In Memoriam – my friend Norm Norlander

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My dear friend Norm Norlander passed on recently, leaving me with a heavy heart and the urge to head to my fly  bench where I devoted several hours tying some of my favorite summer steelhead wet flies on the NORVise Norm developed years ago.

Jay Nicholas Summer Steelhead Flies Macks Canyon

I first met Norm two decades ago as I struggled to learn how to use his rotary vise. A few phone calls later, Norm kindly walked me through the basics of his vise and the Nor Bobbin’s clutch feature and I was off and running.

Jay Nicholas Summer Steelhead Flies Moose Baby

Thank you Norm. I miss being able to pick up the phone and continue planning  our upcoming trip to dory fish at Pacific City this year.

Jay Nicholas Summer Steelhead Flies Green Butt

The flies shown in this post are a few of my favorite summer steelhead patterns tied with my NORVise.

Jay Nicholas Summer Steelhead Flies Stargate Blues

 

Jay Nicholas Summer Steelhead Flies Boss

Norm’s contribution to the fly tying fly fishing industry are many, — I’ll always remember his kindness right alongside his willingness to help us all strive to be better tyers and people.

Jay Nicholas – May 2018

 

 

 

How are we today?

 

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How’s Jay?

Well here we go once again with most likely way more than anyone is interested in but I’ve learned that there are a few very kind people who follow this blog or maybe even stumble into these rants who find a laugh or a tear or a nugget of wisdom or surprise in these disjointed thoughts and take the energy and time to send me an email or text or post a comment thanking me so here goes and yes I didn’t get out of bed this morning until six AM which is waaaaaaay later than the 3:30 or 4:00 hour that usually sees me holding the handrail very carefully as I step slowly downstairs and plop myself in front of the computer to begin my day and guess what I’m often already dressed for the day because of the wonder of sleepin jeans and sleepin simms flannel cold weather shirts which my son David tells me could be the next big money making venture across the globe for men of my age who decline to wear stained grey sweat shirts and similarly stained grey sweatshirts but alternatively choose unstained levi’s and flannel shirts to wear virtually 24/7 however one big as far as I can tell is that all of us don’t need to purchase specialty garments labeled as sleepin’ jeans because we are perfectly comfortable already right now and have been for months or years with sleeping in our regular jeans and flannel shirts so why on earth should we want to go out and spend our rapidly shrinking cash reserves on clothes we already own and yes if you happen to be like me among the retired work force who are still working because health insurance costs so dang much and inflation although is small always always out paces cost of living ha ha ha ha retirement funds so what the heck we’ll just keep right on sleeping in the jeans and flannel shirts we already own but excuse me for goin’ on so long about this I did want to mention that I finally yes after more than a year of procrastination published the SECOND EDITION of Book of Revelation the Ultimate Irreverent Fly Fishing Glossary and oops I may have broken protocol by using capital letters for the book but ain’t going back to correct this breech now anyway the second edition includes several hundred new definitions and terms, and new original sketches and a very nice foreword by Matthew Supinski and low and behold I by chance of the universe I recently talked to a formerly complete stranger who lives in California and learned that he not only enjoys the glossary himself but so much so that he has purchased several of these to serve as gifts for his fishing friends and of course this made me smile a very big smile because for one the glossary is a book that I worked on for YEARS and of which I am very pleased that I took the time and effort and more and more realize that there is NOTHING like it out there in the book-o-sphere even remotely like it and by this I mean that there are no similar books on the commercial market that capture the lunacy of what it means to be an angler and in particular a fly fisher and honestly ever time I pick this book up and flip through the pages I can’t help but wonder just who the hell wrote it because my ability to free associate in an outrageously silly manner seems so greatly diminished these days that I sincerely doubt that I would be able to persevere and create the content to define over fifteen hundred words and phrases related to fishing and fly fishing and then sketch nearly five hundred accompanying illustrations for the dang book and on my best days maybe I could but a close examination of the content tells me that this was a once in a lifetime literary ha ha accomplishment for this guy and ya know this may be true for most of the books I’ve written with one exception the two intruder fly books as a case when the second book built on the first and actually carried a more sophisticated philosophy and content and technique and fly recipes than the first and darn it at times I wonder if I should dump intruder essentials and only keep advanced intruder strategies on the bookshelf but hell I’ll just let them both live for now at least and since I seem to be on the topic of books yes work on salmon fisher’s journal is proceeding very very well but very very much slower than I had hoped or predicted or even suggested but damn it I am not about to sacrifice quality of the final product for meeting an arbitrary time table so what has taken so darn long well for one thing the content has been edited and condensed and critiqued and reworked again and again and again until I am finally satisfied at least to the extent that means I’m exhausted with the revisions and ready to let it go but of course it will receive a final proof at the bitter end and there will be a few pages that will receive a little more agonizing retrospection and the changing of a few words to get the message as close to right as I’m able and we are in the process of laying photo images into the design now and there will be the usual number of switch outs or substitutions and there are still flies that have not been photographed yet and whoa the process of photographing flies is not nearly as straight forward as anyone would ever imagine until the fateful day when said anyone person actually tries to photograph flies especially chinook flies and finds out that their purple, pink and blue comets look great digitally but their hot orange and fluorescent chartreuse comets are so washed out as to be a complete mess and fluorescent flame red chenille almost always blurs out because it is too bright but oh well my own photography leaves much to be desired but my friend scott is a professional and is graciously donating his time and expertise to produce really great fly photo images thank goodness so yes the book is on track and will be first cabin when it is printed but I really cannot imagine that this will occur in less than three months but I’m not about to budge on quality oh oh have I said this already oh well that’s just how it is and I will add that my heart is still heavy over the fact that one of my friends or should I say one of the men who I have and still want to consider a friend and so forth became so distraught that they wrote an anonymous letter that in thinly veiled terms threatened me and lisa and my family with what could only be interpreted with harm unless I did NOT publish salmon fisher’s journal and I can tell you redacted so here’s the deal I wrote some stuff about how I felt about the letter and then flat out decided to delete it because who cares anyway and I hope it was one of my friends who suffers from severe mood swings when they have consumed too much mood altering substance(s) and transforms from a genuine friend into a tortured wounded very alone individual who lashes out in his pain but I may carry my own sadness over this incident to my grave unless the man has the courage to come to me and tell me they did it and then I’d probably say I understand and thank you and let’s get on with our lives and let the incident lay on the trash heap of salmon paranoia and not allow it to taint the good parts of our relationship OK enough of that oh yes I had two Saturday evenings in the ER and was in the hospital for three days last week and then redacted but now I am home now with my family and appreciate seeing how each day goes and redacted blah blah blah and oh yes where winter steelhead fishing is concerned this was close to a no-show with me fishing maybe 6 or 7 days swinging flies on the upper nescucca and trask and earning several pulls but if you fish for steelhead you know exactly what I mean by use of the term pull and understand that it could have been a forty-pounder or a twelve inch cutthroat so  I’ll just say that I was honored to be able to get out and wade and climb up and down the steep river banks and not break a leg or have my heart seize up and make a few casts and have an overall satisfying several days even without doing any steelhead catching and so I’ll now report that I just returned from my usual hour long walk at the gym on the treadmill at 2.2 miles per hour and feel just fine so there you have it and here I go into the day and I think I wanted to say something about being so very grateful for the genuine friendship that some very ordinary and very at the same time exceptional people have extended to me and when I say friendship I realize that this word is conditional and much misunderstood and overused and one example is Facebook an environment where people can have thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands of friends and followers and likes and all that crap but in reality how many genuine authentic friends can any of us ordinary humans have and nurture at one time anyway well in my way of thinking the actual number may be as small as two dozen or less than a dozen or ever less than a half-dozen at any one time of course I do have some friends who I do consider genuine friends who I may not see for years at a time and we still do have I think a real bond that is independent of the fact that we have been apart for so long and we are able to pick right up where we left off but on the other hand and again in my own particular case I probably interact on a regular basis with less than ten people at any given time and these of course on a practical basis receive the vast majority of my personal energy and I do wish I had more of this magic energy and time to spread around further but I do not and so there it is some of the people I do consider my friends have expressed on one hand that they felt like I didn’t value them and maybe on the other hand they wondered if I was mad or angry or disappointed with something they did or said and if you think I’m kidding I’m not there are two friends who told me they thought I was angry at them for some reason or another because they had not heard from me but the truth was that I was just busy and that was the only thing going on and I thanked them for telling me so I could assure them that I was not at all anything but neglectful and then there are two of my friends who I still consider friends who have come very close to washing their hands of me because I do not see them very often but again I’ve only got just so much energy to go around and well I will likely call or text one of them today and see if we can go get coffee soon and hope for the best so let’s move on and allow me please to say that I really enjoy tying silly old Clousers because you can tie them big and small dull and bright flashy and not and in various styles and with various eyes and these darn flies are amazingly effective and I’m still wondering if I might try to get to baja this year and I would love to get up to the dean but probably won’t on either account and or oh my goodness I may be able to go to a fantastic place in 2019 to support the fly fishing art and do a little fishing also and I sure hope it actually happens but of course we will need to wait and see and for the moment I need to post some videos including a bloopers video and I have needed to post to my blog and this is not easy to do what I’m doing right here but in some respects I owe it to anyone who is crazy enough to read it and owe it to myself too and at this moment I cannot even remember what the heck I’ve talked about oh by the way remember our dear kitty Rollo died suddenly around last November and we were all really shook up by that and especially his surviving litter mate Boomer but as time went on we decided to bring a young cat into our home and after several months we are all enjoying each other’s company and all of a sudden I want to say that I have met a small number of the nicest kindest most supportive people on Facebook which was a surprise but a nice surprise and I am grateful to each of these people and I am sick of politics and people and gosh almighty why can’t people be kind to each other and conduct ourselves in constructive ways that improve the quality of life of people we interact with each day well I just don’t get it but I do know that every time I am courteous to a stranger I meet in the course of my daily. routine that person feels just a little happier if only for a few seconds and that is something good that if everyone did this all day every day would probably make the world a better place and even though what I just said probably sounds silly and shallow but maybe we should all consider if it is true and then do it and so I started with how’s jay but really the whole point of this rant is to say that I’m fine and I hope that everyone who reads this and everyone they know and everyone who knows the people they know are doing fine as well because lordy life can be short and we leave so much undone that we really should have done and wanted to do but just didn’t get around to it all and if I could do one thing it would be not to wish you a big fish today—but to wish you a little joy and a little happiness and a little love today and I’ve come to the end of what I can bear to write this morning and will now bid you a g’day as my wonderful beautiful gentle mother Dulcie would have said if she were here.

Jay Nicholas, 17 April 2018

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So it’s come to this?

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My week was pretty good. Presentation to the Rainland Fly Club in Asoria Thursday evening, Hosted by Henry Hoffman. Henry was tying flies for Poulson, a Portland Oregon Distributor in the mid 1950s. Henry was paid $1.15 per dozen for trout flies, and $1.30 for weighted steelhead flies. Met some very nice people with an amazing history tying and fly fishing since 1950!

Friday morning I had breakfast with Mary,  John, and Jack Harrell. It was great so see them and catch up with news about a new puppy in Pacific city and. new cat in Corvallis.

Saturday was very good one in Corvallis, with my teenager Courtney speaking at the nationwide women’s march and me tying flies at Royal Treatment in West Lynn. Did  I mention that I’m proud of Court, because I am. The folks at RT were warm and welcoming as usual, with many familiar faces in the gathering. One young couple was accompanied by their black cat in a backpack carrier. They showed me a photo of the cat wading a stream when they were fishing.

Arrived home Saturday and got the mail. an unmarked envelope was addressed to me. Lisa held it up and asked if I knew who it was from. “Nope. Go ahead and open it—probably an advertisement of some sort.

Well, the letter above is what she read to me.

Lisa looked at me and said, “is this some sort of sick joke?”

I read it and read it and read it again.

I shared the letter with a very few friends.

Here is reaction from two: Trey Combs and Tomonori Higashi.

From Tomonori Higashi (in Japan)
Ha!! When you stand out from the crowd you start to receive such things… seems very universal. In past I tried to please everyone that I know and that I don’t know, but I now know it is impossible. I accept the bare fact that some people hate me simply because I’m visible. Hating someone at heart is natural, but if you send the bad vibes out, it causes bad karma to start! I’m not a serious Bhuddist, but I kind of believe it.

So, please stand strong, you are doing good to the sport and fishery!

From Trey Combs
What a creepy letter. You likely have an idea who wrote it. “Anonymous,” whether hiding behind a mask, or under a hood, or gutting someone on the internet, is what cowards do. Hey, I would turn the letter over to the police.

I can imagine the dialogue at the police department.

Me – I received this anonymous threat against me, my family, and anyone close to me.

Detective – So, you are being threatened for doing what?

Me – writing a book.

Detective – a book about what?

Me – About fishing.

Detective – and what is in this book?

Me – Fishing stories.

Detective – And this anonymous person is angry about what?

Me – That my writing about some of the places I fish will attract more people to fish there. He likes to fish there too, and he is afraid that there will be more and more people going to fish there and crowding us out.

Detective – Really? For this the person threatens you and your family?

Me – Yes.

Detective – And this is normal for fishermen to do this sort of thing?

Me – speechless.

Detective – do you have any idea who this might be?

Me – Maybe. I hope not. It makes me ill to think that one of my friends would actually threaten my family.

Detective – Well?

Me – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

____________________________________________________________

I’ll close here and wish you all the top of the morning.

Jay Nicholas, January 22, 2018

 

 

Boat and truck storage . . .

boats and trucks in the yard

Sometimes I arrive at the cabin to find no place to park. There are drift boats, dory boats, and prams that my friends have staged in the yard, plus their respective vehicles. This is actually a very nice view to behold. Thanks to my friends for keeping me company.

Have a good enough day my friends.

Jay Nicholas – October 2017

Thanks to my friend Kevin

 

Jay Nicholas Echo Bad Ass Glass Review eKevin is my neighbor in Pacific City. Kevin takes very good care of me and makes sure that I don’t overdo my exertion when he takes me out on the ocean in his most excellent Breaker Dory. He provides some of the best classic rock on the speakers while we cruise and fish the ocean. His fish finder is awesome! Kevin taught me how to chum properly  – instead of just hacking a handful of bait as far away from the boat as I could manage. Kevin, serves up great lasagna and all sorts of left-overs when I’m too tired to eat anything but microwave dinners and cereal (almost all the time because I never cook). Kevin knows how to fish. He is relatively new to fly fishing and fly tying but he is a fast learner. The only thing Kevin likes better than catching fish is making his guests feel comfortable on his dory and helping them catch fish. He has a great dog, Cody, who barely tolerates me because i feed him occasionally. Cody will protect me from all the other dogs in the neighborhood no matter how big they might be.

And since I’m feeling like there’s more to say—I may be repetitive but I need to say this: Kevin takes me fishing in his Breaker Dory. Kevin does all the prep and clean up before and after we fish – making sure that I don’t over do it  – knowing that I can no longer tolerate the level of exertion that he first saw me put into my fishing when we first met back in 2012.And when i say all the clean up I mean all of it including the fish filleting and packaging.  Kevin got to know me when I fished pre-dawn to well after dark – day after day after day.  Kevin has been kind and hosted my friends by taking them fishing on the ocean in his dory, and these trips have been a great joy to my friends. Kevin knows how to find rockfish, lingcod, silvers, and tuna on the ocean. Some of my fondest memories were days when it was just me and Kevin fishing in his dory. Some of these were tuna days, some were sea bass days, and some of these were silver salmon days.

Kevin is a friend who I know I can count on for anything — asking for nothing in return. He is the king of guy who is always looking around to see if he can help people in some manner, I guess this is the firefighter’s spirit showing.

Thanks Kevin.

Jay Nicholas – October 2017

Dave Stewart – “Steelhead Fly Fishing Interview with Jay Nicholas”

I’m baaaaaaaack!

Jay Nicholas steelhead interview by Dave Stewart

Here is Dave Stewart on the right asking the tough questions at my cabin last week.

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(Hey there, the image above is not the link to the interview, it is a screen shot of Dave’s most excellent website!)

Goodness where on earth has the time gone? So much has transpired since my last post that I’m a gonna spit out a flurry of posts (ha ha, maybe you are probably thinking) in the next few weeks.

For starters, here is a link to an audio interview recorded by my friend Dave Stewart.

Totally awesome topics in the interview indlude the following:

  • Why you shouldn’t start fly fishing for salmon
  • Tips on finding steelhead
  • Understanding spey lines (and how to avoid destroying the economy)
  • Rio Fly Lines has a cool app that helps you select a new spey line to match your rod (click here)
  • How the non slip uni knot will increase your time in the water (Click Here for a short video)
  • Jay’s Top Flies for steelhead fishing (summer and winter)
  • Fly tying magic and our caveman connection
  • Tying Atlantic salmon flies
  • How to create your own original fly patterns

Dave will soon post the video of the interview, but if you are fly tying and have your iPhone or computer nearby, you can listen along to this audio masterpiece just for fun.

My thanks to Dave for creating this small audio recording for the historical record.

Best to you all

Jay Nicholas – September 29 2017

 

 

Great reception at Royal Treatment Fly Shop

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Monday morning, and I’d like to share a great reception I had up in West Linn a few days ago. Joel invited me to do a presentation and tie flies for folks looking for a respite from the Typhoon that was sweeping the valley on Saturday. The turnout was great, many regulars and all very kind people.

I had an hour to talk about hatchery and wild anadromous fish on the Oregon Coast – but that ended up being an hour and a half with questions still rolling when Joel dragged me out to the tyer’s table. Where people were already jammed around waiting for me to begin tying.

Bad photo, great crowd learning about salmon and steelhead on the Oregon Coast.
Bad photo, great crowd learning about salmon and steelhead on the Oregon Coast.

Although the photo at the top of the page shows my comet – boss box, I tied tuvbe flies for winter steelhead and managed to product about 4 flies in the next two hours. Rob Perkin kindly went on a lunch run and brought me back a delicious bowl of Mushroom soup to keep my blood sugar sustained.

Another back-lit photo at the Tyer's table on Saturday. I had a great time with all the questions from folks gathered.
Another back-lit photo at the Tyer’s table on Saturday. I had a great time with all the questions from folks gathered.

I had a chance to re-connect with old friends and meet several new friends who are, like me, dedicated fly tyers. About the time the Typhoon winds rolled into the valley, I packed up my gear and headed down I-5 to return to my family. Gusty but not too bad a drive. My supply of winter steelhead marabou tube flies is growing and I sure hope we have a good run with good conditions to swing fish this season.

Here is an example of a Marabou Tube Intruder - the kind of fly I've been tying lately.
Here is an example of a Marabou Tube Intruder – the kind of fly I’ve been tying lately.

Here is an example of the flies I have been tying the last week or so. Thank you Joel, for the invitation to present at Royal Treatment. Thanks to Nick and Josh also – it was great to see you taking care of customers at the Shop.

My best to you all and thanks for your kind notes and phone calls.

Jay Nicholas, October 17th, 2016

7 PM Presentation in Salem tonight September 8th 2016

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Wow, where has the time gone? I’m counting down the hours until 7 PM when I’ll be showing my saltwater fly fishing video at the Santiam Fly Casters meeting at Pringle Hall in Salem. The venue is one block south of the Parkway on Church St. I am REALLY looking forward to meeting new friends and connecting with old friends at the meeting. I’ll talk about how much fun saltwater fly fishing is and how accessible it is too. Dwight Klemin told me to expect 50+ people at the meeting and that sounds like a fun crowd that should include a few hecklers to spice up the evening. Thanks in advance for the opportunity to be there!

Jay Nicholas, September 8th, 2016

Little Steps in the right direction – August 18th 2016

6 Chinook Clousers - a new day's work.
6 Chinook Clousers – a new day’s work.

So I’ve progressed from not being able to tie a single fly to being able to tie a half dozen a day and I see this as a very positive movement in the right direction. I can now sit for ten or fifteen minutes at a session and painstakingly craft a single fly that should take 3-4 minutes under what I once considered “normal” conditions. There are other positives too. Far more positives than I’ll bore you with. Thanks to all my friends who trust that we are each as we need to be right now, whether relaxing, working, waiting, or fishing. Speaking of fishing, I’m nearly ready to wet a line. Hummmmmmm, it’s a small step but pretty positive. Maybe not a marathon session, maybe just a few casts, but I’d like to have a hook on a string in the water soon. Over a hundred degrees predicted for the Valley today. Might need to head for the coast soon.  Blessings to all of my friends who are supportive in so many ways. I’ll be speaking in Salem on September 8th and hope I see some of you there. I’ll be ready to rock!

Jay Nicholas, August 18th 2016

What’s Up – August first, 2016 . . . . .

Too much going on to go into very much detail, but here are a few quick snapshots. In the middle of a bout of depression, I’m fighting by exercise and pharmaceutical interventions. The side effects suck but I’m keeping busy and exercising to get the old body moving and see what happens next. Damn the depression —  full speed ahead.

My life is perfect.  My brain chemicals are the pits, but the new meds allowed me to quit gnawing and clipping my nails for the first time in years. Go figure. Sleep? Huh?

on to the fun stuff….

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  1. I need to re-scan sketches for Modern Steelhead Flies book with Rob Russell. Should have finished this last week, but maybe this week.

Jay Nicholas Michael Gorman SRC Flies

 

2. Michael Gorman donated flies for me to include in a new book that I started last week: Sea-Run Cutthroat flies and flyfishing. His flies pictured above work for summer steelhead too and will be individually featured in this book.

Jay Nicholas puget sound SRC flies

3. Blake Merwin of Gig Harbor Fly Shop donated flies for the book too, Puget Sound beauties, that I will provide photos and recipe for each.

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4. I am waiting on a guest Foreword for my new edition of an Intruder Book: Advanced Intruder Strategies. Greg Senyo is taking time out of his busy schedule to pen the foreword – thanks tons Greg! Almost there man!

5.  Matthew Supinski is writing a foreword for a new edition of Book of Revelation. Again, thanks tons Matt. Soon.  Soon.

6. Expect a Kickstarter campaign in November to fund printing of my 600 + page, 220,000 word Salmon Journal, with over a hundred full color plates, art and flies. OMG this will be amazing. Hard cover. Two volumes. Probably in the 200+ buck range for this set but a collector’s edition that has actually been edited by a professional (not just me) who understands and respects the beauty of the run-on and incomplete sentence.

7. There is more, but suffice to say, I am blessed in many ways by family, cats, friends, and life. Fishing has taken a back seat lately. My trip to the Umpqua was a disaster. Legs too unsteady to wade. Oh well, thus the exercise program and then I’ll try it again in a few months.

8. On the blessings side, an evening and morning with Frank and Jeanne Moore was a long missed joy. I fed the trout in the pond, sat at the table with my dear friends, and talked about family, fishing, and life.

9. It is amazing how much of a struggle it can be to write coherently when I’m in the midst of a depressive bout. Words all muddled, the order of the flow is all jumbled up, and I try and try again to re-organize it all, succeeding a little in four times the duration it should be expected to take. Oh well, the draft of the SRC book is improving and my team of supporters working with Al James has my Salmon Journal to polish with my guidance and support.

10. letters and notes from friends tell me I’m not alone — we all need to remember that we have friends and that we all struggle in our own way, and we all need to do the best we can every day and it will get better if we swim upstream …..

May you all find peace and goodness in little things today, and every day you read this

Jay Nicholas, August 1st, 2016 (anticipating my next fishing trip too)