September 6, 2011 by Art of the Angle
I wanted to take time to do a series on flies and imitations. Its amusing when folks unfamiliar with fly fishing assume we tie the “real” fly to the hook when fishing. Some folks actually did this. Mainly with crickets and grasshoppers, bugs a lot more durable and able to be handled in this manner. There were and perhaps still are hooks manufactured specifically for this purpose. But that is not what I want to cover today.
The flies I want to cover are tied or created to match to some degree the naturals that are found in the waters we fish. Since I am partial to freshwater trout streams, I’ll begin there.
This first fly I designed many years ago after reading an article about how trout and salmon seemed to favor the color cobalt blue. So one evening while at the tying table, I tied a simple pattern in the fashion of a caddis larva.
Caddis are flies that live in the trout streams and rivers. They build cases in which they live attached to debris or rocks. It is in these cases that they reach maturity, transforming into a winged, moth-like form. In the winged form, they mate and the female returns to the surface of the stream or river to deposit her eggs, sometimes diving into the water to attach the eggs to rocks or debris.
As fly fishers, we tie imitations to appeal to these different stages of insect life. So with that crash course in entomology, you can visualize the larva and imitation. I always liked the caddis larva fly because it is quick to tie and extremely effective when tied in various colors and styles. This particular pattern also works well when tied as a “beadhead”. That means that a bead is added to the hook before the tying process starts.
Beads work great to add flash to the pattern as well as adding weight, which is helpful when fishing moving water.
These are the tools and material used to “tie” or make this pattern:
Vise, bobbin, waxed nylon thread, scissors, hooks, cobalt blue flash material, clear flash “dubbing”, and thin silver wire.
The term “dubbing” means any loose material that can be wrapped or spun onto the thread to create a body or head. It is really a term describing the process used to create the body or head.
The first step is to place the hook into the vise.
Next, secure the thread onto the hook by holding the tag end of the thread into the left hand and the bobbin I the right hand. Wrap the thread over the tag end wrapping toward the bend of the hook. Making each wrap lay side by side until you reach the bend. Now you can cut off the tag end of the thread.
Now, select about four strands of the material that will be used for the body, in this case the cobalt blue flash material. Tie them in at the bend of the hook along with a length of silver wire. The wire will be wound over the flash after the flash is secured. This will help keep the body material from unraveling when the fishes teeth begin to shred it.
Wrap the thread back up the hook and stop about 1/3 distance behind the eye of the hook.
Now wrap the flash altogether covering the hook up to where the thread stops. Tie the flash off by wrapping the thread over the flash three times. Trim off the excess flash material.
Take the silver wire and wrap tightly around the flash material leaving spaces in between each wrap. Wrap the wire all the way to the flash material was tied off and then tie off the silver wire in the same manner and clip off the excess.
The head of the fly is the crystal “dubbing” material. It is important to note that you DO NOT want the head to be too thick. So pull a very thin amount from the package and place on the thread. Spin the material on the thread between the thumb and index finger until it is evenly and tightly around the thread.
Wrap the dubbing over the tie down wraps from the other material and wrap just behind the eye of the hook. Make a couple loop knots or “half-hitch” knots in the thread and cinch down tight.
Clip the thread and admire your work!
Fly tying is a beautiful and practical art. There is a satisfaction derived from being able to go to any trout river or stream, identify the aquatic life then imitate it to catch a fish.
Hope you enjoyed this article. I will be adding more on the aquatic life and life cycles and the flies we tie to imitate them. Let me know if you have any questions either by email or comment and Ill get back to you as quick as possible.