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Wool Yarn for Fly Tying (Update)

I’ve expanded my wool yarn product line a little and here are the updates. You can find all the wool yarns I now have available in the Fly Tying Materials section of my online store.

Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift

I added three more colors of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift super fine yarn. In addition to Oyster, Salmon, Heron and Ivy from my original post, I now have Burnt Umber, Leprechaun, and Purple Haze. The first two came from the wonderful recommendation from a reader. The last one I picked because it’s called for in a Tenkara kebari pattern called the “Grave Digger”. The name of the fly alone sold me on that one!

Killer Bug

I’ve been on a quest to find a suitable replacement yarn for Frank Sawyer’s infamous “Killer Bug” fly pattern, since they quit making Chadwick’s #477 back in the 1960’s. Even the black market for that one is running out.

I recently came across a thread on the Classic Fly Rod Forum of someone else’s quest on the same topic. (Apparently I’m not the only one looking!) There are several great photos that compare the different types of yarn the author tried and in the end he recommended “Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine” yarn in the color “#1214 Steel Cut Oats”. It looked really promising until I went looking for UAF-1214 and … that color has been discontinued! Ugh.

Berroco Ultra Alpaca

I did see though, that Berroco Ultra Alpaca (not the “Fine” type though) yarn was available in that color so I went ahead and ordered a skein of UA-6214. It’s a medium yarn and has a different blend of materials but perhaps its fairly close to the color of UAF-1214.

Pictured below is that Berroco Steel Cut Oats yarn on the left and what I had ordered previously, Patons Classic Natural Mix, on the right.

It’s been said that the yarn color for the Killer Bug should resemble rare meat red and the Berroco definitely has a little more of a pinkish hue to it so that one might work out better.

There are a few other substitute yarns mentioned in the thread, one of which is Jamieson’s #195 Moorland, but that one seems too dark and doesn’t have the pinkish hue. Too bad because Jamieson’s yarn is thinner and a little easier to tie with.

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2022 Sowbug Roundup Fly Tying Awards

The 2022 Sowbug Roundup has come to a close and I can happily and humbly announce that I was the winner of two categories of the Fly Tying Contest. All the winners were presented with very nice plaques for the winning flies in each category. They were presented on Friday night at the Sowbug Roundup “Shindig”. Here are my awards:

2022 Sowbug Roundup Fly Tying Awards

There were some really amazing flies submitted, so I’m pretty astonished that my flies were among them. All the winning flies were mounted in a fantastic looking shadow box which was auctioned off at the Shindig. It went for $1600!. My flies are at the left end of the first row and second from the left in the second row.

2022 Sowbug Roundup Fly Tying Contest Winners

Here they are up-close and personal:

Salmon/Steelhead Category

thunder and lightning photo
Thunder and Lightning

Bass Category

braided blue damsel photo
Braided Blue Damselfly
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Wool Yarn for Fly Tying

Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift - #290 Oyster

I have some fly patterns that call for wool yarn in the material list. However, it seems that many online fly shops carry a rather limited selection of colors or else don’t stock wool yarn at all. Craft stores have literally hundreds of colors but you are stuck with buying a ball that has 100 or 200 yards in it. Also, you have to decide what size yarn to buy from the myriad of choices and the knitting jargon they use is beyond comprehension for a fly fisherman. So what to do?

Enter Classic Fly Tying! I have opened up a new product line for wool yarn. I bought a few giant balls of yarn and repackaged them onto 5-yard cards. It’s the perfect size for your tying bench because it comes in packs similar to other carded fly tying materials such as Antron yarn, polypropylene yarn, and chenille.

Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift

As far as the type of wool yarn goes, I offer the most popular brand – Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. It’s a lightweight 100% wool yarn and comes in some really great colors. I currently have it available in Oyster, Salmon, Heron and Ivy. You can find them in the Fly Tying Materials section of my online store.

I’ll be adding a few more colors soon. Right now I’m looking at adding more colors such as Buttercup, Tangerine, Cashew and Lime. Let me know if you would like another color and I’ll take a look.

These colors look great on nymphs and scuds! I’ll be demonstrating the “Tellico Nymph” fly pattern, from my Classic Nymph Collection #1, using some of these colors at the upcoming Sowbug Roundup.

5×7 Classic Nymph Collection #1 (black)
Tellico Nymph
Tellico Nymph a southern classic from the Tellico River of TN and NC in the 1940’s

Incidentally, Jamieson’s #290 Oyster is the yarn of choice for the “Utah Killer Bug” fly pattern.

Patons Classic

Patons Classic is another brand of yarn I have come across although it’s quite a bit thicker than Jamieson’s. Patons Classic is a “4-Medium” size yarn and 3-ply where as Jamieson’s is a “1-Super Fine” size yarn and only 2-ply, although it’s fairly easy to pull out one strand. Currently I have two stock colors.

Experimenting with Dye

Some time ago, I experimented with dye on fly tying materials. I needed some Bright Yellow and Scarlet hackle that I didn’t have so I colored some pieces of white rooster hackle and hen hackle. While I was at it, I dyed some lengths of Patons Classic yarn in the color Winter White. Here are the yarns that resulted from my experiment.

The whole process went extremely well except for the bright yellow rooster hackle that slipped down the drain while I was rinsing it!

Happy tying … with wool yarn!

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Watermarks

5x7 Old Favorite Bass Fly Watermark #1 (gold)

If you’re familiar with my website you will know that I post quite a bit of information on fly tying. However, another part of my website is an online store where I have flies that have been tied and mounted in a shadow boxes available for purchase. I have at least 8 different themed collections of flies in a couple of different frame sizes.

I’ve been tying them for a little while now and have finally come to my senses and began updating the watermarks that appear on the background of the framed flies. Initially, I just had some fancy feathers in the backgrounds, and they looked okay, but my daughter demanded that I do something better.

Here are the first few watermarks I have updated. These are the 5×7’s. The one on the left is pretty obvious – two bass. The one on the right is an old picture of Ray Bergman tying a fly. If you can read the fine print, the flies in this collection are from his 1938 book titled Trout. It seemed fitting to me.

Here is one of the 8×10’s. Two rainbow trout.

8x10 Old Favorite Trout Fly Watermark #1 (gold)
8×10 Old Favorite Trout Fly Watermark #1 (gold)

All things considered, they look pretty nice when covered with the flies.

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Fly Dressing (Update)

An English old-timer named Frederic Halford literally wrote the book on tying dry flies back in 1886 – yeah, published 136 years ago – in his book titled Floating Flies and How To Dress Them.

I often thumb through the electronic archive copy over at archive.org. Recently, however, I discovered that there have been some modern re-publications of his books and I now have a copy on order. Little did I know, the seller is shipping it from Australia. Talk about a slow boat from China …

A while ago I created a webpage based solely on the chapter in his book that depicts fly-dressing, Halford-style, in great detail. Recently, I added another section that shows a technique he developed called the Improved Method of Winging Upright Duns. Notice how the wings are tied on with the tips pointing rearward. You can read the rest over at my Fly Dressing page

What I really like about the technique is that it allows you to tie on the wings fairly close to the hook eye (necessary on small hooks) without the difficulty of trimming the wing feather stubs so close to the eye itself. It’s really an ingenious improvement to his original “ordinary” method.

One of the finest fly-dresser in the world today, Davey McPhail of Scotland, demonstrates this exact technique in one of his 700+ YouTube videos and it’s definitely worth a look. Saying that the guy is a master is actually an understatement. Here he spends the first few minutes talking about using hen hackle on a dry fly so you can skip to the 2:05 mark to get right to the fly-dressing.

Tying a Hen-Hackled Dry Fly (Greenwell’s Glory) with Davie McPhail

What a beautiful dry fly. Between the two of them, we fly-dressers can learn A LOT from their work. They are truly two of the best.

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2022 Sowbug Roundup

2022 Sowbug Roundup Contest Entries

Sowbug Roundup is a three day fly tying and fly fishing show that is held in Mountain Home Arkansas. The next event will be held Mar 24th, 25th, and 26th, 2022. This is the 23rd year that the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (NAFF) have put on the Sowbug Roundup. The first Sowbug had 20 tyers and 150 attendees. The 2019 Sowbug had over 140 fly tiers and over 1000 attendees. The official name is actually the International Sowbug Roundup, a Celebration of Fly Fishing. You can read about Sowbug Roundup on their official webpage by clicking here.

Part of the Roundup is a fly tying contest. Initially, your entries were due a few weeks ago but because of the low number of entries (perhaps) the due date was extended to tomorrow, February 21st.

If you’ve read some of my recent blog posts, you would know that I get a kick out of fly tying contests. I decided to enter a fly pair in every single category. I really enjoyed going out and finding some new fly patterns that I had never tied before to complete the lineup. Here are my entries for this year’s contest.

2022 Sowbug Roundup Contest Entries
2022 Sowbug Roundup Contest Entries

The first two pairs on the right side are a little scrunched together and the Tenkara flies are stacked head-to-head and almost covered by the Lefty’s Deceivers but I think you can make out all of the rest.

#CategoryFly PatternReason For Entering
1NymphPolish NymphWon the “Nymph” division at the
Branson Expo last summer.
2Dry FlyWestern Green DrakeWon the “Dry Fly” division at the
Branson Expo last summer.
3Wet FlyFontinalis FinWon the “Wet Fly” division at the
Branson Expo last summer.
4Smallmouth BassMuddler MinnowTied once before with limited
success.
5BassBraided Blue DamselflyHad never tied it before but
looked amazing.
6Warm WaterBig Eyed SempermouseHad never tied it before but
looked amazing.
7Salmon/SteelheadThunder and LightningHad never tied it before but
looked impossible.
8SaltwaterLefty’s DeceiverHad never tied any saltwater
patterns before.
9TenkaraTakayama Sakasa KebariDidn’t even know what it was
until I saw the Category list.
10Dave Whitlock PatternDave’s HopperNeeded a “Dave” pattern and had
actually tied this one before.
The Lineup (from R to L)

The winners of the contest will be announced on Friday March 25, 2022 at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church in Mountain Home AR.

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Classic Fly Tying Hats

printed hat ht cft logo white front

Hats with the Classic Fly Tying logo are now available!

Recently, I found a source for some pretty nice looking baseball-style hats and my first shipment arrived today. They are currently available only in White but I should have some Gray ones in soon. They obviously have my logo on the front which has been printed with a digital heat transfer process (I guess).

I’m also looking at hats with embroidered logos and in other colors but that’s for another day. UPDATE: I just couldn’t wait so I went ahead and designed an embroidered logo! As soon as my shipment arrives (due by Feb 23rd) , the embroidered hats will be available in White and Black, and the printed hats will be available in Gray in addition to White, which is available right now.

You can shop for a hat in my online store by clicking here.

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Tying Streamers

streamer collage

From my last several posts you might conclude that I’ve been working on tying some different fly patterns for fly tying contests. If you did, you’d be right. And by ‘different’, I mean fly patterns that I’ve never tied before. Tying new flies is very rewarding but … time-consuming. What I have done is taken the time and ventured into a category of flies I don’t fish very often called Streamers. If you don’t know what a streamer is then here’s a nice definition I found on the web:

Streamers are big flies used to imitate small bait fish and other moving aquatic invertebrates and creatures. The majority of the time these active flies will be given additional movement by different retrieves; also known as strips.

Source: https://anchorfly.com/streamer-fly-fishing/
streamer collage
streamer collage

Going clockwise from the upper left, here are the streamers I have learned how to tie and will be submitting to a few fly tying contests that are coming up:

Fly Pattern NameContest CategoryCreature Imitated
Lefty’s DeceiverSaltwaterSaltwater bait fish
Big Eyed SempermouseArticulating StreamerSwimming mouse
Green Butt SkunkSalmon/SteelheadMostly colorful & flashy
Muddler MinnowTraditional StreamerSculpin minnow
Streamer Fly Patterns

For the complete details of how these flies are tied, please scroll through the following stack of Fly Tying Cards or optionally download the PDF.

If you’re interested in tying some of these ”different” flies, hopefully these Fly Tying Cards will save you some time so you can get right to it.