Vise Therapy

22 05 2015

Each person has their own way of dealing with stress. Some people may resort to more extreme measures like rock climbing or swimming with sharks while others may indulge in less extreme methods like drinking herbal tea or yoga. In my case though one season of high school wrestling pretty much ruined my body for yoga. My body just doesn’t bend like that anymore.

My preferred way to unwind from it all is of course fishing. Problem is that I can’t always go as much as I would like. So many things get in the way – like weather, work, family, health, river conditions, social unrest, geo-political factors and of course global warming. Oh, I’m sorry I forgot it is now “climate change” – unless of course you live in Florida where you are not supposed to talk about this at all. When all of these issues get in the way I turn to my tried and true stress reliever. Therapy through Fly Tying.

Normally I spend my winter months tying flies. For years I would spend December through February re-stocking my dry fly boxes. Now a days though, I seem to be tying more year round. A lot of this is because of taking up Steelhead fishing which, it turns out, is a September through May sport. The other reason is that I just need to unwind. 2015 has probably been the most stressful year of my career. The accounting department in the company that I work for has gone through a lot of turnover this year. One person went on maternity leave and the person we hired to fill in for her quit after a month. The other accountant on staff resigned at the same time and didn’t give a 2 week notice. The woman who was on maternity leave came back in May only to resign as well. Add to that the audits, numerous requests for financial information by the owners, investors and banks and just the day to day activity for a growing company has taken its toll on me. By the time I get home I’m so wound up I need to relax and tying feathers onto hooks is just the ticket.

I don’t really create any flies, I just modify existing patterns to the materials I have on hand. As I sit there listening to Pink Floyd while tying feathers, flashabou and fur to the hook my mind wanders too far off Steelhead streams and whether or not any fish will like what I tie. Eventually, I start to unwind and half a dozen flies later I’m feeling much better. Spending time at the vise also has a hidden side effect. While I am tying away, I am not spending my time on the couch like some slug eating junk food while watching TV. Any night I can keep from doing that is a good night. Of course, tying does have a tendency to get in the way of chores but last time I checked no one ever considered doing laundry a stress reliever.

Latest Therapy Session.  Don't know what I will use them for but they sure are pretty.

Latest Therapy Session. Don’t know what I will use them for but they sure are pretty.

Weekend Steel

4 04 2015

While the rest of Michigan was waiting for the annual Detroit river walleye run to get started I decided to go Steelhead fishing instead.  There is still ice in lake St. Clair so that means I’m staying put until it is all passed by on it’s way to Erie.  In the mean time I was going to try my luck on the Lower Huron.

One of my handlining disciples sent me a text message last week and asked if I had Friday off.  Thanks to my employer I did so Larry and I made arrangements to meet at the launch at 7:00 am on 4/3.  When I arrived Larry had the boat in the water and was loading it up.  I grabbed my stuff and a few minutes later we were headed downstream or upstream, I really can’t remember.  We were running shallow diving KVD crank baits.  Most holding areas on the river were less than 6 feet deep so a deep diving bait like a Wiggle Wart or a Hot-n-Tot wasn’t going to cut it.  We trolled through a few holes and drifted the lures into a few log jams but nothing so far.  At the next hole we finally had a hit.  As I was reeling it in something didn’t feel right.  It was fighting but the head shakes were these big slow shakes and no running that is characteristic of a steelhead.  I kept working the fish in and then I saw why it felt so weird……it was a walleye.

1st Lower Huron Walleye

1st Lower Huron Walleye

Since the season is closed for inland water walleye we took a quick picture and sent him on his way.  Back to the steel.  We tried a few more spots but no luck.  We did talk to one fisherman who had caught 3 drifting spawn.  I made note of where he was at for future reference.  About noon time we headed back to the ramp and called it a day.  I thanked Larry for the trip and showing me some of the areas and made plans to hit the “D” when it was wire time.

The next day I slept in for the first time in what seemed like forever.  Or at least that was the plan.  I forgot to shut my alarm off from the previous day and it went off at 6:30 am.  I shut it off but it was no use.  I eventually got up and started putzing around the house.  Around 11 I picked up my friend Chris and headed up to Lockeman’s Hardware to see about getting some corner brackets for my boat.  I figured he was my best bet to try and find a pair and I was right.  He had 4 left and once I left he was down to his last two.  Now all I have to do is get my transom built and these attached and I will be good to go.  I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up and tying more flies.  After dinner I grabbed my Switch Rod and made the 10 minute drive to the Lower Huron again.  I walked down to the same area where Larry and I talked to the guy who had 3.  I carefully waded in and started working the shoreline.  I was throwing a Zudweg Wicked Leech with a little bit of metallic blue flashabou.  After about 2 minutes I had a hit.  It wasn’t a very savage hit but I definitely felt it.  After about 10 minutes of fighting the fish and maneuvering my feet around the sunken logs I was able to get her close to shore where I could grab her by the tail.  Mission accomplished, my first Lower Huron river steelhead, caught on a fly I tied and landed by hand.  I really need to get a net.  After a quick pic I pointed her back upstream and let her get her strength back.  After a minute she swam off to fight another day.  I played around a bit more and checked out some more spots but didn’t catch anything else.  The wind was starting to pick up and casting was getting difficult so I decided to head home.  There will be plenty of other days.

1st Lower Huron Steelhead on a Zudweg Wicked Leech.

1st Lower Huron Steelhead on a Zudweg Wicked Leech.

Steelhead Flies

18 01 2015

Now that I am a Swinger I of course have to tie up some flies.  These flies are nothing like anything I have tied before.  They don’t even use a traditional hook.  They are tied on a Senyo Articulated Shank which is just that, a shank with a loop on the back end and an eyelet up front.  The hooks are attached to a loop of 30 pound Fireline that is tied on to the shank.  The rest of the fly is all flash, lots of flashabou and materials to help fluff it out and create a larger profile in the water.  These are some of my first ones and the have been a little skimpy on the flash.  I’ll get it figured out eventually.  Just like anything else new……practice, practice, practice.


Fly 1 Fly 2 Fly 3 Fly 4