Posts Tagged ‘fly tying materials


The Mouse’s Last Meal

I went out this morning to do an inventory on fly tying materials, in what I thought was a fairly secure container. I haven’t tied that much in the last few months. So, I was a bit surprised to find a deceased mouse inside the container surrounded by a gooey mass of rubber legs used for fly tying. The mouse/mice had entered via a very small crack and had their way, until one of them had his fill of too much synthetics.

photography-mouse skeleton-SwittersB

photography-dead mouse skull spine-SwittersB

I found this kind of interesting from a photographic perspective and snapped a few shots. As I finished, I looked across the room and noticed Penny the Cat with a most displeased expression. I muttered, ‘Pretty cool huh Penny?’ (Yes I carry on conversations with all my pets, and they answer sometimes too).


Penny the Cat: ‘Whatever. Leave me alone in that garage and I could solve that problem.’


Fly Tying Material: Dyed Peacock Herl

photography-fly tying-peacock--dyed-herl-swittersb

A little blurry with the cropping, but you get a sense of the segmentation and fibers/barbs of the peacock herl, which in this instance was dyed. This is an excellent material for smaller abdomens, thorax and heads.


Fly Tying Materials: Never Enough?

I have so much fly tying materials! I do run low on certain things, like right now, I need to re-up on certain colors of marabou and rabbit strips. But, otherwise I have enough for years to come.

So, when I was out the other day, I came upon a dead hawk. It had been there for a bit and was damaged. But, I did gather a small amount of feathers for wing material. Not much, just a bit  that will make a great wing.

Here I harvested just a few feathers…just because they were there. I have been admonished/warned/shamed by commenter Craig about harvesting ‘raptor’ feathers. Hmm? What can I say? 


Fly Tying Nemesis

Penny the Cat (Tying Nemesis)

Penny the Cat is my nemesis. Try as I may with plastic bags, plastic bins with lids or boxes, Penny finds a way to get into at least one container now and then. The results are disastrous. Tenacious, playful, sometimes relentless, Penny is also enamored with fly tying tools. None can now be left atop a table. Either way, I snapped this photograph as she moved toward me for the customary rub under her chin. 

The doings of Penny in the middle of the night. I came down this morning and noticed the sparkle chenille over the arm of the chair. Then, upon closer inspection, I noticed further play. Items knocked from the table top on to the chair.


The Barb, The Pliers, The Same Old Question

This post is about two things related to fly tying and fly fishing: the barb and the pliers needed to remove a hook from a fish. It usually should be an easy deal right? You barbed all the hooks as you tied the flies or you barbed the flies as you stuck them into your fly boxes. Right?

My waders hanging between uses. The telltale sign of hardware store pliers sticking out of my chest pocket.

Admission: Note to self to correct! I have at some point fallen into a habit of not barbing my hooks at the vise. I have become neglectful re this simple task. I rationalize that I will ‘simply’ de-barb the hook out on the muss, no fuss. I suppose that is alright, but I have taken to using old, needle nose pliers. The groves extend up to the very tip and getting the barb between the grooves and flattening the barb has not been effective. How do I know this?

 When I hook a fish, the hook, which should, if de-barbed, easily back out of the fish doesn’t. It stays stuck because of the slightest elevated barb my pliers failed to flatten. I also notice this on the off chance the hook catches fabric. Again, the hook should back out through the fabric without snagging. Hmm? it seems to snag. So, I ask ‘the same old question’ Why don’t you barb the hooks at the vise where the process is easiest? Well, I kind of ask it like that…it is more like a sigh, an utterance and some thought of me at the table blowing off the process and pay for it now.

Beautiful Fly…but, there sets the barb.

So, two, no three obvious solutions: (1) barb them all at the table (2) buy barbless hooks (3) buy better pliers.

I cannot, personally, justify the $125.-175. spendy/trendy pliers suitable for freshwater/saltwater applications you see in shops. I imagine I would if I dealt with heavy wire, heavy mono etc. I know there are less expensive needle nose pliers out there so I will find them, if for nothing else removing the occasional fly that is inhaled deeply by the fish charging up from the rear.

So, the best solution for me, if I am adhering to Catch and Release, is to buy barbless hooks or de-barb all the hooks in advance and then proceed to tie….really no big deal. I just need to break the lazy habit I adopted.  

A Euro style Barbless Hook…Barbless hooks have been available for sometime. I never bought them preferring to barb my own. We see where that went……

Another side note here…a practical on the water issue: if you are teaching someone else and providing them the flies, a problem arises when they hook a fish on a fly you did not earlier barb and did not barb on the water. You assume they know to do that. They don’t. They might not be fully outfitted. Now if they get that fish in, they will most probably stress the fish repeatedly attempting to remove the barbed hook. If they hook themselves the hook will not back out nice and easy. If you are teaching someone make sure they have the tools and that their flies are barbless.


Fly Tying Materials: Penny Sorts My Capes

In the mornings, when the birds first start their chirping, Penny the Cat can be found sitting in a window listening, making this little chortling/chirping sound of her own. Her head turns and cants in all directions as she watches the temptations flitting about outside. Because she is a house cat her instincts are perhaps a bit rusty. Remember it was almost a year ago (early June) when Penny the Cat was rescued from atop a tree in my back yard. But, perhaps her instincts aren’t that rusty.

As I came through the door last night, I was met by a feathery sight. Penny ran to me and circled around my legs, rubbing up against my shins as cats do. She walked over amidst the disaster and rolled about in apparent cat bliss.

I really can’t blame anyone but me. This is about the fourth time this has happened. I have gone form capes in gallon freezer bags atop my fly tying station, to inside boxes to under a heavy object. Penny the Cat was successful at extricating two large bags of six capes and assorted loose feathers and spreading her attack not just in the living room, but into the family room and upstairs. I suspect that Harley the Maltipoo had a hand in this two, while Emma the Lab probably snored through it all. 


Fly Tying: While the Tier’s Away, the Cat Will………………

Fly Tying Materials: Cat invades Ziplock Bags and Massacres Capes. Investigation called for……

A massacre of epic proportions. Even hooks and scissors were thrown into the mix.

What the heck happened? I scrupulously package and store any feathers out of the reach of my Penelope, the Cat. She has attacked before and decimated a blue dun cape. Yet today, when I entered the house, I saw the remnants of chicken skin and tattered feathers by the front door entry way. I made my way toward my temporary tying station (dining room table) and ‘Whoa Nellie’ a massacre of feathers!

No shame, no remorse. Penny waltzes right in to the scene of the crime to inspect her work as I attempt to salvage the survivors. She even rolls over so I can rub her belly.


Fly Tying: The Feather Affair in Palm Springs

Oh, I do hate writing about this subject, that seemed the obligatory piece this past year or so….fly tying’s feather shortage ‘crisis’. I had noticed in the Portland area that the feather fashion craze had seemingly faded away, although you could still see the feather earrings and the rare feather insert into some young woman’s hair. While visiting the Village Fest, the Flea Mart last week in Palm Springs, and in numerous shops, I was struck by the wide availability of feathers this and that, as well as long strands of flashabou/krystal flash like products for hair insertions. 

This over priced Peacock monstrosity was one of several on display along with hundreds of feathered jewelry pieces by just one vendor amongst many I observed. Was this some marketing push in advance of the Coachella Fest?

Upon casually assessing some several thousand young women on Spring break, I don’t think I saw but a few with any feather earrings or hair insertions. There seems to be a large supply of feather adornments for sale…..but any demand? 

What was noticeable in this feather affair was the absence of high quality rooster feathers and the predominant use of lower grade feathers.


Fly Tying & Combo Thread: Segmented Bodies

This product has been out for a year or so, but I hadn’t seen it until I came upon a video demonstrating The Soft Hackle Midge Emerger by Craig Mathews at Blue Ribbon Flies. I have been using the tying thread for the body lately and then ribbing with a single strand of contrasting tying thread or fine wire. This Combo Thread, if offered in enough variety might be perfect. I am not sure, by the look of the spools, if a normal bobbin can be used? Appears to only come in 6/0? Worth a look see at Blue Ribbon Flies. Also, for the beginning tier…look at how Mathews ties in and wraps the feather. In the process of thread torque around the hook, the feather fans out nicely, as if wrapped in the conventional manner.


Fly Tying: Dubbing Redux’d Redux

I have linked to this fine piece re dubbing several times before, but I like to revisit it often and there is so much information here, I thought I would re-post it for the refresher and for beginners happening along…..UKFLYDRESSING: Dubbing Techniques

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