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Fly Tying


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About SilverDoctor

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  • Birthday 03/25/1950

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    Stone Ridge, NY
  1. This doesn't answer the specific question about hen hackle, which I've never had trouble finding in the colors I want, but I do think that some time in late winter/early spring is the best time to be looking for dry-fly hackle. I've been going to the shows in the northeast for many years, and the selection is always pretty poor in November and January (the two Somerset, NJ shows), but back when the March Suffern, NY show had more fly-shop exhibitors, the hackle selection was always much better than at Somerset. Unfortunately, there are few fly-related exhibitors listed for the 2017 Suffern show.
  2. This is an essential early-season fly here in the Catskills. The river I fish most often has such an enormous population of these pebble-cased caddis that there will be thousands of cases on the downstream side of large rocks when they're pupating in the spring. I make the cases out a dubbing brush consisting of 50/50 hare and squirrel, with a bit of flash mixed in, and use a wrap or two of black ostrich for the legs. The larvae inside the cases of the ones I see are a brighter green; the closest I've come to that color is green Uni-stretch coated with a bit of brush-on super glue. This is a good use of the jig hook, since this fly should be fished as deep as possible.
  3. This thread is all about bass, but trout love crayfish once they get big enough to tangle with them. Once I started looking for them on my local trout streams here in the eastern Catskills (and in the Poconos), I started to see them everywhere, and last season I caught more trout on a small crayfish than on any other pattern. (The Esopus in particular is full of them.) I tie a miniature version of Chuck Kraft's Klaw-dad on a no. 10 or 8 TMC 5263, and cream (for the molting ones) was my most effective color. For crayfish this small, you'll need to cut your ultrasuede claws yourself (shops sell the pre-cut claws only in sizes appropriate for bass flies), but you can tie a lot of flies out of one small swatch of the material. Try using the ultrasuede for both the claws and the shellback. The more legs the better, and I use a shaggy dubbing for the body rather than chenille. Cohen's carp dub comes in great crayfish colors, as does some of the stuff from Fly Tiers' Dungeon. Cast up-and-across, mend so the fly gets to the bottom, and twitch back in 4-5" strips. I don't have a terribly high percentage of hook-ups, but I sure get a lot of nips and flashes, sometimes four or five on the same cast.
  4. This pattern triggered some memories. I learned to fly fish in the early '80's, taught by Neal Taylor in southern California. Neal worked as a naturalist at Lake Cachuma and for many years taught fly fishing at UCLA Extension, where I took his course, "The Sport and Science of Fly Fishing." Neal was a wonderful teacher, but something of a minimalist when it came to flies, and I left the course with the impression (which may be wrong) that Neal had originated this pattern. Perhaps one or more of the other thousands of anglers Neal taught will comment on this.
  5. Here are four books that might be useful, the first in English, the second and third in French, and the last in Dutch. Good luck with the Dutch. Goddard, Trout Flies of Britain and Europe Pequegnot, French Fishing Flies Ducloux & Ragonneau, Mouches de Peche: L'encyclopedie Martel, Belgische Vliegen I think you can find all on the second-hand market. I vacationed in Belgium in the mid-90's, and we stayed at an inn in the Ardennes, with a lovely trout stream - the Semois - behind it. I had a rod and a couple of fly boxes with me, but had thrown my back out right after arriving in Brussels. Could barely walk, so I couldn't fish, but I did manage to hobble down to the river, using my rod tube as a cane, and watch rising trout and grayling in the evenings. I hope to return some day.
  6. FWIW, I tied for years on a Renzetti Master before I got one of the last LAW vises before LW stopped making them a few years ago. I love the Law, primarily for the ease of adjustment and the access to the hook, but if I'd never tried the LAW, I'd still be delighted with the Renzetti. Although I think the LAW is a real step up from the Renzetti, it's not a step worth taking at the cost of well over $1000. If you're dissatisfied with the Renzetti, I'm sure there are vises much less expensive than the LAW that will improve your tying experience. As Crackaig observes, the LAW won't improve your tying, although you may find you tie more often because it's such a pleasure to use a beautifully functional tool.
  7. Eastern Trophies Fly Fishing (http://www.easterntrophies.com) sells various tails made of ultrasuede. The Leech Tails look like they might be what you're after, but those only come in three colors. It's probably easier just to go on ebay, buy a bunch of colors of ultrasuede, and cut them yourself. For about $10 I recently bought a set of 12 colors (in 4" x 9" sheets) for making crayfish claws; you can get all kinds of color selections. You'll only find chamois in tan, and would have to color it yourself. Chamois is also very different from ultrasuede; it's really mobile when wet, but really hardens when it dries out. Ultrasuede is flexible, but no so much as chamois when wet. Bugskin is less flexible than ultrasuede.
  8. The Hatch Guide is a great little reference book, but Tom Ames's big book (Caddisflies: A Guide to Eastern Species for Anglers and Other Naturalists) is the real eye-opener. That one will really change the way you approach caddis hatches and how you design and tie caddis patterns. It's way more useful than any other book on caddis, including LaFontaine's. I hope he does another on caddis across the rest of the US.
  9. Basically the same fly was the subject of an article in one of the FF mags about five years ago; I don't remember which one or the author. It was just a soft-hackle, but with a body of wrapped Krystal Flash (although there are plenty of other materials that would give an equivalent effect). I've got a dozen in my soft-hackle box, tied with pearl or peacock Krystal Flash. They really work, especially when caddis are hatching. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there's pretty much nothing new in fly tying, mostly just small variations on the same good old stuff.
  10. I recently purchased a Whiting Silver cape on line because none of my local fly shops could get me a particular dyed color. The cape that I received was equal in quality to what Whiting sold as Platinum a number of years ago; the individual hackles are extremely long, with very thin and flexible quills, and with a very high barb density. So, if you're looking for a superb cape, just keep looking through the Silver and Gold capes on sale at your local fly shop and sooner or later you'll find one that's superior. But if you're just looking for a cape that's labeled as Platinum, then you'll have to wait until Whiting starts selling them again.
  11. You might also think about keying the lessons to a particular beginner's tying book that they could purchase so they'd have something to review between sessions. I usually teach individuals rather than classes, and recommend that they get one good book on technique (and perhaps a DVD) before they begin. If you don't mind potentially violating copyright law, you could photocopy relevant pages for distribution. I generally recommend Skip Morris's Fly Tying Made Clear and Simple (and the DVD) or Charlie Craven's Basic Fly Tying. The Morris book has the advantage of being available in paperback, and having a DVD that illustrates the techniques and patterns. Craven's book is more expensive (it seems to be available only in hardback), but goes a lot farther and will be useful to your students for a lot longer. BTW, if you want to get an idea of what great fly-tying instruction is, try to watch Charlie Craven do a demonstration at a show. He breaks down everything into the smallest steps possible, explains exactly why he does everything, and leaves nothing unexplained.
  12. I use either Prismacolors or Pantones, and have been satisfied with both, provided that I subsequently coat the colored surface with the Softex. Never tried the Sharpies, although it seems that a lot of tiers are switching over to them. I'm sticking with what I've been using because they have a greater variety of colors, and they come with blunt and pointed applicator tips on the same marker. If you wanted to add veins on the wings, you could do that with fine point of a black or brown Prismacolor or Pantone, but the tip of the Sharpie would be too broad. I'll add one other comment. If you're dissatisfied with the foam you're using for the wings, you can find much thicker and much thinner foam. Most of what I use comes from the boxes electronic equipment is packed in, and you can find a much greater variety of thicknesses than you can in the foams sold for fly tying. The sheets are usually big enough to tie hundreds of flies. I'd bet that if you go to someplace like Best Buy that sells small electronic equipment, they'd let you look for useful thicknesses in their trash. I'm using some very thin foam now for wings on small summer stoneflies; I think it came from the packaging for a cheap DVD player.
  13. After you color the foam wings, try dipping them in Softex or thinned Flexament. That should set the color and make them non-absorbent, as well as making them a bit more durable.
  14. No doubt, for trout flies, it would be Oliver Edwards. Not only is he a great tier, but he's a terrific teacher, and has a wonderful sense of humor.
  15. The Sawyer PT was meant to be fished as if it were swimming (with movement like the Leisenring Lift), and is therefore tied on a standard, straight-shank hook, because that's the posture of the BWO when it's swimming. But if you're fishing nymphs dead drift, it makes perfect sense to tie them on scud hooks. The drifting nymphs, like the drifting scuds, will be curled up. As far as PTNs go, you should also consider other colors than natural. You'd be surprised at how well a blue PTN works (you can find blue dyed tails at a couple of mail-order shops, and also on ebay). Also think about mixing colors of dyed PTs. You can get lots of nice effects, and create the illusion of colors that will match the naturals. For example, mixing gold and natural PT fibers makes a nymph that looks a lot like a sulfur or PMD nymph.
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