Friday, November 29, 2013

Ice Nymph/Midge Tying Tutorial

This is not an original pattern and I suspect it has been independently developed more then once, but what matters is it catches fish. In the previous post on Midges I gave a gallery of the ones I put together and keep ini my box.  Most of which are simple variations of the pattern tutorial below. Very minor material changes can produce dynamically different midge/nymph patterns.

The color of thread is the most obvious thing to change to result in a totally different color fly, but adding flash for the underbody adds additional variations. Plus different types of flash make for very different color patterns. The choice of rib can also change how prominent the segmentation is on a fly. You might surprised how much of  difference extra small wire versus small wire makes on a size 20 fly.

Let's get to the vise.
Place beaded hook securely in the vise.
Start the thread (UTC 70) behind the bead and secure wraps down the hook away form the bead use as few wraps as possible.  Its important through out this fly to not build up wraps behind the bead until both the Flashabou under body and wire rib have been wrapped back forward (see steps below).
Insert Ultrawire size small into the back of the bead and secure with a few wraps. 

Also insert 2-4 strands of silver Flashabou behind the bead and secure with several wraps.

Now wrap down into the bend of the hook with close flat wraps to bind the flash and wire to the hook.

Return the thread forward to just behind the bead.

Wrap the Flashabou forward with consecutive wraps to cover the entire hook up to the bead. Then tie off the Flashabou with a minimal number of wraps. Finally cut the tag ends.

Make well spaced wire wraps with the Ultrwire to create the rib over the Flashabou body. Then tie off the wire and cut the tag end using old scissors or wire cutters.

Dub white ice dub on to the thread.

Wrap the dubbed thread behind the bead.

Whip finish the fly. 

Go Fishing.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Midges on my Mind

So after a good fishing trip where size 20 midge/nymphs kicked some butt for me. I felt compelled to tie a few more up in some other colors.  Here is a little gallery. I'm hoping to get a tutorial up later this week.
 Size 20 caddis hook

Thread: UTC 70
Rib: Small Ultrawire
Head: Gold Bead
Body: thread or palmered Flashabou
Thorax: Ice dub or Superfine dubbing

Monday, November 11, 2013

Oktoberfisch A Texas Must for Fly Fishers

I would like to follow up on my experiences at Oktoberfisch (Oct. 18-20, 2013) this year. It was the first time that I was able to attend and I had a blast.

Oktoberfisch is put on by the Fredricksburg Fly Fishers on the Llano River outside of Junction, TX.

Due to weather conditions I got up to Oktoberfisch and met up with the Alamo Fly Fishers very early Saturday morning (I can't comment on any mischief before then). Temps were in the upper 30s when I arrived.....way to cold for a native central Texan as far as I am concerned. Needless to say I was in waders the whole trip....

Testicle numbing water aside....We killed a bit of time walking around the camp seeing old friends from other clubs and making new ones.  As one of the local fishing gurus likes to put it...."Central Texas stream fish are very gentlemanly and don't wake up until after 10:00 am." This is true in a mid Texas summer and more so at the 30-40 degree temps we were experiencing.

So I took my time, go registered and examined my way through the tables of raffle items and booths. Throughout the day many different  classes were going on. They ranged to from beginners casting an entomology crash course put on by Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Beginners and more advanced tying courses were offered too.  For myself the course in two handed techniques was a must....and I even had my "never got the chance to use it" switch rod with me. However, it was an afternoon class and the sun has warmed enough for me to loose a layer of clothing.

Gentlemanly fish might just be waking up.....

Bullys Blue Gill Spider
So down the river my fishing buddy and I went.  Kayaking the Llano during this event is very common, but we decided to wade it. Both of us are avid "perch jerkers" and find wading to be our most productive method to work a shore line. Its a game of numbers and only occasionally something of size shows up.

Rio Grander Cichlid
We went up to the first road crossing from the park and worked our way down river for several hours. It was slow at first, but as temps rose fishing got better. Unexpectedly Texas Cichlids were the dominant catch for me.  A couple species of sunfish snuck in to the mix too, but no bass for me

Time came to return for my class. The instructor discussed the techniques and various set ups on the demo rods he has for the students to try. I got to cast a "Ballistic “ Vector”  Series" from Ballistic Spey lines on what I think was a 9wt. The fly line functionally was a large shooting head with an integrated running line. It was a cannon....Definitely thinking about its possible jetty applications. The instructors transitioned over to working with individual students so I went and got my Cabelas LSi Switch rod  (an 11 ft  7wt). I have this rod set up for Skagit style casting and Rio lines (ask on Facebook if you want more details).

I walked up to the instructor and flat out said "I bought it on special and I don't know how to use it?"

The instructor said let me cast it and after a couple more details about how it was set up we were off and running. He showed me the basics and had me get into the water work through the casts.

Below is a a video after I had been a casting a while and it wasn't the best cast I made but it illustrates how much I got out this little course and the consensus was that all the coursed had results like I got.

After the class it was time to go cast some rods.....most of which are out of this poor grad students price when else would I get to cast them.

The guys from Living Waters Fly Fishing brought an assortment of rods out cast. The rod me and friend just HAD to cast was the Scott Fiberglass rod. The had the 2wt.......I felt like Tinkerbell casting waving a fairy wand. Don't get me wrong it could cast very well, but it was so light in the hand I would take me a while to get used to it.

The evening was concluded with a steak dinner and a raffle.  I won  a fly line in the raffle and there were rumors our table might have had the rowdiest bunch of guys there.....but I cannot confirm or deny such information.

Sunday morning was met with a mild hangover....good scotch does go with fly fishing.....

But no hangover shall eve keep me from fishing!

So we journeyed on the confluence of the Llano and James rivers to fish.

Again we waded through the waters.

This was good fishing.

I pulled 28 sunfish out of a single overhanging tree and just kept catching the further I waded.

Water clarity was pretty poor from recent rains so it was all about dark sinking flies.

The event as a whole would be a great way to bring new fly fishers in to the fold. Complete novices can learn from scratch and more advanced fisherman can pick up some new tips and tricks.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Video of the Week.

While I'm always happy to promote Texas Fly Fishing in general. I can't help, but call this the video of the week when I found myself in it unexpectedly. More importantly my fly box made it into the video.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lessons on Old and New Scissors

Assorted Scissors 

The scissors at your fly tying desk are a really critical part of your tying arsenal. Admittedly, it has taken me a while to get a good grip of what scissors I like and how to make use of different types of scissors. I give full credit to my various local mentors, online videos, and some good old trial and error. I hope this article will pass my lessons on to others.

All Purpose Scissor
Terra Fly Tying Kit
Like most folks, I started with the basic scissors that came with my fly tying started kit. At this point I would never buy scissors like that again. That has little to do with any fault of the scissors themselves, but there are scissors I find more apt for tying.

Obviously, scissors are all about the blade shape and size.

The basic fly tying scissor is an all purpose shaped blade of medium length. These are solid scissors, but they are almost always bound together by a non-removable screw/rivet and can't be easily sharpened. They should fit easily in most hands, but big thick fingers will always have challenges with tying scissors, sorry maybe open loop scissors can help.

4" Razor Scissors
My favorite all purpose scissors are Dr. Slick Razor Scissors 4". These are super sharp and taper to a near micro tip size. They fit really well in my hand. I tie with my scissors in my hand at all times and the size in hand is important to my comfort at the vise.  The adjustable tension is also very nice to make for comfortable and delicate control. I also just recently purchased the Allen Fly Fishing equivalent of this scissor but, I haven't had it long enough appropriately to comment on its use. However, the scissors have a remarkably similar feel.

Razor tip
In the line of tension scissors I also have the 5" Razor scissors made by Green Caddis Outfitters. This size is a little big for my hand held approach and the tip doesn't taper as small as the Dr. Slick's, but they are great for cutting things like foam or dear hair when I need a long straight cut.

From Left to Right: Allen 4" Razor, Green Caddis 5" Razor, 4" Dr. Slick
My final point about the wonders of razor scissors is that they can be sharpened. Since a removable tension screw is what holds the blades together they can be removed and sharpened like a knife.  They should only be sharpened on a very fine flat ceramic (I will follow up on sharpening in another blog). If you have immediate questions shoot me a message on Facebook.

I also keep a pair of curved tip scissors at my desk which are great for setting the curve of deer hair flies or cutting the mouth out of Morrish hopper bodies.

Allen Micro tip
Micro tip scissors are in my "not used to often drawer" at the tying bench, but they are there for a reason. I don't tie for freshwater trout often, but when I am working on small nymphs they can be a real asset to deal with the small hook size. (the current pair is also from Allen Fly Fishing)

Finally I use a set of craft scissors to deal with anything
that will heavily wear on scissors like cutting dear hair off the hide. A trick I picked up from Pat Cohen's DVD. Don't get me wrong these should be high quality craft scissors. As with all scissors its about a sharp edge.

As I mentioned before, when you get into fly tying for the first time you usually end up with basic scissors. However unless you started out well mentored (unlike me), you will dull these scissors very fast because you didn't realize you should really have at least two pairs of scissors each for dealing with different materials.

Fear not......Those dull scissors can have lots of uses.

The foremost use I have for just about any dull scissors is cutting wires. Admittedly, I don't use them for heavy wires like bite tippets, but for most ribbing and lead wires they work well. Once you have dull pair that means you don't have worry about using your sharp scissors.  An additional advantage once you have your wire tied on a fly is that dull scissors fit into tight spaces a lot more easily the standard wire cutters.

If you happen to have dull pair of arrow scissors I substitute the notch below the blades on mine for wire cutters to separate bead chain eyes. I have used it for up to large size eyes without any problem, but I tie with medium eyes for most flies. The notch is more then enough to deal with medium bead chain.

I hope these tips help you take make full used of scissors. If you have any further questioins message me on the Siren Flies Facebook Page

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Interview with a Mayfly Gallery

I had a visitor on my tent that was rather photo friendly. Here is a short photo gallery of the photos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Video of the Week: Kenny Morrish Interview

This video came through my Facebook feed from Idylwilde Flies. Its a really neat interview with one of their signature tiers. Check it out.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Commentary on Fiberglass Fly Rods

Anyone who has read some of my previous posts knows I'm a big advocate of getting involved with your local fly club and again I am drawing on my experiences with the Alamo Fly Fishers as the basis for this commentary.

I give credit to Cameron Mortenson of the Fiberglass Manifesto for first peaking my interest in glass rods, but I admit to knowing little or nothing about them when I first discovered his blog. Then as I got involved with Alamo Fly Fishers I got know several members that swore by glass rods for "perch jerk'n."

"Perch Jerk'n" is targeting sunfish and the occasional black bass. Here in central Texas that translates to wading in gin clear streams and targeting fish in shade (even fish know to get out of the heat in Texas summers). In general, I would be fishing flies in size 10 or 12 (check the Siren Flies Facebook page for the flies).

Initially, on these "perch jerk'n" fishing excursions I fished my graphite rods, but found myself very quickly moving from a 5wt to a 2wt to get the most action our of these hard fighting little fish.  My fishing buddies, however were casting old glass rods (the enthusiasts will appreciate that they were either Fenwicks or Wonderods) ranging from a 3wt to a 6wt.

I got the chance to cast them once or twice and could not get over the flex in the rods......the term noodle seemed appropriate.....I knew I wanted to try one for a day of fishing and looked around for a cheep deal online. I ended up with an eagle claw feather light 4/5 wt  and fished it, but never could quite find the right fly line to suite it from those I owned. (Update: I settled on a 6 idea on the was buried in box I had not opened in along time). I was pleased to discover that even this inexpensive rod felt like the "ultralite" fishing my buddies had described, and like all good fly fishermen that meant I needed to try out some other rods

Next came  Cabelas CGT glass rod. This is a rod I really like and would be my recommendation for an easily available rod to start with. The above Eagle Claw is cheeper, but I think $150 gets you a very good rod (and if you watch the online bargain bin they seem to go on sale regularly. The 3wt CGT I own has all the bend I wanted, but admittedly casts on the faster end of glass.

In response I decided I had to go old glass to get more feel for  my glass exploits. To Ebay and flea markets I went....

I'm still questing for the perfect feel and to be fair I know more now....but I consider myself a novice about all this stuff.  I now have an 8 wt St. Croix glass rod(casts a 7wt SA redifsh line great), a yellow Wonderod #1370B-8'6" (approx. 8wt), a 7wt Action Glass, and a spin fly combo wonderrod (6wt). These older rods definitely get you a different feel in your casting and offer unique benefits in the right situation. There are limitations the slowness of these rods would limit their utility in high wind situations like the jetties, and thats not what  I when I need to punch line out into the wind. Just to be clear I can get plenty of distance with glass rods, but the slowness leads to greater influence on the line by the wind.

Ultimately I have these final thoughts. Put the right tool to the right task. You can throw 7 wts and greater on our TX streams, with small flies and catch fish, but you will lose so much of the battle happening with that sun fish and small bass. In contrast should you hook into a large fish on a smaller glass rod it will have the back bone to handle it, but the flex will ensure you feel every turn the fish makes.

Go Glass on rivers in Central TX and you will never look back.