Eat Sleep Fish’s Happy Birthday Dun !

ESF 4th b-day

48 issues and 4 years old today !

that’s really big and a wonderful example of perseverence and passion resulting in a simple, good-natured, non-advertising, no glits and glam, always great to read fly fishing ezine.
in a way, Eat Sleep Fish has the feel of your local newspaper but with contributors from around the world and that’s why i like it so much. it’s a combined effort of peers just like you and me and not the same-old hotshots over and over again.
saying how much i enjoy reading a magazine without having adverts shoved down my throat might sound like i’m ranting about most other ezines (all?) but birthday’s aren’t about ranting, they’re about yummy celebrations and what’s better than chocolate cake ? well, nothing. or rather, chocolate cake with a big scoop of chocolate ice-cream on top ! but neither Pete Tyjas who runs ESF nor i can slip you a slice via the web so let’s just slurp down Warren McCarty’s non-fatteneing #20 Olive Dun instead but first you’ll need to tie some up and here’s how to do it.
take special note of steps 10 & 11. i’d never seen this method before and its really special.

click either pic to access the birthday issue and HERE for an archive of all previous issues. enjoy !


#20 Olive Dun Step by Step by Warren McCarthy

“A smaller than average dry fly this month and one which takes inspiration from the dedicated ‘small fly’ websites. Although a size 20 is hardly small compared with the miniscule flies some tie it certainly is as small as I need to go for almost all my fishing. I love all the materials used in this pattern, the natural materials and colours produce a fly which to me, looks and feels right both in and out of the water.
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I have been tying duns with quill bodies and long split tails for a while, my patterns having the popular CDC wing with a hackle. But once I started to drop out of my comfort zone into a #20 and even smaller I started to use a thorax/hackle that I had come across whilst reading Andy Baird’s excellent ‘small fly funk’ website. Andy used a mole fur thorax with his hackle in his ‘generic olive’, which when I tried looked great. By doing away with the wing the tie was simplified. Less materials equalled less turns of thread and therefore less bulk, essential in smaller flies.

The extented tail is without doubt a trigger point, much has been written on the subject and I for one have been converted to the silhouette this type of pattern creates.
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Material choice is especially important to me with with this pattern.

The hook is always down to personal preference but to me the Partridge hook is a ‘proper’ size 20. I also go a bit smaller with the Tiemco 103bl #21. But I have to confess to using the Flytying Boutique dry fly light hook (which is essentially the same as the Tiemco but cheaper) more and more these days.

Although a #20 is by no means miniscule, the size still creates problems with the tricky tail and making sure there is no excessive thread build up throughout the tie. The excellent veevus thread has great strength for its diameter which certainly helps.

Yes I am afraid it’s another fly with a Polish quill body, but I’m quite honestly struggling to find anything that looks as good in this sort of ‘natural’ pattern.

I find most capes have a fair few tiny hackles at the base which are fine for a #20. Finally, not much to be said about the mole fur except don’t overdo it.

Materials
Hook – Partridge SLD #20 or Flytying Boutique Dry Fly Light #20
Thread – Veevus 16/0 AO5 Olive
Tail – Tan Microfibbets
Body – Polish Quill Yellow
Thorax – Mole Fur
Hackle – Cock Cape – Brown

Tying
1. Vice up your hook and catch in the thread.
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2. Carefully wind down the shank with touching turns until in line with the point.
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3. Now carefully separate two microfibbets and lay together so as the tips align and then lay on the shank leaving the tail at least twice the length of the hook shank. Carefully catch in the microfibbets with your thread and wind down until just short of the bend. Make sure the microfibbets remain on top of the shank.
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4. Follow the same procedure to split the tails as described in detail in my June ESF article ‘Olive Variant’

With the waste trimmed and covered the thread should be left just short of the eye.

5. Wind the thread back down to the bend where the microfibbets split. Select a quill and carefully catch in, then wind your thread back up covering the waste quill finish three quarters of the way up the shank and trim off waste quill.
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6. Now using your hackle pliers carefully wind your quill up the shank to form the body, tie off three quarters of the way up the shank leaving enough space for your hackle.I now use a couple of whip finishes to hold the body in place for varnishing. DO NOT cut the thread.
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7. The quill, as always, needs varnish to offer protection and to bring out the colours. For such a small body I use a sewing needle to apply a very fine coat of ‘Hard As Nails’.
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8. While the varnish is drying select a small hackle. Take a bit of time and care: the individual fibres should be, if possible, no longer than the length of the body.
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9. Catch in the hackle with the stem towards the bend, give a couple of turns of thread then trim off waste. Continue to wind the thread up to the body covering the waste and tidying up.
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Catch in.
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Trim waste and tidy up.

10. Wind on three or four turns of hackle snug against the body catch in with one or two turns of thread.
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11. Now dub on a tiny amount of mole fur (I apply a tiny amount of wax). Carefully wind the dubbed thread in between the hackle fibres leave thread at eye ensuring and spare dubbing is removed.
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Lightly dub.
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Wind the remaining hackle back through the previous wound hackle/mole dubbing foundation towards the hook eye.

12. Push back hackle and whip finish.
Trim thread and apply varnish with a sewing needle.
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13. I like to give the hackle a haircut and trim off underneath to ensure the fly sits well in the water.
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The finished fly
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Look out for these:
Take time to ensure the tail microfibbets sit on top of the shank and split with a nice wide ‘v shape’.
Although easier said than done with a small body, try to ensure the quill body still has the definition showing the black edges.
As mentioned before do not overdo the mole fur dubbing.
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Summary
To me the most important part of the fly is the long split tail; it helps the fly sit well in the water and definitely acts as a trigger point as mentioned before. Although not a ‘classic’ technique I like running the dubbed thread through the hackle, it splays the fibres out giving an uneven finish. And when trimmed underneath the hackle takes on a ‘hedgehog’ effect.

Although I have made reference to the small fly websites, this fly is by no means the ‘work of art’ type patterns seen on these sites. Their creations go down to staggering #28, #30 and even smaller. The thread I use and no doubt the tying technique would be over the top for these tiny masterpieces.
However it is still fun to tie and more importantly, fish with, whilst being a step in the right direction of even smaller creations. After tying a few, a #16 seems enormous.
Now where did I leave the box of #26 !!!!”

Fly Fishing Literature: Fishing with the Fly

by Charles F. Orvis – A. Nelson Cheney 1883

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” What comfortable satisfaction or foreboding premonitions do you image possess the noble lord while he is taking his recuperative rest in the middle chamber, after passing from his matriculation in the sea ? Faith ! you can almost read his emotions in the slow pulsations of his pectoral fins, and the infliction of his throbbing tail ? Perhaps he shrinks from the barricade of rock and foam before him ; or hesitates to essay the royal arch above the gorge, which reflects in prismatic hues of emblematic glory the mist and mysteries of the unattempted passage.
And his doughty squires around him ; do they share his misgivings, or are they all royal bloods together, sans peur sans reproche, in scale armiture of blue and silver, eager to attain the land of promise and the ultimate degree of revelation ? Ah, the way is indeed beset with difficulties and crucial tests, but its end is joy and fulness of knowledge : and “knowledge is the beginning of life.”

boy that’s schmaltzy but what  great schmaltz !

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along with assorted goodies such as: Fly Casting for Salmon, The Angler’s Greeting and close to my heart, Why Peter Went A-Fishing
this isn’t your average collection of angling literature.

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there’s also a few of these but the real gems are in word form.
to access the 302 other pages on Internet Archive click either pic. enjoy !

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how cool is this ?

fly casting finess cover

needles to say, it is an enormous honour to have TLC‘s fly casting reference page mentioned in this recent book by John L. Field !

funny thing, and i sincerely hope you’ll pardon my ignorance, John…  is until now i’ve never heard of this gentleman but that’s all about to change as i just downloaded the book through Amazon/Kindle and it’s coming with me on a short trip in the higher Pyrenees tomorrow where i’ll be not only reading in the shade, hiding from the heat wave we’re currently going through if the fishing is slow but also trying out an absolutely fantastic small-stream jewel of a 6′ 3wt Superfast bamboo rod hand made by Monsieur Hulot umm, Luke Banister lent for review along with a too-nice-for-me hand-made wooden scoop net by Mark Leggett of Alternative Tackle just last week in Cumbria, England.

there’s a real home-mattress in the back of the fish-van and chocolate and coffee is packed: this should be fun.

fly casting finesse reference

click either image to access Skyhorse Publishing’s page for more info on John’s book.
and a big thanks for the heads-up on all this to buddy Will Shaw !

Dry Fly Fishing in Theory and Practice

dryflyfishing cover halfordanother doozy from the infamous “Detached Badger of “The Field” *,  Frederic Michael Halford, first printed in 1889 via openlibrary.org

while all of us in the Northern Hemisphere are secretly hating all those that aren’t, impatiently waiting for open waters and better days… here’s a more than amusing and informative and oh boy, once again reminder that while certain details have changed through fly fishing history, the bigger picture hasn’t evolved that much.

a few tidbits-

reels

rod action

changing

rod length
and if those don’t get your interest, this one on rod-holding ‘butt spears’ should do the trick.

butt spears

click either text/image to access the complete 400 or so page book. its well worth the read, besides, well, its well worth the read.
the guy sure had a lot to say about everything one might want to know and then more. enjoy !

* please don’t ask. i have no idea and i really don’t want to know.

Floating Flies and How to Dress Them

by Fredric M. Halford 1886 via Thefishingmuseum.org

halford 1

cold, depressed by closed rivers and the oncoming xmas onslaught ? here’s a little something that should distract you for at least a little while. regular readers will already know of my lack of affection for this Halford character but that doesn’t mean that he was all bad. the book is after all a classic and well worth the read, specially at work or hidden away in a back room during family festivities.

halford 2

see ? anyone that says grayling are silly can’t be all bad. click either image to access the complete online book. enjoy !

Fly Fishing Literature- G E M Skues The Man of the Nymph

‘The Man of the Nymph”. if the title alone isn’t just the sexiest thing ever than i don’t know what is !
piscatorial lasciviousness aside, check out the video. Hayter’s enthusiasm gives me the idea that this book’s a winner.

“The long awaited definitive biography of a fly fishing icon. Written with a rare authority by Tony Hayter one of our foremost angling historians, and published by Robert Hale Ltd. We had the honour to film the book launch at the Grosvenor Hotel, Stockbridge, Hampshire, and conduct an interview with the author.

This video contains clips from the launch and excerpts from the interview” enjoy !

Greenwell’s Glory: The History of a Classic Fly

via A fly Fishing History by Dr. Andrew N. Herd

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There are all sorts of variations on the story of how the first Greenwell’s Glory came to be tied, but there is no doubt that it was the invention of Canon William Greenwell of Durham, pictured above in his later years. In his early teens, Greenwell learned to fish on the Browney, a tiny beck which winds its way into the Wear within a few miles of where I am writing this article. Our hero was a mere whipper-snapper of thirty-three when he travelled up to Scotland with the Durham Rangers fishing club to their waters at Sprouston and at Henderside on the Tweed, and it was at Sprouston where the idea for the fly came to him. The canon had had a rather thin day’s fishing one day in May when the water was alive with March Browns, but the fish were to determined to take another fly which he couldn’t recognise. Make a careful note of Greenwell’s thoughts:

‘ I caught some of them, and came to the conclusion that the best imitation would be the inside of a blackbird’s wing, with a body of red and black hackle, tied with yellow silk. ‘

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It just goes to show how they were conditioned to think in those far off days, because here were the fish rising to take insects on the surface, and yet the canon came up with a classic design for a fly – perfect in every way, but designed to be fished wet. Of course, dry fly fishing was only in its infancy in 1854 and capable fisherman though he was, Greenwell was no revolutionary. So he took his ideas along to Jimmy Wright’s humble abode and told him what was needed. Wright already was the best-known fly tyer on the Tweed and it sounds like he must have been a bit sceptical at first about the new pattern, but he soon changed his mind:

‘ Next day I had as fine a day’s sport as I ever remember, and going, on my return, to James Wright, he asked me what success I had had. I told him I had filled my creel. ‘Why’, he said, ‘but your creel holds 32 lb.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but I have got my pockets full as well.’ ‘Wonderful!’ he said, ‘with March Brown, no doubt.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘almost all on the new fly. Dress me another dozen for to-morrow… ‘


apart from the vision of creels and pockets stuffed with dead fish… this is cool stuff.
i can’t get enough of these old finds because they continually remind me of all the things we think we discovered recently, but where already known hundreds of years ago…
click either pic for the complete article. enjoy !