Header image
Enter a name
Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Salmonflies
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Dorsal view of a Pycnopsyche guttifera (Limnephilidae) (Great Autumn Brown Sedge) Caddisfly Larva from the Yakima River in Washington
This specimen appears to be of the same species as this one collected in the same spot two months earlier. The identification of both is tentative. This one suffered some physical damage before being photographed, too, so the colors aren't totally natural. I was mostly photographing it to test out some new camera setting idea, which worked really well for a couple of closeups.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Jun 20, 2008June 20th, 2008, 4:39 pm EDT
Gonzo, I thought you would enjoy seeing these artistic tied flies. This is taking Match the Hatch to a new level. :-)

http://www.grahamowengallery.com/fishing/more-fly-tying.html

and then selling them for films & product advertisements...

http://www.filmflies.com/

GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jun 20, 2008June 20th, 2008, 5:36 pm EDT
John,

Although Graham and I have never met, I first became aquainted with his amazing flies through some very kind comments he posted about a certain book. (He participates in a realistic tying forum.) Tying flies for the movie industry is just another example of his ingenuity. I suppose there are some advantages to living in Burbank. :)
Shawnny3
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jun 21, 2008June 21st, 2008, 12:55 am EDT
What an innovative and practical application for this type of tying! Graham's work is quite amazing. Another realistic tier that I think is even more amazing is Bill Logan. I don't know where to find his work on the web, but his flies just completely blow me away. Many of the techniques used to make these flies begin to cross the line (in my opinion) from true tying into some other art form, but that makes them no less impressive artistically.

What sets Gonzo's work apart, in my eyes, is how efficiently he's designed his patterns to be tied. These other guys are spending many, many hours making a single fly, and many of Gonzo's 20-minute ties look just as good if not better, especially to fish. There are those (I won't mention any names) who are taking tying away from fishing and making it art for art's sake, but Gonzo's stuff is both artistic and applicable to real fishing situations. And I respect that practical artistry a great deal.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Jun 21, 2008June 21st, 2008, 1:26 am EDT
Graham's flies are amazing to me as an artistic form that has value in other industries, not as flies you would ever fish with. I never thought of tying insects on a hook to be used as a movie prop or in print ads. Pretty cool!

$350 for a Hex!!

I agree, Gonzo's flies are trying to combine more realism with less calories and still taste great! Especially when it comes to your eastern-bred, educated, finicky trout.
Trtklr
Banned
Michigan

Posts: 115
Trtklr on Jul 2, 2008July 2nd, 2008, 11:06 am EDT
I have seen this site in the past and wow. I want to know what he is using for wing material and the body I think is a liquid foam that hardens. I have seen his photos of putting them together but he never really talks about what he is using.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jul 2, 2008July 2nd, 2008, 1:43 pm EDT
Scott,

You can talk to Graham directly at:

http://www.flytyingforum.com/index.php?showforum=49.

Although I have never communicated with him, he seems like a very nice person. He'll probably answer your questions (unless he considers some of his techniques proprietary).
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 6, 2008July 6th, 2008, 5:41 am EDT
Hey Guys,
I was just checking my web stats and found this link and thought I’d drop in and say hi and thank you for the kind remarks.
I stopped participating full time on web forums last winter, sort of quit cold turkey, after realizing how addicted I had become, had posted several thousand times, often consuming several hours daily, and worried that it would get worse, and I’d turn into a Gollum figure behind my precious monitor…lol..
Anyway, I’ve been trying to spend my time more constructively this year, and luckily, the bug making business is off to a good start. It all started about a year ago when I was contacted by Paramount Pictures to purchase realistic houseflies for a scene with Brad Pitt in the upcoming movie Benjamin Button. This is when I learned about the filming regulations that disallow the filming of dead animals as props, which includes insects. The regulations are strict enough that recently I had to send 4 scorpions to Puerto Rico where the movie A Perfect Getaway is being filmed, because the star drinks an expensive brand of tequila which contains a dead scorpion at the bottom of the bottle, and they cannot film the bottles until they replace the real scorpions with replicas. A fun project was making bees for the Disney movie Bedtime Stories for a scene where a bee lands on Adam Sandler’s ice cream cone, and he puts it in his mouth. I arrived on the set, being filmed at a gorgeous home in S Pasadena, with my order of bees, and it felt great having the studio folks excited about the bees looking so realistic and detailed. On set they had a very large plastic ice cream cone and a bee about the size of a football, as backup, to be filmed in the same light as the filming of Adam, and if my bee’s were not suitable, they would have filmed the plastic bee and cone, and later using computer imaging, incorporated that setup into the scene frame by frame. I was told that I had just saved the studio about $80k in post production costs. I then suggested that I could make more bees, with an internal 1mm hollow core, which could fly down a wire onto the ice cream, and after being told I was a genius, and asked if could I have the flying bees ready in two days, I drove home with the biggest smile I’d had since my son was born.
Being located in Burbank has certainly been helpful, and when the studio people stop by my house, and see my pickled bug collection, books, and my realistic replica bug display, they know they’ve come to right place. I have learned to rent the bugs for half price, as opposed to selling them, which allows me to continue building inventory. Occasionally the terms change, such as recently when I rented wasps for HBO’s new comedy Little Britain, for a hunting scene, where things didn’t go so well, and wasps are cooked at the ends of the sticks over a campfire, and during filming they decided to shoot a wasp with a shotgun. Apparently they filmed this forty times, close up, before the wasp was completely destroyed. The studio people were thrilled, and so was I. Durability is a key selling point with my bug supply business, the wings are made from a tear proof material, legs are typically made from various size broom bristles, and tails and antennas are made with paint brush fibers. For body materials I often use foam from flooring tiles, cut it into strips with a razor blade, and tye it onto the base, with is often a fishing hook, of copper wire which allows for bending the body after tying is completed, as well as 1mm hollow tubing. I tye everything, fold over the tag end, wrap more thread, and this makes the bugs exceptionally strong, resulting in legs and wings that will not come off unless purposely and forcefully done. Tying also allows for more precise positioning and adjustment of materials than gluing.
I guess I could ramble on and on, but I have to say that I have been greatly inspired by Jason’s bug photography and Gonzo’s book, which is my favorite fly tying resource. BTW, I have only sold two of the realistic hex flies, both sent to Europe weeks before Christmas of 07, but the studios often buy a dozen or two per order, byt haven’t ordered any aquatic insects, yet. A few months ago I sold a solar energy contracting business I founded back in 1985, which has provided a nice cushion while I grow my bug-prop business. Over the years I personally installed solar panels on the roofs of many movie stars, producers, writers, etc, which is helping me to penetrate the entertainment industry. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, and if all goes as planned, I’ll have a studio in Burbank with a row of Chinese ladies making realistic life-sized bugs.

Cheers,
Graham
Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Jul 6, 2008July 6th, 2008, 5:50 am EDT
Graham,

Thank you for posting some history behind your realistic bug business. Your bug realism is superb! I hope you keep up your terrific photography too, it is also great to see your bug photos.

I wish you the best of luck.
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 6, 2008July 6th, 2008, 6:25 am EDT
Thanks Wiflyfisher,

I just arrived back from a week in the Adirondack's, and surprising, spent more time photographing than fly fishing. It was Great trip, what a beautiful place to visit. My passion for photography will never fade.

Graham
Trtklr
Banned
Michigan

Posts: 115
Trtklr on Jul 8, 2008July 8th, 2008, 4:36 am EDT
I appreciate the post Graham, someday I will make flies like those now that I have found fly fishing and the rewards that come with it.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 8, 2008July 8th, 2008, 12:11 pm EDT
Hi Trtklr,

Thanks, and I hope you do get into realistic tying, it can be relaxing at times, as well as frustrating at times.

I get a kick out of the large number of e-mails I get from scientists around the world, especially entomologists, due to some of my fly photos being copied from my website and published in The Atlas of Creation.
Here’s a link to a blog from yesterday…

http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,2833,UPDATED-Venomous-Snakes-Slippery-Eels-and-Harun-Yahya,Richard-Dawkins

And here’s a web page with a bit more info about the copied photos…

http://www.filmflies.com/Misc.html

Cheers,
Graham
Troutnut
Troutnut's profile picture
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2758
Troutnut on Jul 8, 2008July 8th, 2008, 8:18 pm EDT
Graham, that's hilarious about the Atlas of Creation! I remember reading about that back when it first happened, on PZ's blog I think, but I don't know if I realized it was one of your flies or not. Funny stuff.

If you've got a minute sometime, it's be great if you could enter some of your flies into the perpetual tying contest at http://www.hacklehead.com/. I'm sure they'd take up some permanent spots in the top of the rankings! You can put a plug for your website in your profile and it'll show up above all your flies, too.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jul 9, 2008July 9th, 2008, 9:56 am EDT
Hi Graham,

Although I agree with Jason that the theft of your photos led to an hilarious incident, it is a little scary as well.

Anyway, it's nice to finally talk to you (more or less) directly. It gives me an opportunity to thank you for your kind words.

Best,
Lloyd
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 10, 2008July 10th, 2008, 4:20 am EDT
Hi Jason,

Thanks for the heads-up regarding Hacklehead contest, I’ll post a few flies shortly.

Hi GONZO,

It’s an honor and pleasure to meet you online.

Your book Fly-Fishing Pressured Water is my favorite book, for numerous reasons. I’m completely blown away and captivated by your trout illustrations, you certainly have amazing artistic talent, and your trout are gorgeous. Your ingenious tying skills are incredible and truly inspirational. I really like they way your step-by-step tying sequences are documented with photographs, rather than drawn illustrations, which gives makes it easier to see exactly how you accomplished your patterns. I also love the way the book is written, blending fly tying and fly fishing history with modern cutting –edge techniques results in pleasurable and interesting reading, and your book is the most readily available at my tying desk. In an effort to make more room at my tying desk I’ve moved my relatively large book collection into my living room, but your book remains in place, and when studio folks drop by to pick up flies, the name of the book doesn’t indicate that I may perhaps be getting my inspiration from others…lol.. Anyway, I sure hope our paths cross someday, it would be a pleasure to get to know you. I wish I could do half of the things you are capable of.

Warmest regards,
Graham
GONZO
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
GONZO on Jul 10, 2008July 10th, 2008, 7:58 am EDT
Geez, Graham...

I am completely overwhelmed--and blushing like a girl. I have admired your work ever since discovering it on Fly Tying Forum, and I sincerely appreciate your willingness to help others. Obviously, I also entirely empathize with your former forum addiction. (Your Gollum comment was another example of something that was hilarious and scary at the same time.)

I, too, sincerely hope that we can meet sometime. That would be my honor. Unfortunately, given fuel prices and the perpetual sorry state of my finances, I doubt that it will be anytime soon. The only time that I have visited your neck of the (Holly-)woods, I spent most of my time playing tennis, gawking at girls, and riding Space Mountain. (That should give you some idea of how very long ago it was.)

Your generous praise of my artwork was especially gratifying, given that illustrating the book with paintings and drawings was something that I had truly hoped to avoid. My deadline was rapidly approaching, and I was desperately looking forward to a finish when my editor insisted that I do the artwork. I really hadn't done any painting or drawing for many years and tried to argue that Norm's 466 color photos seemed like more than enough illustration to me. But she would have none of it. Other than a couple of pre-existing pieces, most of that work was produced in a frantic flurry of sketching and splashing paint day and night for a few very short weeks. I don't think I have ever been so relieved to have finally finished something in my life. Despite that, comments like yours make it all seem worthwhile.

Thank you, again. I hope that your unique and amazing bug-making enterprise is an outlandish success.

Best,
Lloyd
Shawnny3
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jul 11, 2008July 11th, 2008, 3:15 am EDT
Welcome, Graham. Your prop-making idea and the skill with which you've realized it are fantastic. I have a great deal of respect for people who find ways to make their innovation profitable. It is hard enough to come up with truly new ideas, but making money with them is much, much harder still. I'm also trying to make an incredibly expensive and time-consuming tying obsession pay for itself, and though I'm now starting to see a few returns, I'm still a long way from making it profitable. I really hope you do very well at this endeavor and continue to enjoy the works you're commissioned to make. Never apologize for the price of your work, because you deserve every penny you earn from it!

Now, every time I see a bug in a movie, I'm going to wonder if it's one of yours. If you get the time, please let us know which movies to look for them in.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 11, 2008July 11th, 2008, 5:36 am EDT
Hi GONZO,

I’m even more impressed to learn that your beautiful illustrations were a rush job!!! I’d rather be rich in talent and have a slim wallet than the other way around, and either way, you have my greatest respect.

Hi Shawnny3, I’ve been admiring your flies and hooks for a while now, they flow with such elegance, ingenuity and creativity.

Regarding the cost of my flies, I won’t apologize for the cost, and I’ve learned to rent them as opposed to selling them, for a number of reasons, which include building inventory, future income, and potential sales to collectors of movie props, after they appear on screen. My neighbor across the street owns a business that makes the robotics and control systems for themed entertainment, such as the Disney and Universal Studios rides. He thinks I will be able to increase my prices by ten to twenty fold in a year or two, which sounds good to me. I have very recently noticed a slowdown in business due to the cyclical nature of the filming industry, summer is the slow time, and, the industry is still recovering financially from the writers’ strike. You asked; things to watch out for; flies on the bull in the soon to be on TV Orbit gum Sangria flavor commercial, scorpions in the movie A Perfect Getaway, bee’s in the Disney movie Bedtime Stories, (Adam Sandler eats one that lands on his ice cream cone, Brad Pitt spooning flies out of a honey pot and placing them on his breakfast plate in the Paramount Pictures film Benjamin Button, a boy feeding flies to his pet spider in the film Cirque du Freak, wasps being blasted with a shotgun and cooked in the upcoming HBO comedy series Little Britain, and other things I signed non-disclosure agreements for. After some of these bugs are seen on screen, and the studios have confidence in my ability to create as well as being reliably on time, my prices will increase. I’m still getting my foot in the door. My other passion is photography, and I have recently invested a lot of time and money building a home studio, which is also portable. Next Tuesday I shoot headshots and environmental scenes for a large law firm in Glendale, and the following week, two more law offices, one on Orange county and the other in Century City. This pays a lot more than making bugs, the location setup fee for my equipment alone is $1k. This weekend I’ll be working on brochures, as well as deciding how to completely change my gallery-website to draw attention to this activity. I’m going through an exciting change in my life right now and it feels great to be driven with creative juices. My goal isn’t to become filthy rich, instead to do what I love, and continue, for the time being, to live comfortably in Burbank, and eventually move to the country with more natural surroundings. The internet and overnight delivery services will eventually allow me to move my prop supply business, if all goes as planned.

Cheers,
Graham

Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Jul 11, 2008July 11th, 2008, 6:28 am EDT
This weekend I’ll be working on brochures, as well as deciding how to completely change my gallery-website to draw attention to this activity


Graham, today most people are task driven when searching for things on the web. For your web site, think about how they would search for the services you offer and write down those phrases. You can also do some keyword phrase research using keyword tools to see which are the best to embed in your page titles and content. That will greatly improve your ability to pull your targeted audience to your site from listings in the search engines. Also, incoming links from other "relevant" web sites will also help.

As example, here is a freebie tool from Google:

https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Best wishes!
Shawnny3
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Shawnny3 on Jul 11, 2008July 11th, 2008, 4:23 pm EDT
Thank you, Graham, for your kind words. I'm flattered you know and like my work.

It's hard for most people to appreciate the amount of time that goes into artistic tying. I'm sure that right now you are pricing your time quite low as you attempt to establish your business. I know my prices would double if I charged what your average auto mechanic does for my time. A good friend of mine who owns a successful custom jewelry business gave me some great advice when I was just starting out: Let your customers grow with you. That statement has many meanings, but most importantly it regards both the level of my work and what my customers are willing to pay for it. Along those lines, he also advised me to leave a lot of room for growth in my work, and I have. I certainly hope that what I'm doing now will someday pale in comparison with what I'm doing then, and that's an exciting prospect that gives me creative energy. I'm sure that that idea applies to your prop-making venture as well, and I look forward to seeing how that aspect of your tying develops. The possibilities are really exciting.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
Graham
Burbank

Posts: 6
Graham on Jul 15, 2008July 15th, 2008, 1:59 pm EDT
Thank you John and Shawn for such interesting and insightful advice.

I had such a Great day today, did the law office photo shoot, which went well, but, in the middle of it my cell phone rang, the caller was the head prop guy at Warner Brothers studios, and he needed bees for a show called Pushing Daises. Sounds like the actor will touch a bee, and it will come to life. He just left my house, and it sounds like he will be bringing in a lot of work for me. He couldn’t have been happier with the bees, and I rented three of them for two weeks. I just had to share this fantastic development with you guys, and now I need to spend a few hours processing photos from today’s shoot.

I think this is pretty cool as well...
http://www.fieldandstream.com/article_gallery/The-Most-Realistic-Flies-Youve-Ever-Seen/1

Cheers,

Graham

Quick Reply

Related Discussions

Topic
Replies
Last Reply
3
Mar 24, 2011
by FredH
2
Sep 21, 2017
by Jmd123
2
Feb 2, 2007
by Martinlf
Troutnut.com is copyright © 2004-2024 (email Jason). privacy policy