Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thank you for 2012!

Thanks to all of the ACF customers support 2012 has been an amazing year.  Shows and workshops took me all over the eastern side of the country, as did the search for fish.  There were a few flies fine tuned and released to go along with the old ones, and more in the works.  2012 saw the continued explosion in the popularity of streamers and the educated fish kept us tinkering at our vises like junkies to get our next fix.  I could not name them all but guys like Strolis, Lynch, Granato, Grajewski, Senyo, SchultzBohen, Kelly, and Cohen all played a part to push the envelope for bigger, badder, and more realistic imitations to get the predators has been an exciting time to be at the vise!  I am putting this post up a few days early as I will be out of town for a few days through New Years to recharge for a few days with my wonderful wife.  When I get back to town I will be back at the vise hard and transition in to the heart of show season.

Next year looks to be another exciting year for ACF.  There are a few streamers that are in the works and should be ready to go in the next few months.  This coming year I have added a few shows so will be out to TCO in State College for a streamer workshop, as well as Lancaster PA for a weekend show and over to Sweden in April for their show as well...and maybe swing up an Atlantic...

Thank you all for a truly amazing year and looking forward to catching up over the next year.
Back to the vise and the blog January 3!

-mike schmidt

Friday, December 21, 2012

Junk Yard Dog

Here is the new addition to the Anglers Choice streamer lineup, the JYD...Junk Yard Dog.  It is just shy of six inches of meaty streamer goodness.  Despite the size the fly is nearly weightless thanks to the mono dumbell eyes from Clear Cure Eyes.  The tail consists of marabou, polar chenille and fox tail while the front hook is just marabou, fox tail and Clear Cure Eyes.  The hooks are of course Gamakatsu as they are the stickiest hooks out there.  This is a streamer designed to be fished on full sinking line to get it to depth.  Once at depth the bulk of the head allows you to vary the retrieve, anywhere from a fast jerst strip all the way down to a gentle dead drift twitch, while still maintining profile.  This thing casts like a whisper and hooks like a jackhammer.

The fly will be offered in the six color combinations shown here.  Front to back they are as follows:  Tan, Cotton Candy, Yellow, Black, Burnt Orange and Olive. 

-mike schmidt

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Inherent danger associated...?!?

Jake Ruthven, from Fins on the Fly, asked for some help recently after being given some troubling news.  He is a high school student that has to this point been active in his Fort Collins schools Fly Fishing Club, but that seems to be going away.  About two weeks ago the Fort Collins school district informed them that it was cancelling the Fly Fishing Club and prohibiting any further meetings from commencing due to the “Inherent danger associated with the sport”.   Let that sink in for a minute.

Let’s leave aside for a minute what I would say are extreme examples of high school clubs out there; things like flying, ski racing, trap/skeet shooting, rock climbing, boxing, mountaineering, archery, sky diving.  If you are just looking at standard sports and clubs that schools sponsor and participate in nationwide is there a disparity in danger that made this fly fishing team a target?  Are you telling me that fly fishing is ‘inherently more dangerous’ than football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or even cheerleading?   I am certainly not going to say that there are not risks involved in the sport of fly fishing, but I would suggest that when care is taken those risks are at a minimum….virtually non-existent in most cases.   If this is truly a liability issue that the school system is looking at then one would think that there must be a way to mitigate that through some sort of waiver…right? 

Clubs like this give the students a chance to make friendships that will last a lifetime.  It gives them an opportunity to learn a set of skills to apply and further themselves in a sport they enjoy, and one they need never outgrow.  It gives them a reason to be outside and active rather than sitting on a couch and eating crap food while ‘plugged in’ to the latest game console for the bulk of the day.  It teaches them responsibility both for themselves and for the environment that they are stewards of through our great sport.

 Would the school district be willing to reinstate the club with beefed up waivers to indemnify them against legal action?  Do they require that a faculty member be present or sponsor the club, so perhaps this was a casualty of an out of balance budget? Could they implement restrictions to make the risk acceptable...for example wade only or fishing in pairs?  Could the students proceed with the club on their own, either informally or as a non-profit, and use the school bulletin boards simply to recruit members?   Obviously these are not questions that I can answer, but it gets you thinking…what are their options now?

Reply back here or on Fins on the Fly if you have any ideas or suggestions, or email jake at  It would be great if we could find someone that had a similar cancellation of a sport and what it was that they pursued to get that sport back.

****UPDATE***  Good news I just heard that there is a workaround in place so the club is able to continue to meet with some restrictions.  Jake was able to work with them to get to this point and hopefully they will be able to get a full resolution in place!

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Family and flies

It has been a crazy busy year and December has been no different. Worked extra time last week so that I could make it up to Detroit for my family Chrsitmas with the wife, brothers families, and Momma ACF.  This year we got up there and hung out with the nephews until bedtime on Friday then relaxed with a cocktail as we planned out Saturday.  Saturday started off with a fantastic breakfast and then we were off to the Detroit Zoo.  It has been quite a while since I have been there and one of the new exhibits is the polar bear and seal  enclosure with it's underwater area...really amazing.  As we walked up one polar bear was playing around in the water but by the time we got down underneath he had left the water.  We did get to hang out for a bit dow there though with the seals swimming laps around us.  I think that this time of year is perfect for the Detroit Zoo as there was absolutley no crowd anywhere vs the standard shoulder to shoulder we would have had to deal with a few months ago. 

One unexpected guest we had was the two-toed sloth in the rainforest exhibit.  This particular exhibit is a large enclosure with a plank path, but nothing separating you from the forest critters.  As we made our way through looking at freshwater rays, tortises, and birds there was suddenly a wide eyed look from my sister in-law as two dagger like claws slowly appeared no much more than a foot behind my wifes head.  She noticed the look and immeadiately sidestepped away before turning around to see the sloth hanging out where she had been standing and getting ready to munch down some leaves.  It was pretty cool to be that close to it and we were told that it is extremely rare that he comes out during the day as he is very shy. 

We did of course have to get the standard prarie dog shot!  It was a fun day and even more fun night as we spoiled the nephews with some pretty cool toys then spent the night playing with them.  It was great to spend the time with the family and just enjoy being together as it does not happen very often.  Sunday morning it was up and back on the road headed south to get back to work.

One shot I recieved from last week was this Cotton Candy eating brown from Steve Dally out on the White River in Arkansas.  They have been after the fish out there and reaping the rewards.  That river has an amazing number of large streamer eating browns and we are just now getting to the time of year where the streamer fishing will be sick for the next four months or so.  Definitely worth the trip out if you can get there!

A few of Tommy Lynch's Drunk and Disorderlies for the box.  Can't wait to get back out with these funky streamers and make them do the shuck and jive for some monster browns!

A fun order last week was for a local angler that loves to fish the Mallard Minnow.  His daughter in-law contacted me as she was unable to find them anywhere and heard that I may be able to help, and a few days later they were ready to go.  Flies tend to go in cycles and this is one soft hackle streamer that fell out of favor to the point that fly companies stopped producing them seven years ago or so.  It is a solid pattern that will produce fish and easy to tie.  Start with a 4XL streamer hook, wrap down a dozen or so wraps of lead, then secure a mallard flank to either side of the shank and finish with a smooth head.  I hit the heads on these with Clear Cure Goo Hydro to make sure they were glossy finished heads and no chance that a fish tooth takes them apart.  I do believe he will be surprised for Christmas and happy to have enough mallard minnows to keep him in fish for quite a while.

A few Voodoos headed to the south to see about a fish.

This is about a normal load each morning for this time of year.  Off to the Post Office they went with postage already taken care of as there is no way you will get me to deal with those lines!  More flies being knocked out this week to get out and looking forward to relaxing with my fabulous wife for Christmas.  Catch you all soon!

-mike schmidt

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kicked back and tying

This last week I finally had some time to relax and tie a few flies for myself.  After heading our for dinner with the wife I had a few Yuengs and tied up some or Rich Strolis' Headbanger pattern.  It is a super cool articulated sculpin pattern that has been cleaning it up around the country.  I tied up the blakd and olive version along with a tan with burnt orange versino as those are my go to colors in Ohio.

Saturday morning I got up and hit the water with a buddy.  Hopes were high but the fish were not cooperative.  Tried both sinking and floating line presentations, different flies and colors, and every conceievable type of water to no avail.  Despite the lack of action I did learn a few things, but was feeling pretty crappy about the morning until getting back to the car and finding that the guys who fished the other way from the bridge with live minnows and chubs on pinner rigs had the same luck.  The water flow did nearly double while we were on the water and vis went from a few feet to under six inches so I will go with those variables as the reason the fish were lock jawed.  Yeah, that's it...

Earlier in the week I tied up some flies for Shafter Johnson from Blue Moon Expeditions down in Florida.  They run a mothership outfit with trips deep in to the Everglades, down in the lower Keys, and out to the Marquesas...pretty awesome stuff.  This batch of flies was sent down as he was going to be spending a few days personal fishing in the Everglades.  Sent him a bendback version of Daminno, some Foxee Roaches, and a variation of it using rabbit tails rather than the schlappen.  Looking forward to seeing what he tangles with this week.

This was a pretty solid group of streamers going to a return customer out in Arkansas.  With a few styles and colors he should be able to dial in some fish.

What to get for the fisherman who has about a custom assortment of flies!?!  This is a batch of big flies headed out for a lucky angler who loves to chase pike and musky.  For a bit of scale, the Double Decievers on the bottom are 8" flies!

Getting in to the home stretch of 2012 now.   Will be tying like a mad man all week then heading up to Detroit for the Schmidt family Christmas this weekend.  Hope you all have a great week.

-mike schmidt

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Great Lakes Council FFF show

It is common knowledge that Kelly Galloup, Russ Maddin and Bob Linsenman were at the forefront of the northern Michigan streamer revolution and after this weekend I am once again very confident that the addiction to chasing fish with meat is alive and well.  Michigan tiers are undoubtedly pushing the envlope of streamer fishing across the species board.  Michigan guys like Schultz, Berant, Grajewski, Erny, Lynch and Lafkas continue to push the envelope and create bigger and badder streamers.  Love hanging out with those guys!

Friday night I made it up to Okemos in time to have a few beverages, play a little quiz game and watch some sportswith a few friends.  Come bright and early on Saturday morning we were up and running by Dunkin Doughnuts on the way to  the GLCFFF show.  It was a great day hanging out with friends from around the state...talking about and tying flies with a crowd.

I sat next to Tommy Lynch and between the two of us we had a crowd all day.  I started off the mornig tying big double decievers and there was no lack of interest.  These are a few of hem that went straight to my box to be chucked around at a later date.

This is one fly that is inthe works that I tied up at the show.  Name is still in the works but it is likely the next fly to be released by ACF.  If is comprised mostly of marabou and fox tail, and with the Clear Cure Eyes dumbells is as weightless as you can get.  It is five inches of fishy goodness...more to come...

-mikes schmidt

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Persona non grata...NO MAS!

Well...this has been the longest break between posts since I started this whole thing.  I can't believe how fast and how full the last three weeks have been.  Seems like I just got off the river and packed for the Symposium in Somerest...and here we are on December eve!  Throw in Thanksgiving, a few crappy weekends for Michigan sports, along with 32 dozen articulated streamers in the last ten days and you can see how time would fly.  In all seriousness I did not intend to become persona non grata so expect more regular posts again. 

I now am in the middle of packing up the gear for the Great Lake Council Tying Expo held in Holt Michigan this weekend.  It promises to be an excellent show with upwards of eighty top regional tiers along with a slew of vendors.  I am looking forward to catching up with everyone and seeing what new ideas are out there.  Hope to see some of you there!

-mike schmidt

Sunday, November 11, 2012

More chrome...I likey

I got a chance to head out for a day over the weekend with a buddy to chase some chrome.  This was not a normal trip out as this was the first time that his oldest son was coming along to give it a shot.

We got to the river at first light and found that the river was lower than we had expected but fishable.  Carlos first got all rigged up and showed Ignacio the basics of the game.

Then they hit the river and worked on getting that perfect drift in the low and clear water.

Eventually it paid off with a slab of some chrome for Carlos.  We tried to get Ignacio in to his first fish throughout the morning, but he spent a fair amount of time untangling his line and figuring out how to cast an indi rig to keep from having to untangle again.  After a bit he got down the casting and drifting part, but the fish were not cooperating.  After quite some time we were standing and watching him through a drift as his indi went under and we yelled "SET" at the same time.  He set and a monster buck came rocketing out of the water, and just about at that moment we realized that the extra line had tangle around his feet.  You know the rest of that story.  I bet he pays more attention to his line management from now on!  I heard from Carlos today and Ignacio got his first few steelhead to hand.  Looking forward to seeing those pictures!

While father and son continued to hit one run I made my way upstream to see what else the river had in store for us.  This particular cut was small but the only depth for a few hundred yards in either direction so I gave it a shot.  On the third drift through I hooked up to chrome but after a short battle I popped the fish...swinging flies on heavy line has spoiled me a bit!

I did get things dialed in a bit and got in to some nice fish throughout the day.

This seemed like a perfect spot to sit down with a nice cigar and just take it all in for a bit.  All the problems and concerns that you mayhave just melt away when you sit down riverside and listen to the stories that the water has to tell you.

Needless to say it was a fantastic day...just what I needed to recharge before the work week.

Until next time...

Today was spent tying flies.  This particular order is headed out to Steve Dally's shop on the White River.  I will be at the desk all week getting flies knocked out in preparation for the show season...which starts for me next weekend at the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset NJ.

While there may be a few more added, here is the current list of shows and classes for this coming season:
-International Fly Tying Symposium, Somerset NJ 11/17/2012 - 11/18/2012
-Great Lakes Council FFF, Holt MI  12/01/2012
-Indiana on the Fly, Indianapolis IN 01/05/2013
-Wildcat Creek Outfitters, Indianapolis IN 01/12/2013
-The Fly Fishing Show, Somerset NJ 01/25/2013 - 01/27/2013
-Buckeye United Fly Show, Cincinnati OH 02/02/2013
-Bar Flies, Dexter MI 02/13/2013
-The Fly Fishing Show, Lancaster PA 03/02/2013 - 03/03/2013
-Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Warren MI 03/09/2013 - 03/10/2013
-Swedish International Fly Fair, Jonkoping Sweden 04/05/2013 - 04/07/2013

-mike schmidt

Monday, November 5, 2012

Chrome on the swing

This weekend had been a long time coming...I finally got back out on the Alley to see about swinging up some chrome!  In most normal years I would have made it happen by now but this year, between the low water and my busy schedule, I had not been able to make it up.  It was rapidly approaching the latest in the fall season since I have been running up there that I had not brought a steelhead to hand...I was getting seriously twitchy.  With the water we had last week I was anxiously watching the gauges and keeping my fingers crossed that the rivers would come in to shape, and they did.  After a quick run up on Friday night I spent Saturday on my own swinging some awfully heavy water.   Then on Sunday I met up with Greg Senyo, owner of Steelhead Alley Outfitters, and we spent the day two stepping through runs.  It was an amazing time to be on the water as there are not many days of the year that PA water is swingable, and we did get in to some chrome.  I will let the pictures talk for themselves...


On an un-fish related note the Anglers Choice Flies Step by Step volume three is completed and ready for shipping, so if you would like to pick one up head over to the site to order and I will pop it in the mail!

-mike schmidt

Friday, October 26, 2012

Off the normal topic...Great Lakes Cigar rolling

Anyone who knows me or has followed this blog gets a sense pretty quick of the things that I dig.  My lovely wife, my family and friends, the cold side of the pillow, tying copius amounts of flies....and, of course, let's not forget fishing and cigars. At some point I went from casual enjoyment of cigars to them being a fixture in my fishing gear...seemingly as common as tippet spools and necessary as a fly rod.  My theory is that a successful day on the water is better enjoyed with a great stick. 

On a weekly basis, or sometimes more frequently, I head to my local Karric Square Tinder Box and hang out with my cigar mentor Mike.  He has helped to expand my palette from a steady diet of Connecticut wrapped sticks to the current wide varying, and far stronger, selections I partake of these days.  Smoking cigars with Mike is like drinking a fine wine with the vintner...the man knows his stuff.  Mike freely passes his knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, cigars on to people that walk throgh his door.  When you walk in to the shop there is always some amazing jazz on the radio and a good conversation to be had, along with an awesome stick of course!

One thing we have talked about is the art of making a good cigar.  There are a lot of steps in the process, from field to shelf, and any one step gone bad can lessen the end product.  With all the discussion though I have never actually seen a cigar wrapped by hand...until today.

Today Mike had a special event at the shop.  Darrin Hildebrand, owner of Great Lakes Cigar Company, was in shop rolling cigars!  Darrin and his associate Gary came down from Milan Ohio to and spent the day at the shop talking to customers and rolling cigars on ths spot.  When I first heard about GLCC my internal dialogue was pretty much "really...cigars rolled in Ohio.  hmmmm..."   That thought went away after the first  few minutes of the first stick I had, the Nor'Easter.  Darrin really knows his stuff.  The man owned a tobacco shop in Sandusy for a decade, and during that time started taking interest in making his own product.  Darrin trained under the watchful eye of expert Cuban rollers, and has now been doing his thing for 17 years.    They import leaf from seven countries and also incorporate local PA leaf, so you get a great blend of flavors.

Watching Darrin at the table knocking out each step and setting the presses actually reminded me very much of production fly tying.  Each thing has it's place and each step of the rolling process is part os a well thought out end game.  It is evident in watching the man that he enjoys what he is doing...and is VERY good at it.

In order of decreasing strength the Great Lakes Cigar Company's line up currently consists of the Pirate, the Monster, and the Ghost Ship...and each has interesting points as they burn.  My favotite is still the last in the line, the Nor'Easter.  The Nor'Easter is a fantastic blend with a barberpole finish.  It subtly alternates pepper and cream throughout, and is a top notch smoke.  The Great Lakes Cigar Company has only Darrin rolling it's sticks so the volume is still low, but if you can get your hands on one I would say definitely do it!

-mike schmidt

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Step by Step Volume to the presses!

Hard to believe that the first big show of the year for me, the International Fly Tying Symposium in Somerset NJ, is just a few weeks away.  With that in mind this week was time to kick the show prep in to high gear.  The last few years I have compiled step by steps from through the year and compiled them  as PDF files on CD, and that has been very well recieved.  This year I really had not done hardly any new step by steps so I really had to buckle down, and last weekend shot a dozen to fill out this years edition.  I finished formatting of them all tonight and knocked out the cover art....and in the morning they are off to the replicator.  This years edition of the step by step CD will have a mix of stuff including single hook, articulated, saltwater, and even a basic old school standby.  Here is the list of patterns that are included:  Double Deceiver, Red October, Stimulator, Shimmer Minner, Chard Choker, Conrad Sculpin, Jonny Darter, PT Nymph, Sincredible Sculpin, Hobo Spey, Senyo Egg Raider, Surf Candy, Skull Flatwing Eel, Skull Craft Fur Eel, and a Marabou wrapping technique.  I will have copies along at each show as well as being available on the website.

This week I saw this shot from ACF customer and friend Jason Tucker from Fontinalis Rising.  Jason was out throwing a 6" articulated ACF fly and had this feisty fish, not more than twice the size of the streamer, come out and try to make a meal of it.  Big flies catch little guys too!

Here is another shot I got from good friend Brian this week.  Brian is one of the guys that makes it to northern Michigan for Salmonfest each year, but until the last year or so that was the only time he wet a line.  This last year, however, he has really been bitten by the fishing bug and spent many an evening stalking bass at a local lake in central Illinois.  Last Saturday I got a surprising message that he was out at 4:30 in the morning waiting to have at some water that had been stocked a few days earlier.  He had a tough time early in the morning, but later on was able to convince a few fish to eat including this beefy guy that made the trip back to Brian's place  for his first delicious fish sammich made with fish he caught himself.  Really awesome stuff if you ask me!

I'll leave you with a couple of fly pictures.  The group was sent out to a customer the other day and will hopefully see the inside of some fish mouths this weekend.  The last shot is one I tied up tonight for myself...just one more for the swinging box.  Looks like I will be here tying this weekend, but next weekend I will find water one way or another.

-mike schmidt