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.
1_24

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.
18_7

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

fishingwithfly00orvi_0005

” 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 !

fishingwithfly00orvi_0007

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 !

fishingwithfly00orvi_0016

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

greenwell

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. ‘

greenwell0

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 !

Unless you’re good at casting, it’s useless to tie flies…

messy flies

well conceived, amusing and leaving a belly full of food for thought, here’s a fantabulous fictional ‘interview’ on Presentation vs Imitation, the Age-old debate parts 1-2-3 by Carlos Azpilicueta that i hope you’ll not only enjoy but benefit from.

“In this special article, I moderate an interesting, entertaining talk session on one of the most debated and less resolved issues in the history of fly fishing. Far from trying to solve anything, the participants contribute various original points of view that are bound to give more than one reader and flyfishing enthusiast something to think about.”


Quillan and Rodney are keen fly fishermen and staunch defenders of two different positions and approaches that, although they can complement each other, usually clearly and vehemently define which type of fisherman you are.

Some consider and defend the imitation concept as the key to success in fly fishing. They’re the Imitators (Quillan) and their main endeavor is to fill their fly boxes with all kinds of patterns. They’re usually great fly tyers and are very knowledgeable of everything having to do with fly dressing techniques and materials. Many of them are avid entomologists and some even use aquariums and binocular magnifying glasses to study aquatic macroinvertebrates.

The so-called Presenters (represented by Rodney) heartily defend their approach. The presentation approach gives priority to technical skill in casting and presenting the fly. Besides casting, they also love to read and understand the currents in the stream and everything related to how the angler manages on the stream.

Surely no other debate has filled more pages of fly fishing literature. And, to the satisfaction of many, I’m afraid it will continue to do so for many years to come.

Part 1
…positions get defined

Mod: Good afternoon, Quillan and Rodney. Since we already know your respective positions, we can dispense with presentations.
Rod: What we really need less of are imitations.
Mod: Sorry. It was just of way of getting started. I certainly didn’t intend to…
Quill: You certainly are touchy, Mr. Presenter.
Mod: I’m touchy?
Quill: No, I don’t mean you. I’m referring to my debating opponent, the expert flycaster.
Rod: Well, that’s precisely where I think the first error lies.
Mod: What do you mean?
Rod: Associating the idea of presentation with only casting.
Quill: Well, I relate my idea of imitation almost exclusively to dressing the artificials.
Rod: And that’s one of the great limitations of the position you defend. Presentation spans a whole series of concepts and approaches that are much more far-reaching than the simple cast: the fisherman’s position in the stream, reading the water, interpreting the insects, adapting the leader, etc. There are a lot of things you have to do before your dry fly is ever seen by a trout. And they’re all part of the concept of presentation. If you do them right, the fly will be successful; otherwise, you won’t have the slightest chance. I like to quote Gary Borger, “Presentation can be defined as the culmination of everything you are and everything you know and understand about the world of fly fishing.”
Quill: Then, no matter what you tie on the end of the tippet, if you do all those things right, the trout will take it, right?
Rod: Just as long as the size is right, and often not even that.
Quill: Your passion for what you do best, casting, besides revealing your clear limitations as a complete fly fisherman, blinds you and, thereby, irresponsibly confines any further development.
Mod: Let’s start focusing the issue and analyzing some of its more important points.

…historical view

Trout vision curiosities

  • The trout devotes almost half of its small brain to using and controlling its vision
  • Professor Muntz’ experiments show that trout not only perceive colours but also tones of the same color. The colors they most clearly distinguish are, in this order, red, orange and yellow.
  • Trout fry have four types of cones (vision cells responsible for color). This endows them with very good chromatic vision, thus increasing their ability to locate food. When they grow, their retina reverts to a three-cone system, like in human beings.
  • Fish stop feeding for a little while just after sundown. They need a few minutes to adapt their visual system to the new light.
  • Because the cornea of a trout’s eye sticks out a bit from its head, it’s much more prone to be damaged by careless manipulation or leader tangled around its head.

Rod: Hold on, Mr. Moderator. I’ve just been called irresponsible and limited. Me and several legends in the history of fly fishing, such as Charles Ritz and Marryatt.
Mod: All right. Defend yourself. Briefly, please.
Rod: Charles Ritz spent most of his angling life expounding that technique was 85% while the other 15% was imitation. Marryatt, for many, the greatest fly fisherman in history, used to say, “It isn’t the fly, it’s he who presents it.” And remember. He worked closely with Halford, the epitome of the imitation approach.
Quill: Come on, Rod. Insinuating that you’re to be lumped together with those great names, worthy of all my respect and admiration, is pretentious, to say the least. Your quotes date from a period in which the best imitations, what we would call realistic patterns today, were dressed by the great scholar, Halford. They were crude, floated poorly, hardly used any synthetic materials and didn’t apply a lot of the transcendental scientific criteria that appeared later. With imitations like those, it was logical to think that their presentation was decisive. They had to justify their frequent failures.
Mod: What scientific criteria are you referring to?
Quill: The research on light reflected and transmitted by insects and materials and the important advances in our knowledge of trout vision. One of the weak points of all of Halford’s patterns was the opaqueness of the materials be used: quills, floss, horse hair… Seen from below against the light of the sky, these bodies were inexorably dull and lifeless.
Mod: Do you maintain then that imitation has been gaining in importance in fishing over the years?
Quill: Absolutely. The most realistic imitations of only 10 years ago can’t hold a candle to some of today’s patterns. We’ve got a whole new category today, the clones.
Rod: Your thinking isn’t logical, Quill. Today’s reality isn’t just a shortage of trout. For reasons irrelevant to this debate, a lot of insect species are waning. So lots of the copious hatches we used to know are rare now. Which goes to show that imitation is a lot less important today.

Part 2
…the steak theory

Rodney: Maybe you think those clone patterns of yours are less prone to drag. If you do, you’re completely mistaken. The fish reacts primarily to the presentation and only to a lesser degree to the fly. Let me tell you something else. Only when the presentation is good does it make sense to consider the imitation. And always in that order. I’ll give you an example. It isn’t mine; it’s Nick Lyons’. The name’s bound to be familiar. You get served a nice, thick steak. And just as you’re about to cut off the first morsel, the steak budges a fraction of an inch to the side. I bet the fright it gives you is enough to kill your appetite. At any rate, I’m sure that steak doesn’t look so succulent any more.
Quillan: That’s a pretty funny example, Rod, but I see it differently. If a thick, dark red, rare steak were to suddenly move on my plate, I’d think someone had kicked the table. So I’d gobble it fast in case somebody’s after it. Now, if it was scrawny, tough and overdone, even if it lay there stone still, I sure wouldn’t even taste it.
Moderator: Hey, you guys are making me hungry.
Quill: Obviously for the first steak, the dancing Daisy one.

…the dry fly myth

Flies declining in English chalk streams

Only streams with such highly alkaline waters and such regular flows and temperatures can support such an enormous quantity of insects and rich aquatic life. Nevertheless many mayfly species and species of other orders have been declining in recent years, causing alarm for English chalk streams. One of the more bizarre theories attempting to explain this decline points to the great amount of unused contraceptive pills poured down the drains. They dissolve in the water and affect the reproductive capacity of many female insects.

Mod: One thing is certain, fellows. Halford’s flies haven’t survived the passage of the years. And they caught thousands of extremely selective trout, feeding on duns and spinners on the surface of the crystal-clear waters of the mythical English chalk streams.
Rod: True. But they can’t have caught so many trout when they ended up disappearing. Walt Dette says that a fly pattern that doesn’t catch trout ends up disappearing no matter how pretty or how well-dressed it is.
Quill: Only a tenth of the hundreds of Halford’s patterns ever proved to be really effective.
Many hours on the stream have convinced me that today’s realistic patterns always work much better than a general pattern. When the insect is available to the trout, of course. I also maintain that the only realistic imitations that function as such are underwater patterns. I’ve got a theory about the dry fly.
Mod: Please be so kind as to share it with us.
Quill: Certainly. For some time now, I’ve been convinced that dry fly fishing has never existed as such.
Mod: Do you realize the transcendence of that statement?
Quill: I certainly do. The dry fly, taken as an imitation that floats like a mayfly dun, for example, is a myth. There is no way you can make an artificial float the way a natural fly floats. Try as you may, it’s physically impossible. Because of the weight of the hook, because of the materials (all absorb more or less water) and because it’s tied to a tippet that unbalances it, falls from above and adds extra weight.
Rod: Put that way, it sounds logical.
Quill: All the innovative patterns that have attempted to achieve this floatability have failed throughout history. What I’m saying is a cinch to prove. Take your best dun imitation and gently place on the water in a glass. Observe it for a few seconds. Do the same with an inverted hook pattern, a single-wing (thorax type), a palmer, a funnel dun, a compara dun, whatever you want. See the huge difference between the way they float and the high-floating, subtle, graceful subimago? Once you place them on the water, they all break through the surface tension to some degree. Note the tail filaments. Those of the natural flies barely touch the water. Those of most artificials are grotesque, indecipherable, semi-submerged appendages. And you placed the imitations on the water gently. Now tie them to a tippet and drop them from a certain height. Dismayingly revealing.
Now try it with one of Halford’s classics. I can’t understand how this fellow could think trout took these imitations thinking they were adult ephemeropteras. Those hooks were quite a bit heavier than today’s too. And the materials he used weren’t as hydrophobic as today’s either. In spite of all this, a beautiful, romantic story was born: the dry fly.
Rod: Sadly enough, I think the leader often makes them more stable. It’s funny. I set out the other day to count all the patterns, current and old, that try to imitate a Baetis Rhodani subimago. I soon had no less than 24 different imitations for this fly. And, except for the possible size variations, it’s undoubtedly one of the best defined in color and physiognomy. Nobody uses many of those imitations anymore. It’s certainly makes you think.
Mod: What does it make you think?
Rod: That there are only two possibilities. Either, like my debating opponent says, it’s absolutely impossible to even come close to properly imitating these insects or, as I’ve been saying, the root of the problem lies elsewhere, in what really makes the difference between the success and failure of any fly. At any rate, I thought you defended the imitation concept above all.
Quill: I do, and well above presentation. But referring almost exclusively to today’s realistic patterns.
Rod: Current realistic, underwater patterns.
Quill: Exactly. Although CDC gives you very good floatability—usually the first two drifts, you’ll get very few drifts with the artificial floating like a dun.
Mod: Then, when you tie on a dry fly or what you think is a dry fly, what are you actually tying on?
Quill: An emerger at some floatation level of all the various possible levels. Just that. Definitely not a dry fly as we’ve just defined it, in any case.

Part 3
…about magic wands

Rodney: Aside from this interesting “theory”, as you so aptly call it, I think the pattern-buffs, whether they extol exact imitations or not, are actually trying to compensate deficient casting techniques. The worst is that lots of them aren’t even aware that they’re doing it.
I’ve got another theory.
Moderator: Your turn then.
Rod: I call it the magic wand syndrome. Man constantly strives to find utensils to make life easier and save toil and sweat. Even knowing there are no miracle products for losing weight or lightning-fast systems for learning Russian in 6 months, we’re always willing to try out something new, just in case. No matter what…to avoid suffering and pain. Fly fishing has two magic wands. Rods that cast yards and yards almost by themselves. They make unbelievably delicate presentations, even against a headwind. Then you have the infallible flies that no fish can reject.
Quillan: I hope you aren’t insinuating that I go around selling magic wands.
Rod: In a way, you do. What you defend can be bought. That’s why most all fishermen change the fly before changing the cast or the presentation. And that’s why most angling forums, debates and discussions always focus on this or that pattern. It also explains why there’s a lot more literature about fly tying than any other angling-related topic. Fishermen keep trying to replace practice and training with a new rod or a new pattern. So they keep failing. They refuse to accept that the only magic wands in fly fishing are training, study and hours of effort. And, Quillan, you can’t buy those in a store.
Mod: Mmm, interesting.
Quill: And quite wrong. There’s a lot more skill involved in the option I defend than in yours: knowledge of fly-tying materials, manual dexterity, creativity, imagination, an artistic flare and, particularly, knowledge of entomology. Though I’m sure you consider how you handle the butterfly net more important then recognizing exact species of mayfly under the binocular magnifying glass.
Rod: He who fishes better catches more fish than the guy with the better imitations.

…slight point of encounter

Mod: Don’t you guys believe that, in the ultimate analysis, the guy that makes the best presentation with the best imitation will catch the most fish?
Quill: Yeah, but that hardly ever happens.
Rod: You’re right there.
Mod: Hummmph! Please enlighten us.
Quill: The angling styles of the great majority of fly fishermen are much closer to one option than to the other.
Rod: Almost always closer to imitation. Obsessed with changing flies to solve all their problems.
Quill: More and more anglers are focusing almost exclusively on presentation and stock their fly boxes with only a couple of patterns.
Rod: Yeah, but they’re still a small minority.
Quill: It’s funny but usually the guys that catch the most fish know little about casting. I think I know why.
Mod: Why?
Quill: Because they make the best presentation they know how to make. They get as close as they can to the fish and, with little more than the leader, they drift the fly past the trout’s snout. No technique, no special training. That’s all they do. And once the fish sees the fly, either it looks a lot like what it’s eating or see you later, alligator. And that, Rodney, summarizes everything you’re trying to defend.
Rod: You’re describing a special type of fishing done in certain streams under specific conditions. That kind of fisherman does catch fish in his usual streams but he’s very limited in any kind of river where he can’t get so close.

…dragging isn’t always decisive

Quill: I maintain that a realistic imitation doesn’t need an impeccable presentation; it can even drag a bit.
Rod: Never. The trout, for example, is much more finicky about a poor presentation than about a specific fly pattern. If a trout knows anything, it certainly knows how to tell the difference between something that floats and drifts naturally from something that’s forced.
Quill: What poor presentations do is highlight the deficiencies of a given imitation. Natural insects are continually subject to whimsical eddies and micro currents. They rarely drift in a straight, predictable line.
Rod: True. That’s what makes a proper presentation so difficult. The imitation has to follow the not-so-uniform drift of the natural insect.

…conclusions

Mod: Let’s try to wind up with some last thoughts, OK?
Quill: I’d like to end on this note: the vast difficulty, study and work required to create almost perfect imitations always pays off on the stream. Very few fishermen systematically use this type of fly, but they undoubtedly catch the most fish. Today’s artificial fly, with current knowledge of the art of fly-tying, stands out as much more important than presentation. Never, until very recently, has this been so clear.
Just about anybody knows how to cast and make more or less presentable presentations. But very few can tie patterns that truly imitate natural insects and then use them for fishing. That’s the real source of this controversy.
Mod: Your turn to finish up.
Rod: Fly fishing is about placing a fly on the water without spooking the fish and making it drift naturally. No matter how good your imitation is, it’s always going to be tied to a tippet, which, in turn, is tied to a thicker leader and a much thicker fly line. Between you and the fish, there’s almost always going to be a multitude of currents that are sometimes absolutely indecipherable. You’ll be surrounded by vegetation and obstacles and the wind is rarely going to be your ally. This whole reality interacts with itself and changes with each step you take and each minute that goes by. In the stream, I sincerely prefer to rely on my skill and knowledge more than what I have in my fly box.
Mod: Many thanks to both of you for this interesting debate. Happy fishing until next time.

The Angler and the Loop-Rod

by David Webster 1885 via OpenLibrary

“Loop-Rod and Loop-Line” 

what a nice descriptive. i like that and i like it a lot. it seems just right and somehow more appropriate than our usual ‘fly rod and fly line’ but fear not friends, this isn’t about changing what we call them but about sharing a really cool find.

the angler and the loop rod TLC 2-12-13
filled with a lot of experience and insights, tips and tricks,

angles at which to cast

you’ll also discover funny ways to talk to the fish to get them to take the fly, it’s a great read. click either image for the online book or HERE to download the file in various forms to read offline. enjoy !striking

American Trout-Stream Insects

by Louis Rhead 1914 via OpenLibrary
Am. trout-stream insects TLC 8-11-13
without a doubt we can be pretty sure that hatch timetables and even bug species in the last ninety-nine years have come to be inexistent in some areas while others have taken their place, we’re still left with an enormous wealth of information regarding river-side insect life and how to put this to good use.
geared towards U.S. rivers, anglers from around the world will find similarities and usefulness for their own waters. besides, i’m not sure it really matters, it’s a great read regardless and maybe a reminder that bugs is bugs and fishes is fishes and fly fishing hasn’t changed all that much and there’s still a lot to learn from the past.
americantroutstr00rhearich_0053the many hand-drawn plates created by the author back up all the groovy buggy-fishy info with beauty, further sharing the notion that it’s not just a matter of fish food and catching fish but of creatures to be admired on their own and thank you Mr Rhead for that.
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click either image for 177 pages of old school coolness online or HERE to download PDF, Kindle and others to enjoy this offline.

How to Dress It and How to Use It.

not much to not like with a title like that..,
Salmon Fly-dressit, use it
but with topics such as: Underwater Experiments, The ‘Instrument of Satisfaction’ (my favourite !),  Diagnosis of Flies, Symmetry of Flies, The ‘Line-of-Pull’, Holding the Hook (tying these lovely flies by hand) and gorgeous plates like this, that it’s kinda turned into a love affair.

salmonflyhowtodr00kelsrich_0055
this one’s a really special find that i hope you’ll enjoy as much as i did. click either pic to access the complete 510 page book online on OpenLibrary or HERE to download it in pdf file or Kindle and other nifty ways to read it later when offline.

How to Tie Flies without saying a word.

from How to Tie Flies by E. C. Gregg, 1940

From How to Tie Flies, by E. C. Gregg, 1940

and if you think that’s cool and want more, click the pic to access the complete book on gutenberg.org. enjoy !

D-Looping with Jason Borger

MF in JB's casting book 12-8-13
the pic should say it all but there needs to be a big woW ! to make it complete.
having The Limp Cobra and myself mentioned in Jason’s upcoming book ‘SINGLE-HANDED FLY CASTING – A Modular Approach’ is about the coolest thing that can happen to a casting instructor. to say it’s an honor doesn’t really my feelings justice but i’m sure you get the point.

in the making now for what seems like an eternity the last several years, a completely reworked edition of NATURE OF FLY CASTING  – A Modular Approach seems to be close to completion.

” I am continuing to flail away on SHFC, grabbing writing time as I can. Everything that I plan on including in the book is in the book, but not fully fleshed out. Some chapters are about 97-percent, others are more like 67-percent. It’s the 67-pecenters that I am focusing on right now, including the D-Loop chapter (Rolls and Speys).

I am still optimistic for an end-of-2013 finish, with the print run soon after that (figure that I’ll let the book sit for two extra weeks so I can check it over again, then six weeks for the press).”

bring on 2014 !

Making it float

in yet another reminder of just how much ‘we’ve got it good’, here’s a more than interesting article on the long-ago development of floating fly lines and flies via The Fishing Museum Online.
i’ve selected a few amusing tidbits for you here but be sure to click on the tub of deer fat for the full article. enjoy !

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“When anglers used relatively short lines – the vast majority of flies were fished less than twenty feet from the rod tip until the end of the 18th century – there wasn’t much need to make flies float, because they could literally be dangled on, or just under the surface. However, when longer braided lines came along and, in particular, when anglers made the move to silk lines, their tackle began to sink, dragging the fly under with it and so all kinds of ingenuity had to be applied to making it stay on the surface.”

“In the end, the tackle manufacturers stepped in and firms like Hardy’s and dealers like Chalkley started selling red deer fat, which was rubbed onto silk lines using a cloth.

Deer fat tinNeedless to say, some anglers objected to the idea of having to carry a stinking cloth dripping with rancid fat around in their pockets…”

“Another popular method of treating a fly so that it would float was to dissolve Vaseline in petrol; the artificial was dipped in the solution, and the petrol left to evaporate, leaving the fly coated in the gel. Once this method was perfected, the stage was set for a mini-golden age of dry fly gizmos, designed to paint, spray, or drizzle paraffin onto flies, without the risk of unplanned escapes (paraffin soaked clothes being a serious fire risk in an age when smoking was far more common than it is now). The ingenuity behind the design of some of these devices has to be seen to be believed, although there are one or two which were simply too clever for their own good – and although they were manufactured in quantity, few remain, perhaps because the majority of their owners flung them into the river in disgust. As an example we give you the ferociously complicated Illingworth oiler, most of which survive without their internal mechanisms, which, with few exceptions sprang to freedom long ago.”

the earliest flies ?

via The Eclectic Angler

” The earliest record of fly fishing in the known western literature is from Greece in the second century AD. Aelian’s “Natural History” described not only fishing with a fly but presented the first written fly pattern, translated here as “They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.” Andrew Marshall tied the four flies in this photo as possible alternatives to the fly described by Aelian. If you are interested in early flies and fly tying, then you need to pre-order a copy of Andrew’s “The History and Evolution of the Trout Fly”! “

early flies eclectic anglerthe first thing that popped into my mind after reading this comment and then seeing these flies is, apart from the silk tippet (and disregarding the use of an obviously modern/contemporary barbed hook), the basic designs could have been created yesterday and not nineteen centuries ago: leaving a somewhat droopy-strange feeling that not a whole lot has happened in the fly tying world since, at least not with your average trout-type flies.

for sure, more recent times have shown us some very unique and creative uses of feathers, such as Roy Christie’s Reversed Parachute style to name just one but the basics are pretty much covered in Marshal’s recreations above.  this also brings up questions like, was dubbing applied in say, the conventional twisted-around-the tying-thread method ? or simply lashed on Cro Magnon style and letting the loose bits roam free ?

is this telling us that trout haven’t evolved since those times and that our continuous need to reinvent the wheel by creating billions of fly tying materials and patterns is nothing but a pipe dream ?
so many questions !  (that only a pure geek could possibly care about… ) but this geek is looking forward to reading this upcoming book. i can’t find any reference to it on their site so, all of this might just be a (geek’s pipe) dream but by clicking the pic you can access Eclectic’s page and check out some pretty cool assemble-at-home reel kits and other out-of-the-box goodies. maybe if we pester them enough they’ll give us a little more info on when this book will be available. i hear that reel-makers are easily intimidated besides, pestering’s always fun…

“The Essentials of a Good Fly-Hook: The temper of an angel and penetration of a prophet; fine enough to be invisible and strong enough to kill a bull in a ten-acre field.”

~ G.S. Marryat

Maryatt

it’s funny, every once in a while i feel the need to do some Halford-bashing.
of course, i can’t help but feel sorry for poor Eileen but TheLimpCobra isn’t about attempting to solve marriage issues: if anything, it’s about celebrating fly fishing in all it’s forms and not imposing simple-minded, self-glorifying rules like Halford the Horrid did with his chalkstream-upstream-dry-fly-only ethos which he deeply impressed into the gullible minds of the tweed-worshiping simple-minded of his era: dry fly purists…
now, had those ideas of ‘purity’ stayed in the past we could just read about it say, when the dishes are done and we really don’t have anything better to do, and just smirk about it all. but ! just about everywhere i go, i’ll regularly get the born-again dry-fly-only preaching and guess what ? not only is it mind-numbing boring beyond belief but only a fraction of them have heard of and much less read from the Halford so all this ‘purity’ is ‘handed-down purity’ handed down by the tweed-worshiping buffoons mentioned earlier. the bastard just won’t die.
sure, the neo-purists have replaced the tweed by recycled synthetics and a lot have had the ‘Dry or Die’ credo tattooed (sorta like permanent bumper stickers) somewhere on their bodies for all to see,'dry or die' tat Jon Hson

but even if they might drive a sensible automobile and banned french fries from their menus, the fly fishing part of the brain hasn’t evolved. the blinders are still on but those blinders are good for the rest of us because, while they’re sitting there looking upstream for weeks and weeks dreaming and waiting for a Danica hatch, we get to go chuck bad-ass streamers and stuff, catch the big ones and spook the pools before the hatch even begins. ok, all that sounds a tad intolerant and maybe a little unsocial but it sure is fun !

anyhow back to Marryat. in what’s yet another chalked-up point against the over-popularized, Anti-Cobran Frederic M. Halford, here’s further proof of his…, ummm, ahhh, just fill in the blanks yourself, i’ve insulted him enough for today.
“Halford’s first work, Floating Flies and How to Dress Them, was published in 1886. Halford tells the reader that he drew heavily on Marryat’s natural talent and experience and he never made any secret of the fact that he wanted Marryat to be joint author, but the latter, ever keen on avoiding the limelight, declined. The extent of Marryat’s influence on Floating Flies can only be guessed at, but it must have been immense, given that Halford had comparatively little experience of fly-tying techniques – and, ironically, of fishing the Mayfly – at that stage. Indeed, in those early days, the majority of what Halford knew about fly tying was learned from Marryat. Dr. Thomas Sanctuary said, for example, that the idea of tying dry flies with paired upright wings was Marryat’s, rather than Halford’s, and although this was actually a much older idea, it shows how little Halford knew about fly design at the time of the pair’s first meeting.”

Marryat was a complete angler, one who was hungry to know. (and a wearer of fine hats) click the pic for the complete article on Thefishingmuseum online.

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From dry fly purists to Euronymphers, every fly fishing group is a society of island universes.”

~ Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Fly Fishing Perception

BC island

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Fly Tier Showcase- Mike Townend

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most salmon flies make me think of drag queens: ghastly, tarty-tasteless gaudy caricature creatures haphazardly put together with ill-died feathers and plastic diamonds.
whether they catch fish or not is irrelevant, it’s the human factor and the horrendous side effects of complacency and a general sense of ineptitude induced to both viewers and creators of such tackiness that’s still wreaking havoc (of sorts) in the fly tying world after hundreds of years.
one could say they are the neon lights used to lure in trucker-cap crowds to the local strip mall. (please use your imagination for that last part and don’t actually go there) anyhow, this is some serious shit and not something to be taken lightly so let’s see what a recognized  expert has to say about this phenomenon.

“Hence man’s otherwise inexplicable passion for salmon flies and hence his attribution to precious stones of therapeutic and magical virtue…. In other words, precious stones are precious because they bear a faint resemblance to the glowing marvels seen with the inner eye of the visionary. “

Aldous Huxley’s pretty in-deep quote from his marvelous essay Fly Tying Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell’ shows a much higher understanding than i ever could as to why these gaudy flies are so popular and get the most ‘likes’ on Facebook.

now, on the other hand and thank goodness !, we have these quasi-mystical shrine-like flies tied by Mike Townend of Aberdeen, Scotland prompting aw-inspiring reflections such as:
“The hook, for example, of that fly–how miraculous it’s tubularity, how supernatural it’s polished smoothness! I spent several minutes–or was it several centuries?–not merely gazing at this salmon fly, but actually being it—or rather being myself in it; or, to be still more accurate (for “I” was not involved in the case, nor in a certain sense were “it”) being my Not-self in the Not-self which was the salmon fly.”

right. rendering the acquisition of  illegal lotions and potions pointless, thanks to Monsieur Townend we get to view, absorb and be the sublime and not have to wait eight hours for it all to wear off.
(hmmm, the more i re-read all this the more it all makes sense but in case it don’t, if you ignore the words you’ll at least enjoy these awesomely stunning examples of what can only be considered ‘feather poetry’)
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Salmon Casts and Stray Shots

salmon casts and stray shots coverfirst attracted by the book’s and certain chapter’s titles such as the ” To The West, To The West ! “, this meandering, Scottish-based tale full of quirky anecdotes and full-on explanations why a salmon angler is more of a man than a lowly ‘yellow trout’ fisher… this fun-filled publication by John Colquhoun in 1858 is somehow setting the tone for my upcoming trip at the end of the month for the annual Gathering/Barrio ProTeam Hootenanny/yellow trout fishing trip/catch up with friends old and new/fine asian food/drive the van into the dust trip. somehow.

salmon-castsstra00colqrich_0072

whether you plan on going to Scotland or not it still remains a fine read and comes highly recommended if you’re in the mood for something ‘exotic’.

click either book page to access the complete work on OpenLibrary.com or here to download the PDF file for offline reading. enjoy !

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brainwashem’ young- My First Salmon, an interactive iPad/iTunes experience for kids

My_First_Salmon_Ibook_Final.225x225-75

created as a continuation of the paper editions of My First Trout and My First Salmon previously mentioned here in the ‘brainwashem’ young series, Eoin Fairgrieve takes one big step further with this new publication by providing it in digital form to share with our wee ones.

“Written by professional fly casting instructor, Eoin Fairgrieve, My First Salmon is an interactive children’s book about learning to fish for Atlantic salmon.  This book has been inspired by Eoin’s work teaching thousands of children to fish, and comprises of sixteen chapters covering all aspects of fly fishing for this prized species of fish. It includes motion graphics, interactive educational tools, and an image gallery. The book is written in an informative and engaging style, and children will learn about water safety, the salmon’s anatomy and lifecycle, and the importance of maintaining a healthy riverside environment.  Other chapters include information on the Atlantic salmon’s amazing ocean migration as well as essential tackle and fly casting techniques.  This publication is an ideal reading and reference guide for any child interested in learning to fish for salmon, and is particularly suitable for children between the ages of 9-16 years.”

a sample page from the book on salmon anatomy
'my first salmon' anatomy page EF

outside of bringing them to the water (and as a perfect addition to this), at $6.99 it’s one of the better gifts you give your kids or a friend’s or relative’s.
click either pic to access the iTunes store.

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The Trout Fly Dresser’s Cabinet of Devices

or How to Tie Flies for Trout and Grayling Fishing by H.G. McClelland  “Athenian” (yes, Athenian) 1898%22Athenian%22

some say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, i completely disagree.
i’ve been doing this all my life and to be honest, i seriously doubt that i’ve abandoned a book in mid-read more times than i have fingers on either hand (five) and two of those have been the miserably boring Moby Dick. (i wanted to be sure it wasn’t just a momentary ‘not in the right frame of mind’ thing).
anyhow, if today’s fly fishing literary blast from the past doesn’t entice by it’s understated mysteriousness and greenness then i don’t know what does…
book cover

quirky author names and greenness aside, (and  quite a few great ideas and suggestions on fly dressing that may or may not have held up through time), what brought me and undoubtedly you too to this page is ‘Athenian’s’ Machiavellian decision to use “Cabinet of Devises” in the title. that’s twisted but it’s a good twisted that did the trick.
a very fine read indeed filled with goodies such as advocating the use of peacock quill, how it “shows a well defined rib of color” but also how the young author met his untimely demise “just when the doors of manhood where opening to him… “

click either image to access this complete ebook gem on openlibrary.org
enjoy !
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