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Friday, March 28, 2014

Product Review: Clear Cure Goo

A product that has truly revolutionized my tying

Not too many years ago, I found myself struggling with the epoxy conundrum: Basically is it worth throwing epoxy on fly patterns given its curing time and all the other challenges that come along with that? I usually found myself opting out of using epoxy in situations where I would have liked to use it, but just didn't want to mess with it all.

Then along came the Clear Cure Goo revolution. This is a great product line that will literally put a totally different spin on both the patterns you tie and the workflow that you use to tie patterns that would normally use a traditional epoxy.

Now there are a large variety of Goo styles, including, Thin, Brushable, Tack-Free, Thick, Flex, Fleck and so on, but our favorite is, hands-down, the Hyrdo. It's the perfect viscosity and will cure tack-free.

But best of all, when it comes to this great UV Cure resin product, you can literally use it on a huge variety of flies.

Midge Dry Fly

Gut Bomb - Tan

Chimera Fly

Experimental mayfly nymph

Jig Style Nymph

Caddis Larva

I've tried most of the resins out there. There are some good ones and some not-so-good ones, but in my experience, you can't go wrong with the Goo and it's got a spot on my tying desk at all times.

You can check out their website at:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Streamers are investments

Fish your streamers tough, but tie them tougher.

Brown Trout on the Mongrel Meat

I think everyone who tie flies has had this happen before.  You spend extra time and care creating the perfect streamer, and when you show it to your "Wooly-bugger-or-die" buddy, he says sarcastically "Man, I sure hope you don't lose that thing."

Double Wide Cheech Leech

Just like anything else, tying flies can be relatively inexpensive and time consuming, or it can be very expensive and time consuming depending on a lot of variables.  I have no issue with trying to save money on fly tying materials (See THIS about our craft store adventures) but there are certain circumstances where, in my opinion, it is worth it to go all out on a fly.  One of these circumstances is tying and buying streamer patterns.  With all the bells and whistles, fancy epoxy eyes, lazer sharpened hooks, GPS homing systems, and attack grenades that you can fit onto a streamer these days, they tend to be expensive both to tie and to buy.  I think that streamers should be treated differently from other types of flies, and they are really more like investments than throw-away $2 zebra midges.  Here are 5 tips that might help you see where I'm coming from.

Splake on a Cheech Leech

1. Larger tippet/leader means you probably wont lose them.

Unlike fishing a small dry fly or nymph, a streamer lends itself well to being fished on a thick leader with a
loop knot.  Most of the time, I'm fishing either 15# Berkeley 100% Fluorocarbon, or 12# Maxima on them.  I can't remember the last time I lost a streamer (while fishing it anyway).  Even if I get it caught in a tree, I turn into a lumber jack via. fish hook by pointing my rod at the tree and lettin' her rip.  My point here is that streamers are not nearly as disposable as other patterns that are fished on lighter tippet.  Also, if you are going to land the fish of a lifetime, you better be hucking some cable at him.

2. Use quality hooks and components.

We did a video on the Cheech Leech using Lazer Trokar hooks last year and I have gotten many comments about how expensive those hooks are.  Granted, I don't tie all of my Cheech Leeches with Lazer Trokar hooks, but I have my limited reserve flies that get tied on if I think something special is about to happen.  For Pike and Musky, I tie almost exclusively on Lazer Trokar hooks and I have been using the same flies for a few years.  I recommend at the very least tying with chemically sharpened conical point hooks.  THESE are good.  THESE are better.  Also, some of the materials for streamers can seem expensive like schlappen, arctic fox, barred zonkers, or Finn raccoon - but If you put it into perspective, the flies you tie with these materials should last you a long time, so it's worth the investment to spend a bit of money if it will make your fly better.

3. Spend time tying them and making them bulletproof.

Black and Blue Cheech Leech
If I'm going to be tying a fly that is going to last a long time, I will spend more time making it "bulletproof."  Whether this means substituting a less durable material for a more durable material (i.e. arctic fox for marabou), or adding a tiny bit of super glue in vulnerable spots - it's worth the extra time if it's going to extend the life of your investment.  I think the best way to create a durable fly is to make sure you are using snug thread wraps.  Regardless of the type and size of thread you like to use, make sure you use proper tension to ensure durability.  With super glue, it's important that you realize that a little bit will go a long way, and you shouldn't over-do it because it can be more harm than help if it gets into materials that need to stay flexible.

4. Learn how to effectively resharpen your hooks.

Yes, even the best of hooks will lose their edge if you scrape them on enough rocks and snag them in enough trees.  The fly portion of the fly is still 100% OK, but that dull hook is definitely going to cost you fish.  It's in your best interest to learn how to effectively sharpen your hooks.  A little bit of work goes a long way.  Instead of a boring dissertation on how to sharpen hooks, check out this video by Lefty Kreh.  Very well said Lefty.

5. Limit the quantity of each pattern/color you carry.

Really, my point here is that you won't be losing flies like you would if you are using #18 PMD patterns, so it's not as critical to have 12 of each color and size.  For my personal boxes, I typically like to have 4 of each size and color of each fly.  That is a LOT of streamers to have on my person, and I'm probably lugging around too many streamers, but that's what happens when you have Streamer-OCD.  I firmly believe that you can get by with 2 streamers in each size and color.  This will allow you to carry a bigger selection of flies in a smaller container.
Triple Section Streamer strikes again

I had the idea to write this article because I was thinking back to an experience I had a few years ago.  a guy had seen the Cheech Leech at a tying expo and showed some interest in buying some.  When I quoted him $7 each, he flipped out.  He said "Well, how am I supposed to save any money by buying flies from you."  "I'll just go down to Sportsman's Warehouse and get some zonkers and wooly buggers."  Be my guest my friend... Be my guest.  He didn't get it.  Funny thing is that I caught my personal best brown trout on that exact fly that I was tying.  It has caught 3 bruiser browns and countless others.  It has also been sharpened several times, and rests quietly in my box ready for the next few years of fishing.

For all your streamer needs be sure to visit our Streamer Depot.

~ Cheech

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo

Great Expo in Utah
Gut Bomb Bloodworm

For about the last 10 years, Curtis and I have teamed up to tie flies at the expos that have come through Utah.  For the past 8 years we have had the privilege of tying flies at the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fishing Expo, and it's a great gathering of many skilled fly tiers and fly fishers.  This year we are going to both be presenting both days all day... (March 28th and 29th)  The expo is not only held to bring together people with similar interests, it is also a great fund raiser for fish conservation.  For more information about the expo, check out the web site listed above. Also, Curtis and I have something cool up our sleeves, so make sure you stop by and say hello.  Trust me - our fly display won't be easily forgotten (and not because of the flies).

Pink Humpy

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Film Review: Kiss the Water

A Film by Eric Steel

A while back, we were given the opportunity to screen a new film that tells a story about the art of fly tying. Not being the type to pass up an opportunity to watch a good fly fishing film, I wasn't quite sure how well a film centered around fly tying would work. But as I began to watch the film, I was pleasantly surprised with the artistry, the well told story and how it all came together to form a very personal and compelling picture of fly tying and fly fishing for the people and places in the film.

The film revolves around a well-known and widely respected Scottish fly tyer named Megan Boyd and her influence on the art of tying classic Atlantic salmon flies. Her story, as portrayed in the film and told by those who knew her over the years, shows a true dedication to the art of fly tying, starting from a young age, marked by a gritty determination to attain perfection in the flies she would tie. In addition to the focus on the eccentric Ms. Boyd, the filmmakers struck an excellent balance with showing the plight and importance of the mighty Atlantic salmon and painted a wonderful picture of the sport.

From an aesthetic nature, the film features great cinematography, wonderful snippets of an Atlantic Salmon fly being dressed and some dream-like artistic animations expertly woven in to augment the film footage. For the fly tyers out there, this is a film that would strike a chord with anyone who has  been driven to pursue fly tying as not only a means to an end but a rich journey of enjoyment and constant pursuit of perfection. In fact, Ms. Boyd was so focused on her art and had such high esteem for the fish they would catch, she herself never caught a salmon for fear it would die.

If you're not one of the lucky ones that has a showing at your local theater, here's a link where you can see the film. If you'd like to download, buy or watch online, you can use the code FLYFISHFOOD and get a discount. (for the record, we have no dog in the fight here and aren't compensated in any way).

See it here:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Economy of Thread Wraps

clean up your small flies.

The guys at Gink and Gasoline had a great post a few days ago about proportion and thread wraps when it comes to tying small flies.  Check it out HERE.

If you haven't already, make sure you check out their blog for great material on a day to day basis.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Royal Wulff

A favorite for generations

This fly really needs no introduction.  If you have fished with attractor flies, there is a good chance that you have caught fish with the Royal Wulff.  I was first introduced to it by my father in law when I first started fishing, and I caught my first fly rod fish on it.  As  my wife's grandpa used to say, "If a Royal Wulff isn't working, you might as well go home."  Fishing the Royal Wulff is pure bliss, while tying them can be pure agony.  My first attempts were about as ratty as they get, but they still caught plenty of fish.  As I progressed, I started making the wings out of turkey flats to make it a bit easier (yes.  they still caught plenty of fish).  The wings are the part of this fly that really make it or break it.  There are plenty of Royal Wulff videos on the internet, but I wanted to show some of the tips and tricks that I have learned over the years.

~ Cheech

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bruiser Blend Dubbing

a new generation of streamer dubbing

Brown Olive Bruiser Blend.  Fly "coming soon"

Barf Brown Bruiser Blend

Brown Olive Bruiser Blend
I'm always on the lookout for new tying materials, and I have been known to make up my own when there isn't anything on the market that quite fits the bill.  I have about 5 bazillion different blends of dubbing that I have tried to implement in one fashion or another, and this year, I have been on the warpath in creating a dubbing that can be used for many purposes.  I started using Senyo's laser dub about a year ago, and was amazed with the versatility of the material and some of the applications that I came up with.  That being said, there were many times when I wished that it was a bit more fine, and longer in length.  I searched high and low, and have been able to find the perfect material to make this blend of dubbing.  I went through several blends of fibers before I settled on what is now called "Bruiser Blend."  We have been testing it with great results, and we have made our initial offering of colors available at  Check out the link to see the colors available.  Several more colors are on the way too!

~ Cheech

Friday, March 14, 2014

Material Review: J:son RealSkin

Buggy Clothing for your flies

J:son RealSkin

Recently, we've had a chance to get our hands on some of the J:son products to mess around with in the lab. J:son is a company from Sweden and they specialize in materials geared to more realistic fly tying. Well, Cheech has been busy filling some new nymph boxes, and so first on the docket was the "RealSkin" product. It's a latex type material and comes pre-cut into a variety of widths (see the photo to the right).

The first obvious applications are nymph bodies. In the stonefly pictured here, you'll notice the pronounced segmentation from the RealSkin. It's thick enough to give the natural-looking segmentation yet it doesn't stretch so much as to lose its thickness along the way.

Cheech's RealSkin Stonefly
Next up was a Czech style fly in Rock Roller flavors. Another nice thing about this product is that the colors don't fade much when stretched and there are some really buggy colors to tie with. Anyway, give it a try next time you're in the mood to tie up some stoneflies or anything else needing a good buggy looking body
Cheech's RealSkin Czech Nymph

Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 unexplained mysteries of the fly fishing/tying universe

Why do you do that?!!??

Euro Nymphing...  pfffft.  I only fish dry flies.

There are things in fly fishing and fly tying, that for the life of me, I can't understand. WHY do people do them?  Maybe it's just the way they were taught, or maybe it's some type of superstition that I don't understand.  Here is a list of 5 things of those things that I'm just too dumb to understand.  Keep in mind that these rants (like this and this) are just opinions and observations from an otherwise uneducated redneck from Vernal, UT.

1- The "Touchdown" formation

Cheech is doing it all wrong here. HANDS UP!!!
Setting the hook and fighting the fish with your hands directly over your head.  Yep.  You all have seen this if you have fly fished enough or have watched videos on the inter-webs.  a semi-pro guide is intently watching his indicator and sets the hook by promptly lifting his hands directly over his head.  He gets ALL fish
(regardless of the size) on the reel and keeps his hands up there the whole time he is fighting the fish.  Can someone clue me in here...  Why?  If it's a big fish in a big river, I prefer to stick the butt of the rod into my very non-muscular gut and anchor that sucker in place.  In fact, My arms would get tired fighting bluegill in the "touchdown" formation.  Really though.  If someone can tell me a reason for this, I'm all ears... and arms.

2- Dry or die

Uhhh, yeah, nymphing sucks. I'm Unsinkable.
I get it... dry fly fishing is fun, and I even went through a phase of my life when I would rather sit on the bank and eat sunflower seeds than fish nymphs.  This all being said, if you want to catch more fish, you should get really comfortable fishing beneath the surface.  Here is why I think some people are dry fly only guys...  Nymphing is harder than dry fly fishing.  Yep.  with dry flies, you get to visually see a fish eat your fly.  You set the hook, bring the fish in, and repeat.  With subsurface fishing, you almost have to have a sixth sense to know where to fish and to know when your fly gets eaten.  Nymphing is much more than a bobber, a bunch of lead, and a couple pheasant tails.  If you want to limit yourself dry fly fishing, more power to you, but don't belittle nymph fishermen. Chances are, they catch more fish than you.  Rant over...  I also LOVE fishing dry flies.

3- "Yeah, I used to be a guide..."

I have all the respect in the world for guides because many times they have a thankless job of putting people into fish.  They know the river, the fish, the flies, and how to turn crappy 15 foot casts into fish.  Kudos to you.  On the other side of the coin, I have met several guys that obviously want to try to impress you with their fly fishing prowess to tell you that they used to be a "guide."  Now this might mean something in a state where you actually have to get a license to become a guide, but in my home state, if you have a couple of south bend trophy tamers, a spool of 4x, a pocket full of zebra midges, a Toyota Corolla, and a tank of gas you can damn well be a guide.  Those.... those are the guys I'm talking about.  I once had a co-worker invite
This guy clearly needs a guide to catch fish in January!
me to go fishing with him (he had no idea that I fished) that told me that he could help me learn how to fly fish.  He used to be a guide - he told me.  I went without telling him that I knew how to fish, and that I had about 10,000 flies on my person at any given time.  I know, I'm bad.  It went like this...
"Hey, why are you stringing up a 3 wt?"
"You need at least a 6 wt on this river."
"Hey why aren't you putting an indicator on your line?  You will never see the fish eat your fly."
"Hey, what did you get that fish on?"
"Hey, do you always fish dry flies in the winter time?" (See #2)
"Hey, can I borrow one of those flies?"
"Hey man, you should really be a guide."

4- Half Hitches.

So we call it "tying" flies, but if you really think about it, we aren't actually tying materials to the hook shank with a series of "tied" knots.  We simply "bind" the materials onto the hook shank by wrapping thread around it.  For all intents and purposes, yes, technically the thread could become unwound while tying the fly if there were a massive earthquake, or if your fly tying room were invaded by a pack of rabid wolves.  You do not, however, have to tie a half hitch on your fly after tying in every material.  The only reason why you would need a half hitch is if you are rotary tying (with a bobbin cradle) and you want your thread to stay exactly where it is.  Maybe you can help me understand why people do this, but I have seen it a lot lately and I can't get my head around it.  Use them instead of a whip finish... fine by me, but you really only need two or three snug wraps to secure most materials in place.

5- Can't lose that fly guy.

This is the only fly worth climbing a tree for.
I think we all have been here before.  You are fishing with a buddy, and all of a sudden you walk around the bend to find him risking life and limb to pull his $2 BWO from a branch 25 feet in the air.  If he gets it back, it's the highlight of his trip because he doesn't have to buy (or tie) another one.  If he loses it, it ruins his day,
and he grumbles about it through an insane hatch with many trout rising...  So I'm overplaying this a bit, but in my opinion, no fly is worth the risk of me falling out of a tree and breaking my head.  Help me understand this one folks.

Again, like the rest of my rants, I'm probably guilty of all of these things from time to time myself - but I still don't understand why.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Copper John -- Skwala Style

How to get a two-toned body

copper john stonefly fly pattern
Two-Toned Skwala Style Copper John
Sit back and get ready for a 2 hour long dissertation on the merits and history of fishing a Copper John. Or not. Suffice it to say, the CJ is a standard nymph pattern. Suffice it to say that here at Fly Fish Food, we tend to throw a curve at the "stand by" patterns.

This is a round-about imitation of a Skwala Stonefly nymph. Obviously not exact and it's meant to be more of an overall searching pattern for the spring. It will sink like a rock and get down fast.

The two-tone method on the wire is actually comprised of three separate strands of wire -- two yellow and one brown -- all wrapped forward at the same time. Check out the video to get the main idea.

Two-Toned Skwala Copper John

Material List

Add to Cart   View in store

Hook: Fulling Mill 35025 Grab Gape Hook, Barbless - 10     
Bead: Plummeting Tungsten Beads - Black Nickel - 5/32" (3.8mm)     
Thread: Danville Flat Waxed Nylon Thread - 70 Denier - Black     
Tail: Nature's Spirit Stripped Goose Biots - Tannish Yellow     
Body 1: UTC Ultra Wire - Hot Yellow - Brassie     
Body 2: UTC Ultra Wire - Brown - Brassie     
Wing Case 1: Thin Skin - Fly Specks, Brown/Black     
Wing Case 2: Veevus Holographic Tinsel - Copper - Medium     
Thorax: Nature's Spirit Bleached Dyed Peacock Sticks - Golden Yellow     
Legs: Coq De Leon Hen Saddle - Speckled Copper Olive     
Wing Case Coat: Loon Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish     

Other tools from the tutorial:
C&F Design Hackle Pliers