Getting a Grip on Angling Art

Tim Johnson’s grip designs can make a fly rod unique.
Photos by Tim Johnson

The life of Utah artist Tim Johnson is permeated by fly fishing. In addition to being a life-long angler and artist, Tim is a guide, contract fly designer, university fly-fishing instructor/adjunct professor, and Recreation Therapist who uses fly fishing to treat adolescents with autism, veterans with PTSD, and others. Even his therapy notes are covered with fishy doodles, some of which have found their way onto Orvis hats, buffs, and shirts. Tim is also a past Trout Bum of the Week.

Customizing a rod with a target species is a cool idea.

Tim has worked primarily in watercolors–we’ve featured his paintings on this blog–but about five years ago, he developed a new medium: hand-burning original artwork into the cork grips of fly rods. He calls these pieces of piscine pyrography “Timmy Grips” and makes them to order, turning a favorite rod into a truly one-of-a-kind work of functional art.

See more of Tim’s artwork at or by following him on Instagram and facebook.

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