December 31, 2010

High Gravity Holiday

Hurricane High Gravity
Have a High Gravity Holiday. Happy New Year to the Roughfisher Nation. Thank you for all your support in 2010, and well wishes for a fishy 2011. Keep it rough. Cheers!

December 30, 2010

Happy Birthdaze

Something for the kids.

happy birthday
Something for me.

You only turn 34 once. I'm glad I was in good company.


I don't know what my affinity is for yarn, but when a skein catches the corner of my eye, I need to thumb it over and examine each fiber closely. It's a disease. My stockpile is ever growing; I'm amassing a collection of fiber concoctions in near every shade of the spectrum, yet I keep adding to the horde. Sure yarn is an inexpensive means of collecting dyed fibers for dubbing blends, but when is enough enough?

gala yarn
After a point, blending enough colors of yarn, fur, synthetics, and other animal fibers will compose a single shade, whether or not you used 5 or 500 different colored fibers. So is it overkill to collect yarn in a bazillion different shades of green? Here's why I say not: there are as many different variations of nylon, rayon, polyester, and acrylic fibers, as well as blends of these fibers, as there are carp in the Mississippi. Some of these fibers have unique refractory properties, while others are just plain sublime. Besides, when a skein of mix fiber yarn is marked down from $5 to $1, you gotta fill up the cart, especially when the yarn is a sexy blend of polyester and acrylic fibers. Silky Silky crazy crazy night. Perhaps the main reason I like yarn so much is the fact that many of the colors from the factory contain insane color combinations of fibers, something that I may not consider unless I was taking hits from the bong or smoking some crack-cocaine. I have to admit, I have gotten inspiration for a spectral dubbing blend from a wacky multi-colored yarn on more than one occasion. And it won't be the last.

craft yarn
Another score, a card of heather grey craft yarn, perfect filler for a synthetic version of a hare's ear blend. Of course, purple is deadly for adding UV like highlights to a blend. So what do I do with all the skeins of dud yarn? Maybe I should take up knitting.....

December 29, 2010

The Other Whitefish

Nothing like a little roughfish action through the ice. Cisco, tullibee, lake herring, chub, northern cisco, whatever you call it in your region, Coregonus artedi are freaking tasty, especially when smoked.

December 28, 2010

chunky yarn

wool-ease chunky
Wool-Ease Chunky Yarn in Willow and Walnut. Chunky Yarn is a 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool blend, at 5.00 oz. per 153 yd skein. The Willow is a subtle blend of sea foam green, light olive, white, and purple fibers, a perfect base blend for an insect or caddis green dub. The Walnut is a bit more complex, with a crimson/red, olive, and navy composition. There aren't even any brown fibers in the yarn; your eyes are playing tricks on you vis-à-vis Gestalt Psychology. This just proves the point that using the color wheel to compose a spectral dubbing blend isn't a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Like much of nature, rarely is an organism ever composed truly of one single color, but rather a composition of complimentary colors forming a perceived shade.

wool-ease chunky, willow
wool-ease chunky, walnut
More yarnly goodness for the do-it-yourself dubber.

December 24, 2010

December 23, 2010


Awhile back, I mentioned a quick and easy substitute for seal fur, floss. 4 strand rayon floss works great, and most fly shops carry it for a $1/spool for 10 yards of material. For those of us without access to a nearby shop, embroidery floss will work just the same. For one dollar you can get an 8 yard skein of rayon floss that is between two to three times the amount of floss of that four strand floss. Better yet, your wife or significant other may already have a stash hiding in her sewing kit. If you get caught yoinking her floss, however, don't go blaming me for the idea. Just tell her that you wanted to make her a "friendship bracelet". Yeah, that's the ticket...

If you want to get an even better deal on floss, then look no further than some twisted lip cord. Found in the fabric section of most craft and fabric stores and even some big box stores, this is the motherload of cheapo DIY floss. The cord at the Hobby Lobby runs $0.99/yard, plus there was an additional 30% off sale price; can't beat that. There are many varieties out there so keep a close eye on the composition of the cord materials. Many will contain a cotton blend; stay away from those. Look for cord made up of rayon, nylon, polypropelene or a blend. I opted for a rayon/polypro blend, as the cord can serve double duty. The cord is composed of a polypro core, coated with a rayon outer that easily separates from each other. I can use the rayon and the polypro for dubbing, but I can also use the polypro for wings or posts.

twisted lip cord
twisted lip cord guts
I love a good bargain.

December 22, 2010

USCARPPRO Magazine Issue #17

Issue 17 is live. The roughfisher brings his Christmas cheer on page 72. Ho, freaking Ho Hombre!!

December 21, 2010

walter on ice

A classic prairie winter day out on the ice: whiteout.

Fitting that it's the Winter Solstice and I'm putting up a post on ice fishing the frozen white north. When in Rome... After several nights of wrenching and speaking my finest German, I finally got the snowmobile repaired. A fishing venture out last winter in heavy powder resulted in my muffler getting a bit hot, melting the main wiring harness on my sled. Not a good situation. The fine folks at Arctic Cat went a little light on the heat shield tape and also thought that it was a great idea to lay the harness down in the belly pan first, and then install the motor, chaincase, clutches, and everything else in the sled on top of it. As I sat cutting apart the melted birds nest of wires and re-taping the bare wire, I was hoping that this was gonna do the trick, as I didn't want to pop the $150 bones for a new harness, nor the hours of labor to install it. While I was in their redoing the wiring, I also gutted the restrictive factory air box and put on a K&N oval filter right on the throttle body and a K&N breather filter on the valve cover. Once I finished taping everything up with heat foil, I turned the ignition on with success. Fixed. Now my sled is as tricked out as it's gonna get as well as turning a few more ponies under the hood. She's an ice fishing mo-chine!

I figured that it was about time my lazy ass got out from behind the vise and put my boots on. I sucked it up and loaded up trailer after topping off its tires with air and re-torquing the lug nuts. Of course, I decided to make the maiden voyage of the season in a gotdamn snowstorm. The wind was a sumbitch, blowing the snow sideways. Nothing says fun like frozen crystals of ice jabbing you in the cornea. I made it on to the highway and drove to a lake on the edge of town. I unloaded my gear and hooked up the portable ice house to the snowmobile. Time to hit the ice. Once I got on the lake I saw how much fun I was going to have; I couldn't see a thing. For those of you who've never ridden a snowmobile before, driving blind into a whiteout is not the ideal thing to do. Hitting a snowdrift my surprise at 40 mph towing a portable is more excitement than one shall be allowed to have. Catching air on a touring sled, especially by surprise, is enough to have to go change your shorts. Lucky for me, I actually learn from my past mistakes, and took it slow on my way out this time. Even with my GPS guiding me at 20 mph, it still sucked.

pullin' the porty
Ice fishing isn't for the faint of heart. A 20 mph wind on wet hands can make your outing go bad in a hurry. Tip number one is to face your back to the wind. Tip number two is to wear a coat with a hood. Keeping the wind of your face can go a long way to keeping you warm while out scouting. I'd also recommend a pair of warm boots. As a set out making some swiss cheese, I found a nice spot on a flat in 10 FOW adjacent to a few deep water breaks. I grabbed my search rod set up, a small tungsten teardrop jig tipped with a waxie. I set up at the hole and dropped it down, a foot off the bottom. I marked a fish fairly quickly and had an earnest strike. I was figuring that I set up on top a school of small perch, but when I set the hook there was resistance. At first I thought I had hooked a pike. Typically on these flats, a predator will lurk off in the weedbeds looking for an easy meal. Reeling in the fish, it gave me a few decent runs, pulling line from the reel while my drag screamed. When I got the fish to the hole I was expecting a snot rocket. To my surprise, I pulled a nice chunky 18" walleye out from the hole. Bonus! A totally unexpected surprise.

Now don't go sending me hate mail because I posted a photo of a walleye. I know I give the fish a fair amount of abuse and bashing here, but ice fishing is different. Pretty damn tough to fly fish through the ice, so winter is the only time I resort to using bait and soft plastics. In addition, the only time I harvest fish is during the cold water months. I know that I'm the "roughfisher", but walleye is fair game through the ice (even though it is still boring) as are most other gamefish species. I've also been known to pursue salmonids through the ice. Tasty salmonids. I love eating fish, and so does my family. Might as well get my money's worth for my license fees.

And yes, that walleye was delicious.

December 20, 2010

Pimps and Hos

Fresh Pimp Nymph
Meet the new nymph in town, the Fresh Pimp. Dressed with a flashy UV Pearl underwing, this kid can lay down some serious pimp slaps. This playah is fo' real.

Fresh Pimp Nymph
Fresh Pimp Nymph:
Hook: Korda Longshank X, Size 10
Thread: 6/0 UNI, Black
Tail: Goose Biots, Brown
Body: Roughfisher's Seal Sub Dub, Peacock Poison
Rib: Medium Ultra Wire, Gold
Hackle: Woodcock Wing Feather
Under-wing: Krystal Flash, UV Pearl
Wing: Goose Biots, White
Thorax: Roughfisher's Seal Sub Dub, Peacock Poison
Head: 3.8mm tungsten bead
Pimp Convention
You got my money?

December 17, 2010

strange brew

boulevard's finest
We don't just favor the tin-can tallboys of ghetto malt over here. We appreciate and savor the malty hopped goodness of an artisan brewer's finest from a corked cask. So take off, eh!

December 16, 2010

American Beauty

A classic from way back. I just love the tails on those shortheads; they are so sanguineous.

December 13, 2010


Some tasty new shizz blended from a concoction of mohair, alapaca (suri and huacaya), wool, rabbit, hare, squirrel, acrylic, nylon, polyseter, and antron. I wasn't happy with my previous blend of rust colored dubbing; this stuff should do the trick. Fe2O3

December 10, 2010

A call to order

Last week I summoned the challenge to tie some traditional trout flies. It wasn't a call to order for producing flies specific for trout, but rather a trial of dogma and doctrine amongst the clandestine rogue tyers of the roughfishing underworld. It's not that we couldn't do it, it's that we didn't want to. For me it was a shakedown of discipline and adherence. Drew Price answered the call and responded in sort: a swarm of stoneflies. Before the rest of mainstream fly tying has us pegged, here goes to show that us brownliners can tie trout too.

A rally cry from the vise of brother Drew, Semper Catostomidae!

December 9, 2010

the DSP Special

I'll let you in on a super secret pattern that I developed exclusively for the Denver South Platte. Hell, I even created it's own dubbing blend. A slim bodied Carp Crack tied in DSP Grey dub.

DSP Special
Fish like small crawfish patterns; this particular fly was tied on a Korda Longshank X hook in size 12, but the pattern size is more typical of an O' Shaugnessy style hook in a size 8. Body length, including antennae, is approximately an inch long. Don't discount this fly for it's smaller size though, carp and smallmouth alike will eagerly take this pattern with zeal. Grey is a common color of crawfish found among our many waterways. A UV accent was added to the dubbing blend to give a hint of luster to an otherwise drab colored pattern.

This is quickly becoming one of my go to flies.

December 7, 2010


Hook: Korda Longshank X, Size 12
Thread: 6/0 UNI, Red
Tail: Goose Biot, Red
Body: Roughfisher's Seal Sub Dub, Peacock Poison
Rib: Medium Ultra Wire, Red
Hackle: Ruffed Grouse Body Feather
Thorax: Roughfisher's Seal Sub Dub, Peacock Poison
Head: #8 Beadchain, Hot Pink

December 6, 2010

roughfisher's vault 2010.12.06

Furthur, Live at Madison Square Garden, November 20 and 21, 2010. New York, NY.

No need to go over the details as any show at MSG is electric and these were no exceptions. Enjoy.


Set One:
Help on The Way
Shakedown Street
Jack Straw
El Paso
Wharf Rat
Two Djinn
Terrapin Station

Set Two:
The Mountain Song
Dark Star
The Other One
St Stephen
The Eleven
Death Don't Have No Mercy
Franklin's Tower
Donor Rap

One More Saturday Night


Set One:
Truckin' >
Cumberland Blues
Any Road
Cassidy (Oops) >
Viola Lee Blues
Cassidy >
Eyes Of The World >
So Many Roads >
Goin' Down The Road Feelin' Bad

Set Two:
Born Cross-Eyed >
The Wheel >
Weather Report Prelude >
Weather Report Suite Part I >
Time >
Let It Grow >
Unbroken Chain >
Morning Dew >
Playin' In The Band

Phil Donor Rap
Brokedown Palace

December 3, 2010

the challenge

I was presented with a simple task the other week, tie up some trout flies. With a bit of apprehension, I dished out my take on a few adopted trout patterns that have made their way into my day box over the years, and called it good. Classics like brassies, scuds, caddis pupa nymphs, and tungsten laced death magnets like the possie bugger are all relevant patterns no matter what species of fish you pursue. Just about any fish will take these patterns if presented properly. How do I know this? Because I've caught monster pike on size 12 scuds before, that's why. These patterns are not all that difficult to tie either, but when presented with the order of producing trout flies, the task all of a sudden seemed formidable.

Just about everyone who starts out fly tying will typically begin with tying simple patterns like hare's ear nymphs or pheasant tail nymphs, but trout flies nonetheless. I was no different, in fact many of my flies for roughfish are basically bastardized trout nymphs on steroids, tied on extra heavy hooks. So it's not the difficulty that certain patterns present either, though tying in parachute posts on size 20 midge patterns certainly are not my forté. Tying commercially, or for that matter, tying 12 dozen flies of a single pattern in a single color in a single size will pretty much curb your anxiety about using unfamiliar materials or techniques. Repetition is a handy trick for gaining confidence and consistency behind the vise. Rather, my angst was likely deep rooted in the fact that by tying a trout pattern, there was a high likelihood that I would have to follow a strict recipe and stick to it.

brassiesThe Brassie. A classic midge pattern for the ages. In copper and hot orange, laced with purple peacock herl, tied on a Mustad C67S 2X heavy 3X short size 12 scud hook.

One thing that I've observed after spending five seasons behind the vise experimenting with roughfish patterns, is that I've begun to become a bit of an impressionist when it comes to my fly development. It was a branch that started not long after learning to tie. I learned all the basics and skills necessary to guide me through filling a generic trout box, from tying elk hair caddis, to PT nymphs, to CDC emerger patterns, to PMDs and trico poly spinners. Perhaps it was boredom, or simply lacking the discipline to hone my craft and further develop more advanced tying techniques common with tying dry flies for trout. Likely, the lack of interest and proximity of solid dry fly water for trout is what helped fork that branch so early on. The absence of necessity certainly wasn't enough incentive for me to continue on with more advanced dry fly patterns, so naturally I delved deeper and deeper into the nymph underworld. As they say, "once you go nymph, you never go back".

Back to the challenge at hand; I'm not proposing that I tie up a production run of a fleet of Parachute Adams, there's still no need or interest on my part for dry flies. A good start, however, would be to perhaps look at my objectives at the vise for a bit and blast through a few nymph patterns and actually follow someone's recipe. Overcoming the urge to simplify, adapt or substitute is the easy way out, and you don't improve your tying skills by copping out. Embrace the challenge. Seize the opportunity to improve. Tie better flies.

Look for a few more traditional patterns over the coming winter season. Should be an interesting ride.

December 2, 2010

Throwing out some copper

Copper Johns.

copper johns
Tied on Mustad R90 4X heavy hooks. Ultra Wire body, Peacock Posion dubbed thorax, and either a purple peacock herl or pearl mylar wingcase. A heavy dubbed thorax was substituted for the partridge/hackle legs.

Simple but deadly.

December 1, 2010

Uncovering the secret stash

I recently delved into Singlebarbed's secret stash of spectral dubbing samples that he sent way back with the magic antron. I figured nearly four months in quarantine should rid me of any nasties that singlebarbed may be harboring over in his compound. You can never be too sure.

CZE scud
I applied a few of Singlebarbed's different flavors to some of my classics and some recent works. The texture and feel of the dubbing is nice and full. The blend is a perfect balance between guard hairs, underfur, and antron and doesn't fall apart between your fingers while dubbing, as is common with some of the other spectral type blends and seal substitutes. I do have to say that the old man knows his way around the blender, fur, and flash. Not bad, not bad at all.

It's interesting to note the differences between our dubbing blends. Both are similar in many aspects, yet the "eye" that each of us has for a color composition may come from opposite ends of the spectrum. I know Singlebarbed heavily relies on the color wheel and complements when composing his blends. His blends are always well balanced and composed. I, on the other hand, tend to use the foundations of color composition and apply a bit of social influence and gut feeling when creating a spectral blend. I swing more from the hip, often times with a bit more abstract composition. The same could even be said of my fly patterns and their development. It's always refreshing and intriguing to see other's works close up and in hand. I'm glad to see that the student has learned well from his master.

Carp Crack
Check out Singlebarbed's biz site for his Sixth Finger scissors, and soon, his custom dubbing blends.

Caveat Emptor: I don't know why in the hell Singlebarbed would give away his trade secrets as "free samples" to us carnivores of the blogging universe, especially those of us who like to roll our own and make our own dub. Nonetheless, he did, and I suppose he was looking for free advertising in exchange for said product. Here you go Sensei; you're welcome.

November 29, 2010

Zeebs redux

reverse Zebras, ventral view
Thanks for the head's up from Captain Brownstain DP for some alternative variegation on those Zebra patterns. The running theory is that the stripes should run horizontal to the "D" shape shell of the zebra mussel pattern, as opposed to the vertical orientation found on my earlier prototypes. Will it make any difference which way the stripes lay to a fish? Maybe, maybe not, but I've got to give it at least the old college try. And of course, brutha Drew and I will have to take one for the team and field test these patterns to those unsuspecting molluscivorous fish to ensure sure that you, the public, receive the finest in authentic roughfish fly patterns.

reverse Zebras, dorsal view
Sometimes appearance can be everything.