Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Whitetail Nymph

The Whitetail Nymph

Every time I integrate deer hair into a fly pattern, my memories drift back to a time that included dodging many Whitetail deer on the lonely highways and roads of Northern Minnesota.  My perspective suggests that the whites and browns of the body and tail of this well respected deer coincide with life cycle color characteristics of many natural aquatic insects found in trout streams. Considering my observation, I developed a pattern that envelops both the characteristics of the deer and aquatic insects in their various stages. For instance, the white wrapping of thread and the combination of the black bead may replicate a peeking caddis still in the larval stage.

Image via
Caddis experts such as Gary LaFontaine point out that trout often take the  larvae that is still attached to its cacoon-like protective shell by a knudging of sort of the stream bottom. This activity is otherwise known as grubbing. The exposed larvae may also be a target when subject to a behavioral drift. Since this is a fly tying blog, I will not get into the specifics, but essentially, the drift entails both cased and un-cased caddis drifting to different destinations from approximately dawn to dusk.

Peeking Caddis Image via Colorado Skies Outfitters Web site

The spun deer hair splayed over the dubbed throrax of the fly could suggest a sculpin, which is a popular bait fish in most trout streams. "Trout and sculpins live in similar stream habitats. But more importantly they eat similar food--primarily aquatic insects, although sculpins do not feed on surface foods. Both trout and sculpins will eat each other at certain times" (Hafele & Hughes, 2000).  

Image via Samford University Web site

The deer hair and antron tail also tend to replicate emerging caddis legs trying to rid the caddis pupal shuck during the emergence stage. Nevertheless, I tie the pattern with a tan, cream, or olive body, which all have worked with success. Ultimately, the White Tail Nymph is a universal searching pattern that can work in various sizes using a dead drift or on the swing. Hope you will give it a try.

Emerging Caddis Image via

The Whitetail Nymph Recipe:
Hook: Nymph (#14-18)
Head: Nickel Bead
Hot Spot: UTC 70, White
Body: UTC 120, Tan, Olive, Cream
Hackle: Deer Hair
Wing: Goose Biots
Thorax: Natural Hares Ear Dubbin
Ribbing: Copper or Gold Ultra Wire
Tail: Brown and White Antron

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flies from Russia


I am the recent recipient of some fly fishing flies by request, from Russia. Unfortunately, the buyer of these flies was neither a fly enthusiast, nor were they located in a locale of fly fishing popularity. In other words, I was not expecting the best of specimens by any means. One package (shown above) contained a handful of assorted flies from Tula Sport Fishing ( located in Moscow. Unfortunately, if you go to the Web site, there is no menu for the flies currently sold.  The flies are reminiscent of some of the first flies tied at my vice with the use of feather tips for wings, cheap rooster hackle, and oversized heads.

Can anyone say оранжевый (orange)?

Ala-Crushed Flies

The second pack from an unkown maker contained a set a crushed parachute flies, possibly an Adams, and what looks like a Bivisible fly (middle fly). Fortunately, I've been able to freshen up the flies to salvage whatever work went into their creation

A Good-Looking Russian Caddis

The two caddis-like flies shown above were my favorite of the bunch. The flies seem to resemble the Hemming Way Caddis originated by Mike and Sheraless Lawson. However, the Russian flies have a much more detailed wing that is also durable. Unlike the Hemingway Caddis, there also appears to be no use of dubbin for the body.

B2 Bomber - Like...Hmmm...

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Montana Nymph

With the onslaught of the dog-day doldrum, lack of insect activity, and sluggish fishing, I was looking for an alternative lure that might entice the deepest of trout. With research, I stumbled upon the Montana nymph.The Montana Nymph was devised by Lew Ortman of New York sometime during the 1950's. The design of the fly was influenced by the large stoneflies of North America and more particularly the large stoneflies that inhabit the big waters of Montana. According to Steve Collyer, a member of the FlyFishing.CO.UK Forum, the original Montana Nymph was tied with the following materials.

Silk: black gossamer
Hook: any size long shank or largish standard hook
Tails: black cock hackle fibres or black cock hackle tip, not too long
Body: first 3/5 black chenille
Thorax: yellow chenille
Hackle: black cock - over thorax only
Roof: black chenille
Wings: long slender black rook or crow primary - a pair over eye

Nevertheless, over time the pattern has evolved, which I think can be an attribute of advances in materials and fly tying techniques. Tying the modern day Montana Nymph is sequentially framed for your convenience.

Wrap led or non-toxic wire unto upper-half of hook

Tie down the weight and tie in a dubbin bump at the hook point

Tie in two goose biots

Tie in chenille - wrap forward to half-way point leaving a tag end

Tie in hackle and different color chenille

Bring secondary chenille,hackle and chenille tag forward - tie off

Top view

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Knotted Pheasant Tail Hopper Legs

I am pretty amazed at the complexity many tiers create when it comes to making their own knotted hopper legs from pheasant tail fibers. For instance, one fly tying forum member suggests using a hemostat or even some sort of fancy crochet device.  In essence, all you have to do is tie an overhand knot to replicate the jointed areas of a hopper leg. My solution merely encompasses a simple pair of hackle pliers. I modified the pliers, gluing small pieces of sandpaper to to the clamping area to improve holding strength on the tiniest of fibers. Clamp down on the thin end of about 3 to 5 fibers and use the thick end as an effective guide through your overhand loop as shown is the following three frames:

The most difficult part of this process is keeping the fibers together. Basically, the more you handle the fibers, the less chance you have of making your knot. The knotted legs can be used to make effective patterns such as the parachute hopper.

Parachute Hopper Recipe:

Hook: Umqua U203 Size 14/10
Thread: UTC Tan 140
Body: Hareline Dubbin
Legs: Knotted Pheasant Tail Fibers
Ribbing: Red DMC Floss #25
Wing: Taped partridge tail
Parachute: White Poly
Hackle: Grizzly Rooster Hackle

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Dancing Caddis

Gary LaFontaine, a popular fly fisherman and author of the all influential Caddisflies, changed the way we think about caddis presentations with his Dancing Caddis pattern. Essentially, the Dancing Caddis is a hackled dry fly pattern that utilizes an upside down deer hair wing. The orininal pattern is tied with a Swedish dry fly hook, which has an unusual kink located about 1/3 from the eye. LaFontaine (1981) stated: "An imitation tied on an upside-down hook could be effective for all types of adult caddisflies, the fly not only resting on the wing edges and body, but also skating on them". In essence, the fly is universal, in that its hookless underwater presentation is advantageous when playing the dead-drift or skating along the surface.

                                          The Recipe:

                                          Thread: UTC 70 Black
                                          Hook: Umpqua U208 #14/16
                                          Body: Hareline Dubbin
                                          Wing: Deer Hair
                                          Thorax: Peacock Herl
                                          Hackle: Coachman Brown Rooster Hackle