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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Virtual Vise Sessions : Streamers

Time to get the meat ready for spring

Tie the Mongrel Meat Live with us

We'd like to thank all of you for making our first Virtual Vise session a huge success.  We are excited to announce that we will be doing the second installment of our Virtual Vise Sessions: Streamer-Palooza  This will be similar to our midge session, and we will do a short presentation on streamers before we tie.   

This is scheduled for Thursday February 6th at 6pm MST/ 8pm EST and will last approximately 90 minutes. Thank you for your attendance at the session! If you wish to view the recorded version, Click here to view the session

Blazin Mini Cheech Leech

If you  wish to participate a little more actively, we'll be doing a few live pattern tying demos, including a tie-along for those that have a webcam and want to participate with us live and in person ( in-person as you can get with a webcam). With this interactive mode, you can follow along, ask questions and we can see what you're tying at the same time.

Because we're limited to 8 tyers in the video conference room, it's a first-come and first-served basis on that. First, you will need a Google+ account and add me (Curtis Fry) to your circles: Then at the time of the event, go to my Google+ page,, and you will see the Google Hangout started. Click to join that event.

We highly recommend you have a high quality webcam with macro or close up capabilities in order to get the most out of the tie-along. Email us if you wish to be one of the 8 tyers in the interactive video conference. 

If you don't wish to join the interactive video conference or we run out of room in the conference room, no worries as you can enjoy the live streaming event on YouTube without joining up or even having a Google+ account. It will be 100% open to the public for viewing at this link:


We have gotten some good suggestions for patterns to tie.  Because of the difficulty in doing a "tie-along" type event, we will just present the flies and post recipes after the session.  We have a general idea of what we will be tying, but we still are going to keep it flexible.

We look forward to you joining us!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Build a Better Brassie

Turn simple into ultra simple

brassie fly pattern
I know.  How can you make the brassie even more simple than it is?  Trust me - it is possible.

The brassie is a great fly because it just plain produces fish.  Similar to a Zebra midge, it is designed for maximum simplicity, and effectiveness.  With the wide array of wire products out now from UTC and other companies, there are many different color combinations that can be achieved.  

 This video is designed to help you tie cleaner, faster brassies.  The key is to eliminate thread under the body of the fly.  Check out the video for demonstration.

~ Cheech

Material List

Add to Cart   View in store

Hook: TMC 2488 Nymph Hook - 18 - 25 Pack     
Thread: Danville Flat Waxed Nylon Thread - 70 Denier - Black     
Bead: Plummeting Tungsten Beads - Black Nickel - 5/64" (2.0mm)     
Body 1: UTC Ultra Wire - Silver - Small     
Body 2: UTC Ultra Wire - Black - Small     
Thorax: Nature's Spirit Snowshoe Rabbit Foot Dubbing - Black     

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why Go Small?

There's a reason you tie on the small stuff

Taking a page from some of the midge myths we posted about last week, we headed out to find rising fish the other day. My fancy bug net (read: net wand) in hand, I danced around the stream plucking midge pupa from the surface film to get an idea of the size of bugs we'd be dealing with. Luckily the hatch was just starting and we ended up getting into some typical midging fish. Now when I say "typical", I mean somewhat fussy and laser-focused on the specific bugs on the water. Not every midge hatch is this way as some hatches include multiple species of varying sizes and colors -- fish may not be as picky. But this time the fish were really dialed in on the bugs that were hatching. Our midge clusters did nothing and even some of our better midge emergers had some challenges. Cheech, of course, goes directly to the ol' Bunny midge in a #30 and proceeds to clean the entire run. As a matter of scientific curiosity, I ended up throwing patterns of similar size (parachutes, adult midges and a couple of emergers) and didn't have near the success. I'd turn around and the Bunny midge had scored again. And again.

Anyway, see more about this great fly here. But that's not the main point here. The point is these fish were keying in on a very specific size bug in a very specific color. Check out the comparison between the natural (also caught with my fancy net wand) and the bunny midge on the dime here. The pattern below is a #30 and compares nicely to the size and color of the natural.

midge emerger pattern
Bunny midge and midge adult hangin' on a dime
Midge Adult
Midge shucks and other body parts
After taking a quick throat sample from one of the fish to double-check size and color of the naturals, we can see a lot of shucks and adults. This tells us that the fish were likely taking emergers just in the film as they were shucking. Or maybe they just ate the shucks kinda like the tasty skin from a Costco rotisserie chicken.

Either way, it wasn't until we were throwing flies that fit the class of bug the fish were focusing on that we saw solid takes. In fact, while fishing one section, I could see the fish come up, inspect and then ignore my midge cluster on the first few casts. Lesson here: Don't be afraid to tie on a "no-see-um" size fly if the fish are dialed in on the small stuff. On this day, when the midge clusters and other larger bugs wouldn't move a fish, we had to size way down to find our way into some tight lines. And don't be afraid to get down to the water level to seine samples or even (carefully of course) take a throat sample or two if you're not sure -- especially when there's a hatch that involves multiple species. Because when you see fishing rising and they're tight-lipped on your patterns, it's always good to look at the size of the naturals to shed some light on things.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Top 5 Midge Myths

Get your midge-information here

Large Rainbow caught on a small midge pattern
1. Smaller Flies = Smaller Fish. I'm always surprised when people tell me they don't fish midges because they don't like to settle for smallish fish. Granted a big beefy streamer will likely drum up bigger fish more consistently, but I've had some of my biggest trout on the fly come on midge patterns. I've hit the 24/24 club on a couple of instances (24 inch fish on a #24 fly) and the 22/22 or even 20/20 is more common than you might think. Barring the existence of bigger meals, the fish will often spend the time eating the smaller nutritive morsels in the form of midges. Not always, mind you, but at least be open to the idea that there might be a big fish under that riseform among the no-see-um's.

2. Rise = Dries. When you see fish rising, you need to throw on a dry fly midge adult because they're eating on the surface. I think most fly fisher people know this isn't necessarily true, but still it's a good one to mention. As many midgers understand, you need to pay attention to the rises to determine whether the fish is actually taking something "on" the surface as opposed to something "in" or just below it. As the hatch gets going, you can almost count on the fact that the fish are hitting midge pupa emerging from their shucks trying to break through to the surface. Fish will snack on these helpless targets all day long if they could and they can't help but break the surface of the water as they take the bugs. Look for "finning" or "tailing" as opposed to the standard bubble rise of a surface take to know whether they're up top or just below it.

3. When you're fishing flies so small, the pattern itself doesn't matter as much. Oh if this were only true! While I've found that the smaller you go, the simpler your flies can be, I've definitely concluded you still need to pay attention to size, color and profile. I've fished through enough huge midge hatches with finicky fish (think Silver Creek in Idaho or Rocky Ford in Washington) that I can tell you those things definitely make a difference. With midges especially, since there is a big variety of colors -- even on the same body of water, you need to always pay attention to size, color and profile in order to maximize your results. Go ahead and fish the same style Griffith's Gnat, er Peacock King, across all situations and see how that goes.

4. There's no need to fish flies smaller than #22. Believe it or not, I've heard this on several occasions and have to bite my tongue because it usually comes from one of "those" guys that doesn't pay attention to the rules. Both Cheech and I have run into situations on many occasions that required us to dial down the size to something as ridiculously small as a #32. Now, that doesn't mean we throw on a #32 as a matter of practice, in fact I'd prefer to avoid fishing crap that small, but sometimes you gotta miniaturize. Just pay attention to the naturals and look to see what the fish are doing. And sometimes remember that when things are looking that small, throw on a cluster or something flashy like an Orange Asher and see what happens!

5. I can't tie on a fly that small, let alone see it on the water, so I can't fish midges. This is yet another objection to midging I hear from time to time when teaching tying classes or seminars -- especially when talking about dry flies. True, the smaller flies are virtually impossible to see on the water. But you don't need to see them. Learn to either guesstimate the location of your fly and look for a rise in that area. If you have a hard time doing that, get some small pieces of stick-on foam indicator or some Loon Biostrike to put up your tippet a small distance. As for tying on the small flies, you can always pre-rig with with a threader and have them ready for you to use on-stream. Either that, or invest in some inexpensive magnifier glasses. Or bionic eyes with x-ray vision.

Bottom line, don't give up on midges just because of a few pieces of common misinformation out there. Midge fishing is some of the most addictive and rewarding style of fishing, in my opinion. And if you want some additional pointers, tune into our midge fishing seminar. See details here.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stream Access Threatened!

Act now!!

Whether you live in Utah or not, legislation here may very well trickle down and set precedence in other states.


SUPPORT HB37 | Protecting Public Water & Property Rights!

 In the state of Utah, it is against the law for the public to recreate (fish,
wade, etc.) in public waters that are adjacent to private property. This law
severely limits the freedom for not only the residents of Utah, but also to
any persons who come to Utah to enjoy our precious streams and
waterbeds. It's the public’s right to lawfully access and use its public waters
in place for any lawful activity, including recreation, allowing the public to
reasonably touch privately-owned beds of public waters in ways incident and
necessary to such use. This right is defined in Utah's constitution, and has
been upheld by the Utah Supreme Court several times.

Approximately 50 percent of the legislature will only know 1% of the public water law. And that is hardly enough time to ensure strong support for HB37 —but it can be done and here’s how.

You can help right now!
Contact your local Representatives:

Contact the office of Governor Gary Herbert, his chief legal counsel, and his
senior environmental advisor. Tell them to SUPPORT HB37!
+ Utah Governor's: Gary Herbert -you must now go to this link. http://
+ Legal Counsel: Jacey Skinner - 801 538-1645
+ Sr. Environmental Adviser: Alan Matheson - -
801-538-1574 |
Become a member, It's free!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

5 ways to enhance midge pupae

becasue zebra midges are boring.

Purple biot pupa with flash wing

We all know that trout are gluttons for food that is plentiful and have high caloric value.  Because of this, most of us have line upon line of midge pupae in our boxes as a "last resort."  I know that on any given day of the year the trout will take a zebra midge, but with a few tweaks here and there, your midge pupae can turn into bona-fide fish catching machines.  I think there is a lot of value in being able to present a fly that is a bit different from the monotonous designs in the fly shops.

Here are 5 things that you can do to enhance your midge pupae:
Single pheasant tail strand

1- Experiment with different body materials.

  • Substitute the common thread and wire body with something like a biot, spanflex, stripped quills, floss, tinsel, etc.  My favorite body material is a turkey biot with a small wire wrapped over the top of it (in between the segments).  Another thing that I have done is create a body of tinsel, lightly coat with super glue, and then wrap a single pheasant tail fiber through it (see picture)
2- Add flash.  
  • Yes I know that midge pupae don't have wings, but as they move around a lot and trap air against their bodies to help them emerge.  By tying a sparse overwing of krystal flash, midge flash, or other sparkly things, it just adds a bit of a flash element to the fly.  Flash can also be added to the thorax of your midges by dubbing ice dub, or other similar flashy dubbings.  Senyo lazer dub is actually a great dubbing for tiny flies because it is so fine.
3- Vary the weight.
Oversized bead with wingcase to keep it in place
  • I always like to tie my midge pupae in three varieties of weight proportion: tungsten bead, brass bead, and no bead.  The reason for this is that the fish aren't always going to be feeding on the bottom, and if you need to hang a midge pupa off of a tiny dry fly, the tungsten probably isn't an option.  It's nice to have something that won't sink quite as much for those film feeders too.  Conversely, I have tied some pupae with beads that might be a bit too big for the hook.  I have to come up with creative ways to get the bead to fit on the hook without eating up the hook gap.  That usually means that I'm lashing the bead to the top of the hook shank with some monofilament.
4- Vary your hook styles.
    2488 hook with wire and bright floss
  • Most midge pupae are tied on curved shank hooks, but they can be tied with a wide variety of hooks.  For the value oriented fly tyer, they can be tied on the same hooks you are tying your dry flies on such as the TMC 100.  When midge pupae are in the water, they don't always take a curved shape, so a straight shank still imitates the natural quite well. There is a very wide variety of hooks out there, and the key to different hooks is to make your flies slightly different from the rest. 

5- Experiment with colors. 
My #1 color.  Olive.

  • Green or olive are by far my favorite color combos to fish, but there is such a wide array of colors that are fantastic when fished as pupae.  My eyes were opened one summer when I went from catching very few fish on one of my tried and try black patterns to catching fish after fish on a blue pupae with chartreuse wire.  Some staples in my box are black, olive, brown, blue, purple, cream, and chartreuse.  Remember that there are no rules when tying, and you should absolutely try fishing with crazy colors so the fish can decide if they are effective or not.
~ Cheech

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Orange Asher: Midge of Mystery

But it just works

Orange Asher Midge Pattern
The Orange Asher with Holo-Tinsel and CCG

For me, the Green River in Utah holds many o' tale of stumbling onto cool, new and yes, even mysterious fly patterns. Which reminds me of a couple more patterns I need to tell you about later...but I digress. The Orange Asher is one of these odd flies with an interesting history behind it.

Our tale starts off many years ago as a friend of mine was hiking back to the boat ramp below the dam on the "A" section of the Green. At a distance, as he approached a big back eddy, he noticed the guy fishing there had a fish on the line. As he got closer, the fellow was into yet another fish. And another. My buddy, not having had a super stellar day, was obviously curious and stopped to watch this fisherman land several more fish. Before too long, the mystery fisherman packed up and got ready to leave but voluntarily and graciously offered the fly to my friend as he left. He explained it was a fly pattern he knew little about, but it had done well for him. Attached now to a new tippet and line, the fly continued its success for the last hour or so of the day.

Upon his return, my buddy called and told me the story of the mystery fly and described the pattern to me. This was in the early days of the internet and not much was found on the pattern. However, after asking around and checking different sources, I was able to identify the pattern as an Orange Asher. As far as I understand, it was originated by a gentleman named Jack Howarth of Colorado Springs, Colorado and was primarily used for high mountain lakes to imitate adult midges.

Arctic grayling orange asher midge pattern
A high mountain Arctic Grayling takes the Orange Asher
So with enough information to tie the fly, I hit the vise and whipped up a few samples. Easy enough to tie and, as it turns out, very effective to boot. Long story short, I've used this pattern now on rivers, lakes and everywhere in between and can honestly say I'm not quite sure why it works so well overall. I've had times where, fishing for very finicky midging fish that won't touch a #26 spot-on natural imitation, fish have come from several feet away and nailed the Asher. Go figure.

In fact, the two photos shown here with the Grayling were the result of an initially frustrating day on a high mountain lake with fish rising all over the place. I had tried a few calliabaetis (which were hatching) and some midge emergers, but it wasn't until I slapped on Ol' Reliable that the fishing turned for the better.

>>> And if you don't tie your own, we sell them on the store here. <<<

Arctic grayling orange asher midge pattern
Large Arctic Grayling taken on an Orange Asher

Material List

Add to Cart   View in store

Hook: Fulling Mill 35050 Ultimate Dry Fly Hook, Barbless - 16     
Thread: Danville Flat Waxed Nylon Thread - 70 Denier - Fl. Orange     
Underbody: Veevus Holographic Tinsel - Orange - Medium     
Hackle: Whiting Hebert Miner 1/2 Saddle - Bronze - Grizzly     

Other tools from the tutorial:
Tiemco Razor Scissors     
Tiemco Midge Whip Finisher     
C&F Design Hackle Pliers     

NOTE: This is an old school video and uses pearl tinsel instead of the holo-tinsel we use today.