Author Archives: backcountryfishnerd

Trudging Through Sludge

At times, life seems to reminisce, especially when I get into the more difficult situations. The correlation to my life at this moment is akin to running the mudflats chasing carp. When I was buried knee deep at times, and friends around me as well. That silted ditch filled with wet sediment grabs onto you all the way to your knees. The struggle to free yourself pulls bones from their sockets as motions become more frantic. You are locked in and in pain. Tired from overexertion, exhausted. I could have given up. I could have let go to be consumed by coyotes and vultures, no one would know or look for me there. I’d just be a dead guy in the mud. That is not the human spirit though. The human spirit wants to live. To catch more fish, despite dangers. The escape, in the moment of panic always seems impossible. It isn’t until you assess your situation that you find clarity.

Slow. Down.

Slow down and look at your life, assess your situation, turn off the panic switch. Things will happen and you will feel it as it begins to release you, it feels great. There is still more mud ahead, but there are fish to catch. You’ll laugh about it later.

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Drawing Blanks

If it wasn’t obvious by my lack of fishing oriented posts, I have obviously been slacking on the fishing and a whole lot of other things I need to do. I knew this coming back into writing on this blog. I also knew that this time would focus away from pictures onto the story or thoughts. Straying away from the typical social media quip to focus on writing.

These last couple of weeks have been frustrating. Monsoon season is in full swing. To some, the rain is just the rain and is also a day in which to mosey around the house to clean or pick up the last few days of trying to be outside. Our earth moves, the sand shifts every which way. What was once an area of trail, now a river and tomorrow it will be somewhere else entirely. The lightning strikes are close enough to put holes through the roof. To collect static electricity and connect from the inside. Enough to soil your pants.

Flies and leaders are rolling off of the vice. Things are being fixed, the internet repaired, storage rooms built, shelves put up, simple fixes to cars and the like, the garden, the shop in it’s busy season and every year around this time, I’m itching to fish. The flies keep my sanity in check for the most part. The leaders tear my hands up. They are a reminder of what will happen. Fishing will happen. My imagination runs wild, putting me in the drivers seat of a perfect day while staring down the barrel of the vice. I know the day is coming soon.

In other news, when I began writing again, I knew that I had to freshen up my skills. To hone the edges of the proverbial pencil and just write. You’ll notice a few things different about the blog now. One of those is not trying to put out gold. This post is a great example of that. Keeping people in the know. I do not wish for people to have it in their head that nothing but fishing happens in my life. Granted, much of my life IS dedicated in some fashion to fish, there is so much more that goes on. Fish have even influenced my gardening technique. Off topic…. There will be many of these non-fishing, diary/journal style posts. There will be technical posts, tips and whatnot. Heck, I might even take a shot at fiction. Who knows!? I just want to keep that edge sharp. this is how I’m doing it.


Toiling

Fingers worked to the bone, to dust. A stretched out arm divided, equally separated, neatly. Forced to commiserate, yet, never mourn. Harrowing footsteps on a path snubbed out by lightning strikes, never in the same place twice. All culminating into the visceral image of a man shattered, glass shards of equal distribution across a plane of strife.

The greatest enemy, those inner demons. Marching lockstep toward the infinite black of the mind. Never-ending armies of turmoil created by the same, motivated by the same. Dreams of happenstance and matters unrelated. Dreams of people thought of as friends. Still here locked away in a dungeon by choice, by name, unable to reach out. Dreams carried beneath the wings of wistlessness, undistracted by the horde, as a reminder to be.

Back and forth as a pendulum swings. It seems unending, relentless. The constant repetitive nature of the measurement of existence. The count grows higher, the ladder longer, the battle harder. Fight while it is still possible. Fight with fervent rage.

Take the step headlong into the abyss of the unknown. Change the course with every motion. Break the chains that restrict the motion and bind the pendulum. Express beyond the gleeful extreme, that ever increasing bar of pleasantries defined by what is seen, into reality. Struggle.


Cyclical Overthinking

As I sit this morning, I must bar all thought. A blank space, fingers moving, typing. A warm-up exercise for the day to get the fluids moving. To conjure a thought, new, fresh. It is a thing for writers to write about their writer’s block, but is it a thing to force yourself to be blocked? I’ve always stated that repetitive motion is not understanding and I hold fast to that. The complexities of understanding are to see whatever issue it is from all sides. Sounds easy enough, politics has been polarized over the years to make us believe that it is one way or the other. The only way to simplify the block is to say it is either on or off. But it is not quite that simple. To force oneself to be blocked with the intention of being blocked is the same as being blocked with the intention of not being blocked. Feel free to read that last thought again as I gather some new ones.

It is curious, thinking about thinking. The idea of where a thought comes from and how those thoughts come to light. Paradoxical really. Time traveling through predictions of future thought but being there at completion and going back to change it. The quantum superposition of thought. In our minds we carry the cognitive ability to imagine, fictitiously, any scenario. Any possibility. As infinite as it all seems, somehow we drown it out. We focus. We bear down on the thought that we are incapable and by doing so renders us incapacitated. Feel free to read the thought from the first paragraph that you reread the first time.

I find it impossible to keep up with overthinking. What started as a blank idea, free of thought has now become a buzz in which I can not type fast enough, but it is sinking in. The ideas that I can pluck are not explainable on the fly and I have hit a wall that casts aside new ideas.

I will not relate this to fly fishing.

I will not relate this to fly fishing.

I will not relate this to fly fishing.

Now, I’m trapped in the thoughts prior to this point. To more deeply think and explain the prior writings. They are already there and I promise they were not edited. It is much like linear time travel in real time. As titillating as thinking about the process of thought is to me, I feel as though it should be left there. Unchanged. Unabashed. Pure, raw thought… about thought. As ambiguous as it seems, maybe it isn’t at all. One day, I’ll wake up and write about this. Please reread from the beginning.


The Escape

The sun beats down on the water as pearls of focused light spray themselves across the projector screen of a stone face. The drama unfolds in some futuristic, alien movie. Untranslatable and silent playing a message across the world at all times. It is a moment of zen, of purity.

The breeze gently slaps waves into the hull of the boat and against the shoreline allowing a subtle break from the heat. The prime function of the cooling evaporative effect in the human body working in overtime. Beneath the surface of the water, mechanisms are working in concert to sustain life. Life is making decisions of it’s own, choices to eat or die, to be prey or be predator. From atom to amoeba, from insect to human. All right here for a reason. It is chaos on an imperceivable level. It is output and work to maintain what we simply know as life.

Far beyond this place lie structures, concepts, ideas. The notion the we are in control of this chaos. A place where we think we can turn abstract complexities into something more pleasing. Something measurable. Geometry. Utilizing science to define, to predict the coming of something else. To assume we can fathom the concept of life itself. The constant turmoil of our machines, and the chaos of trying to get somewhere within a certain measurement of time. Bickering over self worth and ideas to manipulate the thought processes of others to be like us. Numbing ourselves with scenes of violence, with keeping up with the Joneses, with contributing ideas to the idea of how society functions and keeping that ideal of what we should be. All the while keeping us believing the chaos is controlled. Delivering peace through the word “because”.

Seeing through the eyes of the nascent, surrounded by the chaos beyond the city walls, magically floating on water, squinting as though seeing the sun for the first time, I am. I am here, part of this chaotic situation, at peace. Shrodinger’s cat, both alive and dead, unobserved and unable to observe those who live in the cities. Both answers unknown to either side, I have escaped. Only manipulated by the abstract concepts surrounding me, only defined by my impact upon it.

 


Break Point

The last time I published a technical article, I was met with some really positive feedback. So, Im going to follow this rabbit hole a little further. Since I have been writing everyday, there seems to be plenty of time to explore a little. Plus, my computer decided to completely clean itself out. Everything (and I really mean everything including my sign in for wordpress) was deleted, buried in an unknown digital graveyard to live out its afterlife.

Typically, people will refer to a joint in a streamer as articulation. A place where the fly is designed to flex with a rigid shank on either side of the joint. As fond as people are of articulated streamers (both dual hook and looped shank), there is a far more subtle area of the fly I like to refer to as the “Break Point”. This break point is a transition between materials tied on the hook and is often destroyed by an articulation. Greater motion with less force can be applied to a fly with a break point. It’s all about delivering the energy you create by stripping a streamer and its ability to continue that motion through momentum. An articulation will flex and absorb that energy by folding in half. It’s very much like wiggling a chain and a fly rod. The chain will hang lifeless, and when force is applied, the movement is absorbed by each link in the chain. The fly rod, given the same force, will continue wiggling after force is applied. To make this more direct, a broken fly rod doesn’t wiggle like it should either. Hence, underwater, an articulated fly must rely on constant and greater force to move as it should and you should spend a little more time thinking about material transitions.

Put simply, the break point is the point in the fly where dense, sturdy materials meet those of a typically longer and more supple sort. Usually these transitions are found at the rear of the hook shank. The break point is easy to point out in flies like the Dahlberg Diver, but can often be much more complex and hidden as the break point is elongated. For example, bunny leeches with a bunny tail have a break point at the tie in for the tail. Whereas, in a fly such as the Derp, the break point is at the center of the more rigid structure (more on this in a minute, I promise) and creates a curve rather than a hard angle. Like the bunny leech, most streamers have a “hard break point” where the fly has soft, long fibers tied in on the rear of the fly. The harder a break point is (how sharp the angle is at the transition), the more likely the fly is to foul and have its tail wrapped around the hook shank.

How flexible the break point is can be a two-edged sword. Sometimes you want a hard break point when you are oriented vertically over structure. That wiggly tail can provide movement in a place where linear movement is difficult. However, that same fly stripped over open water will fold in half on the pause. In my experience, fish hate this. I mean, when I see a cow in pasture, I look at its cuts. Where my burger is going to come from is important. If the cow is unhealthy, it is apparent. Now, imagine that same cow walking along normally and suddenly folding in half and emerging again walking normally. I don’t want that burger anymore. I think this hitch is what drives a smallie to haul over to your fly and suddenly spook when you stop retrieving, only to come back once it moves again. If you see this often, you are probably almost there in design. Continue tinkering.

There is an exception to the rule. Moving water. If you are fishing moving water, the fly is constantly on the move and great force is constantly being applied to your streamer. Kinda like one of those silly “fly tester” aquarium things. Yes, it does give you a read on how the fly will swim under constant motion in perfect conditions, but we aren’t always fishing moving water with our flies. For me, it is incredibly rare. Quite frankly, because our moving water usually has no warm water fish and when it does, access is near impossible. If you do fish a lot of moving water, the break point has less importance. Hook orientation and balance are the keys to success there.

Maintaining shape and profile are critical under stillwater conditions. Back to the cow, either folded in half or front legs jutting out vertically from its shoulders, you will notice that. But three legs or one horn or an odd color can be overlooked in the proper circumstances. The same can be said for your flies. Sure, you tied a perfectly stereotypical brown cow, which is mostly what the streamer world focuses on. However, the most important aspects of streamers deal with profile and motion. Your perfectly tied brown cow that is levitating and turning inside out like a cheap 80’s horror movie will attract the wrong kind of attention.

This is getting long, bear with me.

Break point elongation is critical in flies that you want to work with long pauses. Accomplishing this is quite the easy task indeed. First, the fly must be light. rather than using extra mass on the fly, use a weighted fly line to drag your fly to the depths. This creates a slight forward motion on the fly to keep it from binding. Now, for the big number two.

Decide where you want the break point to be in terms of total length of the fly. Like last time, break it down into thirds. This time, only work in the center third. The forward third is reserved for techniques enough to write a book. The rear third is pointless.

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In this example, the Derp has a slightly rearward and very soft break point with the hook far in front. It is a very unexaggerated motion, more of a drifting, legato motion on the pause. No hard turns or anything of the like. It can be worked with speed, but designed to be general purpose. And such are rear break point flies. The elongation of the break point is created by making a kind of mesh. Both EP and bucktail are notoriously grabby and the use of polar flash binds it all together. When the hook drops due to gravity, the structural integrity of these materials spreads the force over a longer distance and keeps the overall profile in tact. Even though the tie in transition is on the rear of the hook, through different types of materials like the sturdy bucktail add rigidity and structure to the more supple and lengthy EP.

IMG_1473

Transversely, the Laser Yak has a forward and slightly harder break point with mass behind the transition tie in. The break point is elongated again, but not as much, by utilizing structural materials (in this case laser dub) interlocked into longer, softer fibers. The elongation is shorter due to the suppleness of the fibers but creates more lateral motion when mass and resistance are properly added into the equation.

Keep your break point in mind next time you are staring down that fly on the vice. How can you manipulate it to get your fly to do what you want? The more forward the break point, the more lateral motion the fly will have. The more rear, more subtle motion. The harder a break point, the sharper the flex and more loss in momentum. The softer the break point, the more momentum can be maintained. Have fun and go tinker!

 

 

 


The Call

It is a sickness, similar to being laid up in a hospital bed with unfinished business. You left your oven on and you know it. The constant tug pulling you away from where you are. A place you do not wish to be. Any excuse seems legitimate.

There is no reprieve, no detox, no helpline. No friends to help with the itch beckoning you to your release. The friends are only enablers. Even in those moments of joy and excitement the memory seems dull and uneventful. Times spent around people numbingly tedious. Deep down, you want to enjoy those moments, but the oven is on. You left your home unlocked and your focus on the world around you fades.

The itch, the pull, the ever active light in your head. To be there in the cold while yearning for warmth. Surrounded by a safe place. To escape the relentless barrage of people breathing the same air, choking what oxygen is left. To be free of neon lights and unsmiling faces walking with no other care for the others who, blank-faced and emotionless, do the same. To be in that place again, to be in a place of non-judgement, to be free in that vast expanse of nothing. Those are the thoughts that dominate.

Until then, walking head down with my hands in my pockets, you will know what I am thinking and where I want to be. That person hiding in his cloak in public with the end goal of casting it off. To be who and what I really am, even though I might not know what that is. Even with age, I should know how to block it out, but I can not. A burden I have carried since childhood still wants me, still calls.