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Fly Tying


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About Sundance

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    Lake Oswego, OR/Madison River, MT

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  1. Couldn’t find the kind of desk and top shelving/storage I wanted so I built this one
  2. For some fun, I experimented. Fished a pmd hatch on Armstrong’s spring creek (Montana) with sparkle duns tied with five body colors: yellow, grey, brown, green, and... PINK!!! It made NO difference! Caught fish on all of them. Then I changed size. No fish!
  3. When whip finishers first came out there was a kind of superiority complex among those who did it by hand. They almost had the attitude that the tool was a crutch for the klutzes who weren't good enough to be "real" tiers. Fortunately that kind of snobbery has faded. When teaching I ALWAYS teach the hand method first, tell students it is good to know because in a few cases it works better, but then introduce them to the Materelli and point out that many demonstration tiers (and even many commercial tiers) use the tool with no apologies. Personally, I did it by hand for 20 years but now do it almost exclusively with the tool. Like some commercial tiers, I also am increasing my use of super glue in place of a whip finish. That works especially well on parachutes and flies that finish in the middle.
  4. When trout fishing... it can also depend on time of day, season of the year and location in a pool. Sometimes big flies work, especially streamers. At other times big flies will get you zero. On the Madison, for example, the fish frequently go on tiny midges in the last half hour of daylight. Try something bigger, even one size bigger, and you will get nothing. They do the same all winter. Spring and fall they are on tiny baetis in mid-afternoon. Knowing where in the stream the big fish go to feed when on the small stuff also matters. Near dark you will catch you big fish in the soft water near the bank and nothing in the rough stuff. During a hatch, the big fish will also be in the prime lies of a given pool because they outrank the small fry and get first dibs. Fish a given pool enough and you will learn that the big fish are always in the same places.
  5. It also depends on how far you are casting. A 3 wt line on a 4 wt rod will cast just fine if you are carrying a long line in the air on your false casts. But if you are making short casts it simply will not load the rod properly. In the same way, a 5 wt line will load a 4 wt line perfectly on short casts, but overpower it on long ones. Matching rod and line gives you the widest range of proper loading options (short to long casts); mismatching cuts down your options considerably.
  6. Given how many times I have bought stuff, only to get home and find I already have it, an inventory might be a good idea. But... am I going to remember to check the damn thing every time I go to the fly shop? Ain't gonna happen. Forget it.
  7. Like many others, I have always tied lots of stuff and fished only a few. But I am getting pickier as I have gotten older. Now I skip the new stuff unless it is (1) a close match for a hatch or (2) a new concept that is worth a try. Just for the hell of it last summer I tied a gray hackle peacock and fished it on the Madison near my house. It was popular in Montana in the late 1940's and was the first fly I learned to tie as a kid. Still works.
  8. Whoever it was above that said it has a high potential to kill your passion spoke for a lot of people who have tried it. Many commercial tyers tie only one or two patterns. After a few thousand of them it gets really, really old. Someone above is also correct that you cannot compete well on the standard stuff. Specialty flies or original patterns that work in a specific area offer an entry in some locations, but most of those don't sell widely or for very long. Making a living tying flies is not very realistic. It can work as a supplementary income or a sideline (see below) to something like guiding. In the Rocky Mtn west, many guides tie their own flies for use with clients. Some of them tie then for their shops when guiding is slow and that is the way they got in the commercial tying game. One of the best ways to get into the game is to get a job in a local fly shop. When they get to know you can tie quality stuff you can often get the job of filling bins that are getting low when a pattern is hot and there is no time to get some from a supplier.
  9. Pretty good for a first attempt - better than my first effort. My suggestion would be to use fewer barbs in the tail and make it slightly shorter - the length of the hook shank. The hackle is a little sparse, but not bad. High quality hackle would make it a bit easier. Be sure to place each wrap immediately in front of the one that precedes it. My advice to beginning tyers is always the same: go buy one copy of the fly you are learning to tie and try to match its proportions step by step. Does your tail look like the original? Is your body the same length, taper and thickness? Do your wings match the original? etc. When I teach tying I give each student an example of the fly we are working on to take home and copy. It is by far the best way I know to teach proportions.
  10. On hooks size 12 and smaller I have used a plain clinch knot since I was a kid (50+ years) and never had one untie. On larger hooks an improved clinch is better, but on small hooks it is an unneeded extra step. But as said above, wet the knot before pulling it tight. Burning a knot when tightening it is VERY easy to do.
  11. When I tied commercially we were required by the shop to use head cement. When tying for themselves, most professionals do not. With a good whip finish cement is unnecessary. One shop in the Madison Valley in MT no longer does either. It is all super glue. Get the bottle with a brush in it. Works just fine.
  12. There are jerks in every profession, but why judge all by the bad example? Hiring guides is expensive, but of enormous help if you are new to an area and have limited time. $450 to $500 for a full day is common on the best waters of the Yellowstone area. The vast majority of the guides there are terrific - they know their stuff and work hard for what they get... which is usually only half the fee. The shop they work for gets the other half. Moreover, few make a big living. In fact is it is a VERY hard way to make a living at all. The season is short. The guide pays for a guiding license, provides the boat and much of the gear, the flies, makes the lunch and pays for the car shuttle ($30-$40) out of his half. And one should add.. what about all the clients who are jerks? Some have an enormous sense of entitlement... "I paid all this money and I expect fish!" It doesn't matter that they cannot cast past the oars and slap the line all over the water. It doesn't matter that a guide cannot control water and weather conditions. In my years of guiding (no longer doing it) I encountered far more jerks among the clients than among fellow guides. Some are downright abusive. That said, most clients appreciate the teaching, the help with gear, the food, etc. Many pay for a nice meal after the day of fishing. And most tip 10-20%.
  13. When I learned in the late 1940's, I was taught to cast right handed and reel right handed. We learned to switch the rod to the left hand after hooking a fish. It is so quick and so automatic after all these years I can't change. BTW Playing smaller fish it does not matter much, but if you fly fish for steelhead or salmon you MUST play the fish on the reel. You would have a hell of a time landing a big steelhead or silver salmon by stripping line. Burnt fingers! Many guys out here (Oregon) use leather guards just to palm a screaming reel.
  14. When Dan Bailey and Lee Wulff were working out what eventually became the Wulff series of flies, Dan cut a Prince Albert tobacco can in half, used it to even the hair tips for the wings, and the hair stacker was born. Got that story from Dan himself when I was a kid in Livingston, MT. Is it necessary? Probably not because one can even the tips by hand, but if you value your time and want consistency, it is essential. Do flies with unstacked hair wings look good? No. Will they catch fish? Yes. Will they catch fishermen? No. BTW I own those first attempts at a hair wing fly tied by Lee and Dan. Pretty shaggy looking. I inherited them from an uncle who was Dan Bailey's best friend. They go back to their early days in the Catskills before Dan moved west in the 1930's.
  15. When I was a kid (in Montana in the late 40's), the grey hackle was the first fly I learned to tie. We had two versions: the grey hackle peacock with a red tail, a peacock body, and either a brown or grizzly hackle. The other was a grey hackle yellow. It had a red tail, a yellow floss body ribbed with gold tinsel and, again, a brown or grizzly hackle. Grizzly hackle was more common. They were tied in both wet and dry styles, though I tied only dries. Just for the heck of it I tied a couple last summer to see if they still worked. Yep.
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