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

Material Reviews

Fly tying course # 3 Its a material world

Fly tying, in most cases, begins with a fly tying kit.  Unfortunately most fly tying kits can result in the same frustration as starting to tie too difficult patterns. When you open a fly tying kit for the very first time, the first thing you notice is the over powering perfume of paradichlorobenzene or moth balls. This is used to keep feather and fur eating insects at bay, and from making a smorgasbord of your materials. Beyond the moth ball vapors, your newly purchased kit, is filled with what looks like, at first glance, a fantastic array of shiny tools and materials from the most exotic foul and beast.

And if you have any fly tying /material questions, dont be afraid to ask. Just post your question at the foot of this page.

If you would like to receive a message when the next stage of the course is published, just add your e mail address at the top right of this page. Thanks, The feather bender.

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My fly tying room looks messy, but there is order in the chaos!

Unfortunately the usefulness and quality of “kit” materials and tools is generally poor. In nine out of ten kits the scissors are bad quality and wont clean cut tying thread and and other fine materials. Ideally you should have two pairs of scissors, one with extremely fine points for the more intricate work and a pair with larger and serrated blades for deer hair and heavier work. The bobbin holder is of equally poor quality, cutting the tying thread with every  two or three turns around the hook. I am also of the thought that the natural materials in most fly tying kits are chosen by none fly tyers for volume and not usefulness, for the new beginner. That all being said, if you have a access to a reliable fly fishing store that has a good fly tying department and fly tying staff, ask if they can put a kit together for you with quality tools and materials tailored to the patterns that you wish to tie. Generally speaking, when it comes to tools and materials, the more money you use the better the quality.

My recommendation for a basic starter set for trout and grayling flies:

Vice

Dubbing needle

Hackle pliers

Scissors

Bobbin holder ceramic

Whip finisher

Clear fine varnish

Tying thread

Cock Hackle mixed Whiting pack,  Black, brown, grizzle

CdC natural tan

Peacock eye

Pheasant tail

Fine Antron dubbing Black. Tan. Olive. 

Natural deer hair

Hares mask

Poly yarn white

Lead wire

Medium copper wire

Hooks dry fly Mustad R 30 94833 # 12. Nymph Mustad R73 9671 # 8. Streamer Mustad R74 9672 # 6.

When you have been tying for a while you will start to understand materials more with regard to quality and uses. You will quickly see how much easier it is to tie with quality materials and how much better the end result will be. Again when buying materials try and use a shop that has a large fly tying department, these normally have the best quality materials and staff that tie flies that are on hand to help and answer your questions.  But even in these shops, the materials can vary. When buying materials, say for instance pheasant tail !  don´t just take the first packet hanging on the wall ! Look through all the packets and choose the one that works best for the patterns you wish to tie. There is always varying quality in size, colour, markings, fibre length… and quantity in most natural materials, that at first glance all look the same, but only under closer scrutiny is the difference noticeable.

Vice:

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Since this is the most single expensive item you will require to tie flies, your choice should be made carefully. You should consider how many and what type of flies will you tie and what size hooks you will be using. Beyond the prime function of holding the hook securely, modern vises incorporate a number of additional functions of varying usefulness. Hight, jaw angle and full rotation are normal and found in most good models. Vices are available in several different designs and price classes. The best way to acquire a feeling for the vise that suites your tying style and requirements is to visit a retail store with a good selection of designs and price class. Ask the staff to point out the advantages and disadvantages of the different makes and try them out for yourself.

Tying thread:

See fly tying tutorial # 2

Bobbin holder:

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A poor quality bobbin holder can be infuriating. It is really worth investing in a good quality ceramic bobbin holder, these are far superior to other models. The ceramic tubes are far harder than even the highest quality surgical steel, which eventually becomes worn and develops grooves that will cut the tying thread.

The wire arms of a bobbin holder need to be adjusted to accommodate the particular size of spool being used and the acquire the desired tension. The tension should be light enough for you to easily draw off thread, while still being tight enough to hang free under its own weight without unwinding. Setting the tension on a bobbin holder is as follows:

For less tension pull the two wire arms outward from each other, and to increase tension, the opposite. Try your spool and fine tune the tension accordingly.

Scissors:

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Its unreasonable to expect one pair of scissors to do all the cutting jobs required when tying flies. Eventually you will need at least two. One high quality pair with sharp fine points, for all the fine work and a second pair that are used for heavier work such as tinsel, wire… If you are going to tie many deer hair flies it is also useful to have a longer bladed pair with serrated edges. These “grip” the deer hair and enable flush cutting.

When buying scissors, If you have large hands, make sure that your finger and thumb fit comfortably in the handles.

Dubbing needle:

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This is probably the most simple fly tying tool, but at the same time one of the most useful.  Dubbing needles have many tasks to perform, applying varnish to finished flies, picking out dubbing, splitting hackle fibers, mixing epoxy… Your work space when fly tying can quickly become chaotic beyond recognition, especially when you have tied a few different patterns, and its easy to spend more time looking for your dubbing needle than tying flies. Therefor I have several dubbing needles of mixed diameter standing up-right in a piece of foam.  The point of the dubbing needle can quickly become covered with a build-up of varnish, epoxy and head cement.  This can be scraped away with a blade, but I keep my needles clean with another method. I have an 35 mm film canister that I have filled with wire wool. All you need to do is push your built-up dubbing needle through the canister top down into the wire wool a few times and your needle is as new!

Hackle pliers:

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Its much easier to correctly wind a hackle on a dry fly when you use hackle pliers.  They come in many designs and price classes, like all other fly tying tools.  I use and recommend a rotary model.  The rotary model will keep the hackle from twisting when wound.  Its important that whichever model you choose to use that the sprung jaws have a secure grip, even on the finest hackle points.  A good tip for all models to improve their gripping quality, without damaging the materials to be held, is to glue two small pieces of super fine sand paper on the gripping side of each jaw, then trim them down to fit the edges of the jaws. This will stop materials slipping out of the jaws when maximum tension is applied.

Whip finish tool:

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These again come in various models – the most important distinction being if they are fixed or rotate.  A well designed whip finish tool allows quick and neat finishing of a fly with the correct knot. A whip finish tool is preferred by most professional tyers because the job at hand can be done much faster and neater than a series of half hitch knots done by hand. The Materelli Rotating whip finisher is regarded as the best there is.

Hackle:

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This is probably the most discussed material amongst fly tyers, When buying cock capes / hackles one should understand that ALL capes come from individual birds each with distinctive characteristics. You cant expect the same uniformity as with tins of beans from the supermarket. consider the following factors:

Colour:

Look for the best colour that suites your requirements. The best capes have a even consistency in colour.  This can differ from cape to cape, in both natural and dyed. With your first purchase of quality hackle choose the colour you are most likely to use most, give this some thought. For dry flies look for capes with a good vivid colour that glows, and a high glossy shine. My choice for the three most useful colours for general trout patterns are:

Brown:

From a pale red to dark red but normally called brown. This will cover most of your needs for caddis fly patterns and a good amount of traditional dry flies.

Black:

Jet black in natural capes is a rarity . Nearly all jet black capes are dyed. A black cape is always useful for mayflies, ants, tails and nymphs.

Grizzle:

Is not really a colour but a description of the black chevron barring on a cream or white hackle background. Extremely useful not only alone but mixed as a secondary hackle colour with brown for such patterns as Adams, Europea 12… and the standard hackle for most dry midge patterns.

Condition:

Capes from healthy birds will feel bouncy to the touch and the hackle will shine. Dr Tom Whiting owner of Hoffman, has said that when he chooses birds for breeding he considers not only colour and quality but also the character of birds. No matter how good the colour appears to be, If the bird is nervous and of low spirit he will be low in the pecking order. This will influence health and plumage quality. It is also useful to check the stems of a few hackles and see if they are flexible and not brittle when wound on a hook. Hackles that are brittle are useless.

Feather count:

The more hackles of a good usable quality on a cape is of course desirable. You can again gain a feeling for this just by handling the cape, check it´s depth (thickness). Inspect the individual hackles for barb count, (the density of fibers along a hackle stem) and fibre stiffness. This is difficult for a new beginner but will come with time spent at the tying bench.

Hackle size:

Expensive modern cock capes are generally sized. This means they give you an indication as to what size flies they are most suitable for and ca. how many flies you are able to tie with them. The most useful cape/hackle size for the fly tyer here in Europe is for hooks # 10-16.

Pheasant tail:

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The least expensive and most common pheasant tail used in fly tying is from the Ring neck pheasant.  The best feathers come from the centre of the tail of the male bird (cock pheasant) These long centre tail feathers have the longest fibers and normally the best chevron barred markings. Uses include, legs on nymphs and crane flies, tails on may flies and nymphs, wing cases and the only material needed for the most famous of all nymphs the pheasant tail.

Hares mask:

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This refers to the mask and ears of the European brown hare.  Individual masks range in colour from pale tan to almost black. The texture and length is from fine and soft in the under fur, that is an excellent dubbing. To long and stiff guard hairs, that can be used for feelers and tail in many patterns.  The ears are covered with short stiffer hairs without almost any under fur.  A mixture of hair from the ears and the mask makes one of the best buggy nymph dubbing available. As used in the Gold ribbed hares ear.

Deer Hair:

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See also my earlier post on European roe deer.

Deer hair is normally described as hollow, This doesn´t mean that it´s hollow like a drinking straw, but that each hair is built up of hundreds of small air filled cells. This type of hair structure is most defined in deer from areas with an extreme winter climate. The result, the colder it is, the better the spinning qualities, with some exceptions. The hair from reindeer and the north american caribou. In order to achieve optimal insulation, these hairs hold so many air cells that they have a tendency to be brittle, and break under the pressure  of tying thread.

The winter coat of the Norwegian roe deer has many air filled cells and is ideal for spinning, packing and clipping.  While the hair from the summer coat is somewhat stiffer and extremely fine. A first class hair for tails and winging dry flies.  The colour varies from light red brown on the summer coat to dark grey with darker barred tips on the winter coat.  The best hair for spinning is found on the back of the roe along the spine. This hair is extremely dense, not at all brittle, and floats like a cork. The chalk white hair on the rump is excellent for dying, or for patterns that require white deer hair.

You should also be aware that the roe mask has a diversity of hair that is difficult to equal. Here you will find hair in many different lengths, shades of brown and coarseness. Ideal for dry´s from # 10 and down to the very smallest comparaduns. Anyone who ties caddis flies shouldn’t be without a roe mask.

If you know a hunter or a game keeper, try and secure yourself a whole roe skin, you wont be disappointed.

Polypropylene Yarn:

A smooth or rough textured synthetic yarn available in many colours.  Being less dense than water, poly yarn is particularly suited to dry fly applications, such as wings, parachute posts, shuck cases, loop wings…  Silicon coated yarn, is even more water repellant than standard polypropylene.

Peacock eye:

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The eye tail feather from the peacock (male bird) provides us with the famous herl. Covered in iridescent  green fibers and used for wound bodies and butts in hundreds of patterns. For stripped herl patterns the best herl to use is from just under the eye of the feather. These herl´s are stronger here than otherwise found on the lower tail.

CdC:

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CdC in short for Cul de canard or more correctly Croupion de Canard, was first used as a fly tying material in the 1920s in Switzerland.  In more recent years the Swiss perfectionist Marc Petitjean has been responsible for popularizing the use of this material.  All birds have these feathers, but the best for fly tying come from ducks.  The feathers are located around the gland that produces preening oil. This highly water repellant oil is collected on these small feathers,  and its here the bird obtains the oil with its bill to dress its feathers.  Without this oil the bird would drown.  The small fibers catch tiny air bubbles that work wonderfully on emerger patterns. Besides its excellent floating properties CdC

is not only extremely aqua-dynamic pulsating with life in the water, but also hydrodynamic. A CdC hackle will collapse under air pressure while casting, but as soon as the cast ends the hackle opens and falls perfectly back to its intended shape.

Dubbing:

See also my post on dubbing:

Just about all natural furs, feathers and hairs can be used as one form of dubbing or another.

Many tyers have become use to mixing there own dubbing material, in a particular texture or colour, or even mixing several different materials to give a special sparkle or shade. When choosing a natural material for a dry fly, think a little about the animal or bird that it comes from,  the fur and under fur from a beaver or mink is excellent as this has a lot of natural water repellent oils, this will make it float well.  The under fur is also very fine, this enables you to dub extremely small dry fly bodies.  Where as for a buggy nymph you would need a material that will absorb water and sink and command a little more volume that a fine dry fly body. Synthetic dubbing is available in literally thousands of colours and textures for all types of flies. So consider the requirements of the dubbing needed for the job at hand before beginning to tie your flies.

Varnish:

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Head cements and varnishes used in fly tying have come a long way in the last decade. But still In some fly tying circles, purists believe that glue has no place, and should never be used in fly tying. I am of the school that uses both super glue and epoxy in most of my tying. The best varnish to start with in Veniards Clear fine.  This varnish is easily absorbed by most tying threads and dries hard with a reasonably glossy finish.  If you would like a super hard glossy finish I recommend that you firstly coat the head of your fly with Veniards clear fine, after this is dry, you can then give it a coat with nail varnish. The best nail varnishes are Revlon Top speed and Sally Hansens Hard as nails.

Hooks:

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Dry fly hooks:

Dry fly hooks are normally all fine diameter wire hooks that are made from standard, fine or superfine wire so that there is minimum weight in the hook making the fly float better. 1X being the standard and 4X the thinnest

The most important thing to remember when choosing your dry fly hook is the right hook for the particular pattern you are going to tie without jeopardizing strength.  A superfine hook has more chance of straightening when fighting a large fish.  For “regular” high floating deer hair and hair wing dry flies a standard wire hook will suffice. And for the tiny dry flies #18 and smaller, standard wire hooks will work fine and give you all the strength you need, even for big fish.  As these hooks are so small they nearly float on there own.

Wet fly and Nymph hooks:

Both your standard wet fly and nymph hooks are in the same category, with the exception of some more recent specialist hooks that fall under the Emerger category. They are both normally made with a heavier diameter wire to give the hook extra weight, in order to make it sink. Generally the standard nymph hook is a little longer in the hook shank, to give you room to imitate the slender body of the natural insect.

Emerger hooks:

These are hooks that normally have more bend than hook shaft, that are designed to imitate hatching insects that are hanging in the surface water film. The bent hook shaft helps the fly tyer imitate this stage, with the rear part of the body of the insect submerged  and the thorax and wing case above.

Streamer hooks:

Because almost all streamer patterns are tied to imitate small fish, the hooks that are used for streamers tend to reflect the natural body shape of  bait fish of various sizes. Most streamer hooks are made of standard diameter wire or heavy and come in various shank lengths.

Hook Size:

Hook sizes are were most fly tiers can get confused. The number on a hook generally refers to the relative size of each hook with respect to each other. However there is NO industry standard and different manufactures have different standards for applying numbers to their own sizes.

The most important thing to remember is that the size number on a hook packet is a “relative size” NOT a actual measurement of a hook.

The higher the number i.e. (# 28, very small hook) the hook size is increasing with a decreasing number.

The lower the number i.e. (#1, large hook) will increase in size with an increasing number i.e. (# 8/0, very large hook) the larger the hook size.


Bug Bond Thunder Creek.

Bug Bond Thunder Creek, a great salt water sea trout pattern.

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.

1
Secure your straight eye streamer hook securely fixed in the vice.

Attatch your tying thread and cover the first third of the hook shank.

3
Now cut a small bunch of buck tail and even the ends in a hair stacker. measure the hair bunch to the correct length required and tie in as shown, on top of the hook shank.

4
Turn your hook up side down in the vice.

5
Tie in another bunch of lighter buck tail on the underside of the hook shank. This should be just a little shorter than the first. Make sure that the forward whippings of tying thread are tight into the hook eye.

6
Now apply a little dubbing to the tying thread and build up a tight dense base for the head of the baitfish. Make sure that the head is not larger than the initial butts of buck tail. Finish with the tying thread hanging at the base of the head.

7
This stage can be done free hand, but you can achieve much better results using a transparent plastic tube. Place the tube over the eye of the hook pushing the buck tail back to form the wing.

8
Make a few tight turns of tying thread to form the head. The Bucktail wing will flare outwards.

9
Carefully remove the tube, by twisting it from side to side while carefully pulling off the head. Make a few more secure tight turns of tying thread and whip finish. Apply the tape eyes one each side. To set the wing flat wet your fingers and stroke the wing.

10
The only thing remaining now is to coat the head with Bug Bond. The first coat is just to secure the tape eyes. Make sure that when applying the next two coats that you cover the band of tying thread. When the wing dry’s it will remain flat.


Edson Tiger

The modifide Edson Tiger with the Brass Eyes.

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.

Chris Helm doing his thing at the Dutch fly fair

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

Secure your streamer hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread and run this along the hook shank.  Tie in a length of flat gold tinsel for the tag, this should be just three or four turns.

Once you have tied off your tag and removed the surplus you can tie in three or four long strands of peacock herl at the base of the tag.

Select a wood duck flank feather with good barring and cut out a slip, line up all the bars if uneven and fold in half. This will give barring on each side of the tail. Tie off.

Run the tying thread back to the tail and twist together the peacock herl and tying thread to strengthen it and wind on to form the body. Tie off the peacock herl.

Select and clean a small bunch of yellow buck tailf or the wing. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. This should be no longer than the tail end.

The topping is a small bunch of red hackle fibers tied in on top of the wing as shown. It should be approximately one-third of the total wing length.

Now tie in the jungle cock cheeks, one each side. Make sure that both jungle cock eye´s are equal in size and well balanced. Whip finish.

All that is left to be done now to finish your EdsonnTiger is varnish the head yellow.

The Eyes are available along with a good

selection of Mustad streamer hooks from

Chris Helm at:

http://www.whitetailflytieing.com/


Cottus Gobio

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Hook: Mustad R 74 # 2

Thread: Dyneema

Tail: Siberian squirrel tail hair

Body : Squirrel tron dark hares ear dubbing

Rib: Fine copper wire

Wing: Pine squirrel zonker strip

Collar: Natural red fox body hair spun in dubbing loop

Gill covers: 2 Ring neck pheasant “church window” feathers coated with Bug Bond

Head: Natural kangaroo body hair spun in dubbing loop and clipped to shape

Eyes : Epoxy eyes

The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognized the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet a 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.   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, the combination possibilities are endless. Another advantage with the zonker, unlike buck tail 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 are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by attaching the eyes with super glue and coating them with Bug Bond 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.

1Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.

1
Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.

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3
Cut a good bunch of Siberian squirrel tail with clear markings. Stack the hair and tie in for the tail. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook shank. If you would like to add weight to your fly, this is the time to do it.
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4
Now tie in a length of medium copper wire, at the tail base for the rib.

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5
Dubb your tying thread with dark hares ear Antron dubbing and start making the body of the minnow.

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6
Once you have wound the dubbing forward in a tapered body, about one cm from the hook eye, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush. This will give more body and movement to the finished streamer.

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7
Cut a zonker strip from a pine squirrel hide. Make sure that the strip is tapered to a point at the tail of the strip.

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8
Again try and choose a squirrel strip that has nice markings and a good taper.

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9
Place the zonker strip up on top of the body of the fly so that it´s the same length as the tail. Now wind on the copper wire rib.

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10
Take care not to trap the fibers of the squirrel as you go. There should be no more that six turns of copper wire between the tail base and the end of the body.

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11
Once you have reached the end of the body tie off the copper wire and the zonker strip. Remove the excess and tie down.

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12
Now place a strip of natural red fox body hair still on the hide in a paper clip or the Marc Petitjean magic tool as used here.

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13
Make a dubbing loop an spin the fox hair into a dubbing brush.

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14
Wind on the fox dubbing brush making sure that you comb the hair back and up with each turn, this will form the over wing of the streamer. If you have some fox hair that has accumulated on the underside of the throat trim this away, this same depth as the body.

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15
Now select two ring neck pheasant church window feathers, the same size. Coat these with Bug Bond.

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16
Now tie these in, concave out, as shown. One each side to form the fins. These also give a wobbler effect on the streamer when fished.

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17
Make another dubbing loop. Here I have used natural kangaroo body hair. If you dont have kangaroo you can use another coarse natural hair.

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18
Now wind on the dubbing brush forward tight into the rear of the hook eye. Again taking care not to trap and tie down the hair as you go.

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19
Whip finish. Before you begin to trim and form your streamer head, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush to open the hair and give more volume. Trim the head to shape.

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20
Select two epoxy fly eyes, these should be a little larger than the natural for the size of the streamer. This will give a slightly more efficient attractor factor.

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21
The finished streamer.


The Midas touch, confessions of a nymph-omaniac.

Bling, bling, Midas nymphs are the right way to go for winter grayling.

The Midas nymph is my rendition on a more common pattern called the copper John, which uses copper wire instead of gold oval tinsel amongst other things. The interesting thing about the copper John, according to Bruce Olsen sales manager for Umpqua Feather Merchants, The worlds largest manufacturer of commercially tied flies, the copper John is the best selling trout fly in the world. “We sell them by the tens of thousands” Bruce says, and thats just the original copper version. When you add in all the colour variant of that pattern, the numbers get to be absolutely staggering.”

 

Thousands of anglers around the world cant be wrong. If you haven’t tied and fished with the copper John, its probably time you did!

Head: Gold brass bead head

Hook: Mustad S6ONP-BR # 16-10

Tying thread: Dyneema

Tail: Golden pheasant topping

Body: Medium gold oval tinsel coated with Bug Bond  http://www.veniard.com/section188/  http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/

Thorax: Peacock  herl

Legs: Goose biots

Wing case: Medium oval gold tinsel

 

After having great success with bead head nymphs for both trout and grayling, over a period of time a pattern began to develop. Since the introduction of bead heads in the early eighties, we all know how well they fish, but if I was fishing with exactly the same weighted nymph, but tied with a black bead head instead of a gold one, the amount of takes where not dramatic, but noticeably reduced! So my natural chain of thought is that its the gold head which was the main attractor factor. Why not try a nymph that is totally gold !  After my initial attempts, I quickly discovered that the tinsel body and thorax where extremely venerable to small sharp teeth, and had a very short lifespan. But a coat or two with Bug Bond or Epoxy sorted that out.  This is a relatively new pattern and I have only fished it seriously last season, although the results where good, its still too early to say how good! Tie some up and try for yourself, you won’t be disappointed! This spring it will also be tested on sea trout…

 

1
Place your bead head on the hook and secure in the vice.

2
Run the tying thread over the whole length of the hook shank.

3
Tie in one or two small golden pheasant toppings as the tail.

4
On the underside of the hook shank tie in a good length of medium gold oval tinsel. The oval is better, round tinsel has a tendency to slip down the body.

5
You can now dub a tapered underbody. If you would like to add extra weight you could build up the under body with lead wire.

6
Now wind on the tinsel in tight even turns to form a segmented nymph body. Stop with good room for the thorax.

7
You can now give the body a good coat with Bug Bond. This not only protects the tinsel but also gives it extra “bling”. Cut four lengths of gold oval tinsel and tie these in to form the wing case, tight into the body.

8
Now apply a little more dubbing to bring the thorax up-to the required diameter.

9
At the base of the body tie in a good long peacock herl and move your tying thread froward to the bead head.

10
Make four or five turns with the herl and tie off. But dont trim off the remainder of the herl
you will need this later.

 

 

11
Take two goose biots and tie these in one each side of the thorax for the legs.

12
Cover the rest of the thorax with a few turns of peacock herl and tie off behind the bead head.

13
Now fold over the tinsel wing case and secure with a couple of loose turns of tying thread, trim off the tinsel wing case about three mm above the two loose turns of tying thread. This is so when you tighten the loose turns, the trimmed ends will disappear under and into the bead head.

14
carefully give the wing case a coat of Bug Bond, making sure that it doesn’t get onto the peacock herl thorax.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Helter Skelter Pike Fly jig.

My Helter Skelter pike jig works on all the pikes attractor senses!

Hook Mustad S74SZ # 2/0-4/0

Thread Dyneema

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.

1
Secure your hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread at the bend of the hook as shown.

2
Cut a length of E-Z body XL and singe the fibers at one end with a lighter. This is important as it will give purchase for the tying thread and stop it slipping off the tube.

3
Thread the E-Z body over the hook shank until you come to the tying thread.

4
Tie the end of the E-Z body down. Make sure this is secure.

5
Whip finish and remove your tying thread. You must now apply varnish or bug bond to the tying whippings. Trim the E-Z body down to about 4 mm longer than the hook eye and seal the fibers again.

6
Draw back the E-Z body tube and attach your tying thread 4-5 mm behind the hook eye.
Now insert 3-5 large beads inside the E-Z body cavity. These have several purposes. They not only give weight and sound by rattling against each other while fishing, but they also influence the swimming action of the fly. As you retrieve, the beads roll back and forth in the belly of the streamer making it tip up and down and extremely attractive.

7
Tie down the E-Z body tube to seal the the body.

8
Tie inn a under wing of white buck tail, this will support the finer more mobile over wing material.

9
Now tie in a length of white Icelandic sheep, the wrong way as shown. This will give a little volume to the head section. This should be a little longer than the buck tail under wing.

10
Now fold over the white Icelandic sheep. You will see that the head of the fly will be lifted, like a pompadour.

11
Cut a length of chartreuse or yellow Icelandic sheep and tie this in the correct way over the white wing.

12
Cut a smaller bunch of lime green big fish fiber keeping the crimped ends, these again will give volume just above the head of the streamer.

13
Colour two large grizzle hackles yellow with a waterproof felt pen.

14
Tie these in as the sides.

15
Using a drop of super glue attach two large mobile or dolls eyes, one each side and central to the hook eye. Once the eyes are attached you can then fill the opening between both eyes over and under the hook eye with Bug Bond or Epoxy.

16
The finished Helter skelter pike streamer.


Edson Tiger

The modifide Edson Tiger with the Brass Eyes.

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.

Chris Helm doing his thing at the Dutch fly fair

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

Secure your streamer hook in the vice. Attach your tying thread and run this along the hook shank.  Tie in a length of flat gold tinsel for the tag, this should be just three or four turns.

Once you have tied off your tag and removed the surplus you can tie in three or four long strands of peacock herl at the base of the tag.

Select a wood duck flank feather with good barring and cut out a slip, line up all the bars if uneven and fold in half. This will give barring on each side of the tail. Tie off.

Run the tying thread back to the tail and twist together the peacock herl and tying thread to strengthen it and wind on to form the body. Tie off the peacock herl.

Select and clean a small bunch of yellow buck tailf or the wing. Stack the hair in a hair stacker. This should be no longer than the tail end.

The topping is a small bunch of red hackle fibers tied in on top of the wing as shown. It should be approximately one-third of the total wing length.

Now tie in the jungle cock cheeks, one each side. Make sure that both jungle cock eye´s are equal in size and well balanced. Whip finish.

All that is left to be done now to finish your EdsonnTiger is varnish the head yellow.

The Eyes are available along with a good

selection of Mustad streamer hooks from

Chris Helm at:

http://www.whitetailflytieing.com/


The word has it, that the worm is 14 days early this year!

The rag worm fly is without doubt one of the most difficult patterns to tie, but the rewards can be great!

The ragworms 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 with fish. Although ragworms are on the sea trouts menu the whole year round, its in the spring under the annual swarming that the sea trout will go on a feeding frenzy and gorge themselves on the worms.

The real deal.

There are many patterns known to sea trout fishermen to imitate the worm, some better than others, some simple to tie and some, not so simple to tie. I believe the original pattern from the tying bench of innovative Swedish fly tyer Robert Lai is still for me, without a doubt the best. Robert´s pattern is probably one of the most challenging patterns, many fly tyers will ever learn to tie, but the rewards are great.  No other worm pattern swims and pulsates in the water like his, imitating the natural swimming worm as closely as humanly possible with feather and steel.

Although we are not 100% sure, and thats not for lack of theories! But the spring swarming is due to the worms spawning season and seems to be triggered by two main factors. A rise in water temperature 6-7 degrees, and the arrival of a new lunar phase, (full moon) from anywhere  around mid March and into April.  The female ragworm broods her eggs within her long flattened body and as the eggs develop her body becomes brittle and eventually splits, releasing the eggs. The male ragworms are attracted to the egg laying by following pheromones, that are also released by the females. After spawning, both male and female ragworms die.

Ragg worm swarming can be very local in most situations, and it’s not easy to know where. Then you should look to the sky, beacause the greedy and forever hungry sea gulls can show you the way.  If you can see that screaming sea gulls are flocking and circle around a area of coast, this shows you where to fish – just like the pelicans when tarpon fishing. Consider  also when the strong spring sun has been high in the sky all day and warming up the shallow’s, especially with dark muddy bottoms. Most sea trout fishermen, including myself, prefer sight fishing during the day looking for rises as you fish systematically, possible holding spots in small bays and inlets as the tide rises and falls. But if you are, as most sea trout fishermen, hoping to connect with  larger fish that are normally wiser and more sceptical about entering the shallower coastal waters during the hours of daylight. 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.

The pattern I have tied here started off, 15 years ago, as a direct copy of Robert´s original pattern, but over the years it has changed a little, but this had more to do with receding memory on my part, than anything to do with developing the pattern. But the basic original principal is still there and the pattern still works. There are a few rules one must follow when tying this pattern. The tail hook should be small and light in weight. Because the worm has an extremely flexible body, a larger and heavier tail hook has a tendency to “Hang-up” on the body under casting, which results in you fishing a ball of marabou with the hook out of-line.  A heavier tail hook also reduces the  animation and swimming motion of the worm by restricting the tail from lifting when the bead head sinks.  Another point is the central core of the fly, not the loop that you spun the marabou onto but the Dyneema spine that holds the front hook to the tail hook.  This is Alfa and Omega regarding the success of tying this pattern. If the spine is not securely attached to the front hook, you can risk loosing, not only the business end of your worm but also fish. So make sure that you tie this in as well as you can and don´t be afraid to use super glue.  The Latin name for the common ragworm is Nereis diversicolor, meaning they are quite variable in colour, but typically reddish brown and turning more on the green side during the spawning season.  So the rule for colour is that there is no rule, you can tie the worm in any colour you like! Personally I have found the two most successful colours for me are the one shown here and bright orange. And don´t forget that ragworms are on the sea trout menu the whole year, so don´t restrict your fishing with it just to the spring, it´s also a deadly pattern for regular trout fishing.

Hook Tail: Mustad Shrimp C47SD # 8

Hook Head: Mustad Shrimp C47SD # 6

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Central Core: Dyneema

Tail: Black and Olive brown marabou

Body: Black and Olive brown marabou

Head: Brass or Tungsten bead

1
Secure your salt water # 8 tail hook in the vice.

2
Cover the hook with a foundation of Dyneema tying thread. I use Dyneema because it is salt water resistant and weight for weight stronger than quality steel.

3
Select some fine tapered olive and black marabou and tie in the tail. Colour your Dyneema with a black waterproof felt pen.

4
Load two paper clips or a Marc Petitjean magic tool, one with black marabou and one with olive. Make sure that the marabou fibres are not too long.

5
Once you have loaded your paper clips make a dubbing loop that is 2.5 times the length of your paper clips. Make sure that you dubbing loop begins tight against the tail of the fly. Colour the dubbing loop black with a waterproof felt pen.

6
Holding the loop open with your left hand place in the black marabou.

7
Now you have to take care! Once the black marabou is trapped in between the dubbing loop make sure you dont release the tension. Otherwise all the marabou will fall out.

8
Whilst keeping the tension in the first marabou by holding the dyneema loop with your left forefinger and thumb place in the olive marabou approximately 1 cm further down the loop. Now retain the tension in the loop and let the bottom half hang over your forefinger. Spin the bottom half of the loop tight.

9
Once you have spun the bottom half, while keeping the tension in the loop, lift and pull your dubbing spinner off your finger and the upper half of the loop will spin automatically, catching the black marabou. You can now spin the whole loop to tighten the marabou securely.

10
While holding the loop out stretched and tight use an old tooth brush (not a metal dubbing brush! this will fray and weaken your Dyneema) to open out any trapped marabou fibres.

11
Hang your dubbing loop in a material spring or clip, so that it doesn´t unwind while you are working on the rest of the fly. Using a even stronger Dyneema, cut a 30 cm length and double it. Place the looped end through the tail hook eye as shown.

12
Now thread the two ends of the core Dyneema through the loop in the hook eye.

13
And pull tight. You can now place a little drop of super glue on the knot.

14
Colour the core Dyneema with a black waterproof felt pen and then lie it down on top of the spun dubbing loop.

15
While holding the Dyneema core and the dubbing loop in your right hand, catch the centre of the dubbing loop with the hook end of a whip finish tool.

16
Fold the dubbing loop over as shown towards the tail hook.

17
While holding the dubbing spinner in place with your left hand remove the whip finish tool from the loop. You will now see the loop spin automatically together. Secure the dubbing loop to the tail hook by tying down a small section, and then folding over the dyneema and tying down again (see stage 23). Repeat this until you are sure it is secure. Remove the access dyneema tying thread and carefully apply a drop of super glue to the whippings . Taking care not to get it on the marabou.

18
Find the core loop again and attach your whip finish tool. Now you should be able to slide the marabou dubbing loop down the core a little. Remove the hook from your vice.

19
Place a bead onto the # 6 shrimp hook and secure in the vice. Once in the vice place a few wrapping of lead wire behind the bead head. This extra weight gives a much better swimming action.

20
Using your thumb nail push the lead wire into the bead head.

21
Attach your tying thread and secure the lead wire and bead head.

22
Tie in the core of the fly as shown.

23
Once the first part of the core is attached apply a drop of super glue.

24
Fold over the core and tie down again. Apply another small drop of super glue.

25
Once you have secured the core slide the dubbing loop up and tie this down. Once you are happy that everything is in place apply another small drop of super glue.

26
Move your tying thread to the rear of the hook shaft and make another dubbing loop. Don´t forget to colour the dyneema black. Spin in some olive marabou.

27
Wind on the last dubbing loop, making sure that you stroke the marabou fibres back with each turn.

28
Take a few black marabou fibres and tie these in over the olive ones. Whip finish and apply a tiny drop of super glue through the eye of the bead.

29
Cut off the point of the front hook with a strong pair of pliers. Be careful with your eyes when doing this as the point comes off like a bullet.

Proof of the pudding!


Fender Parachute

My good friends hunting dog, Fender and just one of the many animals and huge amounts of materials he secures for my fly tying every year.

Fender secures more meat wrapped in materials for the winter.

This is a quick and simple parachute technique that requires only deer hair and Bug Bond.

Hook: Mustad C49

Tying thread: Dyneema

Body: Moose mane hair

Hackle: Roe deer hair and Bug Bond

Thorax: Underfur from deer or moose winter coat.

1.
Secure your emerger hook in the vice with as much of the bend clear of the jaws.

2.
Run your tying thread from just behind the hook eye down deep into the bend.

3.
Select some long Moose mane hairs.

4.
You will need two long hairs from the moose mane, one white and one black.

5.
Tie in the moose hairs by the points at the base of the hook bend.

6.
Build up a slight forward taper on the fly body with tying thread.

7.
Take both hair at once, with the black hair at the bottom and begin to wind on in even tight turns.

8.
Continue over the whole hook shank until you come to the thorax. Tie off.

9.
Trim off the surplus hair and tie down ends. Although these moose mane hairs are remarkably strong you can give the body a coat with Bug Bond.

10.
Cut and stack a small bunch of deer hair. Tie this in as a parachute post.

11.
At the base of the hairs from a winter coat of a moose or deer there is a dense under fur. Remove enough to dub the thorax.

12.
Dub the thorax behind and forward of the post.

13.
Place your finger tip in the centre of the deer hair post and press down until the deer hair flattens out.

14.
Place a small drop of Bug Bond in the center of the deer hair parachute hackle.

15.
Give the Bug Bond a zap with the UV light.

16.
The finished Fender emerger, made only from deer hair and Bug Bond.

17.
The view from below. Its a perfect quick and simple parachute hackle.


Deer Hair Immerger.

The deer hair Immerger.

Presentation is alfa and omega when fishing emergers.

This incredibly simple pattern, truly, it only takes a few minutes to tie! makes emergers into immergers. This technique places your pattern right below the surface film (immersed) as if the insect is actually climbing out of the shuck onto the surface.

Taking my Fender emerger one step further by extending the deer hair parachute post which places the entire hook, and tippet point entirely under the surface…

All you need:

Hook: Mustad C49S  http://www.mustad.no/productcatalog/product.php?id=177

Tying Thread: Dyneema

Body: Moose hair coated with Bug Bond  for Bug Bond see links: http://www.bug-bond.moonfruit.com/   http://www.veniard.com/section188/

Post: Deer hair wrapped in moose hair coated with Bug Bond

Parachute hackle: Deer hair

1.
Tie your bicolored moose hair body. You can see the full step by step for this in my earlier post ‘Fender parachute’.

2.
Cut and stack a small bunch of deer hair central in the thorax.

3.
Turn your hook so the deer hair post is at 90 degrees and make some wraps of tying thread to reinforce the post base.

4.
Tie in two moose mane hairs, one black one white, along the length of the post finishing under the parachute hair.

5.
Once you have wrapped the moose hair emerger post, tie off the moose hair, remove the excess and return your hook to the regular position.

6.
Coat the post with Bug Bond and tie in two long peacock herl’s, by the points at the rear of the thorax.

7.
Wrap the peacock herl over the whole thorax and tie off. Remove the excess.

8.
Using your index finger press the deer hair post down to form the parachute hackle.

9.
Carefully place a small drop of Bug Bond in the center of the deer hair hackle. Make sure it penetrates the deer hair.

10.
Give the Bug Bond a zap with the UV light to cure.

11.
You may wish to add one more drop to hold the deer hair hackle in place.

12.
The finished deer hair immerger, in the correct posture.

13.
Front view.

14.
View from underneath.

Only deer hair and Bug Bond…