Being no stranger to stripping and tying with quills, I was eager to try these new hand stripped peacock herl from Polish quills. At first sight I must say I was a little disappointed with the short length of the quills, they are approximately 6 cm in length, from end to end and have a usable area of about 5 cm. But I gave them a go and was pleasantly surprised that you could actually get quite a good length of body out of each quill. No doubt the shortness of the quill is reflected in where the herl is located on the peacock tail feather. The very strongest and best herl for stripping, comes from just under the eye of the tail feather and these are naturally shorter than the herl located lower down.
After a little testing, I can safely say that you can comfortably tie extremely fine quill dry fly bodies with these on hooks up-to # 12, but anything larger than this and you have to compromise proportions with a shorter quill body. But for nymph abdomens, which require a shorter body you can tie on larger hooks.
Polish quills make 15 fine colours in total and Veniards are currently stocking 12, of the most popular. I am not sure what dyeing technique used on these quills but its a quality job, resulting in lively coloured quills.
All the above midges are tied on a # 16 hook and coated with Bug Bond.
For those of you that are new to tying with stripped quills these are well worth trying, stripping quills yourself can be a tedious and messy job, especially if you intend to tie any number of flies. Heres a short step by step to tying a quill body.
Quill body midge emerger
Hook: Mustad C49 SNP-BR # 12-18 http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=177
Tying thread: Dyneema
Body: Polish Quills coated with Bug Bond UV resin http://www.veniard.com/product2647/section194/hand-stripped-peacock-quill
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grizzle cock
Secure your hook in the vice.
Run your tying thread over the hook shank and down into the hook bend.
Now on the underside of the hook shaft, tie in the quill at the thinest end, with the dark edge nearest the vice jaws, as shown. If you tie the quill in with the dark edge on top of the quill you wont get optimal segmenting of the finished body.
Remove the excess quill and run your tying thread up behind the hook eye.
Attach a rotary hackle plier to the very end of the stripped quill and start wrapping up the hook shank, making sure that each turn of quill, just slightly overlaps the last.
After each turn of quill its a good idea to hold the last warp in place with your left index finger after each turn.
Continue until the whole body is complete.
Now carefully un-wrap your tying thread, back towards the hanging quill.
Then make one tight turn of tying thread around the quill, securing it.
Remove the hackle pliers and tie down.
Give the body a fine coat of Bug Bond and cure with the UV light. For most dry fly patterns its best to give the hook shank a coat of varnish before you wrap the quill, but with this midge emerger a coat of Bug Bond will more than suffice.
Tie in a length of peacock herl at the base of the thorax.
Make 2 or 3 wraps with peacock herl behind the hackle and then in front all the way to the hook eye and tie off.
Heres an American Classic to tie and try over the holidays. The H & L or House and Lot as it is also known was said to be President Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite trout pattern, especially for fishing Eastern streams. Like most of the fat boy attractors this pattern should be over dressed, a little longer, larger and fatter than normal. This pattern should float high and dry, creating and irresistible footprint when drifted over the feeding window of any trout. Otherwise I dont know much about the history of this pattern, if one of you do, please post a little info if you have time, it would be good to know more. Happy holidays to you all.
Hook: Mustad R30NP-BR # 10-18
Tail: Calf tail hair
Abdomen: Stripped peacock herl natural
Thorax: Peacock herl
Wings: Calf tail hair
Secure your hook in the vice making sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
Attach your tying thread and run a foundation over the hook shank until the tying thread hangs plumb with the hook barb.
Cut a small bunch of calf tail hair and clean with a tooth brush. Once you have removed all the shorter hairs stack the bunch in a hair stacker.
Many fly tyers have a problem with exchanging a bunch of stacked hair from one hand to the other! Heres how you do it:
Once you have removed the bunch of hair from the stacker hold it between your right finger and thumb.
Now place your left hand thumb against the hair and your right thumb.
Once you have trapped the hair between both your thumbs keep the pressure on.
While keeping both your thumbs pressed together trapping the hair bunch, remove your right index finger.
Now bring your left index finger into the equation and grasp the butt end of the bunch against your left thumb.
Remove your right thumb and your hair bunch has been transfered from right to left hand without messing it up.
Measure your tail length.
Tie in the calf tail on top of the hook shank and about half way between the hook eye and the bend. Leave a few mm of hair flared.
Trim off the flared hair at an angle.
Tie down the calf hair and apply a drop of varnish to the whippings.
Prepare another bunch, a little larger than the first one, of calf tail hair and tie in as shown on top of the hook shank.
Cut off the flared ends at an angle again. This will give a good foundation for a tapered body later.
Before you tie them down apply a small drop of varnish to the trimmed calf tail.
Now run tying thread over the whole body making a fine taper.
Fold the wing back and build a small support of tying thread in front of the wing base.
Split the calf tail into two equal wings and tie each one down at the wing base, making a V wing.
Take a long peacock herl and strip only 1/3 of the herl from the quill. This will make the abdomen and thorax tying process all in one.
Tie in the stripped end of the herl at the tail base. You can give the under body a thin coat of varnish before you start wrapping the quill.
Attach a hackle plier to the herl end of the quill. Now wrap the quill in tight even turns over the rear body, when you come to the part of the quill with the herl on it, continue wrapping to form the abdomen.
Once you have wrapped the herl abdomen tie off and remove the excess herl.
Tie in a nice brown dry fly hackle. This ideally should be a long hackle, but if you only have short hackles you can tie in two. Make sure that your hackle is 90 degrees from the hook shank.
Start winding your hackle with one or two turns through the herl thorax and then forward making the hackle as dense as possible. Tie off and remove the excess hackle.
Whip finish and varnish the head.
Heres a pattern to try over the holidays.
This is another go to, fat boy attractor pattern, that was said to be president Dwight Eisenhower’s favorite trout fly for eastern streams.
I will be posting the full step by step later today, That includes a couple of nice tying tricks.
Firstly I would like to apologize for not posting anything in the last few days but things have been hectic for me. I have had a lot of work to do for magazines on both sides of the pond as well as all my regular work. Over the weekend I also had a visit from my good friend David Edwards from England and we had a couple of days sea trout fishing, or I should say one day sea trout fishing and one day casting, in serious freezer box conditions. Although the weather gods where not on our side, we managed to land three over wintered bars of silver all three over the kilo mark. In the meantime, I have been sent a whole load of new and exciting materials, shrimp eyes, Polish quills, dyed peacock and some great new synthetics that just scream ‘sea trout’ flies, that I will be reviewing and testing in the next few days. In the meantime, I am re posting one of my earlier popular posts, just for those who may have missed it the first time round, and hope to get back to regular posting in a couple of days.
Top sea trout tips
When the spring sun has begun to warm the winter cold salt water, it’s not only you that begin to feel the effects of spring. The coastal sea trout that have gone the whole winter in energy saving modus, are now ready for the spring feast. For most of the coldest part of winter the sea trout are as little active as possible and hold to areas that are warmest. They can be difficult to tempt on regular fly fishing equipment, but a good colorful large streamer, fished slowly can work a winter fish up.
Right now when the water temperature begins to rise, they will become much more active in their pursuit for food. The sea trout is an aggressive predator and during spring and early summer has a need to fatten themselves up after winters fast. This is why they are best to fish for now.
But you are still not guaranteed success, even if the sea trout is hungry and hunting. So I have put together a few tips -that work- for you that wish to fish for sea trout from now into the summer.
Find the fish:
Success for sea trout fishing relies on finding the fish. And in the winter and spring you have to look for warmer water, 4 degrees or more. If it is 12 or 14 degrees in the water in June it makes little difference for the sea trout, but in March-April 4 degrees is much warmer than 2 degrees. It doesn’t need big changes in temperature to get the sea trout going. Shallower south facing, sun rich bays and beaches with a flow in the water. Here it doesn’t take much more for the sea trouts menu to awaken from the winters sleep.
Because the temperature is important a thermometer is also important for the serious sea trout fisherman.
If it is an extra cold, spring brackish water areas generally hold fish, because the salt content of the sea here is smaller, the sea trout like this ! Also look for structure in the water large stones islands or cliffs. These structures collect and store heat from the sun, this will warm the surrounding water.
As a rule, No rules:
We don’t know the reason why, but in some cases you can experience fantastic fishing just on the edge of frozen water or floating pack ice. But in most cases it’s small fish, that should be returned that are in shoals.
Rag worm swarming:
The rag worms wedding as it is known, is called the springs most exciting adventure for the sea trout fisherman. And if you are lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time, there is no danger for you not connecting. You can find rag worms the whole year in the stomach contents of sea trout, but in the spring under large swarming you can find that they fall out of the mouth of the sea trout that have gorged themselves, when you land them.
When doe’s the swarming happen ?
The chances of experiencing a large swarming are best after the water has gone up in temperature above 6-7 degrees and around the full moon in April, but this is not a fast rule, and last year we experienced swarming, during a warmer day on a full moon in early March.
Sea gulls show the way:
Rag worm swarming can be very local in most situations, and it’s not easy to know where. Then you should look to the sky’s, because the greedy and forever hungry sea gulls can show you the way. If you can see that screaming sea gulls are in a flock and circle around a area of coast, this shows you where to fish – just like the pelicans when tarpon fishing.
When darkness falls:
Think that the sun has been high in the sky all day and warming up the shallow’s, especially with dark muddy bottoms. These shallow areas retain the days heat during the first couple of hours of darkness. It’s during this period that larger sea trout dare to venture into the shallows to feed. You should fish at least a couple of hours into the night. Try using streamers or Muddlers that will give a little movement in the water. Fish slowly and listen for splashes.
During darkness, night or early morning sea trout hunt in much shallower water than most fishermen think. In small bays and harbors, rocky shoreline and long shallow beaches. Here you can encounter fine fish in water not deeper than you need nothing more the rubber boots. But remember in such water they are also spooked easy.
When is the best time ?
There are many different thoughts about the best time to fish for sea trout. The best advice is to fish when you have chance to fish. Those that fish the most catch most fish and get the most experience. The sea trout is effected by the moon and it’s fases, and some times fishing can be best on a spring tide, and other times in periods with extreme low water in the high pressure periods you can experience during late spring.
High & low tide:
There is also many thoughts about this, if fishing is better at high or low tide in the sea.
During winter it’s most rewarding to fish at the warmest part of the day, between 11:00 – 14:00, no matter high or low tide. When the water warms, in most cases it’s best to fish a couple of hours before high water into a couple of hours after.
When is high and low tide ?
In the good old days you could buy a tide time table from the news agents but now you can find them for Norway on http://sehavniva.no/om/api/
Only for early birds:
From early April it can prove to be rewarding if you fish early in the morning. Early means a couple of hours before sun rise, so you must have a alarm clock and a good dose of self discipline. Even if it is cold, you may be lucky enough to find large sea trout who cruise shallow water after being out hunting at night.
If you are not a early bird by nature, you can also try your luck from the end of March into April between 19:00 – 23:00 especially if you have high tide within this time period. And so it will continue out towards the summer, but try fishing in deeper water with flow in it.
Even if warm is the key word with sea trout fishing in the spring, fishing can fantastic in bad weather. Don’t look out the window and decide to stay home because it’s blowing and raining. Under the cover of bad weather and high waves shy and big fish come into the shallows to feed. This type of weather can be a fishing fest for spin fishermen.
Shore wind collects food:
When the wind blows from the sea against the land all the food in the top few meters of water will blow towards land and collect near the shore. And where there is most food, there are sea trout. This wind direction produces the best fishing.
Sunny and wind still:
Use a fine clear line or leader on clear sunny and wind still days. Smaller flies also produce more fish in good weather. Sometimes sea trout can be selective on such days, where only the very smallest flies will work. This is when only fly fishing will work, with tiny flies 16-18 and a long fine leader and very slow retrieve.
Sea trout are shy:
Start fishing before you come down to the waters edge, and for no price begin to wade before you have fished the shallows thoroughly.
Slow or Fast:
It doesn’t matter what you fish with, a rule of thumb is, slow in winter and through out spring. It’s here that fly fishing has the edge, use a very slow figure of eight retrieve.
Even if the rule is slow in cold spring water, you can experience that the opposite is more effective. For example: a rag worm should be fished slowly, so that it swims like it’s flowing in the water. If you experience that fish follow and will not take, it some times works if you place your rod under your arm and make a “roly poly” retrieve using both hands. The best rule is try what is the norm, then try to vary your retrieve until you find what is right.
Don’t pull your spoon or fly out of the water when it is 5-6 meters from land. You will get much better results if you fish your spoon/fly all the way into land. Sea trout like to follow the bait a few meters before they take, and the very last meter is the most dangerous for the sea trout.
Keep on the move:
Its said that the most important piece of equipment while sea trout fishing is the car!
Trout in a river are like trout eating at a restaurant, they sit and wait for the food to come to them. Sea trout on the other hand race from restaurant to restaurant. Especially in the spring months the sea trout is eating on the move. If you dont find fish move a little.
Take your time:
If you dont find the sea trout, let the sea trout find you! Take many breaks while out fishing, make sure you have coffee with you and something to eat.
While you sit and take a break, dont take your eye’s off the water it’s now you may spot the rise of a passing sea trout, or a silver flash from the side of one hunting.
There is always hope:
If you really want to catch more and bigger sea trout, there is only one expert tip that is 100% guaranteed to work, “Dont give up” even if you are not catching. The more you fish, the more you will catch!