Saturday, December 10, 2011

fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit

Four days ago I entered a contest by fishpond on their Facebook page. Well, I won...I won big time! I won their Road Trip Fly Tying Kit. For four days I've been hoping it would come soon, because I've seen a few of their products and really appreciated their quality and how well they are thought out. And today, the wait was over. Minutes after doing my part to devour a dinner pizza pie there was a stranger opening my screen door, peeking through the front window and leaving a package. Initial thought of fishpond....fast delivery!

Now, although I've only had this in my hands for a few hours, I've opened it up three or four times to check it out and see what they've done. This bag is awesome.

The outside front has a nice small pocket, maybe for a cell phone like my kids suggested.

Front

Back
(Well, I guess there's no point hiding it any longer....) I started sewing a few weeks ago....(there, I admitted it) and so one of things I noticed on the outside is that they straps are sewn to straps that are part of the outsides. This makes the stress point where the X's are sewn to likely never tear through. Even though fly tying materials are often light, the base of your vise is heavy, and so this extra strap in the middle will give this strap strength, which will likely last forever.

Open up the bag and you find the inside cover has a large zippered pocket and 4 pockets. This setup is also found on the inside of the back cover. You'll also see in the image below, the first insert. This one has a hook/bead box and thread storage tubes. Both the box and the tubes have Velcro on them and can be removed when in use.

Inside cover and containers
Flip the insert over and the backside is empty...but has a fuzzy back...ready to accept Velcro. The next insert is a combination vise pouch and tool storage. There are two zippered pouches, one for your vise base, and one padded for your vise. Seriously...your vise will sleep well at night. The outside of this vice bag has 18 slots sewn in to hold your tying tools.

Vise Sleeping Bag


Tool storage on left side
 The third insert has 18 Ziplock bags, sewn in groups of 3 to Velcro (shown above). There are two sizes to these bags. The reverse side of this insert has 4 zippered pouches. These pouches are made of plastic backed fish netting and have 2 different colors, to help identify which pouch you need to grab.
Zippered pockets and back cover
 And finally, the reason I keep calling this parts "inserts" is because they can be removed and reinserted. Think about it, you get to your tying party (Guys, Flies & Pies for example) and instead of having to flip back and forth like an old trapper keeper notebook, you pull these out and have more stuff laid in front of you ready to grab.
The bag pulled apart into it's individual parts
Overall, having really just pulled this out of the packaging and looked it over a few times, I got to say this bag is awesome. I can't imagine anyone having any complaints with it. It's well built, has great ideas for storage, and looks like it would be great for either fly tying party hoping or for having tying stuff ready for stream side tying. 

Like I said in the beginning, I won this bag from fishpond....it's mine...all mine. However, I'd be lying if I didn't initially think about putting it up for a raffle at the Guys, Flies & Pies event on 2/18/2012. Unfortunately, this bag is so freaking sweet, I don't think I can part with it. Hey, maybe I can convince fishpond to be a sponsor for GFP for 2012 and send us another one for someone to win at the event. Hey, you never know!






Thursday, November 10, 2011

GFP 2012 Announced! 5 Year Anniversary!

100 days from this post we'll have the 5th annual Guys, Flies & Pies fly tying event!

The next event is on February 18th 2012

I'll wait while you mark your calendars and tell your significant other to plan on your absence for the night!

In the coming weeks and months I'll keep you updated on the progress. I hope to have another great year full of products to check out and to raffle off. While you are waiting for updates, visit the sponsors links* below...without their support we'd just be another bunch of smelly guys hanging out.

* - some sponsor links are missing the image...that should be fixed soon. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Journal Of Fly Tying

The Journal Of Fly Tying by John P. Newbury is just too cool to not tell you about. When it comes to fly tying and photographing those flies, John does a fantastic job!

John's DT Orange Crush - Bead Thorax Soft Hackle


I recently connected with John through Google+, but it wasn't until this weekend that I checked out his profile and found his website. What a find! He's got a lot of awesome flies that were photographed way better than I'll ever be able to do. A few videos are tucked away in the Tutorials section, and are nice distraction for your day at work.

Have a look, it's worth your time!

LINK

Friday, October 14, 2011

Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop

I got a press release from a friend the other day announcing the Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop. This is a pretty nice setup where Recycled Fish has teamed up with West-Fly to provide a source of inexpensive flies, where 30% of the proceeds got to "conservation efforts to help make strong fisheries with healthy fish populations."



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Announcing the Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop powered by West-Fly
New online fly shop delivers high quality flies at low prices, delivers money to conservation.

To catch a fish, an angler needs three things: the know-how, the equipment – and the fish have to be there. The new Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop powered by West-Fly helps accomplish two out of the three. It offers high quality flies at low prices to put the right tools in anglers’ hands, and funnels no less than 30% of every sale to conservation efforts to help make strong fisheries with healthy fish populations.

“We don’t ever want to be a fishing products company,” said Teeg Stouffer, Recycled Fish Executive Director. “We are a non-profit organization. That’s why we’ve partnered with West-Fly, who produces, markets and distributes quality flies. They have created something to help our cause in a new and interesting way.”

So does the Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop powered by West-Fly replace standard bricks and mortar fly shops? “Not at all,” says Stouffer. “Fly fishing needs locally owned shops – they’re part of the culture of the sport. What we’re doing complements traditional shops, it doesn’t compete with them. We won’t, don’t, and can’t offer casting lessons or fly tying classes, guide services, or boots and waders. We can’t tell you what the stream flows look like, or what the fish are eating. But once you figure that stuff out with the help of a local shop (probably after buying an assortment of flies from them), you can order a couple dozen of your favorite patterns from us, or prepare for a destination trip by loading up a fly box with the flies for a faraway water.”

The Recycled Fish Online Fly Shop is available at www.RecycledFish.org/FlyShop or by visiting Recycled Fish and clicking on “Fly Shop.” West-Fly makes a quarterly donation to Recycled Fish based upon proceeds from the sales. All purchases through the site qualify for donations to Recycled Fish.

About Recycled Fish:

Recycled Fish is the national non-profit organization of “anglers living a lifestyle of stewardship both on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream.” The Recycled Fish “Sportsman’s Stewardship Pledge” invites anglers to embrace the Stewardship Ethic and join the organization, free of charge. The SAFE Angling Program — Sustaining Angling, Fish and Ecosystems — is a way to help anglers embrace a lifestyle of stewardship on the water. It involves catch and release fishing, including the use of single barbless hooks, biodegradable lures, and non-toxic lead-free weights. Recycled Fish also educates anglers about invasive species, habitat loss, waterway litter and pollution prevention, urban fisheries, and increase participation in recreational fishing for both adults and children. For more information on the 501(c)3 group go to: www.recycledfish.org

So, if you find yourself with a trip of a lifetime booked...for bluegill...and need a few dozen flies in a hurry, consider Recycled Fish, because not only will you get what you need, but you'll be helping to make things better!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dear Les Claypool

Mr. Claypool,

My name is Mike and I am a hack fly fisherman. In just 2 days you'll be jamming in my home town, a town that I still live in! You'll be minutes from my home...and minutes from some awesome fly fishing water. Water that flows into the wonderful Lake Ontario. About this time every year huge salmon, steelhead, brown trout, and other similar fish leave the relative safety of the deep lake and travel up into the shallow waters of the rivers. The females get in early and lay their beds because "She knew what she wanted. She was lookin'
for that stud bull........SAAAY BAAABY!!!"

....Sorry, you know all about what fish do and why. Forget all that biology lesson I was getting into above.

The point I'm trying to make Mr. Claypool is that you'll be MINUTES from this fishing! So, here's what I'm offering.

I don't have the $38+ bones to give up to come see your show (long story, but trying to not end up living in a box), so I'm going to give you a free guided trip to some of the best water Rochester has to offer! That's right, I'm not even going to charge you $38 to hang out with the coolest dad (in my house) in Rochester! That's a deal you can't pass up!

What? Want more? Well, call now and you wont receive one awesome knife but TWO awesome knives! Wait, informercial flashback. What I meant to say was, I'll even throw in a free fly tying session! That's right Les (can I call you Les?), if you can't swing a few hours to go fishing, or if you are allergic to water, you can come over to my fly tying house of horrors (I have 5 kids, that qualifies for all kinds of horror) for some fly tying! You'll be able to go back home and tell all your trout bum buddies "I tied flies with Mike...the guy who started Guys, Flies & Pies!!!" And then after they stare at you like they have no idea what you are talking about, and no idea why they should care, you can say "...well, he's not that famous anyway, so, um, never mind!"

So, if this is something you'd be interested in, please send me an email at guysfliesandpies [at] gmail.com and we can set up a time! Hey, I'll even come to the show and tie with you backstage...but I still can't swing the $38, so maybe that's not going to happen.

I hope to hear from you soon! Thanks and have a wonderful trip and good luck at the show!!!

Sincerely,

MIKE



And for you that are NOT Mr. Claypool, and have no real good reason to be reading this very personal and private letter, enjoy the following video...THEN PASS ON MY LETTER TO ANYONE THAT CAN GET ME IN CONTACT WITH LES!!!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

R U Super Fly?

I've talked about Pat Cohen on the blog before because of his awesome Punk Rockers! He's an amazing deer hair fly tier that is easily gaining much deserved recognition around the world.

Just yesterday he posted up a new website to make purchasing his amazing flies easier. Whether you are looking for a fly to fish, or one of his amazing punk rockers to display at your tying desk for inspiration, he's got got you covered!



Click here for his new website!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Desk Has Been Hijacked

That's right....when your desk is the only one that's got space left on it, it attracts other people. My wife has 2 5 foot tables in the craft fly tying room, and since they were all covered in her stuff, she used my desk. Sure, I was a bit upset, but I was there to monitor her use, and to make sure it didn't get out of control. I have to walk a fine line because I have a few sewing projects lined up for her (some fishing related) so I don't want to get on her sewing bad side.

Sew wrong
And then this morning, my 18 month old son found his way onto my chair and started to blow on my unfinished poppers. Yes, these flies are hot!

Caution: Contents are HOT!!!
Thankfully with the new setup tying flies can be done one or two at a time. The vises are quickly accessible, but away from the little guy. Materials will soon be added to the wall for easy grabbing. And with a clean (for now) space, it's easy to sit down and not be overwhelmed by a mess that should be cleaned.

I even got some time to tie last night. Nothing great, and I didn't even photograph it for proof...so you're going to have to believe me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New Fly Tying Desk

For a few years I've had an old sewing machine desk that I've been tying at. Well, I decided it was time for a change.

The old desk
It's hard to see in the crappy photo above, but the old desk was made for small American seamstresses....and I outgrew that category long ago. The leg room under the desk left a lot to be desired. I loved how it folded up, and I converted it to hold materials on a board that secured to the back and kept materials out of tiny grabby hands....which seem to be very prevalent in my house.

The new desk, while the same size as the old one when the old one was opened, is 20 inches deep and 5 feet wide! It's got a lot of room. It's mounted to the wall with 10 anchors that I'm told can hold 250lbs each (that's a combined total of 2500lbs of support).....now that's some comforting support when cranking down on glow bugs or deer hair!

Ché working his magic
Of course, the desk came at a great price......FREE!  Well, not completely since I hooked my friend up with a few drinks. Got to keep the free labor well hydrated.

Before it gets all messed up
It's supported by tracks on the wall, so it can be raised or lowered if I ever need it to be. It's currently a few inches taller than a standard table, and that seems to be comfortable so far.

Got the molding cut and put back


Added some more tying stuff

I have not yet tied on the desk, but I've used it for a few other simple projects.....like testing out my new tying desk accent lights! I reclaimed the inside of a light saber when it was destroyed, and I'll have the coolest tricked out desk in town....or at least in the house!

Bling
DISCLAIMER: I had this new desk put in while my wife was out of town. She knew a new desk was coming, but I have yet to know her true feelings on this awesome setup! Will it be too large? Will it be too permanent? Will it be too awesome? She gets home any minute now so I guess I'll soon find out!

Monday, August 29, 2011

JP Ross Fly Rods

Guys, Flies & Pies sponsor JP Ross Fly Rods has posted a new video. In this video JP talks about the components he uses and various ways your rod can be customized. I really enjoy the rod tubes they have, and how they can laser engrave the cap. Also, you can get the reel seat engraved and the butt cap. All these options, along with choice of wood for the insert and style of reel seat allow you to really have a nicely customized rod.

And, if you have a business and are looking for a nice gift for your employees, give JP a call and talk about getting matching rods for the gang. And, if you are doing this please consider putting me on the books before the rods get handed out! I can always use another rod!



LINK: JP Ross Fly Rods

Friday, August 26, 2011

The First Trunk Loop

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm having my wife sew me up some trunk loops to make tying down my kayak easier.

Test fit, ready to be sewn

Loading up a bobbin of a different kind
Sewing it together

Check out those cute hands!

The finished product

Late night test run

It works!!!

Just hanging out
I'm excited that this worked well. However, after inspecting my trunk a bit closer, I think I might make these with a rivet instead of the hose, then screw the strap directly to the trunk so they are fixed to the trunk. This would mean they'd be in place all the time and I'd just have to flip them out when needed. This weekend I'll make up a riveted strap and see how well it works.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Short Float

This past Tuesday night, my wife and I made a deal, a deal in which she promised I could kayak EVERY day for the next week and a half. Well, I took the deal, not necessarily because of that, but because I knew I had to. But, I wasn't going to let a chance to go fishing from my "yellow banana" pass by. So yesterday after work I quickly loaded up the kayak and headed out for 2 hours. I got to fish for about an hour and a half. A short trip, because like most every other night in the next week and a half, there was something already on the calendar. So, there's a chance a week and a half of kayaking "every day" will turn into 2, maybe 3, trips. I'll take what I can get.

I started off by exploring a very tiny opening in the weeds which was barley 5 feet across in some parts. I got pretty close to a great blue heron and he flew away. I determined with limited time, and the slow speed I had to use to navigate in such a tight area, I'd turn back to the main part of the pond.

The wind was pretty strong and consistent so I kept close to the reeds to keep from getting swept away from the water I was fishing. In the end, I missed all the strikes and caught nothing. It was still nice to get out in the wind and learn that I could be successful in the kayak.

Ready to go
I got home from fishing and found a package waiting. Getting fishing related mail is great!




It was my 24 yard roll of webbing/strapping.



While out at the store I picked up a few more supplies.


I'm going to use this stuff to have my wife sew me up a "soft rack" for the kayak and some trunk loops. Here are pictures of what I've found online, what I'm trying to make myself. I think we'll be successful in making it work, and it will make strapping the kayak to the car easier and quicker.





If you don't tell anyone, I'll let you in on a secret.....I wish I knew how to sew. Last night I wanted to get the stuff made, but my wife had more important things to do. Hopefully in the next week we'll be able to get at least the trunk loops made, since I'm still trying to find a place that has pool noodles (for the soft rack) still in stock this late in the summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Successful Fishnic

Last night we loaded up the kids and met our friends and their kids at a local park for a fishnic (fishing + picnic). We enjoy some subs and sandwiches for dinner and then off to the park for some swinging and playing for the kids. After a quick bathroom break we headed down to the pond. This is one of those ponds where many skeptical (likely non-fishing) people have asked "there are fish in there?"  Well there are fish in there....um...I mean there are NOT any fish in there...regardless of what I show you in the pictures to come.

The walk in photo shoot. "Take my picture."
One of a few small bass


Brian's first of the night
Tyler brings one in

Brooke fighting a bass

Even at only 4.5 years old, this kid can pop a popper like a pro

Say cheese...covered poppers!

Brian lassoed this post, can't leave a picture like this out!
It was a great night fishing with our friends and bringing in some fish for the kids to enjoy!

Brian has a few photos on Flikr....click here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Buck Pond

Last Saturday I was able to get out in my kayak for the 2nd time (3rd kayak trip for those who are counting.)

I went to Buck Pond which is a pond that feeds into Lake Ontario. I've lived near these ponds for all but a few years of my life. Growing up I have memories of worm fishing there with my dad and siblings, and even once with my Grandfather on a rare trip to NY. I fished these ponds more when I was younger, and more when I was a lure fisherman. Since I switched to fly fishing over a decade ago, I don't fish those ponds much anymore...and that will now change since my trip last Saturday.

I loaded up my kayak just before 6pm and headed out. My wife picked me up some new straps to secure it to the roof and I was pleased how well they worked, and grateful for the peace of mind that they provided more safety than the way I first strapped it down a few weeks ago.

Strapped and ready
I put in at a small parking spot and got a play by play from some young boys fishing with their father. "He's got a boat. He's putting on his life jacket. He's getting in his boat. He's IN his boat."  It was nice having a fan club, and even better that I didn't fall out, since I'm new at this whole kayaking thing.

Google Street View, no weeds
I almost didn't stop at the pond because it was 80% filled with surface weeds. I decided I'd try it anyway and I'm glad I did. I was able to fish for about an hour and a half before I paddled back to the car before the sun completely set for the night. It took about 20 minutes or so, but I caught a nice 12 inch bass. Of course, there's no photographic proof because I'm still too worried about flipping to bring a camera. There were a few big fishing jumping around the pond, and I missed a ton of hits. I'm not sure if I need to set the hook differently since I'm sitting so close to the water, or if it was just bad luck. Either way, I ended up with another 6 inch bass bringing my total fish for the night to 2. I had one nice fish on but while trying to reel up the slack line to fight it off the reel, it went into the weeds and left me with nothing but weeds on a hook. It was big enough to try to get it on the reel. I really wish I had seen and landed that fish.

I got out of the water just before dark and 2 spin fisherman where on shore. We made small talk, about kayaks, and then he noticed my fly rod. He said I was crazy for trying to fly fish on a kayak. I said it's the only type of fishing I do.....and then he called me an elitist. I switched to full time fly because I was more successful...and I like tweed! Of course, I caught 2 fish, and from what I was told, they caught none. So, don't call me an elitist....I'm a "successful elitist!"

As you can see from the image below, I only fished a small portion of the pond, and there is plenty more to explore!

So much water, so little time

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New Shelf In The Tying Room

Recently my wife painted the walls in the fly tying room (sure, it's 3/4 her office and craft stuff, but that other 1/4 of the room is mine....and therefore it's the fly tying room.) Since the painting I haven't had a chance to put my tying stuff back in place, but I plan to move in only some materials at a time, so it doesn't get too crowded too quickly.

Well, last night I added a vise shelf. I have young kids and I figured a shelf on the wall behind the desk would be a good place to put my vises out of the way and out of reach when they are not in use.

Here are a few photos of the progress of setting the shelf up.


One lonely vise

A vise party

Complete with a GFP sticker!
Now I just need to start bringing in more stuff to fill the wall.

Friday, July 29, 2011

About Face

This week I've done an about face when it comes to my kayak.

Years ago....more than I can remember (about 3 or 4)....my wife got a sweet deal on a kayak and gave it to me for my birthday. I was excited, but after climbing into it, I didn't know if I'd get out if I flipped it....unintenionally flipped it, because I have no desire to do rolls in the thing. Well, that fear combined with everything else that gets in the way of fishing, have kept me from ever (yes, I said ever) taking it out. Well.....that is about to change.

See, this past Tuesday I went out in a kayak owned by a guy that I've never met. A guy who someday I hope to meet and thank personally for the use of his kayak. His wife was home when Matt and I stopped by and picked it up. She was welcoming and made sure we had not just the kayak but also a paddle and a PFD since I was a little cautious since it was to be my first time out in a kayak. I asked her if it was the "lucky" kayak and she told me it was the "tippy" kayak.....yeah....that calmed my nerves!

Having had a successful trip out in it that night, I came home dreaming of the next time I'd get out. So, the next day I went outside and sat in my kayak....and thought "this isn't that bad." I realized the entry into it, although a bit tight, wasn't likely to end up being a death trap if I happened to tip it. I now think there's a good chance I'll never flip it, and if I do, the PFD should provide enough buoyancy to help me stay high in the water and to get out and swim.

....and that brings me to my about face....

My kayak has sat around for years, and even as recently as about a month ago I was trying to sell it....now, I'm rethinking that and looking forward to giving it some time on the water.

So, last night, after assembling some new patio furniture for my wife I pulled the kayak into the yard and had the kids  help me wash it up. They loved helping and even got a chance to sit in it and pretend to be paddling around. They all even took a chance to surf on top of it.

I had to clean it up since sitting around for a while got it a bit dirty.

Before the scrub down
 My youngest son kept trying to play in the water that was inside the kayak...so we put a bowl of water out so he could splash in that instead. Well, it took about 2 seconds before he decided he wanted to go for a swim!
Cheese ball grin
 I had the kids doing the scrubbing inside and out. They helped me take off the stickers too. Next up, a few Guys, Flies & Pies stickers need to be added to it!
Getting all sparkly
Next up I need to get my own PFD, a better back rest, and a good way to tie it to the van or car. I'm even thinking I might try to tie it down to the van to take with us on our next camping trip!

Thanks again to Matt for the trip Tuesday that showed me that I needed to get mine out!

Check out his report from that trip here!