Category Archives: Michael Vorhis, Fly Fisher & Author

Surprise Takes

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

I was about fourteen, and after corn-on-the-cob and chicken and tossing baseball in the sun, I had become bored of the heat or perhaps the relative inaction of the family picnic. I wandered down to the midwest lake’s edge, where a short rickety pier no more than 6 or 7 feet long jutted out from shore in water that went from 2 inches to 18 inches in warm cloudy depth. I pulled a little spooled hand line from my pocket (a kid always carries one), tied on what amounted to a fuzzy little wet fly to which I had attached a tiny spinning metal blade at the hook-eye end, and began to drag it mindlessly along one side of the pier. As I watched a duck swimming far out in the lake’s middle, my flashy wet fly snagged on something, which turned out to be the mouth of a huge 6-pound carp, the largest fish I had ever landed up to that point.

Another time: I was about sixteen years old and my Dad had driven us up to Ohio’s Rocky Fork Lake one late November afternoon. It was nippy, and we got there with really not enough time to do much of anything, but as a very rare treat the family had planned to make it an overnight. November is late for fishing in those parts, but kids will be kids, and instead of helping with stuff I put reel to rod and tied one of those “L&S Mirro-Lures” to the line. There was a marina there, and a low cement wall along the top of which I could walk–the water was probably 20 inches deep at the wall. I dropped the lure into the drink at my feet and attempted to get away from my siblings, who were following me asking what the heck I was doing…so I walked away from them. They followed. I walked faster. The lure dragged along in the water. Suddenly there was a lurch, and I landed a very nice 2-pound bass, by far the largest game fish I had ever caught up to then. more…

Fly Fishing Gone Viral

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

There’s said to be an old Chinese curse that goes something along these lines:  “May you live in interesting times.”  Despite the high probability that the translation is less than precise, as stated in English it’s applicable to our current days and times.

We’re going through a curious era of our lives, sheltering in place, sheltering at home, whatever those in control of our respective territories want to call it…and now and then, as rules have very slightly relaxed, many of us have extended that to also include sheltering streamside for a few occasional hours.

And this is where fly fishing shines.

While no one stands directly in front of an angler, other kinds of fishing can be done shoulder-to-shoulder, slapping each other on the back, reaching into the same tin of sun-baked worms or trove of beer…you know what I’m talking about.  But no one can sneak up behind a fly fisherman–the back-casting sees to that.  So “social distancing” is far more assured, with the kind of fishing we do. Bright orange line colors and big yellow wooly buggers can be leveraged as highly visible warnings, much like the bold colors on a poisonous snake.  If you’re casting, you’re pretty safe.

Want to take that to the extreme?  Go with spey.  Mix the cack-handed circle spey with the classic snap-T followed by the same using a Skagit-style hand position, and then all again in reverse order from the opposite shoulder, and you’ve got yourself a whirling whizzing snapping zone of safety around yourself that not even an enemy swordsman could get through.  Try to emulate one of those atom diagrams.  It’s a “full power to the shields, Scotty” protection system.  As long as you don’t hog-tie yourself, no western lasso expert will have a thing on you, and your social distancing will rival that of the proverbial hapless desert island castaway. more…

An Expletive that Catches Fish

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

Now, I know what you’re going to say: “Mike, stop trying to sound tough; you’re no street-cred-wielding expletive-user…you wouldn’t know an expletive from extra cheese.“ Well, let me tell you, that there’s a bunch of horse patootie, that is.

Expletives of one sort or another can roll thick and fast from my lips when I’m tying flies. Feather and fur have minds of their own, and sometimes just won’t do what they’re told, and I’m forever schooling the stuff verbally, to my family’s eternal embarrassment.

For example, when tying any kind of dry fly or wet fly that needs a tail, in my stupid haste I can sometimes make the mistake of letting the hackle fibers slide around the slippery hook wire and execute a very impressive barrel roll–the result is some tail fibers partially snaked under the hook bend, some partially coming from one side or the other, some partially angling down from on top, all at a mish-mash of angles that won’t do at all. Enter the razor blade. Exit a perfectly good clump of tail fibers. Cue the frustration. Start again. Expletive!

I tie a lot of soft hackle wet flies, in great part because I love that style of fishing, and of course because the lion’s share of trout that come to my net have taken such a fly. But while many soft hackle wet flies use tiny hackle feathers such as partridge, starling, or other very small bird feathers, some patterns I love need barbs from wood duck or Gadwall feathers, or from other larger flank feathers, and the barbs of such feathers can be somewhere between long and extra long. You can’t just wind a flank feather stem around a size 16 hook shank like you can a little partridge hackle feather, or your soft hackle “legs” will end up eight times the length of the hook. more…