Increasing the Visibility of Dry Flies

most tiers don’t know this super-easy and super-efective tip so here goes.
as Lucian Vasies points out:
“A simple and very efficient method to increase the visibility for small CDC dry flies tied on #16-22 : adding a small bunch of white CDC barbs in front of the wing.
In certain cases I use yellow or pink instead of white, especially at sunset when the light and the shadows become metallic.”

this great tip has a double purpose: hatching insect wings may have colour tones, mostly striations but they’re mostly transparent so, what i also like about this method is when seen from below (always pretend you’re a fish !), the white ‘veil’ behind the main wing brings out the whole wing’s translucency: a realistic visual effect to the whole ensemble instead of an unnatural stark silhouette.

as suggested above, if we want to add different coloured veils to increase visibility in say, low-light conditions or when fishing a heavily-bubbled flow we can judiciously plan the wing colours to compliment each other.
it’s well worth the small effort and the fish will thank you for it.

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three !

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click either image for the full step by step tutorial, enjoy !

The Midnight Stalker

although the fly’s name might conjure up spooky visions of things that go more-than bump in the night, today’s new tying tutorial from Hans Weilenmann isn’t all that scary but instead a really nice wet fly more than worthy of consideration.

what makes it really nice ? well, its got a cool name to start with and then its black, and then it’s simple to tie, and it’s on a barbless grub hook, and that it has just the right proportions, and that it’ll look extremely buggy when wet, and then all of that tells me that this is not only a good one but a really good one and a really good one all year long for several species. if for some reason black doesn’t do it for you go ahead and change the colour scheme. you’ll probably catch less fish but then fishing isn’t all about catching fish, from what i hear… 

and if you’re feeling nostalgic of past Halloween Raves you could always listen to these appropriatly-titled sounds while wrapping the black wire body. enjoy !

a clip-on fly body.

absofrigginlutely brilliant !
clip-on fly TLC 14-11-13

the actual fly is tied on the B-C stem and then it seems to be clipped on to the hook once the silk tippet is tied in.
of a completely different concept but closely resembling the hook-changing possibilities we have with tube flies this is bloody ingenious and something the creative tier might want to experiment with.  since we’re mostly using modern hooks with eyes, my thoughts are we needn’t bother with making clips as the stem can be simply tied in fore and aft and easily trimmed off later if needed. this also brings up ideas of being able to quickly change foam bodies or other softy materials that easily get munched to bits after a few fish but i’m sure we can think of a lot of other uses.
a little research hasn’t shown whether Upton’s patent was a lucrative one or not but this deserves some special attention. be sure to pass on his name if you give this style a go.

(more HERE on the history of hook eyes and the beginnings of the tying vise) 

dead bug dance

as fly fishers, we tend to think every bug ends up being eaten by some lovely fish or squashed on the windscreen on the way home. that’s not true.

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 !

bennetfink_fly_oiler_01

“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.”

fly design, doctors, accurate inaccuracies and ‘oh, what the heck… !’

Emergent_sparkle_pupa

“Many doctors fish for trout, but there have been endless arguments over the best choice of fly. To extend evidence based practice from their professional into their leisure hours (where it might conceivably be more useful) Britton et al ( p 1678) carried out a randomised trial of five different dry flies (artificial floating flies) on the River Kennet in Berkshire. Before the trial the investigators had most confidence in the Grey Wulff and least in the Cinnamon Sedge. In the trial the Cinnamon Sedge caught the most trout and also seemed to be significantly favoured by brown as opposed to rainbow trout. These findings are of biological as well as practical importance, but the trial was small and the authors press the urgent need for much more research.
however:
None of the investigators has any intention of taking the slightest notice of the results of this study.”
quote via troutnut.com

what a conundrum !
on one hand, we have flies like the one above based on LaFontaine’s Emergent Sparkle Pupa. it’s a classic in all its variants, it repeatedly catches fish all over the world:
it’s a go-to fly but it’s also based around elements that are more of a pipe dream than reality.
caddis pupa aren’t surrounded by some mysterious ‘force-fieldish’ type haze or veil as they’re working their way towards the surface and then there’s this ‘issue’ of a self-produced air bubble to assist them in reaching the surface that seemingly no entomologist has been able to observe in any considerable percentage (most haven’t observed them at all… ) meaning that this sometimes bubbly occurrence can’t be considered a biological fact, further meaning that from a practical/logical standpoint, this freakish element of a fly’s design is hardly worth considering.picture_2868_medium1
but then once again, this fly works very well and that’s the interesting part because it seems to me that it entices but not for the reasons we might think, further proving that the common saying “try to think like a fish” is bunk because a) fish don’t think, and b) we don’t even know how we think so it seems kinda dumb to be randomly transposing guesses and wishes onto creatures that can’t tell the difference between a ragged mess of fluff bound to a hook and the real thing.

and then on the other hand, we have the doctor’s example where even though a certain pattern entices fish more, it’s  scoffed for some mysterious reason and i’ll venture that reason is that they didn’t believe in/have faith or simply denied the cinnamon sedge’s mojo (even though the smarter docs caught most of the fish with it)(oops ! that implies the others weren’t very smart. oh well… )
ok, the doctor’s example is hardly scientific and can’t be considered as anything really serious but i chose to cite it here because it’s an example of a group that has a higher-than-most education level based on science and science is usually based on facts yet here their judgments seemed to have been based on tradition, which in turn, makes this all the more interesting because  this very same approach goes way beyond education or social status and can be found in all levels of people all over the planet, so if anything, we can leave logical reasoning out of the equation.

how does this happen ? why is that ???????
well, apart from just a few of many more possible ramblings mentioned above, i don’t have a clue and since this subject might be a good one for the Physiological studies à la Freud department, don’t expect any answers from me but if you want to see what is yet another great tying tutorial from Curtis Fry at Fly Fish Food on tying this awfully successful yet ‘make believe imitation’, ignore all this and click below. enjoy !

Fly Pattern Alert !

” Apparently the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes Albopictus) will be invading ponds, lakes, birdbaths & all forms of still water containers along the Eastern US this summer. As a voracious feeder (sucking blood in broad daylight), this fly pattern should be in every longrodders flybox.  Click on the image for more photos including larval shots. “
quote ~ Steve Silvario

gotta hand it to the hard-core fly tiers !
whatever it may be, natural, artificial, dead or alive, it’s either something to tie flies with or an inspiration to tie something different.
in Steve’s example, this relatively new insect to the eastern US is probably getting most people worried and buying bug spray and other nasty shit by the gallons and he’s here thinking about using guinea fowl feathers to imitate the legs of what must be a very long-toothed, snarling flying monster… good man !


mccannclick the pic for more beautiful buggy shots (including a human blood-filled female)

or HERE more Tiger Mosquito info

fly design- Seeing Red

by Alan Bithell via Rodtrip

Seeing-Red_0004-598x418

“The lochs in my part of the (Scottish) Highlands are acidic; this is from the peat that blankets this part of the world.
Aquatic insects find it difficult to extract oxygen from the water if it is acidic. To counter this their haemoglobin has to be more efficient. As it becomes more efficient it also becomes redder.”
“This explained the choices which of flies we use. Tradition has us using lots of flies with red in them. My approach to the traditional flies has been to ask “What is it that makes this pattern successful?” then to look into how modern materials enable me to tie flies with more of what makes them work.”

Seeing-Red_0006-598x418

brilliant info indeed. after a loooong time and a lot of experimenting, i had finally been able to somewhat ‘break the color code’ on the similar dark-dark waters in Sweden but had no clue why red somewhere on the fly seemed to do the trick better than other tones. thanks Alan !

as a side note when talking about fly colors, it’s a well-accepted fact that red is the first color to ‘disappear’ in the water column (loose it’s distinctive hue and turn to a shade of grey) the deeper it goes down and conversely, blue will retain it’s hue deepest. true, most Loch-Style flies are designed to be fished pretty close to the surface but i can’t help but wonder how this red vs blue phenomenon is affected by peat-stained water ?

click either pic for the complete article. enjoy !

Contrasting Nymphs

one very realistic rendition
contrasting nymph 1

and one that catches fish.
simple_nymph

apart from being a gorgeous drawing i couldn’t say exactly what species the top one is in the Ephemeroptera/mayfly world but it isn’t a baetis as these only have two tails.
i guess my point is that in fly selection we have basically two choices. either we decide the fish will only be interested in eating something that very closely resembles the original or we decide to use something that may or may not suggest these same bugs but there’s a few key elements that grab their attention enough to open their mouths and munch them without fear.
i’ll take the latter any day and it’s not about not wanting to tie precious realistics and the ensuing fear of losing them or the time needed to make them or hunting down the right materials or whatever but rather that in my eyes at least, the more tiers try to exactly reproduce insects the farther away they get from actually reproducing them. most will display their flies by themselves and the average angler wows and oooo’s with synesthesia ummm, the thought of what a bug should look like but when placed besides a natural, the latter rightfully hides in shame. poor bugs, poor anglers but the fish at least get a laugh.

well ok, this wasn’t intended to start off as a rant but you know, things happen. bless their gullible souls.
anyway… !  Han’s new tying tutorial shows us how to tie this groovy, simple-to-make trout candy that falls neatly into the second category. enjoy !

tip: the same basic build with a pinch of marabou as the tail would make an awesome damsel imitation.

related articles

Two-For midge Saturday

two fresh-off-the-vise midge patterns from Davie McPhail for a stormy, windy yet lovely midge-filled spring day.
midge cloud

first, a very juicy F-fly midge.

side note: it is indeed a lovely fly but the only thing i can see here that vaguely resembles an F-fly is the cdc wing and that it’s mounted on a hook; something along the lines of all these ‘Pheasant Tail’ nymphs we see all over the place that are named as such because there’s pheasant tail fibers in the recipe, they’re also mounted on hooks and it’s a nymph but that’s as far as it goes if we compare them to Frank Sawyer’s original fly and in this case Marjin Fratnik’s famous F-fly… i’m not ranting, i’m just a stickler for names and word choice in general. on the other hand, i could be completely wrong and maybe Davie has simply named it F-fly in my honor…. :mrgreen:
side note two: the exact same pattern with a white wing and dark grey/black body will make a very nice Hawthorn fly/Bibio Marci  pattern and they’re about to come out to play soon.

and a Shuttlecock-style midge emerger.

of special interest here is the peacock herl body used straight off the stem. absolutely lovely and simple, just be sure to tie it in the right direction to get this great result. Davie’s explanation on the cdc wing at the end of this tutorial is a great example of fly design and it’s practical application going far beyond simplistic aesthetic consideration. an added bonus is it leaves us the possibility to customize it when on the water by simply snipping or tearing away either the tip or butt section.

related articles

What is a Flymph ?

Skues Medium-Olive-Nymph-if nothing else it sounds pretty cool but let’s dig a bit more.

“Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy coined the term flymph. What is a flymph? A flymph is a hatching insect be it mayfly, caddisfly, midge, or stonefly that according to Pete Hidy is in the stage of metamorphosis “changing from wingless nymphs to flies with wings”. These flies are historically fished with a across and downstream technique that allows the current to naturally swing and raise the fly up to the surface in front of a rising or holding fish in a manner that activates the soft hackle collar and body materials effectively imitating life in the ascending artificial fly. The attraction of these flies is that not only do they look natural but they behave natural as well. They have movement; they have the appearance of life.”

now, the last part to me is probably the key element when considering constructing these flies: “the appearance of life’ (even though the real bugs could be stillborns or spents, their leg/body/wing parts would still move throughout the drift downstream)

“Traditionally flymphs are tied with natural body materials that will undulate in the currents. These body materials include hare’s mask, peacock, muskrat, mole, squirrel, and other natural fur with guard hairs. Shaggy body materials like rabbit, hare, and squirrel hold water well, sink quickly and also capture small air bubbles when they penetrate the surface film. These air bubbles create shimmer and sheen and look particularly similar to caddis pupa which uses internal gases to propel them to the surface or egg-laying caddis that dive underwater to lay eggs and carry with them oxygen bubbles for respiration. The hackle collars of flymphs are chosen with color and movement in mind to match the emerging wings, antennae, and legs of the ascending nymph. Soft, webby feathers such as hen, partridge, grouse, starling, woodcock, or quail are choice. These feathers absorb water and each has it own unique action underwater.”

such invaluable insights, want tons more ? click either pick for the full, well-worth-the-read article or The Royal Order of Water Buffalos  ooops ! i meant the TIBOTF logo here.

and since it’s the first fly you’ll see when you get there: the all-time classic inevitable must-have super-sleek Partridge & Orange spider,
partridge & orange HWhere’s a hot-off-the-press video tutorial on how to tie it by Hans Weilenmann. enjoy !

related articles

the Tummel fly, nudity and the Highlander

“Of all the original Scottish fly-designs, that of the old Tummel fly must be considered the most individual.  In no other part of Scotland is the dressing of a trout fly so severely curtailed in every respect.  It has been said that the Highlander liked two things naked – his whisky and his women – but the old Tummel fishers extended this preference to their trout flies, which in marked contrast to the rough-dressed flies commonly used for trout fishing in most Highland rivers, all are but naked also. Compared with the true Tummel fly, the daintiest modern nymphal representation is heavily dressed and bulky in appearance.

   The austerity of the dressing of the Tummel fly in itself constitutes the most conclusive refutation of a widely-held assumption that our forefathers could not dress the most dainty and masterly trout flies when they so desired or found it to be necessary.” 

straight from the land of fierce, gorgeous women and men in kilts, here’s a real gem from the now and past found on Donald Nicolson’s Historical Wet Fly & Spider Pattern Site. do yourself the favor of browsing through Donald’s site for an amazing wealth of old-fashioned yet timeless fishy stuff. enjoy !