Posts Tagged ‘Winona Fly Factory


Winona Fly Factory Up and Running…………..

Justin at Winona Fly Factory took a break. He is back now and sharing his explorations, which seriously help one learn along the way. Justin shares a link for the Minnesota Trout Forum, which has helped hone his skills and provided solutions to those ‘why’s that?’ questions we encounter. There is a lot of great entomological information and, of course, fly tying in Winona Fly Factory. Go back into the archives and discover the gems.


SwittersB & Fly Fishing


Winona Fly Factory Account Suspended

Awhile back, I stopped by the Winona Fly Factory blog. There was a message from JC that he was taking a break for a bit…a ‘hiatus’. I checked back this morning to see the entire blog account has been suspended. This is deeply saddening. 

I came upon this sign last week. I took a picture of it. It was on a wall in a cabin. It seemed hopeful of making it through a struggle, a journey.

Without knowing the circumstances, I do want to say that Justin’s work at Winona Fly Factory was some of the best out there. His site was innovative, real and inspiring. Sometimes life dishes out such overwhelming, mind/heart crushing events, that we come to a screeching halt to survive…to hunker down, to endure, to grieve, to process, to slowly rebuild, to re-emerge. I do wish the very best to that inspiring young man. 


The Mixed Bag of Motivation Awaits……………………….

A gallimaufry, an aggregate, the odds and ends, alphabet soup, a smörgåsbord, the olla podrida, a selection:

       Mousing Time @ Winona Fly Factory                A Winter’s Anticipation in the Box @ Planet Trout

              The Messy Task of Dying Quills & Using Them @ Will Fish For Work     

          The Haddis Catch and Late Winter Steelhead                 Limp Cobra is Ready! to Escape


NW Fly Tying Expo 2012: A Few Notables Amongst Many

The show was well attended early and there was a positive buzz in the pavilion. Great vendors, great tiers and exhibitions. A few notable discoveries that I enjoyed as I milled about the event:

Jason and Julie Zicha of Pocatello, Idaho brought their wares to the show to display Jason’s fine work of custom made bamboo and graphite fly rods. The work was exceptional and Jason and Julie were very pleasant to visit with.

Jason Zicha visiting with a show attendee. Below him is a setup to show how he works on a bamboo rod and some of the finished elements of the effort.

I enjoyed the display of finished graphite and bamboo rods, reels and lines. You can find more about Jason’s work at Fall River Fly Rods and at Outdoor Blogger Network. I would also like to point the compassionate way toward a cause Julie is most poignantly involved in Ryan’s Rainbow Connection. As I read it this morning, I was profoundly struck by their loss and the dignity of Julie and Jason Zicha.

Beautifully crafted bamboo rods by Jason Zicha. Forgive my fuzzy picture. The reel seats alone give you and indication of the rod's beauty.


Then there was the pleasant encounter with the ever humble, humorous Charlie Schillinsky, who was tying a nice little Gorilla Glue Ant (my name). The use of the glue and the simple followup pattern have me excited to try out this technique on ants, beetles and anything that floats for fish.

Here Charlie adds a dab of water to the foil and then a dab of Gorilla Glue to the water. A bodkin stirs the mix and eventually a white paste like substance brews. The bodkin is used to place a dab on the hook to create a abdomen and then a separate thorax is created. The hook is spun slowly to let the glue ball form into a nicely shaped ball. Be careful not to smoosh the balls together or you will be tying a beetle of some sort. Carefully take the hook from the vise and set the hook where it can dry for at least 10+ minutes. A piece of closed cell foam or something similar that keeps the balls high and untouched will help. Don't use a hair dryer to accelerate the drying process. Eventually the little white body parts are hardened and tight to the hook shank. Then they can be colored with a permanent marker. From there the tying process is pretty straight forward for say a tuft of bright yarn for an indicator and a turn or two of hackle in the waist of the ant.

Charlie's Gorilla Glue Ants


 And, then on the way out the door, a bit too late this year, I noticed John Matthews hand painting a fly pattern onto the quarter panel of a truck. This maybe something I have to explore more next year. I am glad the sun was out for John. He hand paints designs and also has available decals and stencils.

The work of John Matthews as he applies, by hand, a fly pattern


John Matthews' Tailgate Pallet of sorts


Fly Tying: Mono Loops & 2 Flies

While perusing the excellent tying of John Newbury, I noticed his Hazel’s Cased Caddis and the atypical addition of a mono loop at the bend of the hook. Looking further at this tying technique for multiple fly set ups, I came up with a couple other uses for the mono loop (Hoppicator Loops at Winona Fly Factory) and the addition of a stiff mono loop at the rear of the fly to keep the trailing rabbit fur from fouling around the hook bend. These three options are interesting presentation options for the fly fisher.

Hazel Cased Caddis by John Newbury

Hoppicator @ Winona Fly Factory

Make sure to watch the video linked at Winona of how to rig the two loop setup. I watched this last year and for some reason didn’t grasp the method. Today, when I watched it again, it made sense. Newbury’s pattern is an option in lieu of tying the second fly to the bend. Three options I have seen and never used. They all have merit and expand your presentation arsenal?


Fly Fishing: Changing Flies…..When? Why?

Frequently changing flies is the sign of what? Impatience? A thought out progression of presenting  patterns? Giving up on ‘the’ recommended pattern(s) for that stretch of water? You paid $1.75 + for that little gem, why didn’t it work?

On  lakes, I change often. That rod is under my left arm/elbow every 10 minutes or so. As I search with trusted searching patterns, if  they don’t soon produce, snip, new pattern. I seem to have more faith in searching patterns that fit the standard stillwater food groups. I have an arsenal and I quickly change through it to find the connection. I feel more intuitive on a lake. Some would say it is easier; just find the cruising fish. I think it is presentation, manipulation through the horizontal/vertical pathways.

On rivers, I am more exacting. I study more. I plan upon what insects are in a certain drainage and which stages of the insect’s life are worth tying and presenting. If an insect emerges from the nymphal exo-skeleton well below the surface then in the surface film emerger/stillborn patterns are a waste of tying time. Better to tie wet, soft hackle, flymph patterns that replicate the emerging mayfly well below the surface, but swimming toward the top.

Stream habitat is more complicated than stillwater habitat re trout and their food sources (in my mind). There are often more options on the stream. If the clinger nymph rarely dislodges from the substrate and ‘drifts’, then stocky little nymphs are less useful. I study bottom to top. And, for some fly fishers it is the other way around: Rivers are an open book and lakes are featureless and boring.

SwittersB's Trout Chasing Nymph Tat

Research, then think before just tying on the ubiquitous Hare’s Ear Nymph or Adams Dry Fly and wasting a hundred casts, as the river pulses with life everywhere except on the end of your line.  And, again: location, the pattern, then the perfect manipulation/presentation. Random searching patterns are ok, for awhile. But, as you come up empty outing after outing, you will soon decide to learn more (insects, other fish food) about the specific waters you fish. Or, you might develop your own data through in the field observations. Check out a perfect example of this at Winona Fly Factory


Fly Tying: WFF Hairball

Justin Carroll @ Winona Fly Factory turns out yet another innovative, enticing pattern. You have to love Bead Head Pupa patterns. Nice tutorial/SBS piece here on the WFF Hairball. Cat fur is not a bad material, if they enjoy that comb raking through their sides and back… purr away kitty.


WFF Hairball by Justin Carroll at Winona Fly Factory




X-Factor Nymph (Cool Pattern)

X-Factor Nymph tied by the W.F.F.

X-Factor by Jean Paul Lipton and Highlighted at Winona Fly Factory

This is a very attractive nymph and the point up configuration is of obvious advantage. I like this!!  Justin over at the ever better Winona Fly Factory discovered the pattern at Roughfisher Fly Fishing and promptly went out and proved its worthiness. The guys along the Northern front are showing nice innovations.


Justin Carroll (looking, really looking; then learning)

Justin Carroll, Founder Winona Fly Factory

“I decided a while ago that this is what fishing is to me. It is hunting. To catch a trout one must be smart, quiet, prepared and have a willingness to travel into the wild.”

Yes, I know there are, no doubt, many fly fishers out there chasing many species of fish around the world that exhibit the pioneer spirit. But, out of the gazillion sites I study and learn from, I can think of few that show the unadulterated, genuine passion of Justin Carroll

We mostly are borrowers, takers of information and then trying it out, and if generous, sharing it back for others to learn from. We all do this. But, we don’t all go out and explore the stream side, to observe, specifically identify, catalogue, document, and oh yes, fish. You know Haefle and  Hughes did/do it. Trout Nut obviously does it.

minn1But, with no slight intended toward Justin, his amateur status makes him all the more interesting. You actually sense his amazement and excitement as he looks for big fish, small fish and insects. I go to a stream and look for fish rising. I look for insects and can make a general mayfly or caddis designation, but that is pretty much it (I am much better with the simpler lake’s environment). But, I do not really look, question and later understand like Justin is doing. Does that make sense? Study his blog from its inception, then watch the development of style, images, knowledge…all on his home waters…I suspect not even on fabled waters…and see how much he has learned. Keep track of this blog. You will see it saved at some very worthy sites/blogs. There is a reason for that..Justin Carroll of Winona, Minnesota.     


Winona Swimming Pheasant Tail Nymph

One of the things I like about WinonaFlyFactory is that Justin is exploring and presenting his findings and in the process he comes up with his own creations. In doing so, he often makes you think beyond the standard. Tim at Planet Trout does much the same. I recognize this in SE Euro sites as well. It makes me consider how often we regurgitate the formula, because much of it works, but we can look past the innovations born from reinventing the wheel…

Winona Pheasant Tail Nymph

Winona Swimming Pheasant Tail Nymph

 A little experimentation, a Mustad hook (discontinued), a little visualization. I like the scraggily, impressionistic tie. I am all about impressionistic.  

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