Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I posted anything! It's not that I haven't had anything to post...with Facebook, I sometimes forget that I have a blog to post to!

Monday, November 21, 2011

New illustrations

It's been a while since I posted any new images or here's a couple of images that i'm happy with. Some new thoughts will have to come later.

I drew the stylized tuna first in this one. I'm not quite as happy with the anchovy as the tuna - maybe it's his eye that bothers me. I may replace him with a squid which might add some color to the composition.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I have a couple of old baitcasting reels. One is a Shakespeare 1920 Wondereel and the other is a Shakespeare 1932 Tru-Axis reel. Both are beautiful little machines with very similar designs. The Wondereel was given to me by my in-laws - I think they found it in an antique (second-hand) store up the coast a few years ago. The Tru-Axis reel was given to me by my Uncle Gichi about 50 years ago. It's mounted on an aluminum 5 foot long South Bend baitcasting rod. That rod and reel combo, although old, dusty and beat up, is a treasured piece of my childhood. It hangs on the wall next to my fly tying desk. I caught dozens of bluegill with it, plus a few catfish and crawdads. I'm sure I'll always have it.

Uncle Gichi was a grape farmer in Reedley, California - an area sometimes known as "America's Fruitbasket." He loved to fish. As a kid, I remember that he had all sorts of fishing equipment in my grandparent's garage. I was fascinated with an automatic fly reel that retrieved its line at the push of a button. I had no idea how one would use it to catch fish, but it was pretty cool. I would see him once, occasionally twice a year - not really enough to base a real strong relationship. But I think he always related to my little sister and I because the three of us were pretty much the "black sheep" of the family. He was smart, proud and could be quite stubborn. He was his own person and didn't worry about being like everyone else. My sister and I were the smart-mouthed, tie-dye and bead wearing hippies of the family from Los Angeles. My cousins weren't so overtly rebellious - they were saints while we were...well, we weren't necessarily sinners, but we sure were a lot closer to burning in hell than they were.

Uncle Gichi passed away seven or eight years ago. We were on vacation at the time and didn't get the bad news until we got home, missing his funeral. Sometimes I'll think about him and his brother, Uncle George who also loved fishing, when I'm out on a trout stream. I'm sure that, in spirit, they're out there with me. I'm also sure that if they actually were there, they'd easily out-fish me, too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bass Bait

I'm always amazed at the popularity of bass fishing. Unlike trout, you can find bass just about anywhere there's water - irrigation canals & ponds, golf course waterhazards, natural & man-made lakes, rivers and streams. They're everywhere...but that doesn't mean that they're easy to catch. There are so many different ways to catch them - plastic worms, real worms, stinkbait, crankbait, buzzbait and many more. The current method for really big bass is using huge 11" swimbait lures made to look and move like farm-raised rainbow trout. I've seen video of those lures in action, and they really "swim" like the real thing. Big bass have learned to prey upon the stunned, defenseless fish after they've been scooped out of their concrete pens, transported sometimes hundreds of miles, then dumped into an unfamiliar lake. Those trout are raised and bred to be big, fat and easy for people to catch. Easy pickings for big, smart predators, too.

Most bass lures resemble some sort of natural food item like crawdads, insects or other fish. Buzzbaits, on the other hand, have very little resemblance to anything natural, at least to me. They often look more like something that an orthodontist might cram into a teenager's mouth or part of a device that collects data for the National Weather Service. The shiny wires, spinners and propellers create quite a disturbance, a "buzz" I guess, that probably just pisses off bass to the point of aggression. It sure can't be that buzzbait look like something tasty.

There's been a ton of stuff written about the artistry of fly fishing, especially fly tying. The beauty of bass lures has been long overlooked. They range from abstract-impressionism to jewel-like reproductions of natural food items. I like vintage lures. The image above is my interpretation of an old, floating bass plug, which was probably designed to imitate a wounded baitfish.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ATH reels...very different

When you look at fly reels, 99% seem to find their origins in two basic designs: the classic Orvis CFO/Hardy Lightweight style or the mid-to-large arbor types. The bottom line for most reels is that they hold the flyline, so there really isn't that much need for huge variations in design. Other than the use of high tech materials, most of the reels of today aren't that different from those of 100 years ago. Sure, many reels have had 30 or 40 holes of varying shapes and sizes drilled in them for lightness...but I suspect that much of that isn't as much for catching fish as it's for catching fishermen.

The reels of Ari 't Hart definitely are different. When you see one, you immediately know a couple of things about them: they are beautiful, they are probably very expensive and they are definitely not your run-of-the-mill flyreel. I don't own one, nor do I know anyone who does, so I have no idea whether or not they are light years better or even merely as good as any $29, made in Asia, Walmart special. It really doesn't me, they are beautiful, engineering marvels. And maybe someday I'll have one of these jewels holding my flyline for me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reel life

For me, a flyreel is primarily a line holder. In this day and age of high-tech, aerospace-grade, self-lubricating, sealed, waterproof, teflon and titanium alloy disk drags, I couldn't tell you what type of drag mechanism most of my reels use. Honestly, whenever I do hook a fish, I'm usually too excited to remember to fight the fish with the reel. Besides, I seldom catch fish large enough to really need an adjustable drag. I could get by with a $29 beginner's reel, but my ego won't let me. I have a nice mid-range reel on my favorite rod. But even then, I got it at a bargain-basement price when the manufacturer decided to change the shape of the porting holes on the reel. You could call it a semi-expensive line holder....

This new illustration is a Hardy Marksman reel. Most of my reel images have been of older, classic styles, so this time i wanted to do a much more modern looking one. I was drawn to this particular reel because of its distinctive design. Unfortunately, I am pretty sure that Hardy has discontinued it. Too bad, I really like the donut/bagel shape.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My online illustration portfolio

I finally have my fly fishing illustration portfolio online! Just 10 pages of my work, but hopefully it will give a prospective client a pretty good idea of what I can do.

I hope to have a more general graphic design portfolio up and running in the next week. That will have advertising and logo design, television commercials, feature film work, some photography and illustrations.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Beauty is....

Wild trout are like snowflakes - no two are identical. Genetic and environmental variables produce an infinite number of color, size and shape combinations. I never cease to be amazed at their beauty. I guess the closest thing to identical trout would be hatchery fish - they all seem to be the same dull aluminum color and cookie-cutter size. But hatchery fish, too, in their own way are beautiful least in the exaggerated stories I tell when I manage to catch one!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Catching More Ticks than Bass

There isn't any really good troutfishing close to where I live. The closest "blue ribbon" trout streams are a couple hundred miles away. Because of that, I learned to cast a flyrod fishing on a nearby lake for panfish, smallmouth bass and the occasional crappie. It was alot of fun and the fish were sometimes very cooperative. Over the years, the more I fished for trout, the less I even considered driving out to the lake. It could have been laziness, or maybe that snobbishness that flyfishermen sometimes develop...I don't know, or at least I won't admit to either.

A couple of years ago, I did go back to the lake. I wanted to fish from a rocky point area where I had once caught a BIG bass, so I started down a familiar path to it. About halfway there, the trail was blocked by a thick stand of tall bushes. Actually, it wasn't totally blocked. There was a narrow pathway worn through the plants by hikers...or maybe the local animal population. Being a great outdoorsman (NOT), I continued on, pushing my way through the branches and leaves. After I had bushwacked ten feet or so, I noticed 10 or 12 bugs on my shirt. Upon closer inspection, I realized that they were not just ordinary bugs or spiders, they were ticks! I freaked! Suddenly, I found myself back outside of the thicket - I have no recollection of running or jumping or flying out of those tick-infested bushes - but somehow I exited very quickly. Normally, I am a very modest and shy person...not that day. I pulled off half of my clothes and beat them against the nearest rock in a crazed attempt at exterminating the bloodthirsty little parasites.  It's not the first time that I have looked totally insane in public, and I'm sure it won't be the last. I then hoofed it back to my car and sprayed myself head to toe with the toxic DDT-laced bug repellant that I should have applied in the first place. I am sure that many of you who read this will say, "What's the big deal? It's just a few bugs." Well, I have a healthy respect (fear) of ticks. They can infect a person with lyme disease and I have a cousin whose wife has had it for over a decade. She was a very active person and loves the outdoors. In fact, she went mountain biking the day after her wedding. Now, she has good days and bad days. She is often in great pain even though doctors are always pumping her full of antibiotics. They have two great kids and have a pretty nice life...but sometimes I wonder how much they have sacrificed because of that terrible disease.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Driven to Fish

I live in what some call "Trout Hell." Good trout fishing is literally hundreds of miles away. My drive to the Eastern Sierras to fish Hot Creek and the Owens River is over 400 miles, taking over 7 hours, including pitstops for food, gas and bladder relief. Over the years I  have learned which towns have a McDonalds or gas stations that I have credit cards for. I enjoy the drive, the scenery is really diverse, ranging from farmlands to desert to mountains to the windmill turbines near Mojave. During my most recent drive up, a severe storm had passed through California the day before and the clouds were spectacular. A couple of particularly interesting looking formations were made up of wispy, fluffy, lacy and turbulent clouds.

Had they been a part of a movie, they would have been warnings that the end of the world or something very evil was coming. For this fishing trip it was a sign that the fishing was going to be tough. On the other hand, fishing is almost always difficult for me. Sometimes I wonder why I enjoy it so much....

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ironically enough, I'm not a big fish-eater. I love to go fishing and I'm Japanese-American but fish is just not a food I crave. Sure, when in the right mood, I like sushi...real sushi, not fake sushi like California Rolls. I've never really developed the taste for sashimi either - raw fish. Put some ribs or Santa Maria-style barbeque in front of me and I'm happy...very happy.
I do spend a ton of time drawing fish, though. This rainbow trout illustration is my most recent, and possibly best to date. Rainbows can be really beautiful creatures.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Point & Shoot

There used to be an element of uncertainly when taking least for me. I would take the photos, then wait for a week or two for the film to be processed and prints made. There was a combination of fear and excitement when tearing open that yellow-orange envelope from Kodak. Masterpiece or a dark, blurry  waste of paper? 
You could choose your film to suit the subject matter - warm Kodachrome, cool Ektachrome, green Fuji, fast black & white Tri-X. With digital photography, you can manipulate the image with your computer. There are even Photoshop filters to make your digital photos look like they were shot on Kodachrome or Fuji! I take so many more pictures with my digital cameras than I ever did before...but I'm afraid that I probably was a better photographer when I had to think more about what I was doing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Classic Salmon Flies

I have to admit that I really don't understand classic salmon flies. Many of them are beautiful and tying them can truly be called an art form. I am a trout fisherman - trout flies at least suggest some prey item...insects, crustaceans, other fish. At least to my eyes, salmon flies resemble very little in nature, not anything that a fish would normally eat. Do they just piss salmon off to the point that they bite them? Or are there things like color combinations that "trigger" feeding? I have absolutely no idea. Trout fishing is puzzling enough for me!