Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tying the Del Cooper

Del Cooper

Del Cooper Tying a Fly

There are conflicting stories regarding the development of this fly, which became a favorite steelhead fly on the Deschutes River. One account says that an Oregon doctor tied it up and called it the Surgeon General in honor of his friend who was surgeon. Another story came from Jerry Todd, a guide on the Deschutes, who asked Del Cooper to tie a variation of the Skunk Fly that would impress a doctor that he was going to guide. It turned out to be a very successful pattern, which sometimes is erroneously called the Surgeon General. In time, the oversight was rectified and called the Del Cooper.

Hook:  Mustad 36890, sizes 4-6
Thread:  Black 3/0
Tail:  Red hackle fibers
Body:  Purple wool
Rib:  Medium silver oval tinsel
Hackle:  Red saddle
Wing:  White calftail or polar bear

Step 1. Tie in the tail hackle fibers, tinsel and the purple wool.

Step 2. Wrap the purple wool forward and follow 
with 5 to 6 wraps of tinsel. Tie in the saddle hackle.

Step 3. Wrap 3-4 turns of hackle, and select a small 
bunch of calftail. Tie the wing in place with 8-10 wraps.

Step 4. Tie off the head neatly and cement.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning How to Tie Flies

Dave Stewart when he was a boy tying a fly
Dave Stewart Tying a Fly
Over a span of many years, I have had the pleasure of teaching hundreds of people how to tie flies, and watching them get started reminded me of my humble beginnings. In those formative years I couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money on equipment to get started so I had to improvise. I used a makeshift clamp device with a wing nut for a vise, a clothespin for a bobbin, a toothpick for a bodkin, nail polish for head cement and a razor blade for scissors. I also raided my mom’s sewing basket for thread, floss, yarn and wool. Also, the neighbor’s rooster and a few road kills contributed to my supply of hackles and furs. For me, necessity was the Mother of Invention, and even though they were not models of perfection, I still managed to catch fish with them.

Eventually, I became a proficient fly tier and I began to teach others how to tie flies, even those who had certain disabilities. I also enjoyed watching the excitement of my sons when they learned how to tie flies and used them to hook their first fish. It was gratifying to see how a simple hobby could arouse so much fascination and enjoyment. Their finished products were messy colorful balls of fur and feathers, but the process hooked them like a fish to a fly. This was entertaining until they started using my prize jungle cock and polar bear, so I had to hide the most valuable materials.

Even today you can get started tying flies with a modest investment of $50 to $75 for a basic tying kit. This may include a starter vice, bobbin, thread, hooks, head cement, basic materials and other equipment. There are many good books available on tying flies. Also, fly tying lessons and Internet videos will help.

I started with Herter’s Fly Tying and Tackle Making Manual, but over the years I relied on dozens of books to improve and perfect my techniques. This eventually led me into teaching others how to tie flies as well as writing several books on fly tying. My first book is entitled, “Tying and Fishing Outstanding Flies." My most recent book is entitled, “The Practical Fly Fisher.”  Both books are available on Amazon.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Knouff Lake Cannibal Trout

Green bodied dry sedge fly with grizzly hackle and white mallard downwing
Green Traveling Sedge Fly
developed by Doug Stewart
Knouff Lake, also called Sullivan Lake, is located about 30 miles northeast of the city of Kamloops, BC. This town was named after the large Kamloops Rainbow trout that are found in many lakes throughout the province, some weighing more than 15 pounds. The record for Knouff Lake was 17.5 pounds, but on this trip one fish that was caught established a unique record for us.  

My friend Pete Jones and I anticipated good fishing as we slid my 14-foot boat into the water. We hoped that the traveling sedges would be present because when they hatched out they would skitter across the surface before flying off. This would cause the fish to explode to the surface to take them. Our timing was perfect as fish were rising everywhere so we anchored up and started casting. 

Fishing was great as we started catching and releasing 2 to 3 pounders for several hours, but the hatch was tapering off. I made one final cast and hooked another one that felt very heavy. The fish pulled and tugged for almost 5 minutes but finally began to submit to the rod’s pressure. As Pete began to net it we were shocked. It was only about 15 inches long, but its belly was abnormally distorted. The fish looked like an over-inflated football, and as I held it up numerous leeches spewed out of its mouth. It probably weighed close to 5 pounds. 

“It’s a Cannibal!” Pete said. “That’s what it is. It’s been gorging on anything in sight.” Curiosity got the best of us, so I decided to put the fish out of its misery and see what it had been feeding on. Its stomach revealed the evidence. Besides more leeches, it had also engulfed several crawdads, countless caddis and dragonfly nymphs, and two 4-inch trout. I turned to Pete, who never passed up a free meal, and said, “You know Pete, overindulgence can happen to any animal, especially people.” Pete scowled at me and said sarcastically, “Doug, if a fish had your physique, it would starve to death!”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Grizzly King Streamer

Grizzly King Streamer
The Grizzly King was developed by Professor James Wilson around the 1840’s. He may have tied it to suggest the Green Drake, but the streamer version may also represent minnows and other underwater denizens. It can be stripped back using various cadences or trolled from a boat. In England, it is a popular Brook Trout pattern. 

A gold tag at the hook bend can be included for additional attraction. It can also be tied as a dry fly pattern to suggest adult caddisflies. I tied a similar pattern in Canada that I called the Green Sedge which had a grey mallard downwing and grizzly hackle. 

Hook:     9672 Mustad sizes 6-10
Thread:  3/0 black Monocord
Tail:        Red hackle fibers
Body:     Green or olive floss
Tinsel:    Flat or round silver
Wing:     2 matched feather-wing grizzly saddles
Hackle:  Grizzly saddle hackle

Tie in the tail, tinsel and floss. 

Wrap the floss forward and tie it off 3/16 inch from the eye. 
Wrap the tinsel forward 5-6 times and tie it off.

Match up the feather wings and tightly secure them on top. Tie in the hackle.

Wrap the hackle 3-4 times around the hook. 
Wrap back over the feathers so that they are at a 45˚ angle. 
Tie it off and cement the head to complete the fly.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tying The Professor Dry Fly

color picture of the professor dry fly
The Professor Fly
This handsome fly was developed by accident in the 19th Century by John Wilson, a professor in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is said that when he ran out of effective flies he fastened buttercup petals around the hook shank and various leaves and grasses to the form a head. Surprisingly, he had immediate success and named the new fly after his professional title. 


Hook:  3906B Mustad sizes 8-12,
Thread:  Black UNI-Thread 6/0
Tail:  Red feather strip or hackles
Body:  Yellow floss
Rib:  Small gold tinsel
Wing:  Mallard flank feathers
Hackle:  Brown saddle 

Line drawing of tying in the tail, floss and tinsel of The Professor fly.

Tie in the tail and attach the floss and tinsel.

Line drawing of tying in the mallard flank feather divided wing and attaching the hackle of The Professor fly.

Wrap the floss forward and follow with five or six turns of tinsel.

Tie in the mallard flank feather wing upright and divided and attach the hackle.

Line drawing of The Professor fly.

Wrap the hackle in and complete the head.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Ways to Learn How to Fly Fish

Doug Teaching a Fly Tying Class
In order to properly learn how to fly fish, you need to use all of the resources available to you. Following are some suggestions that can help put you on the right track.

Personal Friend: Going fly fishing with someone with experience can be helpful as long as he or she is willing to work with you and show you the basic methods. 

Fly Shop: Select a shop that offers classes and gives personalized service and good advice. A nominal fee might be charged to take a lesson, but it will pay off in the long run. You will also have the opportunity to meet new people, learn new techniques and learn about places to fish. If it doesn’t provide these necessities, find another fly shop.

Clinics: Seminars and promotional events are the backbone of learning fly fishing basics or upgrading your knowledge and skills.

Books: Books are an invaluable source for helping you learn, research and store information for future use.

Internet: Surfing the web can expand your knowledge and put you in contact with many new resources.

Guide trips: This is a more expensive way to learn, but with a professional guide can give you on-the-spot instruction and important hands on experience. One trip like this can help you learn where to find fish, how to cast to them and how to select fly patterns. Also, the experience will give you more confidence when you are fly fishing on your own.

Community Colleges: Extension courses are valuable and can help you learn the basics. One problem can be that large classes might not allow individual attention.

Self Taught: Without any available resources, trial and error may be the only way to learn the basics. It could take you more time to become successful and you may develop unorthodox techniques, but even so, most fly fishers can still eventually become very successful.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Fishing Courtesy

Fish On?
The Nehalem River in Oregon
Courtesy on any river is an unwritten law. You just don’t barge into someone’s water, or if there is room for another angler, you should always ask first before fishing. Once in a while though someone will break this law. Advice about the violation is often direct and to the point and tempers can be short. My friend John had such an experience which imparted a painful and chilling lesson to an angler on the Nehalem River.

John had used his pocket knife to hack his way through the willows to reach a good hole to fish. He quickly got lucky and hooked a nice steelhead which took him downstream before he could land it. When he returned with his fish another angler was fishing in his spot. John politely explained than this was his spot and he wanted it back since he had cut his way in to fish it. Sarcastically, the guy said, “I don’t see your name written on this hole. Do you think you own this whole river?” John stared at him for a second and dryly responded, “No buddy, I don’t own all of it, but what little of it I do own I’m gonna give it all to you.” Then he promptly knocked him into the river. Fortunately, this fellow decided not to retaliate and headed off downriver. A difficult lesson in courtesy was learned the hard way, but not necessarily the best way.

The heavy traffic on our rivers today sometimes resembles freeways. Crowded conditions don’t make it easy to drive a car or fish our favorite drifts, but by showing a little respect for the next guy difficulties can be alleviated. Courtesy can be Contageous! If everyone relied on a similar code of ethics we would probably have fewer problems and get more enjoyment out of our sport.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Tying the Leadwing Coachman

Leadwing Coachman

The Leadwing Coachman is one of the best all-around flies used to suggest caddis emergers. It can simulate the caddis pupa of the Rhycophila (Green Rockworm) and the Hydrophysche (Spotted Sedge). The Green Rockworm is a free-living caddis that attaches itself to the substrate and forages for food along the bottom. The Spotted Sedge is a net builder and makes its home by cementing bottom material to its body. 

Fish easily take these insects in their larval stage and when they emerge. Both can be dead drifted or swung across the current to suggest emergers. You can enhance its effectiveness by twitching it as it swings.

Hook:  Mustad 3906B sizes 10-16
Thread:  3/0 black Monocord
Body:  Peacock herl (gold tag optional)
Hackle:  Brown red game
Wing: Two sections of gray duck primaries

Tie in 2-3 peacock herls. 

Wrap the herls forward and attach the hackle.

Spin the hackle to the eye, tie it off and 
wrap slightly back over it to form a 45˚.

Match two primaries together. With the tips pointed down, 
pinch them on top and secure them tightly with 4-5 wraps.
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