Wednesday, 21 September 2011

The Incredible Wildlife Art of Craig Bertram Smith

Something To Hang Over the Tying Bench

There are a number of artists that I really admire, and no doubt plenty of others that I am yet to discover. I will share some of these artists with you over the coming months, and hopefully I will be able to collect some of their work for myself over the next few years. 

One of these artists is Craig Bertram Smith from South Africa. His amazing drawings and paintings are exceptional, and I am fortunate to own one of his fine art giclee canvas prints. I would love to add an original painting to my wall one day too.

As someone who used to draw a lot and occasionally even paint, I am always in awe of other artists that can consistently produce beautiful, high quality work. I had a passion for drawing in the ultra realism style, but I could never get my drawings to look quite the way I wanted so was never satisfied with what I finished up with. This makes me even more appreciative of craig's work.

Below is the print I own. After discussing with fine art framer Jodie Prymke, we decided to mount the print on aluminium to keep it flat. This aluminium mounting is also common on fine art photographic prints and was done by Atkins Technicolour using archival materials. Jodie then matted the print and framed it in a fairly simple blue. The frame perfectly compliments the fins that give this fish its name - the Blue Fin Trevally (or Kingfish). This picture which is just a snapshot of it hanging on my wall doesn't do the print or the framing justice. It needs to be seen up close to appreciate its true beauty.

"Electric Blue" - Fine Art Giclee Print on Canvas

Now after taking up photography myself, I automatically get the photographic ultra realism I desired in my drawings. This means I can now concentrate on being more creative with my own work. As you can probably tell, I still love art, and I often find myself sketching when I should be doing something else. Looking at the work of other artists, no matter the medium is inspirational - especially work like Craig produces. It is certainly worth hanging some of his work over your tying bench, or even better in your living room. 

Apart from fish and fishing, Craig also does some amazing work depicting wildlife on the land too. To see more of his work, please visit

There is also a neat article on Craigs work here at Global Flyfisher

All images in this post (apart from the shot of my framed print) Copyright Craig Bertram Smith

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Glass Fly Rods and The Fiberglass Manifesto

Why Not Give Glass a Go? 

This little Twizel River rainbow might have been more fun on glass

Over the last few years , I have become fascinated with fiberglass as a material for fly rods. Sure, fast rods that are described as cannons have their uses - sometimes even in fishing - but there is something about slower rods. The key to appreciating glass after fishing faster and stiffer graphite is in the feel. "But graphite is more sensitive" I hear you say, well maybe you are right technically, but the feel of good glass is something different. I remember putting a fly reel onto an old broken Sabre 1-2kg (2-4lb) spin rod years ago. From memory I cut the bottom grip off and using the only fly line I then owned, a cheap double taper 7 weight, took it down to a local stream. Despite the heavy line, it laid that fly down in the most delicate manner. And the feel, I can't begin to describe the smoothness in which this rod loaded and unloaded. It was like magic. I just wish I had kept it, or at least was able to get another of these blanks. 

I forgot about this for a while, but at some point remembered how casting that rod made me feel. I never caught a fish on fly with it, but prior to my fly fishing days it took hundreds of fish (dozens of fresh and salt water species) on baits and lures. It felt great even with tiny fish hooked up. Most ultralight graphite rods need a decent fish before it feels like you have hooked something worthwhile. Despite the big bend a little fish would put in that little rod, it still managed to take larger fish up to maybe 8lbs or so.

This McFarlands life came to an early end. It did catch one little brown first though

I decided it was time to look into trying glass again while working with David Anderson in Sydney after chatting to him about the glass rods he owned. Some internet research turned up this article on the Trout Underground, as well as the useful and very informative Fiberglass Fly Rodders forum. I decided a McFarland 3wt Spruce Creek in the high end Presentation Grade would be my first proper glass rod - but it wasn't to be. I won't go into detail here, but to cut a long story short, I ended up with an 8' 5wt McFarland for a trip to New Zealand. It seemed nice, but before I had the opportunity to really get a feel for it I slipped over and the butt section hit a rock. The impact snapped the rod above the grip (picture above). I still need to send that rod back to Mike McFarland, and eventually get that 3wt from him that I originally wanted. 

The other resource that I look to on this topic is The Fiberglass Manifesto or TFM for short. It's a great blog which I read regularly and is worth checking out if you have a spare minute. It keeps anyone interested up to date with what is happening in the world of glass fly rods, and its author Cameron Mortenson is always willing to talk to those with an interested in glass rods. It turns out that TFM has just celebrated its 3rd birthday and now contains over 1000 posts! 

Thanks to a little experience with glass, and a lot of reading about it, I now have a number of glass blanks that I intend building in the near future, as well as some other beautiful finished modern glass rods that I have my eye on. One thing I will say is that this glass thing is addictive, so beware!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Atlantic Options

When I originally decided on this project back in 2009, I actually got as far as some preliminary research into the Atlantic Ocean region. I found a number of interesting places, and even started to narrow them down. As this was quite some time ago, I will have another look as somewhere might have been missed. Below is a copy of my original notes, but more research into all these areas as well as any other options I find before narrowing my decision further.

Feel free to look these areas up and please let me know what you think of them either here or on the Facebook page.

*Greenland (Denmark) - LooksGreat, Arctic Char
*Bioko (Equatorial Guinea) - Looks like tropical paradise coastline
*Bissagos Islands (Guinea-Bissau) flats paradise perhaps
*Newfoundland & Saint Pierre and Miquelon
*Sao Tome and Principe- looks great, tropical looking place
Rocas Atoll (Brazil)
*Fernando de Noronha (Brazil) - beautiful lagoon, but looks to be a marine park with no fishing!
*Falkland Islands (UK) (Spanish: Islas Malvinas) - Awesome but perhaps too well known 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Regional Breakdown

As mentioned in the previous post, breaking the world into regions will (hopefully) turn selecting flywater x into a much simpler task. I am going to search each region in the order listed here:

      Atlantic Ocean
      Indian Ocean
      Far South and Antarctic Region
      South America
      North and Central America
      Arctic Region
      Pacific Ocean

After selecting 3 places from each of these regions, we will be left with a total of 33 possible locations which will then be looked at in more detail.Once this stage is reached, some serious reader input will be requested. 

While all this is going on, I will also be busy writing some reviews and organising and presenting some interviews. I have a feature on a fantastic artist almost ready, and it will be up in the next few days.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Where to Begin?

Finding a Suitable Location

All photographs in this post courtesy of  Matt Denton

Until I make a firm decision on where to go, I cannot make any real plans. A while ago I did a bit of random searching using google earth, I found a number of interesting islands. Some of them looked like the traditional tropical paradise, others looked more like the antarctic (some were indeed part of the antarctic region). There are also many remote areas worth looking at on the major land masses. I soon discovered that my haphazard approach also meant that each time I looked, I found yet another place which looked good. It was time to come up with a simple plan of attack. Here it is, step by step:

1. Deciding Where Not to Go
After a bit of thought, common sense prevailed. There are a number of areas that can be discounted readily. Some exceptional looking areas are extremely dangerous. War zones, areas at high risk of terrorism, and areas where pirates are commonly to be found are out. I will be searching to find out what areas are dangerous in a variety of ways, mostly relying on smart traveller, the Australian Government website detailing travel warnings based on all sorts of issues including the ones I have mentioned, as well as health warnings and a few other things that need to be considered. Any highly populated areas, or popular tourist destintaions are also out, as well as remote areas commonly visited by anglers such as Christmas Island/Kiribati (featured in the pictures). This should remove a lot of areas, but there is still a lot of the world left to scan.

2. Breaking it down
The world is huge, and rather than simply going back to randomly searching all over, I have decided to divide it up into regions and look thoroughly through each one . Each continent will be a region, as will the big oceans.As I search each region, I will compile a list of all possible locations before moving onto the next.
3. Selection
I will next look in more detail at each of the possible locations on my regional lists and pick what look to be the best three locations from each region. These will be studied in even greater detail still, using the usual online search methods, as well as map searches and talking to locals and people that have been there via email, and through discussion forums. The single best option from each region will then be selected, after gathering every necessary bit of information I can on them. From there I will pick the one that looks to have the best opportunities for both fly fishing and photography. I will also select a second location as a backup, just in case. I may well end up asking for your help in making a final decision on flywater x. At least for now, I have a plan of attack. The search begins!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

3 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved

Getting involved means you will get to read more of what interest you. It's as simple as that! Not convinced, then read on.

1. By sharing your ideas,  there will be more content that interests you 
You can be certain that there is something of interest to you here if you share your ideas. It's simple, just email me or leave a message on our Facebook page, and let me know if there is something in particular that you are interested in seeing on this blog. All relevant ideas will be taken into consideration for future posts.

2. You can voice your opinion, or showcase your work
Have you considered writing a blog but don't have the time or motivation? Do you have something to tell or show fellow fly fishers, photographers and adventurers?

If so, then perhaps you might like to write a post - or even a series of posts which I can publish here. Send me an email with some ideas, and if I like what you have to say I will be happy to have you as a guest poster.

If you are an artist, or have a product that you think I might find useful, you may wish to send me a sample of your work for me to look at. It may become the subject of a future post, or even a review.

3. You may know something or someone that could make a difference 
Who knows, you may see something that I am missing. It could be as simple as informing me of an inspiring photographer who may well change the way I look at my subject while out in the field. Perhaps you know of a product that will solve a problem I discover along the way. Apart from my own research, I am hoping that you may be able fill in any gaps that I have left.

So go ahead and become a part of flywater exposed. If you are on Facebook, you can start by leaving some feedback on the prototype logo designs.

Monday, 12 September 2011

A Fly Fishing and Photographic Adventure

A Quick Introduction
My name is Adam Zappia, and apart from slowly working to get my photographic business off the ground, I spend most of my days in an office. Not the most inspiring place in the world. Thanks to fly fishing - I somehow manage to keep my sanity. Before I started office work, I had been assistant to photographer David Anderson . He is also a fly fisher, so after I finished working with him I decided that one day I would do as he has done and put my two passions together - just on a more extreme level.

A little bit of inspiration

What is Flywater Exposed All About?
Inspired by a number of fantastic people, publications, art, photographs and films, I have decided to plan an adventure. This will be no ordinary adventure though. I will be searching for one very unique location that is both rich in photographic and fly fishing opportunity. I am looking for that special place - somewhere that you may not have ever even heard of. Getting there will more than likely be challenging in itself. Once there, things might get even harder as there will likely be no guides, no equipment or supplies, and possibly no other people around at all. 

Planning a trip to somewhere that the average tourist cannot easily access involves a lot of research, so documenting it right here will hopefully be helpful to those of you lucky enough to carry out an adventure to an exotic location yourself. If you prefer to stick to more established destinations when you travel, there will still be plenty to keep you interested. 

Apart from hopefully uncovering a very special place to fly fish, the end goal after returning will be to put together a photographic exhibition from the many photographs I will  take while away. 

To keep things interesting, I will be trying out products and equipment from time to time too, and you might be surprised at some of the testing techniques used! As I am looking for this to be a creative endeavour, I will also feature photographic and art work of other mediums, and I will also do my best to get some insight from the artists where possible. Guests will be invited to submit posts at times, and l will also interview people from both the fly fishing and photographic communities. I will also seek out some experienced adventure travellers for some insight into what to expect when undertaking such a journey.

Be a Part of the Adventure
If you so choose, you can get involved in selecting the destination for the journey. For now, the destination will be known as flywater x. At times, I will call on readers of this blog to help me make some decisions, and I certainly encourage your input. You can do this either right here on the blog by leaving a comment on a post, on our Facebook page, or if you prefer - send an email.

As you can see, the blog is looking quite bland as of now, however I am looking into the design. I didn't want to rush into using any old template that can be found online. If you have any ideas about the design, please feel free to send them my way. Also, if you think you may have something to contribute or some ideas on what type of content you would find interesting, by all means contact me and let me know what you have in mind.

I hope you enjoy following my progress as you continue to read this blog, and hopefully you will be inspired to go in search of your own special piece of fly water. It's going to be a lot of fun!

Notes on the photo: A little bit of inspiration. The opened and signed book by Peter Morse is a great read for those wanting a good understanding of saltwater fly fishing. The fly sitting in the book is from  Stu's Fly Shop, it's world famous and is somewhere you should definitely visit if fishing in the South Island of New Zealand. I am currently using Canon digital SLR's and Lenses for the majority of my photographic work. I will be talking about some of the magazines in the background in future blog posts.