Wednesday, February 19, 2014


As I was growing up most fads, like earrings for dudes and Zubaz pants, came and went without me paying them much attention.  I somehow navigated those early years without suffering much damage to my image...of which at the time I admittedly did not have much of anyway.  Growing up in suburban Detroit, with a family that until a few months ago sported a total of zero tattoos, I was not exactly in the epicenter of the tattoo world.  That said, there were a few people I knew that were getting them and I did have interest but did not pull the trigger.  Finally getting one myself was a decision that has been years in the making and one that is now in the rearview as I have joined the ranks of the ink'd.
My first direct contact with tattoos came when a good friend Dennis, who was living at our house at the time, decided on his 18th birthday that it was time to go under the needle.  A couple of us ditched school for the afternoon and headed down to a seedy little parlor on Gratiot.  Hours later he emerged from the chair with Taz tearing in to his flesh and peeling back the skin as he slid down the back of his left shoulder.  We stopped off at the liquor store and paid Clyde his usual backroom upcharge for a bottle then headed out to a local spot.  Sitting against a small stand of trees overlooking Lake St Clair Dennis gave us he rundown on how it went as we passed around a community bottle of MD20/20...grape, cause we were bad asses.  Between grapish flavored sips of gas sliding down my throat I remember thinking that I wanted to get one too.  I also remember knowing that whatever I got had to mean something to me too risk the cost and the very real possibility that my Dad would try to belt-sand it off of me...
Fast forward a bit and fishing has now been an all consuming part of who I am for well over half of my life.  The want for a tattoo never went away but I was never really in a hurry to get one either. I used the built in excuses of wrong time, wrong artist, cost, and mostly a deep hatred of needles to justify not sealing the deal.  I knew that I wanted something fish related and that I needed the tattooist to be both a phenomenal artist as well as someone who fishes.  Then as luck would have it I ended up at a table right next to Dave Hoslerat the film festival in Columbus.  I had been in contact with Dave through social media for some time but that was the first time we had met in person.  For those who don't know Dave he is a hell of a good dude, a Subaru aficianado, the author behind the Pile Cast Blog and loyal subject to Derp the cat and Fritz the wonder dog.  Oh...and he has a lot of SICK tattoos.  My wife Liz had come out for the movie night and once she spotted his tattoos she struck up a conversation about them.  In short order we found out that 'his guy' had moved and was now here in Columbus.  How convenient.
Turns out that 'his guy' is Mike Prickett who now works out of his studio at Evolved just off campus on High Street in Columbus OH.  Mike is one hell of an artist who does also enjoy fishing, and was now practically right in my backyard.  He is fast, does vivid color and combines a few different styles in to one that is all his own.  In short it seemed that it was all coming together.
About a month ago I shot Mike a message that I would like him to come up with something for me.  I basically said that I Wanted a brown trout, water, and a streamer involved.  My only other direction was to send him a couple pictures of browns with the spot density and coloring that I really liked for reference.  He asked about the size and I said "go big or go home, right?".   In all honesty I was really just looking to see what he would come up with but the excitement that he had for the project was contagious and a week and a half later I went in for the line work.  After some heal time I went back in yesterday for the coloring and now have a brown trout staring back at me when I look in the mirror.  One more trip back in a month or so to punch it up with some more golds and white, then it's done.  So stoked with how it turned out!
Here are a few shots from the process:

Now, what's next...

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Dirty Fonzy


Front Hook:  Gama SP11-3L3H size 1
Back Hook:  Gama B10S size 2
Connection:  Beadalon, 19 strand .018”
Beads:  Pro Eye 3D
Flash:  Mirage Flasahbou
Body1:  Craft Fur (marker striped)
Body2:  Polar Chenille
Body3:  Crazy Legs
Body4:  Mallard Flank
Head:  Senyo Laser Dub
Eyes:  medium Lead Dumbell 

About 18 months ago I ran in to a crisis…the schlappen supply was drying up due, in part, to a conflict between the bird farmers and wholesalers.  The issue has since been resolved but that period of months was a headache and made me re-evaluate some material options.   While it had certainly not directly been a life-threatening issue, as a commercial tier who incorporated schlappen in to just about every streamer pattern in my lineup it caused me some sleepless nights.  At that time I decided that I needed to add some streamers that made use of the abundance of synthetic materials on the market.   The initial version of the fly  was pretty close to the swimming action in the water that I wanted and then after a few tweaks it was dialed in.  The result is a fly that, outside of a flank feather, is  composed entirely of synthetic materials.  The design of the fly is based on old intruder winged patterns so, while I generally fish it utilizing various stripping retrieves, it can be swung as well and maintain its effectiveness. 

A full step by step is in the works as is getting it added to the website.  I had meant to take care of it already but evidently there are a lot of people gearing up for all out streamer war on fish, so I have been spending every waking moment at the vise!
-mike schmidt

Monday, February 3, 2014

Great start to 2014

It's been a great start to 2014, albeit a relatively fishless one thanks to the deep freeze that we have been mired in here in the midwest.  After having my family Christmas late up in Traverse City I settled in  to the desk and have been cranking heavy ever since.  The last two weekends were spent away from the house to do the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset NJ and then the Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Expo...outside Cincinnati.
The Somerset show was a whirlwind as it always is.  It was great to catch up with many friends, some of which I will not see again until the Symposium there in November.  The general consensus there this year was that Friday was amazing, infact the busiest Friday that I have experienced at that show, and then the rest of the weekend went to script with Sunday being slowest.  If you are ever coming out to that show Sunday is a great day for the consumer as the crowds are less so you can get more facetime with pretty much anyone that you want to talk to.  After having a great couple days seeing some new products that are soon to come out my weekend came to a very uncomfortable poisoning.  I can say with absolute certainty that getting food poisoning leading up to a 9 hour drive is not something that I would wish on anyone.  I was lucky that it seemed to pass in a few hours and I made it home just being tired.

This weekend was the Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Expo put on by the Buckeye United Fly Fishers.  Fourteen years ago this was the first show that asked me to come out to tie at my own table, so I make it a point to get back for this show every year.  This was the second year at the new venue and it did not disappoint.  I had been scheduled to do a streamer presentation for this show but then was also asked to do a wet fly presentation at the last minute, so it was a jam packed day.  Both presentations had pretty solid attendance, especially since I was up against AK Best during the same presentation slots!   Speaking of AK Best, getting to hang out and BS with him again for a bit on Friday night was the highlight of the weekend for me as he is one of my fly tying idols.  What guys like Clouser and Galloup were to my streamer tying preference AK is to my office set up and production mindset.  Many of the techniques that I use for my production work and the set up of my workshop are based on his books 'Production Fly Tying: A Colllection of Ideas, Notions, Hints, & Variations on the Techniques of Fly Tying ' and 'Fly Tying with A. K.: Patterns & Problem Solving with New Materials & Techniques'.  There were a few unrepeatable stories told that had me laughing until I hurt. What a night!

Fly porn shot from the weekend...well, really Thursday night, Saturday night and Sunday.  Needless to say I spent a fair amount of time knocking these out and looks like I will be on this pace for atleast a few more weeks.  There is a combination of the White, northern Michigan, and general shack nasties that seems to bring the streamer guys out of the woodworks at this time of year.  Can't say I am not constantly thinking about getting out myself...
-mike schmidt