Fly Fishing for Trout has always been a combination of art and science…presenting imitations of various inescts or bait fish that are naturally a part of the trouts diet, that are made from  precisely tied pieces of fur and feather…a pursuit that has roots going back thousands of years.

              In my own evolution as an angler I have become enamored with using materials from other outdoor pursuits…hunting, and just hiking the hills around where I live. I have been retaining feathers and hides for not only decorative ornaments remembering a hunt or trek, but also providing some special material for me to make up flies to use angling. In recent years I have focused a lot on these types of materials for making up my own patterns…Tying flies and fishing them now has a much greater meaning for me…my Native American friends have reminded me that these practices are very much a part of their culture too…and that using these special materials brings a special luck and blessing to your pursuit… I do  similar things with the other gear I make too…so its just a completion of that bigger “circle of life” that this is really all about.

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               …the basic Elk/Pronghorn caddis imitation…great for the summertime caddis hatches in the Rockies & Eastern streams too…a great” first fly” to tie…varying colors of fur are used to imitate the different color phases … Elk, Pronghorn, Mule Deer and even Caribou…all have perfect colors to match up various hatches of these abundant insects that trout love…Since the fur from “Ungulates”, members of the deer familys have hair that is hollow, it is a natural material that floats excellent…

               Here are some patterns I devised for my own use to utilize materials from my ranch…or other hunting harvests..I call the “homegrown” , sort of an organic approach to fly tying… 

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…”The Amber Caddis”…on this pattern I use a small piece of gray sealed foam for floatation…it is tied on the hook shank in lieu of dubbing…the hackle is wrapped around it…I leave a segment of foam hanging behind the hook curve, hidden by the body featers…I also added two moose mane quills for the antennae for some more realism…this is a pattern I use in very still waters, with very weary trout…short casts and stalking style…turkey fan barbs can also be used for the antennae…a bit more dyrable, however the moose mane has some realism that is worth trying…

 

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     …The “Pocket Water Sedge”…

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         In more modern times tying flies has taken on a “life of its own”, transcending its origins, and becoming an artform pursued by many. The detailed study of entamology, or the study of insects, is at its center…either by design & intention of some, or inadvertently by those just trying to “match a hatch” of aquatic bugs to lure in a nice trout.

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              Here is a Stone Fly Nymph tied to imitate this aquatic insect in its final stage before “emerging” with its airborne wings…the back section is a bit rumpled…the turkey fan feather that is used to stretch over the thorax area was just “picked out” a bit to imitate a stone fly nymph about to “emerge” into its next phase as an adult fly…the next step is even more pulled out, when it is really called an “emerger”…many times patterns at the “in between” state can be real producers…its always a good idea to have all the different phases tied up…something that really is an asset with tying your own flies…shop bought patterns are usually either fixed at certain stages..and not the transitions…

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             The “Elk Creek Special”…a favorite pattern using elk and deer furs …a great fly for imitating the drake hatches of mayflys…various species of furs can make all the different color phases of the drake patterns…above is a basic “gray drake”…using mule deer fur for the body, elk for the ‘chute…a grizzly hackle and a canada goose quill for the tail sprigs…a super great “floater” that lands perfect in an upward fashion almost every time…

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                 one of my favorite spots…Cheesman Canyon on the South Platte…pocket water paradise..good caddis and mayfly hatches…also a great spot for its golden stone and caddis dropper’s in late spring… 

              Here are some patterns I use for Trout that use these types of materials…some are copied after some existing patterns to an extent, and modified a bit to accomadate the things I have to use…most are patterns that I came up by myself just to fill a need or copy something I found seining or pumping a trouts stomach before releasing it…and in some cases the materials themselves create the design for me…Nature provides some incredible patterns and colors that imitate various aquatic bugs and creatures…most times without exception , all the bugs I found were in cream,brown,amber and gray colors…something not fucused on enough in my opinion…Some feather patterns are so intricate, that manmade materials can in no way rival their beauty and incredible details both in intrinsic patters and colors found in them…making them perfect candidates for use in tying flies…

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           The “Pope & Young…a cream colored variant of a patternI use a lot…a super simple pattern to tie using Elk mane, Gadwall for the wing and Buffalo wool for the dubbing…here I used some very rare wool from a white Buffalo we had on our ranch…I tie this with black, dark & light brown  wools too…

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…here is the P&Y in a hackle and mallard wing version…one of my favorite wet patterns…

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                 Elk & Pronghorn Caddis…this caddisfly imitation is tied with Elk & Pronghorn fur and some rooster hackle…and a buffalo wool dubbing for the body…I tie this in sizes 14-18…a perfect pattern for summertime caddis fly hatches. I also have a larger caddis or “sedge” pattern I make with larger wings …

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             Here is a larger “sedge” or caddis …”Pocket Water Sedge”, my version of a bigger caddis adult, that uses Mule Deer,in a darker phase, along with mallard for the body/wing…also a brown guffalo dubbed body with a cinnamon colored rooster hackle…this fly has a real good”on surface” visual…giving the profile of the larger wing, and still having a “three point” presentation…not making total contact with the water, but only a few points, giving a sense of realism..something so important when fishing dry flys.

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            …The “Tailwater Caddis”…in a darker “sedge” version, using Mule Der fur to achieve the gray color…the variating black and white tips add some special realism here…

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         …here is the same basic pattern, but using Elk fur for a lighter color phase of this bug…white Tail or Pronghorn can add even a lighter cream or white…

…the “Pope & Young” trout version… 

             This is a pattern that was one of the first ones I ever tied using materials from harvests…Elk mane for the tail, buffalo wool for the body dubbing. and a gadwall feather for the wing…this pattern can take on many different looks by just switching materials…this one is tied on a cadis hook wih a humped back…it is a favorite of mine for the top fly in droper rig, a stle of nymphing I do a lot in the fall…

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               “Rocky” the flying squirrel…it can be fished wet or dry..dry with a good “ginks” treatment as a caddis…or wet as a small minnow…gray squirrel,grizzly hackle and a little of his friend Bullwinkle too…some moose mane for the tail…and a simple thread body…two turkey fan barbs can be easily added for the antennae…

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…The Elk Creek Special…

                  This is a Mule Deer , Elk & grizzly hackle gray drake imitation…when a mayfly hatch is on this is my “go to”, it is an excellent pattern that imitates a Gray Drake…it can be tied with furs from creamy white to dark gray to match many different hatches…by just adjusting the fur used…Mule Deer for the grays, Elk and White Taail for the browns and dark tans…and pronghorn for the lighter shades of tan and off white…

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               …”Paris Hilton”, my little worm imitation in hot pink…

              Occasionaly I use some materials that arent necessarily from nature too…but utility things,…like yarns or fabrics from everyday life that can also be used effectively…here is a simple aquatic worm imitation that uses some pink yarn…when snow melts and creates some run off conditions…bright colors can be a real charm…

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           Ive tied this up with cut rubber bands before with great success… “The Gumby worm” has a  texture and action from the rubber band material that is really authentic…just as with egg imitations, when I tie these up I use barbless hooks since they can be really taken in as food sometimes…the barbless hooks are a lot easier to remove so the fish can be released unharmed… 

 

…coming later this month some of my scud and stonefy patterns made from “homegrown” materials…

 

 

         

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.

J Stockard a company I have dealt with for a while…nice folks too…a small family business. fly tying and rod building too…I get several components I use in my bamboo rods from them…

   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…