Category Archives: Fly Tying

Blogs related to tying flies

Moodah Poodah – 05/14/2020

Moodah Poodah 05/14/2020 Photo Album

I possess quite a few foam dry flies, but I am always susceptible to adding a new pattern. Toward the back of one of my past issues of Southwest Fly Fishing, a fly that carried the unusual name of moodah poodah caught my attention. During this coronavirus and surgery recovery time I could not resist the temptation to construct a few of the foam attractors.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2487 Size 10-12
ThreadBlack 6/0
Hot SpotUV Hot Orange Ice Dub. I substituted orange poly.
BodyBlack Ice Dub
RibbingPearl flashabou
UnderwingBlack deer hair
HeadBlack 2MM Foam
LegsSpeckled Orange centipede legs.
PostOrange poly

The features that differentiated the moodah poodah from other foam flies in my boxes were the dangling Klinkhammer-style body, the size, and the shape. This foam fly struck me as a size that fit in between a hippie stomper and a Jake’s gulp beetle. It was large enough to float a single beadhead dropper, and the shape reminded me of a beetle, cicada and horsefly. Surely this fly covered enough bases to be a viable addition to my fly box.

Pumped to Try

I gathered my materials and churned out five reasonably accurate imitations of the moodah poodah that was displayed in the magazine article. I lacked UV hot orange ice dub for the hot spot, so I substituted orange poly and coated it with UV resin. The pattern specified black elk hair, but I utilized black deer hair instead. I also improvised for the legs by dabbing orange-red rubber appendages with a black magic marker to achieve the speckled effect. I was quite pleased with the final product, and I am anxious to give the moodah poodah a spin in western lakes and streams.

Standard Materials

X Leg Nymph – 05/11/2020

X Leg Nymph 05/11/2020 Photo Album

I lived in Colorado for thirty years; however, I continue to subscribe to Pennsylvania Boater & Angler. I enjoy staying current with the latest fishing trends and events in Pennsylvania in case I make an infrequent return visit. A recent issue outlined the tying steps for a X leg nymph, and the simplicity of the fly struck me. I scanned the pattern and recently had the time to tie some experimental models. I was also pleased to discover that I possessed all the necessary materials to create five brown versions.

Fly ComponentMaterial
Hook3X Long, curved nymph hook 10-12
Bead1/8 inch gold
Thread6/0 tan
TailBrown marabou
WireSm Gold Ultra wire
LegsAmber Barred Legs

Burrowing Nymph

The nymphs have long relatively narrow bodies and, thus, appear to be excellent imitations of the burrowing category of mayflies. Various eastern drakes fall into this category. I’m not sure if there is a brown burrowing nymph in the west, but I suspect the X leg could also replicate a stonefly, as it tumbles through deep pockets and runs in mountain environments. I will certainly allot the X leg some time on the end of my line. In a worst case scenario it should serve as a nice heavy top nymph to sink a dry/dropper rig deep on tumbling high elevation creeks. The long tapered body, undulating marabou tail, gold rib, vibrant legs, and gold bead are all attractive trigger elements of the X leg nymph.

Anxious to Test

Craven Haymaker – 05/09/2020

Craven Haymaker 05/09/2020 Photo Album

The next interesting fly to appear on my radar from scanned patterns was the Craven Haymaker. Charlie Craven is an accomplished fly tier and designer and the owner of Charlie’s Fly Box in nearby Arvada, CO. I visit his shop frequently, and I scanned and saved his step by step instructions in Fly Fisherman Magazine¬†for crafting the haymaker.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 5262, 6-12
BeadGold to Fit Hook
Weight.020 non-lead wire
TailBlack Marabou
LegsBlack sililegs
BodyBlack/Gold Speckled Chenille (I subbed Black/Medium Olive)
CollarBlack Hen Saddle Hackle (I subbed Hungarian Partridge)

I reviewed the materials list and noted that I did not possess the Black/gold speckled chenille or the black hen saddle hackle, so I made some substitutions from my vast array of materials that never seem to get used. I replaced the black/gold chenille with black/medium olive, and I improvised for the wet fly hackle with hungarian partridge. The partridge was very dark with white dots, and I was rather pleased with the final look of this feather.

Small Meat

The finished haymaker reminded me quite a bit of a woolly bugger, although it displays rubber legs and long wet fly style hackle fibers that probably wave in the current more than the typical dry fly hackles palmered on a woolly bugger. I made three, and the combination of the large bead and weighting probably make it a good choice to tumble on a dead drift through deep runs and at the head of riffles. Another new fly awaits my advancement into area trout streams in 2020.

Should Sink

May Break – 05/06/2020

May Break 05/06/2020 Photo Album

My first ever guided fishing day occurred on the Frying Pan River in the early 1990’s, shortly after we moved to Colorado from Pennsylvania. During this wonderful day my guide introduced me to the western green drake hatch, and seeking this exciting hatch has been an annual quest ever since. The guide set me up on the right side of the river and pointed out a nice trout that periodically surfaced along a current seam to crush the large mayflies attempting to become airborne. He tied an odd fly on to my line that struck me as a poorly tied mayfly dun. Apparently the trout thought the fly was expertly tied, because several fine Frying Pan browns sucked it in with no reluctance. I asked my guide what the fly was named, and he said it was a green drake cripple.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTMC 5212 Size 12 or 14
ThreadLight olive 6/0
TailPearl krystal flash and olive and gray marabou
AbdomenLight olive and gray marabou barbs
ThoraxPeacock herl
Thorax shroudDun antron fibers
WingNatural deer hair
HackleDun dry fly hackle

As I browsed through the scanned patterns in my iPad, I encountered a fly called a May break from Southwest Fly Fishing. This fly looked very similar to the green drake cripples that enabled me to enjoy some success during my first guided fly fishing trip on the Frying Pan River. I decided to manufacture a few to determine if they still possessed the magic of the early 1990’s. I reviewed the materials list and determined that I possessed all the materials except for gray marabou and dun antron fibers. I concluded that I could substitute the gray fluffy feathers from the base of a game bird feather for the gray in the tail. For the twisted marabou abdomen I elected to simply use light olive marabou since that color matched the body of a green drake, and I substituted some gray-olive antron for the dun antron thorax shroud.

A May Break

Upon completion of five May breaks, I examined my output, and I was quite pleased with the flies on my tying bench. They closely resemble the green drake cripples from my memory, and I am anxious to give them a trial on western streams during green drake emergence time.

A Bit Closer Look

Royal Wulff – 05/05/2020

Royal Wulff 05/05/2020 Photo Album

The royal Wulff is allegedly one of the most popular flies in the world. It was created by Lee Wulff as a visible high floating attractor, and it certainly matches that description. I tend to gravitate more to flies that are intended to imitate something, although I am not sure how I explain my love affair with the hippie stomper and Chernobyl ant. At least in those instances I can envision a likeness to a terrestrial or large stonefly. The shape and key triggering characteristics of a royal Wulff clearly fall within the range of a mayfly with a tail and upright wing, but how does one explain the peacock and red floss body?

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookStandard dry fly hook
ThreadBlack 6/0
TailDeer hair
WingsCalf hair
BodyRed floss and peacock
HackleBrown neck hackle

I rarely fish a royal Wulff, because I generally default to a stimulator or adult caddis as my large searching dry fly. However, I have friends who knot a Wulff to their line more frequently, and they report decent success. One of the flies that popped up on my iPad, that I scanned from Fly Tyer Magazine was the royal Wulff. With recovery time on my hands after surgery, I decided to spin out five.

Another Angle

The most difficult aspect of a royal Wulff, in my mind, is the calf hair wing. Calf hair is more slippery to work with than deer hair or feathers, so pinching and figure eight wraps are a necessity. I managed to overcome the wing challenge and produced five respectable royal Wulffs, that I added to my fly box. Hopefully I remember these new ties, when I wade into a mountain stream in a few months.

Five Ready for Action

Fusion Nymph – 05/03/2020

Fusion Nymph 05/03/2020 Photo Album

I followed @thin_air_angler on Instagram for a few years now, and I actually met Bob Reece several times at the Fly Fishing Show in Denver. Bob is a junior high science teacher and coach in Cheyenne, WY, but his avocation is fly tying, guiding and fly fishing. Bob is a signature fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457 or Equivalent
BeadBrass gold size to fit hook
ThreadBrown 6/0
TailAmber krystal flash
WireCopper ultra wire
HerlGray ostrich herl
Dubbing Peacock ice dub

One of Reece’s signature patterns is the fusion nymph, and the tying instructions appeared in an issue of Southwest Fly Fishing. I was intrigued by the look of the fly, so I scanned it, and given the Stay at Home orders from the covid19 epidemic and my status as a rehabilitating patient, I decided to give the fusion nymph a try.

Love the Look

I found an instructional video online featuring the creator himself, and I gathered the necessary materials. The pattern that he tied prescribed tan ostrich herl and amber ultra wire. I did not have these two materials in my possession, and the local fly shops were closed due to the coronavirus situation. I was reluctant to wait for the delivery of an online order, so I made some substitutions. Bob actually suggested some different color combinations in his instructional video.

Nymphs and Materials

I produced five fusion nymphs, and I must say I am very pleased with the output. The unique concept that Bob incorporated into his nymph design is the abdomen with fine copper wire wrapped over the ostrich herl. This creates a very buggy look, as the herl that pokes through the gaps in the wire creates the illusion of gill fibers. The finished flies appear to be in the pale morning dun nymph genre, but they are easier to tie than a salvation nymph or pheasant tail. I am anxious to give them a try. The flies have a lot of shine and are solidly constructed and could be a positive addition to my nymph arsenal.

Bionic Ant – 05/01/2020

Bionic Ant 05/01/2020 Photo Album

As I gathered the materials required to tie the ugly bug, I stumbled across three packs of black foam cylinders. I decided to abort my ugly bug project, and I became intrigued with the idea of using my long dormant supply of black foam cylinders to produce some oversized ants. I performed a search on YouTube, and I found several patterns that utilized black foam cylinders. The one that caught my attention was called a bionic ant created by Lance Egan. I decided to experiment with a few of these creations. The tying video can be found on YouTube, if you are interested in producing a few of these terrestrials.

Closer View

Unlike the Chernobyl ant and foam ants of that ilk, these ants could actually imitate naturals. I always assumed that Chernobyl ants and chubby Chernobyls were misnamed, and that they actually mimicked large beetles, hoppers and stoneflies. I extracted some size 14 standard dry fly hooks from my collection and manufactured five ants. I made one with an orange tipped foam cylinder, and the others contained a solid black barrel-shaped piece of foam. I followed the YouTube directions closely and added a white poly wing and black sili legs, and concluded the buggy creation with wraps of brown hackle. I was rather pleased with my output, and although the bionics are larger than most natural ants, they do replicate the distinctive shape of the real insects.

Ants Go Marching

I added a pair to my main fly box and then stashed the remaining three in my boat box, which I use for back up. The bionic ant provides another foam terrestrial that is smaller than a hippie stomper but larger than a Jake’s gulp beetle. I sense that this fly will see some line time during 2020.

Ugly Bug – 04/30/2020

Ugly Bug 04/30/2020 Photo Album

I continued my progression through new flies, that I scanned from my magazines and encountered yet another large foam terrestrial pattern. My fly boxes already contained fat Alberts, pool toys, Amy’s ants, Chernobyl ants, hopper Juan’s, Charlie boy hoppers, hippie stompers and Jake’s gulp beetles. Did I really need another foam terrestrial offering? This fly was portrayed as an ant imitation, even though the instructions prescribed a size 10 hook. How many natural ants are this large? In my mind this fly was another variation on the Chernobyl ant theme.

Hard to Tie

This would be my first tying effort since returning from the hospital after my surgery, so the idea of beginning with a large foam ant pattern appealed to me. I took the plunge and gathered the necessary materials for an ugly bug. The designer of the pattern is Hans van Klinken, and I am fond of his Klinkhammer series of emergers, and this also motivated me to give it a try.

Looks Rather Buggy

I made two ugly bugs, but I found them difficult to tie. The foam tended to spin around the hook shank, and the front section of the fly seemed bulky after folding back the black foam bottom layer and then adding a white foam indicator. Perhaps I did not have the exact materials specified, and this may have contributed to the bulkiness. For my second attempt I tied in the black bottom layer by a pointy tip and then folded it back over the top to provide a more secure mount and minimize spinning. This improved the fly to some degree, but in the end I decided that the fly was too similar to other patterns that have proven to be effective, and the ugly bug was not worth the additional frustration encountered. If I fish the ones that I made, and they perform at a high level, I will revise my thinking on the ugly bug.

Squirrel Tail Comparadun – 04/15/2020

Squirrel Tail Comparadun 04/15/2020 Photo Album

I browsed through my collection of scanned fly patterns from back issues of my various fly fishing magazines, and I encountered the squirrel tail comparadun from Fly Tyer Magazine. I am a huge fan of comparaduns, and I recalled having a thirty year old squirrel tail that was given to me by a friend, while I lived in Pennsylvania.  Why not give these a try?

Nice Side View

I searched through my zip lock bag of natural animal hair patches and quickly snatched the squirrel tail. A quick inspection revealed that it remained in prime condition, so I placed it on my fly tying bench. I also grabbed my muskrat patch for the body and then shook some size 16 standard dry fly hooks on my magnet and threaded some gray thread into my bobbin. I was now prepared to experiment with squirrel tail comparaduns.

Five Completed Next to a Squirrel Tail

I made five, but I must report that squirrel hair is harder to manage than coastal deer hair. The five flies turned out to be quite respectable comparaduns, but the hair is fine and slippery and difficult to cock as an upright wing. The stiff squirrel tail fibers served as excellent outrigger tails, but microfibbets are an equally effective stiff tailing material. I gave them a try, and I embedded a pair in my fly box. It will be interesting to see how they perform compared to my usual gray deer hair comparaduns.

Perdigon – 04/13/2020

Perdigon 04/13/2020 Photo Album

Around five years ago my daughter, Amy, introduced me to Instagram. It was a seminal moment in my fly fishing career. I now follow hundreds of anglers around the world, and I am amazed at the quality and creativity of tiers on every continent. A fly that frequently appears in my Instagram feed from these international tiers is the perdigon. The perdigon fly originated in Spain, and it is a small yet comparably heavy sleek design that quickly plummets to the bottom even in fast water conditions. Many tiers make them on a jig hook, and they typically incorporate a tungsten bead to hasten the sink rate. These flies portray very slender, sleek bodies that slice through the water column with minimal resistance.

I Love the Shine

I never experimented with a perdigon, but in a recent article in Fly Fisherman Charlie Craven instructed on the steps. Given the covid hiatus I decided to make a few. I discovered that Charlie created a video of the tying steps, so I viewed the clip from beginning to end to get an overview. I did not possess any jig hooks, so I dug out some size 18 scud hooks. Charlie did not use a jig hook in his demonstration, so I felt that I was not deviating excessively from the pattern.

Five Completed

I gathered the remaining materials and produced my first perdigon. I used fluorescent orange thread and mylar tinsel for the body, but I struggled to prevent the tinsel from sliding back to clump the tail. On the second attempt I used olive floss for the body, and it was an improvement, although quite a bit of the fluorescent thread showed through the floss. Both may be acceptable to fish, but I knew I could do better. For my last three I used olive thread with pearl flashabou for the body and then wrapped strands of brown and black super hair for the rib. If you check out the embedded photos, you will agree that the super hair versions are the best. The topping on all these perdigon flies is UV resin, and I utilized flow for the layer over the abdomen. The epoxy layer renders a rich iridescent look to the tiny nymph.

Materials Used

For the final step I used a black marker to color a black wing case on top, and then I applied a small thick drop of UV resin for the wing case. This last step gives the fly the stereotypical hump that distinguishes the perdigon. I have five more new flies to experiment with during the 2020 season.