Monday, April 15, 2013

Portfolio Book

Front Cover

The text from the recently published FrankenFly blog post comes from the introduction page of a salmon fly portfolio book I created in Apple's iPhoto program. I decided to bring the book to tying shows and presentations so I wouldn't clutter up my table with a bunch of flies (except for what I was tying at the time). Besides flies, there are plenty of fishing images and scenery shots from various salmon rivers. I'm very happy with how it turned out and it will be easy to add pages and print another, should I decide to do so. A few people have asked about purchasing the book. For its size, it costs too much to print to justify the price I would have to charge to recoup what I spent, so I'll just be using it as a personal portfolio for the time being.

The book has been very well received, but I'm not sure anyone actually read the introduction, which I wrote as a way to establish the overall theme of the book. Without it, the book is just a collection of random fly pictures, which wasn't my intention. Here is the introduction, as well as a few samples:

Click images to enlarge


Sample #1

Sample #2

Sample #3

Sample #4

Sample #5


     Toward the end of the twentieth century, we began to see a disconnect between the art of Atlantic salmon fly tying and the sport of Atlantic salmon fishing. In the right hands, a workhorse fly pattern like the Jock Scott became a large, immaculately crafted object, suitable for framing and hanging on one’s wall. Though many like it have hooked thousands of salmon over the last century and a half, this particular fly will never see water, much less the business end of a dime bright Atlantic salmon. Creative fly tyers soon pushed past the boundaries of the old “recipe books” and designed vanguard works of art in a previously underutilized medium. 

     Meanwhile, equally imaginative salmon fishermen used elements of classic salmon fly design as templates for bold new fish-catching patterns. The iconic mixed wing of the classic salmon fly took shape in more mobile forms. Lustrous exotic feathers were replaced by synthetic materials, which have a glow even more powerful than their predecessors. In some countries, large hooks were replaced with plastic and metal tubes. Armed with small double or treble hooks, these tube flies have become a more efficient fish fighting tool. Outside influences, such as trout and saltwater fishing and fly tying techniques, made their presence known to the salmon fishing community.

     As a professional musician friend of mine passionately states, “Innovation does not exist in a vacuum.” As in jazz music, fly tying innovation does not exist in a vacuum.  The well-worn patterns and techniques of great fly tyers past are constantly tweaked to make more effective salmon-catching implements. Though modern materials may replace rare feathers and delicate silks, the classic flies of the Victorian era live on in new forms. Salmon fishers and fly tyers from North America, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Russia and Iceland all have something unique to offer. Embracing this diversity and learning from one another will help take the sport of salmon fishing, as well as the art of salmon fly tying, to the next level.

     I began tying classic Atlantic salmon flies shortly after my first salmon fishing trip in autumn 2007. Tying the classics was a way to “stay connected” to the sport when I was unable to participate in it. Though the history of Atlantic salmon flies and fishing initially drew me in, it is the evolution of the sport that truly excites me. Whether I tie a classic salmon fly, a Scandinavian-style tube fly or an original piece of “feather art,” I try to remain aware of the complete breadth of the sport of Atlantic salmon fishing, as opposed to smaller parts of it.

FrankenFly Blog Feature


I'm happy to be featured today on Paul Beel's terrific FrankenFly blog. Paul has done a great job of highlighting a diverse group of fly tyers and their patterns. The blog is definitely worth a look, so head over to FrankenFly!

*Paul even spelled my name correctly, which almost never happens in my career as a jazz musician...Thanks, Paul!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Product Review: Lee Wulff Master Collection DVDs

Just another day at the office...

Late at night, while I rock a reluctantly swaddled newborn to sleep, I watch fishing videos on my iPad. I must say, it's incredible how well Henrik Mortensen's DVDs put the little guy to sleep. I don't know if it's the sound of running water or a Danish accent that he finds particularly soothing, but I'll take whatever I can get. Even mommy is getting in on the act and she has absolutely no interest in fly fishing. During the daytime, we read and sing to him, but it's salmon fishing time at night, most likely to help preserve my own sanity. 

After seeing these videos for the thousandth time each, some of the subtleties are finally starting to sink in and I'm ready to try out some techniques that are relatively new to me (i.e., hitched tubes, fly selection in multiple passes through a pool, etc.). Despite these newly acquired lessons, there are only so many times I can watch the same few videos in a short period of time. As a result, I've searched out a few others to add to the rotation. The first of which, the Lee Wulff Master Collection, has been a most welcome addition to my iPad's video app. 

The short films are a bit campy at times, but they are definitely entertaining. I'm sure many older anglers have seen this footage before, but it was entirely new to me. As I've stated before, I'm a big fan of surf filmmaker Bruce Brown. These videos remind me a bit of Brown's work, though they're not as polished as Brown's work.

Of course, the salmon fishing is fantastic. There is footage of Lee and Joan Wulff catching salmon in Nova Scotia, Qu├ębec, Newfoundland and Labrador. I bought the DVDs primarily for the salmon fishing footage. However, I was surprised by how interested I was in the non-salmon films. I knew I'd be into the brook trout and tarpon footage, but I found the Wulffs gear fishing for bluefin tuna and billfish equally engaging.

Four #4 Wulffs (top to bottom)
Ausable, Grey, White and Royal

There are some very informative sequences within each vignette. The Wulffs land plenty of salmon on their ultra light, 6' fly rods. It's a lesson in fish fighting from a true master. Lee and Joan demonstrate Newfoundland's biggest contribution to salmon angling...the riffling hitch. They show how deadly a technique it is by catching a ton of salmon on hitched flies. We also get a good insight into his fly selection. In the video entitled "The Brook Trout of Minipi," Wulff ties a gigantic bucktail skater which stirs up a really large brookie. The fly is so big, it can't fit into any fly box, but the trout goes wild for it, ultimately leaping out of the water and catching it in his mouth upon reentry. It's definitely one fly I am going to test out this season.

It's Lee Wulff we're talking about, so seemingly superhuman feats of angling prowess abound in these five hours of angling gold. How about the one where he lands a 20+ pound salmon on a size 16 dry fly? Or the one where he lands three enormous brook trout (collectively totaling 17 pounds) on one cast of three flies? Or how about the one where he lands a 148 pound marlin on 12# tippet? It goes on and on...enough to give you a sore neck from shaking your head in disbelief so many times.

I give the Lee Wulff Master collection two thumbs up. I've already watched a few of the episodes multiple times. Soon I'll be onto my next DVD, but I'm sure I'll revisit these films plenty in the future.