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

 

 

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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.

 

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Fly Tyer of the Month: Tim Savarese

In the fourth installment of my Fly Tyer of the Month series I talk with Tim Savarese aka yea_trout_that on Instagram. He has become a social media rock star due to his incredibly sick stoneflies- but as you’ll see in this interview, his skills extend beyond just the Plecoptera genus.

Enjoy!

tim s

 

Where did you grow up and how did you start your journey into the sport of fly fishing? Is it something you found on your own, or did your family get you into the sport?

I grew up in PA. When I was younger I did a lot of spin fishing. I got pretty good at it but it became boring so i bought my first fly rod when I was 17, it was a TICA #6-7. I still use it, great rod for the money. Corks starting to fall off. I used to have terrible nymphing tatics but I still caught fish. I would say fishing was mostly self discovered. My dad definitely got me fishing to begin with but l became obsessed with it after its introduction.

tim ss

Living in PA, you have access to some of the most consistent fisheries on the east coast with such a rich history. Who were some of your influences as a beginner?

PA has what I would consider world class trout fishing at times. Other times I sit and ponder whether the fish went vegan. Ha ha. Lots of great water if you know where to look for it. I pretty much did my own thing with fly fishing as well. I taught myself so at times I’m unorthodox but it works for me. I always tell that to new comers. You can learn from the best in the world but their way might not work for you. You need to find your style and methods of being successful.

What advice would you give to someone fishing eastern pa for the first time?

Advice for the area would be to bring a few rods. Nymph, dry, streamer. Lots of quality fishing but you may have to work for them.

czn

What is your current nymphing rig, rod, weight, etc?

I like to euro nymph, tight line, czech. What ever it’s called I do it. 10′ cabelas CZN. 4 weight. Sage 2250 reel. 2 fly rig. Its fun. Lots of action.


PA is pretty well known for the fly fishing competitions. What are you thoughts on competitive fly fishing- it is still controversial in many people’s minds. What positives or negatives do you see?

Hahahaha, I guess to each their own. Not my thing.

opening day trout

Any pet peeves you have about other anglers while on river?

I hate when people fish directly across from me in smaller water.  Not too many pet peeves, if there’s plenty of good water, give other guys some room.

articulated stonefly

To the guy beginning to nymph, what advice would you give?

 

Advice. Hmmm fish are constantly feeding. Just because you didn’t get bit first cast doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Maybe they were munching on a fat craw or gulpin a sculpin when your puny pheasant tail drifted by. Maybe that’s why you should fish size 4 stones and be done with it. Hahaha

 

As far as fly tying, there seems to be an endless stream of talent out there across the country and the world. Whose work do you find interesting these days?

So many great tiers out there these days. Lots of guys coming out with innovative patterns. I don’t have any particular names that jump out at me, too many good guys to list.

golden stone

How would you define your style of fly tying? What are a few of your favorite flies to tie? What is your approach when sitting down to tie? What are you hoping to achieve at the end of the fly? Some guys do it for artistic expression, innovation, while Russ Maddin has been quoted that fly tying is simply a means of production.

My style of tying is controlled chaos. My desk is a distaster at all times. Its inevidable. I tie halves of flies get bored and start something else. I cant sit and tie 50 flies. Its just not my style. I really focus on the cocept of functional realism. It’s the premise of most of my bugs. Lots of guys tie flies that look like they could crawl off the vice, and lots of other guys tie bugs that just flat out catch fish. I’m trying to tie a bug that will perform well at both of those. I’m definitely a quality over quantity guy.

stonefly box

Are you tying commercially right now? If so- how is business thus far? If no- is it something you’ve considered doing full time?

I just do small orders. No expansion plans for now. Just moving a few bugs here and there. Not quite sure what the future holds at the moment. I guess we will just have to wait and see.

stonefly hatch


To those that aren’t familiar, Tim ties some of, no- THE sickest working stoneflies that I’ve ever seen. How did you come up with the concept, and how did it evolve to the absolute jurrassic proportions and sickness that they are at now?

PA has a giant variety of stones as many states do and the trout destroy them. I started tying them and kept adding little features making them more realistic and somehow they ended up looking this way. I like fishing big stones because its usually my anchor fly so i want it down to the fish fast. I also want them to look obnoxious because I feel like the trout just cant help themselves when they see them bouncing along.

scorpion stone

What tips can you give to the people trying to tie one of those stoneflies? The rubberlegs have to be the most difficult part on that. Am I right?

Tips. Hmmm just be creative and have fun. Just break flies down to steps. All complicated flies are is a handful of easy steps. If you think about to many at once you’ll mess up. And yes, the legs are never easy, but you just get used to it.

Flymen Fishing Company logo

 

I ran into you back at the January Somerset show tying in the Flymen Fishing Co booth- how was that experience? Will you be a regular on the circuit this year?

The show was fun. I would absolutely tie at more shows if my schedule allows it. Fun meeting everyone, putting names to faces etc. The trout unlimited event was a fun event. A decent showing for a small venue. It was cool to tie and chat with the local guys from my area. Somerset is huge and very . Very different for sure. In the future I want to continue to do shows/presentations.

flymen fishing

Many of those flies you conjure up with feature Flymen Fishing Co products- what is it about their materials that you like so much- or put another way- if anyone hasn’t tried their products, what are a few reasons to try them out?

Flymen Fishing Company has some unique awesome products. Obviously I use mostly the realistic stone, mayfly and caddis beads, but they have so much to offer to streamer guys as well. Weighted sculpin helmets, crayfish tails, weightless heads, body tubing. So much potential. The beadheads and helmets are awesome because the paint doesn’t come off. I’ve tried, its really hard. The tungsten aspect is great because they get down fast. Overall just awesome stuff. Martin and the team do a great job.

new tails

 

az-mega-syn-golden-stone
Buy it in the shop HERE

What are some of your favorite dubbing blends?

I like Arizona mega synthetic a lot. Great product. Dubs really nice and looks super buggy. I’m also a huge fan of Nature’s Spirit Emergence. They have awesome unique colors to chose from and are very easy to use.

advanced green weenie

A very recent series of flies you’ve been tying are these large buggy grubs with one being dubbed the Advanced Green Weenie- how did the design process go, because it is WAY more technical and impressionistic than the original. What have the fish said?

The advanced green weenie. ha. Yeah the grubs are cool.  The fish love them. I’ve gotten lots of good feedback with durability and fishability. The loon UV resin holds up great. All fish love worms.

grubby

You have a pretty big following on Instagram these days- who are some of your favorites to follow on their?

I’m very appreciative of all the people that follow me.  It’s pretty awesome that people are picking up what im putting down. I have a lot of fun with @bug.wild @wycoflyco @ebbsforce1 and @flyfishfood. We like to joke around a lot. I follow any pages that catch my eye. Lots of good ones.

With quite a large social media response, have you contemplated doing any tying tutorials?

Eventually once I get a few things accomplished with tying I will do tutorials for sure.

evolution he

 

You seem to tie all types of flies well- when you go fishing what do you prefer fishing- dry flies, nymphs, or streamers- and why?

I like nymphs best because they look the coolest and I’m mostly a dirty nympher. I actually buy dries from a local shop because i usually never have any or the materials to tie them. Streamers are fun to tie, but nymphs rule my vice.

golden stonefly

I saw on their your better half gave you a Regal Revolution as a gift- is that your main vise right now? What are your thoughts on that vise- positives, negatives, etc?

The regal is so sick. She was awesome with that surprise. I love it so much. Its not just my main vice but my only vice. I used to tie on an apex that was given to me. Man, that thing was ugly. Its nice to have a vice that actually holds hooks well. I don’t think there is a single negative aspect about a revolution. Id recommend them to anyone.

kayla outfishing him

Speaking of Kayla, she seems to be a very competent angler herself. When you fish together does it get competitive?

Kayla is killing it right now. Shes learning fast and is really good right now. Yes, she does out fish me sometimes and I’m cool with that. We definitely have friendly competitions. She recently became an ambassador for Riverbum which I’m obviously stoked about.

meal worm

What plans do you have for 2016 and beyond? Have you considered getting one of your patterns picked up by one of the fly companies? Any upcoming trips you are planning?

Lots of future plans, not going to disclose too much right now, but good things on the way. I will hopefully be tying at symposium and maybe a few more shows. Should be a good year.

flymen caddis

Are you working on any new pattern designs right now? Give us a hint on what we can see in the future?


More stoneflies, I want to start working on realistic mayflies and caddis as well.

fff

Any sponsors you would like to mention?

I’m in the Flymen Fishing Company tier program which I am super stoked about. Super thankful to Martin for that opportunity. Such a fun professional relationship.I am also pro staff for Fly Fish Food as well. Cheech and Curtis have been so great to me, and help me grow as a tier. They are such a great addition to the tying community. Websites listed below.

Flymenfishingcompany.com

Store.flyfishfood.com

Flyfishfood.com

Lastly, what are some parting thoughts you have- about anything. If anything is bugging you about the industry, or local politics effecting the rivers you fish, or you really want to bring awareness to a good cause in the industry etc.

I want the younger generation not to get caught up in the social media stuff to fast. Yes its fun, everyones doing it, but that shouldnt be the reason you fish. Not at all.  Fall in love with fishing because you love fishing. Not instagram likes. Don’t worry about “pro staff” or whatever you want to call it. If its meant to be then it will happen. If not then who cares! Just fish, fish a lot. Take care of the fisheries and the fish. Pick up trash, quick releases etc. Most imprtantly just have fun.

What beer you digging right now?

Sour beer is great. Very niche/hard to find but it’s coming around. It’s like the sour candy of beers. Destihl wild sour has to be my favorite at the moment.

sour beer

If you could fish anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why? And who would you invite with you?

I really want to go to Mongolia for taimen, REALLY BAD. Its a 10 thousand dollar trip though. Mongolia is rustic, and taimem are amazing predators. Fishing giant squirrel patterns is appealing to me. I would take Kayla because she would love that trip.


 

I would like to thank Tim Savarese for taking the time to complete this interview. I know he’s been incredibly busy with orders. I’m going to post a few more flies of his- I just love his style of fly. Please comment below and let Tim know what you think of his flies, let me know what you think of this interview series so far etc- and I’ll be posting up a way in which you can win your very own stoneflies tied by Tim!

 

 

wyco flyco brown
walt evolved

 

 

mouse hatch

 

hot spot stone

 

heavy metal rainbow

 

caddis pupa

 

wire nymph
Again- just comment below and let me know what you thought. Next month I’ll also have 2 interviews hitting the website to fully catch up, and then I’ll continue doing 1 a month. If you haven’t yet, check out the web store HERE I’m going to be having a Memorial Day sale starting tomorrow….last but not least-

To see more, up to date work by Tim Savarese- check out his social media pages

Instagram: @yea_trout_that
F
acebook: Tim Savarese

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Tim Savarese Coming Soon!

Hey Everyone,

Due to getting behind from orders, I’m going to have another Fly Tyer of the Month interview dropping over the weekend to catch up. The subject of this interview is Tim Savarese, a tremendously talented fly tyer out of Pennsylvania who you probably know by his Instagram handle, yea_trout_that. He has a tremendous following on there, and is really pushing the boundaries through his very unique style. If you aren’t familiar with his tying, you are in for a treat. If you are familiar, maybe you can learn something to help you in your pursuit of trout.

Along with the interview, I will be doing an Instagram based fly tying contest, where you can win a few of Tim’s insane creations, along with another prize or two.

If you aren’t currently subscribed to the blog- please do that so you can stay up to date on all of the new content and products going up on the site. Also, check out and follow In Pursuit of Trout on Instagram, @inpursuitoftrout

Stay tuned-

Dan Podobed
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Fly Tyer of the Month: Jonathan Kiley

 

warning

The following interview features high levels of synthetic materials on extremely original, progressive fly designs. Viewer Discretion Advised.

All jokes aside, there is still this archaic group of fly tyers out there that feels that synthetic materials somehow dilutes the purity of fly tying. Johnathan Kiley is one of the most progressively minded, creative, out of the box fly tyers in the business today. His designs are outright gaudy at times, but they catch fish. I’ve never seen one of his flies posted and thought that it was or could have been tied by anyone other than himself. Johnathan Kiley created his material business, Fly Skinz, a few years ago, and he is already shaking up the global material market with his innovative products. Without further ado, here is our interview.

First, for the people that are unfamiliar with you or your company Fly Skinz, give them some background. Who you are, and what your company is about.

fly skinz products

 Fly Skinz was created because as I was making up new materials most of the flies were names with “Skinz” in them. It was a brainstorming effort between myself and a mentor within the fly fishing community. What I really needed was a website or source where people could go and see how to use a lot of the products…the www.flyskinz.com was born. The best part about this whole experience so far is the people I have met along the way and the professional relationships I’ve created with them. I consider a lot of them good friends. Yes it is business but I really feel “old school” so to speak with having a relationship with people I do business with on a daily basis. I share a lot of information with them which can be very risky but I feel they will be honest with me in return.

 

     Fly Skinz to me is something of an evolution…I started the business or the thought of a business several years ago. I was tying for guides and friends a lot. I was pretty apt to customizing flies in which ways people could not purchase them. I was always inventing new ways to work with existing materials and even making new ones to help people catch fish. At some point along the way I felt I could use my talents of coming up with new materials and maybe make a living on it.

spiked slow rolla tails

     There is no doubt that the fly tying or fly fishing community is a very saturated industry. It’s actually extremely difficult to make people break the traditions of it. I’m not really worried about the “in-the-box” folks…I want to create something new and revolutionize things. There are a few people pushing those boundaries right there with me and I really feel it is a good thing. Think of traditional archery, or anything else that has evolved over the years…why not fly fishing?

scud skinz

The first product created was actually my Scud Skinz…I was tying a scud pattern to fish the waters of CO below the many reservoirs. These fish here are extremely pressured so I thought I needed to make a more realistic pattern to combat the fish identifying the norm. Literally you will hear people say the fish know fly patterns by name here. Long story short I made my own shell out of vinyl which not only made it appear realistic but was a lot faster to tie than using a plastic bag.

 

It seems like you’ve come pretty far in a relatively short period of time. Getting your materials into Hareline is obviously huge. How has the overall industry reception been? Any haters? We all know the purists that exist within this niche industries.

 

I would agree with you…I am really excited what I have done in a short period of time. With that comes a lot of pressure. I might be the one putting the pressure on myself, but either way I feel it. How do you stand out from so much tradition? How do you create something new in a saturated market? My answer is….thinking, strategy, research and development, and just plain old hard work.

 

With being new there are always going to be “haters” out there. I say, let haters hate. I’ve already been exposed to folks talking crap about what I am doing. It’s no surprise and honestly it’s more disappointing hearing it from someone that is very well known. The thing is, I’m not in this industry to make people mad, or step on toes…I just want to do something where I am free to think on my own. With that, the end goal is to one day work with a team or have a team of people that want to do the same with me. I want to be happy as I’m working hard day in and day out. If I wasted time thinking about that kind of negativity I wouldn’t be where I am today. Fortunately I have people that believe in me and what I am about that have helped me get this far in the industry.

hareline dubbin 2

 

I owe a lot of credit to the Hareline Dubbin team and their support. They took a risk by having a guy such as myself and essentially making me part of this huge thing. I hate disappointing anyone or feeling that I have done so. So I work hard to ensure I am open about how I am running Fly Skinz. I’ve tried at the beginning to partner with  people and no one seems to be “all in”. It was like I was having to be like them in order to make it happen. It also moved slow and if anyone knows me I jump all in no matter what I am doing. If I feel for a split second someone isn’t with me I start solving problems in order to make something worthwhile.

 

You know that I’m drinking your Kool Aid- I immediately saw the innovation when I saw the Fish Finz for the first time. Tell us about the development of the Fish Finz- what gave you the idea, and how did the initial design and manufacturing process go?

 

fish finz

I appreciate that you have enjoyed the Fish Finz! The Fish Finz was  actually something sitting in the corner of my tying bench in a few different forms for a while. It wasn’t until I was in contact with the geniuses at Fly Fish Food that helped it come to fruition. They wanted me to make a sculpin fin so they could skip the annoying parts of making fins the old way. Just to have several finz in the bank ready to rock and roll. I sent them a few samples and it blew up from there.

 

Along the way I ended up developing a whole new material and manufacturing them myself as you see them today. It wasn’t easy, and I basically taught myself a whole new trade. That’s how I work though…all in as I said before. With some discussion with my mentor and what would be more appealing to the market it all came together. I am very fortunate and can’t thank all the people involved in the process enough. Yes I can come up with new ideas and make it work on a fly that fishes unbelievably but if the team effort doesn’t happen between inventor, manufacturer, distributor, shops and the customer…it won’t work.

fly fish food bros
Cheech of Fly Fish Food- one of the earliest tyers using Fly Skinz products. (amazing work)

 

When did you start tying flies or fly fishing? What/who was the inspiration, where did you grow up fishing?
 Well, I was a young lad…just kidding. I was really young (8 yrs old) when I started tying and it was my father who showed me the road to learning. At the time the painstaking process of learning the very basics of everything seemed very unnecessary I now realize why. My father was very methodical and meticulous about teaching me fundamentals. From the beginning to end…so fly fishing for instance. I wasn’t allowed to actually fish until I learned to make all my own equipment. So the flies, rod, fly boxes…you name it! As a kid this was how I spent my time at home. My father was a jack of all trades and knew a lot about everything it seemed. What motivated me today is knowing that all his life he possessed all of these skills and could have probably worked in a field he loved but didn’t. I want to be someone my own family or people can look up to and motivated them to do something they love. After all it is the American way right? I know some people might not feel it is that way anymore but I am a believer. You are your own barrier.
walther white jonathan kiley
The Walter White of fly tying…
What are a few of your favorite flies to tie?
 
This is a tough one… I would have to say anything big like a streamer or a top water fly. The reason why is because I’m probably imagining what the strike or take is going to be like as I am making it. We all live for that tug!
awesome fly

As far as fly design goes your materials lend a unique advantage to anyone with a creative mind. Describe your fly design process Does it start with a new material, an idea, a problem to solve etc?

You nailed it…it’s usually to solve a problem. I’m always in that mode. Realistically it’s the critical thinker mindset I’ve been programmed with. I think I can thank my father for this. Knowing a ton of trades really allows a person to “connect the dots”. Over time you can just look at something and know how it is done. Like tying flies…when I did so many by the book I could just look at a picture and make it. If I didn’t have the exact materials I would improvise or make my own. I don’t mind doing it either, in fact it’s my preferred method. This allows me to be a free-thinker and less stressed:) within that there are some good life lessons.

crab bitz
How would you define your style of fly tying?
My style of tying is driven by my brain…ADHD. Sometimes as I tie a fly I might change it mid way through. However once I have made a great pattern I might only make a few minor changes along the way. Especially if I feel it needs refinement after fishing it.
bass flures 1
ADHD on these foam flies. Amazing.


Will you be tying at any shows this year?

 
I really hope so. Since I work in the aerospace industry full-time I am scheduled to make another move for work. The benefit though is it is somewhere warm and my fishing throughout the year is going to increase dramatically.
tying demo
I heard you grew up back east, where did you grow up and what made you move west? 

I grew up in PA, and fished a lot growing up all over the state. I moved west due to work, but with my job I have fished in places people would have to pay a lot of money to go where I have been. My job is a blessing in disguise for fly fishing. In general I have loved every place I’ve been as far as fishing. This might be because I use it as a stress relief.

What is on the horizon for you and Fly Skinz in 2016. Are you currently developing any new materials?

I have a lot of new ideas I am trying to make come to fruition for next season. I feel ahead of the game but along the way the new ideas keep flowing. These are some new materials coming out that I am really excited about and really think the tying community will be as well. I think this is the basis on how companies either thrive or die. If I could work in an R&D department for a fly company it would be a job come true. The “Brain Train” is what I call it, and never stops.

I saw that you got involved with Project Healing Waters. How did you get involved with them, and how has your experience been?

 I’ve worked with PHWFF for the last 3+ years in many capacities. First I volunteered as a mentor and tied during the tying classes. As I sat in and helped out I wanted to do more. It just so happens one of the leads was stepping out of the tying/training chair position.  I immediately volunteered because I had a lot of ideas. So I developed a class that taught more skill sets than flies. I knew that most of the veterans moved a lot after the program so I wanted the to feel confident in more areas than trout fishing in CO. It only seemed fair. Not to mention the had some amazing trips in saltwater and more. So with the help of my good friend Bill Kirk, we developed curriculum for 4 levels of classes. Each one progressively showed the skills where they could eventually tie anything and everything.

 

Here is a short list of my favorite flies/materials of yours for each one list how difficult they are to tie for an average fly tyer- from a scale of 1 to 10. One being easy, ten being very difficult. And then any tips you can give them.
 

1. Articulated Sculpinz using the Fish Finz:

sculpinz

I really feel this fly can be a 3-6 depending on how crazy you want to get with it. It can be easy like a wooly bugger, some zonker material and finz if you want. Tips for finz…easy as can be. If you want them to stick out simply tie some dubbing dos first and let the material get squeezed in between to help it pop. From there the fish will love the action.

2. Spiked Slow Rolla Tail- favorite type of fly to use them on:

swamp thing

The Swamp Thing… It’s a fly I created to attract the most unsuspecting fish. The slow rolla tails themselves are so universal…you can make worms, bait fish, bugs, your imagination is the only limit.

Back to the fly though…it’s an easy 2. However it catches fish like no other. The action it makes in the water is nothing like any tail out there. You can drag it on the bottom slow as can be and the fish will chomp away. I love that fly!
3. Your Foam “Flures”:

bass flures 2

So these are a recent obsession and take me back to when I was building lures. I also used to make handmade wood lures. These join the two together in ways that make any traditionalist cringe. That’s maybe why I love it 🙂

5. Mini Craw:

mini craw

The mini craw is surprisingly a little complicated…however it is a very effective fly. I will do a video soon I hope…it’s probably a 6-7.

What is your favorite type of:
Vise:  …now it is a Peak Vise
Bobbins: Rite Bobbins
Thread: veevus, mono, and Kevlar
Glue/UV: gorilla superglue & Loon
Fly Box: I love Cliff Boxes but also like tacky boxes for my small stuff
Fly Rod…I’m not a snob when it comes to rods or reels. A lot of manufactures use the same blanks but put their name on it. I have to experience before I buy. With that I have several I love. I’m looking into some glass ones again though.
Fly Reel… Same with reels as rods:)
Vest/Pack:I love Simms gear, and what they stand for. All around great gear.
Other Tool/gadget: hmmm , what can’t leave home without? A good camera…I’ve been sponsored by GoPro since I did triathlons a while back so definitely that.  I’ve also just purchased an Olympus TG-4 camera that I’m starting to really enjoy. 

Are you a member of any pro staff teams? If so- what teams. What are your thoughts about the social media pro staff craze in fly fishing?

I think I could consider myself a member of Harline Dubbin 🙂 and a few others but nothing like “pro staffers” you hear of these days. I’m planning a huge project over the next few years that maybe gets several entities involved.

Any one you want to give a shout out too?

Hareline is at the top of this list, along with Loon as they have also helped me out…of course my local Fly shop “The Peak Fly Shop”.

 

Any parting thoughts?

 

Not much on this except it’d be nice if everyone could just be happy for one another. Do your thing and if something doesn’t go along with your set of rules, as long as it’s not breaking rules…worry about yourself. Not everyone needs to hear your opinions. Appreciate and move on. As for the tying industry itself…there is not much out there that is really new any more unless you invent it yourself. There are those who preach to give credit where credit is due when it comes to patterns. Truth is there are so many patterns out there you could easily associate it back to someone else. I probably don’t know half the amount of tyers out there. Not because I don’t want to but it’s the way it is. Take a stroll at a show in different regions…there is no way to avoid the overlap. So get over yourselves and press on. Some of these “well-known” tyers do the same thing. Trying to preach for credit when they have modified one simple step on an existing pattern. It’s silly really, and I don’t have time for that kind of stuff.
Many thanks to Jonathan Kiley for taking time out of his busy schedule for this interview. He is a great guy, and an extremely talented fly designer. I’ve been using his products in my own flies, and to help spread the message I am going to give away quite a few of his products over the next week or so via Facebook and Instagram. Scroll to the bottom for links and information.
To end the interview, here are a few more pictures of sick fish and sick flies.

belize bonefish
bass flures 3
bass flures amazing collection
bass worm
proof of concept
buggers
mouse bitz
slow rolla fly
clousers with slow rolla
salamanders

fly skinz decals

 

Fly Skinz: www.flyskinz.com
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKw2CFk90AgqKrngc2mPZiQ
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flyskinz/
Materials available through Hareline Dubbin
To enter to win some Fly Skinz materials, check out the In Pursuit of Trout Facebook and Instagram pages
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/In-Pursuit-of-Trout-775737565780891/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inpursuitoftrout/
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Fly Tyer of the Month: Michal Zapal

Michal Zapal is a fly tyer from Poland who is becoming increasingly well known and popular for his style of fly tying. Michal is skilled in all aspects of fly tying, but is probably most well known for his style of simple but perfect competition style jig nymphs. I’ve been following Michal’s work for several years, and he has been very generous with his time answering the following, plus quite a few extra over the years for me when I needed help with a technique on one of his flies. His work has been featured on many websites across the globe, including FrankenFly, The Limp Cobra, plus many tying forums in the US. He is also the creator behind the brand Live 4 Fly Fishing where has several different fly tying and fly fishing products, and a line of apparel. 

michal zapal intro photo

Michal, for those that have not followed your work, introduce yourself and your fly fishing brand and business Live 4 Fly Fishing. When did you get started fly fishing and fly tying, and how did that evolve into you starting Live 4 Fly Fishing? What are some of your fly tying accomplishments?

My adventure with fishing started in the 80’s when, with my Grandfather, I took my first steps by the river of Wisła (Vistula), trying to outsmart barbels, chubs, breams and wels catfish. As the time passed by, my passion and interests slowly turned into something else – I changed spinning and float rods to fly fishing set and started to chase after trouts and graylings using my first home-made flies.

I had that luck, that near the place where I lived in, there were a few small rivers flowing, where the trouts and graylings are majority species. I spent hundreds of hours on fishing escapades and, by this, had a chance to carefully observe aquatic environment which along with having tied thousands of flies, has given me the knowledge to create new patterns of flies and modify these old ones (still classic patterns of course). 

michal zapal fishing photo

I also had an episode, that I took part in fly fishing competitions, I managed to win, but I don’t take this as a success, because I had poor competitors. LOL
From the moment when the idea to create Live 4 Fly Fishing appeared, I tie comercially, mainly for individual orders, and I have less and less time for fishing trips. But I am trying to use all my free time to spend it by the water for fly fishing and testing new patterns of flies.

Live 4 Fly Fishing was created on the beginning of 2013. Lot of people who tried my flies persuaded me to create a company which will offer good quality flies. I like to experiment with blending various materials for dubbings. Now I am proud to have created two original kinds of blends on my own and I am selling them known as Live 4 Fly Fishing Special Blends. They are blends of natural fibers, some of them are with addition of synthetic fibers like SLF.

I am member of two Pro Teams: Competitive Angler (US) and Deer Creek (UK).

michal rocking behind the vise


When you started tying flies, who were some of your earlier influences, and who are your current influences?

I tied my first flies when I was about 17. It coincided with the time when I started fly fishing. I always thought that fly fishing and fly tying are inseparable. And I still can’t imagine my fly fishing without tying flies. I remember that my beginnings in fly tying were difficult. There wasn’t all this information on the internet which is available now. Knowledge about fly tying was passed by anglers at variuos fishing meetings in Poland. Sometimes getting information about the flies, fly tying materials, etc. bordered on the miraculuous. Those were difficult times for fly tying and fly fishing, but so interesting. As I mentioned when I first started fly tying, there wasn’t much information available everywhere. There were also difficulties with getting materials. I cannot also say that I had a guru in the subject of fly tying. I had a few older friends, who tied a good flies.

Nowadays, there’s so many good tyers, that it’s difficult to enumerate them all. Part of them are specialist in tying streamers, other tying great dry flies, others – beautiful salmon flies. I think that among so many great tyers, you can get some inspiration, but the most important thing is to create your own style based on a solid foundation of experienced colleagues.

caddis pupa tubing body

quilled bwo's

You seem equally skilled at tying nymphs, dry flies, and streamers, what are some of the patterns you are most well known for? What are some of your favorite flies to tie?

From the moment when I started tying flies commercially, 60% of flies which I am tying are nymphs. In Europe nymphing is very popular, so that’s why this is the majority of my tying. I am tying also dry flies and streamers. No matter whether dry flies, nymphs or streamers, these are categories of flies, which are very complex. That’s why I can discover them all the time and develop myself. And this is what I like the most in my fly tying. If I will add experiments with new materials and testing flies by the water to this, then I can say that I am in heaven.

mink muddler

When sitting down to design a new fly, what is your thought process? You seem to have a very creative side with some of the nymphs using very bright, flashy materials and different color combinations.

I assume that a good nymph is one that can induce fish on many associations. When I fish, very often I reach for patterns that do not imitate anything specific living in the aquatic environment. Very often those fishcatchers turn out to be very effective baits. As I mentioned, I love experiments with tying materials, so that’s why I’m using all these flashes, different color combinations of dubbings etc.

creative attractor jig nymph rainbow revenge

flashy ny mph

I see a lot of your flies (nymphs, emergers) feature significant color changes in the bodies. It’s a great effect- lets take your multi colored Catgut Nymph- how are you getting the color change in the body? Do you think these color changes are a trigger for the fish?

multi colored catgut nymph

Exactly as you say. I change threads to get this effect. When I build a shaded body I use UTC threads, and they are my favourite for this kind of flies. Visually, they are definitely more interesting. I caught a lot of fish on the design of catgut you mentioned,

What advice would you give to fly tyers out there that want to tie flies as cleanly (perfectly) as you do? What tips do you have for tying large numbers of flies?

Answers for these two questions are very simple. Tie, tie and once again tie. Strive for perfection. And if you want to tie huge amounts of flies you need to have all materials grouped, order in workshop and  Facebook turned off lol.

production tying 3

 

production tying

Fly tying is becoming a global market, with products being readily available. I know some of the US tyers struggle at times to get some european materials, are there any materials you struggle to get in Poland?

I’ve heard, that you are looking for European tying materials which are especially appreciated on American market. But just as you’re looking for materials in Europe which are hardly available in the US, I am looking for materials in the US which are hardly available in Europe. Nowadays, it’s not a problem to make an order for materials from every part of the world in stores like Competitive Angler or Casters Fly Shop, which are stores where I usually make orders for fly tying materials.
I usually buy Whiting capes in US. In Poland they are available, but there’s not as much choice as I would expect. When I’m not tying flies with my own dubbing I am using sensational blends from Jack Mickievicz. I also buy a lot of synthetic materials in US like Crinkled zelon, and Arizona Synthetic Dubbings, which you have in your store for sale, as I remember. So I see only positives flowing from this, that fly tying market is global. Through this exchange of materials, all of us can feel like a member of the great family of fly tying.

materials

 

Speaking of materials, you launched two material lines this year through Live 4 Fly Fishing. A line of dubbing and a line of metalic tinsel. How did you decide to launch some materials of your own, and what did you learn during the process of making them and testing the batches?

When it comes to dubbings, producing them is a long process. My dubbings are blends of natural furs, which need to be properly prepared, dyed, cleaned etc. Dubbings made of hare are hand made, without using any machines. I can tell that fur which I am using to produce my dubbings is hand shorn and selected. These values are what makes these blends unique and desired by fly tyers who tie mainly nymphs and wet flies.

I don’t produce these blends in huge quantities, and they are available only in some stores, including yours.

live 4 dubbing set 1

live 4 dubbing set 2

Metallic Ribbing is a material that can be used in many designs. I usually use it as a ribbing in tying buzzers. After this, as it will be covered by a layer of Deer Creek UV Resin, it gives a very interesting effect. I use them also as a metallic accent in the smallest dry flies, nymphs and wet flies.

metallic ribbing

metallic ribbing 2

From the photos, you have an extensive material collection and workshop. How do you organize some of your more common materials – such as hooks, beads, wire/tinsel etc? 

michal above bigger

 

Yeah, I am fly tying junkie. I still buy new materials, and I don’t use them lol. I like this – my fly tying materials collecting. There’s only one problem. I don’t have more space for storing. All of my materials are sorted in described boxes. These, which I use most often I have at hand. I work at home and I created a special place which I still modernize.

hare's jigs with tying hack
Great production hack- use a large section of magnetic sheeting to keep your bugs in place.

 

You tie a lot of nymphs using stripped peacock quills – I love tying with them but I find those that are chemically stripped are VERY brittle. Do you have any tips on tying with stripped peacock quills? 

Beautiful hand stripped peacock quills.
Beautiful hand stripped peacock quills.


I agree with you. Those quills which are stripped chemically are really brittle. That’s why I prepare quills for myself by my own. They are hand stripped. I don’t tie nymphs only. Wets and dries look also great with quilled body. If your quills are very fragile, you can try to soak them before tie. It should help a little.

At this point on the website, you have hundreds of patterns available for sale. If you had to guess, how many flies did you tie in 2015?

All of orders which I realized are archived. So flies from orders, flies for myself and flies for my clients for whom I was a guide will give us a number about 10,000.

production tying 35lbs of beads
With 35lbs of beads, you can tie a few flies 🙂

What are some of your favorite hooks and materials when tying nymphs? 

Most of flies I am tying on barbless hooks. My favorite hooks for nymphs are Hanak hooks. But I am also using Partridge and Akita for some nymphs patterns. As I mentioned I am using my own blends of dubbings to tie nymphs, and 200 others which are available on market

hanak better

Do I have some favorite materials? Let me think. Generally, each pattern of fly requires using other fly tying materials. But I definitely like combination of Sparkle Braid with Hare’s blends. It always gives interesting visual effect and is always deadly.

diamond braid he 3
These materials play well off each other. This could represent any number of things.

 

What are your thoughts about investing in quality hooks and materials and their overall effect in your ability to tie a good fly? I see a lot of US tyers trying to use  cheaper hooks and materials to minimize their investment and they struggle tying some of the flies they are attempting. 

I always use high quality hooks of known brands. I don’t know how to use something what pretends to be a hook, lol. Now there are a lot of hooks on the market, which I wouldn’t recommend. Good hook is a half of the battle. I always try to use best materials, because it makes my work more pleasant. I set my bar high. Flies which I tie for my clients should be liked by me, in the first review. So using all those good quality materials, allows them to go through the complicated, internal quality control, before they go to my clients.

Good hooks aren't cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold when you get a fish on.
Good hooks aren’t cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold when you get a fish on.



Back to hooks – do you tie the same fly on a few different hooks to see what works best, or through prior experience do you kind of know what style of hook you need for that fly to work properly?

At this stage I know what model of hook will be best for pattern which I want to tie. But I don’t limit myself only to checked models of hooks. I am trying to be open for novelties. Actually each pattern of fly can be tied in various ways. But thinking about the ultimate look of the fly forces us to use certain shapes of hooks, which dictate all the proportions.

bad ass pt
To me, this fly looks great on a curved, grub style hook.

Which tools could you not live without in your tying workshop? 

All of tools which I am using in my wokshop are necessary for me. I can’t imagine my tying without bobbins. I am using Tiemco and C&F. I also have a set of necessary tools, which was produced especially for me by my buddy Grobôcz Mésterk . I have brushes, bodkins and finisher. You can check him on FB, he makes really beautiful stuff from wood.

 

Your Facebook page for Live 4 Fly Fishing is absolutely incredible. It is pure motivation for fly tyers, but one of the best things is the beautiful fly tying photography. What is your set up, and what tips can you give to those struggling to get clean shots of their flies on camera?

jig nymph beautiful photography

Thank you very much. I am glad that you like my pictures. It is true that a good picture, allows for good presentation of the fly. I am an amateur and I use probably semi-professional cacacacamera. For shooting my flies I use body Canon 70D and lens Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC.

 

One of my favorite videos in the past few years was yours for your Demon Death Ghoul Streamer. For those that haven’t seen it- it is NOT your typical tying video- in a good way. How did you come up with the fly, and what made you go outside the box with the video? 

demon death ghoul

Thanks. I am glad that you like it. I suppose that there are not a lot people who share your opinion. Music, which was used in that movie is devilish lol, but I can’t imagine to create this movie with different soundtrack. I wanted to make something different, something with humour. The story of a monk, who at night turns into a demon, and tie flies in ruins of monastery seemed to be perfect to connect it with pattern of streamer which I called Demon Death Ghoul. It was our Halloween joke. I didn’t get Oscar for that movie (I don’t know why?!) but I cheer myself that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get it so far, lol (maybe he will in a few days on 88th Academy Awards ceremony. I keep my fingers crossed for him).

articulated


As for the fly. for quite some time I have been using zonkers streamers for keeping the colors and using the same materials, which I showed in the movie. These are excellent baits everywhere, where trouts live. Demon Death Ghoul Streamer is a modified version of my old pattern Demon Streamer. This new version is very popular nowadays articulated streamer.


I’ve seen you do a few more tying videos since then, have you considered doing them more regularly – and have you considered writing articles or even a book at some point?

Making movies is a great fun and excellent complement of rod trips. I would continue creating them in that way that I started, I mean connecting SBS’s with second part by the water, what ultimately makes a fly a main character of the movie.I think that it is more pleasant to watch than a regular SBS video. Together with my girlfriend, who helps me with creating all these videos, we are totally amateurs. So all our productions leave a lot to be desired. I would make movies regularly, but I never have enough time to do that. As I mentioned, I tie flies commercially, I have a lot of work by the vise.

Honestly, you are first who asks me about my fly tying and all of stuff which is connected with it so widely. I am glad that my work is becoming noticed. It is very fortifying and motivating.

As for the articles and book, I didn’t think about it, until the moment when you asked me about it. I believe that I could make a valid and meaningful opinion on several issues related to fly tying.

During all these years of tying flies I’ve got some experience, and it would be helpful in writing some articles. In my opinion writing a book is a culmination of fly tyer’s career. Now I don’t feel strong enough to write a book, I still learn, and I am glad that I can learn, because it allows me to develop.

It looks like you had a booth at at fly fishing show somewhere in Europe. What show was it- and what was that experience like? Did you enjoy tying in front of a crowd and answering questions? What questions did the audience ask you most often?

michal zapal fly fishing show

 

Yes, I was invited by my friend who is Varivas distributor in Poland for Rybomania Trades last year. They are the biggest fishing trades in Europe. Every year they organize trades in few cities in Poland. I participated in this edition which was in city where I live. It isn’t stricte fly fishing event, but there were a few companies from fly fishing environment who participated in these trades. I received invitation for Nordic Fly Fair this year, which will be 7-8th May in Elverum, Norway. I hope that it will be great time spent with Vikings. I would also love to take part in big fly tying fest in autumn, but it is not sure, so I don’t want to spoil anything. A lot of people visited our booth during two days of trades. People asked for various things. Very often for materials which I use to tie my flies, but actually they asked for everything what is related to fly tying: what vise I can recommend for beginner what hooks I prefer to tie my patterns on etc. I spend most of the time at home where I am working, so my contact with people is limited. So every conversation with people in real is a big pleasure for me. I am this kind of person who likes help to others, and I am tyer who doesn’t keep secrets about my fly tying.

A zonker style streamer. Great for targeting trout.
A zonker style streamer. Great for targeting trout.

If you were designing a box of confidence flies to fish an unknown river to fish for trout and grayling, which 6 flies would you have in your box? 

I would take for sure: Olive-Beige Scud, Black Ant, BWO Emerger, Caddis Pupa (my pattern), Peacock Sedge, White-Gray Zonker Streamer.

If you could go fly fish right now, anywhere in the world- where would it be and why?

Iceland and fishing huge brown trout in lakes there has been in my head for quite some time now.

brown trout

What are your favorites:

Vise – Through all these years of my fly tying I have used different vises, but for a long time I am faithful Snowbee Waldron which I use to tie the majority of flies. This is great vise, but I have a feeling that it is underrated by tyers. I can tie on it flies #26 and also fly on hook #6/0.

snowbee waldron

Bobbin – To be honest, I have three favorite: CFT-61 and CFT-60SW and TIEMCO Standard Ceramic Bobbin

Thread –
I probably use all of threads which are available on the market. To different type of flies I use different threads. So I don’t have any favorite, but I like Nano Silk from Semperfli and Giorgio Benecchi’s threads.

Glue/UV – I would say that LOON but I think that Deer Creek Pro Team Member shouldn’t say that lol. Now for serious. I think that Deer Creek UV Resin is the best. I am using it with all my quilled nymphs, buzzers, some streamers. You can check out the product on their website, HERE (For those in the US, I would recommend contacting Caster’s Fly Shop or go on their website HERE tell them IPT sent you)

deer creek uv

Fly Box – For few years I have been using C&F boxes, but now I am waiting for package from US with my new Tacky Fly Boxes. They look like they may become my favorites soon. 

Here is a short list (VERY short) of my favorite flies of yours- for each one list how difficult they are to tie for an average fly tyer- from a scale of 1 to 10- 1 being easy, 10 being extremely difficult. And then a tip or two for anyone wanting to tie that fly. (I’ll post a picture of each one)


1. Bunny Vis Quilled Emerger

quilled bunny emerger

Difficulty: 7– Most difficult thing here is tying the quill and hackle evenly. We can obtain precise alignment of quill by using right thread. The best will be easily separating fibers. 

2. Caddis Catgut Nymph

multi colored catgut 2

Difficulty: 3– The most important thing to tie this nymph is using threads which are easy to split for separate fibers. It’s really easy to tie.

3. Jig Nymph #129

jig 129 for five flies questions

Difficulty: 4–  I think the important thing here is matching the length of hackle to the size of fly, and trying to put those Holo Tinsel stripes quite evenly on both sides of the body. Deer Creek UV Resin should be put on in thin layers. If it is needed, put two layers on, if not- just one.

4. Streamer #S20

streamer s20 for 5 flies questions

Difficulty: 4– Shouldn’t use very long zonkers to tie this fly. This one on my fly is a little bit too long lol.

5. Caddis Dry Fly

caddis for five 5 flies

Difficulty: 5– This kind of caddis should be very subtle, it shouldn’t be tied with too many materials.

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your patterns for the interview Michal! You are extremely humble and I appreciate you taking the time out of your day, away from the vise to answer some questions for this interview.

For those reading, we want to hear from you- comment to tell us your thoughts about this interview and Michal’s flies. There will be a prize package given away. To be entered to win,  comment on this post with your favorite fly featured today, or comment through the In Pursuit of Trout Instagram page (@inpursuitoftrout)

Links and Information:
Buy Michal’s materials and apparel on his website Live 4 Fly Fishing HERE
Like Michal’s Facebook page HERE
Check out his Instagram page HERE
Watch his fly tying tutorial for the Demon Death Ghoul Streamer HERE
You can also buy his dubbing blends through my shop HERE

 

 

in.pursuit.of.trout.website.logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Change Your Mindset and Improve Your Flies

I am by no means an authority on fly tying, in fact I am relatively new compared to most. However, I progressed fairly quickly because my passion became an obsession and I was willing to put in hours of tying everyday to learn the foundation of techniques required to tie more complicated patterns. New fly tyers have access to a litany of information through the use of the internet. There are fly fishing and tying forums, websites with instruction, Youtube, Facebook and more. For the new fly tyer, there isn’t a problem getting information, it is deciphering information. There is such an overwhelming amount of conflicting recommendations, it is hard to know where to start. Fly tying tips are a dime a dozen, some are good- some are okay. I wouldn’t say any tip is bad, but some are more useful than others.

I’m a big fan of guide and tyer Russ Maddin out of Michigan. Russ has a number of patterns to his credit including the Circus Peanut, the Kraken, and the Mad Pup. All of those are commercially available. Russ is probably most well known for being one of a handful of Michigan guides and tyers that progressed tying and fishing radical streamer designs and evolving it to where it is now. Today I was re-watching the video for one of his newer patterns, the Flash Monkey.  The Flash Monkey is a fly that is effective on many species, including large trout, steelhead, probably salmon and smallies as well. Russ does a great job of teaching how to tie the fly, but it is his commentary in between the tying steps that you will really want to pay attention to. He goes over a lot of things that are missed if you aren’t paying attention.  He says something I wish I was told when I was starting off tying flies. Russ said the following:

“Take your time, if you don’t like your fly you aren’t going to fish  it as well. It all comes down to right now. It pays to go nice and slow. If you don’t like something, don’t be afraid to pull it off of there. It’s not about filling boxes, it’s about tying a fly that your going to like and fish with confidence.”

I used to find myself rushing to tie flies simply to have more flies, but the quality of each one was poor. They didn’t have correct proportions or the durability required to last multiple fish.  Most of those flies never left the box, until I tied better flies and those ended up in the garbage. That is the point. When you are tying a fly, focus all your effort on tying that fly- to the best of your ability. If you tie in a material, and the proportions aren’t right at that moment- it will never be right. Instead of proceeding just to get another fly done- cut it off and start over. By maintaining that quality control, even if you aren’t a fast tyer, you ensure a well made fly that you will fish with the utmost confidence, that it won’t fall apart, and that the design was constructed correctly, which will ultimately catch fish.

I always kept needing more boxes, so I frequently had boxes filled with flies from years past. What filled them wasn’t pretty. Sure, the flies will catch fish, but if that is all we are after, just use bait. Nothing caught trout better for me than pizza dough. But I haven’t fished that way since I was 12. Tying flies with a level of skill is something I am conscious of. Same for fly fishing- if it was just about catching trout, I would use egg and worm patterns and clean house. But giving in to those easy temptations would halt your evolution.

 

20160205_232530
Notice the tail is too long, the abdomen is too short, and the collar is too large and the wraps are uneven. This fly will absolutely catch fish- but I think I can do better in my sleep these days.
20160205_235947
I don’t cherry pick flies out of old boxes. If I tied them years ago, and I still have them- I didn’t fish them for one reason or another- mostly because they aren’t tied as well as they could have been.
20160206_000045
Here is a cup of flies out of two old ass fly boxes that I will donate to a youth angler I see on the water this year. Beginners are going to lose a lot of flies, so if you can help them out to keep them fishing, why not?

Make a commitment right now- go through your old boxes, and pull out the flies you could have tied better. Take a picture of those flies, and donate them to a fly fishing organization or a young fly fisherman in your area. I’ll even sweeten the deal- for the first person to make up a little donation cup of flies or a box of flies and take a picture and post it in the comments and be willing to send it to me to donate- I will send an IPT Decal and a Circus Peanut streamer.

Lastly, I want to show you the preview to Russ Maddin’s video. He has two or three of these available now. You have to pay a couple bucks to watch the full video, but these aren’t 4 minute tutorials. You are getting 40 minutes plus of instruction not only on how to tie the fly, but on how to fish the fly, and adapt it to the type of fishing you want to do. You won’t find a more thorough tying tutorial out there.

Flash Monkey by Russ Maddin from Mangled Fly Media on Vimeo.

You should also check out his Circus Peanut video. That video will teach you to take this commercial looking version-

bastardized circus peanut

To THIS

real circus peanut

 

 

Circus Peanut with Russ Maddin from Mangled Fly Media on Vimeo.

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Fly Tyer of the Month: Oskar Hagelin

Oskar Hagelin is a fly tyer from Sweden who is known for designing and tying some kick ass streamers. If you follow any of the social media channels you will recognize his work, and the big streamer revolution going on in Sweden right now. I was familiar with Oskar’s work as it has been featured on Paul Beel’s website Franken Fly among several others. I was excited when I got a chance to ask Oskar a few questions about his fly tying, and his thoughts on the current streamer Renaissance going on in America and now abroad.

oskar hagelin

 

Seeing as I won’t be fly fishing Sweden anytime soon- although I would love to, tell me a little about the fisheries. Do you fish primarily big rivers, or smaller streams?

river in sweden

Both big and small rivers. It’s a small country as you know but there are some waters up north which are very healthy. Actually there is an extremely healthy stream about 3 hours from my house- pretty hard to get a license there. I got two new friends from whom I have had the chance to get a guest license from, last year. This year- they both have promised me at least four trips in 2016. Nymphing has been the case the last couple of times, but I’m totally going for streamer fishing this year.

When did you start tying flies? Who were your influences then and who are you biggest influences now?

I started tying flies when I was about twenty, its now 22 years ago and my first influence was the master of imitations: Lennart Bergquist and his book “Flugbindning pa mitt satt”. An epic fly tying book and a legendary fly tyer. At the same time,  I have to say that I haven’t been all that interested in what others do but that has changed over the years, thankfully. 

Oh, I almost forgot my old fishing buddy’s Andreas Mattson and Jonas Farsén…the competition between us, never spoken of, has been a huge contribution to my development as  both a fly fisherman and a fly tyer.

Ever since I discovered the articulated streamer, a couple of years ago, my approach changed a whole lot. I read and learned everything I could get my hands on.  I started a Swedish streamer group on Facebook (and it turned out that articulated streamers were practically unheard of). I started my own blog, mostly for my own sake -to have a place to save the material that I found – but also to spread the word. In this way I got to know a whole lot of people interested in the same stuff, inspiring me to go on with this “streamer addiction”. 

 If I would have to mention one person that has been my biggest influence  the last couple of years the answer has to be Mike Schmidt of Anglers Choice Flies. He is truly my mentor and the fact that his fly – The Grumpy Muppet – is responsible for hooking my biggest trout to this day, an 11 pound hog, is really something.

more flies by oskar 4

oskar big trout

 Of all the flies you have designed and tied, what is your favorite?

The “Dive, Kickass, Repeat” or DKR Sculpin because it really looks like a sculpin in the water and trout hit it hard. 

dive kick ass repeat

What is your favorite, and least favorite fly to tie?

Favorite: My Beef Jerky streamer because its easy to tie and that the color combinations you can create, are endless.

olive white beef jerky

Least favorite: “Dive, Kickass, Repeat”…to hide the deer hair ends under the sculpin head can be a…

dive kick ass olive

I know you love to tie streamers- your website showcases that passion. Is there a hidden side of you that likes to tie size 24 midges or traditional Catskill style dry flies that we haven’t seen yet?

I love to tie streamers.…I need to tie nymphs…dry flies I buy.

 Describe your design process- I know some other big name tyers have said in previous interviews that they are looking to solve a riddle. Some tyers even sketch out the basic size and profile before they begin tying. What works for you?

Of course one of the main reasons for me to create a pattern is that I want a streamer to swim a certain way, or how I want it to look in the water but I also have to admit that I love to play around with materials, new and old, just for fun. That what fly tying is all about, isn’t it?

fugazi streamer

Speaking of that Beef Jerky streamer, what was the reason for putting a conehead up front and behind the 3d eyes? It’s the first time I’ve seen that technique.

beef jerky with cone behind 3d eyes

With a little added weight it will start to “fish” directly as it hits the water. This idea just came to me because I’ve always had a hard time believing in totally unweighted streamers. You know when you have a certain spot…and you want to present a bait right there….and not something that looks like nothing… a tiny little weight will straighten the materials and a bait is presented properly.

What advice would you give to young or new fly tyers?

Have fun, obey no rules 

?

Are you the type of tyer that stages out a dozen or more of the same fly when you sit down to tie, or do you switch between tying different patterns?

I would say that I’m the opposite of what one would call a production fly tyer. My best results as far as articulated streamers go, is five flies of the same color…then I’m bored and have to tie another pattern…

more flies by oskar

Do you have any favorite materials?

My favorite material is the rabbit strip. You can get it in all the colors of the rainbow, it has tons of movement and its easy to work with. You can simply tie one on a streamer hook and then head out to the stream. Can’t say that there is a fly tying material that I don’t like…well deer hair can be a struggle…but I still love it.

yellow beef jerky

If you were designing a box of pure confidence flies, what would make the cut?

Two years ago, when I still used a vest, just before a trip to the Swedish North, I felt that my vest was pretty heavy…it weighed in at just over seven pounds!…so: Did you say just one box??

 

here are 6 flies I would never leave home without:

Beef Jerky in different weights an sizes 
Dive Kickass Repeat Sculpin

Wooly Bugger
Gold headed Pheasant Tail size 16
Tungsten Beaded Caddis Pupa
F-fly
Adams Dun 

but still, this list is very short for me.…

Are you working on any new fly designs right now?

There are a few patterns for the searun seatrout on the Swedish west coast that I have been thinking of developing…

Are there any fly fishing or fly tying New Year’s resolutions you have for 2016?

I need to get more organized. You see, I really want to tie some of my patterns for those who want to buy them.

oskar hagelin fly bench

 

If you could go fish anywhere right now, where would it be and why?

Pere Marquette with Tommy Lynch as my guide. Why? The answer is: Tommy Lynch. 

For those that don’t know- Tommy Lynch is the creator of the Drunk and Disorderly streamer and Lynch’s White Bellied Mouse, both of which are available through the Orvis catalog.  He is also a full time guide for The Fish Whisperer Guide Service. You can find more about his flies and guide service HERE

pere marquette

What are you favorites?

Vise: Renzetti Master Special Edition

renzetti special master edition
Bobbin: Dr. Slick Ceramic
Thread: UTC 140

Glue/UV: Deer Creek
Fly Box: Panaro M50E

panaro fly box

 

Oskar- I thank you kindly for taking time out of your day to answer these.  I know you had reservations with English not being your first language- but there were no issues at all. I hope more people get to see exactly how talented you are behind the vise.

Fly Fishing Companies- Oskar is not a member of any pro teams.  Contact him to change that: oskarsjostrand@hotmail.com

Visit Oskar’s website , Time Flies by Oskar HERE

Check out his Instagram page HERE

Let’s just enjoy some more flies by Oskar…

 

oskar drunken disorderly

 

 

oskar lots of flies

more flies by oskar 3

 

snack attack

 

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