Category Archives: fly tying

2016 Fly Swap – jrs’s Pink Squirrel Variant

PinkSquirrelVariant-jrs

submitted by message board member jrs – here are the details:

Pink Squirrel Variant — John Stoeckel (jrs)

Except for the tail, all of the components of this fly have been changed from the original Bethke Pink Squirrel. But it still looks like a Pink Squirrel and it certainly evolved from the Pink Squirrel. The main changes have been inspired by the European / competitive nymphing community with an emphasis on making it a hard bodied, fast sinking “anchor” fly.

Hook: European / competition style jig hook #12
Thread: standard thread in black and orange
Weight: Gold brass or tungsten bead, 1/8”
Tail: 2 strands pearl Krystal Flash, split
Body: Black Ultra Wire, size BR
Collar: UV Pink Ice Dub

1) Slide the bead on the hook.
2) Wrap the black thread back to above the barb (if there was a barb)
3) Tie in a piece of Krystal Flash at an angle to the shank. Then fold back the long end and wrap it down at an angle on the opposite side to form a “V”. Trim to length.
4) Wind the thread back to the collar area and tie in the wire. Snip the black thread. Put a layer of cement on the hook shank. Wind the wire rearward in tight, touching wraps to the base of the tail (this is easiest with a rotary vise), then wrap the wire forward in an open spiral back to the collar area.
5) Tie on the orange thread. Secure and trim the wire.
6) Dub a short, tight noodle of UV Pink Ice Dub on the thread and wrap the collar.
7) Tie a whip finish and apply a drop of cement.

Comments:
1) The competition style jig hooks are available from a number of brands – Allen J100BL, Umpqua C400BL. They are a slightly longer than a TMC 3769 hook of the same size with a 60 degree bend at the eye and a wider hook gap. They are also barbless, so if you use a trailer fly, you probably want to tie it to the eye of the jig (rather than the bend) so that it doesn’t slip off.
2) As with the Copper John, you can vary the color of the wire as you like. I’ve used black, gold, and red wire. I’ve also used two colors of wire – eg, black and gold – wrapped together to get a striped effect.

2016 Fly Swap – Troutchaser’s Tequeely Streamer

TequeelyStreamer-Troutchaser

Submitted by message board member, Troutchaser – who is the author of a new book, Fly-Fishing for Trout in Southeast Minnesota which can be found at www.troutchasers.net

Tequeelly Streamer . . . for big trout (or smallmouth)

Hook: 3XL streamer, sizes 2 down to 8

Bead: Copper or Gold Cone or Bead
(or you can use dumbbell eyes to ride hook-point up)

Thread: 6/0 black, tan or orange

Tail: Yellow Marabou and Black Marabou

Body: Copper Crystal Chenille or Root Beer Cactus Chenille

Legs: Medium round yellow rubber

1: Tying is pretty straight-forward. De-barb hook and slide on a cone or bead.

2: Wrap a thread base from the cone to the bend and back and then return to the
bend to tie in a clump of yellow marabou. Bind down marabou stem and fluff to the
back of the cone. Tail should be shank-length.

3: Repeat with a black clump of marabou, and then on top of the black, add a clump
of yellow marabou. Binding down along the shank gives the body some bulk.

4: Tie in the Crystal Chenille behind the cone and bind it down to the bend on top of
the hook. Take the thread back to a 1/3rd point (above the hook point).

5: Wrap the Crystal Chenille to this 1/3rd point and clip a heavy hackle pliers to it so
it stays put.

6: Take two 2” lengths of rubber, bend around thread, and tie on together loosely,
slide one to the rear side, and tighten down with two tight wraps. Advance thread
to the 2/3rd point, and then wrap the Crystal Chenille to this point, passing it
between the “X” of the rubber legs as you do so.

7: Repeat the process for a second set of legs, move the thread to just behind the
cone, and repeat the process for a third set of legs. Whip-finish twice and clip the
thread. Tweak the legs so they are horizontal and shorten the leg length if necessary.
8: Run this fly through deep holes, especially rip-rapped banks near roads, downed
trees, and other big-trout hide-outs. Dusk and dawn are always good.

Notes for tying: Tequila was involved in the creation of this streamer.
If you are using a cone, tuck a few wraps of lead inside the cone to stabilize it.
Chartreuse marabou is a good option to the yellow marabou
Reminder: Trout turn piscivorous once they are 5” long.

2016 Fly Swap – TFO5wt’s Foam Hopper

FoamHopperTFO5wt

Submitted by message board member TFO5wt. Here are his notes:

Foam Hopper

Hook: TMC 2312 size 6
Thread: Olive Uni 8/0 (smaller thread creates better abdomen segments and it’s all superglued in the end)
Body: 2 mm thin foam (green in this case) and 2 mm thin foam (yellow) for indicator. Cut two green strips approximately width of hook gap and 1 1/4 the length of hook for under and over body. Cut a chunk of yellow the same width and 1/2 the hook length.
Legs: Back are small green foam strips (slivers really) and front are barred olive rubber legs
Wing: yellow Puglisi EP fibers (craft fur, Antron, poly, etc)

Pictures of materials, various steps, and finished views: http://imgur.com/a/Qhrg3

1. Wrap thread to bend of hook
2. Cut the last 1/4 of green foam strips in a triangle for tail. Tie both on hook bend just after end of triangle.
3. Lift up strips and wrap thread 3-4 wraps forward, then wrap secure underbody foam strip, repeat twice to form segmented abdomen with three sections. Stop just a bit forward of the half way point on hook.
4. Tie in each foam leg slivers on top of tied down underbody abdomen foam strip for back legs(these will be sandwiched between two body segments)
5. Tie in second foam strip (overbody) over foam legs
6.Tie in wing material on top of underbody/leg/overbody sandwich
7. Tie in yellow foam piece for indicator on top of wing/leg/body sandwich
8. Lift foam and wrap forward to create thorax section (roughly 2/3 the size of abdomen)
9. Tie down underbdy foam strip
10. Tie in rubber legs
11. Tie down overbody and indicator foam strips to create another foam sandwich
12. Lift remaining unsecured foam (head), wrap to the hook eye, and whip finish
13. Use a dab of superglue gel to stick three foam strips in head together. Cut to foam strips to make even head.
14. Use another dab of superglue to stick tail sections together.
15. Use a small bead of superglue on the underside to secure thread to hook.

Some notes on the bug: Overall body size can be changed (longer, fatter, slimmer, etc) without changing hook size. I also tie this in two-tone yellow underbody and green overbody, and tan. All work. Back legs create a great profile and stability. It always lands and rides correctly. When tying don’t worry about top of bug not staying completely centered on hook, just make sure underbody is not twisting and staying centered. Fish see the bottom not the top. It floats like a cork, just grease the wing from time to time. Hang on cause it gets hammered.

2016 Fly Swap – brntrout’s KP Slammer

KPSlammer-brntrout

The “KP Slammer”. This recipe was submitted by message board member, brntrout. Here is his recipe and comments:

“The KP SLAMMER pattern is one i have been tying for over 15 years.The fly is similar to the Lightning Bug but its slightly different and i was tying this pattern before the Lightning Bug pattern came out. I call the pattern the KP SLAMMER because it uses pearl Krystal Flash and Peacock herl as its main materials which IMO, have super fish attraction qualities. A lot of the time trout really Slam this fly so that is how this pattern got it’s name.

For me it works best when tied in sizes 14 to 18 and fished when SE MN hatches are at their best. I mostly fish this pattern deep which requires weight on your tippet. It really works super well using the Leisering Lift when different mayfly species are emerging heavily.

Hook: TMC 3769 sizes 14 to 18
Thread: Black 8/0 or 6/0
Tails: 3 or 4 strands pearl Krystal Flash
Abdomen: 3 or 4 strands pearl Krystal Flash
Wingcase: A dozen or so strands pearl Krystal Flash
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Legs: 2 turns of brown hen hackle.

Tying instructions:

1.Place hook in vise.
2.Wrap black thread to bend of hook.
3. Tie in 3 or 4 strands of pearl Krystal Flash for the tails. The tail length is about 60% of hook shank length. then wrap thread about two thirds the way up the hook shank, tie off.
4. Use the same 3 or 4 strands of pearl Krystal Flash to form the abdomen area. The abdomen area should be approx.two thirds of the hook shank length. Once you wrap the pearl Krystal Flash two thirds up the hook shank tie off.
5.Tie in and secure about a dozen or so pearl Krystal Flash strands to be used as the wing case and tie off.
6.Tie in one brown hen hackle to be used for legs. The hackle should be approx.1 to 2 hook gaps in length.
7.Tie in a couple peacock herl strands and wrap forward to form the thorax area and tie off. Make sure you leave room for the thread head.
8.Wrap the brown hen hackle forward 2 turns over the thorax area and tie off.
9.Pull the pearl Krystal Flash strands used for the wingcase over the thorax area and tie off.
10 Then finish off the head area and your done.

Note: I’m sure this pattern could be tied in many different colors by simply changing the Krystal Flash color and possibility the thread and hackle colors. I’ve noticed trout at times are all over this pattern when nothing else works and at other times not quite as much. It can be a worthwhile fly to have in your arsenal.

So, tie up a few and try them out, you got nothing to lose except catching more trout when used at the right time.”

Fly: Pink Squirrel

This basic, easy to tie pattern has become a staple for a lot of driftless area trout anglers. The fly was created by John Bethke from southwest Wisconsin. It’s a good winter season fly and can be tied in many variations.

The version I tied here is a little different, using a pink brass Bug Collar instead of pink dubbing.

pink squirrel

In case you’re unfamiliar with this pattern, here’s the recipe:

Hook: Size 14 Scud
Head: Brass Bead 1/8″, pink brass bug collar 1/8″ in this case, otherwise pink dubbing is usually tied in behind the bead head
Thread: pink or tan. I used tan since I wasn’t tying off at the pink dubbing but at the end of the squirrel hair dubbing
Tail: pearlescent krystal flash
Ribbing: Hot Orange, size: BR
Body: squirrel hair dubbing

IFFF Fly Fishing School – July 24-26

In case you know someone looking to get into or advance in the sport of fly fishing…

When: July 24-26, 2015
Where: Rochester, MN – RCTC

All the details you’d ever want to know and more here http://www.fedflyfishers.org/Councils/UpperMidwest/Events

…and here: Fly Fishing School Poster 2015

Do You Suffer From F.S.S.?

If you’re not catching fish with a Pink Squirrel, check your drift & depth before changing flies. It’s a rare day that the Pink Squirrel won’t catch some trout!

F.S.S., otherwise known as Fly Switching Syndrome.  We all suffer from it at some point.  Sometimes it hits you during a heavy hatch of bugs, or while casting over a pod of trout that you can clearly see huddled near the bottom of a pool. No matter what the fishing scenario, a sure sign of Fly Switching Syndrome is a fly patch that has more flies stuck on it than what’s left in your fly boxes!  So, is there a cure for F.S.S.?  Yes! Well…sometimes…At the very least we can learn to minimize the traumatizing effects of F.S.S.

So, what are the cures for Fly Switching Syndrome?  In no particular order, they are: Confidence; Patience; Observation; Experience.  Experience could also be expressed as the combination of knowledge and skill.  Let’s take a look at how these 3 ideas combine to minimize F.S.S. and help you catch more fish while using fewer flies.

Insect hatches can be magical fishing experiences,  or lessons in frustration.   Often times we focus on what fly to use, when we should be focusing on how we are presenting the fly.  This can lead to major bouts of Fly Switching Syndrome.  Patience and observation are very important when fishing a hatch.  Through those, we can gain experience & knowledge.  Before you even move into casting position, take the time to find out what is hatching.  Once that is determined, watch the fish to see what kind of rise form it is making.  This will be how you choose your fly.  Observe your surroundings to determine what is your best casting position.  NOW you can start to fish.  During a hatch, timing can be critical.  You may have to make several casts to any one fish before you get it timed to the fish’s rise.  Don’t automatically think you have the wrong fly just because a trout isn’t taking it on the first or second drift.  Analyze your timing & the “quality” of your drift before you decide to change flies.  Be patient; observe; have confidence in your fly pattern; catch fish.

If you don’t have years of experience, how do you choose a fly that you can have confidence in?  This is where you can lean on other’s expertise to help you choose.  Look to local knowledge for the best advice.  The message board here at MN Trout Forums is a great place to find solid, up to date information on what flies are working throughout the season.  I can also say, with confidence, that all the fly patterns available through Bluff Country Flies have been thoroughly tested throughout the Driftless Region over the past 10 to 20 years.  I developed many of the flies while overcoming bouts of F.S.S., and now rely on these relatively few patterns for the majority of my fishing.  They are my confidence flies, and can be yours, too.

An angler may never totally overcome Fly Switching Syndrome, but through patience, observation, confidence & experience, we can minimize it’s effect and better enjoy our time on the water.

Try a Bigger Fly!

I think I should admit, right here at the start, that I have an aversion to fishing small flies.  Oh, I’ll fish with them if I have to, like during hatches of BWOs, midges, or other tiny bugs.  If that’s what it takes, I’ll do it, but during an average trout fishing outing in the Driftless, I rarely tie on anything smaller than a size 12.  My experiences have taught me that not only do larger flies do just as well as smaller flies when “prospecting” for trout, they also have added benefits that smaller flies do not.

Larger flies…let’s def016ine that as size 12 & up…are often more “attractive” than smaller flies, leading trout to move quite a distance to take the fly.  I’ve seen this numerous times with both dry flies & nymphs.  My favorite dry fly, the Slurpster, is a monstrous size 8.  I’ve watched fish move several feet & even halfway across a decent sized stream to take this fly (<–see pic!).  I’ve not had the same reaction with smaller, more standard dry fly patterns.

It can be the same with larger nymphs as well.  I remember one occasion filming an episode of “Northland Adventures” with Dave Carlson.  I had advised Dave to put on one of my larger nymph patterns for this particular stream.  He insisted on using a size 14 Pink Squirrel, which is a great fly, no doubt.  Well, after several drifts through a nice run with zero takes, Dave was ready to call it a day.  I asked if I could have a shot at the run before we wrapped it up & he said sure.  I had on a large, size 6 or 8 rubber legged nymph & on the second or third drift hooked & landed a beautiful 19 inch brown, which was captured on film.  After releasing the fish, I made another series of casts higher up near the head of the run & hooked another large brown that got off.  My guess is that the smaller pink squirrel just wasn’t worth the big trout’s effort to swim up & grab.  Either that, or it went unnoticed in the swift current.  The big fly, though, did the job well.

I believe that larger flies also attract the larger fish within a school or pod of fish, leading you to catch fewer really small fish.  I’ve noticed this with nymphs in particular.  A size 12 scud is very effective at catching average & above average sized trout, but I catch very few of those little 4 to 6 inch trout that can be common (and annoying) when fishing smaller nymphs.

Lastly, I’ve also found that larger hooks sizes do a better job of physically hooking the fish and keeping it on the line.  I guess that is pretty self explanatory!  Even switching from a size 14 to a size 12 has increased hook-ups for me, both with dry flies & nymphs.  My favorite streamer pattern, the Bent-Head, is not a giant fly by any means, but it is larger than many trout streamers, and has a large hook gape for its body size…it practically hooks the fish all on its own.

You may think that larger hook sizes might lead to a chance for greater harm coming to the fish.  This has not been my experience.   With the larger streamer hook, it seems that the trout are less likely to take it deeply, as most of the fish I catch are hooked in the jaw, rather than the throat.  With the larger dries and nymphs, when a fish is hooked a little deeper, there is more hook to grab onto with a hemostats & so in that regard are actually easier to remove than a smaller, more obscured hook.

So, this season don’t be afraid to try a larger than average sized fly.  You might catch fewer small fish, but your catch rate for average or large fish might increase.  And, for me at least, nothing beats watching a nice trout inhale a big ‘ol dry fly that you don’t have to squint to see!

-by Brian Stewart, bluffcountryflies.com

Today’s Tie: Zoo Cougar

This is my crappy version of a popular streamer from the mind of Kelly Galloup. I watched this video to get a little refresher…it’s been a couple years since I’ve tied one up.

Ingredients:
Hook: Size 4
Thread: I just used the thickest thread I could find…happened to be tan
Tail: Yellow Marabou
Body: Gudebrod Flash Braid
Underwing: Calf tail is called for, but I had a similar, artificial white hair
Wing (not really a wing, but it’s behind the head and extends to the tip of the tail): Mallard Flank Feathers
Collar and Head: Yellow Deer Hair

Not as much mess as usual…I could do better.
Messy Tying Desk

I did alright with the collar
ZooCougarHalf

…and really not too bad with spinning the head…
Spinning Deer Hair

but I struggle a bit with shaping the head well without chopping off too much of the spun hair.
Zoo Cougar

Still…they’ll fish. T-minus 6 days to trout camp.