Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yellow Wing Butterfly: Video Step-By-Step

I had a few requests for more fly tying videos, so here is #2. I didn't plan on making this video beforehand, but I wanted to tie a few butterflies, so I let the camera roll for the heck of it. I'm still ironing out the kinks when it comes to making and editing these videos. I hope to have a good system in place soon and will be able to post video step-by-steps with more frequency. Thanks for watching!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Flies for Andros Bonefish

A selection of flies for big Bahamian bones
There are two types of fly boxes that resemble boxes of jewels. A box full of Atlantic salmon flies bursts with bright, contrasting colors. A box of bonefish or permit flies sparkles and glimmers in the light. In either case, just looking into the fly box can become hypnotic.

I just finished an order of flies destined for Andros Island, the largest island in the Bahamian archipelago. Andros is known for its large bonefish. I've tied plenty of bonefish flies in the past, but none as consistently large as these. Most were size 2 or size 4. There are a few 6s mixed in for calm days or shallow flats. Big flies for big fish, I suppose.

My client culled his list of flies from Drew Chicone's website. Until tying this order, I was unaware of Chicone's work. He is a very talented fly tyer and designer. Chicone's blog, Salty Fly Tying,  is full of useful tips and tutorials that can be appreciated by all tyers, not just those tying for flats fishing.

Chicone listed seven patterns he considers essential for Andros bonefish. Most are fairly typical in terms of construction and profile, variations on the Crazy Charlie and Gotcha templates. I've tied plenty of Gotchas and had already tied and fished Bob Veverka's Mantis Shrimp. A couple of the others took a little more thought.

Oliver Owens, a tyer and guide from Hawaii, created the 90 Percenter. The 90 Percenter is a unique fly in that the wing is fanned out horizontally. The profile gives the impression of a crab. The soft, arctic fox wing is very mobile and should move well without much action imparted.

The other fly which required some extra thought was Mauro Ginevri's Avalon. The Avalon is a shrimp imitation, originally intended for permit fishing in Cuba. It's a "keel fly," meaning the small loop of monofilament and beads act as a keel, increasing the fly's stability. The beads also acts as a rattle. It's a very unique fly which requires the tyer to follow very specific instructions in order for the fly to fish properly. I'd like to try tying it in darker colors to use as a crayfish imitation.

Though my experience with bonefish is very limited, I really enjoy tying these flies. Learning new styles and techniques can be beneficial to any tyer, even if the flies aren't intended for his or her home quarry. The lessons we learn, while taking on new and varied projects, get stored away in our memory banks, returning when we least expect them to. That is one of the aspects of fly tying I find most appealing. 

90 Percenter (Oliver Owens)

Avalon (Mauro Ginevri)

Bone App├ętit (Drew Chicone)

Bonefish Scampi (Henry Cowen)

Mantis Shrimp (Bob Veverka)

Tranqu-Hill-izer (Drew Chicone)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Farmington Frog Gurgler - aka "Bluefishing for Trout"

It ain't easy being green

"What are you fishing for, bluefish?"

That was one of the snarky questions I was asked the last time I fished this fly. It was nearing sunset and I was targeting aggressive brown trout. These particular trout weren't interested on feeding on insects like their smaller brethren. After ten minutes of casting, a large brown boiled at my Gurgler Frog. A few minutes later, I had another vicious rise. 

"You see?" I replied. "Sometimes these picky trout actually go after stuff like this."

"They're probably not interested in eating that fly. They're probably just trying to get it out of their territory." 

"Why would I care about the reasons why a trout takes a fly so long as he takes it? Aggression, hunger, boredom...it doesn't really matter to me." My opportunity counter the other angler's antagonism had arrived...

...but I didn't say it. At one time, I wouldn't have hesitated. Now, I'd just prefer to be left alone to fish, waste my time, disturb the pool, or whatever. 


The truth is, the Gurgler Frog doesn't always work. It doesn't even work most of the time. Obviously, it's no Prince nymph or Parachute Adams. But when it works, it is FUN. When trout decide that it's frog time, it's probably the most fun I have while trout fishing. When it's really on, I guess it is like fishing for bluefish. I've had afternoons where cast after cast was met with explosions from good sized brown trout. Most rises don't result in a hookup, which probably gives plausibility to  "territorial aggression" hypothesis. Sometimes I do hook up, though. Whether or not they eat the fly, the extremely volatile rises are entertaining enough to keep fishing the frog pattern. 

I find the Farmington Frog Gurgler most effective at the beginning of the season, when trout are just starting to rise to the surface for hatching insects. I discovered that it works well when an afternoon Hendrickson hatch is winding down, but before the spinner fall starts. I've also fished it during the Hendrickson emergence and have caught large fish who weren't interested in rising for insects. A Hendrickson spinner fall is too good to pass up, so I usually go back to dries when that happens. 

Another good time to fish this (or any other Gartside Gurgler pattern) is right before sunset. The trout let their guard down and can be willing to throw caution to the wind. To my surprise, I haven't had much luck with Gurglers after dark. 

I try to make as much commotion as possible, which means that it probably shouldn't be fished in close proximity to other anglers. I make it land with a  big "Splat!" Then, I throw a big upstream mend and pop it across stream, letting it pause for a moment between pops. The strikes usually happen while the fly is resting, though I've had browns chase it clear across a run while I stripped it quickly. As always, it pays to experiment. 

Is it the best way to catch trout? Definitely not. Might it offended the delicate sensibilities of purist crowd? Possibly. Will fishing it make you look like you're a little off your rocker? Probably. Is it a really fun way to catch trout? Hell yeah!


Farmington Frog Gurgler

Hook: TMC 8089 #6
Thread: Olive 3/0 or 6/0
Tail: tuft of olive grizzly chickabou; a few strands of pearl krinkle flash
Legs: 4 olive grizzly saddle hackles; 2 on each side of the shank, concave side facing out
Shellback: Green closed cell foam, folded over on itself to form a lip in front (w/optional black and brown dots)
Body: Chartreuse or pearl Estaz
Froggy Arms: Olive speckled centipede legs, knotted

A trout caught by Ron Gaul on opening day 2015.
Proof that trout eat frogs!

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Atomic Dog is a Winner

Hopefully it wins first prize with the fish in a few weeks

The Atomic Dog a winner, but not in the sense that it has caught a pile of fish yet (it's too early in the season for that). But the fly did manage to tie for first place in the Skeena River Fly Supply Snow Runner tying contest. The contest was held on speypages.com. The rules dictated that an original fly be tied with snow runner as a material. I had purchased some snow runner from SRFS to tie this fly regardless, so I figured I would enter it in the contest. I'm glad I did! 

If you haven't checked out Skeena River Fly Supply, I highly recommend you do so. They have some unique materials and a good selection of tubes. Due to their location, their inventory is highly steelhead-centric, but there is plenty for tyers of Atlantic salmon, saltwater, and trout flies. I'm looking forward to getting my next shipment and will post some more flies tied with SRFS materials. Thanks again to Jaap Kalkman and Skeena River Fly Supply for sponsoring a great contest! 


I can't wait to get out there and try these flies. I think we have about two or three more weeks before the striper fishing turns on. Where I fish, the sea run brown trout usually come in a little after. I think we'll start to see them by the middle of May and they will continue to trickle in through most of June, so long as it doesn't get too hot too quickly. They're phantoms that don't run in real numbers, so the only way to know if they're around is to go out and pay dues (lots of dues)...I love it! 

Black and White Dogs

Atomic Dog (Black)

Thread: Black
Tube: 1" 3 mm plastic tube; 1.8 mm plastic tube,  nested inside
Rear Body: Black flat braid
Weight (optional): Lead tape, wire, or non-lead alternative
Base Wing: Black bucktail tied on top of the front portion of the body
Front Body: UV Black Ice Dub (heavy & loose) over bucktail butts, picked out
Wing 1: Black marble fox tail and light blue Flashabou
Wing 2: Black marble fox tail and UV pearl Angel Hair
Wing 3: Black snow runner topped with micro mirage Lateral Scale
Wing 4: Black snow runner topped with several strands of peacock herl
Underwing: Black marble fox, tied to the under side of the tube
Topping: Black hackle, tied flatwing style
Sides: Jungle cock
Head: Large ball of Black UV Ice Dub, tied loosely over wing butts and picked out
Throat: Fluorescent pink Fluoro Fiber
Collar Hackle: Black schlappen
Cone: Black turbo cone (small)