When I started fly fishing  40 some years ago, I soon realized that being able to tie your own flies was a necessary aspect of the pursuit…first of all, it saved me some money…secondly, and actually more important it allowed me to be more a part of the the whole process.  It has always been important to me to make as much , if not all my own gear.  Incorporating parts of my harvests into the hunting and fishing equipment I made myself, was something that came naturally to me.  It was even more  after more study and personal experiences with Native American Culture, several Native friends showed me a lot of their view on what hunting and fishing was to them. It only made sense to utilize materials that came from hunting etc…and the pleasure of knowing I was catching fish that came from another area of my life in the outdoors was very fulfilling.   

 

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…The Termite…tied on a No.1 salmon hook w/ and upturned eye…

               Since Steelhead and Salmon fishing is the focus now with many of us this time of year, I have been working on some new patterns this winter…not only here in North America, but it is also the season for the spring Atlantic Salmon runs in Ireland and Scotland too…

 

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…an “organic” version of an Adult Salmon/Stone Fly…a big meal for a hungry steelhead or salmon… 

…I like to call this the “big fly dry”…or “BFD” for short…

 

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  …the “cock bird”…totally tied with feathers from a ring neck pheasant…

       Here are some of my “Home Grown” patterns I have worked up for them… all made from some “homegrown” stuff!

 

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         “The Split Tail”…some wood duck for the wings,Canadian goose wing for the tail, and some Buffalo “mop” for dubbing…thats the scraggly, curly dark brown black fur on their forehead…this is another “three feather” pattern. Its a basic complilation of several standard patterns for Pacific Steelhead I have seen…but using some “organic” materials to tie.

          This fly is one I “tied in hand” something not mastered by myself at all, I piut it in a vise for the pic…it is an attempt at what was done streamside many years ago by the anglers of an era gone by…it is pretty awesome to thing of just having some hooks, thread and feathers in your pocket, and tying up a few as you fished…Its fun to try and keep that tradition alive!

 

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  …some more “tied in hand” bugs…

        All these materials have a story that come’s with them for me…the wood ducks were harvested in flooded timber near where I grew up, the Canadian Geese from hunts over decoys in corn fields with my Son and our old Chocolate Lab “Smokie”…the Herd Buffalo that fell through the ice a few years ago…he was mising for a day before we found him… real tragedy, that he died, but now he is fishing in streams and rivers still…

          So you see there is a lot more to using these materials than just  some feathers and fur I found… this approach adds a special dimension to my fly fishing… a journal in many ways…

 

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        “The Termite”, a favorite “three feather” pattern…using (2)mallard and (1)guinea hen feather…this one is tied on an AO Feathers home  brand No.4 double in bronze…same exact materials as the single hook version at the top of the page,  but totally different looking pattern here…the wider double hook really opens up the fly…there are more pics of this in the ” pattern archives” page…

 

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              A salmon pattern…the “hocus pocus”…a bit of yard bird, (guinea hen) and some dyed mallard, and some canadian goose biots for the tail…a lot of throat here to mimick the legs of a big shrimp. The guinea hen is a natural way to get some attention…pretty irresistable swimming by in the current at a few miles an hour!

 

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        This is a “three feather ” approach to a fly patterned after a Classic Irish pattern…”the carron”, and imitation of a small aquatic shrimp…a favored food of trout,salmon and steelheads…its tied from Gadwall feathers,turkey feather and some buffalo wool for dubbing…all materials from harvests during previous hunting seasons…the turkey feather is a leftover fletching from making arrows for my recurve bow…

 

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           This the bigger version of  “the Termite”…a mallard and guinea hen combo…but this one is a bit big for that moniker…maybe more on the lines of “La Cuckarocha” is a bit more fitting…a texas style cockroach! for swinging in the way of a nice steelhead or salmon…

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   A ”homegrown ” tie of a “carron” style , done in my three feather version, this pic reminds me of a bird of prey with his wings in a downstroke…hopefully a good harbinger for next season!… 

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…here is another approach…a dyed mallard flank on a  No.1 salmon hook …

            One thing I learned being a fly fishing guide over the years, is that diversity and different looks in “bugs” can often spell the difference between catching fish, or just spending the day “slapping the water”. Plus there is no comparing the excitement I get when I catch a nice fish with one of my patterns on a rod I made myself…its a state of consciousness that is hard to describe.

 

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   …a yellow tailed version…wood duck, goose and buffalo dubbing…

 

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     The “three feather” concept was something that came from a desire to make a beautiful fly but with only a few materials…and one that a novice or intermediate tyer could handle with ease…this shrimp pattern is a good base for many combinations…with a few minor changes you can have a multitude of different flys…

 

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 …The “Pope & Young”…gadwall, elk and buffalo dubbing…

      Above is one of my “homegrown” patterns that is very easy to tie, and also very effective pattern for large trout , steelhead & salmon. Its entirely with materials from harvested animals…only the hook and thread were purchased…you can tell from the more demure colors that is slightly different than most patterns you see used nowadays, very organic …I went through a period a while back where everything I fished was flash or bright colors…now the pendulum seems to have swung to the more modest…with pretty equal, if not better results…

          “Pope & Young” is a quality or record book caliber of mature animal harvested with archery gear…my oldest son was with me when I harvested my first P&Y white tailed deer several years back…on the way to our stands that morning we jumped a flock of gadwalls in a stream we had to cross…in that  same stream my son and I later found the deer afer I shot him with my bow …the deer had fallen into the river nearby trying to cross…then expired…within yards of where we had crossed earlier, we almost didn’t find him…except his antlers were sticking out of the water  through the roots of a big sycamore tree he had washed into…a close call…hence the inspiration for this pattern…

         The original tie of this I did was for trout…a bit smaller, its shown below… I used some gadwall and fur from that buck… I made this up to remember that hunt…it has been a really successful pattern for me…even though it is so simple…the wing is what I call a “cheater” style…simple to make…it allows the drops and the main wing to be tied from the same duck feather…which i do on the bigger ties, not he trout size.

         The tail is tied from Elk mane, but could be easily substituted with another longer strand. The body on this is done with buffalo wool from one of the herd I manged…but again, could be changed to any dubbing or chenile, especially in darker or lighter colors. The wing body and drops are made from gadwall feathers, mallard or teal would also be fine. I tie the drops sometimes with turkey fan feathers too. The different materials can make for a very different looking finished product, tinsel spiral on the dubbing, some flash if you like . A longer hook,  or even articulating work well. The basic fly make’s  this a pretty good base  for a new tyer to get into making their own flies for fishing…

              ”Pope & Young” spey style……it is intended to be used with larger spey or switch rods…and is light enough to do good w/ scandi style rigs…but also well w/ heavier skagits as well…in smaller versions this is also a great trout fly, and fishes well with a standard 6 weight rod. I  have use that version with lots of success with it being the top fly in a dropper rig… I personally fish this on my 11ft 7wt bamboo switch rod…if I were going after larger salmon I would probably tie it with a larger double hook and swing it on a 12 ft+ 8-10 weight…I love the whistle this bug makes when it flies by swinging it from a big rod!

click here for a link  to an SBS I made up of this fly…

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…”the blue moon”…three feather…

                 This fly is called what it is because its been a good  while since I tied something with a colored feather, in a “Blue Moon”…the blue hackle is a  white rooster feather I dyed with alcohol stain …the balance are all homegrown’s…well the rooster was too, just not a wild one, another “Yard Bird” who ended up being Sunday supper…and some nice tying materials…LOL…

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…”The Shaman” …three feather…”tied in hand”…

              This pattern is a “tied in hand”,  ”march brown” style pattern. The idea of “tied in hand” is a throw back to an older time, maybe 200 years ago & longer,  when anglers tied their lures on the streamdside without the use of a vise or bobbin. With a few materials  in their pocket,  they would fashion a fly to catch that evenings supper… things are different now, but out  of a desire to experience those times I tried to make one myself in that fashion…on several different occasions, I endeavored, but always ending up in just giving up…

          After seeing some “in hand” work by other folks…I told myself I had to try it again…After making about ten of them I had one I thought would be OK for a pic…close ups from a digital camera are very revealing indeed. I found one I thought would be OK…except when I viewed the pic on my computer I saw some things I just couldn’t live with…there is a certain amount of “vanity” I guess that goes along with tying flys etc…I put the one that came out best back on the vise to fix the head and spiral wrap…so its not really a  100% “tied in hand”…but its pretty darn close…plus it didnt really need the “fix” for anything but my own vanity and the picture, a fish would never known the difference…

         The Name given here has some signifacance…a few years ago, the ranch I worked on,(I mamaged a small Buffal herd)…one of the cows in the herd had a white calf…and extremely rare and special event…the local TV station down in Denver sent out a camea crew…but more special, the local Native American Tribe made an appearance too…The Shaman from a local tribe came with others to perform a special ceremenoy to celebrate the event…in full regalia…something to remember!

       That male calf a year and a half  later was a very special animal…beautiful and demanded special attention. Unfortunately he mad a move on the a few of the cows in the herd…and the herd bull, all 1800 pounds of him didnt take to that too well…what ensued was a pretty one sided fight…the white male only weighed about 900 lbs…half that the master…he ended up with a severely wounded leg, an injury that would not allow him to keep up with the herd…and Buffalo are not adept at much compassion by nature in things like this, he was run off by them, because their instict was to shun an animal that was hurt and that might transmit problems or illness to herd in general. He was in distress, and hiding as best he could fromthe herd.Whenever he tried to reunite with them , they would be brural and shove him away again…Sadly, I had to  put him down…his meat was used entirely by myself and friends, and I saved as much wool from his hide as I could. The Ranch owner had me skin and cape the buffalo for his robe and a head mount…so I only got to keep a little wool…which is what I used in dubbing this fly…hence…”The Shaman”…

    Its meant for fishing on my spey rod  for steelheads…but could also work well for big trout too…

 

 here are some suppliers I use for my hooks and  other tying ingredients…also a few great resources for  materials…fur and feathers…

AO Feathers a place that has quality materials, and some hard to find items like double hooks and items used by those devoted to classic patterns…a small family business. Aaron has become a friend, and shares the same faith as I do…

Fly Fishing The Sierra a great site for not only purchasing quality materials for tying flies…but also a great library of patterns with a list of mterials needed…something Steve sells too…this is probably one of if not the most complete fly angling sites out there. Everything from detailed fliy patterns(and materials available) but also tactics, basic angling knowledge and even a campsite directory…great job Steve!

   here are some links to sites that offer excellent SBS’s or youtubes…  a few folks  whom I consider master tyers ,and some step by steps to tie flies…or  with you tube videos…also just some good resources worth looking at… 

Charlies Fly Box ,  Charlie Cravens siteArvada, Colorado…I sold a lot of his patterns in a shop I worked at in Colorado…he is not only creative, but also a super tyer, and a great guy…the original, Mr SBS himself…

Hans Stephenson from Dakota AnglerRapid City , South Dakota…Hans is a great tyer and has the youtube thing down very well…many new styles and materials…

Davie McPhail….an oustanding tyer from Scotland…all manner of trout and salmon flies…he has many youtubes done on all sorts of patterns…a real magician… 

Fly Anglers Online is a great resorce for tying tutorial’s for all manner of flies…trout to salmon…here is a very good link for tying Dee Style flies…browse their pages for a lot more…

Salmon Fly.Net… this is an all around great resource for fly tying and fishing in general for Salmon and Steelhead…I get a lot of ideas from studying these pages…

                      

 

 
 
 

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