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 ~a “tied in hand” wet fly~

            In times past …I mean long ago times past…an angler on his way down to the stream or river would make sure he had a few hooks and some feathers in his pocket to tie up a few “flees” to try and catch some supper…in trying to regain that history I have tried a bit to do the same…they don’t come out as good as in my vise..but they will catch a fish..

           To be sure…I have a supply of red copper johns , baetis & parachute Adams in my box…but I try to make an attempt to try “old ways” every once in a while…and catching a fish with one of these only adds to the charm of angling…

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         ~buffalo wool,wild trkey fan, wild goose biots and mallard flanks all harvested either hunting or on the ranch provided all the necessary natural materials to tie up this realistic golden stone imitation~

  When I started “officially” fly fishing  45  years ago, I soon realized that being able to tie my 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. I think its just part of being an angler…

           The fly above is a favorite pattern I like with a”two hander”… first a bunch of elk fur I wax, and leave a “sprig” sticking to the rear… then tie on some thread…then I suspend the bobbin below and rotate the bunch in my hand to get the spiraling effect(same to the hook body)…then a method I use a lot is to “tent” two flanks and then pull down a few barbs to imitate legs…who says you need a vise??

~if I can do it with XXXL hands anyone can!~

~check out “spey pages” to see more of this by real experts~

~click here for my collection page of classic salmon flies~

          Here is a version I like to tie of the May Fly…similar to the fly above, except its wings are flattened out more… this is a “spent spinner”, a mature adult that has come to the end of its cycle, laid its eggs and expired…at this point they are usually on their side offering a profile rather than being upright as the other pattern…the bronze mallard flanks in this case are tented, but not spread apart, so the fly lays on its side. I also “pull down” a few of the flank barbs to imitate legs before I wax up the tie . This helps to offer a large visual target for trout to see with several contact points as well as a great shadow cast on super sunny days. This is a fly that can be sometimes “sipped” in by trout since its such an easy target…but a powerful grab has happened plenty of time too,which always exciting! it does not take many of those occurrences to get you really hooked on fishing  dry’s like this…

 

 

“art imitates life”…this can be pretty confusing at times…where do “life and art” actually meet or separate? this man made imitation of a May Fly “Dun”, has many roots that are directly from nature…

There are a lot of things  happening here…the Drake Mallard that gave up a few feathers,  flew thousands  of miles on his migratory journey’s…the Bull Elk that traveled up and down lots of rugged mountains for about 7 or 8 years and probably even walked through & crossed the mountain streams that the trout I pursue inhabit …the Buffalo that roamed my Colorado ranch for a decade…what majestic beasts!…even the “bees wax” that I used to blend in the fur and feathers that came from an old bee hive from 30+ years ago …the connections and the reality that it all just keeps going “on & on” seems pretty appropriate to mention here…the “circle of life” does not really ever stop or start…we just get the opportunity to take part occasionally…the more often the better as far as I’m concerned!

The pattern above is imitating a newly hatched May Fly (dun) or even a mature adult laying its eggs(spinner)…the tented wings are spread apart pretty wide so the fly lands upright most of the time…it does land on its side some…but getting the hook set a bit low and the wings wide it usually lands properly. I usually soak these in “gink’s” well to make them last a while…but I’m lucky to catch three fish on one before it starts to come apart…so I like to tie up a dozen for an outing.

 

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~here is a simple to tie salmon or trout pattern”golden woodie”…I love the colors of the natural materials…two mallard flanks I dyed are “tented ” for the sides or wings, then I pull down a few barbs to imitate legs…the body has hare w/ some .015 wire spiraled~

 

…my favorite”Hopper/Dropper” top fly…w/ foam insert…

             Fly tying is as much a part of my angling as being on a stream trying to copy an ongoing hatch and trick a nice trout into “the take”. There are few things in life that rival the experience of being in the midst of a clear and flowing stream, and luring in a trout with a fly I tied and a rod I made…and using “recycled” elements of the very nature I am experiencing. The “circle of life” is not just a concept or theory…but a way of life

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~the barbless hook here on this golden stone imitation makes for an easy and harmless removal~

  a few of my favorite angling and tying videos  

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                  The shadow cast from this “one feather” dry says it all(that’s what a fish sees on a sunny day!)…this pic showed me something I was totally unaware of until I uploaded my camera onto my computer… this pic shows a detail of the contact points (which is what a trout sees on a sunny day) in such a way I was shocked…it gave me a new level of confidence about my fly tying and how my efforts on the vice really looked…

                This is one of, if not my favorite pic I ever took…not because of any special ability’s I have  or intrinsic qualities of the photograph…but more of a tiny peek into a world that’s small, and also the focus on my favorite pursuit and passion…the shadow is so detailed…nothing a man made…but the effect of water, sunlight and location of a simple hackle feather wrapped around a hook I managed to tie up on my vise…an accident if you were…

…I tied this one up after getting some inspiration watching the “Meet the Hendricksons” video…

                 This pattern can be easily modified to appear as a “Spinner” or Adult May Fly by just swithching to some natural  colored mallard flanks for the partially tented wings…to imitate the “clear” looking wings they have…this “Dun” was actually a part of the nymph,emerger & adult  “Trilogy” pattern…but then got some modifications when I tried out some bronze mallard for wings…

…the video is in one of the links above…

                   I use this dyed mallard & elk fur “caddis” looking bug for my top fly/indicator in my summertime hopper / dropper rigs…I like to trail about 20-24inches behind a small gnat or mosquito……the fly’s side view as it lays on the water…this is the tie I use on really slow moving water. The extra contact points keep this fly way up out of the water…casting a great shadow the rout see.

                Here is a view showing the foam insert…making this fly float excellent…works as an indicator…or the “take”…its a cut piece from one of those gray mats you get at the lumber yard…works super!

… It makes this fly work great as an indicator…or the “take”…

                   Here is the same pattern with foam, but less elk fur…for faster water…I wax & ” ginks” this one good so it lasts at least 20-25 casts before it needs to  get dried out… a few false casts can give it some extra life…

                   Here is a nice combination for summertime when I fish double dries or hopper/dropper rigs…here is the monster caddis with a piece of foam inserted and a small mosquito, sometimes the larger fly is the take…and sometimes it just gets the fishes attention and the trailer gets grabbed…

 here is a favorite steelhead pattern…”the termite”…on a #2 hook…

…some dyed mallard , guinea under wing, & a little light color dubbing w/ wire…

…my simple “One Feather” size 20 for a snowy day hatch…

…click here to view wandering monk’s pattern archive…

                  “Buffalo Bill” your basic old fashioned wet fly…copied after patterns from 100 years ago +…this fly uses buffalo wool for the dubbing and a rooster hackle…this fly has a neutral buoyancy, meaning it neither sinks or floats completely…making it perfect for those situations in tailwaters where the weed beds are thick in summertime & early september…when nymphing is basically impossible…where running through the water column beneath the surface and above the weeds is the ticket.
              Fishing wet fly’s used to be the “norm” of fly fishing for centuries…now nymphing and dry’s has taken that place pretty much…I still enjoy “stack mending” a wet fly, the art of the “proper mend” and many of the other nuances associated with properly fishing the wet fly. No split shot,no strike indicator, reading the water and its current… just your skill mending the line on the drift and letting the trout have “a go at it”  letting the trout take off with it…
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        The Pattern above is based on probably one of the oldest and basic of flies used by generations of anglers…your ultra basic wet fly…I call this one “Buffalo Bill”, in honor of the critter that made the perfect dubbing material…buffalo wool is something I was able to get large quantities of running a Buffalo ranch…I have other friends though that use the same material , and they find theirs on rubbed areas and fences where Buff roam…the hackle is from leftovers from a Sunday dinner…cocka-doodle-doo…

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                  …you don’t have to be limited to the “little baggie$” from the shop to come up with some very cool and effective ties…

          I love this pattern while using a “stack mend”, or a downstream drift…you can weight it down with lead wire under the dubbing(avoiding split shot that can get caught up especially with this style drift), or just fish it as tied a foot or so under the waters surface.  It can be very effective in areas that are hard to fish anywhere other than upstream…a rod with a little backbone is a good choice, allowing for drifts up to twenty yards away…and never kicking any fish out of a hole…

         This fly will catch fish just about anywhere from Oregon to Virginia…and Ireland as well…some things are just good!

       …whenever I find those little black “shucked” hulls along the bank in the winter, its time to bring out the “Snow Fly”……basically a“Buffalo Bill” with a tux on…

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  …an “organic” adult caddis pattern…the “Amber Caddis”…

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…the “Clear Creek Slayer”…

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…a precise and accurate  presentation, realism in the pattern,  floating well & making good contact with the water…

…the ingredients for success with wary trout that have seen many a dry fly in their time…

…”The Termite”…a favorite fly that can be used for steelhead…or even during the big stonefly hatches…

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… Largest of the Salmon Fly family, Pteronarcys californica ,  one of my imitation’s for the Rocky Mountain spring/summer hatch …

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…another Adult Stone  Fly imitation…I bent the legs around a bit for the picture here to make it look like it was crawling for a laugh…my wife said it was more realistic than some others … recently I played a little joke with her on, laying out a fresh tie on the kitchen counter…lets just say I wont do that again…

 

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I used mallard feathers, Wild Turkey fan and some Buffalo wool for body dubbing & a little swiss straw for the wrapping thread…I have also used some sinew scraps leftover from my rod production…this pattern is meant for a trip to the Gunnison in early June for the monster stonefly hatch that happens there…

                       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 affirmed for me after more study and personal experiences with Native American Culture, several of my friends from that persuasion showed me a lot of their view on what hunting and fishing was to them, and how using “organic” materials were part of the respect involved in the pursuit of anything involving the creation.

           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 is very fulfilling…something for me that really added a whole new dimension in an area of interest I already had a great love for…

…weary trout can be tricked if your patterns go to the next level…

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                       In the case of dry flies some details that really need to be addressed are contact points and shadows projected…especially on bright sunny days…here is a simple and easy tie, a “one feather”, size 18, using only one hackle feather and the left over  tip…w/ a thread body here… “The Kurt Gowdy”…in a March Brown imitation…the bottom of the hackle is trimmed away to help a proper float presentation…this trimming does not always work…but does more than not…

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 …here is a mature May Fly pattern that I have a matching nymph & emerger  for too…

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 …”The Trilogy”…my favorite trio based on the same hook and materials…

…here are some more of my homegrown patterns…

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trout patterns…

 

 

 

 

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salmon & steelhead patterns…

 

 

 

…with a little thought and the right materials, flies can really come close in imitating various aquatic insects…

 all photos and text are property of Wandering Monk Fly Rod Co.tm

and can be only used with permission

 

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…