Monday, April 21, 2014

John Gierach's New Book

This blog post marks my 100th entry here at Proven Patterns, and in honor of this (and honestly because I haven't posted in a very long time), I would like to announce a giveaway! All I ask you to do is read the book review below, and comment on the post referencing your thoughts on John Gierach's work (past or present), to be eligible to receive a brand new copy of his book, All Fishermen Are Liars.  Giveaway closes Sunday April 27th, please only one comment per person.

Recently I was asked to read and review John Gierach's latest book, and without hesitation I agreed.  I have been a fan of John's work ever since my introduction to fly fishing about nine years ago.  Over those years I have morphed from a fly fishing newbie, to a nymph/numbers junky, a micro midge madman, a bass and carp-aholic, a bamboo freak, a dry fly 'purist', a spey head, and everything in between.  At every stage of my fishing life, John's books have meet me right where I am. I have purchased many of his books at full price, because they are that good.

His latest book, All Fishermen Are Liars, is top notch as usual.  The short stories within cover a variety of species and adventures, all written in a style that makes you feel like you are alongside for the journey.  Sprinkled tastefully within each narrative lives John's sense of humor and his opinions on life and fishing. My personal affection to John's writing is his ability to speak on the everyday aspects of fly fishing and the larger romantic themes, all in a fresh and energetic tone.  Here is one of my favorite paragraphs that exemplifies this, taken from the story New Water. John describes a new stream he has never fished before after he quickly hooks and lands a nice sized fish there...
So the conversation with this new water had begun and we'd hit it off nicely, like a first date that began with a clumsy exchange that we both thought was funny.  I can't help but think of trout streams as feminine, but that's not some kind of left-handed gender politics. It's just that this kind of graceful and surprising sweetness calls to mind many of the women I know, but none of the men.  Of course, strictly speaking, a trout stream is an inanimate object, but no fisherman really believes that. (page 58)
Every story in John's new book is entertaining and easy to read.  He approaches fly fishing from the perspective of someone who really loves the adventure of a trip as much as the fish, and even though he has plenty of bragging rights, remains humble.  On the cover there is a quote, "America's best fishing writer." by Steve Bennett.  I can't really argue with that.

Please visit, for more information on his latest work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Extended Body Rusty Spinner Tutorial

I just booked tickets back to New York for the end of April to visit family, friends, and of course do some fishing.  I'm hoping the weather will cooperate and I see some Hendrickson Mayflies.  Odds are low, but regardless it has fueled me to start tying dry flies again. 

This season I'm approaching the Hendrickson hatch a bit differently (and hatch matching in general).  Reviewing photos, log books, and memories it's easy to see that fishing these selective trout can always be improved, and after your perfect drift has been refused, it's clear that your fly could be better.  So now I'm trying something completely new (to me at least), the extended body.

Extended body mayflies have always intrigued me, but I never felt the need to tie them, mostly because of the additional tying time.  However, this year the positive aspects of extended bodies finally got to me... You can create a more life like pattern, that has a smaller (better hidden) hook, that is lighter!  Basically, it'll float longer, catch more selective fish, and the small hook is good for healthy C&R.  That's a triple win.  

I sat down at the bench last night and whipped up a few bodies, along with the beginnings of my new and improved hendrickson flies, follow along if you'd like.... 

First the extended body.

Thin slice of craft foam poked onto a needle.
Loosely and carefully start thread around foam, not the bare needle.
Start to tie down the foam, thinking about the taper of a natural mayfly.
Keep the taper in mind, but also keep in mind you have to take this whole thing off the needle, so don't go nuts with too much pressure.  
Add tails of your choice. 
Tie on a biot or you could dub the body (just remember to keep it sparse).  If you use a biot slap a bit of superglue underneath (keep the glue away from the butt end however, so you can tie in the body easier later.) 
Finish up with with a whip finish.
Carefully remove body from the needle.  I found pinching the whole body and a giving it a slight twist will help you pull it off.  Just be careful here you don't poke the needle into your finger. 
There it is.  You can change body colors, or external body materials however you'd like to match your hatch!  Keep in mind they sell extended bodies now that are pretty much awesome, so if you are rich or on a time crunch just buy some.  

Now onto my new and improved high viz rusty spinner.  

Add the extended body.  This is tied to a #14 short shank curved. 
Add a hackle.
Add a strip of white foam.
Wing material of your choice.  I like medallion sheeting or organza.  Pictured is organza.
Dub and hackle the thorax.  Keep hackle turns at a minimum, these are legs not the floatation device. 
Fold over high viz foam, and whip finish. 
Cut wings to shape.  You can color the sides of the foam to better match the hatch here.  I usually color most of the foam, but a bit of white on top for visibility (see pic at very top).  
Under side view one.  I trim the hackle off the bottom of the fly to keep it flush floating and looking like legs.
Underside view two.  

Thanks for following along.  Make sure you try something new at the vise, it will help you fall in love with tying again, and who knows it could help you catch that big one that keeps giving you refusals.  Good luck to you, and your upcoming hatch matching season!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Midge Thread and Wire

The more research with my macro lenses, and the more midge fishing I have done through the years, has taken me to one conclusion about 'matching the hatch' with midge.  The insects are very slender, often times they are the size of the hook itself without any materials tied on at all!  When I started tying my midge patterns with less body bulk, I began to catch more selective trout.  All the reason you should try and tie your patterns with the smallest thread available.
For this new year I hope to be adding more videos to the blog, so stay tuned!  Since this is the season for winter midge fishing I thought I would start things off with a midge thread and wire review, with some super close up shots demonstrating the different materials.

Remember that using ultra thin threads can be difficult because they are easy to break, so keep at it and try not to get too frustrated!  Please feel free to leave questions or comments below and I will do my best to get back to you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kids and Fly Tying

     Over the last few weeks I’ve learned a lot about teaching very young children how to tie flies.  With my oldest daughter (now five), she was easy… a couple times playing with all the tools and materials, then learning to wrap thread, and finally onto specific techniques of tying materials on.  She wanted to learn how to do things the right way, and much of the motivation internal making my job a breeze.  At a little over a year old she was wrapping thread and sitting alone at the bench a few times a week. 

     My youngest daughter (now 18 months) is a completely different story.  The fly tying vise is the last thing she wants to deal with, and wrapping thread seems an impossible task for her.  I almost gave up at this point, and figured, I’d try again in a few more months, but I found if I take away the vise, she loves to sit and play with all the other (safe) tools and materials.  She spends 10-30 minutes at the desk, moving bobbins around, playing with the hair stacker, checking out all the feathers and fur, etc..  This is a victory in my book!  She’s getting familiar with fly tying, and she is excited for her time at the desk.  This will all translate nicely when she's ready to start tying. 

     If you’ve never tried to tie flies with your children, please do it!  You can never start too young (or too old for that matter), it doesn't take a lot of time or effort either (seriously just a bit of extra clean up that's it!).  Start small and do not expect much.  Find ways to make it fun, and most importantly find ways to make it their own.  They will thank you in the end, and it will help establish fly fishing roots deep into their lives and give you a better connection with them as well.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Roll of Film and a Video

Last fall I started a roll of film (Tmax100) with my old Nikon N2000.  It lasted until my move here to California this summer, and documented fly tying and film making with my Raw Water Productions partner Adam Kryder.  Below is a slideshow of each exposure on the roll, and a short video I recently put together.

Untitled from Lucas Carroll on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Traditional Swing Flies

I have been tying traditional spey, dee, and hair wing flies lately, preparing for this upcoming salmon/steelhead season.  Most are by the book patterns that I have tweaked a bit, and a couple are my own creations.  Feel free to click the pics for a better view.  

Body:  Silver Mylar and Silver SM Wire
Hackle:  Black Pheasant Rump
Collar: Teal
Wing:  Black Hackle Tips
Eyes: Jungle Cock
Tail:  Purple Hackle Fibers
Body:  Yellow / Purple SLF
Rib: Gold Mylar
Hackle: Brown Spey
Wing: Bronze Mallard 
Tag: Silver Mylar
Tail: Peacock
Body: Orange Thread/Peacock
Hackle: Soft Grizzle
Wing:  Squirrel Tail  
Tail:  Golden Pheasant Fibers Red
Body: Olive Dubbing
Rib: Gold Oval
Hackle: Golden Pheasant Red and Brown Spey
Wing:  Bronze Mallard 
Tag:  Silver Mylar
Tail:  Golden Pheasant
Body:  Yellow/Green/Orange Dubbing
Rib: Silver Mylar
Hackle: Black Pheasant Rump
Wing: White Turkey
Eyes: Jungle Cock 
Tag: Gold Mylar
Body: Black Thread / Black Dubbing
Rib: Gold Mylar / Gold Oval
Hackle: Black Pheasant Rump with Bronze Mallard Fibers
Wing: Black Turkey
Eyes: Jungle Cock
Tag: Bright Orange Thread
Tail: Elk Hair
Body: Orange Dubbing
Rib: Orange Thread
Hackle: Brown Neck
Wing: Elk Hair

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Trouthunter Trip

On my one-way road trip west I had the opportunity to stay at the Trounthunter lodge in Island Park, Idaho. I can't say enough good things about this lodge, the river that runs behind it, and the people that fill it up.  All first class and worth many more trips.

Top notch CDC in bulk and small packs in the fly shop.  Yes I patronized. 
I arrived meer weeks before the river was expected to really turn on, so you could call it the off-season there, which was fine by me.  Many of the guides were still waiting on their busy schedule to start, so I had the pleasure of fishing and hanging out with some awesome people.

Shrimp pad thai w/ custom heat.
The weather was pretty crazy, high winds, freezing temps, hail storms, and a solid plain old snow storm.  It was a blast taking photos in the nasty stuff though, and we all caught some fish.  After each day we settled into the Trouthunter restaurant/bar and sampled the diversely awesome food.

In the fly shop w/ the Rooster and Chris Andelin aka Grizz 
Yup.. Rene Harrop's patterns tied by him and his family.
I even had the chance to meet Rene Harrop!  As a fly tier that is something I will never forget.  Although I did not get to wade fish and throw some hatch matching dries because of the nasty weather and early season, I will try my best to get back again.

View of the Henry's Fork from the Trouthunter lodge.
I would like to thank the owners of the lodge, Jon and Rich for the great trip.  Also Bryan Gregson for setting it all up.  If you are looking for a fly fishing trip this season or any season, give Trouthunter a call, or browse their website for more info.

A few pics from the trip...

Or click here for a full size slideshow.