Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fly Tying Series #3 - San Juan Worm Variation

This is number 3 in the fly tying series.  Today, I'll share a variation of a San Juan Worm using soft hackle collar.

This fly is devastating on bluegill and bass.  I have also caught trout on this fly in the Smokey Mountains and in Yellowstone.  There are a couple little tricks I've learned for working with the ultra chenille.  I've picked some of these up from other tiers and some from trial and error.

Here is the finished fly.  Read on after the jump for some step by step instructions.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

After Christmas Tying, Avatar, Christmas Break

Here it is, a couple days after Christmas.  My son has had friends over nearly every day of Christmas break and they have been up playing XBox until all hours of the morning.  It's kind of a lazy time around the KYFLYFISHGUY household.

There won't be many opportunities to go fishing for about 3-4 months.  Which sounds like less time, 4 months or 120 days?  I'm not sure.

I have been busy at the tying bench.  I tied up a couple more flies for the fly tying series last night.  I tied a fly that I believe was invented by Hugh Hartsell called the Smokey Mountain Blackbird Soft Hackle.  I changed it just a little because I didn't want to copy Hughe's fly directly but I did want to give him full credit for inventing this fly even though what I tie is just a bit different.

I also tied some foam bodied topwater flies.  One is a version of the "gurgle pop" that you will find on Fly Anglers Online.  I haven't changed this one much but thought some of you all may like to see how I tie it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fly Tying Series #2 - Woolie Worm

This is installment number 2 of the fly tying series.  My goal is to bring a new fly each week through the winter.  Remember, the flies I tie are intended to be chewed upon by fish, drug through lakes and streams and sometimes hung in trees.  They are not intended to be seen in a shadow box or in a person's pretty fly collection.

This week's fly is the woolie worm.  There are about as many variations of this fly as there are people who fish it.  My woolie worms are fairly traditional in appearance, if not materials.

This fly can be tied weighted or unweighted.  Weight can be a bead head, chain eyes, lead wrap, pretty much anything that adds weight to the hook to get it deeper.  I fish this fly unweighted a lot and find the SLOW sink rate is irresistible to bluegill.

While I've caught crappie, bass, bluegill, a couple large brown trout and a chub or two, I see this as primarily a bluegill fly.  I've probably caught 20 bluegill to one of any other type of fish I've ever brought to hand with this fly.

I like it unweighted.  Cast to likely cover for bluegill - edges of moss banks, edges of weed beds, around boat docks, brush stick ups, or any other structure that will hold bluegill.  If the water is less than 5-6' deep,  I like to fish the unweighted version.  I just let the fly sink for 10 seconds or so and then bring it back using a very (did I mention VERY) slow retrieve.  If you don't get a strike in the first, oh, I don't know, let's say 10 feet of retrieve, bring it back and cast again..

The overwhelming majority of my strikes on this fly happen while it's sinking or within the first couple feet of the retrieve.

I don't think this fly really looks like anything specific they eat, but it kind of resembles a lot of things they eat.  It may look like a caterpillar, it may look like a leach, it may just be so darn ugly they want to get it out of the water.  Whatever the reason, there are some days the bluegill seem to fight among themselves to be the first in line to eat this fly.  Then there are other days when it does not work.

I frequently use this fly as an exploring pattern.  If I'm just poking around looking for where the fish are holding, this fly is one of the "go to" patterns.  Also, if I'm just in the mood for not working too hard and taking it easy.  Because this fly is fished so slowly, there's not a lot of casting or frantic activity involved.

The next time you have a warm sunny evening, a pond with a bunch of hungry bluegill and an hour or two on your hands, give this fly a try.  I think you'll be glad you did.

Streamer / wet fly hook size 6 -10
Thread - your choice for color, I usually use black.
Tail: red yarn (can be formed in a loop or just a length of yarn)
Body: Yarn or Chenille in your choice of colors
Hackle: I usually use a hen neck hackle, but pheasant, grouse, partridge, any soft hackle will work.
Weight - Optional, lead wire (or lead free wife), bead head, chain eyes, etc.

After a good thread base, tie in a short loop of red yarn. (this is optional, but I kind of like the little red tail).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Repost: American Angler Broken Fly Rods Article

I ran across a link to this article on Fly Anglers Online bulletin board.

Busted - Broken Fly Rods

It is an interesting read.

Merry Christmas to All.


Fly Tying Series #1

Over the winter, I'll post some information and instructions for some flies I tie.  Photos of the major steps and finished product will be included, and a little information about how I fish with it and what types of fish I catch.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind.  I tie flies for fishing not for showing in display cases.  If you're looking for flies to show in display cases, this is the wrong place.  I've found that fish don't care if it's 3 wraps or 5 wraps and they couldn't care less if the thread head is perfect.

I tie fast and some would say sloppy but, again, I've never found fish to be overly concerned about how neat a fly is.  The looks of a fly are more for bragging rights among other fly tiers.  I'd rather have my bragging rights be through the fish I catch.  Now, don't get me wrong, when I put my mind to it and really concentrate, I can tie some pretty flies and have done so (I may even post a blog or two with some pretty flies), but I find tying flies I don't mind hanging in a tree or getting stuck on a stump to be more rewarding than remorsing over a lost fly.

First for fly tying materials:
I like to hit the craft stores and other unlikely places to find interesting stuff to use in my fly tying.  The Christmas Decoration section is a great start.  Look at the stuff I got at a Dollar General store just this week:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Marital Advice for the Fly Fisherman

I'm going to try to get to the bench today and tie some flies.  Tomorrow, I'll write up something about what I'm tying, give some photographs of the steps and talk about what I use the flies for and how I fish them.  I'll be talking about the tinsel fly (minnow streamer) and maybe some poppers.

For today, I'm going to go off the deep end and talk about the subject at hand which is the result of a long history of email banter with one of my best friends.
Like many guys who spend a great deal of time fishing, I meet lots of people.  I have hundreds of friendly acquaintances.  However, the ones I consider true friends number exactly 5.  True friends are those with whom you feel comfortable sharing your deepest thoughts.  These are the people who will really laugh with you instead of at you.  These are also the people who will laugh "at" you when it's appropriate and can tell you the truth about yourself an still remain your friends.
Well, I have a friend (one of the 5) with whom I've had an ongoing email banter about marital advice.  He has a ton of "home projects" that his loving wife seems to believe are more important than fishing.  How many married guys share this same situation?  I know I do.  My friend's projects are such silly things as repairing the roof after a hurricane blew it away, replacing siding on his house the same hurricane blew off, and taking care of a flood in the basement of his house after a water line break. (how many guys are fortunate enough to have their own trout stream in the basement and his wife actually wanted it to be stopped. women!).
OK, because of the sage wisdom I've shared with him over the years, he suggested in a recent email that I offer the same sage advice to the folks who may accidentally stumble upon this blog while they were hopelessly lost in cyber space.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why I like fly fishing gear

Yes, I'm a GEAR JUNKIE and I'm not one bit ashamed to admit it.  Not only that, but I like really nice fishing equipment.  I have a Fishpond vest, a Winston and a couple Scott rods.  I also like Ross Reels and Orvis reels.

I'm not a total gear snob and own a number of rods from Cabelas and every TFO rod I've ever cast was excellent.  My Cabela's rods are also great casting and feeling rods.  My son has a custom built rod from Steve at Midwest Custom Fly Rods that was by no means expensive but is a wonderful casting rod.

So, why do I own so much equipment?  Well, it's because I'm a fly fisherman and one cannot have too many fly rods and reels.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thoughts on being a fishing bum.

OK, I'll admit it, my life's ambition is to be a fishing bum.  More specifically, a target shooting, guitar playing fishing bum.  Unfortunately, I have this little thing called wor... WHO.. wwwwoo. oh well, that thing I have to do 5 days a week so I can afford to do the things I love to do 2 days a week.  Somehow, that balance seems somewhat unfair, but that's the way it is.  With any luck, I have about 4 more years to go to that same place at the same time every day and leave at some unspecified time that ends up being whenever the wor.. wo. wwwoor. that word I have trouble saying, is finished.

Let's take a closer look at what a fishing bum really is.
Dictionary.com defines bum in the following way:

"1. a person who avoids work and sponges on others; loafer; idler.

2. a tramp, hobo, or derelict.

3. Informal. an enthusiast of a specific sport or recreational activity, esp. one who gives it priority over work, family life, etc.: a ski bum; a tennis bum.

4. Informal. an incompetent person. "

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blogging from a mobile device

Well, with the snow and cold there is little else to do than sit inside and think of things to do. I checked my weather report on my new ZuneHD only to see it is currently warmer in West Yellowstone than it is here in Kentucky. That just ain't right..

So, sitting here all depressed because I cannot fish and nothing better to do, I thought I would see how well I could blog from the ZuneHD.

It is slow typing on the little touch screen keyboard. Other than that, it works fairly well.

How does this tie to fishing? It really does not. The only tie I can see is I can blog, tweet and Facebook from a hotel while I am on fishing trips.

Also, this is just a cool toy. I like it as well as the iTouch. I like Zune software even better than iTunes.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Darn- snow.  The temperatures have been such that there is very little liquid water around these parts.  Even though I usually fish with floating fly lines, it is difficult for the fish to see a fly laying on top of ICE and even more difficult for them to break through the ice to attack my perfectly presented fly.  It may be March before I get to go fishing again.  What a sad state of affairs for a fishing bum.  I guess I'll have to tie a bunch of flies to replace the ones I left hanging in trees last summer, read about other people fishing, organize my photographs into albums and just reminisce about my fishing adventures of 2009 while dreaming about yet to be had adventures of 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The value of a good fishing hat - CAUTION Shocking Photo Below

A good fishing hat should:
1) cover your head
2) protect you from the sun
3) be just about as ugly as possible
4) never be washed
5) a really good one will cover the fisherman's face so others don't have to look at him.
6) not be in bright fish scaring colors (not that fish care about fashion but I don't really want to see your hot pink hat while I'm out fishing)
7) be cheap enough that when (yes, I did say when) you step in water over your head, or a big gust of wind comes along, you won't be too upset about watching it go floating down the stream.

First Blog Post

Over the past couple years, I've been reading so much about invasive species such as didymo, Whirling Disease, and New Zealand Mud Snails, and others that one has to wonder how they got here and how they are really spreading. Several areas have banned felt wading boots as a way to stop the spread. On the US Government website (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/didymo.shtml) it says it's been around in Canada since the late 1800s but it didn't really start causing problems until the 1990's. What caused something that has been around for so long to all of a sudden start causing problems? I don't know and it seems none of the experts do either.

Here is a pretty good video by Fish & Game New Zealand:

With so many manufacturers starting to shy away from felt soles and so many streams starting to ban their use, I guess the next time I buy wading boots, I'll have to go with the new rubber soled ones. The problem is the reports I've read show them as being "almost" as good as the felt soled ones.

Here's a pretty decent article from Mid Current discussing the differences in performance rubber vs. felt:
The Truth about Feltless Soles

Here is one from Field & Stream:
Get Studs for Rubber Soles

Here is an editorial piece from the Idaho Statesman
Is it time to get rubber soles?

This is from Ian Rutler's Blog (Ian is a guide I've fished with in the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee).
Sticky Rubber vs. Felt

In the end, I like the idea of not being the guy who spreads nasty stuff in our rivers, but I don't much like the idea of being the guy who gets his favorite fishing hat washed every time he goes out, nor am I much in favor of chasing my had down stream or taking an unscheduled cold water bath. I mean, as a real fisherman, I take a bath once a month if I need it or not so why would I go falling in a cold river just to clean behind my ears?

I'd really like to give the rubber soled boots a try before "jumping in" (boo, couldn't help myself) and buying a pair.