Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Redfish Flies?

I'm heading down south in a few weeks to spend Christmas with my wife's family.  While I'm down there I will also be traveling to the coast to fish with fellow William Joseph ambassador, and The Fiberglass Manifesto creator Cameron Mortenson.   

Fishing saltwater has been a dream of mine ever since I began the sport, so as you may have guessed I'm pretty excited.  I have had limited experience with saltwater tying however, so I'm looking for some advice on patterns.  Have any of you fished for Redfish before?  If so... what flies worked the best for you?  Specific pattern names, pics, and links will be greatly appreciated. 

Photo courtesy of Tim Romano.  Check out some other great Redfish Pics of his.

It's not that I'm above buying flies and supporting the local shop when I get down there, but I really enjoy tying new patterns for new fish.  I have found that a great way to improve your tying (even improve your old standbys) is to create something completely different.  I've also learned that bringing a few extra flies for your friends goes a long way!  

Hopefully I'll get another post up in a week or two with some of my creations, and in the end I will most likely tie what I always tie... proven patterns that are easy/fun to create!   I'll also post the full story when I return.  Thanks for the help and reading my blog. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tying With Friends and Family

Lake run fishing has been exceptional lately and I've been fishing more then tying.  The weather is quickly turning however, so I've found a little more time at the vise.  Recently I've found inspiration and motivation from tying with my daughter, and a couple of my fishing friends.  It has gotten to the point that I needed to build an addition on my desk!  

My daughter has been tying around twice a week for a little over a half hour each session.  She has been tying her typical 'streamers' which consist of anything and everything that looks interesting.  Her technique has developed though, and I believe any day now she will start tying actual patterns.  

Lately I've been tying marabou spey flies, in hopes of intriguing the local post spawn lake run browns.  

Remember this off season to invite your family and friends to join you at the vise and tie a few flies!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stonefly Nymph 3.0

If you have followed my blog at all you may remember my obsession with tying a stonefly that is easy enough to take to the tribs.  This season I have created, used, and had success with a new stonefly pattern... and you can see that blog post here.  That fly worked, but after I lost 2 or 3 in one trip I was more heart broken than I planned.  The fact is they still took too long at the vise.  When I sat down to replenish the stash, I changed the pattern yet again...

Hot Bead Easy Stone
Same tail (stretch magic .5mm), and body (black med tubing)... but different legs, wing case, and thorax.  This new version is a breeze.  Basically it is black dubbing, with a pinch of peacock ice dub, and a black hackle collar.  I tied versions with black bead head, thread head, and a hot bead head... and all versions worked.

Easy Stone (wet)
I caught fish by dead drifting the fly, and it also brought strikes on a wet fly swing.  The steelhead couldn't get enough, and when I lost a few it didn't hurt so bad.  Give them a try this lake run season, or try them anywhere fish eat stoneflies!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flies for Kings

If you are fortunate enough to live near a body of water that contains King Salmon I would suggest you go try to catch them...  Hooking, fighting, and landing these massive fish is an adventure you will not forget.

The flies I use for Kings are very simple.  Large wooly buggers in assorted colors do the trick, I personally like pink, red, purple, and chartreuse.  If you want a high chance of Kings actually taking the fly (as opposed to sight fishing aka lining) stay off the gravel and stick to deeper pools and runs where the fish can't see you, and you can't see them.  Drifting along the bottom, or swinging will elicit fair strikes, and a fight you will not forget!

King salmon fights usually take a great amount of effort for the angler and the fish.  Even though these fish are destined for death, handle and revive them properly so they have a chance of spawning.  Using a net will avoid the fish from damaging flops on the shore, and it will also allow you to keep the fish in the water.  A lengthy revival may be needed, so take your time and make sure the fish can swim away with full strength.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Favorite Midge

Midge flies are my favorite to tie and fish... photographing them is another story.  Below you will find a few photos and tying tips for these micro bugs.  

Adult Cream Midge #24 

Adult Black Midge #22 with #22 Basic Midge Adult

Adult Black Midge #22 with #22 KF Emerger

As winter quickly approaches and hatches fade away do not forget about the midge!  If you are lucky enough to live near a spring creek or healthy tailwater you may be able to fish these little bugs all year around.  

When tying midge flies I can't emphasize enough how important it is to keep the body slim and the rest of the materials sparse.  Buy the smallest thread diameter you can tie with and not break, and then go a size smaller, and learn how to tie with that.  Make every wrap count, and if you find yourself building up the body too much, start over.  Notice the last photo above and the body size difference... my flies even need a little slimming down!  

Whatever you do, don't be afraid of these little flies.  You CAN learn to tie them (and tie them on your tippet), and with a little practice you will find they are even easier to tie then the big dry flies.  Best of all big fish enjoy feasting on these bugs, and with practice the hooks will hold them on.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PT for the Tribs

Last year I was blessed with an insanely large supply of pheasant tails.  Before this surplus of feathers, I conserved my PT feathers, and tied only #18 - #24 nymphs making sure never to waste one fiber.  Now I've moved onto tying larger nymphs, and tying them in bulk quantities.  I sampled a few patterns last season on our great lakes tributaries, and found some sizes and colors that worked particularly well for the big brown trout.  Below are this years prototypes ready for action.

A close-up of the Pheasant Tail. 

Extreme close-up!

Trib BH PT.

Trib BH PT hot spot.  

These nymphs are tied in the round, and are very quick to assemble.  If you would like specific tying instructions just shoot me a line.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Articulated Double Bunny

I tied up the classic double bunny streamer a long time ago and tried it out, see post here.  It was ok, but I knew I could make it more effective.   I have tied and tested this articulated version over the last 4 months working out the kinks so you don't have to.  This fly is durable, relatively easy to tie, and I have caught many different species of fish with it... all larger than average. It can be a time consuming pattern, however in my eyes it's worth it!  Below are the step-by-step tying instructions with pictures for one of my favorite streamer patterns.  Enjoy.

Step 1: Cut strips (4 for each fly) and insert hook through the back.   Repeat this process with as many flies as you plan on tying to save time. 
Step 2:  Start thread anywhere make a base (quickly, sloppy is ok) and leave thread at the eye.
Step 3: Tie off strip at eye.  Leave room at for a head and make sure strip is tight to the shank. 
Step 4:  Add top strip and tie in at the eye only.  Super glue head and strips together. 
Step 5: Mass produce the 'tails' before moving on. (this saves lots of time)
Step 6:  Attach wire(around 6" worth) and beads to all tails.  
Step 7:  Insert another streamer hook in the vise and start the thread near the back.  Tie in wire and tail leaving space for the beads.  
Step 8:  Tie down wire to the eye, and at the eye loop the wire back and tie that down too.  
Step 9:  Add heavy hour glass style eyes (leave room for the thread head).  
Step 10: Add bulk behind the eyes. (a surface for strip to glue down on... I use foam). 
Step11:  Add flash, legs, or whatever you want! (I use flash, light weight and lots of movement)
Step 12:  Mass produce this step. 
Step 13:  Using the previously cut strips attach strip through the hook at the back. 
Step 14: Tie down bottom strip, and add top strip all ahead of the eyes.  (this is the same  step as the tail)
Step 15:  Super glue strips and head and you're done! 
Mass produce... your friends will want some.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Musky Madness

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine told me about a possible Musky trip that I could go on...  the crew will consist of two boats and 5 guys all of which will be throwing gear.  "Can I try throwing flies??" was my only question.  I haven't been this excited about a fishing trip in a long time, and the preparation has been (and usually is) a lot of fun.  So here are my first attempts at Musky Flies... the next step is giving them a try in some local water to see how they cast and swim.

My very first attempt... I got the general idea from fellow William Joseph Ambassador Brad Bohen, and his awesome PDF from Hatches Magazine.

Here are the rest of the prototypes... I added in 'typical' streamers for scale.  The wooly bugger is a #8, and the Black Streamer is an articulated double bunny that is around 4" in length.

I will post again either before the trip or after with the results and finished 'box' of flies I will be bringing with me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Little Fly Tyer

Recently I had the chance to write an essay and share some photos for the latest issue of Sleeping in the Dirt.  Upon publication I was happy to find a shot of my daughter tying flies on the cover!

This issue was dedicated to kids who have parents that are kind enough to share their love of fishing with them... it was awesome to read and browse the photos of this unique issue!  I want to thank the guys at SID for putting an issue like this together and including my work in it.  If you haven't checked it out yet, you can by clicking here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lost World of Mr. Hardy

I was contacted recently with the opportunity to watch and review the new British fly fishing documentary The Lost World of Mr. Hardy by Andy Heathcote & Heike Bachelier.  After watching the trailer I am really excited to get the dvd see the whole thing...  check back for the full review!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Latest Creations

I've been slacking.  Tying and posting... but lately I've been picking up the slack and getting back to the bench.  My daughters interest in fly tying keeps increasing and the trib season is fast approaching, so I've been cranking out some flies, and taking some pictures.

I started with the on-going process of developing the perfect Tributary stonefly pattern... and after almost a month of tying #26 midge patterns, and #24 tricos it is nice to tie something BIG!

This stonefly satisfies the three things that matter most with Tributary nymphs: 1)  It is relatively easy to tie aka I wouldn't be heart broken if I lodged a couple into a submerged log.  2) It's built really tough, and 3) It will sink.  (If you are interested in materials and tying instructions just shoot me an email or comment below)

I have also been trying out some bass popper tying, as I have never attempted them before.  I purchased two varieties of popper material, one was a kit called 'perfect poppers', which are hard foam popper bodies and matching hooks ready to go.  I also bought blank white foam cylinders that you need to cut to shape, and supply your own hooks.

I like the ability to cut my own foam and design different body styles, but the ease of the perfect popper kit made it really easy and less time consuming.  I also enjoyed coloring them up in my own style in the end.  All in all it was a great break from the typical trout stuff and I'm looking forward to trying them out soon!

Finally, every tying session in the last two weeks has either started or ended with a few flies from my daughter.  She is completely independent now at the bench, and even interested in learning more specific techniques.  Her flies still look the same, but the way she is tying them has improved dramatically.  Any day now she will tie her first fishable fly... I just have to convince my wife it's ok for me to leave the hooks on!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


This is my favorite time of year for fly fishing and photography... and that is the reason why I haven't posted in so long!  Tricos are the real deal I like to think of them as the world series of dry fly hatch matching.  If you can catch a weary brown during a Trico, hatch or spinner fall, you are doing something right!  

Female Dun
Males generally hatch first sometime between sunset and sunrise and they are of no use to an angler.  Females, however, hatch closer to the spinner fall in the early morning hours, so if you get up early you'll can have a crack at catching trout on an upright wing fly.  Females have olive to bright green bodies, with grey/brown/black thorax.   They are a short and stocky mayfly.

Female Dun

 Male spinners will start to fall first, and sometimes they will be falling while the females are still hatching.  This transitional period can be really frustrating to fish, with some trout selecting the duns and others feeding on spinners.  On my stream a #24 BWO spinner also falls around the same time making the fly selection that much harder.  Watch a trout rise and see if you can tell what it's taking before tying on your fly.  

Female Dun and Male Spinner.

During the major spinner fall casting and presentation trumps every other factor.  Fish often feed in a quick rhythm gorging on many bugs at once.  If you are not hooking up, try focusing on making an accurate and perfectly timed cast instead of tying on a new fly.  

Male Spinner.

When all else fails go for a fly that will stand out from the masses of Tricos.  My last Trico spinner fall was the most frustrating of all, so I clipped off my tiny mayfly and tied on #14 cinnamon ant... the fish loved it!   

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sulphur Spinners

The sulphur spinner fall can be epic... the only problem is the time of day at which the bugs dance, die, and get eaten.  For most of this summer the sulphurs hatch, swarm, and fall just before dark.  This gives the angler a window of approximately 15 minutes to an hour depending on a few key factors in his/hers approach to the scenario.

Female Sulphur Spinner (backlit)

Here are a few tips for low light spinner action that will increase your success, and decrease your stress.  

1)  Preparation:  As the day winds down and the sun is getting low, start to prepare for the upcoming madness.  Get a headlamp ready, make sure the batteries work and pop it on your head!  You will need this if you accidentally break off and have to retie.  Also make sure your floatant is somewhere handy, and your tippet and leader are fresh.  You do not want to be messing with any of these things while fish are boiling around your feet!

Male Sulphur Spinner

2)  Position:  Find someplace with flat water close to riffles.  Fishing water with a little chop can be much easier than flat water during the day, as your imitation can look better, and the trout need to make a faster choice to eat.  However, when fishing in low light, flat water can be just the edge you need to see your fly and stay on the water for that extra hour.  The best position I like to get into during a spinner fall is a flat section directly below a tailout of a riffle, as the sulphurs will swarm and fall around the riffles and once they hit the water they will quickly get washed down to the flats.  The farther you are from the riffles the less time you will have to catch fish.  

Spinner Swarm

3) Fly Selection:  Here is where making the right choice can make or break your night.  Choose your spinner pattern considering these factors... a) Does it float well, and will it be easily spotted in low light.  b)  Can you catch numerous fish with the fly and it will not get destroyed or begin to sink.  c)  Is it the right size and shape.   If you can tie a fly with these three factors you will have an epic night of low light spinner action!  

Until next time...

Fishing a low light spinner fall can be one of the most rewarding events of the dry fly season.  It can also be one of the most frustrating.  Already this year I have had both kinds of nights, which has led me to writing this post.  There are many factors out there that will help you in your quest for spinner action, learn from the problems you encounter, and apply your new knowledge the next trip out! 

Thursday, May 27, 2010


We have recently endured a hot streak that has dropped the flows and heated up the water a bit in the local creeks.  This has sparked the emergence of the sulphurs, along with a hundred other aquatic bugs, but sulphurs will soon be the popular fish food.  

Check the spider webs on your local creek to see if you get your own sulphur hatch...

You can also do a kick sample... here is an example of a sulphur nymph.  Nymphs are generally #18 - 16 and are dark brown to almost black in color.

This time of year the duns will be between a #16 and #14 (in another few weeks the small version will begin to hatch #20-#18), and they will vary in color.  Some streams will produce a brown/tan with a hint of yellow on the bottom, and others will produce bugs that have a bright lemon yellow, and of course there will be every color in between!  Before you tie 2 dozen dry flies go to the stream and take pictures, observe, and bring some samples of the colors you have.  Match them up, and then go home and tie.

When tying, and fishing, a sulphur hatch think emergers.  Since sulphurs emerge in the hotter months they dry their wings quickly and depart for the stream-side foliage at once.  Rarely if ever do I fish or tie a sulphur dun pattern.  Have a few because you never know, but do not focus your accurate hatch matching abilities on the duns.  Instead focus on the three basic types of emergers, no-wing (half nymph - half dun), the short wing (pictured on the left), and the up-wing emerger (I like to tie a parachute with a shuck.  All represent varies stages of emergence, and you will have to observe and let the trout tell you what they want.  Don't forget about the nymphs either... many times during a sulphur hatch a nymph drifted just below the surface will take many fish.

Feel free to tie patterns from the photos above, but remember the bugs in your stream can be different size and color... the best research is always done off the computer and on the river!