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BLOODKNOTS – FOR THE LOVE OF FISH – Q&A


Arcade – Ok Asher, go ahead and introduce Bloodknots to the world.

Bloodknots – Welp, Bloodknots is made up of the two of us, Asher Koles and Brandon Tillotson. We are both fly fishing guides primarily in Northeastern Utah from March until we decide we’ve had enough and want to go chase steelhead. Which is generally late in October. We both live in the Sugarhouse area of Salt Lake City but guide primarily out of Park City and the surrounding area. We met while working and guiding together for our local fly shop here in SLC, Western Rivers Flyfisher.

Besides the whole guiding business, we are also film and photo content creators. We document our lifestyle and share it with the world under our company, Bloodknots. Along with that we just released our first feature-length documentary, “ Our Two Hands ”.

Arcade – So you are both long-standing guides based out of Salt Lake. What is that like?

Bloodknots – We love the accessibility of living in SLC. We are 20 minutes from Park City, where we meet most of our clients, but we chose to stay close to metro SLC for a few reasons. Having the mountains and the majority of our rivers 30 minutes to 2 hours from our doorsteps in SLC and still being able to enjoy urban culture is the best of both worlds.

Arcade – Tell us about Bloodknots, what are you guys all about and maybe tell us a little bit about your brand identity?

Bloodknots – Bloodknots was originally a blog I (Asher) started a while ago, where I would just shoot photos and little videos of my buddies and I traveling around the west chasing fish. It had a cool vibe to it and people started to take notice. I was working in the fly shop at the time and Brandon and I had an idea to formalize the idea and start a multimedia/creative content company.

Since then we have started collaborating with a bunch of brands to cross-promote both culture, lifestyle, product, and sporting side of fly fishing. We also do commercial work with these brands and represent them as ambassadors. Now that “Our Two Hands” is out, we are trying to make some moves towards working on bigger, conservation and culture focused projects within fly fishing and beyond. We have just been doing a bunch of fishing stuff because that is the world we know best. It sounds corny, but we enjoy the process of fly fishing, where it takes you, how you got there, what happened and why you went in the first place. Documenting that journey is our impetus of most of our projects.

Arcade – So you guys have been working on a long-form project for a while now called “Our Two hands“… Tell us about the project and why it is relevant to the Fly Fishing scene right now?

Bloodknots – The idea for the film came from Brandon and I falling in love with chasing wild steelhead in the Fall in Idaho and every winter in Oregon. It’s all we thought about. The flies, the casting, the rivers, the people, really everything about it inspired us. We made a few little video edits during our travels and people liked them, which was cool. We basically got approached by some people we respected with the idea to make a full film in that same vein. Sooo…we put together a little proposal and treatment, ran a Kickstarter and ended up traveling back and forth to the Northwest for three years to produce “ Our Two Hands ”.

Wild steelhead and salmon are in big trouble. Most people know the plight of these fish involves all sorts of barriers, some actually are made of concrete and steel (dams haha). Bottom line is that the topic is huge. So when we started we decided to focus on the driving factors in what’s prolonging this status quo management that has plagued these fish and their habitat for the last 150 years. I have always grappled with this idea of humanities place in the natural world, and whether we are a part of it or apart from it. The film tries to break down and understand the underlying assumptions and beliefs we have about how nature works, and how that has perverted our management of many of our most precious resources in this country. Salmon and steelhead are just a drop in the bucket, but they mean the world to us, and the film was a way for us to “give back” I guess.

Arcade – Looking back, did you guys have ambitions to create a full-fledged production company or did it organically just happen?

Bloodknots – We had no idea where we were headed. We knew we wanted to work in this area, but we had no strategy to get there. We just kind of followed our feet and they’ve led us to great places so far.

Arcade – Who spends the majority of time behind the lens?

Bloodknots – I (Asher) shoot the majority of the film and photos. Brandon is the sales and logistics guy. We both rely on each other’s skills to make this work!

Arcade – Sponsorships and fat paychecks :) aside, what drives you guys to pursue this lifestyle?

Bloodknots – Whew! Oh yeah, let me tell you about those fatty checks man! Our sponsors do take damn good care of us though ;).

No, but seriously we don’t do this for the cash. I mean we’re not struggling, but we work our asses off, both on and off the water to maintain our lifestyle. We love the freedom of what we do and that’s worth way more than money at this point in our lives.

The places fly fishing takes us still blows my mind, and the people we’ve met along the way inspire us to keep pursuing this experiment.

Arcade – So you guys have been working on a long-form project for a while now called “Our Two hands“… Tell us about the project and why it is relevant to the Fly Fishing scene right now?

Arcade – All summer you guys have been simultaneously working on a short form project called Peak Season. Tell us a little bit about this project.

Bloodknots – Brandon and I guide 150+ days a year. We fish primarily for ourselves in the Spring and Fall (honestly when fishing can be the best ha!). But we fell in love with fly fishing in many places throughout the west during our summers fishing with our families and friends.

The Peak Season project was a chance for us to take some time off each month of our busy summers guiding and go reconnect with some of those special places we haven’t had a chance to visit in several years. It’s been a really cool way to stay stoked on the sport as well as a great reminder of why we do this. The soul of the sport is too important to us, and the last thing we wanted to do was lose touch with our passion in the first place. Work-Life-Balance.

Arcade – Ok last question. I know you have one more episode of Peak Season coming up. Any insights that you can share about the trip or where you might be headed?

Bloodknots – Things may change a bit because of Hurricane Harvey, but we are planning on going to the Texas Gulf to fish Redfish and Tarpon. We have some really good dudes in Austin that we are meeting up with whom are going to show us around. The trip could involve everything from a day at Austin City Limits, dove hunting, Guadalupe Bass on the Colorado River and saltwater fishing the tidal flats on the gulf. It’s going to be a perfect way to cap off our guide season and switch gears. Look for the release of that episode in October.

Arcade – Sounds like a rad trip guys. We look forward to seeing it. Thanks for taking the time to chat. Cheers.

Bloodknots – Thank you Arcade! You guys keep our pants on and our waders tight, and we’re thankful for that!

Photos courtesy of  Bloodknots