Today’s Tie: Skinny Nelson

We’ve had a discussion re: Simple Baetis Fly patterns and recipes revolving around such. The Skinny Nelson and minor variations of it have been part of the discussion, so I sat down to tie that one in particular. I think I’ll tie enough to fill up a row to keep as a staple fly, and after this round will tie the simple pattern discussed at the top of the thread next.

Here’s my go at it:

First attempt…not bad, it’ll fish, but I don’t like that my tail is too long and the head ended up too block-headed behind the eye making the thorax look a bit too big.
Skinny Nelson - Attempt 1

After a few tries I ended up with something I’m a bit more happy with – better tail dimensions and tapered front. Don’t get me wrong, the other versions will still make my fly box and I’m sure they’ll catch fish, but I’m working on tying better looking flies.
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Here are the details:

Skinny Nelson (bead optional):
Hook: Size 18 Mustad 3906B Wet Nymph Fly Hook (because I found a box on my table), otherwise I’d use TMC 3761 size 18
Thread: Thin black, 8/0 or Black 70 denier
Tail: pheasant tail, or brown or black hen hackle fibers,
Ribbing: Gold or copper ribbing, I used both x-small and brassie
Wingcase: Pearl (or other) flashabou
Thorax: Peacock Ice Dub

Following the recipe and instructions here, I tied this a little differently than I would my typical PT-style nymphs, and may continue to follow this route since it seems, intuitively, that it would offer a more even look along the fly body and more durability. I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I’ve been tying in ribbing right at the tail and not securing it along the length of the shank in the past, which gives the fly more junk in the trunk, and who likes a fly with a big butt?

Tie in thread behind the eye
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Wrap thread back toward the bend, tie in the tail, then wrap thread back up to the eye, then tie in the ribbing behind the eye.
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Wrap thread over the copper wire toward the bend of the hook along the shank of the hook, then wrap thread back to behind the eye once again.
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As you can see from the image above, that is where I tied in the flashabou wing case near the middle of two strands. Then, grab both ends of the flashabou, pull toward the back of the hook, and tie over the flashabou, toward the back of the hook, to secure it as the wingcase. Dub thread with peacock ice dub, wrap to behind the eye, and tie flashabou over the dubbing. Cut the excess, half-hitch or whip finish, and you’re done.
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Resolution: New Year, New Flies

After getting a bit of experimentation out of my system, I’m trying to focus on hammering out an inventory of staple flies for this winter season first, and then will get to the variety needed for the spring and summer months.

First, I’m going to empty out the nymph side of my fly box and start from scratch. I haven’t built up the courage to do it quite yet, but it should force me to keep putting time in at the vise to fill the rows with fresh flies.


Holy cow, what a disheveled, unorganized mess of truly crappy flies. I’m looking forward to a fresh start here.

So far, the basics covered and tied have been orange (necessary) and rainbow (experimental) scuds, midges, and small pheasant tails, along with a few larger attractor nymphs. I bought some rainbow scud dubbing at Dan Bailey’s fly shop this past summer and am looking forward to see how they work.


By the way, I pulled this pair out of the size 18 hook box…the company must be trying to find a way to force me to de-barb my hooks at this vise.


The next crappy fly on my list to tie is Prince Nymphs. Man, I hate tying on biots and apologize in advance for any gratuitous cursing from my basement. If I can accomplish this goal, I may reward myself with a new fly box, because who doesn’t like new things?

Cleansing of the Tying Desk

In the following pile of stuff which was located mere inches away from my vise, there was a diamond in the rough. I’d been looking for extended-shank, bent hooks, and I could swear I’d bought some TMC 200R hooks at some point and wanted to tie up some midges with that hook. Lo, an angel of the desk appeared and directed my eye to one, lonely curved shank hook.

So I tied up an olive midge on said hook, which made me happy, but it just wasn’t enough. I needed more. The only solution, at least in my mind at this moment of madness, was to…ahem…clean. Ouch, it hurts to type that.

So clean I did, and I was amazed at what I found. I don’t even know what this is, what it did, or how it made its way on to my desk.

I actually put some of the materials on my desk back into the unorganized drawers from which they came, and in so doing found other stuff I’d forgotten about. Wait, why again do I have a box of 6/0 Big Game saltwater hooks? They’ll go to the first person who says they’re interested.

And another gem of a find, and this one was hidden in plain sight, right on my desktop! Seriously, I had no idea where I got a box of 50 size 18 nymph hooks, honestly no clue, and they were right by my lamp. I’m not much of a Mustad guy, but they’ll do.

After relocating (putting away) a copious amount of crap and throwing away an equal amount, I was left with this, and could actually wipe away the dust without creating a hook-filled medieval torture device of my rag. There are still things to put away, but I like my hooks within hands reach…yeah, that’s it…hands reach.

By the way, don’t think I’m losing my edge on being a disorganized, crappy fly-tier. There are still tiers of disorganized stuff on The Disaster. I can just see a bit more clearly for the next few hours…

Friday Night

I went back to The Disaster last night after work to welcome in the weekend and continue the trend of tying flies at least once per day. An aside: my tying space is in the basement and has conveniently been in the corner most likely to be completely avoided by any other living creature in the house. It’s creepy, there are cobwebs, the lighting is poor until I turn my lamp on…it kind of smells…and it’s a total mess. However, my wife recently relocated her entire scrapbook/crafting table and supplies immediately next door to my table. I’d liken it to living in a quiet, rustic country home, only to have a complex of condominiums built within 3-feet of your farmhouse. It gets much worse.

This had been put in front of my tying desk instead of my usual, awesome, manly camouflage chair. I’m not even sure why I haven’t turned this into firewood yet.

Broken Chair

Man Chair

I know, it’s so awesome you can hardly see it. Look closely, it’s right in the middle of the picture.

It was late, I was tired, there may or may not have been beer involved, and I tied up a handful of flies with random, flashy materials found around the table. It’s all a bit of a blur to me now, but there were beads and biots, maribou tails and midges, purple tails and rainbow dubbing. *shudder*

image image image Biot Rainbow Nymph FlashMidge image

Fly: Simple Pheasant Tail Nymph

Pheasant Tail Nymph:
Hook: Nymph size 12-20, but this is size 18. I tie mostly 16-18.
Thread: Green. This is Benecchi 12/0. It’s strong yet not bulky.
Tail: fiber from the tails of a Southeast MN pheasant – yeah, that’s right, southeast Minnesota!
Body: Same as above
Ribbing: copper wire or pearl krystal flash
Wingcase: pheasant tail
Thorax: Rainbow dub in this case, but millions of options. I also used green quick descent in the last example below. The traditional pheasant tail nymph doesn’t even use dubbing in the thorax…I don’t think…I’m pretty much just making that up or I’ve read it on the internet, so it must be true.

Order of events:

First, look over The Disaster and see what’s at hand.
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Wrap in the fancy, Italian thread.
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Tie on the tail and ribbing. Now, seriously! My perennial issue with tying pheasant tails has been too long of a tail and I’ve done it again! Instead of unraveling thread, I’ll just keep going…
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Wrap thread back to behind the eye, half-hitch, hold the tail and wrap it up with my fancypants rotary vise (seriously, Renzetti, I love you).
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Oh, what’s that? Your restless hunting dogs are barking at the back door just as you’re about to finish your fly? Okay, stupid dogs, but come on…just relax, hunting season is only *gasp* 9 months away. *sob*
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Next, I wrap the ribbing forward in the opposite direction of the body wrap. You must do this or your fly will die an early death. Wrap thread over the remaining pheasant tail, back toward the bend to secure the wingcase for the “proper” sized thorax, dub thread, wrap back toward the eye, pull the wingcase back to behind the eye on secure with half-hitch (or whip finish).
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For a little vindication after tying such a crappy pheasant tail nymph with too long of a tail, I tied up a couple more of these, but used green descent dubbing instead of the rainbow stuff…and I think I used a strand of pearl krystal flash for the rib instead of copper wire.
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When I’m finished, I put my flies in an easy to find, clean, uncluttered location to find when it’s time to fill my fly box with mediocre flies.
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Fly: Simple Midge Pattern

I need to tie up more midges. They’re good all year-round but I tend to fish them less in the spring and summer, which is more of a personal problem since there are still plenty of midges in the water and plenty of fish eating them.

Red (in this case, substitute preferred or available color) Midge:
What color should you tie your midges? Some advice offered here.
Hook: TMC 2488, size 20
Thread: Red – I’ve been using Benecchi 12/0, but whatever your preference
Rib: One strand of pearl krystal flash
Head: peacock herl, or simply a bead, or a little black dubbing

I went with what was close and find-able on my disaster of a tying desk. I still had red thread in the bobbin from tying scuds and these hooks were close. Strands of pearl krystal flash litter my desk and there are random beads hidden in all sorts of spots, so I was good to go with this simple pattern. Some crappy iPhone pictures…


Attach thread to hook, wrap to back bend, and tie in the strand of krystal flash (or wire, or whatever your preferred ribbing…)


Wrap thread to behind the eye, wrap the flash ribbing up to the front, and tie it down.


Try to find some peacock herl somewhere.


Wrap back toward the bend a short distance, tie in the herl, wrap the thread back up to behind the eye, wrap the herl ahead toward the eye, and secure with thread without crowding the eye. Give it a couple whips to finish. I forego head cement.


FYI: Comment Period Open on Proposed Change to Trout Regulations

There has been chatter for a while now regarding potential changes to regulations and extending trout seasons in southeast Minnesota. It is now open for public comment until February 11th, 2013. (thanks for the info, brntrout)

Below is the notice for public comment from the December 10th, 2012 edition of the MN State Register. I’ve highlighted the proposed changes in regulations applicable to the trout-y folk.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Division of Fish and Wildlife
REQUEST FOR COMMENTS on Possible Amendments to and Repeal of Rules
Governing Fishing Regulations and Aquatic Plant Requirements, Minnesota Rules,
Chapters 6212, 6262, 6264, 6266, and 6280
Subject of Rule. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requests comments on its possible amendments to and repeal of rules governing various fishing regulations. The proposed rules would: make changes related to trout angling in southeastern Minnesota; repeal obsolete rules; make changes to improve consistency in trout fishing regulations and other fishing regulations on border waters; propose changes in fishing seasons for some species; make changes due to statutory changes; and make the specific changes described below.

Licenses and Permits
Repeal obsolete rules in Chapter 6212, subparts 6212.0100 through 6262.1300 due to the development and implementation of the electronic licensing system. These rules are either no longer pertinent to the sale of a license, or are covered in Chapter 6213.

Fishing Regulations and Requirements
– Remove the barbless hook gear restrictions on all designated trout streams and seasons in southeast.
– Clarify the regulations regarding gear restrictions (artificials and flies only) for southeast Minnesota trout streams.
– Extend the current southeast winter season to all designated trout streams in southeast Minnesota
– Allow catch-and-release angling on designated trout streams in some southeast Minnesota State Parks from October 15th to December 31st.
– Extend the current southeast Minnesota fall catch-and-release season to October 15th.
– Consider opening lakes for trout fishing that are currently closed to winter fishing.
– Consider adding regulations to manage smelt harvest on Grindstone Lake in Pine County.
– Add or delete lakes listed as open to whitefish and cisco netting, specifically open Spring Lake in Itasca County (near Spring Lake, Minnesota).
– Consider prohibiting the taking of flathead catfish during the winter. (Cite 37 SR 915) State Register, Monday 10 December 2012 Page 915

Official Notices
– Consider other water bodies for catch-and-release seasons for sturgeon.
– Clarify the rule or make them consistent with other laws.
– Change or add to existing fishing regulations to reflect recently enacted statute changes, make other existing emergency rules permanent, or eliminate obsolete or redundant rules.

Border Waters
– Changes in spearing rules and clarifications of angling rule for South Dakota border waters.
– Changes in regulations for the Minnesota border waters to make them consistent between the states, especially those that
are now different on the Iowa and Wisconsin borders.
– Changes in regulations on the Canadian border to either make them consistent with inland regulations or standardize opening dates for specific water bodies, including walleye on Basswood Lake in Lake County.
Aquatic Plants
– Eliminate obsolete or redundant rules that are part of the standards for aquatic plant management permit issuance regarding lotus protection.

Persons Affected. The rules may affect anglers, whitefish and cisco netters, and people who fish for trout. Individuals and businesses, such as resorts, motels, stores, and guides that provide goods or services to anglers may also be affected. Individuals and businesses that use or own property on or bordering Minnesota waters may be affected. The public and businesses that receive aquatic plant permits
might be affected.

Statutory Authority. The adoption of the rules is authorized in general by Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.045, subds. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, that describes the general powers and duties of the commissioner of natural resources to protect wild animals, modify seasons, regulate boundary waters, and prescribe permits and licenses; and Minnesota Statutes, section 97A.501, subds. 1 and 2, that authorizes the Department to regulate the taking, buying, selling, transporting, and possession of protected wild animals and endangered species. Other statutory authorities specific to the areas being considered for changes are as follows:
Minnesota Statutes, sections 14.05; 14.3895; 97C.205 (b); 97C.401; 97C.345, subd. 5; 97C.411; 97C.415;
97C.395; 97C.041; 97C.325; 97C.371; 97C.375; 97C.001; 97C.005; 97C.805, subd. 1; and 103G.615.
Public Comment. Interested persons or groups may submit comments or information on these possible rules in writing or orally until 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 11, 2013. The DNR does not anticipate appointing an advisory committee to comment on the possible rules.

Rules Drafts. The DNR has not yet prepared a draft of the possible rules amendments or repeals and does not anticipate that a draft of the rules will be available before the publication of the proposed rules.
Agency Contact Person. Written or oral comments, questions, requests to receive a draft of the rules when it has been prepared, and requests for more information on these possible rules should be directed to:

Linda Erickson-Eastwood
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 20
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155-4020
Telephone: (651) 259-5206
or 1-888-MINNDNR
TTY users may call the Department at (651) 296-5484 or 1-800-657-3929

Southeast Minnesota Winter Trout Season


Winter Trout Season is now open in southeast Minnesota. Just go! And layer up. And don’t keep any fish – it’s only open for catch-and-release. If you’re new to the idea of winter fly fishing for trout, I recommend not getting your hopes up for the catch rates of spring and summer. While springs keep our trout streams open, even on the coldest days, lower water temperatures this time of year mean a lower metabolism for fish. Midges, scuds, small PT’s are the usual, winter fare.

Make sure you know the regulations and which streams are open. There are still only select streams open for winter trout season. Have you heard Trout Run is open for winter fishing? It’s not. At least not the one you’re thinking of in Fillmore County with the famed Bucksnort Dam. There is a little stream in Whitewater State Park also named Trout Run – that’s the only Trout Run open for the winter season.

If you want to know exactly where you can fish, it’s very easy. Here are the maps of streams open for Southeast Minnesota’s winter trout season.
Fillmore County
Winona County
Houston County
Goodhue County

Stream conditions? The usual winter fare. It’s a rare winter’s day that our trout streams are anything but low, clear, and cold. If you’re uncertain, check here or here to see if there’s an update.

Reports, pictures are always welcome on the message board.

Fly: Orange Scud

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The Orange Scud is one of the most effective all-season flies in southeast Minnesota and is a great, basic tie for a beginner. It doesn’t need to be pretty. Used in a dual-nymph rig is good insurance for a catch no matter what’s hatching as the scuds are in most streams year-round thanks to the (over?)abundance of in-stream vegetation.

Hook: TMC 2488 size 14-16 (or whatever scud hook you like) or even a size 12. It may be true there aren’t any scuds in our small streams bigger than size 14, but I’ve caught a lot of fish on a really big, ugly, crappy size 12 scud.
Thread: Red (or orange, or whatever, really, but if you try blue it’ll just look superbly crappy)
Weight: Lead (or lead substitute, don’t lecture me)
Ribbing: Copper wire (I use brassie for just about everything because I don’t like to search my table for the other rolls of ultra wire)
Body: Orange nymph dubbing…real buggy-like
Back: I still have Gudebrod Metallic Braid that I use, but they may have stopped making that. Pearlescent Krystal Flash works fine too…find something that works.

Here’s how I tie my orange scud:

First, find the appropriately sized scud hook from your well-organized hook container or from that tragic mess of crap on your tying desk. My disorganization is well documented.
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Thread and lead on hook and wrap over weight, ending your wrap at the back bend of the hook.
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Wrap and secure wire first, then scud back. Why? You’ll bring the backing over the hook toward the eye after dubbing, then wrap the wire up to just behind the eye.
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Dub your thread and wrap to just behind the eye.
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Pull backing forward, secure it down with a couple wraps of thread. Wrap wire up to just behind the eye, and wrap that down with a few wraps of thread, too. Then find something sharp and picky to pull the dubbing out from under the bottom side of the hook to give it that buggy, “hey I’m a shrimp and I’ve got legs” look. Oh yeah, I forgot that you’ll want to make a few finishing knots, either whip finish or whatever method you use. YouTube has bunch of great examples if you’re uncertain.
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