The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

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X-Caddis video tutorial

The Petitjean Photo Master Vice

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I thought that you might like to see this ‘one off’ vice that was hand-made by Marc Petitjean for me!  Marc designed the vice to make photographing flies easier, or should I say quicker. Once a fly is placed in the jaws of the vice, the vice head can be removed and placed into one of the very precisely engineered 4 head slots. This gives the impression of true rotary (through the camera) creating a 360 degree effect both horizontally and vertically !

Photographically this means that I can photograph a fly from above, underneath, the side and from the front without changing focus, moving the camera or the pedestal. Pure Genius!

 

Melt Glue Zonker

 

An excellent technique for tying uniform and transparent bodies on Zonkers.

Regal Vice, how they are made!

Heres a nice little film from the science channel showing how a Regal vice is made. Although a good few minutes viewing, they could have made a better job with a little advice on how a vice is used from a real fly tyer… That being said, a good vice and a good advertisement for our craft! Enjoy.

Sea Bass Herring

This is an old one but still a good one, not only for bass but just about anything that will chase minnows.

Shove,Shave,Singe and Sand Technique

 

 

My Shove, Shave, Singe and Sand technique for the tightest deer hair bodies.
Probably the most frequent question I am asked at shows and demos is how do I get my small deer hair bodies so tight. Well heres my secret in full step by step tuition.

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This is one of my very early patterns the deer hair pupa that was inspired by a meeting with the late Gary LaFontaine many years ago and his own deep sparkle pupa pattern. The first requirement for tight bodies is the correct deer hair.

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Although I acquire most of my own spinning hair from late season hunting here in Norway the best hair I can recommend is the spinning hair from Natures Spirit and the natural roe deer hair from Veniard’s. The hair should be dense, straight with little under fur and fine well marked tips. Although the tips are not required for this pattern they are useful to have for sculpting nicely marked wings on others.IMG_0065

You will also need a hair stacker, a good hair comb, a Wilkinson razor blade, I specify Wilkinson because I have tried many cheaper blades over the years but it’s a false economy, I have found none that are as sharp and last as long. You will need a lighter and some fine sand paper.

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1
Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.

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2
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.

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3
Cut and clean a small bunch of deer hair by combing out all the under fur and shorter hairs. Stack this bunch not by the tips as usual but by the butt ends as shown.

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4
Tie this bunch in just a little down the hook bend. Make sure that each wrap of tying thread is tight and doesn’t trap any hairs unevenly.

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5
Repeat this technique with another bunch of hair.

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6
Take a hair packer, the one I am using hear is a Brassie on larger patterns I use Pat Cohen’s Fugly packer. Place this over the hook shank and push and twist at the same time, you may need to hold your thumb and finger of your left hand at the rear of the hair so you don’t push it along the hook shank. This will pack the hairs tight into each other.

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7
Once the required amount of body is covered with tightly packed deer hair, whip finish and remove your tying thread. Now comb the hair to release and free any hairs that may not be standing 90 degrees from the hook shank, this is important for perfect results.

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8
Take a razor blade between your finger and thumb and bend it to the shape of the body and slowly push it through the deer hair from the front towards the rear of the hook. If you haven’t done this before take your time it takes a little practice.

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9
The body at this stage doesn’t have to be perfect, just sculpt it to a basic body shape. You can use your scissors here too if you feel more comfortable using them.

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10
Now take your lighter and carefully ‘singe’ the deer hair body, take your time or the whole thing will go up in smoke if you get too close and burn it! This will even out the whole body.

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11
Take a piece of sand paper and carefully sand off the soot and smooth out any un-even parts.

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12
The result should look something like this, and feel rather like a cork.

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13
To imitate the gas bubble of the hatching pupa’s shuck I like to use Spirit Rivers UV2 Sparkle Yarn.

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14
You only need a small amount of the yarn.

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15
Split your tying thread and spin the yarn into a dubbing brush.

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16
Wind the yarn to form a vail over the whole surface of the deer hair body.

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17
Sin a little hares hear hair into another dubbing brush.

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18
Wrap this on as a collar make sure that its spiky and buggy.

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19
Take a natural beige CdC hackle and place in a magic tool clip. Spin this into another dubbing loop and wind at the head of the fly again as a vail over the body.

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20
Whip finish and your deer hair pupa is finished.

PS.
As a note on fishing this pattern I find the most effective methods is in combination with a floating line and a heavy sinking leader. When pulled it will dive and float slowly up to the surface when you stop the retrieve, creating the desired affect of a ascending pupa.

Burrowing Mayfly Nymph

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Burrowing Mayfly Nymph

Hook Mustad R73 9671 # 8-12
Tying thread Dyneema
Tail Olive ostrich herl
Body Olive brown Antron dubbing
Rib Olive Ostrich herl
Thorax Olive brown Antron dubbing
Wing case Floss or Antron body wool
Legs Olive CdC

Although many nymph patterns today are intended to imitate a much greater spectrum of aquatic foods, rather than the nymphal stage of one specific, this pattern imitates the final nymphal stage of the largest burrowing mayflies Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) and Ephemera simulans (Brown Drake) and the European relatives Ephemera danica and vulgate.. These nymphs prefer soft organic or sandy and muddy bottoms, where they can live more or less buried for up to several years, only appearing occasionally to feed on decomposing vegetable and plant matter. They have been known to burrow as deep as fifty feet. These large nymphs that range from 12-32 mm in length, can be easily recognised by the breathing gills along the sides of the rear body, and over sized fore legs that are adapted for burrowing. The gills however are not only used for breathing but also function as a ventilation system for the tunnel they burrow keeping water flowing through it, which in turn keeps it open. If the nymph leaves its burrow or stops the undulating movement of the gills, the burrow collapses shortly afterwards. These nymphs, are for most of their life, unavailable for the trout, but one of these on your leader at the correct time can make the difference between great sport and no sport. When the time is right and they leave the safety of their burrows, swimming quickly with an undulating body movement, (something that ostrich herl and CdC imitate beautifully) towards the surface, trout can feed on this ascending nymphal stage for several hours before turning on to the subimago winged stage. The weight that is placed under the thorax of the nymph helps emulate this undulating swimming action when pulled through the water with short pauses.

When it comes to tying these large nymphs your hook choice should reflect the natural body length, so a 3XL or a 4XL hook in a size 8-12 works well. The dubbing used for the rear body and the thorax should be one that absorbs water and not a water repellant dry fly dubbing. Another trick that helps to get the nymph down is after you have tied it on your leader give it a few seconds in the water and then squeeze it hard between your finger and thumb to press out any trapped air that may be caught in the dubbing and CdC. I also like to use a UV treated dubbing and Ostrich herl. Although I have not had the same marked results that show trout prefer the UV patterns in fresh water, unlike the results I have had in salt water, it does no harm in giving the pattern that extra edge that may make a difference. Previously I have used golden pheasant centre tail fibres for the wing case but these have proved to be a little too fragile for the small sharp teeth of trout, so I have substituted it with Antron body wool.

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1
Secure your 3 XL or 4XL nymph hook in the vice making sure that its horizontal.

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2
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole shank until the thread is hanging between the hook barb and point.

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3
When it comes to weighting flies I like to use a lead free alternative.

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4
Wind on a short length of lead free wire under the thorax, covering approximately one third of the hook shank.

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5
Once the lead free wire is wound and packed tight trim off the surplus.

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6
For the tails of the nymph you will need some olive ostrich herl, here I like to use a UV treated herl to the the nymph an extra edge.

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7
Select three herl’s with even tips. Tie inn the first herl on top centre of the hook shank. Again this should be about one third of the hook shanks length.

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8
Now tie in the other two herl’s one each side of the centre tail.

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9
Tie down the remaining herl along the whole hook shank and cut away the excess herl.

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10
Now select another long herl with nice long fibres for the ribbing that will represent the nymphs gills.

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11
Now spin some Antron dubbing tightly onto the tying thread. Make sure that this is tight so the finished body is dense.

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12
Continue with the Antron dubbing and build up a tapered rear body along 2/3 of the hook shank.

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13
Wind on the ostrich herl as a rib over the rear body part, making sure that the herl fibres stand out at 90 degrees from the hook shank. About 6-7 tight even turns, and tie off at the thorax.

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14
Remove the excess herl and carefully trim off the herl fibres, only on top of the body as shown. This is not necessary but gives a little more realistic look to the nymph.

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15
The trimmed rear body should now look like this from the side.

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16
And like this from above with the gills prominent along each side of the body.

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17
Now cut four lengths of floss or Antron body wool and tie these is as shown along the the top of the thorax these will form the wing case later.

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18
Trim off the ends of the floss behind the hook eye and tie down. Wind the tying thread back towards the rear body.

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19
Dub the whole thorax quite heavily and return the tying thread once again to the junction between the thorax and the rear body. Take care that you leave about 2-3 mm space behind the hook eye to tie off the wing case later.

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20
Place a large CdC hackle in a magic tool clip, notice how the CdC fibres taper in length from long on the left side getting shorter to the right.

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21
Transfer the CdC to the second Magic tool clip ready for use.

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22
Now spin the CdC with the longest fibres at the top of the dubbing loop, these are to be wound in the thorax first for the longest legs.

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23
Wind on the CdC dubbing brush in open even turns through the thorax to form the leg hackle.

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24
Taking hold off all four pieces of floss, fold them over the thorax and secure with a couple of turns of tying thread. Once the floss is correctly placed pull once again to tighten up the wing case and secure properly with a few more turns of tying thread.

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25
Trim off the excess floss and tie down the ends. If you are using Dyneema or another GSP thread you can colour it black with a permanent felt marker.

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26
Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Finish off with a drop of varnish.

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The finished olive mayfly nymph.

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The finished brown mayfly nymph.

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29
The finished grey mayfly nymph.

The Spool Tower

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THE SPOOL TOWER
There are constantly new tools, gadgets and other fly tying paraphernalia being launched as a must have for your fly tying bench. The truth be known, most of them are re-invented copies of existing tools or just down right useless, creating only more clutter on the tying bench for you to keep in order. That being said, once in a while you come across an item that actually does help keep things in check, the spool tower is one of them!

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I was recently made aware of this storage system at EWF by its creator Herwig Haas from friends of fly fishing in Bavaria. Probably the most difficult piece of fly tying tackle to keep tidy is spools of thread, wire, floss and beads as over the years we acquire so many different sizes, colours, spools etc that can quickly create a state of chaos on the tying bench!

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The plastic discs and base tool housings rotate smoothly.

The spool tower retains all the immediate spooled item that is being used of thread, floss and wire in neat easily rotatable discs that hold six spools each.

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The transparent discs make finding the correct stored spool simple and the deep retaining spool hole keeps the thread end in place and eliminates the problem of them unwinding. The tower also takes small polythene spool sized tubs, that are available with or without a small hole in the lid. These make easy access and storage of beads, cone heads and other small materials that you use often.

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The tower fully loaded

The towers can be personalised and extended as and when you require more levels by purchasing the extra levels needed. The discs rotate smoothly and the towers are sturdy and well balanced, even when one tower is loaded with tubs of Tungsten beads and the other with spools of tying thread. For those of you that don’t have a permanent tying bench or if you travel often with your tying kit, a tidy caddy can be purchased that the towers neatly slid into keeping everything in place when packed away.

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For more information and prices visit:

http://www.friends-of-flyfishing.net

SiM Fly Festival 2016

Well, back home after another phenomenal weekend at the SiM fly festival in Castel di Sangro, Italy. To meet each year with some of the finest fly tyers in the world and spend time together in such wonderful surroundings is a really gift and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. This year I am truly honoured and more than a little bit proud, to have received the ‘Claudio D’Angelo’ award for best international fly tyer 2016. I would like to thank you all, fly tyers of the world, old and new, for your constant support and never ending inspiration…

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