“We all began as beginners”

My Words of advice for those of you who are beginning..

Let me start off by saying, I am no expert. As much as I enjoy tying, and as much as I am immersed in the learning and the teaching aspect of it; I am not afraid to say that I don’t know everything. Even after these 4 years I feel as though I have only begun my journey behind the vise, and to me; that is exactly why this is so exciting.

Just like everything else in life that you enjoy, it’s a never ending learning experience.

I am not afraid to ask questions, or to say that I dont know something, and that right there; is something you shouldn’t be afraid of either.

I am not ashamed to be sitting at my table, tying a at a show, and not have the answer to a question I am asked.  I have been known to look around the room for someone that DOES know the answer; such as Dave Brandt, Catskill John or Mike Romanwski or the many other tyers that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from while attending shows; and then accompanying that person to their table so we can both research the pressing topic.

I don’t see the shame in it, because truthfully; I enjoy it. I have many questions that I sometimes forget to ask in my busy life, but to be able to stand there with a same person and learn side-by-side with them, to me; isn’t a downside. Its an upside. Since now we both know the answer to a question, that five minutes ago neither of us did.

I’m OK with all of this, and you should be as well. But too often I find people would rather sacrifice the knowledge they could have acquired, by holding back a question in fear of sounding like a ‘beginner’ or an ‘idiot’ in front of others.

The bottom line is, “We all began as beginners”.

It’s its something that I say often, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Have you ever asked a question in a group or demonstration, only to see or hear someone turn up their nose and laugh at you? I have. It’s happened to me, and you know what? I don’t care. To some of us life has always been a personal journey, not a popularity contest.

So grab a notebook and pen and attend those shows, seminars and demonstrations! Look in your area for fly tying events and attend them. Then ask those questions.

Ask them, and ask them proudly. Ask them knowing that someone next to you may have the same question but be afraid to ask. And if you find that your questions are treated with disrespect and sneers? Then you simply ask someone else. Don’t let the response of one or two hold you back from learning, because the majority of fly tyers enjoy teaching and passing what knowledge we have, onto others.

Better yet, before you go to a show pack up a couple flies that have a technique you were having trouble with. As you walk around the show and see someone who’s end result is what you wish to have, show them your flies asked them how you can improve and then listen to their advice. Not to say everyone you speak to will be thrilled to help you, but the fact is that if they aren’t? You’re in a room so big that you’re bound to find somebody who will.

I hear people say to me, I can’t wait till I can tie like you, your flies are perfect. Actually they aren’t perfect. We may strive for a photo perfect fly, and while proportions are always important; every fly I tie isn’t perfect. For aesthetic purposes, I enjoy challenging myself to tie my flies the way that I do, but that doesn’t mean that everything I tie looks like the one in the photo every single time. And when it doesn’t, like many of you; I squint my eyes, make a frustrated face, pick the feathers out of my cold coffee and tie another.

The flies Im going to show you are ones that I found after unpacking and settling into  our new home. All of these flies were tied within the first two weeks of me starting. So for those of you that message me and tell me you are just beginning, and “wish to one day tie like that”, just remember where you started, and where you are now. Look at how far you’ve come, don’t dwell on where you wish you were.

This one here, is the absolute first fly that ever came off my vise.
This one here, is the absolute first fly that ever came off my vise.

I remember sitting there tying this one while watching a DVD I had received in a kit, I have no idea what it is. It was more of a “How to make a dubbing loop” fly.

I had never fished it, I just saved it.

I remember being so intrigued in the fact that I just took a bunch of craft fur and made this thing! 😂

Now mind you I started tying flies before I started fly fishing.

This fly here, as you can see, was fish quite a bit. I caught my first bass on this fly. That reddish orange color is rust.
This fly here, as you can see, was fished quite a bit. I caught my first bass on this fly. That reddish orange color is rust.

“Two over easy”Have you ever fished an egg fly? Tiny little thing made with glo yarn or such material?

..well i wasn’t aware they were so small the first time I tied them.

These “eggs” are on a streamer hook and are the size of peanut M&M’s hahhahha

“The Grass Fly”

Grass carp.. ohhhh the elusive thorn in my side. After getting aggravated trying to catch them, I thought to myself “If they like grass so much I’ll tie them a grass fly”

Needless to say, It didn’t work.

The Thing

This ‘thing’ accounted for more bass and trout when I began fishing than any other fly I tied.

Note my 'sweet hackle wraps
Note my ‘sweet hackle wraps” never made it around the shank.

such consistency.. such consistency..

Once upon a time.. I tried to tie a wet fly

Im just gonna leave this one right here..
Im just gonna leave this one right here..

Did I fish it? You bet! Did I fish it? You bet!

This was supposed to be a scud..

Somewhere in that plump body is wire ribbing.. somwhere..
Somewhere in that plump body is wire ribbing.. somewhere..

Way to crowd the hook gap! Way to crowd the hook gap!

The wooly bugger…

I fished it.. it worked like a charm
I fished it.. it worked like a charm

upon closer inspection.. upon closer inspection..[/caption]< /p#>

Practicing my peacock herl..

I must have used 5 strands of peacock herl for the body
I must have used 5 strands of peacock herl for the body

The Hammered Hares Ear”

Forgot the ribbing.. crowded the eye..
Forgot the ribbing.. crowded the eye..

Proportions ? What proportions. Proportions ? What proportions.[/caption]< p style=”text-align: center”>And you know what?

I didn’t give a crap what anyone thought because I was enjoying myself behind the vise and my time on the water. Not to mention, you would be surprised how many of these caught trout.

My final advice to you?

The bottom line is: I tied these with pride, and that’s how I fished them.

Don’t concern yourself with the negativity of others, no one needs that crap.

Always take constructive criticism and ask those questions.

Don’t look at something you create and down talk it, just remind yourself that the next one will be better, and challenge yourself.

Anytime you see a pattern that makes you immediately think to yourself “I’ll never be able to tie that”.. I want you to tie it. Tie them horribly, tie them beautifully, tie them upside down by accident (believe me, I’ve done it at a show when I was nervous!) but no matter how you do it; tie them.

Because at the end of the day, your own personal progress, the fact that you are enjoying yourself; is all that matters.

And remember, we all began as beginners.

P.H.W.F.F. Meeting Recap- August 23, 2017: The tying contest and a surprise for Harry!

As the deadline approached for the fly tying contest being held by P.H.W.F.F. itself, the guys unanimously decided that the low-water woolly bugger was their fly of choice.

A beautiful disaster.
A beautiful disaster.

After working on the entries which were to be mailed shorty after, the guys presented Harry with a flag and a plaque in honor of his service!

Thank you for your service Harry!
Thank you for your service Harry!
A close up of the inscription .
A close up of the inscription .

Good luck to everyone on the fly tying contest and thank you all for your service!

Fly tying tips and tricks: “How to prep tying material that contains a center cord, to prevent excess bulk.”

Chenille is a commonly used material when it comes to woolly buggers, a fly in which I tie by the dozen since you can fish them all year. But materials like this with an inner thread cord can create a bulking issue when tying in without prep.

An inner cord means its a separate material that is wrapped around a cord or thread which is when wrapped around the hook. Estaz and chenille are common center corded materials. If you are currently having this trouble here’s a quick tip that will eliminate that problem.

First let’s take a look at what happens when you tie it in without any modification.

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How to groom the cord for a clean tie in.

Prepping the material is as simple as stripping the outer fibers from the cord. Lets take a closer look:

Working with corded material

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That’s it! Keep in mind, this technique isn’t limited to only chenille. Over time you will find that many other materials; contain a center cord that you can benefit from by prepping them first, such as cactus chenille and estaz.

Working with chenille.
Working with chenille.

Patterns using Chenille

Low water woolly bugger

Material Talk: Articulated Wiggle Shanks

Isonychia Wiggle Emerger

The first time I thought about tying something with an extended body I tried to cut the ends off of my hooks, and after a few sticks to my fingers, not to mention the waste of money.. I gave up.

So when I came across these small articulated shanks I was thrilled and began using them for flies that I wanted to give a little more movement to.

Close up of a wiggle shank
Close up of the wiggle shank

Articulated Wiggle Shanks to put it simply, are a long shank hook without a point, that can be used to give a lifelike movement to your flies without having to sacrifice a hook. They can be used to tie a variety of patterns, such as the Pompadour Iso Emerger and the Wiggle frenchie. The only limit is your imagination! They can also be used for bigger nymphs such as stone flies and hellgrammites.

Techniques for using wiggle shanks:

How to use and attach wiggle shanks: A step-by-step tutorial

A finished shank ready to be tied in.

Fly Patterns Using Shanks:

Isonychia Wiggle Emerger

Wiggle Frenchie

One way to assemble the shanks to the hook.

These shanks make it a much easier to acheive the elongated body you are looking for, without all the extra work, but if you do have trouble working with them, I have a tutorial here that may help. Happy Tying!

Patterns using Wiggle Shanks

Isonychia Wiggle emerger

Wiggle Frenchie

Book Review: “The Triumph of Seeds”

The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson
The Triumph of Seeds by Thor Hanson

I’m just going to start off with this: Wow.. just wow. I had NO idea there could be so much information, speculation and history about something so small, something in which is all around us in many forms, something in which (as i eat my bowl of oatmeal with blueberries, flax and chia seeds in it..) we may unknowingly overlook everyday.


And this book “The Triumph of Seeds” by Thor Hanson will quickly take the ‘overlooking’ out of your day.

You will find that seeds are just as complicated, and fascinating as they may have once seemed simple and boring to you. I have thrown many seeds into dirt, between landscaping and gardening; but only now do I find myself looking a little closer at exactly what is occurring as they sprout. I find myself inspecting them before I plant them, even wondering how long they have sat dormant before I put them into the ground.

Did you know that “Some species persist in the soil for decades, sprouting only when the right combination of light, water and nutrients make conditions right for plant growth.” p.xxiv

Inside flap jacket of the book.
Inside flap jacket of the book.


As we all know, seeds travel. But the ways in which they travel are quite interesting. Take the coconut for example: Sure we know its a pain to open, and contains coconut water and the white flesh in which we consume after using a hammer and chisel to split it.. and as always, in movies, that random coconut can be seen floating by ‘just in time’ to save someone stranded from starving to death.

But did you ever wonder why a coconut is built like that?

“Once afloat, a coconut can remain viable for at least three months, riding winds and currents for journeys of hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles. In that time the endosperm continues to solidify, but enough coconut water remains to help the seed germinate when it finally washes up on some dry sandy backshore. With its liquid endosperm keeping things moist inside, and the rich, oily copra providing energy, a young coconut can grow for weeks on end without any outside inputs” p.43

Radish seeds in my garden
Radish seeds in my garden.

This book is one of my favorite types of literature. Non-fiction, that’s jam packed full of interesting information, but isn’t written like a monotonous textbook. So It keeps your gears turning and the facts flowing.

It discusses the evolution of beaks on birds in which have adapted to be able to open the seeds in which they prefer to eat, and even gets into discussing my favorite ‘seed’.. COFFEE! The book then moves onto inventions that came by way of studying seeds.

Have you ever walked through the woods and pulled a burr or sticker off your pants? Does it remind you of a certain product? Maybe.. velcro?! Seeds played a large part in many past discoveries, that until reading this book, seemed unrelated.

This book will make you cock your head and narrow your eyes in thought, the next time you find a suspicious plant sprouting off to the side of your lawn; where a bird or bear may have deposited it. And once you get into the subject of fruits and vegetables.. you may find yourself studying the hundreds of seeds covering the outside of that single strawberry next time you eat it.

Grow little radishes grow!
Grow little radishes grow!

This book isn’t all about the goodness of seeds, as it covered poisons and toxic edibles that were mistakenly ingested throughout history, so when it comes to seeds you have to take the good with the bad in a sense. But it sure is interesting!

Such as.. The Black Death:

“How did the illness move from China to India and the Middle east and all the way north to Scandinavia in a matter of years? The answer lies not in the rats, but in their diet. While black rats will eat almost anything, they thrive on grains of all types and travel with it wherever it goes. And while most fleas live only a matter of weeks, those found on rat fur can persist for a year or more, and their larvae have learned to eat…”

Yes you guessed it!


“..grain. So even on a long ship voyage, when all the plague-sick rats might die at sea, the fleas survived (with their offspring happily munching away in the hold), ready to infect new rats and people at every port of call.” p.30-31

As you can see this book covers a vast array of subjects all related in one way or another to one thing: seeds. I highly recommend this book to all my fellow non-fiction loving nerds, and if you happen to read it. Let me know what you thought!

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