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Project Hopper

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Skittle Scud

The Griffin Montana Mongoose

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Card's Cicada Variation

Could this be "THE" guide fly?

For those of you who don't know Charlie Card, hes a guy who has been rowing a drift boat longer than he has been driving.  I knew Charlie in high school, but I really didn't appreciate his fish wizardry until I started fly fishing about 15 years ago.  Utah's Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir is home to some great terrestrial fishing because it runs smack dab in the middle of a desert.  Not really known for hatches of giant salmonflies or green drakes, the Green River is mecca for terrestrial fishing.  Hoppers, beetles (even in February), ants, and most of all - cicadas.  Charlie has a fly with MFC called Card's Cicada that has been wrecking fish for years and years, but if you get a glimpse of Charlie's fly boxes, you will see that he has variations upon variations of these big black beasts.  He gave me one of them that still sits perched on a piece of driftwood in my tying room.  I have studied it in it's simplicity many times to gather inspiration, and it has helped me put many a fish in the net.

I was replenishing my boxes with some big foamies this spring and decided to make some variations of Charlie's pattern.  In the fly I got from Charlie, he had a piece of accent foam (purple) under the black main foam body, but I decided to put it on the top of the fly.  I also swapped out the calf tail wing for treated para-post material.  Also, I wanted to add some "spent" wings that laid a bit off to the side of the fly, so I tied in wings of sparkle emerger yarn.  Sparkle emerger yarn really doesn't do much to add buoyancy, and it just sits in the surface film looking all translucent and such.

Once I had my variations tied up, I had to see if they passed the two most critical tests on big foamers.  1- Will it land the way I want it to every time? 2- Will the foam stay put without twisting all around the hook shank?  These bugs passed with flying colors, now to fish them (which I wasn't worried about at all.)  I won't bore you with details, but these flies absolutely have been crushing fish on several different river systems and on a lake with picky browns.

~ Cheech

Hook: Gamakatsu S10 #6-10 (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC Premium Thread 3/0 - Rusty orange (BUY HERE)
Body1: Evazote foam 1/8" - Black (BUY HERE)
Body2: Fly tying foam 2mm - Orange (BUY HERE)
Under-Body: Snowshoe hare's foot dubbing - Rusty Orange (BUY HERE)
Wing1: Para post wing material - Norm Woods special (BUY HERE)
Wing2: Sparkle emerger yarn - Cream (BUY HERE)
Legs: Centipede legs Medium - Speckled orange and yellow (BUY HERE)

Transform this fly into a hopper...

Hook: Gamakatsu S10 #6-10 (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC Premium Thread 3/0 - Light Brown (BUY HERE)
Body1: Evazote foam 1/8" - Camel (BUY HERE)
Body2: Fly tying foam 2mm - Tan (BUY HERE)
Under-Body: Snowshoe hare's foot dubbing - Tan (BUY HERE)
Wing1: Para post wing material - Norm Woods special (BUY HERE)
Wing2: Sparkle emerger yarn - Cream (BUY HERE)
Legs: Centipede legs Medium - Speckled tan brown(BUY HERE)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Leetle Beetle

Quick and effective

Leetle Beetle in Black

"Uh... yes...  I'd like materials to tie a fly that is quick and effective sir."  Summer time is a great time to expand your terrestrial game, and we have been tying all kinds of big nasties like hoppers, cicadas, and larger beetles.  I realized that there was a hole in my box right where my smaller terrestrials should be.  I started using some of the techniques from the Unsinkabeetle, and stripped them down a bit.  This fly is about as simple as it gets, and it plain hunts.  Tie them in a variety of sizes and colors to fool basically anything that eats beetles (trout, bass, carp, sunfish, etc.).

This beetle is most effective in black, but olive/brown and tan are great as well.


Hook: Gamakatsu S10 #10-14 (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC (BUY HERE)
Body: Evazote foam 1/8"- Black (BUY HERE)
Underbody: Nature's Spirit Hare's Mask dubbing - Black (BUY HERE)
Legs: Fine round rubber - Black (BUY HERE)
Indicator: 1mm Crosslink foam - Golden yellow (BUY HERE)

Hook: Gamakatsu S10 #10-14 (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC (BUY HERE)
Body: Evazote foam 1/8"- Olive (BUY HERE)
Underbody: Nature's Spirit Hare's Mask dubbing - Brown (BUY HERE)
Legs: Fine round rubber - Brown (BUY HERE)
Indicator: 1mm Crosslink foam - Golden yellow (BUY HERE)

Hook: Gamakatsu S10 #10-14 (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC (BUY HERE)
Body: Evazote foam 1/8"- Camel (BUY HERE)
Underbody: Nature's Spirit Hare's Mask dubbing - Natural (BUY HERE)
Legs: Fine round rubber - Brown (BUY HERE)
Indicator: 1mm Crosslink foam - Golden yellow (BUY HERE)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Complex Twist Tube Fly & Peak Tube Vise

The Deflectinator Gets An Overhaul

Complex Twist - Tube Style
When I first wrote about the Deflectinator a couple of years back, Cheech hadn't quite spilled the beans on the Complex Twist method for tying buggers and the like. However, after we released the first Complex Twist Bugger, I knew that was soon to be the new method for tying up what's become my go-to bass pattern.

And while I won't bore you with the background on the Deflectinator, this version here is more trout color and size and works great in streams. It's also done some damage as a bugger or leech style pattern on lakes.

And probably most notable about this tutorial here is the use of the awesome Peak Tube Fly Vise. As I point out in the video, it's definitely not a "beginner" vise, but if you tie any amount of tube flies, this is the vise you need. It's well-built and works very nicely with any size of tube fly you might need to tie on. Plus, since it's designed specifically for tube flies, you cut out a lot of the nooks, crannies and angles on a regular vise and get a sleek uncluttered fly tying machine.
Peak Rotary Tube Fly Vise
So as you'll see and hear in the video, we really like this vise and for throwing together patterns like the Deflectinator here, it works out great. I much prefer it to my "old" method of using a standard vise jaw adaptor to tie tubes.

And if you're still new to the tube fly world, here's a quick primer to help you understand the benefits and such. Tubes are definitely not new and not made to be your prime tying method, but it's one that I think all fly tyers should at least look at.

Material List

Hook: Partridge Nordic Single Hook #6  (BUY HERE)
Tube: Small Plastic Tube (or size to fit your needs). (BUY HERE)
      NOTE: You can also buy colored junction tubing, as shown. This size fits the small tubes above
Cone: Ultralight or Regular Monster Cone  (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 140 Denier, Tan  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Magnum Rabbit Strips, Dark Brown or Dark Olive  (BUY HERE)
Body: Schlappen, Olive & Fiery Brown; UV Polar Chenille  (BUY HERE)
Collar: Arizona Diamond Dub, Ice Blue Brown  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Whiting Coq De Leon, Speckled Fl Green Chartreuse  (BUY HERE)

Tools Used:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fripple 3.0: Caddibaetis

And yet another variation...

Fripple: Caddisbaetis
I look back on my history with the original or version 2.0 Fripple patterns and find I've tweaked this fly more than probably any other pattern in my little fly boxes. And like Brian Fantana says "60 percent of the time, it works every time", so we may as well keep trying to get that number up to something like 80 or 90 percent.

As it is with a lot of my pattern variations, the changes come as a result of fishing it and finding ways to catch more fish under different conditions. This rendition came out as a result of needing to increase the buoyancy a bit more in order to either support small droppers or to perform better on rougher water in rivers. Not only that, I wanted to take a lazy route and make this thing imitate a wider variety of bugs so I could fish this across hatches.

In order to get that, I added a good clump of CDC, improved the hackle method and created a more realistic non-foam thorax area. At the same time, we keep the Klink style hook and the medallion sheeting wings -- both of which are the real key to the effectiveness of this style pattern. The end result is a fly that has nailed fish eating Drakes, Callibaetis and Caddis -- all on the exact same color and size fly.

A Brown trout that was alternating between eating caddis and some PMD's.

And speaking of hackle, rather than cutting the underside like I did with the Green Drake version here, I employed the para loop or hackle stacker method to get a good solid dense clump of hackle fibers. This method is definitely one to learn.

Material List

Hook: Daiichi 1160 or 1167 #10 - #16  (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC 70 Denier, Fl. Fire Orange (hot spot)  (BUY HERE)
Body: MFC Premium Thread, 8/0, Light Brown  (BUY HERE)
Ribbing: Midge Flash, Tan  (BUY HERE)
Under-Wing: MFC Bulk CDC, Golden Olive or Nature's Spirit CDC, Brown Olive   (BUY HERE)
Wing: Medallion Sheeting, Buggy Light Dun  (BUY HERE)
Thorax: Ice Dub, Pheasant Tail  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Whiting Hebert Miner Saddle, Speckled Badger or Whiting Rooster Saddle in Barred Dark Ginger, Grizzly Coachman Brown or Golden Badger. Many options and great colors!  (BUY HERE)

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Project Cicada

Another Go-To Crunch Bug

Project Cicada (v. 2)
I had a friend ask the other day "why retool or re-design a Cicada pattern when you have a good one already in the 'Sickada'?". I guess I rarely look at any pattern without thinking of how I can improve or change it -- sometimes just for given conditions or purposes and other times...just because I can. So earlier this spring, after a long tying session whipping up a bunch of Project Hoppers, a few ideas and techniques there carried over to improving an already good Sickada pattern. So rather than just revamp what we had before, I wanted to give this pattern more of the "Project" moniker because it's indeed been a longer term project fly.

Some of the bigger differences are the technique to make the body (much easier now) and using the heated-foam technique for shaping the body a bit more realistically. The overall profile and wing method is relatively unchanged, although we throw in some para-post wing material to aid flotation and keep the fly balanced.

First version of the Project Cicada
As a far as design goes, the first version of this pattern sported cow elk wing and a foam indicator, but I found that once the wing became water-logged, the fly had a tendency to turn on its side every once in a while. And while that didn't cause many rejections, from what I saw, I wanted it to land right-side-up more consistently. (As a side-note here, there are some that say an upside-down Cicada style pattern is still just as effective because the bugs often land that way on the water. Something to consider).

So in order to keep the CG (that's center of gravity for you non-nerds) more in line with the hook weight and dimensions, I swapped out the foam and deer hair for two colors of parapost wing material. And speaking of hooks, that's one of the key elements of any bigger foam pattern. You need a hook with a big enough gap to accommodate a bit of foam "belly" on the pattern, while being heavy enough to offset the weight of the materials but not be so heavy that the fly sinks. We searched and tested with many different hook types. We'll recommend the two listed below from Partridge and Gamakatsu respectively to be some of the better choices for terrestrial or big foam fly hooks.

Also, one other change we made here was to scale back the brightness of the orange color. Our buddy Colby, a guide on the Green River in Utah, had sent a few photo and video samples of bugs along with what we also concluded to be a recommendation to tone down the orange a bit. So we went with a more subdued color scheme here.

And finally, as we normally do, the pattern was submitted to some pretty hefty field-testing and
scored really well. In fact, I was surprised to see how many fish would reject a hopper pattern but yet move several feet (and in one case a full eat-and-a-miss only to circle back around) to eat this pattern. And this was in conditions where not many cicadas were actually out and about.

Plus it's a fun pattern to tie.

Material List

Hook: Partridge Attitude Extra #4 or Gamakatsu L10-2H  (BUY HERE)
Thread: Veevus Fly Tying Thread 10/0, Orange  (BUY HERE)
Body: Crosslink Foam, 6mm, Black  (BUY HERE)
Wing: Thin Wing, Lt. Dun  (BUY HERE)
Over-Wing: Para Post Wing Material, Dark Gray & Fl. Orange  (BUY HERE)
Wing Cover: Crosslink Foam, 1mm, Black  (BUY HERE)
Legs: Centipede Legs, Speckled Orange  (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Mono, melted and colored

Tools etc:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Top 10 Summer Dry Fly Patterns

Feed them the floating protein...

'Tis the season to be throwing dry flies, and in many cases, BIG dry flies.  We have been having a blast throwing flies that consist mostly of foam and rubber legs, and it's a blast to see the wide variety of "eats" on these flies.  Some fish are so confident that they simply rise to a juicy hopper like it's a delicate mayfly, while others launch their whole body out of the water because they eat the fly so aggressively.  We though we would give you a rundown of what has frequented our boxes this summer.

Here is our top 10 in no particular order (Click the name for the story)

Blingnobyl Ant -
This fly is pretty unconventional in regards to colors, but many a summer fish has tried to eat it and digest it all in the same motion.

Grumpy Frumpy-
Still Cheech's favorite dry fly of all time.  It often gets tied on after other patterns get the nose from the trout.  They usually end up with a sore mouth/lip/tongue.  We fish the yellow/red version 90% of the time.

Purple Haze-
This is kind of the new-blood version of the Parachute Adams.  It's just different enough to make the fish think it's a brand new invention that they must eat.  We are good with that.

Moodah Poodah-
After a great day on the water and after bad service at a restaurant... Curtis came up with this fish getter.  It floats high and gets crushed.  Time to seek out another Golden Corral soon.

Project Hopper-
After two years of research and development procrastination (kind of), the project hopper is being fished hard.  The fish like it...  a LOT.

Developed during a late night session at Cheech's Mom's house.  This thing floated for over 2 weeks.  She wanted to name it the Unsinkable Molly Brown.  #nope.

Amphibious Damsel-
Designed as a dry fly, but fished either dry or wet.  This bug is a must have in the summer if you are going to fish lakes or slow moving rivers.

One of the most realistic Cicada patterns that has come off our vises.  Curtis put his time in on this one and it scores well with the East German judges and the trout as well.  Plop it down and hold on.

Callibaetis Comparadun-
Another pattern that is a must for fishing lakes or slow moving waters.  The two stage wing on this bug makes it very realistic.

The Butt Head-
A Stimulator variation with a CDC underwing.  We use this one a lot when we fish with people new to fishing because it's very visible, and it gets eaten.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Complex Twist Mouse

Pushing water in a lake near you

Chug Chug Chug... SLURP.

News flash...  Fish eat mice.  You already know that, but we might underestimate how important a mouse might be for a large predatory fish that makes a living sucking down protein all day (or night... yes, most definitely night.)  We have all seen the pictures on the internet where a fish is gutted and is filled to the brim with mice, but how do they get there?  Good question, but I kind of have a theory.  Mice have two things going for them that make them excellent fare for fish.  1- They aren't the brightest creatures in the world and scurry about like me looking for the cotton candy section at a convenience store.  Fast and furious, 100 mph all the time.  This speed and determination often ends up in them taking a wrong turn at Albuquerque and boom... they are in the water.  2- They are excellent swimmers. If you have ever seen a mouse swim you will understand what I'm saying.  They use their whole body to swim with their heads sticking up out of the water, and they push quite a bit of water like a wake.  Because of this, it's critical that your mouse patterns have the ability to push water.  

I have been tying a variation of this mouse on and off for about 10 years, and I'll be honest that I got inspired by such mice like the Morrish Mouse by Ken Morrish, and the Cheeky Mouse by Nick Jones.  Those are great patterns that are highly buoyant and push a lot  sh#& ton of water.  I had gone back and forth on the body of my fly, but after tying the Complex Twist Bugger, I decided that I'd use the same technique on the body of my mouse.  The tail is what usually gets me because rabbit is one of the best fly tying materials on the planet - it also has a bad habit of being overly clingy... to the inside of your hook bend.  The fouling of the tail leads to the mouse not having the "right" profile of a swimming mouse.  I devised a system using stiff monofilament and a lighter to help combat this tail fouling issue.  It works so well that I have used it on gurglers, frog legs, etc.  Jazz this fly up as you see fit, but just make sure that you leave plenty of foam at the head of the fly so it pushes a bunch of water.  If this fly doesn't produce for you, Curtis will buy you a Mt. Dew.*


*Curtis may or may not buy you a Mt. Dew.  He's kind of weird like that.


Hook: Gamakatsu B10S - 1/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Danville 210D - Black (BUY HERE)
Tail: Zonker rabbit strip - Grizzly, light brown, or gray (supported by 40# mono) (BUY HERE)
Foam: Evazote foam 1/4 - Black (BUY HERE)
Body1: Polar chenille - Copper olive (BUY HERE)
Body2: Schlappen - White (BUY HERE)
Body3: Schlappen - Brown (BUY HERE)
Legs: Magnum predator legs - rootbeer (BUY HERE)
Head: UV ice dub - Brown (BUY HERE)