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Monday, July 29, 2013

Fox Poopah, an effective caddis pattern

Funny name, killer fly

fox poopah caddis pupa fly pattern
About 12 years ago, I was fishing a local tailwater with a friend from the Bay area in Northern California. As the afternoon turned to evening, the caddis became very active and my friend handed me a couple of these funny looking caddis pupa patterns to try out. The pattern, as I found out, was named the Fox Poopah -- a pattern originated for the Sacramento River caddis hatches by Tim Fox. Google it if you want more information on the origins.

As it turned out, not only did the Poopah's outperform my tried and true caddis pupa patterns that evening, but I ended up fishing them during non-hatch situations later that year and did extremely well just nymphing with them. Since that time, these flies have held a standard spot on the varsity team of my fly boxes.

Including the video tutorial below, you'll see I tie these patterns now in several variations. So don't shoot me for not following the original pattern verbatim (the video is the closest to the original). Plus, those that know our style here at FFF, we don't pay a lot of attention to fly tying rules.

I tend to tie them in both bead-head and non-bead-head versions and I also prefer dubbing over Ostrich for the thorax. Depending on the color of the naturals, I typically vary about equally between the olive and the tan colored variations.

fox poopah caddis pupa fly pattern

As far as the material list, I'll list out some of the variations I use, but again, you can use your favorite search engine to seek out the actual recipe from Mr. Fox.

Hook: Pictured above I use the Allen D102BL in a #14. However, feel free to use something like a TMC 2302 or other caddis or nymph hook
Thread: UTC Ultrathread Tan or Olive
Bead: 2.3 mm Tungsten or other
Body: Olive or Tan Vernille (or micro-chenille).
Under-Body: UTC Pearl Tinsel
Ribbing: UTC Ultrawire, BR, Green or Gold
Legs: Olive or Brown Partridge
Antennae: Wood duck or mallard flank
Thorax: Black or Brown Ostrich herl. I use dubbing, however. Color to match.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Craft Store Score: The Magic Eye Attaching Wand

A great little tool to apply adhesive eyes to flies

If you've been following the site here, you've no doubt, seen that we hit the local craft stores from time to time. It's probably not really manly or cool or whatever, but it's a great place to find some awesome tools and materials. Here's a good blurb on craft stores in general.

Anyway, this little tying hack is a good way to place the adhesive eyes on flies -- especially in cases where you have to apply super-glue or where your fingers are too bulky to accurately place the eyes. It's not for everyone, but it's something you might try.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

FlyFishFood Virtual Swaps

show us what you're working with.

Big Terrestrials

We have been kicking this idea around for a while, but we would like to start a virtual fly swap that is hashtag based. This is a great opportunity to see what everyone else is tying, and it may challenge you to tie with materials you have not tried before. We swap pictures and information only. NO MAILING!!! (I always hated that part)

Here's how it works:
1- Flyfishfood will announce the theme for the swap and announce the hashtag to use. (for example ‪#‎fffterrestrialswap‬). This may happen once a week, once every two weeks etc... We'll just have to see how it goes.

2- You tie flies that fit the theme and post pictures on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with the proper hashtag. (you can add recipes if you want, but this is meant to be as simple as possible.) I think Instagram is going to be the main driver of the swaps.  
You can add as many pictures as you want!

3- We comment, get inspired, and enjoy the pictures.

Down the road it might turn into something where there are winners etc, but for now it's just about sharing patterns and having fun.

Ready set go!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fly Tying with UV: An Effective Drake soft hackle

Part 3: Big bugs gone soft

green drake soft hackle

NOTE: This is the 3rd part of our "Fly Tying with UV" series. If you haven't read the introduction behind this series, you can see it here. It's recommended you read that so you can understand the method behind the madness...

From time to time, I get the itch to tie up soft hackles. There's something about these classic style flies that are fun to tie yet have some sort of simplicity to them.

With that in mind and wanting to focus on another UVR signature pattern, I looked to throw something together for a Green Drake hatch that I'd been fishing. The UVR comes into play with the highly UV Reflective Pearl Mylar and the not-so-UV-reflective pheasant tail for ribbing (for good contrast). I also throw in some Spirit River UV2 Seal-X dubbing on the thorax and the Spirit River UV2 Mallard for the tail. Again, if you read Mr. Curry's book you'll see it's not all about flash and UVF or all UVR. It's likely a good mix or balance that can best imitate the naturals' UV signatures.

Suffice it to say, the pattern did some work. I dubbed this one the "Mailman" (long story on the name) and it delivers. From what I could tell, the fish definitely keyed in on the pattern and would move out of their feeding lanes to nail it. Whether or not the UVR aspect made a difference, it's hard to say, but it's a great pattern to have in the box.

NOTE: Updated Material list to be consistent with the new design...

Material List

Add to Cart   View in store

Hook: Fulling Mill Heavyweight Champ, Barbless - 12     
Thread: 6/0 UNI-Thread Waxed - Olive     
Thorax: Hare'e Ice Dub - Olive Brown     
Body: Pearl Tinsel - Large     
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire - Olive - Small     
Ribbing: Nature's Spirit Ringneck Pheasant Center Tails - Olive     
Legs/Tail: Hungarian Partridge Feathers - Olive     
Wing Case: Montana Fly Company Skinny Skin - Mottled Olive     
Coating: Loon Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish     

Other tools from the tutorial:
Stonfo Comb/Brush Tool     

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Foam slicing tool

Craft store scores again...

Here's yet another example of a great little tool you can pick up at a local craft store. (see our previous write-up on other craft store scores here).

This cutting tool is great for cutting straight lines in foam and also allows you to maintain enough control to do some free-wheeling cutting for going along curved edges and such. The cutter is made by Fiskars and is fairly inexpensive.

The I found myself able to cut along both a straight edge as well as just following lines on the foam. I made quick work of a few foam sheets to form even width strips for things like Chernobyl style ants and other patterns that need rectangular pieces of foam.

Give it a whirl...

Monday, July 15, 2013

An Effective Scud Pattern

The buffet is now open...

scud fly pattern

There are a lot of stillwaters that we fish that hold huge numbers of scuds. And although, I'd rather fish something more exciting in the way of dry flies or streamers, I can't ignore the times when the buffet is turned on and the fish end up gorging themselves on scuds.

Here's an example of a recent trip where the scuds were literally crawling all over us and a shot of the porker rainbow that had been first in the buffet line.
Just pop these babies in your mouth for a nice treat!

They liked the waders
Bottom View of Mr. Scud Belly

So the "Chewy Goo" scud is a pattern I've been using now for a few seasons. It's nothing fancy, but I like the addition of Clear Cure Goo Hydro to reinforce and give dimension to the fly. The dubbing holds water quite nicely and creates a nice translucent effect. I've had best results fishing it from an indicator, but however you fish it, it's a good scud pattern to have.

Hook: Daiichi 1170 #10 - #18
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Hot Orange
Body: Gray UV Ice Dubbing
Underbody: Lead Wire
Ribbing: UTC Ultrawire, Gold, BR
Shellback: Tan UV Chewee Skin coated with Clear Cure Goo Hydro

Friday, July 12, 2013

The UM-Butt Sally: A Yellow Sally Fly Pattern

A Yellow Sally Pattern that fits the bill

yellow sally stonefly pattern dry flyI've fished through Yellow Sally stonefly (Isoperla Fulva) hatches before without so much as a trout looking up to eat one, so when I find fish actively targeting this squirrelly little bug, it's a lot of fun.

This pattern is the result of some on-the-stream bug watching and pouring over pictures of the naturals I could find online.

One thing I definitely noticed while watching these little critters on the water is that they usually don't land all nice and composed with their wings laying nicely back against their bodies. Instead, they can be a jumbled mess of wings and writhing body just yelling at a fish to lay into them.

With that in mind, I ended up splaying the wings and making the legs a bit pronounced to give a bigger impression on the water. It also helps in flotation.

yellow sally stonefly cutthroat trout dry fly
This Cutthroat took the UM-Butt Sally from an undercut bank
The first couple of times out, the pattern did very well. It floats a little lower in the water, but still has great buoyancy. And it fooled some good fish...

Here's the recipe and tutorial to tie some up!

Hook: Allen D103BL #14
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Yellow
Eyes: 25 lb mono, melted.
Butt: Fl. Orange UV Ice Dubbing
Body: Pale Yellow UV Ice Dubbing
Under-Wing: Deer Hair, Yellow
Over-Wing: River Road Creations, River Foam® cut with small Stonefly Wing Cutter
Legs: Round Rubber, Small. Colored with Sharpies

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fly Tying with UV: Minnows & Baitfish

Part 2: Minnows and Baitfish

If you haven't read part 1 of this series, read it here. The important thing to capture from the intro is that we're NOT focusing on the black light effect you get when you shine a UV light onto fly tying materials or other surfaces (like a white shirt). We are rather focusing, especially in this article, on the natural UV Reflectance (UVR) that baitfish exhibit. If you're interested in more information, read the book talked about in the first part.

So the bottom line here is that there is ample evidence that predatory fish will stalk and hunt their prey based, at least partially, on the UVR signature of the prey. With that in mind, and also considering that fish and insects also use UVR signatures for attracting mates and that fish can and do use UVR to identify valid insects for food (vs say a twig), it's important to at least consider using these types of materials in your patterns. Upon reading "the book", I started to look both at natural UVR materials as well as some of the cool things Spirit River has been doing with their UV2 line. So we put in a couple of orders and began incorporating those materials into some patterns.

big brown trout streamer
Big Browns like the big flies like the Snot Goblin.

The main materials to focus on with this pattern is the Dos Jailed Rabbit strips and the awesome Schlappen -- both from Spirit River's UV2 line. I'm not going to go into details on what Spirit River has been doing with these UV2 materials, but you really should read about it from our friends at Frankenfly or directly from the dudes at Spirit River. Also, you can see some video on it here:

Again, lest we face the wrath of any doubting fly tyers out there, we're not suggesting this is the panacea of fly tying, but read the stuff in the previous links here so you can get an idea of where we're coming from.

articulated streamer snot goblin spirit river uv2

The idea, again, is that we're hoping to add one additional piece of "pattern matching" that the fish can key on when being enticed to eat our imitation offerings. This specific pattern is obviously an attractor style streamer but has a pretty heavy UVR signature, given the use of the schlappen and the rabbit strips, so we're asserting that it can also double as a good little baitfish pattern.

And lastly, it's always fun to mess around with cool new materials. So give it a whirl...

Hook: Allen S402 #4
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Flr White
Tail/Body: Spirit River UV2, Dos Jailed Rabbit, Barred, White/Chartreuse  -- Buy Here --
Body: Arizona Simi Seal, Light Crowley Perch
Hackle: Spirit River UV2 Schlappen, Chartreuse
Articulated Connector: Beadalon 19 Strand Wire
Connector Beads: 6mm Plastic
Eyes: Clear Cure Eyes
Beard: Arizona Simi Seal, Light Crowley Perch

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Beginner's Corner: Choosing a Vise

Don't get caught with a case of "vise envy".

And it's "vise" not "vice", although your vise can become a vice.

Choosing a vise is like choosing a mate for life.  Some want the type that is all about the function, while others want it to be functional and sexy at the same time.  There are vises that fit both bills, but there are also vises that might do a little of each, but excel at neither.  I have tied on many vises, and I definitely have my criteria of what is good, but not all tyers have the same needs.  For christmas of 1999 I got my first vise.  A beautiful Thompson model A vise that really didn't know what it was in for.  I kind of feel guilty about how I abused it over the next several years.  For me at the time, it was the perfect vise because it held hooks, yep, exactly what it was designed to do.  Years later I came home to see the most beautiful thing I had seen in my life (I hope my wife doesn't read my blog).  A rotary vise.  My wife had purchased a Dan-Vise for valentines day and it, too, would get its fair share of abuse.  The next several years saw vises come and go, but I definitely came up with a list of things that I needed in a vise to make me tie happy. And above all, we recommend trying out a vise before you buy it, if at all possible. This is YOUR vise purchased with YOUR money, so brands aside, this list should put you into a few options.

#1- Hook Holding Ability

The dang thing better hold a hook.  Bottom line, if the hook slips at ALL while tying, it has failed in it's journey upon this ever-livin' earth.  I would rather tie with a $15 vise that holds hooks rock solid than an expensive vise that is slippery.

#2- Must Fit My Budget

There is a reason why not everyone spins bugs on a Renzetti Master vise.  It's a great vise, but it also costs around $600.  There are many low-cost and medium-cost vises that hold hooks just fine.  They might not have all of the bells and whistles of more expensive options, but if you are after hook holding, there is no need to spend $600.  Most fly shops will let you play with the vises so you can get a feel for what they do.  If you are 100% sure that fly tying is going to be a very important part of your life (as it should be) I would recommending dropping a bit more change on the sexy AND functional model.

#3- Must Be Versatile

I should be able to use the vise for everything.  I tie bass jigs on 5/0 hooks, and I tie #32 midges in the winter.  I don't even want to have to buy a second set of jaws.  I realize that most vises out there are not going to be able to do this, so it's important to realize that a less expensive vise might limit your tying range a little bit.

#4- Must Have Features

I really need a vise with a lot of bells and whistles.  I made the mistake of getting used to a variable tension rotary function, adjustable material clips, and a single jaw that can handle a #32 AND a 5/0.  I think if I had to go back to the Thompson, I'd either light it on fire, or throw it across the room.  Call me a snob...  There are a lot of accessories that you can add on the the vise after the fact, so I would recommend just starting with the basic vise and add on later.  Accessories I like: material clip, pedestal base, rotary handle, extendable stem for use with a c-clamp, hackle gauge.  Accessories I don't like: Light or magnifying glass that attaches to stem of vise, extended body tool, parachute (gallows) tool, or any extra crap that gets in the way.  The beginner will gather tastes as they gain experience, so take it slow.

There are three vises our there that, in my opinion, shine above the rest.  They can be had without breaking the bank too bad, and they will be able to handle most anything you throw at them.

#1 - Griffin Montana Mongoose MSRP - $200 - $225.  (The absolute cat's meow)  -- Buy Here at special prices --

#2 - Renzetti Traveler MSRP $159. (Simplicity and function)  -- Buy Here --

#3 - Peak rotary vise MSRP $150. (Best $150 vise, hands down)  -- Buy Here --

I have also identified four excellent beginner vises that can be had for a bit less money.

#1 - Griffin Odyssey Spider Cam Vise - $95. Rotary, same jaws as the Mongoose and a great price. -- Buy Here --
#2 - Danica Danvise rotary vise MSRP - $100 (yes, it's a fully functional rotary vise)
#3 - Griffin Montana Pro MSRP - $80 (Same awesome jaw as it's big brother the Mongoose) -- Buy Here--
#4- Griffin Superior 1A vise MSRP $40-$60 (Bare bones vise that has a rock-solid jaw) -- Buy Here --

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

5 Tactics for Fly Fishing the High Country

These trout aren't stupid

I'm often left scratching my head when I hear some anglers discuss fishing in mountain lakes and streams. Words like "small", "dumb" or "unsophisticated" are commonly tossed around. And while there certainly are small, dumb and unsophisticated fish that inhabit those waters (or all waters for that matter), it's important to realize that the high country holds some of the most beautiful, selective and yes, often very large trout.

So what's the key to finding and catching these high country brutes? I've summarized a quick list of 5 tactics to help you.

1. Assume there are big and likely finicky fish wherever you may go. Many people I think tend to assume the fish are small and dumb, and therefore fail to prepare to catch a decently sized fish in those waters. It's a mindset thing. If you plan the need to hunt these fish, you'll more often find them and you'll bring along the gear and flies to get that job done.

2. Expand your horizons. Get a map, find some water and hit it. Don't assume that every hot-spot on the planet will be prominently featured in the reporting section of your favorite fly fishing forum or fly shop fishing reports. I've found Google Earth to be a huge help in planning my fishing explorations. In addition to that, a GPS and a good set of topo maps can also come in handy. If you're unsure about fish in a given drainage or area, contact your state wildlife management agency. They usually have that sort of information. And most importantly be prepared to get off the main roads, rough it, hike and bush whack. You're less likely to find these "secret" locations near a road that you can drive your Subaru Outback to.

3. Come prepared to fish a variety of methods and tackle. I'll never forget the time we were fishing a small lake at 11,000 feet. The rumors of big brook trout seemed to be just that -- rumors. But as my fishing buddy changed over to a very quick sinking line and started to get into some nice fish, I was on the outside looking in as I had not come prepared to fish that deep. That was the last time, I didn't bring the gear I "might" need. Whether it's floating lines, extra rods, strike indicators or full sinking lines, make sure you have the proper gear to put you into the zone where the fish might be holding.

4. Don't forget you can often put a much higher focus on dry fly fishing at higher altitudes. A book I recommend to everyone I talk to about high country fishing is Gray LaFontaine's "Fly Fishing the Mountain Lakes". In this book, he reviews data that show a high a percentage of a trout's diet at high altitude consists of things they eat off the surface. That's not to say fish dries to the exclusion of everything else, but definitely don't assume that because you don't see trout rising, that they won't feed off the surface. Some of my better days on dry flies have been in the complete absence of fish rising to insects on their own. They're looking up, so give them something to eat! Oh and don't forget the importance of the "anabatic winds". Google that term or read Gary's book. It's one of the coolest things about fishing the high country.

5. Pay attention to the food! This is one of our favorite aspects of this topic. Again, these fish aren't dumb and moreover, they can really dial in sometimes to their food sources. Whether it's damsel adults, crawdads, snails, mice, the lowly chironomid, grasshoppers or whatever, never assume that you can throw a parachute adams all day long and fool these fish. You need to figure out what they're eating, what they might potentially eat and then match it with something appropriate. We spend countless hours each year researching and testing out these "fly fish food" offerings and delving further into the small pea-brain of a trout to find the "why" and "what" of their eating habits.

To wrap up, there are obviously a lot more tips and tricks we could list, but for now this is a good starting point. Just get out and enjoy. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below...