The Art of Fly Fishing: Jake Keeler

Talk long enough with seasoned anglers and eventually you’ll hear someone say, “there’s an art to fly fishing.” That’s a curiously poetic phrase. They’re usually talking about technique, presentation or tying, but it’s interesting to see the correlation one makes between angler and artist. The Black Gnats are equally interested in this connection, so we’ve started a recurring section called “The Art of Fly Fishing” to highlight the unique stories and individuals that bring these two worlds together. This week’s featured artist …

Jake Keeler

Interview by Garrick Dorsett

Jake Keeler is a fly-fisher from St. Paul, MN … where the fishing is good, the homebrew runs constantly, and the thermometer starts reading at “cold.” Jake has his MFA in painting and drawing and is a former college professor (true to our hearts). He now pursues a budding career in homebrewing and craft beers (you might know him from his days in Brewing TV), as well as putting out some killer fish-themed art. In his own words, his art explores “concepts of mortality, life cycles, and the raw and sometimes brutal side of nature. We fish, and by the very nature of doing so, we kill; directly or indirectly.”

Black Gnats: Who or what inspired you to get into fly fishing?

Jake Keeler: I’ve been fishing since 5 or so. Fly fishing came to me a bit later in life – around my late twenties. Two of my closest friends where/are serious fly fisherman. They introduced me to the lifestyle and method of fishing. It grabbed hold of me and I’ve never looked back.

©2014 Jake Keeler

Gonterakus The Conjurer (Necromancer 3) | 24″ x 24″ | Pen and acrylic on wood

“[Fly fishing] grabbed hold of me and I’ve never looked back.”

BG: Who or what inspired you to get into art?

JK: I’ve had art all around me from the moment I could see. I come from a long line of artists, so making art and creating things was – and still is – a way of life. It’s not Continue reading

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Video Shout Out: Kiss the Water

We’re busy at work this week and feeling under the weather, so this week’s Shout Out is short and sweet. We stumbled across the trailer for “Kiss the Water” a few days ago and have been excited to add this documentary to our “Must Watch” list of fly fishing movies. Directed by Eric Steel, (the same guy that did “The Bridge,” the documentary that chronicled a year of suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge) this visually stunning flick crosses the pond to tell the story of the late Megan Boyd. Although never having fished a day in her life, Boyd had a reputation for tying flies so intricate and memorable it earned her the British Empire Medal from Queen Elizabeth II.

If you’re a fly tying fanatic, be sure to check it out some time. Vimeo even has is for rental and for sale on their VOD service.

Tight lines!

– The Black Gnats

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“What a tourist terms a plague of insects, the fly fisher calls a great hatch.”

-Patrick F. McManus

Quote of the Week


Video Shout Out: Very Bad Fly Fishing

Don’t let the title fool you … there’s no “bad” fly fishing happening in this short film. In fact, the fishing (or, we should say, the filming quality) is some of the best stuff we’ve seen lately. The “bad” they’re referring to here is the poor, unfortunate luck of one Peter Christensen as he follows the Nylinder brothers – Rolf and Harald – on an expedition in New Zealand for huge trout. Peter is plagued by some truly bad breaks and it really doesn’t help to watch the brothers reel in fish after fish, laughing and giggling like kids at Christmas. Surely, we’ve all felt Peter’s pain at one time or another though, and that’s what makes this edit so relate-able.

Apparently, a lot of other people must feel the same way. The video has managed to get over 3,000 views in the two days since it was posted!

Tight lines!

– The Black Gnats

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Video Shout Out: Vacation

You might recall a video we featured back in early December called Fish Head. Well, the dude featured in that flick – Parker Smith – just put out a new video this week on his Vimeo channel called “Vacation” and it’s definitely worth checking out. Parker, probably frustrated like the rest of us, decided to take two weeks off work and get into some fish. He summarizes it best at the start of the video as simply …

“It’s been a long winter.” –Parker Smith

There are so many things we envy about this video.

  1. The fish
  2. The careless abandon
  3. The fish
  4. The GoPro footage
  5. The fish
  6. The music selection
  7. The fish
  8. The ‘stache
  9. And, finally, all those damn fish

Tight lines!

– The Black Gnats

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“Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; give him religion, and he’ll starve to death while praying for a fish.”


Quote of the Week


“Man can learn a lot from fishing – when the fish are biting no problem in the world is big enough to be remembered.”

-Orlando Battista

Quote of the Week


Friday! Fly Day! Little Black Stonefly Nymph

So, it’s the night before Opening Day here in Central PA, and we almost forgot to tie one of the more important early spring patterns, the little black stonefly nymph. Stoneflies are one of the first food sources for trout coming out of the winter months and, while they have more abundant numbers on western streams, the east coast also has some regular hatches, so don’t forget to include some in your box.

Tim from Tightlines Productions has a great, simple approach to the pattern, which we find easy and fun to tie. Try it for yourself!

Here’s what you’ll need …

Hook: 3X long nymph hook (Dai-Riki #285), size 14-20
Thread: Black, 6/0 (Danville Flymaster waxed thread)
Legs: Perfect Rubber Silicone Legs
Abdomen: Black Stretch Tubing
Wingcase: 6-8 natural pheasant-tail fibers
Thorax: Black dubbing

Here’s one off Andy’s bench!

Tight lines!

– The Black Gnats

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Video Shout Out: Blood Knot Trailer

We were listening to the Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast this week and heard a great interview with Colby Trow of Mossy Creek Fly Shop in Harrisonburg, VA. Colby and Tom talked mostly about smallmouth bass fishing and the fishery down in Virgina, but Colby (and his twin brother Brian) are also the focus of the film Blood Knot, which documents the brothers foray into fly fishing and entrepreneurship in, what many are calling, the “unheralded fishing destination” in the country. The Shenandoah Valley has a huge offering of species to target, including hard-to-find mountain brook trout, spring creek rainbows and browns, as well as some of the best smallmouth, carp and musky fishing out there. Check out the teaser trailer for the film.

You can read more about Blood Knot, as well as the other great films, at the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) website. Also, be sure to check out the full Orvis podcast episode to hear the interview with Colby. (And start subscribing to the podcast if you aren’t already. It’s one of the best ones out there.)

Tight lines!

– The Black Gnats

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“The true fisherman approaches the first day of fishing season with all the sense of wonder and awe of a child approaching Christmas.”

-Robert Traver

Quote of the Week


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