Fly Tyer of the Month: Robert Strahl

 

 

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 drytyer@gmail.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!

Daniel Podobed
In Pursuit of Trout

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Please follow and like us:

Fly Tyer of the Month: 2016 Bonus Feature Matt Grajewski

 

 

This is a bonus interview that I couldn’t get up in 2016 with everything going on. Matt Grajewski is one half of the website Fly Obsession, and is another incredible fly fisherman and fly designer from Michigan.


First off- thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. I have been a big fan of your work for a long time now. Being obsessed the last few years on big trout streamers, I get pretty geeked out looking at what you come up with. The musky stuff is absolutely insane.

What would you say to someone who wants to start tying musky flies? Any words of encouragement, practical advice, any scared straight tactics?
I think the main thing someone who wants to get into tying and fishing muskie flies, is to consider the action of the fly. Muskies don’t feed often, so triggering them is difficult. The fly needs to have a triggering action. Everything that goes into the fly should consider profile and action. A fly that swims straight usually won’t get the job done.

 

 

 

What makes or breaks a well designed musky fly? What are the common problems?
The most common problem I see is too much material. A fly will reach a point of diminishing return if you make it too large, or add too much material. Muskie fishing is a lot of casting and retrieving practice. You must be able to cast it for hours on end, and you must be able to “fish” it. In my opinion, I will take action over pushing water any day. It is difficult to truly push water in the way double bladed buck-tails or pounders do. Why muskies absolutely use their lateral lines to detect prey, they are also quite visual. The visual aspect is what I key in on. In my experience, this is easier to achieve over the course of an eight hour day of fishing. Fishing flies with giant heads or a lot of materials take more energy to fish as they are harder to cast and retrieve. It is also more difficult to achieve a triggering action. Not impossible, but more difficult. A lot of ways to approach it. This is just my preference and how I’ve had success.

 

 

Similarly, what would you say to someone that wants to fly fish for muskies? What does it take? Is it more mental or physical?

 

It’s both really, but I would say it takes more mental strength. If you tie flies that won’t exhaust you both casting and fishing them, then it’s really about mentally staying in the game. Eats are usually few and far between. If you are surprised by a fish, that opportunity could be over in a second or two. If you are just retrieving your fly and not fishing it because you’re mentally exhausted, you might as well call it a day. Its a difficult thing to believe there is a muskie behind your fly on every cast, but that is how you should approach it. Even when you haven’t seen one for hours or days. Take a break if you need to take time to reset mentally. Don’t waste a possible opportunity.

 

 

How did the formation of Fly Obsession push the two of you as far as fly design is concerned- what type of working relationship do you two have?

 


Nick and I are like brothers from another mother. Our approach to fishing and tying is like talking to the mirror. Still, Nick’s approach to color and use of certain materials definitely inspired and pushed me as a tier. No doubt about that.

 

How would you describe your design process? Do you like to sketch out flies before sitting down to tie, or is something already burned in your mind- a profile, a material, a color scheme, or maybe a problem to solve in a specific scenario?

 

I have sketched them before, but ideas typically get burned into my brain. It could be a color scheme, a profile, an action, or all of the above. Those ideas come from a variety of places. Seeing another tier’s fly, something that happened on a previous outing, or thinking about upcoming water conditions. Other times its completely random. Especially during a sleepless night.

 

 

This fly clearly passes the “will it hunt” test.

 

What what point does a fly go from “cool- I like this” to people hounding you for orders? What is your revision process like? How much can any one original design change?
I usually know the first time I fish the fly if it will get eaten. If it swims the way I want, its only a matter of time. If it doesn’t swim, then its back to the drawing board. Sometimes the idea gets scrapped all together when I don’t like how it looks in the water altogether. Its more or less a feeling based on experience. I am lucky enough to have two experienced muskie fisherman as brothers, so I have more testers. They are the same way. First time its coming back to the boat…”oh this is getting eaten.” Or, “I don’t like it. Its not kicking enough” and off it comes.

 

More about Fly Obsession- what would you like to see happen with the platform? Any branding thoughts? I know the two of you live pretty hectic lives in between custom orders.
I would like to see Nick and I have more free time. Life has put a lot more on our plate and FO has sat on the back burner. I would love to update the platform and provide more content. We have kicked around the idea of guest contributors to help fill the gap and provide variety.

 

Matt’s Go Big (or) Go Home fly……WOW.

 

GBGH (Go Big or Go Home)- is it a fly or a mentality?
A mentality for sure. You have to be willing to stick to your guns as long as it takes. GBGH is more “go big and go hard”. Going big is chasing muskie on a fly, and you have to put in the time and effort. Probably the biggest challenge for a freshwater fly fisherman.

 

You guys wrote a piece called “Streamer Architecture” back in 2013. It was a tremendous help to me as I was tying big flies like crazy. I had the bug, but the designs lacked specific purpose- I was tying flies to tie flies- and that is okay, but when it comes to thinking about pattern development- that article really gave me focus. It gave me a list of questions to answer.

One question really stood out- “What water conditions do I want to fish this fly in”- that is brilliant. For the average angler, he has his box of flies- and regardless what water condition he faces, he’s going to throw one of those flies- for one inconsequential reason or another.

Tell me more about this concept- how do you round out a box facing this task?

 

Matt’s Nut Butter with a modified Deer Hair Sculpin Head….changing the action, changing the water resistance and profile.

 

Think about where the fish will be, and how will you get a fly they can see into the strike zone.  This could fishing a weighted fly to reach depth in high water river conditions, a dark fly to be fished in low visibility water conditions, or fly that really pauses during post frontal conditions…just to name a few examples. I always make sure I have flies that can be fished in any part of the water column I think the fish will be in, and whatever mood they may be in. Do I need to fish a fly that swims well with quick erratic strips because the fish are aggressive, or do I want fly that fishes will on long strips with long pauses because they are passive? Do I want a dark fly for low visibility water, or natural colors in clearer water? You should always carry at least a few flies for every possible water condition and fish mood.

 

 

Matt- you seem to be pretty focused on fly fishing for muskies right now. Do you still chase big browns around? Which is more difficult to target consistently- monster browns or monster muskies? Why?
I haven’t fished for big browns in a few years. Mostly due to the proximity in which those waters are to where I live. Those waters are further than muskie waters. I’m sure I will still get after them here and there.

While big browns (2’ or bigger) are definitely difficult to catch, muskies are still tougher in most fisheries. It really comes down to two things, numbers and metabolism. Muskies, by nature’s design, are a low density fish with slow metabolisms. This way they can’t wipe out other species. Big browns are typically low density as well in most rivers, but most waters can still support more big browns than muskies. And an adult muskie typically goes longer periods of time without feeding.

 

Are you guys doing any tying shows or fishing shows this year?
The only thing I have on my schedule right now is Bar Flies with Schultz Outfitters on March 22nd. I will hopefully be tying at my brother’s booth (Musk-E Fly Fishing Adventures) at the Midwest Tying Expo.

If you have followed Matt’s Instagram- you have seen first hand the adversities he has faced the last 3 plus years. He has met all obstacles with a warrior’s spirit and a smile. In this photo, momentary rest.

What is in store for 2017 and beyond for each of you? Any aspirations fly fishing/life/ other?
2017 will be an interesting year for me. As many know, I’m still adapting to an above knee amputation of my left leg earlier this year. It has definitely given me a different approach to life and fishing. 2017 will definitely be a wild card year for me.

 

 

Fly Obsession is one of favorite websites to reference. The design aspect and the tutorials for a predator noob- are truly appreciated. For a relatively small, understated website- it packs a TON of relevant content. With the catalog of patterns you both have- have you entertained the idea on collaborating on a tying book? You could probably print money if you did.
We have discussed what ways can produce more content. Not sure that would ever mean a book or not. Unfortunately, we both don’t have the time to produce the content we would like, as often as we would like.  Thankfully there are a number of other great tiers putting out great stuff, as well.

 


Matt Grajewski- Thank you for taking the time for this interview. I can’t imagine the challenges you have been faced with but I am extremely impressed with how you have responded to meet these challenges as you continue to produce some of the best flies out there right now. There aren’t many tyers I can name that have a better mind when it comes to applying a color palette to a pattern than you. You have come up with some incredibly unique one off flies. Before I wrap up this post, here are a few more flies that I couldn’t help but post. Pure inspiration- enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright- well I hoped you enjoyed this bonus interview from 2016. You can follow more of Matt’s work through the following links, and please- get in touch with him for some incredible one off orders. Trout, Musky- whatever- he’ll tie you up a trophy box.

Instagram: @flyobsession_matt

Facebook: Fly Obsession

Website: Fly Obsession: http://flyobsession.com/

Documentary: The Brothers Brown: Buy it HERE , trailer below.

 

Save

Save

Please follow and like us:

Adam Royter Fishing New Creek in New Zealand

 

Adam Royter “New Creek” from In Pursuit of Trout on Vimeo.

If you spend anytime on social media, you are probably familiar with that short 1 minute video of a fly fisherman catching a beautiful brown trout in a shallow, clear New Zealand creek. I reached out to the fly fisherman behind this short video that he has titled, “New Creek”to find out more. These are his words describing that outing and his successful result along with a few extra photos. The video is good by itself, motivation for anyone that picks up a fly rod- but the story makes it great.

Adam Royter:

It all depends on the night before but if you play your cards right, you’ll find New Year’s Day is a pretty quiet time on the water as far as human traffic goes! So armed with Aspirin and fly rods we threw a dart at the map, got in the car and ended up an hour away from home. A place we named New Creek – one) because it was a new year and; two) because we had never seen it before. Exploring is magical. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but it’s all in the adventure and it makes it so much more rewarding to explore places you’ve discovered yourself.

The first fish, some 200 feet from the car I almost stood on if it wasn’t for my eagle eyed wife and fly fishing partner in crime. Got some good eyes that lady!! I decide to pack a glass rod this trip in case the fish were small and I could have some fun with them. The Hardy glass rod “The Stream” is a very soft 7’ 3 weight that is a delight on small water. This fish looked to be 1 – 1.5 pounds as it darted around in a fast shoot of water feeding. A foam beetle is what I had tied on from the car so that’s what I tossed. It was the world’s tightest spot to cast and eventually a couple of tight roll casts got the fly up, and the fish was all over it. The hook went in and then all hell broke loose! The fish was 3 pounds plus of very angry buck rainbow that obviously lived right there in the stream, because it knew every undercut and proceeded to drag me through them one at a time. After some fancy foot work and the fish leading me around by the nose, it was in the bag and out for a swift release. Time to change rods!”

adam royter rainbow

 

“After grabbing my new favourite, a Hardy Zephrus 9’ 5 weight and meeting back up with the wife and our dog Abel, who had just been given the pectoral fin by a healthy brown after a few fly changes we started working up the creek. A few more fish we cast to with no result and then a big bush camp where it looked like partiers had set up over Christmas – no wonder the fish were a little touchy! Further on up the creek and from the lower position of downstream I could see a fish’s head sticking out of the water every 10 seconds or so – this fish was on point. 

A cunning plan unrolled as we got closer, and the closer we got the harder it all seemed to be. The fish was rising in 1.5 feet of water under the shade of overhanging willow trees. The plan was to slowly make my way up from behind, as the fish was rising in the top end of the pool, while staying low and still, but it swam almost right down next to me feeding in the bottom of the pool. I had a small willow tree to stand behind to block my profile from the fish’s eye, but it was also very much in my way. I knew Murphy’s Law would prevail at some stage if I found myself making too many casts. I had the beetle on that took the rainbow downstream, but as we made our way up I saw the very odd mayfly dun pop and the odd spinner dancing – time for a fly change before the attempt!

The last 30 years of fly fishing has taught me something that I’m constantly being dragged away from because it’s so easy to complicate – keep it simple! Simple is easy, surely we can make it harder for ourselves can’t we!! But simple was the call of the day so I tied on a tail and hackle fly, size 14, black in colour to silhouette against the shadows. I figured I needed two casts – one to get me up into the pool to check for distance and set me up while I wait for a time to present, and the second cast to make the final presentation. All the straight up and down casting practise in the world isn’t going to help you with this type of cast, so if you’re keen, practise in the trees at the local park. You’ll look like a nutter but only to people that don’t fly fish! 

At the time of the first cast layout the fish was against the left bank, but I knew from previous rise patterns that it would soon be on the right side where I plan to make my presentation. Almost as soon as it landed the fish was there, so it was one more cast a little more to the left to get the fly in front of the fish (which was more of an up and under, get around the big dirty branch cast). Cast was placed and the rest is history! 

Sure was a fun fish to catch and as they do, had me wrapped up in all sorts of undercuts and tree branches before hitting the net.”

adam royter brown 1

adam royter brown 2

adam royter dry fly

adam royter brown 3

You can find more of Adam Royter’s photography, videography, and adventures through the following:

Facebook : www.facebook.com/Adam-Royter-Media
Facebook : www.facebook.com/adamroyter
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hardyflyfishingaust
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SheLovesItOutdoors
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/adamroyter/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCquAJbmOy8QJM-SnzDMULyg
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJYylzsxhZXkjBA1ta6yAKA

Adam would also like me to thank his sponsors, you can click on the logo to visit their websites:

hardy fly fishing
simms fly fishing

loon outdoors

Megabass_Logo_drop_shadow

airflow fly lines
trout hunter tippet

c&f design

 

Please follow and like us: