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Tight Lines!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fly Tying Class

Having been an avid fisherman for my entire life, obviously I have tinkered with making my own baits over the years.  I've had a few successes and more than my fair share that failed.  I generally fish for warm water species, but ironically my best lures have been flies which are traditionally used for trout fishing.  Obviously, they are used for more than just trout, but that is the image most people conjur up when they hear someone talking a bout fly fishing.

I've never been a "fly tyer" per se; however, I did many years ago tie a couple patterns which were surprisingly successful.  One I called a black gnat. It actually was similar to what is considered a black gnat  pattern today, only it was missing the red tail and was nothing more than wrapped thread and some hackle from a black feather I found in the yard.  It was ugly, it was disproportionate, it was deadly on pan fish.  The bluegill in the local "lake" loved it!  In fact, they destroyed it...literally.  My success led me to try another pattern, only larger for the bass.

Here things took an odd turn.  I decided to make a streamer so I snatched up a pink feather duster, and used a split shot for a head and basically made some pink concoction of feathers and thread which in my eyes was a perfect offering for our local bass.  It was completed with a full married feather sticking out behind the hook and the hackle was more like marabou, but none the less there it was.

I headed back to the lake and started working it and happened across some bass bedding down.  THEY KILLED IT!  It was amazing how well they hit it.  It was not until years later that I actually thought about why they were so aggressive.  Being it was a light pink color, and reds are the first colors to fade in water (around 10 feet or so) I assume it took on a slightly pinkish hued gray color to the fish since I was in about 6 - 10 feet of water.  Mix that with the body shape of waving marabou and a full married feather at the back; add being stripped in on the fly line and I can only imagine it was being treated as a hostile crayfish attacking their nests.  So, the bass ate it to protect their brood.  What a huge success!

My first three wooly-bugger patterns.
Fast forward to last Tuesday, and a more formal attempt at fly tying.  I signed up for a fly tying class at a local outfitter, Tangent Outdoors.  Our first class was a great mix of basic concepts and techniques mixed with a few variations of one of the best multi-species flies that I know of and have fished, the wooly-bugger.

Personal flare on an age old concept.
So I know I am no pro, but to be honest, even if the flies don't look "perfect" they will still catch fish - and tying is a blast.  I never imagined I would like it as much as I do.  After the class, and a few days of down time I decided to play around with a couple different patterns using the same principles we learned for the buggers.  My renditions are certainly unique, and yes, that is a peacock herl on the grub shaped version on the left.  I wanted to give it a different look beyond the normal marabou and thought using the herl would be a good way to add a distinct tail as well as adding flash around the body.  The second was just a "skinny" bugger you could say.

Tonight, we had class number two, and things got smaller...we were working on nymphs.  I apologize for the poor job photographing these but it is late and I'm tired.  Plus, lets be honest...a great shot of a rookies fly isn't going to make it look much better anyway, lol.  We did learn a lot, and I feel much more capable after only two classes.  We finish the level 1 classes next week, then I should be on to the more advanced class tying larger bass and musky flies!   Yeah, I'm just a little stoked about that!

Left two are basically the same technique with different positioning, fly three was an introduction to using dubbing and the last, and in my opinion best by far, is a "soft hackle" version with a dubbing body as well.
 If you are interested in fly tying, or taking a guided trip on the New River, I highly suggest contacting Tangent Outdoors.  They flat out know their stuff and seem to genuinely care about your success both immediately and long term.  Great people and a great product, hard to go wrong...