The New SmithFly Study Blog

The end one thing marks the beginning of another.

I’m super excited to announce the new blog – The Study.

Please direct your RSS readers here:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Smithfly-TheStudy

The Study is a place to enjoy a quiet morning cup of of coffee or a cool evening double, find cool stuff, learn things and generally appreciate life.

This is a place of truth and detail. Every day I will be posting content celebrating greatness in all it’s forms and functions. The study is a place with equal reverence for music, art, literature, sport, design and performance.

On any given day we might take a look at the work of Stephane Grapelli, Flat and Scruggs & Bill Monroe, Robert Johnson,  Paganini, Levon Helm, Rebop Kwaku Baah, Enzo Ferrari, F.E Payne, Loyd Loar, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Phil Hill, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nakashima, Annie Leibovitz, Julia Child, or Payne Stuart.

We might look at the writings of the literary Giants of 1920s Paris, or how a gun maker might adjust a loose forend iron, how a rod maker wraps eyes, links to great barn find autos, tips on tying flies, tuning up a hand plane, sharpening a hand saw, switching a fly reel from left to right hand retrieve, or a recipe for a stiff drink.

We seek to look deep into the marrow of life through the lens of great work in an atmosphere of respect reverence, questions, discipline, hard work, finesse, timeless beauty and quite diligence. 

Please review all the the definitions of the word study below and you might understand why I have chosen it for the SmithFly Blog. It’s one word with many wonderful definitions pertinent to the way I live my life and plan on documenting it here. 

study |ˈstədē|
noun (pl. studies)

1 the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an academic subject, esp. by means of books: the study of English | an application to continue full-time study.
• (studies) study as pursued by one person: some students may not be able to resume their studies.
• an academic book or article on a particular topic: a study of Jane Austen’s novels.
• (studies) used in the title of an academic subject: a major in East Asian studies.
2 a detailed investigation and analysis of a subject or situation: a study of a sample of 5,000 children | the study of global problems.
• a portrayal in literature or another art form of an aspect of behavior or character: a study of a man devoured by awareness of his own mediocrity.
archaic a thing that is or deserves to be investigated; the subject of an individual’s study: I have made it my study to examine the nature and character of the Indians.
archaic the object or aim of someone’s endeavors: the acquisition of a fortune is the study of all.
• [ with adj. ] a person who learns a skill or acquires knowledge at a specified speed: I’m a quick study.[originally theatrical slang, referring to an actor who memorizes a role.]
3 a room used or designed for reading, writing, or academic work.
4 a piece of work, esp. a drawing, done for practice or as an experiment.
• a musical composition designed to develop a player’s technical skill.
5 (a study in) a thing or person that is an embodiment or good example of something: he perched on the edge of the bed, a study in confusion and misery.
informal an amusing or remarkable thing or person: Ira’s face was a study as he approached the car.
verb (studies, studying, studied) [ with obj. ]
1 devote time and attention to acquiring knowledge on (an academic subject), esp. by means of books: she studied biology and botany.
• investigate and analyze (a subject or situation) in detail: he has been studying mink for many years.
• [ no obj. ] apply oneself to study: he spent his time listening to the radio rather than studying.
• [ no obj. ] acquire academic knowledge at an educational establishment: he studied at the Kensington School of Art.
• [ no obj. ] (study up) learn intensively about something, esp. in preparation for a test of knowledge: a graduate student studies up for her doctoral exams.
• (of an actor) try to learn (the words of one’s role).
W. Indiangive serious thought or consideration to: the people here don’t make so much noise, so you will find that the government doesn’t have us to study.
2 look at closely in order to observe or read: she bent her head to study the plans.
3 archaic make an effort to achieve (a result) or take into account (a person or their wishes): with no husband to study, housekeeping is mere play.
PHRASES
in a brown study absorbed in one’s thoughts.[apparently originally from brown in the sense ‘gloomy.’]
ORIGIN Middle English: shortening of Old French estudie (noun), estudier (verb), both based on Latin studium ‘zeal, painstaking application.’
If you liked the Fiddle and Creel, you will like what I’m doing here. The Study is in the same vein but with an expanded umbrella of topics.

Bonbright Distributors and Sweetwater Brewing team up for the coolest Ural bike ever.

Let’s be clear, Ural Motorcycles are cool straight off of the trailer. But when Bonbright Distributors of Ohio signed a deal to bring the popular Sweetwater Brewing of Atlanta to southwestern Ohio, they pulled out the stops on a custom Ural motorcycle to mark the occasion and they hit a HOME RUN. This super cool URAL hits all the notes for most of the beer swilling trout bums I know. Also, Urals are pretty affordable, so this isn’t going to be some trailer queen. This baby is meant to be ridden and will certainly get dusty on some back roads.

Gentlemen, this is your ride.

Featuring custom laser etched oxblood Bison leather seats, kick ass trout and 420 Pale Ale themed brand graphics all around, a custom CNC-cut logo gas cap, and custom tied chartreuse and olive grizzly schlappen fly key chain (tied by yours truly on a 55mm Partridge of Reddich Waddington shank), this is one bad ass way to get the river in style.

And with the sidecar, your fishing buddy doesn’t have to ride bitch and make things all awkward. Nice.

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_1

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_2

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_3

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_4

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_5

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_6

Bonbright_Sweetwater_Ural_7

The bike will be on display tonight at the launch of the new partnership at Riverscape Metro Parks in Dayton Ohio.

Tickets for the launch party are available at the Bonbright Facebook page.

 

How social media and the internet are changing the way pop music sounds.

music_fest

If you haven’t read it yet, go read Taylor Swift’s op-ed in the WSJ.

While not a riveting novella or groundbreaking piece of original research, it is an interesting read, with interesting insights and at least a glimmer of optimism, something we could use more of right now. In it Ms. Swift says “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”

That reminded me of a theory I’ve been kicking around for a while now  — that pop music actually sounds different because of social media and the internet— the Ho Hey singalong chorus is taking over.

It’s simple. Now more than ever “likes” and “fans” and “followers” drive revenue directly.More clicks and more eyeballs means more money. The two are directly related. It even manifests itself into real estate transactions down to the level that the fortune 500 companies (mostly franchises) grading of real estate to determine how many eyeballs dry by a given site on a given day as do websites etc. Traffic = sales = revenue, it’s very simple. More traffic = more money, virtually and in reality, going both ways.

No secret there right? So what does that have to do with the actual content of a song?

Just listen to some popoular songs and you will hear the musical manifestation of artists trying to mimic “likes” and “followers” in song form.

Every time you turn on the radio there is a chorus of 10 or 20 people singing along with the artist during the chorus. The chorus has an actual chorus singing in it <– see what I did there? Yes that is where the chrous gets it’s name, it’s supposed to be singable by a chorus, I get it.

So go listen to songs like:

Ho Hey  – The Lumineers

Demons – Imagine Dragons

Pompeii – Bastile

I will Wait – Mumford and Sons

Happy – Pharell Williams

A light that never comes – Linkin Park and Steve Aoki

American Kids – Kenny Chesney  (even country gets in the act see also every Brad Paisley album recently released)

These songs all follow s similar formula. A guy alone with his contemplative self thinking about stuff and then BAM – instant group of followers all singing in agreement. The songwriter just hit the like button a million times. Sounds like Kickstarter, Twitter or facebook or – (fill in the blank technology company)

It’s the the musical equivalent of a million “likes”. It’s like saying, this artist got a whole army to sing along with him. Many people like them. They must be successful, therefore they make a lot of money. Therefore they must be valuable and I shall like them as well.

I’m not saying I agree with the tactic, or if it even works but I am saying that the ongoings of society may actually be driving the aesthetic decisions of musical artists even if they are sub-rosa or even just coincidental.

No different than the roaring 20s and jazz. The 60s and rock and roll. Or the 70s – coke and disco. The 90s grunge —all the music reflects the times.

Todya’s music is built to make you feel like, a lot of other people like it.

It’s social music…

…with a built in feeling of all your friends agreeing with you and singing along right there in the chorus.

The music industry has rediscovered the value of a singable chorus, that can actually be sung by a chorus. <– sorry did it again 🙂

It also helps that mega music festivals are also a thing, with huge flocks of folks flooding the doors and singing along in real life. Yeah real life, so there’s that too.

So there you have it – social media is actually changing the way music sounds.

I’ll leave you with parting words from one of my musical heroes, Dave Grohl who said, “Don’t bore us, give us the chorus.” And I couldn’t agree more.

 

Before the Flood – 0 for 5 on the PM

Flies_Only_Pere_Marquette_River

We hit the Pere Marquette flies only section on Saturday and apparently so did every other fisherman north of the Mason Dixon Line. Most of the snow was gone, there were steelhead in the river and the forecast was good. Consequently, the people were out in full force. We were fishing with Steve Martinez from peremarquetteguide.com and stayed right on the flies only section at the Red Moose Lodge. Steve is as professional, personable, and amazing as a fly fishing guide can get and the Red Moose Lodge is clean, convenient, affordable and no hassle.

We hit the water late, 11:00 am to bat cleanup and try an avoid the crowd by letting the unwashed masses go ahead of us. As it turns out, most of the other smart folks had the same idea — crowd not avoided. So we leap frogged boats most of the day.

The good news is, there were still plenty of fish in the river. Right off the bat we had a couple good follows from decent browns and one small resident rainbow to hand. So there’s that.

By the end of the day when we hit the honey hole the fish were there in plenty of numbers. Our spirits were only slightly dampened by the rain that moved in.

My wife hooked up first on the indie rig. It spit the hook. That was her first taste of Steelhead and she looked pretty stoked, and soaked.

I jumped out of the boat and waded thigh deep to position myself for the swing on the 11′ switch rod. Then I hooked up to a nice male who boiled and tail-walked a couple times before spitting the hook. I hooked up another nice fish on the swing a few minutes later who alligator rolled me into a real mess before making like Houdini and escaping. The river was up. The current was strong, and the pull was perfectly intoxicating. My wife hooked up another and it promptly ran into some fallen timber and broke her off.

It was 45 degrees, raining consistently and shooting cloud to ground lightning every few minutes or so. Signs were pointing towards heading in, and eventually we did.

By the time we got to the ramp it really started pounding the big rain drop you usually see int he tropics. When the boat was just hitting the trailer, the quarter inch hail started pummeling us. By the next morning over three inches of rain fell. Flood warnings were issued, and we hit the road for home.

El_Poquito_Pere_Marquette_River  Pere_MArquete_River_Resident_RainbowTrout1 Pere_MArquete_River_Resident_RainbowTrout2 Smokem_If_You_Got_Em SteveMartinez_Pere_Marquette

 

 

Catching up

SmithFly_Salmon_River_Mike_Schmidt

M ike Schmidt on the Salmon River swinging flies and rocking a full SmithFly get up. Hook it up.

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated over here.

I’ve been so busy over at SmithFly this thing has taken a back seat, and it may just get retired here soon in favor of a blog on SmithFly.net.

In Jan, Feb and March, I logged 16,000 miles on the road and visited 16 states showing off our SmithFly gear. I met a TON of great people and sold a ton of stuff. It’s been an awesome, start to the new year! New year, hell it’s April, Q1 is toast – but it was a dandy.

We’ve added two great new dealers to the network the Deleware River Club and MyFlies.com. We have more deals in the works. So things are really growing quickly.

We have a BIG deal in the works that could give SmithFly a huge boost of exposure and we are really stoked about that, stay tuned.

Ethan_Smith_SmithFly_Booth_Denver

A great shot from the talented Russ Schnitzer of me at the Denver Fly Fishing show standing in the booth in front of our new retro wordmark.

 

Acquiring someone else’s problems — a new project ’74 FJ40 Resto/mod

Never one to shy away from LARGE PROJECTS, I’m contemplating a new restoration prjoect. A basket case trail rig 1974 FJ40.

I’m not sure about this one, I don’t really have the time, the money or the space, to take it on, but she’s calling my name.

When I was sixteen years old I used to drool over a 40 that was for sale in front of the Sub shop in town. I couldn’t afford it at the time. It was this same color, it might be the same one, albeit more consumed by the ravages of rust and wheeling. I’ve wanted one ever since. For now this is my opportunity and I have a hard time saying no. We shall see, it’s all contingent on getting the title sorted out.

20130927_171337

20130927_171412

Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Troy Ohio with Mumford and Sons — a preview.

Ok — so as most who read this blog with regularity know that I am generally a card carrying member of the BLUEGRASS POLICE. As such I have the right to preform citizens arrests for such offenses as: Playing Songs in the wrong Key, mis-use of a banjo, calling things bluegrass that clearly aren’t, and bluegrass style cover tunes that are just plain wrong-ditty.

As a member of the Bluegrass Police it has been my duty to call out anyone, who in conversation, calls the band Mumford and Sons Bluegrass. I have fulfilled my duty in this charge numerous times since this band came into the spotlight with banjos in tow. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them or their music. In fact I like their music and the band a great deal and think they have pushed the boundaries of traditional acoustic music in ways that are un-imaginable. They have had such a huge influence and have put the banjo and acoustic instruments on stages and in front of audiences that have largely ignored them for years, and for that fact alone, the Bluegrass world owes them an eternal debt of gratitude.

So with that in mind, I must say that I am totally fucking stoked that Mumford and Sons chose my sleepy little hamlet of Troy, Ohio to host a Gentlemen of the Road Stopover. FULL STOP. This is HUGE for Troy and hopefully will shake the town out of it’s stodgy ways for good! Let’s get some cool stuff going for little old troy again.

Here is a video primer on what to expect from the stop over. I can’t wait.

I just heard that another set of tickets are set to be released to the otherwise sold-out show this friday.

The only thing I’m bummed about is that they haven’t called me to sit in with them — yet. My agent is working on that though…

Here’s the line-up:

Stop_Over_LineUp_Troy

More Pics from Beaver Island

Russel_Chahtam_Like_Landscape_Photo_Beaver_Island

I thought this shot looked rather Russel Chatham like.

EHS_Smallmouth_BeaverIsland_2

Because this is the only fish I brought to hand on my carp day, I thought I’d show it again.

GHS_Standing_Lake_MI_Indigo_Guide_Boat

My son with Steve’s BI rig, lunch break.

Untouched_Pastel_Sunset_Over_Lake_Michigan_Beaver_Island

Another pastel waterscape shot. No tweaks here, just as shot.It’s hard to believe that is fresh water.

Trees1

A really cool tree shot, just outside the house. A very surreal little place under those big cedars.

Daddy_Franks_Beaver_Island

The legendary Daddy Franks.

Inside_Island_Aerie_Beaver_Island

The timber frame great room of Island Aerie.

EHS_Wading_Beaver_Island_Flat_for_Carp

Casting at carp.

 

Blanking Carp on Beaver Island

Carp_On_Beaver_Flat

An un-interested and well educated carp on the flats of Beaver Island.

Our first day on Beaver Island I walked out to the beach and spotted the carp. Main Island, wadable. Tight to a rock. Knee deep water. A pod of them. Probably 8-10 in all. All of them over ten pounds, the biggest of them pushing 30.

Last year I didn’t see one carp on the flats of Big Sand Bay. You don’t see fish down there too often. We didn’t know that when we booked that place. But this year we stayed closer to town near a point where Dave Hossler caught a nice one last year. So I thought the fish might be there, but now I had a bead on them.

I tormented them for hours. They tolerated me but for the most part ignored my offerings. A good couple follows, a turn, a few refusals, one good solid take, one head shake and the fish was off. Nothing. After that, they moved into deep water. I toyed with them the next day too, and the following day, but to no avail.

Later, Kevin told told me that those fish had been played with so much that they simply won’t eat a fly anymore. They’re just too well educated in the way of the fly. Alas.

I had two days booked with Steve the first member of the SmithFly Stream Team.

It was the day after JP‘s Carp Trip, and the weather was much better than when Cameron’s Trip was there. However, the Mayfly carp funk was still in effect. Even the uneducated fish weren’t eating like they normally would because they were so stuffed with mayflys. Again, alas.

The wind was blowing a bit the morning we went out. It was choppy with 2 footers projected for the main lake area. We headed a spot called Indian Bay where there’s a dock that leads to a trail into an ancient Indian Burial ground.

We found a decent number of fish, and the mouth flaring meant that they were eating.

After about 6 casts I layed one out to a large carp headed straight towards the boat. One long strip, and pause, the fish chased. I bumped it  a few times, and let it settle. He charged it, flared his lips, and ATE the fly in eight inches of gin clear water, 10 feet from the bow of the boat. When the fish came tight, my leader was almost in the tip top. He rolled up on the surface and his big wide flank of gold shined in the morning sun. Steve let out an affirmative but understated, “NICE DUDE!”. I thought that fish would be in the net in a second. But as soon as the fish laid eyes on the boat, he turned tail and screamed away from us in a panic. He pulled the drag out smoking fast right to the backing, and then, NOTHING.

The line was dead. Fish off.

That was a good sign. Maybe the mayfly carp funk was over? Maybe the day would be better.

But it really wasn’t.

We fished the rest of the day, and found quite a few more fish on the various flats around garden and hog island. We found lots of lookers and one other hook up with accompanied LDR, but that was it. Maybe it was me? I dunno.

To save the day, and avoid being totally skunked, Steve took us to a known smallmouth hang out and we landed and dandy smallie. But it’s NOT why we go to Beaver Island. I love smallies but Beaver is about giant CARP — on the flats.

In Beaver’s defense, my skills just aren’t where they need to be, yet. You have to be able to know EXACTLY where the fly is, many times in choppy, wind-driven, water by watching where the end of your fly line is. You have to be able to move the fly the right way — one big strip, and then little bumps. You have to be able to put the fly in front of the fish in the right way, at the right depth, at the right time. And I’m just not there yet, it also helps to be a MONSTER caster, which I’m not. So really, it was probably , for the most, what I like to call operator error — me.

The fishing really compares to what I’ve read about Permit fishing, and no I’ve never landed a Permit, or even seen one in the wild.

It’s difficult and that’s what keeps us going back. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Kevin suggested maybe I should take up Steelheading in Washington State, it might be easier  🙂

Beaver_Smallie

I’ll be posting a series of posts about other aspects our trip to “the rock” as the locals call it, here in the next few days, so keep your eyes peeled.