Improving Fly Tying Efficiency  

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By Bob Reece

Many beginner and novice tiers that I’ve talked to equate improved efficiency at the vise with rushing through the tying process. While applying the techniques below can speed up pattern creation, that result is not their sole purpose. The main focus of these tips is to help tiers get the most out of whatever amount of time they do spend behind the vise.

Material Prep Work

Some patterns require very little in terms of prepping materials. Others, however, involve shaping foam bodies, knotting rubber legs, cutting wing cases or beading hooks. For these flies it is highly beneficial to prepare the materials in bulk before you start tying. When I tie foam terrestrials, I cut all of my foam bodies and the knot rubber legs that I might need. With bead head nymphs, I bead all hooks that I’ll be using as well as cutting any strips of material that I’ll be using for wing cases. If all of your materials are fully prepped before you start tying, you’ll be able to create a larger number of flies in a shorter amount of time. Prepping your materials in mass also increases the consistency and subsequent quality of the bugs that you’ll be offering up to your favorite fish.

Hook/Bead Storage

Hooks and beads can be two of the hardest materials to handle and keep track of on the surface of a tying table. Hooks of all sizes can easily be brushed under other materials or into the abyss of carpet fibers that sit below some of our tying platforms. Beads are also shifty and hard to handle once they leave the confines of their plastic packaging. To prevent these happenings, I store all of my beads and hooks in plastic compartmented organizers like the one in the picture above. The clip down lids of these containers ensure that nothing escapes. Each compartment also has a curved bottom which makes it easy to retrieve the desired items. The containers that I use can be purchased in the sewing section of Walmart for less than two dollars apiece.

Pattern Material Kits

How materials are stored matters in terms of efficiency. I use plastic organizers, like the one pictured above, to create material kits for all of the patterns that I tie. Always knowing where specific ingredients are saves a tier the time of searching though bins, drawers and baskets. This type of setup also

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Think Twice About Your Tippet Size

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HAVE YOU EVER MADE THE MISTAKE OF CUTTING OFF YOUR DRY FLY OR NYMPH RIG AND QUICKLY TYING ON A STREAMER TO TARGET A BIG FISH? 

You know, when your too lazy or in a hurry to take the time to upsize to the appropriate tippet size generally called for with streamers. I know I have, and it’s resulted in breaking off a big fish on more than one occasion. Big brown trout particularly have razor sharp teeth like a high quality serrated knife. I’ve seen a brown trout literally cut a trout in two after one quick bite. Their teeth ain’t no joke man. If you’re streamer fishing, use fluorocarbon tippet. It’s much better than monofilament for abrasion resistance. Lastly, don’t be shy to go big on your tippet size at first. It could make the difference between you landing or losing that trophy of a lifetime. You can always down size your tippet if you think your not getting bites because the fish are seeing the line.

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Western Fly Guide for Eastern Anglers

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By Kent Klewein

ARE YOU SITTING AT THE VISE DREAMING OF THAT BIG TRIP OUT WEST THIS SUMMER?

I get asked all the time by eastern fly anglers heading out west for the first time, what fly patterns they should stock up on before they leave. What percentage of dry flies to wet flies they should pack, what sizes, and should they pack streamers? The questions go on and on. I get most of the email inquiries from eastern anglers that are fixing to make their summer trip out west during the peak of the terrestrial season. For those that know me, you know that I’m the type of fly fisherman that carries gear for every situation on the water at all times, for the simply fact that I can’t stand being under prepared on the water. Here’s the truth though, if I’m making a trip out west during the terrestrial season, I usually lighten my load significantly and I only carrying the fly patterns that I think I’ll be fishing the most. If I’m going to be making a trip WY, MT, ID or CO I’m going to pack less nymphs, more dry flies and streamers. Colorado is a little more tricky, in which nymphs can play a larger roll than the other western states I mentioned, but if you travel their during the peak terrestrial season, my packing suggestions should work just fine.

Why do I lighten my load this time of year, you ask? Because the trout generally are easy to convince to rise to the surface and take a dry fly this time of year, and when they don’t want to rise to the surface, they almost always will devour a streamer. It’s not rocket science, the fish are optimistically looking up since a large portion of their food is found floating on or close to the surface during the summer months.

Let’s say I’m traveling to Jackson, WY in August, which is probably the most popular requested area out west that I receive questions about. Below are the fly patterns I will stock up on.

Dry Fly Box (Go Big, Many of these patterns suck up real estate)

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Know Your Lines

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John Byron, AKA The Bonefish Beginner

“Lines are very difficult to learn.”- Benedict Cumberbatch

“It’s nice when someone knows their lines.”- Ed Norton

“Because I don’t know my lines, I really don’t know what I’m doing.”- Christopher Walken

Who knew these guys fished the flats? 

WELL OKAY, MAYBE THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. BUT IF THE TOPIC WERE SALTWATER FLY FISHING, THEY’D BE SAYING SOMETHING VERY WISE.

The starting point, the big decision point in selecting gear for the salt chuck is the size category of the outfit. Eleven- or twelve weights for tarpon and GTs. Nine or ten for permit. Seven-weight through nine for bonefish — maybe even a six-weight if it’s super calm or you want to show off. 

And then, having selected the perfect flyrod in the most desirable weight and a truly magnificent reel to complement it, typically the last step is to buy some random flyline the same size as the number on the rod butt. Apply keen selection criteria like it’s cheap or I like the color or the sales guy talked me into it and you’re ready to go.

Right? 

Wrong.

YES, ROD AND REEL ARE SIGNIFICANT, BUT I’VE COME TO BELIEVE THAT THE RIGHT FLYLINE IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT: 

Short shots at bonefish, heavy winds, big flies for big fish? You want a line that’s got its weight up front, one that loads the rod quickly and punches the fly out there. A Rio Quickshooter or Airflo Tropical Punch. 
Spooky spooky fish, long casts, calm winds? You want a line that will carry the cast and not collapse on you when you’re working beyond the punch point of those front-loaded lines. Average/moderate/medium lines from Scientific Angler or Orvis or any of the rest of reputable line makers who offer special lines for the salt. 
For all lines — the front-end-loaders, the lighter-longer classic fly lines, and everything in between — the ultimate description lies in the line profile, worth studying and understanding for all the lines you might buy. 

Fishing the tropics, you need a tropical line, one with enough stiffness that it’s not an overcooked noodle in the sunshine. Stripers and albies? A cold-water line with enough flexibility to be castable even when it’s downright chilly. 
Check the line coating too. Some lines sing going through the guides and you’ll either like that or not. Some cast farther for being super slick. Some just feel better than others. What matters is what suits you.
Colors too: can you see the line on the water? White and light blue are hi-viz. International orange even more so. But will it spook the fish? That’s one more thing to decide. 
And then there’s the question of

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3 Counterintuitive things tenkara has shown me

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By Daniel Galhardo

Tenkara has taught and old dog some new tricks.

Since I started learning tenkara, it’s become obvious to me, that regardless of how intuitive the method is to the novice fly angler, some parts of tenkara are likely counterintuitive to the experienced fly angler.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS ABOUT THAT ARE LIKELY COUNTERINTUITIVE ABOUT TENKARA TO THE EXPERIENCED FLY ANGLER:

A long rod is an asset in small streams

Small streams call for short rods. It makes sense right? Small mountain streams have always been my preferred playgrounds. Prior to my discovery of tenkara, my favorite rod was a soft action 7 ½ ft rod. It cast beautifully, I felt the force of the line loading it, and I felt I could maneuver it anywhere I wanted. But, that short rod probably contributed to my falling in love with tenkara. In streams we have this thing called drag. When line lays on the water, currents pick it up and drags the line downstream faster than the fly. Then, you have to mend. And, with that beautiful 7 ½ ft rod I had to mend…a lot. It was hard to achieve a good drift when fishing moving water. 
Like anyone else, I was absolutely intimidated by the idea of using a 12ft rod in those waters. That’s almost 5ft longer! That’s my whole wife’s worth of extra length. But, guess what, it worked. On my very first cast it was obvious that the dynamics caused by this new trigonometry had changed. I could fish pools on the other side of streams I liked without any mending. I certainly did not expect that. Nowadays you’ll find me using a 14ft 7inch long rod on my local Boulder Creek, a mountain stream that is about 25ft wide in most sections and a good amount of evergreens on its shores.

Let the rod bend!

It’s common knowledge: your fly rod is only designed to arc so much before it breaks, and to prevent breakages you should not have the rod pointed up with a deep bend on it. One is usually taught to keep a relatively low angle between the rod and the fish, lest it break. Yet, with tenkara there is no reel to allow a fish to take line. If your rod is at a low angle

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Beginner Series: Fly Lines, Leaders, and Tippet

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By Justin Pickett

So you’ve decided to dive into the world of fly fishing and need to outfit your new rod and reel purchase with a fly line, leaders and spools of tippet.

Does it matter what line you get? And what about leaders? What the hell is tippet?! These are all typical questions that the beginning angler will have, so don’t worry. We’re going to work on flattening that learning curve!

Fly Lines

To a beginner, trying to learn about all the little intricacies of fly line tapers is about like trying to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. The good news is that you don’t need to get too caught up in tapers and grain weights to catch fish. Learning about the various aspects of fly lines will certainly help you down the road, however we’re going to focus mainly on weight-forward, floating lines. Today’s fly rods are typically faster than those made even ten years ago, almost requiring a more compact, heavier line to properly load the rod. Some “beginner” lines are even manufactured a half weight heavier to help load today’s faster rods. As a beginner, a weight-forward line will better suit your casting needs with the more popular five weights found in fly shops, and a floating line will enable you to cover a large majority of fishing scenarios. All of the fly lines listed below are inexpensive and are great all-purpose fly lines whether you’re slinging parachute adams or foam poppers.

Airflow Super Dri

Orvis Clearwater WF

Scientific Anglers AirCel Trout

Rio Mainstream WF Trout

Leaders and Tippet

Leaders and tippet are other items that you will need in order to get going and hook up with that first fish. You’ll hear of many anglers that tie their own leaders and have their preferred recipes. While you may one day tie up your own leaders created from your own secret formula, for now, keep it simple. I would say

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So You Wanna Run Down the Man?

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Roosterfish(pez gallo) in my opinion, are by far one the hardest fighting and elusive fish that can be pursued with a fly rod.

Most of you by now have seen some type of video where anglers are cruising down the beach in a side-by-side or quad, sprinting along pristine desolate beaches to make a hail Mary cast at a rooster 15 feet off the surf and then sipping margaritas in the evening celebrating their victory of the day. Well, you know the saying ‘that only happens in the movies’…although it’s not 100% true in this case, however you’re damn lucky if you head down to Baja and land one without preparing for this pursuit. Just to be clear, I’m not claiming to be the authority on how to catch roosters. My intention is to share what I’ve learned in my experiences down on the east cape of Mexico chasing them.

Background

To give you some background on how this obsession began, it wasn’t through any type of movie or social media pics of grandes (roosters 40lbs+) but actually through something I witnessed with my own two eyes. Back in May of 2012, my girlfriend and I had just broken up; so what better way to move on than a boys fishing trip to Cabo? With two of my more salt-worthy amigos on board, getting their passports stamped south of the border, coupled with the opportunity to land marlin, dorado, tuna, etc…it was game on. Since I was the one in charge of logistics I chose to stay just north of Cabo San Lucas in San Jose del Cabo so that we had fewer distractions from sleep at night, but was there if we “needed” it. Fishing with the Gordo Banks fleet, on our second day while at the dock one of the captains mentioned there were lots of roosters on the beach. Even though all of us had billfish on our cloudy sleep-deprived brains, we decided, “why not?” We trolled for them about 50ft off the beach using cabillito and landed a good number among the three of us. But on one our passes while trolling, I noticed something on the beach after the wave retracted. It was probably close to a 30lb rooster laying on the sand. For a second I wondered, was it dead?? And then the next wave came in and the mystery was solved as I saw four to five different sets of rooster combs going ballistic chasing baitfish onto the beach. And then again, one guy didn’t make the last call and was stuck waiting for the next wave to take him back to the lion’s den. I had never seen any fish exhibit that type of aggression, and at that point I remember thinking, “man, I bet they are fun as hell on a fly rod.”

In late spring, 2014, with a couple additional trips back to southern Baja under my belt, I decided that I needed more time to dedicate chasing roosters. So I moved down to Los Barriles, a small town about 70 miles north of San Jose Del Cabo, located smack in the middle of rooster alley for 5 months. Now that might raise some questions. I work remotely so as long as I have a stable internet connection with decent speeds, I’m good to go. With my quad that I had purchased back in San Diego rigged with rod holders and baskets for ample storage I was ready to tangle with some of those grandes on my 10wt, or so I thought.

Lessons Learned & Words of Advice

Logistics
Travel — Getting to the East Cape of Mexico is pretty straightforward and can be fairly inexpensive depending on where you are flying from. If you’re really adventurous, the drive through the Baja peninsula is something I’d recommend doing at least once in your life. From San Diego, it’s just about 1600 miles zig-zagging back and forth from coast to coast. Just make sure you’ve got a reliable car or at least one that has a working fuel gauge — unlike us. Blinkers are also a good thing to have, as well. If you do chose to fly, getting from the airport to basecamp does not require you to rent a car, in fact I’d say it really isn’t needed as the only required mode of transportation has to be able to drive on the beach (do not think renting a jeep will work). There’s a shuttle (EcoTours) that runs from SJD airport right into the town of Los Barriles that has AC and it’s usually a good time.
Base Camp — Establishing a base camp on the East Cape

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Shooting Line In The Backcast Is A Skill Every Fly Angler Needs

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THERE ARE A LOT OF MOVING PARTS IN A FLY CAST.

There’s a lot of talk about the double haul and the tight loop, and there should be, they are hugely important skills that every angler should practice. It always surprises me, however, how many experienced anglers can’t, or don’t, shoot line in their backcast. I’m also surprised I don’t hear more about it.

I consider this simple technique essential for every type of fly fishing. The efficiency of working out line on both ends of the cast translates to more fish in hand in almost every situation. I don’t remember when I started casting this way. It’s a habit I’ve had for as long as I remember. I do remember when I became aware of its importance.

I was working with my friend Bruce Chard who was teaching casting to some anglers new to saltwater fishing. I picked up a rod and made a cast. Bruce stopped the group and pointed out that I was shooting twenty feet or so of line on every backcast. I wasn’t even aware of it but his point was spot on.

“He’s going to reach the fish in half the false casts,” he told the group. It’s nice to be told that you’re doing something right but for me it was just instinctive. The fly cast is symmetrical. It makes no sense to shoot line on your forward cast and not on your backcast.

Here are a few of the reasons you should practice this technique if you’re not doing it already.

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The Masters of Hyperbole

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“ARE THERE JUST A BUNCH OF LIARS AMONG US?”

Hyperbole (hahy-pur-buh-lee) noun – An obvious or intentional exaggeration. An extravagant statement or figure of speech not meant to be taken literally, as in “to wait an eternity.”

Christmas or Thanksgiving, when I was a child, were about the only times I saw my Grandfathers together in the same room. Both events involving some turkey, green bean casserole and several desserts, after which there would be some considerable recuperation. The latter part of this recuperation period was something I always eagerly awaited. After a half hour or so of digestion the conversation would inevitably turn to hunting dogs. Why, you might ask, would a young boy be so excited about listening to two old men talk about hunting dogs? You see, this was no normal dog talk, and the dogs these two had in mind, no normal hounds. These dogs were worthy of Homer. These, my friends, were the dogs of legend.

This is how it would start.

“You know Abe, I had this dog once,” Pete, my paternal Grandfather, would lob a volley across the living room at my Mother’s Father.

“He was such a good dog that one time he was jumping a barbed wire fence and just as he crossed the top of that fence he smelled some birds.” To add an air of authenticity his voice would become excited as he continued, “damned if he didn’t stop, right there, perched on that strand of barbed wire in a perfect point!”

Abe, short for Adolphus who preferred to be called Bill, would field this with the nonchalant air of a major league ball player playing catch with a school boy.

“Yeah, that’s a pretty good dog, but I had a dog once, Mike was his name,” and the game was on.

“Mike found a covey of birds roosting in a pile of rocks. Well, he was so smart, he put his paw over the hole in the rocks and let those birds out one at a time so I could kill them all.”

There was no end to how long this could go on. The two of them would banter back and forth for hours, every story more fantastic than the last. The stories were full of vivid detail and emotion as if they had happened yesterday. They stitched a rich and beautiful quilt with detailed appliqué of dogs I’d never known and some that likely never existed at all. They were masters and it was beautiful to watch. To this day, I see a bird dog and I am filled with wonder. I think, that dog might be capable of anything.

Not long ago Rich Hohne and I went tarpon fishing with my buddy Joel Dickey. Rich grew up in Los Angeles and has spent much of his adult life in Montana. He and I became friends through fishing and he hasn’t spent a lot of time in the South. I sometimes forget

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Catch More Fish By Listening To Vinyl

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Is there a link between vinyl records and fly fishing?

I’m prepared to make a completely unreasonable argument. Whether or not you agree with it, it might actually help you catch more fish. If not, it will absolutely make for a better music listening experience. What have you got to loose?

I became aware of this obtuse connection on my first steelhead trip to Oregon to fish with my buddy Jeff Hickman. We spent the cold snowy evening tying flies, drinking Irish Whisky and spinning old vinyl LPs. The sizzling, popping sound of The Doors became the soundtrack for my first steelhead on a swung fly. To this day music and steelhead are inextricably linked.

Music has always been an important part of my life. I wore through the grooves of a hundred records when I was a teenager. I still remember seeing my first CD player and its shiny silver disks. In the mid 80s, when CDs were unavoidable and vinyl hard to come by, my faithful Bang and Olfson 4002 turntable, bought with paper route money, went into a box.

Fortunately, I never lost track of it and, twenty-five years later, after that trip to Oregon I pulled it out. I’d forgotten how good vinyl sounds. How warm and organic. What’s more, I’d forgotten that listening to music was a ritual. It was a production, something you set aside time to do. You couldn’t just put on a playlist and go about your day. There were buttons to push and records to be flipped. Music demanded your attention and that made you appreciate it.

The last week or two I’ve been tying woven nymphs. If you’re not familiar with the technique, it involves weaving intricate, two-toned bodies from colorful embroidery thread. It’s tedious and time consuming and in the end the patterns are not necessarily more effective than much simpler patterns, but creating them and fishing them is a real joy. When you tie on a carefully woven nymph you fish in different way, or at least I do. It’s as though the time and care that’s put into each fly culminates in a more mindful fishing experience. Each cast becomes a special occasion.

During these tying sessions I’ve been listening to vinyl records. Brian Jones era Rolling Stones, mostly. I’ve worked it out to where each fly takes about an album side. At that rate I’m not exactly stuffing the box but that’s not the point. I put on side two of “More Hot Rocks” and start tapering the body to “Out Of Time” and I’m whip finishing somewhere toward the end of “We Love You.” I’ve crafted a beautiful trout magnet and witnessed an important evolutionary period in The Stones music. Absolute perfection.

I got into fly fishing very young. I don’t think my path was at all typical. I was never a good gear angler and I’m still not. I was an outsider and fly fishing was an outsider’s game. I’m self-aware enough to know that I was drawn to it because I like doing things the hard way, even when I’m not very good at doing it the easy way yet. I got one casting lesson from my grandfather and everything else I learned up to about age 40, I learned on my own. I don’t recommend the method, that’s just how I did it.

I do think most fly anglers do have a few things in common. We like to do things the hard way. We enjoy the process and the challenge and we are comfortable being outsiders. Our interest in doing things a particular way generally outweighs our interest in catching fish. It’s a contradiction we all practice and seldom understand.

The division between fly and gear anglers was highlighted for me at this year’s IFTD / ICAST show. On the way

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