In Pursuit of Trout has been a project of mine for just over four years now and it has been an amazing journey. I’ve interviewed some of the best fly tyers around the world, and have discussed tricks and tips with some great fly fishing guides. In general, I’ve met and connected with great people all across the world through this project. I launched an online store, and two years ago I started fly tying full time. One year ago, I quit the day job to focus solely on In Pursuit of Trout. It is exhausting, because there are so many skills that are required to make this work, that I did not have prior to starting this. It has been an great opportunity to push myself. Outside of the theme, I put this site together myself. It took hundreds of hours and weeks of sleepless nights fighting the bugs and constant changes to get it to look okay….
During that time of tying mostly trout streamers and european nymphs, I took many requests from guides and other clients to tie flies outside of those categories. I had never tied a saltwater fly until a year ago, but this past year I have tied countless dozens. I also started tying a lot of bass flies, carp flies, and I even started messing around with musky stuff the last few months. All of this, along with the natural progression of the project, has been leading to what I’m about to say, although some of you already know.
In Pursuit of Trout as my brand will be changing to Beast Coast Fly Company and I’m working on a fancy brand new website on a better platform. You can find it at www.beastcoastflyco.com but it won’t be live until the end of March. Until then, place your orders on IPT and if you need something you don’t see, check it out on Instagram or message me email@example.com
Having changed my direct focus of fly tying trout flies to include many different species, I wanted a more all encompassing brand to represent those new found interests. I will have for sale flies for all the species on the Beast Coast and beyond. That includes flies for the big saltwater species, tarpon, permit, redfish etc. I have been tying flies for a shop in Florida and I’ve been getting good responses with those designs. You’ll see a mix of classic patterns tweaked in my style, along with completely new designs.
The new website will have an online store stocked with premium fly tying materials, gear including packs, rods, reels, accessories, and new branded apparel like tshirts, hats, and performance wear. I’m taking the small IPT online store and blowing it up to include all the good stuff you need to seek the beasts, whether you fish streamers or you euro nymph.
Timeline: I’m building out the new store as we speak, and IPT will be up until I launch the other store and probably for a few weeks after that just to spread the word.
To stay up to date, subscribe via email or follow the new Beast Coast Fly Co Instagram, @beastcoastflyco
Buckle up- we are taking this thing to the next level!
Welcome back to another Guide Life feature, this month I am pleased to share an interview I had with Captain Jason Sullivan of Rising Tide Charters from Everglades City, Florida. Jason is a member of the Orvis Endorsed Guide program and specializes in fishing the areas of the Everglades National Park, Fort Lauderdale, and the Biscayne Bay area of Miami, Florida.
My name is Jason Sullivan and have been a fly fishing guide in South Florida for about 7 years now. I mostly fish out of Flamingo, Everglades National Park. The Glades offers some of the best inshore fishing in South Florida. I was a school teacher for a few years and decided I had to be in the Everglades more than just the weekends. It was a tough decision at the time, but glad I did and I truly love every minute I am on the water.
IPT: You were recently one of three finalists for the 2017 Orvis Endorsed Awards for Saltwater Fly Fishing Guide of the Year. While another guide ultimately won the award, it had to have been a tremendous honor to have been considered. Were you surprised to see yourself in contention for the award? What does it say about you as a guide and your business, to be one of the three finalists?
Jason: I have been in the Orvis endorsed program for three years and when I got the call from Pete Kuztner from Orvis, I was completely shocked and humbled. I was not expecting that at all. I try to guide with a ton of integrity and do things the right way. I know that’s what Orvis is all about and I am extremely proud to work with them.
What would you say to a new saltwater angler coming down for the first trip they booked? How can they best prepare themselves for success?
I think to a new saltwater angler you need to be patient and ready to learn. I always tell new anglers to practice a little bit before they get down here, but ultimately you the angler don’t know what to expect until you do it once. We’ll spend the first half of the morning going over techniques while we are fishing. I think being coachable is the best thing you can be when coming down here. There is usually a huge difference in techniques between freshwater flyfishing and saltwater flyfishing for most anglers.
What gear or accessories are essential to have a good day on the water in the Florida sun and heat?
The Florida sun can wear you down in the summer time if you’re not prepared. Although the winter is about as good of weather as you can ask for, probably why people moving down at huge rate! Just to give you an idea on typical day, I wear light fishing pants, Orvis long sleeve shirt and sun gloves and a buff. Keeping the sun off of you, makes easier to get through a few days of fishing down here. I also recommend polarized sunglasses.
What is it about tarpon that drives anglers of all kinds, just bat shit crazy?
Yes, tarpon will drive you absolutely crazy. I think the fact that is not easy, is why people love it. It’s a challenge everyday and takes a certain amount of skill. There are days where you see hundreds of them and can’t get a bite, then days where you see a third of that and get 5 bites. They are an extremely finicky fish and move a ton. I love it because it’s different every day and locating them is a challenge in itself sometimes. Then when it all comes together and you hook one these dinosaurs, it is epic. To feel the power of these fish is like nothing you will ever experience. I have had guys cry in joy after landing there first big tarpon on fly!
One fish on my list to catch for the first time this year is Redfish. What would be the best time of year to come fish for them, and what are some of your favorite flies for catching them?
Yes the redfish is a very fun fish. They are angler friendly. We get to sight fish for them and usually can find them all year in the Glades. I like you using shrimpy looking flies.
I recently spoke with a freshwater trout guide about this topic, and wanted to get your perspective as well. The fly fishing industry desperately needs new blood. After watching just a few of your videos on Facebook, it seems saltwater fly fishing might be the BEST way to attract new anglers simply because of how dynamic, varied, and exciting it is. What are your thoughts about getting new people into the sport, and whether you believe saltwater fishing is the way to do that?
Yes I agree, it needs some new blood. I absolutely agree that saltwater fly fishing can do that. There is something different about it. It takes you to some of the most beautiful places on the planet, you mostly sight fish, and just a variety of awesome species to chase!
What are the best and worst parts about guiding for a living, or the job in general?
The best part of guiding is I am in the Glades everyday, where you hardly see another human all day. I get to take people who have never been and that is really cool. I love fly fishing, so being able to check a species off of someone’s list is really rewarding. Chasing tarpon is an obsession for me.
The tough part about guiding, and especially being a saltwater guide, the majority of us are independent and are one man shows. You have do it all from, fishing everyday, getting your own business, and fixing stuff that always seems to break. With that being said, I love all that, so for me there is no tough part!!
I’m sure you’ve had many freshwater fly fishermen come out to the salt. What were they weakest at, what were they strongest at?
Yes I get a lot of freshwater fly angers. The weakest is probably not being able to double haul and cast for distance. The saltwater side, your usually dealing with wind, boat moving, and fish moving. Being able to quickly get your fly to the target, is not easy. Probably the best thing is most freshwater fly anglers are eager to learn and are very coachable. Also they know how to get their flies out of the trees better than anyone!!
There seems to be a big difference in the way people feel about competitive trout tournaments, and competitive saltwater tournaments. Are they healthy for the sport in either case?
I like fishing some tourneys to a degree. I like the competition, I think it pushes you to be better as a guide but can force you to do things you wouldn’t do on a normal guided trip. I only fish a few tourneys a year. Since I fish mainly out of Flamingo, and most of the tourneys are in the Keys, it doesn’t benefit me much to fish there. There are a couple tourneys that the proceeds go to Everglades National Park, I am all in on those.
What would you say to a potential client about why they should come down and book a trip with you?
I think fishing the Everglades should be on everyone’s fishing bucket list. The place is so remote and so fishy, it is an incredible experience. I am very passionate about both fly fishing and the Glades and it is arguably the best tarpon fishing destination in the world. You can fish 12 months for tarpon in the Glades, can you tell I am obsessed????
Thank you for taking the time for this interview Jason. I know I’m planning trips for 2018 and would love to hook up to fly fish the Everglades and tarpon and redfish are both on my list for 2018. It just looks too fun!
To book a trip with Capt. Jason Sullivan, you can contact him either by phone or email.
Lastly, here is an episode of Captain’s Tales featuring Jason Sullivan. Enjoy!
What do you think everyone? Comment below with your thoughts on this interview, saltwater fly fishing tips for newbies (like myself), and if you want to see a particular guide also featured in this series in 2018 put their name and what makes them interesting, different, fun, deserving, etc.
This is kicking off a new series that will be ongoing called “New Product Showcase” and I will try and bring you more information about some fantastic new products in the fly fishing or fly tying industries as they are released. As a consumer, there are so many new products flooding on the market and it’s hard to determine whether they are worth using, and I hope through these interviews, written and video product reviews, and tutorials that you can make a better judgement whether it is worth your hard earned money or not. Some of the products or brands that I’ll be showcasing will be brands that I use and work with, and possibly even sell through the website, and others won’t be. I don’t want to just limit the scope to what I sell, as my shop is still a pretty small endeavor and I don’t have wholesale access to a lot of the brands out there. What you should know is that I”m not paid by any company to endorse it’s products at the time of this writing so my opinions are those of my own brain lol. Okay that said, onto the show!
Hazard Fly Fishing is a relatively new company on the ever evolving fly tying marketplace and was founded and is operated by Jeff Harrison. I sat down with Jeff to introduce you to his line of hooks, beads, and some other products we’ll talk about later.
IPT: Jeff, for those people who aren’t familiar with your brand Hazard Fly Fishing, how did you get started in this business and what do you feel separates your products from all the others out there?
Jeff: Hey Daniel! Thanks for asking me to do this interview. I really do consider this to be an honor and would love to share the story of Hazard Fly Fishing with you.
Being a competitive fly fisherman, I went through a ton of hooks and beads. I had a pro deal with Syndicate Fly fishing and through my career I became pretty good friends with one of its owners Eric. He contacted me to let me know they were getting out of the hooks and bead aspect of the business. Several weeks later I started thinking about doing my own line. So, I started sending a ton of emails received a ton of samples and narrowed it down to my current selection. My original idea was to order enough hooks to meet my needs, but that idea quickly went out the window. There are a lot of great hooks on the market today. It’s crazy how much the barbless hook market has changed in the past 3 years.
What separates me from other companies is I’m just a 1 man show. Yeah, I have the wife and kids help me from time to time but 90% of it’s just me. So, I’m able to focus on quality and customer service. I have no problem with people calling morning noon and night to talk to me personally or ask me questions. Good luck trying to get a hold of some of the other guys.
Having tied on fished with your hooks for several months now I am extremely impressed with how sharp the hook points are, and how consistent the quality is. How important is it to you to produce a product that competitive fly fisherman across the country are turning to using when it matters most for them?
Quality competitive product is everything. The hooks have a constant weight. Which is unheard of. I’m able to weigh them out to package them instead of counting them individually. When I tie flies for myself I put them in my Fly box according to the weight. And to have it stay the same per hook means I’m able to quickly grab a fly and not worry about the weight.
We can’t go too far into this discussion without talking about price. Fly tying hooks, especially for the European nymphing/competitive fly fishing market have reached all time highs with foreign imports. How have you managed to introduce a premium hook at an economical price?
I’m not doing this as my only source of income (The wife would kill me) if I quit my job to run Hazard full time. For me I’ve always been a great sales man and love to meet new people. When it came to sales I have a philosophy of this. I would rather make a dollar profit off 100 customers then $100 dollar profit off of 1 customer. As long as the sales can cover the cost of ordering new product and cover taxes. What’s the point of charging more or raising the prices?
For those higher volume fly tyers out there, do you offer any bulk packages of hooks? If so, what quantity and discount can they expect?
I do offer a “pro deal” for those who fish in competitions as well as guides. I have given it to a very select few of “commercial” tyers as well . But it is very few and will continue to be. They would have to be able to prove they’ve been a commercial tier for a while, so it wouldn’t take business away from fly shops as anyone would be able to say they are a commercial tier.
Customer service can make or break fly fishing companies. If for some unfortunate reason, a customer is less than satisfied, who can they talk with to resolve the issue? Do you offer any warranties on your products?
Warranty? What’s that? Since launching Hazard in January I’ve ordered over 250,000 hooks. I know there will be some bad hooks, but I try my hardest to stop that. If for some small reason you don’t like the hooks get in touch with me and I’ll make it right. I’ve yet to have someone contact me and say they hate the hooks but there’s always that small chance.
You also sell other materials besides hooks. What other products do you sell?
Right now we offer countersunk, slotted and faceted (disco) beads. These beads are the heaviest beads I’ve ever seen. I’ve weighed beads from other companies and mine far out weigh the competition. Plus, my painted beads aren’t painted. I’ve had them powder coated to be more resistant to chipping. The cost is a little bit more, but the quality out weighs the cost. I also have Syndicate rods on the site and will be adding Master Nymph new line of rods called Bellator. These rods are a game changer. Jason has designed a true masterpiece!!! I also carry Ikon landing nets. If I list it on the site, you better believe I’ve used it or continue to use. I can’t sell junk.
Are you going to be introducing any new hooks or other products in 2018?
Funny you ask. I’m in talks with my manufacturer about being the first company to offer a new to the market product……… (You need to stay turned for that reveal lol)
My Overall Review:
Let me say that I’ve been tying with these hooks for about 5 or 6 months right now, and I think they are fantastic. Anyone who has ordered jig flies from me has gotten a fly using either the Hazard HH10 (standard jig) or the HH11 (wide gap jig) hooks, and I’ve yet to hear a complaint. I think they have done a great job very quickly earning the trust of people tying a LOT of flies and people who spend many days out of the week fishing.
If I had to compare them to another brand, I would say they are on par with the competition standby Hanak brand hooks, that is the quality level. The best part is you save about 12.5% off each pack you buy when you choose Hazard. I don’t know about you, but hooks cost a LOT of money and if I can instantly save that much, I will choose to do so. For guys wanting to start tying orders, 12.5% savings on your hooks can determine whether you are profitable or not.
They currently have 12 models of hooks, which is on the smaller end when you compare them to more established lines of hooks but each one is a good hook. Too many times brands rush to expand their sku’s and end up with unnecessary hooks that just confuse the consumer. Some brands have 50+ different hook models. The jig hooks are particularly nice in the Hazard line. If you tie big stoneflies don’t underestimate the value of the HH12 streamer hook. The model says streamer, but big stones need big hooks and this barbless model is a winner.
Wants? I think a big gap in the line up right now is the lack of a true short shank, micro euro nymph hook. I kind of use the HH7 Caddis hook for the purpose, but for that application finding something truer to a TMC 2499spbl or a Hanak 500bl would be a great addition. I also think a truer Czech Nymph Pupa type hook would be cool to see, again something like the Hanak 360bl.
The one thing I know for sure is, if you have a need, Jeff will do what he can to fill it and I’m sure his newest releases are sure to please.
I’m still figuring out how I want to judge the products I bring to you, so it will probably change but for now lets use categories and stars out 1-5, 5 being the best.
Value: 5 Stars. 12.5% cheaper and comparable in quality to the most widely used European Nymphing hooks on the market.
Quality: 5 Stars. I’ve used the hooks for about 6 months and haven’t had 1 bad hook, in the vise or on the water. Can’t get much better.
Customer Service: 5 Stars. Jeff has made himself available should anything arise, and that is more than I can say for many other brands in the fly tying industry.
Should you give Hazard Hooks a try? Absolutely.
Click SHOP NOW to shop for your Hazard FF Barbless Hooks and Tungsten Beads right here at In Pursuit of Trout and follow Hazard FF via their website and social media pages for upcoming news and product releases.
First, I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you reading this. I am thankful for so much in my life, and I am very humbled by your decision to visit In Pursuit of Trout to read my posts and to shop in my store. This site is 100% funded through those purchases, as this is my full time business. Each and every sale is appreciated. I’d like to give a special thank you to all of my readers and customers. So today through Sunday Nov. 26th all fly tying materials are 25% off, and all flies are Buy 3 get 1 FREE. No coupon code necessary for any of these promotions. As for Cyber Monday? You’ll just have to subscribe via email to find out.
The reason I am really doing this post is due to the fact that there are so many great brands in the fly fishing community that deserve your support and this weekend is a great opportunity to get to know these people if you aren’t familiar, and you’ll enjoy great savings to boot! You want happiness this weekend? You know what makes me happy? New decals. If you share my affliction, you will be SO happy you found me. Not your thing? What about hats? Fly tying accessories? Fly Fishing Gear? Exactly.
Here is a list of the BEST deals of Black Friday.
5. Nate Karnes Art:
Nate Karnes is an artist based out of Missouri who has designed classic decals that you have probably seen all over social media, maybe without knowing it. Nate is the artist who has given us the “Pig” series, the “Brown Tank”, and the species “Flag” series to name a few of his popular designs. I’m also going to give away some inside info, Nate is currently working on my next logo. Needless to say I’m super stoked to be working with such an incredible artist. Nate has dozens of decals, and he also has a line of apparel including really comfortable t’s, sweatshirts, tech shirts, and buffs. Beyond all of that he also does amazing original art installations including the big brown trout piece featured below.
Deal #1: 10% off entire order plus FREE shipping on orders over $25 Promo Code:“BLACKFRIDAY”
Deal #2: Buy any 5 decals for $20 Promo Code:None required. Considering decals retail for either $6 or $7.50, this is a GREAT deal to spruce up your truck or tying bench on the CHEAP!
Vedavoo is a company founded by Scott Hunter and was born out of a need that he decided to fulfill himself and it took him from his basement to a New England workshop. His demand has never been higher, but the Vedavoo moto has never been trespassed upon. BETTER AMERICAN GEAR isn’t marketing hype, it is their benchmark that is proven with every adventure. They are known for producing some of the most innovative and functional fly fishing packs and fly tying bench accessories on the market today. I first came across the brand through their Bench Basin which makes a phenomenal, easily packed on bench garbage collector. As you’ll see below, their packs are insane! New for 2017 they have their Water Master Beast Sling, and a revamped line of packs including the new Tightlines Sling. They also have a full line of fun decals, and accessories sure to make your next trip on the water more enjoyable.
Deal #1:20% off for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25th. Promo Code: “handbuilt”
Andrea Larko is an amazing artist as well as a member of the Able Women Ambassador Team. The combination of art and fly fishing was a perfect match and her creative designs have been sought after ever since she began pursuing it full time. I first noticed her artwork on social media when I saw an incredible Zentangle Tarpon decal. I had never seen anything like that before, the colors were vibrant and the styling was something I can only describe as hypnotic. She has so many incredible designs in the “Zentangle” style. Some of my personal favorites include the aforementioned “Tarpon”, the “Muskelunge” and the “Apache Trout”. The Mayfly series is pretty dope as well. Buy them all. She has collection of styles and tons of decals to fit your own personal style. She also has art prints, hats, and apparel for sale. She also happens to be an incredibly nice person, and someone I met in person at the International Fly Tying Symposium.
Zentangle Apache Trout
Deal:30% off sitewide Black Friday-Cyber Monday on orders of $25 or more. Promo Code: “HOLIDAY17”
Ryan Keene is an artist out of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and has introduced the high brow fly fishing collective to new tastes when it comes to artwork in this industry. Ryan has worked with numerous brands in the fishing industry including Echo, 5280 Angler, Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Hook & Hackle Co and pmany more. I don’t know what his style can be considered, other than fucking awesome. It’s pseudo-graffiti drip works with lots of brilliant colors, contrasted with grimy ink pen play. Matter of fact, let me just post some….it’s just easier than describing it lol.
Deal #1:40% off site wide including originals. Plus spend $150 or more and receive a FREE print of your choosing. Promo Code:“GIVEME40”
Depending on your social circles, you may or may not have come across this incredible fly rod company before. If this is your introduction, you are one lucky son of a gun…you’ll see why in a minute. Clutch Fly Rods is the brainchild of Lee Janik. His genesis was much like anyone in life. He was on the water and had a thought. If this fly rod would only________. There is an interesting symbiosis between every fly fisherman and their fly rod, and the feeling that transfer from line to rod to hand is then interpreted based on what we want out of a rod.
If we had the knowledge of craft, we could take our unique understanding and apply what we want the rod to do by building it EXACTLY how we wanted. Lee Janik and his team did just that. Instead of creating different “lines” of rods that are inconsistent in performance between the line weights (because how can you apply a design to a 4 weight and a 10 weight?) they design each weight specific to the purposes an angler would use it. That makes their job sooooo much harder, but you get everything out that they put in.
I first heard of Clutch when a group of guides I look up to started throwing them and had positive feedback, I knew they weren’t an overnight popup brand with their latest shipment of mass produced blanks from Alibaba. You know, the guys selling fly rods for $150-199 that cost like $25-40 kind of guys. The ones with the reels that fail and the rods that don’t perform for shit. Anywho- the first rod I heard everyone loving was the Clutch React. The React is different. It’s a 1 piece 8’1″ streamer rod designed to throw 250 grain and 350 grain lines. You know what that means- streamers bro. You don’t have a 6-10 weight range…just 250gr or 350gr. They will throw either a floating or sinking line of that grain weight. You can tune how you want to present your flies.
The other rod I heard about was the Clutch Tannik which is becoming a very popular musky stick. Too many rods lack the backbone needed to cast big non-aerodynamic flies far off the boat in windy conditions. It is a 1 piece 8’10” rod available in either 350 grain or 450 grain. If you like to fish for musky, you have to try this rod.
Deal #1:Limited Quantities of HIGHLY discounted 2017 “Trade Show Demos”
Okay…it might not sound like a great deal. But hear me out. Better yet, let Clutch take this one.
“TRADE SHOW DEMO’s NOW AVAILABLE (in select sizes) These demo’s are 2017 Model Year and have only been lightly handled. They have been inspected and approved by our quality control department, and we are now offering these demo’s for sale at a greatly reduced price including and new Case AND are completely covered by our Factory Warranty!”- Clutch
So what’s so great about a “used” rod? The price.
The two rods I mentioned above run about $800 retail. Honestly, for the thought and work that goes into them it’s probably a bargain. That said, these Trade Show Demo’s are a FRACTION of the price. More specifically on the Tannik you save $300 or just about 40%! And you still get it covered with their limited lifetime warranty! What an amazing deal. At almost 40% off there is no conceivable reason NOT to try them at this point. They have several models available at the exact same pricing.
In continuation of the “Guide Life” series I reached out to Michigan’s Brian Kozminski of True North Trout Guide Service to discuss aspects about the guide lifestyle and pick his brain on topics such as introducing new people to the sport of fly fishing. What struck me early on with Brian when we connected on Facebook was how down to earth and personable he is. In an industry where egos can seriously get out of control, here is this guide doing his thing and loving it. He was happy to discuss fly fishing and tying and when I thought about continuing this series it was a no-brainer to reach out to him.
What is it about fly fishing that made you want to make it a career?
So many things. Some small, the intricacies of learning how to tie a baetis nymph and knowing the life cycle of many macro invertebrates and how to present an emerger mayfly that might be crippled. To the bigger things like the rivers and watersheds that connect us from one side of the country to the other, those same rivers that unite many anglers when they get in a room and talk of fish stories and ‘the one that got away’ and the gear that gets us motivated to try new techniques and the challenge of ever changing river conditions. To the more spiritual aspects that keep my psyche in the right frame of mind. The ability to get out on the river and totally reset my disposition on many facets and a variety of levels of whatever chaos might be going on in my daily life~ my clarity and my serenity wrapped in one specific, detailed package, ever evolving and challenging: fly fishing.
For those that aren’t familiar, tell us about True North Trout and how you ended up getting involved?
About a decade ago, I was chapter President for Miller-VanWinkle Chapter of TU in our area. I would regularly donate trips to local non-profits like the Women’s Resource Center, Habitat for Humanity, Crooked Tree Arts Council, and local Chamber directors, etc. My goal was to introduce other groups who might not be familiar with Trout Unlimited and the work we do, why we build river bank protection/revetments, remove culverts that prevent fish passage, plant saplings and native plants on former sand trap areas, and keep a record of aquatic bug populations among many other projects. Seems to me, the Trout Unlimited groups are already well versed on the issues we face, but getting more exposure through other non-profits was a no brainer and pretty cool to get others outside that live Up North, but never realized the amount of wildlife that exists in their very own backyard.
Through one of these channels, a gentleman out of Traverse City emailed me and asked if I would be interested in taking over his blog “TRUE NORTH TROUT”. He would still have an admin role, but he felt I was connected and had a pulse on the hot issues we, as anglers and conservationists, were facing. I was hesitant; I had no interest in writing – my literary skills are dismal at best. But my wife encouraged me and said it would help make me a better writer, to be able to get down on paper some of the things that were already heavy on my mind. And she was right, as good wives often are. Here I am, a few years down the road, and True North Trout is synonymous with Brian Koz. It is me and I am it. Through my increased social media connections, I have also been involved for 8 years with Salmon in the Classroom at a local elementary, where I go in each month and talk about fishing, guiding, TU, and watersheds, We dissect baby salmon, tie flies, conduct on-stream macro invert surveys and release some 150 salmon parr each spring with the students of Sheridan Elementary School- it’s pretty cool – it is my calling.
Guide Life can be an interesting lifestyle. How do you maintain balance to keep up with the demands without burning out or letting frustration take over?
It can be overwhelming- especially after a long season of hatches: from Drakes to hex and into mousing, it really never ends. I try to dedicate one day to my family each week, we make it a beach day. But life happens. There are many 5 am early rises in order to get things done. We had a working farm for several years, goats, sheep, alpacas and over a dozen chickens and ducks. Keeping up on feeding, collecting eggs, watering, cleaning up the barn and yard on top of kids, family and painting a full guide docket can wear you out. On occasion, you can see someone post that they have been on the river 58 days in a row, guess what? I don’t want to to be that client on day 55, 56 or 57. I want to go out every day excited and pumped to go chase trout, seems a little difficult when you can barely remember to hook the anchor to the stern. We have all been there, especially after three weeks of ‘up-all-night hex’—> chasing monster browns. I had a recent opportunity to take a desk job for a major fly(line) fishing company, it wasn’t meant to be right now, but eventually I will likely rep for a company I am passionate about and spread this fever to others.
Tell us what organizations you have been involved with in the past, and any companies or organizations you are currently working with?
I am very proud to represent some of the best companies in the fly industry. First as an Elite Ambassador for Temple Fork Outfitters, I get to work with some of my long time mentors and idols here in Michigan and Midwest- Ray Schmidt and Kate Smith, along with Jeff “Bear” Andrews, Austin Aducci and Patrick Campbell, what a phenomenal and knowledgeable crew. I am also on Pro Staff for Scientific Anglers in Midland, Erick Johnson, Brad Befus, Josh Jenkins and Jeff Pierce tend to bring out the best the Midwest has to offer. The Pros in that group are far too many to mention but really appreciate the team at SA who pull this together. SUPontheFLY is taking fly fishing to new places and John Rounds asked me to help spread the passion of SUPs in Michigan a few years ago as midwest ambassador. All of this would not have happened if it weren’t for ADIPOSE BOATWORKS and the fact I had the first ADDY FLOW in Michigan back in 2012. The gang in Helena, Montana worked very hard to get me into the boat I use more than 100x a year for guide trips and a few dozen more for personal enjoyment. I truly believe that was instrumental in setting True North Trout apart from other guides at a critical time in my career.
There is a desperate need for new blood in the fly fishing industry, and I think for the first time in a long time, we are starting to see an influx of new fly fishermen and women, along with new fly tyers. How do you cater to new, or less experienced anglers to maximize their experience on the water?
I strongly feel we need to help nurture the newcomers and welcome them with positivity and constructive criticism. Some are afraid to get involved, fear being ridiculed, and I aim to get newbies in my boat and have a good time on the river. Make it fun, interesting, show them rocks, logs, bugs, give them history of the rivers and how much we have destroyed and rebuilt, why we work so hard to protect these resources. My region has a healthy dose of retirees who have decided to pick up a fly rod as a “bucket list” item. I actually have a lot of beginners, they come to me because others say I have the patience and time to help people understand the mechanics of casting, the life cycle of bugs and its not always about catching monsters — sometimes an eight inch trout is a monster in the eyes of an angler who never caught a trout. We need these anglers for the future of our sport. I am glad and excited to see so many women taking up the fly rod and the energy the new ‘Flat Brim’ generation brings to the industry. Fortunate for me, I am at an age in between appreciating the knowledge and wisdom of the old timers and incorporating the updated styles and techniques of this new younger generation. Back when I was managing a restaurant in Petoskey, I would host a monthly ‘Tying Night’, not unlike many Suds & Bugs or ‘Tie One On’ nights, now days I can send out an invite for some of the local tyers and newbies in my area and have them over to tie and talk shop without the concern of patrons nearby choking on collateral deer hair flying in their Chicago Burger.
Where do you guide primarily and what makes them unique and rewarding for anglers? What species will clients encounter while on the water- and what are your favorite techniques for fishing for them?
The ‘Tip of the Mitt’ region- northern Michigan, around and above the 45th parallel. Miraculous amount of water. Besides the myriad of choices along the lakeshore of the Great Lakes for carp, smallmouth and anadromous species looking for a familiar scent to migrate into, we also have hundreds of rivers and small creeks that feed into larger lakes which eventually dump into either Lake Michigan or Huron. Spring brings the run of steelhead into famous rivers like the lower Manistee and Au sable- both require federal permits to float, so I target smaller rivers near my home town of Boyne City. The Boyne, Jordan, Pigeon and Sturgeon see a decent number of chrome bullets, but downstate anglers have to understand that these rivers are much smaller than counterparts like the Pere Marquette River that can see almost 100K Oncorhynchus mykiss- the Jordan is only 32 miles long and with less than 5-7K steelies, they can get to where they need to spawn in less than a couple days. The Pigeon (longest river at 67 miles) & Sturgeon Rivers have a decent run of gorgeous iridescent emerald green lake run rainbow that can test your rod and river maneuverability. Early spawning carp will be found along the bays of Wilderness State Park near Mackinaw City, if they aren’t visible, I will put on a deceiver and stir up some smallmouth bass. The warmth of summer brings some of the best hatches in the Midwest- notably, and my personal favorite, is the Drake hatch in the first part of June- often just before the masses of ‘Fudgies’ migrate north for their seasonal residency. This hatch brings the best of the best browns out of their deep cover to be noted for future encounters. The Hex follows, along with it’s benevolent herd of worshipers, lining up along many favorite muck-riddled purple iris adorned shorelines. There are evenings where 6- 12 boats can line up at the take out with a couple dozen or more empty trailers in the lot patiently waiting for the owners who stay past my 2 am curfew(I still have kids and early morning chores to knock out before returning the next evening). The heat of summer gives you choices- Terrestrial daytime hopper country for beautiful brook trout in the PRC or upper Jordan/Manistee or late night Red Bull/coffee driven mousing for big browns. Autumn runs of salmon have the trails on nearby rivers well prodded- I prefer to avoid this less than picturesque ‘Hook em and drag them in’ style of angling and head out for fall browns eating articulated Circus Peanuts or Hog Snares. We also have a special lake with a hybrid of lake trout and brook trout- Splake. These aggressive and fun trout will chase a streamer all the way to boat in highly visible cold water in November often leaving you wondering why they didn’t take that perfect presentation. Sometimes they turn on and get after it, only one way to find out. Winter months- you will see me at shows across the midwest talking the benefits of a high modulus quality rod with unreal customer service and unbeatable guarantee for Temple Fork Outfitters.
I am a fan of dry fly approach, watching a fish take a fly you tie is the reason why we do this, streamer junkie at heart, it is hard to turn back once you see the turn or flash of a large trout that darts out from under cover as it checks out your articulated whatever. The take can leave you trembling and often, we swing for hours to make those connections. Lately, though, I have been getting down and dirty with Lance Egan and Devin Olsen’s Tactical Fly Fisher- Euro Style nymphing, it is very effective and can produce numbers as well as decent size trout in places where we often blow right on by. Give it a try, straight line nymphing has many benefits.
In your experience, what do clients spend too much time focusing on, and conversely, not enough time focusing on, while preparing for a trip?
Flies. Do I have the right flies? Are these good? What should I bring? A well prepared guide will have the flies and terminal gear for any day on the river, but if your drift is less than desirable, your trout will pass that gorgeously tied upwing sulphur and choose the plethora of others in his lane over yours. The wrong fly at the right depth is better than the right fly at the wrong depth- ALWAYS. I think we concern ourselves often with the fly. We make excuses, ‘They don’t like this fly’, ‘this fly isn’t working’- If you place a fly in front of a potential trout, especially in a feeding lane, he has a millisecond to decide Food/NotFood and take a closer look. Obviously, tailwater fisheries and slick smooth surfaces do demand the best in presentations, but that is only half of the equation. Especially in nymphing, getting a fly down to the desired depth is critical, when you do bounce bottom, you will lose flies, but you will also connect with more fish.
Casting, Casting and casting. Get the fly where it needs to be, NOW! Everyone has seen ‘A River Runs Through It’ and they visualize themselves a young Brad Pitt(casting double-Jason Borger). Pick the fly up, dry it off, and deliver. You get one shot, then its gone. I can hold the boat in position, but we will never reach our destination in the next twelve hours of we do that for every piece of LWD (large, woody debris) or juicy undercut bank. I see anglers plop the fly on the water two or three times before they are sufficiently satisfied with alerting nearby trout to their intended casting locale. Bad casts CAN CATCH FISH. Leave your fly and retrieve, it may surprise you. As humans, we see a target, place a fly near that hopeful locale under a tamarack or cedar, but first cast isn’t quite ‘good enough’ and we recast once, perhaps twice more, and in reality third cast was only marginally better that the first cast by an inch or two, or worse yet- you accidentally wrap a favorite Bears Iso pattern around those tiny buds on the lower cedar sweeper and the fish have boarded next flight down stream. Don’t get me wrong- work on your casting before getting in a boat and deal with moving targets and wind, but make your shot count.
What advice would you give to guys looking to get started guiding?
I am a people person, and I love interacting with and introducing people to the rivers. I look at my boat as a floating table in a restaurant. Customer service is number one. Knowing my rivers is number two. Having a passion for bugs and trout only come naturally- I am a science major, have been volunteering doing river bug surveys since High School at Kenowa Hills when we sampled Sand Creek some thirty years ago. The fishing part comes when all these pieces fit together. For me, the nature of the bug cycles, an ever changing river and feeding habits of trout give me the challenge that makes me click. I have been asked why I don’t guide for ice fishing- beside the fact it is primarily a drinking leisure sport many take up to get out of the house on a blustery January day, I find it difficult to drill a hole and place a wax worm on the end of a line and instruct someone ‘to watch’ for the next hour or so, let me know if it moves.
From my experience, Michigan guides can be somewhat opinionated- very passionate, but also very competitive. Do you think this ever goes too far and becomes detrimental to the Michigan fishing scene?
Really? I’ve never noticed.
Ha! Just kidding. Personally, I have been harassed and threatened by one guide in particular who believes he owns the river. Despite requests to him and conversations with his boss, his plight continues and the annoying texts keep coming. It is what it is and I let it go. The advent of Social Media has magnified the opinion of many guides and anglers alike. Holding a fish wrong, giving away a secret honey hole, killing a trout by gilling- a variety of other offenses that may be totally legal on certain rivers at specific times, but we like to hide under the anonymity of our laptop and throw darts across the country at some twelve year old who just caught his first pike.
Yes. It has been detrimental. There will be collateral fish killed, it is a blood sport. Some will keep a trout- hopefully not out of season or in a Flies Only section of river. But there has been benefits of the Facebook generation, a certain alliance of guides and fellow anglers who work to protect a vital resource under attack, or coming together to aide in misfortune of lost goods on the river or even more important – family tragedy.
There are many guides who will point out exactly what ‘traditions’ have been allowed and how they were taught by guides/shop owners for decades prior, who may not longer be with us. We can choose to harbor those sometimes archaic notions, or move on and focus on more important matters, like potential fish farms or hydraulic fracturing in our headwaters.
Lastly- what would you say to a prospective client looking to book a Michigan fly fishing trip for the first time, what makes you the perfect guide to give them that introduction?
I recently spoke at a Trout Unlimited meeting downstate, and questioned the attendees how many had been on guide trips, of those showing their hands, I then asked how many had been skunked on a guide trip, most kept their phalanges dangling in the air. I felt a sense of relief. I thought I was the only guide in the northern hemisphere who has had a couple days with nothing but stories and memories of a beautiful day on the river. No guide goes out in the morning with the intention of coming home without a few fish in the net. We really want the client to have a memorable experience. I want to make it more than that. It should be fun and educational, learn about the rivers, bugs, fish biology and perhaps put all the pieces together with a fish that takes a fly and seal the deal for another future advocate of this great pastime. A client should have an open line of communication with the guide, be honest about experience level and have a common ground for expectations. The fish are often a bonus. I used to beat myself up about a scoreless day on the water, later realizing, we don’t go out to ‘keep score’.
Brian was recently visited by Joe Cermele, Field & Streams Hook Shots creative director behind the hilarious and sometimes controversial video series. Joe and the Hook Shots crew were looking to do some mousing in Michigan’s infamous timber strewn waterways. This was the result!
Brian, I am extremely appreciative of you taking the time from a still very busy guide season to answer these questions. I think after reading it, I’ll probably be sharing a boat with you next season and making my maiden voyage to Michigan! So much good information, and someone who is a representing the fly fishing industry with passion and positivity!
You can contact Brian for a guide trip through the True North Trout Facebook page HERE, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also check out his wonderful website True North Trout HERE!
Lastly, I wanted to share the partner companies that Koz represents as the manufacture/guide relationship is certainly critical to providing proven, progressive technologies that help make all of us better anglers.
Welcome back to the Fly Tyer of the Month series. This month our featured tyer is none other than Robert Strahl of New Zealand. When I first came across Robert’s tying through his Instagram Page, I was mesmerized. His fly tying style is beyond unique, and as you will see, merges deeply into art form. Sure, you will see flies that resemble patterns you are familiar with, but tied to a level of complexity and perfectness you probably will not see often. When you combine the aesthetics of these, with the fact they are fished hard, it gives you even more appreciation for the time spent on the vise.
IPT: Robert, how did you first get started in fly tying? Who were some of your earlier influences, and what motivates you behind the vise these days?
Robert: Hi Daniel, Firstly I’d like to thank you for asking me to do this interview, I’m honored.
I first got into fly tying because I felt it was a natural extension of my passion of fly fishing. Also, being a master carpenter in my professional life, I subscribe to the belief that if you want something done right, do it yourself. That’s not to say I haven’t faced a bit of criticism over my style.
I’d have to say my earliest influence was my friends. They had started tying a couple of years before me, and managed to impress upon me that catching a fish on one of your own flies was somehow more satisfying, I’d have to say, they were right. This spurned me on to get a cheap vise and collect some materials.
Lately I’m inspired by macro photography, and the thought of what a trout must see in the water. Trying to use the minimum of material to achieve the desired effect.
How would you describe your fly tying aesthetic or style? What do you find interesting to tie, what do you find difficult, etc?
I’d describe my style as clean. I like to apply a simple material as tidily as possible. I’m annoyed by thread, and try to keep my knots as hidden as possible. I find dries and emergers fascinating. They’re meant to represent such a fleeting moment of an insect’s life. They can be grotesque and beautiful.
On the other hand, I find streamers challenging to tie. Not by their difficulty, but more so by my disinterest. There are truly some talented streamer tyers out there, tying some beautiful stuff. I’m happy to trade with mates for streamers though.
It’s hard not to get right into it but your realistic ties are out of this world! How did you start tying in a realistic style, and what tips can you give to aspiring fly tyers to help them with their realistic efforts?
I became interested in realistic flies after seeing the work of Johan Put and Fred Hannie to name a couple. It requires another level of detail and concentration, as well as experimentation. There is no how to guide for realistic patterns as far as I know. Also I feel I have a long way to go compared to the before mentioned.
My advise to someone wanting to venture into realistic tying is to study your subject, be patient, try new materials. And ask questions. The fly tying community is a friendly place. Fly tyers are full of passion, and usually willing to share their knowledge.
And lastly, just keep repeating to yourself, Light and Magnification…..
For example one of my favorite flies, and one of the first flies I ever saw of yours, is that “Stinger Mayfly Nymph”. How long did it take you to tie that fly, and have you ever fished this or any of your other realistic flies, or are they just for shadow boxes?
Stinger is one of my favorite ties. One that I’m really proud of. I think it took me several days to nut it out properly in the beginning, and have the proportions the way I like. I’m often asked if I fish realistic flies. I have, and they fish fine, but mostly I tie them as gifts. These days my attention has wandered away from realistics, but I’m sure I’ll return to them again. I’d like do a presentation piece sometime, as realistic as possible.
Looking over your Instagram page,@robertstrahl, one of the things that stands out is accentuation of texture in the flies. What natural materials do you enjoy working with, and how can younger tyers better implement them into their flies?
I really love working with hackles in general. You can make some really lovely, fishable dries with nice proportions from two hackles and some wing material. I think there is elegance in the simplicity of it.My advise to young tyers would be to learn to do an aspect of a fly properly and tidily. Focus on proportions until it’s second nature, then your future experiments with different materials, shapes and colours will be rooted in those fundamentals.
The other big thing that stands out immediately is the clean photography truly highlighting the works of art. What type of camera set up do you have?
My camera set up has varied a lot. Some of my favourite images I’ve taken on my old Olympus Tough point and shoot. These days I’m using a Canon 700d with a 100mm F2.8 macro lens.
Describe your design process for us. Do you sketch out ideas, or do you sit down and mess with materials? For your realistic ties, do you reference naturalist books?
I’m not much of a drawer, and I don’t have the patience to sketch things out. Usually I plan out in my mind, a fly or idea for a component. Sometimes I’ll really just want to tie a specific type of body, or wing style and base the rest of a pattern around that.. Or maybe I’ll have access to a new hook or material, I first try to incorporate it into a pattern I enjoy tying to get a feel for it, then go from there. I’m inspired by the effect of a pattern in the surface tension of water, and try to imagine patterns around the desired effect, rather than the straight out interpretation of an insect.
What brands are you currently using or your favorite for:
Vise: My vise is a trusty old Renzetti Traveller. I’ve had it for ages, and it’s never let me down. I’ve had a hankering for a LAW or Jvise for years, but with two teenaged kids, I’ve never been able to justify it.
Bobbin: My favourite bobbin is my Ekich S-series. I also love the A-series, but the S suits me and feels good in the hand.
Thread: As for thread, my go to is Danvilles Spiderweb. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you have the knack its great. In fact, I believe I once bought every spool in the South Island .
Scissors: I have no preference in scissors. As long as they do the job, and are sharp.
UV Resin: My favourite resin hands down is Deer Creek. It does what its supposed to. It’s durable, non greasy and TACK FREE!! When you’re tying in delicate, fluffy cdc it’s nice when half of it isn’t stuck to your freshly resined body.
Hooks: Hooks are interesting. Tiemco have been my favourite for a decade or so. But recently there have been some great new options. I love Hends Caddis hooks, Moonlit dry fly hooks, and Firehole Emerger hooks. The big consideration for me is whether they’ll cut the mustard if I come across a 10 pound brown on the day.
Do you ever sell your flies? If so, how can someone get in touch to order them?
I do sell some flies. Mostly to established customers, and depending on my time. I’ll always answer an email, and inquiries are welcome. My email is email@example.com
What are your home fly fishing waters, and how do you go about catching those giant fish you end up holding?
My home river is the mighty Waimakariri and its tributaries. But the beauty of NZ is its size. You could throw a dart at a map and realistically be there within a few hours.
Have you thought about putting together a book or dvd on fly tying, or realistic fly tying?
I’ve never thought of doing a dvd. A book might be an interesting challenge, if you didn’t fall asleep reading this interview, let me know. Honestly I’d be super interested in contributing to a magazine on a regular basis. perhaps quarterly?? I haven’t approached anyone yet, but it has been on my mind a lot.
Considering your flies artistic flare, have you thought about producing prints for sale?
I have been asked a fair bit to do a calendar. I think prints would be more aligned with my taste, if there’s enough interest. Perhaps canvas prints? I’ll need to put it out there to gauge interest.
What do you have to say about selecting materials? Do you trust some manufacturers for quality and consistency with the natural materials over others? Your quills and hackle look superb!
For materials, I try to select as much as possible. For example, I don’t want to spend weeks fighting with a patch of deer hair that’s mostly underhair. Some suppliers are wonderful with their products, as they specialize. Stripped peacock quills as you mentioned. I’ve been using Polish Quills for years and have found them to be superb.
Also Hackles as you mentioned, Whiting are my favourite They produce a wide range of colours in exceptional quality. I’m especially fond of their saddles.
What advice would you give to anyone heading over to fly fish New Zealand for the first time? Are the fish easy or hard to figure out on a first trip?
My advise to someone heading to NZ for the first time is learn to cast. I mean really cast. Cast 15 and 20 foot leaders with dry dropper rigs accurately, on the nose every time. You’ll spend a lot of time and money getting here, hiring a guide, driving or helicoptering into the middle of nowhere and beyond. Don’t spook the fish of a lifetime with a crap cast.
Are you attending any fly tying shows/fairs in 2017? Any other projects you have lined up this year or next?
At this point, I’m not attending any tying events and so forth. As you can imagine, it’s quite expensive to get anywhere from New Zealand. I’d truly love to attend the BFFI, and Markus Hoffman’s Woodstoort. I’ve made Europe my goal within the next couple years.
Are there any sponsors or affiliates you would like to shout out?
I’d like to take the chance to thank Nickolas Wright at Deer Creek. He’s a great guy and supremely generous. Thanks for having me on board.
Also a big thank you to Whiting Farms. I hope to do some North American tying shows in the next few years. I look forward to meeting many, many people in the flesh!
Of all the flies you have designed and tied, what is your favorite style, and which is your favorite fly specifically? What makes that one special to you?
I’d say at this point, of my farourite style would be cripples. There is such a wide interpretation of form. They can be messy, neat, pretty, ugly and so forth. They really open the doors to experimenting for me.
Having said that though, I’d have to say that my favorite fly I’ve designed is the Rolls Royce. It incorporates elements that most appeal to my eye. Some would say its a little fussy, but that’s part of what appeals to me. I tie it in sizes 16 to 8, and have had great success in the field.
If you were designing a box of confidence flies, which flies make the cut and why?
Designing a box of confidence flies is a difficult one. I try and fish everything I tie, if I haven’t already given them away or sold them. I’m pretty loose with what I carry around, and would be likely to have foam hornets and be out of size 14 Adams’s. My go to box is definitely a mish mash of everything. Try and have a variety of sizes, and don’t be afraid to trim flies or pull off the hackle, tails or body all together.
Any thoughts, rants, advice you would like to share?
I don’t have any rants per se. One thing I’d advise is to be civil to one another on the water and in general. There’s a lot of attitude out there these days. Looking back, I reckon I’ve made some of my best lifelong friends from a chance meeting on the water. Don’t let that opportunity pass by over a bit of poor etiquette or having wanted to be out there by yourself. We’re here for a good time, not a long time.
Every good fisherman has a good fish mobile. Robert’s is called “Her Majesty”. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Huge thanks to Robert Strahl for taking time out of his busy life to share with us his thoughts on fly tying, and for letting me share with the world some of his absolutely breathtaking fly photography. To answer your question Robert- about the book- I would absolutely buy a copy. Any magazine would be LUCKY to have you contributing on a regular basis, and my tying workshop could use some prints. I encourage you to pursue all of these avenues.
I tried not to just spam this interview with his photography. He has so much up for people to check out, PLEASE, head over to his Instagram page HERE, follow him, and check out the flies and photography that I just couldn’t fit in. If you are drinking your morning coffee, getting ready to fish, and have 10 minutes to kill- it is WELL worth it.
Lastly, Robert has been doing Youtube tutorials of some of his flies, so not only can you look at them- but if you are brave enough, you can tie some of your own. He makes them look RIDICULOUSLY easy…trust me, they are NOT! Nonetheless, I included one here at the end for your viewing pleasure. It is Robert’s favorite fly, and the featured image of this interview. I present to you, the Rolls Royce tying tutorial.
Please share this interview to help spread the word!
It has been a few months since the last Fly Tyer of the Month, but we are back! Before I drop this great interview, I just wanted to mention that I’ll likely be doing 1-2 interviews per month the next few months to catch up where possible. I have many amazing tyers participating and I know you’ll love it. Sometimes the timing works out…sometimes not. One last thing, come the end of Fall 2017 In Pursuit of Trout will feature a revamped website with many more fly offerings, and a lot more content. There may be down time when this site is unavailable so if you need fly orders email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Fly Tyer of the Month: Nacho Heredero
Nacho is a fly tyer I first came across on Instagram and was absolutely blown away by his versatility and his ability to blend colors and textures into perfectly crafted flies. The diversity of his online catalog is second to none. Nacho has two unique distinctions in this interview series- the first fly tyer from the great nation of Spain, and the first fly tyer to be a saltwater specialist. All of you streamer junkies don’t fret, this guy only ties streamers….for saltwater, freshwater, etc.
I can’t thank Nacho enough, and I think this interview will just prove what a class act he is.
IPT: Where do you live and what type of species do you target while fly fishing? Any notable fisheries, seas, or rivers that are your home waters?
Nacho: I live in Chiclana (Cádiz) a little city in the south of Spain. Here I use to fish for sea bass (my favorite one) and spotted sea bass in the salt (I live only 5 minutes from the beach), and largemouth bass, carp and barbel in fresh water.
My favorite places for saltwater fly fishing near home are “La Barrosa”, “Zahara”, “Trafalgar”, and “Caños de Meca”. I love to fish trout with streamers too, but for it I must to travel at least 500km from home… so, when I have the opportunity I travel to Tormes river, Miño river, or Asturias chasing them.
If you could fish anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? What flies would you bring?
Baja California!!!!!!… to fish a Roosterfish is my dream!… and flies… “Lomas”, “BF Minnows”, “Darts”,”Scouts”, and “MTM Minnows”.
How long have you been tying flies? What first got you into tying flies? Who were some of your earliest influences?
I started to tie flies in 1991 (although I made a parenthesis between 1998 and 2004). I started in that year with fly fishing and quickly the possibility to tie my own flies made me to fall in love with it. In that years, here in Spain, the information about fly fishing and tying flies was very little, but I got the huge lucky to obtain a book that marked my beginning and trajectory like tyer: “Fly Patterns of Umpqua Feather Merchants: The World´s 1.100 Best Flies”. Surely I have read that book over one hundred times!… The best fly patterns with its recipes of Bob Clouser, Larry Dahlberg, Kaufmann, Kreh, Whitlock, Popovic, and many more are in that book, so, it has been my bible and lifesaver for tying flies, and of course, they were my strongest influence.
What keeps you motivated at the tying vise? Is it new materials, is it design elements, is it the end result of fish on the line etc?
Really for me tying flies, to keep at the vise, does not need any extra motivation. I love to do it!. I can be hours at the vise, to check the clock hours later, and have the feeling that I only have been tying a minutes. I love all the process; to prove new materials, the final result, try to improve some patterns… all what happen at the vise have sense and motivation for me.
Lets talk about your design process- what inspires you? Is it an idea about matching the forage, are you looking for a specific movement, do you ever just freestyle with new materials?
Really all is in inside my head, there isn´t a specific process… I explain you… I have Asperger syndrome, so, among other things, it makes me a very obsessive person, especially with the things I love to do, my head never stops to tie flies!… hahahaha… I can be at vise, fishing, watching TV, or taking a beer and my head, in a second plane, continues tying flies, so, the majority of them never see the light or really are tied on the vise, but between such flies, sometimes there is a good one!
What are some of your favorite tying materials? What makes them special?
Craft Furand fibers like EPor H2O Sculpting Flash fiber. Combining that materials or tying them separately you can tie a huge number of streamers and minnows able to fish any fish in any place… and of course a little of shine!, adding Ice Wing Fibber or Ripple Ice Fibber for example.
What are your favorite fly tying hooks at the moment? Why do you prefer them over other hooks?
Ahrex hooks, they suite perfect with my flies style and have an exceptional quality. The hook is the most important part of any fly!… Over them we tie our dreams in form of fibbers, saddles, hairs… while thinking in the fish of our lives… if finally it comes, we can afford to lose it by a bad hook!
All of the flies on your website are streamers of one sort or another- do you tie nymphs, dry flies, etc?
Years ago I fished a lot with nymphs and I tied lots of them. It is a very productive fishing!, but it does not suit my way to see fly fishing. Fishing with dries is different, I love it!, but I only practice it in specific scenarios or situations and don´t tie them commercially, only the necessaries fir filling a little fly box.
What is it about streamers that you love so much?
To feel the strike!!!… that sensation makes me a crazy streamer junkie!
Do you sell your flies on a production level (to other shops etc) or do you just tie custom orders?
All of them!… hahahahaha… All orders are welcome!… hahahahaha… I tie flies for some Spanish shops and of course, custom orders.
If someone wants to order flies, where should they go to buy them? Do any US shops currently stock your flies? I would love to talk about stocking your flies in my online shop.
He can order through my web site: www.crrflies.com or by Facebook or Instagram message.
No, actually I don´t work with any shop in the US, but it is a frontier that I am crazy for crossing! And of course!… for me would be an honor and I would be very pleased to sell my flies for IPT shop… Big Thanks!!!!
What was the thought process behind your fly named “Eborsisk”? It looks outstanding!
Many thanks Daniel!. I was organizing a box where I have lots of popper heads, fish masks, sculpin helmets, etc… In a point in time I had in my hands two “Flymen Double Barrel Popper Heads”, one bigger than other, and I thought… “The big fish eats to the small one… why not?”… Some minutes later I had tied both popper heads in a hook, without tail, and I was proving its action in a swimming pool… I liked a lot!, and started to tie it with some tails and colors for testing better. I tied some of them for proving with seabass and largemouth bass, and others for Martin Ellingsen and Kai Finbraten from Loop to prove them with Pikes in Norway… The results of the probes were positive, so, there was the fly, an allien!… hahahahaha… Once time posted in Facebook, when a friend, Cesar de la Hoz, saw it, he posted… “LOL!… it looks the two headed monster from Willow!… hahahahahaha”… so “Eborsisk” had borned…
Looking over your catalog, you have an impressive amount of flies available. What are your 3 top selling flies?
Thanks Daniel!… The number one is “La Loma”, I love that fly for what it means!. It was the first fly I tied commercially, and playing with colors, sizes, hooks, and weight, is a fly with a huge adjustment capacity to the environment and wished target, able to fish in the salt or fresh water… And for the other two… “MTM Minnows” and “The Gnome on Steroids”, a little articulated sculpin.
One of my other favorite flies by you is a fly called the Warlock? How did you design that fly and have you tested it on species other than Pike? (Looks like a great articulated trout fly in different colors)
I know, I am very freak with the names of my flies!… hahahahaha… It is a consequence to play hours of MMORPG games!…hahahahaha… At first I tied “The Shaman”, a simple fly tied with bucktail, ice wing fibers, and Senyo´s laser dub (right now I am tying a second version of this fly adding some materials and replacing others). I liked its action, so, I though, “Why not to tie two Shamans together like an articulated fly?”… I called it “Warlock”…hahahahaha… That fly has given me my biggest largemouth bass ever!, and it works really well with pikes.
For trout?, next time I was at the river, a brownie color “Warlock” tied over a #4 hook will be the first fly I cast!
You tie many saltwater patterns- for younger tyers, what tips would you give to tie effective, durable saltwater flies?
Love this question!. Tie easy flies, keep things simple… A fly can be simple, but not for it less effective. Work with their more confidence materials, and when working with them, try to work with the less quantity of it possible, when he takes a bunch of the material, to drop a bit of it. This will help for sure to take the correct proportions of the fly and give it more transparencies and ease.
What are your favorites: Tying Vise: Peak vise and Dyna King Barracuda Bobbins: Stonfo Elite2 Saltwater Streamer Disc Drag Bobbin and C&F Saltwater Bobbin UV Resin: Deer Creek UV Fine and Flex Fine Scissors: Dr Slick Tungsten
Any other favorite pieces of fly tying gear or gadgets?
Cohen´s Fugly Packer and C&F Hackle Piliers.
Have you done any of the fly fishing/tying shows or fairs, are you planning on any demos in 2017 or 2018?
Last to years I have been tying in FlyMad, and I hope to be there next 2018!… hahaha.. It is the only fly fair that there is in Spain at this moment, but for 2018 I have plans (and wishes) for tying in more fairs collaborating with Loop and great tyers and friends.
Are you an ambassador or on any company pro staffs?
I am Loop Ambassador, member of the International Deer Creek Pro Team, and within the Pro Programs of Ahrex Hooks and Flymen Co… I am a very lucky men!.. hahahahaha…
Have you considered writing a book about your fly tying?
It is said that everybody before they die must:
Have sons: I have two marvelous sons!
To plant a tree: I love gardening
And to write a book, so- why not???… of course I would like to do it!!!… but before I must improve and learn a lot to be able to teach something to the rest.
IPT: Nacho, I thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions and to share your flies and photography. You are a class act, and someone all of us can learn from. I just want to share a few more photos, as the flies are brilliant. True inspiration for fly tyers out there.
Lastly- a box of colorful perfection.
Thank you for checking out my latest Fly Tyer of the Month Interview. Please, check out Nacho’s Facebook HERE, or Instagram HERE but most importantly- do yourself a favor, and check out his website through the link below. Buy some flies, it is money well spent. Hopefully in a few months, you’ll be able to buy some of his patterns right here at IPT as I expand my fly selection.