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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

New updated recipe!

Material List

Add to Cart   View in store

Hook: Gamakatsu B10S - 1 - 25 Pack     
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 140 Denier - Olive Brown     
Tails/Collar: Nature's Spirit Strung Marabou - Olive     
Body: Holographic Cactus Chenille - Olive     
Hackle: Schlappen - Olive     
Front Collar: Arctic Fox Tail Hair - Olive     
Connection Beads: 3D Articulation Beads - Olive     
Articulation Wire: Articulation Wire     
Barbell: Lead Barbell Eyes - Plain (Dull) - Medium (5/32" / 4 mm)     
Weight: Lead Wire Spool - .035     
Flash: Holographic Flashabou - Chartreuse - 6989     
Head: Senyo Laser Yarn Dubbing - Sculpin Olive     
Eyes: 3D Holographic Eyes - Super Pearl - 1/4"     

Other tools from the tutorial:
Loon UV Clear Fly Finish - Flow     

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: