SC20 / 04


Under a big sky / Shadows cast in a rhythm / Perfect memories.

SC20 04 /20 as photographed by Polara Studio. Detailed view here. Purchase info here.

First (Real) Casts Since August


That’s the hand enjoying better days.

Some readers have been asking me what’s going on (such as, “Hey, you still breathin’?”), so I figure it’s about time that I resurface with an answer. Not long after the last post that I made here (August 11), I injured a tendon in my casting hand. Felt like a rod of fire being jammed through my hand and forearm, but at least my fingers still worked (no sickening snapping noises). To make a long story much, much shorter, I haven’t been able to properly cast a fly rod until yesterday (and no fishing either! So much for the late summer hopper time).

My hand finally felt good enough to warrant 45 minutes casting with GB yesterday, trying out various rods, including his new 01/20 SC20. My hand felt perhaps 90-perecent, and I took it easy, but it was good to be casting and not wincing every time I tried to sling more than 30 feet of line. Almost killed me to wait this long, but I’d rather have waited than done more damage or extended the healing time for months.

This also put me further behind on the SHFC book project, but that’s the way it goes. Writing a little section today on how to reel in line quickly without it jumping all over the place and potentially wrapping on the tip. Small thing, I know, but I wanted to get it in the book anyway.

So, that’s been my non-casting/non-fishing life since August. It is my hope that I won’t be damaging myself further until the book is done!

SHFC Update — August 11


I am continuing to flail away on SHFC, grabbing writing time as I can. Everything that I plan on including in the book is in the book, but not fully fleshed out. Some chapters are about 97-percent, others are more like 67-percent. It’s the 67-percenters that I am focusing on right now, including the D-Loop chapter (Rolls and Speys).

Since I re-wrote the intro chapters to the book last year, I am in a situation where I also have to propagate some of what I discuss there into the rest of the text. Neither simple nor quick, I’m afraid. I also have to double/triple/quadruple check what I write against the actual casts themselves. The way I see it, this book has to have the details, not just a general “do it like this, and good luck.” In order to get the details in place in a way that makes them useful information, one has to cast then write, then cast again then write again, then do that some more, then…you get the idea.

After I printed Nature of Fly Casting all those years ago, I found about 10 pages of hand-written notes that I forgot to include. They were lurking in an unmarked folder within another folder in another drawer, and…. I fully expect the same thing to happen this time, but I am hoping that I will go over each section with enough new detail that I can make some of those misplaced/forgotten notes irrelevant.

I then have the issue of photos. I know where I am going to do them and how I am going to do them, I just need to go and do them. I will shoot once the summer season has passed and I can get more open water. Fortunately, I am quick in Photoshop and InDesign, and the pics should move along at a decent clip. I am still optimistic for an end-of-2013 finish, with the print run soon after that (figure that I’ll let the book sit for two extra weeks so I can check it over again, then six weeks for the press). The best laid plans can still go sideways, but that’s where I am at right now.

And a special thanks to all who have pre-pre-ordered SHFC. The list is filling up and I am hoping that all 1,001 books will be spoken for at about the same time that thing is actually available.

The Final 11 of 20 (SC20)


After solving a time-consuming production issue, I am offering the J.Borger SC20 rods again. The first batch of SC20s have gone out the door and are now on the water. There are 11 10 of the original 20 numbers remaining: 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Rather than direct you to older posts, below is a run-down of what the SC20 rods are physically, as well as what they represent from a design/personal perspective.


The SC20 is a rod designed for all-around trout fishing, and is based on my memories of casting a shadow under a Montana big sky. It is rolled and built by friends just down the road—artisan-level work by people who love what they do.

The SC20 is 9 feet long, is a 4-piece, and it is designed around 5 and 6-weight lines. It has a deeper overall action with a tip that delivers up close. Consider it a modern re-interpretation of subtle “old-school” sensations.


Expect a gloss-black blank, chromed guides and keeper, black wraps with bright silver accents, a custom-made Western handle, and a laser-engraved nickel-silver reel seat with stabilized burl insert. A matching, laser-engraved and numbered rod tube with cloth sack is also part of the package.

Also expect haiku. I find pleasure in reading haiku (both traditional and modern), and am including 5-7-5 “haiku in English” verses on the SC20. The following is hand-written on the blank:

under a big sky

shadows cast in a rhythm

perfect memories

I will be the first to admit that my haiku is what one might kindly call “modern, miscellaneous” haiku, but still adhering to the 5-7-5 syllable structure of many English haiku poems. These verses represent my thoughts about the origin of the SC20, and I hope that they bring some pleasure to those who enjoy short-form structure.

The price is $727, shipped*. You can reserve your number with a 50-percent deposit. Expect 5 to 6 weeks for delivery at this point in time. Use the “Contact JB” link in the blog’s header or leave a comment to get things going via private email.

*State/country taxes, duties, etc. are the responsibility of the purchaser.

Leadership Intensive (Bring a Rod)

For any FF&W readers who might be interested in a rather special corporate/personal leadership intensive, my father (GB) is participating in a program with world-renowned author and leadership coach, Stephen McGhee, and my long-time fishing friend, Douglas Freimuth. The program will be built around three days of fly-fishing and runs September 19 – 22. The location is the beautiful 4UR ranch in southwestern Colorado. More details can be found on GB’s blog and/or by downloading this PDF file (778KB).

AMFF — Angling & Art Benefit


I recently  completed three smaller watercolors for the American Museum of Fly Fishing’s upcoming Angling and Art benefit sale. With the schedule I have been attempting to keep, I painted the pieces quickly and with a more open, perhaps slightly expressionist hand in some areas (orange water? My mind likes the way it feels, so there it is).

The piece above is a headshot of a wild, native steelhead from the Deschutes River (caught and released by my friend, Nate Koenigsknecht). In addition to half of the sale proceeds benefiting the Museum, another 10-percent of the remaining proceeds will be donated to WaterWatch of Oregon.

The painting is matted as 6 x 9 inches, but strangely looks much larger to my eye in its frame. Odd how that works sometimes. This is a fish that I think is a great repeat subject, so expect to see more versions of it from me going forward.

A New Angle


Can’t believe I’ve off the blog for a month, but I’ve been barely keeping my head above water, so to speak. Among many things, I’ve been painting. Just finishing up a bigger piece tonight, and thought I’d take a few pix before I completed the background. On a whim I decided to shoot wide-angle at an angle, and got a whole new angle on my work. Really like what happened here, and I see some very interesting possibilities for new efforts….

I’ll be back in action here ASAP.

Update: The finished piece is below, shot at the same general angle.


Gorging with Ronan


As many FF&W readers know, Paul Arden’s is *the* English-language destination for technical fly-casting discussion (via the SL bulletin board) on the Web. What many may not know is that it also hosts a blog, written primarily by Ronan Creane.

If you dig real-deal, adventure style fly fishing in NZ (who doesn’t?) then you should be reading Ronan. His recent series on fishing out-the-way gorges in NZ has me feeling a little crazy. Of all the days I’ve ever had in NZ, two of the top three were in out-of-the-way gorges that required real effort to get into (but worth every sand fly bite).

If Ronan’s post don’t get your blood pumping, check to make sure you still have a pulse.




To finish up the TAaP post triple, here’s a link to the Table of Contents (PDF file). If you had any question as to what TAaP might contain, hopefully this will go some distance toward an answer. I think that GB is brewing up something else on the book, so I’ll let him post at his blog before I go and put up an excerpt, etc.

TAaP = Done


Finally, The Angler as Predator (or TAaP to those of us waaaay too familiar with it) is done. I have some of the usual end-of-process clean-up in the Index file and then I need to generate the press PDFs, but all 208 pages are otherwise ready to go.

Some readers may realize that 208 pages is long (the previous books have been 192). After flowing all the text, dropping in the images, and looking at total pages, GB and I realized that there was no way we could hit 192. I’m guessing that it will be about six weeks from this week and those long books will be in-hand. I hope that all readers of the “Fly Fishing” series will find TAaP to be a worthy, 208-page addition.

I feel that with TAaP, the Series is really hitting its stride in terms of the inter-relationships between the books. In TAaP, you will see some more illustrations and stories from other books, tuned to work with the educational direction that TAaP takes. That is 100-percent intentional in every way. All of the Series books are meant to have some degree of crossover—a tying together—and it just felt like TAaP was the book that made it really obvious. I hope that readers will sense that they are seeing fly fishing from various angles, including individual angling events looked at multiple ways. That would be success for GB and me on many levels.

With TAaP out of the way, I can now focus on two other texts: GB’s just-written Fly Gear (book five in the Series), and my own monster known as Single-Handed Fly Casting (a monster that has consumed me mentally for a number of years). 2013 should present a full plate for me, indeed.

Wild Pixels and “The Angler as Predator”


Today’s story problem: GB is in sunny, warm Argentina catching numerous large brown trout. I am in the rainy Pacific Northwest, herding obstinate pixels. Which one of us is having more fun?

While you ponder the answer, I’ll just let you know that The Angler as Predator, the next book in the “Fly Fishing” series, is almost done. GB is due back on the 19th and he’ll have a finished file to look over and approve for press.

GB has also informed me that he finished up the text for Fly Gear on his way down to South America, so I’ll be moving right into that after TAaP is out of the way. Somewhere in the mix I also have a new casting book of my own to get done and a new rod brand to contend with. I do these things to myself for some brutal reason.

I’ll get an except from TAaP up here shortly. In the meantime, I hear the thundering hooves of wild pixels out on the range….

Drawing Fish 52 (2012) Revisited – Tarpon


This first made an appearance during the Drawing Fish & Flies 52 project from a couple of years back, and I still like how it turned out. It was second of two tarpon images from that week in March, 2012. You can read the full, archived DF52 post here.

Friday Fish Fry – First Fish


If you read my last Friday Fish Fry post, you already know where this photo was taken. If not, this is from Squaw Creek in Montana’s Gallatin River drainage. It’s the first trout that I actually cast to myself and landed myself. My father had been training me in both aspects (as I had the patience to learn) and then it all came together one late summer day in 1972. There was much panic and shouting during the whole episode, and some of it may have even been mine. After my father got calmed down enough to hold the camera steady, he took this shot.

(And yes, it was tasty cooked with butter, salt, and pepper over an open campfire).

A Quick Rod Design Thought


I want a fly rod that feels like a companion accompanying me on a journey.

I’ve been asked a few times in the last weeks if my rod designs are/will be focused on all-out casting performance. That’s a loaded question. If I say “no,” does that mean they don’t cast as well as they could? If I say “yes,” does that mean that they are designed as “parking lot rods”? The answer (and the question, too) is far more complex in my mind.

Although I am perhaps known as a caster first and foremost, my rod design philosophy is tempered by the entirety of my fly-fishing life, as well as my background in the arts. To me, a fly rod is a companion on a journey comprised of angling moments. Each moment is the culmination of many actions, and I want my fly rod to feel as if it is an extension of those actions, not an anonymous stick wiggling somewhere in the middle of it all. I use my fly rod as tool, yes, but a tool that I want to talk to me, a tool that I want to expresses me, a tool that I want to have beauty and style within a beautiful art-sport.

I don’t mean to anthropomorphize fly rods, but if they don’t make me feel as if they have character and can communicate with me, what’s the point of my bothering with all that is required to make them?

So, my rod designs are/will be meant to provide a broad range of characteristics—characteristics that I hope will give them a place in the moments of your own fly-fishing journey as much as they will in mine.