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Tying Thunder and Lightning

thunder and lightning photo

Here’s another fly I’m going to enter into that fly tying contest I have mentioned. It is called Thunder and Lightning and it appears as fly #29 in the Salmon section of Mary Orvis Marbury’s 1892 book Favorite Flies and Their Histories. Thus I will enter it in the Salmon category of the contest. Apparently, it got its name in the early days because it was used when the water was rising after a storm.

thunder and lightning photo
thunder and lightning photo

I must say that this is one of the more difficult flies I’ve ever tied. There are many details involved and I even had to source some additional materials just to tie it (#4 Salmon Hooks, Golden Pheasant Crest, Orange Saddle Hackle, Blue Guinea Feathers, Artificial Jungle Cock Eyes). Oh well, it doesn’t look too bad for a first attempt – which is always the toughest by the way. Does anyone else struggle with tying a new fly for the first time?

Here is the fly tying card for the Thunder and Lightning:

Fly Tying Card - Thunder and Lightning
Fly Tying Card – Thunder and Lightning

I created a new collection called the Old Favorite Salmon Flies Collection and inserted this card into it. You can find the new collection in PDF format in the Wet Flies section on my Fly Tying Cards page. However, it’s the only card in the collection (so far).

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Tying a Braided Blue Damselfly

braided blue damsel photo

Here’s another fly I’m going to enter into that fly tying contest I mentioned last time. This one is called the Braided Blue Damselfly which I am going to enter in the Bass Category of the contest. It’s a fly pattern from world-class fly tyer Barry Ord Clarke, a.k.a. “the featherbender”. You can watch him tie this fly here.

braided blue damsel photo
braided blue damsel photo

I did make the following “improvements” to the recipe in his video:

  1. Instead of using a length of white Dacron backing for the tail and coloring it with a blue marker, I came across a commercially sold product from Hareline Dubbin called “Adult Damsel Body” in color “#23 Blue”. All I had to do is melt the end so it wouldn’t unravel and then add the black segmentation markings. I do need to straighten out the curl a little more though.
  2. Instead of using blue foam from a craft store, I used the more dense “Thin Fly Foam” from Wapsi in the color “Damsel Blue”. That’s kind of a no-brainer.
  3. I typically prefer SLF dubbing over Hareline Dubbin Ice Dub so I used SLF Prism in the color “Electric Blue”. To make it look a little more like the UV Blue Ice Dub used in the video, I could add a little SLF Prism dubbing in “Hot Purple” but I didn’t think it was necessary.

After incorporating those changes, here is the fly tying card for the Braided Blue Damselfly:

Fly Tying Card - Braided Blue Damselfly
Fly Tying Card – Braided Blue Damselfly

I inserted this card into the Realistic Dry Flies card set and you can find them on my Fly Tying Cards page.

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Tenkara

takayama sakasa kebari

I barely even know what Tenkara means but I’m working on some flies for a fly tying contest and Tenkara is one of the categories. I at least need to figure out that much so here I go …

As far as I can tell, Tenkara is fly fishing done Japanese style. The style includes a specific type of fly rod, fly line, leaders, and of course, flies. The fly I have chosen to enter in the contest is called Takayama Sakasa Kebari. The word kebari translates to “hairpin” so it basically means a hair fly. The word sakasa translates to “upside down” and in this case it actually means backward or reverse. I have read that the reverse hackle style (tips pointing forward) is the easiest way to tie a fly “in hand”, i.e., without a vise and thus stream-side. I used a vise to tie my fly but it’s a pretty simple fly so I think I could actually tie it without one. Oh, and the Takayama part of the fly’s name is just the city in Japan where the fly originated and is most popular.

takayama sakasa kebari
takayama sakasa kebari

I chose this fly because it is simple. Besides the curved hook and silk thread, it has two materials – a soft hackle feather from a rooster pheasant and three herls from a peacock eye. You just can’t get much simpler than that! Here are the specifics I put on my fly tying card:

Tenkara Fly Tying Cards
Tenkara Fly Tying Cards

Click here for the video I used to learn how to tie the fly and basically everything I now know about Tenkara.

Feel free to wish me good luck in the contest.

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Classic Nymphs Collection Available

A while ago I wrote a blog post called “Nymphs Too!”. The reason for the post was that I had just won the “Nymph” division at the 2021 MTFA Fly Tying Contest and I wanted to publish my fly tying method for that fly. Since then, I pulled together some additional classic fly patterns and created a product variation for a set of these Classic Nymphs.

One of the classic nymphs, my award-winning Polish Nymph, has been a great fly for me. It’s a caddisfly larva imitation and the colors can be varied as much as there is embroidery floss – hundreds of colors and shades. A skein of cotton floss is under a buck and will make a great many flies. I do like polyester floss for the underside because it comes in brighter colors that don’t fade when wet. The weaving is what gives the fly the realistic texture and the link on the Fly Tying Card shows you how it’s done.

Regarding the remainder of the classic nymphs in the collection, I’m sure you’re familiar with some (Copper John, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Prince Nymph) and perhaps not familiar with the rest. The namesake Classic Nymph is an amazing looking mayfly nymph imitation and is one I need to try out in the water. It’s beautiful! The red quill abdomen, the curved wood duck fiber tails, and the red dot on top of the head seem very realistic to me. The Tellico Nymph also caught my eye and made its way into the collection. The shell-like back gives it the appearance of a scud. This one needs to get wet for me as well.

The following Classic Nymphs are included in this collection. You can find a detailed photo and description of each fly in the Classic Nymphs Collection on my Nymphs webpage.

  • Classic Nymph
  • Copper John
  • Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear
  • Governor Alvord
  • Montana Nymph
  • Polish Nymph
  • Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail Prince Nymph
  • Tellico Nymph

A Framed Fly Collection for the eight classic nymphs is available under the Framed Flies (5×7) product in my online store.

5×7 Classic Nymph Collection #1 (black)

A set of fly tying cards for the Classic Nymph collection has also been created. These are (a) viewable at the bottom of my Fly Tying Cards webpage, or (b) available in printed form (for a small fee) under the Fly Tying Cards (Printed) product in my online store.

Cover page of Classic Nymph Fly Tying Cards

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Catching Up – Custom Fly Tying

2021 Award Winning Fly Collection

I’ve been away too long (again!) but now I’ll try to catch up.

Deep down in my website is a page called Custom Fly Tying but it is still under construction. I’m now in the process of constructing it. Some time ago, I met with some friends and showed them several of my Framed Fly Collections. They really liked several of the 5×7 frames and also the 8×10 but they just couldn’t decide which one to go with. After some pondering, we came up with the idea of a combination. I would take 3 flies from each of 6 collections and merge them into one large frame. And here is what I came up with:

2021 Award Winning Fly Collection
2021 Branson Award Winning Fly Collection

There are rows of nymphs, wet flies, lake flies, trout flies, bass flies, and even a row of realistic dry flies. The blue ribbon icons mark my three award winning flies from the 2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo. Another custom feature is background image – a birthday cake. The sky is the limit!

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2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo

2021 Fly Tying Awards

Last summer I attended the 2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo and it went really well. The earlier sessions were somewhat lightly attended but the later sessions were pretty busy.

I spent the Thursday afternoon session tying Catskills-style dry flies and managed to demonstrate how to tie 6 of the 8 flies in one of my 5×7 Framed Flies. I must say that even I was impressed with how my divided wings, made from a wood duck flank feather, turned out on all 6 flies. After the session, all the fly tyers and vendors were invited to Branson’s History of Fishing Museum for a meet-and-greet event. If you ever want to see a frog harness or a minnow tube lure that’s definitely the place to go.

On Friday, I attempted to tie all 18 trout flies for an 8×10 Framed Flies display. That should be doable for me over an 8-hour span but no such luck. I managed to tie only 6 flies while spending most of the day gabbing with all the visitors. It was still a very interesting day though. What was interesting for me was that a beautifully-framed collection of last year’s three award-winning flies (one of which being mine) was auctioned off and it raised $75! Another cool thing was that this year’s seven award-winning flies (three of which being mine) will be put on display at that same History of Fly Fishing Museum for a year(!) and then will be auctioned off at the 2022 Expo.

On Saturday, I put all my frames and other projects aside and tied my award-winning flies exclusively. I hadn’t thought about it ahead of time but each of the three have a unique style or technique that aren’t very commonly used by most fly tyers. Here are those unique features:

  • Woven Polish Nymph: This fly uses two colors of embroidery floss for the body which are woven using a technique called the Shuttle Weave. The general idea is that you grab a strand of floss in each hand and don’t let go until you are done. It’s pretty cool. During the demo, I did discover that the link and QR code on my fly tying card for this fly were broken. Since then, I found a new link and updated the card so now you can watch a good video of the weave technique. See my Fly Tying Cards page for the card and the link.
  • Fontinalis Fin: This is a wet fly from Ray Bergman’s book titled “Trout”. See my Wet Flies page for more information on that book. Knowing that the word fontinalis is the species name for the brook trout, the fly’s name literally means “Brook Trout Fin”. What it is trying to imitate is the lower rear fin of a brook trout. Thus, the wings on the fly are made from wide strips of orange goose feather barbs, with one barb of black and three barbs of white attached to them. This technique is known as “marrying” feathers.
  • Western Green Drake: This fly is a somewhat realistic imitation of an adult mayfly with the stated common name – its Latin name is Drunella grandis from the Ephemerellidae family of mayflies. What makes this fly realistic are the style of wings known as Wally Wings. Another interesting fact about the name is “drake” is actually the Greek word for “dragon”. And yes, these mayflies really do look like tiny dragons. To make the dragon wings, a single mallard flank feather is tied down and split at the stem to form the two D-shaped upright wings. It’s pretty cool, for sure.

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Nymphs Too!

The premise of my website is “classic” wet and dry flies, of course, but I also tie and fish with a lot of nymphs. These flies more or less represent insects in their larva stage. And since my Woven Polish Nymph won an award at the 2021 MTFA Fly Tying Contest, I have decided to make my nymph fly tying cards (a) viewable at the bottom of my Fly Tying Cards webpage and (b) available in printed form for a small fee under the Fly Tying Cards (Printed) product in my online store.

Cover page of Nymph Fly Tying Cards

The award-winning Woven Polish Nymph has been a great fly for me. It’s a caddisfly larva imitation and the colors can be varied as much as there is embroidery floss – hundreds of colors and shades. A skein of cotton floss is under a buck and will make a great many flies. I do like polyester floss for the underside because it comes in brighter colors that don’t fade when wet. It is a little more expensive though. The weaving is what gives the fly the realistic texture and the link on the Fly Tying Card shows you how it’s done.

Woven Polish Nymph
Woven Polish Nymph in Coffee/Cream color scheme.
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My Award-Winning Flies

Award Winning Flies

A few weeks ago I submitted 5 pairs of my tied flies to the 2021 Missouri Trout Fisherman’s Association’s Fly Tying Contest. The results have now been published and, lo and behold, I won 3 divisions – Nymph, Dry Fly, and Wet Fly! My winning entries were a Woven Polish Nymph, a Western Green Drake, and a Fontinalis Fin.

Follow this link to see all the winning entries of the 2021 MTFA Fly Tying Contest.

I’ll be receiving my trophies at the Branson Fly Fishing Expo at the end of July. If you should happen to be in Branson at that time, stop by my booth and say “HELLO”!

Follow this link for more information on the 2021 Branson Fly Fishing Expo.