With new materials coming out seemingly by the day, it allows fly tyers to experiment and create more durable fish catching flies! The Faux Mayfly is tied using Faux Bucktail, a material originally used for streamers. The synthetic, tapered material creates perfect tails for mayflies while the thicker portion allows for a gradually thicker body…. just like the real thing!
Chironomids are a huge food source for trout in most lakes, especially here in Central Oregon. This pattern utilizes a transparent body material that when tied over white thread creates a pop and translucence seen in the real bug. The ice dubbing collar is a strong alternative to peacock and delivers a little sparkle to get the fishes’ attention. Make sure this is in your lake box this season!
The Sculpzilla is a favorite among streamer fisherman. The size and silhouette are a perfect match for sculpin and a lot of other baitfish. Its trailing hook ensures a solid and safe connection to the fish. With its large conehead, this fly can be fished on a floating line, or our personal favorite, a 12ft sink tip line on your favorite 5 weight or larger rod. When fishing this pattern, try casting straight across or a little downstream, let the fly sink, then strip back in shorts, erratic strips. When you feel the grab, set the hook by giving your line a hard strip. This strip set ensures that if the fish has missed the fly, it is still in front of it. This also prevents you from pulling the fly from the fish’s mouth by lifting the rod. Tight lines!
We’ve all seen them. We might have a buddy that ties them. What are they? Good Flies. These are the flies that look better than the ones in the bins and catch more fish. The truth is that good flies don’t just accidentally happen. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you want to tie beautiful, durable, fish-catching bugs.
Tying the best flies requires the best material. I cherry pick every material that goes into my flies. Within a package of marabou, you might have some feathers that are fluffy and perfect for buggers, some long and wispy that are ideal for elegant steelhead flies, and others that are destined for one place, the trash. Don’t waste your time trying to salvage bad materials. Toss the junk and focus on the good. When I am buying a material, I check it and make sure it is what I want. Most materials we use are from once living critters, meaning that everyone is unique. Take your time, open the package and get what you really need.
Use thread wraps wisely. Having a ton of thread on the hook or bunched near the head isn’t just ugly, it affects how your fly fishes. Ideally, the head of the fly should be as small as possible, without compromising strength, of course. When tying in a material, I try to use existing thread wraps as much as possible. How do you accomplish this? Simply let your bobbin hang, slide the material under the thread that is already on the hook, position your material where it needs to be, use one or two “tie down” wraps, and you’re set.
Less is more. Marabou swims and flows more with less quills and a mayfly nymph doesn’t need 20 pheasant tail fibers for the tail. The name of the game isn’t putting as much material on as possible. If you work hard making a great looking body on a fly, why hide it with a bunch of material? Not only will the body of your fly look more natural with less dubbing, but it will be easier to tie, and be more durable.
Proportions. I’ve never gone as far as taking out a ruler and marking on the hook shank, but you should always try to envision the completed fly. A Woolly Bugger’s tail should be the same length of the body. A Pheasant tail nymph’s body should be 1/3 thorax, 2/3 body and the tail should be 1/3 the total length of the body. Why do these little things matter? From a fishing stand point you might get short strikes with a Woolly Bugger that has a tail that’s 3 times the body length. For aesthetics, flies look better when tied proportionately.
Learn to manipulate materials. This seems pretty simple but it gives a lot of people trouble. For feathers like hackle, if you lay the feather on your tying desk before tying it in you will see a concave side. Tie it in with the curve facing away from you. On your first wrap the hackle should sweep back, or if you’ve done it wrong, it will be the opposite of that, I call that the Mohawk. Deer hair is another tricky material. With its hollow, tube-like fibers, it tends to spin around the hook. While that’s great if you’re tying a Muddler Minnow, the elk hair caddis isn’t meant to have a spun deer hair head. To keep the hair on top, try pinching it in place, doing two soft loops of thread, then pull up on your tightening thread wraps to ensure it doesn’t spin.
Tie with the appropriate thread. Gel-spun has the greatest strength-to-diameter ratio out there, but can slip more than normal thread. It is great for tough jobs like spinning deer hair or situations where durability is crucial. When tying small flies I prefer Veevus 12/0 or 16/0 to reduce the build up of bulk. Ultra 140 thread is great all-around thread that has wonderful strength and a wide variety of colors.
Use UV curing resins. The advantages of epoxy have been widely known but pushed away because of the difficulty and time sensitivity while using it. UV resins cure instantly when exposed to a UV light, so there is no more wait time or worry about the resin shifting before it finds its final resting place. I use this on everything from covering the thread on midges to create extremely durable flies to replacing my head cement with it for a glossy head. Shell backs, wing cases and even stiffening materials.
The Intruder fly has revolutionized winter steelheading and has brought an entire culture with it. The large profile stands out in dark winter water and elicits aggressive grabs from sometime lethargic steelhead. This video is a great platform, so change the colors and materials to you liking. I particularly love black and blue as well as pink and orange versions of this fly. Enjoy!
The Pheasant Tail nymph is still one of the best mayfly nymph patterns out there. This slight variation replaces the weakness-prone peacock with extremely durable, synthetic dubbing. The color options really are endless for this pattern, so play around with pheasant tail colors as well as dubbing and wire colors to match your favorite swimmer, clinger or crawler!
It’s got just the right amount of flash and is buggy enough to look like a lot of different insects. The bead, copper wire, and weighted wraps ensure it gets delivered quickly to the strike zone. It’s as durable as nymphs get and it’s a favorite here in Central Oregon. Enjoy this quick how-to and have fun tying!