Fishing is inexorably connected to moments in time. Anglers are expert at living in the moment—both mind and body completely immersed in the situation at hand without a care given to future obligations or responsibilities. We are motivated by anticipation of the moment—that precise tick of time when a waggling bobber plunges below the surface of a mirror-calm summer pond; when a tripped tip-up flag instantly brings life to a frozen lake on a subzero day; or when a largemouth bass thuggishly attacks a surface bait in a sprawling bed of lily pads.
“Yeah, that is totally it,” says 39-year-old Cobbleskill, N.Y., native Pat Cohen. “The toilet flush—when a big ol’ largemouth blows up on a topwater. And when it’s on a deer-hair bass popper? Then it’s just crazy. It’s the rush that we live for.”
“Bass bugs have it,” explained former Outdoor Life fishing editor Joe Brooks in his seminal book, Bass Bug Fishing. “The tying of them brings forth the latent inventive genius of all those who go in for making bugs. The fashioning of a bass bug calls for a delicate hand and a vivid imagination. To be able to turn out a perfect one is an art. It also requires a lot of hard work.”
Brooks, the father of modern-day flyfishing, couldn’t have foretold Pat Cohen’s sudden impact on the bass-bugging scene with greater prescience.
“He’s the best bass bug, deer-hair stacker/tyer on the planet,” wrote Matt Grobert in his blog, “Caddis Chronicles,” in 2013. “His flies are works of art; durable, fishable, aesthetically pleasing, big flies for big fish.”
“Pat Cohen really pisses me off,” wrote Michiganfly.com blogger Dan Moser. “He does things that are absolutely unnatural and seemingly impossible with deer hair. Pat has an unbelievable amount of talent.”
Indeed, through his art, Cohen has found himself at the forefront of a resurgence in the popularity of bass fishing with deer-hair flies. Considering he only began tying in 2009, that’s pretty remarkable.