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Thursday, September 26, 2013

REVIEW: River Road Creations Cutters

Foam cutting goodness

Tomsu hopper pattern river road creations foam
Tomsu Supreme Hopper cutters on this hopper pattern
A few years ago, I picked up a set of River Road Creations foam cutters. My first cutters were the Tomsu Supreme Hopper set. I was impressed by the sharp edges and the clean foam cut-outs that I could turn out. Plus, being able to turn my plain old foam sheets into a much wider variety of standard shapes and sizes was a great way to work through all the drawers of foam I had collected over the years.

So the cutters come in a variety of styles or shapes and sizes (within a given style). Check out their website to get a good idea of what they carry:

One of the questions I get is "which cutter or set should I start with?". Of course, it depends on what you're going to be tying, but assuming you want to start with something that can tie a variety of flies for bigger dries and hoppers etc, you can't go wrong with the "Hopper/Caddis/Ant" body cutters.

You can do the type of patterns listed in the name, but you can also do the Stoneflopper, Chernobyls or "Blingnobyls" as we prefer them (see inset) as well as other foam dry patterns. The Chernobyl cutters and the Universal Bug Body cutters are also good for this type of purpose

blingnobyl ant
The Blingnobyl Ant
If you can swing it, I'm a big fan of the sets. They come with a nice wooden holder and a cutting pad (very important to have the pad)

And you can churn out all sizes in great quantities...

A Pile of Blings
And one of the other benefits, besides just cutting bodies is that you can get into all sorts of wing shapes with the wing cutters. As shown below, you can see the combination of wing and body parts all cut to the needed shape and size.

The "Sickada" tied using cut foam
Mayfly Body and Wing Cutters

Stonefly Body and Wing Cutters

All in all, the cutters are well worth the money and give you an easy, quick and accurate way to cut out bodies and wings for various patterns you want to tie. We can get the cutters ordered if you wish to purchase them online. We don't carry them in stock, however, so it would take up to a week for delivery. Email us for details.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mongrel Meat

A fly made for carnivores

Mongrel Meat : mongrellus truttaconsuma

To be honest, I have a list of names that I keep near my desk in the event that something comes off the vise that is worthy.  This fly flew off the vise one night, and it definitely fit the name.  Off to the streamer river for testing.  I was fishing a stretch of river that isn't totally loaded with fish, but the fish that are there are a bit bigger than average - a perfect testing ground for this morsel of bait.  I won't go into details, but the fish came from far and wide to eat this fly.
This mongrel ate the meat


OK, so I will go into details.
Uneducated Mongrels eat!

I knew that I wanted to have something in my arsenal that was a little bit less flashy than the Cheech Leech, but a little bit more bulky.  The Mongrel Meat has gone on some great trips so far, and I have found two types of water where it excels - flat froggy water, and gin clear water.  My theory is that the fish can already see stuff moving through the water in these water types, so something as flashy as the Cheech Leech might not be needed attract attention.  For super clear water the mongrel shows up loud and clear, and for froggy slow water, it pushes more water than a more slim presentation.  At any rate, the Mongrel has done some SERIOUS work for me in the last couple of months, so take some time to check out the video so you can tie some of your own.  You can now find some of the materials for this fly at our new store.  I have made hyperlinks below to the exact materials that I used.

~ Cheech

Brown Trout on Mongrel

Another mongrel bites the meat


Back Half
Hook: Allen B200 #8
Thread: UTC 140 Brown Olive
Tail: Marabou
Hackle: Spirit River Schlappen
Collar: Marabou wrapped soft hackle style.


Front Half (aka business end):
Hook: Allen B200 #4
Weight: lead barbell eyes and .035 lead wraps. (place the barbell almost in the middle of the hook)
Tail: Marabou
Hackle: Spirit River schlappen
Flash: Chartreuse holographic flashabou
Collar: Arctic fox tail fibers
Head: Senyo Lazer dub. Striped with sepia colored prismacolor marker
Eyes: CCG eyes reinforced with a bit o' Hydro


Monday, September 23, 2013

Streamer Time - All The Time.

When is the "right" time to throw streamers

Pink Cheech Leech - Seriously?

Kemp Bug Variation
When I first started fly fishing I was a nymph and bobber kind of guy - I was fairly limited in my approach when chasing trout.  I would go to the same place, fish the same flies, and be content if I caught a few fish here and there.  I knew that there was a lot of variety in flies, techniques, and places that I was missing out on, but I really didn't know where to start.  Specifically, streamers baffled me for the longest time because I would hear that they should only be fished on particular water types, during particular weather, using particular lines, and using particular presentation methods... Wow.  That was a lot to digest for a new fly fisher, and my immediate response was to just avoid streamers completely.  I was still catching plenty of fish, but I was probably missing out on some good opportunities due to my intimidation on streamer fishing.  My first experience with streamers was on my favorite taco sized Brookie stream near my home town.  The fly was a Kemp Bug, and the fishing was insane.  They ate it dead drifted, stripped, fished upstream, and fished downstream.  There was no wrong way to fish this bug.  I have since repeated that type of day while fishing much bigger flies, and realized that there were bigger fish in that river than I realized - another benefit of streamer fishing.

That day was enough to light a fire in me to start fishing streamers more.  Specifically, I started throwing streamers at nonconventional times and had a lot of success with them.  I had a recent trip to Idaho that will
Snake River Cutthroat meets Cheech Leech
not be forgotten any time soon.  We were told that the 12" to 16" Cutts in this stretch of water were VERY particular, and we would have to do a lot of work to find the right size and color of hopper that they were eating that day.  What did I tie on first?  the Cheech Leech.  Well, the ol' Cheech Leech didn't work very well that day, but the Mongrel Meat and El Sculpito sure did.  Our gracious host was more than blown away at the fact that these fish were eating such monstrosities, and at the fact that we brought in several 20 inch fish.  That streamer day in Idaho cemented in my mind the fact that any day can be a streamer day.

~ Cheech

24" Brown Trout on the Snot Goblin

Friday, September 20, 2013

Palomino Caddis

A "must-have" for caddis fishing

Palomino Caddis
Several years back, I was revamping my caddis dry fly box, and I was tying the typical Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, etc.  Many times when I'm refilling my boxes or looking for new patterns to fish, I'll turn to my friends who guide a lot.  Guide flies are typically fairly simple to tie, and they absolutely catch fish.  I was talking to Charles Card, who guides on Utah's Green River, and asked him about caddis patterns.  He told me about a caddis with an ultra-chenille body, a CDC underwing, and a painted egg sack.  I was curious, so based on what I envisioned his fly looking like, I tied a version of the palomino caddis that I have been fishing ever since.  

This fly is designed to float high, and skate on the water when twitched.  I actually like to cast out, and add a very slight "pop" to it right when it hits the water to entice hungry fish.  This fly has been a top producer for me during the caddis hatch, and also when I'm just fishing it as an attractor when there is no hatch going on.  Most recently, I started teaching my brother how to fly fish, and this is the fly I tied on because it floats really well even if there isn't necessarily a drag free drift.  This fly essentially taught him how to fish.

I asked a good friend (Bryan Gregson) to write about one of his first trips fishing the Palomino Caddis:

There I was, standing in the river parking lot at sunset, shaking my head while frantically rummaging through my gear bag. Rod – check. Waders, boots – check and check. Flies, leader, tippet, floatant, and nippers – check x5. Reel and fly-line, ummmuhh, S*%@!!... no-check.
There were only a few options at this point. Whine andhave my buddy who brought all of his gear take me all theway home, which isn’t really an option, or figure something out. A quick inventory of the gear bag and a few minutes later I was all rigged and ready to go. I tied a knot at the reel seat and strung my rod with 12-ish feet of 25lb maxima. On the end of the mono I tied on a 9-foot leader and a few feet of tippet. Fly selection was a Palomino caddis tied by a good friend, Cheech.
I was limited in my fishing, as I couldn’t really cast. I waded out as deep as I could to the middle of a fast riffle section. My buddy was easily casting and fishing where ever he pleased. It was frustrating, at first.
I would do my best to haul, double haul, triple haul, water haul, any haul, to get the line past my rod tip, but with little success. Once I finally figure out how to hack the fly onto the water, I’d dance the Palomino caddis on the surface, skittering across the fast water… all the way into the mouths of willing fish. At first I was absolutely amazed I was able to get the fly out, let alone actually hook a fish, but many was a bit shocking at first. Landing the buggers was also entertaining and not very graceful. My fishing buddy didn’t have much success that night, even though he was efficiently mobile. Then it all made sense. I was standing in the middle of feeding fish during a caddis hatch with the right materials, the proper profile and with the appropriate action for the situation. I learned a few things that evening, one of which is location, location, fly-select-tion…and not to over fish while casting.



Thread: Uni 8/0 Rusty Brown
Body: Ultra Chenille - Worm Brown or Olive.  Buy it HERE
Overwing: Elk or deer hair.

Video Tutorial:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Allen Icon and a new bug

Two new pieces of equipment to try out

For the past year or so, I've been getting into the Euro or Czech style of nymphing and decided to pull the trigger on a legit Euro nymphing rod. I settled on a 10 foot 4 wt and started the search for a candidate. I fished the Sage ESN, an Allen xa 10 footer and threw a Cabela's CZN. I was pretty much settled on the Sage until I heard some really good things about the Allen Icon series rods. With the price-point what it was, I went with the Icon figuring even if it didn't compare to the others, it would still be a good deal.

The week my new rod arrived I had also gotten a new shipment of Trokar hooks including the new "Re-Volve" (TK220) series hook that was going to be used with a newish worm style pattern I wanted to throw as an anchor fly. I like this hook because it's got a great wormy shape, it's sharp as hell (no, wait...sharper).

Here's the finished fly:

Similar to a Vladi Worm, the "Re-Vladi" uses a super-sharp Lazer Trokar Hook

If you're opposed to throwing worms, navigate away now. Otherwise, read on. If you're familiar with Euro nymphing in general, the flies hold the weight (as opposed to split shot). So the fly needed some heavy weight but minimal bulk so it would sink quickly. Granted fish eat worms, but this is also a style fly that sinks fast and can be heavily weighted.

Several take-away's: First, the Icon far exceeded my expectations. Comparatively speaking, it was just as much fun to fish with and matched my casting style (fast) as much as any other rod I had tried. If you have tried the Euro style nymphing, you know that a responsive rod is a great advantage. I was seriously blown away by the action on this stick.

Second, and it's maybe a combination of the rod and hook or my super-fishing prowess, but if you've never fished these Trokar's, you're missing out. They are super sharp and I was hooking fish with the slightest of hits. Even on a day when the fishing was arguably slow (just ask Cheech), I ended up with a decent fish count. 

Anyway, here's the recipe:

Hook: Lazer Trokar Re-Volve #4
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Fl. Orange
Under-Body: .030 Lead-Free Wire
Body: Orange or Red UV Chewee Skin
Ribbing: Pearl Krystal Flash

And the Video Tutorial:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Soft Hackle Kick

Fun Ties

Every now and again, I'll get on a soft hackle kick. Not only are they uber-effective flies, but they're really fun to tie and the pattern possibilities are endless.

The patterns shown here are a basic tie. Nothing fancy. The new N205BL from Allen is a screamin' hook for softies, so I chose that to start out. I'm also partial to stripped peacock for slender bodies and the segmentation they provide. 

The thorax consists of the popular Arizona Synthetic dubbing from our friend John Rohmer and the hackle is from a great #1 Hungarian Partridge skin in Brown. I coat the body and the head with Clear Cure Goo Hydro for a nice durable and shiny finish.

~ Curtis

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lazer Trokar Hooks

Look outside the box for the ultimate big game hook

Several years ago I fell head over heels in love with fishing for bass with gear.  Yep, baitcasters, 50 pound braid, and BIG hooks.  I have always been somewhat of a hook snob, but never so much as when I was bass fishing.  Not only did I need a very stout hook, the point had to be razor sharp, and able to hook fish with ease.  Most of the hooks that I used were chemically sharpened, and I really was happy with the selection that I could get from Gamakatsu, Mustad, and Owner.  Then, my friends, I laid my eyes on a new hook called a Lazer Trokar.  My fishing buddy Brent and I both bought a pack to try and the results were phenomenal.  These hooks turned missed fish into landed fish due to their powerful hooking ability and brute strength.  Brent actually fished the majority of a summer with one single hook.  It was as sharp at the end of the summer as it was when he first tied it on.

Bass fly on Lazer Trokar

Bass on Trokar fly
Like many things in the gear fishing world, these hooks would definitely find a place in my fly-tying arsenal.  I first tried out the TK10 in 4/0 to tie something along the lines of bass/musky.  What I loved about this hook was that it is a very heavy wire hook that helped the fly suspend in the water without having it sink too fast or too slow.  Bass are notorious for short striking, and typically a hard hook set is needed, but with this fly, every bass that ate it got to meet me face to face.  Since then, I have tied flies on several different trokar models, and they are now my go-to hook for tying meaty creations for bass, musky, or big browns.  
Another Bass on the Trokar

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Honey Badger Cares

The Newest Fly Meme

So I've been messing around with some different combinations of materials and amounts on streamer bodies in order to get some different movement and bulk proportions. Just mostly dinking around. Because I'll defer to Cheech as the undisputed streamer guru in this outfit, I honestly haven't fished many other streamers beyond the Cheech Leech and El Sculpito lately, but decided to work on something anyway. Oddly enough, the name of this fly has been something I had tucked away ever since I heard Randall narrate one of the more awesome Youtube videos of all time a couple of years back. ;) Combine that with the antics of Tyrann Mathieu and it was a slam dunk.

I figured the fly had to be a streamer. And because I'm a big fan of two-tone flies in general, the Honey Badger seemed to fit.

The body is a mixture of stiffer body shape-holding material in the craft fur and some softer movement friendly Finn Raccoon filled in with Senyo Laser Yarn (of course). Throw in some claws in the shape of rubber legs and it's a decent little fly that really don't give a s**t. Oh, also, it's articulated, has a cone head and likes to eat venomous cobra snakes and Rainbow Trout.

Rainbow Trout being attacked by Honey Badger

NOTE: Before anyone accuses me of ripping off a fly pattern name, I did just discover that there is another pattern out there called the Honey Badger from the guys at CrossCurrentTV. But because Honey Badgers don't really care, I'm pretty sure it's ok for them to have the same name. We'll just call it a Fly Meme.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Articulation Engineers: Cheech Leech

Big flies for small guys

Fall Cheech Leech in articulation production
We get a lot of people asking how the Cheech Leech articulation connector is built. We've held off divulging that little tidbit, but we figured it made sense to let you all in on the secret. It takes a 3 man crew, but the connector is solid and the fly hunts.

So, next time out, thank your neighborhood Articulation Engineer for the service they render.

And if you happen to feel the need to throw down on one of the more popular color combos for the fall season whilst you hunt down some big trout, you can buy the flies and materials to make these guys on our store.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Review: Grizzly Coolers

A Rugged and effective cooler

So, for the past few years, our trips have been more and more camping or overnight style trips and it's always a crap shoot when it comes to coolers. Some keep the cold stuff cold, others not so well. Some bust open at the drop of a hat, while others have a good lid. I've never tried destroying a cooler, so I can't say which ones are the most solidly built, but I guess some sort of durability is also a good thing. In the end, we ended up pulling the trigger on a Grizzly cooler, as we'd seen them out and about lately.

The first two trips were pretty tame and it just sat in the car most of the time. It did very well at keeping the contents ice cold. Then, we took it out on the Razr for some rough road riding to some high mountain lakes and the lunch and drinks were as cool as the other side of the pillow (assuming your pillow is in the fridge). It got banged around, knocked over, sat on, stood on and fared very well all the while keeping the stuff at cool temps.

The cooler shown above is the smaller size and so we're definitely going to be upgrading to the bigger size here soon for some longer multi-day trips. Great product! Check them out online...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Your Mom can't even sink this...

Unsinkabeetle fish caught by FFF customer Joe C.
So I was working alone in my hometown Vernal, UT for several weeks, and like always, I had my tying stuff with me so I didn't have to watch the Gilmore Girls with my Mom...  I had foam on the mind, and I really wanted to tie something that had superior floating ability for swift water and had the bouyancy to hang Rosie Rainy's,  so I wanted to see what it could do with it.  Foam was wrapped upon foam, and a similar bug to the Unsinkabeetle popped out.  It immediately went into a bowl of water and my mom and I pushed it to the bottom of the bowl every time we went by.  It lasted 3 weeks in the bowl and we finally gave up.  It was deemed the "Unsinkabeetle" because of its foam construction and its Molly Brown characteristics.   I tie it in a variety of sizes and colors, and it has been distributed to better anglers than I to verify that it has the ability to fool pea brained trout.  It does just that.
O'Donnell sized nymphs from.  Now, not all foam is created equally, and I had just gotten a supply of Evazote and crosslink foam from

This is a great attractor pattern that can be adjusted in size to mimic all types of beetles and cicadas.  I have had the most success with this pattern in mid to late summer when the terrestrials start showing up.

If you like to tie, the video tutorial is posted at the bottom of this post.  If you like to buy, you can go HERE to buy the Unsinkabeetle.


Recipe: (and feel free to swap out for black foam, thread etc for a killer Cicada pattern)

Hook: Allen D202  or the Daiichi 1280
Thread: UTC 140 denier (I used red on this one) -- Buy Here --
Underbody: Insect brown 1mm Rainy's crosslink foam -- Buy Here --
Overbody: Camel Rainy's Evazote foam 1/8 size, or 2 to 3mm craft foam -- Buy Here --
Head: Same foam as overbody