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Friday, December 19, 2014

Things That Entertain Me - The Fishing Guys

Laughter is the best medicine.

Fish entertain me too...
Recently I was pondering the great world of fly fishing/tying and how naturally preconditioned human behaviors seep their way into our sport.  At first I thought these things were a nuisance, but as I looked deeper into this very crucial topic, I realized that these things exist in all walks of life, and that they are there to ENTERTAIN us along the way.  I used to hate running into these situations, but as I thought about it more - I am highly entertained.  Here are a few.

It HAS to be tan dubbing #5899 
Recipe guy - I know that I have talked about this creature before, but he deserves mention in this post too.  He is the guy who has to have the EXACT material for the fly that he saw in a book or on the internet, and if he can't find the material, it's no use...  might as well go golfing.

Everything has already been invented guy - I get it...  Most of the patterns out there are variations of other flies, but there is still a LOT of room for creativity (especially with all of the new materials out there.)  This guy though...  His goal in life is to
Grumpy Frumpy AKA Wooly Bugger
educate you that your pattern is nothing more than a variation of a wooly bugger.

Accessory guy - Now, I don't have any room to talk on this one in regards to fly tying, but there is a limit.  I once fished with a guy who literally had crap coming out of his vest at every angle.  It reminded me of a waitress at Chili's with "flair" buttons pinned all over the place. (Yes...  a reference to the movie Office Space.)

Fished for 25 years guy - It's a question that gets asked from time to time...  "So how long have you fished?"  I always get a kick out of the guys who mention that they have fished for X number of years over and over again as if that tells me how good of an angler they are...  Even better is the guy who says that he has fished for 25 years -  twice a year for 25 years.  I know guys who have fished for 5 years that can really throw it down.  It's all about progression and how vigorously you pursue the sport.

Hater guy - Not to be confused with one upper guy who is not mentioned in this list.  Hater guy can't handle it if he's not the only one KILLING it, and goes above any beyond to try to put you down.  "Pssshhh, Cheech Leech???  so what can that catch that a wooly bugger can't?  What a stupid fly."

Mad guy - I once fished with a guy who, on his first attempt at fly fishing, caught multiple fish on dry flies because the fish were recklessly destroying caddisflies that were skating across the surface.  Once the fish switched to mayflies and dead drifts he stopped catching fish.  I didn't.  He was pissed that he only caught 10 or 11 fish as opposed to 35.  I never fished with him again.  He is Mad Guy.

Don't put em' back until your count em!
Fish counter guy - Curtis tells this story much better than I do, but there was a guy several years back that would claim ridiculous numbers of fish caught.  So he's a fish counter... good for him.  On a club outing one year where everyone was basically fishing within view of everyone else, he came in with some pretty astronomical "numbers" of fish caught that day.  Our only guess was that he was logging every time he got a bump... from weeds or fish.  I really have no issues with the fish counter guys, but it's the fabricators that entertain me.  This being said, Curtis and I once caught 256 trout in one outing and if you don't believe me I'll punch you in the neck.

Wader guy - I have to admit that I love gear.  Good waders, packs, boxes, boots - you name it, I like it.  I'm entertained by the guys I see in July standing ankle deep in a creek with their 6mm duck waders on when it's 90 degrees outside.  "Hey rookie, you do your fancy wet wadin' over there.  Real FLY fishermen wear WADERS."
No waders???  Noob.

One Water Willy - This is the guy who fishes one and only one body of water, therefore he knows everything about fishing.  Granted, he is REALLY good on his home water, but if he goes anywhere that has different conditions, he's completely lost.  I mention this because I can become so obsessed with certain bodies of water that I can become One Water Willy at times.

I know, I know, I know guy - This guy, in all aspects of life, is one that HIGHLY entertains me.  One time I was out on a very technical piece of water and I was supposed to be showing someone the ropes.  Every time I'd try to recommend a rig or a fly I was greeted with "I know, I know, I know."  I promptly stopped talking and just continued fishing.  Upon the next question, I just responded "I thought you said you knew??!??" Well, if you know, go knock er' out champ...

Unsolicited coach guy.  This guy cracks me up too.  Everyone has had "one of those days" where your flies end up in more trees than fish...  I was having one of those days when a dude walked up and started to say something like "You know, I was watching you cast from over there, and it looks like you need to open up your loop a little bit..."  WELL NO S#!T SHERLOCK!!!  He turns me into "mad guy" and "I know" guy pretty fast.

False cast guy.  This is usually a guy who has watched A River Runs Through It one too many times.  He sees rising fish and proceeds to take 500 false casts before laying his line down.  Of those 500, 473 of them would have been perfectly fine presentations for that fish...  This is particularly entertaining when you are on a small river and you are taking turns.  I may or may not have grabbed branches and pulled them down behind him to help him decide to stop casting.  I'm a bad friend.

This post was more therapy for me than anything to help me realize that we are all human beings, and we have our quirks.  It's better to be entertained than frustrated (which is easier said than done.)

~ Cheech

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Complex Twist Slider

Slow down your sink!

Complex Twist Slider
As we continue to venture toward the saltwater side of things, it was only natural that we tie a slider pattern.  I was intrigued by the construction of the head and tweaked it a bit before I settled on the method that we will show you in the video (It has a bruiser blend beard...)  I also decided to incorporate the same tail and body from the complex twist bugger to make up the bulk of this fly.  

The slider is a great way to help your bug "suspend" more in the water because of the half buoyant head, and can be a great application for freshwater trout as well.  The key to tying these bugs is to vary your weight system based on the type of water you fish, and how your fish like to eat.  You can use everything from small bead-chain eyes to large tungsten eyes.  

Deer hair...  This can be a four letter word for some tyers, but I assure you that this pattern makes it "doable."  The eyes help the hair stay right in place, and you don't have to worry about stacking, packing, or spinning (unless you want to.)  It's a great starter fly for people wanting to get used to tying with hair.

~ Cheech

Material List


Hook: Daiichi X452 2/0 - 2  (BUY HERE)
Thread: UNI 6/0 White and Veevus GSP 100 denier (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Brass Barbell eyes - 4.8mm (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - Lt. cahill, med brown (BUY HERE)
Body: UV polar chenille - gold uv (BUY HERE)
Body 2: Schlappen - fiery brown (BUY HERE)
Body 3: Holographic cactus chenille - silver/gold (BUY HERE)
Head: Deer belly hair - brown and natural (BUY HERE)
Throat: Bruiser Blend Jr. - Tan (BUY HERE)
Weed Guard: 25# monofilament

Alternate Trout Recipe:

Hook: Allen B200 #6-10 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UNI 6/0 White and Veevus GSP 100 denier (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Brass Barbell eyes - 4.8mm (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - lemon yellow, med olive (BUY HERE)
Body: Palmer chenille - olive (BUY HERE)
Body 2: Schlappen - olive (BUY HERE)
Body 3: Holographic cactus chenille - olive (BUY HERE)
Head: Deer belly hair - olive Body: UV polar chenille - gold uv (BUY HERE)
Throat: Bruiser Blend Jr. - pale lemon (BUY HERE)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fat Sancho Shrimp

Fish it or dip it in butter

Fat Sancho Shrimp

We have been throwing together some creative flies for buddies that have been heading out saltwater fishing lately, and we have sent baitfish crabs and shrimp patterns all over the planet!  The majority of the shrimp patterns that I had tied were designed to ride hook up and close to the bottom, so I decided to try my hand at a more realistic shrimp that rides hook down.

The materials that we use on this fly are key to its creation because they are very transparent when wet.  The body is made out of a new dubbing blend that we have been playing with called "Salty Snack Dubbing."  This dubbing is a very coarse blend of synthetic fibers that can be twisted up in a dubbing loop, tied in like a hank of material, or tied in perpendicular to the hook shank for
merkin/toad style flies.  The other key is Loon UV resin in all three thicknesses (thick, thin, and flow).  This UV resin allows me to stick the top of the fly to the bottom half, and it allows me to properly saturate the fibers in order to make the top half of the fly solid.

Have fun tying this little beauty, and let us know if it catches anything for you.

~ Cheech

Hook: Daiichi 2546 #1 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 - White (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Epoxy mono crab eyes - Black (BUY HERE)
Egg Sack: Salty snack dubbing - lt. orange (BUY HERE)
Body: Salty snack dubbing - gray (BUY HERE)
Flash (Turd Vein): Crystal flash - black (BUY HERE)
Over Body: Bruiser blend dubbing - gray (BUY HERE)
Resin: Uv clear fly finish - Thick, thin, and flow (BUY HERE)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Quick Chironomid/Buzzer


Chironomid Soft Hackle Nymph
I'm a big fan of throwing soft hackles for midging trout, so this is a style of chironomid, or buzzer, that can double as both a soft hackle nymph as well as a pupating emerger. Although we'll probably do a video tutorial on it at some point, it's not that difficult to tie. 

The body is just regular turkey biots in black with a Krystal flash ribbing. The wing case is red holographic tinsel with some Loon UV coated on top. The wing case covering the bead is a great way to keep more of a natural shape to your patterns without worrying about the effect of a bulbous appendage wrecking your look and feel on the pattern.

I will fish this in rivers as a regular nymph -- especially on a Euro rig but it works great swung through the current as well. And fished from an indicator on a still water is another deadly combination for this style of pattern.

Anyway, give it a try:

Material List

Soft Hackle: India Hen or Coq De Leon Hen, Black
Wing Case Coating: Loon UV Fly Finish, Flow

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Art Led Me to Fly Fishing

Fly Tying is Art

Some colorful Arizona Princes

I grew up in Vernal, UT, which can be described as a big little city in the northeastern extreme of the state.  There is a lot of oil and gas influence in the city, and most of the people there enjoy the outdoors, but my parents were nothing of the sort.  My dad is a local Vernal kid and was a school teacher and a florist of all things (believe me... there is a LONG story there), and my mom is a hippie transplant from the bay area who has lost her mind due to raising 6 rowdy boys and being a kindergarten teacher for about 100 years.  We didn't really camp, hunt, or fish.  We didn't have guns to shoot, ATVs to ride, or animals to feed.  I really was fueled by sports, mainly soccer, through my younger years but I always had access and drive to create art.  In about 5th grade I realized that I couldn't draw anything that was realistic, so I'd draw and create caricatures and abstract stuff (like the flyfishfood logo) that would freak out my teachers.  I guess the sculpture of a figure in a hooded robe with his mouth sewn shut was the kicker for her...  Anyway, I loved art because it was a good outlet for me to create anything that I wanted.  The only thing that pissed me off about my art classes was when the stoners in ceramics class would make bongs that would blow up in the kiln and destroy my
Some of my tying mascots
latest piece.  I enjoy good art and my tying room is covered with it.  I have pictures that friends have drawn and painted, I have some old sculptures including a Bob Marley head that keeps breaking off dreads, and I have a piece of art that I highly value - a piece of old drift wood with a big foam patch stuck to it with flies that have inspired me.  They are all flies that people have given me at a show or in a trade, but they all have a story.  FLIES ARE ART.

My fly tying career began at a call center of all places.  I was the Spanish speaking agent on our team, so I got paid more, but took about 1/10 of the calls the English reps would take so I HAD time.  There were a group of us that would go out and hit some of the local bass fishing establishments in the evenings which usually consisted in throwing banjo minnows until we couldn't see anymore (yes they work.)  We would view fly fishing as a three headed monster that we might not ever catch, but we would try - unsuccessfully...  One day, one of my co-workers brought his grandpa's old tying kit and sat down to
Heathen Fishing.
"tie me some flies."  I still remember to this day that he would rub beeswax on his thread for what seemed 10 minutes before he tied any materials in...  Well, guess what habit I had for the first few months...  My first fly was a wooly bugger with a blue tail, yellow body, and red hackle.  The hackle was WAY too big so I just trimmed it down to size...  It was glorious and terrible all at the same time, and I wish that I still has that thing because I'd frame the sucker.  It was the catalyst to my obsession.  That call center was where I met my bride, so I guess that job really worked out well for me.  My Father in Law to be just so happened to be a fly fisherman, and the very first fly rod that I got my grubby mitts on was an old Fenwick fiberglass jobber with an automatic reel that I cast in his back yard.  It seemed like I was in the back yard for hours trying to figure out how to make that dang thing work.  Luckily for me, my wife bought me a high quality Pflueger Trophy Tamer and a fly tying kit for Christmas that year.  Little did she know what she started...  The rod didn't experience proper bendo for over a year due to me lugging along the fly rod kind of as an afterthought in the event that the stars would align and that three headed dragon would be attained that day.  The vise, on the other hand, was getting ABUSED...  I was burning through 50 packs of Mustads faster than I could save up
This is one of the walls in the dungeon.
to buy them.  I tied everything that the poorly illustrated book that came with my kit would show me, and then I started to just freestyle.  I had about every color of wooly bugger, hare's ear, and brassie, and they were all very poorly tied.  I also tried to tie the  Royal Coachman because it was my Father in Law's favorite pattern.  His favorite fishing phrase was "If they aren't eating a Royal Coachman or a Black Gnat you might as well just go home."  This phrase created a false sense of confidence in this fly, and one of my ugly Coachmen was the first fly I caught a fish on.  It was at Tony Grove reservoir in Northern Utah, and it was a tiny stocker rainbow.  What I remember most about that fish was that I was alone, and I was stripping a dry fly under the surface.

Fly tying started to get more serious for me once I started to try to match the hatch more.  That is where I realized that every little detail made a difference.  I remember getting together with my buddy Aaron to tie flies, and we would challenge ourselves to tie flies that looked as good as the flies in the Orvis catalog.  It was about this point that I stopped looking at pattern books for the most part.  I regularly referenced the Benchside Reference because it showed techniques instead of flies.  These techniques were what fueled the art of tying.  From there I tied crazy bass flies out of flip flops, trout streamers out of weed whacker line, and the infamous caddis pupa tied from hair from nether regions tied especially for my buddy who would raid my box and hold the fly in his mouth as he got ready to tie it on...  Yeah he was pissed.  I had found my art medium.  Tying flies had become much more than just fooling fish (which was still really important) - it became a way to express myself.  When I was angry I'd crank up Rage Against the Machine and tie big gnarly streamers, and when I just wanted to chill out I'd turn up some Reggae and tie more delicate stuff.

This IS organized
When I fish, part of it is to catch fish - but I'm really motivated to come up with flies that could be the next big thing - and once I find a fly that works I'm off to find another one.  I'm in a constant state of
creation and imagination when it comes to attaching junk to a hook.  Art still lives strong in my basement fly studio/disaster zone, and because of art; many fish have been brought to hand.  I'm good with that.

~ Cheech

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Gut Sack Sow Bug

It's Got Guts

Gut Sack Sow Bug, wet and buggy

Ok, I know there are a lot of sow bug patterns out there and a lot of them are pretty similar. This one, however, should stand out a bit cuz it's taken, well, about 20 years of evolution to get to where it is today. And the last piece of the puzzle was the dubbing, which didn't come about until this year, but we'll get to that. First, the genesis...

As a college student about 20 some odd years ago, I fished a local tail water in between classes and as often as I could make the drive 20 minutes up the canyon to find a piece of water. I was also a typical fly shop rat, scrounging up information on what patterns to use and how to fish them, so I usually threw the standard fair of midges, mayflies and caddis patterns.

One day as I was having a particularly tough time getting any fish, I ended up tossing out a bigger size #12 hare's ear pattern and immediately hooked up. While I don't use one very often, I ended up taking some throat samples with my mini turkey baster (aka throat pump). With the exception of a few small midges, the sample was dominated by what I thought were little potato bugs. So that afternoon, I went to a couple of local fly shops looking for good patterns but didn't find any matching flies or any decent information.

I ended up experimenting on my own and produced a few patterns that matched. The next time out on the river, the pattern was a winner. Eventually, I found out what these strange bugs were and since then I have worked to come up with something that was easy to tie but a good match for the original. Check out some of these naturals to get an idea of what we're trying to imitate with sow patterns in general.

Several factors come into play but the flatter profile was the biggest imitation point I went after. This latest iteration has the same aspects, but the addition of the "see-through" Gut-Bomb-esque innards profile using UV resin was the clincher. The lead-free wire acts as both a way to flatten and weigh the pattern, but also a way to imitate the tell-tale segmentations of sow bug.

The final piece to this pattern was the dubbing. I've tied hundreds upon hundreds of sow bugs over the years and found my own personal mixes were the consistency and color that I needed. This last round saw me going through most commercially produced sow mixes out there. With the exception of a special sow mix from John Rohmer, that's not made any longer, I came up short. Luckily, we have the dubbing wizard in Cheech and he worked through a lot of different mixes before we settled on this specific style. We simply call it Sow Dub. You can obviously use it for scuds, but it's a killer sow imitation. It has some stiffer fibers to imitate the legs, but yet can hold a bit of water for some nice translucent effects. Anyway, you can buy it now on our website. We'll be throwing together a few more colors here shortly.

And here are some variations with the same style you can try as well...
Original Recipe
Pink Thread Hot Spot
Red Sharpie on Lead Base
Red Vein

Material List

Hook: Daiichi X710 #12 - #18  -- Buy Here --
Thread: MFC Premium Thread, 6/0, Dark Gray  -- Buy Here --
Under-Body: Lead-Free Wire, .030" -- Buy Here --
Vein: Krystal Flash or Sulky Fiber, Black  -- Buy Here --
Body: Fly Fish Food Sow Dub  -- Buy Here --
Coating: Loon UV Fly Finish, Flow & Thick  -- Buy Here --

And note a few of the tools we use for this pattern:
-- Dr. Slick Scissor Clamps (for crimping barbs or smashing lead etc)
-- New super-awesome Elite Rotodubbing Twister
-- Dr. Slick All-in-one dubbing brush

Monday, November 24, 2014

Belly Scratcher Sculpin

Sculpin Overkill

Belly Scratcher Sculpin

Wet vs dry.
I have to admit that I have been on a mission to tie a realistic sculpin for the last couple of years.  El Sculpito has been a great fly, but it's still a pretty impressionistic pattern instead of being a dead ringer.  When Bruiser Blend came to be, I was trying to incorporate it into flies any which way I could, and I got an idea for some fins.  If you have seen a sculpin you will notice that they have huge pectoral fins, and that it's hard to duplicate how big they are with materials that will stay big once wet.  I have seen them tied with hen hackle, mallard flank, zonker strips, etc...  All of that stuff compresses a LOT when it gets wet.

It's hard to explain all that goes into these fins, so you will have to watch the video to see it.  Yes, it is overkill, but it's the closest thing that I could get to huge pectoral fins.  They get a bit softer as you fish them, but they still hold a shape pretty well.  This is the first fly that I tied "woolhead" style with bruiser blend dubbing, and it works REALLY well in that technique.  I realized that I would waste a lot of the dubbing by tying it in woolhead style, so I started using Bruiser Blend Jr. to avoid excess waste.

Another version with a thicker head.
On the first few that I tied I put stick-on eyes on them, but there was something that just didn't look right about them.  I went through several versions of eyes until I just decided to build my own right on the dubbing.  Because these eyes are epoxied right into the dubbing of the head, they don't ever fall off.  If all you get out of this video is a new way to make the eyes, you will still come out ahead of the game...

Initial fishing tests were pretty insane because the fish would come out of the woodwork to absolutely SMACK this fly.  The best part is that you can tie some that are lightly weighted, and some that are heavy in order to put them in all of the water columns.

The four things to watch for in this video are the weighting system, the fins, the head, and the EYES.


Hook:  Allen B200 or Daiichi 2461 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UNI 6/0 - white (BUY HERE) Veevus GSP 100 - black (BUY HERE)
Tail: Zonker strip - olive (BUY HERE)
Body: Holographis cactus chenille - silver gold or olive (BUY HERE)
Weighting system: Articulation wire and 3.8 mm tungsten beads (BUY HERE and HERE)
Fins: Bruiser Blend dubbing - brown olive (BUY HERE)
Head: Bruiser Blend Jr. dubbing - brown olive (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Loon UV resin - thin, and thick (BUY HERE)