who did a steelhead presentation, his name was Scott Thorpe.  He started with a brief but cool video of the Talaheim Lodge, which he guides for in Alaska and features Helicopter fly-out fishing.  When he is not guiding in Alaska, he can be found guiding in Montana, Minnesota or Wisconsin.  Initially an Architect, he left the profession four years ago to "get serious" about his passion for fishing.

Even though the roads were crappy (as my work commute was two hours to get to and from home instead of 45 minutes) we had a good size audience.  GOTTA LOVE STEELHEAD FANATICS DISREGARD FOR BAD WEATHER CONDITIONS!

Scott covered fly fishing tactics, ethics, a little history, and his favorite flies, areas along the Minnesota north shore and the Wisconsin south shore, stories from his past 40 years of chasing steelhead as a fisherman and as a guide, and the nuances of how steelhead are not trout.

It was a fun night and I walked away with a lot to think to about, as I am confident that Scott has forgotten more about fishing steel then I have learned so far.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Two soft-hackle wet fly patterns

Yesterday, while milling about in my fly tying room, I came across a scrap of paper with my chicken scratches and a crappy fly drawing on it.  The chicken scratches turned out to be a materials list for a fly pattern that someone at some point must have given me.  After doing a little research, the fly is a "classic soft-hackle" from way back before my time.  It is similar to a fly known as a "Blue & Black wet fly" even though there is nothing blue in it.  One deviation from the classical pattern is that I used a wire rib instead of tinsel, and I'm okay with that. I think it the would not have been as sleek looking and not every fly needs "flare."  If I were to tie some with tinsel, I would go all out and use either the silver holographic or red holographic that I have laying around.  The other deviation is that the one I tied here, didn't have the Golden Pheasant Tippet tail.

Hook: TMC 200, #12 - #16
Thread: Red Uni-thread 8/0
Rib: copper wire (small)
Body: Black dubbing
Hackle: Black Coq De Leon (I’m sure any black hen feather would suffice)
Note: I took the extra time to spruce up the fly by applying a coat of Sally Hanson’s “Wet & Wild” red nail polish on the thread head. Once it dried, I applied two coats of clear Sally Hanson’s nail polish.

The next fly I tied was based on the previous one and similar to the "Blue & Black wet fly," but I modified it so as to incorporate some of the new Golden Pheasant Tippet that I got for Christmas from Mrs. Critter. The Golden Pheasant Tippet was listed in the Black & Blue pattern.  I also substituted the black hackle for a Brown Speckled hackle.  I am sure if I researched a bit, that both flies have have a name.

Hook: TMC 200, #12 - #16
Thread: Red Uni-thread 8/0
Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet
Rib: copper wire (small)
Body: Black dubbing
Hackle: Brown Speckled Coq De Leon (or other brown speckled hen feather)
Note: I spruced the head of the fly with the same steps as the previous fly.

I have not fished either of these patterns, but I tied up a dozen of them in two different sizes and I look forward to trying them out this spring.