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Fly Tying


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Everything posted by nemoblackdog

  1. To keep it simple, I use 8/0 (or 70-denier) for all my tying down to about #20 flies. This includes flies in the #4-6-8 range. Although the larger flies traditionally call for 6/0 or 3/0, the 8/0 stuff works fine and with just a few extra wraps. About the only time I upsize thread is when I'm tying down larger clumps of hair, and especially when spinning / flaring hair clumps, and then I'll jump up to kevlar or GSP. When I go down below #20 flies, then I use a finer thread. Personally, I don't worry too much about waxed/unwaxed, bonded/unbonded, etc... Sure, I know they're different, but it's a subtlety, not a major factor.
  2. If macro really is of interest to your photography needs, it may be worth noting that many P&S cameras actually are easier to use for closeup macro shots. The small lenses they have - while a weakness in the light gathering and ultimate sharpness arena - actually have greater overall depth of field at macro ranges. Look at the fly tying pictures that Hans Weilenmann and Charlie Craven have on their websites. All of those shots and those in Charlie's tying books are shot with an older P&S nikon - not a DSLR. The photos in his books are simply the best of any in the business. For more general purpose photography, there are limitations to each format. Light gathering ability of the optics (which translates in to "speed") is definitely a much bigger advantage to the DSLR. However, a camera that sits on a shelf or closet because you don't want to lug it around isn't of any real use. If you are willing to put up with the "lugability" factor, then there's no doubt the DSLR is more capable. It's only a question you can answer. If there's any doubt that P&S cameras are entirely capable of world-class photos, look up Alex Majoli's work here. Also, flickr.com has a facility to search for photos shot by camera type. Plug in your favorite P&S camera and one can't help but be be impressed by the overall high-quality of the photos that are returned.
  3. Lamson Konic is a great buy. Really well made, fairly light (though not quite as feathery as the litespeed). The "G" isn't a super light weight rod anyway, so balancing it with a super light reel shouldn't be a top priority. Recently, I looked at both the Orvis LA and the Lamson Konic side by side (for a 6wt, however) and ended up choosing the Lamson. All that said, this is primarily an aesthetic choice. As long as a reel doesn't jam or break - and I wouldn't expect either of the above to have any problems there whatsoever - it'll easily serve the purpose for use on a 3wt.
  4. There's actually 4 different ways to wrap a biot on hook - all starting with the tip. There's the "rib out" look, and the smoother "rib in" look. For each of those, you can tie with the natural curve or against it. For the smallest of flies (and I go down to #24 sometimes with goose biots) going with the natural curve and "rib in" gives the cleanest look. Check out Charlie Craven's pictures posted here: http://outdoorsbest.zeroforum.com/thread?id=591067 One caveat when reading that thread - it's implied that with any given side of the bird you can only get two of the four combinations. That's not strictly true, because you can get the other two by wrapping around the hook the in direction opposite to what you normally do. It all sounds too complicated, but once you give it a try, it's not so hard to figure out what this all means. Again, for small hooks - "rib in" and "with the natural curve".
  5. Sharpie, Prismacolor or Chartpak pens. I often dub with the white fibers, and then use a colored marker to color them. You can mix colors and do all sorts of "mottled" effects.
  6. The best piece of advice I got on this came from Charlie Craven: wrap the wire forward with exactly the same pace and speed as you did the hackle - as if the hackle wasn't there. You should strive for the same number of turns of wire as you had hackle. I've really no idea why this works, but there's no doubt it worked for me - and this same problem used to plague me to no end. I'd guess this is sort of a "zen" thing - trust your hands to do the right thing - don't hesitate!
  7. Another option: get a replacement net bag from themeasurenet.com. It just zips on.
  8. I've been using glue ball eggs with pretty good success. Since I like a few different colors (or at least shades of colors), swapping out different color glue sticks or having multiple glue guns is pretty impractical and wasteful - at least for a non-commercial tying. I use plain white/clear glue sticks. These are the plain-old glue sticks that are used for, well, gluing - not the colored ones for decorative purposes. I've got two different methods for getting different colors. Method 1: Sharpies -Put a small gob of glue on the hook - about 1/2 the size of the final egg. Dunk in water to set the shape. (I'll usually do a few at a time to this stage). This makes an egg "core" -Dry off with a absorbent cloth or paper towel. If you don't dry it off, the Sharpie ink won't stick. -Color the now dry egg core with a Sharpie of your color choice - red, orange, pink - whatever. Mixing colors on the same egg is cool, too! -Apply remainder of clear glue over the top of the colored core - sealing the color in. The colored "core" shows through very well. If you're deft with a glue gun, then you're done. However, if you make a misshapen blob, like I often do, then you'll need to fix it up. This is actually pretty easy. Put the fly in a pair of locking hemostats. Use a butane lighter or candle and carefully wave the misshaped egg ball around the flame to soften it up. Keep the egg rotating so it doesn't drip completely off the hook. Done right, this will cause the glue blob to unify into a nice roundish drop. You can actually see the glue go completely transparent when it's at its softest. Once you get it to the shape you want, quickly dunk in a cup of water to set the shape. Try to get the glue ball to sit on top of the "back" of the hook, so as not to fill up the hook gap. Method 1a: Color the 2nd layer of glue - it's even cooler with a second color of Sharpie pen. -Use the butane lighter trick to melt the outer layer of glue and pen ink together - this way the outside color is permanent. Method 1b: -Don't bother with a core, just put a whole blob on, color it, and "set" it as above with the butane lighter. This is the fastest way, but the effects aren't as interesting. Method 2 - colored beads and thread: -Mount a bead on the hook (red, orange, pink, again - your choice.) -Put glue on over bead. Finish as above. This has an even neater 3-D effect. A blue bead with a red/orange outer is very cool! My favorite variation for glue flies is to tie on a yarn veil like is on the Nuclear Egg pattern. I call it, what else, the Nuclear Meltdown. A tip on putting the glue onto the hook: keep the tip of the glue gun as close to the hook as possible - it doesn't even hurt if they touch. If you're too far away, the glue drop will be way too huge and hard to control. When you get the right amount of glue on the hook, "draw" tiny little circles with the tip of the glue gun - this will allow the drop to separate from the gun without pulling out a long trailing "thread" of glue. I bet within 3 or 4 attempts, you'll find this is a really easy method to master - It sounds much harder here than it really is. Once you get the hang of it, you can crank out the flies much faster than traditional tying techniques. (Really mess up a fly? Just wave it over a flame to let the glue drop off and start over!)
  9. According to MSDS, acetone has considerably higher permissible exposure limits than does toluene. http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/A0446.htm http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/T3913.htm
  10. All good advice above. If you want a great printed source of information, the chapter on hair in Charlie Craven's new book is, alone, worth the $40 price tag. It's the most comprehensive piece I've seen on the subject. On top of that, it's just a great book on tying with excellent photos. There's even an entire chapter devoted to Stimulators. I don't buy many fly tying/fishing books, but this is one I had to have.
  11. KoolAid works great - is cheap (nearly free), permanent and smells pretty good too! The only real downside is the colors are not "official" in any sort of way and the end result is sort of an experimental / guessing game. Mainly green (Lemon-lime) + a bit of orange, red or purple makes some pretty nice olive colors Mainly orange + a bit of purple and green makes some good rusts/browns KoolAid does NOT work well on nylon (or likely other synthetics). Natural proteins are (hair, feathers) are where it works best.
  12. For flies that are either pure wire-bodies or wire over a non-fuzzy base (e.g. thread) a quick, thin coat of head cement will prevent oxidation and keep them looking bright. For fuzzy, dubbed bodies, it's not so easy, but I guess you could pre-coat the wires if you were ambitious enough.
  13. I guess it would work fine. Traditional lacquer and nail polishes like Sally Hansens (which many tiers use) are related products - both are nitrocellulose based.
  14. I moisten my fingertip and press it firmly onto the bead sitting on the top of my tying desk. The moisture has just enough "stick" to pick up beads and get them threaded onto a hook. No tools.
  15. I tend to not be interested in tradition for traditions sake. I don't specifically seek to replicate traditional standard patterns, nor do I feel any need to favor traditional materials over non traditional ones. Frankly, that aspect of tying and fly fishing are only passing curiosities to me, not a truly significant interest I actively pursue. That said, to be totally honest with myself, there are aspects of tradition that can't be avoided. Simply tying ones own flies and using them to catch fish on my local waters must be viewed as following the tradition - no matter what the fly pattern, the rod used or the particular technique I use to present the fly. I, too, simply like to make things with my own hands. I've made some of my own tying tools - including a whip-finisher. In some sense that is very non-standard - of all the tying shows I've been to, seeing many hundreds of tiers, I've never seen what I recognize to be a self-made whip-finish tool. But in another very real sense, it's perhaps ultra-traditional. The earliest fly fishers/tiers made do with whatever they could get - "fly shops" either didn't exist or only did so in a handful of far-away places. I think this goes to the other poster's comment that one of the greatest traditions of the sport is innovation. I also tie a fair number of "standard" patterns - pheasant tails, adams, etc... This is not motivated by tradition, but because I learned them early and they are proven fish catchers. They look sort of cool, too. That said, I rarely tie them according to a "recipe" - I'll use what is most accessible on my tying desk to get the job done as quickly as possible. What I call an "adams" might be considered an unrecognizable hack by a more tradition minded tier.
  16. www.antron.net - still very much available, but it's now produced by INVISTA, which used to be Dupont's textile arm. It's not all trilobal, and individual fibers range from fine to coarse. It accepts dye just fine - you just need the right dyes. Like stated before, "antron" is not one specific type of fiber at all. About all you can really say is that it's nylon. BTW, most nylon fibers (of which Antron is included) take permanent marker ink very well!
  17. Yep - definitely start with bending the arms out. I like mine set pretty loose and adjust tension by "palming" the spool as needed. On ceramic tip bobbins - most I've seen are pretty good, but I've run across a couple that were actually quite horrible. They would fray thread within just a few turns. I looked at the ceramic tips under a high power magnifying lens and the ceramic inserts were not smooth at all. I'd say they had a very pronounced roughness to them - exactly the opposite of what you'd expect a ceramic tip to provide. They weren't chipped or damaged, just unpolished. My guess is that these tip inserts somehow missed the final grinding/polishing steps (if that's how they're made). Give whatever bobbin you decide to buy a quick test drive and make sure it's not a "dud" like these two were.
  18. Thanks for the change! My daily browsing of new posts has become much simpler!
  19. Yep - it's definitely possible to fix these. Glass beads can be found at Hobby Lobby or Michael's - a couple bucks for a thousand or so. Make sure the beads not plastic and are small enough to fit inside the recess, but big enough to stick out a bit past the tip - just like the original tip did. (You can use the other 999 beads for tying flies!) As for gluing, just use a very thin film of gap-filling superglue or epoxy on the inside rim - there should be no squeeze out at all. If you do get a bit of glue inside the bead's hole, you can clear it out with a bit of wire and later running a bit of thickish sewing thread up and down to polish it back up to good-as-new condition.
  20. Here's the two knots "biggie-sized": Whip: Series of half-hitches: No, I wasn't seriously calling them the same knot , just trying to point out there's similarities in how they're constructed.
  21. What is the difference between single half hitch and a single turn whip finish? A series of single turn whip finishes (where the tag end is pulled tight between each one) is the same as a series of half-hitches. The typical "more than a single turn" whip finish is different than a series of half hitches.
  22. For small extended bodies (e.g. 16, 18 or even smaller), a single strand of 20# (or thereabouts) mono lashed to the hook is plenty stiff enough to tie in tails and wrap with either a thread or dubbed abdomen. It's stiff enough to do this without putting a needle in there. The advantage of this is that the body isn't left "hollow" after pulling out the needle making it prone to breaking apart, no matter how much glue you soak into it. The mono "substrate" is very flexible, durable, and can be flexed into whatever position you think looks good. Bigger flies? You can use heaver mono or double it up or even furl it into a a twist.
  23. Well - I myself likely lean more towards the "tree hugger" crowd than many here and even I say the use of synthetics in fishing flies is insignificant to nearly the extreme. Perhaps this is also because I work in a technical field (yep - a tree hugging engineer - how's that for a mix!) but one of my pet peeves has always been the lack of critical, analytic thought that goes into so many arguments. Transport, packaging, etc... is pretty much a wash because you'd have the same costs with natural material. Since 99.99% of synthetic fly fishing materials are being produced anyways for other industries (e.g. Antron for carpet), that also needs to be factored out. (Not that we shouldn't be conscious of the impact of those factors.) So, the adverse load on the environment comes down to the materials in the flies themselves. Just an educated guess, but I would imagine this impact is smaller than a germ on a gnat's ass when compared to the colossal impact other sources of pollution bring to our world. Put some perspective to this issue and one must come to the inevitable conclusion that our energies to have a cleaner world must be spent elsewhere rather than on if I'm using a bit of craft foam in a hopper pattern. Not to dog the natural hackle industry, but there are environmental costs associated with raising chickens, and just because they're biodegradable doesn't mean it's a net benefit for the environment. I'd like to think the hackle raisers are a lot more eco-friendly than the food-poultry industry, but there are environmental costs to everything we do.
  24. A bit of moisture helps keep them pliable while wrapping. Lay the fibers on a damp paper towel. This also help your fingers to grip them - not so slippery.
  25. The story of the brookie seems to have more than a bit of irony Where it has largely been displaced in its native range in the East by non-native rainbows and browns, and there are efforts underway to try to preserve it in those locales, it has "flourished" in the high mountain streams of the West where it is itself a non-native species. As part of the process of re-establishing the native cutthroat populations of the West, there have been efforts to encourage taking of brook trout (as in don't release them once caught). The "success" of the catch-and-release ethic made that a less-than-successful technique. Other efforts have included chemical means to eradicate brookie populations so that cutthroats can be introduced without needing to compete with the brookies. In some of those areas, cutthroats have come back nicely, with the Greenback being one of the most notable examples. However, many high-mountain streams and lakes in the Rockies still have relatively large numbers of brook trout that, barring extraordinary circumstances, will likely remain for the foreseeable future. In some locales they exist in such numbers that they often have signs of what some call over-population, to the point where there is not enough food and you get brook trout with head sizes that appear quite out-of-proportion to their body length. The final irony is that if one's goal is to catch brookies, it may well be just as easy to get on a plane and fly to the Rockies as catch them in their native range. BTW, Robert Behnke's book Trout and Salmon of North America covers this in pretty good detail.
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