Category Archives: Fly Tying

Blogs related to tying flies

Klinkhammer BWO – 03/06/2021

Klinkhammer BWO 03/06/2021 Photo Album

Links to a materials table and additional information regarding the Klinkhammer BWO are available on my 02/23/2020 post. I utilize three different styles of flies to mimic the small blue winged olives that hatch in prodigious numbers in western streams. My first choice is generally a CDC blue winged olive which is tied similar to a comparadun but with CDC substituted for deer hair for the wing. Frequently, however, the trout ignore my CDC BWO, and in these cases I resort to the Klinkhammer BWO. The Klinkhammer imitates a mayfly in an intermediate state of emergence with the curved abdomen dangling beneath the surface. On rare occasions neither of these flies meet the rigid specifications of the resident trout, and my fly of last resort is a Craven soft hackle emerger with no bead. I apply floatant to the body and fish the small wet fly like a dry fly in the surface film. Visibility is a major drawback to this manner of fishing.

Solarez Coating on Body

During the 2020 season I experienced sporadic success with the Klinkhammer BWO. It yielded a selective trout on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon late in the season to help salvage a slow day. It has produced often enough to earn a spot in my fly box. When I counted my blue winged olive supply in preparation for the upcoming season, I determined that I was adequately supplied, but the number of CDC BWO’s and soft hackle emergers far outnumbered the Klinkhammers. I decided to narrow the gap on this situation, and I tied six additional flies for the upcoming season. Four were new flies tied from scratch, and two were unraveling examples, that I repaired. I expect to encounter blue winged olives in the very near future.

Six New Klinkhammer BWO’s

Crystal Stone – 03/06/2021

Crystal Stone 03/06/2021 Photo Album

I am taking credit for creating and naming a new fly, although I have not researched whether a similar tie already exists. I was researching destinations for a fishing trip prior to my visit to the Arkansas River on 03/09/2021. One of my options was one of the sections of the South Platte River. I follow guide, Pat Dorsey, on Instagram; and a post during that time frame mentioned that little black stoneflies were present in decent numbers along the South Platte. He suggested using a black pheasant tail size 18 as an imitation. I pondered this and realized that I did not possess any small black nymphs, so I decided to cover my bases and tie a few.

Sideview of a Crystal Stone

I surfed YouTube and browsed some black pheasant tail patterns, and that was when I realized, that they required dyed black pheasant tails, and I had none in my possession. Over the last year I made a concerted effort to utilize the materials that I already stock in abundance rather than increasing my supply, so I contemplated replacement materials. I settled on black crystal flash, as it was the correct color, offered some flash, and worked well in an iron sally.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookSize 18 dry fly hook or nymph hook
BeadSilver, size to fit hook
Thread Black 6/0
TailSix strands of black crystal flash
RibFine silver wire
AbdomenFine black dubbing
Wing CaseBlack crystal flash
ThoraxBlack peacock ice dub
LegsBlack crystal flash

Here are my steps for tying a crystal stone:

1. Put down a solid thread base over the back 2/3 of the hook shank.

2. Cut six strands of black crystal flash from the clump and tie them in on top of the hook at the midpoint of the shank.

3. Wrap over the crystal flash keeping the strands on top of the hook, until you reach the point, where the hook begins to bend.

4. Cut the tail, so it is roughly equal to the hook gap or a bit longer.

5. Tie in the fine silver wire at the midpoint and wrap back to the beginning of the tail.

6. Move the thread to a position above the hook point and twirl black dubbing on the thread. Use the bare thread to move back to the front of the tail and then build a tapered body from the tail to a point 1/3 behind the hook eye.

7. Wrap the wire forward to create a rib over the abdomen. Tie off and cut off the wire.

8. Fold the strands of crystal flash back over the abdomen and make a couple wraps to keep it pointing toward the tail.

9. Use black peacock ice dub to create a nice thorax that is thicker than the abdomen.

10. Fold the six strands of black crystal flash forward over the top of the thorax and tie down behind the bead with some secure wraps. Use your fingers if necessary to spread the fibers so they have a decent width for a wing case.

11. Separate the six fibers that protrude over the eye of the hook into two clumps of three, and then fold each back and lock down with some wraps, so the legs point backward along the sides of the body. Build a collar behind the bead and whip finish.

12. Cut the legs to an even length, so they extent slightly beyond the wing case.

13. Optionally apply a bead of UV resin to the wing case and cure.

I know I am biased, but I tied five of these, and I think they look great. They are the right size, totally black, and they display an eye-grabbing amount of flash. I tried one at the start of my day on the Arkansas River on 03/09/2021, but I was unable to interest the trout in my new creation. Perhaps little black stoneflies are more prevalent in the South Platte drainage. Once the recent snowstorm disappears, I hope to visit the South Platte for another test of the crystal stone.

Five Crystal Stones

Deer Hair Caddis – 02/22/2021

Deer Hair Caddis 02/22/2021 Photo Album

Review my post of 02/16/2020 for links to more expansive descriptions of my history with a deer hair caddis as well as a materials table. This rather sparse fly is selected from my fly box fairly often during a season of fly fishing. The two colors that I favor the most are olive-brown and gray, although I also carry a few in tan and yellow. Sizes 14, 16, and 18 seem to fulfill most needs. When my larger and bushier flies such as the hippie stomper and stimulators elicit refusals, I often downsize to a deer hair caddis, and the fish seem to appreciate such a move. These earth colored imitations are challenging to track, but the trout seem to have no problem picking them out. During the 2020 season I increasingly deployed the strategy of a double dry fly with a larger more visible fly in the front position trailing a smaller deer hair caddis. It worked quite well, and I suspect it will be added to my bag of tricks in the upcoming season.


I counted all my deer hair caddis, and I was pleased to determine that I possessed adequate if not excessive quantities. I also went through my damaged and unraveling fly canister and extracted twelve flies in the 16 and 18 size range, and I stripped them back to bare hooks. With this recycled supply of dry fly hooks at my disposal, I manufactured five additional size 16 deer hair caddis with olive-brown bodies. Bring on the April caddis hatch. I am prepared.

Ice Dub Olive Bodies

Comparaduns – 02/21/2021

Comparaduns 02/21/2021 Photo Album

I am unable to compose a better description of the why’s and wherefore’s of the comparadun style of fly than that which I created in my 02/21/2014 post. If you have any interest in this type of mayfly imitation, click on the link in the previous sentence. As the reader may suspect, I am a huge proponent of comparaduns, and the mayfly imitation that benefits the most from this affection is the pale morning dun. I always maintain an ample supply of cinnamon and light gray comparaduns in size 16 and 18, and rarely do they not produce trout during a pale morning dun hatch.

Size 18, Boat Box

The best characteristic of the comparadun is the lack of need for expensive dry fly hackles. This feature also assures that the fly sits low in the water similar to a natural mayfly. The lack of hackle does, however, dictate strict adherence to several important tying steps, so reading the referenced 02/21/2014 blog post should be required reading.

Size 16, LIght Gray

As is the case with all my regular flies, I counted my supply of cinnamon and light gray comparaduns in size 16 and 18, and I determined that my supply was adequate. Oddly I reached the same conclusion during the winter of 2020. I accepted my good fortune and moved on to the next fly on my list for 2021.

Stimulators – 02/19/2021

Stimulators 02/19/2021 Photo Album

Fairly thorough descriptions of my history with stimulators, and how I utilize this versatile fly are available through links in my post of 01/29/2020. This classic fly possesses several desirable characteristics including buoyancy and visibility and the ability to imitate quite a few food organisms that are preferred on the trout’s menu.

Olive Ice Dub Abdomen

The classic stimulator is tied with a fine wire rib that is used to counter wrap the body hackle. I do not favor the added weight associated with even fine wire, so I deviate from this practice, although the step is included in the videos I viewed by Charlie Craven and Tim Flagler. After I build a solid thread base and add the deer hair tail, I move my thread to the area in front of the tail and tie in a size 14 saddle hackle of the desired color. Next I dub the rear half of the fly, and then I wrap the hackle forward to the end of the body and tie off. Otherwise, my stimulators follow the accepted recipe and steps.

Left Side View

The most difficult aspect of tying a stimulator is avoiding the annoying result of crowding the hook eye. In order to avoid this unsightly circumstance, I end the abdomen at the midpoint of the shank, and this allows adequate space to add the deer hair wing, dubbing and the dense hackle of the stimulator collar. Do not tell me you were not forewarned.

Five Olive Ice Dub Stimulators

My stashes of stimulators of various colors were adequate for the upcoming season except for olive, so I settled into my swivel chair at my fly tying counter, and I produced five size 14 olives. These were not just ordinary olive stimulators; these possessed olive ice dub abdomens. The hint of flash amazingly shows through the densely hackled fly, and I am hopeful this will attract the attention of western trout.

Purple Haze – 02/15/2021

Purple Haze 02/15/2021 Photo Album

During a float trip on the Colorado River on 07/07/2020, my guide knotted a purple haze to my line during the afternoon, and this simple act resulted in the guide’s net sagging under the weight of two bank dwelling brown trout in excess of fifteen inches. Needless to say this convinced me that the purple haze is a viable fish attractor in Colorado, and I made a mental note to tie some during the off season between 2020 and 2021.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 200R or equivalent
ThreadPurple 6/0
TailDyed green grizzly saddle hackle fibers
AbdomenPurple dubbing
WingWhite McFlylon
HackleDyed green grizzly saddle hackle
ThoraxPurple Dubbing

Looking Good

I remained true to my commitment and recently manufactured five size 14 3XL purple hazes to experiment with during the upcoming season. I had to visit Charlie’s Fly Box in Arvada to purchase purple dubbing, as I never experienced the need for purple flies in my forty years of fly fishing and fly tying. Since I took the plunge to add purple dubbing to my supplies, I also created a purple haze chubby Chernobyl and a purple haze pool toy hopper. A purple hopper may be a reach, but I am anxious to see what happens.

Zooming In

I feel heightened anticipation for the dry fly season in 2021, so that my parachute purple hazes can ride the currents of western rivers and streams.

User Friendly Green Drake – 02/12/2021

User Friendly Green Drake 02/12/2021 Photo Album

My post of 01/31/2019 provides a nice description of my introduction to this fly. It also describes how I envisioned it enhancing my arsenal of green drake imitations, and it contains a materials table. You can find a step by step video performed by the designer himself, Andrew Grillos, on YouTube.

The Better Side

During the 2019 summer season I tested the user friendly green drake on numerous occasions, but the results were less than impressive. In fact, I switched back to my more trusted green drake versions on several occasions, and they resulted in superior performance. As it turns out, the saga of the user friendly green drake was not over. I continued to carry four in my green drake fly box, and during a visit to the Cache la Poudre River on 07/17/2020, I knotted one to my line as a last resort after cycling through my other green drake imitations. Voila! The out of favor green drake accounted for seven trout during my remaining time on the river. Once again on 07/21/2020 I defaulted to the user friendly green drake on the Taylor River, and it yielded decent results including a fifteen inch rainbow trout. Again the user friendly green drake model proved its worth on 08/11/2020 and 08/14/2020 on South Boulder Creek, as it produced trout during several stints on my line.

Five User Friendly Green Drakes

Needless to say these productive periods convinced me to restore the user friendly to a prominent space in my fly box. I counted my stock of five and approached my vise to create five additional flies to bring my total to ten. Hopefully the user friendly green drake will continue to impress me during 2021 and become the preeminent green drake imitation in my possession.

Parachute Green Drake – 02/09/2021

Parachute Green Drake 02/09/2021 Photo Album

2020 probably stood as my high water mark for encountering western green drakes. Readers of this blog may already know that chasing green drakes is one of my foremost endeavors, as I navigate the seasons of fly fishing in Colorado. I encountered green drakes on the Cache la Poudre, Taylor River, Lake Creek, and South Boulder Creek. My most dependable green drake action generally originates from the Frying Pan River, and I never made the trip to that revered tailwater in 2020. Needless, to say the many green drake hatch experiences resulted in the depletion of my inventory, and a recent quick count revealed that I needed to to tie six parachute styles to bring my supply to my target level.

Cannot Wait for Green Drake Hatches

My post of 02/09/2020 (ironically the same day as this post) provides an update to my green drake quest and includes a link to a materials table and other background information. I recently approached the vise and spun out six new parachute green drakes. Hopefully these will serve me well as I continue my quest for western green drake hatches in 2021.

A Fleet of New Parachute Green Drakes

Chubby Chernobyl – 02/08/2021

Chubby Chernobyl 02/08/2021 Photo Album

Chubby Chernobyls and hippie stompers became the fashionable flies over the last couple years. I was slow to jump on the hippie stomper craze, but once I stumbled on to its effectiveness, it became a dry fly favorite. Chubbys, on the other hand, took me a fair amount of time to embrace. Prior to my trip to Argentina, I purchased a fly box full of flies gathered by Taylor Edrington of Royal Gorge Anglers, and several chubbys were among the collection. Upon my return from Rio Manso, I periodically tied one to my line, but they did not produce and the large wing grew saturated with water. This made the fly heavy and reduced my confidence, so I clung to my tried and true fat Alberts, pool toy hoppers and classic Chernobyl ants.

Tan Ice Dub Body

I fished on in unenlightened bliss until July 2019 on the Yampa River, when I knotted an ice dub olive body chubby Chernobyl to my line. I was shocked to discover a hot fly, as several robust trout engulfed the large attractor along the edge of the Yampa. Unfortunately I lost the only such flies in my box within a short amount of time, and the Steamboat Fly Fisher did not stock the ice dub tan or olive body versions that I was enamored with. I bought and tried some alternative body colors, but their effectiveness was lacking.

Five New Chubby Chernobyls

Fast forward to 2020, and my usage of chubby Chernboyls increased significantly. I learned to apply floatant to the large gangly wing, and I increasingly substituted it for the fat Albert, and it performed reasonably well. I find the slow, gradual disappearance of the large poly wing, when a fish grabs the nymphs, to be enormously seductive.  For a materials table and additional accounts of my history with this fly, check out my previous post of 01/17/2020. The cubby Chernobyl is rapidly earning my trust as a valued top fly in dry/dropper configurations.

Nice Angle

I counted my inventory of chubby Chernobyls and determined that I was reasonably stocked, so I simply increased my supply of two of the favorite colors; ice dub tan and gray. In addition I created a single chubby Chernobyl with a purple body as an experiment for the upcoming season. My guide on a float trip on the Colorado River utilized a purple haze on my line for a considerable amount of time, so I purchased a packet of purple dubbing to tie some. Since I had the purple dubbing available, I applied it to several favorites to experiment with a color that somehow avoided my attention for nearly forty years of fly fishing.

Purple Haze Chubby Experiment

Fat Albert – 02/04/2021

Fat Albert 02/04/2021 Photo Album

As is my custom during the cold winter months, I visited my fly storage containers and counted my supply of fat Alberts. I was pleased to discover that I possessed adequate quantities of size 8 fat Alberts with yellow bodies, so I quickly moved on to the next pattern on my schedule of flies to tie. I tend to use the fat Albert quite a bit in the early season, and I missed the latter half of April and most of May during 2021 due to my recovery from heart surgery. This perhaps explains the lack of shrinkage in my inventory of this popular fly.

Plenty of Fat Alberts in Stock

Click on the link to my post of 12/30/2019 for additional information about the fat Albert. The brief report provides a materials table and several links  that describe my introduction to this popular fly. In addition there is a link that takes you to a post that describes some of the successful usages of the yellow fat Albert. Hopefully I will be on the western rivers early during 2021, and the fat Albert will bounce along the currents and attract attention from hungry trout.