Recent rains caused the latest Smith River trip to get cancelled. As part of 'PLAN B' we did a two day float down another river. I was lucky enough to get invited to fun float with my friend John along on the trip. The water was high and cloudy, but on the drop and clearing. This river doesn't have a ton of fish, but a reputation for big fish. John and I had never been on it before, but ended up doing okay. We didn't get any of the truly large fish this river is noted for, but the gorgeous scenery of the tight canyon walls and comraderie made up for it.
Salmonflies were coming off, but really weren't on the water. Our best fishing was with large streamers and black/orange stonefly nymphs.
my best brown of the trip, just under 21"
Another good brownie
sorry it's been so long since my last post, it took a friendly reminder from the powers that be that it had been so long! A couple weeks ago, I instructed a class on several classic streamers-only with a twist. After tying hundreds of these common and popular patterns for Eldredge Bros, I just can't sit down and tie them for myself-no matter how effective they are. The following are a few variations on established patterns I've been using over the past few years. I have three basic variations I can use on nearly every streamer pattern:
"Muddlerize"-deer hair heads are pretty well established on several otherwise effective patterns. The Bow River Bugger and Kennebago Muddler come to mind right off. You can add a deer hair head to nearly any pattern.
"Zonkerize"-by replacing the traditional wing of any classic streamer with an appropriately colored zonker rabbit strip, you can create a much more effective and durable pattern. Zonker strip wings also give a more realistic profile than marabou winged patterns.
"Clouserize"-dumbell eyes get you down to where the fish are. They also add an extremely effective jig action in addition to slightly preventing fouling on bottom or other debris. you can "Clouserize" any bucktail streamer.
Woods Special Muddler
hook: daiichi 1720 or 1560
tail:golden pheasant tippets
body: orange or chinese orange uni yarn
wing: mallard flank dyed wood duck
collar: grizzly hen hackle
head: natural deer hair
Black Ghost Zonker Spey
hook: daiichi 2220
tail: mallard flank dyed yellow
body: black tinsel chenille or petit estaz
rib: oval silver tinsel
wing: white rabbit zonker strip
collar: mallard flank dyed yellow, wrapped sparingly
hook: daiichi 1710 or 1720
tail: teal flank angled upward
body: silver bills bodi-braid
eyes: painted dumbell, sized to hook
wing: white, yellow, purple bucktail, under peacock herl and sparse pearl flash
It was a really enjoyable class, and unfortunately the last one that I'll be teaching this winter. Thanks to all that showed up!
Had a good time at Superboo today, saw a lot of old faces and met a couple new ones. It was pretty awesome to see Sante donate that rod to Healing Waters, they do good work. I hope I got all the drool off that 4 weight I've oggled the past four years...
looks like they've figured out what color feathers some dinosaurs had. From the picture, looks like a medium ginger color, though I'm sure the hackle wasn't good enough for light cahills. Those crest feathers seem appealing though.
A lot of people are intimidated by deer hair and that is too bad. Besides being a lot of fun to work with, it provides tyers with probably the greatest opportunity to experiment and make cool concoctions. Deer hair flies also work great. Here is a fairly simple deer hair poppper. While you can spend a lot of time perfecting the shape and smoothness of the fly's body, razor blading and steaming it, I usually don't as I'm tying these to fish and it hurts bad enough to lose one that takes 20 minutes to make to a pickerel, let alone an hour!
step 1: The first thing you need to tie in is a weed guard if you chose to. The general rule is to use a stiff mono like mason's that should roughly be the diameter of your hook shank. This mono is a touch smaller than that but it is all I could find laying around. After that, you need to tie in whatever tail material you want for your fly. In this case the tail is yellow marabou over a pair of olive, yellow and black "perfect rubber" silicone legs, flanked by splayed hackle tips yellow griz inside kelly green inside olive griz on either side
step 2: Wrap a collar of hen hackle. This helps cover up the thread wraps used to tie in the tail and adds a little bulk. I'm using a yellowish olive grizzly hen hackle. Here's the top view, note how the hackle tips splay out, creating little "kicker" legs.
step 3: Throw a couple half hitches onto your hook. Holding the collar hackle back, go over and make a few loose wraps over the hackle. This keeps the hackle out of the way when you start trimming the bidy. Use several more half hitches to secure the thread. Now you will be able to cut that section of thread out when necessary because it is secure on both ends.
step 4: flare and stack deer hair. In this case, the fly will have a yellow belly under a kelly green/olive/black back.
step 5: Don't worry, this is how you do it:
first off, select a clump of deer hair slightly thicker than a pencil. Trim off tip ends and pull out fuzzy underfur. With hair on top of hook shank, make several loose wraps of thread, then gradually tighten down, wrapping as you do so. If everything works out, the hair should spin around the hook shank like so.
next, push your thumb down on the hair, splaying it out to the sides and lower half of the fly.
now you want to secure your hair onto the hook shank. Using correc thread tension helps, but using a flexible glue like Dave's Flexament really helps keep the fly from spinning around the hook. I use it before flaring a new color of hair on, that way you are binding the deer hair down into the glue.
flare the next color deer hair you want (in this case kelly green) right on top of the yellow clump. Hit the tie in point with more flexament, and repeat with more colors if necessary.
here you can see that I added two more colors, olive and black. You can choose as many colors as you'd like.
step 6: Now take your hands and push back on the deer hair clump you just spin to pack it into the previous bunch. this helps you cram more deer hair onto the hook, make the body thicker and float better. Build up a thread dam immediately in front of the last spun clump, this helps keep hair that would be flaring towards the eye of the hook stand up on end, keeping them out of the way for the next clumps. Before I spin the next clump, I tie in several rubber legs. In keeping with the frog coloration, I am using yellow, olive and black "perfect rubber" silicone legs.
step 7: spin another batch of deer hair as done before. Push it back, packing it into the previous clump and making roon for the final clump. Here you can see the new clump of yellow/green/olive/black spun and packed with the final white clump spun into place. Bright colored faces are good as they allow you to see the fly more easily on the water.
step 8: I like to use a double edge razor to cut a nice flat belly along the bottom of my poppers. Be careful not to cut too close to the hook shank as you could cut into your thread wraps. Make sure you cut enough so that your hook gap is not too closed up with hair.
step 9: Trim the rest of the hair. I like using curved scissors as they help you trim the curved popper shape you are striving for.
Take flexament and coat the face of the fly to make it flat and help make a more rugged/harder popping face.
step 10: cut a shallow divet or use a heated nail head to burn a hole into the hair near the front of the fly. Add a dab of zapadapagoo or similar flexible adhesive into the hole and stick in eyes. Putting the eyes into a recess helps secure them much better than if they were glued to the outside of the fly. Restart thread just behind eye, pull weed guard forward and tie off. Whip finish and cement. Trim all rubber egs to desired length
As I said before, this fly was given only a rough trimming suitable for fishing. If you want to tie a "presentation" fly, steam after an initial trimming over a tea kettle, then trim again.
On saturday, I taught a class how to tie several patterns I've been using for some time that were among many featured in the book, Barr Fliesby John Barr.
The slumpbuster is one of my favorite streamers for fishing on the many smaller waters near my home in Southern Maine. It is my choice for dropping into the large, deep pools or log jams I occasionaly run into or for tossing into pocket water. With its tungsten cone, it gets down deep quickly and has a nice jigging action on the strip. Some anglers like nymph fishing this pattern as well. I've never tried it personally, but I don't doubt its effectiveness fished as a nymph. The one showed was tied in an oolive scheme however I also tie them in brown, natural, black and chartreuse.
hook: daiichi 1720, tiemco 5263 size of choice
thread: olive 6/0
body: olive diamond braid
rib: golden olive ultra wire
wing: micro pine squirrel strip*
collar: micro pine squirrel strip*
* if tying size 6 or larger, use the pine squirrel strips as they are thicker.
The copper john has become one of the most popular flies in history, and is Umpqua Feather Merchant's #1 selling fly. In its many forms, it can be used to imitate everything from a salmonfly stone nymph to a midge larvae. This is one of my favorite versions of this pattern, altered from the original with a curved shank hook, rubber legs and a tungsten bead. My favorite colors are copper, red, black, wine, golden olive and golden brown.
bead: tungsten gold or prefered color
hook: daiichi 1120, tiemco 2457
thread: 6/0 black
tail: brown goose biots
body: red ultra wire, size brassie or prefered color
shellback: single strand silver holo. flashabou over black thinskin
thorax:arizona synthetic peacock dubbing over several turns of lead wire
legs: black micro rubber legs
caddis larvae are one of the most prevalent sources of food for trout. I've used this pattern from the East Outlet of the Kennebec to Rock Creek, Montana and have done really well. It is also very effective in a tan coloration.
hook: daiichi #1760
underbody: lead wire
body: caddis green emergence dubbing
tail: white antron yarn
rib: 3x monofilament
shellback: green flyspecks thinskin
thorax: black ostrich herl
According to Stewart and Allen in their book Flies for Atlantic Salmon, the Hairy Mary is a Scottish pattern developed in the early 1960's by John Reidpath. Despite it's good looks, Mary was probably not particularly flattered to have this fly named after her
tag:oval gold tinsel
tail:golden pheasant crest (I'm using two)
body:black floss or wool
rib:oval gold tinsel
throat:bright blue hen
wing:red squirrel (brown bucktail is a simple substitute)
Here is a step by step on a yellow tent style hornberg. You can play with any colors of mallard flank and hen hackle to get your desired fly. The standard hornberg is tied this way, only completely different.
Start thread and tie in silver tinsel. Wrap the tinsel back over the barb, then forward to the eye. Tie off and cut excess tinsel.
Tie in some yellow hackle fibers. Calf tail can also be used.
Select a proper mallard flank feather. For tent style hornbergs, you want to look for a longer, narrower feather than you would use on a standard hornberg. Do yourself a favor and pre sort your entire bag of mallard flank to save time. Bag and label whatever excess you don't use
Tie in mallard flank wing, which should extend about a hook gap's length beyond the hook. Here is the underside, note the cupped shape of the wing.
Here's the top view. Take mallard stem, fold it back over and secure it with a few wraps. This really helps keeping the wing from pulling out.
Select a grizzly hen feather. Tie it in by the tip at the base of the wing and wrap it forward 3-4 times.
The finished fly.
Thanks for checking out this new blog,
Some of you may already know me, but many of you do not. My name is Thomas Gagnon. I work part time at Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop, and also work as a commercial fly tyer and tying class instructor for them throughout the winter. I am also a student at the University of Maine at Farmington where I currently study English and am hoping to get into the Creative Writing program next fall. When spring semesters finish up, I head west to Montana for summer break, living out of my truck and float the Smith River, where I work on 5 day wilderness float trips.
When Kevin approached me about doing a blog for him, I was a bit hesitant as it was something I never really considered before. With this blog, I hope to share works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I will also include tying tips and pattern recipes, gear evaluations and fishing reports ranging from the local southern Maine streams I call home to the big rivers of western Montana. I am also an avid waterfowl and upland bird hunter, so expect stories and reports about those pursuits as well. You can also expect to get some random stuff, which may or may not have to do with fishing. All issues relating to the environment and conservation I think you may like to see will get put up here along with anything else I see fit.
Again, thanks for taking the time to look at this, hopefully you will like what you see and come again.