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.
OK, back to vision … in simple terms a dry fly is a seen from above the water surface and from under. Nothing too new here. Just trying to get the concept straight. It helps designing and tying flies.
I really like to fish sedge / caddis hatches. It can be really exciting, specifically the night hatches. Night and night – well – we are talking northern nights – they are bright. The best hour is the “blue” hour – in summer this is around midnight until 2 or 3 in the morning.
Last year Konstanse and I were fishing such a hatch in a stream between two lakes. Even the rises were in the hundreds, the fish were not so easy to catch. The fish were taking streaking caddis in size 16 / 14. I fished upstream from Konstanse and caught on rather dark flies whereas she caught on deer hair flies with lighter coloured bodies. As we swapped spots the catch rates went downhill dramatically for both of us.
We reasoned it to be related to the different light at the two spots. One was in the “shade” as the other was rather bright. On top the fly was really hard to see on both spots. Rather fast water with a lot of glare makes the rather dark deer hair disappear.
So based on this and similar experiences I decided to change a few details on smaller caddis imitations.
To add visibility for the fisherman a bright wing to the top. I use fur fibres from an artic hares foot for this. It increases the flies ability to float as well.
A two colour body is the next “feature”. For the abdomen (body) I use died hares ear dubbing mixed with very little flash bits – all chopped in a coffee grinder. The thorax (head & legs) section of the fly is tied with black antron dubbing in a split thread dubbing loop. Using long stranded dubbing in a split thread makes a very nice scruffy part on the fly.
From under the fly sports the triangular shape typical for caddis flies. From above it is very visible to the fisherman. It floats well and is easy to tie once having managed the split thread technique. Using thin Dyneema thread is essential though.
A lot of elements for such a simple fly like a caddis imitation but it really is an improvement. The material mix also make it a very nice caddis pupae imitation. I tie them in size 14 or 16 mostly. For bigger patterns I revert back to the trusted streaking caddis with a big deer hair wing.
I call the fly the DEER & HARE CADDIS … I hope this is confusing enough. 😉
Should the above vid not work – here is the direct link:
Hook: dry fly hook size 16 / 14 … if possible use a barbless hook
Body: Hares ear dubbing in green
Wing: Deer hair and Artic Hares Foot
Thorax / Head: Antron dubbing