Number 4 in the the Mikes salmon flies series. The Snow Fly sporting a heral wing.
Number 4 in the the Mikes salmon flies series. The Snow Fly sporting a heral wing.
Number 3 in the Mikes salmon flies series. The durham ranger – feather wing.
The second fly in the Mikes salmon fly section is the achroid. This is two types of Dee wings combined. The tying instruction focussed on the wing.
pictures & descriptions by Mike Townend, Aberdeen.
The first fly in the Mikes salmon fly section is the Lady Caroline Spey. Mike thinks you start with this one when entering the world of tying salmon flies.
pictures & descriptions by Mike Townend, Aberdeen.
This late summer I had to trial use almost all of my dries during an evening hatch. I tied them on all – mostly pretty complex flies, like Klinks and the like. Nothing.
Finally I managed to remind myself of what I´m preaching. Use the simple things. I tied the Li-fly on and whammm … It was a huge trout. So big and powerful, I could not get to my hand. The last what I i saw of him was a big salto mortale including a rotation lengthwise. Quite a display in the in the late summers midnight air. F*ck, I screamed rather loud. I´m afraid I woke up most of the village on the other side of the lake with my cursing. Anyway – I granted this artistic display with a very professional LDR (Long Distance Release) Paul has taught me.
… and of course it was the last Li-fly in the box …. typical.
Li-fua (flue = fly) because it is tied with Jurassic hare´s hair and seals fur. The hare is from North Norway, a place the local refer to as Li or Lierne. It´s a take on Gunnar Bingens “dyret“. or shipmans buzzer or or or … I just gave it another name to make things more complicated. 😉
t.z. | Friday, 08 September 2017
I´d like to woffle a bit about vices. The question which vice one needs comes up almost as much as which rod one should use. The right one for the job is the answer.
The job is to hold a hook. Period, not more not less. Some say it also needs to rotate the hook. Fair enough – should you be tying the type of flies which benefit from that specific technique.
The problem with holding hook is that these bent needles (that is a hook) are slippery. Reason is the hardened metal and the finish of the hooks. We want strong, sharp hooks which do not open or break. So the bent needle is “forged” at the bend to add strength, otherwise it would straighten too easy. However, if the forging process goes wrong – meaning pressing the bend too hard, the metal becomes brittle and breaks too easy.
Vices hold the pieces we work on by clamping them. That is the case in the majority of the scenarios. So if that vice is clamping too hard at the forged part, the hook can become brittle and lose it´s strength. That is at least possible. However, many vices do not hold the hooks good enough in my experience. Admittedly my requirements are extreme since I use Dyneema thread and animal hair which I tie in real hard.
The vices clamp is made from metal. This metal needs to match the job requirements too. That is mostly the real difference between the vices. Some vices clamps can actually “chip”, meaning the the very tip of the clamp breaks off when holding the hook. So be aware of that when setting the hook in. Don´t grab the hook too short, or too much, in front of the clamp.
The clamp is closed in different ways.
a) a spring loaded mechanism which is forced open via a lever and closes by itself. The Regal vice is the most known, but also expensive example. There are “copies” of the Regal on the marked, mostly from India or Pakistan. They work equally well, apart from the metal of the jaws. It can chip more easily compared to the stainless steel jaws of the Regal. If you consider a Regal, make sure you get one with the stainless steel jaws. Stonfo also has a spring loaded vice which gained a lot of popularity lately
b) Screws. One or two screws pulling the jaws together. There are a few examples out there which use this approach in a very successful way. These vices sport rather big enough screws.
c) There are various apparatuses combining a screw and lever mechanism pushing the jaws together.
d) The other approach is to stop the hook from rotating – as I would describe it. This needs much less force and so does not put as much stress onto the hook. The hook is held in an eye at the end of a long screw which is pulled in against a surface.
I tried to describe them technically without rating and leave it to you to decide which type of mechanism appeals the most to you. You can see what I use in the pictures.
Budget, is also a question which is up to you. You get what you need in a vice for under 50 dollars. Everything more is fancy and appeals to the fisherman (and his pals) – which of course is something people are very happy to pay a lot of money for. The latest I heard of was vice for 1.175 GBP which per today is 1.500 USD – that is onethousandfivehundred bucks, dough, bread, tamales, scratch, moolah, cheddar, Cheese, guap, lettuce, paper, scrilla, scrill, stash, chips, cake, cabbage, Benjamin, Benji, loot smackers, simoleons, ducats or whatever you preferred nomenclature is … OK, the flies of that thing come with a catch guaranty, I´m sure …………….. not.
t.z. | Friday, 1 September 2017
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci
It is. No kidding. But it takes rather much to find that or these few elements which do the job. The quote implies that the chosen simple solution is more than just an activity, it has to solve a problem. “Do the job”, if you so will and prefer a simpler nomenclature.
So what does the job? Finding out about that is a pretty nerdy task. One has to avoid too much emotion and be most reasonable. Add a fish into the equation and you are in for a life long search for this simplicity described above.
Even if you do not buy into this concept of searching the “one and only” and prefer a rather polygamous approach to the flies you’re offering to lure the fish – there is a limit to how many flies you can throw at him at a time. Meaning you’re still into this whole “throwing at him” concept. There´s other approaches with longlines and and a floater. But we will not go there?
Why not? … asks the hungry. Why can´t we just catch as many fish at once at the easiest and most efficient manner?
We don´t. We’re looking for satisfaction. The biggest satisfaction comes from having mastered something. As more complicated the task – as higher the satisfaction when the fish is “in the boat”. A while ago I had a longer talk with the fabulous Håvard Stubø (Jazz & Flyfishing) and he talked about friction. Playing Jazz and FlyFishing is interesting to him as it offers friction. The friction we humans encounter is a funny one. More than often we generate it. Our own perception is the hindrance we want to come over. We make it difficult for ourselves. Which is cool … There is not much point in playing the same note over and over again.
So stay with me now. It becomes a twisted thought.
Complexity has a high value. It offers friction – and simplicity is one of the most complex concepts I can think of. One needs to boil down quite a few bits of the puzzle to finally “crack the code”. I am with Paul though – there is no code. That´ll be too easy. Not enough friction.
Simplifying does have very positive effects too. Less “stuff” to carry around. Your fly-tying kit can be much lesser. No more 50 shades of olive …
So here is my approach to a fly tying workplace and how this translates to the tying kit.
I like to have an uniform surface under the materials, and in my view. I used to be really set on dark for long time, but I have experienced that a really clean white surface works very well too, sometimes even better. It really helps when trying to focus on the fly in the vice. A busy backdrop confuses the eye and is tiresome.
Try to make sure you have enough light when tying. I found a nice daylight lamp with a magnifying lens for rather small money. That lamp does not travel well. So I needed a better solution when travelling. So many places I stay, I´d say the majority – does have windows. The Vosseler Vice can be attached to the window glass. That is really brilliant. Another option is a mirror. In Hotel rooms you can take the mirror off the wall. Put it back and clean it well, otherwise you have the DEA on your heels rather quickly.
I mostly tie with very thin Dyneema in white. It is very hard to break and the thread is mostly a means to hold the materials. Of course one can use thread as „tying material“ as well which results in a different choice of thread based on the fy designs various parameters – as in North Country Spiders for example. So there is not much need for 50 shades of olive in your thread collection either.
a set of small, very sharp scissors / a larger pair of scissors for cutting rougher materials
bobbin holders – it is handy to have two at least. It is essential for some patterns, and can be a life saver when one thread breaks and you need to continue tying without having to redo the whole fly
material clamps – regular paper clips sold in office supply stores are very sufficient for the job, however – there is several specialised clamps and even clamping systems on the market.
knotting tool – I use a simple version, or my fingers
a piece of velcro or an old toothbrush for roughing up the flies
fly tying vise
The vise is a tool holding the hook. In the older days flies were tied on hand, meaning by holding materials and the hook in the hands without any vise. A vise is very handy though. In my mind it has two main functions a) holding the hook and b) support the hand which is offering the material onto the hook. I prefer vises with pedestals. Clamping a vise to a table did not work so well for me, but this is personal preference really. The drawback on pedestal version is the weight. So at home I work on either a Regal, a Regal “copy” (bugs my mind that someone could get a “patent” on a clamping mechanism) or something similar. Heavy machinery, does the job but is impossible to be carried around unless you can use your miles for extra luggage. I have lately moved on to a Vosseler vice for travelling and tying at home. It attaches to everything “flat and gas-tight”, like a window, the foot of my lamp and so on – and it´s lightweight and super flexible. I took a bit to get used all that flexibility to be honest, but now I do not want to miss this again.
I try to limit the hook variants and use one type of grub hook and one simple dry fly hook in various sizes.
I mostly use seals fur or hare dubbing. The dubbing is stored in small plastic pouches. I cut one corner of the pouch to access the dubbing. The other storing method is to stuff the dubbing in to see through drinking straws, or in a plastic container made from greenhouse window material.
fibres from an arctic hares foot , also known as snowshoe hare. Beware of copies, the arctic hare is not a rabbit.
deer hair – I trie to get it directly from a hunter. The stuff sold in shops is softer.
materials for extended bodies
synthetic yarn like antron or polyester nylon
body materials for nymphs
hare dubbing mostly
I have a whole skin from a partridge, a few pheasant tail feathers and a big bundle of peacock herl.
I use very little genetic rooster hackle in my flies and keep it to either black or grizzly.
a hares mask is very useful and can be used for many flies. It supplies hackle, dubbing, tails & legs … you name it
squirrel skin, mink zonkers
copper wire, tinsel
beads & lead
Tungsten beads are a good choice. Due to the high specific weight of tungsten, beads from that material can be of smaller size than other materials. Lately some new form of tungsten heads came onto the market featuring up with eyes and such. Nice to look at, but not necessary.
adhesive lead foil
I found a pouch for – believe or not – orthopaedic stockings (not mine in a shop). This bag is really „it“ – all material & tools (except the vises pedestal) has place in it. It simply is rolled together for transport.
So you can see that it does not need half a house for a fly tying kit. All the flies below are tied with what you see on the table.
I wrote already a bit about the practical part of the travel preparation – the packing of a motorcycle in particular. I did not go into the details of some of the gadgets I have with me. One gadget is a very interesting one though, and it sparked a lot of interest. A very compact solar panel with a battery included.
It´s called lightsaver and made by US based PowerFilm solar. They offer 2 versions. The standard LightSaver has 1 USB output and a multi-color LED that indicates percent of battery charge. Loaded with 18Ah of power, the LightSaver Max comes in at a mere 1,5 lb in weight. The Max takes the basic functionality of the LightSaver, but increases the battery capacity and adds a high power output for higher draw electronics, such as laptops.
I have used the standard version now for several weeks and it is working perfect. Very robust and super easy to use. The technology is simply fascinating. Place the “thing” under the sun and you have electricity. Simple as that. I wished there were many many more products like that.
Back to 69 – during the travel I also “met” the Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” which is on a mission to stop the oil drilling in the arctic. Brave and very dedicated people at Greenpeace.
Drilling for more oil – What a crazy, backward, ancient and outdated idea. The planet is warming up, and there is no doubt that burning fossil fuels plays a big role in that.
The other day I sat by the beach, and both me and the lightsaver were collecting energy. I imagined the oil platform which is actually not too far away. While looking at the beautiful nature I felt a tug around my heart. It scares me to think about how greed destroys it all.
So the lightsaver is not only a gadget – It´s a statement. It reminds everybody how easy it actually could be. I want to a world plastered with this type of technology. No roof or other suitable surface should be without. The small gadget shows how easy it could be if we just insist on this type of technology instead of the ancient way.
Fresh fish is maybe some of the best one can find. Self caught, wild fish that is. Not the crap one can find in shops. However, I never take more than can be consumed “than and there”. I´m no big fan of freezing fish and taking them home.
Fish and other good food deserves a lot of respect. I believe that should prepare these fantastic gifts of nature with the most care possible. I avoid farmed fish by any means though.
This is how one can prepare fresh trout (and char – same procedure). The most known and easiest method is to fry them in a pan on the open fire. Simple and delicious.
However, it´s of course not as simple as it seems. The fire needs to be managed and “designed” for the task. Make sure the pan can be placed save as there is always the risk for tipping the whole thing over into the fire. Frying fish is not cremating it either. There is a difference between cooking (preparing food) and cremating (burning a dead body). Funny how often this fine line is overstepped. It can really bring out the Gordon Ramsey in me. So don´t … at least not when I´m around. Only god knows what can happen …
– You need a frying pan. Nice if you have a lid so the fish can rest a little in the heat without the pan needing to be over the flames. – remember – slow and low temperature is the key.
– A sharp, flexible filleting knive. By the way – many kudos and thanks to the people having shown me how to do this properly, most of all Aksel and Corsin.
– Butter, can be salted if you like that.
– Spices – Pepper, salt, lemon adds a nice touch but don´t overdo it …. In Norway and Sweden one can buy Lemon-Pepper. This is very nice and easy to use. You might find it in your local shop as well. But you can also prepare this yourself quite easily.
Breadcrumbs mix. I have prepared my own secret mix. You need breadcrumbs (please someone help me with the correct term – in German its “Paniermehl” and the Swedes call it “Ströbröd”) This you mix with salt, pepper, wasabi powder, sesame seeds, grill spices, ground lemon skin, and pretty much everything else you like … be creative. This you can and should try at home. Mix and experiment until you have the taste you like. Try it with some fish pieces or just by itself. Fill this mix in a plastic bottle so you can easily pack it and use it by the fire.
You can also use this mix with a small smoker. But also here – low temp and slow is the key to real good nutrition and taste. Don´t burn the poor fish. That´ll be a disgrace (and bring t.z. Ramsey onto the stage)
Clean the fish and fillet it. It helps to do this with a newspaper as cover for the table. The fish does not slide around and you can wrap the remains in the paper and burn it in the fire or dig it into the ground away from your camp.
Should the fish be too small for filleting you can just clean it and fry it as whole. Leave the fillets on the skin. Place the fillets flesh up on a plate and cover with the spices or the spice mix you have prepared. Less is more. Don´t kill the natural tast with too much seasoning.
Put the frying pan with butter on the fire. Don´t let the butter become brown – just melt it a little. Place the fillet as whole or divide it in three pieces skin down into the pan. Fry until the flesh turns white all the way through. Done. There is not need to fry the fillets flesh down. Close the pan with a lid if the pieces are thicker and you want to make sure they are cooked through before the skin burns.
or another option
Trout Wurst (sausage)
Should you not want to consume all the fish right away and save it for later – her´s a trick I learned from a cooking show. Cooking shows are very cool sometimes.
Curing fish with salt and sugar is known as “gravad”. Gravad means “buried”, but not in the ground. The fish is buried in a salt (1/3) and (2/3) sugar mix. This is normally done in larger pans, pots or plastic containers. This is not very practical in a backpack or the limited space scenario. The pans/pots/plastic containers are used to keep the fish from contact with air. You can also achieve this with glad wrap.
This is how it´s done. Fillet the fish and take out all bones from the flesh. Take the fillet off the skin as well.
Roll out a piece of glad wrap and cover it with the salt (1/3) sugar (2/3) mix & spices mix. Place the first fillet on this and cover again with sugar/salt. Place the next fillet on top. It helps to have the tail bit of the fillet on top of the thick side of the fillet under. This makes for a more even package. Cover the whole with salt/sugar. Now roll the whole to a sausage and close the ends. Let this sit in a cool place for 24 hours. Unpack and rinse off the excess salts/sugar “gue” which by then has become liquidised. Pack again in new glad warp. Try to make it has compact as possible and wrap several layers of the plastic around. Let this sit for 24 hours again. The “sausage” is ready for consumption. Serve sliced in 2cm thick slices. Delicious with creme fraiche and small potatoes cooked with their skin.
The salt/sugar mix can be – or better – should be spiced. Be creative here as well. Many use dill, but it works very well with wild oregano and other spices in that direction.
Note – make really sure that no bones are left in the fillets. That is actually most of the work.
— images —-
sorry – no image of the food on a plate – I had no chance as the guests were hungry ….
— foot notes —
* – I know of course what C&R is. But b4 this sparks a long and useless discussion about wether it is OK to eat some of the fish one has caught or not, I kindly ask to give this a longer thought. Harvesting is very depending on circumstances like habitat, abundance etc. However, I personally prefer a vegetarian, almost vegan diet and only eat fish which find my fly or game which has met the grill of my car. I stay away from pets and animals raised and kept in captivity – for ethic and health reasons. But that´s me, you do what you prefer.
** about Mr. Ramsey – I like the cooking in his shows, I do not like the screaming and people pushing and I totally disagree with the use of farmed salmon. The man should really think about what he´s doing. Protesting against shark fin soup on one side and than preperaing an environmantal hazard like farmed salmon and announcing this some proper food does not add up in my mind.