Anatomy of a new Series

In keeping with our website theme of travel/tarpon fishing/permit, we might as well mention one of the best gamefish challenges on the flats….Mr Barracuda. You’ll notice that I included a recent painting of a variation of my popular “Barracuda Bright”. This often overlooked ruler of the flats is one of the first few experimental paintings in my new “Bright Night” series. Prior to this painting, I did “Night Striper” which sprung from one of my original black and white fly paintings that Ive been doing for years. From the beginning of that series I was always trying to decide what I would do with those paintings to expand the fly painting concept.

I had a couple of those black and whites sitting around in the studio and one day I just started painting with black paint, filling in around the fly not knowing what was going to happen. I chose a crab fly painting that had been in the shop for a while because I could put a permit in the design somewhere. As my thinking progressed and thoughts came and went, the muse took over it was time to experiment and do studies on old canvases. There was a barracuda print at the Blackfly Restaurant that need to be replaced so I took that home and went to work. I would paint on it until I ruined it, paint anything I wanted until it was time to cut the canvas off and burn it. Sometimes when painting you can go from reckless abandon to “maybe I can save this”. Presenting “Night Cuda”!

After that exercise I felt I could move on with the experiment and try to decide how I was going to paint the permit that I had penciled in under the crab fly. I produced 3 little 8×10 paintings that I called “Conversations on the Boat” trying to figure that out. Finally after two not related to the series paintings had been completed (Net neutrality and Free Swimmer) I got back to the crab piece. The project changed when I decided to add the two remaining canvases to the center panel and create a triptych. New challenges hit me and I had to decide how I was going to incorporate those pieces into what I had already started. More weeks went by until the design came to me while driving. This project had now consumed at least six months of my time.

Now it was time patiently finish the three canvases, filling all the holes, cleaning up the lines, cover the thin paint and painting the edges of the paintings….. basically two weeks of detail work.

I’m done now and thinking of what to do next.

Time To Travel (Part 2)

The Blackfly website theme has been focused on travel for the past month or so and since I’m traveling, I thought I could get away with another post to reinforce our theme. I’m sitting in the Bahamas at Blackfly Lodge trying to put this experience in prospective. The main take away from the act of traveling is to experience something new, go to a a new place or obtain a new perspective on life in general. I will also add time to reflect on life and to get new art ideas. Today I realize that there is another reason to travel ……to spend time with friends. Out of all theses experiences I think spending time with friends is the most important. I was invited on this particular fishing trip because one of the original anglers hadn’t gotten his passport renewed in time. I had about a three day notice and managed to get clear of my work and household duties to sign on for the trip.

Now you know the best parts of any fishing trip is the anticipation, planning you trip and tying flies and buying some new equipment. I missed out on all of that, I was lucky to just get everything together and packed. Fortunately, I keep my gear mostly ready to go in a moments notice and I just have to divide my flies up depending on where I’m going.

OK, we’re at the lodge and the truths begin to come to light. All of the guys on this trip have known each other over 50 years. They terrorized the colleges they went to and shared hunting trips to Africa. They dated the same girls and shared all of life’s highs and lows. The beauty is they’re still traveling through this universe partying, drinking, but not as much, and now recounting who did what to whom. It is an honor to have been asked into this group and I feel like I’ve been let into a secret society. Never pass up and opportunity to be with old friends, even if they’re not YOUR old friends.

Time To Travel

The Blackfly Outfitter website theme for the next few weeks is all about traveling to foreign destinations to go fishing. Periodically we will be adding more products and pictures of ideas that we think are necessary for your trip. The point of being prepared is basically this: The more prepared you are, the more opportunities you have to be successful. They always say, “most fish are caught the night before”.

This time of year is always when most of us are thinking of ways to get out of cold weather and finding that rush of warm air when you step out of the airplane door. Oh yeah, green trees too! You certainly can add cold drinks like Kalik beer, mojitos, and margaritas. I have to keep reminding myself we’re here to fish! So, getting ready to go fishing is almost the best part of going on a trip. It’s the anticipation, the hours of daydreaming about how it’s going to feel catching that first bonefish or maybe finally catching your first permit on fly.

So how do you start to accumulate all of the gear you’re going to need and most importantly, WHAT actually do you need? There are many lists available online but one place you can check out is the Blackfly Fly Advisor on our website. The Fly Advisor is a place you can go to find out what flies to take to a particular fishing lodge in the tropics. We picked the tropics to focus on because that’s what we know. We’ve lived there and in many cases we’ve managed a lodge in the area. For instance, Vaughn and Jean, our owners, have lived and managed lodges in Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and spent years fishing and guiding in the Florida Keys. Blackfly also owns the Blackfly Lodge in Abaco Bahamas….so, we know our bonefish patterns. The Fly Advisor is also an interactive site that gives you the opportunity to give feedback to others who are going to the lodge that you just came back from. We consult with the lodge managers, guides and others who have been there to find out what flies they used or more importantly, what didn’t work. This is a “pay it forward” kind of site for traveling anglers. On the Fly Advisor site we’ve picked four flies for each lodge that we consider the flies that you must take with you. We also give you a basic rundown of what to expect as far as what the fishing conditions are going to be and how to plan your equipment needs, what size rods and reels you want to have and the water depths so you can decide if you need weighted flies or not. (….. then search the country and then the lodge)

Please give us a call if you need help with any questions about getting prepared to travel. Our specialty is designing lodge specific fly kits so that you don’t spend money on flies you’ll never use. You don’t want to get to your destination and the guide says, “oh those flies won’t work here”. Ask for Andrew, Austin or Nick to help you with your upcoming trip. 904 997 2220 Blackfly Outfitter in Jacksonville Florida.

How to Christmas Shop for the average guy, or don’t ever buy me pants!

Holiday Shopping is our theme this month for the Blackfly Outfitter website. Kind of makes sense in that the holidays are upon us and there are a matter of weeks left to find gifts for all in your inner circle of friends and family. If you’re like me, when I go Christmas shopping I usually end up buying stuff for myself. It’s easier that way and I know exactly what I need! Try asking your wife to go pick out a new $800.00 rod and reel outfit for you. I wouldn’t do it unless I had gone to the store and specifically picked out the exact rod and reel, had it lined and the shop was holding it behind the counter…..might as well just get it myself. I also like to pick out my own flies, fly tying materials, socks, hats, shirts, actually anything I’m going to be seen in public wearing. Hence, I love the gift card! My wife says a gift card doesn’t show much thoughtfulness but I think it shows the ultimate thought because you’re giving the gift of choice.

Take a gift card to Home Depot or Lowes for instance. There’s nothing better than going into those stores and seeing something you always wanted but didn’t want to actually spend YOUR money to buy it…..whip out your gift card and pay for that set of “one-day-I’m-gonna-need-these” screw drivers or a boxed set of paint brushes you may never use. Don’t send me to Barnes & Nobel, please! Amazon, iTunes, on and on and on!

So, if your shopping for that special person, it’s OK to ask them where would you like a gift card from? If you’re shopping for me by any chance, please add all of the above plus just about any restaurant, Johnson & Murphy (shoes) or maybe Orvis (men’s jackets and dog stuff), Lands End………..

Oh, one last thing you could choose for that really special person, I have just released my new, 2nd Edition art book called “The Fishing Years”. It’s a visual record of some of my favorite paintings that are all about the water, the ocean, fishing and fish. They’re some older pieces and some that are pieces that I just finished. More importantly, I have decided to offer an original watercolor painting of the fish species of your choice on the front cover sheet.
(See the example below the book image) This would be the perfect choice for your hard-to-buy for boss or a special client. There are only 10 of these special books so give us a call at the outfitter store to order yours before they are all gone.
Have fun shopping!


Permit, what’s the big deal?

This months website theme is all about our love for permit fishing with a fly rod, no, it’s a passion, no, it’s an really a sick addiction! Just ask some of the anglers who do this on a regular basis. Most estimates of how much their addiction costs are hidden from their spouses and denied by themselves. Some of us, although addicted, suffer in silence in our normal lives but search the internet for those who fish for us. Just because it’s one of the most difficult fish to catch with a fly rod doesn’t deter us, no, it actually is the thing that keeps our addiction boiling within us.

There are stories that have been told over time about an angler that showed up to fish at a remote lodge and hits the flats and catches a permit on his first cast, looks around at the guide and asks, “what’s the big deal”? That actually happened to an angler that I guided in the Keys many years ago, as a matter of fact, it was his first time to even fish in saltwater. A school of about 50 permit rose up out of a channel in Jewfish Basin heading directly to us. A simple cast with a standard merkin in the general direction of the lead fish drew an instant eat and the party was on. The two of us who witnessed this crime against all that’s holy about permit fishing nearly threw up. That’s just not fair, it’s not paying your dues.

Lefty Kreh

If your using a spinning rod to catch a permit, you’re playing a different game. In fact, is’t so different that
Lefty Kreh once said, “Throwing a crab to a permit is like rolling a wine bottle into a jail cell.” It’s not that it doesn’t count, it’s just not the same! I once speculated in another article how to grade the types of permit opportunities along the lines of difficulty, with a single permit tailing in very shallow water as the most difficult. That got a 10! Permit schooled up during the spawn in 60 to 90 feet of water being the easiest. That got a 1. All the others were in between and debatable as to the score they would receive. What it all essentially boils down to is that you caught a permit and it doesn’t matter how big it was or how you caught it…..but it counts more if it’s on a fly!

Til next time,