For Short

For Short . . .

Theodore Gordon and Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari (photo taken 03 01 2015)

Theodore Gordon and Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari
(photo taken 03 01 2015)

“Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari”

Testaments of all faiths have in their spirit the sense of a letter from one to another. Letters “Of and To” are “For and From” as well. A blog in a sense is such a form. When standards are held up, when the focus is on a subject rather than an “I,” a post can be a literary act of sharing with conviction most commendable.

The level of Art is reached at times in any endeavor. The epistolary word, being of high standard, demands much from an author to become Art. Theodore Gordon’s mayfly patterns are canonical, so is his correspondence with G.E.M. Skues and Frederic W. Halford, written when he was nestled in the ‘kills of New York, read still a century after composition.

Gordon remains a compelling figure for contemplation when engaged in the sport of fly fishing and the craft of fly tying. Readers now are individuals never to be connected to the man in real time or place in the physical sense. We may never fish with him, although tethered we are by Gordon’s active mind talking from the page printed in his own careful words.

Gordon and his thoughts on the artificial fly are well known. Another fly fisher of New York, Daniel Cahill, goes more unsung, perhaps for the simple reason he did not write, although his surname stands attached to another of the canonical Catskill patterns. He was a brakeman for the Erie Lackawanna railroad and a fly tier during the late 19th Century. His Light Cahill and its variants, a staple imitation of the pale Stenecron (Stenonema) mayfly, endure as surely as those of Gordon, although the man’s actual voice, from mouth or page to ear and mind, may be silent.

Gordon and Cahill, mayfly and trout: all four have combined along one tenkara path to form a pattern I find works when trout fishing during the warm months of May through August. Shaded runs, a calm evening, or when the sun lets go of the water during the middle of a morning. A trout rising at such a time on a ‘kill might find such a basic pattern effective fished wet or dry.

I combined the deer hair I have kept close this tying season with 6/0 olive, tan, black, or white thread and bodies of yarn, feather, floss, tinsel necked with a standard peacock herl thorax. One with an angora rabbit fur body resembles a very impressionistic Light Cahill.

Deer hair is employed for the hackle rather than feather. This is a sakasa pattern, one that holds a Japanese traditional tenkara hackle orientation. The trick with deer hair folded forward is to retain a soft and parse head, which I half hitch at the rear base of the hackle. Scissors, bobbin, and thread are all the tools most necessary. Visual aids, if or as needed, of magnification 1.0 to 5.0 times can help on the details when hooks are on the smaller end. My preferred size for this pattern, based on satisfactory catch rates, is a 16.

“Has the pattern a name?” or “What do you call it?” has been asked. I reply in conversation: “(Swegman’s) Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari or Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari, for short.”

Size 14 to 18 hook
Angora Rabbit for Body
Peacock herl for thorax
Deer hair for hackle
6/0 thread for wrap

All the Tools Most Necessary: Tenkara Still Life (photo taken 03 02 2015)

All the Tools Most Necessary: Tenkara Still Life
(photo taken 03 02 2015)

Deer Hair Cahill Sakasa Kebari: a mouthful for fish . . .

– rPs 03 02 2015

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Tenkara and Trichoptera

Tenkara and Trichoptera . . .

Olive Tenkara Trichoptera Larva (ties 02 17 2015)

Olive Tenkara Trichoptera Larva
(ties 02 17 2015)

“The architect in the stream.”

One could make the case that bugs are in my blood. My paternal uncle, Bernard G. Swegman, has worn several hats over the course of an academic career that includes published papers on caddisflies, the trichoptera. i

Caddis patterns are a pillar of creative fly tying and effective fly fishing. The caddis dry fly can be like potato chips to an eager trout. The nymph and emerger must offer a flavor that overcomes the texture of their exterior cases self-constructed from sticks and pebbles and mortar. Yes, to me, the caddis is an architect of a stream insect.

Besides trout, wet caddis imitations make an excellent start pattern for the smallmouth bass and sunfish found in the freestones of the Mid-Atlantic region. Green sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and rock bass all take the nymph swung by structure and drifted along current seams.

One tenkara trichoptera of my own I like to swing along rock ledges and other deep bank areas. A simple larva pattern, not unlike a Poopah pattern, the body of this one appears more straight and sinuous on account of ultra chenille instead of dubbing; I also employ a standard wet fly hook that extends the ribbed tinsel body just a bit.

A tenkara rod’s greater length allows me to high stick this fly in areas open overhead where exposed clay banks are often found beside meadows. Smaller sizes 14 through 18 in olive, tan, or gray all lure fish with the olive coaxing more specimens to net on an average day

Olive Tenkara Trichoptera Larva

Size 14-18 Mustad 3906 wet fly hook
Olive ultra chenille for body
X-SM French tinsel for rib
Peacock herl for thorax
6/0 Green UNI-thread for wrap

– rPs 02 17 2015

i “Occurrence Of An Intersex Individual Of Psychomyia flavida (Trichoptera)”
B G Swegman Entomological News 89: 187-188 (1978)

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Angling Art and Manhattan Kebari

Angling Art and Manhattan Kebari . . .

I Found Fishing Writer's Block:  mixed media (copyright 2015 by ron P swegman. all rights reserved.)

I Found Fishing Writer’s Block: mixed media
(copyright 2015 by ron P swegman. all rights reserved.)

My fishing jacket’s front zippered pockets are reserved for light litter storage and occasional gifts. The latter may include tackle, lures, and sometimes flies found over the course of an outing on the water. One pond trip in 2014 brought to my gift pocket a green pencil snapped in two and a small red and white bobber. Arranged this week with a small amount of imagination created a new sculpture – “I Found Fishing Writer’s Block” – visual metaphor rendered in the medium of found fishing objects, photographed.

More conventional material creation has included my attempts at kebari. The patterns I call “kebari” for I fish these patterns in subtle variation with my Ebisu and Yamame telescoping rods in the streams and stillwaters I explore on this east coast of North America.

Some pumpkin yarn came into hand from my friend, Brian. Time seeing this material go unused was spent in contemplation, which incubated tying ideas influenced first by the color found to varying degree in Dave Whitlock’s Squirrel Nymph, Safet Nikosevic’s October Caddis, and Brian’s own Cinder Worm pattern. My results this February have so far included:

Swegman’s October Caddis; a nymph

Swegman's October Caddis Nymph (tied 02 06 2015)

Swegman’s October Caddis Nymph
(tied 02 06 2015)

Size 12-16 Wet Fly Hook
Deer hair for tail
Pumpkin dubbing for body
Peacock Herl for thorax
6/0 Green Thread for wrap

This pattern in various colors has lured stream trout and fallfish as well as bluegills in ponds.

Swegman’s Sunfish; a weighted hair wing streamer

Swegman's Sunfish (tied 02 06 2015)

Swegman’s Sunfish
(tied 02 06 2015)

Size 6 Streamer Hook
.030 Wire for weight
Deer Hair for tail and wing
Pumpkin dubbing for body
Peacock herl for thorax
6/0 Green thread for wrap

This pattern is effective on black crappie and largemouth bass when the fry of bluegill and yellow perch are available as forage.

I for my record state no idea here presented is new. The colors and silhouettes, however, have been shaped by experience and conditions unique to this tenkara reporter on multiple seasons spent using both conventional and tenkara fly fishing tackle.

– rPs 02 06 2015

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Beside the Book (The Tufted Titmouse Sips) 01 2015

Beside the Book
(The Tufted Titmouse Sips)
01 2015

There is a quiet brook in New York City where songbirds sip on the clear day after a storm. Sky spreads deep blue, frosted by feathers of cirrus cloud. Breezes make murmur within the mesh of tree branches above. All else remains quiet but for the birds in song and conversation. I have encountered the blue jay, cardinal, tufted titmouse, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, black-capped chickadee, slate-colored junco, red-breasted nuthatch, red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, song sparrow, house sparrow, and rock dove.

Tenkara this January has become the art of fishing for feathers used in my fly tying. Plumes of pheasant, starling, partridge, and peacock are present beside my vise where I spend time tying a kebari, sketching a hook, writing a book in a natural light heightened by the bright white of fresh snow.

– rPs 01 30 2015

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Hielo Fino

Hielo Fino . . .

Thin Ice in Manhattan (January 07, 2015)

Thin Ice in Manhattan
(January 07, 2015)

Hielo Fino = no fishing for a while . . .

Comme Il Vous Plaira

Cold calms it down
Despite the light of live fire.
Brown, white, and blue
Rush red flush in full attire.

This, That, and Thine
Locked on the city of lights.
Your time and mine:
Most necessary of rights.

— rPs 01 08 2015

Postscript: My opinion is my own and includes the belief that I am as a creative writer and professional journalist an individual who cannot condone the brutal slaying of fellow journalists no matter how they may have expressed themselves in media. The events in Paris on January 07, 2015 should serve notice that a global restraint on violent reactions to free expression must be accepted, adopted, and enforced in full. No one or thing, not even in the name of a sacred human conception of God with a capital G. has the right to take another human life. Murder is an immoral, an inhumane, an incorrect act that discredits the dignity of us all.

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Year’s End, Prospect

Year’s End, Prospect

Prospect Park Lake Brooklyn, 12 29 2014

Prospect Park Lake
Brooklyn, 12 29 2014

Vapor Trails imbued with sunlight fill a blue sky on some December days. One last one above the temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit beckoned me to follow through on one final item of outstanding tenkara fishing business: Taking my Tenkara USA Yamame rod for a test around Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn . . . Of course. I had to go there at least once in 2014. Completion of mission vital to my own authority added a pinch of incentive as well. Prospect Park had not seen my traditional tapered line all season. The Bronx, Manhattan, as well as Queens have all been noted as has fishing the Hudson’s New York Bight’s salt adjacent to Staten Island. Four, not all five, boroughs in total, the count found wanting a major one of New York City’s destinations: Prospect Park Lake.

The omission appears even odder considering Brooklyn’s coolwater lake has the highest notoriety for catch and release bass fishing. For nine months of 2014, I have fished hard, in and around town in between serving as a guide to new gear at an urban fly shop. My first catch of a bass happened as early as the final week of winter in March. Trips in between then and now included meeting the saltwater papio of O’ahu, Hawaii. I had been to Brooklyn a bunch of times for friends and culture. Time then to go fishing there as well at the eleventh-and-a-half hour of the year.

One of my own pioneering tenkara trips took place along a portion of Prospect Park Lake’s asymmetric circumference. The lake has over a span of years drawn me and several of my companions together in search of fish on the fly. Earliest spring and fullest summer have been experienced, never winter.

The cold day squeezed between Christmas and the New Year began bright and breezy, qualities that made the prospects look challenging in all ways but my own confidence. I knew, just knew, some kind of fishing would present itself if I maintained the kind of endurance and mental focus I must exhibit to complete a cross country run along a bright and breezy Hudson River waterfront.

Conditions lakeside enforced an immediate variation on my use of line. My traditional tapered lines were set aside in deference to Level Line attached to a much longer tippet of finer 6X. Unfocused invisibility can be seen as obvious given cold lake water’s clear visibility. Water temps in the high thirties Fahrenheit discourage green plant life, and the recent season’s remains now rest brown and settled. Prospect Park’s water and its column become a more translucent body skirted by shores of cattails, trees limbs, and stone and mortar wall.

Large nymphs work to lure fish during the cold season. Leaf litter offers ample residences for the dobsonfly among others. Whether it be a Kebari americana like The Prince, Zug Bug, your own variation on the theme, or the all-inclusive Woolly Bugger, unweighted or beaded patterns are effective. More important may be presentation. Some strip in a nymph when stillwater fly fishing. Fair the approach may be, as well as a Leisenring Lift customized to your speed theory, or a sustained swimming action that takes advantage of an unweighted fly pattern’s buoyancy . . .

The Undulating Microtug

I grinned when the technique met a take. Connection to a fish had first to endure several persistent hours of casting in and around some brisk breaths of air off the water. Coldweather tenkara this was. No topwater action was on deck. The kebari patterns were a dice roll that occupied my mind: Olive Dobsonfly, The Prince, Zug Bug, and my own Grey Wet Wool Nymph described in my second book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little. Sizes ranged between 6 and 10.

Coldweather Tenkara (12 29 2014)

Coldweather Tenkara
(12 29 2014)

What changed during the day was the wind. Air and lake calmed during the last hour of daylight. I finished with an Olive Woolly Bugger tied by steelheader Stephen Kasperovich of Sewickley, Pennsylvania. He is adept also when angling for yellow perch, the fish that turned my fading prospects at Prospect into a grand form of fishing finale.

His pattern uses a very soft chenille body matched with an undulating saddle hackle. Several seconds after I began to swim the Olive Woolly Bugger, a fish met the fly and connected. Several runs of ten feet and head shakes bent the Yamame and played me before I lifted a perch in net from the water.

Yellow Perch (Olive Woolly Bugger by Stephen Kasperovich)

Yellow Perch
(Olive Woolly Bugger by Stephen Kasperovich)

Perca flavescens has been encountered before both at Harlem Meer and Van Cortlandt Park Lake during late August and September. The species is a popular quarry for ice fishers, making its presence and activity understandable on the calm end of this cold day. Several more perch followed, although not in a metronomic fashion one might associate with a large school. Each fish had to be worked, had to be coaxed, into striking. The hinge of the entire experience was again a willingness to put full thought into full motion forward. Full cast and retrieve with a focus on the fly at the end of the Level Line. Any slow swimming retrieve using wrist action combined with a lift can take tenkara fishing into catching. The other factor may well be that I found a spot holding some fish at prime time: the short span of minutes that can make up a wintertime bite.

Yellow Perch in Net

Yellow Perch in Net

Bird life communed on and around the lake. American coot, Fulica americana, plied the calm water and called at dusk in the manner of gas passing out of either end. Strange, mildly humorous, a sound like belching farts almost quite nearly contradicts the bird’s conservative plumage, which may bring to mind a solemn clergy’s robes.

Bird in View (American Coot)

Bird in View
(American Coot)

The day’s final sunlit moments brought a final yank transmitted down to the grip of my Yamame. The strategy of the competitor changed. Now a tight, circular fight, at net’s end my heavier opponent turned out to be a very round bluegill dressed in a pale purple sheen with olive details and black chain link bars twisted and reminiscent of the double helix. Bluegills can be a rare encounter after the spawning bed period. Even small waters may find a bluegill population strangely reticent despite a circumscribed space. I felt more than pleased to call this fish my final catch and release of the year.

The Final Fish (Bluegill)

The Final Fish

Red skies at sunset reminded me of a poem from my collection of poetry, museum of buildings: poems

Across the bridge I’m crossing
Lay the city bathed in sunset.

At the end of this “last day of December” the trees rather that the tower blocks were tinted.

Sunset (12 29 2014)

(12 29 2014)

Farewell, Tenkara Fishing, 2014

The Year’s End

– rPs 12 30 2014

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Gone Fishing, Gift Giving

Gone Fishing, Gift Giving . . .

Happy 5th Anniversary!

Happy 5th Anniversary!

The deciduous trees are mostly bare now. Gingko and Norway Maple gold covers the hillside grounds and park places as the oaks alone hold onto rustling brown leaves. Cross country runs and hikes to and from local fishing spots have been giving gifts of time and rhythm to compose creative words.

During this same time, my second book, Small Fry: The Lure of the Little, has reached 5 years of age and remains in print. Here is a brief synopsis from the catalog page of The Whitefish Press:

Meanwhile, my first book, Philadelphia on the Fly, prepares for its 10th anniversary next year. The fact the book has stayed in print as an active seller gives testament to the importance of place in creative writing. When writing fish stories, a specific place often gives a reader added incentive to read:

Readers in return give incentive to render experience in words, although the act of writing can be an addicting pleasure in itself. I do have a few stores with a tenkara theme in the works. Progress continues as well on Little Hills: a novel. Special times pass when the flow is brisk and clear, when writing about fishing can be as fun as a good day along the water. Yes, even when one is not casting a fly pattern to fish, one can be “Gone Fishing” in the broader sense.

(Nearly) Ten Years Later . . .

(Nearly) Ten Years Later . . .

— rPs 12 03 2014

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