or, perhaps Olive the Woolly Blogger...

Tag: fly fishing

Sponsor Spotlight: PEAK Fishing

This is Part 2 in a series of sponsor spotlights to shout out to the companies that helped make the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app a possibility. The app is available in the App Store, here, and right now during the month of December the app is on sale for only $1.


1. Business Name:  PEAK Fishing

2. Your title/position:  (Al Ritt) Brand Manager

3. Services Offered:  Manufacturer of premium quality fly tying vises and accessories.  We do not sell products retail, but we have an extensive list of dealers and all are listed on the Where to Buy page of our web site.

4. How long have you been in business/worked for your current company?  PEAK Fishing their first vise in April of 2002.  I came to work for PEAK Fishing in February of 2009.

5. What made you decide to become a sponsor of the Olive the Woolly Bugger iPad app?  PEAK believes that recruitment of young fly fishers and fly tiers is critical to the sport and to the industry.  The history of the Olive book series combined with the popularity of apps seems like a great combination to communicate to a new generation the fun that can be had fishing, fly tying and being outdoors in general.  It also provides younger persons a look at how our natural environment is all interrelated which is a first step to understanding critical issues such as conservation of resources.


Thank you to PEAK Fishing for being a sponsor. Please check out the PEAK Fishing website for all that they offer for your fly fishing needs: Peakfishing.com 

Olive on Ovaleye TV

Kathy Nelson and Carissa Dunphy of Ovaleye Cloud Services recently had me on their show for an interview in which I go on (and on) about Olive the Woolly Bugger. I warned them ahead of time that once I get to talking about fly fishing and Olive, there’s no stopping me.  And still, they wanted to go ahead with the interview, for which I am grateful.

Kathy is the CEO and Chief Decision Maker at OvalEye, where I have all my websites hosted. Kathy’s daughter, Jenn Donogh is the COO and Chief Brand Editor and they are great to work with. Carissa works for Ovaleye as Community Relations Manager and she also owns her own business, Caffeine Keyboard, in which she builds websites and offers great insight into optimizing your web presence. Of the many services offered by Ovaleye, promoting their clients via new web technologies is paramount.  I’d like to thank them for the support and the opportunity to  bring Olive the Woolly Bugger to a new audience.

Grab a couple cups of coffee, sit back, and (hopefully) enjoy the interview. Skype glitches provide for some unintended amusement.

Getting to know: Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear

Gold-Ribbed Hare's Ear

This is the second in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Read the first interview, here.

Today, Olive talks with her best friend whom she met on her first day at Camp Tightloops, Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear.

Olive: Gilbert! Thanks for stopping by to chat with me today.

Gilbert: Thanks for inviting me, Olive. This is pretty cool that you have your own blog. Maybe I should call you Olive the Woolly Blogger!

Olive: (laughs) You’re silly, Gilbert. So, tell us–what is a Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear? By the way, that’s a mouthful so we’re going to abbreviate it with GRHE, OK?

Gilbert: (laughs) Sure thing! I’m not very big, but I definitely have a big name! A GRHE is a nymph fly tied to imitate baetis (mayfly) nymphs. Most mayflies aren’t very big, so that’s why I’m small.

Olive: What’s a nymph, for those who don’t know?

Gilbert: A nymph is an immature insect, before it hatches into an adult with wings. Nymphs live underwater where they swim around or crawl on rocks.

Olive: So how do you go about fishing? Do you zip and dart like a streamer?

Gilbert: Mostly what I do is bounce along the bottom of the river like a real insect nymph tumbling in the current. It’s called ‘dead drifting.’

Olive: Dead drifting? That sounds kinda scary!

Gilbert: Oh, it’s not scary at all. It just means that the fly drifts naturally in the water as if its not attached to a line. I need to look as realistic as possible in order to fool fish, because as you know, fish can get pretty smart.

Olive: You look pretty real to me! I bet you fool a lot of fish.

Gilbert: Thanks! I don’t always catch fish, but nymph fishing is a pretty effective way to catch fish since fish eat most of their meals under the water.

Olive: I’d never met a nymph before I went to Camp Tightloops. Do you remember when we first met at camp?

Gilbert: Of course I do! You were feeling pretty sad because the dry flies were teasing you. That wasn’t very nice of them. The dry flies were sort of a clique, like an exclusive bunch of popular kids. Since I wasn’t one of the cool kids I knew exactly how you were feeling.

Olive: That was really nice of you to approach me and become my friend. Luckily the dry flies didn’t all turn out to be snobs, except for Randal the Royal Coachman.

Gilbert: Yeah, I don’t understand why Randal had such an attitude problem. He was never nice to anyone if they weren’t a dry fly. But karma came back to haunt him because he didn’t make it into The Fly Box.

Olive: Yeah, I actually felt bad for him on graduation day. I wish the best for Randal. Maybe he’s changed by now. I think everyone can change and become better.

Gilbert: I agree. Change is what makes fly fishing so much fun, because sometimes the fish like one fly, and the next minute they want something different.  We have to be willing to change flies and try something new. There’s no point in arguing over what works best, because what works best now may not work at all tomorrow!

Olive: That’s so true. And we all have our own talents and that’s what makes us unique.

Gilbert: Yep, and I love to watch different flies at work. It’s fascinating to me how the dry flies can float, and how streamers, like you, can zip and dart.

Olive: And I like watching how you can dead drift. I’m gonna try that sometime–it actually looks fun!

Gilbert: It is fun, and you should totally try it. Woolly Buggers are great for dead drifting!

Olive: Thanks, Gilbert. I’m going to do that next time I go fishing. Speaking of which, have you been fishing much lately?

Gilbert: Not as much as I’d like. It’s winter time and trout fishing can be pretty slow this time of year. When the water gets cold the fish aren’t very active, but I still like to go as much as possible. Fish still have to eat, after all, and nymph fishing can be very effective during the winter months.

Olive: So, we’ve been best friends for a long time. Not only were you my first friend, but you also rescued me in the third book, Olive Goes for a Wild Ride. Thanks for that, by the way!

Gilbert: You’re very welcome, Olive. That was quite a surprise to me when I found you in the third book. I’m sure glad I did because you had been on a really wild adventure. We were all glad to have you back in The Fly Box!

Olive: Thanks. It was great to be back home, too. One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Gilbert the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, who would you choose?

Gilbert: Jimmy Kimmel. He’s funny and seems like he’d be a nice guy. And I know for sure he’s a fly fisherman because he’s talked about it and shown photos of himself fishing on his show. I think I look a little bit like him, too. Just kidding, Jimmy (laughs).

Jimmy Kimmel

Getting to know: Mr. Muddler Minnow

Muddler Minnow

This is the first in a series of interviews with characters from the Olive books. If you’re already familiar with the books, you’ll know these “folks” being interviewed. If you’ve not yet seen the books, these interviews will give you some insight into the colorful cast of characters who help to make Olive’s adventures so engaging and fun.

Today, Olive interviews her mentor, Camp Tightloops counselor, and all around good guy, Mr. Muddler Minnow.

Olive: Hi, Mr. Muddler Minnow–it’s great to see you!

MMM: Thanks for having me on the show today, Olive.

Olive: Let’s get right down to business.  You are, of course, a Muddler Minnow. What’s your favorite way to catch fish?

MMM: Well, I’m a classic old streamer, easily recognized by my spun deer hair head. There’s nothing I like more than swinging through the current and being strip-retrieved in short tugs. I love to zip and dart!

Olive: Me too!  In fact, you’re the one who taught me to zip and dart!  Up until then I thought I wanted to be a dry fly, but after you showed me my purpose in life I never looked back. What is it you like so much about zipping and darting?

MMM: As you know, Olive, big fish like to eat streamers because streamers represent very large insects, wounded baitfish, or just about any other form of aquatic food. And we represent a large meal. All size fish will try to snatch us up, but it’s the big fish that really go for streamers. When streamers are tugged in short bursts, the action of zipping and darting drives fish crazy!  I’m specifically tied to look like a sculpin, which is a small type of fish that larger fish love to eat. Streamers are irresistible.

Olive: I agree!  So would you say that streamer fishing is the best way to fly fish?

MMM: I don’t want to say that one method is better than another, because all styles of fly fishing have their benefits. I can also be used as a dry fly in certain instances, skated across the surface of the water. That can be a very exciting way to catch fish as well. It’s all good–that’s what makes fly fishing so fun.

Olive: That’s so cool. Sometimes I still wish I could float, but it’s OK that I don’t.

MMM: We’re all different, Olive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all need to embrace what makes us unique and do our very best. And we also need to acknowledge that everyone has a purpose in life, and we shouldn’t judge others just because they’re different than us.

Olive: That’s for sure. You taught me that, and I may have never made it into The Fly Box if you hadn’t! So, tell me, are you retired now?

MMM: Well, I’m not sure if I can ever retire. As you know, I’ve been retired before, but I seem to have a hard time staying away from the water. I love to fish. I may not fish as often as I used to, but I love being in The Fly Box where I can help some of the younger flies learn their trade. And some of those grumpy old veterans can get a little bit critical sometimes so I need to keep them in check.

Olive: It’s fun to listen to the old timers argue and tell old stories.

MMM: Most of the stories they tell aren’t quite accurate, Olive. Much of what they’re saying are half-truths.

Olive: What do you mean by half-truths, sir?

MMM: (laughs) Well, most of the time the old veterans don’t remember how big the fish were that they caught a long time ago. Over time, the size of those fish tends to get bigger.

Olive: That’s funny.  But isn’t it true that long ago there were a lot more fish in the rivers? You know, back when the veterans were just rookies themselves?

MMM: Yes, that’s absolutely the case, Olive. I can confirm that when I was a much younger fly, the rivers had a lot more fish in them than most do today. It was a rare thing to go fishing and not come home with your limit.

Olive: So back in the olden days you kept your fish?

MMM: Sadly, yes.  We didn’t practice catch and release back then. We caught fish and kept them. We thought the fish were in endless supply. We didn’t mean to do anything wrong, we just didn’t know differently.

Olive: But now there aren’t as many fish, and most of the time it’s catch and release when we go fishing. Do you still enjoy it?

MMM: Oh, absolutely. The thrill of finding a fish and convincing the fish that I’m a real meal–that’s what I enjoy. I love the game of tug-of-war once I hook a big fish. I don’t mind releasing the fish one bit. You’re familiar with the expression, “There’s more to fishing than catching fish.” That’s very true. I just enjoy being outdoors in a natural setting, being cast into a beautiful piece of water, and looking for fish. And now I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping others become better fly fishing flies.

Olive: Do you ever keep fish any more?

MMM: Not often, but occasionally. When I’m fishing in a lake that has stocked trout, for example, I enjoy keeping a fish or two. Or when I have the occasion to fish for steelhead, I’ll definitely keep a hatchery fish. That’s why those fish were placed there: to be caught and kept. But I always release wild fish.

Olive: One more question. If you were in a movie and you could choose a famous actor to lend their voice talent to the role of Mr. Muddler Minnow, who would you choose?

MMM: Wow, that’s a tough choice, Olive. There are so many great actors with very distinct voices…three come to mind immediately: Wilford Brimley, Sam Elliot and Tom Selleck. There’s something about either of those gentleman that I can identify with. I hear they’re all fly fishermen, and I’d be honored if they were to play the voice of me.

Wilford Brimley

Sam Elliott

Tom Selleck


Fishing for Big Fish

When we fishing types head out to a stream or lake or other body of water with rod in hand, what is it that we are really doing? Some will say that they’re just out to enjoy the fishing, and catching is just icing on the cake. Others are less philosophical: their desire is to simply catch a fish. Others still may be more specific with their intent, admitting (openly or not) that they want to catch a big fish.

Those who fly fish know that the biggest fish rarely rise to a dry fly.  Several reasons account for this, none of which may or may not be right, but let’s speculate.  When a fish rises to the surface to take a real bug or an imitation fly, they momentarily leave themselves vulnerable to attack from raptors, among other things. There are also other critters that would also love to make a meal of a fish should the opportunity present itself. That opportunity is created when the fish leaves the relative safety of deep water and the shelter provided by a cut bank or structure (weeds, sunken logs, rocks, etc).  So it stands to reason that the fish that remain in the safety of deeper, darker waters tend to survive to feed another day.

Big fish don’t reach their esteemed position in the food chain by being reckless or chasing every tiny bug that presents itself. That’s why when we fish with dry flies we’re not often going to catch the bigg’uns. I enjoy throwing dries and catching cookie-cutter sized fish. It’s fun. It provides entertainment. It fills a certain need. And while fishing is about much more than catching fish, I’ll admit that sometimes what I really want is to be holding onto a taco-bent rod. Sometimes I want to catch that big fish. I’ve caught some nice fish, but nothing extraordinary.

Therein lies the beauty of the streamers, of which the woolly bugger is one of if not THE best overall patterns.  If the author angler presents a woolly bugger in the desired depths of the water column, they are putting their fly where the fish are. The big fish.  Streamers represent substantial meals that are high in protein. Big fish don’t waste their time chasing snacks—they want a return on their investment in energy spent to chase food. They’re selective. Big fish are eat meaters.

I’ve fished the surface and been rewarded with small fish. Don’t get me wrong—I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege to play these small fish, and I do not take them for granted. Every small fish has made me a better angler and caused me to appreciate the sport much more so than if I had landed a 48″ steelhead on my first cast. I will always seek out small streams with game little fish that provide much-needed action, but the time has come that I am admittedly hankering for something much, much bigger. Will I actually catch that big fish?  I only know for certain that I stand absolutely no chance unless I go fishing.

So fishing I am. I’ve tied on a woolly bugger, and her name is Olive. It’s time to see what she can entice out of hiding. I’m confident there’s a big fish out there, somewhere, looking for a tasty meal.

(The author may have been engaging in the use of metaphors in this article)

Redington and Trout Unlimited team up for conservation

Anyone who has been fly fishing for a length of time understands that fishing and convservation go hand-in-hand. In fact, if one cares about the very fish that are ultimately the goal of going fishing, then that same person knows that preserving the resource is paramount to the future of angling. In other words, if we want to have something to cast a fly to, we must all be conservation-minded in our pursuit of those fish.


It’s no secret that, here at Olive the Woolly Bugger, we like Redington and Trout Unlimited.

Redington and Trout Unlimited have teamed up on Facebook to get new anglers more aware of conservation efforts through a Facebook application:

Enter to win Redington gear!
Trout Unlimited and Redington are teaming up to test your fly-fishing knowledge. 10 Lucky Winners per day and one Grand Prize winner!
Click here for complete terms and conditions.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to Redington and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for this promotion.

If you’re inclined toward the Facebook thing, give this contest a look.  You may learn a few new things and win some great Redington gear.

Olive on the Big Screen

I’ve decided that Oprah is not going to be the person to help get the word out about Olive the woolly bugger. I tried to reach out to Oprah by tagging her on Twitter posts, emailing her via Oprah.com, applying to be a recipient of a Harpo Hookup, and even following her on Facebook. I posted several blog entries, hoping to capture the attention of her internet staff. In the end, I realized that getting the attention of Oprah was just another pipe dream…a bucket list item that will remain at the bottom of the bucket.

But I have not given up hope or stopped dreaming. In fact, my new goal is to bring Olive to the Big Screen. That’s right, the motion picture industry is next on Olive’s list of things to achieve.  The fly fishing industry needs a boost, which I wrote about on my other blog. However, the suggested solution of getting Clint Eastwood to make a Dirty Harry fly fishing film was clearly riddled with tongue and cheek humor (although it did speak to the real necessity to drive new participants to the sport of fly fishing).  The fly fishing industry needs another blockbuster hit like A River Runs Through It.  All this time I’ve been sitting on the solution and wasn’t even aware of it.

I figure that with the help of a talented team of script writers, the story of Olive the Little Woolly Bugger can be fashioned into a full length, animated feature.  There is an established cast of characters and the framework for a fun story that is unique and engaging, has already been established, and even contains valuable lessons in conservation and life. And I’ve got my eye on two studios:  Dreamworks and Pixar.


The animation branch of Dreamworks Studios seems like a logical fit for Olive. Heck, just look at their logo: the little boy on the moon is fishing…for what? A trout, or a bass? Perhaps the next great story for a film? Is he dangling a woolly bugger at the end of his line?  Seems encouraging to me. The studio has produced no shortage of great, engaging animated films including such notables as Shrek, Madagascar, Antz, Megamind and many others. I’d like to suggest to the executives at Dreamworks that you add Olive the Little Woolly Bugger to that list.

But I have no allegiance to any one particular studio. I’m shopping Olive around.

Disney’s Pixar Studios needs no introduction. Their list of movies reads like an all-star lineup: Cars, The Incredibles, A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and of course there’s that other one–Toy Story, I think it’s called…? Pixar has proven that they can draw bugs and fish, so I see Olive the Little Woolly Bugger equally at home there.

What I learned from my dead-end attempt at getting Oprah’s attention was that I appeared too desperate in my quest for her help.  Nobody likes a needy beggar, so I’m taking a different approach this time: I’m going to sit back and wait for the call from Dreamworks or Pixar. I’m sure it won’t be long after the communications departments for either studio pick this blog post off the RSS feeds. Whomever calls me first gets the contract.  Any guesses on who it’s going to be?

Olive’s dream is alive, and I’m sitting by the phone.

Outdoor Alliance for Kids needs Fly Fishing

The Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK) is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with the common interest in expanding the number and quality of opportunities for children, youth and families to connect with the outdoors. There is great national attention on the matter of getting kids outside, moving, recreating and enjoying the natural resources that our great country has to offer, and as I have stated many times before, fly fishing is a great activity that fits nicely into this mission. Fishing is the #1 gateway activity according to the Outdoor Foundation, which means that fishing is tops in leading kids to explore other outdoor endeavors.

With this knowledge in hand, it makes good sense that the fly fishing industry should be represented in the membership ranks of OAK. The company/organization that signs on as a Partner Member will be representing not only themselves, but the entire fly fishing industry, which is good for everyone concerned.  Fly fishing needs to attract more newcomers to the sport, and kids make up a very important demographic.

Take a look at the Partner’s Resolution page on the OAK website. Read up on what membership stands for. Look at the Steering Committee Members. There is room for the fly fishing industry to be represented here. Read through the list of the Member Organizations. You’ll see Pheasants Forever, Quail Forever and other wildlife organizations. Trout Unlimited should be listed as well.  How about the Federation of Fly Fishers? The Discover Fly Fishing arm of the AFFTA should also consider participation. Any fly fishing manufacturers that target kids with specific gear would also benefit. Redington comes to mind.

I hope that these and other organizations/businesses will take a good look at the Outdoor Association for Kids and consider getting involved. It’s good for kids, the outdoors, and fly fishing. Sounds like a win-win-win to me. Heck, the OAK logo even features a kid fishing…perhaps with a presence we can turn that fishin’ pole into a fly rod.