Holiday Flurries and Summer Steelhead Flies...

Well, it's looking more and more like Christmas will be white in Manhattan...

... and that means there's only one thing to do: tie up some summer steelhead flies in anticipation of the coming season (even if it is like 7 months off).

Here's a simple low water steelhead fly that I've used with great success on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon during the late summer months.

It's a simple, sparsely-dressed pattern that doesn't require crazy materials or long hours at the vise, making it the perfect antidote for a steelheader on a snowy afternoon.

The Snow-day Summer Steelhead Fly >>

Hook >> Tiemco TMC 202 SP, size 4 or 6
Thread >> Wapsi 210 denier UTC Ultra Thread, red
Tag >> Wapsi Flat Mylar Tinsel, silver, medium
Dubbed Body >> Spirit River Angora Goat Dubbing, black or dark grey
Dubbed "Cheek" >> Spirit River Diamond Brite Dubbing, UV pearl (a nub of dubbing wrapped just forward of the hook eye return, teased for sparkle)
Collar >> Spirit River Pheasant Rump Feather, blue-green

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Beyond the Bug's 2008 Holiday Gift Guide for the Modern Fly Tyer

Well, the Holidays are upon us, and if you haven't purchased that perfect gift for the modern fly tyer in your life (even if that modern fly tyer is YOU), then it's time to get crackin'!

Here's Beyond the Bug's quick and dirty guide to some totally killer fly tying gifts:

A Jewelry-Quality Salmon Fly by Shawn Davis >>

Fly tying artist, Shawn Davis, had a vision to create jewelry-quality Atlantic salmon flies for display.

We'd say he's achieved his goal.

Davis' unique and modern flies available from $1,190.00, decorative photographs both framed and un-framed available from $80.00, click here for more information.

A Renzetti Master Special Edition Fly Tying Vise >>

Probably the sexiest fly tying vise ever built. $729.95, available here at LelandFlyTying.com

A Selection of Paul Miller Super Spey Hackle >>

A modern master of steelhead fly tying named Paul Miller teamed up with a modern master of bird-raising named Kate Davidson. The result: some of the best rhea feathers for steelhead fly tying we've ever seen (and used).

$20.00, available here at LelandFlyTying.com

A subscription to Fly Tyer or Hatches Magazine >>

$19.95 for 1 full year of fly tying news, information, techniques, material reviews, HOT fly patterns, and more! Subscribe to Fly Tyer Magazine at 17 % off here.

$6.95 is a small price to pay for what is simply one of the very best modern fly tying publications on the planet. Subscribe to Hatches Magazine here (click on the "download a subscription form" link on the Home Page).

A pair of traditional Atlantic salmon fly earings >>

A couple of gaudy Altlantic salmon flies hanging off your (or your girlfriend or your wife's) ears? Need we say more?

$29.95, available here.

A classic Richard Wheatley fly box >>

Richard Wheatley of England: Storing the world's best flies in elegance for only the most discriminating tyers since the 1880's.

$30.00 - $100.00, available here at Leland Fly Fishing Outfitters.

A copy of Bob Veverka's fantastic book on modern saltwater fly tying, Innovative Saltwater Flies >>
An incredible explosion of creative fly designs from some of the very best modern saltwater fly tyers around. This is a must-have book for anyone who enojys tossing some big bugs to salty beasts.

$49.95, Available here at LelandFlyTying.com

A Mag Rite Bobbin from Merco Products >>

A fly tying bobbin with a drag system?
You heard us correctly. But in case you didn't catch it: A fly tying bobbin with a drag system.

The Rite Bobbin from Merco Products is a fantastic fly tying tool. It's ingenious disc drag system allows you to put as little or as much tension on the thread as your task requires. The mechanism is precise and variable. Thread control has been redefined.

$26.49, Available here at LelandFlyTying.com

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Recipe: Wylie's One Percenter Tube Fly

Every good fly has a story, and every good tube fly has a better one. You never know what will inspire, spark, and feed the naming process of a fly. Regardless of how you get there, settling on the name of a new fly is always an interesting exercise in creativity, free-association, and cool hunting.

Here's the story of a fly called the "One Percenter." It's tied by avid New Jersey-based Delaware trout bum turned steelhead freak, Wylie Haggerty.

Here's Wylie's "page 13 version" of the story behind the name:

"I remember reading Hunter S. Thompson's book Hells Angels a while back and have been interested in the gang from a sociological standpoint ever since. I had been tying flies at the lady's house while watching Gang Land on the tube and the Hells Angels piece came on. The term "1%ers" or "one percenters" has been used to describe the Hells Angles gang because only 1% of the motorcycle community ever meets their criteria. I thought this fly was unique because I had yet to see a fly use a rhea feather as the wing at the time and I thought the black and blue looked similar to the garb of motorcycle gang member. I also thought the fly would explode with movement while in the water, and coincidentally, the Hells Angles were responsible for the second largest car bomb in US history back in the day."

On a side note: In case you're wondering what the current leader of California's Hells Angels would do if he were president...

Here's a quick and dirty recipe for the One Percenter Tube Fly>>

Tube >> HMH large, medium, or small fly tying tube depending, of course, on the desired size of the finished fly
Dubbing >> Polar bear dubbing or Angora goat dubbing
Tinsel >> Silver French or Oval tinsel sized to match the tube, use a diamond braid or traditional wrapping style
Rear Wings >> Wrapped rhea feather or ostrich plume
Top Wing >> Stripped and secured rhea feather tip or ostrich plume tip
Collar >> Palmered marabou feather, oversized
Eye >> Flanking jungle cock nail feathers secured near the hook eye

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photo and fly courtesy of Wylie Haggerty


A (Very) Short History of the Tube Fly

Ian McNemar's Practitioner-style prawns tied on tubes over the Thanksgiving Holiday have been a hit with readers.Given the excitement tube flies have and continue to generate among modern fly tyers, it might be useful to take a moment to review the history of tube flies and a short list of their more attractive features and advantages.

So, everyone’s talking about them: tube flies! Even though these flies may seem radically new, they have been in use for over 50 years.

The first tube flies were tied in 1945 by Winnie Morawski, a British fly tying instructor and professional tyer for Playfair and Company of Aberdeen. To produce the world’s first tube flies, Morawski tied standard Atlantic salmon patterns onto the discarded scraps of turkey quills that littered her desk. She then attached the hook separately, allowing the fly itself to slide up the leader during a strike, reducing the stress placed on the fly.

Morwaski’s innovative creations became known for lasting longer than the flies offered by her competitors. Eventually, her bench side experiment was spotted by Dr. William Mitchell who suggested the use of surgical tubing as a durable alternative to Morawski’s natural quills. The rest is, well, history.
Today, tube flies are fished throughout the world’s fly waters and continue to be associated with innovation. Tube flies offer steelhead anglers several unique advantages:

>> First and foremost, tube flies continue to be more durable than traditional, shank-tied flies – this is a plus when a fresh steelhead grabs your offering and goes!

>> Tube flies also allow a fly tyer to add an incredible amount of material to a fly pattern without using a bulky and heavy hook.

>> Using smaller, short-shanked hooks is also helpful to the steelheader, as levering action is greatly reduced, resulting in more hook ups and more big fish! Steelhead legend, Lani Waller, is convinced that fishing with tube flies has increased his hook up rate by 20 per cent!

>> Tube fly construction and rigging allows a hardcore steelheader to use a variety of hook styles, shapes, and sizes throughout the day and from fish to fish.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Translucent Tubes: Some Steelhead Candy from Ian McNemar

How did Ian McNemar spend his Turkey Day? Well, check these out.

Over the holiday, Ian whipped up about 4 or 5 purple and orange steelhead flies on tubes influenced by the traditional General Practitioner pattern over the weekend. Ian's weekend work was inspired by Jeff Mishler's recent article on translucence and steelhead fly philosophy in Fly Rod and Reel magazine.
Here are the recipes:

Ian's Purple Practitioner >>

Tube >>
HMH large tube
Feelers >> purple EP Fibers, a little EP Sparkle for flash and 2 strands
purple peacock herl from Hareline Dubbin.
Butt >> Pink UV Ice Dub from Hareline for flash
Body >> (just like with the GP, the body is two sections) Purple angora
from Wapsi; translucent pearl medium tinsel from UTC; purple teal
flank - on the back section, I V-cut the teal flank to give the back
end more substance.
Hackle >> Large purple schlappen from Hareline. A few wraps around the
butt of the fly and palmered through the body.
Thread >> 6/0 Danville, red

Ian's Orange Practitioner >>

Tube >> HMH small tube
Feelers >> orange EP, a little EP sparkle, two strands of purple peacock herl
Butt >> Pink UV Ice Dub for flash
Body >> (the body is one section) a few wraps of orange angora on the
back; a layer of silver medium tinsel covered by red died peacock
herl, orange schlappen palmered through, tied down with small oval
tinsel. It shimmers a bit and gives a flashy peek inside on occasion.
Hackle >> Orange schlappen. A few wraps on the butt and palmered through
the body.
Wing >> Burnt orange teal flank topped with a smaller piece of gray teal
flank. I did this for some contrast.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos and flies courtesy of Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Dear Mr. Minister, Let us fish the Skeena.

For those of you out there who dream about your chance to wet a fly in the mighty waters of British Columbia's Skeena River system, you may have to keep on dreaming.

Recently, the Ministry of Environment in British Columbia has drafted and proposed a new Angling Management Plan (AMP) for the Skeena River steelhead fishery (you can find and read the plan in its entirety here: http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/ske/qws/).

Why should anglers care? A plan with such a title sounds like it promotes responsibility and care for the environment, right? Well, not exactly.

For all intents and purposes, the plan strips a non-resident angler's right to fish the river system when, where, and with whom he or she wants. In the future, if the legislation were to pass, non-residents would face severely limited fly fishing options on any river within the greater Skeena drainage system. But, running license lotteries, handing out severely restrictive permits, and putting a tight cap on the number of people who can fish a river in a year is an effective solution to ecosystem stress, right? Well, not exactly.

Imposing such restrictions is silly. The major industry in the region that cradles the Skeena system is fed and fueled by angling dollars. A group opposing the Skeena AMP has set up an online petition (www.opposeskeenaamp.com) and has this to say about the adverse economic effects the plan may produce: "The value of non-guided non-resident anglers to the province of British Columbia lies in their contribution to the economy. Every fishing trip costs money, lots of it, and this money is distributed among restaurants, hotels, tackle shops, bars, grocery stores, and many other local businesses. The AMP is good for guides, but bad for the tourist economy as a whole."

They're right. Economically, the AMP sounds like a fantastic deal for guides, but when non-resident anglers actually shoulder the base of the fishing economy throughout the Skeena system and surrounding areas, the province of British Columbia gets hurt. Shut out the non-residents, shut off the flow of dollars in a vast region of Canada's most alluring wilderness.

Perhaps something more creative is in order, something like an angling tax to direct revenue to more innovative and practical management plans and environmental protection solutions. Such a plan could create even more angling dollars and provide even more future protection for the region's ecosystem in the form of educational programs, environmental studies, and restoration programs. But, maybe, at the behest of a small number of greedy guides, undervaluing the Skeena's economic potential is what the Ministry wants.

Adventure fishing economies and angling tax schemes aside, the Skeena AMP is still silly. It's foolish legislation because it could ultimately alienate the Skeena's greatest group of supporters: the fly anglers who travel near and far each year to have a crack at the adventure, beauty, and majesty of one of the world's final fontiers.

Without the help of these careful and respectful sportsmen, sportswomen, and environmental advocates, the Skeena, the health of its ecosystem, and the wild fish that call it home could be all but forgotten in many corners of the world. The majority of modern fly anglers adhere closely to widely approved catch and release practices, holding a love and reverence for the steelhead that the average or non-initiated person will simply never understand. Serious steelheaders travel to the Skeena and they do so because they love the river and the great, beautiful, wild fish that run there. They, too, have an interest in protecting the Skeena and its bounty, even if they do not, in the eyes of the law and government, call it their back yard.

What would a Skeena River system look like without traveling anglers? Who knows? But perhaps this is also what the Ministry wants; shut out the non-resident riff-raff, trust the guides and lodges to run the show, and you've got a hands-off environmental management plan.

Reasonable and effective management plans are most certainly not "hands-off," and should always strive to seek out and involve those most passionate about the resource at issue.

On the Skeena, non-residents ought to be part of the solution; leave out the non-residents, burn their money, silence their voices, and everyone loses.

To read and sign the petition to stop the Skeena Angling Management Plan, visit: www.opposeskeenaamp.com

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Pattern: Wylie Haggerty's Grab Bag Atlantic Salmon Fly

"Man it's gnarly. But, Wylie, why do you call it the Grab Bag?" That's precisely what I asked after a good friend and fishing buddy, Wylie Haggerty, gave me a look at a new fly he'd been working on from his fly tying desk in northern New Jersey.

His response:
"I call that pattern the grab bag because I take a few techniques used in some of my favorite flies, and mix them up."

This fly uses the diamond wrap threading technique (more on this in another post), special dubbing (polar bear) picked out for the hackle, teal collar, the classic jungle cock eyes used in Atlantic salmon flies, and the late-October Salmon River hot color combo of black and orange.

Wylie's Grab Bag is a fantastic illustration of how modern fly tyers are similar to jazz musicians when they develop new fly patterns. Borrowing a bit from something here, mixing elements, and using the language of the past to push the craft forward -- that's it.

Wylie's Grab Bag >>

Hook >> Partridge salmon iron, size 6/0 - 2/0
Thread >> Floss wrapped with diamond technique, burnt orange color
Dubbing >> Polar bear dubbing, black color, heavily teased
Collar 1 >> Teal flank feather, blood red color
Collar 2 >> Schlappen feather, black color
Eye >> Jungle cock nail feathers, matched to hook size

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos and fly courtesy of Wylie Haggerty


Fly Pattern: The Simple Life Flatwing Streamer

Make a cast. Strip line. Set the hook. Play the fish. Take a breath. Keep it simple.

For many, fly fishing and fly tying are about escaping the concrete canyons, carpeted cubicles, conference calls, nagging bosses, and other daily obstacles of a busy modern life. These bright little flies, inspired by the patterns in the classic work by Ken Abrames, Striper Moon, don't take long to tie and are good for the senses.

The Simple Life Flatwing Streamer >>Hook >> Tiemco TMC 800S, 600SP, Gamakatsu Octopus, or similar saltwater hook, size 4-1
Thread >> Wapsi UTC Monofilament Thread, .006
Belly >> Spirit River Bodi Braid, silver
Guard >> Spirit River Bucktail Fibers, vary colors
Wing 1 >> Spirit River Saddle Hackle Feather, tied flat, vary colors
Wing 2 >> Spirit River Saddle Hackle Feather, tied flat, vary colors
Wing 3 >> Spirit River Saddle Hackle Feather, tied flat, vary colors (3rd wing optional)
Topping >> 4-5 Strands Spirit River Peacock Herl
Eyes >> Small Stick-on Plastic Eyes

Whip finish fly and coat head and eyes with Z-Poxy 5-minute epoxy and resin. Allow 20 minutes for drying.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


A New Collection of Flies from Siskiyou Aviary!

Take a look at some of the new fly tying eye candy from the leaders in exotic fly tying feathers and razor's edge modern fly design. Innovation needs inspiration, and what better way to find a little bit than taking a moment to wander through the fields of creativity?

An "Angel Fish" by Robert Quigley employs a large feather wing, some subtle flash, and a long beard of natural white rhea fibers.

When fly tyers reach a certain experience level, they all want to tie a large, complex squid pattern. Thus, big squid patterns are a dime a dozen, but Robert Quigley has found a way to overcome the tendency to be boring by using long, durable rhea fibers and particularly beautiful schlappen hackle feathers in these two Scotty Squid patterns.

Kate Davidson of Siskiyou Aviary spends lots of time creating the thoughtful color palates for her lines of premium fly tying feathers. Take a look at the greens, blues, and purple of this Quigley Scotty Squid.

Paul Miller is famous for his line of "Fly on the Wall" steelhead flies, a celebrity effect that has driven sales in a line of hard-fishing flies for steelhead, South American brown trout, and tarpon anchored by his trademarked Super Spey feathers. A pattern he's perfected is the Steelhead Prawn. Here's a pair that look good enough to eat.

I've already mentioned Kate Davidson's sensitivity to color, and here's a perfect example in the form of a fly she whipped up for the aggressive Pacific Nortwest steelhead that run through her backyard! A dose of organized chaos, the layers of rhea feathers and flash create the big, beautiful bulk that makes aggressive steelhead snap.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to

photos courtesy of Kate Davidson, Robert Quigley, Paul Miller, and siskiyouaviary.com


Fly Pattern: Shunji's Redwing Blackbird (or Ronin) Steelhead Fly

Tied by Shunji of San Francisco, CA, this Redwing Blackbird or "Ronin Fly" is an excellent example of a sparsely dressed modern steelhead fly. This lightweight, but attractive offering works well when swung through gnarly current seams and bubble lines.
Run it around the edges of exposed boulders and other types of structure. Its excellent contrast, slim profile, stiff wing and tail, and gentle flash will move steelhead from their lies even in cold fall and spring water.

Shunji's Redwing Blackbird (Ronin Fly) >>

Hook >>
Tiemco TMC 7999, size 4
Thread >> Wapsi UTC 210 Denier Ultra Thread, black
Ribbing & Tag >> Wapsi Silver oval tinsel, size medium
Tail >> Schlappen Fibers from Spirit River, red
Body >> #2 Chenille from Spirit River, black
Wing (optional) >>Long bucktail fibers from Spirit River, red

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos by Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


The International Fly Tying Symposium comes to New Jersey

The Brits are coming to New Jersey! Nope, not the red-coats of revolutionary yore, but accomplished fly tyers from the British Isles and across Europe will descend on the Doubletree Hotel and Convention Center in Somerset, NJ for the eighteenth International Fly Tying Symposium November 22 and 23, 2008.

According to program director, Chuck Furimsky, this year's event will include more visitors from across the pond than ever before and an emphasis on new British and European flies that work in waters near and far.

The 2-day event is a favorite among serious fly tyers and boasts a full slate of classes, demonstrations, fly swaps, celebrity tyers, and a Saturday evening party. If you're looking for new materials, this is the place to be. There will be a room of vendors offering everything from fresh natural wood duck feathers to EP Fibers in all colors of the rainbow at excellent prices.

For more information on specific programs and events, where to stay and how to get there, visit the official event website.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Pattern: MJ's Swingin' Freight Train

For years now, Randall Kaufmann's Freight Train has been swung through the green waters of the Deschutes River in Central Oregon with great success.

Anglers know the fly by its distinctive purple and orange floss and sparse dressing. Summer steelhead know it as an irrisistible, if dangerous, staple of their watery environment, especially through the months of July and August.

Even though Kaufmann's original pattern is very modern in its angular lines, sparse dressing, and choice of few materials, Matt "MJ" Jones offers a pattern with softer lines and a more traditional feel to construct a fly that looks a bit more gaudy than Maupin is used to seeing on the end of a leader.

MJ's Swingin' Freight Train >>
Hook >> Tiemco TMC 7999, size 4
Thread >> Wapsi UTC 140 Denier Ultra Thread, orange, pink, green, and black
Ribbing >> Wapsi Silver oval tinsel, size medium
Tail >> Purple Chinese saddle hackle from Spirit River
Body >> Black Ultra Chenille from Spirit River
Collar >> Purple Chinese saddle hackle from Spirit River
Wing (optional) >> White calf hair from Spirit River

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

flies tied by Matt "MJ" Jones, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos by Josh L. Frazier


MJ's Dream Ticket: A Pair of 60-Degree Striper Flies

Well, it's November 4. You've stood in line, you've made sure not to leave any hanging chads or butterflies in your ballot, and you're feeling great about exercising your right to vote. It's time to put your feet up, let the exit polling and fierce vote tallying run its course, and take a look at two of this Fall's nastiest 60-Degree striper flies!

Matt "MJ" Jones' 60-Degree Half & Half is the perfect candidate for those anglers looking for big strikes in cold water this Fall!

The Half & Half: Just like rich Guinness Stout and crisp Harp Lager at your favorite Irish pub, right? Well, not exactly, but the Clouser/Kreh Half & Half is similarly designed. By ingeniously combining two of the most effective baitfish fly patterns in the history of saltwater fly fishing (a little Clouser Minnow on top, a little Lefty’s Deceiver on bottom), Bob Clouser and Lefty Kreh may have stumbled upon one of the most incredible Frankenstein flies a striped bass will ever lay its eyes and lips on!

The leading portion of this beautiful fly is composed of the heavy dumbbell eyes and bucktail of Clouser’s Deep Minnow. This solid, sinking head is trailed by a hackle-type tail which is highlighted by some flash and capped with another pinch of bucktail.

MJ has tied this pattern with a bit of yak hair blended into the bucktail mix, giving it a bit of extra bulk which he says has been useful this fall because of the colder water temperatures he's run across. He's also kept the flash material a bit longer, a preference of many modern tyers.

MJ's Pink Flashtail Whistler
, a variation of Dan Blanton's famous striper pattern, is the perfect blend of bright color and long flash for fishing stripers in the surf or stripping around structure.

MJ has tied this pattern with extreme length in mind. The hackle collar is neatly finished and the green thread nose is long and tapered with care. MJ is known for working with bucktail fibers of exellent quality and length. It can take time to select the proper materials, but the results reflect the hard work.

The 60-Degree Debate

Both of MJ's flies are tied on 60-degree jig hooks from Gamikatsu.
Since Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser introduced and popularized the "Deep Minnow" during the 1980s, the jig vs. fly debate has burned through the saltwater fly tying and fishing community. Despite the school of tyers and fishers who frown upon flies like the Clouser Minnow and the Flashtail Whistler for their "jigging actions," a great number of saltwater anglers have taken the concept and run with it.

One of the most vocal proponents of the value of this kind of "jig action" is Dan Blanton. He swears by 60-degree jig hooks and their effectiveness in the water, tying all his Whistlers on Eagle Claw jig hook offerings.

Last week, MJ thought he'd give these hooks a whirl. He was impressed, catching three 5- or 7-pound stripers in a short morning trip. Whatever your leanings, 60-degree jig hooks are an easy way to increase the effectiveness of the flies you tie.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos and flies courtesy of Matt "MJ" Jones, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Swap IV: George Revel's Steelie Lip Ring

This wicked fly was produced in the most recent Beyond the Bug fly tying jam in San Francisco, CA by George Revel, one of the best young distance fly casters in the United States and an avid steelhead fly angler.
George calls this fly the "Steelie Lip Ring" and it's, in a word, HOT. With a punk rock tail of paired biots, a trim and beautifully ribbed thread body, spiky hackle collars over flashy gold dubbing, and topped with a dark bead head, this stonefly-esque creation is downright nasty.

A native of Redding, CA, Revel grew up with the some of the world's very best trout and steelhead fly fishing opportunities right on his doorstep. His experience has given him a keen sense of proportion and how to get the most out of the materials he adds to a fly. George doesn't just tie flies that look good on the vise, he understands how they'll behave underwater, where they do all their best work. Imagine how those webby brown hackle fibers will hug the dubbing beneath them...

The Trinity River is Revel's Nor Cal home water and it's famous for its winter steelhead runs. Season after season, the right angle poly yarn indicator rig a la Dean Schubert and Dave Hickson proves to be one of the most effective fishing methods on the river. During the colder months, the half-pounders in the Trinity will key in on slow moving nymphs and crippled emergers, and no one knows this feeding behavior better than Revel (pictured below with a brilliant Trinity River fish).

Stoneflies are abundant in the Trinity's rich ecosystem, and Revel's Steelie Lip Ring carries elements of these distinctive packets of buggy protein. From the fly' slightly green abdomen to its two prominent black tails, beefy gold mid section, and dark head, Revel has illustrated how experience and field observation can (and should) inform the flies we design.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos provided by Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


Fly Recipe: Calimari con Super Spey

Beyond the Bug has come a long way since we started blogging in March. Thanks to the loyal followers of the site for clicking in and taking a look! Heretofore, we haven't really posted any fly recipes for the fly designs we explore on these pages, but that's about to change.

We've had about a zillion requests for a fly recipe for the squid fly featured in our very first post. You'll find the recipe and material list below. Detailed tying instructions can be obtained via email at beyondthebug@gmail.com

Calimari con Super Spey, a squid fly for steelhead and stripers >>
Hook >> Tiemco TMC 7999 #1/0
Thread >> Wapsi UTC GSP 200 deneir, white (colored with Prismacolor art marker)
Tentacles 1 >> 2 or 3 red emu feathers (best quality is from Siskiyou Aviary in Ashland, Oregon)
Tentacles 2 >> 2 or 3 saltwater saddle feathers (white, dotted with Prismacolor art marker)
Tentacle highlights 1 >> Spirit River Pearlescent Fly Flash, pink
Tentacle highlights 2 >> about 10 strands of Spirit River Crystal Splash, purple and pearl
Head 1 >> EP Fibers by Enrico Puglisi, lavender and navy blue stacked 360-degrees around the shank
Eyes >> 2 matched Spirit River Jungle Cock Nail Feathers
Head 2 >> Paul Miller Super Spey rhea feathers, gentian purple

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photo provided by Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


The Fly Swap III: Ian's Polar Shrimp

We've seen Ian McNemar patterns on this blog before. They are meticulous and display a heightened sensitivity to color, materials, proportion, and finish, and this take on the classic Polar Shrimp should have steelhead shaking in their scales.
Taking a cue from Matt "MJ" Jones' Lady Catherine Variation, Ian as also used Angora goat dubbing in this fly to impart a buggy aesthetic. While the fly is rather sparsely dressed with long orange hackle fibers in a minimalist ethic, the red tail and tinsel ribbing bridge the gap between the modern and the traditional schools of steelhead fly design.

Of particular interest in this fly is the beautifully finished head. Pay close attention to the compact series of wraps and the neat length of shank between the head and hook eye.
Steelhead tyers categorically take their technique seriously, and tying a neat, compact head is often the ultimate goal of a serious tyer (besides, of course, hooking a bright chrome hen on a favorite coastal river). To achieve a head of this caliber, simply use fewer wraps and approach the finish with more confidence. As with all forms of functional art, practice counts.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos provided by Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com


The Fly Swap II: MJ's Lady Catherine Variation

Yesterday's post set the stage on the concept and worth of Fly Swaps, so let's take a first look at what came of the most recent San Francisco Swap: Matt "MJ" Jones' Lady Catherine Variation.
This fly, like a full-dressed Lady Catherine steelhead fly has got a flat shank profile and a "leggy" look from through the gape. A notable modern design characteristic of this fly is its skinny and sparse elegance. The minimalist design ethic has gone in and out of fashion in the history of fly tying, but it's never been as pronounced as it has become in recent decades.

A closer look at this fly reveals a keen sense of utility in its trim form; it seems nearly every fiber serves a purpose, none appear extraneous, all are integral to the pattern's usefulness.

In achieving this heightened sense of restraint and pure function, MJ has made great use of Angora goat dubbing, a long-fibered and durable material shorn from the goat species native to Asia Minor (or Turkey, in the modern day geopolitick). This species was brought to Europe in the middle of the sixteenth century by Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. Today, Angora goats are bred and ranched for their wool which is more commonly known as mohair. Even though mohair is most commonly found in sweaters and socks, the fibers of this material are perfect for dubbing applications in fly tying. This natural material is perfect for use in a range of nymph, steelhead, and giant stonefly patterns.

In steelhead tying, Angora goat dubbing is commonly known as the best all-natural substitute for the more traditional but illegal option, seal dubbing.

Angora is spiky and softer than seal, giving it a more supple quality at the vise. Some traditional steelhead tyers lament the unavailability of traditional materials and frown upon the use of more pedestrian fibers, but for the every day tyer focused on utility, Angora goat dubbing is an excellent material choice.

Evan LeBon is a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com

photos provided by Ian McNemar, a regular contributor to beyondthebug.com