Ceramic flies- What they are, what they do and how to make them

they don’t look like anything in particular, just some general bug-type shape with just enough bug-type elements that suggest food and colour contrasts to set them apart from river debris and nothing more. in a sense, they epitomise the presentation over imitation concept. here’s a few examples:

ceramic nymphs flyfishing.co.uk.jpg
at first glance they look like nuclear waste candies and as always and specially when dealing with non-immitative flies, colours are mostly up to the tier’s whim. personally, and since i never specifically target grayling because i can’t stand the f’n things… preferring to focus my attention on trout and other less offensive creatures, i like them best in naturalish tones with a black head. that’s my whim.

these things consist of a lead or lead substitute wire wound around the hook shank to form the body followed by several layers of ceramic hobby paint to finish the fly. Pébéo seems to be the preferred brand, it’s available in small pots and even in pen form. i’m not familiar with the pens but it seems to be a fast, easy and maybe less expensive alternative for the person who might want to just try these out or make just a few.

there’s no traditional ‘tying’ involved in the process. traditionalists will of course poo-poo these things and not even consider them as flies but the hell with them. traditional flies can’t do what these do which brings us to the ‘what they do’ part-
apart from the Perdigon style of nymphs, every other style of nymph that i know of has sink-restraining elements: feathers, fur, dubbing, rubber or whatever protuberances that slow down and make it more difficult to get the flies on or near the bottom and that’s what these deep-divers are supposed to do. sink-restraining flies can get to the bottom too but they need more time and an enormous amount of weight to counter their sink-restraining properties but once there, and even if they catch fish sometimes and look ‘good’, they’ll tend to drift like big lifeless, unnatural lumps.

sleek deep-divers like Perdigons and Ceramics do indeed have some form of weight but much less. being super-sleek they cut through currents faster, get where they’re supposed to go faster, meaning the angler doesn’t have to cast as far upstream and wait for it to settle, making the presentation a lot more accurate in drift management while freely tumbling downstream with the current much closer to what a natural would do and that’s a lot more important and fish-catching than bits and pieces wound on a hook that attract the angler more than the fish.

an added bonus is lighter flies are a lot easier to cast (and safer) specially when using industry standard fly lines as opposed to Dynamic/Euro/TightLine/monofilament-only rigs.
ceramic nymphs 2 flyfishing.co.uk.jpg

as we’ll see in Stanislas Freyheit‘s video below this particular type of paint has some really interesting properties, the only drawback might be that its best (and highly recommended!) to wait approximately 24 hrs between coats. this means making them in batches and being patient, sort of like making babies and having to wait nine months before they pop out.

lastly, a bit of unofficial Ceramic nymph history. this kind of info with any kind of veracity isn’t easy to obtain but i can confirm their French origin. although relatively new to the global fly fishing world, i’ve known about them for about fifteen or so years.
frogs tend to not share their secrets… however, Stanislas, who ties these bugs commercially happily shares all his trade secrets for all to see, all in a very understandable english, big kudos for that. enjoy !

fly images via flyfishing.co.uk/Google images

“And if you gaze long into the fly, the fly also gazes into you”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

the original version might have been about voids but intentional misquoting is where it’s at, man.

an-anonymous-fly
gif author unknown

Fly Tying- A neat and nifty Spool Tender trick

via Tom Sutcliffe’s great The Spirit of Fly Fishing here’s an excellent, easy, ingenious and inexpensive way to keep threads, wires, monofilaments, tinsels, yarns and whatever else that might be on spools from unravelling when they’re not in use.
ok, it seems most tyers enjoy being in the middle of a big materials mess and i guess that’s fine but where unravelled spools really get to me is when said spools have been bounced and bumped around through travels and the layers of thread overlap instead of staying in touching turns. what happens next is the thread doesn’t unwind because well…. it’s trapped and this happens of course when you least expect it and fly tying isn’t about frustration, it’s supposed to be a ‘be one with the hook’ type of thing.

trapping-fly-tying-thread-tips-tom-sutcliffe-1
plastic ring binders found at any office supply shop are the main ingredient.
trapping-fly-tying-thread-tips-tom-sutcliffe-2
cut at the desired width and snap it on and that’s it !  notice there’s plenty of room to write a description of the material, this will be very useful if you’re custom-spooling.

click either image to access Tom’s complete article and while you’re there be sure to check out the rest for a view on fly fishing in South Africa. enjoy !

Fly Tying- Like Jim Said

as promised, here’s a special-guest fly tying nugget via buddy Tim Trengrove from Wellington, North Island New Zealand.

Wellington happens to be as far away on the other side of the globe from me as possible, any further and he would have to come from space !, and i know this because i have an app on my phone that once leveled, shows what’s on the other side of our beautiful planet as if we where looking straight through it. it looks like this. cool, huh ?

wellington
hmmm, spelling isn’t all that but i still think this is really cool…

ok, now that i’m finished with my pointless interjection… today’s topic is about traditional influences in contemporary fly tying and durability and more specifically, hackle durability by using the Reversed Hackling method. Tim’s explanation is straightforward and should suffice in itself but if it isn’t i’ll include the link to previously posted video in the comment section that explains it well. enjoy !

thanks for your contribution Tim, it’s greatly appreciated. i know your trout season’s about to start and i hope it’s a grand one !


Like Jim said
Tiny caddis were already crawling up my back when the first trout began rising. In the Southern Hemisphere summer, no rain for some weeks meant the flow was much lower for the post-Christmas period. Perhaps that and the extra hot day brought the caddis on as daytime hatches in this river were an unusual sight.

My normal fly choice would have been a caddis pupa but, having tied up some Partridge and Yellow spiders, I was keen to use them instead. The results were astounding, but unfortunately not for all the right reasons.

Browns and rainbows up to 3.5 pounds grabbed the fly and tore off down the pool. Some cartwheeling across the surface, others leaping high. There were break-offs and other midstream releases. What upset me way more than losing fish was the sight of seeing some of my flies unravelling. Flies that looked pretty in the box, but now were not surviving these fish. My spider tying technique was rubbish.

Later, after reading The North Country Fly by Robert L Smith, I adopted the traditional tying method for spiders. This made for much more robust flies and I’ve been waiting for another daytime caddis rise since then.

tim-trengrove-3
Photo by Paul Slaney

The whole “robust” thing got me thinking about fly construction. There will always be a place in my fly box for North Country fly designs like this Woodcock and Hare’s Ear.

The hackle is tied using the traditional tip-first method then wound once the body is constructed.

What I wanted was a fuller-bodied fly which was as strong as or stronger than the umbrella-shaped spider.

tim-trengrove-2
Photo by Paul Slaney

Starling with hare’s mask on a Kamasan B160 #16. Something along the lines of a Stewart’s Spider but not as unruly in appearance. This led me to reading how Jim Leisenring constructed his flies in The Art of Tying The Wet Fly & Fishing The Flymph. Jim typically used the reverse hackle tie-in for his soft hackle wet flies and instead of making a narrow collar of hackle, he spiralled the hackle rearward. The tying thread was then wound forward through the hackle to the tie- off position. This gave the hackle a fuller appearance and helped make the fly incredibly strong. I took those ideas and incorporated them into spiders.

If you can see differences in hackle construction looking at the two photos, your eyesight is very good! When both flies are moved about in the water together, the differences are seen more clearly. I tie these in #16 for slow, clear water and #14 for faster water. In the last season this pattern accounted for brown trout in slower rivers near my home in Wellington and the Mataura in the South Island, and rainbows in the fast flowing Tongariro. So long as I tie a decent knot and work on not being stupid after hooking fish, most of these flies make it back home. That is a big improvement on my first spiders.

When it comes to tying wingless wet flies, I like to tie the hackle in a similar way.
tim-trengrove-1

As Jim Leisenring has been such an inspiration, I will leave the last words to him.

“The art of tying the wet fly rests upon a knowledge of trout-stream insect life, a knowledge of materials used for imitating the insect life, and an ability to select, prepare, blend, and use the proper materials to create neat, durable, and lifelike imitations of the natural insects”.
(The Art of Tying The Wet Fly & Fishing The Flymph by James E. Leisenring and Vernon S. Hidy, 1971, page 34)

Tim Trengrove, New Zealand

Fly Tying- Hans and his Klink

hard to think of a trout fly fisher anywhere around the Globe that hasn’t heard of or used Hans van Klinken’s notorious Klinkhammer emerger, one of the rare true innovations the fly tying world has seen in what seems like millenia.
lots of tiers from that very same Globe have made tutorials for this particular pattern and they’re pretty much all pretty good if not actually great but one thing’s missing: they’re not Hans.

generally speaking i guess, the way i see it is no matter how close one tries to stay close to the original, there’s always a slight personalization when translating someone else’s work and as such they become variants. there’s obviously nothing wrong with those variants, however from a learning perspective, and again this is just my own point of view, it’s of greater interest to learn from the original and vary from there instead of learning from variants and varying even more.

with a good portion of the important aspects of this fantastic pattern’s how-to details highlighted/blown up in split-screen, we’ll get it straight from the horse’s mouth whilst simultaneously having the opportunity to admire Hans’ glorious man-belly. enjoy !

 

Fly Tying- Jasper’s Carrot

if we take a quick look at the fly below we’ll see a really nice looking pattern but we also might think ‘nice but old hat’. now, if we take a look at the video and pay close attention to how it was made we’ll notice two super-duper easy-peasy tricks to get it just right and gorgeous and the second easy-peasy part just might bring some tiers over to the winged wet world where they might have been put off by the more traditional fuss and muss of having to pair left and right feather wing slips.

first up, the use of a two-toned Pearsall’s Gossimer thread
wound in touching turns down the hook shank then back up and that’s it. all the colour separation segmentation trigger points a fly and its tier could ever want or need in one simple step.
using the very same abdomen technique for standard non-winged wets, nymphs, emergers or dries instantly comes to mind. should you need a bulkier or asymmetric body simply create a base with standard thread and cover over with the silk. simples.

secondly- this is where this tutorial is absolutely brilliant !
construction of the wing itself using a single covert feather that’s tied on in one piece without having to deal with slips. put simply, you can’t go wrong and that’s a real bonus for those who like it sweet and simple and don’t have the patience for a possible wrong. i have no idea if Davie came up with the idea himself but i and i’m sure many others will be grateful he shared this great tip once they’ve checked out the vid and tried it out for themselves. enjoy !