Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Wiggle Stone

Sitting at my fly tying bench one afternoon, I pondered about the effectiveness of articulated streamers and jointed tackle such as large jointed Rapalas that I once casted for big Northern Pike and Musky. From my experience, the action pronounced by the articulation is intriguing and does produce positive results. I wondered if any contemporary fly fishing specific flies or nymphs were constructed in a similar fashion. Well, Greg Senyo of Steelhead Alley Outfitters in Ohio has created The Wiggle Stone, which is essentially a stone fly pattern constructed of two hooks adjoined by monofilament. I had to tie some up...One major change that I did make to these flies was the addition of lead wraps under the thorax, which is not called for in Senyo's pattern.

The Wiggle Stone / Peacock Ice Dub

The Wiggle Stone / Golden Stone Hare-Tron

The Wiggle Stone / Pink Shrimp Hare - Tron

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pheasant Tail Nymph / Hot Butt - Head PT

The Pheasant Tail Nymph is one of the oldest modern day nymphs, which can be consistently found in fly fishersmans' fly boxes around the world. The nymph is quite universal, since it replicates a wide range of aquatic nymphs found in rivers and lakes. An example of the early nymphs originated and tied by Frank Sawyer of the UK is shown below. It is estimated that the fly was first tied around 1930. The early flies were tied with no thread and with only two ingredients: copper wire and pheasant tail. 

Image from The Spirit of  Fly Fishing Web site
 According to Chris Parsons at "Be the Fly" Blog "Al Troth refined the Sawyer nymph into the current pheasant tail nymph, “American” version, around 1960". The refinement mainly consisted of the peacock herl thorax now found on the contemporary nymph. Since then the nymph's namesake has been changed to "PT"; hence, there are many variations such as my inclusion of the Hot Butt - Head PT.

Hot Butt - Head PT

Hot Butt - Head PT
Hot Butt - Head PT Recipe
Hook: nymph sz. 14 - 18
Thread: UTC Fire Orange 70
Tail: Dark Brown Pheasant Tail
Body: Dark Brown Pheasant Tail
Ribbing: Small Copper Ultra Wire
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Legs: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Wing Case: Holographic Mylar Tinsel

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blue Wing Olive Nymphs

Winter time in the West means Blue Wing Olive hatches. Due to the cold water temps and sluggish fish, I usually will opt for the BWO nymphs as a dropper on a heavier point fly. Here's three patterns I tie that have brought me success.

Magic BWO
I dubbed this fly the "Magic BWO" since in incorporates methods used in Don Holbrook and Ed Koch's book "Midge Magic". Use 2 of the six strand DMC embroidery floss found in any fabric or craft store. I really like the effect that the underlying gold tinsel provides in contrast to copper wire.

Magic BWO Recipe
Hook: Sz. 16-20 nymph
Thread: Brown UTC 70
Tail: Yellow Mallard Flank
Body: Gold Mylar Tinsel
Ribbing: 2 twisted strands of DMC embroidery floss
Thorax: Hare' Ear Dubbin
Wingcase: Natural CDC

Gold Ribbed BWO
This fly still has the DMC floss but with ribbed golden Ultra Wire.

Golden Ribbed BWO Recipe
Hook: Sz. 16-20 nymph
Thread: Brown UTC 70
Tail: Rusty Orange Neck Hackle
Body: 2 twisted strands of DMC embroidery floss
Ribbing: Small size Gold Ultra Wire
Thorax: Hare' Ear Dubbin
Wingcase: Dark Brown Pheasant Tail

Crystal Bead BWO
The most difficult part of this fly is getting the 2mm glass bead on a size 22 nymph hook.

Crystal Bead BWO
Hook: Sz. 18-22 nymph
Bead: Sz. 2mm glass bead
Thread: Brown UTC 70
Tail: Rusty Orange Neck Hackle
Body: Fl. Chartreuse UTC 70
Ribbing: 2 twisted strands of DMC embroidery floss
Thorax: Hare' Ear Dubbin
Wingcase: Brown Antron

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Selecting Effective Colors in Fly Tying

Have you ever wondered why recipes for some fly fishing flies call for a certain color? For instance, some colors seem to be a logical choice, as they mimic natural colors of certain insects that fall as prey to the fish we seek. On the other side of the coin, a fly dressed with purple such as the Purple Peril replicates virtually nothing in the natural world, but still manages to take fish after fish. We already know that color is important when it comes to the market aspect of a fly; that is, the attraction of fly buyers, which is often produced by flashy colors and new materials intriguing to anglers of old and new (human-taking flies). However, is color really that important when constructing fish-taking flies?

Purple Peril

I had to investigate and foster an analogy of colors relative to effective fly fishing flies that seemed reasonable enough to incorporate into my own fly tying. Ultimately, I wanted more of a reputable consensus on why I chose a specific color to tie a fly rather than just telling people "it just works". Without getting too scientific, I garnered up some interrelated factors to consider when choosing colors such as trout strikes, trout vision, weather and water turbidity.

Trout Strikes

Trout strikes fall under three classifications: selective, opportunistic and territorial. A fluorescent color may entice a highly territorial trout, while the same color could put down a selective trout that is keying in on a particular food source. Well, what about fly color for selective trout? A MidCurrent article notes that “early spring, late fall, and winter flies tend to be darker, matching the colors of their environment"; summer or warmer weather flies tend to be lighter in color. Hey...that sounds easy enough! The opportunistic trout differs from the selective trout, in that it is open to a more expansive gamut of prey such as grasshoppers, ants, beetles and small baitfish. These fish are usually snapping at just about anything that comes within a reasonable distance. In this case, attractor patterns such as the Stimulator are often used and showcase bright contrasting colors on the body of the fly to illuminate the fly's attraction.

Trout Vision

Dr.Vinall, in his book "Why Fish Don't See Your Lures" points out that fish vision: is good in lowlight, but only in grayscale; based on what can be considered normative prey; is limited in terms of distance; and highly effective in detecting contrast and action or movement. Simply put, trout see colors differently as us humans. In fact, the physical make-up of their eyes allows them to see farther both into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrum. Ron Newman at British Columbia Adventure network states that trout "see color in the red to blue wavelengths about the same as a human. However, in the yellow to green wavelengths the trout see color much better than we do".

Weather and Turbidity

We can also not forget that weather conditions and water clarity or turbidity plays a large factor when it comes to fly colors. The amount of light decreases as depth increases; therefore some colors will be less instrumental than others. Dr. Vinall states that 55% of light is lost at a depth of 3' in the clearest conditions. Certain color wavelengths such as reds and oranges may be the first to diminish, while blues and greens are generally more visible at greater depths. The turbidity of the water as a result of spate can often challenge fly fisherman due to flows of blinding sediment. However, flies such as the bright red San Juan Worm have been known to successfully pull fish in the worst of conditions.

Color is not Foremost in a Pattern

Lets' not forget that a trout does not use vision exclusively when feeding. A trout might utilize senses which allow it to smell, taste, or feel its prey prior to the attack. Bait casting lures often are made of buzzing blades or sprayed with a scent to entice fish strikes. I think it is also important to note that many fly fishing experts suggest that color comes in last when it compared with other fly design characteristics such as size and shape. Size in many cases is necessary when matching the hatch or fooling highly selective trout. The shape of a fly is sometimes paramount, as it projects a silhouette of particular prey such as the tent wing on an adult caddis


I’m still neutral when it comes to the significance of colors for an effective fly. I do believe certain colors have their place when faced with certain conditions. In no way will there ever be a formula or an application that can suggest the perfect color for a fly. Even though still quite complex, I think acquiring some scientific knowledge regarding color will transpire into theories of your own and perhaps innovations in colors or materials that are visually stimulating to trout. Trial and error may still be the ultimate method in finding colors, but perhaps the extent of these trials can be limited by considering the most basic of factors when it comes to how a color is perceived by a trout.




Sunday, January 5, 2014

Vladi Worm

You've gotta believe that a fly developed by Poland's world champion fly fisherman Vladi Trzebunia has to be good. I had to give the fly a whirl and discover what makes the fly so special. At first, I have to admit that the idea of integrating a latex condom into a well fished fly seemed extraordinary and simply put,  kinda weird. However, the end results are quite impressive and very worm-like.
After reviewing various Vladi Worm tutorials and tying up my own batch of worms, I have compiled a small list of tips that may come in handy during your quest to tie an effective condom fly.
  • Use pink Crown brand condoms (yes, they are lightly lubricated)
  • Make sure you notify your significant other, if applicable, that you will be cutting up condoms (they might think you have gone mad)
  • Cut the condom into 4 to 6 sections while the condom is still wrapped (I prefer 4 to lessen the chance of a tear.
  • Use a thick floss or thread to cover up the lead wraps, which may tear your condom wrapped body
  • Use many half hitches throughout the process to eliminate unravelling (your fingers will be slick from the lubrication)

Other than getting hands on directions from Vladi, I think the best tutorial out there on the Web for this fly is offered by Loren Williams, which can be found via the following link:
My Vladi Worm Recipe:
Hook: Streamer #8 bent to shape
Weight: Lead Wire (size .020)
Thread: Fl. Pink UTC 210
Body: Crown Pink Condom
Ribbing: 6LB Monofilament
Lace: Holgraphic Mylar (Wide or Regular)
Optional Hotspot: Amber Scud Dubbin