Friday, December 20, 2013

Congratulations to Shea Gunkel

My hero, Shea Gunkel is now the newest contract tier for Umpqua. I have no idea when the ink will be set, but expect his patterns in stores around 2015-2016. This guy has paid his dues, and deserves this as much as any other tier I have met. Lesson learned here, if you want something bad enough go get it, and if you fail do not quit trying.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 3: Protein Shake Mysis

Hook: Gamakatsu C12U size 16, smaller sizes tied on TMC 2488H
Eyes: small black rubber legs, or red micro tubing
Beard/feelers: white Senyo's Laser dub
Legs: white ostrich herl
Body: glow in the dark mylar or flashabou covered on top with thin layer of epoxy

This is the original version of the fly I came up with in 2010. Since then the hook eye has the two end pieces of flashabou cut at angles to look like the terminal flipper or fin on a real shrimp. I also tie more with red/orange eyes then black eyes. I was inspired to come up with my own mysis after fishing the few major mysis tailwaters and finding the large fish turn off of the Sand's epoxy mysis, Craven's mysis, and Tim Heng's Mysis. I needed one or two more patterns to mix it up. The first pattern I came up with I called the Garcia Blanco, and will not show that today. That pattern is an ultimate attractor and doesn't look that realistic as a mysis. The second pattern was a Mike Tucker scud tied in white. I thought I was on to something until Brent Boyd gave me a Mike Tucker mysis. After collecting many samples of shrimp and taking a look at their size, color, and movement, Shea Gunkel and I decided to try to make some realistic mysis patterns. Obviously the Mayer's Mysis, Will Sand's epoxy Mysis, Tim Heng's Mysis, Craven's Mysis, the HMG Mysis, Stalcup's Mysis and Murphy's Mysis all influenced my design.  Mayer's Mysis with his rubber feelers intrigued me but the flash back seemed too much; Craven's Mysis is still the most productive shrimp I have ever fished; and the HMG mysis is deadly realistic but lacks movement. So I decided to take certain attributes from each. Also when Mysis start to die they turn from clear to white, so a mixture of epoxy and white seemed to look like a mixture of the two. The Ostrich and the Laser dub create the movement, and the secret weapon of the fly (until Jon Kleis introduced it in his Kleis's mysis) is its "glow in the dark" nature. As we have seen trophy fish get more selective due to increased angling pressure on our Colorado tailwaters, fish feed heavier under the cover of night, and we now fish 24 hours a day. Shea Gunkel and Jon Kleis definitely helped me develop this pattern, as you can clearly see in its sister pattern the Kleis's mysis. I remember a day I took my girlfriend fishing at the Frying Pan flats. It was her second day fishing ever, and in three casts she had hooked three fish on the Protein Shake. Her rig had two other mysis on it. I have also seen pressured, lock-jawed fish cut over a foot and inhale it. Its just something a little different then you can pick up at Taylor Creek Fly Shop, Cutthroat Angler's, or Almont Anglers. Overall I would say its my most effective mysis behind Craven's mysis.

                               The first fish I caught on the protein shake mysis. Spring 2010

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 2: CGP midge

Captain Glitter Pants
Hook: red 18-22 of your choice
body:  holographic flashabou of your color choice
rib: stripped peacock herl
thread: black
head: black thread head covered with purple glitter nail polish
top coat: sally Hanson's, brushable Clear Cure, or whatever protects the rib and gives it a translucent finish

Larry Kingrey has the wonderful midge, Cap'N'hook. I was having a session tying them, when I started using different types and colors of flash for the body wrap. the holographic flash especially black and purple seemed to look really interesting. Well I fished those as well for a couple years until I was introduced to Joe Nicklo's Glitter midge. The Glitter midge has hooked many large fish for me on tailwaters, and I believe the key was in the glittery head. It's the same concept as a mercury bead, but a different look: the glitter mimics the air bubble and other pupae-adult body transformations. Of course I fished this version and it did well. But eventually I wanted to make a more realistic body. I have used stripped peacock herl on mercury black beauties and dry flies before, and when when it is wet, it really gives a realistic segmented body. It looks even better when coated with some sort of glossy finish. I must also thank Shea, for he and I were tying a ton of midges on red hooks, and his Mollie's Midge slays as much or more than the CGP. Putting ultra floss at the head like Garcia's rojo midge for an emerging insect works well too.

On Colorado tailwaters in the winter, a true 22 or 24 works the best, sometimes tied on a non-colored hook, but in spring, summer, and fall, nothing beats the red hook in an 18-22. I don't have one specific fish story about this fly, but everyone who has tied one up has done well with it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 1

I have talked to many up-and-coming tiers, experienced tiers, legendary tiers, and I like to ask them how did they come up with their patterns. Usually its a mixture of trying to match some bug or fish, taking an older pattern and tweaking it, or a collaborative effort between tiers.

While helping with Project Healing Waters on BVR, I asked John Barr if he had any new flies brewing? He said flies will just come to him, whether its driving or in the shower, or on the water. I was frustrated with his brief answer, hoping for some insight into the successful tying career of JB himself. If you are an up-and-coming tier read Barr flies!!! Specifically, look at the development of the Copper John. The CJ was crafted for a specific purpose, a first generation dropper off of a dry fly. The most modern CJ is more durable then the original, and a million of us tiers have made our own variations to fulfill our needs.

Every Pattern I have created has some Craven, Gunkel, Garcia, Tucker, Galloup, Ramirez, Kingrey, etc. in it. I have come up with maybe a half dozen productive patterns I consider my own. But every single one is only partly mine. I will showcase each of the patterns for a couple of purposes. Number 1, I want them documented so they can't be ripped off (which has happened before), and Number 2, I want them to be tested and fished. This series will include,

Captain Glitter Pants midge (CGP midge)

Protein Shake Mysis

Freemont Scud

"Picture Coming Soon"

Sexzilla Streamer

Santa's Skagit Sculpin

Change Up Baetis,

 s'Gulp'n tube Sculpin

I am not a talented tier, I am not even a fast tier, I do not produce a lot of flies. I tie as many flies in a year as Shea Gunkel ties in two weeks. I cannot tie more than a couple of a certain pattern before I get bored and start making variations, and most of the flies I come up with end up in a bin to be stripped and salvaged for future flies. The reality is I only tie when I can't go fishing, but have some free time, or panicking at 1 am to replace half a dozen of the "hot fly" for a float trip the next day.

I would love to share the story of each of my flies: including their inspiration, their collaborators, their development, as well as an on water story. And some of these flies have changed since I first posted them on Trout Pursuit. I would appreciate any feedback on these flies, how they fish, their design, etc.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Steelhead is...

Steelhead to me is Smithers. 

Steelhead are lists: firewood, two gatorades, subway, and a chocolate bar; Kilometer 23, 25, 38, 41; Monday Cullen Creek to Upper Ford, tuesday 41 to Wookie, wednesday the farm to woods. 

Steelhead is dreading cold lonely nights, and dark figures waist deep in cottonwoods, woods, ledges, By-Mac. 

Steelhead are tailing someone else’s 38’’ doe the day the fortune cookie told you would have a lucky and memorable day, it was. 

Steelhead is solitary

Steelhead are rushed self photographs. 

Steelhead is planning the destruction of a pack rat that stole your string leech in your sealed tent in the middle of the night. 

Steelhead are Hey Bear walks and bear tracks on every inch of mud, even the mud that clings to the car. 

Steelhead are logging trucks, steelhead are dead car batteries. 

Steelhead is being on the verge of tears about leaving the northwest a week before the trip is over. 

Steelhead is skipping the most important day of the year for your girlfriend in the sake of making a three week trip a month. 

Steelhead a month is still not enough. 

Steelhead is a wall tent, a raft, a 12 gauge and bear spray. 

Steelhead is the canadian tire auto database having your colorado cell number registered under someone else. 

Steelhead are cuts in your middle finger from holding running line, toes with permanent nerve damage. 

Steelhead are book tapes. 

Steelhead are crisp snap T’s, violent runs, lost sections of rods, 

Steelhead is an open denver at the BC eagle. 

Steelhead is being told to fish black and blue slow and deep and the very next day catching one fast and shallow on red and orange

Friday, April 12, 2013

THE OP (DAYS 4-8) Getting situated

On my way up from Portland I stopped at Walmart in Aberdeen and picked up some cool waterproof tube fly boxes and then entered the rain. At about 11 pm I arrived in Forks, WA home of twilight. I slept outside the grocery store in my car, and waited eagerly for sunrise. Nate McDonough from Nomadic Angler Blog and Brazda Fly Fishing Outfitters was kind enough to give me some advice on where to fish as I got my bearings. So after picking up my license, breakfast, lunch, and more Owner SSW hooks at the all inclusive Forks Outfitters, I proceeded to drive over to the Hoh River Rainforest. Forks Outfitters had steelhead murals and memorabilia everywhere, with an impressive 20lb mounted steelhead at the checkout counter. I get tired of people claiming sizes of fish by seeing them or catching them and not weighing or measuring them correctly. I have seen 7 lb fish be claimed as 12, 24 inch trout called dirty thirties. Measure your fish for god sakes if your gonna talk about them. Taking random stabs at fish size just discredits all the true giants that are weighed and measured correctly. I found the first run adjacent to one of the few "boat ramps"(glorified gravel bars) on the Upper Hoh.

I slowly worked my way down 200 yards of swing-able water. I hooked my first steelhead down the first gravel bar in the fishiest part of the run. Unfortunately, I didn't hook another fish in that run the rest of the trip. The fish played me exactly like the the one on the Sandy, 15 seconds and it was off. Little did I know I wouldn't touch a fish for 5 more days of fishing.

I really started to question why I was losing these fish, in the same fashion. After a few days of thinking I believe I wasn't really setting the hook after the fish took my loop from me. I just started playing them. In British Columbia all the Steelhead I landed took the fly mid swin, many times hooking themselves. All these coastal winter steelhead were taking at the very end of the swing or on the hang down. I told myself the next steelhead that took I was going to make sure to set the hook.

I fished one more run without a grab as I listened to my brother's hockey game on my headphones. If they happened to lose he would be flying up to join me for a week of steelheading. But they won, which was awesome too.

 On day 2 the Hoh River went from 3600 cfs to 9000 cfs. I was told to wait till it got down around 5000 till I should try to float due to the large hydraulics that can appear. So I spent the next few days scouting the swing unfriendly Sol Duc River, and fishing the edges of a blown out Hoh River.

 Gotta have some small flies too
On the shore of a secret Sol Duc Swing run, that I found by partly by accident and partly from a Doug Rose article giving too much information. In this day of satellite images on our cell phones, even little land marks can give away secret spots. Thanks Doug
Beautiful swing run dotted with submerged boulders, swung this run many times and never roused a fish

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sandy River (trip days 2-3)

I made it from CO to Portland in a day and a half, and my excitement grew as I crossed rivers like the Grand Ronde, the John Day, and the Deschutes. I finally made it to Troutdale, OR near the mouth of the Sandy at 5 pm. I only spent two days on the Sandy River, and most of the first day was spent scouting the put in and takeouts, and getting various other information. The Sandy is very close to Portland, but above Oxbow Park fishing is prohibited from a boat. Great News for a steelhead swinger. So the first day I swung the dog leg left at the top of oxbow park to try out the new rod and line set up. The rod (Sage 12'6'') 7 weight One is a rocket ship. It excelled with both 10 feet of T 11 and 10 feet of T-14 as long as the fly wasn't too heavy or bulky. I paired it with a 500 grain Rio Skagit Flight, and a Sage 4210 reel.

On this trip I took my second version of a small steelhead raft. The first was 12 feet long and made it through a trip to Smithers, BC. This raft had a very similar frame, slightly better rubber, and a far better shape. However, the float I wanted to do was from Dodge Park to Oxbow Park, which has two class III rapids, with the worst being the Pipeline rapid 1/4 mile into the float. I was told that the rapid could be mellow or really really dangerous, depending on a difference of only a few hundred CFS either up or down. This section consistently flips boats.  So I scouted what I could see of the rapid, and it seemed doable in my little raft. I got to the put in the next day and several other full sized rafts and Cats showed up. All the fisherman were eying my raft and making comments to each other. I had a few approach me and ask me questions like, "Have you ever floated this section before?", "Is your raft self bailing?" One party was placing bets on whether my boat would survive the float. Well I told one group that I would go right in front of them in case anything happened.

At 7:45 am with my go pro recording and my heart racing I pushed off toward the Pipeline. Mentally, fully prepared to swim.  The Pipeline threw some water at my face, but wasn't more than a large wave train. But it was cool that my boat could handle water like that.

The Sandy was beautiful and felt like wilderness eventhough it was within twenty minutes of downtown Portland. I swung a holding area with no success, and then headed down some more rapids and eventually found a beautiful long slick with a couple submerged boulders slowing down the flow. Every steelheader has their spots that seem to grab their eyes as they head down river. Boulder gardens are my weakness.

I eventually got down to swinging range of the giant boulder. The first swing was targeted just upstream of the boulder. Nothing. The second was intended to slide across the current just behind the boulder. As it did, the line stopped and my first thought was my head sank too quick and the tip and leader were wrapped up on the boulder. but then the stopped line started to pull, I had the loop ripped from my hand, and ten yards of line ripped downstream. Then the fish paused, made one more quick pull downstream and turned upstream and came toward me. and at that second the line went slack. My first winter steelhead came and went in 12 seconds. It was identical to how I lost a huge hen up in BC the fall before.

I finished the float swinging two more spots, packed up and headed to Forks, Washington for the intended destination for my trip. I definitely want to go back and explore the Sandy. Its pool-drop format has a ton of tailouts and good holding water.

Friday, March 8, 2013 (thoughts)

Swivel Point

Well I am approaching a swivel point in my life. I recently got accepted to medical school to start in August. That ain't happening. I am going to try to defer mostly for health related issues, and a few other things as well: I need another year. So the reality is my fishing life the way it has been the past few years will change. In a little more than a year I will once again become a weekend warrior, if that. The reality is as a fly fishing guide, unless you are single and work 12 months a year with a steady flow of return clients willing to tip big, you can barely support yourself. If you are married to a successful and wealthy spouse who actually brings in the cash, it also could work as long as you don't have a fleet of children. There are a few exceptions, but these people are the most talented, connected and resourceful in the industry. Even in those cases many have to sell their souls, and self-promote to no end. They get slandered by their peers for not "keeping it real," and ruining the sport in a selfish attempt to make a living. I see both sides of the coin: I hate what has happened to many of our fisheries; but a guy has to make a living. Obamabucks aren't free.


Job security
A job actually doing some good and giving back (*guiding does as well)
A chance at being able to afford all the fishing trips I have always wanted to do, eventually.
Not letting my extensive education go to complete waste
The few times I get to go fishing I will be more likely to cherish them


- My fishing peers will steadily become better than me in every aspect of the sport. (Brent will become so good that fish will call him the great slayer, and swim straight up water falls to avoid being fooled by his impeccable drifts and fly selection)
- I will not be able to drop what I am doing the second the flows are ideal and head to my favorite river
- I will no longer be a guide (the best job for a single person in the world).

This possible career path is what gave me the incentive to buy a raft. The few days I do get to fish, I want them to be special.


1. I am about to embark on an Olympic Peninsula Steelheading adventure.

It's funny to me that I own more two handed rods than one handed rods since the majority of my fishing is done in Colorado. For the last month, except for one day with Fish Whisperer Brent Boyd, I have only swung flies. The latest trip I went to the Roaring Fork in Glenwood and swung soft hackle midges lol. It was relatively productive, only because there was a midge hatch going on.

I am driving up alone with another make shift raft that I can carry by myself. A water master would be ideal but they are absurdly expensive. I am sleeping in my car and will be on the road for about 3 weeks. My brother and his friend might meet me up there for a week, if the timing works out.

2. I am doing a week trip up to the REEF and the BIGHORN in the middle of April. Hopefully it will be the christening of the new Raft.

3. I will guide this summer for Mountain Angler and Ken's Angler's in some capacity (could be full time, could be very part time.

4. I will return to BC to steelhead in the fall. hopefully for a full month.


I have been reading more of Lani Waller's writings and have realized that fishing is really like church for me. Its the only time I ever get into a calm meditative state. Recently, my brother, when learning to spey cast, told me it was the first time he really felt his mind was at ease in the last 6 months. As well I have had less anxiety during fishing. I used to be so competitive with myself and was only happy when I caught a pig. But I feel this past year I have crossed some type of boundary. I still love big fish the most, but I have gotten the opportunity to land a few 30 inch+ rainbows, and guide someone into a 30.5'' Brown all on public water. Those barriers actually have let me relax. I was jacked to land a 14'' rainbow on the swing last week. I also want to treat my fishing buddies in a more relaxed manner. My buddy Wes remembers a couple years ago that when we would show up at the Taylor, I was already running up the bank looking for fish, when he was still putting on his waders.

I want to thank all the great people I have met fly-fishing in the last few years, Lets go pursue some Trout (especially the big ones)


I love 'em both, don't you?

-Charlie L.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I need a name for this fly

Hook clear HMH tube, Olive connector tube, hook of choice (Owner SSW size 4)
Head small sculpin helmet
Body barred olive zonker strip
Front fins  barred olive soft hackle tips, or olive hen back feathers
Gill Coloration red Ice Dub
Under body light olive uv ice dub spun in dubbing loop and palmered
Collar barred olive schlappen
Wing black holographic flashabou, barred olive soft hackle

I was tying some of the Headbanger Sculpin patterns with my buddy Jody when I began thinking about how to utilize these new sculpin helmets on a smaller fly. So I started googling sculpins to see what they anatomically looked like. The key features were the barred look, the flat wide heads with eyes looking upwards, flat bottom of body, distinctive front fins, and a body that tapered from front to back. I also wanted to make a tube fly. So I was inspired by the Sculpzilla, my Sexzilla, and the headbanger sculpin.  The fly is only 2-2.25 inches long. I took the fly out to Deckers and caught two fish on the swing in January! So it fishes. The pattern could also be tied an a shank or a stinging trailer, I prefer keeping the hook pointed up so you can ride on the bottom. note: eyes fall out if not secured by epoxy or superglue.

I need a good name for the fly. So far the two names that people have given me are Big Gulp Sculpin and S'GULP'N, both work But I'm all ears to new ideas. please don't steal this pattern and call it your own!!!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wednesday's flies

 green and olive low water swinger
  Mini olive Sexzilla 
Winter Run black/blue/purple

Winter Run white

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

recent creations

Captain Glitter Pants (a rip off of Cap'n hook) and BH change up baetis (a cheap rip off of JUJU baetis)

 Inspired by Joe Nicklo's glitter midge, uv pearl jam, and Kingrey's Cap N Hook
(Joe I'm sure you are trying to figure out how this is similar to the glitter midge at all)
the newest version of this fly (not shown yet) has a more segmented look

new version
purple holo flash
red hook
purple glitter nail polish
black thread
stripped peacock herl
sally hansons
A mix of the newest version of the change up baetis and Craven's BH JUJU Baetis. Also influenced by the legend Shane Stalcup

Copper tungsten bead
Curved shank hook
brown olive microtubing
hen back tail
olive or chartruese thread
black thread
brown flourofiber wings/legs
different colored holo. flashabou for wing case
5 minute epoxy (i am not a supporter of clear cure goo, since my uv light doesn't work always, and the clear cure clouds and falls off. and epoxy at Ace hardware is so cheap).

Its easy to follow in the footsteps of great tiers like Craven and Kingrey. I think of all the patterns I have ever created only my mysis has been original, and even that wasn't that original.

(note: I have no problem with people taking others' patterns, tweaking them and renaming them, but if you do, give credit to your inspirations, and the original tiers. I have recently had multiple events in my fly fishing life feel like my intellectual property was being abused, one regarded one of my fly patterns, another has to do with secret spots I showed friends how to fish very productively and even after the "code of secrecy" talk, they have shared that information with no filter to everyone they know. The worst part is all of this happened by people I considered close friends. The saddest part is they probably don't know they did it. To those who understand this ethic in fly-fishing I think the most of you guys...Brent Boyd, Jody Kramer, Court, Tim Hall, Austin, Danny, Matt Miller, Wes, Ben, Shea Gunkel. You guys get it, and I want to fish with you all. If you are not listed and consider yourself a close fishing friend of mine,  prove me that I'm wrong and full of shit. I understand its exciting when you hook and land big fish, and you wanna share that experience, but if someone helped you think about them; if you found it on your own, think about what it would be like if everyone was fishing in the exact same spot as you with the same techniques and didn't have to pay their dues to figure it out...I would really like to share more of my tying and fishing pics, but I don't want to feel like I'm being walked on. That's enough of the rant. And for those of you who are productive be very careful how you share your lifetime of learned skills).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Lani Waller

To those in the Steelhead world Lani Waller is a legend. I honestly had never heard of him before a couple days ago. In a gradschool-application distraction I went to ASK ABOUT FLY FISHING Internet radio to see if there were any interesting showing I missed. Lani Waller's on Steelhead caught my interest, and by the end of the show I bought his book on kindle "A Steelheader's Way."

He captures my feeling and thoughts on steelheading better than I have been able to communicate to myself or even my friends. He also has some great tips for spey fisherman that don't have 40+ years of experience. It worth the read. I can barely put it down.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Good chance you wouldn't see this fish in the water if you didn't know what it was. It looks like a fluorescent banana, or trash. This fish wouldn't blend in on any river in the world...thats why it was a genetic experiment.