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Saltwater Patterns

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The Griffin Montana Mongoose

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

El Sculpito Dos - Updated!

A small streamer with a bad attitude

The new and improved El Sculpito

Shortly after writing this article, I started on tweaking the Sculpito into something that could be done with more readily available products.  The major change is the head which is now made of Mega
Simi Seal.  There is also one change that I made after making the video, and that's the thread that I use for the head of this fly.  I was having issues with thread breakage when I wrapped the head due to having to cram it in between the barbell eyes so tight.  I switched to GSP and it fixed the problem.  GSP thread usually comes in black or white, so you may need to tag it with a marker.  The olive and tan El Sculpito is among our top selling flies on the site, and we see pictures from all over the country with fish that have been fooled by this pattern.

Here are the updated recipes:

Olive El Sculpito:
Hook: Allen B200 #4 -8 BUY HERE or Gamakatsu B10S #1-4 BUY HERE
Barbell Eyes: Brass Barbell w/eye - red (5.5mm for B200 #4-6  and B10S #1-2) (4.8mm for B200 #8 and B10S #4) BUY HERE
Thread: UTC 140 - olive (body) BUY HERE and Veevus 100D GSP - black (head) BUY HERE
Body: Arizona Mega Simi Seal - Dark Brown Olive BUY HERE
Tail: Rabbit Zonker Strips - Olive BUY HERE
Pectoral Fins: Silicon streamer legs - Olive gold BUY HERE
Head: Arizona Mega Simi Seal - Dark Brown Olive BUY HERE
Stripes: Black Sharpie

Tan El Sculpito:
Hook: Allen B200 #4 -8 BUY HERE or Gamakatsu B10S #1-4 BUY HERE
Barbell Eyes: Brass Barbell w/eye - yellow (5.5mm for B200 #4-6  and B10S #1-2) (4.8mm for B200 #8 and B10S #4) BUY HERE
Thread: UTC 140 - Tan (body) BUY HERE and Veevus 100D GSP - white (head) BUY HERE
Body: Arizona Mega Simi Seal - Golden Shiner BUY HERE
Tail: Rabbit Zonker Strips - Grizzly or Tan BUY HERE
Pectoral Fins: Silicon streamer legs - Speckled Pumpkin BUY HERE
Head: Arizona Mega Simi Seal - Golden Shiner BUY HERE
Stripes: Brown Sharpie

Tools used:
Turbo Dubbing Spinner BUY HERE or Stonfo Elite Rotodubbing Twister BUY HERE
Griffin Supreme Ceramic Bobbin BUY HERE
Dr. Slick 4" Tungsten Scissors BUY HERE
Dr. Slick All-In-One Dubbing Brush BUY HERE

Buy El Sculpito HERE

Version of El Sculpito

***Original Article***

It seems that articulated flies are all the rage right now, but there is definitively still a place in our hearts (and in fish lips)  for the one hook variety of streamers.  El Sculpito, like many of the patterns that I tie, is more of a concept than an exact recipe, and many of the materials can be added/subtracted to your liking.  When I started this concept, I wanted to make a pattern that wasn't too complex, and that would slither over rocks without hanging up.  I knew the tail was going to be rabbit, but the rest of the fly was kind of up in the air.  I used Arizona Mega Simi Seal (AZMSS) for the body (and eventually for the head too), because it has a wide variety of colors and isn't overburdened with flash.  By using AZMSS in the fly it eliminates the need to add flash of any kind and makes the bug even faster to tie.  Pectoral fins on sculpins are what really make or break them because the head and fins should have a wide, flat profile.  I had been tying some bass jigs and had a bunch of skirt material (sili legs) laying on the table, so on they went.  They looked really cool on the vise, but I didn't realize what they would do for the action of the fly in the water until I actually fished it (see below).  Then came the head...  Deer hair?  Nope, I want to keep it simple.  Wool?  Nope, even more simple.  I grabbed some Congo Hair and started cutting it up to make a super dubbing.  The dubbing consists of multiple colors of congo hair cut about 2 inches long and blended all up with combs and dog brushes (coffee grinders don't take to well to this stuff).  I attached the dubbing using a dubbing loop, and it actually brushed out really well and held its shape even in the water.  I have since moved to AZMSS dubbing for the head due to a wider array of colors available.  For the eyes, I have been using lead barbell eyes with CCG eyes super glued  to them, but if I want to simplify the pattern I add  Spirit River I-Balz eyes or Allen Fly Fishing barbell eyes.

This Splake found it hard to resist

Field tests have been completed, and not only did the fish munch it up, it swims great and slithers over rocks just as I suspected it would.  One of the coolest features was that the sili legs are somewhat buoyant, and make the back half of the fly kick up after it is stripped kind of like a jigging motion.  Many more variations to come.

~ Cheech


Hook: Allen B200 #4 -8 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 (body) and Veevus 100D GSP (head) (Uni, Veevus)

Hook: Allen Fly Fishing B200  -- Buy Here --
Thread: Uni 6/0.  Bigger thread is important so I can cinch the dubbing loop between the eyes.
Tail: Rabbit strip.  Normal size for smaller patterns, and magnum for larger patterns.  -- Buy Here --
Body: Arizona Mega Simi Seal. Colors include Dark Olive and Dark Olive Brown  -- Buy Here --
Pectoral fins: Skirt material from (seriously, you should check this site out.)
Eyes: Barbell Eyes  -- Buy Here --
Head: Same as body, OR try our new Bruiser Blend with longer, more brushable fibers  -- Buy Here --

Shown in a smaller size with simi seal dubbing. (this is the one in the fish lip above.)

Original pattern with I-Balz and Congo Hair

Original pattern with I-Balz and Congo Hair

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Crotcha: A Hybrid Bonefish Fly

Gotcha or Crazy Charlie?

Crotcha Bonefish Pattern

So I'm a big fan of taking perfectly good fly patterns, dissecting them or adding to them to create variations -- mostly including my own home-baked patterns. In this case, we had some buddies headed to a few different salty locales around the world and so this concoction was whipped up to be a good combo of probably the two most popular bonefish patterns around.

Now I still don't really get all the differences between a Crazy Charlie and a Gotcha because you'll find images of each of them that look really close to each other swapping out materials and such, but this is a fun little tie that combines some of the aspects of each and then adds a few new-ish twists to round it off. And based on results of the first round of field testing, it does a pretty good job on the bones.

So grab some materials and get tying...

Material List

Hook: Daiich 2546 #4 or Partridge Sea Prince Hook #4  (BUY HERE) 
Thread: Montana Fly 6/0, Fl Pink  (BUY HERE)
Eyes: Beadchain Barbell Eyes  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Salty Snack Dubbing, Lt Orange  (BUY HERE)
Body: Veevus Holo Tinsel, Pink, Lg  (BUY HERE)
Vein: Veevus Holo Tinsel, Black, Md  (BUY HERE)
Ribbing: Krystal Flash, Black  (BUY HERE)
Body Coating: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Thick and Flow  (BUY HERE)
                        Loon Fly Tying Powder, Pearl  (BUY HERE)
Throat: Salty Snack Dubbing, Crab Tan; Senyo Barred Predator Wrap, Barred UV  (BUY HERE)
Legs: Silicon Streamer Legs, Speckled Shrimp (BUY HERE)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tacky UV Resins... The End of the World?

Simple solutions for tacky resin

Alpha Predator with a resin head

Over the past few years it seems like everyone has adopted the new UV resins as a substitute to normal Squeeze n' Mix 2 part epoxies.  Yes...  Bliss is defined as a resin that can be cured instantly to achieve ultimate and instant gratification.  All of the sudden we are putting epoxy backs on our Copper Johns and hard heads on our baitfish patterns instantly! Ah yes, these are the good ol' days of fly tying where so many good things like UV resin are readily available to us.  This being said, there has been a lot of discussion and debate about what is the "best" resin to use.  To be honest - I like them all, but I'm a bit partial to Loon due to the fact that they are a stand up company that is all ears when their customers give them input, and they try to do what's best for the environment.

Like any good thing, there is a caveat to having this miracle resin, and it's a HUGE downer called hate tackiness so much that I want to punch it in it's fat tacky mouth, but the solutions are so simple that we shouldn't get so worked up about it.
Low Fat Minnow
tackiness.  Yes - the fact that 90% of the resins out there cure with a noticeable tack on the surface that just so happens to be a marabou and dubbing MAGNET.  Here is a question to ask yourself... and repeat after me, "Is tack really all that bad?"  After asking yourself that, I invite you to take a step back and look at the Divas that we have become.  Tackiness is a prime example of a #firstworldproblem.  This being said, I absolutely

When I first started getting tack, I was using Loon wader repair back in the day with the single LED light that took like 150 hearing aid batteries.  I thought that the tack was because of the light at first, so I started using the sun to cure it.  Guess what.  The big ol' sun is still no match for tack.  A good light is definitely a good thing to have because it will cure your resin faster, but tack is not the result of using a bad light - it's a chemistry thing.  I've been told and actually scolded many a time about it.

I heretofore provide you some solutions to stop tack in it tracks, thus, allowing us to be divas like we deserve to be.

Tack elimination solutions:

Buzzer with UV Resin
Solution 1 - Use a tack free UV resin as a top coat.  Some of the most popular tack free resins are Loon Flow and CCG Hydro.  These are very thin resins that can easily be applied to another resin coat to create a tack free barrier to the world.  Other tack free resins are out there, but Flow and Hydro are the two I'm most familiar with and are readily available.  This is what I use 95.773% of the time.

Solution 2 - Tag your tacky surface with a head cement.  The best one I have found is Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails.  I have also used Hard as Hull with great results, and the only downside to this method is that you don't get instant gratification... Go cry me a river...  Once you stop sobbing the SHHAN is dry.

Solution 3 - Rubbing alcohol / hand sanitizer.  Dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or a q-tip and apply to your tack to watch it magically disappear.  Hand sanitizer has the same effect (if it's alcohol based - which most are) but I usually don't put it on a cotton swab or q-tip.  The only issue with this is that the hand sanitizer will leave kind of a matte finish to the surface.  I really like a shiny surface so I don't use this one very much.

Solution 4 - (this is for coating larger surfaces) Use Loon hard head, or a 2 part 30 minute epoxy as a top coat.  This requires a fly turning wheel due to the size of the surface area covered.  This is a very cost effective method, and the 30 minute epoxy is the ticket to a bullet proof fly that won't break.  You could just use 100% epoxy, but it's much easier to form the general shape of the head with UV resin because you can zap it in place instantly.

Solution 5 - Travel to the planet krypton to the resin springs of non-tack-nia and scoop up the resin in a hollow mammoth tusk.  This is the place where all non tacky resin is naturally spewed forth, and very little makes it back to earth.  This is why dentists can charge you so much for it.  The only other people that will offer to sell you the resins of non-tack-nia are the Kenyans...  so... pretty sketchy.  You best stick to solutions 1 through 4.

All in all... Tack is really not that big of a deal, and there are several solutions for eliminating it.  Would it be good if all resins were not tack free?  Absolutely!  Until then, we can hate tack, but we just can't be divas about it.

~ Cheech

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Virtual Iron Fly - Followers vs. Flyfishfood

Challenge us to create stuff

This plethora of vises will help us get the job done.

These "Iron Fly" challenges that are popping up around the country are pretty awesome...  We have wanted to participate for a while now, and it just so happens that the Iron Fly in SLC is on a night that we get to fill bags full of goodies for our customers.  We're 100% good with that, BUT we still want to do an Iron Fly-esqe thing that involves our customers and followers, and this type of thing has been suggested already by several of you.  We will try to have a theme (either for the fly, or for the materials suggested), and our followers will comment on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. with the materials they want to see us use.  Whoever is in the hot seat, whether it is Cheech or Curtis will have no input at all on the final list of materials to be used (we tend to be BRUTAL with each other).  Then, once the list is gathered, we hold a live YouTube event so you can watch us struggle to tie a fly that is somewhat usable.  The tyer will have no knowledge of the final list of materials chosen until the night of the live event.

I did this once at a family reunion when all of my brothers challenged me to tie a fly 100% out of materials from the shed.  I could use a hook and thread from my kit, but everything else was shed fodder.  What came of that was called the Weed Whacker Special tied out of twine, weed whacker line, and some flashy junk from a Christmas ornament.  Yes it worked... barely.  

Here's how it works.  

  1. We set a theme and a date
  2. You suggest the materials (via blog, social media, etc)
  3. We tie the fly during a live Youtube event
  4. You ridicule us while we struggle at the vise
  5. We either succeed or fail to make a usable fly.
  6. After the event there will be a drawing to win the fly that we tied and a small goodie bag.

You can suggest fly tying materials, stuff from the dollar store, etc etc.  One key to having your material selected is that it should be readily available.  If it's hard to find or really expensive, it likely won't make the list.

So here goes...

Date:  March 5, 2015 7:00 pm (Mountain time in 'Murica)
Theme: Meat (This will get more creative as we go on)

Start giving us your suggestions in the comments below and on social media.  More details once we get closer to March 5th.

Somehow I feel like we are going to regret this... but it will be for your entertainment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snook Snack - Baitfish

A simple bait fish solution

When I started tying these I really didn't have snook in mind specifically, but due to the saltwater state of mind that I have been in lately and the color selection I chose for the first few rounds of this fly, it kind of came out snookish.  That being said, I have modified this pattern in other colors for trout and bass too.  Also, like many of our other patterns, this one isn't going to re-invent the wheel by any means, but it will maybe open some doors of creativity in showing some different materials for a tail and how to stick eyes on a baitfish without encasing them in UV resin.  I have been really liking the movement of craft fur in the water so I chose to make the tail out of it on this version.  Perhaps the most useful tip you can pull out of this short video is the marker blending technique that I use on Bruiser Blend.

~ Cheech

Hook: Daiichi 3111 2/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - Tan and Chartreuse (BUY HERE)
Body1: Schlappen - Chartreuse (BUY HERE)
Body2: Palmer Chenille - Rootbeer (BUY HERE)
Head: Bruiser Blend Jr. - Dirty Chartreuse (BUY HERE) *additional color with marker
Eyes: Fish Skull Living Eyes 8mm (or 5mm) - Fire (Orange) (BUY HERE)

Alternate color:
Hook: Daiichi 3111 2/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - White and Sand (BUY HERE)
Body1: Schlappen - White (BUY HERE)
Body2: Palmer Chenille - Pearl (BUY HERE)
Head: Bruiser Blend Jr. - Tan (top) Cream (bottom) (BUY HERE) *additional color with marker
Eyes: Fish Skull Living Eyes 8mm (or 5mm) - Ice (Silver) (BUY HERE)

Tools/Adhesives Used:
Wasatch Fur Comb  (BUY HERE)
Rite Bobbin (BUY HERE)
Tear Mender (BUY HERE)
Dr. Slick Razor Scissors (BUY HERE)
Griffin Montana Mongoose Vise (BUY HERE)
Quick Cut Whip Finisher (BUY HERE)  **limited supply

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Tools We Don't Leave Home Without

Non-standard standards

Turbo Dubbing Spinner and the Wasatch Fur Comb
A few weeks ago, I did a presentation for a trout unlimited group and was asked to discuss the various new tools and doo-dads we use. Surprisingly enough, beyond the normal scissors, bobbins, bodkins and whip finishers, there are still a lot of tools that we find indispensable. So rather than only listing them all here in writing we decided to bust out the movie making equipment and show our ugly mugs again.

So we chose a handful of tools that we really use day in and day out. And rather than recap the video below, here's a quick reference list to the tools we discussed:
** Click each one for more information **

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tying vs. Buying - Which costs more?

Creativity meets economics

This fly sells for $10

There are a lot of reasons why people tie flies.  I really like the artistic outlet that I have on my vise and the ability to create basically anything I want.  Others might like the relaxation tying gives them, they might only tie to re-supply their standard fish catching patterns, or they may do it to save money.  I have heard this a million times that you will never save money by tying your own flies, and for me specifically (if I didn't sell them) I'd say that I would definitely NOT save money no matter how I try to justify having about 25,000 hooks on hand.  This being said, there is definitely a way to save money on flies if one is fairly methodical about it.

Before I get into the actual money saving part, I'll preface this by saying that if you only buy flies you are limited by what is in the shop, or what is available online. Period.  If you want to so much as change the marabou color on a Wooly Bugger you are running into asking a custom fly designer to do it for you which will most likely cost you some cash money.  So - by relegating yourself to only purchasing flies, you are limiting yourself to the creativity of others.

Before I go all "Curtis" on this and put my Nerdalysis hat on let's set some parameters on the cost of a fly (in very broad general terms).

  • Junk fly - $0.75 (Congrats, you just purchased a zebra midge from Africa.  Yes it will still catch fish... after you Zap-a-gap the hell out of it)
  • Normal run-of-the-mill fly - $2.00 to $3.50 (Typically from a reputable fly distributor i.e. Rainy's Umpqua, MFC etc.)
  • Specialty fly - $3.50 to $15.  These are more specialized ninja patterns that include big articulated meat and bugs from custom tyers.
For the sake of simplicity I'll use $2.00 as a general reference for what a fly costs (and this is probably a low estimate.)

The kicker in making the jump into tying flies is the sunk cost that comes with the purchase of a vise and tools.  I guess a nice dry fly hackle really ups the initial price of tying dry flies as well, but the hackle will literally last you for thousands and thousands of flies.  For the beginning tyer there really isn't a huge "need" to buy all of the top-of-the-line vise and tools, but it certainly won't hurt to have top quality stuff to tie with.  This being said, in my example I'll use a vise and tools that you won't want to throw away after the first month of tying like the tools that many of the starter kits come with.

Vise: Griffin Montana Pro - $78.00
Scissors: Dr. Slick All Purpose - $15.00
Bobbin: Griffin Supreme Ceramic - $12.50
Whip Finisher: Dr. Slick Stainless Whip Finisher - $7.00
Total price: $112.50

So this list represents "needs" and not "wants."  In order to get started with tying flies, these are the things, in my opinion, that a new tyer needs to start off on the right foot and not want to throw a vise (or bobbin) through a window.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Let's say that a new tyer wants to start out tying wooly buggers and pheasant tails, and I'm going to list (generously) enough materials to tie 25 flies:

Wooly Bugger
Wooly Bugger:
Hook:  Allen S402 #6 (pack of 25) - $3.39
Thread: UTC 140 - $2.00
Tail: Marabou - $3.50
Body: Chenille - $2.50
Hackle: Schlappen - $7.00
Total price: $18.39

Pheasant Tail
Pheasant Tail:
Hook:  Allen D103S (pack of 25) - $3.39
Bead: Tungsten beads (pack of 25) - $3.75
Thread: UTC 70 - $2.00
Tail/body/wingcase: Pheasant tail fibers - $2.75
Thorax: Peacock herl - $3.25
Ribbing: UTC ultra wire - $1.45
Total price: $16.59

So if a new tyer started from ground zero, it would cost $147.48 to tie those first 50 flies.  That averages out to be about $3 per fly for the first go 'round.  For the next round of flies when you don't have to account for the vise and tools, your cost is $34.98 which rounds out to be about $0.70 per fly (and it will likely even be cheaper than this because your materials will actually tie much more than 25 flies.)

This is kind of an extreme example because you are limiting yourself to one size of hook and one color per pattern, but as you move into buying materials for different patterns you will start seeing that your materials will mix and match to tie many other types of flies.  As you get further and further down the road of tying, you will get to the point that you are only limited by how many hooks and beads you have.  Like I said above, if you buy all the materials for a certain pattern, there is a very likely chance that you will only have to buy another pack of hooks to tie your next 25.

Uncle Ken's Wooly Bug
The other thing to consider is that your flies won't look like friggin' Captain America sat down to tie them (I'm confident that he is great on the vise), so it will take practice to get your flies to the point where they can compete, or even be better than their store bought counterparts.  Your goal from the get go is to tie flies that are durable and that can catch fish.  Once you have that down, you can focus on cleaning them up.  I have ranted many times about tying flies that are nice and tidy and that look great, BUT, if you are tying for yourself and don't intend on selling them or entering them in the Miss Universe contest, feel free to just tie "fishing" flies.

I'll tell you right now that many tyers (myself and Curtis included) will likely never "save" money tying flies because we have the sickness of having to have every new material and doo-dad that comes into the market.  Even though tying is a viable way to save money on flies if one is disciplined, for many people the draw of tying is much more than that, and it's worth it for them to have $25,000 worth of junk in a basement dungeon in order to have that perfect caddis pupa with just the right amount of flash and legs etc...   

The point I'd like to make the most with this post is this: Is it possible to save money by tying your own flies? Absolutely. It is probable? well...  that's complicated.

~ Cheech

P.S. To all you married fellers... One of the biggest ways to save money is to find a way to keep hooks from finding their way into your wife's feet.  I hear divorces are expensive.