Category Archives: Fly Tying

Blogs related to tying flies

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

Crystal Stone – 01/03/2023

Crystal Stone 01/03/2023 Photo Album

For some reason I continue to avoid this fly, yet I am convinced that it would be quite productive, if I gave it a chance. Click on this link for my 01/18/2022 post to browse background information on why I developed this fly. There may be another version out there, but I like the usage of black crystal flash for the tail, wingcase and legs. The ice dub peacock black only enhances the flash and attraction of this small nymph.

Black Crystal Hair

I tied five additional crystal stones to add to my existing supply, and I am committing to deploying this little black stonefly in 2023. I expect to use it frequently in the early spring season, when small black stoneflies are prevalent on local rivers.

Pat’s Rubber Legs – 12/22/2022

Pat’s Rubber Legs 12/22/2022 Photo Album

During a 06/27/2022 trip to the Arkansas River the local brown trout and rainbow trout displayed a strong preference for Pat’s rubber legs. The river remained high from run off at 1100 CFS, and heavy rains several days earlier created turbid conditions with visibility to three feet along the edges. This suited my style perfectly, as I lobbed my dry/dropper featuring an olive and black Pat’s rubber legs as the upper nymph in a tandem nymph dry/dropper arrangement. I was frankly stunned by the effectiveness of the simple chenille and rubber leg fly.

Facing Down and Left

Overhead from the Front

I began tying these in recent years when my friend, Dave G, raved about their effectiveness on the Eagle River and Colorado River on guided float trips with Cutthroat Anglers. I must admit that I gave them scarce time on my line, so I was probably overlooking a very productive fly. After my outing on the Arkansas River in June, however, the days of disregarding Pat’s rubber legs are history. My post of 12/19/2020 provides additional background information on this popular fly.

Molting Stonefly

I follow the tying method of Tim Flagler, and if you want to attempt tying these tricky nymphs, you should search it out on YouTube. The most difficult aspect of tying this fly is the unruly nature of the rubber legs, and Tim devised a solution that keeps the legs under reasonable control. For my tying sessions in December I manufactured three different colors; olive and black, coffee and black, and orange-green-yellow. I use the latter in March to match molting stoneflies in the Arkansas River, although I’m sure they would work just as well on other western rivers that hold a strong population of stoneflies.

Three Colors

BWO Soft Hackle Emerger – 12/16/2022

BWO Soft Hackle Emerger 12/16/2022 Photo Album

This pattern created by Charlie Craven has become a workhorse fly for baetis hatches. When I first started tying them, I added a small silver bead, so they would sink when fished in a dry/dropper combination. I subsequently discovered that a beaded soft hackle emerger is redundant with a RS2 or sparkle wing RS2, so my tying sessions over the last two years resulted in true emergers with no bead. For more information and background on the BWO soft hackle emerger follow this link to my 01/08/2022 post.

Nice View of the Left Side

During a 10/11/2022 fishing outing at the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon, I was in a state of frustration, as sizeable trout refused my BWO imitations in a long and smooth glassy pool. In a state of desperation I plucked a soft hackle emerger without a bead from my fleece wallet. Guess what happened? I suddenly began hooking and landing gorgeous wild trout on the soft hackle emerger. I applied floatant to the body and fished in dry fly style with across and down casts, and the results were very positive. When the conditions include strong wind, I suspect that the tiny olives get knocked down on the surface, and the low riding soft hackle with no bead does a nice job of portraying cripples and struggling emergers. I am very anxious to deploy this technique once again in the new season.

14 Soft Hackle Emergers

I sat down at my vise and produced fourteen new BWO soft hackle emergers, and this broke down into four size 20, five size 22, and five size 24. The 24’s are minute, but so are the late autumn naturals.

Sparkle Wing RS2 – 12/09/2022

Sparkle Wing RS2 12/09/2022 Photo Album

Check out my post of 01/04/2022 for background information and a link to a materials table for the sparkle wing RS2. Each year I seem to use this fly for greater periods of time, and this translates to more lost flies and the need to tie more. After I counted my remaining supply, I decided to replenish my fly storage container with fifteen additional sparkle wings.

Other Side

I made one change to my usual tying recipe this year, as I substituted a crystal hair loop for the emerging wing instead of the antron stub that I utilized in previous tying sessions. I love the sparkle and flash of this addition. I will soon find out if the trout agree.

15 New Sparkle Wings and Materials

Classic RS2 – 12/05/2022

Classic RS2 12/05/2022 Photo Album

I would never wish to be caught without a sufficient supply of RS2’s in the spring and fall in the western United States. The RS2 imitates the nymphal stage of the baetis mayfly along with a myriad of other small mayfly nymphs. My fleece wallet contains the classic RS2, sparkle wing RS2’s, and small RS2-size soft hackle emergers. They all work, but in spite of the additional flash of the synthetic versions, the classic RS2 continues to perform at a high level. For this reason I always count my supply and tie replacements.

Soft Wing for Movement

Here is the link to a previous post that contains additional background information and additional links to related narrative. The classic RS2 is a simple tie, as it only contains three materials besides the hook, thread and bead. I can whip these out in no time, and I did just that recently to produce seven new models. The need to generate seven indicates that I suffered some shrinkage during the past season, and this is proof that the classic RS2 remains an often utilized fly in my fleece wallet.

Spotlight on One