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.

Drawing Fish 52 (2011) Revisited – Brook Trout

A little look back at what I was doing two years ago this week with the Drawing Fish 52 project (along with Jeff Kennedy). The week’s subject matter was a brook trout and the image below was my take on it in 30 minutes or less. I have included some of the original text from the post, as well.


Drawing Fish 52 Brook Trout. What a favorite of both my childhood and adult angling lives. From swampy Northwoods creeks, to icy alpine lakes, to Hudson Bay rivers, brookies have been there. This fish is one that I caught on Canada’s Sutton River many moons ago. It was one of, if not the biggest, brook trout I’ve had on a dry fly (well, actually a mouse fly). Just shy of two feet and absolutely slab-bodied.

Notes: This is a revisiting of a fish I drew (over many hours) for my father’s old Presentation book project. I’ve been wanting to revisit it for some time and this was a good excuse. Instead of a Rapidograph pen and 10,000 carefully applied dots, I did this in loose pencil and over-the-top watercolor. In some ways I like it better than the achingly precise illustration I did all those years ago. The color structure is meant to look like a topo map from above and to represent all of the types of waters where I have caught brook trout.

Tech Info: Pencil and watercolor on Moleskine watercolour paper (approx. 5″ x 7.5″ with one torn edge).

Random Monday Fishing Shot(s)



My wife Kelley, working a run on Montana’s Gallatin. Liked the juxtaposition of fully-saturated color and a limited (6 tone) gray scale.

SC20 haiku

I find pleasure in reading haiku (both traditional and modern), and will be including 5-7-5 “haiku in English” verses on all J.Borger rods. The SC20 includes the following on the blank, where rod info is usually found:


I will be the first to admit that my haiku for these rods 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 are just what I felt about each rod and how to express those thoughts in the haiku form. I do hope that it still brings some pleasure to those who enjoy short-form structure.

A Little Tenkara Talk at Tenkara Talk


Jason Klass over at Tenkara Talk has posted a short Q&A he did with me concerning tenkara fishing. If you have an interest in the tenkara gear/approach, take a read of Jason’s site (and the others he links to). I grew up fishing a rather large array of gear for a rather large array of fish, so tenkara just fits in as another aspect my own fly fishing approach. An let’s face it, it’s more cool gear (and lovely flies) to play with!


Friday (OK, Monday) Fish Fry – One From My Oldest Haunt


For those who have seen my “Approach & Presentation Strategies for Trout” slideshow, you already know this shot. For those who haven’t here’s a little history:

In addition to being nearly microscopic, this little rainbow was my final trout of the day the last time my father I fished Montana’s Squaw Creek together. Squaw Creek, to the southwest of Bozeman, Montana,  is where I caught my first-ever trout on a fly a few months prior to my third birthday (thus the “oldest haunt” part of this post’s title).

This particular day, my father and I had decided to forgo other angling options and walk the brushy, forested banks of Squaw, trading off a rod and just enjoying a lazy Big Sky afternoon. Not long after we started fishing, we heard the familiar afternoon rumble of thunder. A look to the canyon skyline revealed a thunderhead brewing behind us in the high-mountain rafters. Used to such storms, we simply fished on, keeping an eye on the ridgeline as we worked our way downstream. It turned into a truly memorable afternoon, with no company but the wind and the caddis and the little trout that rose eager to the fly.

Perhaps ninety minutes in, the thunder changed its tone. Sharper and more urgent. A cool wind sifted the willows and the sky grew heavy and dark. As we watched, the clouds above us swirled and roiled, tying, it seemed, to shove their way over the ridge by brute force. We decided to make a few last casts and head back to the truck. Even as I drifted a caddis down Squaw’s little flow, the storm seemed to gather itself and bellowed out a warning. In response, the sky shrank back, revealing only black and gray and purple. The thunderhead was making itself known as no ordinary mountain storm. A chilling wind began to slither its way along the valley floor and a few cold drops pattered the leaves.


A little rainbow, seemingly in defiance of the worsening situation, charged up and slashed my fly from the surface. I set and quickly stripped the fish to hand. With one eye on the fish and one on the surging darkness spilling over us, we took a couple of quick photos. It had become so dark that the camera fired its flash. And then, we were hustled for the safety of the Suburban. As we trotted along, flashes of another kind reminded us that we were more exposed than we should have been. We pushed our way through the trees and tossed our gear into the back of the truck.

Figuring we were in for a serious pour, we waited and watched to see what the storm was going to bring. Despite all of the bluster, it wasted no time in shifting its path toward the northeast, leaving us mostly dry and cold, and with only faint rumbles as a reminder. As the core of the cell left us, we could see the spectacular mammatus clouds under the anvil. It looked like a Great Plains thunderstorm—one of those monsters that spawns twisters and hail big enough to punch out windshields.

As it was, it was getting late, and not wanting to fish through the cooling backside winds, we headed toward Bozeman for dinner. As we worked our way up the valley toward Four Corners, we could still see the monster storm towering in the sky. It was moving fast off the peaks and toward its final, unknown destination.

As we neared town, something seemed different. The road-side trickles were now filled with rushing, dirty water, and the fields looked strange, too: hail was covering everything. The closer we got to Bozeman, the worse things got. With a rainbow etched against the dark purple backside of the storm, we soon realized that the city had been slammed. The cell had torn through town, twisting and snapping branches, dumping big hail in piles and flooding the streets. Our tires crunched and popped over ice and broken limbs as we worked our way through side-streets. Despite the previous violence, the early evening sun was already gleaming from wetness everywhere.

It turned out the storm was one for the record books. A savage reminder of the forces that shape land and water. The mysteries of mountain weather, however, had kept us from being the center of the storm’s fury, and at the end of the day I had one final trout to show from my oldest angling haunt.