Fly Tying- Should upsidedown flies be tied rightside up ?

this recent article from Devin Olsen at Tactical Fly Fisher brings up some very interesting points on nymph design, particularly and as the article’s titled-

Wingcases, shelbacks and wings: To invert or not to invert ? that is the question.

among other great observational insights found in the article, one of the most pertinent, easily verifiable by anyone who takes the time to actually look at how a nymph swims when attached to tippet facts is:

– whether the fly is tied on a standard or jig hook, it doesn’t drift horizontally or in other words, its attached by only one end and therefore tilts and it does its thing in a position that has nothing to do with the usual horizontal fly-in-the-vise or fly photo perspective.

– with this in mind another factor worth considering is, due to water turbulence and all the bazillion currents/countercurrents found in flowing water, nymphs and any subsurface fly tumbles, rocks back and forth, spins and twists while they’re swimming and this again destroys the perfect side view described above, once again reminding us that our 2D perspective and subsequent fly designs may indeed catch us fish but we’re probably not seeing a greater picture that might maybe help to make more fish-attractive designs or simply to have a better understanding how our imitations work and finally, if its worth including or subtracting elements to our patterns.

nymph design Devin Olsen-Tactical Fly Fisher

i do like Devin’s conclusion and it definitely fits in with my own experience-

“Last and most importantly, I’ve tried both methods of wingcase placement with inverted flies. Those tied with wing cases in the normal fashion have fished as well or better for me than those tied inverted. Drift theory aside, this is the only real reason that counts much to me.”

this is good stuff so be sure to click either the pic or the link at the top of the page for the complete article. enjoy !

Fly Tying- the Chammy Worm

” Some like it and some don’t ! “

too bad for the ‘don’t’ crowd because for the ‘do’ers’, this simplest among simplest to tie flies is also one of most catchiest there is because almost every fish you’d care to catch on a fly rod happily eats worms: ’nuff said.

notice how the beadhead/chamois skin combo is positioned towards the rear 2/3rds of the hook shank, this helps (a little) in preventing the chammy skin from wrapping around the hook whilst casting. what really helps most in that regard is to keep casts short and mostly to use Oval/Elliptic/Belgian two-plane casts for thes bugs just as one would when casting flies that have limp materials extending behind the hook gape.

fishing-wise, real worms get regularly washed into river systems during storms or heavy rains so the obvious time to use their imitations is after a spate but we all know that worms catch fish anytime and anywhere so…

apart from the hook and thread there’s only two materials, a beadhead (optional) and the most important element to get the all-important wormy goodness; real chamois skin or more correctly, chamois leather.
substitute synthetic ‘skins’ may seem ok when they’re dry but the wormy goodness of the real skin really gets its effect when wet. it’s even slimy to the touch ! (if that doesn’t get your fishing fingers twitching you might as well take up golf. or curling).
i somewhat regulary see these skins in the auto parts section in stores (these skins are par to none in getting a spotless finish on a vehicle after its been washed) but they can also be found on Amazon, Ebay, etc.
they’re not the cheapest of tying materials but a portion will easily make hundreds or more flies, maybe an expense to share with mates.

once again, ’nuff said. enjoy !

a Griffith’s Gnat variant

here’s a seriously interesting emerger offshoot of the infamous G-Gnat.
created by Blue Ribbon Flies and demonstrated by Tim Flagler at MidCurrent, this little bug should do the do and do it well anywhere there’s teeny-tiny midges coming off and dancing about the surface. this one’s in size 20 but the basic idea in various tones and sizes to match your local bugs are sure to raise some trouty interest.
maybe its just me as it took me a little while to figure out the G-Gnat component in this pattern but fly names are fly names and its always good to respectfully attach a variant to its original, and said component happens to be: a very volume-reduced few turns of grizzly hackle over a short peacock herl thorax. those few turns are good enough for me and i’m positive, more than enough for a hungry fish. enjoy !

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing

winged-nymph-Lucian-Vasies

some high-level fly design from Lucian Vasies any and every nymph fisher might (read should) take into consideration: it’s that good.

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing could be considered a new frontier in fishing nymphs and a new way to tie flies. Some fly tiers consider them ugly. In terms of a classic construction and after the traditional rules to tie a nymph, these flies are quite ugly. These flies don’t follow the rules for conical bodies or for the tail made from feather fibers. What about the typical streamer wings? Something like these was never seen on nymphs. But appearance is not important to these nymphs. Their goal is not to please the fisherman, but to catch fish.”

winged-nymph-tail-Lucian-Vasies

the two key elements setting this beast apart from the rest, both of CDC fibres for the reasons explained in Lucian’s complete text and step-by-step you can access by clicking either pic.

winged-nymph-wing-Lucian-Vasies


Lucian’s a buddy and i know he won’t take this sideways but the fold-over wing isn’t exactly new but that’s of no importance. what is however is this concept is as hot as it gets when it comes to wet fly and nymph design.

here’s my ever so succesful ‘bladge i started tinkering with four years ago. it’s a black midge just subsurface wet, size 20 where the soft,Bladge 25-1-13 fold-over wing was inspired by Peter Dobbs’ Shwartza (bottom pic) created in the early ’90s for the UK reservoir competition scene which in turn might have been inspired by the soft wing tied semi-upright  Clyde style flies from a hundred and more years ago. Clyde wings are typically tied with wings slips from game birds. they’re nowhere as stiff as genetic cock hackles but they retain their wing shape a lot more than the marabou used in the Shwartza or fuzzy fibres found at the base of starling feathers i use for the ‘bladge.

what they do have in common with Lucian’s ingenious idea of using CDC fibres is all these super-soft materials collapse back when wet. since they’re tied in wing-style every fibre is free to move around, both undulating with the current and creating a very life-like ‘outer shell’ of the imitation’s body, something any other tying method has a very hard time replicating. play around with the concept, i promise you won’t regret.

for more on the Shwartza click the pic

the Infernal Triangle of the Nymph World

first of all, the Sanford and Son episode that inspired these magical nymphs-

ok, that was to a) get you throught the “Oh, No ! Not Another PT Tutorial !!!” feeling you probably had when you opened this page and b) a little Sanford and Son rerun every ten or twenty years doesn’t hurt.
so, now that we have the historical background and ermm feelings covered, let’s have a look at this lovely trio of nymphs through yet another awesome video from Davie McPhail.

all three are based on the very same Pheasant Tail nymph design. one’s a straight-up PT and the other two are variants.
these two variants, in my mind, aren’t really necessary because as we all know, no other nymph will outfish a PT but they’re there to remind us that if we keep the same concept and proportions as the OGPT, we can play around and customize and make ourselves feel good and feel special and still end up with an equally succesful, inexpensive and dead-easy to tie nymph.
on a more practicle note, while the variants will necessitate more than just two materials, these materials are also stronger than pheasant tail fibres making for flies that will resist a little better to tiny teeth, forceps, angler clumsiness, underwater rocks abrasion, etc.
a lot of tiers will have an iffy feeling about tying a complete fly with wire instead of the classic thread but trying is believing. keep in mind that the wire’s weight actually weighs the fly down quite a bit or at least a heck of a lot more than it might seem at first. that weight is also distributed throughout the fly’s body instead of the usual just-behind-the-head of the typical beadhead nymph and results in a more realistic movement through the water. for even heavier versions, lay a lead wire base in the thorax region before attaching the tying wire and and skip the wire build-up sequence.

here you go, you’ll find the materials list below, enjoy !

materials used in the video- (feel more than free to improvise)
Hook, Kamasan B175 (something barbless is of course better)
Thread, Extra Small Copper Wire (thinner is better, specially if you want more weight. the smaller spaces between wraps means filling in those spaces with wire instead of air)
Tail, Pheasant Tail Fibres
Body, Pheasant Tail, Natural Dubbing and Killer Bug Yarn (this one’s hard to get but there are several equally effective substitutes available)
Thorax Cover, Pheasant Tail and Natural Dubbing

Fly Tying- The Klippies en Kolgaans

most of the tying videos i share here are about the whats (flies) and how-tos (techniques),

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but this little doozie from South Africa’s pride and joy, Fanie Visagie (a.k.a Gordon Van Der Spuy) is more about the how or rather…  give a totally nutter yet completely lovable guy a vice, tools, video cameras and some exotic fluff and see how he manages to put them all together in his own very particular style and in other words, this is a real treat. enjoy !

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 !!!!”

just in case there’s a Maggot Hatch

red dickmaggot

first of all, stop snickering for a moment and try to think of all the freshwater species of fish that just loooooove to eat maggots: that’s a no-brainer.

what’s interesting about that is maggots aren’t a natural food source for fish. ok, there might be a few that might eventually fall into a waterway now and again by means of some decaying animal or spin-fisherman that managed to die on an overhanging branch and that doesn’t nearly happen enough very often but the loooooove-to-eat-them factor still remains.

i’m quite sure the summed-up enticements also involve smell and blind, mindless wriggling but we fly fishers don’t really have those options and will have to settle for colour, size and shape and whatshisface above has all of those and a red nose/butt (you chose, i can’t tell the difference) as an added tractor to top (tip?) it off.

simple and easy to tie for anglers of all levels, as always play around with different sizes and butt/nose colours to suit your local maggot hatch.

materials list and other goodies can found by clicking the pic to access the Gwent Angling Society‘s page.

enjoy ! and please resume snickering…

Which is better, Good Head or Great Tail ?

thanks to buddy Dron Lee and his just-out Jigging Damsel Nymph the age old debate is no more as this stunning creature has both. created to capture the murky denizens in deepest-darkest Malaysia, just one look in this damsel’s direction tells us she’ll be a stunner anywhere around our beautiful globe.

sure, her big forehead, shiny neck, silky-rubbery legs and globular eyes get my attention,jiggling damsel Dron Lee

but take a look at her backside and imagine it all wet and dancing about !

Jiggling damsel tail Dron Lee

ok hear me out, i’ll explain why i’m so excited…  real damsel nymphs move about quite quickly in the water and their swim closely resembles that of a tiny fish. this two part tail, while remaining flexible in its entirety which makes it very lively and seductive and all that will move about slightly differently in its two parts: abdomen/actual tail, since the abdomen is stiffer than the tail and no matter how weird it may sound, that kind of stuff gets my blood pumping.

to make this lovely tail you’ll need a needle, some chenille, tying thread and, as for how to put this and all of the rest of her together, you’ll have to click one of the pics above for the complete step-by-step. enjoy !

Fly Tying- More on Tying Thread Twist

good things come and go and the UKFDUKFlyDressing forum recently and very unfortunately did just that.
it’s hard to put a rating on fly tying forums but i always really appreciated this one, there was so much to learn from very talented tiers, excellent tips and tricks and step-by-steps and always a helping hand for anyone with a query.

along with Dennis Shaw’s amazing A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial and several other tying goodies previously posted here on TLC, today’s nicey is about thread twist.
this twisting is inevitable but we can control it, create more, reduce it and use either one to our advantage depending on what we want or need. knowing this an invaluable aid to any tier. in a sense it’s just as important as any other tying technique and one all tiers of all levels should be familiar with.
once again, thanks again to the whole UKFD crew for sharing such good stuff throughout the years and allowing me to keep some of it alive here.
on with the show, enjoy !


Don’t get in a Twist by Tango

The majority of threads have a clockwise twist. For a right handed tyer when you wrap the thread around the hook you put another full twist in for every turn taken around the shank. This tightens or cords the thread even more. You must learn to use this to your advantage i.e. when tying in materials/whip finishing/making a rib from thread.
No twist in thread
spin1

Wrapped to bend and a twist in there, not much but it affects the behaviour of the thread.
spin2
If you leave the twist in and try and take a soft turn over the materials the thread will want to lie to the right, this makes it difficult to get the thread where you want it.
spin3
Spin the bobbin anticlockwise and it takes the twist out, this make the thread lie straight and it goes where you want it to.
spin4
You can also spin the bobbin more to put an anticlockwise twist in the thread, this makes the thread lie to the left, you can use this to make the soft loop over your fingers and slide the thread down to the tie in point.
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Why bother?
If you leave the twist in there and whip finish the thread bunches and knots, this usually results in the thread snapping and the whip finish coming undone.

It really does make it easier to tie in materials.

When to take the twist out?
Before tying in materials, whip finishing, splitting thread for dubbing and when you want the thread to lay flat – this reduces bulk.

Exceptions?
Pearsall’s silk has an anticlockwise twist, to split this thread you need to spin the bobbin clockwise. There may be more.

When to put twist in?
When you “post” upright wings it will take fewer wraps than untwisted thread.
When making a rib from thread, you won’t see a flat wrap.

For a left handed tyer it does the opposite, it takes the twist out of the thread, with some threads this can weaken it.

There is also two types of thread, BONDED and UNBONDED, bonded thread (i.e. Uni-Thread) will not lay flat but still suffers from the effects of twist. Also bonded thread will not split so you cannot use it for split thread dubbing technique, MP Magic tool techniques etc.

 

Fly Tying- the John Storey

hot out Davie McPhail’s vise is a pattern that’s a billion years old an old English classic. apparently this little creature started its life as a wet fly but somehow dried out through time and started to float. at first glance we’ll notice that it doesn’t look like anything in the least bit like any one single bug and even less like an ‘upright’ or, any of the mayfly family at the just-hatched, drying-its-wings-off-and-riding-the-surface-current-before-flying-away stage but, well… game fish aren’t particularly bright and we lovem’ that way.

suffice to say, this is one of those gems on a hook that has stood up proudly to the test of time, to me it’s got fish-catcher written all over it.

john storey dry

“John Storey was a river keeper on the river Rye in North Yorkshire. He devised an artificial fly that has remained popular in this part of North Yorkshire since he first invented it in the 1900’s. It is such a popular fly in Ryedale that it is simply known as “The John Storey”

John made the body of his fly from peacock herl. Herl is the name given by fly dressers to feathers fibres. These particular fibres are found around the “eye” feathers in the spectacular plumage of a peacock’s tail. If you happen to have a peacock to hand, you will see that these fibres have a particularly interesting iridescence; they appear as either a green or bronze colour. Viewed in natural light, they have a real “insecty” kind of hue about them. If you happen not to have a peacock, fear not, many shops now sell peacock feathers as decoration; you could pop into the nearest furnishings department and have a sly look. You may prefer simply to take our word for it.

The use of peacock herl for the bodies of artificial flies was common at the time when our July fly first adorned the waters of the Rye. I would like to think that John Storey obtained his peacock feathers from the nearby Castle Howard Estate.

Spending so much time by the river gave John the opportunity to observe the behaviour of lots of different flies in the process of hatching. He particularly watched a family of flies called the “upwings”. He noticed that they had the habit of floating down the river, wings held aloft, a convincing imitation of a small sailboat. He also noticed that the trout and grayling population of the river ate these newly hatched morsels with great enthusiasm. So, Mr. Storey added a pretend wing to the herl body; he chose to use the tip of a feather taken from the breast of a mallard duck. This species of duck is very common on the rivers on North Yorkshire. It is not difficult to imagine our river keeper picking up moulted feathers and seeing their potential for dressing his trout flies. The first wings were sloped back over the body of the fly. Later on, however, in 1935 John’s grandson modified the wing so that it was made to slope forward over the front of the fly. This is the version that is almost universally used today and Steve has produced it here. To finish his creation, our hero wound around the front of his fly, the feather from the neck of a Rhode Island Red cock. This is called the hackle and helps the fly to float. Some of the angling elders of Ryedale will tell you that the John Storey will not catch fish unless it sports a genuine Rhode Island Red hackle. Well, I’m not so sure about that, but it’s a good story (sorry!).

The John Storey is a dry fly; it is smeared with oil to make it float. When it is cast upon the waters and when it bobs along the surface, the most obvious feature is that little wing. On a sunny day, that spoon shaped appendage also reflects the sunlight and becomes even more prominent. If the fish are looking for a wing to announce the arrival of lunch, that is exactly what they see first. This forward facing wing may well be what makes this fly so effective. Whatever it is, it features very regularly in the successful fly list of many Yorkshire rivers. It has also had a few trips down to the hallowed chalkstreams of Hampshire. I just wish that John Storey were alive today so that I could tell him that it fooled those trout hand over fist too.”

nuff’ said, here’s how to tie your own. enjoy !

quote and image source: Fishing With Style

note: the wing in the image is very different than the wing on Davie’s video. i’d go for the latter as the former is completely wrong on several levels; it’s in the wrong position, is too voluminous and will twist the fly whilst casting. looks pretty though…

a 13 second caddis larva

fast, simple, strong and quite a good looker.

“You have to fish this larva deep, that’s why there is a lot of weight in it. It still got a slim body, so it sinks fast to the bottom. You will find Caddis in almost every river and it’s an important part of the fish’s menu.The coloration with the brown line on the abdomen is not a must. I just did it to show you what possibilities you have with ordinary marker pens. It’s tied on a # 10 hook, which sounds pretty big, but the body length is close to the original, just try to keep a slim, natural looking body. Ok, let’s start!”  and to do that (and even if it takes a bit longer than 13 seconds…),  find the materials list and complete step-by-step tutorial on Holger Lachmann‘s great The One Fly blog by clicking the image below. enjoy !

Caddis Larva - Holger Lachman

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 !

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Fly Tying- Making an Easy flat Lead Tape substitute

“If you can’t find Lead Tape/Foil then why don’t you make your own using a Seam Roller….. ?”

Davie McPhail‘s question/suggestion says it all. first of all, flat lead tape, whether sticky-back or not isn’t always easy to find and it’s more expensive than it should be. on the other hand, round profiled lead wire is easily abundant and quite cheap, specially when bought in larger spools.
secondly, unless we’re going for a bulky build-up of the fly’s profile, flat lead has several advantages the round stuff can’t do. flattening round wire doesn’t change it’s weight which means that for the same amount/weight of wire we can get either get a slimmer profile and not end up with a small, short, squat obese nymph… or, add approximately twice the weight of round wire with subsequent layers of the flat stuff without getting a fatter profile than a single wrap of round. (i hope that makes sense… 😆 )

finally, the flat stuff lets us be more creative and specific as to how much weight we add to the fly while easily controlling the profile that we want: its all good.

tip- although a seam roller works best and is worth the purchase in the long run, any burnishing-type tool, an old Bic pen or even a hammer will work great in a pinch. lead is soft and takes little pressure to deform.

Davie’s on a how-to/tying tips and tricks roll these days so, here’s a first for us to eat up, enjoy !

ps- don’t forget that lead is poisonous. don’t go picking your nose, scratching your eyes, eating fried chicken while having sex and licking your fingers after without washing your hands first, Ok ?

Fly Tying- Tim’s Double T

by Tim Flagler via MidCurrent

here’s a nifty wee bug sure to unsettle more than a few for more than a few reasons.
firstly, it looks like a dry fly but it isn’t, it’s a wet.

flies with sprouting wings tend to always be associated with in-or-on the surface patterns but anyone, and i guess that’s most of us, have caught fish with a dry fly when it was drowned and just like it’s often very productive to apply floatant to a wet fly and fish it in the surface, the opposite holds true as well. it’s not like either example is a secret but these not-so-conventional methods are very often game-changers, specially when we haven’t sussed out the necessary tactic of the moment or when the fish aren’t really in the mood to play. this tells us a couple of things, at least one of them is fact.

a) bugs don’t always make it through the surface film, or they’re born handicapped, or they got injured during the hatching stage by waterfalls or something, or they got exhausted and couldn’t break through, or maybe Hydra hit it with one of its goofy heads as it was thrashing about or, or, or…
whichever the reason, they’re doomed to helplessly tumble downstream and they’re an easy meal for any subsurface creature that likes to eat bugs.
b) it also subjectively proves that fish aren’t half as selective as some numpties might state since the fish are eating what should be on top of the water, beneath it.

part 2 of the unsettling bit is this fly’s size but for most fishers, that’s more of a mental block than one of visual capabilities. the thing with creating flies this size is they couldn’t be simpler to tie, not only because they require so little materials but mainly because there’s no need for details we tend to find important on larger patterns. this bug has tails, a thread abdomen, some whatever soft fluff as a wing (my preference goes for the tip part of the fluffy part at the base of feathers or even marabou) and a spittle of dubbing. furthermore, it doesn’t need to be all fancy and neat because its a drowned and undevelopped bug.  right ?

how are they fished ? upstream, across, downstream on their own or on a dropper just as you would with any other dry or wet. i like to fish them in teams of two, the point fly tied to a 50 or so cm dropper off the bend of the first fly’s hook bend with two slightly different colour patterns and/or sizes. ’nuff said, get you some and let us know how they did for you. enjoy !

a Strung-Out and Wired Olive Spider

ok, there’s nothing strung-out about this spider pattern but i just like the way it sounds…

on to today’s nifty bug tutorial by Hans Weilenmann; a quick look at Mike Harding’s A Guide to North Country Flies and How to Fish Them (a reference book on this style of fly i highly recommend)  a guide to north country fliesreminds us that apart from a few style-deviant patterns, NCF’s are indeed wet flies but they’re generally unweighted and are designed to fish dead-drifted on, in or slightly below the surface but traditions are just like rules and rules and traditions are meant to be broken, bent, corrupted and distorted, at least in a fly-fishy sort of way so, just as Harding’s Brassie Boa, Brassie Midge, Woodcock and Red Brassie and Copper Wire Dun (that one’s really yummy) that also have a wired body instead of the traditional waxed or unwaxed thread bodies, Hans’ version takes the same route by adding a little tiny bit of weight to what’s normally a pretty weightless fly. this extra weight shouldn’t lead you to believe these variants will sink the flies to the riverbed because they don’t, specially if there’s anything more than a slow current. on the other hand, they will go just underneath the surface currents quite easily and also help to turn over a team of two or three flies when the wired spider is tied on as point fly. of maybe more importance, at least in my eyes, the wired bodies will automatically add a little bit of flashiness, something that will be of great use to us when the fish are in a flashy mood or when getting their attention when they’re in sleepy mode.

as always, Hans gives good tutorial and this one’s no exception and now its time for him to take over. enjoy !

Palmering, Pilgrims, fly tying history, the Worm and the Plague

thanks to this great comment left by reader Phil Foster on yesterday’s brainwashem’ young- Julian’s Wouf-Wouf salmon fly in regards to my mentioning “in the fly tying world, ‘palmering‘ means winding a hackle around the hook shank, not pulling hackle fibres back before winding/palmering the hackle to the hook shank.”

palmerworm 3“Per “The Fly Fisher’s Illustrated Dictionary” authored by Darrel Martin…….PALMER
A forward-spiraling hackle, a running hackle, with or without stem gaps; also called a ‘buzz hackle’; any fly tied with palmer hackle. The tying technique of spiraling a hackle laterally along the shank or body of a fly; the hackled, artificial fly resembling the Palmer worm, dated 1651; an artificial resembling a Palmer-worm, a hairy, wandering tineid moth larva. The term ‘palmer’ comes from the wandering pilgrim-beggar or palmer, “… the Palmer got its name from the pilgrims who walked …to the Holyland in fulfillment of a vow. When they came back home they wore pieces of palm leaves in their hats to signify they had made that long journey and were called palmers….Because a caterpillar , with all it’s legs, does a lot of walking, it likewise became a palmer” ( Harold Smedley, ‘Fly Patterns and Their Origins'[1950]. The medieval Palmer wore crossed palm leaves to indicate his travels.” The Palmer Worm is a small worm covered with hair, supposed to be so called because it wanders over all plants”( Charles Bowlker, ‘The Art of Angling’ [1839]”

which got me to wondering about how the verb ‘Palmering’ originated (actually, i’ve been wondering about this for years but never took the time to do a little research…) and found some interesting if not mostly completely non-fly tying related results yet they’re all related to this very stylish and hairy bug. enjoy !


Dictionary

palmerworm
noun palm·er·worm \-ˌwərm\
Definition of PALMERWORM
: a caterpillar that suddenly appears in great numbers devouring herbagepalmer worm

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured [them]: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD”

“Ancient Palmer Worm. THE Palmer-Worm, or Pilgrim-Worm, mentioned in Joel i. 4, and Amos iv. 9, was a voracious, hairy caterpillar, which was, with the locust, a scourge of the East. Even before it reaches the winged state it is very destructive, but after it attains that period, its ravages are terrible.”

“That which the palmer-worm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the canker-worm eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left hath the caterpillar eaten.”

suffice to say, and for our fly tying purposes, even if it is somewhat amusing to see how our prickly friends where transformed into crawling, earth-sucking  Mothra-esque demons, we can completely ignore all this biblical stuff, safely continue our fly tying activities and sleep well at night knowing how the hackling technique got its name.
 
palmerworm 2 it’s a little sad to see such a lovely creature get so much bad press but in the end, we’re still around to admire its beauty and be thankful for inspiring early fly tiers to create what is one of the most basic tying techniques there is.

you Dumb Bunny !!!

what’s better than a bunny streamer ?  a Dumb Bunny streamer !

besides being a bit different, what makes the DB maybe better than most ? this great new pattern from Tim Flagler has some interesting features, let’s take a look at them:
– first of all, it’s a bunny fly and bunny flies rule.
– the fly rides point up and i like streamers that ride point up.
– there’s only two materials, bunny strips and a pair of dumb bell eyes.
– its construction is super-simple. beginner simple.
– it looks really good, specially when wet and swimming. (see vid)
– wrapping the body strip around the shank adds just enough bulk to give the pattern’s profile a nice differentiation between body and tail.
– trimming the body’s underfur not only helps to recreated the wedged underbelly shape most baitfish have but also helps the fly to track straight.  as an aside, a thought that instantly came to mind was one could also wrap lead wire around the hook shank prior to wrapping the bunny strip to add more weight for faster/deeper waters and also to accentuate the keel effect.
– as another aside, i don’t really see the point in painting the dumb bell eyes as they’re already pretty close as they are to the basic black shape of fish eyes but maybe that’s just me being a lazy sod…

lots of good points, aye ? enjoy !

Fly Tying- a Blae and Black/Black Pennell two-in-one wet fly

blae
[bley, blee]
Origin
adjective, Scotland and North England
1. bluish-black; blue-gray.

“Ye must be fair starving, Paul,” quoth she softly with her hand on my arm, and I daresay my face was blae with cold and chagrin.
‘The Shoes of Fortune’, Neil Munroblae and black McPhail

now, what’s interesting in this fly’s name is that it doesn’t have any blue components.

ok, black materials almost always have either a blueish or reddish highlight reflection when/if the light hits it just right but it doesn’t matter a single bit because i’m rambling about something irrelevant instead of getting to the point which is: this a f’n awesome fish catching and beautiful fly.

as for the two-in-one and noted in the vid, this pattern is a Black Pennell with a wing. the Black Pennell wet designed by Mr H. Cholmondley (pronounced Chumley) Pennell is a classic that shouldn’t need any introduction to anyone born since 1870.

“Quoting from Fly Patterns and Their Origins by Harold Hinsdill Smedly; “H. Cholmondeley Pennel, 1837-1913, English poet-sportsman and author of The Angler Naturalist 1864; Modern Practical Angler, 1873; The Sporting Fish of Great Britain, Modern Improvements in Fishing Tackle, and Salmon & Trout , 1885, of which he was also an editor, was the originator of that type of hackle fly known as the “Pennell Hackle.” He also originated the turned down eyed and tapered hook which carry his name.
His choice and recommendation of that particular type of hackle fly was in three colors: brown, yellow and green. The body, instead of being bushy or soft, was hard, silk wrapped and thin. The hackle, tied very sparsely, was a little longer than usual.
Although he probably did not realize it when he recommended these patterns of thin bodies and lightly dressed hackles, he started something, for many tiers now recommend and say “dress sparsely,” but he was the first to realize that a lightly dressed fly was oftentimes better than one too heavily dressed.” *

history aside, whether this pattern needs a wing or not to be effective is most probably anyone’s guess and not the fish’s. what it will obviously do however is give the fly a bigger profile and make it look like a bigger somethingoranother instead of a smaller somethingoranother. the good thing about including a wing is it can always be trimmed off waterside with our nippers when big(ger) isn’t on the day’s menu.

enough talk, here’s how to tie the beast. enjoy !

since we’re Pennelling today and variety being the spice of life and all that, here’s an anorexic version of the standard BP tied by superman-tier Hans Weilenmann. following Han’s method you’ll be hard-pressed fitting a wing in there but we all know this fly doesn’t need a wing…

* quote source: Fly Anglers Online

Inches fraction and decimal to Millimetre chart

primarily of use for us fly fishers to compare and better understand the sizes of fly tying beads and tippet/leader/line materials, here’s a handy chart that’ll hopefully help make sense of it all.
note that inch fractions have a hard time keeping up with their decimal and mm counterparts, at least in our ‘real world’ applications such as bead diameters. some times we just have to round off and make do with what we can get…

fraction-decimal-mm chart

i restrained the chart size above to match the most common sizes for our fly fishing purposes, should you want more click the pic.
for a plethora of just about anything to just about anything conversion charts click HERE to access The Engineering Toolbox‘s main page.

some previously posted charts of interest:
Single and Double Hand Fly Line Weight Charts
Fly line Gram to Grain chart

Fly Tying- More on Biots

today’s tying tutorial treat comes to us from Romania via buddy  Lucian Vasies, one of my favourite all-time trout-type fly tiers.

we’d previously seen a more-than-nice introduction to this great fly body material in What are biots ? and Lucian’s just-out article comes in to seal the deal and help you get the most from these feather parts. here’s a few extracts:

-when you strip the barb from the stem of the feather you will notice that the structure is not symmetrical. The base is transparent and the upper part is more opaque. Also you’ll see a small gap at the base . This gap is a reference for us in tying process.
step-5-flytying.ro-how-looks-closer-a-biot-by-Lucian-Vasies

The opposite part of the gap is not so transparent and in section has a “T” shape. The barb has a small fin/burr. This fin will provide you a very nice segmentation and you can see it in the photo bellow between arrows:”
step-5-flytying.ro-the-T-side-of-biot-by-Lucian-Vasies

and here are a few results on the different ways to use biots. need i say more ?

step-8-flytying.ro-wide-steps-Lucian-Vasies

step-9-flytying.ro-slim-body-Lucian-Vasies
well, yes because i can’t help it… as noted in the article and easily seen and demonstrated in the images above is one of the biot’s fantastic properties: its translucency.
be sure to keep that in mind and use it to its full advantage by strategically selecting an appropriately toned thread or other material under-wrap to reflect light through the wound biot. in the examples above the underbody used was white thread but the possibilities are endless. if you really want the colours to ‘pop’ you could always lay a base of flashabou or similar mirrory-like material and  conversely, you can always tone down and dull or subtly change the biot’s colour by again selecting a primary thread base colour to let it show through the biot. here’s a colour wheel chart to help you mix and match. as we see on the chart, if we have a yellow biot placed over a blue underbody we’ll have a greenish/olive result. 

’nuff said ! click either pic for the complete article. enjoy !

Fly Tying- Deviating Charlie’s Nuke Egg

some people like egg patterns and some people don’t but what i’m seeing in Charlie Craven’s great step-by-step tutorial is a tying technique that’ll be of interest to any fly fisher. (except for the die-hard dry fly purist… )

Charlie's Nuke Egg

– as is, the Nuke of course looks like a very yummy fish egg still encapsulated by its embryonic sac but if we play with the basic pattern, use an as-close-to-clear as possible egg yarn and say, add two big black eyes we’ll have a fantastic alevin imitation.
– if we don’t add the veil and use that same egg construction shape and stack several close together along the hook shank and then trim to shape once the yarn is all fluffed out we have a really interesting, super-easy, translucent, lively and very attractive streamer body.
– the very same egg shape would make a much nicer head for egg-sucking leeches than the typical chenille.
– this stuff doesn’t hold water for long so we can easily build up a bulky fly body and still have something easy to cast.
– i’m sure there’s plenty of other uses to this technique i haven’t thought of but by now i’m equally sure you’ll see that it’s not just about egg patterns.

click the pic for Charlie’s complete step-by-step. enjoy !

Fly Tying- Davy Wotton’s CatchAll

created by and tied by Davie Wotton via The Ozark Fly Fisher Journal

“This fly is one of my past patterns for stillwater and river fishing as used for a traditional wet fly team. It is fished as the top dropper when water conditions are warmer and fish will take off the surface or close to it.
That said it is a first class fly to use for the White river as a single fly fished on and in the surface when fish will rise to take topwater. It should not be stripped as a streamer it should be fished with short twitches and draws and work on the water surface up across to downstream.
It may be fished with either a dry line when fish are surface active or a intermediate 1/2 IPS when a deeper water presentation is needed.”

i’ve had the honour of being an invited tier at several fly shows in Europe and since there’s a whole lot blabbing going on at these affairs… a question that often pops up among the group is “In your opinion, whom is the best tier/tier you respect and/or has influenced you the most ?” and more often than not the answer is Davy Wotton. considering how many highly qualified, imaginative and whatever superlative you care to add to so many tiers around the globe and considering that some of those interrogated are just that, well, that means a lot.

today’s tying tutorial shows us how to make a simple, straightforward and very generic do-it-all just on or in or slightly below the surface film emerger pattern that every trout angler should not only have in the box but use regularly. be sure to watch it in HD, enjoy !

 

click HERE for more.

Fly Tying- The Angler’s Curse

personally and generally speaking, i think that trying to match a hatch is about as much of a pain in the a** curse as i can stand and that’s why non-specific generalist patterns always get my preference but wait ! that doesn’t have much to do with today’s just-out and great tying tutorial by Matthew Pate, sorry… 😆

so… these cursed things have a name; caenis, and even if they’re still in the same Ephemeroptera order, they’re not in the same family as tricos but it doesn’t really matter in practical terms because the pattern below will be just effective in imitating either one. yup, it’s a two-for-one imitation and that should make it interesting for a lot of anglers around the globe.
these bugs are size 18 and below teeny-tiny and when tying teeny-tiny flies there isn’t a whole lot of room for minute and mostly completely unnecessary detail so the idea is to stick to the essentials and there’s three things common to both caenis and tricos: short, stumpy wings, slender abdomens and loooong tails.

tying-wise, it’s a straight, simple no-fuss pattern with two main ingredients: Pardo fibres for the tail and Aero wing for the… wing.
you can make the same pattern with substitute materials but given the fly’s size and more importantly, lack of material volume, it might have a hard time staying on the surface. as a reminder, Aero wing has hollow fibres and Pardo tends to be just a little stiffer than regular cock hackle fibres. both of those details tend to mean better floatation over a longer period.
as for the heron herl and how hard or even illegal it might be to procure, you’ll probably have to substitute for something else but don’t fret as any other bird’s fibre will do the job and so will fine dubbing.

nuff’ said. here’s the tutorial, enjoy !

Fly Tying- Building a better Boobie

by Philip Rowley

Boobie flies, lovem’ or hatem’. personally, i’m somewhere in between but loving them or not isn’t really the point of today’s post but one of cleverly thought-out fly design and technique(s). we’ve already seen a myriad of tying videos here on TLC and this is one of the most thoroughly thought-out and complete ones i’ve ever had the pleasure of studying and here’s why:

– a curved hook always gets my preference when it fits with the fly’s design and this one fits it super-well. as alluded to in the video, these flies can be easily be inhaled and a curved-in hook point in my opinion not only holds fish better once hooked but really help in keeping the fly in the fish’s mouth instead of down its throat. even if you’re not a die-hard barbless fisher (and you should be !) please either find a similar factory barbless or crush the barb well when tying these patterns.

– thickish tying thread as stated makes for better tying-in of thin foam parts as it’s less likely to cut through. besides, there’s no need for finesse here.

– trimming marabou fibres from the stalk instead of using the feather’s tip is the way to go. even if the tip seems flexible it isn’t half as flexible as the fibres lower down the feather and, because of the asymmetry of the tip’s fibres it’s a lot harder to get a good, even bunch along the whole tail’s length.

– the thread wrap between the tail and hook shank greatly improves the tail’s position and swim. all you need is one snug wrap to get this.

– trimming the tied-in tail by tearing them off with the fingers because nothing makes a ‘deader’ tail than by trimming it with scissors.

– ‘made-for-Boobies’ chenille really makes a difference from the standard synthetic chenille. this particular model isn’t very translucent which can be a good or a lesser good thing but the more important element with this pattern-type-specific material is the way it moves when fished. the fibres fold back on retrieve and resume their original shape when stopped and this gives the fly’s body a ‘breathing’ effect while still holding its structure to push water, give a very visible profile and combined with the foam eyes, creates a water-flow turbulence which in turn greatly enhances the tail’s movement even with the slightest and slowest retrieve. in other words, the fly doesn’t need to be torn through the water to make it come alive and its the combination of all these elements that makes these patterns so effective in triggering strikes.

– unless you’re going to tie a lot of these things, factory-made foam eyes are the way to go as they’re perfectly symmetric. its not an aesthetic thing but one of how the symmetric eyes will be perfectly balanced. asymmetric eyes make the fly swim erratically and usually twist on itself during the retrieve and that’s no good.

lots of good stuff there easily transposed to a whole lot of other less offensive patterns so, there isn’t a lot to hate is there ?
be sure to watch in HD by clicking the video’s settings button, enjoy !