Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homemade Tube Fly Box

This past summer I attended Spey Nation, and one of the raffle prizes there was a tube fly box that caught my eye.  I sat on the idea all summer, researched some other successful designs out there, and finally this fall I made my own.   I tweaked the design a bit, and made it with materials I had laying around.  By making it myself I could customize it, and it was crazy cheap which I like when it comes to fly storage.  Total cost is somewhere in the neighborhood of FREE  to  $12 depending on what you have laying around.

Here are the materials and steps...

Step 1:  Get some wire (I found 20 gauge galvanized steel wire to be perfect for small and large diameter tubes).  Cut as many lengths as you would like to go in the box.  Make them around 4 inches long, as this is the easiest size to work with, without wasting too much wire in the end.  

Step 2:  Get an old fly box (I found the cheap plastic shop boxes to be the best).  Rip out the foam, and measure the width.  Cut the wooden dowels to fit snug (see pics below for a better idea).  
Step 3:  Wrap the wire around the dowel (2 to 3 turns is fine).  Depending on the size of your flies add as many wire sections you would like. My boxes (which are streamer sized) have 10 per dowel. 
Step 4:  Put the dowel in the box.  Trim the wires to length (or not... it doesn't really matter), also consider filing down the ends of the wire so they are not so sharp.  The slight bends in the wire is what holds the tubes securely.  The larger diameter tubes may require larger bends in the wire.  
Step 5:  Depending on your initial dowel cut you may need to glue/epoxy them in.   Putting them in without glue is ideal as you can adjust them later, add more, and change configurations. Here's my setup (specifically for BIG tubes), but you could arrange it differently... 3 rows all going the same direction come to mind for smaller sized tubes.
Step 6:  Make more!  Here's another box of mine I made from an old plastic fly shop box.  You can see the wires rotate up making it simple to grab a fly or put one away. 
 Here's the finished product from above.  It is made from an old plastic lure box.
If you tie tubes, or are thinking of starting to tie them, give this box idea a try!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Vagabond Fly Box Project

Earlier this year a couple guys via facebook created the Vagabond Fly Box Project.  It's a creative idea that I immediately took an interest to, essentially a couple high quality box of flies traveling around the world and getting fished.  The only requirement was to report on the box after you fished it with a few photos, sign it, replace any lost flies, and eventually send it away.

I was lucky enough to have a box land in my mailbox and it was a beauty.

The boxes origin was the western US and the flies were tied by Terry Edelmann, but I was getting it all the way from Germany!  The box was filled with swing flies for salmon and steelhead, however it's arrival was a bit early for our Great Lakes tributary season.  I had to swim these flies before I shipped them off, so I hung on to them for a couple weeks, and eventually the fish began to arrive.

Here's first light on the first confident morning of the season.

The fishing was slow as early season is expected to be, however the river was void of fisherman and popping with fall colors.

My friend started the day off hooking and landing a beautiful steelhead.

I tried a few of the flies in the Vagabond Box, but was particularly drawn to this purple tube fly.  Look at it swim!

After a long morning on the water, without a bump or tug of any kind, I finally hooked and landed my first steelhead of the season.  Unfortunately it was not on one of the flies in the box, however, it was a tube fly I tied the night before inspired by those incredible flies that showed up in my mailbox one day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Canvas Print Giveaway

I was contacted recently by Easy Canvas Prints  with an opportunity to review their product.  I agreed, uploaded one of my latest macro jpegs, chose the size, wrap thickness and style, and there it was on my front porch a few days later.

Like the website name suggests it is easy to get your own wrapped canvas print, and it turned out great!  Ordering, pricing, and sizing are all very clear.  There's also a nice graphic that shows what your print size will look like in a typical room.  You can use your own image, or order one of their stock images, and it comes ready to hang.   If you're looking for a canvas print of your own check out Easy Canvas Prints today with the following link...
Check out these awesome canvas photos!

As a thanks to my readers I'm going to give this Canvas Print away! 

If you'd like a shot at getting this 16" X 20" Canvas Print just drop a comment below and I'll pick a winner at random on Oct. 1st. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Craft Fur Mouse

This is a quick and easy mouse pattern, give it a try!

Material 1:  A Craft Fur dubbing brush.  Prepared earlier and in bulk if you're looking to save time.  I spin up craft fur dubbing brushes in a few colors but mostly white, and in two sizes.  Since they are built with wire they stay together and are ready to tie on when you need them! 
Materials 2 and 3:  Foam cut like the photo above, and a rabbit or squirrel strip (I prefer squirrel). 

Ok if you want instructions on building the craft fur dubbing brush you can comment below and I'll post step-by-step pics on how I do mine... or you can check this link for Nick Granato's method (scroll down to the bottom).  Looking at Nick's instructions is how I learned, I just tweaked it a bit.

Remember, you'll most likely use these flies at night so don't get caught up in minor details like how neat it's tied, and how pretty it looks.

Now lets tie a rodent...

Step 1:  Tie in the squirrel tail.  
Step 2:  Tie in the foam at the back.  I use a single strip of foam for #6-10, and a double strip for anything bigger. 
Step 3:  Tie in pre-made craft fur dubbing brush in the back. 
Step 4:  Wrap the brush forward, pinching the fur back each wrap.  Leave a generous gap between the last wrap and the eye.   

Step 5:  Fluff out the fur and tie all the fibers back away from the eye.
Step 6:  Fold the foam over the top gurgler style, making sure the craft fur gets worked down and back towards the hook.  You can dub a little at the head to post the foam flaps up a bit.  
Step 7:  Whip finish and superglue the head.  
Step 8:  Trim the fur flush exposing the hook.  Also trim the sides a bit giving it that mouse looking taper.
Step 9:  (optional) Color the fur to match the foam and tail strip.   Any permanent marker will work fine on craft fur.   Remember it's going to be dark so don't go too crazy. 
That's it!  Here's the fly after taking a swim.  Note the craft fur soaks up the water allowing this fly to float low in the film with just the 'head' sticking out.  It also splats loudly with all that absorbed water.  
Here's the top view after the swim. 

Mousing is new to me, but I can tell you in my limited experience this fly catches fish, and it floats all night long.  It's also easy to tie, and a nice base for extra bells and whistles if you'd like, perhaps rubber legs, stinger hooks, articulated, etc...  Have fun and wade carefully.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Medallion Wing Trico Spinner

After an almost hatch-less Spring the tricos have come to save the season, and the trout are looking up!  This has got me back to the bench tying dries again so I thought I would throw up a post. Below I have step by step instructions for an easy and effective male trico spinner pattern.  Feel free to click the pictures for a better look but please do not use any of my images without my permission.

Tricos as far as the eye can see...

And here's a close-up of what I'm trying to imitate...

Ok here we go...

Step 1:  Get a #20-26 2xs curved shank hook (I usually stick with 22 and 24).  Start the thread in the thorax so you don't bulk up the body.  Use the smallest thread you have, something smaller than 8/0 is ideal.  
Step 2: Tie in 3 synthetic tail fibers, around 2 to 3 times the length body.   Work the thread down and back only tying them in straight, do not X wrap and split the tail as this bulks up the body.
Step 3: Cut a piece of clear medallion sheeting and twist it like a bow tie.   Then X wrap it into place.
Step 4:  Dub up some black superfine.  Keep it kind of loose this will create a bulkier/leggier thorax without the bulk or the addition of hackle legs.  
Step 5:  X wrap the dubbing.  Check the underside to make sure it looks good.  You can trim it up if it's too bushy.    
Step 6:  Whip finish and superglue the knot.  Also split the tail fibers with your thumb nail and superglue the back part of the body where the tail comes in  (make sure you use the brush-on kind of superglue), this will keep the tails splayed.  
Step 7:  Trim the medallion wings to shape.  I trim mine slightly smaller.  They will catch fish and cast with less tippet twisting with smaller wings.  This doesn't mean the wings can't twist the leader, so be mindful of this on the river.  My tip to avoid leader twists is to eliminate false casting, and/or mash up the wings a bit before the first cast.  
Here's the side view.  Note the flush look and that loose superfine looking a bit like legs.  
This isn't my only trico pattern, but it is one of the best.  It's easy to tie too so I don't mind when I snap a few off in the bushes.  I hope you are fortunate enough to enjoy a good trico spinner fall where you live, if so try this little pattern out and let me know how it goes.  I've posted a few photos of my latest trico trips on my flickr page, check em out if you'd like.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bass Popper Tutorial

It's been a crappy spring for dry fly trout fishing.  I've been struggling to find a reliable hatch and rising trout for two months now, minus a couple 30 minute spinner fall sessions.  Instead of the typical mayfly hatch-matching tying frenzy I get into this time of year I've moved on to bass.

Poppers are awesome to fish and equally awesome to tie.  There are many ways to create these things, even kits that come complete with hooks and shaped foam.  This year I tried a new (to me) technique when I found some cheap cork at a local craft store.  I made a few, caught some fish, and now I'll share how I did it.  You can click on the photos for a better look, and feel free to leave a comment with any questions about this fly.

Step 1:  Start with the corks and a razor knife.  Make sure it's a fresh blade. (kids should ask an adult for help!) 
Step 2:  Cut a channel out of the cork carefully.  Cut away from the fingers  with firm even pressure towards the table. 
Here's a detailed look at the channel... try and make it look like a V if you can.
Step 3:  Get a hook with a wide gap and tie some thread where the popper's gonna go.  Make the thread kind of sloppy and the glue will stick better.
Step 4:  Apply a little super glue on the thread, and in the channel of the cork.    Don't use too much or it will take too long to dry.  
Step 5:  Wedge the cork on there.  If you got the cash or the time you can UV or epoxy the channel.    
Step 6:  Let the glue dry.  If you do multiple poppers at once the first one should be dry by the time you get the rest done.
Step 7:  Get a bodkin to make a hole for the front legs.
Step 8: Poke the bodkin through (kids again should ask for help here) making sure you are perpendicular to the hook, level, and not gonna stab your hand on the other side.

Step 9:  Get some permanent markers, colors are up to you!  You could paint it too, but markers are cheap and dry really fast.  
Step 10:  Color that thing up, pretend it's a frog or just make it crazy.  
Step 11: Add some eyes if you'd like.  
Step 12:  Grab a threader and pick out some rubber legs.
Step 13:  Pull the legs through.
Here's a detailed look of the legs. 
Step 14:  Get some clear coat.  
Step 15:  Make it shine!  Special Note:  If the marker isn't completely dry the colors will blend a little (I like that), however some of the marker color will come off on the clear coat brush then back in the bottle (that's not that great).  You could drip a little on and apply it with a bodkin to avoid that.   
Step 16:  Add some legs however, and with whatever, you want.  You can do this while the clear coat is still a little tacky just be careful.   You can add another clear coat layer if you'd like once your done. 
Step 17:  Go fishing and enjoy!