SLACK LINE SOLUTIONS
RAINBOWS AT EARTH'S END
by Chris Williams
As one who has for years enjoyed fishing the tailwaters and spring creeks of the West, I have become enamoured with the trout’s propensity for keying in on emerging and crippled mayflies. When in this emergent stage, the mayfly is most vulnerable to predatory trout, and the fish soon figure that out.
With this in mind, I have designed most of my dry and emerger patterns from materials that move, are soft, and replicate the profile of a natural insect. Initially I used mostly natural materials such as furs and feathers, but with such a rich abundance of new fly tying materials on the market, some synthetic materials have found their way into my flies.
This pattern is a marriage of natural and synthetic materials to fit a very specific purpose, and it was several years in the making. I wanted to produce a fly that sat trapped in the surface film, but also retained excellent buoyancy, had a very lifelike appearance, and was easily visible. I’ve long been a huge fan of the beautiful spring-creek patterns designed by Idaho’s Rene Harrop. His flies epitomize realism and natural movement. Like Harrop, I have found CDC wings to provide these qualities. However, they always required a great deal of maintenance to keep them afloat. I incorporated a foam wing case to provide a platform for the CDC to sit on to retain better buoyancy. That platform also helps the wing stand upright for better visibility.
But I also wanted the wing case to look as if it were splitting to allow the wing to emerge. This was the most pressing problem in tying the fly. How do I get the wings through a hole in the foam? After a variety of disappointing attempts at both pushing and pulling the wings through the foam, I finally settled on using a small wire threader that’s designed to fit through the eye of the hook. The wire is thin enough to easily push through the hole in the foam without tearing it.
I also decided on a trailing shuck of antron dubbing with a bit of deconstructed Semperfli Glint Nymph for added sheen and softness, and for its realistic, translucent appearance when wet. By “deconstructed,” I mean a strand of Glint Nymph that I’ve scraped between my thumbnail and forefinger until the fibres separate. I then overlay it onto the Antron dubbing that has already been tied in. I’ve never been a huge fan of antron and Zelon shucks that are often preferred by tiers because of their stiffness. The dubbing is much more flexible.
The body material is a turkey biot which mimics the thin, segmented profile of the natural. The thorax is made of natural dubbing. Just enough hackle wraps are added to provide a good platform for the fly to land on, and to help keep it afloat.
I fish this fly like any emerger or cripple pattern. Usually it is cast to difficult, discerning fish on slow-moving water with multiple currents. My favourite approach is to target a specific fish and present a quartering downstream dead-drift with either an upstream or downstream mend, depending on the different currents. Occasionally, I move the fly ever so slightly if a trout is particularly selective, to give the impression of the mayfly escaping the nymphal case. When done properly, this has fooled some spectacular trout over the years.
While no fly pattern is perfect for every situation, this fly checks off all the boxes when fish are keying on emergers. The variety of materials with which it’s tied allows it to imitate the translucence, delicate profile, and movement of natural specimens while still providing buoyancy and visibility.
- Hook: Moonlit Fly Fishing ML 051 Emerger Hook or similar curved emerger hook
- Thread: 17/0 Uni Trico Thread
- Shuck: March Brown antron dubbing overlayed with deconstructed Semperfli Rust Glint Nymph Tinsel
- Abdomen: PMD turkey biot tied with the notch down for a furled body
- Wing Case: 1mm tan translucent Razor Foam
- Wings: 2 matched goose CDC feathers
- Thorax: PMD-coloured dry fly dubbing. I make a blend of of natural seal’s fur, opossum, rabbit, and fox.
- Hackle: Two wraps Whiting Farms honey dun rooster or hen hackle
- Start the thread about halfway down the hook shank. Tie in a small tube of antron dubbing overlayed with a strand of deconstructed Glint Nymph with a couple of thread wraps. Wrap thread, covering the shuck material with touching turns halfway down the hook bend.
- Tie in a PMD turkey biot with the notch turned upward so as to wrap a furled body. Wrap the biot forward to the point you started your thread, forming the abdomen, and tie off with a couple of thread wraps. Trim the excess.
- Tie in a 1 mm foam strip approximately 1/8” wide. Wrap a couple of wraps forward and fold the foam back over itself. Use two more thread wraps to secure the two pieces of foam angling back over the abdomen.
- Use a bodkin to gently make a hole through both foam pieces directly in the middle of the foam and just above the point where it is tied in. Hold the two pieces of foam and push the threader through both holes.
- Match two CDC feathers so their convex sides are touching and the tips are even. Wet the CDC feathers. (I use a drop of Watershed to do this.) Slide just the wing tips into the threader and gently pull them through the foam.
- Position the wings, use several thread wraps to secure them, and trim the excess. Then move the thread to the hook eye and tie in a honey dun hackle over the front of the eye with shiny side facing you.
- Dub a thorax, leaving the thread in a position slightly behind the hackle. Then wrap two wraps of hackle back toward the thread. Make a thread wrap through the hackle, trapping the tip and then secure with a couple wraps just behind the eye.
- Cut off the hackle tip. Trim hackle barbs in a “V” on top and underneath the fly. Trim the forward-most foam piece just past the hole. Pull the remaining foam piece forward using gentle wraps to tie down, forming the wing case. Whip finish and trim foam.
Check out Chris’ other patterns by clicking here and visiting him on Facebook.
(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the spring 2018 issue of Fly Fusion Magazine under a different tier’s name. Chris Williams is the correct tier.)
RIO–The eighth episode of this second season of RIO’s How To videos is “How To Drift A Soft Hackle” – presented by RIO brand manager Simon Gawesworth. In this film Simon explains the subtleties and nuances of this technique of dead drifting a soft hackle to a rising trout. Simon also shows how to rig the perfect outfit for fishing this style – including the crazy, but excellent “Slinky Indicator”.
by Bob Reece
They may not be valued by all fly fishers, but aquatic worms play an important role in the food webs of many trout waters. Imitations of them can produce exceptional fishing throughout the year. Their abundance in some of the waters that I fish drove me to create my Glo Worm.
My objective was to create an annelid that could be effectively fished in indicator and tight-line riggings, but also as a dropper. To work as a dropper it needed to have sufficient weight, since I would not be able to add split shot. Tandem tungsten beads help the pattern descend quickly. By placing them at the midpoint of the shank, the hook is heavily keeled during its drift. This helps reduce snags as it glides over the substrate.
While the weight was important I also wanted a smooth contour. By using beads that were similar in colour to the body material, only a subtle variation of colour is visible. Applying beads one size smaller than the chosen hook size creates a gentler taper. The front of the beads face each other on the hook shank. This leaves the cavity of each bead available for finishing off the body material. It also forms a crisp cylindrical boundary of the bands as on the body of the natural. The appearance is further enhanced through the use of Tactical UV Resin. Additionally, UV material and Sexi Floss display a transparency similar to that of real aquatic worms. This combination of factors is bolstered by the tantalizing movement of the Sexi Floss strands.
Though atypical of rubber worm patterns, the thin profile of the Glo Worm is beneficial. This reduction of surface area, paired with its tungsten weight, rockets this pattern down to the set distance below the surface. It also lets me tie the pattern through a wider range of sizes, from size 8 down to 16. This package has fooled trout across all seasons and moving water fisheries. To watch tying video click here.
Fly Fusion’s founding editor, Derek Bird, recently invited all the world leaders to join him on a fly-fishing trip to one of his favourite streams in the Canadian Rockies. Though no one took him up on his offer, the invitation is well worth investing the time it takes to read.
by Bob Reece
Transition stages in the subsurface development of aquatic insects are often times of vulnerability. During these metamorphic moments, the bug’s full range of motion and the responsiveness of its senses are temporarily lost. This means easy food for trout. With these factors in mind I designed my 307, a transitional mayfly pattern that is a productive divergence from the norm.
The Tiemco 2499BL-Bk hook pins itself in place in trout jaws with its upturned super point, and has the strength to handle large fish. Its matte black finish can be beneficial on heavily pressured waters.
Flouro Fiber forms the tail of this pattern. Small UTC wire inserted into midge stretch tubing is used to create raised segmentation in the abdomen. The smoothly raised divisions of the wire accent the transparency provided by the stretch tubing. This combination is very durable.
Ostrich herl and Ice Dub form the bulk of the thorax. Their movement and reflectivity suggest opaque appendages and internal gasses in the transitioning naturals. The enlarged and elevated wing case further accentuates this important trigger.
The mottled tungsten bead accelerates the 307 to the targeted depth. More importantly the mottled olive and brown colour provides a more natural look than the metallic sheen of traditional beads. This can be especially important in times of extreme water clarity. It is also beneficial on waters that see heavy fishing pressure.
Anytime mayflies are hatching, a properly presented 307 will produce fish. I often fish it as a dropper below my preferred dry in the early morning and late-day hours. During an active hatch I shorten my dropper tippet so the 307 rides six to eight inches below my dry. This can be deadly when the colouration of the fly matches the emerging mayfly. It’s also important to remember that many emerging mayflies fail to break through the surface film and subsequently perish. These failed emergers sink and drift along the bottom. As a result, the 307 is also an effective pattern for deeper water indicator-rigs. Click here to check out the tying video.
Fly anglers don’t always have access to in-depth bug charts when they’re out on the water, and sometimes entomology’s Latin terminology doesn’t stick all that well in the long term memory. One of Fly Fusion’s fly-tying editors, Al Ritt, provides a quick-reference entomology framework with ideas and patterns for anglers who want to go deeper and are looking for a good place to start.
A sneak peek recipe…please “Read More” for more recipes and to to read the full article.
Tail: Ringneck pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Fine gold wire
Abdomen: Ringneck pheasant tail fibers (butts of tail fibers)
Thorax: PMD Superfine dubbing
Spike: Deer hair
Hackle: Dun dry fly hackle
by Bob Reece
When discussions surrounding stoneflies arise, images of gargantuan invertebrates come to mind. The large end of the plecopteran spectrum does play a role in the annual feeding cycle of trout. However, the more petite species and developmental stages of stoneflies should not be overlooked.
As nymphs grow, they shed their exoskeletons. These developmental stages are referred to as instars. The number of instars varies among species, from 12 to 23. As a result, there are different sizes of nymphs present during the year in the freestone streams and rivers they inhabit.
In late spring and early summer the increased flows of runoff provide enough energy to detach even the largest nymphs from the rocky substrate. This increased flow is often accompanied by a decline in water clarity. These two factors create an ideal environment for larger-profile nymph patterns. The increased weight of these artificial bugs helps get them to depth in higher flows, while their superior silhouette helps make them more visible. This window of ideal conditions is productive, yet makes up a small part of the annual aquatic food cycle.
Prior to and following runoff, the volume and velocity of the water is lower and the clarity higher. This combination creates a more suitable environment for presenting stonefly nymphs in smaller sizes. While large stonefly nymphs are still present in the substrate, their abundance in the moving water column drops due to the reduction in subsurface velocity. The smaller species and lesser instars are at a greater risk of being stripped from their holds than the big nymphs, due to their smaller size and lesser strength.
It was for this larger window of conditions that I created the Stepchild Stone. I wanted a pattern that would accurately match the structural and behavioural profile of smaller developing stoneflies. The foundation this of this pattern is its behavioural profile. Stonefly nymphs are not effective swimmers, and when knocked free by the current often assume a hunched or curled position. This action reduces their overall surface area and helps expedite their descent back to the stream bottom. The Stepchild Stone is tied on the Gamakatsu C12U hook. The shape of this hook creates a drastically hunched appearance in the fly, mimicking the behaviour of the naturals. In addition, the sturdy construction and wide gap helps to ensure that it hooks and holds fish.
In a further effort to match behavioural traits, I used MFC Sexi Floss for the tail, legs and antennae. The supple flexibility of this material allows it to crawl with life in the water. Its transparency and flat profile provide an accurate imitation of the naturals. That same element of transparency is present in the stretch tubing that is used for the abdomen. Complimenting this is the reflective quality of the Ice Dub used for the thorax. This synthetic dubbing radiates a mottled array of colours that are visible through the transparent wing cases of natural bustard Thin Skin.
While small in size, the Stepchild Stone is not lacking in weight. Its duel tungsten beads provide the mass needed for a rapid descent to the desired depth. Tactical UV Resin overlays the beads and wing cases. The fly’s sink rate is aided by the intentionally thin abdomen which offers less resistance as the fly drops through the water column.
When fishing this pattern I usually use it as the bottom fly in an indicator or tight-line setup. I have also had significant success using it as a dropper below large foam terrestrial patterns in late summer and early fall. Regardless of the application, I always attach the Stepchild Stone with a non-slip loop-knot. This provides exceptional strength and allows the fly to move freely in the current. Click here to watch tying video.
IDAHO FALLS, IDAHO (May 23, 2018) – RIO Products celebrates amateur film makers in the fly fishing arena with its second annual RIO Amateur Fly Fishing Film Awards. With many great films submitted for year two, Meris McHaney took away the grand prize for 2018 with her film Lucky.
McHaney wins an all-expenses paid trip to Idaho Falls to fish for three days with the RIO team, $300 value of RIO products, a $500 cash prize, and a “short film” category entry in the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) – courtesy of our media partner Fly Fusion magazine. The runner-up, “Matapedia” receives $500 worth of their choice of RIO Products.
Meris said, “I created this film to capture the passion I have for fly fishing and wanted to show people how beautiful the Texas Coast is and how the sport brought me closer with my dad. I’m so fortunate to get to sight cast to fish so close to home and I felt like the story I’ve had with fly fishing needed to be shared. I’m so thankful RIO hosts such a great competition for amateur filmmakers. The whole company has been so amazing and all the buzz from the film is very exciting. I can’t wait to get to Idaho to fish with the RIO crew and get some great gear; I’m so lucky they believed in me and my story.”
The Viewer’s Choice Award saw a tie between Ken Tanaka with “Obsession” and Mike Silva with “A Fish-mas Story”. They both receive $1,000 worth of Sage, RIO and Redington products, and the runner up will receive $500 worth of RIO products of their choice. See all submissions here.
Cranbrook, BC (May 21, 2018)—Drafts happen in lots of sports but obviously not fly fishing. If they did, Fly Fusion Magazine just earned the coveted first pick as far as filmmakers.
Professional fly-fishing filmmaker, Gilbert Rowley, recently joined the Fly Fusion team as the director of photography. As a guide, a fly tier, and a cinematographer, Rowley brings a wealth of all the right types of experience. He complements the magazine’s editorial staff.
Rowley’s direct influence will primarily be from behind the camera. The publishers brought him on to develop more film content for the magazine. He’ll be working with the editors to continue to produce quality films for the IF4, play an integral role in the Fly Fusion Series, and develop instructional videos that supplement magazine content.
Rowley said, “I’m very excited to be joining a team that has both vision and values and really looks to promote fly fishing in responsible ways. I’ve looked up to those involved with Fly Fusion for a very long time.”
“I am beyond humbled by this opportunity. I look forward to adding my skillset of filmmaking and creativity to an already thriving company. The Fly Fusion culture reflects my personal beliefs and artistic views of the good that comes from fly fishing,” said Rowley.
Fly Fusion founding editor, Derek Bird, said, “I’m really excited about working with Gilbert. When Jim (McLennan) and I are out filming the Fly Fusion Series, the people behind the cameras are essential to the success of the series. Jim and I might be the faces in front of the camera, but it’s a team effort and we can’t do what we do without having extremely talented guys like Gilbert doing what they do. I’m really looking forward to working with Gilbert.”
You don’t want to miss out on Fly Fusion’s summer issue. It’s loaded with cutting-edge fly patterns that will add to your dry-fly success, with thought-provoking strategies on using slack line to your advantage, and with guide tips on how to better read a stream. It’s also got so much more including a special bonus. The editors compiled a list of some of their favourite gear for the “Great Gear Giveaway”. There’s a number of coveted items that made the list including a Water Master. The summer issue is in subscribers’ hands now and is set to hit newsstands the last week of May. If you’d rather not wait to join the Fly Fusion family click here to subscribe.
RIO–The seventh episode of season two of RIO’s “How To” series is “How To Fish The Upstream Dry Fly”, and features RIO ambassador Rob Parkins. In this film Rob explains the advantages of fishing a dry fly upstream, and talks about the correct angles to cast the fly so as to reduce drag and not spook fish. Rob also explains the importance of keeping a tight line when fishing this way, and ends the film by catching a beautiful brown trout.