Tag Archives: fly tying

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.

The Magpie Nymph

The Magpie Nymph Fly Tying Tutorial

I enjoyed a lot of success as a kid one summer with a traditionally tied mosquito dry fly, but then one day it stopped working, just like that.  Ah, such is trout fishing!  Further observation revealed that the fish had switched to sub-surface feeding, so I was forced into fishing nymphs.  I caught a few fish with a hare’s ear, but thought that I could have achieved more success with a nymph that featured the same color scheme as the mosquito dry, since the trout were already keyed into that.  Therefore, I designed a nymph that was comprised of white and black, like the dry.  I used to call it the Grizzly Nymph, which delineates the color scheme of the popular barred rock feathers, as well as the colors of the traditional dry mosquito dressing.  More recently I refer to it as the Magpie Nymph, since these birds offer good wing case material.  The design is actually the same as any other nymph pattern, aside from color.  Consequently, I think the eye-catching color contrast is what makes the pattern successful.  Since a standard nymph pattern does not look much like a mosquito larvae, I did not want to call it a mosquito nymph.  I’ve been fishing with this fly since the 80’s.  Subsequently, the pattern is so simple and effective that I’ve often wondered why it had not been popularized much earlier.

Dressing guidelines:
Hook: your favorite nymph hook
Bead: (optional) white, black, or silver bead.
Thread: Black with white bead, or vice versa; 6/0 or 8/0.
Abdomen: white and black ultra wire, wrapped together; or one strand each of black and white dubbing.
Ribbing (optional): silver wire or tinsel
Thorax: white and black dubbing mixture; maintain either mostly white or mostly black in the mixture, or, like the abdomen, twist a white and a black dubbing strand separately, then wrap them together.  If black & white are blended 50% each, the outcome tends to be more gray in appearance than grizzly.
Wing case: white & black barred feather section; or latex or other synthetic material speckled with a permanent marker.
Hackle/legs: (optional) grizzly hen, or another black & white barred feather such as guinea, starling or partridge.
Author’s note: I have also found it useful to focus individual patterns with either the white or the black.  For example, a predominantly black pattern should be highlighted by white streaks, or vice versa.  Along these lines, a mostly black wing case should be contrasted against a white thread head.

 

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Bridle Path Emerger Tying Directions

Bridle Path Dressing:

Hook: 10-18 TMC 205 BL or similar; a slightly curved, down-eye hook works well.
Head: Spun, clipped deer or antelope hair.
Wings: tie calf body wings with the tips pointing forward, towards the hook eye; spun hair forms a base in front of the wings.
Tail: antron or similar for trailing shuck, or mono dropper loop.
Thread: Use your favorite thread color and body material; they should match the naturals.
Body: Use your favorite thread color and body material; they should match the naturals.
Hackle: Color should match naturals; wrap it as illustrated, through the trimmed path, behind the wings, and under the hook—in front of the clipped hair.

Step 1: Mount and wrap the thread; then spin a clump of deer, elk, or antelope hair on the front of the hook as shown. Trim the hair to imitate the bulging thorax of an emerging insect.

Step 2: Tie a pair of calf hair wings behind the spun hair. After separating these with figure 8 wraps, instead of standing the wings upright, let them slant forward over the spun deer. The wing angle is a key for the configuration of this pattern.

Step 3: After trimming the wing butts, cover them with thread wraps. Tie in the tail. Since this is an emerger, I like an antron trailing shuck. In this instance, I tied in yellow mono which doubles as a dropper loop.

Step 4: Attach and wrap the body material.

Step 5: Tie off the body and complete it with a whip finish near the base of the wings. Cut the thread. Dab a little head cement over the knot at the wing base for stability.

Step 6: Carefully trim & part the hackle path through the spun hair on both sides of the fly, from behind the eye under the hook, toward the back of the wings as shown.

Step 7: Re-attach tying thread just behind the hook eye. Then secure the hackle under the hook & in front of the spun hair.

Step 8: Wrap the hackle two or three times through the near path, behind the wings, through the opposite path, and in front of the spun hair. The angle in which the hackle is secured positions the fly in the surface film with a bearing or nautical attitude that imitates a natural emerger.

Step 9: Wrapping the hackle through the path creates a durable, highly buoyant emerger pattern, as can be observed from the underside view.

Step 10: Secure & trim the hackle, then build a thread head.

Step 11: Whip finish and apply head cement.

 

An Emerger That You Can Actually See!

Remember the emerger pattern craze that erupted in the 90′s? Me too! I jumped on board with everyone else, tying and fishing emergers–catching trout that had become “standard-dry shy.” However, after a few years of this, I grew tired of rigging a two-fly setup, or managing strike indicators, for an emerger pattern that sat partially on the surface. I yearned for the old days when I fished a dry fly on top, where I could see the fish take the fly. Fly fishing has always been very visual to me. I found myself drawn by memories of seeing a trout inhale a dry attractor pattern off the surface.

Therefore, I set out to design a pattern that combined the effectiveness of an emerger with the visibility characteristics of a dry fly. My first few designs worked well, and I have seen similar ideas from other tiers in magazines and on the web. After years of experimentation, including several as a professional river guide, I had an epiphany for a design that fit the bill, and it has been very effective for me. I coined the design the Bridle Path Emerger, because of its similarities with manipulating horse hair to accommodate the animals’ bridle.

Tying tip: under sizing the hackle one hook size will compensate for the bulk of the spun hair for more refined patterns.

 

Recipe:

Hook: 10-16 TMC 205 BL or similar; a slightly curved, down-eye hook works well.

Thread: Use your favorite thread color and body material; they should match the naturals.

Head: Spun, clipped deer or antelope hair.

Wings: tie calf body wings with the tips pointing forward, towards the hook eye; spun hair forms a base in front of the wings.

Tail: antron or similar for trailing shuck, or mono dropper loop.

Hackle: color should match naturals; wrap it as illustrated, through the trimmed path, behind the wings, and under the hook—in front of the clipped hair.

Remember the emerger pattern craze that erupted in the 90′s? Me too! I jumped on board with everyone else, tying and fishing emergers–catching trout that had become “standard-dry shy.” However, after a few years of this, I grew tired of rigging a two-fly setup, or managing strike indicators, for an emerger pattern that sat partially on the surface. I yearned for the old days when I fished a dry fly on top, where I could see the fish take the fly. Fly fishing has always been very visual to me. I found myself drawn by memories of seeing a trout inhale a dry attractor pattern off the surface.

Therefore, I set out to design a pattern that combined the effectiveness of an emerger with the visibility characteristics of a dry fly. My first few designs worked well, and I have seen similar ideas from other tiers in magazines and on the web. After several years of experimentation, including several as a professional riverguide, I had an epiphany for a design that fit the bill, and has been very effective for me. I coined the design the Bridle Path Emerger, because of it’s similarities with manipulating horse hair to accommodate the animals’ bridle.

An Emerger that you can actually see!

Color combinations are endless.

Dubbing Mixing Tutorial

When Senyo’s Laser Yarn first hit the market I snatched some up and hit the vise. Great product and I really dig the concept. But there were a few things I wasn’t quite stoked on like color options, the flash used and the short wispy yarn like base. So as always my first thought was “make your own”. But we all know how easy blending long natural fibers with synthetics or flash can be. Until now I just blended small amounts by hand like everyone else since all other methods either tangle of break the fibers. It was a tedious method and I hated it so my mind started to chew on a better method. Then bam, while thinking I needed to brush the dog it hit me, what about working two brushes like paddles against each other hopefully aligning and blending the fibers together without tangles or broken fibers? Within 5 minutes I had a ziplock bag full of the good stuff and haven’t looked back since.

 

 

 

Clear Cure Goo Kit

Ten Things That Should Be On Every Fly Tying Desk

Tying desk, dungeon, fly lair, man cave, the place you lock yourself in away from the kids and wife. What ever you call it you probably spend too much time there as do I. If you’re going to spend that much time somewhere you might as well make it a nice place to be. Ya know maybe add some nice lighting or a place to store some tasty malted beverages close to hand? Over the years my fly room has changed and morphed to improve productivity and comfort. Here are the top 10 essentials at my desk. I didn’t include music because that is a absolute must and a given! May I recommend some Black Keys or a little Black Sabbath?

  1. Griffin Montana Mongoose: I tied for years on a Renzetti until I got some vise time on a Mongoose 3 years back. I’ve been tying on one ever since and haven’t looked back. From sub 20′s all the way up to 8/0 hooks I’ve never had a problem with holding power. Considering it comes with a stem extension, c-clamp, pedestal base, a supreme bobbin and a hackle gauge I’d say it’s also one of the best values in vise out as well.
  2. Clear Cure Goo: Because epoxy or a UV curing adhesive is a must at the tying desk. And if you’re going to have one you might as well have the best. The best part is that it comes in flexible, thick, thin, brush-able and a few different kinds of tack free.
  3. Yarn indicator brush: I use this tool as much or more than anything else at the vise. It’s the ultimate tool for picking and teasing out materials.
  4. Mini Fridge full of PBR: What else are you going to stock it with! Natty light or Coors? I don’t think so.
  5. Loctite: Almost every fly I tie gets some loctite somewhere. I use it to prevent flash from fouling, glue in a rattle, stick on some eyes or finish a head.
  6. Ottlite: Probably one of my favorite things in the tying dungeon! Errrr um I mean favorite 3 things now that I’ve added a couple since the first. There is nothing worse than tying under some dim cheap light at night matching colors for hours just to find out when you get on the water the next morning to find out all the colors are off. Natural is key while at the vises!
  7. Box of Sharpies: I color a lot of materials in my flies. Foam to craft fur I’ve found sharpies to be extremely effect and color fast.
  8. Gamakatsu B10′s hooks: In my opinion one of the best tying hooks ever made. I go through them in 100 packs and they are my default hook for streamers. Extremely sharp, strong and a excellent gape there isn’t much more you ask for out of this hook. Well except maybe some 3/0 – 6/0 since the largest is a 2/0.
  9. 30 Lb Fluorocarbon: This is my go to for junctions on my articulated flies. I also use it for weed-guards, body extensions and making eyes.
  10. Henckles 3” embroidery scissors: By far the best tying scissors I’ve found. Period end of story!

 

 

You can blend dubbing to achieve any color.

Fur Burger Fly Tying Tutorial

Hook: Gamakatsu B10s # 2
Eyes: Pseudo Eyes Plus Large
Tail: Craft Fur
Foul Guard: Calves Tail
Body and Head: Custom Blended Dubbing, one part wool one part mixed ice wing fiber.

I developed this baitfish pattern while fishing for late season Wipers. In the fall they feed heavily on gizzard shad and often times form surface boils. Even though it’s a total feeding frenzy they get selective on size and profile, especially later on in the season after they’ve been heavily pressured by conventional tackle anglers with plugs and large crank baits. Many of my friends do well on EP and Clouser Minnow but thats a little to plain jane for me and I prefer a pattern with maximum movement at rest as well on the move. This patter proved extremely effect and can be tied in any size, color or profile to match any bait fish you’d like to imitate.

 

 

 

You can read more about Nick Granato on his blog at http://www.flyobsession.com

First Sleepwalking, Now Sleep Fly Tying???

Doctors Orders: Take one Ambien (a sleeping pill with apparently some side effects) before bedtime and tie a fly while you sleep.

Apparently, I did just that.  I awoke to find this little size #18 baetis nymph in my vise.  Different from the baetis I normally tie, I vaguely remember dreaming about tying this fly and blending the dubbing to form the thorax.  Sure enough, the thorax is blended just as I remember in the dream.

Now, where did that entire ham that was in the refrigerator go?

 

 

I Totally Want To Throw Her For Muskie

The fly-tying-materials-in-your-hair-craze came front and center here today.  These very nice girls came by looking for hackles, flashabou and fur to integrate into their hair.  Much like a Tiger Muskie, they seemed to be attracted to the brighter, flashier colors.

We called all of our fly tying supplies and got promptly laughed at when we told them we were looking for long saddle hackles.

We advised the ladies to be careful if they went near any saltwater flats or the lakes with long fish.

When we said we wanted more women to get into fly fishing…this is not necessarily what we meant.

Let us know what you think…