named that way because that’s precisely it’s playing ground.
whether presenting it from the side or casting directly upstream into the boil (or even above and let it tumble in), this type of flashy, heavy, big and bulky fly more than often does the trick when all the fish see is something like this:
you got it, its busy and noisy and to get there attention, something a lot bigger than ‘normal’ needs to stand out from all the bubbles, smaller bugs and debris that gets washed down. simply put, the dainty calmer-water flies we’ll use down or upstream of these waterfalls have a much lesser chance of being seen and trout tend to not eat what they can’t see !
knowing full well that a lot would consider this fly as more of a grayling attractor, if you remember this post you’ll also remember that the least of my interests is trying to catch ugly fish, but ! beautiful fish love it too which in turn, makes me happy because i still get to tie and fish ugly flies without having to deal with the horriblehorrids…
tied with love &
hook- Demmon DGS 900 BL #10
bead- tungsten 3.5mm black thread- Veevus 8/0 black
rib- Veevus French Tinsel large gold
after completion of the fly the rib was coated with a reddish-brown marker
abdomen- Hends Spectra Flash peacock
thorax- Hends Spectra black
brush out the dubs with a velcro stick once finished
” In certain circles, it is rumored that anciently there was a fly pattern that possessed such magical fish-catching mojo that no fish could resist its siren-esque call. A fly with material so secretive that it was said there existed only one source of it hidden high in the Andes of Patagonia on the testicles of a golden Guanaco. A fly pattern so powerful that any angler who should possess it was assured of 100 fish days and to whom women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.”
those kind of statements sure get my attention !.. because i know that this teeny-tiny fly will get a lot of fish’s attention as well.
simples as simples to tie as it gets, even when not fishing them on their own this is the kind of fly i most usually always have trailing behind a dry, wet or ‘standard’ nymph. they’re that effective. nope, it may not look like much or even special at all to us anglers but we’re not the ones racing to chomp them down either.
although the exact thread might not be the easiest to find for those of us outside of the US, the basic design is a proven one. in fact, when typically endowed with a few hackle fibres to represent a tail, this design is really the go-to for nymphing in France and neighbouring countries and highly favoured among competitors. now, i’ve mentioned many times how much i despise fishing competitions but that last point tells us that these flies can be counted on to be consistent producers: something us ‘amateurs’ can happily take to the water and enjoy without the stress of having to score points !
click the image above to access Curtis Fry‘s great tying tutorial and see the finer points of this little thing’s construction.
by Louis Rhead 1914 via OpenLibrary
without a doubt we can be pretty sure that hatch timetables and even bug species in the last ninety-nine years have come to be inexistent in some areas while others have taken their place, we’re still left with an enormous wealth of information regarding river-side insect life and how to put this to good use.
geared towards U.S. rivers, anglers from around the world will find similarities and usefulness for their own waters. besides, i’m not sure it really matters, it’s a great read regardless and maybe a reminder that bugs is bugs and fishes is fishes and fly fishing hasn’t changed all that much and there’s still a lot to learn from the past. the many hand-drawn plates created by the author back up all the groovy buggy-fishy info with beauty, further sharing the notion that it’s not just a matter of fish food and catching fish but of creatures to be admired on their own and thank you Mr Rhead for that.
click either image for 177 pages of old school coolness online or HERE to download PDF, Kindle and others to enjoy this offline.
a while back we’d seen an intro by Oliver Edwards where both of Sawyer’s most famous nymphs: the Pheasant Tail and Killer Bug where featured, tied and fished but i thought a refresher on this seminal Bug was a little overdue, this time with a bit more info (i know there’s a lot more in print but not in my collection…) and a close rendition of how Sawyer tied it by Davie McPhail.
not only a historical pattern but one that shines as much now as when created. a must have for the river fisher. i hope you’ll enjoy.
“Sawyer is probably best remembered for the development of the ‘sunken nymph’ and the associated nymphing technique sometimes called the Netheravon Style. Sawyer’s nymphs were innovative in that they were tied with fine copper wire instead of silk or thread. This allowed the nymphs to sink and also gave them a translucent colouring when under water. Sawyer advocated the ‘sink and draw’ method of nymphing where the nymph was allowed to sink and then made to ‘swim’ towards the surface by drawing in the line or slowly lifting the rod tip. This was coupled with the ‘Induced take’ where the nymph was made to swim up in front of a fish thereby inducing the fish to take.
Sawyer developed the Killer Bug as a means of controlling grayling numbers on the River Avon where at the time it was considered vermin. The Killer Bug is designed to imitate the freshwater shrimp but also looks similar to a hatching sedge. The Killer Bug was named by Sawyer’s friend Lee Wulff. It is tied with large amounts of copper wire and light beige wool. Originally the Killer Bug was tied with a wool called Chadwick’s 477. When production of this wool ceased in 1965 Sawyer switched to a specially produced copy. In fly fishing circles the original Chadwick’s 477 wool is considered to have mythical fish-catching properties with lengths of the wool selling for hundreds of pounds.”
indeed, seen dry, the bug and yarn don’t seem so special and we’ll probably wonder why in the world it would be worth the trouble and money to hunt down this wool but the real magic happens and doubts disappear when we see it wet. the fish most certainly think it’s special.
“Yoshi had always found that many of the concepts and beliefs he had been taught as a fly fisher were based primarily on assumption”
sounds familiar, huh ? here’s a most excellent article, a real eye-opener for any angler who fishes sub-surface weighted flies.
“along with the assistance of his original professors have began to conduct a number of physical experiments on the performance of fly design on sink rates in varying environmental conditions. Current research project focuses around the sink rates of trout flies tied from different materials.”
“Furthermore the graph shows that there is little difference between the two flies of 0.6 or 0.8 grams in either tungsten or lead. And in fact, the major differences that occur are only due to the density of materials versus the overall weight. Interestingly enough this becomes a critical piece of information for anglers wanting to tie fast sinking nymphs whereby traditionally anglers have fished larger and heavier flies in order to get to the bottom quickly. This research however shows that small high density flies will in fact sink faster than larger and heavier patterns. As we can see above, the 0.6gram Tungsten nymphs sink more than twice as fast as the 0.8gram brass nymphs”
and that’s just an appetizer. click the graph to access the main course. bon appétit !
whether this statement is true or not seems irrelevant and since i fundamentally agree because i can’t remember inventing a single thing, even a minor one, during the brief time i was married, it sounds good and it’s just not worth doing the research to prove or disprove and since it comes from a person who not only accepted but understood things of much greater importance such as parallel worlds, spacial travel, mathematics, electricity and all sorts of other cool things and because of all this, it’s also pretty sure he would have fully understood other complex subjects like how fly lines move, loop propagation all the finer subjects that even the small handful of contemporary experts can’t seem to either figure out or agree on, the only thing we can hold against him is that he is dead and that’s a shame because we could do with a few more Teslas these days.
a real gem for us today from Barry Ord Clarke’s site The Feather Bender. tied by Marc, photographed by Barry, that’s a team that’s hard to beat.
” When Marc began tying nymphs with CdC ( nearly 20 years ago) many prominent anglers thought it was a joke! and that CdC was not a suitable material for nymphs, oh how time has proved them wrong. “
this quote brings a little smirk because however much these feathers may be interesting i’m a firm believer that they work best underwater rather than above. if you’re not convinced try taking some feathers or better yet a cdc dry fly and get it wet by gently rubbing it between your fingers under water and watch it in say, a glass of water. if you didn’t squeeze it too tight there will be air bubbles trapped in the fibers and the rest will pulse in a very attractive manner, imitating legs, wings, antennae or the insect’s veiling shuck. all strong suggestions of life without having to resort to very ‘technical’ depictions/recreations of these elements by using a myriad of materials. brilliant !
this particular generalist pattern makes a great caddis imitation but a few tweaks here and there such as adding tails or reducing the body feathers to two or even just one for a slimmer profile turns it into an equally effective mayfly imitation.
as one might expect, the fly is tied using the range of Petitjean tools but don’t let that put you off if you don’t have them. spring clips can substitute the Magic Tool and a fly/electrician’s clip can be used to hold and twist the body hackles.
it starts off like so,
and ends like this.
to discover everything in between click either image for the complete step-by-step.
we’ve already seen the yummymagicalyamazingful results cat gut* can give on caddis and mayfly nymphs by Lucian Vasies and today’s hot-off-the-vise video is from Davie McPhail tying his own version of a caddis larva using the same cat gut from Lucian’s online shop troutline.ro
i can imagine stocks will go out quite fast.
* once again: no need to worry, no pussy was turned inside-out to supply us with this ultra-cool tying material ! it’s something like gross sheep or lab rats or something…
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 Buffalosooops ! 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, here’s a hot-off-the-press video tutorial on how to tie it by Hans Weilenmann. enjoy !
a great candy-yummy variation of the Prince nymph from Cheech over at Fly Fish Food.
usually tied on a straight hook shank, this version takes on a more dynamic appearance. that doesn’t mean that it’ll catch more fish but anything ‘dynamic’ has the wonderful side-effect of keeping me from falling asleep !
simple and straightforward to tie, Cheech’s well thought-out tutorial will guide you through this pattern. as noted, it’s one of those ‘must-have’ flies and one well worth having in different sizes and color/material combinations.
“don’t be afraid to get a little crazy at the vise. Remember, you won’t know if the fish are going to eat it until you feed it to them.”
words of wisdom close to my heart ! be sure to click on the pic above to access the full article. enjoy !
a Bomb, Controller, Sacrificial, Depth-Charge or whatever you want to call it is a fly used to bring down lighter, more ‘natural swimming’ flies on droppers down to the bottom in deep pools and/or fast currents. one could consider it a sinker with a hook and that last point means that:
a) it could easily snag on a rock or something and b) it can also easily catch a bottom-hugging fish.
sure, a) sucks but b) makes it worth it, specially because some times there’s no other way to get our flies to the fish.
pretty much geared toward the ‘Euro-Nymphing’ approach where flies are lobbed back upstream after the drift, this bottom-dredging caddis imitation by David Downie is sure to do the trick and pick up a few on it’s own. because of it’s weight be sure to pay special attention and greatly open up your loops and better yet use an elliptic cast if you’re going to cast it in a conventional way. (or be prepared to wear it somewhere on your head or body… )
a bit dismayed by what seems to be a habit of only showcasing a few selected tiers repeatedly here, the dismal truth is, if could find among what seems to be billions of other tying tutorials worthy of being shared, i most definitely would.
just to show that there’s still hope, this great tutorial of the Herl May Callibaetis nymph by Grant Bench is a fine breath of fresh air and i hope to have more of his work to share soon.
among others, a nice trick here is pre-treating the future wing case cover with UV resin directly on the feather before removing the fibers as this keeps them together without bunching, protects them from sharp little teeth and also makes the tying process easier. good stuff indeed. (let’s just hope the strange music will be left out in future videos… )
if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you crossed a Weilenmann with a Tiger then look no more !
unfortunately, the materials list doesn’t call for any actual tiger hairs, But !
i’m sure the local ginger puss would be more than happy to donate a fur-ball or two for this worthy cause.
click either pic to access Hans’ step by step tutorial for this oh-so-scruffy-buggy, feliny nymph. enjoy !
another wham-bamtastic!*casting lobbing tutorial from Jim Williams via Eat,Sleep, Fish Issue no. 10
‘Euro-nymphing’, what a barfable term.
stemming from an ignorant press and industry that’s only too eager to englobe a multitude of styles with all their varied intricacies and regrouping them in one silly-trendy name. hell, by the looks of it most of them believe that Europe is a country, ffs…
anyway… Jim The Great does a wonderful job here in explaining and demonstrating that there’s a lot more to this very effective yet highly unmanly method than just ‘high-sticking it’.
i’m dizzy just by looking at the gifs below but if you can take it click on either one to experience the real thing full-blast. enjoy !
excerpt from George Edward Mackenzie Skue’s dated yet timeless:
oh Yes, the war was on between him and the ill-aligned Halford and it’s easy to understand why: ” Numerous dry-fly men (including Halford) had observed that traditional winged wet flies represented no known underwater insect and declined to explore the possibilities – a blinkered decision as it turned out. Skues, on the other hand, was the first fisherman to make the point that the bulging rises which marked the first stage of the rise were caused by fish taking nymphs – nymphs that could be imitated if new patterns and a new method were developed. He pointed out that it was only later that fish began to take duns, and that on occasion the fish were so surfeited with nymphs that the rise was insignificant. Skues ‘third stage’ was the mopping up of stragglers by fish taking a mixture of duns, damaged or drowned flies and nymphs. He made the point that fishing wet to first and third stage fish didn’t spoil dry fly fishing in the second stage and his most crucial discovery was that nymphing trout had to be struck, and that the timing of the strike depended on very subtle observation. “
leaving no room for (reasonable) debate, Skues proved once and for all (but maybe in less eloquent terms) that dry fly purists where nothing more than idle “wankers”, spineless takers of the easy route, snobby floatant-based, common something-or-other, bobber deviants whose puritan group was lead by none other than the not-so-high-floater Himself, Halford the Horrible, author of ‘Etc, Etc, Etc…. While Getting Some by the Water’ first published in 1886, burned in 1887.
thanks G.E.M, the World is a better place thanks to your efforts.
WoW ! here’s a real gem with virtually everything we need to know about peacock quills, how to prepare and use them. thanks Lucian !
” When talking about peacock quill everyone thinks about the stripped barbs of the feathers from the peacock’s tail. Everyone expects it to be wide, nicely colored, gradually from white to dark grey, with a glossy look as if it were waxed. The peacock quill is used because it imitates very good the abdominal part of the dry flies and emergers. The problem is that a quill of high quality can’t be found anywhere in the feather but only in the area of the eye of the feather. Even so, good feathers are from peacocks older than 5 years. The young ones have thinner feathers and the quill is not so brightly colored. You can see in the pictures below how to get this quill easily “
go from this-
to this- by following just a few easy steps. enjoy !
click on either pic to access the complete tutorial.
be sure to check out Lucian’s online shop troutline.ro for a great selection of fly tying materials, barbless hooks and all sorts of fly fishing goodies.
you’ll find fast and friendly service and all at the best prices.
since i saw these, i’ve been keen on giving this unusual material a try and here’s the first.
very easy to cut from the skin and use, i’m still waiting for the translucency to appear (yes, pun).
there’s Lagartun Rusty flat-braid under most of the body and fluorescent orange polyfloss as a hot-spot 1/3 of the way down the fly. i guess i was expecting them to show through strongly.
it does look buggy for sure, i’ll just have to play around with it a bit more.
Hayabusa 388 # 12
Veevus 16/0 thread brown
underbodies mentioned above
ferret skin strip
hare dubbing brown then black
i’ve since found out that the skin used for this fly wasn’t ferret at all but Wild Hamster. no wonder it didn’t give the desired result but i still like it….
or, Floating Flies and How to Undress Nymphs: A Treatise on the most Modern Methods of Dressing Artificial Flies for Trout and Grayling while Getting Some by the Water– by Frederic M. Halford 1886
a far cry from what historians would want us to believe, recent in-deep research and accounts from french collaborateur scientists and a few dried-out victims have shown that Halford’s inclination wasn’t so much about fishing or dry fly dressing, but rather voracious buggered’ nymph-undressing fiending and the whole dry-fly purity was just a ploy to confuse his wife Eileen (and lull her into a deep sleep) while he was out doing the ‘angle’. wow…
a few quotes from his admirers:
“Always searching for some freshly hatched bug, forever on the prowl for willing stream-side nymphettes and damsels or whatever might come by when a hatch wasn’t on.”
“N’er dry, Me likem’ moist !” he was known to say. sorry to be so repetitive but i have to add another wow…
“Halford is pictured by many as a joyless old didact who enforced the dry fly code against all reasoned opposition. As modern science has proved this is not the case. Although Halford’s writing was heavily influenced by the fact that he had relatively little experience of fishing the wet fly, we certainly won’t hold it against him for the simple reason being, he wasn’t actually fishing. The Halford cronies that followed in his wake were somewhat less forgiving in their attitude to moisty fly fishing, and in particular in their opposition to the use in any form of the nymph whether it be on land or in water. Frederic Halford himself is a pivoting figure in fly fishing history. Whilst some of Halford’s reasoning may be open to question, his dedication is not, and the man who gave so much of his life to the development of dry fly fishing deservedly takes his place among the great men of the angle.”
anyhow, regardless of his inclines, the book below is a feast for the eyes and a gateway through a time portal towards a charming old moldy past. i highly recommend reading it, specially while at work.
click HERE to download the pdf of this fantastic book. the file’s a little slow to come up and scrolling’s slow too but it’s well worth the wait !
a strong extended body with a flat silhouette and so easy to make. what a nice and nifty idea that’s sure to inspire more than a few of us. i’m waiting on some Bug-Bond UV cured resin to come in to try this out. i’ve got a few ideas of my own on a variation of this fly that i’m sure will do the trick here in Sweden. enjoy !
not quite nymphs and not quite streamers, the NyMers are somewhere in between.
NyMer 1 size 16
having been working on ‘cross-over’ flies (flies that can imitate not only different types of insects but also combinations of fish and insects with mixed elements of both species with their combined respective movements in the water) for several years with really good results wherever they’ve been fished. the NyMer above is part of a series in this new direction and was recently inspired by the fly below my Swedish friend Johan Nygren recently showed me.