Posts Tagged With: flies

Say It With Me

Go ahead.

Say it.

You know you want to.

Tufted Titmouse


Some people can’t help but titter when they hear it or say it themselves, expressing child-like delight at making something so cute and delicate sound so nasty. A single Titmouse shows up at the feeders once or twice a season, events so few and far between as to be worth noting on the calendar. The other day they appeared in droves.

Well, maybe not droves. Probably not even a full drove, if you get right down to it, but the definition of drove is decidedly ambiguous so who’s to know? The point is, there was a dozen of them, which may not seem like many, but they were menacing.

It had only been an hour since I published my post about beard balm, where I wrote that the birds would have to wait if they wanted my winter whiskers for nesting material. The Titmouses came closer and closer and I began to think that maybe they didn’t want to wait, but how could they have known?

After a few photos (for identification purposes later, if needed) I struck what seemed, to me, a reasonable bargain with the Titmouses: In exchange for two cups of sunflower seeds a day in the meantime, I am allowed to keep my beard until the ice is off the lake.

Tough Titmouse

It was 78°F outside (25.5°C) that afternoon and I started thinking my negotiating skills could use a little work.

A Warm April Afternoon

The threat of a vicious plucking doesn’t have me thinking about toting a shotgun when I cross the dooryard (maybe a tennis racquet)  but that ice was looking kind of feeble and I wondered how binding a promise is when that promise is to a Titmouse.

Other bird names sound just as made-up as Titmouse. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is one of my favorite silly names. It sounds funny, except when it doesn’t.

There are Coots and Boobies and Stints, Wandering Tattlers and Greater Yellowlegs (Lesser ones, too). Then there is the quadruple-entendre Bushtit and the (boom)Chachalaca. Throw in some Greenshanks, a few Beardless Tyrannulets, Cuckoos, Noddies and Snipe and there are hours of immature fun to be had with the bird-watching crowd. Don’t even get me started about Woodcocks.

Alas, new species of birds don’t come along very often (and the old ones have a way of disappearing) so the need for creative new bird names is quite limited.

A glance through fly fishing catalogs and magazines will convince anyone that those who tie flies are bound by no such constraints.

New patterns appear each year, whether created from scratch or as significant variations on a theme, and each of those new flies has a name. The need for names for new flies is virtually unlimited, but coming up with a catchy name no one has thought of requires creativity and deep thought. After all, once someone names a fly Rat Faced McDougal, what could be left?

Quack Doctor might have gotten a few chuckles, back in 1892, along with Cow Dung, when they were included in Mary Orvis Marbury’s “Favorite Flies and Their Histories”. Green Butt Skunk must have a story but I’ve never looked for it and I don’t know how the aforementioned Mr. or Mrs. McDougal felt about the whole thing.

Fly fishing has Boobies, too, along with other flies that lend themselves to innuendo, such as Stimulators, and Green Weenies. Others, like Bitch Creek Nymph are named by virtue of birthplace but are still fun to say.

I can only imagine what those who don’t fly fish think of those who do when they hear the names of some of our flies (or go poking through these pages). I learned early on that not everything I hear is quite as it sounds and I no longer faint like I used to when snippets of fishing camp conversations reach my ears.

Opening Day is the Saturday after next and I brace myself for eagerly anticipate the annual onslaught return of the anglers to Fish in a Barrel Pond. After six months of quiet, it takes some time to adjust to so many voices outside my head but it won’t be long before I can walk by a camp and not give it a second thought when someone yells, “What did you do to my Montreal Whore?” or, “Hey! Check out the size of my Meat Whistle!” or, “Where’s my Butt Monkey?”

To the ignorant or uninitiated, hearing such things might be shocking but somehow, to me, words like those are as much a sound of spring as peepers and song sparrows. Some of the men talk that way, too.

With less than two weeks to go before opening, me and the titmouses have not been the only ones watching the ice on the lake. Most haven’t been actually watching the ice; they’ve been calling and emailing to ask about it but it changes from day to day, even hour to hour, and I don’t get paid to stand around watching ice melt. The ice has been deteriorating — of that there is no doubt — but the changes can be subtle, at least when observed over the course of the average human attention span.

A camera on a tripod, however, can stand around all day.

And now, for something more dear to an anglers heart than Boobies or Butt Monkeys.

Say it with me:




Categories: Humor, nature, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Nearest Fly Shop

The nearest fly shop is not all that near to here and sells a lot of stuff besides flies, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. With a couple hours off and a specific pattern in mind, I motored over the mountain this morning, hoping for the best but willing to settle for a nice drive.

Hay fields and the Battenkill gave way to signs of civilization as the road passed through a golf course, and I once again wondered if golf wasn’t really invented by fly fishers, to keep a certain type of people off the water.

Just past the Range Rover dealership, I turned right, in front of the kind of hotel that has real bellboys stationed at the door, wearing plus fours and argyle stockings. Proceeding through one of those five-way intersections every New England town has at least one of, I was soon at the doors of the closest thing to a fly shop in this neck of the woods.

Above the Doors

Above the Doors

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Categories: Fly Fishing, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Owl Jones Flies (But Don’t His Arms Get Tired?)

Fame can be a dangerous thing. Just look at all the people out there who are only famous for being famous and the train-wrecks their lives can become. It can also be dangerous for us, the spectators, as our desire for famous people is filled by the likes of Justin Bieber and that Lady Gaga fellow. The internet was abuzz last week when Justin Bieber got a haircut. Big deal. He’s what, 12? When Quill Gordon gets a haircut, that will be news. 

But I digress.

Owl Jones recently opened the internet portal to his empire at I worry about him, hoping he can handle the fame and adulation, and I hesitate to stroke his already massive ego by writing nice things about him. To keep my pistol-packing pal from Georgia on the straight and narrow, I will not discuss his singing, dancing or film-making abilities. I will leave his regal bearing, trend-setting style and natural good looks out of this discussion, but he does have deceptively dainty fingers.

Midge flies from Owl Jones

Owl ties flies. Some of his creations are displayed and available for sale at his appropriately named page “Owl Jones Flies”. Once you have entered the portal, there is a tab at the top of the page labeled Blue Ridge Fly Patterns to take you there, too.

I ordered the zebra midges above, and a dozen of his “EZ SK8R Caddis” before the grand unveiling of the new Owl Jones headquarters. In fact, it turns out I ordered these flies during the time he was working out his nefarious plan to dominate the internet through his new web site and, even with everything else on his plate, he tied these flies and got them to me promptly and safely with no fuss at all. That is more than can be said for some bigger, better known sources.

EZ SK8R Caddis from Owl Jones

The caddis are tied so the hook point is on top and doesn’t drag when the fly is “skated” across the water. The hackle is plentiful and stiff so I expect these flies to ride high and skate well. Owl ties them for rough water and some people might think them inappropriate for still water, with all that hackle. Normally, I would agree that flies for lakes and ponds should be tied sparsely, especially those that are fished “dead drift”, allowing the trout a good long look, but to immitate caddis or midges streaking across the surface, that thick hackle will keep these flies up on their tippy-toes where they belong. (An aside: Owl Jones claims his caddis are “bullet proof” but I have yet to hit one. The real test, I suppose, will be the teeth of trout because I am out of patience for standing in the snow, trying to hit a #18 fly from fifty yards out.) 

I have found Owl Jones to be an honest and generous person and his flies are as intricate and well-tied as any I have seen. They will have a spot in my fly box and you should save room in yours for some, too. It will be two months before I can give these southern-tied stream flies a workout on this little New England pond but I have no doubt they will catch fish.

Direct your browser over to and order some flies! Tell him Quill sent you.

Now Accepting Sponsorships


(Owl also sent me a couple of nifty Blue Ridge Trout Bum stickers to dress up my Shappell Jet Sled. I would like to offer this same unsurpassed sponsorship opportunity to my other readers. If you, your business or your organization would like a spot on my sled, drop me a line using the “Contact Quill” tab at the top of this page and we can work out the arrangements. The cost to you? Not a darn thing [other than the cost of a sticker and postage]. Your message is guaranteed to be seen by various woodland creatures and at least a dozen readers of this blog.)

Categories: Fly Fishing, Product and Gear Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Dead Flies

With a fairly steady stream of anglers plying the waters of Fish in a Barrel Pond I find flies everywhere. I pick them up and if they are intact I add them to my boxes. If not, I keep them anyway. Mangled and broken, tattered and frayed, shredded and unwound, dropped, stepped on and left behind, it sometimes seems that I accumulate as many un-fishable flies as good ones. I find them in boats, on the ground in the parking lot and stuck in the nap of rugs at the doors of the camps. No fly lasts forever.

Most people wouldn’t give these worthless bits of feather, hair and thread a second look but I just can’t throw them away or leave them behind, rusting away to nothing.

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Categories: Fly Fishing, Humor, Rural Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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