Category Archives: Fly Tying

Feathers, Flies and All Things Unimportant

I must have been eight years old when I first witnessed a fly fisherman, plying the placid waters of New Hampshire’s Lake Sunapee. I watched in amazement as his line danced through the sky and his casts landed eloquently with the precision and purpose. I quickly asked my father what the man was doing and was told that he was fly fishing. I was truly intrigued and, in my vigor to learn, asked my father how the man was able to catch the flies he was using for bait. With a strange look, my father simply shook his head and walked away. Thus began my romanticism with feathers, flies and all things unimportant to the rational world.

As a young man, I was ready to take on fly fishing full steam. My father purchased a cheap combo from the local department store, assuring that if the wand or my spirit had broken early in the foray, he wouldn’t be out a significant sum of money. My flies consisted of poorly tied blobs of fur on a hook, little foam spiders and a few of my own creations, which were nothing more than sewing thread hanging off a hook. Needless to say, between my belabored casting technique and my fly selection, fishing became more of an attempt not to hook myself or anyone else within casting range.

SteelheadI was blessed to grow up on the banks of the Passaic River, at the time the ninth most polluted river in the United States. The fishery was diverse, with carp, catfish and car parts as my quarry. Although I could not get any of the behemoths to take my flies, I did occasionally slip a piece of crusted bagel on the hook to entice fish to look at my offerings. This was fly fishing at its finest.

Next came the finer points of entomology and the three main classes of aquatic insects; mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. Well, not to get ahead of myself, my classifications were more loosely defined as green bugs, brown bugs and black bugs. When in doubt, a combination of all three was thoroughly explored.

My thirst for knowledge was boundless and I sought out the writings of greats like Art Flick, Joe Brooks and Lee Wulff, all who seemingly could go into great detail about which goop would allow your fly to float the highest or sink the deepest and which color fly line would deter or attract the greatest amount of fish. And I thought fly line color was all about personal preference.

Then came the feathers….those magical materials that cost so much but could be found near every duck pond in New Jersey. There were necks and capes, roosters and hens and flanks aplenty. Then came the grades.

I did fairly well in school and knew that a grade of A was certainly better that of an F. I also knew that I was rewarded when the grades on my report card came back higher than anticipated but found this logic flawed when it came to feathers. Those D grade feathers that littered my bag seemed much friendlier to my wallet than the snobbish A grade feathers hung so high up on the shop’s wall. Perhaps they were like the rare A plus I brought home on one of my many math tests, which hung high on my parent’s refrigerator so proudly for many years.  In any event, I was happy to have my mallard feathers, goose quills and dog tail, a proprietary shop mixture, to adorn my hooks.

Somewhere along the journey, my technique was refined, insects were identified by their Latin names and goop became dessicant powder. My flies began to take on more of the size and shape of the naturals and I even had a few fish willing to grace me with their presence.

In near 30 years of fly fishing, I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful equipment and stand on some majestic banks of a few famed rivers. I have caught some grand fish and lost more than I care to remember. I have met some wonderful friends and mourned those I have lost silently out on the river.

All those years ago, I took up fly fishing as a way to become a better fisherman, to challenge myself, test my abilities, my patience and my sanity. All these years later, I realize that fly fishing has made me a better man. It has taught me to appreciate what I have, it has made me realize that catching the fish is not the sole objective, it has reminded me that all living things around us have meaning and purpose and has taught me to be humble and accept what life has to offer.

Some of my fondest moments were trying to take random knowledge, mismatched materials and salvaged tackle to have some fun and catch a few fish while doing it.

My life is still filled with feathers, flies and many things unimportant but it is also those very same things that remind me what is.

Enjoy your passion and find passion in what you enjoy.

All the best!rod and reel

Knot Just Flies

Blairstown, NJ is a bucolic small town in a bustling state, surrounded by first class fishing and hunting opportunities. The working farms, hunting clubs, preserved land and overgrown bush combine to make this town and northern Warren County a sportsmen’s paradise. Even so, there has not been a sporting goods store in this town since Red Hawk Outfitters closed more than a decade ago.

The sales counter at Knot Just Flies
The sales counter at Knot Just Flies

Thanks to local business owner Valentino Mota, this has all changed, for the better. Val has opened Knot Just Flies at the Valero on Route 94. Conveniently located in front of the Paulinskill River as it meanders through Blairstown. Val has opened his store as an authentic general store of Fly Fishing, angling and hunting supplies. In the modern world of ecommerce, something that he has experience in, brick and mortar retail stores need to carry the items you need on the spot before a day of sporting adventures. This is what Val will provide to our community.

Flies geared to your local waters.
Flies geared to your local waters.

Knot Just Flies caters to a wide market of sportsmen or woman and the equipment they need. By stopping here you will be able to spend more time fishing or hunting and less time driving to far away outfitters. He is conveniently opened 7AM to 7PM Tuesday through Saturday and 7AM to 5PM on Sunday. Mondays the store is closed.

Deer corn and shooting clays are in stock.
Deer corn and shooting clays are in stock.

Knot Just Flies is a full service Fly Shop right in the heart of Warren County Fly Fishing country. Located less than half an hour from every major Trout stream in the area including the Paulinskill, Flat Brook, Pequest and the Musconetcong. Not to mention the Delware River Smallmouth and Shad fishery. Val spends a great deal of time cultivating the new entrants into the sport and creating the next generation of Fly Fishing. As such, he offers daily rental packages and you can arrange a Fly Fishing lesson through the store.

Fly tying supplies, enough to get started on most local patterns.
Fly tying supplies, enough to get started on most local patterns.

The location literally has a little bit of everything you need to pursue your hobby. It is a general store of outdoor sports, preventing you from ruining your day by forgetting gloves in the cold or sinkers for cat fishing. Freshwater angling supplies, wingshooting necessities, archery supplies, Bass baits, live baits, catfish baits, ice fishing supplies and some saltwater tackle are all here. To make it even more convenient for people in the area, Val is stocking some Salmon and Steelhead supplies at reasonable prices to prevent you from getting price gouged in upstate New York this fall.

Angling supplies for Bass and Catfish.
Angling supplies for Bass and Catfish.

Val got into fishing at a young age with his father introducing him to the sport. It has been his dream to open up a fly and tackle shop, when the opportunity presented itself he seized it! He has extensive experience selling products through ecommerce; therefore, you will find reasonable prices throughout the store. According to Val, “This shop is geared to the community, products I sell are effective in this community. Whatever is on the wall is here for our local anglers.”

We have famous Thomas Trout lures.
They have famous Thomas Trout lures.

Some name brands available at the store include, but are not limited to, Redington, Rio, CP Swings and Thomas Lures. Any item you could purchase at Bass Pro shops can be ordered right in Blairstown! We hope to see you in the store soon.

Contact Info:

Simple Stone


I like to fish pretty aggressively.  I have little regard for the safety of my flies while I am casting them into some tight spots.  With this in mind, I don’t want to worry about losing a fly that took ten minutes to tie up.  I need flies that are quick and easy, but will also catch fish.  I came up with this pattern two years ago while I was in Telluride, CO for the winter.  I was walking a stretch of the San Miguel River and noticed a strong presence of small black winter stoneflies crawling through the snow.  After I tied up some up simple stones, it was my most productive fly for the rest of the time I was in Telluride.  It worked great in Steamboat Springs, CO this year.  The simple stone uses minimal materials and takes no time to tie up.  I tied up a weighted version below; however, I also use un-weighted simple stones as well.  Give it a go, and mix and match colors to satisfy your local stonefly hatch.



Hook: 12-16 1x Long Nymph

Weight: .025 Round Lead Wire

Thread: Black

Legs:  Black Goose Biots

Body: Black Superfine Dubbing

Step 1:

Take around 10 wraps of lead wire around the front third of the fly.  Secure the lead wire with thread wraps.




Step 2:

Work your thread to the back of the hook shank, and tie in your first set of goose biots.  Make sure the goose biots cup away from each other.


Step 3:

Apply dubbing and work your thread to just behind the lead wire base.


Step 4:

Tie in your next set of goose biots, cupped away from each other.


Step 5:

Apply dubbing to the thorax portion of the fly.  I use a little more dubbing to build up the body.




Step 6:

Tie in your final set of goose biots, trim the excess, and whip finish.  That’s it!



He wanted the stone
Simple Stone on the nose