tim-trengrove-2

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

fish vision- zeroing in on lunch

i often wonder how fish see our flies.
we know that the vast majority of fish can see but we have no exact idea how they see.

constantly intrigued and amazed that they could mistake our imitations or suggestive flies to the point where they’ll feel confident enough to open their mouths, further questioning their visual capabilities… i guess i’m glad they do because fly fishing would become boring really quickly if they never did.

here’s an imaginative and highly inaccurate yet hopefully, visually pleasant rendition of the last second before a fly is taken.

'how they might see our flies' M.Fauvet:TLC 6-10-14

two flies of a feather

same hook, same hen feather.
spider 2 m.fauvet:tlc 19-3-14 one spider has a yellow abdomen and orange head, the other all orange.
i think they’ll make a smashing couple on the water.

spider m.fauvet:tlc 19-3-14

hook & hen cape- TroutLine
thread- Veevus

itsy bitsy

itsy bitsy TLC 30-11-13

hook- Maruto wet fly #18
thread- Veevus 16/0 black
abdomen- tip of a porcupine bristle
thorax- Mad Rabbit dubbing (hare mask)
hackle- partridge

Spider Perfection

what else is there to say ?

Moorhen & Gold by Hans Weilenmann 

moorhen_gold Hans Weilenmann

Hook: Grip 14723BL #14
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk (Antique Gold)
Hackle: Moorhen marginal wing covert – one side stripped
Body: Tying silk

Harelug & Plover 1 - R. Christie

Fly tying step-bysteps: Harelug & Plover, Stewart-style

by Roy Christie via UKFlyDressing

Origin of LUG
Middle English luggen to pull by the hair or ear, drag, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian lugga to pull by the hair. “Tiny pinch of dark fur from root of hare’s ear”

Plovers (/ˈplʌvər/ or /ˈplvər/) are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae.
“Golden plover hackle, long enough of fiber to reach almost into the bend, NO longer, long enough to reach the barb is fine.”
The plover group of birds has a distraction display subcategorized as false brooding, pretending to change position, to sit on an imaginary nest site…

ringed-plover-38674

“This fly is tied here – NOT in the traditional collar hackled version, but Stewart Spider style, it is my preferred spider construction for action and durability.”

by Stewart-style we’ll take the example of his notorious Black Spider where instead of tight wraps of the hackle against the hook eye (collared), the same amount of wraps (and therefore volume) is distributed over a longer section of the hook shank. fish find this sexier.
the tier unfamiliar with traditional UK patters should take note that the wax used is cobbler’s wax which is usually black or brown and not the ‘average’ light-beige or clear wax typically found in the tying section of your local shop. as you might guess, this tints the tying thread in a more irregular buggy tone difficult to achieve with straight store-bought silks and threads. more sexy.

Harelug & Plover 1 - R. Christieat over two hundred years old and as productive now as ever this fly is well worth having in different sizes as a staple in any trout box.
it’s construction is pretty straightforward but be sure to click either fly’s pic to access Roy’s step-by-step for all the fine details.

Harelug & Plover 2 - R. Chrisie

related articles

pearsall's on bobbin holder

Pearsall’s problems ?

not all bobbins are created equal and that can be a little annoying when we want to use ‘out of the norm’ materials such as sexy Pearsall’s silks for tying say, traditional North Country Spiders or nylon or other cool looking threads found at a sewing shop.
here’s a few examples of different bobbin sizes and some work around solutions.

the ‘standard’ bobbin top right is 33mm wide along it’s axis, the tan one from Hends is 25mm and the orange silk, 17mm.
safe to say neither one will comfortably fit on the same bobbin holder, specially any of the tension adjustment types.
pearsall's on bobbin holder

in the video below from Jay Nicholas at The Caddis Fly Shop we’ll see a groovy-nifty quick-fix, short term solution that enables us to use our every day bobbin holder to knock out a few flies.

for a longer term use, specially with materials found on bulk spools such as nylon, it might be worth finding an empty ‘standard’ size bobbin, a screw and nut-
(ok, the spool below isn’t empty. just pretend)
screwed bobbin
and wind it up all pretty and neat with a power drill.
power drill
(if you re-spool monofilament nylon be sure to have a rubber band or similar thing at hand to slip over the tag end when finished or be prepared for a big frustrating mess if you let go of the tag… )

if you plan on using smaller bobbins on a somewhat regular basis, i’d highly recommend finding a cheap, bargain-bin bobbin holder as in the first pic at the top of the post and bending the arms in to size.
i’ve had that one for a while but if memory is correct i bought it for something like 2€ (2,60 $ or 1,70£) and it holds the tiniest of bobbins quite well.
not a bad investment.

related articles

reddie

is yet another take on the North Country Spider style of wet flies. this one will have the job of imitating a chironomid. i’ll see if it’s a good actor soon.

reddie 2

made with:
love
hook- Kamazan #18 barbless Maggot (yes, maggot… )
thread- Veevus 14/0 black
abdomen- peacock eye quill died red
thorax- Hends Spectra reddish black
hackle- Whiting Brahma hen natural

“The only advice it is necessary to give the angler… is to avoid any approach to foppery, as trout have the most thorough contempt for a fop…”

W.C. Stewart

so, in W.C.’s honor, here’s a little something i just Fopped up.
the 'Fop' spider

a floating spider

greatly inspired by Lucian Vasies’ yummy ‘the Italian Job’, here’s a first (for me) combination of a somewhat traditional North Country style Spider  generic emerger pattern with a cdc floating wing puff to keep the main part of the fly stuck in the surface film. the puff also serves to keep an eye on the fly to detect the very gentle takes that often happen when fishing these types of flies in very calm waters or lakes. the scrufy-fluffy body combined with the hen hackle give a strong impression of life and in this case, of an insect struggling to break through the surface film.

floating spider

made with:
love
hook- Partridge vintage Captain Hamilton barbless #18
thread- Veevus 14/0 brown
abdomen- a cdc mix of fiery red and brown in a dubbing loop
hackle- Whiting Brahma hen, natural brown wound behind and in front of the cdc wing
wing puff- cdc natural

you’ll find most materials used and a lot more at Lucian’s online shop TroutLine

the Italian job.

by Lucian Vasies

what a quirky name for such a cool fly !:mrgreen:

italian-job 1
devised for inciting winter grayling in the crystal-clear waters of Eastern Europe, this simple yet ingenious generic pattern is bound to be a real success anywhere, particularly on calmer waters, tricky flat sections of rivers and lakes.

i love the one-turn hen hackle legs and antennae and the thin, silk-only body reminiscent of North Country Spiders while being a floating fly. you got it, just the CDC wing will be above the water and the rest will be stuck in the surface film: an emerger stuck in and out, a particularly vulnerable moment in an aquatic bug’s (ex) life…  irresistible !   italian job 2

click either pic for Lucian’s step by step and materials list, enjoy !

Stewart’s Black Spider

by Niklas Dahlin

we’d already seen a bit of the history of the North Country Spider patterns, including a video of Davie McPhail tying Stewart’s Black Spider and today i thought i’d share a step-by-step tied in Stewart’s manner by one of the best in traditional flies, my great friend Niklas Dahlin from Sweden.
this is a real treat i hope you’ll enjoy.

” The “Stewart Black Spider” is one of my three favourite Spider patterns, both to tie and fish. So this afternoon I tied some “Stewart black Spider” one of three “most killing” spiders from W.C Stewart´s book the “The Practical Angler”, a fly that´s more than 150 years old, and still going strong. W.C Stewart said “we were first shown it by James Ballie, and have never been without it on our line since”.

slim and sparse, the ‘Black’ has a peculiarity that makes it stand out from the ‘Spider-Crowd’. the starling hackle is twisted together with the thread before being wound down the shank making it a very strong construction good for many, many fish. click on either pic to access Nik’s great step-by-step.

silver and gold

made with-

love
hook- Carlige de Musca G800BL #16
thread- Veevus 14/0 yellow ‘goldened’ with a permanent marker
abdomen- Veevus silver wire small
thorax- Hends Spectra dubbing gold flash
hackle- hen cape furnace

North Country Wets

by Ben Spinks

as i’ve been recently researching and learning about and tying a lot of flies inspired by the North Country Wets or Spiders style and getting quite a few comments and questions by pm in the process, i thought i’d share this inspiring article that has a lot to say about these minimalistic flies and why they’re so effective.

two extracts from an insanely great article that might make some ‘convert’s  to these types of flies if they aren’t already.

” Pritt’s argument for the spider pattern was based around something so simple and obvious that it must have been immensely infuriating to hear arguments against it. Life!
Pritt saw that it was nigh impossible to imitate an insect perfectly from an aesthetic point of view, but not from that of an impressionistic one. The theory goes that it is far more difficult to create a perfect imitation and to impart life afterwards, than it is to produce an impressionistic resemblance of an imperfectly developed insect struggling in the current. Basically saying that rather than having a solid body and somewhat rigid wing needing direct manipulation from the angler, you would have a slim, translucent body with a sparse, webby and very mobile hackle capable of moving naturally with the action of the current. It is a wonderfully simple idea that never has and never will fail to catch. “

” Stillborns, cripples and blown over duns going through this process are battered about like there’s no tomorrow, they get tumbled through fast water, bounced off rocks, stuck in weed and generally mashed about. At the end of this, if untaken by a trout, the fly no longer has the distinct uniform appearance of a dun or the crisp outline of a nymph, but appears as rather more of a contorted mess and from the point of view of a trout, a rather effortless meal.
Look at it this way, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow and ended up with my legs pointing backwards and my head up my arse, I’d still be recognisable, just not quite as I should be. People wouldn’t ignore and walk past me, completely the opposite in fact, pretty nurses would come running with ice cream and loosely buttoned tops. Trout are creatures of habit; they don’t like expending any more energy than is necessary to fill their bellies. The ever-present stillborn/cripple therefore provides an excellent opportunity for an easy meal. Ever wondered why the scruffiest of flies often prove more fulfilling than their prim and proper counterparts? Well this I like to think is why: they conform to the trout’s view of normality rather than our own. “

 as a nice bonus, there’s some rather good explanations on wing parts that’ll help when trying to make sense of the original recipes.
all in all a great read, enjoy !

click HERE for the full article

for a little look at the tying process, here’s two excellent patterns from Davie McPhail, the classic Stewart’s Spider and an ingenious winged personal concoction, Davie’s Spider.

‘roll-over wet

designed to stay as close as possible to the surface film during the drift by using a light wired hook, a prickly herl for the body and some hare dubbing as the head (to catch water and slow its descent), if needed, in faster waters those two elements can get some floatant with a little help from the Fly Brush. cast across stream with an upstream reach mend, watch for a swirl and gently strike.

made with:
love
hook- Maruto C47 barbless #16
thread- Veevus 14/0 brown
body- one fiber from a large dark brown mottled feather (not sure what bird but any big feather would do)
hackle- creamy grizzly hen
head- Mad Rabbit ! dubbing (hare)