Getting All Wibbly Wobbly

Thanks to inspiration from this post from The Limp Cobra and a few suggestions from NC River Angler, LLC, I have come up with these flies:

IMGP1635They wobble and dive like a crank bait, float like a cork and have tails (or lips) that work as weed guards.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that shrimp and crayfish don’t wobble while swimming and crawdads, well, they don’t float. But I’m guessing that the smallmouth north of me and the redfish and speckled trout east of me will overlook those two little facts and crush these things.

I’ll keep everybody posted on developments.

(Oh, and a quick up date on the summer of fishing: things have been great, don’t want to talk about it too much for fear of jinxing myself and, uh… Yeah that’s it.)

Tropical Distractions

In less than a week I’m floating the Saluda River in Columbia, SC with a good buddy of mine to target some tailwater trout.

Supposedly these particular trout are big fans of streamers and big flashy nymphs, which I currently have very few to none of. So I’ve been trying to tie some up.

I have a problem though.

I’ll be leaving for the Keys in a little more than a month and have literally been dreaming about bonefish, tarpon and permit most nights for the last couple of weeks. So every time I sit in front of my vice (see I spelled “vise” wrong on purpose as a form of subtle word play or a “pun” if you will) to tie up some streamers or nymphs I end up tying Gotchas or Merkins or some other form of flats fly.

These most likely won’t work on the 12″ stocked rainbows I’ll be fishing for in less than a week…

Hmmm? I’m guessing this is what people refer to as a “first world problem”.

A Few Tips For the Paranoid Fly Tyer

I’ve tied literally thousands of flies at this point in my life. Sometimes people and fly shops even want to buy some of them from me, which means that I have found myself having to tie multiple dozens of the same pattern all of which should look pretty much exactly alike. With variations in materials and other more cryptic variables sometimes making two identical flies seem daunting, much less a dozen of them.

If you’re nitpicky and self-critical like me (for your sake I hope you’re not) this can drive you a little crazy when tying a large order of flies. I have learned a few things over the years to help me maintain my sanity though:

  1. Wait at least a few hours to do the final inspection – If you just finished tying a dozen flies for somebody don’t immediately jump into comparing them to one another. Every little tiny, itty-bitty difference will seem glaringly obvious to you and you’ll wonder if you should retie that one with the wing that seems a fraction of a millimeter shorter or just get rid of that one there with the eye that looks like it might be a little lower than the other eye. Step away from your flies and comeback later. If you’re at least a reasonably competent tyer you’ll find that you won’t be able to tell much of a difference from one fly to the next.
  2. Don’t compare your flies to flies in bins at big box stores like Bass Pro or Cabela’s – These flies come from big companies like Umpqua that have fly “factories” in Asia where people get paid good money (by their standards) to spend eight hours a day, five days a week, tying the exact same fly over and over and over again. Remember, unless you’re willing to spend this kind of time doing the same thing you’re flies will never be as perfectly uniform as theirs.
  3. And remember that as a tyer of flies you will always be more critical of the flies you see – This isn’t to say people who don’t tie don’t know what a well tied fly looks like, but as a fly tyer, you’re more likely to notice the finer details, good and bad. To most people, as long as the fly does what it’s supposed to do and doesn’t fall apart after the first three or four fish (sharks, muskie and other big toothy fish not included) they’re going to be pretty happy with it.

Hopefully these tips will help put you at ease if you’re anything like me.

The Fly Fishing Show Part 2 – Show-Harder

I just got back from The Fly Fishing Show in Winston-Salem, NC.

I saw a lot of cool things, talked to more than a few interesting people, spent more money than I should have and only got a little bit panicky due to the crowd (more than five people within ten feet of me at any given time and I start to get… twitchy). But what really excited me was the plethora of fly tying materials to pilfer through. There was all kinds of shiny stuff, stretchy stuff, sticky stuff and of course fuzzy stuff, which was where I really lucked out.

After walking into the show and browsing through the first little section I turned the corner and saw the most beautiful thing I’ve seen since meeting my wife; a full, thick, polar bear white, arctic fox tail.

If you didn’t know this already, I have kind of a thing for arctic fox fur. It’s got to be one of, if not my very favorite material to tie with. I love the way it flows through the water, how easy it is to tie with, how… Well I guess that’s really it, but what else do need from a good material.

Anyway, I grabbed this tail as fast as I could, possibly knocking down an old man in the process, and pushed my way to the counter to pay. Now I’m the proud owner of this tail and will be spending the next few days cutting it into manageable pieces and researching the safest way to dye fox fur. (If anyone reading this has any experience with dying furs please feel free to share any tips you have.)

Oh, and Lefty didn’t embarrass me this time.

So, over all, I have to say the show was a success.

And That’s How a Fish Gets Caught on a Fly

I was washing dishes yesterday when I heard my wife shriek from the other room.

“What is it? What happened?”

“I tried to throw a costume into the boys’ room but I missed and hit the door. When it hit it what looked liked the biggest, nastiest bug ever came out of the costume and stuck to the door and started to crawl down it. But it ended up just being a feather.”

“Ha! That’s how a trout can be fooled by fly you know. You saw just a feather and thought it was a bug and you’re at least twice as smart as a fish. Hehe.”

“Yeah, um, anyway, so a fish sitting in a fast flowing stream will see something flow by that just has some characteristics of an actual bug, like what looks like legs or wings, and strike at it. That’s why some of my flies don’t look much like a bug at all yet still catch fish. Pretty cool ain’t it?”

“Keep your feathers at your desk.”

“Yeah ok, sorry.”