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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best and Worst of Fly Fish Food for 2013

Drum roll, please...

In looking back over the year, we wanted to throw out some of our most memorable moments, fish and patterns -- both the good and the bad. We're also stoked to be a part of some exciting things for the coming year, so stay tuned for some announcements in the next few days!

In the meantime, here's the list....

Worst (not much was "bad" this year, but you gotta know the bitter to appreciate the sweet).

  1. Socks aren't necessarily made to be good toilet paper. Nature yelled hard when Cheech had to make a quick and urgent run to the rustic 1920's era outhouse on a remote lake to get rid of three days of gut-busting convenience store and camp food. As he emerged from the woods, a greatly relieved man, he lifted his pant leg and asked "Hmmm...where's my sock?". Lucky for him, there was a nearby campsite that had some extra man-sized wet wipes so he could finish the job.
  2. Wader Farts. The. End.
  3. Fly eating, rod-breaking trees. We broke a few rods this year, but Cheech, as usual, did it in the most spectacular fashion, yanking a two-dollar fly out of a tree, breaking his $600 rod in the process.
  4. Fishing for Musky in a river of chocolate flowing into Willie Wonka's chocolate factory.
  5. Hiking to a "secluded" lake full of enormous trout, only to be run off by a huge pack of venomous scouts.


  1. The response and support from all you that read our stuff and watch our videos. We throw some crazy stuff out there and it's nice to see people digest and appreciate it. We have a lot more to come, so stay tuned!
  2. Streamer Fish. We fished a lot of new streamers this year and had a ball pulling out some nice fish from some really awesome and varied waters. Check out here, here and here
    Hungry Splake that chased down a big streamer
    A cutthroat stuffing his face with a Cheech Leech

    Honey Badger Don't Care.
  3. Some incredible Salmon Fly Fishing. We lucked into some of the better salmon fly action we've seen in years. Big dry flies and aggressive fish! Read more here.
    Peekaboo, Mr. Pteronarcys Californi

Mouthful, a Salmon Fly pattern inhaled by a brown trout

  • Year of the Bluegill. We had some fun throwing out patterns and hitting the local bluegill ponds as part of the "Year of the Bluegill" (see TFM for more details), which Cameron summarized nicely today here. In addition to the chunker below, there were some good fish this year and fly patterns were rolling off the vise for testing on a consistent basis. Read our bluegill content here...
    Bluegill taken on a white popper

    The Foam Dragon, Bluegill Fly pattern
  • High Country Trout. 2013 proved to be a great year of bush-whacking, hiking and exploring waters new and old in the waters of the back country. We spent many o' night under the stars and had some cold mornings, some tough hikes but most of all, some awesome fish. The fish weren't always big, but the scenery was usually insane and the beauty of these fish remind us of why we pursue these crazy fish. Either way, we're counting the days until the snow is melted and once again, we can head for the hills. See more content, here, here and here.
    Colorful Brook Trout taken on the Chimera pattern

    High Mountain Cutthroat who has a taste for Damsel adults

    Colorful cutthroat taken from a very small remote stream

    A beautiful splake taken on a cold mountain lake

    Dry fly action with cutts on a high elevation lake

    Thanks again for being part of Fly Fish Food in 2013. This next year will have a lot more in store...

  • Monday, December 30, 2013

    Cheech's top 5 subsurface patterns of 2013

     Danger Lurks Beneath

    Synthetic 20 Incher

    For the past two or three years I have been on a nymphing/streamer kick, and I'd say that about 75% of my fishing is done beneath the surface.  In particular, this summer has been one of european style nymphing and throwing streamers, so I thought I'd share the flies that were on my line most of the time.

    Masked Marauder / Synthetic 20 Incher:

    Tan Masked Marauder

    The Masked Marauder in both light and dark applications has been so very good to me ever since it's first dip in the water...  I added the Synthetic 20 Incher (pictured above) because it's pretty much the same fly without the fancy wing case.  I think one of the keys to the success of these patterns is the use of Arizona Synthetic dubbing that is used for both the thorax and abdomen.  These patterns can be tied in a wide variety of sizes and colors due to the synthetic materials used.  I mainly fished these flies in size 10.  Masked Marauder tutorial HERE.

    Arizona Prince:

    Tan Arizona Prince

    The Arizona Prince is another pattern that is very versatile, and can be tied in a variety of sizes and colors.  I usually use the original prince color, or a tan variation to fish the streams that we have here in the west.  I have wanted to try out an all black version, but I never got around to trying it.  I  fish this fly in either a size 8 or a size 12.  Tutorial HERE.

    Mongrel Meat:

    Mongrel Meat
    I know what you are thinking here...  "No Cheech Leech????"  Well, because I spend so much time on the water trying to develop new patterns, the Cheech Leech didn't get as much playing time in the box this year because it's such a proven commodity.  Out came the big-eyed Mongrel Meat, and it was just as deadly.  I really like the way it swims in the water and how the bulky head pushes water.  I think it fishes better than the Cheech Leech in clear, spooky water because it doesn't have quite so much flash.  I fished it with both a sink tip, and with regular floating line depending on the type of water I was fishing.  Olive and Black were my top producers.  Tutorial HERE.

    El Sculpito:
    El Sculpito

    I have wanted a good small-profile sculpin pattern for a while, and I think I finally have something that fits what I need it to do.  El Sculpito came into my mind last winter, so I had to patiently wait until spring to really give it a good workout.  What I really love about the Sculpito is that it has a knack for hugging the bottom and slithering through the rocks without hanging up.  The silicone fins give it a great fat-head profile, and also helps create a cool jigging action on the retrieve.  Tutorial HERE.

    In all, I fished many different fly patterns this year, but these 5 have been the most consistent producers for me in 2013.

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

    10 Organization Tips For Your Tying Area

    Get your stuff together!

    A few months ago, we did a blurb on fly tying stations here and wanted to follow up with a few suggestions on how to organize things once you have a workstation in place. If you read that previous post, one of the biggest takeaways is to plan big and grow into your space (if possible). This is especially important for a tyer just starting out because this will make their collection and organization sooooo much easier down the road. That means pay attention! So with that in mind, here are a few tidbits on getting your space organized...

    1. Keep materials stored and separated as early on as you can. There was a time in my tying career that I kept all my "feathers" in one bag or box. It won't be too long before you have to dig through a considerable pile of stuff to get what you're looking for. One suggestion is either bags or plastic bin or drawer type containers to group "like" materials together. For instance, I have drawers such as "Soft Hackle", "CDC and Ostrich", "Rubber Legs and Skin", "Marabou", "Hackles" etc, making it a lot easier to find what I'm looking for.
    2. Label stuff. Ok, I'm anal and a bit OCD -- that's a given. But having my stuff labeled in its various containers saves me a lot of time by knowing where things are and how to get at it. I bought a cheap nerdy hand-held labeling machine at the office store. Works great. I use it for containers, hook boxes, bead boxes and my underwear.
    3. Keep highly used materials close at hand. Things like threads, hooks, hackles, etc I try to keep within arms length. While I do have a whole closet-full of materials, I try to make sure the most commonly used stuff is right in my reach.
    4. Store and label hooks and beads in drift-safe containers. I suppose you can keep hooks in their manufacturers packages, but what's the fun in that? I like to use containers like the ones from Craft-Mates. The compartments are individually lockable and the hooks or beads won't "travel" to a new slot when you tip it upside-down.
      Also, it's a good idea to label those containers so you can go back and know which hook types to re-order or which bead sizes you used on that pattern you tied up a few weeks ago.
    5. Try to make sure everything has a home. I used to find myself (and sometimes still do) buried in piles and piles of materials that cover every horizontal surface in my tying area. But when I finally get around to putting things back in their respective spots, I can at least see my desk area because most materials, tools, hooks, beads and such have a place to call home. This can be a tpol caddy, a small bin, a shoebox, a shelf or whatever you want to use.

      Whether or not you decide to put them there, is another story, but a clean tying area will increase your tying efficiency and ensure that you're not re-ordering the same materials 10 times over because you can't find them.
    6. Find a good solution for storing your tools. Whether you stick them in a simple tool caddy or build your own, your tools are likely going to last longer and will be easier to access if they're not sitting on your desk free to roam and get lost or fall onto the floor and break (as I've done with a couple of pairs of good scissors). Because I'm a bobbin hoarder, I have a couple of spots for the bobbins to keep them easy to reach and still keep them threaded.
    7. Foam Storage. Because of the large variety of colors, thicknesses and types, foam can very easily get out of control. I've found that by putting the foam into containers sorted by thickness and type, I can more easily organize and keep track of it all. And since I buy a lot of foam at the craft stores, I also have a bigger drawer (not shown below) that will store the bigger foam sheets so I don't have to cut them to fit into my smaller containers if I don't need to.

    8. Know what to buy. Probably one of the most annoying things about not staying organized is that you have a much harder time keeping up with knowing what materials you need. As part of this, I have a running list using Evernote that I jot down a "need to buy" list. I'll update that list when I'm tying or organizing and realize I need a given material. Then when I'm online or in a fly shop and need to buy materials, I can quickly refer to my list. It also helps to make sure I'm not buying double or triple copies of the same thing (as I've been known to do on many occasion).
    9. Purge. What kind of blasphemy is that? Yes, as hard as it is to admit, if you've been tying for any length of time, you've likely collected a ton of materials -- some of which is useless, dated or just plain crap. I recently went through my marabou collection and found packets of feathers from 20 years ago! Compared to what they're putting out today, it was total junk. I'm sure I could have kept it and maybe used it for something, but the space it takes is worth more than the materials. Don't be afraid to go through and purge things from time to time. Or at the very least, donate it to a local tying club or something to benefit someone else.
    10. Keep it Clean! I know, I know, that's the hardest part of all and what kind of true fly tyer doesn't have an insanely cluttered work area?? But if you take the time every couple of weeks to put things back into their places and to maybe dust or vacuum, you'll find you can be much more effective tying and keeping track of things. For me, I find that when I have a more organized tying area, I'm actually more inclined to sit down and spend time at the vise. Sounds weird, but it's true.
    In the end, I'm sure there are a lot of other organization tips, but this should get you going with some things to consider. If you have any other tips or suggestions, feel free to comment below....

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Bug-Eyed Boodle

    Simplicity is it's game

    Bug Eyed Boodle

    I can credit my father-in-law for first putting a fly rod in my hands at the age of 22.  I had fallen in love with chasing the local bass and trout with gear, but fly-fishing was an enigma that eluded me until I sat in his back yard waving a custom built fiberglass 6 wt with a pflueger medalist attached to it.  I was just some kid that his daughter had dragged in through the door a few weeks earlier, but he perked up when I mentioned fishing.  Bill and I have had many an adventure since that day, see, he is the father figure in my life, and there is no better place to talk about life's triumphs and struggles than while laying down big attractors for willing brook and cutthroat trout.  I place an extremely high value on my time fishing with Bill.

    The phone rang.  "We are going to Idaho next monday to fish."  There was no question that I was game for that trip, so I started to do some research.  Snake River cutthroat were on the menu so I was immediately thinking that I needed a whole bunch of the flashy/foamy/gaudy stuff that only hungry cutts dare put in their mouths.  I also happened to be on a total streamer kick, so I wrapped up some Mongrel Meats, and Cheech Leeches.  Because of the time investment of tying up big articulated streamers, I decided to tie some bugs that took less time to tie, but that would be something different from your typical wooly bugger.  Out came something that looked OK, so I wrapped up about 6 or 7 and called it quits.

    Streamer eating Cutthroat
    On the stream; the gray rolling clouds and light drizzle may as well have been a neon sign that said "THROW STREAMERS....  THROW STREAMERS."  I lashed a Cheech Leech to my trusty 5 wt, and Bill Started out with a Blingnobyl Ant as we fished the first couple of holes in the river.  The first hole the cheech swam through caught the attention of a very meaty fish, but he peeled off at the last second...  Too flashy.  On went the mongrel, and it was game on for the rest of the day.  Bill, or "Royal Coachman" as is his CB handle,  was intrigued by this new fangled streamerness and gave me that look like "hey...  gimme a streamer!"

    Ol' Royal Coachman with a Cutt
    Little did Bill know that he would be the field tester for my new streamer concoction.  I gave him one to try, and he ended up pulling fish out of just about everywhere.  It swam great, was durable, and the fish were going bonkers over it.  After about 5 fish, I finally told Bill that it had never been fished before and that he would have the honor of naming it.  Without hesitation, while releasing yet another slab of a fish, he matter-of-factly looked up and declared, "Bug Eyed Boodle."  Almost like it wasn't even a question...  So the Bug Eyed Boodle was born that rainy morning in Idaho, and it has been a staple in my box ever since.

    Hook: Allen E601 #2
    Eyes: Allen Brass Barbell w/ Eyes 4.8 mm
    Thread: UTC 140 to match color of fly
    Body: Holographic Cactus Chenille to match color of fly
    Collar: Spirit River UV2 Schalppen
    Overwing/body: Olive arctic fox tail hair

    Note:  This hook is MEAN... Meant to be an egg hook, I have been using it for inverted minnow type flies and have been very impressed.


    Friday, December 13, 2013

    Wolff Vise Reviews

    Durable workhorses of the bench

    Apex vise and Versa-Clamp

    I love gear.  There, I said it...  I love trying out new or existing stuff, and I'm usually pretty adaptable when it comes to rods reels, etc.  I'm a bit more particular when it comes to vises, so I was really excited to get the opportunity to tie for the last several weeks on Wolff Indiana's Atlas and Apex vises.  I was also able to review one of the best c-clamps (the Versa Clamp) that I have used (I'll go into detail later in this post).  These vises are the same vises that were made famous under the Anvil name, the only difference is that they now bear the Wolff name.

    What really interested me in these vises, is that they are made in the USA, they looked to be very well made, and they had an excellent price point.  The Apex vise retails for about $99, and the Atlas vise retails for about $149, so they fall right into the same price range as some of the other popular vises in the market.

    Both vises are designed around essentially the same jaw.  It is a smaller profile jaw that I immediately knew  I would like for tying the small stuff, but how would it handle the bigger stuff?  Remember, in my opinion, a good vise should be able to hold any hook without having to switch jaws, or adjust too much.  What I found in the jaw were two strategically placed notches that allow you to seat the larger stuff.  100% lockout on big hooks - check.  I did find that I had to find a happy medium with notches the Atlas, but the Apex was a bit easier to manipulate.  I'll explain later.

    Apex Vise (Traditional style vise)
    Wolff Apex Vise

    Most of you know by know that I'm a die hard rotary guy.  I don't really go out of my way to tie on non-rotary stuff, but this little vise kept finding it's way into my starting lineup, in fact, on a recent trip to Michigan for work, it is the vise that I took with me due to it's small size and simple design.  If it can make it through the TSA and the brutal baggage carriers from Delta Airlines (my box of tungsten beads wasn't so lucky), you know that it's well made.


    • Very well made.  Clean design with mostly machined metal parts.  
    • The jaw plain holds hooks.  In fact, I think this will be my new go-to vise when I'm wrapping up anything under a #20.  The fine points on this jaw give you maximum room to work with even #32 hooks (yes... I tied several 32's on it).
    • The notches really line up well with larger hooks, and I was able to achieve positive lockout on hooks as big as 4/0.
    • The clamping mechanism has a long lever making it very easy to clamp hooks in with an easy squeeze of your fist. (Much easier than on the Atlas).  I really liked this function because it helps with hand fatigue.
    • It comes with both a pedestal base and a c-clamp (not the versa clamp pictured, but still a good clamp).
    • This is one of the BEST options for a new tyer that is trying to stay under $100 on a vise.
    • When tying on this vise, there is a very slight amount of play in the connection where the jaw meets the stem.  It didn't bother me at all when I tied on it, but it might bother you if you are a wierdo with OCD like cough... cough... cou-Curtis...
    • I had to do a very slight amount of tuning to the vise, and it got more smooth as I tyed on it more.  I added reel oil to the threaded adjustment on the back of the jaw.  It also seemed like the clamping motion got more smooth the more that I clamped it.  It was kind of rough at the beginning.
    • The pedestal base on this one is too small for tying bigger flies.  If I were going to be doing deer hair, or bigger bugs, I'd get a larger base, or put it in the c-clamp
    • The stem is a bit short for the c-clamp.  It still works, and I tie with the vise fairly low so it worked great for me, but if you like your vise at head height while tying, this stem is too short for that.
    • The material clip kept moving around on me.  If I were going to tie on this vise long term, I'd find a way to stick the clip in one place without having to worry about it slipping off the front of the vise.
    In all, I think this vise is one of the best sub $100 vises on the market.  It's made in the USA, and as I said, I think I might just adopt this one for the fine and micro stuff.  This is a very solid vise.

    Atlas Vise (True rotary style vise)

    Wolff Atlas Vise
    I was most excited to get this vise because I really prefer to tie on a true rotary vise.  I did my best to put this thing through it's paces and tied every type and size of fly imaginable, and the verdict is that it basically holds any hook you throw at it... almost.  I'll talk about the notches and the angle of the jaw in a bit.  Again, USA made, 99% machined metal parts - this one is built to last a lifetime as well.


    • This thing is bulletproof.  It is designed to last the test of time as I mentioned with the Apex.
    • Holds a wide range of hooks, especially the small ones.
    • For $150 you can get a fully functional true rotary vise.  This one definitely hangs side by side with the Peak vise.
    • The jaw adjusts up and down, allowing you to achieve true rotary with any size of hook.  
    • The pedestal base is very wide and heavy.  This thing won't tip when you are cranking on that buck tail musky bug with GSP thread.
    • It also comes with a c-clamp 
    • I like the longer rotary stem that comes off the back of the vise.  This makes it easier to get a hold of and control even when you are just positioning the vise at an angle and not "tying" rotary style 
    • The angle of the jaw, and the notches in the jaw, don't lend themselves to easily place large hooks in it.  The Apex was much easier, because the jaw can be adjusted to a less extreme angle, but because of this angle on the Atlas, the notches try to grab the hook where there it typically a pretty extreme bend of the hook.  The notches are straight, not curved.  This being said, I could get a hook to sit in the notch, it just took some practice to get used to it.  Not a deal breaker at all.
    • The tensioning device on the back of the vise would loosen every so often.  I know that I could have fixed it if it were the vise that I was going to be tying on all the time, but I chose not to.  No big deal because most vises require a bit of tuning at first.
    • It was a bit rigid at first with the clamping mechanism on the jaw, but like the Apex, it broke in very shortly with use and a bit o' lube.
    • The material clip is lacking on this vise.  It's too small, and the gaps in the spring are a bit too wide.  There are many after-market clips available, but I found that I had to craft my own (as I have done with several other vises).  This really isn't a big deal to me because many vises are sold without material clips at all.
    All this being said, If I had to chose a vise between this one and the Peak (same price category), I'd blindfold myself and throw a dart at their pictures on the wall.  Whichever picture I hit would be the winner.  These vises are about the same when it comes to functionality.  Yes, that means that this is a really, really good vise for a bill and a half.

    Versa Clamp (See top picture)

    Oh how I wish I would have had this back in my days of tying with my c-clamp Renzetti Traveler.  If I would have had this bad boy, I would very likely still be tying on a c-clamp vise.  This is hands down the best clamp that I have used.  As you will see on the top picture, this clamp is designed to be used a variable widths that can be adjusted easily.  The main reason I changed to a pedestal base is that my c-clamp wouldn't fit on some surfaces.  This clamp would have taken care of that issue for me - no problem. It also has two bolts that lock down the shaft of the vise. 

    • This is the best c-clamp in the world
    • See above.  There are no cons

    All things being said, Wolff makes high quality products that are made to last a lifetime.  If I were deserted on an island with only a Wolff vise... I'd be a happy man.

    ~ Cheech

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

    REVIEW: 6th Finger Scissors

    An Ergonomic Scissor Choice

    When I first saw the 6th Finger scissors, from, a few years ago, I was a pretty dedicated "scissors-in-hand" tyer, so these scissors had an immediate appeal. It wasn't too long before I had a pair in my dirty little mitts and started to tie with them. I also ended up doing a short review on our Youtube channel that I've posted below for your viewing pleasure.

    Now to the nitty gritty...

    First off, in full disclosure, I am no longer a dedicated "scissors-in-hand" tyer. I won't go into a lot of detail as to why I switched, but a lot of it has to do with a recent article Cheech did on the virtues of tying with scissors in your hands. Nonetheless, I wanted to give this cool scissor design a fair review.

    With that in mind, I believe these are likely the "best" solution if you wish to tie with scissors in your hand. I definitely don't advocate tying with super-sharp "regular" scissors in your hands because you cannot easily hide the blades as easily in your hands as you can with scissors like this or other similarly designed scissors. Plus, the 6th finger scissors give you more dexterity, I believe, than most other scissors that you might want to keep in your hand as you tie.

    So, here's the breakdown of the pro's and con's...


    1. The scissors are truly designed to be kept in your hand as you tie and to "hide" the blades as completely as possible while not in use.
    2. The scissors are very lightweight and, as such, don't impact your hand dexterity as much as would a bigger pair of "regular" scissors.
    3. The loop on the scissors is big enough to fit more regular-human fingers, but not so loose as to become an impediment.
    4. If you're looking for good finishing work in tight spots, these blades have very fine points with some precision cutting capabilities.
    5. I believe that your cutting stroke is inherently going to be shorter and require less effort because the blades are relatively short when compared to the blade joint. This makes the "mouth" of the scissors smaller, which means less distance to travel to complete a cut. (this is also a on)


    1. My biggest challenge with the 6th finger scissors is that, because of the smaller "mouth" on the blades (see #5 above), I could not very easily cut bigger chunks of materials without having to take multiple chops/cuts with them. This actually slowed down my tying quite considerably because I was then required to either take more cuts or to put them down and pick up a pair that could do that type of cutting -- which sorta defeats the purpose of using them. Granted, I could always try to plan better on my material cutting and try to do those types of cuts in advance with different scissors, but ultimately, this was a fairly big limitation.
    2. When compared to some other "regular" scissors, I ended up finding that the 6th Finger scissors blades were not quite as sharp as I'd like or need. Again, the scissors are plenty sharp for most things -- especially in close detail work with thread and small feathers, fibers etc. But where I felt things got a little challenging was in trying to cut materials like antron or other synthetics in larger amounts or in situations where I could not put tension on the material itself (realizing, of course, you can cut most any material well with a dull pair of scissors as long as you keep good tension on the material as you cut it).
    3. As I considered the two "CON's" mentioned above, I realized I ended up grabbing a different pair of scissors to perform some cuts even while I had these in my hand. That sorta defeated the purpose of the in-hand design and I realized the 6th Finger scissors aren't as versatile as I would have hoped.


    So in all fairness, I think these scissors are worth a try -- especially if you're wanting to go in-hand on your scissor work. For me, personally, I ended up needing scissors that were a bit more versatile and knowing I typically use different scissors during my tying sessions anyway, I didn't feel the in-hand design was something that benefited me enough to use them on a more frequent basis. But the 6th finger scissors are a great design and a great way to get in and do some tight detailed scissor work.

    Here's the original review from 4 years ago...

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Double Wide Cheech Leech

    This fly is straight from the trailer park

    Double Wide Cheech Leech

    This summer was a great one in regards to testing new fangled ideas that turned into bona-fide fish killers.  The Mongrel Meat was the biggest success (that we published anyway...), but I was also toying with a big brother for the Cheech Leech.  The main difference is that it's longer and more bulky than the little brother.  The swimming motion was INSANE and it stuck many fish.  I tied it with all three hooks intact, but I typically cut out the middle hook (I'll leave that decision for the end-user).

    Much more info to come on this bug...  including a video.

    Oh yeah. Check out my sexy Dyna King vise too.

    Thursday, December 5, 2013

    Classic Wet Flies

    The Ongoing Wet Fly Collection

    The page is an ongoing collection of wet flies -- both classic and not-so-classic, but all tied in the same manner and style as the old-school patterns out there. 

    Candy Cane

    mascot classic wet fly pattern ray bergman
    The Mascot

    dr burke classic wet fly pattern ray bergman
    Dr. Burke

    purple turtle classic wet fly pattern ray bergman
    Purple Turtle

    Ferguson classic wet fly pattern ray bergman

    Greenwell's glory classic wet fly pattern ray bergman
    Greenwell's Glory

    hare's ear classic wet fly pattern ray bergman
    Hare's Ear Wet Fly

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Gut-Bomb: Tan Edition

    Tan is the new red

    The other day, we got a comment on the original Gut-Bomb article asking an excellent question in tying the Gut-Bomb in a tan color, similar to the photos we posted of the natural bloodworms (from Phil Rowley's website). The naturals come in a variety of colors, depending on the amount of hemoglobin, ranging from red to tan, as shown below, but also showing up in greens, grays and browns.

    New Tan variation of the Gut-Bomb
    Bloodworms come in a variety of color shades
    The challenge with this particular color combination is that tan, being a lighter color, becomes more difficult to get it to "pop" in contrast to the darker black vein. I ended up going through a few variations with different colors of thread, stretch flex and Sharpies. Most of the time, the fly ended up much darker than I'd like. I finally ended with a relatively decent color combination using some tan GSP. Because the thread now becomes the main fly color, I ended up using a black fine point marker to create the "gut" (whereas the original pattern, the "gut" is created/colored via the black thread and the body color comes from Sharpies). Also, for some reason, with this lighter color, I liked the way the fly looked without the ribbing.

    Anyway, it's another color to try out. Here's the original video tutorial, so just swap out the thread, leave out the ribbing and Sharpie coloring, add some black vein markings and you're set.

    Sunday, December 1, 2013

    Spirit River UV2 Giveaway!

    Win $100 worth of UV2 materials!

    We're excited to kick off the holiday and tying season with an awesome giveaway in conjunction with our friends at Spirit River. The winner will receive a cool $100 worth of UV2 materials from Spirit River. Here's the way this giveaway will work:

    • The giveaway will go from today through Wednesday December 4th. 
    • A random winner will be chosen from all entries submitted
    • You can submit an "entry" by any of the following methods:
    • The more entries you have, the more chances you have to win. There is a limit of 4 entries per day.
    In the meantime, we have a great write-up from the Bill Black at Spirit River, regarding their great UV2 product line.

    It's always a challenge to decide what lure you should present to fish especially during off color water situations  A lure is anything that catches fish, be it a fly, jig, spinner, or even bait. One of the most important things to consider is making sure the fish sees your offering.  New developments in the Ultraviolet world have the potential to change the way you tie, fish, and certainly will change what you choose to fish with.  These new developments allow your jigs or flies to throw off a broad spectrum of color or wavelengths.  And sight and color are just as critical as is scent, silhouette and movement.
    As a lifelong flyfisher and a small business owner,  I have had the opportunity to interface with a lot of anglers and guides.  In collaboration with these experts, we have discovered that UV enhanced products are worth researching. Likewise there have been a lot of reports from anglers around the world that substantiate a unique and  new double-dye method called UV2(R). One guide in the Seattle area told me last year at the Lakewood Fly Fishing show that the benefits of using UV2 flies and jigs are so strong that he always tells his customers about UV2.  In his words " I tell my customers in advance that if they want the best chance of hooking steelhead they should be using UV2 materials in their flies.  In fact, I have seen such a increase in our catch rate that I will even supply the flies and jigs if they do not have any.  These folks pay me good, hard-earned money and I want to give them the best chance of getting a beautiful fish or two.  I am soundly convinced that using UV2 helps me do that.”
    The owner of another fly shop has experienced a surge in his sales of UV2 buck tails which is a key ingredient in Bob Clouser's famous Clouser minnows.  This is a relatively simple pattern to tie requiring Real-Eyes, strong thread, some flash, and UV2 buck tail.  You can find tying instructions his Clouser Minnows on You Tube or numerous other popular web sites.  These steamers imitate minnows and most larger species of fish gobble them up. Experienced anglers will agree that the advantage to a Clouser minnow is the versatility and wide range of species it catches. And it now a difficult pattern to tie.
    Bob Clouser himself recently fished some of his freshly tied minnows and was elated at the performance of his flies tied with UV2(R).  At first he and his group fished regular flies with no luck.  He tied on his UV2(R) minnow and started hitting fish after fish.  He felt lucky that he had tied extra and was able to hand them out.  His entire group of anglers started catching fish.  He caught 7 species of fish including large and smallmouth bass, Muskie, rock bass, walleye and trout.  He commented that, "all I care about is whether the fish like it and there is little doubt about that. I had to give the rest of my flies to anglers before I left the lodge and I hear they are still using them.  UV2(tm)  flies can make all the difference.  I am sold 100% on its benefits."
    You might think some anglers just get lucky and you are right.  But usually they are doing any number of things right.  UV2 strengthens the ratio for them.  The science behind what fish see in the Ultra Violet range is still being researched and what you read by the experts is many times contradictory.  Yet UV2 has strong merit in a couple different ways that are hard to refute.  In a nutshell we have combined two separate ultraviolet dye techniques that add UV Fluorescence (UVF) for heightened visibility, and UV reflectance (UVR) which is a lower spectrum of light humans do not see but is widely found in nature.  Obviously nothing is going to bite your lure, fly or jig if it is not seen.  So consider the UVF as a visibility attractant.  The UVR is a bit different in that it reflects a tremendous amount of different color wavelengths.  This prism of colors often contain the one or more spectrums that will trigger a strike.  
    A good example that better illustrates the multi spectrum aspect is seen in UV2 dubbing  Start with a base color.  Then blend from 3 to 6 other fiber colors in small amounts.  These 'other colors' must have been dyed separately with both UVR and UVF.  Youend up with a spectrum blend from 7 to 13 colors in both UVF and UVR.  Each color has it's own energy or reflectance.  This is a more realistic coloration for insects or minnows.  No bug or minnow is one single color.  Just like a tree in your yard or a scale on a minnow.  There are multiple colors in everything in nature.  It can be an important factor on what fish see and eat. To impart even more energy or light wavelengths from your dubbed areas on your flies you can add a base layer of tinsel or a bright silver rib so any light that that enters the dubbing will be reflected back out in various color spectrums.  Always brush it out so individual fibers have the best opportunity to bounce light.  Again you're adding all these subtle yet realistic colorations to your offering with can be another ace in your hand.
    No one is saying that the new UV2 materials, jigs or flies will always work.  What is does do is it gives the angler another key to attracting fish.   Many of these unusual materials can be found at your local fly shops, online, or better box stores throughout the country.

    Bill Black has owned and operated Spirit River since 1990 and prior to that was one of the founders of Umpqua Feather Merchants.  He has 60+ tying videos on You tube.  His passion is Tying, Scrimshaw and photography

    . He can be reached at

    Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Fall Callibaetis

    Going Deep Dish Again... 

    callibaetis nymph fall brook trout patternOn a recent fall Brook trout outing on one of my favorite Brookie lakes, I was faced with a situation where the fish were in a bit of a funk when it came to the normal stillwater patterns. I could see the fish holding in 6 to 10 feet of water, occasionally nabbing a snack, but otherwise, not moving too much. We tried a few different patterns (scuds, leeches, damsels, etc) with relatively little success. On this specific lake, as with many bodies of water, the Callibaetis population is quite strong. I typically see stronger emergences in the late spring and summer, but the nymphs are available year-round and the bugs are there. The lesson in all this is don't discount a given insect in times where you're not seeing it normally hatch.

    callibaetis nymph fall brook trout pattern
    Deep Dish Callibaetis
    Given this, I dug out a Deep Dish callibaetis and sent it to the depths to tangle with a trout. 5 casts later and 4 fish to net, I think I figured out what the fish were keying on. Thankfully, their focus lasted for a couple of hours, before turning to something meatier (Chimera as shown here), so it was nice to see this little pattern doing well once again.

    Now that we've been fishing the Deep Dish for a few months now and having heard from a few tyers out there that have also experienced some good results, it's a staple to my stillwater box and has also served as a great prospecting fly both on rivers and lakes. Give it a try... and don't discount the great Callibaetis insects at any time of the year.

    callibaetis nymph fall brook trout pattern
    Brookie on a Deep Dish Callibaetis

    callibaetis nymph fall brook trout pattern
    Fall fishing and Callibaetis

    Thursday, November 21, 2013

    The Diving Sparrow

    The Allen J100 BL - Jig Style

    diving sparrow fly pattern jig hook
    The Diving Sparrow

    In the past few weeks, I've been messing around with a few different styles of small nymphs tied on the Allen J100BL. I like the hooks for their sharpness and, of course, the fact that the hook rides point-up (as I've verified in testing). The other little facet of this pattern is that it will drop (i.e. dive) pretty fast in even fast water. 

    We took it out for a spin the other day and it did very well nymphing up a few nice little brown trout.
    Brown trout that inhaled a Diving Sparrow
    The fly is pretty fun to tie and has a few little unique features with the wing-case and the biot side-panels.

    The Diving Sparrow

    Underbody: .025 Lead Free Wire
    Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Hot Orange
    Bead: 2.3 mm Tungsten
    Tail: Brown Goose Biots
    Body: Arizona Synthetic Dubbing, Dark Hare's Ear with Goose Biots extended
    Ribbing: UTC Ultrawire, Small, Red
    Thorax: Arizona Synthetic Dubbing, Golden Olive
    Wing Case: Black Thin Skin with Clear Cure Goo Hydro
    Legs: Brown Goose Biots

    3 Hackle Colors to Rule Them All

    Hackle is expensive.  Purchase wisely.

    The Fly Tying Tri-Fecta

    Biot Adams with only grizzly hackle
    13 years ago, I sat mumbling in Spanish at a call center wishing I could be out throwing banjo minnows at my beloved bass when a colleague of mine started unboxing a fly tying kit from his backpack.  "If we have to sit here tied to our phones all day, I might as well be productive," he said.  One thing led to another, and I ended up tying my first fly that day.  I remember it well.  It was a red, blue, and yellow wooly bugger.  That turned into almost an every day thing, and it was a great way to pass the time while we waited for our phone calls (I HATE call centers).  That is how I got introduced to the art of tying flies.
    Grizzly Hackle
    The thing I remember most about those days tying in the call center was the fact that we never had the right hackle for the job, and we would end up cutting the webby, schlappen-like hackle to get it to fit.  Now... these were some of the rattiest flies I can remember, but the fact was; we tied them, and they were cool to us.  After burning through all of my co-worker's materials, I told him that I would make a trip to the fly shop to replenish the goods, and I was specifically on a mission to find good dry fly hackle that would turn our ratty dry flies into masterpieces.  I was wrong.  I was wrong, not because of the quality of the flies that we would be able to produce, but because of the price of the hackle.  I remember thinking "$60 for a chicken pelt???!!!"  There had to be a better way...  Well, there isn't.  I was also wrong because I was completely overwhelmed with the huge selection of colors that were available.  After a near panic attack,  I ended up buying a dun colored Metz #2 cape that did the trick for a little while.   If I knew what I know now, I would have gone about it a whole different way.

    In this post, I don't want to talk about the price of hackle or the brands that you should look for, but the colors of hackle that a new (or experienced) tyer can focus their tying around.  In my opinion, there really isn't a need to have every color of hackle known to man, even though I'm a full fledged Hackle-O-Holic and I have more "chicken feathers" than I'll ever use in a lifetime.

    3 colors to rule them all

    Dun Hackle

    1. Grizzly.  Grizzly hackle is among the most fishy materials that you could ever think of binding to a hook.  It's mottled coloration can be used on almost any hatching mayfly imitation, and can be substituted for almost any other color of hackle on any pattern.  Yes, it will make the fly look a bit different, but the fish don't seem to mind.  I have grizzly hackle in capes, saddles, large, small, midge, etc., you get the point?  This should be the first color that a new tyer gets.  
    2. Dun. Dun, or some variation of it makes a great color to imitate most mayfly wings and legs.  My favorite color is Whiting's medium dun, and I tie everything from green drakes to PMDs with it.  It's also a very versatile color that easily blends with a variety of other colors.  I have good cream
      Brown Hackle
      colored hackle, but it sits on the bench because I typically sub it out for a light dun color. 
    3. Brown. Brown has a great dark contrast without being too dark (black), and my favorite shade to work with is a nice deep coachman brown.  I don't really tie with it for hatch matching bugs (maybe except for large stoneflies), but it's a go-to for attractors.  It's also a staple for tying the Parachute Adams, which just happens to be the most effective fly on the planet.  Part of the Parachute Adams' effectiveness comes from blending both brown and grizzly hackles, which I also highly recommend trying with other patterns.
    I remember tying my first batch of Parachute Adams with grizzly hackle because I didn't have brown yet.  I was confident that they weren't going to work because I wasn't following the "rules," but guess what?  I must have found some really dumb trout because they worked.  Later that summer, I was tying drake patterns that called for grizzly barred olive hackle.  Guess what...  Grizzly worked again.
    With these three colors of hackle, you should be able to cover a broad spectrum of patterns while saving a little bit of cash in your pocketbook.

    ~ Cheech