Posts Tagged ‘Fly Tying’

Fishing you a Merry Christmas

December 7, 2014

 

Win a copy of “GUIDE FLIES” eBook with a fun Christmas Quiz:

I thought given the festive season it was time to offer a few “Christmas Presents” and at the same time review some of the posts written over the past 12 months of blogging at “The Fishing Gene”.

So having now launched the downloadable version of “Guide Flies” I thought that the loyal readers were deserving of some reward for their diligence.

Below you will find a little quiz, based mostly, but not entirely, on past posts on “The Fishing Gene”, you can of course search for the answers on line and through the search function on the blog itself.

And your reward? Other than demonstrating your intimate knowledge of fly fishing and the pleasure of success you can use the answers to win yourself a downloadable pdf copy of “Guide Flies”.

Just click on the “SUBMIT” link at the bottom of this page and email me your answers.

 

GUIDE FLIES CHRISTMAS QUIZ:

#1: Which famous American angler was the Inventor of a series of high floating hair wing dry fly patterns including the Ausable, Royal and Blonde?

#2: Which well-known South African Angler and author writes the “The Spirit of Fly Fishing” Blog?

#3: What was the religious title of the inventor of the “Greenwell’s Glory”?

#4: Who is the inventor of the simple but amazing “Magic Tool” for tying with CDC

#5: What is the title of my first book on Fly Casting originally published by Struik Publishers?

#6: Which well-known Tasmanian Fishing Guide who visited SA and provided me with the information on the “Penny Knot”

#7: What is the name the classic streamer pattern, invented by Charles Langevin, one that you wouldn’t like slipped into your drink.

#8: What is the name of the exceptional fish sculptor who casts the bronze permit trophies for he Dell Brown Invitational Permit tournament?

#9: Who invented the CDC Hi-Vis Midge mentioned in one of the recent Fishing Gene Blogs

#10: How many bread rolls did we take on this year’s camp to the Orange River?

 

Just open up your email application with this SUBMIT link and send me your answers.

All answers must be supplied by 25th December 2014 to qualify .

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Guide Flies and other books by the author of this blog are available in printed, Compact Disc and eBook versions from a variety of fly fishing shops, on line retailers and Smashwords.

Inkwazi On Line

Smashwords

Netbooks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “C” Word

March 6, 2014

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The C-Word: CONFIDENCE.

I have been tying a lot of flies recently, mostly with a forthcoming trip in mind. The trip will take me back to waters I haven’t fished in four decades and as a result I have been researching more than a little on hatches, fly patterns and all things related.

I like tying flies and I like going on a trip with boxes full of newly minted patterns to cater, one hopes, for any eventuality, it is all part of the process. But it does strike me that when you look at all the different fly patterns out there  one would have to consider the possibility the trout would pretty much eat anything at some point in time. One has to ask the question if it is possible to tie a fly that is so poor that a fish wouldn’t eat it.

Given the numbers of artificials  one could be forgiven for imagining that you could be wrong all the time or equally that there is no wrong and the fish will eat whatever you have tied on the line if properly presented.

AdamsDry

So what to do if you are on some strange water without too much of a clue? The answer to my mind is to fish something generic that could be “all things to all fish”. I can’t be alone in this thought process, the propensity of Hare’s Ear Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Adams Dries and Elk Hair Caddis patterns in everyone’s fly boxes around the world suggests that we all come back to a similar solution to the problem. You pick something that is a reasonable facsimile, a pattern in which you have confidence and then fish it with care, because confidence in fly fishing really is the ultimate “C-Word”, it matters not one jot if your mate likes this fly or that fly, this wing or that wing, if you don’t have confidence in it the darned thing won’t work for you.

My mate Mike regularly fishes, amongst his team of three flies on a lake, an olive soft hackle pattern, and more to the point catches fish on it. I have used the darned thing, casting it for hours, hooking fish on the other patterns on a three fly rig without a single sniff from a trout to that fly. It just doesn’t work for me and the more it doesn’t work the less confidence I have in it, and the less confidence I have in it the more it doesn’t work.

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As a general rule when tying flies, if I am not excited about the prospect of fishing them as they come off the vice they go into the recycling jar. The recycling jar nominally allows me to cut off the dressing and reuse the hook, in reality most of the flies go to other anglers, school kids with limited budgets and such who might appreciate them. The rub is they will probably catch fish on the things, but if the fly doesn’t excite me coming off the vice it isn’t going to get used and will sit quietly rusting away in the corner of a flybox until it is eventually turfed out to make space for something more useable and less tarnished.

HaresEar

We are all different, for some a precise imitation begets confidence, for me most of the time at least, delicacy of the fly gives me faith that it will work, delicacy in a dry fly and movement in a subsurface pattern. I could very well be the only fly angler alive who has no confidence  in Woolly Buggers, I strongly dislike them, I really do. I don’t understand what they are supposed to be and so I don’t understand how to fish them. Actually I think that here at home they mostly get taken by the fish because they think that the fly is a dragonfly nymph, but then I would as soon tie on a dragonfly nymph pattern, in which I have a great deal of faith. Other anglers with a different viewpoint see the woolly bugger as the catch all “everything to all trout” kind of fly and do well with it. For me the Velcro Brushed Hare’s ear nymph is probably about as near to a universal subsurface pattern as any, the shaggier the construction the better.

CzechNymph

So how much of it is about the fly? I am convinced that much of the time not a great deal at all. But your confidence in the fly, well that is a different matter entirely.  It isn’t simply mystical, if you are confident you cast more carefully, retrieve with purpose, maintain concentration, fish slower, move more carefully. In short your fishing style changes when you are confident and confidence can be the most elusive of on the water emotions.

There is however an oddity to this discussion, a fly which has never worked for you previously, a fly in which your faith is extremely limited can become a favourite almost instantly should it prove successful, even only once.

On the streams we mostly fish with one fly at a time, so it takes some commitment to make a radical change to the fly pattern, away from those in which one has untold confidence. On a lake and bobbing about in a boat we generally fish three flies and so the trauma of testing a previously none productive pattern isn’t quite as great.  Then when that fly takes fish your confidence builds and before you know it you have a “new favourite”.

I like to carry a lot of flies, probably too many to be honest but the confidence that it gives me to know that I could cover almost any eventuality gives me confidence, even though 80% of the flies rarely see the light of day, never mind approach becoming intentionally damp.

ElkHairCaddis

In various parts of the world different things seem to be valued as confidence builders, the hot spot in a Czech nymph is paramount for some people, the inclusion of real jungle cock in a pattern is another obvious affectation the lack of which will cause some anglers to simply pack up and go home. I personally have less confidence in parachute dry flies with bright fluorescent posts because I am convinced that they result in more refusals from the better fish, other anglers cast them with alacrity. There are fly tyers who will dye and blend their own mixtures of furs and feathers because they are seeking a specific colour and have remarkable blind faith in such and I have had one client in a past life who wouldn’t fish an Invicta but that it had a red tail instead of the traditional yellow one of Golden Pheasant Crest. There are those who consider that a damselfly nymph imitation should have red eyes despite the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of evidence that real damsels are kitted out with similarly bright opthalmics. It is all a bit odd and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense except for the fact that if you are confident you fish better and if you fish better you catch more.

One of my favoured patterns on our local streams is an absolutely minute brassie, a fly so lacking in physical presence that I generally don’t tell the clients that I have tied it onto the tippet. If they see the fly before they catch a fish they have no confidence in it at all, so I wait until we get a hook up and then say something along the lines of “do you want to see what that fish ate?”, something generally then followed by gasps of surprise from the angler.

Confidence isn’t easily obtained but there are certain criteria for most of us which help nail down this ephemeral emotion. Preparation leads to confidence, having lots of flies, practising knots, carrying spare leaders, having waterproof (as opposed to leaking) waders, being able to cast well, knowing the water, fishing a lot, reading a great deal.. all those things lead to a state of relative confidence and that will in turn catch you as many fish as all the fancy and complicated accoutrements, which the tackle industry might care to throw at you.

In the end I suspect that is why many of us, and probably all of the best anglers tie their own flies, it may not be that their own flies are better than any others, but they do give confidence and that is a good enough reason for all the slaving over a hot vice.

If you are a neophyte fly tyer you will probably start out, as indeed did I, with a lack of confidence in your own flies, but in time that will change and the commercial ones will lack the allure they once held.

Here are a couple of great resources if you want to start tying flies, tie better flies or perhaps gain confidence in tying and fishing them.

Essential Fly Tying Techniques: A eBook on critical tying techniques which will help you tie more effective and durable patterns.

EFTT

See inside the book:

Download from Inkwaziflyfishing

Download from Smashwords

Order on disc

Order on disc from outside of South Africa

Guide Flies: A book and eBook available currently on disc and in printed format covering the flies that give me the most confidence. How to tie simple, durable and effective flies that really work.

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See inside the book:

Order a copy on compact disc.(South African Clients)

Order a copy of the softcover version (South African Clients)

Order either from outside of South Africa

As always feedback in the form of comments is most welcome, what flies bring you confidence? Are you as happy with a commercially fashioned pattern as ones of your own manufacture? Have fun out there and remember that if you have confidence then half the battle is already won.

Fly Fishing Foreplay.

September 18, 2013

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To those of us with The Fishing Gene, fishing and in my case fly fishing holds plenty of opportunity for passion, excitement and ultimately one hopes fulfilment, but in a world of instant gratification there is nothing that builds one’s ardour more than a bit of foreplay. Right now I have a hot date on Friday and I am metaphorically tarting myself up in preparation. Exciting times filled with hopeful expectation, a dash of concern, fond memories of past liaisons and graphic mental images of our previous parting embrace.  The object of my desire ? A sultry temptress perhaps; but a river and not a person.

ForeplayImage4Thoughts of the desert fill my mind.

We are heading out shortly to a remote spot on the Orange River, South Africa’s largest waterway and one filled we hope with willing and hungry largemouth and smallmouth yellowfish. It can provide wonderful fishing but equally requires a good deal of planning and preparation. Not only because the location is a remote, rugged, barren and desolate spot, but equally because the methods used and the flies required are considerably different to our everyday trout fishing. I suppose one might consider this a bit of a barrier but equally it offers great opportunity for some “preparing to go fishing” experimentation and with that a gradual growth of excitement as the day of departure looms.

ForeplayImage3Memories of past success drives the process.

It helps of course that I have been there before, memories, as though of a long lost paramour dance in my subconscious mind. I can recall the tempestuous rapids and the evocative curves of the river’s meander. If I close my eyes I can smell the heat of the desert and shiver involuntarily at the thoughts of chill evenings and then of course the fish. That gravel delta that previously offered such great sport, the narrow channel where “yellows” fed all day in a swirling back eddy and with each fly tied, with every leader knotted in preparation my passion and excitement grows.

ForeplayImage2Some impromtu fly tying on a previous trip to the river.

We have by now packed all the food boxes, the camping necessities, the logistical bits and bobs, maps, permits and such but I haven’t quite got to the point of locking away the fly boxes, you never know I might just feel moved to add one more killer pattern or a wayward experimental concoction to the quiver. Analogous I imagine to that last splash of aftershave or a quick adjustment of one’s tie before heading off to the Friday night dance.  Past history tells me that the patterns tied in extremis, moments before departure often prove to be the most effective; it is a necessary rite of passage to overdo this preparation lark and it all helps to build the excitement and focus.

ForeplayImage5You can never be too thin, too rich or have too many flies.

The journey is a long one with an overnight stop, which will no doubt be filled in equal measure by excitement at the prospects and concern that it might not be quite as good as we hope. We shall fret over the weather and bother our minds that perhaps we have forgotten some essential piece of equipment. In particular that fly box that we left out expecting to add to at the last minute and open to misplacement should it fall behind the cushions on the couch.

I am in part driven by horror stories, such as one related to me of an angler, dropped with his guide by helicopter in a remote section of New Zealand, a five day hiking and fishing trip on the cards, only to discover that he had left his reel at the hotel.  So the lists are checked and rechecked, items are ticked off, labelled, packaged and accounted for and all the while the passion builds.

ForeplayImage1Looking at that stubble, just as well it’s a fishing trip and not the Friday Night Dance.

I suppose that the next best thing to actually fishing is preparing to go fishing, which probably explains why most of us have far too many flies, too many bits of equipment and the fly fishing equivalent of the Library of Congress stacked on groaning shelves somewhere in the house. But you can’t overemphasise the value of foreplay, for people like us fishing doesn’t start when you head to the river, fishing starts when you wake up, assuming that you managed to get any sleep in all the excitement.

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The Cuckoo and the Trout.

August 31, 2013

The Cuckoo Head

I have recently been reading “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, a fascinating look at the way genes control us and every other living thing for that matter. But one portion of the book fascinated me in particular, a discussion on Cuckoo’s and their foster parents. As no doubt we all know Cuckoo’s lay their eggs in the nests of other species and then let the hapless birds work day and night to feed their babies. It can get a little macabre, the baby cuckoo will turf the other eggs or baby birds out of the nest so that it gets all the attention and more to the point all of the food. Frequently the cuckoo fledgling is huge compared to its hapless adoptive mater and pater who work tirelessly to feed their grossly oversized intruder; they may even need to stand on the baby to be able to reach its mouth to feed it.

The Selfish Gene Cover

The question that interested me in particular was “why don’t the hijacked foster parents notice the fraud and simply stop feeding the baby cuckoo?” Apparently the bright red gape of the begging bird is a stimulus to the parents, an almost irresistible urge to put food into the open mouth. The larger than average and brighter coloured gape of the baby cuckoo is essentially a “super stimulus”.

It appears that the trigger is so strong that even other birds have been known to “stop by on the way home and feed the cuckoo” giving away hard won food that was destined for their own offspring.

CatchadragonOne would logically think that the fraud would be obvious.

Another interesting if somewhat more risqué example is the fact that simple images can stimulate sexual response in people. That one knows that you are looking at an airbrushed and two dimensional image of a man or woman that you will never meet and who quite evidently isn’t available to you, the mating response can still be switched on.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the subject is well aware that it is a fiction.

It seems that there are key triggers in nature, stimuli which are so powerful that they become, according to Dawkins, near addictive in their allure and that got me to wondering, are there such key triggers in feeding behaviour too? In particular are there such triggers in terms of the feeding behaviour of trout?

To my mind the art of fly tying is about caricature, there are those who will say “this is what the trout think” or “this is what the trout see”, actually I don’t have a damned idea what trout think or see but I do figure that, as anglers we cannot possibly actually imitate an insect, we can only represent it in some recognisable form. So we pick on key indicators, essential elements of real insects which we believe are representative.

Perhaps this is the key to why fish don’t seem to be overly bothered by the hook, after all, much like the oversized cuckoo, the hook sticking out of the rear of your delicately fashioned fraud should be a dead giveaway, but thousands if not millions of captured fish seem to show that it matters not a jot.

Trout and FlyDecision time.

I suspect then that if key triggers can be imitated or emphasised they can “overpower” what one might imagine to be an obvious flaw in the design.

Put simply then if a dragon fly nymph imitation is the same shape as the real thing, moves much like the real thing, is the colour of the real thing then the fact that it has a hook sticking out of one and nylon tippet sticking out of the other doesn’t affect the response of the fish to what they see as food.

Equally a mayfly pattern if it moves (or more likely doesn’t move), creates a similar pattern on the water surface to the real thing, is the right colour and size (perhaps larger could even result in a more pronounced response), the fish will eat it. It could very well be the reason for the success of cripple type patterns, it would be simple to imagine that the fish instantly recognises the struggle of a stillborn fly as a easy meal and can’t resist.

It seems to me that the idea adds credence to much that we already know about trout feeding behaviour, and offers explanation to much that we witness when on the water.

In tying and fishing flies then it would behove us to think in terms of key stimuli, the pattern the hackle makes on the water, the eyes of a dragonfly nymph, perhaps the pronounced tails on a spinner pattern, the classical segmentation of an ant pattern, the erratic movement of a corixa or the manipulated “escape” of a nymph pattern fished to create and induced take. Could it be that they are all “key triggers”?

We know that we cannot create an exact copy in much the same way that a baby cuckoo cannot, at least for long, look exactly like a baby wren, but we can, as does the cuckoo, overcome that apparent flaw by carefully designing our flies and fishing them in a manner to override the obvious in favour of key stimuli which will trigger we hope the required response.

TroutandHopperHow much of the feeding response is pre-programmed into the fish?

It could be that we can use the fish’s own genetic makeup to help us deceive it. In effect causing the pre-programmed genetic makeup (what Dawkins refers to as the extended phenotype) not so much to allow us to deceive the fish but to afford the fish the chance to deceive itself..  Perhaps that is what the wrens are thinking, “jeez look what good parents we are, look how big our baby is and how wide his mouth gets when he is hungry”.. ?

It has been long recognised that deliberate overemphasis of some elements in the way we tie and fish flies can be effective and Dawkins discussions on the extended phenotype (that is the effect that genes have on the world around us and our interactions with it) might offer a clue as to why such machinations work on the water.  If the fish’s genetic makeup program it to grab anything that looks like food, and furthermore determines what criteria it uses to recognise such food, then we can exploit that in very much the same manner as the baby cuckoo exploits the wren’s response to gaping beaks. It’s still a con, but perhaps a con now with a scientific basis.

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Variations on a Theme

April 23, 2013

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Variations on a theme:

I often think that fly tying books and even instructors do the neophyte tyer and perhaps some of the old hands a great disservice. There are “new” patterns being invented all the time and there are those so besotted with the concept of having the “right fly” that they spend all their mental energies on such. Truth be told fly tying hasn’t changed a whole helluva lot in the years since Halford and Skues fiddled about with hooks and feathers. There have been innovations to be sure. In his book “Sunshine and the Dry Fly” (1924) John William Dunne described such esoteric niceties as painting the hooks white and the effects of thread colours on dubbing. As anglers it seems we are always looking for “that edge”, if nothing else it is entertaining.

Variations1

Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

However as time has gone by I realise that much of it is just a rehash of the same old same old. Most anglers are less effective than they might be more as a result of their presentations than their flies and most flytiers would do well to spend a bit more time on technique and proportion than accumulating the latest synthetic dubbing or pre-printed plastic wing.

Variations2

Jock Scott Salmon fly, beautifully fashioned by Brian Ebert image courtesy of www.bestclassicsalmonflies.com

The arguments have raged for decades, the concept that a Jock Scott just isn’t as effective without the jungle cock sides or kingfisher cheeks perhaps, or that your favourite woolly bugger really needs that blue flash in it, not the silver one that everybody else uses.

It is nice enough, fun even, (and where Salmon Flies are concerned pure art to be sure), perhaps it builds confidence which is not insignificant but in the final analysis fly tying hasn’t changed that much. There are really relatively few techniques to learn, perhaps a dozen or so and you can manufacture, albeit with a little practise and a modicum of dexterity, any number of trout, salmon, steelhead or other flies using the same tried and tested methods.

As a self-confessed pragmatist I like to keep things simple, I would rather have more flies than less and speed and simplicity of manufacture aids that particular goal.

Not that I can’t appreciate the thought and skills in what some would call “advanced fly tying” I really do and there are more than a few little tricks that I have learned from people such as Olive Edwards whose “Masterclass” book really should be required reading, if only to point out what is possible. It’s just that I can’t get overly excited about it. I sure as hell don’t feel comfortable trying to whisk a fly, that took me two hours to make, at a reticent brown hiding in a tangle of tree roots and overhanging branches.  To quote John Gierach “to be of any use at all a fly should be thoughtlessly expendable” and one doesn’t wish to have to fish with a limited supply of complex patterns and a team of navy divers in case one of your creations requires retrieval from an underwater snag.

The ability to tie touching turns of thread is the basis for all fly tying, smooth under-bodies of neatly aligned thread wraps go a long way to making a durable and neatly fashioned pattern.

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Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Starting the thread off on the hook is a struggle for the beginner but quickly mastered and to my mind performing a neat and durable whip-finish a basic requirement. (I do so hate to see good tyers throw in a few half hitches and rely on the varnish to hold it all together and I am not much given to using a whip finish tool either for that matter, you simply don’t need one).

Variations4

Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

The pinch and loop is a necessity unless you wish to be chasing materials about the hook, but no matter that you are tying in duck quill wings or a piece of tinsel ribbing the process is the same.

Variations5

Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

One can argue about wrapping hackles but there really aren’t that many variations, even the difference between Catskill ties and parachutes aren’t that significant, and variation between winding palmered hackles and standard one’s is little more than a matter of the spacing..

Dubbing is as old as the hills, there are a few ways to do it, the direction you spin it is important and of course there are variations using loops of thread or even special tools but for the most part lashing hair onto a hook is a basic and simple process.

Winding neat open turns of ribbing as a must for many patterns to be sure but it isn’t rocket science.

Variations6

Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Perhaps a more troublesome fiddle is spinning of deer hair, many never really master it and I could suggest that spinning deer hair on a bare hook requires slightly different methodology to doing the same when there is some thread already laid down on the metal, but it just takes a little instruction and practise

Variations7

Image courtesy of Essential Fly Tying Techniques

However the problem for most new fly tyers, or for us old hands when tying a new pattern is more a matter of consistency than anything else. It isn’t unlike backing a cake, you might have all the correct ingredients but if you don’t master the proportions and the methods you are not going to particularly enjoy your afternoon tea.

No doubt we all develop our own little quirks and it is remarkable how one can identify patterns tied by different anglers. For example all my parachute patterns are now finished around the post, I suppose quite a modern innovation, but in the end consistency wins out and all flies become simple variations on a theme.

BSP Variations

In the final analysis though, once you have mastered perhaps a dozen techniques you can tie pretty much anything and with practise you can “churn em’ out”. On a winter’s evening I am happy to play but in the midst of the season, battles looming in the morning and with water to cover and fish to catch, well I would rather be holding a box of dozens of tried and tested durable flies than a few complicated experiments.

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Read an eBook Week

March 4, 2013

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This week, up until March 9th is the Annual Smashwords “Read an eBook promotion”, providing people with the option of downloading books of all types from fiction to non fiction at discount prices. There are loads of books, even free ones to suit every taste and if you are new to electronic books the promotion offers you a great opportunity to test the waters at low cost. Mind you, electronic books are generally cheaper in the first place, they also provide all manner of advantages to traditional books.

  • They are available near instantly (no going to the shopping centre, parking the car or dodging the traffic)
  • They are more eco-friendly (no shipping, no chopping down trees)
  • They are more easily searched (you don’t need to fold down the corners to find your favourite bits)
  • They are available in numerous formats to suit whatever devices you have from.pdf files to Kindle editions.
  • They offer the advantages of both internal and external links and even video something that no paper book can provide.
  • They are instantly available anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
  • And probably more important to me than you, the author who has slaved over the graphics and content and shared their input, knowledge or literary skill actually gets some remuneration for their efforts, unlike the pathetic pennies offered up by traditional publishers.

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So why not try a eBook today?

You can search for titles on all manner of subjects on www.smashwords.com and for those with a distinct piscatorial bent interested in fly tying, fly casting and tackle rigging I provide you unashamedly with links to my on line books all discounted for this week on the Smashwords website. Just click on the image to be transported to the relevant page.

Don’t forget to use the special promotional code to get your discount. !!

You can even see a preview of the some of the content of the books before purchase, by following the relevant links.

WhoPackedFREE: Who Packed Your Parachute:

Yes this one is always free not just this week and it provides some great information on tying Parachute Fly Patterns. If your parachute patterns are troublesome to tie and tend to fall to bits it makes for a great investment. Better than great because it will cost you zip!!!

Review comments “Who Packed your Parachute”: This simple little booklet has proved a real winner. I have always had problems with parachute flies falling to bits after a fish or two. Rolston’s insights and descriptions have changed the way that I tie flies and there won’t be any going back to the old ways for me. If you are a fly tyer you are going to love this simple explanation of how to make your parachute flies more durable, more imitative and faster to manufacture.

LTFC50% OFF: Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend:

Originally published in soft cover and now out of print this book in electronic format provides explanations as to how fly casting really works and more importantly a pile of exercises which you can do in the garden to improve your casting skills. 80% of the clients I guide would catch a lot more fish if their casting was up to scratch. Now you can get that monkey off your back at a ludicrously low cost or give the book as a gift to anyone anywhere in the world using the gifting option.

Review comments: Learn to Fly-Cast in a Weekend:

I’ve finished Learn to Flycast in a Weekend and I have to say this book is a must have for every fly fisherman whether you think you’re casting is perfect or not. It will help you get rid of all of those bad habits and teach you a new way to better your casts, timing and eventually distance accuracy. if you are a new caster this book is for you. You can have the technique down in four sessions and believe me when I tell you, you won’t need any lessons afterwards. A true find and as I said a must have.

EFTT 50% OFF: Essential Fly Tying Techniques

A book that has been described as “A World First”, the original on disc contains embedded video of all the techniques as well as graphic and written descriptions of numerous essential techniques and a number of different and highly effective fly patterns. The electronic version provides links to the very same video clips and all the same graphics and instructions. A book for novice fly tyers and containing a lot of tips that may well help the old hands as well.

Review comments “Essential Fly Tying Techniques”: some amazingly simple techniques that make ALL the difference to things that I have been battling with for ages e.g. tying posts are now so much less messy and complicated.

AFTMA50% OFF: An AFTMA Fairytale

A compendium of some of the most popular posts on The Fishing Gene Blog, light reading but some useful information too, just the thing for a rainy day when the season is closed or the rivers in flood.

Review comments “An AFTMA Fairytale”: I loved this….it is warm and funny. Tim’s anecdotes are amusing and informative, beautifully written little gemstones containing many lessons from years of experience and true passion. You learn and smile at the same time, the sign of a great teacher.

100Tips50% OFF:  100 Tips, Tricks and Techniques of tackle rigging. 

Tips, tricks and techniques that will help you enjoy your fishing more, catch more fish and be better prepared on the water. Filled with graphics of knots and other tips to make you a more effective angler.

Review comments for 100 TipsFull of simple easy-to-follow tips that are a great help and clearly have stood the test of time in the hands of an expert and dedicated fisherman. Great for reference and dipping into.
The diagrams are some of the best I have seen.
Strongly to be recommended.

So whether you choose to download a copy of one of my books or someone elses, give eBooks a try, for those of us hell bent on instant gratification you can be reading your new tome in a matter of minutes..

No Hackles?

October 3, 2011

No Hackle Flies,

Or should that be no hackles no flies?

You will be well aware by now that fashion industry has done a bit of a hostile takeover within fly tying circles, pushing up the price of particularly saddle hackles and denuding shelves of the dry fly purist’s most prized possessions. All in the name of the latest fashion fad: feather hair extensions.

Of course fashion is a fickle mistress and it has always amazed me that women around the world will follow the opinion of some unspecified and self appointed luminary who ups and decides what this year’s hem line, fabric  colour or hair style will be.

This lot have managed to convince the fairer sex at different times that outer garments should vary from Islamic propriety to hooker like knicker flashers, somehow they have persuaded that propolis, avocado, soya beans, cucumbers, natural essences, bees wax, or even volcanic mud is good for the hair, complexion or libido.

Over the years women have voluntarily  (frequently at great expense), allowed themselves to be incased in painful whale bone, dipped in volcanic springs or pierced with metal objects in almost every portion of their anatomy. They have primped and preened in front of mirrors ranging from the still reflective surface of the common or garden pond to the burnished metal of a conqueror’s shield.  They have ironed, curled, cut, blown, died and dried their hair, they have permed it, plaited it, woven it and covered it with wigs, hats, ribbons and flowers

And now, NOW! as an affront not only to their own senses of propriety but equally in a declaration of war against fly anglers the world over they are weaving our treasured feathers into their pampered, coloured, conditioned, hot ironed and waxed locks in yet another wanton frenzy of unabashed consumerism. All apparently in the name of beauty.

Mind you even the most callously chauvinistic of us would have to admit that the hair extensions are a tad more comely than plastic curlers and they represent less of a danger to your eyesight should you roll over in bed for that matter. Still it ain’t right, there are any number of animal parts with which the ladies might adorn themselves and one would have to suggest that delving into the fly tying box is just taking things a little too far.

At least hair extensions aren't quite as dreadful or dangerous as curlers.

From now on selecting a date might get even more complicated, no longer enough to pick a curvaceous blond with the aforementioned belt wide mini and a whale tail of black lace, you will now have to ask if her hair extensions are the required light dun size 18’s that you have been seeking out for those essential midges and will have to invite her to stay over that you might pluck the odd feather whilst she snoozes in post coital bliss.

Really not only has the world gone a little mad but it is making things darned inconvenient for those of us wishing to simply whip up a few mayfly patterns and head for the water. Apart from the allure of actually fishing,  being “on the water” is also one of the few means left to avoid the fashion houses, the cosmetics counters and previously mentioned consumerist frenzy undoubtedly occurring right now at a shopping mall near you. Time on the water is sacred, time on the water with sufficient flies is not something that should be messed with, even in the name of beauty.

Anyway enough of the frivolity, what is to be done? Carefully selected genetic roosters have a naturally determined lead time before they produce perfect dry fly saddles and of course it won’t escape your notice that they can only do this once. The upshot being that there is a shortage of feathers and that the shortage is expected to last well into 2012.

With that in mind it is the perfect time for inventive fly tyers to revisit some ideas of no hackle flies and even synthetics which will obviate the need for the products of our slow growing cockerels.

Indeed to my mind it wouldn’t be a bad thing if these became, to borrow a phrase from the fashion fundis  “in vogue” and it would be wonderfully ironic if by the time the sellouts in the feather world have spent their twenty pieces of silver they were to find that demand from trout anglers was at an all time low.

I can understand that in the business world one needs to take the best price, but to leave all of your loyal customers in the lurch for what will surely be a flash in the pan is lacking a bit in terms of customer relations.

Therefore I thought it appropriate to investigate some other fly patterns, devoid of genetic hackle and just as effective.

Comparaduns, Spun duns, F flies and the like will cover a lot of bases on the stream allowing the fly tyer to either do without precious saddles or at least save their stocks for essential patterns only.

A number of flies, like this thread bodied Spun Dun offer alternatives to using hackle

So for those willing to take up the fight, and of course those who have already exhausted their supply of suitable hackle and are now visiting discotheques in the hope of finding the occasional plume on the dance floor here is at least one option.

The Goose Biot Spun Dun,

This is a tremendously effective and highly adaptable mayfly imitation that can be modified to suit almost any hatch and happily requires not a single fibre of hackle, genetic or otherwise.  The spun dun is effectively an offshoot of the Comparadun , the greatly vaunted invention of Caucci and Nastasi and brought to public prominence in their book “Comparahatch”.

To be honest I can’t find who came up with the spun dun, it could indeed been have invented first for all I know. What I can tell you is that it is a little easier to tie than the Comparadun and boasts a far slimmer abdomen than can be obtained with the Comparadun version. It also has the benefit of its own personal life jacket of hollow deer hair butts set about the thorax region that greatly enhances its buoyancy.

To tie:

  • Lay down touching turns of thread preferably 120 Denier or similar, you are going to need some strength when you tie in the hair collar.
  • In my version keep the tag end of the thread on top of the hook to assist in splitting the microfibbet or nylon bristle tails. You can use other materials for the tails if you wish.
  • Tie in two microfibbets or bristles from a Hamilton’s nylon brush (the fibres should be tapered).
  • Pull the tag of the thread up between the tails helping to separate them and splay them apart.
  • Tie in a dampened goose biot of suitable colouration, (you can use just the thread, dubbing or any other abdominal material if you wish, it makes little difference).
  • Wind the thread to just behind the eye of the hook and follow with the body material.
  • Tie in a small amount of dubbing to neaten up the thorax (this is entirely optional)
  • Now select a bunch of deer hair from the skin and remove the under fur before stacking in a hair stacker.
  • Align the hair on top of the hook shank, just behind the eye of the hook and tie in, adjusting the overhanging tips to the length you wish for the hackle
  • Tie down tightly with three or four wraps of thread, don’t allow the hair to spin.
  • Cut off the tag ends of the hair leaving a neat thorax of butt ends.
  • Take the thread to the front, stand up the hair with your thumb nail and build a neat ball of thread in front of the hair to hold the wing vertical.
  • Whip finish or use a super glue whip finish and cut off the thread.
  • Watch the video if you wish to see more clearly the sequence of tying.

This post brought to you by the publisher of the world's most innovative fly tying book. Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Disclaimer: From time to time these posts attract advertising and the publishers of the blog have no control over advertising content, nor do we gain any financial benefit from such adverts. Whilst they may be of value to you please do note that their presence does not imply any endorsement or recommendation of the products or services offered by anyone associated with this blog. Thank you.

The Easiest Way to Learn Flytying.

August 29, 2011

Launch of the World’s most innovative flytying instruction book.

It has been a dreadfully time-consuming exercise it has to be said, enough so that had I known the amount of work required maybe I would never have started, but that said my new eBook “Essential Fly Tying techniques” has now been “officially” launched. Perhaps most gratifying of all is that it has received some very very positive reviews from those who have seen the finished product and some very well-respected names amongst them.

Tom Sutcliffe, the elder statesman of South African fly fishing and well-known fly fishing author provided a wonderfully positive review of the book on his website “The Best Way to Learn Fly Tying”

Tom is the author of “My Way with a Trout”, “Reflections on Fly Fishing” and “Hunting Trout” a new version of the latest title is due for release shortly so I am even more grateful that Tom found the time to review my book.

The book contains some 80 full colour graphics, over 30 video clips of essential fly tying techniques and complete flies, full instructions on tying 14 killer patterns which at the same time illustrate the various techniques highlighted and one hopes it will indeed prove to be a new standard in fly tying tuition.

Some comments from reviewers of the book to date:

“This publication bridges the gap between traditional books and on-line video”..Ed Herbst Editor of Piscator Magazine.

“Awesome, I wish I this had been available when I started flytying”…. M Spinola, SA Commonwealth Flyfishing Team and bronze medalist in the SA National Championships.

“This is perfect, the video clips fill in the gaps that step by step sequences in traditional publications can’t cover and the patterns shown can form the basis of any worthwhile fly box……..MC Coetzer, Protea Team Angler and Coach of the SA Junior World Championship Team.

“This has to be the easiest way to learn,…engaging, ingenious and comprehensive, …this book is surely the first of its kind in the world..Dr Tom Sutcliffe, Author of “My Way with a Trout”, “Reflections on Flyfishing” and “Hunting Trout”.

So pleased as I am with the response now comes the hard part, marketing the book and I am hoping that those of you out there in the fly fishing underground can assist. The book is available directly from me at Inkwazi Fly Fishing both on a retail and wholesale basis. It is also currently available from fly fishing retailers and bookshops: Netbooks (On line book store), Mavungana (Fly Fishing retail in Johannesburg and Dullstroom), Wild Fly (Fly Fishing retail Nottingham Road) and hopefully more stores will follow shortly.

Retailers:

If you have a retail outlet anywhere in the world and would like to see a review copy of the book contact me on inkwaziflyfising@iafrica.com and I shall endeavor to provide you with a sample, alternatively if you can’t wait I will include a demo version with your order just so that you can see what all the fuss is about..

I am expecting reviews of the publication in key local and overseas magazines shortly and shall no doubt be able to keep you all posted in terms of progress there via this blog.

Magazines:

If you edit a fly fishing magazine and would like a review copy to feature your comments in your publication please again contact me and I shall willingly send you a review edition free of charge.

For more information you can see a breakdown of the contents of this unique eBook on the following You Tube Link

Individuals:

Should you wish to place an order you can do so by mailing me directly Mail Order Enquiry or you can download an order form from our website at http://www.inkwaziflyfishing.co.za/ options are available for both retail and wholesale orders from this page. Order your copy before the end of September and I will cover the postage no matter where you are in the world.

If you have seen the finished product please do feel free to leave a comment on this blog, it helps others to find it and of course provides unsolicited review of what I think is an exceptionally useful publication.

Now it is only a couple of days to the start of the fly fishing season on the streams of the Limietberg and hopefully I will once more be able to re-acquaint myself with rod , line and moving water, too much time in front of the computer can make Jack a dull boy, or indeed if not dull at least more than a trifle frustrated.

Thank you to those who have supported this blog to date. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive updates if you wish.

The book contains detailed graphics and embedded video clips

Cheater Soft Hackles

July 28, 2011

Cheater Soft Hackles.

We all I am sure have at some point tied and fished soft hackle patterns; there are those of us who embrace these simple and mobile flies to the same degree as Sylvester Nemes who proclaims addiction to these amazingly effective and relatively simple patterns.ref:  (“The Soft Hackle Fly Addict”).

Having fallen in love with these patterns though I can’t be the only one who has ventured forth and purchased a packet of grouse or partridge hackles only to find that the feathers are all too large to tie the flies in the classical style. Even if you buy a skin there are going to be a lot of feathers that you can’t use on trout sized patterns. It looks lovely and simple, perhaps stripping one side of the hackle and tying it in point first to create a highly mobile emerger wet fly. But what about all those over sized feathers?

I fish predominantly small streams with good insect populations the vast majority of which are tiny, a size 14 would be a veritable “whopper” and that leaves me with a lot of hackles that are simply too large to tie in the normal manner.

Well having played about with a lot of different experiments, most of which failed dismally it has to be said, I have found a way of using oversized hackle to manufacture very nice and more than acceptable wet fly or soft hackle patterns without wasting. Now I am free to tie patterns of almost any size, for stream or stillwater use and no longer am frustrated with the wastage that occurred previously. In fact it opens up a whole new world of tying flies because you can utilize all manner of feathers which you thought previously were unsuitable.

Here is how you do it:

  • First pull the fibres at right angles to the stem so as to align the tips of the fibres as much as possible.
  • Then cut or tear the fibres off the stalk and hold them on top of the hook shank, points forwards over the eye.
  • You now need to measure them so that you get the degree of “overhang” that you require, this will determine the “size” of the hackle in the finished fly.
  • Swap hands and tie down the hackles leaving the points hanging over the front of the hook, they will be fashioned into a wet fly or soft hackle collar later on.
  • Cut off any excess and add a tail (optional) and a body of whatever material you wish to use, silk, floss, dubbing.
  • Once the thread is back at the eye of the hook you now pull the fibres down and around the hook before bending them backwards over the body and form a neat head of thread in front of them. The fibres should now look to all intents and purposes as though you had wound them around the hook.
  • Form a neat whip finish and you fly is complete.

Below are graphics of the process from my soon to be launched eBook “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” this book provides graphic and on page video clips of all the key techniques required to tie myriad flies.  This is but an excerpt and example of a little bit what is contained within the book.  There are over 100 pages, over 80 graphics, 35 video clips of key techniques and entire flies , basic entomology and fly identification and lots of great tricks which will help you tie flies like the one shown here. The video clip below is an indication of what you can expect from the eBook but is not in the exactly the same format. If you would like to pre-order a copy of the book please drop me a line on the following link. Pre-order enquiry Essential Fly Tying Techniques

Click on the images to see them at full size for greater clarity if you wish.


 


The possibilities are endless, here are a few different versions of cheater soft hackles just to show some options.

Olive Cheater Soft Hackle with tails

Orange Cheater soft hackle

Silver Cheater with golden pheasant

Brought to you by Inkwazi Flyfishing Cape Town's best fly fishing guiding service.

Feather Poetry

June 23, 2011

Winter is here in the Southern Cape, the rivers are closed, the rain pours down and temperatures have dropped to the point where fashion gives way to pragmatism in an effort to avoid hypothermia.

Winter here is like a Tigerfish strike, short lived but violent, the wind whips about, snow falls on the high ground and the temperatures plummet. It’s not fishing weather at least not in the worst of it, so most of us batten down the hatches, get in a bottle of scotch, turn the heaters on and take to watching DVDs or tying flies.

I suppose that tying flies when you can’t fish is akin to writing poetry when you can’t be with your loved one, not exactly the same but at least it maintains some level of contact.

All of which got me to thinking about fly tying and perhaps more so why some anglers manage to avoid it for their entire careers. To me tying your own flies is part and parcel of the fishing process. Catching fish on your own flies has a purity to it, some sort of Zen significance lacking when the fish chomp down on a pattern from the store.

This isn’t unique to fishing, I have a client who manufactures his own bows, arrows and even flint arrowheads to go hunting. In fact he is something of a collector of flints for the purpose and has bits of it from all over the globe. Obviously the game isn’t just about killing a deer, he could do that as well with a rifle, it is the process that makes it worthwhile, the connection and I suppose at some level the idea that one is “self sufficient”. Whichever way you look at it, I do think that tying your own flies adds to the experience and no doubt in my mind makes you a better angler to boot.

But I do recall the early days of tying my own flies, to be honest they were pretty dreadful and for a long time I figured that they were worse than the shop bought ones. So I would “hold them in reserve” for when the fishing was easy or the shop ones ran out.

Interestingly and I suspect that this is true of many, at some point one experiences what a business speaker would refer to as a “paradigm shift” and from that moment on one has more faith in patterns of your own manufacture and a heap less for the bought ones, in fact a heap less for any that you didn’t create yourself, even if donated by a supposed expert.

I can still recall one of the favourite patterns of my youth, it was tied on a long shanked #12 hook, had a brown cock hackle tail, copper wire rib, a black hackle and a wing-case manufactured out of yellow floss. It was a carefully thought out fly too. The tail was pretty standard, the peacock was cheap and readily available the hackle was simply because I had already decided that movement in a wet fly was important to me and the yellow floss wing case? Well simply put it was all I had to make a wing case with ( sometimes pragmatism outweighs artistry, even in poetry)..

I fished that fly on reservoirs over much of southern England with good effect, in fact better than good effect and it caught fish wherever I went. I doubt that it was the comely aspect of a well tied fly that did the business though, it was that I had confidence in it. Confidence is a big thing in fishing and perhaps that is why some people never get the fly tying bug. For them the confidence comes from a purchased pattern whilst for us fly tiers it is the exact opposite. It is just a little tricky to make the transition, if you are used to using shop bought flies you are going to experience doubt and doubt can be fatal. Work through that doubt however and your confidence will soar.

There are a number of oft quoted advantages to tying your own flies:

The financial benefits are questionable, if you tie basic patterns the way that fishing guides tend to do then it in undoubtedly an economic imperative. If you regularly wander into fly shops and pick up esoteric materials and the latest gadgets you are probably going to spend more than you bargained on your new found hobby.

Perhaps to me the greatest advantage is that you can get exactly what you want. You want an Adams with a black parachute wing to fish in the late afternoon for better visibility you can tie one. You need your nymphs with a hint more lead or a slightly more brushed out body, the solution is at your fingertips. That is the real advantage, the shear control you have over what you choose to tie and what you choose to fish.

Almost every fly in my boxes has been tied with a specific circumstance and often location in mind, sure they work in other places too but the originals are all manufactured with a purpose. To imitate the early season black micro caddis on the local streams, to drum up some action in high water when a bigger fly is usually better or to make it easier for my clients to pick up the size twenty that they are forced to fish in low summer flows.  To me that is the essence of tying your own flies, you have control and with control comes confidence and with confidence comes fish.

If you have never tied a fly before in your life don’t be put off, it is fly tying not rocket science and even the most ham fisted can manufacture at least the odd passable nymph that will catch fish. My father always told me that “if you are going to do something do it well”, I think that is disingenuous advice to be frank and far prefer the alternative version “ if you want to do something it’s Ok to do it badly, at least for a while”.  Adults tend to shy away from doing things badly, somewhere; deep seated in our subconscious is the idea that the days of doing things badly are past us. Rubbish, if you want to learn to do anything you have to do it badly for a while and with fly tying it doesn’t matter. You can always take a sharp blade and destroy the evidence if you turn out a real clunker.

I am not only tying flies to occupy myself this winter, I am working on a book on basic fly tying techniques, particularly with the idea of helping people get the basics right and get past that “doing it badly” phase as quickly as possible.

I don’t really think that you will ever reach your potential as a fly angler until you tie at least some of your own flies, but it isn’t so much that which drives me to encourage people, it is the fact that I know your enjoyment is likely to take a leap at the same time as your effectiveness.