Friday, June 27, 2014

Fly Fishing in a Rain Storm

David Stewart releasing a nice Steelhead
Rain is a Jekyll and Hyde condition that can offer excellent fishing or completely dampen your luck by putting the fish down. Fish get accustomed to the steady current flows and surface depressions, and rain can sometimes elevate the activity of fish. Raindrops form a constant visual pattern that’s visible to fish. When insects land on the water or are blown into it, they break this surface pattern. This alerts fish to the presence of food and aggressive strikes are the norm.

I can recall one such day on the Deschutes River. For several hours I fished for steelhead under the morning’s warm sun without a strike. However, around noon dark, ominous clouds began to cover the sunlit water. I smelled rain. I quickly donned my rain gear and within minutes a torrential summer rainstorm commenced. I had a strong feeling that this would stir up some action and it did. In the next hour, I hooked seven steelhead and landed and released four between six and nine pounds. My luck finally ended when the storm subsided and the sun reappeared.

This condition can also occur when you are trout fishing. When wind and rain pelt bushes and overhanging trees, insects can be thrashed and blown out of the foliage and onto the water. This can cause a feeding frenzy. So, rather than heading for shelter when a storm is brewing, put on your parka and brace yourself for action. Foul weather might just bring on warm results.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Straighten Leaders

Leader Straightener

There are numerous kinds of factory leader straighteners available today that work well, but if they are not used properly, they can burn and weaken the leader.  The best tool to use that won't burn the leader is your hand.

Straighten Leader with Your Fingers

Grab the leader and place the butt end between your thumb and forefinger. Then pinch the leader tightly and pull the leader completely through your fingers to the tippet. After 3 or 4 pulls the leader should straighten out. If you notice that your skin is starting to get hot, you're applying too much pressure. 

Homemade Straightener

Another method that may also work is a homemade version of the leader straightener. Purchase a small rubber stopper and put a slit in the top with a razor blade 1/4 inch deep. Then pull the leader through numerous times to straighten the leader.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How to Perform the Figure-8 Retrieve when Fly Fishing

The Figure-8 Retrieve
The purpose of the figure-8 retrieve technique is to suggest the steady movement of insects or other aquatic denizens by slowly retrieving the fly.

     1. To begin, grasp the fly line with one hand only and form a loop around your index finger so that the line is cradled in your palm.

     2. Next, simultaneously release your index finger from the loop while you close your three fingers around the line in your palm.

     3 & 4. Continue working the fly line in this manner until you hook a fish or when you are ready to make another cast.

During the retrieve the loops can be released from your palm to allow room for additional loops. However, if you’re standing in a brushy area the loops may have to be held to prevent them from tangling. Also, depending on the size of your hand, 3-5 medium-sized coils will equal about one yard. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tying Spiders for Dry and Wet Fly Fishing


Spiders have been used to fish with for centuries in one form or another. They are similar to soft hackles except spiders have longer hackles. They can be twitched, dapped or fished down and across the surface using both wet and dry fly fishing techniques. Additional motion can be imparted by twitching the fly, or you can let the wind or current move the Spider freely across the surface. The simplicity of Spiders make them fun and easy to tie.

Hook: 94842 sizes 12-18 
Thread: 6/0 black Uni-thread 
Tail: Optional 
Body: Palmered badger hackle
Wing: Badger saddle hackle

Step1. Palmer a dry fly badger hackle and tie it in tip first at the hook bend. 

Step 2. Spiral the hackle forward and tie it off 3/16th inch from the hook eye. Then tie in a larger badger hackle, stem first.

Step 3. Wrap this hackle 3 to 4 times to the eye and tie it off.

Step 4. Wrap back over the hackle slightly to form a 45˚ angle. Then finish the head and cement.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Losing A Steelhead the Hard Way!

Sandy River Cliff 
There was an excellent stretch of steelhead water on the Sandy River we called the Bat Hole. It required balance and steady nerves to reach. You had to claw the rocks like a bat and scale down a steep cliff to reach the water.

One morning my friend Rick and I managed to reach the water safely and began fishing. It wasn’t long before my buddy hooked one, and by the way his rod was bending, I knew that it was a large fish. After five minutes I yelled at him,

"Rick, you’ve got to put more pressure on him because those rocks might break him off.”

He just nodded his head as he puffed his cigar and played the fish. Finally, after ten minutes he had worked the fish closer to the surface, so I said,

"Keep it coming, Rick. You’ve got him hooked well.”

Finally, he had worked the fish within ten feet of the bank when suddenly the line snapped and the fish slipped quietly out of sight. As he started anguishing about the loss, I started laughing.

"Hey, what’s so funny, that’s the biggest fish I ever hooked!”

"Rick, you didn’t just lose that fish."

"What do you mean,” he snapped back.

With a snicker I answered, “You burned the line off with your cigar!”

Monday, June 16, 2014

Don't Cry Over Spilled Hooks

Don't use you finger, use a magnet!
During a fly tying session there’s nothing more disruptive that spilling hooks on the floor or worse the rug. Your initial response might be to quickly scrape the hooks up with your hand or fingers, but by doing this you can easily impale yourself. However, if it’s a thick rug, it can be even more difficult to extract the hooks, and cutting it may be disturbing to your spouse. However, not finding all of the hooks could pose a hazard for children or pets.

Fortunately, the easy way to find hooks in a rug is to use a strong magnet. This should collect all of the hooks except those that are embedded in the rug. The best solution for picking out the embedded hooks is with pliers. Of course, the best way to avoid this problem is to keep your hooks in special hook bins or simply use barbless hooks.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Forget your fly tying vice?

What can you do on an extended fishing trip when you forget your fly tying vice? If you’re lucky you might be able to borrow one from a fellow camper or locate a nearby fly fishing shop to buy a new one. However, there is a third option. You can still tie a fly by using only your hands and fingers. Keep in mind that tension must be kept on the material and hook with each application of materials.

Tie a fly without a Vice

First, lay all of the materials out in order that you’re going to use: tail, body, ribbing, hackle and wing. Then, grasp the hook bend tightly and tie in the tail and body material and tie them off.

Next, again holding everything tightly, tie in the body material and spiral it forward and tie it off 3/16 inch from the hook eye.

Then attach the hackle and spin it forward 3 to 4 times and tie it off.

Last, tie in the wing and complete the head.

Hand-Held Vice
Another option is to purchase a Hand Vice that will hold a hook tightly as you tie your fly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tying Flies with Palmered Hackles

Palmered Hackle Illustrations

A palmered saddle hackle is wrapped around a fly body to suggest various types of legs or body parts of certain insects. These hackles are softer and are mainly used to tie wet flies or streamers to create a soft, wavy motion in the water. Grade A rooster hackles are stiffer and primarily used to imitate an insect floating on top of the water. 

To palmer a hackle, grasp the tip of a saddle hackle with the thumb and forefinger and then gently stroke it down against the grain until all of the fibers are close to a 90 degree angle. Tie the palmered hackle tip onto the hook along with the body material and wind the hackle forward over the body so that the wraps are separated by about 1/8 inch intervals. The number of turns will depend on the size of the hook you use. The illustrations above show the process.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tragedy of a Wild Fishery

Typical High Mountain Stream
When I was a youngster my Dad and I used to hike about four miles into a small tributary of a river that had a wonderful population of wild Cutthroat and Rainbow trout. You seldom saw other hikers or fly fishers which often gave us the unique opportunity of having the stream all to ourselves. Dad’s philosophy back then was to only keep a few trout to eat and release all the others. Catches of 15 or 20 fish were common occurrences. For a 12 year old youngster it was an enchanting experience. However, on one particular trip my exciting adventure came to an abrupt end. 

As we were fishing downstream one day, we heard some faint noises off in the distance and the further we waded the noises got louder. Finally, we discovered the cause of the disturbance when we climbed upon a bank and peered across the stream. A construction company was building a new road that was paralleling the waterway. Dad turned to me and bluntly said, 

"Well, we won’t be fishing this river again!"

"Why, Dad?”

"Son, because when the road is done they’ll build campsites and charge fees. Then, people will eventually catch and kill all of the natives and then they’ll plant hatchery fish.”

Unfortunately, over the years this is has been a common practice that has occurred on many wonderful streams and lakes in our Country. Wild fisheries should not be depleted at the expense of progress. Our natural resources should be protected and maintained for future generations.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Parts of a Fly

Parts of a Fly

  1. Tail
  2. Tag
  3. Tip
  4. Body
  5. Ribbing
  6. Joint
  7. Collar
  8. Head
  9. Palmered hackle
10. Underwing
11. Overwing
12. Topping or crest

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Drying the Head of a Fly

Drying the head of a fly.
There are numerous ways to dry the head of flies after they're completed. Some tiers cement the heads by simply placing them upright on the table. Others use cardboard, Styrofoam cups, cork and fancy drying racks. I have found one method that is very efficient and works best for me. Here's what you can do. 

When you finish tying a fly, insert a round toothpick into the hook eye. Then stick the toothpick into a Styrofoam square and allow the finished head to dry. Using this method will make sure that a hook eye will never be clogged with cement, and you won't have to pick it out to insert the leader. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rolling Hitch to Fix Goofs

Rolling Hitch
One of the most aggravating foul-ups that can occur when tying flies is inadvertently cutting the thread at different stages of attaching materials. Don't panic! Most of the time you can salvage the fly by using a rolling hitch.  

To begin, carefully place the thread at the point where the material or thread broke. Using the rolling hitch, wrap tightly back over the area five or six times. Then, reattach the material and complete the fly. If the break occurred when you were tying the head off, simply grasp the broken thread and use the rolling hitch to complete the head. 

You probably can avoid this waste of time if you remember to move the material away from the thread before you make the cut. Also, when you finish tying a fly, cut the thread either on the side or top of the head. 
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