My “other” sport, mountain biking, done the old school way, with new school skills (and gear). This is what one might call “pure” cross-country, as in out across the country side, but the degree of “cross” and “country” … well, just watch. The skill-set of Danny Macaskill is in another galaxy, and the location has been on my life list since the very first time I read about it as a kid. No fly fishing in the video, of course, but this gets me longing to be doing something truly special is a truly special place.
With fall mere hours away here in the Northern Hemisphere, I got to thinking about my old home state of Wisconsin and its signature fish, the Muskellunge. A cool fish to catch, even cooler on a fly rod. With the thoughts of autumn colors, the scent of fallen leaves, and the flow of tannic waters in my head, I figured now was as good a time as any to pull an old Drawing Fish 52 pic out of the archives. I hope that those who know Wisco will recognize something familiar about both the fish and its outline.
This is a little vector-art piece I did as part of the Drawing Fish 52 project (with Jeff Kennedy). It’s a representation of a Rio Grande cutthroat and one of the streams of its native habitat (Costilla #1 in northern New Mexico).
Costilla #1 flows from Colorado into New Mexico on the Vermejo Park Ranch property, and is a water I have fished since I was five years old. Our family spent a few weeks every summer at Vermejo from 1975 through the late 1990s, plus time here and there after that. The ranch’s waters figure very large indeed in my fly fishing life.
In addition to the waters of Vermejo, the fish themselves had a huge influence on me. From a 15-pound brown (yeah, a real one) that popped my eyes out (but didn’t take) to the gem-like Brookies at 11,000 feet, there is a swirling cascade of Vermejo fish in my head.
The Rio Grande is a special fish, though. Rare, and found gliding in cold waters under peaks and pines in still-wild places. Every time I catch one, I am excited to see and briefly touch something extraordinary in this world. For me, the Rio Grande will always be a fish that takes me to places still burning deeply in my angling memories.
As an aside, I think that one of the deceiving things about this image is that it looks like the actual mountains are far away. They aren’t. That’s Wheeler Peak far to the south that you see in this view, but just turn right 90 degrees and you’re looking at a wall that tops out at 13,000. The stream is 9,900-ish at this point. This far south in the Rockies the summer snowpack is quite high (altitude), and in late July, you often won’t get cold toes until you are closer to 11,000 or so.
The rod I’ll be using for photography for my in-progress Single-Handed Fly Casting book. White with black wraps and basic black reel seat. Built for me using an SC20 blank by my good friends down the road at C.F. Burkheimer Fly Rod Co.. The “Blaster” name was unexpected, but Kerry (the “C.F.” in C.F. Burkheimer) has a sly sense of humor and he figured I’d get a laugh out of it. I think it’s the best name of any rod I’ve ever had (eat your heart out, Gus Orviston). The rod also does some of everything well—aerial, roll, Spey—so hopefully I’ll be able to blast out some good casts for the book pics.
From four years ago, a little Sofa Pillow illustration that was part of the original Drawing Flies 52 project I did with Jeff Kennedy. Seemed an appropriate time to revisit it. Still one of the favorites from that year’s series. If I recall, Marshall over at MidCurrent.com has this one in his collection.
The writing portion of Single-Handed Fly Casting is on-track to be finished up this month, and the chapters have final (I think) names. This is where the breakdown of topics stands at the moment:
1: Mind-Set & Modules
2: A Foundation
2.1: Components & Actions
3: Overhead Cast
3.1: Loops & Accuracy
4: Line Control, Grip & Stance
6: Angled Casts
7: 3-D Aerial Casts
8: D-Loop Group
10: Distance & Wind
12: Other Casts
You’ll notice two subchapters in there (2.1 and 3.1). Those allow readers to either dig deeper as they go, or skip and come back for more detail after they move through the main chapters. I want the book to feel more like an extended casting seminar that my readers are engaged in, so some aspects get set to the side while the main flow continues on. Right now I’m looking at 238 pages without any photos/illustrations. By the time the writing is finished up this month, the page count will likely grow some more. Then add pics …
The reservation list is filling; many thanks to those who have signed up.
Was going back through a bunch of art files on my computer and realized that I never posted this (that I can remember). It’s a piece I put together a while back for a European fly festival poster. It also ended up in an issue of Trout Unlimited‘s “Trout” magazine. It’s basically all fish drawn/painted in 30 minutes or less (all images are from the Drawing Fish 52 project, which required images to be created in that timeframe). The composite was done in Photoshop, which also gave me the chance to further play with some of the individual image structures. Hope your eyes find it interesting.
On the left is me on the banks of Idaho’s Henry’s Fork in 1972. On the right is my daughter, Brooke, on the banks of Washington’s Columbia in 2014. When I saw her in the grass and flowers it was such a powerful moment. She was me and I was her. Even the rivers on which these photos were taken become part of each other.
Water has indeed connected all parts of my life.
Sitting in the warm Oregon sun, working my way through the master list of “writing to do” in Single-Handed Fly Casting. Almost to the point where I can check off the last two major boxes in the Angled Casts chapter, then I’ll aim for the remaining two boxes in the 3-D Casts chapter. The Gear Prologue plus chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, and 12 have this written next to them: Done. Once all of the chapters have that same word next to them, they’ll get a pass to add figure numbers. Then they’ll get a pass to make sure they all still make sense!
Had the watercolors and a brush out this last week. Did two Sakasa Kebari in Payne’s Gray (with a dot of Quinacridone Red) on some 140 lb Canson cold press. One (the “rounded,” at the top) went out as a commission. The other (the “sleek,” at the bottom) is available. 6 x 9 inches; $40 shipped. Shoot me an email if you’re interested. Otherwise, I hope you just enjoy the pix.
A little look back at a holiday fly from another time. “Christmas Spey” from the 2010 DF52 project.
That’s the hand enjoying better days.
Some readers have been asking me what’s going on (such as, “Hey, you still breathin’?”), so I figure it’s about time that I resurface with an answer. Not long after the last post that I made here (August 11), I injured a tendon in my casting hand. Felt like a rod of fire being jammed through my hand and forearm, but at least my fingers still worked (no sickening snapping noises). To make a long story much, much shorter, I haven’t been able to properly cast a fly rod until yesterday (and no fishing either! So much for the late summer hopper time).
My hand finally felt good enough to warrant 45 minutes casting with GB yesterday, trying out various rods, including his new 01/20 SC20. My hand felt perhaps 90-perecent, and I took it easy, but it was good to be casting and not wincing every time I tried to sling more than 30 feet of line. Almost killed me to wait this long, but I’d rather have waited than done more damage or extended the healing time for months.
This also put me further behind on the SHFC book project, but that’s the way it goes. Writing a little section today on how to reel in line quickly without it jumping all over the place and potentially wrapping on the tip. Small thing, I know, but I wanted to get it in the book anyway.
So, that’s been my non-casting/non-fishing life since August. It is my hope that I won’t be damaging myself further until the book is done!
I am continuing to flail away on SHFC, grabbing writing time as I can. Everything that I plan on including in the book is in the book, but not fully fleshed out. Some chapters are about 97-percent, others are more like 67-percent. It’s the 67-percenters that I am focusing on right now, including the D-Loop chapter (Rolls and Speys).
Since I re-wrote the intro chapters to the book last year, I am in a situation where I also have to propagate some of what I discuss there into the rest of the text. Neither simple nor quick, I’m afraid. I also have to double/triple/quadruple check what I write against the actual casts themselves. The way I see it, this book has to have the details, not just a general “do it like this, and good luck.” In order to get the details in place in a way that makes them useful information, one has to cast then write, then cast again then write again, then do that some more, then…you get the idea.
After I printed Nature of Fly Casting all those years ago, I found about 10 pages of hand-written notes that I forgot to include. They were lurking in an unmarked folder within another folder in another drawer, and…. I fully expect the same thing to happen this time, but I am hoping that I will go over each section with enough new detail that I can make some of those misplaced/forgotten notes irrelevant.
I then have the issue of photos. I know where I am going to do them and how I am going to do them, I just need to go and do them. I will shoot once the summer season has passed and I can get more open water. Fortunately, I am quick in Photoshop and InDesign, and the pics should move along at a decent clip. I am still optimistic for an end-of-2013 finish, with the print run soon after that (figure that I’ll let the book sit for two extra weeks so I can check it over again, then six weeks for the press). The best laid plans can still go sideways, but that’s where I am at right now.
And a special thanks to all who have pre-pre-ordered SHFC. The list is filling up and I am hoping that all 1,001 books will be spoken for at about the same time that thing is actually available.