Fly Tying: October, 2017

Dave’s Devil

black devil

While sitting in my pontoon boat last Spring at Rocky Ridge, I was smugly thinking I had cracked the code there. I had already released a number of nice fish caught on a variety of patterns and was therefore feeling pretty good about myself. That is until I started paying attention to how Dave Kilhefner was doing. It quickly became apparent that Dave was out-fishing me, and everyone else, by a big margin. Every time I looked over he was either playing a fish, or netting a fish, or releasing a fish. When I finally kicked over close enough to talk, I had to ask… “OK, Dave, whatcha usin’ “. A “Green Devil” was all I was able to make out from across the water. That didn’t do me any good because I didn’t have any “Devils”. In all truth I didn’t even know what a “Devil” was. So all I could do was give him a nod, as if to indicate that I knew exactly what he was talking about. It wasn’t until lunchtime when Dave got out his vise to tie up a few more “Devils” (the others were shredded) that I was able to see that he was talking about a marabou jig pattern. He thought that just calling it a “marabou jig” was simply too generic of a name. Dave wanted a name with a little more pizazz, hence “The Devil”. And then after reading the article about last month’s smallmouth bass fishing on The John Day River where he had good success with a “White Devil”, I thought OK, that is enough; it is time to look more closely into this Devil jig fly. I know Dave would not take credit for being the originator of marabou jig flies because they have been around forever, but for the purpose of this article I am going to give the Devil even some more pizazz and call it “Dave’s Devil”. I think it is appropriate to at least give Dave some credit for bringing jig flies to our attention.

Like most things involved with flyfishing it is possible to get started with jig flies at different degrees of immersion. Where you fit in would be based on your level of interest and the amount of time you have available:
1.  “Get It And Go” Level— You can just go down and purchase already-made jig flies and off you go fishing.
2.  “One Step Further” Level— You can purchase plain jig hooks that come with weighted heads and then use your fly tying skills and materials to create your own jig flies.
3.  “All In” Level—At the far end of the spectrum are those folks that are fishing junkies (Dave would be included here). These are the  people who take things one big step further and purchase equipment to melt lead down and then pour it into jig head molds containing bare jig hooks, thus creating their own weighted jig hooks. This is followed up with the final steps of tying the fly.

TIPS FROM DAVE

I asked Dave a number of questions regarding jig flies, so…

Why use jig hooks?
They give a lot of motion to the fly. They sink better than bead heads. And they are weighted so that the hook point rides up, helping to avoid snagging the bottom and/or dulling the hook on rocks.

What kinds of fish have caught on your jig flies?
Trout and steelhead mostly. But they also work well for bass and salmon.

I see that jig hooks come with the eyes at different angles. Which do you prefer?
The 90 degree eyes work better when pouring lead into the molds.

13jig_hook

90 Degree Eye Jig Hook

The 60 degree hooks work well with slotted tungsten beads for Czech style nymphing. It’s the hottest new thing.

demmon-competition-st-300-bl-jig_1.jpg

60 Degree Eye Jig Hook

What size lead heads do you prefer on your jigs?

1/32 oz. or 1/64 oz. for Devils for trout; 1/16 oz. for steelhead if using a rod that can handle it (8 wt.). Jig heads also come in 1/80 & 1/100 oz sizes and these are great for tying fur nymph jigs like Hares Ears and Red Fox Squirrels.

What color of Devils do you prefer?
olive-green or white
(On the internet people also seem to like black and brown for trout. Brighter, more garish colors can be useful for bass/crappie/panfish.)

dave's favorites

Two of Dave’s favorite colors

What colors do you use on the head of your Devils?
Coloring the head is really not necessary. But I use orange or pink for “fly box appeal”.
I use an orange head for the green Devils and a pink head for the white ones. There is really no logic at all to this.
(People on the internet are all over the place on this subject. Everything from “Painting is a waste of time; an unpainted lead jig head is just fine”, to “It is essential to color the jig head”. Sounds like a good topic for experimentation.)

Are there other ways to create weighted jig heads than buying them or pouring your own?
You can tie lead eyes above the “elbow” of a bare jig hook. Or you can tie lead eyes onto the top of a standard woolly bugger type hook.
(Also…On the internet I saw one guy crimping and super gluing a lead split shot onto the elbow of a bare jig hook. Might be worth a try.)

How do you like to color the heads of your Devils?
Because you only need one coat to get the perfect color, and for its superior durability, powder-coating is the way to go.  (There is lots of info on the internet on how to do this.)

Are there alternative ways to color the heads?
Cheap…Base coat with white nail polish then paint colored nail polish over it; then add a final coat of clear like Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails.
(I went with fingernail polish in preparing for our next Fly Tying Night. I found out that the white undercoat was essential in order to get the final colors to come out bright. Also a downside of using fingernail polish is the vapors/fumes. Some of us don’t have a lot of spare brain cells so make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Also there is a lot of internet chatter about the pros and cons of enamel, lacquer, and vinyl spray paints for jig heads.)

painted jig heads

Colored jig heads ready for the final fly tying materials

I see that some people heat-treat the heads after coloring them? Do you bother with the heat treatment step? If so, how do you do it?
Powder coating is the most durable finish but you have to bake it in the oven to take advantage of the durability, but powder coating doesn’t give off fumes like nail polish. It’s easy, just hang the jigs on the oven rack and bake at 275 for 30-40 mins.
Baking is good for nail polish, too, but it creates some fumes so you have to air the place out and you don’t want your wife home while it’s going on 😉  .

The Devil you gave me had a body made of chenille.  Do you ever use other materials for the body?
Sometimes I make them like hares ear nymphs.

Do you ever add flash to your Devils? (in the body? in the tail?)
I started to experiment but didn’t follow-up on it much. I think some rubber legs would be good to try.

How do you like to fish “The Devil”?
In lakes I like to fish them like a woolly bugger, but give them more time to sink/drop before stripping and retrieving. Fish in lakes seem to like to take them when they are falling. In streams or rivers I dead drift them under an indicator.

Anything else of interest or importance?
Use a short leader, 4-6’. That makes them easier to cast.
Don’t go too heavy with the weighting of the jig head; heavier heads are hard to cast and you run the risk of breaking your rod.

__________________________________________

So there you have it. After watching Dave wear himself out pulling in fish I think the jig flies are worth a try. Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, October 25 to tie up some “Dave’s Devils”. I will have some weighted jig hooks, chenille, and marabou for some basic patterns. Bring other materials if you want to dress them up a bit. We will start at 6 pm. Hope to see you there!

 

dressed up devil

You can add as much as you want to your Dave’s Devil.

 

Fly Tying: September, 2017

The Green Butt Skunk

Unknown-1

After a hiatus from the tyer’s table it will be good to get back to our monthly fly tying sessions. Heading into the fall months of the year the thoughts for many of us turn to swinging flies for steelhead on the Deschutes. In spite of the dismal prediction we are hearing about the outlook for steelhead on that river, it’s important to think positively and keep telling yourself that this year you may just have to work a little harder to find the fish that has your name on it. And always remember, just getting out on the water is a reward in itself!

Instead of looking at some hot new pattern I thought it would be good to look closely at a truly classic steelhead fly and some of its history. An Oregon attorney is credited with being the creator of the Green Butt Skunk. As happens in the world of fly tying, existing patterns continually evolve as new fly tyers add their own innovations in an effort to improve the effectiveness of the fly. That is the case with Dan Callaghan. It is thought that Dan most likely came up with his idea for the Green Butt Skunk in the 1950’s, tying it for the steelhead on his favorite river, the North Umpqua. He added some chartreuse chenille to an already existing steelhead pattern, The Skunk. If you are not familiar with The Skunk, just visualize something close to a classic Green Butt Skunk, minus the green butt. Adding the green butt apparently turned an already good steelhead fly into an iconic pattern used today by steelheaders in all parts of the world.

The true origin of the original Skunk may have been lost to time but the earliest mention of the fly seems to credit a Seattle gentleman named Wes Drain back in the 1930’s. Some sources say the name came from the general black and white color of the fly and some say that early examples used hair from a skunk. Apparently Drain’s original recipe actually called for a wing made of skunk hair, white over black. What better source of both black and white hair than a skunk! You can imagine that a single skunk skin would have provided early tyers with a lifetime of material for Skunk flies. But thank goodness we have a variety of other wing materials to use today because I can’t imagine where in our house my wife would allow me to keep a skunk skin!

skunkfly

The original Skunk fly

But being an innovative fly tyer was far from being Callaghan’s only claim to fame. A lawyer by trade, he lived in Salem his entire life. After discovering fly fishing for steelhead on the North Umpqua, Callaghan made it his life’s mission to do all he could to protect that river. He was one of the founders of both The Steamboaters and The North Umpqua Foundation, two organizations that are focused on protecting the North Umpqua River. Callaghan was a very accomplished photographer, and after his death in 2006 Callaghan’s wife helped to publish a book called Dan Callaghan’s North Umpqua, a collection of 156 of his photos taken over a period of fifty years. He was also a member and supporter of many conservation and flyfishing organizations, too many to list here. But if you ever feel like you have too many things going on in your life to participate in or support conservation and flyfishing, check out this link,  to read more about Dan Callaghan’s dedication and accomplishments:

http://callaghanpublishing.com/about.html

Another tribute to Callaghan was conceived by his good friend Steve Bukieda, along with Joel LaFollette to honor his memory. The plan was to display some variations of the Green Butt Skunk as a way to honor its creator. It came to be known as “The Dan Callaghan Collection – 101 Green Butt Skunks”. An idea that started out to be a modest display of a few variations of the Green Butt Skunk soon snowballed to the point that the number of flies had to be cut off at 100. The 101st fly in the display is one that was tied by Callaghan himself. LaFollette accompanied the impressive 3-panel display down to Salem for its official unveiling at the state Capitol. It was later auctioned off for $6,300, with the proceeds going to the North Umpqua Foundation to protect fish habitat. The winners of the auction chose to remain anonymous and wanted the collection to be displayed in a place where it could be enjoyed by the public. If you haven’t already seen it, stop in at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn where it is on display. If you are like me, you may have seen the collection there but never examined it very thoroughly. Upon looking closely at the names of the tyers, you will undoubtedly recognize many of them. It’s almost a “Who’s Who” list of noted Pacific Northwest fly tyers and steelheaders, as well as recognizable names from outside the area. It is interesting to see in one place how 100 other tyers have their own take on Dan Callahan’s fly.  Indeed it is certainly an appropriate and impressive tribute to the man who brought us the Green Butt Skunk, arguably the most recognizable of all steelhead flies.

28233_390538926546_820309_n

Joel LaFollette and Mary Kay Callaghan, Dan Callaghan’s wife with “The Dan Callaghan Collection– 101 Green Butt Skunks”

A few Green Butt Skunks should be in the flybox of every steelheader. Join us for our next Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, Sept. 27. As always, we will be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6 pm.

 

Fly Tying: June, 2017

The WD-40

DSC06088

At our May meeting Dave Kilhefner passed along some of his fly fishing tips to us. I always pay attention to information coming from Dave and I know I have become a better fisherman because of it. As a fly tyer I was particularly interested in his information on the topic of “Guide Flies”, those flies that guides like to tie up in quantities for their clients because they are effective, fast and easy to tie, and usually have three or fewer different materials in them. Those are criteria that make it possible to tie up some effective flies while you are just taking a break or having lunch and waiting to go back out on the water. Which is exactly what I saw Dave do at Rocky Ridge Ranch this year. After lunch it was fun watching him catch fish, after fish, after fish… The fly he used that day is not this month’s fly. We’ll save that one for later, but this month’s fly, The WD-40, is on Dave’s list of “Guide Flies”.

 

images-1

WD-40

A long-time Colorado guide and fly tyer, Mark Engler, is credited with creating the WD-40 back in 1982. Mark is apparently one of those quiet, unassuming sorts whose entire life revolves around fly fishing. His friends say the fact that he has three ex-wives could be a testament to his dedication to fishing. Stories of the origin of the WD-40 name come in many versions. Many say that WD stands for “wood duck”, a versatile feather that many tyers use for this pattern. But if you search the internet you can find a video of Engler himself tying his own WD-40, and guess what… he doesn’t use wood duck. He uses mallard. So you can subscribe to other versions of the origin of the name given to Engler’s fly. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable passing on the most likely story in this article, but if you ask me in private I would be glad to share it with you.

images

Bead Head WD-40

The WD-40 was originally designed by Engler as a midge emerger pattern for Colorado’s Frying Pan River and it was an instant success. Anglers soon found that it was also a terrific BWO emerger pattern. Because midges are out all year it is a good fly to often tie on as a dropper behind a dry fly or a nymph. The WD-40 is most often tied on a curved scud-type hook, in small sizes, like 18’s and smaller (like down to 24’s !) But if you are going to be tying small flies, it is good to have them be something that are easy to tie. Favorite colors seem to be olive and black, but they are also tied in brown, gray, and tan. As with the evolution of many fly patterns, there seems to be an endless number of variations of the WD-40. One of the more effective ones even has its own name variation… the WD-50. It is like the WD-40 except it takes the emerging process one step further, as it is tied with short emerging wing buds.

wd50_olive

WD-50

Our next Fly Tying Night will be Wednesday, June 28th. We will be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn to tie up some WD-40 flies. Although small, this pattern would be suitable for tyers of all levels of experience. Our Royal Treatment friends will have tools to loan to you for the evening. We’ll be starting at 6pm. Hope to see you there!

Fly Tying: May, 2017

The Parachute Adams

Parachute-Adams-Fly-Tying-Video

Parachute Adams

One of our older and more productive dry fly patterns is The Adams. I may be biased, but I feel that it has a great name. And more than once I have told fishing friends that it was invented by a relative of mine. You know your storytelling material is getting low when you run out of “fishing lies” and have to start telling “fly tying lies”. But, in reality, a fellow by the name of Len Halladay is credited with the creation of The Adams back in 1922. So perhaps you are wondering why it is not called “The Halladay”? Well, one story goes that Halladay came up with the idea of the fly as a general purpose mayfly imitation. He tied the fly and then gave it to his friend Charles Adams who first fished it on the Boardman River in Michigan and spoke highly of the success he had with it. So instead of naming his creation after himself, Halladay chose to name it after his friend Adams. Another story says that Adams came up with the idea for the fly and had Halladay tie it to his specifications. Either way, as they say, the rest is history. Since 1922 The Adams has been one of the most effective and popular dry flies in the world.

maxresdefault

Classic Up-wing Adams

The classic Adams fly is tied with a gray body, upright wings, and usually with both grizzly and brown hackles. It is said to be an impressionistic pattern that can represent many grayish and brownish mayflies as well as other insects. It is often a good searching fly to use. According to Scott Richmond in his book Fishing In Oregon’s Best Fly Waters, the Adams is seldom the exact “right” fly, but it is rarely the “wrong” fly to use.

delaware-adams-wulff-001

Adams Wulff

The original Adams fly has been modified into a number of variations over the years, including the Adams Irresistible, the Adams Wulff, the Adams Loop Wing, the Adams Hairwing Dun, and the Adams Humpy. But the most popular variation is The Parachute Adams , the pattern that we will be tying at this month’s Fly Tying Night. The skills we practice in tying the Parachute Adams can translate to other parachute patterns. In his book Tying Dry Flies, Randall Kauffmann describes fifteen other parachute dry fly patterns, that includes the Parachute Ant, the Parachute Black Gnat, the Parachute Baetis, the Parachute PMD, the Parachute Green Drake, and others. So once you master the skill of tying the parachute wing of the Parachute Adams you will be ready to experiment with other parachute patterns.

Thanks to our club librarian, Carson Taylor, for forwarding some interesting information regarding parachute patterns and why they are so effective. Apparently, in author Gary Borger’s opinion, the Parachute Adams should be best considered as the ultimate emerger pattern, and not an adult dun or spinner pattern. The profile of the Parachute Adams, and other parachute patterns, sitting low in the water are viewed by the fish as  insects struggling to emerge through the surface film. For more details regarding emerging insects see Carson for Gary Borger’s book Fishing The Film (2010).

adams irres.

Adams Irresistible

The first parachute stye fly may have been tied by a Scottish lady named Helen Todd back in the early 1930’s. She is said to have used a boar’s bristle as a “mast” around which she wound the hackle. Her idea was taken further by others and special hooks with a built-in “mast” at a right angle to the hook shank were produced.

Hardy hook 1.jpgA

A Hardy hook from the 1930’s with a built-in “mast”.  These fell out of favor because of the increased weight.

A patent was taken out in 1933 and the first parachute style flies were sold as “gyroflies”. Improvements were made over the years and today the unique horizontal hackle of the parachute is wound around an upright wing or “post”. The horizontal hackle allows the fly to land upright in the water and float in the surface film. The horizontal hackle fibers on the water apparently make a good imitation of the legs of an insect and also provide more buoyancy than hackle that is wound vertically. White calf tail was once the most common post material but today synthetic materials like poly yarn are often used. The post material really increases the visibility of the fly. As any angler knows, it is really easy to lose track of the location of a small fly on the water, especially in low light conditions. And that is especially true with an Adams fly that is mostly gray/brown in color. So the post of a parachute fly becomes a big asset in tracking the fly in the water. Despite the visibility to us, post materials don’t seem to deter fish from taking the flies. In fact some anglers prefer Parachute Adams flies tied with  a post using hi-visability colors like pink, orange, or chartreuse.

1344

Hi-Vis Parachute Adams

Our next Fly Tying Night will be Wednesday, May 24th. We will be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn to tie up some Parachute Adams flies. This pattern would be suitable for tyers with at least a moderate amount of experience. It would not be a good fly for your first ever fly tying experience. Our Royal Treatment friends will have tools to loan out for the evening. We’ll be starting at 6pm. Hope to see you there!

Fly Tying: April, 2017

The Soft Hackle Fly

partridge and green soft hackle

Partridge and Green

To say that this month we are going to be tying The Soft Hackle Fly would be a bit misleading because the term “soft hackle” refers not to a single fly pattern but to a whole family of flies. Soft hackles have many forms and variations but they tend to have a few common characteristics, employing a minimum of materials. In fact, a recipe for tying a soft hackle fly in its most basic form would look something like this…

thread: 6/0, 8/0 ; color of your choice
hook: style of your choice, #12-18
body: thread or floss
hackle: partridge

That’s it! Of course, if you search the internet you can find lots of innovative variations of the basic soft hackle with added bells and whistles because, as fly tyers, that’s what we do.

The history of soft hackle flies goes back at least 500 years to the earliest recorded history of fly fishing. If you want to really get into the details of these flies you can refer to many of the books that are specifically dedicated to soft hackles. Sylvester Nemes is often credited with reintroducing soft hackle flies to the modern world of fly fishing after these flies had lost their popularity over the years. One of his books, not surprisingly named The Soft-Hackled Fly (1975), is considered a classic. Dave Hughes has written two versions of a book titled Wet Flies: Tying and Fishing Soft-Hackles, Flymphs, Winged Wets, and All-Fur Wet Flies (2015).

partridgeorange

Partridge and Orange

Soft hackle flies get their name from the soft hackle feathers that are used in place of the stiff rooster hackles that are seen in traditional dry flies. Partridge is a favorite, but tyers also commonly use grouse, hen saddle, starling, and others. As the soft hackle fly hits the water and begins its descent the hackle fibers fold over the body of the fly and tend to trap air bubbles, simulating an adult insect’s wings,legs, and antennae emerging from the transparent shuck. Many soft hackle patterns employ a dubbing ball right behind the hackle that helps to keep the hackle barbules from completely flattening against the body, thus aiding in trapping the air bubbles. Most patterns are tied without weight but some tyers like to lightly weight their soft hackles to help the flies break through the surface film. Traditional soft hackle flies are generally tied without tails, while adding a tail changes the name to “flymph” or “soft hackle nymph”.

There is hardly a wrong way to fish a soft hackle. Perhaps the technique most often used is the classic wet-fly swing where you cast down and across, letting the water move the fly, usually just under the surface, across the current until it is hanging down below you. I recently saw a video of Simon Gawesworth where he mentioned that, because of its simplicity, swinging soft hackles was his favorite way to introduce a beginner to fly fishing. More advanced presentations would involve controlling the speed of the fly by using upstream or downstream mends, according to the action of the current, in an effort to keep your fly in obvious feeding lanes. And imparting a light twitch or a lifting motion to the fly has been known to be irresistible to fish during a hatch where emerging insects are struggling to get to the surface. Fishing the soft hackle fly as a dropper below a dry fly can be very productive, especially during caddis hatches. Although soft hackles are considered wet flies, many anglers report that applying floatant and then fishing the fly in the surface film is definitely worth a try. Apparently it gives a pretty good representation of an emerger or a cripple that didn’t make it off the surface of the water. Good results can also be achieved with soft hackles in still waters.  Cast out and strip your line back, varying your retrieves until you find what works best on a given day.

I will have to admit that I have generally been a creature of habit in my trout fishing, concentrating either on dries or nymphs and emergers fished under indicators, while ignoring the wet fly option. In researching the soft hackle fly I have come across testimonials from fly fishermen/fly tyers who state “ this is my favorite fly”, or “If I could only fish with one fly for the rest of my life…”.  I suggest you click on the following link for an article called “Lessons From A Simple Fly” in the online Fly Fisherman (July, 2016) magazine to read the words of Yvon Chouinard, the outdoorsman extraordinaire and founder of Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company.

http://www.flyfisherman.com/fly-tying/yvon-chouinard-lessons-from-a-simple-fly/

chouinard soft hackle

Chouinard’s Pheasant Tail

Chouinard tried to simplify his fly fishing by fishing for a year with only one fly pattern, a pheasant tail soft hackle. In using a range of sizes of just that one pattern he was able to land an amazing variety of fish, including salmon, trout, atlantic salmon, steelhead (up to 37 inches), as well as bonefish and many other saltwater species.  Despite all of the fishermen that swear by soft hackle flies, and fish them religiously, there seems to be many more anglers that rarely, if ever, use them. So, even though we have countless modern materials and fly patterns that we have at our disposal today, you would think that we could find a place in our fly tying arsenal for a simple pattern that has withstood the test of time for half a millennium. Perhaps you can join me in setting a goal for this season to stop ignoring those soft hackles in your fly box, and to start experimenting with different presentations in order to discover why these flies have been so successful for hundreds of years.

Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, April 26 to tie up some soft hackle flies. These are flies that are suitable for tyers of all levels of experience. Our friends at the Royal Treatment have some equipment to loan you for the evening, so come even if you don’t have your own vise and tools yet. We’ll be getting started at 6:00 pm. Hope to see you there!

starling and peacock

Starling and Peacock

Fly Tying: March, 2017

   DSC05294

Fly Tying 101:  Tools, Tips, and Techniques–Part 2

Last month we held a class for beginning fly tyers titled “Fly Tying 101: Tools, Tips and Techniques. We had a large turnout and those in attendance had a good introduction to fly tying and hopefully left with a Wooly Bugger(s) that will see some action in the coming months.

This month we would like to continue helping novices get off to a good start as we further explore the basic tools and techniques for tying flies. We will focus more closely on the use of a whip finisher, as most of those in attendance last month had not quite mastered that skill yet. (Yes, it does take some time, so don’t get discouraged!) We’ll also give some new instruction on learning to apply dubbing correctly, a skill necessary in forming the body of many artificial flies.

The fly we will be focusing on will be The Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, or just Hare’s Ear as it is commonly called, arguably the most popular trout nymph pattern in the world. The Hare’s Ear is said to be an impressionistic nymph as it can imitate many forms of insect life in the trout’s diet. It can be tied weighted or unweighted, in an unlimited variety of colors, and in a wide range of sizes, typically from 8 to 18. Historically, Hare’s Ears were tied with fur from the face, or mask, of hares (and not the hair from just the ears). You can buy packaged hare’s ear dubbing which often blends natural furs with modern day synthetics. But many tyers still prefer to purchase a whole hare’s mask and use the guard hairs and underfur, mixed together by hand or by using an electric blender.

Some anglers like their Hare’s Ears to be tied slim and streamlined.  Others anglers prefer the flies to be bushy, and the more scraggly looking the better.  Compare the two flies below, both Hare’s Ears, but each having a distinctive profile:

Whatever your preference, you can never have too many Hare’s Ears in your fly box. In fact, with all of the color and size variations possible, and bead head/no bead head choices and weighted/unweighted options, and with different wing case materials being used, it is possible to fill up whole fly boxes with just Hare’s Ear variations and nothing else!

Our next Fly Tying Night is Wednesday, March 29. We’ll be meeting at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6:00 pm. Bring your own fly tying tools if you have them. If you don’t have any equipment come anyway. Our friends at The Royal Treatment will loan you everything you need. Hope that you can join us!

04852Wnatural

Fly Tying: February, 2017

Fly Tying 101:  Tools, Tips, and Techniques

bh_woolly_bugger_black_large

Do you have an interest in fly tying but you don’t know where to start and the terms whip finisher, dubbing loop, bobbin, and hair stacker make your head spin because they sound like part of a foreign language? Or have you attended a previous fly tying night and went away discouraged as you came to the quick realization that you were in way over your head?

It has been over two years since we have offered a night of fly tying specifically aimed at folks that are really novices, including those that have never tied a single fly. So we will be going back to the basics in February, covering the standard tools and techniques that you will need to get started on a very interesting and rewarding hobby. Fly fishing is a great pastime and there are few things in the sport as satisfying as landing a fish on a fly that was created by your own hands.

go-onthefly-gpi-091516-1240x930

It turns out that February is an oddity this year, regarding Fly Tying Night. Normally we meet on the Wednesday one week after our general meeting. But there is no Wednesday in February the week after our meeting, so join us for an evening of beginning level fly tying on Wednesday, March 1st. We’ll be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6:00 p.m. Bring your own fly tying tools if you have them. If you don’t have any equipment come anyway. Our friends at The Royal Treatment will loan you everything you need. Hope to see you there!

4824

gold-sponsor Royal Treatment Fly Fishing   http://www.royaltreatmentflyfishing.com/

Fly Tying: January, 2017

Version 2

The Josh Linn Special

At our October, 2016 meeting Josh Linn gave us an informative presentation about steelhead fishing in the Columbia River basin.  Josh is an experienced northwest steelhead fisherman, having guided on the John Day, Sandy, Clackamas, Klickitat, and Grande Ronde rivers.  My ears perked up when he started describing a fly he had created that had become his go-to fly for winter steelhead.  I later talked to him at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop and got some details about his creation and decided that it would be a good choice for our monthly  fly tying night.  I asked Josh what he called his fly and he said I could call it whatever I wanted because it didn’t have a name.  So we’re calling it the Josh Linn Special.

img_5875

I think that fishermen would be foolish to disregard tips, tricks, and advice from those that are more knowledgeable than we are.  And like all of the people at The Royal Treatment Josh is very knowledgeable about all aspects of fly-fishing.  And it’s safe to say that he catches more fish than most of us.  (Of course he probably fishes more than most of us!)  So when he says this fly produces fish I think we should at least give it a serious look.

img_5876.

I got the recipe from Josh and found that it is a tube fly much like Brian Silvey’s Silveynator that we tied last year, but with a few other innovations.  Josh ties them in numerous color combinations and usually with some weight.  He likes them large when the water is cloudy and ties them smaller when the water is low and clear.  One suggestion would be to tie them all on the large side and keep a pair of scissors available to trim the flies shorter as needed.  And there is no reason to not use them for summer steelhead as well, such as on the Deschutes when the sun is on the water and you are using a sink tip when the fish are no longer looking up.

img_5874

I tied up a few Josh Linn Specials and felt the need to test drive them on the Clackamas just after Christmas and was rewarded with my first winter steelhead of the season on the second day out on the water.  Not a large fish but it was a nice frisky wild steelhead.  The fly I used was  actually one of the flies shown on this page.  I’ll leave it to you to guess which one it was but they should all be productive.

fullsizerender-1

The winter steelhead season is just getting underway so think about joining us at our next evening of fly tying when we will be tying up some Josh Linn Specials.   The winter weather has played havoc with all of the club’s scheduled activities and Fly Tying Night has been moved to Wednesday, February 1st .  We’ll be meeting at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6:00 pm.  Hope to see you there!

Flytying: October, 2016

The Kilchis Killer

It has been a club tradition the past few years to head to the coast for our November Fish-A-Long. Our target will be Chum Salmon, and it is hoped that by our November 12 outing we will have received enough rain (but hopefully not too much!) to draw these fish into our coastal rivers. The Kilchis River is our normal destination although the Miami River also has a run of chums. Chum salmon are much more plentiful in Washington waters. In fact, the WDFW website has a note indicating that Chum salmon are the most abundant wild salmon species in Washington State.

Chum salmon are sometimes regarded as the “ugly stepsister” of all of the species of Pacific salmon. They can be mint bright while still in the ocean but soon develop darker markings as they prepare to enter freshwater. After entering rivers chums are readily identifiable by their characteristic olive green coloration with purplish vertical striping and blotches along their sides. Chum salmon are sometimes referred to as dog salmon, with research showing two possible origins for that name. One explanation is that name comes from the impressive mouthful of sharp teeth seen in the males as they approach spawning time. A second explanation is that the reference to dog salmon comes from the habit of Native Americans feeding the flesh of the chum salmon to their dogs. Chums are not known for their aerial acrobatics but they fight like bulldogs and are not brought in easily, so don’t go light in selecting your gear.

This month we will be tying up a fly called The Kilchis Killer. Noted Oregon fly fisherman, author, and fly tier John Shewey is credited with coming up with the design for this fly. The name might be a bit of a misnomer, at least for the state of Oregon, as all fishing for chums is strictly catch and release. Just consider it a killer fly for attracting, but not killing the chums. There are many more opportunities for chum salmon in Washington waters so check the regulations if you are heading up there. The fly is normally tied in chartreuse. As Lane Hoffman says, in regard to chum salmon, “it’s no use if it ain’t chartreuse”, regardless of the specific fly pattern. However, many anglers report that if the chums aren’t responding to chartreuse flies it is time to switch to something that is hot pink. So hopefully, we will have both the time and materials to tie up both chartreuse and pink Kilchis Killers. And if something happens with the weather and it messes with the Kilchis Fish-A-Long, all is not lost, as these flies can also be used as terrific steelhead patterns.

Unlike last month’s fly, this one will be suitable for tiers of all levels of experience.  Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, October 26 to tie up some Kilchis Killers. We’ll see you at 6 pm !

Fly Tying: September, 2016

The Pom Skater

 

Although my days out on the rivers and lakes have been sparse, hopefully you have been able to get out and wet a line over these summer months. And after a summer hiatus from our monthly fly tying nights, it is time to get back at it. October’s Fish-A-Long is scheduled to be in the Maupin area and it is hoped that with the cooling of temperatures the steelhead action will be picking up on the Deschutes. The thrill of catching a steelhead on a fly is what draws us to The D in late summer and fall. And to see a chrome and crimson beauty swirling onto a fly on the surface is enough to cause a fisherman’s heart to go out of rhythm. I recall it happening to me a few years back. A steelie caught me by surprise, taking a whack at my fly as it waked across the surface. After regathering my wits I put the fly back in the same area and the fish came back again, this time rewarding me with a good battle before I eventually released it. Whatever it is that makes a steelhead that aggressive, it is what steelheaders dream about. Since that memorable morning, if the conditions are right, I have tried to make it a practice to try a skating pattern when first swinging a fly through a good looking run.

Here is a link to some video footage on the North Umpqua showing some great spey casting as well as some aggressive steelhead coming to the surface for a skating/waking fly. Enjoy.

For Fly Tying Night this month we are going to be tying a popular high-floating pattern called The Pom Skater. In inquiring about the name, Pom is apparently short for pompadour, in reference to the shape of the head of the fly resembling the pompadour hairstyle which is characterized by the hair being swept upwards from the face and worn high over the forehead. Think Elvis Presley in the 1950’s. (A little history here… the pompadour hairdo is named after Madame de Pompadour, a mistress of King Louis XV.)

In researching this month’s fly I found that there is no single answer about the difference between “skating” and “waking” flies. On one hand, I have been told that they are essentially the same thing. And, on the other hand, I have been told that there is a distinct difference between the two groups of flies. In both cases the information was shared to me by people much more knowledgeable than I. So, to simplify things, for our purpose we will assume that the terms skaters and wakers refer to essentially the same thing… dry flies that are fished under tension as they as swung downstream, creating a disturbance on the surface of the water.

The Pom Skater is tied with thick sealed-cell foam that makes it virtually unsinkable. In the family of skating/waking flies the Pom Skater is one of the less complicated examples for us to tie. As with all skaters/wakers it is generally fished down and across under tension, creating a V-shaped commotion in the water, thus making it easy to see as it tracks across the water. The wake created by the fly is believed to be possibly more important to attracting an interested steelhead than is the specific pattern that you choose. These flies tend to fish better when tied on with a loop knot, resulting in the flies being able to move more freely, responding to subtle changes in the current.

The Riffle Hitch
In this discussion it would be appropriate to include some information about the “riffle hitch”, a simple knot that can be added to a streamer or classic wet fly, causing it to wake across the surface. The knot causes the fly to turn more perpendicular to the current, creating more tension and drawing it to the surface, where it will create a wake.
History of the Riffle Hitch:
Although Lee Wulff is often credited with inventing it, he really was apparently just the first to describe the use of the Riffle Hitch (or the Riffling Hitch, or the Portland Hitch) in his book The Atlantic Salmon. Wulff himself states that no one really knows who invented the hitch. One of the commonly told stories is that sailors from British ships anchored off Newfoundland and came ashore to fish with gut-eyed salmon flies. They gave the old used flies away to local anglers on Portland Creek. The locals, learning that the gut eyes were becoming old and brittle, added a couple of half hitches behind the eye for added insurance, trying to extend the life of the flies. This caused the flies to skate or wake and the local Portland Creek anglers started using the hitched flies almost exclusively as they found it more effective than fishing the flies wet.

(For those that want to learn more:  in the fly tying tradition of less minutiae not being enough, believe it or not, there is a whole 120 page book on just the Riffle Hitch! It was written in 1998 by the well-known fly fisherman and tyer Art Lee and is called “Tying and Fishing the Riffling Hitch”.)

How to Tie The Riffle Hitch:
1. Tie the fly on using your usual favorite knot.
2. Make an overhand loop in the tippet in front of the eye. Slide the loop down over the eye, forming a half-hitch knot behind the head of the fly.
3. Make a second overhand loop and form a second half-hitch in front of the first one.
4. Adjust your half hitches so that the tippet is coming out of the side of the fly that is facing you in the current. (The half hitches would need to come out of the other side of the fly if you were fishing from the other side of the river.)

Here is a link demonstrating the riffle hitch:
http://www.netknots.com/fishing_knots/riffle-hitch

All steelheaders should have a skater/waker fly that they have confidence in, especially in the summer and fall months. We’ll be meeting for our monthly Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, September 28 at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn at 6 pm. We will be tying up some Pom Skaters and also learning to add a riffle hitch to a fly to turn it in to a skater/waker. Bringing your own Super Glue or Zap-A-Gap would be helpful. Hope you can join us!