fly tying- whipping up a fluff cat

by Matthew Pate via HMHFlyFishing

at first glance, this Cat might look like any other bunny-leech type streamer/lure/attractor fly but on second look there’s that green skirt made of Chrystal Hackle or Pseudo Hackle, a fine-fibred synthetic wrapped as one would a feather hackle in between the tail and body that sets this pattern apart from typical B-Leeches for two reasons-
firstly, the green fibres blend in with the bodies’ bunny hair acting as a subtle yet strong trigger point for the fish to see from a distance.
and secondly, because its a little stiffer than bunny fur (what isn’t… ) the green skirt puffs out the bodies’ hair a little and gives a bigger profile to the body when wet and this bigger body in turn makes the tail wiggle more.
it’s a hydrodynamic turbulence thing and for us fishers it a really good thing as this lets the tail waggle sexily without having to speed up line retrieve and this gives the fish plenty of time see and get dazzled and seduced by all this tail action !

designed as a stillwater lure, a little tweaking here and there like adding bead-chain eyes or dumbells or a lead wire underbody to add more weight and in different sizes and colours to match your area makes this basic design a really basic fly for just about any waters. well tied and well explained, we can tell Matthew doesn’t just slap on materials onto a hook. take note of all the finer details in this fly’s construction and you won’t go wrong. enjoy !

Fly Tying Tutorials- the Silver Invicta

The Invicta was originally known as The Pride of Devon, The Silver Invicta is a variation of the original Invicta fly pattern. The Invicta Caddis wet fly pattern was first mentioned in James Ogden’s book “Ogden on fly tying” which was published in 1879.

that’s 136 years of being a classic fly that not only greatly appeals to fly fishing and tying history buffs but more importantly, to fish. designed to imitate a drowned caddis with its long wing and hackles that imitates legs and a yellow tail to probably imitate eggs, this pattern also works very well as a small bait imitation. primarily designed with still waters in mind used with various retrieves or ‘dead-drifted’ across a wind-swept feeding lane, i’ve had great success with this fly in rivers fished either across with little steady pulls of the line or with the standard ‘down-and-across’ swing.
sure to raise a few hackles from the purists and spurred from the at-the-time reluctance/apprehension i had to try to include matched wing slips to my flies, i’ve had great success by replacing said wing with marabou, fox hair, fine deer hair, swiss straw or simply taking a bunch of fibres from a feather that ‘looks about right’, folding them once or twice and tying the lot on top. although matched wing slips are beautiful at the vise or in the box and are a great way to get a lot of Facebook likes… i’m personally convinced they offer no ‘fishable’ advantage as they’ll just get matted and out of that lovely shape once wet and specially after a fish or two have nibbled on it for a bit.

as always with Davie McPhail’s tutorials, today’s treat not only shows how to tie this lovely Invicta properly but there’s also several tying tips and tricks that transfer over to many-many other patterns. enjoy !


Fly Tying- Arthur Cove’s Pheasant Tail Nymph

cove's ptn 1we all know that Frank Sawyer was the originator the infamousPTN but perhaps few outside of the UK are familiar with Cove’s version.
where Sawyer’s nymph was originally created as a baetis imitation for chalkstreams, Cove’s version comes out as a chironomid pupae mostly intended for stillwaters but works equally well in flowing waters that have chironomids and most of them do.

 ” An important part of Cove’s claim to fame is told in the story of how he developed his famous pheasant tail nymph. His most successful tyings were slender and lightly-dressed nymphs – not the thick, over-dressed flies too often on sale today – even though they were tied on long-shank size eights and 10s. He then started to use hooks of a normal shank length but took the dressing right round the bend “and much nicer they looked too.”. Full instructions for tying the fly are included in the appendix and Cove recommends that you tie the fly on all sizes and weights of hook, so that you can fish it at different depths. ”  -click the cigarette for more from his book first published in 1986-
apart from the flashback addition the original nymph most probably looked like this slender beauty below and i’m sure it’ll be just as effective as the curved-hook version although my personal preference goes towards the latter for both a closer resemblance of the curvy-squigling shape of the bugs as they’re trying to break through the water’s surface tension and a strong personal preference for grub-style hooks as in Davie’s video that accentuate this curvy shape and also hold fish better as there’s less hook shank to ‘lever off’ during the fight. cove's ptn 2

the tying in itself is very straightforward. always very well explained and demonstrated by Davie McPhail, here’s how to tie it.
the original didn’t have pheasant tail fibre tips as wings. whether you believe the pattern needs them or not is up to you.
be sure to give these a try, you won’t regret it. enjoy !

* sorry, couldn’t help it.

Blobbin’ Techniques

via Richysflies

ok, i know full well that most anglers would rather stick the tip of their fly rod in their dominant eye before using these types of flies and i’ll happily admit i’m somewhat in that camp myself. however, the main material, fritz or rather, blob chenilles used to tie these ‘Blobs’ * is quite an interesting material which also comes in a wide variety of let’s say, more normal colors… that the creative tier can incorporate in streamers or large wet flies and who knows what else you might want to think of. as a few examples it can add a nice splash of color or be used to bulk up a head or body of a streamer to create a turbulence for the swimming materials behind and it can also be trimmed to the desired shape once mounted. great stuff indeed !
of particular interest in this video is the material’s tying techniques. when tying in any kind of chenille it’s common knowledge to strip fibers off to tie in the core to reduce body bulk but what we’ll see below is the same thing but also at the front. it makes for a nice and smooth transition whether we’re combining different colors or simply to finish off the fly. brilliant !
take note as well that untwisting the chenille helps to not cross-over the fibers later on while winding. what’s not mentioned is that many of these chenilles have a ‘grain’ or ‘fiber direction’ similar to a feather or fur on the skin. to get a smooth and sexy winding be sure to go with the grain and not against. enjoy !

( * in case you’re wondering, ‘Blobs’ are pure attractor flies stemming from the UK stillwater competition circuit used on freshly stocked rainbow trout who haven’t adapted to natural food. born and raised in tanks or cages, these fish will often be quite big, ten + pounders aren’t uncommon (usually referred to as “Pigs”… ) but even given the size, the fight isn’t very impressive as their fins are dwarfed and i guess it must be hard to push water with a bloated belly… )

Le Pouic !

from Tightline Productions

pronounced: Pweeek in french or in this case, Pine Squirrel Streamer in mid-western.
anyway, whatever you call it means fish. lots of fish. i have no idea who originally came up with the pattern but that person deserves a monument  just like the person who invented the bed does !
having come across this basic pattern years ago as a staple for colder-weather stillwater fishing and usually fished with a sinking line, playing around with the pattern, adding weight in front or along the shank to vary the swim or a fold-over foam piece in the front to make it float and wobble even more makes this a bread and butter fly for just about any kind of  fish in just about any kind of water.
for a slimmer profile use rabbit strips, for a chunkier aspect go for the pine squirrel as on the video. probably one of the least expensive flies to tie, it’s well worth diversifying components and profiles and have a good selection of them to cast to the fish. follow the basic pattern described below and they all will work and they’ll all work very well. enjoy !

Shwartza in Gold

one of the few tying books i have isn’t really a tying book per se but rather a collection of flies, their images, how they where intended to be fished and a rough summary of the materials needed with no explanation on how to put them together.
i like this because it leaves food for thought and we need to find solutions on our own, even when it comes to simple flies like the one below.

i have no idea why but  this one caught my attention enough to actually go and try to imitate it, something i’m usually not compelled to do but the combination of ‘imitative’ mixed with ‘suggestive’ set off the all-important  ‘hmmm, looks good. real good’ confidence feeling that leads to flies that catch fish and catches them predictably. in my opinion it’s pretty rare that an accepted pattern doesn’t need to be tweaked a bit here and there through field testing. of course the usual variations include changing size and color combos but in the case of the Shwartza, it also became a matter of hook choice, wing length and wing position.
not only do i prefer this shape of hook for it’s hooking and holding capabilities but also it’s ‘keel’ effect is greater than the standard shaped hook prescribed in the book. playing with the proportions of both keel and wing determines how this fly swims and reacts to being pulled at different speeds.
the book calls for a rabbit hair/micro flash wing and that’s what these have but the next version will be tried with angel hair which also has ultra-fine flashy fibers already mixed in. so much for keeping to the recipe… 😀

first real test with this pattern happened at the end of the day a week ago on a little lake where we had a casting/fishing course. on the second cast the fly was hit so hard that the tippet broke and the fish took the fly back home to put in it’s box…
it sucks loosing flies but this says something about it’s effectiveness.

from Bob Church’s – Guide to New Fly Patterns 1993 here’s the original recipe for Peter Dobbs’ Shwartza.

Hook: Size 12
Tying Silk: Black
Body: Black Floss
Rib: Silver Wire
Wing: Soft black hair, rabbit or squirrel, mixed with a few strands of bronze Crystal
Head: Clear varnish

Dave Shipman’s ‘One hell of a Buzzer.

Buzzers – Midges:  Chironomids

a flash from the past happened as i was watching Davie McPhail’s tying video of this truly amazing pattern. a lot of memories trickled back of all the good trout-stalking fun and success i’ve had with this pattern and i thought i’d share it here.
often neglected because of it’s ‘looks like nothing’ appearance…, i’ve heard they’re banned in some waters because they’re so effective.
(see, i wasn’t kidding, they’re awesomely butt-ugly !  these old munched and crunched ones come from my box, they’re around 3-4 years old and a conservative guesstimation has them at maybe 25-30 fish each)

created in the 70’s by Dave Shipman to imitate ‘buzzer or chironomid hatches on England’s Rutland reservoir, it can be fished with a floating line on top like a dry, half way in/half way out like an emerger or sunk.
dead-drifted with the wind or animated slooooowly, it’s a pretty rare occasion where these won’t catch the fish’s attention.
sizes range from no. 8 to 28 sized hooks.  any color will do with personal favorites being black, red, claret, and darkish brown and combining all those colors makes it super-versatile and sexy !

i’ve had great success with it in rivers and streams as well. it’s not just a stocked fish stillwater pattern because midge distribution is getting bigger and bigger because of pollution and other nasties: the ‘standard’ trout bugs have a hard time living in dirtier waters and the midges move in because their metabolism allows it.

here’s how Davie ties it, in fact he ties three different versions for us. enjoy !

btw, don’t forget this previously talked about method of presenting them:
Frank Sawyer’s Bow Tie

wednesday’s fairy

a cross-over between a blob and a booby should have been a ‘bloobie’ but that sounds dumb.
‘fairy’ will do just fine, thank you sir…

ps- the eye in the back of the fly is to confuse the fish into thinking the fly is both advancing and retreating at the same time, which in a way it does.

Bob the Blob

another version of the ‘realistical blob’, this time renamed after a suggestion from my friend P-A. (who somehow thought ‘Bob the Blob’ was hilarious… )
BtB V1 caught my first fish this year so i kinda like it and will continue experimenting with this idea. yes, it’s not your conventional fly but seeing it swim is believing

‘orange you glad to see me ?

a little tasty treat for stocked trout, perch, bluegills, sunfish or whatever else that likes weird looking candy !
made with:

Tiemco 2499SP-BL #12 (one of my all-time favorite hooks)
orange tungsten bead
Veevus 16/0 orange thread (super-strong and lovely to tie with !)
orange marabou tail from troutline
Flashabou body
orange Angel hair wing
body and head coated with Bug-Bond Lite