Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tying the Muddler Minnow

Of all the flies developed for trout over the years, the muddler minnow has to rank near or at the top of the list of those in the streamer category.  Here Tim Flagler ties the muddler in its original form - like most flies, there have been several incarnations of the fly, such as tying it with a white or yellow marabou wing, or with a brass cone head.   Tie some up and give them a good soaking this winter and spring!

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Somerset Fly Fishing Show - Back From the Chaos

We're still recovering from another great show this past weekend.   It was three days of big crowds, seeing lots of old friends, and making new ones.  I did 5 seminars over the period, and thankfully, all of them were well attended.  This was the first time I did two different topics on fly fishing for trout, and I found that it takes much more concentration as there were times while speaking, I veered off into the other seminar topic and subject matter - not that it mattered much as the two topics are closely related.  It's hard not to get carried away when you're talking about something you love to do and share with others.  The bottom line is I have to stay on subject, or I can run out of time........50 minutes is not long and it goes by in a flash.  We'll tighten things up for the Lancaster show in a few weeks.
One of the best parts of tying flies throughout the weekend is that we get to share our favorite patterns, and the people that come to watch or ask questions, also teach us a thing or two.  (For instance, I dub wrong.)  Some guys also bring their flies to ask for tips or feedback, and show you what they have done after watching the videos we have made with Tightline Productions.
A young man, Doug Freemann, from Pennsylvania, brought a bunch of his flies to show me as he has been watching the videos to help him along, and this kid can tie a great fly!  He's about 14, and has some serious skills that belie his age.  He showed me a bunch of beadheads, flashback nymphs and a couple of articulated streamers, all tied well and very fishable.  Here's one if his flashback nymphs.               
Another tier, Dmitri Vinnik, who sits in on my Sunday morning classes at Shannon's Fly Shop, came by with what looks like a great Little-black Stonefly nymph that's a take on my Pumpkinhead Midge - the Pumpkinhead Stonefly.  The tails are black biots, the abdomen is black thread with a blue wire rib, and the thorax is dark blue ice dub.  He says it has worked well for this winter.  Looks like I need to tie some up for my own use.  Thanks, Dmitri.  
So we have two very nice nymph patterns, that are appropriate for this time of the year, as they will imitate the Little-black Stonefly nymphs so common in our rivers and streams.   I would imagine they will work throughout the year, too.
It was good to see everyone, thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to seeing you next year....or come on down to the Lancaster, PA show!
Sharpen your hooks.

Friday, January 25, 2013

I Dub Wrong.........The Rest of the Story

The following is a not for profit, unpaid, reenactment of an historical exchange between two dyed-in-the-wool, hard core fly tyers at a recent fly tying event. Enjoy.

You may recall that after the International Fly Tying Symposium, I wrote about the "incident" - when a gentleman, who shall no longer remain nameless,  informed me that I dubbed wrong (see November 22, 2012 post).  I was minding my own business at the time, tying flies during a quiet period, when my long-time fly tying friend Bill Ninke (name) walked up to me and said hello.  We exchanged greetings, got caught up with each other, but I knew something was up as he was sporting a highly uncharacteristic  Cheshire Cat grin.  He was also carrying a saddle bag over his shoulder, which he usually does, but in this case it appeared to be holding more than the usual notebook and recently purchased fly tying materials.
After a bit, Bill says something to the effect, "Would you be offended if I told you that you dub wrong?"  I smiled and said, "What? Of course not, you're probably right."  And I thought to myself, This is going to be good.  Bill has shown me so many outside-of-the-box, interesting tying methods and materials over the years, I knew I was in for another lesson in something I never thought about......and I was right.
Bill explained to me that as a right handed tyer, my thread - the portion between the hook and the end of my bobbin - twisted counter-clockwise one revolution for each time I wrapped it around the hook.  He further explained that when I "twist" my dubbing on the thread to form a dubbing noodle, I twist it clock-wise, thus with each wrap of thread it counter-acts my efforts and likely loosens the dubbing I so carefully applied a few seconds before. 
A light bulb went on in my head, and Bill smiled from ear to ear knowing he got through to his "Grasshopper."  He then said, "Let me show you what I mean".....Bill is nothing if not  prepared.  He opened his saddle bag and pulled out a vise stem and base, and placed it in front of me on the tying table.   The metal stem was bent in a "Z" like manner, so conveniently, the top part was horizontal.  He then pulled two long shoestrings out of his bag of tricks - one tan and the other green.   
Then, taking the ends of the two strings, he wrapped them over themselves a few times to lock them onto the top of the vise stem, as though wrapping thread on a hook shank when starting to tie a fly.  He then began wrapping the two strings around the shank, and said with a smile, "See what's happening?"  And with each wrap the strings twisted together in a counter-clockwise fashion, and in short order they looked like a green and tan candycane.  A counter-clockwise candycane from his perspective - Bill also is a right handed fly tyer.

I said, "Holy shit!  That is something I never thought about."  And we both laughed.  Bill then asked me, "Now do you know what I am talking about?  You dub your thread wrong!" And we laughed some more. 

And so I do dub my thread wrong; guilty as charged.  At least according to the laws of physics.   Then we discussed the matter, thoroughly.  Bill was right on all accounts.  However, the funny thing is, that although I do dub my thread in a clock-wise manner, and when I wrap the thread around the hook, it twists in a counter-clockwise manner, my dubbing noodle does not loosen or try to un-twist.  Instead, it stays in a tight dubbing noodle, and even will create a segmented body when I wish. 

So does my dubbing method defy the physics of phly tying?  Not likely.  After all, its just phly tying. 

My explanation is simple - many years ago when I first started to tie flies, I probably found that if I didn't twist my dubbing very tight around the thread, it didn't stay tight because of the countering effect of the thread twist.  So without thought, and being as stubborn as I am, I fought the counter twist by creating a very tight, compact dubbing noodle around the thread that remained independent of the counteractive effects as I wrapped it on the hook.  It never occurred to me that maybe I should reverse the direction I twisted the dubbing on the thread.

Now, every time I dub my thread and wrap a body on a hook, I am instantly reminded that I dub my thread wrong.....all wrong. 

But it works..........for me. 

And Bill, thank you.  You are one of a kind........the kind who's relentless quest to understand the mechanics of phly tying improves the tying skills of everyone who has the good fortune to learn from you.  

See you at the show.    

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Learn To Tie Flatwings at the Somerset FF Show - Joe Cordeiro Instructor

Our good friend Joe Cordeiro, who wrote the book "Techniques for Tying the Flatwing", will be holding a fly tying class this Sunday morning at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ.  
The class, "Flatwings and Other Striper Flies", will be held from 8:30AM to 11:00AM and is open to anyone who registers and pays the nominal fee of $80.  There are still a couple of openings, so if you are interested, sign up before its too late.  Details and sign-up information can be found on the Fly Fishing Show Somerset, NJ website, to which I have provided the link to the right under "Whereabouts".  At the top of the page go to the "Somerset, NJ" tab and on the drop down menu, click on "Programs and Seminars."
For those of you that fish the salt and tie your own flies, this is the class for you. Here's a photo of a flatwing in action:
See you at the show.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Marlborough Fly Fishing Show

While it's nothing like the almost chaos of the Somerset Show, the Marlborough, MA, show this past weekend was a good time.  I had only signed up to be there Saturday and Sunday, as I had meetings in Boston on Friday for work, but someone with the show didn't get the memo and scheduled me for a Friday presentation. So I kept my 1:00pm meeting short, got my butt on the road, and was ready to go in time to get the job done at 3:00pm.  I had no idea what to expect as this was the first time I presented at this show, and I was pleasantly surprised with a good crowd.      
It was a good weekend with all three of my presentations well attended.  I met a heck of a lot of really nice people, and as always, I learned more than few things about stuff I had no idea existed.  I was tying alongside Pat Cohen, and Safet Nikocevic, originally from Yugoslavia, who now lives in Queens, who now restores pianos for Steinway and Sons.   Also within earshot were Ted Patlen and Rich Strolis, both great tyers and good people. 
For those of you not familiar with Pat Cohen, IMHO he is the best bass bug, deer hair stacker/tyer on the planet.  His flies are works of art; durable, fishable, aesthetically pleasing, big flies for BIG fish.  Here's a few of his creations I photographed during a lull:
Now it's time to get ready for Somerset and do it all over again. 
See you at the show.    

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Little Catching......Up

Spent a couple of hours on the river this past Saturday and the trout cooperated again.  It wasn't technical fishing by any means - tied on a big wooley bugger, cast it to within inches of the opposite bank, and then worked it back through the cold depths.  The river was up and a little off-color from Friday's rain, and the day was chilly, gray and windless, but the trout didn't seem to mind.    

Took a bunch of browns and this fat hen brookie.  It was about an even split between black and blue buggers. There were even a few small Little-black caddis in the air and on the water, and one even managed to get slammed by a trout a few inches off the bank.  It never rose again, so I stuck to fishing buggers. 

Looks like that's it for me for a few weeks, as the Fly Fishing Shows start up this weekend.  I'll be in Marlborough, MA this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so if you're in the area stop by.  This one is a little less crazy than the Jersey show,which is the following weekend here in Somerset.  Links to the shows are on the right.   I've put together a new power point presentation for this year's shows, splitting the focus between presentation/reading rise forms and Eastern hatches.  I did the program Monday evening for the Ernie Schwiebert Trout Unlimited Chapter, and it was well received.   The rest of the weekend at the shows I'll be tying flies and telling lies, like the rest of the anglers there.....yep, that Brown was a hundred pounds, at least!

Hope to see you at one of the shows.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Catskill Classic - Flick's Red Quill

If you are a trout fisherman, you are probably familiar with this wonderful Catskill style dry fly that Art Flick created several decades ago to imitate the male Hendrickson - Ephemerella subvaria - that hatches in mid April to early May.  In sizes #12 and 14, it does the job very well.  In smaller sizes, #16-18, it is an effective imitation for the Blue Quills and Mahogany Duns and other small, rusty-brown colored mayflies.  You can also use them in sizes #10-12 for the Slate Drake/Isonychia. The bottom line; the Red Quill is one of those dry flies that everyone should have in their box.

Hook: Standard Dry Fly -sized per above
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Wing: Woodduck flank fibers - upright and split
Tail: Medium dun hackle fibers
Body: Stripped dark brown hackle stems - coat with head cement for strength and to draw out color. 
Hackle: Medium dun
When I tie this fly, I use two hackle stems for the body tied in at the tips and then wrapped together at the same time.  Today's genetic hackle capes tend to have fairly thin stems, so I use the shorter saddle hackles found along the sides of the dry fly cape.  These tend to be a little thicker, so they provide for a nice segmented body.
For more info on Art Flick and his flies, there's a nice thread in the fly tying forum at Sparse Grey Matter.   
Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, January 7, 2013

One of Nature's Most Beautiful Sounds........

A small mountain freestone stream as it tumbles around the rocks and boulders in the otherwise silent snow covered woods.

This is the mid-point, and highlight, of my daily walk.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 - Off to a Great Start

Mr. Q and I fished the South Branch of the Raritan today for a couple of hours, and did quite well.  I managed about a dozen browns and rainbows - a couple of the browns were the wild variety.  The air was cold - upper 30's; and the water was clear and just as cold, but running at a good wintertime flow.  All of the fish came on size #6 black woolly buggers stripped fairly fast after casting them right up against the far bank of the river.    One of the rainbows I took was about 21-22 inches long, fat and heavy - it barely fit in my net.. We fished open water that was stocked by both the state and Shannon's Fly Shop this past fall, and given the number of follows we had, there are a good number of fish in the river - all fish were released. 
Here's my first fish of 2013.  A nice brown.
Here's the big rainbow.  Snapped a quick pic and then got it back in the water and it took off for the deep.     
Sharpen your hooks!

Happy New Year Everyone!

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

"One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

"This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied,
"The one you feed."