The Rats Nest

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wishing You All A Happy New Year In 2012

Consider this my gift to all of you my loyal followers.  Click on the picture to be rerouted to the latest tying video, one of which I have gotten a lot of requests for.  My double articulated Hog Snare Streamer.  Enjoy, be well and may 2012 bring you many successes on the water. 


Friday, December 30, 2011

A Cool Tying Material You Most Likely Have At Home

Web Wing CDC Caddis

Although I haven't been a huge proponent of fixed synthetic wings on dry flies, i.e; web wing style flies, I do know that many other fly fisherman out there approve of them.  Hey, I know, any fly can have it's time and place, some are more consistent producers then others, and some fit into that other category of situational options as I like to refer to them.   If you enjoy tying web wing style flies, read on as I stumbled into a rather interesting way to make web wing flies with a very common household product that I am certain many of you married folks have kicking around the house.  

There are a few products that come to mind, Web Wing, Thin Wing, Thick Wing, Mottled Web Wing, etc.  All are products offered by Hareline and all retail for around $3.00 or so a package.  Each package  typically comes with about 1 piece of rectangular material that measures around 3" x 9".

Cheaper alternative?  Dryer Sheets.  That's right, dryer sheets.   The material used in your standard dryer sheet is virtually the same material used in most of the web wing style products give or take.  The only difference is the dryer sheets are impregnated with a little scent.  With a little bit of extra effort you can get rid of that smell and have yourself a virtually endless supply of web wing material at your disposal.  Be sure to remind the person in your household who does the laundry to save those sheets after they've been used.  I keep a large ziplock bag attached to the wall next to the dryer to remind my wife to throw those used sheets in the bag rather than dump them in the garbage.

Here's how to get rid of that smell, using a helpful solution that may be very familiar for any of you folks out there who hunt.   A quick solution of  3 percent hydrogen peroxide, bottled water, baking soda and unscented liquid body soap will build a solution geared for scent blocking.  Get yourself a large container or  pitcher, a long handled, plastic spoon and your in business.

1). Place a container in your kitchen sink, bathtub or outside area, which can catch any overflow of the ingredients. The mixing process can be messy, and should be done somewhere that will be unaffected by the products used.

2).Mix the bottled water and liquid soap together in the container, and stir with a long handled, plastic spoon. The liquid soap and water should be mixed thoroughly together before moving on to the next step.

3).Add the hydrogen peroxide slowly to the water and liquid soap mix. Once again, stir with the long handled, plastic spoon thoroughly.

4).Pour the baking soda into the container and stir once again. The contents of the container should begin to foam, which is normal. Allow the mixed scent blocker to continue foaming until it no longer overflows the container.

5).Wash the dryer sheets with the solution thoroughly.  If you let the solution sit longer the air will escape and it will be easier to store for later use. 

Read more:   How to Make Scent Blockers 
Used Dryer Sheets

Now down to the nitty gritty.  One of the great things about this material after it has ridden the Ferris wheel we call the dryer, it is typically crinkled making it a very good alternative for winged dry flies.  After a thorough bath in the solution above, and left out to dry,  the sheets are now ready for use.  There are a slew of wing cutters out there at the tiers disposal, or if you want to save a few buck you can cut them by hand at the bench.  Either way, a single sheet can tie dozens of flies.

Close Up Of The Dryer Sheet
What is nice about the dryer sheets is they color up very easy and quickly with any type of prismacolor, pantone or sharpie marker, so making mottled wings, wing cases etc is just a few seconds away.  I hope this trick works out for you, with a little bit of time you will have a very cheap and bountiful resource for web wings.  Enjoy.

A Colored Wing For The Caddis Pictured Above

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Season In Review

Although I spent a majority of my free time guiding clients this past season, I did manage to do some fishing of my own on some old water and new.  Next year looks to be a year of rebirth for me as  guiding is taking a backseat and all those better dates will be sorted out for some time of my own.  Click on the fish to see the video.....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Small Order, Streamer Class Update, Winter Stone Madness

First and foremost, I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.  Hopefully you will all have an uneventful and relaxing one with friends and family.  Secondly, the Articulated Streamer Class is full.  Was very surprised to see how quickly this one filled up to say the least.  If there is enough interest out there I will post a second date, but it will need to be a class with 6-8 participants.
The Ever Growing Pile Of Staged Winter Stone's
As the winter is here, I am trying to get a jump on some of the flies that will be needed in the coming months.  As you can see I am busy tying up some Black Winter Stones, staging the bodies for some serious production tying.  I have found a new product by Hareline that I have substituted for Senyo Shaggy Dub to replicate the legs, tails and antenna.  Dandy Long Legs is virtually the same material only it is hanked and measures about 7 inches long, making it very easy to work with as you can see.

The material comes in a wide array of colors both earth tone and bright, and can be used in a variety of cool applications.  I have been playing around with the stuff for ribbing and body material for midges and dry flies and it is a pleasure to work with.  I will post some pictures of what I have done to date in a later post.  I have also used the material to add a little color to streamers as well, pretty cool stuff to say the least.    

As you can see I spun up a little mixed order of sorts for a regular customer who frequents my home waters.  Come January, I will be placing minimums on my fly orders in terms of quantity, expect to see anywhere from a 1/2 dozen or dozen minimum on all flies in 2012.

Tiny Dancers And A Few Winter Stones
In the course of perfecting a pattern, I sometimes change my mind several times before I am 100% happy with the final product.  I have recently found that I prefer my Tiny Dancer Caddis tied on a TMC 206bl, which is an upturned black fine wired caddis emerger style hook that is 1x fine.  This particular hook really balances the design out nicely and I highly recommend tying the fly on that particular hook.
Rock Candy Larva And A Few Shimmer Stones

Green Rock Candies, A Favorite

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Tips Volume I

I was panning through some of my older material and found a rather fitting piece I did for The Farmington River Anglers Association Newsletter back in 2008.  Read on if you are a winter fisherman, it might shed some subtleties on fishing midges this time of year.  The fish in the winter months are on average pretty nice as the pictures depict.  Remember, this is only one tactic, there are many that work well.

The colder months are here, the water temperatures are dropping into the lower 40s, and soon the dreaded 30-degree water temperatures of winter will be here to take their stronghold.  Like a symbiotic relationship, the average dinner fare of our beloved trout becomes smaller like the dropping water temperatures.  We all know about the winter caddis hatches that many an angler is all too familiar with on our home waters of the Farmington, but lets not forget about those even smaller two-winged insects of the order diptera that become a staple for trout in the winter months, and on tailwaters like the Farmington can be the only game in town for those surface oriented anglers out there. Midges are pretty much the main dinner fare for trout in the afternoons during the colder months, and if the air temps rise just enough the hatches can be thick, and the risers can be plenty

            For the most part midges aren’t a very complex insect to imitate, even the beginning tier can make really good midge imitations to fish with.  Most imitations consist of thread bodies, and can be tied with as little as two materials.  If tying isn’t your forte, then listen up to the recommendations to follow, and all you tiers out their tailor your imitations to these guidelines and you might have some added success. 

           Aside from the old standby Griffiths Gnat, a time tested pattern, there is another really simple imitation that doesn’t require the tier to bind down and turn tiny hackles.  A very simple midge pattern that has worked rather well for me over the past 10 years is a spin off of the more notable Morgan Midge.  The fly is tied on a short shank light wire scud hook, preferably a TMC 2488 in sizes 18-26.  I tie in a piece of orange or root beer crystal flash at the bend of the hook, twist it back over itself making a shuck approximately the length of the shank and tie it in making sure to wrap the thread neatly back over the flash material.  I continue the thread in a uniform line back to a point approximately ¼ the shank length back from the hook eye.  The next step is to select a nice full natural colored piece of CDC and tie it in the middle of the feather.  I make a couple of good wraps to secure it, then I fold the CDC in half and wrap back over the fold in point.  The feather is now pointed backwards across the shank like a caddis.  I clip the CDC short to a point where the shuck starts, wrap a nice thread head and then whip finish.  Two passes of thread on the hook is all you need to imitate the body of a midge, they are very thin in appearance and if you overdress the hook, you will detract from your success.  If you want to add more realism to the fly, you can color the head with a black prismacolor marker.

            As a rule of thumb I primarily tie these imitations using UTC 70 thread by Wapsi, and my most productive colors in order are black, grey, olive, brown, red and cream.  This time of year you cant go wrong with blacks and greys, but play around with colors and size until you figure it out.  If you are on the water and you see those complex subsurface ring rises, dorsal, back tail rises, and the nose up rise, chances are pretty good the fish are taking midge pupae or crippled midges.  Tie a few up, and try them out on some "midging" trout, you might be happy you did. Good luck and tight lines.
In addition to those listed, here are a couple of my favorite midge imitations.  Click the name to be forwarded to the tying video:

Aside from midge patterns there are various other patterns and food forms out there that work well in the winter.  Stay tuned for further blog posts that will discuss some of the others that I personally like to fish.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Few Hours On The Water And An Update

Picture Perfect Farmington Brown Trout.  Wild?  Very Likely
 Despite high water, I managed a rather fruitful outing today.  I managed a handful of nice wily browns on Tiny Dancer winter caddis pupa, and then I switched to some subsurface fare.  After catching several holdover browns and rainbows, I managed to stick this lively and spotless specimen.
Close Up
This is what I fish the Farmington for, the chance at a real quality brown like this guy.  It's not about the size even though this is a rather nice sized fish.  I guess you could say it's all what you make of it.

Beautiful Fins
 Prior to my departure from the river, I stopped into Upcountry and picked up my copy of the latest Pacific Fly Group Catalog.  Why am I interested you ask?  A bunch of my patterns are now in production and available en-mass for your favorite fly shop. 
The Flies Are In the New Catalog.
 Here is a list of the patterns that are out there in several color combos and sizes, with more to follow in the coming year.  The flies are as follows;

Shimmer Stone
Classified Caddis Pupa
Case Closed 
Woven Mayfly Nymph
DT Nymph
Shucked UP Emerger
Crazy Leg Caddis Larva
In The Round Stone
Mophead Streamer
R-F Caddis

On a final note the streamer tying class is already half full.  4 spaces left, should be a good one.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Some More Tested Patterns Unveiled

Black Tiny Dancer aka Winter Caddis Imitation


If you're a regular visitor of the Farmington River in the colder months, you are very familiar with the steady hatches of winter caddis and eager fish chasing them on any given morning this time of year.  Over the last 8 or so years I have attempted to devise a pattern that would match the foam emerger that was conjured up by a group of gentlemen who were struggling with a consistent producing pattern for this very prolific and consistent hatch.

After several return trips to the drawing board, I have finally found not only the materials, but the means to devise the pattern I have envisioned for almost a decade.  Enter the Tiny dancer, a skate-able dry fly with added motion and an almost identical footprint of the natural, making it a very tempting morsel for even the most snooty of brown trout.  After several months of testing and dozens of fish approving the pattern, here are the first released pictures of the fly.  I will be releasing the tying tutorial shortly, making up for the last 6 weeks that were devoid of any new content on the video page.  Stay tuned, and get your fingers ready to tie this one up.
Dancers In Tan And Black

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Articulated Streamer Class Announcement

Various Means To Articulate Streamers February 4, 2012 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Tuition $75.00   8 Seat Maximum  $40 deposit secured for a seat through Upcountry Sportfishing.  Act fast, these classes fill quickly.
I know I have been talking about this one for a few weeks now, well here is the particulars now that the date is set in stone. 

To demonstrate through participation how to correctly tie articulated streamers, with emphasis on the various  options one can use to produce more fluid, movement induced streamers that are very enticing to trout.  This is a methodical, slowly approached tying class that will provide the participants with all the means to tie articulated flies, along with the explanation of material behavior and how to properly utilize the materials to produce fish catching flies that are aesthetically pleasing with movement that is unmatched by any single hook imitation.
  1. Show several different styles of articulation points and how to properly construct them.
  2. Explain the pros and cons of each method and where each style is most suitable.
  3. Explain and demonstrate hook choices and reasoning behind the use of certain hooks.
  4. Provide hands on instruction with simultaneous participation throughout all phases of each pattern with an open forum for questions concerning the flies tied. 
Materials To Bring
  1. Vise, bobbin, whip finish, scissors, 6/0 threads in white will suffice for most patterns but olive, black, tan and yellow will be beneficial to bring.
  2. I’ll supply the materials a small compliment for the class including hooks etc.  
The Class is an open classroom, any question of request in relation to the style of flies will be answered to the best of my ability.  Hook choices, materials, etc.  As well as some methods that are particularly effective for flies tied this way. Each participant will also be given at least one of the flies that I tie in the class to use as a model.  Bring a camera too if needed.  Class is for tyers with some experience,  this is not a beginner class and requires  basic tying skills and understanding of how to use materials and tools.  In other words, if you have never tied a fly before, this isn’t the class for you.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

12/03/11 A View From My Vise

The View From My Vise
A big thank you goes out to the 8 gentleman who signed up for my tying class today.  We packed the table, tied some relatively easy patterns, and had a good time.  When all was said and done we pumped out seven of my most used patterns on the Farmington and elsewhere; a majority were of my own design, with a few from other notable tyers, full credit given.  I even managed a few that haven't been unveiled on the video front yet, so those in attendance had an extra bonus.

After we rounded the class out with my signature stonefly, The Shimmer Stone, I made it an even eight patterns with a quick demonstration of the Steroid Ant.   Everybody did a great job, turning out a nice pile of nymphs and dries that are all proven fish catchers. 

Grady stocked up on a majority of the materials, and if a particular material wasn't there we were able to find suitable alternatives.  A comprehensive list of variations and productive color schemes was supplied, as all of the patterns tied are easily modified to accommodate multiple hatches. 

I wanted to send a thank you to Kevin Compton of Performance Flies.  Kevin supplied all of my students with a nice sample package including hooks, and a unique material that I use in the construction of my Rock Candy Larva, a weighted caddis larva that is hands down my top larva pattern day in and day out.  Kevin is a hell of a tyer, runs a great little business specializing in some rather unique tying products, and is a genuinely nice guy.  Kevin has been overly generous with items he terms "free of charge" in pretty much every order that I have placed, giving us, the consumer a little taste of some of the new product lines he plans to carry.  I can't say enough good things about Kevin and his business, he has always been a pleasure to work with.  During the Competition season he is very busy tying for many of the competitors of Team USA, so now is the time to check out what he has in store. 

On a final note, Grady and I decided that February is going to be the month for the Articulated Streamer Class.  I should have a concrete date by the end of next week, and a full curriculum listing as well.   Keep an eye out for it on the Events tab.....

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Good Birthday Present

Balmy Opening Temperature

Nice Steam Rolling Off The Water At Daybreak

One of Seven From The First Run.
 So I spent my 37th Birthday on the water.  After my original fishing plans grenaded, I had to regroup and fish my local water.  Not complaining at all.  The thermometer at 0 dark thirty was a chilling reminder that winter is knocking at the door.  22 degrees is hardly warm, but I was prepared nonetheless. 
Tail Shot

Another Quality Fish From Down Under

The First In a Flurry of Caddis Eating Fish Topside

Homemade Beef Barley Soup For Lunch

Some Bows Too

Guess He Wanted That Rock Candy Larva

And Many Of These Guys On Top From 2 Till Dark

The Water Was Boiling Till Dark

Loads Of These Guys Again This Morning

And Size 30-32 Olives Later.  OUCH!
I was greeted at daybreak with fog on the water and to my surprise some hungry trout right out of the gates.  My first run I nymphed up seven nice fish, all on a tight line rig with weighted flies.  Once the sun got high enough, the chill was taken out of the air, and the thermos of coffee I brought with me took the edge off a rather bitter morning.   The first spot I fished didn't cough up any bruisers, but three of the seven browns I tangled with were immaculate and all colored up.  A few leaps and runs and I was watching the sun rise with a smile on my face; although my original plans had changed, it was already a great day. 

After things slowed, I meandered up the bank to the truck for another slug off the thermos and then I moved on.  I continued to have success in spurts, where there was one, there were more. 

As the clock neared 10:00 AM, I put the nymph rig down and grabbed my dry fly rod and made way to some slower water in hopes of heads. 

Luckily, I wasn't disappointed and immediately found not only heads but solitude.   The winter caddis were popping at a good clip and the fish were on them happily.  After a couple of fish on top including one just shy of 18 inches, my solitude disappeared and I followed. 

Moving on to greener pastures I decided to spark up the stove and put my first bowl of soup on.  Within minutes one of moms greatest concoctions was steaming and I was knuckles deep in a hearty bowl of beef barley soup, one of my favorites.  A piece of crusty bread and I was living large. 

After pure gluttony, I waddled back to the river in search of some more heads, but the wind kicked up and I basically took a long scenic walk finding nothing but broken water.  Back to nymph fishing I dredged up a few more nice browns and a couple of healthy rainbows before I decided to make for some more slack water to see if there were any more surface feeders. 

With the water slowly scattered with Blue Winged Olives too small to tie, and a mixed bag of various midges, I stayed topside till dark and managed a couple more handfuls of smaller but quality browns who were feeding very regularly in the film. 

As dark fell I fired up the stove for a second round of soup then off for home.  A nice double digit outing of quality fish in December, what's better than that?   And most of them were on the surface too, a double positive. 

When I got home I was greeted by my two girls who made me the best two birthday cards a guy could ask for.  Now off to dinner with the wife to round the day out.  What a day, and tomorrow should be a good one too, as I will be teaching a tying class to a nice group of people.   Stay tuned.

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