Size, shape and colour frequently factor into fly-pattern selection. However, there are additional elements that should be considered. Bob Reece’s department in the summer issue of Fly Fusion discusses the wisdom of having translucency and vulnerability represented in your fly box. Among the flies recommended in the article is the Colby Crossland’s Klink Hopper. Pick up a copy of the summer issue of Fly Fusion Magazine on newsstands, in fly shops and available through subscription. Thanks to Bob Reece for article and tying vid!
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.)
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.
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.
by Landon Mayer
The Titan is the giant of the Tube Midge family, meant to represent Chironomids, one of the most important food supplies in any stillwater. The Titan is larger – ranging from #12 to #16, and has two pieces of small coloured wire inserted into clear Micro Tubing and three wraps of two coloured wires at the bend of the hook to secure. This allows it to look like a slim body inside a clear case. Unlike other chironomid imitations the white in this tie is not a bead, but white ostrich wrapped three times around the thorax and secured by white 8/0 Uni-Thread. A single wrap of tinsel behind adds a hint of flash. The ostrich moves like the gills on a natural and attracts cruising giants to the fly.
Chironomids in still water are on the move. When I set up a rig I always keep that in mind. One of my favourite ways to maximize movement in a fly is by using a non-slip mono loop knot. This allows the fly to move naturally and encourages the fish to react and strike. In addition to movement I believe in removing anything unnatural from my rig to prevent making the fish wary. This is why the tungsten bead works well – it’s a lot of weight in a small package.
If I’m using a single fly set-up I typically use a 9 foot, 3X fluorocarbon leader connected to the fly with a non-slip loop knot. This is a favourite when using a slow finger-over-finger retrieve. But I often use two- or three-fly rigs. In shallow water I typically use two flies to prevent snags and have a better chance of landing trout that go into the weeds. In deep water I prefer to cover more water depths with three flies to find out where the trout are feeding. When building a two-fly rig, I attach a two-to-three foot piece of 3X or 4X fluorocarbon tippet using a triple surgeons knot, leaving six-to-eight inch tag ends. When the knot is complete I cut off one of the tags and connect the fly to the other tag with a non-slip loop knot. The second fly is then attached to the long end using the same knot. With a three-fly rig I repeat the same process with a second piece of 3X or 4X fluorocarbon and connect the second fly to the short tag end off the surgeons knot, then attach the third fly to the final long tag end. The advantage to the flies on short tag end with an anchor fly below is maximum movement whether the rig is hanging still, bouncing in chop, or being retrieved with strips or twitches. The final ingredient is a large, medium, or small, clear or white Thingamabobber indicator to suspend the flies. If I am casting longer distances I use an orange Thingamabobber to improve visibility.
by Landon Mayer
Leeches are an important part of a trout’s diet, especially in high water conditions. Similar to worms, leeches are swept off the river’s edge and bottom, supplying an easy food for the fish. While some leeches are large, exceeding one inch, there are many that are less than an inch long, making the common two-inch leech patterns un-productive in many circumstances. I designed the Mayer’s Mini Leech to match the small freshwater leeches that trout feed on in freestone rivers, tailwater streams, and stillwaters. With micro pine squirrel attached only near the eye of the Tiemco 2488 #14 or16 hook, the extending material constantly moves as does the ostrich herl collar. A Krystal Flash body adds a little shine as the fly drifts and wiggles.
This fly is also versatile. You can dead drift it like a nymph, swing it as a nymph, trail it behind a larger streamer using a stripping retrieve, or even hang it below a hopper. The constant pulsating and undulating action matched with the tapered profile of a real leech will fool many trout, bass, and carp. It is my go-to pattern for landing large trout in the tight quarters of undercut banks, around structure, and at the heads of drop offs or riffled runs.
What makes this design universal is its ability to match so many food supplies other than just leeches. Use it in a ginger colour to match dead, floating flesh in the salmon-rich waters of Alaska. Use it in olive, rust, brown or tan to mimic drifting vegetation that is packed with bugs or crustaceans. Finally, in natural colour it can match the darting fry and baitfish along the river’s and reservoir’s edges.
When nymphing the Mini Leech I prefer to connect this fly either with a tag end from a triple surgeons knot as the lead fly and trail a second fly off the remaining tag end, or as a trailing fly when connected to the second piece of tippet attached at the bend of the hook on the first fly. The first fly is weighted and the trailing leech is unweighted to maximize movement. As part of a hopper-copper-dropper set-up that good friend and mentor John Barr developed, I replace the last fly with a leech. This allows the trailing leech to swing and wiggle while the large dry gets the trout’s, attention. In skinny water I simply drop the leech off the bend of the hopper hook using a two-foot piece of tippet and placing a micro-shot six inches above the leech to keep the leech itself free of weight, which maximizes movement.
I also like to fish the Mini Leech with a streamer. I attach the leech in front of a large streamer by tying a piece of 0X tippet to the bend of the leech and tying the streamer to that. I prefer this rig when I know I will be retrieving the flies. This makes it appear that a biatfish is chasing a leech, which can really turn on big trout. If I am going to dead drift my streamer or retrieve it slowly with pauses, I reverse the fly’s positions, attaching the streamer to the tippet and tying the leech to a piece of 0X or 1X that’s tied to the bend of the streamer hook.
by Jeremy Davies
This past spring and early summer I fished many streams that were loaded with small brook trout. Unlike many anglers, I really enjoy fishing for brookies as I believe they are the most beautiful trout and can be caught when the more cagy brown and rainbow trout are not cooperating. Most of the streams that I fished exhibited two main properties: they had a lot of woody “trash” on the bottom which made nymphing with an indicator tough, and had few if any fish rising. The best strategy was to carefully flip a relatively heavy fly near a likely spot and strip it in. I fished an especially pretty little creek in late July ,and an Olive Brookie Wart in size 12 worked very well. Most of the brookies were six to ten inches long and could easily ambush and inhale this little streamer. I also had good luck in several other small streams for browns, brookies, and even a few bull trout and whitefish.
The Brookie Wart is very simple to tie if you can get your head around how tiny it is. Use a 2X long nymph hook in sizes 10 or 12 and tie in some micro lead eyes at the head. Then take some Wooley Bugger Marabou and make a tail about the length of the hook shank. Next tie in some hackle and rubber legs right behind the lead eyes. Then dub the body with Light Peacock Arizona Dubbing and wrap the hackle toward the bend as the wire is wrapped forward to secure the hackle. If you are fishing this fly in deeper water you may want to wrap the front half of the body with lead so it will get near the bottom.
Brookie Wart Recipe
Hook: 2X long nymph hook, #10-12
Thread: Black or olive Uni-Thread, 8/0
Head: Micro eyes, brass or lead
Body: Light Peacock Arizona Dubbing
Hackle: Grizzly or black
Rib: Fine gold wire
Legs: Uni-Flexx, dark brown or black
Tail: Olive marabou, Krystal Flash (optional)
Cranbrook, BC (February 22, 2018)—As a general rule, an angler’s fly box is extremely personal. Like a woman’s purse, it’s not a place to simply rummage through uninvited. That is unless you’re a professional fly tier like Bob Reece.
Fly Fusion is excited to announce that its readers will have the opportunity to see what’s new in Reece’s fly box on a consistent basis because he’s now part of the distinguished list of field editors.
Reece brings a wealth of fly-tying experience to the Fly Fusion team. He’s an Umpqua Signature Fly Designer. He’s also a respected writer who contributes regularly to the pages of the magazine, and he runs Thin Air Angler at Horse Creek Ranch.
Reece’s new column will appear in the summer issue. Reece said, “”Fly tying provides endless creative opportunities. I look forward to joining Fly Fusion readers in their lifelong journey as fly tiers. We’ll be exploring the constantly expanding horizon of tying resources and their possible applications.”
“Additionally, we’ll be delving into the minds of fresh industry professionals and their newly created bugs that are driving the forward movement of fly pattern development. All of this will be done with the aim of improving on-the-water success,” said Reece.
Fly Fusion’s founding editor Derek Bird said, “I’m super excited on a number of different levels that Bob has joined our team. On a selfish level, I love the fact I get to test out his new flies, and for our readers, especially for the ones who tie, I’m excited that they’re going get a look into the mind of an extremely innovative tier. Bringing Bob on board is a win-win scenario for everyone involved.”