State of Mind – September 15, 2015

Jay Nicholas Stand Up Art by Lisa

It has apparently been five months since I posted anything here. Not because there’s nothing going on. Not because there is too much going on to write. Not that I haven’t wanted to. Not because I really really really wanted to. But of course there are plenty of excuses or reasons or explanations and such forth that don’t merit mentioning because after all I simply didn’t sit down and log in and type.

But tonight I had to. Couldn’t put it off another minute.

What caused me to post this now? Well here it is.

I have received kind notes from friends in recent weeks, days, and hours. Words that touched my heart with such a feeling of gratitude that I frankly don’t think that I can find proper words to express how I felt.

I thank you.

I thank each of you who reached out to me.

And I have something to say to anyone who reads this.

As each of us blunders into the future, moment by moment, we may experience every emotion from pure joy to pure despair.Whether you do or not,  I can tell you that I deal with both ends of the spectrum most days.

I will pause now to let you know that I just devoted some ten or fifteen minutes writing about the dark end of the spectrum and how I can’t predict when I’ll go there and so on and so forth but eventually decided that I’d better delete the entire passage because the process is so tangled that I think it best to leave it now.


Here we are.

Sunday evening.


Nestucca River salmon are beginning their final run of the river, leaving the ocean home they have known most of their life, setting in motion a cycle of life and death that persists today in spite of the assaults of “civilization” that has no understanding or respect for natural things.  Summer steelhead are feeling the relief of waters cooled by rains falling as I write, moving restlessly about their pools, knowing, perhaps, that their time to spawn is growing shorter as the nights grow longer. The sea run cutthroat are moving about the coastal rivers now, some staying in tidewater, some moving high into the headwaters to lay behind the first spring chinook that will begin digging redds in a week or so.

I tied flies today for my friend who will fish in the Amazon Rain Forest next month.  I tied a few albacore flies too, hoping that I’ll get out to chase tuna a time or two before the ocean shifts and the tuna move offshore. I’m looking at the river forecast and trying to imagine where I’ll fish this week, anticipating that rain will send fish upriver.

My family is well.

My cats are well.

I hope that everyone who reads this is well, or well enough, or can be comforted knowing that someone, somewhere, has felt what you are feeling this moment.

Jay Nicholas Hollow Deceivers

If everything in your life is perfect,  I am happy for you.

If some things in your life are not so good, in fact if some things are really crappy, please hang the heck in there until something good happens, no matter how small that good thing might be. That’s what we all need to do, because we need each other and none of us is very well equipped to go it alone.

And if this is all too cryptic and doesn’t fit with whatever is going on in your life please excuse me. This is the best I can do to say what I want to say without saying the words exactly because sometimes I’m afraid of the words that might come spilling out.




Regarding Catch and Release Fishing


Regarding the matter of catch and release fishing.

History tells that in the beginning, we fished.

And it has been noted that certain people fished with nets and spears, but others fished with a pole, string, hook, bobber, and bait, lures, and yea, even flies. We who fished were called anglers, our tools were called tackle, we ate the fish we caught, and this was good.

As the millennia rolled by, we sought at first to catch more and larger fish  with refined tackle, and generally continued to eat our catch. Until came such time as we caught so many fish of such proportion that we could not eat them all, even if disbursed among deck-hands, relatives, and entire villages. So we disposed or our gargantuan catch on river banks, buried in flower gardens, or fed to livestock. This was accepted practice, but did not seem a savory practice and gnawed at our conscience.

Time slipped by, until one angler grabbed a fish by the tail, prepared to launch it uphill into the riverside brush, but instead, the fish wrenched free and slipped back into the water. The angler gave little thought to this, caught another fish and failed once again to propel the fish into the air, as had always been done before that day. Apparently, the story goes, this hapless angler suffered from a weak grip, and allowed fish after fish to slip away back into the waters.

At twilight, our storied angler wandered into the Blue Ribbon Tavern in West Yellowstone, to drink ale while conversing with many fellow patrons about the day of losing many fish. But what with English being English, and ale being ale – the many patrons perceived stories of loosing fish rather than losing fish, and so assumed that the loosing was deliberate when in fact the angler had been accidentally losing fish.

This most curious evening at the Blue Ribbon Tavern thus started what was eventually to become the deliberate world-wide act of catch-and-release fishing, a new means of disposing of vast numbers of fish never intended to be eaten but rather caught to provide amusement and recreation for the angler.

This newly adopted practice of catch and release fishing was at first lauded as humane, conservation-minded, and vastly superior to catch-and-kill angling. And truth be told, catch and release fishing did indeed offer both fish and angler the opportunity to play another day. This is because many of the fish released did in fact survive the experience, as did the angler, and so both had the opportunity to either be caught or to catch, as was possible on the part of the fish or the angler, and thus was born the possibility of repeated catching ad releasing of larger and larger fish, to the delight of the angler and some reaction of unknown nature to the fish.

But as time went on, and the practice of catch and release fishing spread, anglers realized that circumstances of the environment sometimes caused the fish to die after release anyway, making the practice all for naught, except perhaps for salving the conscience of the angler who was doing much catching and releasing and thinking that the fish were not dying when in fact they were dying anyway.

And so it came to pass also that certain people concerned with prevention of cruelty to animals took notice of catch and release fishing and began serious debate regarding whether this practice was perhaps not so kind to the fish, and might perhaps represent a form of self-delusion on the part of the angler. If the tide was turned, these animal-rights persons argued, how many anglers would want to have a hook jammed in their mouth, forced to run around the city until too tired to resist, and then unceremoniously tossed back on the subway in a state of exhaustion?

But this was a debate of conscience not much entertained by more than a handful of anglers – many chose to compartmentalize such thinking, many dismissed the ideas outright, but a few were troubled and conflicted by the thought.

And as we stand here this very day, the ethical questions regarding catch and release fishing have yet to be resolved, as is the case regarding ethical treatment of organic chicken stix, wild reared hamburger, and rainforest pepperoni.


So there you have it.

Jay Nicholas



Fishing Tackle Reviews – Genesis

Jay Nicholas Saracione in the Salmon Boat

Regarding the matter of fishing tackle and fishing gear reviews.

In the Beginning, we fished.

Some of us fished with nets and spears, but some fished with a pole, string, hook, bobber, and a worm. We were called anglers, our tools were called tackle, we ate our catch, and it was good.

Naturally, the quest to catch more and larger fish spawned experimentation with fish poles, string, bobbers and worms, referred to collectively as tackle. From the beginning of angling, we enjoyed our craft, fiddled with our tackle, and this was good.

Time slipped by, anglers angled, and the nature of tackle evolved. Our fish poles grew longer at times, and then shorter; thinner and thicker; lighter and heavier; decorated with intricate design or quite plain. Fish string evolved as well – we had floating and sinking string; dark and light string; rough and smooth; stretchy and not-at-all stretchy string. From poles to worms, we delighted in each generation of tackle, relegating previous generations to the bone heap. And this was still good, pretty much.

Gradually, the rate of technical performance advances – declined. Product improvements grew smaller and smaller as the ages sped by. Sometimes, lacking even small change to trumpet, our industry reps heralded microscopic changes as monumental. Our search for better tackle to facilitate catching fish devolved into a quest for fishing-gear perfection – we lost all sense of humility, seeking the knowing of things of a nature  beyond the comprehension of mortal humans.

While we were most vulnerable, immersed in the shady environs of Internet fishing content, an army of manufacturers assailed us, whispering glorious stories of pickup trucks, fly tying vises, micro 4/3 sensor auto-focus cameras, Kevlar vests, multi-tools, beef jerky, Q-Tips, laser gun sights, camo bikinis, thousand-pound coolers, barbecue-flavored potato chips, and such forth. Our credit card debt grew exponentially as we acquired the most marvelous trinkets to accompany our beloved fishing tackle. And although our lives were not better, we thought it so, and decided that all-in-all it was good; and therefore, it was good, perhaps, but who among us can say?


In closing, I wish each of you – wherever you are – a good day, a smile, a laugh, and the chance to fish. But if you can’t fish – I wish each of you the joy of checking out a few tackle reviews on the Internet, perhaps even a few I’ve penned.


Jay Nicholas, March 4th, 2019

A Note of Thanks from Jay to Tim Rajeff

tim rajeff

I can’t remember exactly how or when I first met Tim, but it was probably though my friendship with Chris Daughters and the Caddis Fly Shop – Tim was gracious and kind to me from the outset, and from what I hear, that’s just the way he rolls.

I do remember some time ago being confused with the Tim versus Steve (Rajeff) thing and how on earth these brothers both grew up to excel in the world of fly rod design and casting. Frankly, I never did sort it all out, and given the reality of my apparently declining memory, it is unlikely that I ever will. Knowing Steve by reputation, I check in with him regarding all things Loomis, and talk with Tim on regular basis whenever I have questions about Echo / Airflo.

I fished with Tim offshore Oregon for albacore back in 2013 and thoroughly enjoyed Tim’s extensive repertoire of stories about fishing around the world.

What most delights me is the fact that Tim and I were both fishing for little fish in San Francisco Bay, a scant decade apart. I’m a 49-er and Tim was born in ’59, so I was diligently applying myself to the task of depleting the bay of sculpin, surf perch and surf smelt before he was born. Fortunately for Tim, I failed so there were plenty of the critters for Tim to catch. Apparently he would take a bucket with his catch to feed the penguins and seals at the zoo.  My catch usually ended up as fertilizer in the rose beds.

Tim was a hand-liner as a kid and so was I; although I was hand-lining the waters near Istanbul a few years before Tim was born. Tim and I remember unleashing the primitive harvest instincts that hand-lining engenders. To this day, I find that I love to hand-line in the ocean offshore Pacific City, and I bet Tim would too. Maybe this summer.

Like all of my friends in the FFI, Tim is incredibly busy, but he too will always make time for small talk and a personal catch up.

One of my favorite images of Tim is from a day when we met at the Rajeff Sports warehouse and technical testing site.  I can see Tim even now, sweat standing out on his forehead, as he applied all his might trying to break one of his prototype rods. I’ve tried the same thing on the water many times each season, and have failed, so far. Only truck doors, cleated wading boots, and falling down on said rods has been fruitful to date.

Thanks Tim, for everything.

Jay Nicholas, early 2019



Note of thanks from Jay to Randy Stetzer

Randy Stetzer

Randy and I have known each other since the days of Kaufmann’s when I tied flies for Randall.  I tied Timberline Emergers, Davis Lake Specials, Caddis Bucktails, Tied-down Caddis Bucktails, Stimulators, and Elk Hair Caddis. Probably a few more patterns, oh yes, I tied Chironomid nymphs that were very different than what we tie and fish today.

Back in the day, I interacted mostly with Randall, a little with Lance, and occasionally with Jerry. I well remember the day I delivered several dozen steelhead flies to the shop, and Jerry proceeded to pull the wings out with pliers. Neither of us was very happy with each other that day.

Years went by, and I had an opportunity to interact with Randy when he was at Rajeff Sports, and of recent at Burkheimer.

I think it is fair to say that Randy knows me far better than I know him. Perhaps I should say that differently. Randy knows more factoids about me than I know about him.

I do know Randy very well in one respect. Several respects. He is kind. He listens. He will go the extra mile to support a friend, just because. He is a great fly tyer, angler, and he really knows his stuff. He is modest, so modest that a lot of folks might not think he knows anything at all.

Think I’ve said enough. Randy has been around long enough to know a lot about the people in the FFI, but you would never know it because he’s just working, doing his best to help people, wherever he might be at any given time. I am grateful for his patience and friendship.

PS: I’ve heard that he likes ducks and duck dogs.

Jay Nicholas


Finally, I chose the image above, although it is quite old, because it was taken in late evening light, and it reminds me of the time when we were all so much stronger and dumber than today, and Randy was swinging that single hander on the Deschutes.





Note of thanks from Jay to Dick Sagara

Dick Sagare c

I first met Dick at one of the FFF Fly Trying Expos in Albany Oregon. At least I think that is so. Whatever. I began talking to Dick about EDGE and TFO fly rods and reels, then later it was Cortland lines and Loomis rods, and AQUAZ waders.

Throughout our conversations, I picked up on a character trait that I hold great respect for: Dick was genuinely trying to find out if he could help me navigate the technicalities of the products and generally improve my understanding of whatever it was we were discussing. He wasn’t sellin’ anything, only trying to help me advance my state of awareness and technical competence.

Dick didn’t grow up in this part of the world, and in fact he migrated to the PNW from the Great Lakes region,  Dick wasn’t a FFI member when I was whipping flies around my head on the Metolius and Cascade lakes. Nope, He worked in manufacturing, education, insurance, and guiding.

Fortunately -for me and everyone he calls on as a sales rep these days – Dick eventually settled into the FFI. I’m especially fond of the way Dick approaches his profession. Yes, he is eager to tell shop owners about the latest products, but he works harder at understanding the business needs and limitations of each shop, all this in order to make solid product recommendations.

Dick has seen a lot in his years out and in the FFI. He keeps it to himself and shares the good stuff. I’ve seen Dick extend his hand in friendship and respect to people so naturally that I know it’s genuine. Dick has provided me with a comfortable, friendly “home base” to tie flies at the Albany FFF Tying EXPO for the last several years now and this has given us a little more time solidify on our mutual admiration.

Best of all, we’re going fishing in 2019.

Jay Nicholas



Sunday Morning, Jan 13, 2019

jay nicholas and cat

Very nice start to the day. Up at 3:30 or so. A brief good morning to our guest Scott Crosby then send him on his way north to fish for steelhead with friends. I shot two hours of fly video yesterday that will all be erased because I rambled way too much. I have two cats either in my lap or on the desk here in the den. I think they are about to rumble. One cup of coffee down the hatch and time to brew a second. Is it fair to use the term “brew” when using instant? I need to fish very soon. Maybe sometime next week. Think I’ll head to the garage, turn up the heat, and tie carp flies.

My best wishes to you all .


Note of thanks from Jay to Eric Nufeld

Eric .Nufeld

I don’t know where to start with Eric, except to say that he’s one awesome dude.

I have known Eric with and without a beard, as a fly tyer, and a fellow fly fisher. Eric accepted me as a friend and FFI “peer” even though I am realistically in pre-school and Eric is a post-Doc. He has always welcomed me and tried to help me navigate whatever I might have been trying to figure out.

Of course I first and foremost associate Eric with SIMMS fly fishing clothing, waders, boots, boat bags, and such forth. As far as being brand name neutral, I am pretty darn good with everything other than Simms products (waders, coats, flannel shirts, and boat at bags). I had a short dalliance with some other products and always came home to Simms.

Eric has gone out of his very busy professional and personal life to help me, on more occasions than I can recount. Work ethic?  He’s on the go always always always and most of the time. Eric is always quick to call me back even when he knows our conversation will be nothing more than a quick catch up or me asking for a favor.

A good spirit, this man.

Jay Nicholas

PS; rumor has it that Eric has, on occasion, mixed “supposedly” healthy breakfast drinks while on the sales rep road, and that he longs to be a professional drone navigator/pilot.


At a loss for words – July 9, 2018

jay nicholas boomer helping me edit

I found this post  buried in the draft tab of my blog about two weeks ago. Here it is.


Today is July 9 2018.

Have you ever felt such depression that you couldn’t tell anyone about it?
As Jimi Hendrix said decades ago, “Well, I have.”

And I find myself, once again, at a loss for words.

Unable to speak or write about what’s going on, what I’m feeling,
What I’m thinking about doing.
What just happened.
what happened a long time ago.
What’s about to happen.
What I saw.
What I’m going to do.
My confusion.
My determination.
My fear.
My resolve.
My terror.
My weakness.
My strength.

I’m not writing about myself, you see, I’m writing about friends, people I know well. I’m simply reporting their dilemma.

Their stories are different; my friends are OK, mostly, survivors of terrible insults wreaked on the human spirit. The knowing of what they’ve endured is itself an assault on anyone’s spirit.

There’s probably more to say here, more to write, but I’m at a loss for words.


Today is January 4, 2018.

Have you ever felt so much joy that you couldn’t write about it?

Ever had so much fun that you couldn’t tell anyone?

Well, I have.

My best to you this and every day.

Jay Nicholas

Note of thanks from Jay to George Cook

George Cook d

Within the FFI, George probably is least in need of any introduction. Great sales rep for the likes of SAGE, RIO, TIBOR, and more, George knows his gear, knows how to use it, and he covers the territory to spread the joy. George doesn’t sell the gear, he fishes it, tests it under the harshest conditions, plays a big part in design and product evolution, and explains what each piece of gear can accomplish, Great service in the FFI, as far as I’m concerned.

None of this is important, far as I’m concerned. The George Cook I know is interested in how I’ve been, even if he does his recon by asking others who know me.

George has been an icon, someone to look up to and learn from – for more years than I can count. He has seen gear technology progress, evolve, and improve, and the man actually understands the gear beyond the hype. His fishing and hunting skills are top-tier.

But aside from all that, George has accepted me as a friend and fellow enthusiast in the world of fly fishing. George always took time out of his crazy busy schedule to talk with me about mundane things that had nothing to do with bustiness transactions fly rods, fly lines, or fly reels.

I’ve included a photo of George with a Chinook – because  we both share a deep sense of admiration for these magnificent beasts.

Thanks George, and here’s my wish for many more years, great salmon, flies, fly rods, and yes, time on the river.

PS: I hear that George is likely to drink some weird concoctions for breakfast – by rumor this goo is referred to as “Geo Juice.”

Now, my best to you all.

Jay Nicholas