Category Archives: Fly Tying

Blogs related to tying flies

Green Drake Comparadun – 02/07/2023

Green Drake Comparadun 02/07/2023 Photo Album

I tie five different styles of western green drakes, and although the parachute version typically outperforms the others, there are occasions when it goes ignored, and a different style saves the day. I am fairly certain that the second most successful green drake tie is the comparadun style. I use dark coastal deer hair for the wing clump, and I surmise that this fanned out image does an exceptional job of portraying the large fluttering wing of a green drake. Although I have not studied the matter scientifically, it seems that the comparadun excels during the densest portion of the hatch, when the drakes are fluttering and skittering on the water the most.

Closer Look at Left Side

Historically I utilized microfibbets for the tails of my comparadun green drakes, but over the last several years I became dissatisfied with the buoyancy of the comparaduns. They tended to get waterlogged and sink after a fish or two. Having viewed the effectiveness of the moose mane tail on the parachutes, I transferred the same tailing material to my comparaduns during my tying efforts this winter. It will be interesting to see if this move is popular with the fish. Perhaps the comparadun is now too similar to the parachute? It will be fun to continue the experiment during the upcoming summer.

Six Completed

Parachute Green Drake – 02/05/2023

Parachute Green Drake 02/05/2023 Photo Album

My love affair with the western green drake continued during the summer of 2022, and the hands down leader in the dry fly style of green drake remained the parachute version. For more background information on the parachute green drake, I encourage you to visit my post of 11/14/2021.

Opposite Side

If you read that blog post, you will learn that I settled on two salient features for my parachute green drakes. First and foremost was the usage of moose mane fibers for the tail. The trout seemed to show a demonstrable preference for this fly design feature. I also settled on using white poly for the wing post. This material stands out more than a turkey flat, and this translates to better visibility for the angler. In addition, poly provides more bulk, and I believe this better imitates the struggles of a large green drake attempting to get airborne.

From the Side with Materials

Several excellent outings on South Boulder Creek during 2022 put a significant dent in my parachute green drake supply, so I approached the vise and manufactured fifteen additional versions in size 12 and 14. I cannot wait for the green drake days of 2023.

Chubby Chernobyl – 01/24/2023

Chubby Chernobyl 01/24/2023 Photo Album

Each year I resort to the chubby Chernobyl more frequently. My post of 02/12/2022 provides further background on my experience with this awkward looking fly. Links from that post can guide you to my introduction to gaining confidence in the chubby Chernobyl, but suffice it to say that large trout on the Yampa River favored a chubby with a tan ice dub body.

Angled Front

When I utilize a chubby in the surface position on a dry/dropper, and a fish grabs the trailing fly, I find the progressive submersion of the chubby wing to be quite seductive. I suppose that makes me weird, but I must confess to this predilection.

Clump of Five

After I counted my carry over supply from 2022, I determined that the chubbys needed replenishment, so I churned out an additional five for the upcoming season. I cannot wait to see the white wing disappear once again.

Fat Albert – 01/23/2023

Fat Albert 01/23/2023 Photo Album

Refer to my recent post on the pool toy hopper for a comparison of the pool toy hopper and the fat Albert. They are very similar. Check out this link to my report from 2022 for additional links and narrative on the fat Albert.

Refurbished Fat Albert

I continue to deploy the fat Albert early in the season, when I desire a large and buoyant top fly on my dry/dropper set up, and it does the job quite well and even occasionally pounds up an eager fish. The fat Albert also sees heavy usage during the end of June and early July, when I edge fish the larger rivers, as the snow melt remains high, but the rivers are clear, and the fish are bunched along the banks seeking refuge from the fast current. Again the buoyancy is a major plus, and the large yellow bodied foam fly also imitates the golden stoneflies that are prevalent during this time period.

Teeth Marks Make Them More Effective

As was the case with the pool toy hopper, I found five flies in my damaged fly canister that were missing legs, so I simply added legs to restore my inventory to adequate levels for the upcoming season. These flies will see action within a few months.

Pool Toy Hopper – 01/22/2023

Pool Toy Hopper 01/22/2023 Photo Album

The pool toy hopper is in all likelihood the foam fly that logs the most time on my leader other than the hippie stomper. If you search the web for foam hopper imitations, you will find hundreds of patterns. Imitating a grasshopper seems to be the fly tying equivalent of building a better mousetrap. It seems that every fly designer takes a crack at creating a better hopper. Are there better hopper patterns out there than the pool toy hopper? Probably, but this fly has served me quite well for many years now, so I remain loyal to it.

Very Clean Look

I also tie fat Alberts, and in all honesty the pool toy and fat Albert are very similar flies. For some reason I use the fat Albert in situations, where I am not primarily imitating a grasshopper, but instead I am using the surface fly as a strike indicator. I also tie fat Alberts with yellow bodies and pool toy hoppers with tan bodies. If I were to vary size and body color, perhaps these flies would perform in comparable fashion. Nevertheless, at my age and at this stage of my fly fishing career, I abide by the phrase, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

Waiting for Rework

The pool toy hopper was created by one of my favorite designers, Andrew Grillos, and I regard him as one of the foremost architects of foam flies. I actually took a tying class with Andrew, and this may also influence my bias toward the pool toy. For additional background information and links to a materials table and directions to tying instructions, follow this link, 02/04/2022.

Eleven Refurbished and Two New

When I counted my pool toy hoppers, I discovered that I had quite a few damaged flies to refurbish. Nearly all of them were missing legs, so I simply tied on some thread and added legs to create eleven refurbished hoppers. I also tied a couple from scratch to remain in practice.


Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/17/2023

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/17/2023 Photo Album

For some reason my success with the beetle has waned in the last several years, and this circumstance may be attributable to my tendency to favor a hippie stomper over the beetle. If fish refuse the hippie stomper, my next succession in downsizing is the beetle. My post of 01/16/2021 provides quite a bit of background on the beetle and my application to fishing situations.

Angled for More Depth

When I counted my supply of beetles in sizes 10 – 14, I concluded that I was adequately stocked, but I uncovered five foam and deer hair beetles that were damaged and unraveling. I stripped these down the the bare hook and supplemented my backup supply with five refurbished flies. I suspect that I will once again find myself in a situation where the beetle delivers on its promise, and 2023 could be the year.

Batch of Five

Hippie Stomper – 01/11/2023

Hippie Stomper 01/11/2023 Photo Album

Should I categorize the hippie stomper as a terrestrial or an attractor? Guess what? It is irrelevant. The beauty of the hippie stomper is that it consistently catches fish regardless of the time of day, season of the year or type of water. The hippie stomper is simply my number one dry fly, as it delivers time after time. I encourage you to click on this link, Hippie Stomper – 01/30/2022, to gain access to all the background on the hippie stomper, or you can just sit down at your vise and tie a large quantity of these flies. If you are not a tier, hippie stompers are abundantly available at western fly shops, and purchasing a batch will help out my buddy, Andrew Grillos.

Left Side

Olive and Peacock Body Clump

Quite often I begin my dry/dropper fishing with a hopper and trail one or two beadhead nymphs as droppers, and frequently the fish ignore the droppers and refuse the large hopper. I adopted the strategy of downsizing from the size eight hopper to a smaller foam fly, and that approach often results in a hippie stomper as my top fly. The stomper is lighter than the larger foam flies, yet it is capable of supporting two beadhead nymphs up to size 14. Another frequent technique that incorporates the hippie stomper is casting a double dry arrangement. The hippie stomper is typically the front fly, and I attach another smaller dry fly that matches the naturals on a six to eight inch dropper. In many instances the hippie stomper out-fishes the more imitative second fly.

Red Version

My overwhelming favorite body color is peacock dubbing. Nine times out of ten the peacock hippie stomper resides on my line, although I did manage some success this summer with some constructed with red flashabou bodies. For this reason I tied both peacock and red hippie stompers for the 2023 season. The trout do not have a chance.

Olive Mini Leech – 01/09/2023

Olive Mini Leech 01/09/2023 Photo Album

The story behind the olive mini leech follows the same script as the black version. It represents a new fly in my repertoire, and last year I made only black leeches. Landon Mayer is a proponent of mainly black and olive, so I took the plunge and produced a batch of olive with no bead. The color of these could allow a reasonable imitation of damsel flies, so I will keep that in mind during prime damsel fly emergence season on Colorado lakes and streams.

Left Side

Ten Olive Mini Leeches

Black Mini Leech – 01/08/2023

Black Mini Leech 01/08/2023 Photo Album

I follow Landon Mayer on Instagram, and he is the creator of the mini leech fly. He actually suggests that anglers deploy both a non-bead version and a balanced mini leech. The balanced mini leech is tied on a jig hook with a bead, and this provides a jigging action; whereas, the non-weighted leech is designed to be fished near the surface. I made some of each; however, lacking jig hooks, I tied the balanced mini leeches on a scud hook. At the very end of my tying season in 2022 I produced some black mini leeches, but my supply was fairly minimal. Fortunately I never incorporated leech fishing into my normal sequence of approaches, and I did not lose any, as far as I know. I reviewed my posts and discovered that I experimented with a black mini leech on three separate occasions on the South Platte River and once on Clear Creek, but I never connected with a fish.

With Bead

Nice Focus

Given the Instagram hype around this fly, I decided to plunge deeper into the mini leech culture, I tied five with no bead and five with a gold brass bead. At the Fly Fishing Show I attended a presentation on stillwater fly fishing, and I concluded that I should resort to the mini leech as a first or second choice during my brief foray into lake fishing during snow melt. I am now prepared for leech fishing success.

A Batch of Ten Beaded Black

Sunk Ant – 01/03/2023

Sunk Ant 01/03/2023 Photo Album

I set a goal last winter to use sunk ants even more than in the past, and I actually followed through on this pledge during the 2022 season. I experimented with them on some large rivers during higher flows, and they were not extremely productive. However, when I knotted one to my line in a dry/dropper arrangement and tossed it to likely trout holding spots on small mountain streams, there was no mistaking the love affair between trout and ants. The sunk ant performed in admirable fashion.

Zoomed on a Black Sunk Ant

As one would expect, I lost a few along the way, and increased usage translated to more lost flies. I counted my stock of carry over ants, and I decided to replenish my inventory with size 14 and size 16 black sunk ants. I followed the pattern demonstrated by Kelly Galloup in his excellent YouTube video, although I substituted a black plastic bead for the rear bump instead of winding thread forever. Even Kelly remarks on the mind numbing exercise of forming the rear bump with thread. The feature of this fly that I admire the most is the method that he demonstrates to form the legs. If you are interested in tying some of these, definitely check out his video. Also, if you are interested in learning more about my experience with the sunk ant check out my post of 01/22/2022.

Lots of Ants