The feather benders home grown and hand crafted fly tyers wax scull’s.
It’s not that long ago that pre-waxed tying thread was not readily available, and tyers, especially of the more classic stile patterns resorted to various types of wax to make tying more easy and the natural threads such as cotton and silk more durable. Because the majority of tying threads available today are pre-waxed, the practice of waxing your own tying thread has been somewhat neglected or almost forgotten for most fly tyers.
Apart from the obvious advantages as mentioned above, waxing your own thread makes easy work of applying and attaching materials to the hook, creating better friction between thread and material and anchoring them in place with only a couple of wraps of thread. Its also extremely useful when dubbing, if a little is applied to the thread before spinning your dubbing it will render the thread ‘Tacky’ and make the adhering of the dubbing material easier.
After recently starting keeping bees, primarily for honey production, I have also a surplus of natural bee’s wax which when mixed with three other totally natural ingredients is the recipe for my own exclusive tyers wax. A limited amount of sculls will be available for next to no cost, so if you are interested in obtaining one of these hand made tyers waxes, please contact me on, email@example.com
It’s that time of year again and this weekend I will be tying at The British Fly Fair International http://www.bffi.co.uk/ I will be tying Salt water patterns for Bass and sea trout. I will also be doing a demo in the fly tyers theatre on Sunday at 11.00. If you have a free day and are in the area it’s a great show with loads of great tyers, so please call in and say hello. You can check out the program and exhibitors on the link above.
Keeping on a grayling theme heres one of my absolute favourites, Not only to fish with but also to tie. All these patterns from bygone days are remarkably simple, but still require a degree of technique to master them precisely.
One of the peculiar characteristics of the grayling is that they have a preference for flies dressed with a hot spot of red in their make-up, probably the most famous is the red tag, but here are a few more, older patterns that still get the job done.
Hook: Mustad http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/na/product.php?id=178
Thread: Veevus Red 12/0
Tag: Red floss silk
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: Grey Cock hackle
Peak: Red floss silk
Secure your dry fly hook in the vice with the hook shank horizontal.
Attach your tying thread and cover the whole hook shank.
For the tag and peak, choose a nice deep red silk floss.
Cut 3 or 4 , depending on size of hook you are using, short strands of silk floss and place them together. Tie in the floss over the full length of the hook shank.
Now take 2 or 3 strands of peacock herl, the best ones for bodies are directly below the peacock eye on the tail feather. These are normally stronger than further down the feather. Tie these in by the points at the base of the tag.
Now wrap the peacock herl in tight even turns along the whole hook shank taking care not to twist or overlap them. This will give the best results.
Make a whip finish and remove the excess peacock herl. Now select and prepare a grey cock hackle and tie this in 90 degrees to the hook shank.
Now wind on your hackle in even turns each wrap tight into the previous. Tie off and remove the excess hackle.
Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Trim down the tag and the peak to the desired length. Place a drop of clear varnish on the head.
The Red Tag
The Double Badger
The Grayling Steel Blue Bumble
The Grayling Witch
The treacle Parkin
And last but not least the Gloire De Neublans, this was Charles Ritz’s number 1 grayling pattern.
Hook Mustad S74SNP-DT # 6-4
Head Brass or Tungsten bead
Tying thread Dyneema
Tail UV2 White Marabu and Crystal hår
Body White chenille
Hackle White cock or saddle hackle
Most fly fishermen have at one time or another fished with or a variant of the wooly bugger. This is without doubt one of the modern classics, that has only grown in popularity, and not without reason! The Wooly bugger is known as a fish catcher the world over. Its often named when a fishermen is asked, if you could fish with only one fly, what would it be ?
Right from when this pattern first saw the light of day its been changed, and modified at vices all over the world and is now to be found in an uncountable amount of colours and variants, some I may say better than others!
I myself use the pattern in only four colours, white, black, grizzle and a combination of the latter. More recently I have also began using more UV and Fluorescent materials especially in my salt water patterns. This has not only made the flies more attractive but has also increased catches in salt water markably. But try not to exaggerate these materials or their use, it can easily go into overkill. So remember less is more!
This is an extremely simple pattern to tie and requires a minimum of materials, but as I have mentioned many times before, its all about proportions! Spending time getting this right from the beginning will produce great looking flies only after you have tied a few. I am not saying that scruffy buggers won’t catch fish, quite the opposite, but there is more to fly tying than catching fish! What fly tyer doesn’t want his flies to look great?
Its important to match the size of your bead head to the hook size being used, or to the swimming action required of the pattern. Slide the chosen bead onto the hook shank and secure the hook, horizontal in the vice.
Attach your tying thread and run all the way back to the hook bend. This will give a good foundation for the rest of the fly.
For the tail I like to add another dimension by using UV2 marabou.
Select a nice bunch of marabou with fine tapered points for the tail. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook. Tie in the marabou along the whole length of the hook shank tight into the bead head.
Now you can tie in four or six strands of Crystal flash material around the tail. These should be a tad longer than the marabou tail. If you require even more weight, now is the time to add it.
Cut a length of chenille and once again tie this in the whole length of the hook shank, keeping your tying thread behind the bead head. Make sure that the chenille is correctly secured at the marabou tail base, if not the chenille will slip when tightened and wrapped!
Now wrap the chenille in tight even turns all the way forward to the bead head and tie off. Remove the excess chenille and make a couple of whip finishes to secure it correctly.
Select an appropriate sized cock or saddle hackle with extra webby fibres and tie this in directly behind the bead head as shown. Make a whip finish. Now tightly wind your tying thread back towards the tail base making sure that each turn of thread falls in-between each segment of wound chenille.
Attach a hackle plier to the point of the hackle and wrap the hackle palmer style in the opposite direction to the wrap of your tying thread. That means if you wind your tying thread clockwise, the hackle should be wound anti-clockwise. Again taking care to wrap precisely in each segment of chenille. Once the tail base is reached tie off the hackle with a few turns of tying thread.
Now carefully wind your tying thread forward through each segment of chenille over the hackle, taking care not to tie down the fibres. Wrapping the tying thread and hackle in opposite directions will make the fly stronger and extend it’d fishing life. Make a couple of whip finishes.
Remove the tying thread. Now place a large drop of varnish or head cement, whichever you prefer on the point of a dubbing needle. Now place the drop of varnish on the junction between the hook eye and the forward bead opening. You will see the varnish disappear into and under the bead head, repeat this two or three times until no more varnish is sucked into the bead. This will make a invisible finish and saturate the tying thread and materials under and behind the bead.
Remove any excess varnish from the hook eye by pulling through a hackle.
The finished and correctly tied wooly bugger. If you would like to correct the palmered hackle into a perfect position, moisten it with a little water and slip a drinking straw over the body of the fly until dry. When its removed everything will be in place.
The original Thunder creek streamer series came from the vice of American, Keith Fulsher. In the early sixties, not satisfied with the regular head and eye size of streamers, he began experimenting and chose the reverse buck tail technique for his Thunder creek patterns. This technique involves tying the buck tail, as the technique suggests, the opposite way and then folding it back over the hook shank and tying down to form the head. The simplicity of this pattern and the minimal materials needed to tie it, is fly design at its very best! He achieved his goal, a slim two toned body with a large minnow head that allowed for larger eyes, the main attack point for predatory fish and through changing only the buck tail colour and hook size, could imitate numerous baitfish. Streamers generally fall into two categories, baitfish imitations and attractors! I am in no doubt that the Thunder creek covers both. You can try a whole load of colour combinations, and if you would like a little flash in the pattern tie this in at the rear of the head before folding the wings back. Also if you would like a heavier pattern use lead under the head dubbing. If you are looking for a slimmer pattern to imitate a sand eel, replace the buck tail with a synthetic material like fish hair or DNA, but dont build up the head with dubbing, this will keep the pattern slim and streamline.
July 27, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Photography, Sjøørret fluer, Step by Step | Tags: Bucktail, Bug Bond, Fly Tying, salt water, sea trout flies, Step by Step, Streamers, tape eyes, Thunder Creek | 1 Comment
I have had some questions about the Edson brass eyes and where they can be obtained. All the info is in this article alone with contact and purchase details.
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:
July 26, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step | Tags: Chris Helm, Edson Brass Eyes, Fly Fishing, Fly photgraphy, hooks, Materials, Mustad, streamer | Leave a comment
Fishing, or even identifying a mayfly spinner fall can be one of the most challenging situations a fly fisherman can experience! Its all about breaking codes and learning to read the signs. With the larger mayflies its somewhat easier to recognize the spinner fall, danica and vulgata are so large that they can be seen at a greater distance floating in a crucifix posture and lifeless in the surface, sometimes with such a high mortality rate they cover the whole surface of the river. But smaller darker and sometimes almost transparent species can be difficult to see even at close quarters.
Mayflies are known for their short lived life, with some species having less than an hour to find a mate and deposit eggs before they die. The first sign to look for, after the initial hatch, is high above you, the swarming dancing, mating mayflies high above the tree tops. After mating and this swarming becomes sparser the males are drained of energy and are fighting to keep themselves airborne but gradually floating down closer to the water, where they die and lie with wings and tails spread out on the surface. The females, who hatch later than the males have a little more energy left to fly upstream to lay their eggs so the current will carry them back down to be deposited in the same stretch of river bed where she lived her nymphal stage of life. After which she dies and becomes spent.
If after examining the waters surface and no spent spinners are visible, look for fish that are steady risers. This is a normal rise form for fish selectively feeding on spent spinners. That being said, smaller fish can become wild in the beginning of a spinner fall making small splashy rises and even leaping clear of the water to take them as they fall. As day turns into night and the spent spinners begin to drown and are trapped in the surface film slightly sinking, the larger fish begin to feed on them, rising every few seconds, not big splashy rises but sipping or slow head and tailing as the spent spinners float over them, as with all predators maximizing energy intake and minimizing energy consumption. Larger ‘Experienced’ fish seam to know that there is no escape for these dead and drowning flies.
This is a mayfly pattern shown here represents NO specific species, but with just a tiny alteration in size and colour can be a good representation for most hatches of smaller to medium sized mayflies. The most time consuming part of this pattern is stripping the peacock herl of its fibers. There are a few ways that you can do this. One is with a regular pencil erasure, just lie the herl down on a flat surface and rub the herl away from you. The other is to pull the herl through your finger and thumb nail as shown here. It takes a little time to master this technique but once you have done it a few times its plain sailing!
Hook Mustad R50 # 18-12
Tying thread Dyneema
Tail Coq de leon
Body Stripped peacock herl
Over body Bug Bond
Wings CDC hackles
Thorax CDC spun into dubbing loop
June 28, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Step by Step | Tags: Bug Bond, CdC, Dry Fly, Fly Fishing, Fly tying books, May fly, small flies, spent spinners, Spinner, Step by Step | 2 Comments
Early tomorrow I will be leaving for the SIM fly festival in the small mountain village of Castel di Sangro in Italy.
I will be demonstrating tying small deer hair dry flies on the 21st and 22nd, along with some other great tyres at the Italian museum of fly fishing.
If you are around its well worth a visit, its a great festival, great town and the Sangro is one great river with some huge trout!
House building caddis larva are available in most waters all year round, and are an important segment of the diet of trout and grayling. There are many techniques that have been developed over the years from fly tying benches all over the world to imitate the house of the caddis larva, but this technique really gives the right impression. This is a pattern I believe was developed in the US, but other than that I cant find any other information about it. The great thing about this pattern is if you trim the rubber legs close to the body you get the impression of a caddis larva house built out of gravel, but if you spin the rubber legs not so tight and trim them a little longer it makes for a great house made of vegetation and sticks. Also the rubber gives that extra needed weight when you need to get down deep and not least extremely durable.
You may find that this isn´t the easiest pattern to tie at the first attempt as the rubber legs seem to have a life of their own, but after a few attempts is no more difficult then any other pattern. Try mixing colours and rubber types to achieve different effects.
Hook Mustad R72NP-BR # 12-6 with Bead head
Tying thread Dyneema
Body Rubber legs
Head Course antron dubbing
June 7, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly Fishing art, Fly fishing photography, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Step by Step | Tags: bead head, Caddis, CdC, dubbing, Elasticaddis, Fly Tying, Materials, Rubber legs, Step by Step | 1 Comment
Hook Mustad S74SZ # 2/0-4/0
Body E-Z Body XL filled with 3-5 beads
Under wing White buck tail
Wing Chartreuse and white Icelandic sheep
Over wing Lime green Big fish fiber
Sides Grizzle cock hackles coloured yellow
Eyes Large mobile eyes and bug bond or epoxy
I developed the Heltor skeltor to maximize all the attractor elements possible in one fly.
The Icelandic sheep and big fly fiber are extremely mobile in water, but their effect is enhanced by the weight of the brass beads that roll back and forth in the body tube giving not only a sporadic jerky swimming action but also rattle against each other sending out an audial signal to predators. Not forgetting the eyes which are an attack point, are oversized for additional predator impact. If you keep all these factors in mind when designing predatory patterns you wont go wrong.
March 25, 2014 | Categories: Fly Fishing, Fly fishing photography, Fly Photography, Fly Tying, Material Reviews, Step by Step, Uncategorized | Tags: big flies Pike jig, brass beads, Bug Bond, cock hackles, E-Z Body, Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, gjedde flyer, Helter Skelter, hooks, Icelandic sheep, pike flies | Leave a comment