Monthly Archives: August 2011

Photo – tomorrows fly today

I am just exhausted from a really bad day at work. I would have opted to go fishing after work but sometimes things are not possible, family committeemen has to come first. So I am aiming to go fishing tomorrow instead, hoping to get some ease of mind and battery charging then.

So I can’t really get myself to publish the whole article on that Mohican variant today, will do it tomorrow instead, but todays photo will be a sneak peak of the fly which I am gonna cover in the article tomorrow!


Guest blogger – Graham Owen

This weeks guest blogger is my good friend Graham Owen. A fantastic fly tyer who took his realistic fly tying to something different when he started to create realistic bug props for the movie industry. Graham is also a world class photographer. For more on Grahams work please check out his site: http://www.grahamowengallery.com/

Hollywood fly tying by Graham Owen

I was born of British descent in the country of Malaysia and was fortunate to travel extensively as a child, which included living in a number of countries including Canada, Australia and several states in the U.S.  In all of my travels I developed a deep love for the natural world, especially wildlife, including fish, birds and insects. I’ve finally planted my roots and currently live with my family in Burbank California.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated and intrigued with bodies of water and especially curious about what dwells beneath, perhaps starting at the age of four when I was stung by a Portuguese Man o War jelly fish.  I’ve also loved fishing for as long as I can remember, and became hooked on fly fishing about twenty years ago, while visiting a friend in Indiana.  We cast large dry flies with rubber legs to explosive small mouth bass on picturesque limestone creeks and fortunately, that day changed my life.  That experience was truly exhilarating, and I’ve never taken a spinning rod or bait on-stream since.

 I started tying flies shortly after my first visit to a fly shop.  Upon spending a handsome sum gearing up to fly fish the Eastern Sierra for the first time, the most surprising part was spending over $300 to fill a Wheatley fly box.  I clearly recall looking at various unknown feathers and furs, little bags of hooks, and it seemed incredibly obvious that learning to tye flies would prove cost effective.

Immediately I signed up for a beginners tying class at the Fisherman’s Spot in Van Nuys, and I still have my first flies, a simple scud pattern and a wooley bugger.  What I didn’t realize and appreciate, at the time, was the deep pleasure and enrichment that fly tying would bring into my life.  I became interested in tying realistic flies about eleven years ago upon discovering the book FlyTyers Masterclass by Oliver Edwards.  The techniques were ingenious and the flies looked amazingly realistic.

I caught a lot of fish in the Sierras with these flies, especially the stonefly and caddis nymphs.  Oliver’s flies are a perfect combination of realism and motion, especially the use of partridge for legs, and I was hooked on the concept of tying realistics.

There have been many influences along my journey, starting with Oliver Edwards, and building to a crescendo upon discovering the flies’ tyed by David Martin.  I found David’s realistic flies to be mind blowing, his ultra-realistic and ground-breaking techniques made me realize that anything is possible.  I also learned a lot of techniques from tyers such as Dale Beamish, Lloyd Gonzalez and Swedish tyers Ulf Hagstrom and Leif Ortenholm, and just as important, I learned to slow down while tying in an effort to attempt to achieve precision, lessons I learned from Bud Guidry and a local SoCal tyer I consider to be the best all-around fly tyer, Steven Fernandez. One of the most enjoyable, memorable and honourable days I’ve had was demonstration fly tying side by side with Steven at the same fly shop where it all started.

Tying realistic insects for filming started a few years ago, when a prominent Prop Master seeking dead houseflies for the film Benjamin button called.  Apparently she dropped into my local fly shop in Van Nuys and didn’t find what she needed, and I’m forever grateful the shop directed her my way.

I made a point of setting up my tying area to look like a bug lab prior to the prop master coming to my house to pick up the order, vials full of dead bugs, books and samples were on display, and I’ll never forget how excited she was to have a reliable source of realistic life size insects.  She mentioned that the American Humane Association filming guidelines prohibits filming dead animals as props for producers wanting to state that “no animals were harmed”, and the regulations were recently tightened to include insects.  Years ago, a room could be filled with live bugs, and when the filming was complete, the doors closed, bug bombs released, and the room swept out.  Those days are over and the prop master suggested I start a new website, called Film Flies, and grow a new business, with confidence.

At the time I ran a successful solar energy contracting business, even designed and installed the first grid-connected solar powered home in Los Angeles.  I worked closely with a number of manufacturers and realized that if you build a better mouse trap, people will find you. I bought the website name Film Flies and began assembling a new website focused on informing potential buyers that products they desire are in fact available.My twenty five years working in the solar field helped with other aspects because I have a long list of customers who work in the entertainment field, writers, producers, actors, etc, some of the biggest names in the business, and I sent letters in the mail mentioning my new business.  I learned that writers struggled with producers because scrip’s with bugs are often exceptionally challenging.  I also sent letters of introduction to most of the local film studios, many of which are located here in Burbank.

The phone started ringing, and I started tying.  A memorable experience was being invited on-set to deliver realistic honeybees for the Filming of Adam Sandlers movie Bedtime Stories.  A small crowd of Disney folks crowed around, looking into my little box with six bees, and it was clear, they were happy and impressed.  They had a giant fake bee on set, about the size of a football, to be used in the event I couldn’t produce, and using my products would save over $50k in post production costs associated with shrinking the giant bee to life-size, frame by frame.  I drove home with a huge smile!

My biggest job, so far, was 212 moth’s for an Adam Sandler movie Grown Ups, which took six weeks to complete.  My vise was still smoking from the previous order of 150 honeybees for Mikimoto Pearls spring window displays on 5th Ave and Rodeo Dr. The most difficult job so far was creating butterfly life cycles for Disney’s Imagination movers TV show. The chrysalis and caterpillar’s seemed daunting enough, but the request for butterflies with flapping wings seemed exceptionally challenging.

The butterflies turned out great, have a hinge between the abdomen and thorax, and the material I printed the wings onto is stiff enough to impart enough back pressure on the butterflies body to straighten it when the internal muscle wire goes limp.  Muscle wire contracts when heated with electricity, in effect moving the hinged body, pushing the wings up.  The secret is the three creases at the base of the wings, above the abdomen, and where to punch two small holes in the wings, to allow them to bend upwards, gracefully, when squeezed in the middle.

Luckily, in the end I received an offer too good to refuse, to sell my solar business.  I’m enjoying my new life, as an artist, very much, and feel grateful with respect to how much fly tying has changed my life.


I am a thief?

Apparently I am currently being accused of being a thief. Yep, it is dead serious and very saddening and annoying.

In the German bi-lingual magazine Fly and Tie I had an article on a foam mayfly called “The last of the mohicans” which of course was a direct referral towards the classic Mohican Mayfly pattern developed by Oliver Edwards, the pattern that my foam mayfly was totally a variant of. The intro of the text I wrote for the article was completely devoted to describing how I got inspired by that pattern from Mr Edwards and giving him total credit for everything.

Now, when the article got in print I discovered to my surprise that this text had been edited out for the final article. Even though I  got annoyed with this I thought that clearly everyone will understand that this is just a simpler variant of the original OE pattern. Well that is not the case. On june 6th I sent this to the editor:

“…I was a little concerned though that you chosed to leave out all of the part about the pattern being a variation of the Oliver Edwards original pattern. I would very much liked that to have remained. “

I have always given full credit to anyone that I have gotten inspired to when tying flies, and I have always been very humble about the fact that very few of the patterns we create are totally unique, we always borrow things from other flies and other tiers and it is important to give credit back to those tiers.

I am not gonna be called a thief because a sloppy editor decided on his own to remove some of my text, so tonight I am publishing to full original article complete with step by step instructions here so that the record gets set straight.


Photo – give me some sugar baby

One of my biggest inspiration when it comes to super realistic display flies back in the days (and still) was Graham Owen. I’ve mentioned Graham previously here and he is worth mentioning again. Anyway, a few years back I sent him some ants and a beetle that I did that I had (quite badly I must admit) clipped of the hooks from to make them useful as just insect imitations.

Anyway, he ended up taking some great photos of them fighting over some sugar which he used on his website later that year. I still kept those photos because I find them really, really cool.


Packages in the mail

Got two packages in the mail today, one with three spankinly good looking fly fishing T-shirts courtesy of Hatch reels (ordered from fishwest.com) and two brand new super nice looking Moose Knuckle Lanyards! I’ve got a busy evening so I might not be able to post up photos today but be sure to look out for more “There’s one in every office” later this week and Lanyard photos tomorrow. Also I am going fishing on Thursday evening and tomorrow is Guest blogger wednesday here!

Stay /:Fly:/!


Photo – Serenity

For anyone who have ever traveled between Finland and Sweden in one the the famous ferries they are sure to have seen this sight. A lone house in the middle of a very barren island with nothing but the bare cliffs to surround it. It is a fascinating sight to me. Who lived there?  Do they fish? Do they live there all year round? Are they glad we don’t get storms like Irene here?

I like to think that I’ll go on that island one day. I probably won’t but it is a nice thought.


Fly and tie magazine #4

The other day I recieved the fourth issue of German produced /:Fly:/ fishing and /:Fly:/tying magazine Fly and Tie magazine. A serious try at producing a bilingual /:Fly:/fishing magazine where all articles are on both German and English. The two editors Siegbert Stümke and Thorsten Strüben has used their connections in the /:Fly:/tying world to get some well known /:Fly:/tyers and /:Fly:/ fishermen to contribute with articles.

I have contributed both to issue number three (how to tie the foam mayfly) and now also to issue number four with an article on my wiggle baitfish and wiggle flies in general. The issue was good with some really high class fly tying articles and my article turned out nicely too but I was a little annoyed to see that they (despite my clear instructions) had missed to credit my friend Johan Nygren who supplies some awesome photos of fish from Iceland. Johan was nice enough to let me use them for the article with the only “payment” being that he’d be credited for the photos, which he wasn’t. Oh well, it was a nice issue never the less.

Well, I wish Siegbert and Thorsten good luck with this magazine project of theirs in future!