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Thursday, October 29, 2015

UV Resin Shootout

Resin is Resin right?  Wrong...

Before I jump into this post, I just want to be clear that most of these resins that I tested are VERY GOOD.  The differences between a high score and a low score are very very small.  Also, you can create your own ratings based on what you think are the most important attributes of resin.  This being said, we tie everything from tiny midges to huge sailfish flies, and we have used resin in most of these applications.  Based on our experiences on the tying bench and through these tests, we have come to these conclusions.

There is nothing quite like a good disclaimer to start out a post right???  Light cured resins...  While they have been around for many years, they have become more and more mainstream in the past little while, and I think that a lot of companies are starting to crack the code to make very quality products.  I remember the first time I saw flies with very elaborate epoxy work, and the first thing I thought
Resin head on the Low Fat Minnow
was how much of a pain it would be to tie those in any quantity.  I found out that the tyer had been using Loon Wader Repair to make the heads, so I was intrigued enough to go buy a tube of it to try for myself.  It was hard to get the desired results with Loon Wader Repair or Loon Knot Sense (mostly because of user error and high tack,) so the UV resin flame kind of dwindled until Curtis showed me some Clear Cure Goo.  It seemed like the big battle back then was with "tack," and pretty much every resin on the market had a sticky film (or so I thought.)  Since then, UV cure resins have become more and more mainstream, and it seems like a lot of different companies have emerged with a "be-all end-all" product that is so much better than anything out there.  With so many claims of resins being superior to all the "other" brands, we decided that it was time for an apples to apples comparison, and not to declare a winner, but to show strengths and weaknesses of each resin so the consumer could make a decision for him-or-her-self.

I started out by researching most of the conventional products in the fly tying world, and also reaching into some other industries to find products that could carry over to tying.  I also wanted to take the scientific element out of this test for the most part because, shocker, I'm not a scientist!  This test is designed to be useful for an average Joe Fly Tyer who just wants to know if and how these products work.  I'm not going to go too deep into nanometers, lumens, or chemical reactions in this test because I frankly don't understand all of that mumbo jumbo.  What I can do is rate these resins on several different fields to give the end user an apples to apples comparison.  If I shine a light on the resin and it hardens, it "works."  That's all 90% of tyers want anyway... a product that works.

As I began the study, I was in the process of researching lights pretty deeply, and there was so much information out there that I ditched the research...  If a flashlight put out purplish looking light, I'd try it in my experiment. This was perhaps the most eye opening part of this study because I was worried about spending so much money to get each manufacturer's light to get the resins to cure.  What I found is that it was much harder finding a light that wouldn't cure the resins, than it was to find a light that would cure the resin to the manufacturer's expectations.  In fact, all of the "purplish" emitting lights that I have for this test can cure all of the resins.  The only kicker to all of this is that if a light was more powerful (in regards to wattage) it would cure the resin faster.  If there was tack left on the resin... It was because of the resin - not the light. That's right...  Tack is due to the chemical reaction that's going on in the resin, and no amount of exposure to the UV light will take the tack away.  that means that the $7 light I bought from amazon would cure the resin the same as the $50 manufacturer's lights, but it would take longer because the wattage was lower.  This being said, I really do prefer a nice light in order to cure a thick glob of resin quickly.

Tack seems to be a very hotly contested "issue" of UV cure resins, but is it really that big of a deal?  I used to think it was a much bigger deal, but it is easily overcome with either rubbing alcohol (i prefer hand sanitizer) or clear nail polish, and in my opinion, it is only one of the factors that you should consider when you are making a resin buying decision.  For example: Would you rather use a resin that is rock solid and durable but stays tacky (until you treat with polish or alcohol), or a resin that cures tack free, but stinks to high heaven, turns brown in direct sunlight, and shatters the first time it hits a rock?  Sure I like tack free resin a lot, but it's not the be-all end-all of resins.  (Keep in mind that the "tack" test and the "durability" tests were weighted twice as heavily because I value those things the most in a resin.)  Also, in case anybody was wondering, I tested tack by curing a glob of resin on a piece of paper, then I pressed a piece of marabou on it, then I turned it upside down to see if the marabou would stick.  High tack resins would retain the piece of marabou for a few seconds, and the low tack or no tack resins wouldn't retain the marabou at all.

Test #1 - Cure each resin with 10 different lights.  I gave each resin a burst of light for 5 seconds and noted the percentage that it was cured.  Then I gave it a burst at 10 seconds, and if it was not cured in 10 seconds I would blast the resin with the light until I got a full cure.  There is a PDF (Link here) that you can download with all the nerdy details, but like I said above, pretty much any light I used would cure the resin.

Lights Right to left top to bottom (As seen on the PDF report): Silver Multi LED, Black Multi LED, Laser Pointer, Single LED Fob Light, Bondic Light, CCG Light, CCG Pro Light, Ultrafire Light, Loon Mega Light, and the Loon Power Light.

Result Highlights:
The lights that stood out to me were the Loon Mega light, the Clear Cure Goo Pro Plus Light, and the Ultrafire 501-b light I bought on Amazon.  They cured all resins within 5 to 7 seconds.  I lean lightly toward the Loon light because it uses AA batteries (more accessible), and the other lights use the more expensive CR123 batteries.  This being said, I was able to find a rechargeable battery for the Ultrafire light on Amazon for about $10 (and it also works in the Clear Cure Goo Pro Plus light)... The surprise of the bunch was the Bondic light.  That little thing was AWESOME because it cured the resins so well.  I really didn't get a feel for how long the battery would last, and I hated the on/off switch, but it could make for a viable travel option.  Interestingly enough, the knock off key fob light that was nearly identical to the Bondic light sucked sucked sucked sucked sucked...  Yeah.  It was bad.   It's important to consider that it's NOT about nanometers or any of that other BS.  Buy a powerful light and cure to your heart's content.  If I were starting out on a budget and wanted the most cost effective option I'd buy the Ultrafire 501-b light and the rechargeable battery.  There are TONS of options...  Go to Amazon and search for UV Flashlight.

Test #2 - Examine heat, tack, odor, applicator, and durability.  I cured each resin and took note of the heat, tack, odor, applicator, and durability.  I think tack and durability are much more important than most of the other attributes so I weighted those scores twice as heavily.  This being said, tack can easily be overcome, so in fairness, durability should be the ultimate test.  I still decided to weight them equally because tack is a major emphasis in the industry.

NOTE: the pricing is "Per Oz" not per bottle/container. Obviously "Per Oz" is the best way to judge value, so we used that number to standardize the comparisons.  Also...  Silver Creek resins are named "Flexthin," and "Crystal UV Cure."

The first thing that you might notice is that we didn't consider the price in the scoring at all.  We listed it to maybe help you make a decision if you are trying to save some money, but we also know that you probably wouldn't use a really bad resin even if it were next to free.  Also, for some people, an extra $20 here and there isn't really a big deal at all.  I also thought that it was important to highlight the top resins based on viscosity.  Truly thin resins can be used as head cement, coatings for wingcases, or to put a top coat over a tacky resin.  Medium resins are pretty versatile in making visible coatings that still soak in a bit.  Thick resins are used for building up bulk in a big musky fly head for example.  All viscosities of resin are useful and important.

Other Notes:

Deer Creek Resins:  I really liked the Deer Creek resins because they are spot on when they say that they cure tack free.  I thought they would score very highly, but they didn't do very well in the durability testing (except for the flex).  It was interesting to note that most resins that cured 100% tack free were also pretty prone to shattering.  I also found the applicator options to be super limited.  All this being said, I like the Deer Creek stuff, and I could probably find myself using it.

Solarez Resins: I had never really worked with Solarez before, but they have been in the UV cure game for a long long time.  Overall, I was really impressed with their resins because of the price, and how well they performed.  I bought the smallest sizes available, and I hated the metal squeeze tube applicator that they have, so if you buy it, spend just a bit more for a 2 oz bottle that comes with a better applicator.

Silver Creek Resins:  This is kind of the black market resin of all the resins.  I found out about it through Curtis first, and then through  The creator of it is a chemical engineer who came up with the ultimate formula for creating a tack free resin.  Well...  It is tack free, but it has major issues with durability, smell, and heat.  I tried it on many different surfaces, and it would bubble up quite a bit, so I'd have to cure it in short exposures to make up for it (which really isn't the end of the world).  You will also see that it didn't do well at all in the "dash of my car" test below.

Loon Resins:  I will disclose that I'm an ambassador for Loon, but I told the owners that I was going to do a test and their resins would be right in the mix for good or bad.  I didn't hold anything back on them.  For most of their resins, you will see that they didn't score very well regarding tack (except for flow), but they scored exceptionally well in most everything else.  The applicators are what I really like about the Loon resins because you can use all different diameters, or use a brush depending on what you want to do.  Also, the smell of Loon resins is almost non-existent, and I think it's due to them being so conscious about the environment, a trait that only they have as a resin company.  I got a bunch of MSDS sheets for these products, and the long and the short of it was that most of the resins looked pretty scary chemically compared to Loon.

Tuffleye:  I had heard about Tuffleye from many people because they claim to be the best because they use "blue" light that is somehow better than using UV light.  Through looking at their products and reading their material, I realized that they expect their product to cure very hard, and with tack that can be removed with a product they call "top coat."  The top coat is very similar to a clear nail polish, but they claim that it prevents yellowing.  At no point do they claim to make a tack free product.  I decided to try it with my "UV" lights first, and if I had any issues, I'd buy their "blue" light.  Guess what?  The normal old UV lights worked wonders on Tuffleye and cured it hard as a rock... with a tacky surface.  Exactly how the manufacturer said it would cure... but only with a "blue" light.  Like I said before, it's good just like the majority of the resins on this list.

Test #3 - Durability test.  How much damage would a resin endure if it were smacked on a rock?  We rigged a hammer to fall from the same height each time to see how much damage it would do to a glob of resin.  Yes, this is probably a bit more force than most flies will go through, but we wanted to torture test them.  Some are cracked, some are shattered, and some look like they have been sitting on the couch all day eating chips and salsa like Curtis.  Not a scratch on them.

Test #4 - Dash of my car test.  I cured a bunch of globs of resin on a piece of paper and put them on the dash of my car for 24 hours.  Some of the resins really discolored badly, some yellowed a bit, and some stayed crystal clear.  See for yourself which resins did the best.  I also was worried that the paper might be creating some type of reaction with the resins, so I tried it again on clear plastic bags and the result was identical.  I think I was missing a couple resins when I did this, but most of them are there.

Test #5 - Flex Factor. There are several resins that are marketed as "Flex" resins denoting that they remain flexible after they have been cured.  This is intriguing to me because They could make for some cool moving parts to a fly.  I found that the most accurate and scientific way to rate them is to give them gummy candy ratings.  Are they squishy like a brand new Kellogg's fruit snack, or are they "squishy" like a haribo gummy bear that has been out of it's package for a year?  Before you read this, go to the store and buy some Kellogg's fruit snacks, and then go buy some Haribo gummy bears.  Consume them all in one sitting while taking notes.

CCG Flex - This was probably the most consistent of the bunch, but it's flexibility was that of a haribo gummy bear right out of the package.  Yes, flexible, but not enough for water to make it move.

Deer Creek Flex - This is one of the resins that people said that I absolutely had to have.  Well, it's the best of the Deer Creek resins, but not because of the flex.  It's the best of their offerings because it's much more durable than the other two.  It's gummy rating is that of a Haribo bear that found it's way out of the package for a few weeks.  Does it flex? Yes.  But much less than the CCG product.  The crazy thing is that Loon flow was actually more flexible than this product.

Solarez Flex - This resin was also very durable, but the flex was somewhat minimal.  It's also a Haribo bear that is weeks away from fresh packaging.  The positive side of this resin is that it's much cheaper than all other "flex" resins.

Tuffleye Flex - This resin is actually very flexible!  If you were going to incorporate a resin based fly that absolutely had to have movement, this would be your resin.  It's as soft as Kellogg's fruit snacks that are still warm and on the conveyor belt in the factory getting ready to be packaged.  I was intrigued by this resin even though it was by far the tackiest resin I used.  A little rubbing alcohol took care if it though.

My thoughts on flex resin are that they are pretty cool in theory, but they aren't really flexible enough in the water to make a difference.  They are super durable because they squish a bit when they get hit, but if you want something that wiggles like a bass plastic worm, I'd recommend just getting the plastic worm.

My conclusion is that most of the mainstream resins are very good, and it almost boils down to personal preference when determining a "best" resin to use.  If you are starting out with resin, make a list of what is important to you, and perhaps you can use my data to help you make a decision.  All in all, this was a fun experiment that I dumped waaaaay too many hours and late nights into, and at least now I have a healthy collection of lights and resins to play with.

~ Cheech

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Catch fish, or season a pot of beans


Several years ago I went to Phoenix on a business trip, and as I usually do, I stopped in a fly shop to "check it out."  Little did I know that I had walked into Arizona Flyfishing; the shop that was owned by the godfather of dubbing - John Rohmer.  His walls were covered top to bottom with all types of dubbing, and I left with some goodies that day.  I was introduced to the simi seal leech that day, and I also talked to him about fishing for bass with baitfish patterns; specifically one of his flies that he used superglue to shape the head.  The technique was very simple, and I tied and fished some with great success.  I never really added a lot of those to my arsenal because my fishing priorities changed a bit, but the important part of that trip was that I learned a great technique by listening to someone much more experienced than I was.  The super glue head technique came in very handy on the Hambone.

The Hambone kind of happened as an accident.  I had fully blacked out in my craft fur brush thuggery (Click HERE to learn how to make these brushes) when I realized that I probably sit down and put these things on some hooks.  I had a tail tied in, some chenille for the guts, and now I was going to attempt to wrap a CF brush around the head of the fly.  After wrapping the head in I knew that I either needed to trim a profile, or slick it back with some type of adhesive.  I used UV resin first, but I didn't love the result so I decided I'd give the old John Rohmer superglue trick a try.  I liked the result much more so I just went with it.  It kind of had that appearance of being just buggy enough, but not completely smooth around the head.  When I got it wet, I really liked that it stayed super bulky and round at the head, and everything else just slimmed down behind it.  The fly was a prototype at this point, so we headed to a local reservoir full of educated cutthroat to give it a test run.

We met up with Justin Hamblin (known for his powers in kicking and photography) to give this fly a whirl.  I just kind of threw it over to him and told him that he could fish it if he wanted.  He wanted.
Hambone eater.  Photo: Justin Hamblin
 Now, I'll be completely open and honest with you.  I love fishing conventional gear almost as much as I love throwing flies, so I was throwing some giant swimbaits and tube jigs for a lot of the day.  Justin outfished all of my expensive swimbaits pretty handily with the now-named "Hambone."  Justin went on to fish it in other waters to experience similar success, so I asked him to tell me what he thought of the fly.  Keep in mind that the fly he was using was unweighted.

I was first introduced to the Hambone on a blustery day at a well known Cutthroat stillwater fishery. Even on a fairly slow day it brought some nice Cutthroat to hand. I fished it the better part of the day and the fly looked virtually unchanged. I've also fished it when targeting Rainbow and Tiger trout and had great results on both. It has just enough weight to be fished shallow on a floating line in still or slow moving water but needs a sinking line if you are wanted to get down a little deeper or fishing moving water. The craft fur really makes the fly come to life in the water which is why I think it is so effective. Great durability, great movement, my new go-to bait fish pattern.
For a large collection of stellar images, go check out Justin's site
Fat Rainbow.  Photo: Justin Hamblin

I think this is a good pattern, but it has a lot more potential.  I will be playing with different color combos, and working with different sizes to try to match many different types of baitfish.  The best part is that it's really a simple fly, so make some time at the vise to try a bunch of them out!

~ Cheech

Video beneath the recipes.


Tools and accessories needed
Stonfo comb and brush tool
Zap a Gap brushable
Zap a Gap Gel

Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0 or Gamakatsu B10S #1  
Weight: Tungsten 6mm x 5mm or Brass large cone - Gold (BUY TUNGSTEN) (BUY BRASS)
Thread: Danville 140 - Yellow (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - Medium brown and yellow (BUY HERE)
Body: Senyo's aqua veil chenille - Peanut brittle (BUY HERE)
Head: Craft fur brush - Brown and yellow
Eyes: Hareline 3D adhesive eyes - Super pearl (BUY HERE)

Brush ingredients to make the head:
Craft Fur 1: Medium brown (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Yellow (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber - Gold (BUY HERE)
Wire: Uni dubbing brush wire - .009 (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)
Link to craft fur brush instructions HERE.

Dark Olive
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0 or Gamakatsu B10S #1  
Weight: Tungsten 6mm x 5mm or Brass large cone - Bl. Nickel (BUY TUNGSTEN) (BUY BRASS)
Thread: Danville 140 - Olive or black (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - Med. olive and black (BUY HERE)
Body: Senyo's aqua veil chenille - Peanut Brittle (BUY HERE)
Head: Craft fur brush - Med. olive and black
Eyes: Hareline 3D adhesive eyes - Super pearl (BUY HERE)

Brush ingredients to make the head:
Craft Fur 1: Medium olive (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Black (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber - Minnow back (BUY HERE)
Wire: Uni dubbing brush wire - .009 (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)
Link to craft fur brush instructions HERE.

Light Minnow
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0 or Gamakatsu B10S #1  
Weight: Tungsten 6mm x 5mm or Brass large cone - Silver(BUY TUNGSTEN) (BUY BRASS)
Thread: Danville 140 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - White and medium gray dun (BUY HERE)
Body: UV polar chenille - Silver (BUY HERE)
Head: Craft fur brush - Med gray dun and white.
Eyes: Hareline 3D adhesive eyes - Super pearl (BUY HERE)

Brush ingredients to make the head:
Craft Fur 1: White (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Med gray dun (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber - Lavender (BUY HERE)
Wire: Uni dubbing brush wire - .009 (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)
Link to craft fur brush instructions HERE.

Justin's Jam (The Original Gangster)
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0 or Gamakatsu B10S #1  
Weight: Tungsten 6mm x 5mm or Brass large cone - Gold (BUY TUNGSTEN) (BUY BRASS)
Thread: Danville 140 - White (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - White and Tan (BUY HERE)
Body: UV polar chenille - Gold (BUY HERE)
Head: Craft fur brush - Tan and white.
Eyes: Hareline 3D adhesive eyes - Super pearl (BUY HERE)

Brush ingredients to make the head:
Craft Fur 1: White (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Tan (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber - Gold (BUY HERE)
Wire: Uni dubbing brush wire - .009 (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)
Link to craft fur brush instructions HERE.

Redfish Magic
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15 #2/0
Weight: Tungsten 6mm x 5mm or Brass large cone - Copper (BUY TUNGSTEN) (BUY BRASS)
Thread: Danville 140 - Tan (BUY HERE)
Tail: Craft Fur - Cream and medium brown (BUY HERE)
Body: UV polar chenille - Rusty copper (BUY HERE)
Head: Craft fur brush - Cream and medium brown
Eyes: Hareline 3D adhesive eyes - Super pearl (BUY HERE)

Brush ingredients to make the head:
Craft Fur 1: Cream (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Medium Brown (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice dub - Copper (BUY HERE)
Wire: Uni dubbing brush wire - .009 (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)
Link to craft fur brush instructions HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Craft Fur Dubbing Brush

Speed up your complex streamers

Dubbing Brushes with some Hambone flies

As many of you know by now, I love to tie streamers with dubbing loops.  Dubbing loops are a great way to place a material on a fly with maximum durability and full body.  It really wasn't until a few months ago that I decided to give my hand a try with dubbing brushes because we had just ordered about every color of craft fur under the sun.  I was determined to get over my love/hate relationship with craft fur and start using it more in my patterns.  I was building loops with a couple colors of craft fur and putting in flash, but I realized that I probably ought to just build brushes if I was going to get any more complex.  

My biggest beef with the dubbing brush jigs/tables that I had seen was that they left very little room for longer fibers once you start to twist them.  I wanted table that I could remove once I started twisting the brush so I could ensure that none of the long fibers would be impeded.  I know there are some really beautiful jigs out there with all the features that I would want, but they also cost an arm and a leg.  This one cost me about $20, and it could cost a lot less than that if I were more patient.  In the video you will see the basic design of the jig, and you will also see that I won't be teaching wood shop at any vocational school any time soon.  I was going for form over function... and I succeeded.  To be clear, this is the third jig that I built (in about a week), and there may be more changes to it if we decide to make these for the masses (obviously by someone more able than me.  Two changes that I have already made since we filmed this are that I bent out the hook holding the key ring so the ring was easier to take off and put on the drill, and I also added some rubber feet to the bottom to prevent slippage.  I also realized that I probably don't need to clamp down the table with the wood clamp so I experimented without it with no issues.  I decided to use a power drill to twist up my brush because most everyone has a drill already and I wanted to keep it simple.  I know that we could have used a fancy bearing system or a motor built into the tool, but we wanted to keep costs down.  If you don't have a power drill, you should be able to find something that works for about $30 to $40 (probably less than that at Harbor Freight.)

I have put a ton of materials into this jig including raccoon, arctic fox, coyote, rabbit, etc etc...  They all work great, and I'm also working on modifications on the jig so it's more "short fiber" friendly.  The key here is to be creative, so if you have a long stringy material that you think would look cool in a fly, throw it in the brush jig to see what you come up with!  

~ Cheech

Don't forget to check out the recipes under the video!

We have a limited quantity of the new dubbing brush tables for sale as shown below


Wire: UTC dubbing brush wire .009 (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 1: Yellow (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Medium brown (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber: Gold (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)

Dark Olive
Wire: UTC dubbing brush wire .009 (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 1: Med Olive (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Black (BUY HERE)
Ice wing fiber: Minnow Back (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)

Wire: UTC dubbing brush wire .009 (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 1: White (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Med Gray Dun (BUY HERE)
Ice wing fiber: Lavender (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)

Justin's Jam (The original Gangster)
Wire: UTC dubbing brush wire .009 (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 1: White (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Tan (BUY HERE)
Flash: Ice wing fiber: Gold (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)

Redfish Magic
Wire: UTC dubbing brush wire .009 (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 1: Cream (BUY HERE)
Craft Fur 2: Medium Brown (BUY HERE)
Ice Dub: Copper (BUY HERE)
Wax: Loon low tack swax (BUY HERE)

Tools used:
Vedavoo fly tying apron (BUY HERE)
Hareline dubbing blending brush (BUY HERE)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Complex Twist Bugger

Complexity in a simple form

Complex Twist v2.0 


Do you have a fly that always ends up making it's way onto your line because it just plain works?  As many of you might know I really like trying new patterns and branching out to explore new patterns, but when the going gets tough, or if I need to have a fly on my line that I'm 100% confident in, it's the Complex Twist Bugger (CTB).  The brown and black CTB has produced when other flies have not, and I caught the biggest fish of my life this spring on it (caught and landed are two separate things right?)

The Complex Twist Bugger has been an absolute beast for us this year, and we have made a few changes to the pattern that we'll share here.  I have been using a cone head (both brass and tungsten) and a better hook, and I have even switched out one of the strands of chenille for another color of schlappen (yes, two pieces of schlappen for one fly.) Check out the secret recipes below the new video...

Buy Complex Twist Buggers (HERE)

Tools Needed:
Gator Grip BUY HERE
Turbo Dubbing Spinner BUY HERE
Stonfo Comb/Brush Tool BUY HERE

 Add all items to your shopping cart:

Cream Twist:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - white BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - fl. pearl white - large BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail: NS Prime Marabou - white BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - gold BUY HERE
Body 2: Tinsel chenille - gold BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - white BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - cream BUY HERE

Brown and Black:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - black or brown BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - copper large BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail: NS Prime Marabou - brown BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - copper olive BUY HERE
Body 2: Schlappen - black BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - fiery brown BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - brown BUY HERE

Black and Red:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - black or red BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - black nickel large BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail 1: NS Prime Marabou - black BUY HERE
Tail 2: NS Prime Marabou - claret BUY HERE
Body 1: Senyo's Aqua Veil chenille - chocolate covered cherry BUY HERE
Body 2: Schlappen - black BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - Nature's Spirit dyed claret BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - black/red BUY HERE

Black and Blue:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - black or fl. blue BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - black nickel large BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail 1: NS Prime Marabou - black BUY HERE
Tail 2: NS Prime Marabou - royal blue BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - black BUY HERE
Body 2: Schlappen - black BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - Nature's Spirit dyed royal blue BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - black/red BUY HERE

Olive and Brown:
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - black or olive BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - copper BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail 1: NS Prime Marabou - olive BUY HERE
Tail 2: NS Prime Marabou - brown BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - copper olive BUY HERE
Body 2: Schlappen - olive BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - fiery brown BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - brown olive BUY HERE

Fall (Autmn):
Hook: Daiichi 2461 #2 BUY HERE
Thread: Danville 210 Denier - black or Brown BUY HERE
Cone: Brass (or Tungsten) - copper BUY HERE
Weight: Lead free wire - .025 BUY HERE
Tail 1: NS Prime Marabou - sulphur orange BUY HERE
Tail 2: NS Prime Marabou - brown BUY HERE
Tail 3: NS Prime Marabou - fl. orange BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - copper olive BUY HERE
Body 2: Schlappen - fl. orange BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - Nature's Spirit dyed crawdad orange BUY HERE
Veil: Bruiser Blend Jr. - hidden treasure BUY HERE

Happy tying and catching.

See below for the original pattern.

Olive Complex Twist Bugger
The Wooly Bugger is the first fly that I learned how to tie back in 2000, and I bet it was one of the first flies that most people learn how to tie because of it's simplicity and effectiveness.  As my tying skills increased, like many of you, I started to add lots of variations to my buggers including flash, different chenilles, and dubbing loops...  For the past few months I have been in full mad scientist mode at the vise, and dubbing loops have been my main medium for my madness (even though I kind of ditched the whole idea of dubbing.. and loops).  The first complex twist bugger I tied really made me realize how endless the possibilities are for this twist.  Here are some of the items that I have put in this bugger...

- Schlappen
- Cactus chenille
- Palmer chenille
- Polar chenille
- Simi seal dubbing
- Small animals
- Unicorn mane fibers
- Pictures of Curtis' mom

Now you can see that you can throw almost anything in this bugger, but I have kind of settled on the materials that are listed in the video and recipe below.  One thing that I realized is that it was hard to get a grip on all of the materials that I put in these flies, so I made a very rudimentary tool that just so happens to work so well that I made a bunch of them to sell on our store.  It's not too hard to figure out what it is, and if you want to make your own go right ahead...  For those of you who want a cheechcrafted original, you may purchase these gator grips here...

~ Cheech

Material List

Hook: Allen S402 #4 BUY HERE
Thread: 3/0 Uni - white BUY HERE
Bead: Tungsten - 3.8mm BUY HERE
Tail 1: Wooly bugger marabou - olive BUY HERE
Tail 2: Senyo fusion dub - tobacco BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - rusty copper BUY HERE
Body 2: Speckled chenille - lime olive BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - olive BUY HERE
Veil: UV ice dub - olive brown BUY HERE

***Variations we use***:
Black: Wooly Bugger Marabou, Black; Senyo Fusion Dub, Midnight; UV Polar Chenille, Silver; Speckled Chenille, Midnight Fire; Schlappen, Black; UV Ice Dub, Black

White: Wooly Bugger Marabou, White; Senyo Fusion Dub, Rainbow; UV Polar Chenille, Pearl; Speckled Chenille, Pearl/White; Schlappen, White; UV Ice Dub, UV Pearl

Fall: Wooly Bugger Marabou, Rusty Brown; Senyo Fusion Dub, Tobacco; UV Polar Chenille, Hot Orange; Speckled Chenille, Halloween; Schlappen, Fiery Brown; UV Ice Dub, Gold

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Beginner Corner: 4 Flies And The Materials To Get Started

A material and fly list for beginners

Your fly tying room, once you get addicted
Out of the many questions we get sent to us via email or messages on social media etc, one of the
more common, especially for beginners, is what materials or flies should they focus on while learning the ropes. So let's talk about that question here...

First off, there's really no right or wrong answer. It really depends on what you'll be fishing for and subsequently the bugs you'll be tying that ultimately determines your material selection. However, there are a few skills that can be learned on fairly simple fly patterns that can translate universally to other more complex flies as you gain more experience. So our first recommendation is that even though you might be living in Florida and plan on fishing for Tarpon, these are some patterns that you could start with just to nail down those skills. We'll focus on a few of those patterns as well as a list of materials to cover the bases on some patterns for a few different fish targets.  NOTE: We assume, at this point, you've seen our vise options as well as our tool options. Obviously, you need a vise and some tools to work the magic with these materials. You should also start at the very beginning of our Fly Tying 101 courses here. From there, you will see some mini-lessons on how to attach thread, wrap dubbing, attach tails etc -- all of which are skills needed to tie the following flies. Practice those techniques again and again. And again.

1. The Dubbing Emerger (Trout, Grayling, Panfish etc)

As long as you can attach thread and have gone through our Wrapping and Ribbing bodies section of the Fly Tying 101, you'll be a pro at this pattern. Easily one of my most effective nymphs (fly that goes under the water when fish are eating insects under the surface), it's also one of the simplest. Read about it here, but we'll start off your tying session with it now.

Hook: Partridge Fine Czech Nymph #16 (BUY HERE)
Bead:  2.3mm Tungsten Bead, Gold  (BUY HERE)
Thread: MFC Premium Thread, 6/0, Brown  (BUY HERE)
Body:  Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing, BWO  (BUY HERE)
Thorax (area right behind the bead):  Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing, Gray Olive (BUY HERE)

2. Wooly Bugger (Trout, Bass or anything that swims)

It's tough to argue either the effectiveness or simplicity of the tried and true Wooly Bugger. It features relatively inexpensive materials, it's not a difficult tie and it will catch almost any fish that swims. It's most often fished in streams and lakes to imitate a lot of different creatures, including leeches, dragon flies, stoneflies, craneflies and the list goes on. It's meant to be fished under the water, so it's meant to sink, not float. Here are the materials you'll need and a video to go along with it:

Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (BUY HERE)
Thread: Danville 140 Denier, Black  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Nature's Spirit Strung Marabou, Black   (BUY HERE)
Body: Speckled Chenille, Midnight Fire  (BUY HERE)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Copper-Brown, Brassie size  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Schlappen, Black  (BUY HERE)

3. Brassie (Trout, Grayling mostly, but also good for panfish)

Likely the most bang for your buck if you're nymphing and looking for something effective yet can take a couple of minutes (or less) to tie. You can use this in streams, rivers, lakes, ponds etc and, like the Wooly Bugger, it's fished under the surface to imitate any one of the many small insects the fish will eat.

Hook: Daiichi 1120 #14 down to #18  (BUY HERE)
Bead: 2.3 mm Tungsten, Black Nickel  (BUY HERE)
Thread: Danville, 70 Denier, Black  (BUY HERE)
Wire: UTC Ultrawire, Black & Silver, Size Small  (BUY HERE)
Head: Dubbing of your choice. We like Arizona Synthetic Dubbing  (BUY HERE)

STOP: Tie a dozen of each of these flies. Tie them until your fingers bleed and then tie more. Get them as close as you can to what you see here. Remember, we're working on motor skills and tying techniques. If the fly looks like crap, untie it and tie it again. Be mindful of proportions. And again, go through our skill sessions here.

Now, moving on to something a bit more challenging...

4. Elk Hair Caddis (Dry fly for trout, grayling etc, but also good for panfish)

The Elk Hair Caddis is likely one of the most widely fished patterns in the world, right alongside the venerable Wooly Bugger. It's a dry fly, so it floats on the surface of the water and is intended to imitate the Caddis insect that hatches from the stream or lake to emerge as it turns into an adult ready to hit the town with the other single caddis peeps who also want to desperately get it on before they ultimately flutter and die.

Hook: Daiichi 1180 #14  (BUY HERE)
Thread: Veevus Monofilament Thread, Clear, .1mm  (BUY HERE)
Body: Nature's Spirit Fine Natural Dubbing - Callibaetis  (BUY HERE)
Hackle: Dark Barred Ginger or Coachman Brown (bear in mind this will tie a LOT of flies, so it's worth the $$$  (BUY HERE)
Wing: Nature's Spirit Select Cow Elk, Natural  (BUY HERE)

So once you have these patterns down, we recommend searching out the areas you'll be fishing and then move onto any of the other patterns we tie. The Fly Tying Tutorial page lists our patterns by category, so you can search through those to find other patterns to tie. But these four listed here are a great start.

Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Fish Undercover

6 pointers to improve your hero shots

Largemouth Bass caught in Pelican Lake, UT

Have you ever had this terrifying act happen to you while fishing?  Before I delve into this serious subject, I want to just explain that there need to be two willing parties to make this work.  1- The "Dude" and not the Big Lebowski type of dude.  The Dude is the guy in all of the pics regardless of who catches the fish.  2- The "Wing Man."  This is the guy who gets to use the Dude's camera to take pics of said Dude.  No real photography skills are needed for this role because all cameras come with the little "green camera" auto setting that ensures that you will be automatically awesome on Instagram, Facebook, and your local pissing match forum.

This excerpt is directed at the Dude.  NOT the Wing Man: 
You are fishing your secret spot that is probably public water that may or may not be accessible to the jackwads that frequent the interwebs.  It's just you, your 7 wt Pflueger rod/reel combo, a spool of 8 pound test, and pocket full of a secret pattern you affectionately call "Trout Candy."  Your DSLR is strapped around your neck and the arrow is pointing to the little green camera setting ready to go so you can hand it to your Wing Man to get photographic evidence that you in fact were there.  That you, in fact, have the ability... the audacity... the POWER, to raise a fish out of the water and hold it up for your wing man to capture the image of a lifetime.  What's so terrifying about this?  I'll tell you.  It's impossible to get a picture of you holding your prize without getting the background in the picture.  Having the background in the picture is the same as walking a single file line of swinging dicks to your treasured hole, handing each and every one of them your Pflueger Trophy Tamer, and making sure that the Trout Crack is even tied with a LOOP KNOT to maximize movement...  Yes.  It's serious.  Why not just take a pic of the fish at water level so as to maximize the health of the fish, and ensure that no swinging dick will be able to recognize the background???  Dumb question.  RIDICULOUS question!  You are just as important as the fish in this picture, for how will your esteemed associates know that it was you who foul hooked caught this majestic beast.  In fact, you are actually MORE important than the fish in the picture.  There are many fish in the sea, but there is only one of you.  Pixelation and digital paintbrushes are your ONLY option.

Ok...  So now that you see that this is a very serious issue, we have researched and met with several Dudes to help us understand some common techniques to help you fish undercover.

1- Blackout the evidence.  It's OK for the people to see a little bit of the brown bath tub of a boat in
this picture, but all of the damning evidence is GONE!  See?  They get to see you, they get to see the fish, and everybody wins.  I also probably should have blacked out the baitcaster that I used to catch this fish.


2- Pixelate the evidence.  That's right!  It's kind of like, "Hey you Jackholes, you can kind of see where I was fishing, but not really."  The good thing about this is that people will actually get in their cars and drive to similar looking pixelated areas and waste their time trying to find your spot.  With any luck they will end up in New Jersey with no cash to pay the tolls.

Pixelate everything... but the face

3- Pixelate everything!  Everything except you.  Remember that you are the most important part of this picture...  AND people will still be able to see the fish for the most part.  Also, when I say pixelate everything, I mean everything but your face.

Get creative... PAINT!

4- Paint the pic yourself.  This is similar to pixelating the picture, but instead you use a paintbrush tool to make the picture look just like you painted it.  As you see in this picture, you want to go just "Picasso" enough to make sure that the background doesn't show through.  VERY IMPORTANT - leave your face alone.  The people need to know it's you.

The rare purpleout

5- Purpleout...  You have never heard of a purple out, but you just basically make everything purple except for your face and a TINY part of the fish.  As you can see in this picture, there is enough fish showing to prove that it's a 7+ pound largemouth.  It also helps to draw arrows and hashtags to help your pic get more likes.

The Green Ninja

6- The Green Ninja.  This is where you leave the background there and just paint yourself green.  It's important to leave just enough of yourself showing so your closest friends know that it's you.  In this picture I left a tiny portion of Bob Marley's face showing so people can recognize me.  Everybody knows that Cheech is the only one who catches 7 pound largemouth while wearing Bob Marley shirts.


In all seriousness though...  I love to see fishing related pictures, but is the hero shot important enough to post these poorly edited eyesores on the internet?  If you are fishing in a sensitive area, find a way to take a pic without having to compromise the picture with the above silliness!  At the end of the day, I hope you got a good laugh out of this, because I sure had fun writing it!

Friday, October 2, 2015

5 Tying Station No-No's

Just say "NO"

I realize this post might not go over well with a lot of people, but sometimes you just gotta help your friends make some informed decisions. And before anyone that reads this wants to punch me in the face because you're doing these things, I'll admit I've been guilty of most of these babies, so there you go! We're trying to help you from making the same mistakes we did.

1. Spooled threads and materials that are stored on those awesome spindle thingies. Here's an example of what I mean with the photo on the right.

"What's wrong this this?!!" you ask. Well for starters, what color thread is under the blue wire on the third row back? Yeah, I thought so. Even if you didn't have this staggered setup and could see each spindle in its entirety, you'd still have to remove the top spools to get to anything underneath them. Too much work.

Beyond that, having your thread out in the wide open like that turns it into a dust magnet. Makes for really clean flies when you already have a nice thin layer of brown "dubbing".

Good use of wall space
And more than anything, this method just isn't scalable. The collection above is probably from someone just getting started. But before too long, you'll have threads, tinsels, wires and other spooled materials in all colors, sizes and types. Good luck fitting them all on a spindle without going to something like this -->

So what do we recommend? I'm a big fan of small plastic drawer units or even tackle boxes. You can sort the spools out, keep them readily accessible and away from the awesome dust.

This guy violated two rules...oops!
2. Peg Board. I'm not sure what first made me so attracted to the idea of putting all my materials onto gigantic walls of pegboard spread-out all over my man-cave, but I went all out. (NOTE: The picture to the right is not mine. I was too embarrassed to shoot photos of that failed setup). Anyway, I put peg board on the walls, the closet and even built a peg board tool rack. But it didn't take too long to realize I was barking up the wrong tree.

First off, it never failed that the package of marabou I needed was at the back of the stack so I'd have to pull the whole bunch off the hook (and hope the stupid hook didn't come with it) and replace the ones I didn't need. What a pain! You'd probably save time by just throwing all your materials onto the floor. ;)

And probably the biggest inefficiency, I ended up having materials well beyond my reach as I was seated at my desk because they were spread out over such a large geographical area in my office. Ask yourself why do fly shops store materials this way. They do it so that they can showcase what they have and actually "fill" a fly shop. And once I got over the whole "Hey I need to spread out all my tying materials for all my friends to see how much stuff I've got", I realized it's more about efficiency. And pegboard is definitely not the most efficient way to store things for easy and re-usable access.

Look at all that storage space!
3. Roll Top Desks. So I probably just blasphemed some sort of fly tying station code of conduct right there, but yeah, I'm not a fan of the roll top desk. For starters, they have next to nothing in terms storage space. It might work for you as you get started, but you'll outgrow the minimal storage space soon enough. And while it's cool you can "hide" your fly tying mess in the middle of your living room, every time you want to tie, you'll still need to bust out the rest of the materials you have stored in the closet downstairs. Yeah, it won't take too long before you ditch that idea.

So forget all those fancy visions of tying flies on your roll top desk, smoking a cigar as you lounge in your flannel shirt and regale your friends with stories of 30 pound trout. I think the roll top is just an over-hyped super-expensive semi-useful piece of furniture. If you can spare the space, just get a cheap flat table or desk and build your station with portable storage. Much cheaper and you'll be able to store your materials without having to worry about running out of space or selling your kidney to afford a roll top.

4. Making your entire collection portable. For some reason, especially for people who may not have a set and/or dedicated space in their home or apartment for tying flies, tyers tend to think in terms of making sure their materials and tools are all fully and immediately portable. "Maybe I'll be tying at a show!", "What if I want to tie on my fishing trip?".  But again, when you're starting out, sure you might be able to pull off the trick of bringing your entire material and tool selection, but it won't take long to grow beyond that. So that means your best option is to just plan to keep your materials in one spot (even if it's in the closet) and then raid the collection for only the items you need to take. Then you use a bag, bin or suitcase of some sort to cart your materials to wherever you're going. Too many times I see tyers come to fly tying shows or demos around the country carting around what can only be assumed is their entire material and tool collection. That's just an unnecessary pain and limits how and where you can organize your stuff. Plus, if you ever travel longer distances with your loot, good luck with that. We have a hard enough time getting tying gear checked as baggage and moved around even with a very small subset of our tying stuff.

Cheech ties flies at his computer desk sometimes
5. Having your computer in the middle of your fly tying area. As a computer nerd over the years, I've seen some pretty nasty things happen to desktops and laptops and I can tell you that keyboards, mice or even monitors don't take well to spilled glue or paint, tiny bits of feathers or fur and other nasties that can make their way onto and into your expensive electronics. If you need to watch our fly tying videos at your tying station (which is an activity highly encouraged here), make sure to keep the electronics free and clear of materials, liquids and glues (with maybe a pull-out keyboard shelf?) and look to elevate your monitor above the fray so that it's not accidentally tagged with some errant scissors or a stray bodkin. A best case scenario, assuming you have the space, is to keep your computer/tying areas separated. And as you can see in the photo of Cheech here, too much time on the computer is ultimately going to take away from your tying time and possibly cause weight gain.

In the end, of course, there are no hard set rules in all of this. Do what works best for you. We're here to help with some friendly suggestions based on things not working for us in the past.