Friday, February 25, 2011

Fly on the Tie

  Life provides us with the sun and the clouds and sometimes we cause the sun or the clouds to come in to our lives. As fly anglers, occasionally we may wonder if we can ever bring back that pure happiness of fly fishing with special friends. Oh Amazing Sunshine...even on cloudy days! 
  Tonight, someone else's sunshine parted the clouds I'd created for myself.
  I attend a 'music night' in the basement of 'Dot's Pots', the pottery shop of friends Dot and Dan.  A few who attend have dabbled in fly fishing but none currently fish.  But, whenever I go, people always ask about fly fishing & if I've been out lately.  Jerry, a man who collects old ashtrays and who generally has tales of a well-lived life to share, recently began to attend.  While he is a pleasure to be around, we still barely know one another.  I know he's an intelligent man who sports unusual neckties and he knows I fly fish.

  The afternooon before the most recent music night was to start, friend Dan called & left me a message.  He was excited.  He said Jerry had been by and had dropped off a few presents for me.  For me?!  Sadly, I couldn't attend music night.  However, I stopped by the shop to visit Dot and Dan tonight.  Dorothy waited for Dan to get home.  Together they watched me as Dot pulled out Jerry's gifts, one-by-one, from a plastic bag.  The first was a pamphlet from 1941 with the cover depicting a miffed man  holding his small catch next to a teen holding her large catch of fish. The next item was a mug showing a flyangler hooking a rainbow. All lovely gifts.  However, Dot was right when she held out the 3rd item in her closed palm & said, "You're going to love this!"
  I knew it was a bolo tie but I couldn't see the clip until she opened her hand.  And there it was. 
A metal-framed white pendant with an actual fly for trout/steelhead encased in a clear topcoat.  Oh, we were all smiling!!
  Jerry may never truly know how much his gifts and how much more his utter kindness and selflessness brightened my heart.  Today, he was my rainbow.  As we are not perfect, we are given the wonderful opportunity to grow.  We can't undo our past but we can use the past to improve who we are and how we interact with others.
  Jerry's thoughtful actions, which may have seemed small to him, had very positive effects on me at a time I needed them the most.  I will make sure Jerry knows this.
  And Jerry reminded me to continue to try and do good & be good for others.  Sometimes the smallest actions have the greatest effects.  Many times we are not aware how strongly our actions can make another's day...or not. Life with others can be sort of like fly fishing for trout. You have to be able to read the water, not spook the fish, be aware of your surroundings, provide a delicate presentation, & respect and handle the fish carefully.  It can be tricky.
  Sometimes, though we try to do it all just right, we miss something. The clouds come and the rains fall.  We lose or hurt the fish despite the lack of intention to do so.  While fish don't readily provide do-overs, I still choose to grow from my mistakes and be the best fly angler (and friend) that I can be.  If I ever hook the same fish again, I will have the no-how to treat it better. However, I also know there will be other fish to catch and I can positively say that 'the best I can do' is a little better now.
  As we are not perfect and will make mistakes, I believe it becomes even more important to treat others kindly; to ensure that the positive actions one performs in life outweigh the negative ones.  Jerry's gifts are a great example of this.  Small gifts from a near-stranger had a powerful effect on me.  What we do or don't do in the life of family, friends and strangers can have a powerful effect. And, as we are reminded of our own mistakes it becomes easier to forgive others.  Happily (& sadly), I've become a very forgiving person.
  From the gal who ties flies: Thanks, Jerry, for the fly on the tie!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guinea Bugger and Guinea Bugger Deluxe

      The olive Guinea Bugger was the 1st original fly I tied, the first fly with which I landed a fish(an 18” smallie), & it was the 1st day I fished it.  It was also the first fish of the day.  To top it off, it was my birthday.  On a solo fishing day, I landed my first largemouth bass on the first cast, using a red Guinea Bugger.
   The Guinea Bugger Deluxe came about when the orange guinea feathers I ordered were too short to wrap too far on the hook shank.  The 2nd portion of marabou took up extra space and gave additional bulk to the fly.  In the water, it produced a pulsing up and down motion to the fly’s body.  Frankly, on a float trip I was a little embarrassed to fish the bright orange fly, so I initially didn’t.   After a different fly did not produce, I popped on the orange GBD.  That little fly landed the most smallies of the day. 
   There were much better fly anglers than me on these  trips.  I believe that is why the olive and orange GB and GBD’s have become my confidence flies.   
   If you are interested in tying these flies, please read below for further tips.  Also, visit the Fly Tying page for the recipe(s).  I keep the body color lighter or the same color as the marabou.  I typically use chenille for the body.  However, you may also use other material, such as estaz or frosted yarn, to add more flash and to de-bulk the body, allowing another wrap or two of guinea on the body.  Look for pkg’s of guinea with spotted portions of feathers 1.5” or more in length(pretty-plumes on eBay is starting to pkg these longer feathers). The GBD works well when feathers are shorter.   I tie in the base of the guinea near the eye of the hook & wrap rearward.  In this manner, I’m ensured the front of the fly always looks good.  You may also tie in the tip of the feather midway up the hook shank & wrap forward.  This latter method of tie-in produces other considerations and I’ll provide more info if desired.  I always tie in a solid black flash at the tail.  This balances the black in the guinea and may look like a ‘lateral line’.  In the GBD, I will also add Krystal flash to the 2nd clump of marabou.  The fly tends to look better if the thread closely matches the color of the body.   It is important to firmly bind down the guinea stem, so I use 3/0 up to 210 denier thread.
   I’ve also tied chartreuse, white,  black with blue, grey Guinea Buggers, and more.   Some won’t be fished at all.  Others, like the grey, will be fished as soon as I can.  I’ve had ‘fish on’ in trout streams with the GB, but nothing landed to date.  I still struggle to land trout.  I believe the GB and GBD will be successful with more than bass & hope to find out this year.   But hey, bass are fun!