Posts Tagged ‘how to tie flies


Fish Tails (Tales) Requires Planning………

If are a fly fisher for Trout and other Spring through Fall species, you may have hung your gear up and won’t give it another thought until Spring looms near. Maybe you will pursue Winter Trout on a few year around waters or Salmon and Steelhead. A few hardy souls fish year around. But, a couple things, as my annual reminders, to consider.

~Did you organize your gear before you stuck it away? Did you put any part of it away wet or damaged? Did you clean up your fly lines and do a tune up on your reels? Is there anything you stuck away in a hurry, at the time, saying to yourself ‘I take care of it later…remember to take care of this later’. Did you?

~You considered learning to tie flies. Have you explored classes/lessons from a fly shop, community college, private lessons, fly fishing club etc. Maybe none of those options are available in your area. There are excellent on-line (S-B-S…Step By Step) tutorials on how to tie that are better than not trying it at all. Also, they are excellent to visit after you take person to person instructions. 

~If you do tie, now is the perfect time, while this past season’s fly selections/losses are fresh in your memory to inventory and make lists of what flies need to me replenished via tying (or purchased, if you don’t tie). This is best done while anticipating a timeline of when and where you will fish this coming year. What are the hatch sequences or subsurface life forms available in the waters you plan on fishing this coming year. Keep a plan pinned up and look at it, especially if you are a new tier so you don’t flit around tying this and that and never really tie all you needed.

This will help you in planning and enjoying your fishing outings and of course having plenty of ‘fishtails’ to expand upon for years to come. Now go check on that gear bag you filled with wet, stinky clothing and then zipped up last month.


Fly Tying: When Do You Tie?

A weighty question of when do you tie? I find, I seldom tie during the Summer months unless to replenish something I either lost a bunch of or I discover a pattern I forgot to tie up and now find the need for. I notice others tie often throughout the year. I also notice when I start to tie again during the Fall/Winter my tying skills have retreated and it takes a while to get into the swing of it all. Like riding a bike it comes right back. So, I guess my tying is more utilitarian and less for the joy of it all. Because I haven’t tied a fly in many months. I borrowed this shot from someone, but neglected to note the source when I downloaded it. Sorry about that. SwittersB


Fly Tying: Gary Borger’s Simple Wet

Fly tying, for the beginner, for all of us, can become ever more complicated in search of the perfect morsel. This pattern by Gary Borger is quite simple and I bet productive. It is open to color/size variations. A nice pattern to tie and fish for the beginner…for anyone actually.

Wet Fly~Emerger Pattern by Gary Borger


Tim Rolston’s Essential Fly Tying Techniques Now Downloadable!

Dear Gary


“ESSENTIAL FLY TYING TECHNIQUES eBOOK” is now available as a downloadable electronic format copy to anyone with an internet connection.

Fly tying book for ipad,Kindle etc


You will have to forgive me if this is the second newsletter you have received in short order, and for any obvious excitement that may perhaps transfer to the writing, but I am excited and I suppose that there is no point in hiding that.

You will no doubt we aware that I have been working hard at this electronic media stuff with electronic books available from Smashwords:

The first one “100 Fly Fishing Tips Tricks and Techniques” has been receiving great feedback from as far afield as Scandinavia. I was very pleased with that and it was part of an on-going process of experimentation and learning in how this stuff all works. You need to remember that I never had a single computer lesson in my life. Some of this comes with a steep and frequently frustrating learning curve.

More recently I was able to convert my previously published hard cover book “Learn to Fly-cast in a weekend” into a fully downloadable eBook and hopefully make that available to a far larger audience. It is difficult to get things noticed when you are sitting at the bottom of the African continent and finding publishers and distributors is a problem which is the main reason for going the electronic route. Although of course it also means that you the end user pay a lot less and that you can put these books on your Ipad or Kindle if you wish.

However now I think that I have achieved the greatest success to date “Essential Fly Tying Skills” a book of critical fly tying information, full fly patterns and essential techniques supported by text, graphics and video has now been converted to a downloadable format.

To achieve this, the videos have had to be provided as links instead of embedded in the book but other than that it is the same as the original CD based copy. What that means is that now this book is also available to a world-wide audience. Plus you can read it on a Kindle, an iPad, a PC, Sony reader or pretty much any other electronic reading device that you may wish to mention.  It offers the reader greater flexibility and opens up a far wider market, you can even “gift” a copy to someone so long as you have their email address.

Send eBooks as a gift:

As a new innovation from Smashwords you can now “Gift” a copy of a book to anyone around the world via email. Just follow the same links and look for the “Gift” option on the upper right-hand side of the page.

Not only do these books offer instant download but at a far lower price than traditional printed copy.

Of course it would be unfair to just tell you about something that I would like you to consider purchasing no matter how excited I may be so here is some free stuff for you as well.

FREE Video links:
Superglue Splice
Goose Biot Spun Dun
Cheater Soft Hackle
Tying the marabou Muddler Minnow  a You Tube Video clip , one of the patterns featured in EFTT


You can get yourself copies of

Build your own fly fishing lanyard  a fact sheet on building a most useful addition to your kit.
Who Packed your parachute. A short eBook on a new way of tying parachute flies.


“An AFTMA fairy tale” The latest amusing and hopefully thought provoking post on THE FISHING GENE blog..


What people have had to say about Essential Fly Tying Techniques:

Flyfishing Magazine South Africa: “WOW…Essential Fly Tying Techniques, was an absolute revelation…this platform is absolutely perfect for learning to tie flies. …anyone who has been deterred from trying their hand at tying flies because it seems too complicated should buy this ebook and start a whole new chapter in the fly fishing lives.

Tom Sutcliffe: The Spirit of Fly Fishing Website:
“This has to be the best way to learn to tie flies..engaging, ingenious and comprehensive..Embracing the three pillars of drawing, text and video..surely the first publication of its kind in the world.”

SwittersB & Flyfishing Blog: “I was struck by the comprehensiveness, quality and forethought…Very enjoyable and impressive”

Trout Fisherman Magazine UK: “Hits perfectly the sweet spot between brevity and comprehensiveness…allows cross reference between written word, detailed colour diagrams and video

Other eBooks from this author available for instant download onto any electronic reader:

Click on the image to download a copy of send one to a friend as a present.

Finally: Well done to Western Province who walked away with the gold medal in the recent SA Fly Fishing Championships, held in Natal. Brilliant work guys.

Unsubscribe I hope that you will find information and links in this newsletter of value and pass them on to others. If however you were sent this in error, please accept my apologies for any offense caused and click here tounsubscribe.

If this newsletter was passed on to you and you would like to be kept up to date with future developments please drop me a line and I can add you to our mailing list. Subscribe


Fly Tying & Fishing Your “Hmmm’s?”

Fly Tying, for me, often results in dozens of finished flies that just don’t quite come together as planned. Experiments (most often) off the beaten tying patterns path or just distractions and lack of focus have resulted in flies that maybe get tucked into a fly box (if lucky) or into a lumping of such uninspiring patterns into a sandwich bag, lidded box or such, and forgotten.

Maybe some of those Hmmm’s (you look at them in the vise or fly box and say a quizzical or exasperated ‘Hmmm?’) deserve an experiment on the water? Such is the below pictured pattern. A little ’emerger’ pattern that is a sloppy tie, but isn’t it worth a try? Frankly, if no one ever saw what we tied or we didn’t take pictures and display them for scrutiny, who would know their visual worth beyond you and the fish?

I have plenty more where this came from!


How To Tie Flies: 4-H How To Guide, 1911

Cover Art for 'Basic Fly Tying' by Ronald A. Howard Jr. (4-H Leader's Guide) 1911

 An Old How To Tie Flies for 4-H Leaders


Fly Tying & Fishing: Small Fly~Bigger Hook?

Would a wisp of a size 24 fly body on a size 18 hook fool a fish? Would a size 16 fly body on a size 14 hook to the trick? I wonder how many of you have experimented with a slight deviation from the norm of tying: match the size fly pattern to the size hook? Does a small fly pattern have to be on a small hook to fool the fish?

This 'Big Grey' by BooRod is an example of a smaller pattern tied to what I would say is a bigger hook.

I recall reading years ago in an old Steelheader’s gear book that attracting fish was, in the end, the attractor ‘positives’ outweighing the detractor ‘negatives’ in the fish’s assessment of the morsel. Does the bigger hook detract from that smaller attractive fly pattern you attached to it? Maybe worth an experiment or two. More hookups with smaller fly patterns? This may not be suitable for gin clear waters and scrutinizing fish, but at least worth a try in the more troubled waters where fish have little time to decide.

Even the simple Egg Pattern (Gummi Egg by JMKratt) is more often than not tied on a bigger hook.

And, Ed Herbst of South Africa sent this reminder to me re the Goddard Smut.

“Goddard’s ‘go-to’ flies for when trout are sipping tiny midges from the surface are his “Goddard Smut” (for the full fledged adult)”. How simple a design but effective. How often we complicate our tying.


Fly Tying’s Discerning Eye

The pleasure of fly tying obviously enhances our fishing experiences. A store bought fly, enticing a fish is fine. A fish taking your creation is the best. As you learn to tie you will follow the pictures in books, magazines, ezines, ebooks, or by looking at flies you have purchased, been given or studied in someone’s fly box or in a little cubicle in a fly shop. More detailed presentations of the fly’s recipe/pattern will provide steps on what to do with the materials. Video clips will show you. All this is the progression the sport has arrived at in the last few years.

Byron Haugh’s Caddis Wet Fly Pattern (photo Hans Weilenmann)

Eventually, as beginning fly tier, and going forward, you will be able to look at a fly and recognize a pattern’s materials, and as with the above fly (Byron’s Soft Hackle) recognize a pure fish catcher. Often, they are simple patterns to tie and simply perfect on the water. You will also, soon see the color variations or material substitution options for many patterns. The above pattern would easily lend itself to different abdomen/thorax colors while retaining the same partridge wing/peacock herl head. 

Speaking for myself, I periodically come across a tying technique and by looking at the fly, I cannot quite tell how they arrived at the look. Examples over the years that I have come across are the abdomen weaves, loop wings, split hackle stems wrapped for an abdomen (Breadcrust).

Truth be told, most of the complicated design techniques are not necessary to catch fish. They are there to expand your tying skills, or relieve your personal boredom with the same old ways. Innovation in synthetics add some zest to tying. Natural materials are often blended with synthetics. 

Where was I going with this? Oh! Keep it simple. Perfect the simple techniques for real. It will show if you don’t. Don’t speed off into more complicated patterns and techniques until you seriously perfect proportions and knowing why your are tying a particular pattern. What does it represent and how is it presented? Otherwise it is like students I have had. They didn’t fly fish. They tied because it was a craft endeavor, like quilting. 

But, if you want to thoroughly enjoy fly fishing, then take that Winter class for beginners or intermediates. If you have been tying, inventory those fly boxes. What do you need to re-stock?

As you commence your Winter tying, pay attention to the first few flies you turn out. Study the proportionment of the materials, the spacing, the durability of the fly. Make a target list on post it. Try not to wander off the list too far as you explore and experiment. Get back to those basic patterns that served you well this past year. Tie those first then experiment.


Fly Tying: Essentials + Innovations by Tim Rolston

Recently, I was privileged to receive a demo copy of Tim Rolston’s Essentials of Fly Tying Techniques E-Book. I was immediately struck by the comprehensive quality and forethought that has gone into Tim’s intended release. He obviously has thought through how to teach beyond the written and drawings. It dovetails together ever so nicely and in the end, you have this easy going acquisition of little gems (patterns and techniques). Very enjoyable and impressive. Tim’s investment of how to make a perfect tutorial tool is so visible. He put a lot of himself into this effort

                      CHEATER SOFT HACKLE WET FLY BY TIM ROLSTON                                    

(An example of Tim’s teaching style from his blog site Paracaddis)  

Order Essential Fly Tying Techniques E-Book via Inkwazi Fly Fishing         


No Tell Motel Fly Tying

On the road. Near good waters, but no time to fish. All the gear is with me. Trout, Steelhead…I have it all save my pontoon boat. Sitting on a beaten down mattress. No high end here. Those nights in $130.+ rooms are gone. Lower rates. Lower expectations. Not even a muffin in the morning. Near the railroad tracks. Near the ebb and flow of vacationing transients. 

Year ’round, I have some form of  fly tying materials with me. I usually forecast ahead what I would need to have with me for Spring, Summer or Fall tying. I load up my little containers with materials for whatever I have not tied enough of earlier (usually after that long Winter tying binge).

Now I know this is really only applicable to the guy primarily confined to a vehicle or checking luggage on a flight. I drive the I-5 Corridor between Portland and Medford. I stay in motels, not hotels. More often than not, my outdoor experience is having the room window open to better hear the sirens.

I rarely wet a line. But regardless, I do keep tying, imagining and planning. If you can tie in a No Tell Motel, with all the noise, door slamming, yelling and trains rumbling by, you can certainly tie just about anywhere else, except maybe in an upriver, afternoon wind.

When the economy turns, if ever, I will be able to stay at a place with that skinny bacon, instant scrambled eggs and biscuits and gravy. Geeze, those were the days.  

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July 2020

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