There are few people in the fly industry who live up to a preconceived notion of what they might be like in person. Rich Strolis surpassed expectations. We had been friends for years via e-mail and Fishbook, he would readily answer questions I had regarding tying specifics for the Shimmer Stone or Ice Pick. When I had difficulty finding Rust Orangutan Ice Fur for the Shucked Up Emerger pattern, he pointed me in the proper direction. Or when he had some extra Yellowstone Fly Goods Scud Dub for the Classified Caddis, I got a little package in the mail.
I had full intention of writing this last spring after we met at the Midwest Expo. But life happens, wether it was the farm, or work, school, kids, truck issues, moving, guiding, I can’t tell you what…<?> After meeting Rich in person, and discovering he was a ‘straight up, No frills-tell it like it is’ kind of guy, and having a couple of adult beverages while catching up with the Ginger Viking from Florida, we headed to our rooms to ready for the big show. The next morning we talked over coffee about the industry and how things have changed. It is amazing when one thinks about it. Two anglers from across the midwest, can virtually meet and establish a base friendship eventually making a connection in person. There are a couple others as genuine as Rich, we tend to gravitate towards one another, often lifting each other up and helping out when possible and hanging out at the end of a long day on the expo floor.
I can’t remember the exact first day I found his style of tying, but I was immediately drawn to the Shimmer Stone and was primary reason for wanting to pick up his book- CATCHING SHADOWS~ Tying Flies for the Toughest Fish and Strategies for Fishing Them. I was on the pre-order and got lucky #3 out of 100 signed copies. Later become enamored with the Headbanger Sculpin and Hog Snare streamer. Rich has been doing a fair share of Live Fly Tying feeds on Facebook(check out last weeks mini-Masked Avenger), the small little trick you can pick up on from a guy who has literally tied thousands of most of his flies is immeasurable. I try to catch them when I don’t have previous engagements, highly recommend them if you have time. Rich and Mike Schmidt have both received a little criticism from other tyers, saying that they should put their instructional videos on Vimeo or other service and ‘do a pay to play’, but they both feel it is more important to share than to profit. Might be why they book more tying gigs at local fly shops.
A few things that I found very pleasing about the book. It reads well, smooth, well thought out, not too wordy, basic, in layman terms, for all of us to understand. The photography makes the book. Detailed, and well composed, throughout. Very consistent and Rich has the ability to walk you through each step, even the tricky ones, he presents the patterns well. The stories on how each pattern came to be, the research and development are critical, some flies make it, others become tree ornaments, he has a good time sharing those moments with the reader. It is not just a book on streamers, nor nymphs, nor dries, but a little of each of his favorite patterns that he has used and perfected from his home waters on the Farmington and Housatonic Rivers to trips out west. If you have picked this book up, you may agree, I have yet to find much I don’t like, and continue to read and find more helpful techniques when I am tying. This book will last the test of time on your bookshelf, and should be on your Holiday wish list. Check out Rich and his work at www.catchingshadows.com and look for his next tying demonstration, tell him I sent you. Tight Lines & Happy Holidays!!