“Steaming is term given to a style of mugging where an unsuspecting victim is chosen, followed and attacked suddenly at great speed without warning”.
The art of camouflage, surprise and speed are the pikes most powerful weapons for securing a meal. Of course some meals are obtained easier than others, but generally speaking the freshwater crocodile wont say no to a free meal. Like the muggers victims the pikes are chosen for much the same reasons, easy pickings! weak and old, or both, unable to move fast or get away, once attacked and of course the bounty.
The idea behind this pattern is to work on all the pikes predatory instincts, and make the victim (the fly) as attractive and irresistible as possible. I do this through fly design and presentation. When designing predatory patterns there are several things to consider and a few key elements that all patterns should have. If you want a general pattern that you could use just about anywhere for anything, then you should choose to imitate a natural food that is widely available – like small bait fish. Then you have to consider the four most important attractor factors:
Movement… colour… eyes… and sound.
The movement in this pattern is achieved through a combination of materials. Both the marabou and Icelandic sheep hair are extremely mobile in water, but their effect is enhanced by the weight of the Epoxy head. Predators find this swimming action, irresistible.
The eyes, which are always an attack point, are oversized for additional predator impact.
If you keep all these factors in mind when designing predatory patterns you won’t go wrong.
During a three week fly fishing tip to the Amazon, home of more fresh water predatory fish than anywhere else on the planet, I developed a technique using surface splashing to stimulate feeding and awareness of my streamer, which works just as well for our own pike. Maybe you’d like to add this technique to your own armoury of tactics.
It requires though a specific leader set-up to work at it’s best, especially when fishing large flies. And it’s simplicity in itself – take around 1.5m of 30lb mono, and connect the fly to the mono with a Rapala knot. This will give a better swimming action on the stiff mono. (By the way, I have never encountered a leader shy pike, and seldom use a wire trace.)
This short, stiff leader will not only give bigger flies better turn-over when casting, but also better control and precision in presentation, and (touch wood), I have never had a break-off. The following technique is only possible with such a leader.
Firstly, find a likely spot on the water, where there’s maybe a pike lying in wait, or resting after a hunt. Before casting, make sure that your streamer is well-soaked and all air removed. This will not only make it sink quicker but also make it more aerodynamic and so easier to cast. Then with a short, hard and direct cast, shoot your streamer into the water as hard as you can – then repeat this three or four times in the same area of water. Splash that fly and heavy leader as loud as you like, it will surely attract the immediate attention of any pike within spitting distance.
Make one last cast and this time let your streamer sink… and then retrieve as normal. If there’s a pike in the vicinity it will come to the fly, the rest, as they say, is up to you…
Hook: Mustad S71SNP-ZS # 3/0-5/0
Wing: Icelandic sheep hair
Flash: Holographic tinsel
Over wing: Light Brite
Collar: Spun rabbit
Cheeks: 2 Grizzle hackles
Wing topping: Five strands of long natural peacock herl
Hackle: Spun Marabou Yellow
Eyes: Large mobile eyes coated with resin
October 11, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly fishing photography, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Photography, Step by Step | Tags: Bug Bond, Fly Fishing, Fly photgraphy, Fly Tying, Fly tying books, hooks, Materials, photography, Pike, pike flies, spinning, Step by Step, streamer | 5 Comments
Bee Cee Caddis Pupa
Hook Mustad C49S curved caddis # 6 -14
Gills Ostrich herl
Body Fine leather strip (chamois)
Under body Dubbing / Lead free wire if required
Legs Partridge hackle & CDC
Collar/Head Hares ear dubbing & CDC Dubbing
Each summer a few fishing freinds and I make the annual fishing trip from our home town Skien in southern Norway to Lofsdalen in Sweden. A journey that under normal circumstances will take six hours driving, from door to door.
Lofsdalen is acctually known for two things, skiing and bears. During the winter, when the bears are sleeping, Lofsdalen is a Mecca for ski and snowboard enthusiasts and becomes a throbbing white metropolis of snow scooters, snow cats and ski lifts. But at the time of our annual trip, the first week of July, most of the snow, and all of the winter turists have long gone, and the bears along with the vast amounts of mosquitoes awake hungry from their long winter sleep.
The timing of our trip is not coincidental, with the help of the internet and telephone, 14 days before our trip we start a network of weather information between us. Sending web cam links weather forcasts and any other related info as to the conditions in Lofsdalen. Beacause each year around the first week of July ephemera vulgata can start hatching in fantastic numbers on these mountain lakes, and the big brown trout that have also spent a long winter, under the ice, are also hungry.
Yes, I know what you might be thinking, ephemera vulgata is a mayfly and this is a piece about caddis pupa ? well the past two years we havent managed to get our timing right, because of freak weather conditions, Lofsdalen is from 600 -1200m above sea level, and is subsiquently, subject to dramatic weather changes.
The back up plan, if you like, for not getting our mayfly timming right is the hatches of aeuropes largest caddis fly Phygania Grandis or great red sedge. These first hatches are not as proliphic as the vulagta hatches and no where near as challanging for the fly fisherman, but a emerging pupa fished correctly, just under the surface can result in fantastic sport.
A good caddis pupa pattern can make the difference between no fish and fish !
When the caddis fly hatches into the adult insect the species are more or less, divided into two. The ones that hatch at the surface in open water and the those that make there way to the shore, where they climb out on plants or any other structure that is available. When this occurs and caddis pupa are on the move this pattern fishes extremely well.
When fishing this pattern, I like to dress only the head and collar with a good floatant ie: cdc oil, this also creates a perfect air bubble around the head just like the natural, and only when the pattern has soaked a little water does it begin to fish correctly. When the porus leather and dubbed underbody have taken on water and the head is dressed with floatant, this pattern sinks so slowly that it almost “hangs” just under the surface. I like to let it sink for 10-12 seconds or so, but you should keep alert during this “free fall” period, as criusing fish will also pick this pattern up “on the drop”. After the pupa has had time to sink I carefully mend the slack out of my fly lineand then lift the tip of my rod so that the pupa rushes towards the surface, this is when the take normally comes.
Decpite the multitude of families, sub families and species of caddis flies, the only thing you have to change is the colour and size, the pattern can remain the same.
October 5, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Photography, Step by Step | Tags: Bee Cee Caddis, Caddis pupa, CdC, dubbing, Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Realistic, small flies, spinning, Step by Step | Leave a comment
The 32 images in this coming exhibition endorse Barry’s love and passion for the sport as a fly fisherman, photographer and artist. The viewer is taken on a journey into the world of fly fishing that is rarely seen. On first encountering these beautiful images, they are sufficiently recognizable as images of fish and fishing, but as you approach and view them at close range, they transform into a graphic and sometimes abstract, overlapping of organic patterns and colour.
All images are for sale, signed and numbered by the artist. Barry is also making a series of limited photographs with hand tied flies in beautiful mounted frames. I will keep you posted regarding the exhibition. For sales and enquires please contact:
September 26, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Photography | Tags: Fine art, Fly Fishing, Fly fishing exhibition, Fly photgraphy, Fly Tying, photography, Salmon fishing, sea trout flies | Leave a comment
From late autumn until early spring the majority of bait fish around our coastline leave the shallows and head out for deeper water where they will be protected from the bitter cold of winter. Many of the species of shrimp that can be found on the other hand move into deeper tidal pools and onto shelves were the coastline is steeper.
Therefor shrimps are on the coastal sea trout’s menu the whole year round, and are found in great numbers all over Northern Europe’s coastline. These are particularly important to fly fishermen because they mature in the shallows where we do most of our fishing, and all sea trout fishermen should have at least a couple of good shrimp patterns in there fly box at all times.
The most effective colours for shrimp patterns in my experience are Red, Pink, White and Orange. Sometimes it can be rewarding to tie some very small shrimp flies in sizes 10-12-14 and in more natural mundane colours. Shrimps of all shapes and sizes are without doubt one of the most important food sources for salt water sea trout. Unlike other important seasonal foods like rag worms, sand eels and small bait fish, that the sea trout feed on throughout their first years in salt water.
Where, When & Why ?
A perfect small translucent shrimp pattern fished blind, is not the most easy prey for a sea trout to notice in a large body of water. But if you fish something that “ stands out in a crowd ” a little colour and movement, increase the chances of it being noticed and picked-up proportionally. Natural selection takes a favorable view of effective and adaptable feeding, a proficient predatory fish when feeding will maximize energy intake and minimize energy consumption. Predators quickly learn to avoid areas where there is little or no food. These rules also apply to the fish adapting their feeding locations and habits to the different seasons. So its paramount that the effective fly fisherman is aware of this and adapts his techniques, flies and strategy to that of the sea trouts feeding habits. This is especially important during the winter months when food is few and far between. Look for the signs, deeper bays with vegetation and structure, where prey can have sufficient food and cover from predators. If there is ice on the surface, pockets of open water generally indicate warmer water or flow. Both these elements will attract prey and predators alike.
Fast or Slow ?
Shrimp have three very different ways of locomotion. When foraging for food or resting on the bottom they use their front walking legs (periopods) for moving short distances on vegetation and other structure. When migrating or moving over larger distances they use their swimming legs (pleopods) These are located under the abdomen and undulate (like a Mexican wave) when swimming, and can be used to propel the crustacean in all directions slowly. But when alarmed or fleeing from a predator they use a contraction of their strong abdomen muscle which results in a powerful rapid snap of the tail plates (uropods) propelling the shrimp quickly backwards.
With this in mind one has a better understanding of the type of retrieve required to imitate a swimming or fleeing shrimp. Your retrieve will not only decide the speed of your fly but also its action in the water. If you know your prey and choose the correct retrieve, your overall chances of connecting will increase. If you choose the incorrect retrieve even the right pattern may not result in a take or even a follow.
September 14, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step | Tags: Bug Bond, circle shrimp. Mustad, Fly photgraphy, hooks, Melt Glue, Realistic, Sea trout fishing, sea trout flies, shrimp patterns | 3 Comments
One of the great classic American streamers, developed by the well know fly tier Bill Edson in 1929. The Edson Tiger dark & light where influenced by a streamer called “Dick´s Killer” that Edson received from fellow fly tier Dick Eastman of New Hampshire in 1928. The original patterns tied and sold by Edson where with jungle cock cheeks, but later he replaced the jungle cock with small teardrop brass plates which was apparently done, not only because of the increasing price of the already expensive jungle cock but also difficulty in obtaining a regular supply of it. But soon after the introduction of the metal cheeks they became so popular with his customers that they replaced the jungle cock on all his streamer patterns. But truth be told, the metal cheeks added a whole new dimension to how the patterns fished. With extra flash and weight in his streamers, there where few other patterns at this time that offered this. Although this pattern is almost a century old it still accounts for many a trout and has proven an excellent late season pattern for salt water sea trout fishing here in Scandinavia. A couple of years ago while tying at the Dutch fly fair, I was lucky enough to meet Chris Helm, who had for sale, the Edson Brass eyes.
If you contact Chris and purchase these eyes to add that extra dimension to you Tigers they do need a little work doing to them before they are ready to tie in. Using a pair of sharp wire cutters, these are not difficult to cut, they are made from brass after all, but sharp cutters make for a neater finish. You need to trim the side of the eye that is square into a point. Once this is done I use emery paper to sand the edges of the point to a fine taper, otherwise you will get a distinct mark under the tying thread where the the eye is secured.
Hook: Standard streamer # 6
Tag: Flat gold tinsel
Tail: Barred wood duck
Body: Peacock herl
Wing: Yellow buck tail
Topping: Red hackle fibers
Cheeks: Jungle cock or Edson Brass Eyes
Head: Yellow varnish
The Eyes are available along with a good
selection of Mustad streamer hooks from
Chris Helm at:
September 13, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step | Tags: Chris Helm, Edson Brass Eyes, Fly Fishing, Fly photgraphy, hooks, Materials, Mustad, streamer | 2 Comments
Hook Mustad S70SNP-DT Big Game Light # 4-6 http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=191
Body E-Z body tube http://www.e-zbody.com/
Tail 15 strands of Flashabou
Eyes Fleye Foils http://www.theflypeople.com/
Head Bug Bondhttp://www.veniard.com/section188/
The original pattern this is based on is form the vice of my late, old friend Jack Gartside. This is not only an extremely effective pattern but also requires the minimum materials and once you have mastered the technique is very quick to tie.
Like the most effective coast wobblers that represent Tobis this pattern is a darter, and has next to no movement in the materials, but like a fleeing sand eel it “darts” in a short fast “zig zag” movement. Another “problem” for many fly fishermen is that the hook on this pattern is mounted at the head of the fly, leaving a good length of body for the sea trout, sea bass to bite at without being hooked. This can be the case with smaller fish but larger fish tend to take this pattern contant. Also a interesting little experiment that I have undertaken a few times is, if you are cleaning a fish that you see has been feeding on sand eels just have a look at which way the head of the sand eel is facing in the stomach of the fish, nearly always, has the sand eel been swallowed head first! The attach point for pradatory fish is the eyes and these new Fleye foils from Bob Popovics make very realistic sand eel and bait fish patterns.
Sand eels shoal in very large numbers, but are seldom seen during the day in the shallows as they lie buried in the sand, away from predators. They first appear during the evening, when they come out to feed through the night. But despite there nocturnal habits sand eel patterns can be fished around the clock the whole year.
You can also try other colour combinations, but keep in mind the general rule of the lightest colour on the stomach and the darkest colour on the back.
September 12, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step | Tags: Bug Bond, E-Z Body, Fleye Foils, Fly Tying, hooks, Materials, Realistic, salt water, sand eel, sea trout flies, Step by Step, streamer | 2 Comments
Mayflies and More
A fly tyers Guide to the Chalkstreams
Chris is better known in the UK for his many years work as an actor and his numerous appearances on TV and in Film. More recently for his international angling TV series, Just Fishin’ on the Discovery channel.
Mayflies and More, is an elegant, well presented little book and DVD combo, that covers the tying techniques for ten modern patterns, that Chris recommends for the English chalk-streams. Although these patterns will work just about anywhere else as well!
If you are relatively new to fly tying and wish to try something a little more challenging than a red tag, or even a well seasoned tyer for that matter, Mayflies and More, is a joy.
The DVD reflects Chris’s background in TV and film, through a clearly professional production and execution, unlike the majority of the fly tying DVD’s produced to date! Chris, also has the on-screen charisma, to make these ten patterns, not only fun to tie, but also to keep you entertained throughout. It also gives extra clarity to the already clear and well presented step by step images and text in the book. These are simple but extremely worthy patterns to tie and include in your fly box.
Booklet & DVD £19.80
Extent: 32 pages plus DVD
Size: 210mm x 148mm
Binding: Booklet with inset DVD
Illustrations: Photographs throughout
DVD Running Time: 70 minutes
Check out a preview of the DVD on the link below:
September 3, 2012 | Categories: Book Reviews, Film reviews, Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step, Uncategorized | Tags: Chalkstream, Chris Sandford, may flies, May fly | Leave a comment
After a short drive, south east from reykjavik, a small farm road leads us the last few kilometers to the fishing lodge at Minnivallækur, the weather was perfect, for September. A little overcast, with small patches of blue, a slight breeze and 14 degrees “dry fly fishing was written all over the sky.
Jan and I where so hyped, we could almost hear heavy brown trout rolling in the surface and sucking in size 22 midges, over the sound of the engine of our four wheel drive hire car. But in true Icelandic fashion, by the time we had pulled on our waders and put up our rods, Ice cold pounding rain and hail , that with the help of a force 10 gale from the north, made not only up-stream dry fly fishing, but any kind of fly fishing, down right impossible.
Minnivallækur is approximately one and a half hours drive along the coast road south east of Reykjavik, through the most interesting volcanic landscape. If you mention Iceland to most fishermen, they immediately think of fast flowing rocky rivers and million dollar salmon fishing. This is of course what Iceland is internationally known for, but the fantastic fishing that is to be found in it’s slow – winding trout rivers and streams can only be compared to that of Patagonia and the Russian tundra.
Situated in the shadow of Mount Hekla, Europe’s most active volcano, Minnivallækur is small to Scandinavian standards, and for the most is quite shallow. Snaking it’s way slowly through the impressive treeless landscape of flat volcanic fields and improvised farm land, like a giant serpent, each bend in the river revealing new pools and new fish.
It was my fishing friend and companion for this trip, Jan Idar Løndal, that first turned me on to Minnivallækur. He had fished the river for the first time some years ago, and Jan being a hardened salmon fisher, this was a little out of character to be so enthusiastic about brown trout fishing, so I immediately new that it had to be something special !
Our first day was, to say the least, disappointing, NO – disastrous! After arriving late in the afternoon to be met by the worst weather imaginable, we could only manage a couple of hours of waving carbon. We retired to the fishing lodge, and indulged ourselves in 12 year old Scottish culture, while searching text TV for the mornings weather forecast, and admiring the two monster brown trout trophies the walls of the sitting room taken from the river last year. One of 8 kg taken on a nymph and another of 10 kg that was found dying in one of the pools.
The next morning we where out and fishing at day break. The wind had dropped but there was still a light rain, and heavy black clouds hung low in the sky hiding Mount Hekla. We began fishing at the hatchery pool. This is one of the widest stretches of Minnivallækur and the uppermost beat. Not the prettiest beat, as there is an old hatchery research center on the west bank, one of the few buildings to be found on the rivers banks. This hatchery caused some problems a few years ago. Some visiting foreign fishermen had travelled long and far to fish for these monster wild trout. While two of them where fishing the hatchery pool one of the employees emerged from the hatchery with a big landing net containing some huge brown trout, made his way down to the river, and released them !!! To say the least the fishermen where shocked ! This was supposed to be a wild fishery, with NO stocked fish. The fact that the trout are so big fueled there misunderstanding. There was no way that such a small river could possibly grow such large wild fish. Our host Throstur Ellidson explained that several times each year the hatchery which grow salmon to fingerling size have to remove the brown trout that have made their way into the settlement pond of the hatchery in search of food. And as for this river not being able to sustain trout to this size: this is nonsense.
Jan began fishing with the fly that produced the most fish for him on his last vist, a tiny #22 dry. Constructed of nothing but a little dubbed body of black seals fur. After a short while when our eyes adjusted to the low light and the ripple of the uppermost part of the pool, we began to see small steady careful rises, but still no sign of insects. I positioned myself up on top of the highest advantage point of the pool upstream form Jan. As I approached the river a huge long thick shadow shot out from under the bank and into deeper water. This was a fish of 5-6 kg. I turned and gestured to Jan with both my hands wide apart, he responded with the same gesture and then pointed a few meters up stream for him, this is what we had come for. Like most big fish rivers, Minnivallælakur doesn’t grow fish. These huge trout spend the winter months in large lakes and migrate up this small river in search of food and spawning. Thrustor Ellidson who,s is as a fresh water biologist, leases this river along will several others in Iceland told me about this special strain of brown trout in Minnivallalækur. We believe that they are some of the very last remaining trout of this strain. It was this brown trout that was over the whole of Northern Europe, this is the original “Salmo Trutta”
It didn’t take long before I heard Jan shout “Fish On” . His # 5 weight rod was bent double as he tried to back his way out from the middle of the river to the east bank. The fish managed to round him twice before he reached terra firma. After several powerful runs, ripping line of his reel, our first Minnivallækur brown trout was in the net. We where both, nothing but astonished!
A fish of no more than 600 grams. Even Jan who had fished this river before was amazed by the sheer fighting power and strength of this fish. On closer examination this trout was very different from any trout that I had ever seen. Apart from the condition of the fish, short and deep, with a small well proportioned head, the spots on its side continued around and under it’s stomach.
The next few hours we explored the pools of the upper 3 km of the river. Its essential while fishing in Iceland that you have a four wheel drive, as there are no roads, only farm tracks that follow the river, if your lucky. The last part of the day produced several more fish up-to, and just over the kilo mark, most of which fought with just as much passion and determination as the first.
Our last days fishing produced better weather, with the occasional sunny period, we could now observe the smallest midges hatching everywhere and the odd caddis fly coming off, but for some reason there where less rising to be seen. This is a challenging river to fish as these big trout are spooked easily, with gin clear water, high banks and a minimum cover. We spent a lot of time on all fours crawling to the bank and spotting fish, rather like fishing for big trout in New Zealand. The traditional Icelandic method of fishing here is with large normally traditional streamers, Black ghost, Muddler minnow etc; in the early part of the season fished down and across stream, and later on it the year with small weighted nymphs fished upstream in combination with a strike indicator when fishing deep. Iceland has no tradition with dry fly fishing.
We had spotted several big fish during first half of the day but with no results, we tried fishing some of the pools Iceland style with streamers and heavy nymphs, but without producing a single take. We both agreed to move back up stream.
As we made our way to the uppermost pool it looked like the weather was about to go sour on us again, we had to hurry. While crossing the bridge, some 100 meters below the pool we saw a good fish, tight into our bank, he was a steady riser. We played stone, paper, scissors, and it was decided that Jan would put the first fly over him. I moved up stream to the bend above the pool, giving his fish a good birth so as not to spook it. To my surprise as I crawled to the edge I saw several fish rising just of a point some 15 meters above me, a sandy coloured caddis fly danced across the surface in a back eddy just behind the rising fish, “SPLOSH” it was gone. I quickly clipped of my tiny midge and and tied on a streaking caddis. With the minimum false casting possible I placed my fly behind the rising fish, and as my fly line hit the water, that big dark shadow, right under me shot out into deeper water, F****!! How could I be so stupid. To make things worse just at that moment another fish rose, splosh, my fly was gone. I lifted into my rod to find only slack line and a drowned streaking caddis.
Jan on the other hand was doing things right! He was into another fish, but this time it was bigger. After a good fight and several acrobatic leaps the best and last fish of our three days at Minnvallalækur was in Jans net, not a monster but a perfect specimen of a brown trout. We never did catch that huge trout, but we saw them!! Not just one but several. Taking into the weather factor and that we fished the very end of the season, I am without doubt that this is some of the best dry fly trout fishing in the world. Our return trip is already booked.
Our short stay at Minnivallalækur, produced 16 fish, the majority of which where taken on dry fly, with a couple of fish on small gold head nymphs.
The fishing at Minnivallalækur is fly only and catch and release, but you are allowed to take the occasional fish for the table. The beat covers about 7 km of river, which is fished by only four rods at one time. The season runs from 1 April – 30 September. The average size of the fish in Minnivallalækur is an amazing 1 to 2 kg. The new fishing lodge is first class and has 4 double bedrooms and a view from the sitting room over home pool. A visit to http://www.strengir.is will give you all the info you need.
August 24, 2012 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying | Tags: Big Brown trout, Brown trout, Caddis, Dry Fly, fishing in Iceland, Fly Fishing, huge brown trout, midge, Minnivallalækur, photography, River of silver and Gold, small flies, streamer, wild trout | 1 Comment
Tied in Hand
Odyssey of a Fly-Tyer
In his early teens, Sven-Olov Hård began attaching yarn and hackles to the shank of a fishing hook with thread, struggling to copy the illustrations of salmon flies he found in old Hardy fishing catalogues. Little did he know, that a little over three decades later, he would be a master of the craft and one of the most distinguished ‘in-hand’ fly tyers of our time.
I myself have been tying flies for many years, and have gained through my contributions to fishing magazines and books, the unfortunate label of an “Expert” but when I examine a salmon fly tied in hand by Sven-Olov, I am soon brought down to earth, feeling rather like a second rate art student, studying an old master. Anyone who has ever tried to tie a fully dressed salmon fly, will know of the patience required for building a mixed wing, or a flawless floss body! Sven-Olov does all this without a vice!
Tied in hand, takes you on the fascinating journey of a salmon fly-tyer, that begins with a young boys interest in fishing and results with a grown mans obsession with the classic salmon fly, ending in Scotland on the rivers Tay and Spey to cast his flies into the waters they where originally made for. With every step along the way wonderfully illustrated with full page photographs of his flies and charming water colours by Lars Sundström. He writes, not only with a great knowledge on the subject of materials and the techniques of tying in hand but also with a heartfelt affection for his passion.
This is a delightful book, full of beautiful fishing flies tied as originally intended and accompanied by their history and recipes.
This is a simple but but effective mayfly pattern that fly tyers of any level can tie with a little practice. Once you have masterd this technique all you have to do is change the size and colour to match most mayfly hatches.
The chioce of colours and sizes of fly to be used when tying this pattern is determined by what mayfly you intend to imitate and under what conditions. In still water fishing, trout can be extremly sellective when feeding on mayflies, they have good time to check them out before sucking them in.
Body form: Upholsterers needle
Hook: Standard dry Mustad 94840 # 16-10
Tail: Peccary or moose hair
Body: Flyrite dubbing
Wing: CDC fibres
Although I don’t fish with realistic patterns, I do enjoy tying them every now and then. If you are starting from scratch, as I did with this crayfish, it takes a little time to actually work out the fundamentals, scale, hook size, proportions, materials and techniques.
I always start with a morphology image from the visual dictionary, this gives you the basic shape, scale, body segment and leg count. Once this is established I select the materials and then try and plan the correct order to put them together. This can be rather like building a piece of IKEA furniture without the instructions, you get half way and realize that you have left something out! and have to start again.
But for those of you that would like to have a go, I have photographed each step of this pattern, trying not to miss anything out and explaining each stage as I go. Although it looks complicated, its not difficult, but does take some time. You can tie it in stages tie up the legs one day, the claws another etc. So give it a go!
If you have any questions post them in the comments box at the foot of the article and i will try and answer them ASAP.
Two great patterns but do they really have the X factor ?
We all have patterns that for some reason or another, deliver every time, here are two that I just wouldn’t go fishing without. But its strange, some of my fishing friends know how many fish I catch with these patterns, especially when nothing else will work, but they still wont use them. They wouldn’t even consider having them in their box, not to mention tying them on !
What’s that about ? No really, I mean it, is it all down to personal taste or does it go deeper into aesthetics and traditions or is it just down right stubbornness ? Which leads to the next question, do you have to really believe in a pattern for it to work ?
“If you fish the wrong fly long and hard enough it sooner or later becomes the right fly” - John Gierach
Although I tie flies to fish for just about everything that has fins, and then some… When it comes to trout fishing I am a simple soul, and could probably manage with a handfull of patterns, that would cover most situations on most waters. But what about you ?
Let me know why you choose the flies you do and why you don’t or wont fish with others.
In Ungava Bay a two hours flight north of Montreal in Quebec, swim the worlds largest Arctic char.
Don’t expect too much of the cabin! these are the last worlds of the legendary bush pilot Johnny May as we unload the last of our gear from the plane and he wishes us farewell with a smile. We don´t really care about the condition of a cabin as long as his stories about char of 7, 8 and 9 kilos are for real. We climb aboard a bright red De Havilland DHC-3 Otter – better known as a Single Otter. A few minutes later our bush-pilot, Jonny´s brother Billy, throttles up and accelerates against the wind. Then the planes pontoons lift of the water, we are on our way from Kuujjuaq, to the Arctic Char adventure on the Nunavik tundra.
After three quarters of an hour flying over the endless tundra and endless lakes and rivers, we finally get to our destination which is the small river that runs out from Lake Dulhut out into the powerful Pelledeu River. When Billy makes a sharp turn to land against the wind I see the flash of white tipped red fins in the clear water beneath us. Jon, my fishing companion who has been Billy´s co-pilot turns to me with his cap on backwards and gives me the thumbs up. We have been travelling for three days, Oslo – London – Montreal – Kuujiuaq – Dulhut and now he is suffering from a very high fishing fever. The only cure is a fix of Arctic char, and he needs it quick.
Only a few casts:
First when the August night came rolling in over the tundra and the glow of the cleaned-up campfire was dying out we are ready to fish. In a small waterfall which was only two flycasts north of the cabin Jon hooked a very powerful fish on his first cast.
From my previous experience of fishing these Arctic giants, they not only refuse large flies but they are spooked by them. Jon’s first fish took the size 14 shrimp imitation in orange glimmer chenille and had total control for the first few minutes. His #7 rod was bent deep into the handle under the power of this mighty fish..
Having caught a few fish we had the fever under control and more important it had been confirmed that Dulhut could offer world class Arctic Char fishing.
Both red and silver:
After a breakfast of toasted white bread and scrambled eggs, we spend the first half of the day in the river mouth just above the cottage. We fished with the same flies as the evening before but soon realised that the fishing was even better if we fished a bit deeper – as we fish for char in Norway and Iceland.
Many fly fishers choose bead head nymphs for fishing like this, but we have a simpler technique, simple by threading the required amount of loose tungsten beads on the leader above the fly. This technique makes it possible to fish more varied and you can manage with much less flies.
During this first half of the day there was one big happening with consequence. The steady wind we had had the night before and in the morning died down and in only a few minutes clouds of meat eating black-flies swarmed in to feast on the Norwegian buffet. We are experienced travellers and can read the signs, so it only took us a few seconds to kit ourselves out
– 100 % DEET – mosquito jackets, waders and fleece mittens.
The fishing continued to be fantastic and we experienced that there were two kinds of Arctic char on the way up-to the spawning grounds. The large males who had arrived early in the river and already taken on their spawning colours and fresh run females where a rich silver grey.
The largest fish of the day? yes, Jon played it for a long time, but he eventually lost it, right by his feet without ever being able to get a look at it.! First it ran straight across the current like a sailing boat and confidently stripped meter after meter of fly line from his already screaming reel, until he was down to the last few turns of backing. After a few minutes he managed to pump the the fish closer and put line back onto the reel, I could see Jon´s rod tip bouncing up and down from the fish shaking his head, but when he wanted he made a run stripping more line from my reel. It was a strong as a dolphin and Jon began shouting somthing about saving his fly line! He was worried the fish would break it off and disappear with it. After 15 minutes of hard fighting his rod sprung to attention and his line fell slack. The knot on his fly gave and the heavy leader slipped away. And so did the fish. He later told me that, that was the strongest fish he had ever played….
Above the river mouth from the hut, the river runs several hundred meters through large boulders which the last ice-age left there ten thousand years ago.
Here the Arctic char follow the deepest runs and pools, where they often stood like bonefish with their fins above the waters surface watching each other like Olympic sprinters at the starting line waiting for the sound of the pistol. And even if their behavior showed that spawning was just around the corner, they willingly took our small bright coloured imitations of gammarus in chartreuse, pink and orange. Here it was a great advantage to stand and fish from the top of large stones as it was impossible to wade and follow a hooked fish.- Some places the bottom was like a garden path of fine shingle, but other places large sharp edged stones. To break a leg out here seemed like not such a good idea. So the tactic was to tighten the brake, lean backwards and hope for a quick raw explosive fight.
We hadn´t seen any wild life the first few days, but the first caribou showed itself on a hilltop just above the lower pool. Then there were several more- Soon a flock of cows and calves came between me and the hut. Then on top of the hillside in the east three or four bulls appeared with antlers that would have made Norwegian reindeer hunters stand with open jaws and rub their eyes. The herds of caribou continued to trek for three days and how many thousands of animals passed us is difficult to say.
A more detailed check list of equipment is available from the outfitters along with prices and all other information.
I will be posting a step by step for the char grub later.
The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognised the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet realistic imitation for most smaller bait fish. The original pattern used a lead or tin sheet that was folded and glued over the hook shank and then cut to shape to make the underbody. This melt glue body technique gives the zonker a new life. If viewed by a fish in reflected light the shine and flashing of the maylar mixed with the animation of the pulsating fur strip, makes it a first class bait fish attractor pattern. But when viewed by a fish in a back-lit situation ( in silhouette ) this pattern really comes to life, with the light penetrating through the transparent melt glue / maylar body and fur guard hairs.
Hook: Mustad S74S SS Salt water R74 freshwater # 6
Under body: Melt glue
Over Body: Mylar tubeing
Wing/tail: Fur zonker strip
Eyes: Prizma tape eyes.
The flexibility of the Zonker as a bait fish imitation pattern is only limited to your own imagination. There are a huge amount of rabbit fur strip materials on the market in just about every colour imaginable, not to mention fox, squirrel, mink etc. Along with the vast array of tubing materials available the combination possibilities are endless.
I was first shown this melt glue body technique in 1993 by the innovative Danish fly tyer Dennis Jensen who developed it for salt water sea trout fishing in Denmark. He used a home made mould constructed from plastic padding. He would insert the hook in the mould and then inject melt glue into it and wait a few seconds for it to dry before removing it. The result was a perfect and identical minnow body every time. Dennis also made very clever subtle body colour changes to his flies by wrapping the hook shank first with tying thread in fluorescent orange, green or blue. Orange when he was imitating sticklebacks, green for other small fish and eels and blue when fishing in deep water.
This technique shown here requires no mould. It does take a little practice to master and a few minutes longer, but still produces the same effect.
Another advantage with the zonker, unlike bucktail and feather wing streamers, is that it is an extremely robust pattern. If tied correctly the fly will normally outlive the hook, although the eyes and Mylar tubing are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by coating the eyes and Mylar body with varnish or head cement.
When fishing this pattern or any long tailed streamers in general for that matter. Many fly fishermen are of the thought, that when fishing a long tailed streamer the fish tend to “Nap” at the tail and won´t take the fly properly! This can be the case for smaller trout but generally speaking a large trout will take this pattern hard and fast. If you do experience napping at the tail when fishing, stop the retrieve dead and let the fly sink a little for two or three seconds, nine times out of ten the attacking fish will pick it up on the drop.
Keeping on the theme of melt glue I thought I would show you this pattern that has a little different technique than the Mutant. Here I combine the material into the melt glue. It does take a little practice and time to master these melt glue techniques but the results are worth it! For more general info on caddis pupa take a look at the Bee Cee caddis in the archive.
Melt Glue Caddis Pupa:
Hook: Mustad C49SNP-BR # 12-8
Body: Melt Glue
Gills/rib: Olive Ostrich herl
Thorax/Head: Black and brown Antron dubbing and CdC
I belive that many great trout patterns have several things in common: they are quick and easy to tie, no special tecniques or tools required. The materials are easy to obtain, that would say available from most fly tying stores. They cast without problems and last but not least they catch fish. This legendary pattern comes from the vice of the Swedish fly tying Guru, Lennart Bergquist.
The bullet shaped aero and aqua dynimic form of this pattern makes casting a dream and presentation precise, for me there is somthing magical from the moment my SC lands on the water with a its distinctive “plop” that attracts attention, even from resting or lethargic fish. The body semi submerged and the wing and head floating high. This I always follow with a pause, let the fly rest on the surface for 5-10 seconds, allowing the leader time to sink and the fly to settel and hang. Then comes the retrieve. With your rod tip down, close to the water, and your line taut, start with short jerky retreives streaking the fly 10-15cm at a time, creating a small wake behind the fly as you pull. After you have covered a meter or so of water, take another short pause. Follow this procedure until the cast is fished out. When fished as an attractor pattern, you increase the speed and length of your retreive plouging the streaking caddis just under the surface causing it to pop and gurggle as it goes. This can induce fast and aggresive takes, even when there is little fish activity to be seen.
The shear “fishability” of this pattern just has to be tried to be belived. Firstly, as it was ment to be fished, under a caddis fly hatch. Where adult caddis are streaking across the waters surface.But in recent years the streaking caddis has also found its way into the fly boxes of sea trout and salmon fishermen. Fished in the same way, as a wake fly, it has teased up fish from the bottom of otherwise dead pools of many a salmon and sea trout river.
Hook: Mustad 94840 # 8
Body: Poly dubbing
Wing: Deer hair
Head: Spun and clipped deer hair
Hook: Mustad R 30 94833 # 12-14
Tying Thread: Dyneema
Body: Black & red melt glue
Wing : CdC
Hackle: Black cock
On the warmest summer days the tempreture rises in the south facing ant hills and triggers the annual swarming. Ants are not good flyers, so they leave the nest in large numbers to increase the chances of establishing a new colony. When they take to the wing they are at the mercy of the wind and end up where it takes them.
If they are unlucky and land on water, the fish go into a feeding frenzy. In extreme situations I have experienced that the trout will take just about any fly that is presented for them. But other times they can be so selective that they will only take the perfect pattern with the right silhouette, colour and behavior. Therefor its important to to have a good imitation too hand, and a more realistic ant imitation than this is difficult to find. Without of course going way over the realistic boundaries and tying a ultra realistic pattern. This is after all a fishing fly! Here I have made the two most characteristic body parts with melt glue, that shine just like the natural in the summer sun. I have also coloured one half black and the other red, I have found that this works under both colours of ant swarming.
This pattern has i in built drowning affect. Right after a ant has crash landed on the water, the rear body part begins to sink, while it’s legs and wings hold it afloat a short while. If you are going to fish this pattern ‘dry’ I recommend that you that you impregnate it well with floatant.
For those of you that are not familiar with melt glue and Dyneema tying thread here´s a little technical information that should help you get started.
Tying with melt glue does require a little more practice and patience than most regular materials. Melt glue is a material that one has to get used to using. Once its mastered, it can be put to use not only in developing new patterns but also as a substitute in existing ones. Melt glue guns come in various sizes from hobby to industrial, I find the hobby size not only the cheapest but also the easiest to employ. Another advantage with the hobby gun is the amount of different glue that is available. Although for this pattern I use a coloured glue, in most patterns I use the transparent or “regular” glue that can also be coloured with waterproof felt markers. The regular glue is also much easier to handle and shape than the coloured. In most cases, It has a lower melting temperature and a shorter drying time than the glues with added colour and glitter.
After tying with melt glue for over a decade and a half, nowadays I seldom use my gun to apply the glue, only for patterns where a large amount of glue is required. Otherwise I melt the glue direct from the “glue stick” with a lighter, or I first cut the required amount of glue from the stick with scissors, hold one end of the glue fragment with needle nose tweezers and warm the other end with the lighter and apply it to the hook. I then continue to melt and form the glue with the lighter on the hook. The clear glue can also be coloured by applying a foundation of coloured tying thread over the hook shank before you apply the glue.
For the past five years I have used only one tying thread for all my fly tying, for everything from the smallest size 28 dry´s to the largest salt water patterns. There are so many advantages with tying with Dyneema it would require an article all on it´s own. Maybe I will publish that later?
Fly Photography service:
When you have spent several hours or even days, tying a fly for a competition or commissioned sale, its a real shame to have no record of it! Now is your chance to correct that!
Being a professional photographer and fly tyer I know exactly what’s needed when it comes to fly photography. I offer a service for simple fly archive photography on white background or artistic fly photography for framing.
Archive photography (white background) Euro 30 per fly.
Artistic fly photography (still life) Euro 150 per fly.
Step by step tying photography Euro 200 per pattern.
I can also offer a service for catalogue photography for materials and tackle.
e mail email@example.com
A short excerpt from ‘The Ant Eater’ by Roald Dahl
The ant-eater arrived half-dead.
It looked at Roy and softly said,
“I’m famished. Do you think you could
“Please give me just a little food?
“A crust of bread, a bit of meat?
“I haven’t had anything to eat
“In all the time I was at sea,
“For nobody looked after me,”
Roy shouted, “No! No bread or meat!
“Go find some ants! They’re what you eat!”
The starving creature crawled away.
It searched the garden night and day,
It hunted every inch of ground,
But not one single ant it found,
“Please give me food!” the creature cried.
“Go find an ant!” the boy replied.
By chance, upon that very day,
Roy’s father’s sister came to stay -
A foul old hag of eighty-three
Whose name, it seems, was Dorothy.
She said to Roy, “Come let us sit
“Out in the sun and talk a bit,”
Roy said, “I don’t believe you’ve met
“My new and most unusual pet?”
He pointed down among the stones
Where something lay, all skin and bones.
“Ant-eater!” He yelled. “Don’t lie there yawning!
“This is my ant! Come say good-morning!”
(Some people in the U.S.A.
Have trouble with the words they say.
However hard they try, they can’t
Pronounce simple words like AUNT.
Instead of AUNT, they call it ANT,
Instead of CAN’T, they call it KANT.)
Roy yelled, “Come here, you so and so!
“My ant would like to say hello!”
Slowly, the creature raised its head.
“D’you mean that that’s an ant?” it said.
“Of course!” cried Roy. “Ant Dorothy!
“This ant is over eighty-three.”
The creature smiled. Its tummy rumbled.
It licked its starving lips and mumbled,
“A giant ant! By gosh, a winner!
“At last I’ll get a decent dinner!
“No matter if it’s eighty-three.
“If that’s an ant, then it’s for me!”
Then, taking very careful aim,
It pounced upon the startled dame.
It grabbed her firmly by the hair
And ate her up right then and there,
Murmuring as it chewed the feet,
“The largest ant I’ll ever eat.”
The step by step for my melt glue Mutantz, will follow shortly