Category Archives: How-To

Creativity At the Vice

Do you ever have days at the vice where you just sit and think… ” What can I come up with that’s new, cool, catches fish, and will put a new spin on my flies?” This thought is what makes fly tying the backbone of this technical sport. That day where you’re sitting at your vice wondering… “What can I come up with? What is that one thing that no one else has?”. You’re sitting letting the wheels in your brain turn as you think of what you should put on a hook whether its big or small, light or dark, even if it is going to be nothing but flash or no flash at all. The creative minds that people have for fly tying is what makes this art form so great. There is no end to the flies that will be created on this planet. Though this article is not about how to tie a new fly, but a tip on making your flies totally different from what they are. I’m talking about blending your feathers. That’s right… Making your feathers to the color combinations that you want them to be without trying to dye every little bit of the feather. Taking anywhere from 2-4 different colored feathers and blending them together to turn them into a multi-colored feather blend.

The one thing that I have learned by doing this is that it makes some of the best streamers. The option of having a fly that is different from everything else just by having a different color scheme. I have had days of fishing where it did not matter what I put in front of the fishes face they would not hit it. Then I would switch to the blended flies and I would hook something. It’s that little bit of color change that can make a big difference when your throwing streamers. For example on a day were I have had no luck with an olive fly I will throw an Olive/Dark Olive/Chartreuse blend. That little change can be the key.

How to make a Blended Feather. First take your marabou feather and clip the tip and butt so you have the main base of the feather. Do this for how ever many feathers your going to put in your blend. Second take a piece of wire long enough so that when you fold it in half it has a loop at the front and enough tail to put in your vice. size BR or MED is best color to match if you want to. A rotary vice is needed. Third put the butt end of the feathers with the wire in your vice. Fourth take a tool or something that you can put in the loop then spin your vice. Every 5-7 turns pull the tips out so that its not all bunched up and spins evenly. You can also do this with hackle feathers to make wings or for wrapping bodies on woolly buggers.

This is a great thing for Steelhead flies and just big swing flies that have a lot of color. I also do these for Clousers a lot. I have my basic colors then my blends. My favorite Clouser blends for salt water are.

1: Rust/Tan/brown
2: Olive/Dark Olive/Chartreuse
3: White/Gray with Peacock hurl.

Those three Examples great color blends, but remember with this your blends are endless for what colors you want to put in them. One tip: Do not go over four feathers. They get hard to spin.

Remember the things you can do with your vice are endless. The vice is a tool that you have that enables you to take an idea that is floating in your mind down on a hook. Always try your ideas even though some might be a bit out there, you never know if it can be the next hot fly on the market.

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Fly Tying Tutorial : Nehil’s Foam Stone Fly

A few years ago I saw a foam wing salmon fly nymph pattern that was killer looking and very popular on the Yellowstone River in Montana. The fly was called “Real Black Stone” if I remember, but I never found the pattern available commercially and never saw a recipe or a tutorial. The fly was more complicated with eyes, individually cut wing case segments, knotted rubber legs, and all black dubbing of some sort. This is my version, but I added the tan dubbing, and brown rib for better contrast and realism, and simplified the pattern by deleting the eyes, the knotted legs, and forming the wing case out of one piece of foam instead of several pieces.

Notes; if you are worried about the foam adding to much buoyancy, don’t. The added lead more than makes up for the foam. If you are still worried, add more lead, if you are still worried add a 3.2 mm tungsten bead behind antennae, if you are still worried use .5 mm foam for wing case instead of 1mm, and if you are still worried use thin skin and forget about the foam altogether.

Hook; TMC 200R #6
Thread; 6/0 or 140 Denier Tan and Black
Tail; Black Goose Biots
Abdomen; Tan Micro Chenille, Waspi Antron dubbing Chestnut
Rib; Small Brown Holo Tinsel
Thorax; Light Tan Waspi Sow Scud dubbing
Wing Case; 1mm Black Foam
Rear Legs; Black Flexi Floss
Front Legs; extra-small Black Round rubber
Antennae; extra-small Black Round rubber
Weight; .025 lead wire

   

Step 1; tie on antennae, form a small head and whip finish if you are tying several flies or continue to step 2

Step 2; tie on lead wire down one side of hook shank, and leave a gap near the hook eye. If you want a heavier fly tie on an additional length of lead wire on the opposite side too.

Step 3; twist off extra lead and wrap thread several times to secure

Step 4; tie a long length of micro chenille on top of hook, this forms the anal gills and adds bulk to the fly

Step 5; tie on a long length of brown holo tinsel

Step 6; wrap chenille fwd and trim at the point of the gap. Note; wrap one wrap of chenille behind rib, so the rib doesn’t slip off the chenille and loosen. This is basic fly tying technique but a lot of tiers still miss this important step.

Step 7; tie in goose biots for the tail, stop the thread about 1/8 inch fwd of the end of the chenille to form the anal gills

Step 8; apply, chestnut Antron dubbing evenly and sparsely to thread

Step 9; dub fwd covering the tan chenille, stop dubbing at about ½ the hook shank length

Step 10; wrap the tinsel fwd about 6-8 turns and tie off

Step 11; tie in rear legs so that they angle back, trim to desired length. I leave them long for more movement

Step 12; whip finish black thread, and go have a drink, you’re about half done

Step 13; start your tan thread

Step 14; dub a sparse amount of tan dubbing to the end of the chenille

Step 14a; prepare a 1/4  inch strip of 1mm black foam at least 2 inches long and cut a small notch in one end. I use a small Chernobyl cutter

Step 15; tie in notched end of foam wing case, the apex  of the notch should be at the transition point of the tan and brown dubbing

Step 16; tie in middle legs with flexi floss, angle almost straight out

Step 17; dub around legs with additional tan dubbing and whip finish

Step 18; start your black thread again, fold foam wing case back, loop forward and tie off at the end of your tan dubbing

Step 19; begin tying down foam fwd toward hook eye

Step 19a; advance thread to just behind hook eye

Step 20; tie in front legs (round rubber) and angle slightly fwd

Step 21; fill in the gap, and around the front legs with chestnut Antron dubbing

Step 22; fold foam wing case back and secure with a few wraps of thread

Step 23; add a small amount of chestnut Antron dubbing to cover thread wraps and whip finish. Trim off excess foam in a semi-circle shape. Trim all legs and antennae to desired length.

Winter Redfish on the Fly, Charleston, SC

Here in the east, it’s been a mild winter, which has given anglers even more opportunities for cold-weather fishing. At the beginning of the month, I got a couple of days off from guiding for trout and working the shop here at Curtis Wright Outfitters in Asheville, NC and headed down to Charleston, SC, to chase some winter redfish on the fly. Through a mutual guide friend, I got put in touch with Scott Davis of the Low Country Fly Shop in Mount Pleasant (just over the Ravenal Bridge from Charleston). My fishing buddy Pat and I met up with Scott for drinks to come up with a game plan and the following morning at dawn the adventure into the coastal flats of the South Carolina coast began.

Unlike during the warmer months of the year, the redfish, also known as spot-tails, red drum, and channel bass, don’t venture as far into the spartina grass of the flats, where they commonly “tail” in the summer as they spread out from one another and root around for fiddler crabs and shrimp. Instead, they tend to group together in schools ranging in size from about fifty fish to hundreds at a time and, like a giant vacuum cleaner, work over the oyster bars and flats for shrimp, mullet, and whatever else they can find.  For this reason, winter fishing can be both incredibly productive or incredibly frustrating; if you can find a school and keep up with it, you’ll have shots at lots of fish, but if you can’t find the school (this where having a great guide like Scott helps) you simply won’t have anything to cast at and you’ll return home smelling like a skunk.

Lucky for Pat and me, we were on the boat of a truly expert guide and the sight-fishing conditions the first morning we went out were postcard perfect: sunny skies and glassy water. Within twenty minutes Scott had us poling toward a school of about a hundred fish on a two foot deep flat, and as the sun began to rise so did the snouts and tails of the fish, which is not a common sight in the dead of winter. As far as tackle goes, we were slinging sinking shrimp flies and diving mullet patterns on our eight weights loaded with Rio’s Redfish Line. The fish weren’t all that selective; the name of the game was anticipating the path of the school and then casting your fly on the right trajectory (like with bonefish) and working the fly enough to catch their attention, but not so much to spook them. Most of the time, we retrieved the fly the way you would work a big streamer for trophy trout, but occasionally we’d slow it down to give the fish an extra few seconds to see it if the school changed direction at the last-minute. From the get-go, the action was heart-pounding, with several especially nice fish boated and several more lost. An added bonus was the fantastic scenery, numerous porpoise sightings, and the simple fact that we didn’t see any other boats. The best part, though, was knowing that we got to do it all over again the next day. If you ever get a chance to fish for this hardy species on the fly, I highly recommend you go for it. When these bull-headed fighters take a run into your backing there’s no slowing them down…

The Annelid

Getting Dirty

If I had to think about the one style of nymph that’s caught more large fish than any other it would have to be… Well, being completely honest it’s technically not a “nymph”, it’s an annelid. Yes the mighty worm! From the simple San Juan to the heavily weighted pig sticker they simply get munched and by fish. I can’t think of a better time to fish worms than late winter through runoff. Since that time is coming up it’s always a good idea to have a few different worm patterns in a handful of colors, sizes and weights. Considering how easy they are to tie there really isn’t a good reason to not have a decent assortment in the corner of a box somewhere. This is one of my go to flies when I want something light and on the smaller side. It holds up extremely well and is very fast to tie with cheap materials. Good luck and happy worm dunking.

Material List:

Hook: TMC 2457 #8
Thread: Fluorescent Red Danville Flat Waxed Nylon 210
Body: Fluorescent Red Medium Round Rubber, FL Pink Ice Dub and Clear Cure Goo Hydro

The Ammo

Fine Tune Your Fly Fishing

There was a time when I’d throw nothing more than a wader bag, a couple of rods, a hat and some peanut butter into the back seat and head for the trout streams. There was never any research or planning – not in my pre-trip rituals or in the actual fishing. I’d walk the river, casting at random to whatever looked “fishy.” I caught some trout, but I always suspected I was missing more than I was catching. If I went after bass, it was the same thing. Grab the rods and a tacklebox and drive to the lake. Cast everywhere. Try baits at random. It was less than productive unless they were really biting.

Then, I got a wild idea one day to “fine tune” things a bit. I subscribed to a few fishing magazines, did some research online, actually tried to learn more – even though I already knew it all, or at least thought I did. Instead of throwing a streamer all over the river, I’d sit and stop a while. I’d watch the water. I’d watch the birds. I’d turn over some rocks in search of nymphs or crawfish or whatever I could find.

In my spare time I’d read about “high sticking” and dry fly tactics. I poured over articles about fly fishing for bass and bluegills. I thought about each part of the fly fishing system and how I could improve both my understanding of the gear and the fish. I stopped using 6 lb test mono for a leader and paid more attention to articles on leaders, tippets and what’s needed to “turn over” a #12 hopper pattern. I spent time concentrating on understanding how and why fish feed, where they feed, and on what.

I was no longer just a guy going fly fishing! I was someone who was beginning to learn the in’s and out’s of the game. It wasn’t necessary of course – I could go on just floundering around out there while having loads of fun, but it was clear from the early stages of my fine tuning that concentrating on more than just the basics was paying off. I started to pick up fish more often, and the size of the fish seemed to be getting larger on average. In addition to that aspect of it, I found myself enjoying a deeper immersion in the sport.

The thing about fly fishing is that there’s always so much to learn, no matter how long you’ve been at it. And if you’ll put forth the effort to “fine tune” your learning, it will also fine tune your approach. Your cast, your ability to read the water, your fly choices even your appreciation of the great outdoors. Catching fish is fun. Catching more fish is more fun!

Double Whammy Cream

Fly Tying Tutorial : The Double Whammy

A Double Whammy has solved some of the toughest hatches.

Our friends in England have been fishing soft hackles since the late middle ages (medieval times) as some suggest they date back to the 1400’s or even earlier. The soft hackle was a little late in coming to the United States, the mid 1970’s to be exact, at least that’s when it was popularized, and like all new flies it was likely the “hot” fly for awhile. Fast forward to the present and you might get a response like this; “soft hackles, are you kidding??? Do they really work??? Everything’s wrong with the technique, I’ll stick with indicator nymphing”. Ok I’ll admit this may have been my own response several years ago. However, I have now realized that soft hackles are my friend and have solved the toughest hatches.

A few years ago the Double Whammy was born on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. It was a miserable cold, snowy, gusty early June day, Blue Wing Olives were coming off in droves and I could not get a single fish to rise to my sparkle dun. I tried dead drifting nymphs to no avail, dead drifting emerger patterns in the surface film was hopeless as well. I was about ready to call it quits and was reeling in my emerger and “wham” a nice trout hit the fly. Suddenly the light came on….soft hackles … I looked in my box and hidden in the dark recesses was a single #18 PMD soft hackle. I tied it on and fooled a couple of fish before it broke off on an aggressive strike. That night I tied up several BWO # 20 Double Whammy’s, and enjoyed epic fishing the next day. The Double Whammy wasn’t officially named until a few months ago when I was fishing one of my favorite spots on the Middle Provo River. A Blue Wing Olive hatch erupted and what looked like a lifeless hole before, was alive with porpoising fish, some real hogs in the mix. Tried a dry…of course no takes (I’ll always try dries first). Next, tied on a Double Whammy and sweet success once again, and some of the bigger browns where pushing a respectable 18-19″. Early on, I broke off a fish on the swing; it happens when fishing soft hackles. Later I netted a nice brown, and while removing the Double Whammy I noticed a BWO in its mouth and thought to myself “no wonder they eat this fly it looks just like the natural, but wait. …that’s an artificial, hey, it’s my Double Whammy the one that broke off earlier”. I caught the same trout twice, same fly, (a Double Whammy so to speak), awesome. The fly is now officially named.

Here’s a little secret, tie the Double Whammy in white #20 and you’ll catch fish during one the toughest hatches I’ve ever experienced, the dreaded white drake hatch. The hatch is nicknamed the “white curse” and for good reason, many an angler has been humbled by that hatch. White drakes hatch similar to caddis; in that they explode off the surface, trout have little time to take the duns so in most cases they don’t even bother, however a white #20 Double Whammy is absolutely deadly when swung in front of feeding fish. Soft hackle technique is quite simple, cast down and across the current, mending to achieve a dead drift allowing time for your fly to sink slightly below the surface. Towards the end of the drift a belly will form in your fly line and pull your fly broadside across the current. This is most likely when you’ll get aggressive strikes so be ready. Keep a shock loop of fly line in your hand and let go when the fish strikes. It won’t prevent break offs on the strike, but will greatly reduce them. Also, use 4X tippet minimum, go with 3X on larger flies. A softer action rod is also beneficial in bringing more fish to the net and losing fewer flies. Once you get good at it, you can cast to individual fish, and can actually see the strike, much like dry fly fishing.

Double Whammy BWO recipe:

Hook: TMC 100#20
Tail: Brown or Golden Straw Brahma hen
Body: Olive Antron fibers tightly wrapped, (not dubbed) you want the body not much thicker than the hook shank
Thorax: Killer Caddis glass bead Light olive midge size
Wing: Golden Straw Brahma hen

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Clear Cure Goo Products Rundown

While epoxy is a well known fly tying material, it has been scarcely used because it was a real pain in the you-know-what.  It was like trying to juggle within a time limit.  You have to mix it, hope you got the proportions right, then hurry and get it in place all the while keeping the fly spinning so that gravity didn’t mess up the application.  Even if all that went right, often times the epoxy would yellow.  No wonder we avoided it.

Enter Clear Cure Goo (CCG).  It is hard to sit down at the vice and not use some form of it over the course of a tying session, whether it is filling gaps in a head, making a fly more durable or simply finishing a fly to have a nice clean look.  This product is everything that you love about epoxy without everything that you hate about epoxy.   There is no time limit, simply apply the product and get it into place, then when you are ready…hit it with the UV light and you are done.  The epoxy is cured within seconds and you are free to keep tying!

Here is a quick rundown of all the CCG products:

Clear Cure Goo Thick – One of the original CCG products, the Thick is awesome for building up heads, filling in gaps or any other time you need the epoxy to take up space.  While it is thick, it will still lay down nicely to create very clean finishes.  The original CCG Thick will have a slight tack to it, even after it is cured making it great for applying eyes, etc.  Once the fly is done, a quick coat of Hard as Nails will make it complete.

Clear Cure Goo Thin – The perfect complement to CCG Thick, the Thin flows and spreads better than Thick.  It is great for coverage (like big saltwater heads, poppers, etc.).  I personally have used the thick to fill a gap on a big bucktail streamer head and then used the thin to complete the entire head.  CCG can take a bad head and make it look great.

Clear Cure Goo Brushable – Similar in consistency to the Thin, the Brushable applicator brush makes it great for coverage situations, like Crease flies and other big poppers.  It is also amazingly useful for epoxy back nymphs, etc.

Clear Cure Goo Flex – This is something that epoxy could never do!  Apply CCG Flex anywhere you want, cure it and you now have a flexible shape that wants to return back to its original cured shape.  Think about all the soft plastic applications with this one.  Another amazing use I have found for it is making a foul guard on long materials.  Simply apply CCG flex to the material from the bend of the hook to about and inch beyond and it will still move without fouling when cast.

Clear Cure Goo Curing Light – The piece that brings it all together.  Simply work your CCG material of choice into place, then BAM, hit it with the light for a few seconds and you are done.  The material will not move and you can go on with your life not stressing about your epoxy curing.

Clear Cure Goo Tips – Seems like such a minor thing, but these tips make a major difference.  They help with finer applications and can also be used to move and smooth the epoxy into place.  The tips are sold in sets with 2 straight, 2 standard curved and 2 fine curved.

Clear Cure Goo Kit – A great starting place for anyone looking to start using CCG.  The kit includes the Curing Light, 2 Tips and Covers, 1 tube of Thick and 1 tube of Thin.

Clear Cure Goo Thin Squeeze –  The great feature of CCG Thin in a hand squeeze applicator bottle.

Clear Cure Goo Tack Free Thin – All the same great features as the CCG Thin, but cures tack free!

Clear Cure Goo Tack Free Brush – Brushable CCG that lays down and cures tack free.

Clear Cure Goo Tack Free Flex – Flexible and tack free.

Clear Cure Goo Tack Free Hydro – Hydro has the same consistency of head cement, so it is a great material for securing the base of a large clump of materials (bucktail, etc.) or for giving your perfect head a nice clean coat for durability and presentation.

Clear Cure Goo Fleck – Now we are talking…want to give your flies a little more flash and sparkle?  CCG Fleck has flecks of gold, silver, green and blue pearlescent glitter.  All that and all the features of CCG.  Awesome.

Clear Cure Eyes – The newest product.  These look awesome and will likely cause a few more fish to fall prey to our streamers.  Available very, very soon.

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Any products that are not linked will be available in the next few weeks!

CDC & Quill Parawulff Fly Tying Tutorial

The idea of using tying materials to enhance a fly pattern’s effectiveness is as ancient as the inception of fly tying.  In fact, it could be argued that the practice of manipulating both old and new materials in different ways into both old and new fly patterns comprises a large part of modern fly innovation.  Considering this, one might ask, “How many ways can you tie fluff on a hook?”  Good point; but personally, I am continually surprised by new innovations in fly tying.  For example, consider the CDC & Quill Parawulff.  Quill bodies have been around for a long time–and still are, because they catch “both fish and fishermen.”  Two other notable influences of this pattern stem from Hans Weilenmann’s CDC & Elk Caddis and Jack Dennis’ parawulffs.  It seems that Weilenmann prefers caddis.  I like them too–but prefer to fish mayflies; so I followed his lead and incorporated CDC in my mayfly designs.  In other words, none of the components in this design are original.  However, the pattern combines such trout-catching triggers as the distinct hair-wing profile with the wispy movement of CDC.  The parawulff style hackle allows the fly to ride flush in the surface film.

I believe that a large part of my enjoyment of fishing comes through sharing my experience and knowledge with others.  Subsequently, maybe these ideas will spark an interest in you to make pattern modifications of your own, because I believe more interest in the sport will ultimately benefit fly fishing as a whole.

Tying Guidelines:

Tie in some calf hair wings in the Jack Dennis Parawulff style.  The wings in this illustration were tied in order to exaggerate this innovative wing style.

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Next, tie in the tail and secure a quill for the body.

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Wrap the quill body and secure & trim the excess.  Sparingly place a couple drops of cement over the quill.  Then make a waxed dubbing loop, insert some CDC fibers, and twist this into a rope.  Weilenmann uses the whole CDC feather, and this is an outstanding method for imitating caddis.  However, mayflies usually have slim abdomens, but the bulging thorax–where the legs are–is a good place to integrate CDC.  Besides, I believe the loop creates a little less bulk.A

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Wrap the CDC loop on the thorax to the wing, but no further.  Then secure a hackle.

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Wrap the hackle down the post like a parachute pattern, and secure it in front of the wing.

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Finish the thorax with a couple turns of the CDC loop in front of the wing and tie it down.  Wrap the head and whip finish.  CDC notoriously soaks up head cement, so cement the head sparingly and carefully.

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Dressing:
Hook: your favorite dry fly hook, 10-18.
Wings: white calf tail tied in the parawulff style.
Tail: hair or hackle fibers; color that matches the naturals.
Abdomen: Quill fibers that match naturals; soak them overnight before tying.
Thorax: Influenced by the Hans Weilenmann CDC & Elk Caddis.  Secure some CDC fibers in a waxed dubbing loop and twist this into a rope, then wrap the thorax.
Hackle: Use your favorite color, or match the naturals.  Make a few wraps around the wing post in the Jack Dennis parawulff style.

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Frigid in the shade

More Cold Weather Fishing Tips

Winter presents some of the best fishing all year. Less crowds, dry fly fishing, and you don’t need to be on the river at O’dark-thirty. What more could you ask for?

When asking anglers about winter fishing, one might encounter many different opinions. There are those that enjoy it immensely and those that believe winter fisherman are crazy. If you are of the latter opinion it’s in your best interest to make sure you understand how to dress for warmth and be comfortable on the river before you decide to spend the winter tying flies and hibernating.
Staying warm and dry by layering clothing is key to enjoying yourself while fishing on those cold winter afternoons. Layering gives you the option of adding or removing clothing based on temperature and activity level. Your basic layering categories are as follows:

Base Layer

Base Layer or “Next-To-Skin” is the first part and maybe the most overlooked part of staying warm. Base Layer clothing is designed to keep you dry by ventilation or by “wicking” way moisture. Not all Base Layers are made equal, material is what sets them apart.

  • Wool – Best – Provides the best breathe-ability and insulation
  • Synthetic – Good – Provides good breathe-ability and insulation
  • Cotton – Avoid – Provides some insulation and very little breathe-ability

Insulation

Insulator clothing should be worn over the Base Layer to provide warmth. This should also be non-cotton piece to still promote breathe-ability. The weight of your insulator pieces should be chosen by activity level.

Outerwear

Outerwear is the final piece you put on and provides protection from wind and precipitation. Choose your Outerwear based on conditions. If you are fishing in wet and humid conditions a heavy duty rain jacket will provide the greatest protection from the elements. If you are fishing in cold dry conditions a soft-shell jacket provides excellent warmth without bulk.

Gloves, Socks, and Hats

Don’t forget any of these. Your hands, feet, and ears are the first things to get cold. Taking care of these extremities will keep you noticeably warmer and on the water longer. Make sure you layer your socks by following the same Base Layer and Insulation system and discussed before, but still provide room for ventilation.

Winter fishing can be very productive and if nothing else it is a good opportunity to expose yourself to sunshine on short winter days. With the right clothing it doesn’t only have to be for the “crazies”.

Nautical Attitude

Nautical Attitude

I had a lot of success with Magpie Nymphs.  However, unlike its dry counterpart; the mosquito, a Magpie Nymph does not imitate a mosquito very well.  But this got me to thinking, “What wet fly does?”  Besides, the best places I knew of to fish for trout had lots of mosquitos.  I noticed in the horse trough that the larvae had only a few distinguishable features.  For example, the ones near the surface had a visible gas bubble, and they also had segmentation, but were so small that there didn’t seem to be much else to them.  Nevertheless, I observed that many larvae would hang vertically from the water’s surface, but I knew my Magpies did not.  I wanted a pattern that could mimic the larvae’s nautical attitude in the water.  By nautical attitude, I mean how the fly may float, drift, navigate, or is positioned in the water column.  I also liked the effectiveness of bead heads, but was uncertain with how the heavy weighted bead on a BH nymph may cause the pattern to ride with the head in a downward bearing, and the aft end slanting up.  I wished to maintain the effectiveness of a bead head, but I also wanted to manipulate its up-and-down position, thereby more closely imitating a natural.

I sought to employ my patterns’ nautical attitude as a “trigger” for its effectiveness, and this gives the design its name.  I also enjoyed the success of the old miracle nymph, or the more modern zebra midge or snow cone, but I wanted to modify my patterns to more closely imitate a mosquito or chironomid larvae.  The nautical attitude of the naturals is often in the noted vertical position.  In the article, Midge Fishing in Paradise, Brant Oswald agrees that, “…midge pupae often rise to the surface at dusk and hang vertically just under the surface film…”  Apparently I’m not the only one that has contemplated strategies for imitating surface-hanging midges.

Some of my more recent patterns employ a plastic bead for the gas bubble (which floats), with an ultra wire rib and/or a metal bead on the rear for my deep patterns; but a horse hair or thread rib for the surface-hanging pupa.  Consequently, I found that the plastic beads do not float well enough to consistently hold the pattern near the surface, so I’ve been experimenting with different materials for some time.  Subsequently, while browsing through the bait section at Wal-Mart, I spied some 1/8” diameter bobber stops.  Understand now that I was merely walking THROUGH the bait section–not shopping, so I don’t want to hear it.

Nevertheless, the old standbys—spun deer or antelope hair, continue to be a viable solution.  So, these alternatives will have to suffice until I can talk Brian Westover and Westwater Products into making Unibobbers specifically for tying small flies…

A key feature of some of these designs incorporates one wrap of ultra wire on the rear of the hook for nautical ballast.  The remainder of the fly is then ribbed with a lighter material.  The weight of the hook bend also serves as counterweight.  When cast, this pattern plops down under water, then the floating bead “bobs” it back to the surface, which effectively imitates an emerging insect.  The bead in one of the photo examples is a painted bobber stop.

Hook: Mustad 94842, TMC 101 or similar work well.
Bead(s): use a plastic bead or bobber for the head, and/or a metal bead for the rear.  The theory is that this configuration gives the pattern its head-up and tail-down nautical attitude in the water column.
Abdomen: White or translucent thread
Rib: One wrap of ultra wire on the rear, and thread or horse hair for the rest of the fly.