Every once in a while I’ll be fishing and open my fly box for a fly to try next. When I fished the River Usk a few weeks I had just one such moment. I may have mentioned the fly and said I would write about it, here is a short post on the fly with no name. I am convinced that it is a fly that I came up with what I had on the bench and with early season fishing in mind.
What’s it face
As you may notice the fly is getting called something different each time so a name would be welcome.
The silk is primrose coloured and tied on a size 12. The tail looks to be taken from a bronze mallard feather which was possibly lying on the bend and not very well coloured. The body is hares body fur from the body and ribbed with oval gold tinsel from a craft store. The hackle is brown partridge. As with all my trout flies, the head is sealed with melted bees wax.
I had success fishing with the classic across and down stream wet fly swing although I am suspecting a bit of floatant would enable the fly to be fished as a dry fly upstream.
Last weekend saw me pay my first visit to Ireland in some time, to long in fact. Its a country that I love and for some reason simply haven’t made the trip. Maybe its trips else where or simply put, not wanting to use Ryan air and their rip off charges. This trip however, found me not just having a excellent time but researching for a trip next year.
The seeds for the trip were set at the end of the BFFI last February when I was asked by Stevie to email him about tying at the Irish Fly Fair in Galway. I did so and got things sorted although I learnt over the weekend that maybe staying in nearby b&b would be a better idea. Not only because its half the price but also there is a kettle in the room. The Galway Bay Hotel was the venue and also where I spent a couple of nights. Really nice place and excellent service but expensive.
The show itself was fantastic with a lot interaction between the people coming in and the tyers themselves. The tyers also exchanged ideas for stuff they were working on. Discussions with between myself, other tyers and people just looking resulted in offers of help with a trip to lough Sheelin and Corrib next year and also a few suggestions for flies including adding a touch of pink to the spent gnat that I kept having to tie to keep the box restocked.
The show was well set out with lots of goodies to buy, you get better choice at shows and are able to check capes and other natural materials for quality which you cann’t do with mail order and some fly stores (see a previous post). The tyers had a high standard of flies on display, including the Sponge Bob fly I saw a couple of years ago. These displays are good place for ideas and a boost for tying new stuff.
The area I was tying was the conservatory (glorified green house) over looking Galway Bay, magic! The natural light was fantasic for tying but I doubt I’ll be tying tying in my greenhouse because it will be to cold and damp but the idea was planted.
Hopefully they’ll have me back.
After my recent experiences over the past year I feel compelled to write a piece on a subject that is important to tyers, namely the quality of the materials being used. The issue really came to me while I was tying for my recent trip to Cape Cod. What concerns me is that it isn’t restricted to just one company but many.
I started to get really annoyed with the quality of the marabou and hackles last year but this year it seems worst and now the problem seems getting worst. I bought materials from a well known mail order supplier (sportfish, materials from this company varied in quality but really good to not fit for purpose). I also got stuff from lesser known suppliers but always the quality varied. What happened to quality control? Some of the saddle feathers were so bad they looked like feather duster rejects, I will most likely start using feather dusters instead. One supplier had the marabou I wanted (blood marabou) but roughly 80% was not fit for use. Materials from Veniards seems to be varied in quality or grading, blood marabou for example seems to be more like standard marabou but the end result on the fly was nice despite the thick stem of the feather.
The quality issue can also be applied to other areas. For example, beads seem to have no set standard even the sizes seem to vary with a 2mm bead being slightly different in size from one company to the next. The holes on the beads also seem to be largely substandard with the holes very often bigger than the hook eye its supposed to sit behind so that it falls off the front of the fly.
So what of the future and how can we fix this. I don’t see much changing unless tyers start rejecting the rubbish and leaving it with the supplier. It will be best to tell the supplier that the material is not good enough for use apart from having a jolly good fire. I seem to finding my natural materials from other sources instead of fly shops/ mailorder . In fact I am now no longer going to buy natural material from mail order dealers. Instead I will be going to the shows and shifting through the feathers and fur and picking out what I want instead of taking my chances.
I can now say, with great pleasure, that after a to long I will be returning to Ireland that I enjoyed for so long a few years ago. I am starting by going to and tying at the Irishflyfair. The dates are 12th and 13th November 2016. I will be sharing a tying station which means that I will able to have a look around the show and make contacts for tying and future fishing trips. I hope show some flies that didn’t appear at the BFFI and plan to have a better display (wine corks just don’t do things justice). Hopefully I will make enough contacts to enable me to return next year to fish Loughs Sheelin and Corrib.
The website is Irishflyfair.com
In preparation of any future trip to Cape Cod for the Stripped Bass I felt that some baitfish that I have posted about before needed to be updated both in size and appearance. By that I mean they had something lacking, flash or the way that it was included within the hair itself. The congo flash mixes went some way towards this but many colours that I wanted along with the affect weren’t quite there or missing this was largely because the colours that I had were solid colours. The answer lay in the baitfish blends, a mix of colours but no flash. I found that this was easy to mix in. This is done in a very similar way to the Farrar blends as well as the dubbing hand mixing technique.
So I started playing around with various ideas and got the results that I was looking for. What I got was a fly with the perfect flash that I like, it can also be varied depending on how much flash that you use. It also occurred to me that out of the Congo blends available, there wasn’t really a tan one that I really liked. So I played some more by blending the Congo mixes myself to get the coloration that I wanted. The whole idea is that you take the colours that you want from the skeins of solid colour, not equal amounts from each but what you want to achieve the final result and while you ‘mix’ the hair you also add a flash material that compliments the colour that you want. The variations are limitless so either go mad and tie lots and lots and be over run with baitfish or concentrate on the colours found in the wild.
A selection of baitfish
What is missing from the flies is a tail. I may go the extra mile and find a way to do this but these flies look just fine for fishing.
Last weekend saw me at the British Fly Fair International at the Shropshire show ground and I wasn’t just looking. A few months ago I was invited to sit on tyers row and it gave me something to look forward to but I was a bit nervous to start. Very quickly I felt at ease and found that it was a lot of fun and soon got into the swing of this. I learnt a lot having never tied at one of these events before, first thing is that I need to improve my display, corks with flies stuck in are out and I need to find something else. Possibly a nice piece of tree branch that is polished. The flies I had on show were a had alot of interest, I may have to get more done to add variety as well as few more for sale. I also picked up a few ideas from others, the hi float fibre in particular got a lot of interest, including Marc Petitjean who showed me a neat little needle fly when he invited me over to his vice.
Being a new comer to the tyers row scene I was made to feel welcome, particularly by the guys in the hotel whom I met Friday night gathered around their vices in the bar. It wasn’t very hard to find other tyers staying in the same location.
I also picked up some hooks from the partridge stand to try (I was sat opposite and was very tempted), including some really big hooks for the stripers and long shank saltwater hooks to hopefully replace the mustard which lot seem to be a pain to get in this country. The opportunity to get a decent blue dun cape also presented itself and a variant at that. Jon Strand , a new Norwegian friend also showed me some rabbit feet that are product of food production which have a very similar make up to snow site rabbit, so I bought some.
I did get a chance to have a look around what the other tyers were up to. I noticed that there was a lot of different styles this year with hand held tying, huge pike flies, tiny little midges and a few realistics. A large tarantula caught my eye, something to aspire to. A couple of friends turned up and it was nice to them. Keith Passant was there with Casting for Recovery which I support and most get a few flies to.
After the show, while I was waiting for the bus back to the hotel to get the car I spoke to someone about the Irish fly show and he suggested that if I was interested to email him, done!
Will I be back? To right (and if they have me back).
The title may be confusing but it is the name of the two main dubbings that I am currently playing with for my winter grayling nymphs. Both are available from fly tyers dungeon, the K. R. A. P. dubbing was originally available only in one basic colour and is the product of the scrappy left overs after other dubbings have been processed and bagged up hence its name. What they have now done is taken that and added a dominant colour to create a set of colours that offer the tyer the opportunity to tie a more versatile range of flies. This dubbing can be used for dries as well as nymphs and when wet, the body of the fly has a kind of translucent effect with all the colours from the blend showing through. I have tied set of shrimps with a bright spot in the centre and a shell back which has so far proved effective. More testing next week!
The sunburst is relatively new and has been in development over the past year or so with the latest colours arriving earlier this year after the initial test dying. Both the test set and the current produce really nice flies of what appears a glow when wet. But, the colours seem to be a little solid, so a little experimentation with blending has produced flies with a magical halo with all the colours shining through. More colours have been added since my initial set arrived and these have arrived today. I have a few ideas concerning blending for this dubbing including a trial that involves gold crystal twisted tinsel.
The flies shown above are just a tip of the ice burg and I plan to try others, blends of one type of dubbing and others that are a combination.