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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tacky UV Resins... The End of the World?

Simple solutions for tacky resin

Alpha Predator with a resin head

Over the past few years it seems like everyone has adopted the new UV resins as a substitute to normal Squeeze n' Mix 2 part epoxies.  Yes...  Bliss is defined as a resin that can be cured instantly to achieve ultimate and instant gratification.  All of the sudden we are putting epoxy backs on our Copper Johns and hard heads on our baitfish patterns instantly! Ah yes, these are the good ol' days of fly tying where so many good things like UV resin are readily available to us.  This being said, there has been a lot of discussion and debate about what is the "best" resin to use.  To be honest - I like them all, but I'm a bit partial to Loon due to the fact that they are a stand up company that is all ears when their customers give them input, and they try to do what's best for the environment.

Like any good thing, there is a caveat to having this miracle resin, and it's a HUGE downer called hate tackiness so much that I want to punch it in it's fat tacky mouth, but the solutions are so simple that we shouldn't get so worked up about it.
Low Fat Minnow
tackiness.  Yes - the fact that 90% of the resins out there cure with a noticeable tack on the surface that just so happens to be a marabou and dubbing MAGNET.  Here is a question to ask yourself... and repeat after me, "Is tack really all that bad?"  After asking yourself that, I invite you to take a step back and look at the Divas that we have become.  Tackiness is a prime example of a #firstworldproblem.  This being said, I absolutely

When I first started getting tack, I was using Loon wader repair back in the day with the single LED light that took like 150 hearing aid batteries.  I thought that the tack was because of the light at first, so I started using the sun to cure it.  Guess what.  The big ol' sun is still no match for tack.  A good light is definitely a good thing to have because it will cure your resin faster, but tack is not the result of using a bad light - it's a chemistry thing.  I've been told and actually scolded many a time about it.

I heretofore provide you some solutions to stop tack in it tracks, thus, allowing us to be divas like we deserve to be.

Tack elimination solutions:

Buzzer with UV Resin
Solution 1 - Use a tack free UV resin as a top coat.  Some of the most popular tack free resins are Loon Flow and CCG Hydro.  These are very thin resins that can easily be applied to another resin coat to create a tack free barrier to the world.  Other tack free resins are out there, but Flow and Hydro are the two I'm most familiar with and are readily available.  This is what I use 95.773% of the time.

Solution 2 - Tag your tacky surface with a head cement.  The best one I have found is Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails.  I have also used Hard as Hull with great results, and the only downside to this method is that you don't get instant gratification... Go cry me a river...  Once you stop sobbing the SHHAN is dry.

Solution 3 - Rubbing alcohol / hand sanitizer.  Dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or a q-tip and apply to your tack to watch it magically disappear.  Hand sanitizer has the same effect (if it's alcohol based - which most are) but I usually don't put it on a cotton swab or q-tip.  The only issue with this is that the hand sanitizer will leave kind of a matte finish to the surface.  I really like a shiny surface so I don't use this one very much.

Solution 4 - (this is for coating larger surfaces) Use Loon hard head, or a 2 part 30 minute epoxy as a top coat.  This requires a fly turning wheel due to the size of the surface area covered.  This is a very cost effective method, and the 30 minute epoxy is the ticket to a bullet proof fly that won't break.  You could just use 100% epoxy, but it's much easier to form the general shape of the head with UV resin because you can zap it in place instantly.

Solution 5 - Travel to the planet krypton to the resin springs of non-tack-nia and scoop up the resin in a hollow mammoth tusk.  This is the place where all non tacky resin is naturally spewed forth, and very little makes it back to earth.  This is why dentists can charge you so much for it.  The only other people that will offer to sell you the resins of non-tack-nia are the Kenyans...  so... pretty sketchy.  You best stick to solutions 1 through 4.

All in all... Tack is really not that big of a deal, and there are several solutions for eliminating it.  Would it be good if all resins were not tack free?  Absolutely!  Until then, we can hate tack, but we just can't be divas about it.

~ Cheech

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Virtual Iron Fly - Followers vs. Flyfishfood

Challenge us to create stuff

This plethora of vises will help us get the job done.

These "Iron Fly" challenges that are popping up around the country are pretty awesome...  We have wanted to participate for a while now, and it just so happens that the Iron Fly in SLC is on a night that we get to fill bags full of goodies for our customers.  We're 100% good with that, BUT we still want to do an Iron Fly-esqe thing that involves our customers and followers, and this type of thing has been suggested already by several of you.  We will try to have a theme (either for the fly, or for the materials suggested), and our followers will comment on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. with the materials they want to see us use.  Whoever is in the hot seat, whether it is Cheech or Curtis will have no input at all on the final list of materials to be used (we tend to be BRUTAL with each other).  Then, once the list is gathered, we hold a live YouTube event so you can watch us struggle to tie a fly that is somewhat usable.  The tyer will have no knowledge of the final list of materials chosen until the night of the live event.

I did this once at a family reunion when all of my brothers challenged me to tie a fly 100% out of materials from the shed.  I could use a hook and thread from my kit, but everything else was shed fodder.  What came of that was called the Weed Whacker Special tied out of twine, weed whacker line, and some flashy junk from a Christmas ornament.  Yes it worked... barely.  

Here's how it works.  

  1. We set a theme and a date
  2. You suggest the materials (via blog, social media, etc)
  3. We tie the fly during a live Youtube event
  4. You ridicule us while we struggle at the vise
  5. We either succeed or fail to make a usable fly.
  6. After the event there will be a drawing to win the fly that we tied and a small goodie bag.

You can suggest fly tying materials, stuff from the dollar store, etc etc.  One key to having your material selected is that it should be readily available.  If it's hard to find or really expensive, it likely won't make the list.

So here goes...

Date:  March 5, 2015 7:00 pm (Mountain time in 'Murica)
Theme: Meat (This will get more creative as we go on)

Start giving us your suggestions in the comments below and on social media.  More details once we get closer to March 5th.

Somehow I feel like we are going to regret this... but it will be for your entertainment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snook Snack - Baitfish

A simple bait fish solution

When I started tying these I really didn't have snook in mind specifically, but due to the saltwater state of mind that I have been in lately and the color selection I chose for the first few rounds of this fly, it kind of came out snookish.  That being said, I have modified this pattern in other colors for trout and bass too.  Also, like many of our other patterns, this one isn't going to re-invent the wheel by any means, but it will maybe open some doors of creativity in showing some different materials for a tail and how to stick eyes on a baitfish without encasing them in UV resin.  I have been really liking the movement of craft fur in the water so I chose to make the tail out of it on this version.  Perhaps the most useful tip you can pull out of this short video is the marker blending technique that I use on Bruiser Blend.

~ Cheech

Hook: Daiichi 3111 2/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - Tan and Chartreuse (BUY HERE)
Body1: Schlappen - Chartreuse (BUY HERE)
Body2: Palmer Chenille - Rootbeer (BUY HERE)
Head: Bruiser Blend Jr. - Dirty Chartreuse (BUY HERE) *additional color with marker
Eyes: Fish Skull Living Eyes 8mm (or 5mm) - Fire (Orange) (BUY HERE)

Alternate color:
Hook: Daiichi 3111 2/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Uni 6/0 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - White and Sand (BUY HERE)
Body1: Schlappen - White (BUY HERE)
Body2: Palmer Chenille - Pearl (BUY HERE)
Head: Bruiser Blend Jr. - Tan (top) Cream (bottom) (BUY HERE) *additional color with marker
Eyes: Fish Skull Living Eyes 8mm (or 5mm) - Ice (Silver) (BUY HERE)

Tools/Adhesives Used:
Wasatch Fur Comb  (BUY HERE)
Rite Bobbin (BUY HERE)
Tear Mender (BUY HERE)
Dr. Slick Razor Scissors (BUY HERE)
Griffin Montana Mongoose Vise (BUY HERE)
Quick Cut Whip Finisher (BUY HERE)  **limited supply

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Tools We Don't Leave Home Without

Non-standard standards

Turbo Dubbing Spinner and the Wasatch Fur Comb
A few weeks ago, I did a presentation for a trout unlimited group and was asked to discuss the various new tools and doo-dads we use. Surprisingly enough, beyond the normal scissors, bobbins, bodkins and whip finishers, there are still a lot of tools that we find indispensable. So rather than only listing them all here in writing we decided to bust out the movie making equipment and show our ugly mugs again.

So we chose a handful of tools that we really use day in and day out. And rather than recap the video below, here's a quick reference list to the tools we discussed:
** Click each one for more information **

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Tying vs. Buying - Which costs more?

Creativity meets economics

This fly sells for $10

There are a lot of reasons why people tie flies.  I really like the artistic outlet that I have on my vise and the ability to create basically anything I want.  Others might like the relaxation tying gives them, they might only tie to re-supply their standard fish catching patterns, or they may do it to save money.  I have heard this a million times that you will never save money by tying your own flies, and for me specifically (if I didn't sell them) I'd say that I would definitely NOT save money no matter how I try to justify having about 25,000 hooks on hand.  This being said, there is definitely a way to save money on flies if one is fairly methodical about it.

Before I get into the actual money saving part, I'll preface this by saying that if you only buy flies you are limited by what is in the shop, or what is available online. Period.  If you want to so much as change the marabou color on a Wooly Bugger you are running into asking a custom fly designer to do it for you which will most likely cost you some cash money.  So - by relegating yourself to only purchasing flies, you are limiting yourself to the creativity of others.

Before I go all "Curtis" on this and put my Nerdalysis hat on let's set some parameters on the cost of a fly (in very broad general terms).

  • Junk fly - $0.75 (Congrats, you just purchased a zebra midge from Africa.  Yes it will still catch fish... after you Zap-a-gap the hell out of it)
  • Normal run-of-the-mill fly - $2.00 to $3.50 (Typically from a reputable fly distributor i.e. Rainy's Umpqua, MFC etc.)
  • Specialty fly - $3.50 to $15.  These are more specialized ninja patterns that include big articulated meat and bugs from custom tyers.
For the sake of simplicity I'll use $2.00 as a general reference for what a fly costs (and this is probably a low estimate.)

The kicker in making the jump into tying flies is the sunk cost that comes with the purchase of a vise and tools.  I guess a nice dry fly hackle really ups the initial price of tying dry flies as well, but the hackle will literally last you for thousands and thousands of flies.  For the beginning tyer there really isn't a huge "need" to buy all of the top-of-the-line vise and tools, but it certainly won't hurt to have top quality stuff to tie with.  This being said, in my example I'll use a vise and tools that you won't want to throw away after the first month of tying like the tools that many of the starter kits come with.

Vise: Griffin Montana Pro - $78.00
Scissors: Dr. Slick All Purpose - $15.00
Bobbin: Griffin Supreme Ceramic - $12.50
Whip Finisher: Dr. Slick Stainless Whip Finisher - $7.00
Total price: $112.50

So this list represents "needs" and not "wants."  In order to get started with tying flies, these are the things, in my opinion, that a new tyer needs to start off on the right foot and not want to throw a vise (or bobbin) through a window.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Let's say that a new tyer wants to start out tying wooly buggers and pheasant tails, and I'm going to list (generously) enough materials to tie 25 flies:

Wooly Bugger
Wooly Bugger:
Hook:  Allen S402 #6 (pack of 25) - $3.39
Thread: UTC 140 - $2.00
Tail: Marabou - $3.50
Body: Chenille - $2.50
Hackle: Schlappen - $7.00
Total price: $18.39

Pheasant Tail
Pheasant Tail:
Hook:  Allen D103S (pack of 25) - $3.39
Bead: Tungsten beads (pack of 25) - $3.75
Thread: UTC 70 - $2.00
Tail/body/wingcase: Pheasant tail fibers - $2.75
Thorax: Peacock herl - $3.25
Ribbing: UTC ultra wire - $1.45
Total price: $16.59

So if a new tyer started from ground zero, it would cost $147.48 to tie those first 50 flies.  That averages out to be about $3 per fly for the first go 'round.  For the next round of flies when you don't have to account for the vise and tools, your cost is $34.98 which rounds out to be about $0.70 per fly (and it will likely even be cheaper than this because your materials will actually tie much more than 25 flies.)

This is kind of an extreme example because you are limiting yourself to one size of hook and one color per pattern, but as you move into buying materials for different patterns you will start seeing that your materials will mix and match to tie many other types of flies.  As you get further and further down the road of tying, you will get to the point that you are only limited by how many hooks and beads you have.  Like I said above, if you buy all the materials for a certain pattern, there is a very likely chance that you will only have to buy another pack of hooks to tie your next 25.

Uncle Ken's Wooly Bug
The other thing to consider is that your flies won't look like friggin' Captain America sat down to tie them (I'm confident that he is great on the vise), so it will take practice to get your flies to the point where they can compete, or even be better than their store bought counterparts.  Your goal from the get go is to tie flies that are durable and that can catch fish.  Once you have that down, you can focus on cleaning them up.  I have ranted many times about tying flies that are nice and tidy and that look great, BUT, if you are tying for yourself and don't intend on selling them or entering them in the Miss Universe contest, feel free to just tie "fishing" flies.

I'll tell you right now that many tyers (myself and Curtis included) will likely never "save" money tying flies because we have the sickness of having to have every new material and doo-dad that comes into the market.  Even though tying is a viable way to save money on flies if one is disciplined, for many people the draw of tying is much more than that, and it's worth it for them to have $25,000 worth of junk in a basement dungeon in order to have that perfect caddis pupa with just the right amount of flash and legs etc...   

The point I'd like to make the most with this post is this: Is it possible to save money by tying your own flies? Absolutely. It is probable? well...  that's complicated.

~ Cheech

P.S. To all you married fellers... One of the biggest ways to save money is to find a way to keep hooks from finding their way into your wife's feet.  I hear divorces are expensive.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Articulated Complex Twist Bugger

If it's good, add more meat

Articulated Complex Twist Bugger
Articulated Complex Twist Bugger
I have to say that it's pretty rewarding to see all of our followers posting their successes with

Complex Twist Buggers (CTB).  That technique has become more of a mainstay on my desk, and I have even modified some of my other patterns to incorporate that body style.  Shortly after I tied the original CTB I whipped up an articulated version with a much bulkier front half, and the results have been pretty good!  Instead of schlappen I decided to put a full plume of marabou into the loop.  I thought that the fibers would bind up something fierce, but after a slight tease with my trusty metal comb, the marabou spun up and wrapped up the shank just right.  Because of the number of materials used in this fly it's quite possible to make some insane color combinations to match the local forage.  Spin these up and post your results on our social media feeds.

~ Cheech



Front Half:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 - #1/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC 140 - Tan  (BUY HERE)
Cone: Brass Cone Head - Fl. pearl white (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - tan and white (BUY HERE)
Body1: Lucent Chenille - Gold UV - small (BUY HERE)
Body2: Polar Chenille - Gold UV (BUY HERE)
Body3: Marabou - Tan (BUY HERE)
Collar: Ice Dub - UV Tan (BUY HERE)


Articulation wire (BUY HERE)
Articulation beads - Nuclear corn (BUY HERE)

Back Half:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 - #1 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC 140 - Tan  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - tan and white (BUY HERE)
Body1: Tinsel Chenille - Gold (BUY HERE)
Body2: Polar Chenille - Gold UV (BUY HERE)
Body3: Schlappen - White (BUY HERE)
Collar: Ice Dub - UV Tan (BUY HERE)


Copper Olive 

Front Half:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 - #1/0 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC 140 - Olive (BUY HERE)
Cone: Brass Cone Head - Copper (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - Med. olive and light rust (BUY HERE)
Body1: Lucent chenille - Olive small (BUY HERE)
Body2: Polar Chenille - Olive copper (BUY HERE)
Body3: Marabou - Med. olive (BUY HERE)
Collar: Ice Dub - Brown olive (BUY HERE)


Articulation wire (BUY HERE)
Articulation beads - Electric Lizard (BUY HERE)

Back Half:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 - #1 (BUY HERE)
Thread: UTC 140 - Olive (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - Med. olive and light rust (BUY HERE)
Body1: Tinsel Chenille - copper (BUY HERE)
Body2: Polar Chenille - Olive copper BUY HERE)
Body3: Schlappen - Olive (BUY HERE)
Collar: Ice Dub - UV Brown olive (BUY HERE)

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Huevo Frito: Alevin Trout or Salmon Pattern

A High Protein Streamer

Alevin Fly Pattern
A few years ago, a friend of mine was talking about an effective yet under-used style of fly pattern he uses each spring in waters where we fish for Brown and Rainbow Trout. Stories of gigantic hungry fish smashing this little helpless immature trout/salmon fry got me curious enough to mess around with a few patterns.

However, it wasn't until recently that I got a hankering to tweak some of my first versions of an Alevin (pronounced "aləvən") that I drummed up this little guy.

I call it the "Huevo Frito" (fried egg), in part cuz it's got an egg sack and in part because my nickname has been "Frito" for a good portion of my life. Makes sense but really doesn't matter I guess.

Anyhoo...the kicker on this pattern is the tungsten bead/egg sac that will be tied in "belly scratcher" style and keep the super-sharp saltwater/streamer hook riding hook-point up. And it wouldn't be complete without all the Loon UV goodness we apply to it. From the fly paint to the UV Clear fly finish, Loon's got it dialed in.

You can either fish it streamer-style or even fish it Euro/Czech nymph style giving it a jerk or two as you drag through the drift.

So here it is:

Material List

Hook: Daiichi 2546 #4 -- Buy Here
Thread: Veevus 10/0, White -- Buy Here 
Eyes: Fish Skull Living Eyes, Wind, 3mm -- Buy Here
Egg: 3.8 mm tungsten, Orange -- Buy Here
Under-Body: Pearl Tinsel, Large  -- Buy Here
Body: Arctic Fox Tail, White -- Buy Here
          & Flash 'n Slinky, Bronze Back  -- Buy Here
Egg Yolk: Loon UV Fly Paint, Orange  -- Buy Here
Egg Sac: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Thick -- Buy Here
Coating: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Flow  -- Buy Here

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Tube Fly Primer, Part 1: Why Tubes?

Tying Has Gone Down the Tubes

A few years back, based primarily on the need to find a way to huck big bass poppers with my fly rod
Tube fly, popper style
without having to worry about gigantic hooks, I made the dive into tube flies. Once I started messing around with tubes, it really opened a whole new world of tying for me and has helped me produce some effective patterns over the years. And given some of the factors we'll go into here, it's definitely a tying method you should not be ignoring.

Besides an excuse to buy more fancy tools and materials, there are some definite advantages to tube flies -- regardless of the specific patterns you'll be whipping up.

First off, and this is the biggest advantage from my vantage point, you can tie a fly with a much bigger and longer profile without adding the weight and worry of a large hook. For me, it was the need to cast some bigger salt-water poppers. When I got into the size hooks that would match the big poppers, I was looking at something that turn my popper into something akin to a hand-grenade (not to mention the cost of the bigger hooks). With tube flies, on the other hand, you can really mix and match the sizes and hook types since you're not constrained to have to build the fly onto the hook itself. You can create enormous profile flies and pair them up with smaller hooks that will still pierce flesh and land even the biggest fish.

Baby brown trout tube fly

The second advantage you might see is the "leverage factor". (And I know this is a somewhat arguable point, but let's roll with it anyway). Let's say you're fishing a big streamer or even a big steelhead pattern with a very long shank hook. A basic rule of physics shows us that the longer the shank, the more leverage there will be for the fish to fight as you bring it in. Tube flies, on the other hand, are most often short-shanked thicker wire hooks that reduce the amount of leverage any fish might gain on you with bigger patterns.

Purple Midnight Fire Streamer

Not only will the shorter hook shank reduce leverage, the hook will often separate from the tube when fighting a fish, which keeps it out of some gnarly mouthfuls of teeth. Even if the tube doesn't separate from the hook, you can easily slide it out of the way and remove the hook without fear of damaging a nicely tied steelhead or salmon fly in the process.

Weedless hook on a Deflectinator
Another advantage I've found is the ability to use different style hooks -- especially weedless style bass hooks -- that allow me to mix and match hook styles to a given condition while my pattern remains the same. With this handy trick, I can tie on a wacky weedless drop shot hook and voila, my fly is instantly weedless. This applies to streamers, poppers, big nymphs or anything else you might want to use as a weedless pattern. You can also use this hook-swapping method to "weight" your patterns differently by using a heavier or lighter hook as needed.

And last but not least, because I can keep my tube flies stored without hooks, I can literally stick a pack of hooks and a bunch of tube patterns in my pocket and not worry about having to throw them into a box. In fact, my tube fly "box" is officially a ziplock bag that I can store almost anywhere without taking any space. Cheech makes fun of my "box".

Baby bluegill tube fly

Now that you're familiar with some of the concepts, part II will take a look at the tying aspect (which is all we really care about anyway, right??). Stay tuned...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Articulated Trout Slider

Warm up your deer hair and razor blades

Trout Mega Slider

For the past few months I have really been on a saltwater kick, but little did I know that the slider pattern would punch me straight in the teeth!  I'm addicted to tying these, but more importantly, I love how they look in the water.  They are almost like a suspending bug that doesn't plummet, but slides down through the water column.  It also happens to have a pretty bulky head to help it push insane amounts of water if you are in to that type of thing.  The cool part about this fly is that the head can be attached to about any style of fly you want as you see with our complex twist slider.  The body of this fly is gold ice dub (sparkle minnow style), and I'll be attaching this style of body to many more of my patterns!  Hope you enjoy the video.  Keep your razors sharp and your deer hair fat!

~ Cheech


Hooks: Daiichi 2461 #1/0 (front) and #1 (back) (BUY HERE)
Thread: Veevus 10/0 white and Veevus 200 denier GSP (BUY 10/0, 200D)
Eyes: Barbell eyes - 5.5mm red (BUY HERE)
Tail: Marabou - Tan and white (BUY HERE)
Body: Ice dub - Gold (BUY HERE)
Hook connection: Articulation wire and Articulation beads (BUY WIRE, BEADS)
Head: Deer belly hair - White and camel (BUY HERE)
Throat: Bruiser blend Jr. - Tan (BUY HERE)

Tools Used:

Griffin Montana Mongoose vise (BUY HERE)
Rite Bobbin - Standard (BUY HERE)
Dr. Slick All-In-One Dubbing Brush (BUY HERE)
Peak Hex Hair Stacker - Magnum (BUY HERE)
Wasatch Fur Comb (BUY HERE)
Double Edge Razor Blades (BUY HERE)

*note...  I may have been under the influence of Mt. Dew and beef jerky while talking about hook sizes.  The back hook is a #2 and the front hook is a #1/0