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January 2011

Buzz Cut

Steve Jacobsen

Hook: Size appropriate to fly being imitated
Thread: 8/0 of an appropriate color
Tail: 4 - 6 microfibbets tied in a V or splayed fashion
Body: Chicken quill of a suitable color wound to about 3/4 the length of the shaft
Hackle: Stiff hackle two sizes larger than

                                         Comments and Tying Instructions:
This fly is inspired by the Swisher Richards flies of the 1980's. They wanted realistic dry fly imatations which brought the abdomens down onto the water surface, and longer, more delicate tails.

Specific comments on pattern and tying:

Hook: Since this is a generic dry fly pattern, it can be tied in any size and any color. I do recommend barbless or pinched barb hooks since they allow for releases without removing the fish from the water or ever touching it.

Tail: 4-6 fibbets tied in a V or splayed fashion. This can be accomplished by winding a "thread mound" of 12-15 turns just before the hook bend and tying fibbets on either side of the "mound". A faster but slightly more difficult approach is to splay the fibbets using a a figure 8 pattern with your thread. The tails should be 1 1/2 times the shaft length. (Swisher and Richards believed most commercial dry flies had tails that are too thick and too short.)

Body: Chicken quill of a suitable color is wound to about 3/4 the length of the shaft. Be sure to soak the quills in warm water for at least 5 minutes to avoid delaminating and breaking.

Hackle: Stiff hackle two sizes larger than normal forms an impressive "wing profile" without having to tie an actual wing. Whip finish. The hackle color is chosen for the species desired.

Finish the fly by inverting it in the vice and clipping the hackle straight across the bottom of the fly at the level of the point. This will allow the fly to sit in the film while remaining dry and highly visible.

This is a generic dry fly approach which can be used to simulate any mayfly with the appropriate hook size and color combinations. The fly is very light, does not have the twisting problems of some conventional "winged" dries, and is highly visible and very durable.


 February 2011

Biot Blue Wing Olive

Chris Wasta

Hook: Fine-wire dry fly hook, standard length, #16 or smaller
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black or gray
Wings: Dark Dun Hen Feathers--see notes below
Tail: Coq de Leon fibers
Body: Natural Turkey Biot
Hackle: Grizzly
                                              Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Last summer, I came across a Blue Wing Olive hatch in which the flies' wings seemed a little darker than usual. My regular BWO pattern didn't quite match it, so I tied up some using dark dun hen feathers. For this pattern I make the wings using the technique Jeffery Skeate uses for his Adams. (If you aren't familiar with that method, check out the description of "Jeffery's Adams," which illustrates how he makes his wings.)

The turkey biots give a nice segmented body. (If you haven't used them before, thy're the fibers from the "shorter side" of the turkey feather.) When tying the body, the biots are more flexible and easier to handle if you soak them in water for a little while.


 March 2011

Crowe's Beetle

Marv Slind


Crowe's Beetle

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #12 - 14
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black
Body: Peacock Herl
Shell-back: Black-dyed Deer Hair
Hackle: Black, palmered (under shell-back)
(I add a tuft of light yarn or fur for visibility.)

Foam Beetle

 Foam BeetleHook: Standard dry fly hook, #12 - 14
Thread:8/0 Pre-waxed, black
Body: Peacock Herl
Shell-back: Black Foam
Hackle: Black, palmered (under shell-back)
(I add a tuft of light yarn or fur for visibility.)
                                            Tying Instructions and Pattern History:
Sometimes it's hard to match a particular hatch effectively, and no imitation that you throw at the fish will come close enough to the real thing to attract their attention. That's when a good terrestial imitation can come in handy. In such conditions, I usually turn to a hopper or cricket, but every once in a while I remember a beetle pattern tucked away somewhere in one of my fly boxes. And it is usually very effective (so much so, that I usually ask my self why I don't think of using it more often).

There are quite a few beetle imitations to chose from, but these are two variations of one of the better known patterns, "Crowe's Beetle." I'm not sure my imitation is very close to the original, because I've doctored it up a bit, but it's close enough that I'm not comfortable skipping the original name, for fear of being accused of plagiarism.

The deer hair version looks good, and floats well. But after a couple of fish, it gets chewed up pretty quickly and becomes too ragged looking to approximate any self-respecting beetle. But I present it for those of you who prefer using natural materials, rather than synthetics, like foam. The latter provides excellent flotation, and is more durable than the deer hair. But I admit that it doesn't have the same "feel" as the natural material.

Either way, it's a fairly simple fly to tie. Start by tying in what will become the shell-back: tie a bunch of deer hair fibers onto the shank of the hook by the tips, with the rest of the hair haning over the bend of the hook. (If you're tying the foam version, tie a section of foam onto the hook shank, covering most of the shank in order to form a uniform body shape.) Then tie on a black hackle feather, followed by three or four strands of peacock herl.

Although you can simply wrap the peacock herl around the hook shank at this point, that leaves a very fragile body, which will get chewed up more quickly than the deer hair. I really like peacock herl for insect bodies, because it gives a nice irridescent appearance, but it has the drawback of being so fragile. Thus, whenever I use peacock herl, I make a "rope," wrapping the strands of herl around the tying thread, and then wrapping this "rope" around the hook to form the body. After you've tied it off, palmer the hackle sparsely over the herl to form something resembling legs.

Finally, bring the deer hair or foam over the body to form the shell-back, tie off, and trim the head. Also trim the hackle to about the same size as the hook gap. For extra durability, some patterns call for a few drops of head cement on the top of the body before the shell-back is laid on.

Some variations of this pattern use other techniques to make the legs. Instead of the palmered hackle, some use the ends of the shell-back fiber: instead of trimming all of them, bend a few of them back and under the fly. Another method is to tie three hair fibers across the body of the fly before tying on the shell back: spread them out so that three fibers stick out on each side to form six legs. I find the palmered hackle to be the simplest technique. Just keep it fairly sparce.

As noted in the pattern, I add a small tuft of light-colored yarn for visitibility (not for the fish, but for me).

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"Generic" Parachute Fly

Jerry Grehl

 Generic Parachute 
Hook: Dry fly hook, of appropriate size
Thread: 8/0 Prewaxed, color appropriate to body
Body: Dubbing color
to match hackle
Hackle: Color appropriate to
imitate natural
Tail: Hackle fibers or micro-fibbets
                                                           Tying Instructions:
Step 1) Wind thread the length of hook shank, fasten a post material, preferably yarn material like poly 2/3ds up the shank towards the eye. Make two tight turns over, behind, and in front of post to fasten securely. It will look like a "vee".

Step 2) Wind thread COUNTER-CLOCKWISE (very important) up and down the post 1/16" to 1/8" depending on hook size.

Step 3) secure hackle, same size as if you were tying a traditional Catskill pattern, in front of post, then behind post. Leave enough stripped hackle stem to allow binding to post, 1/8" or 1/16". Hold hackle upright along post with one hand while winding thread up and down post, COUNTER-CLOCKWISE. Hackle and post should be standing straight up.

Step 4) Tie in tail, micro fibbets or hackle barbules, no more than four. anchor and splay them by a wind under the barbules. Remember, unlike a standard dry fly, the tail does not aid in floatation. It is there for aesthetic reasons only.

Step 5) Lightly dub thread. bring forward from base of tail to post. Make one or two turns of dubbing in front of post, finishing up behind the post. If using a quill body, always use a little dubbing thorax behind and in front of post.

Step 6) Wind hackle COUNTER-CLOCKWISE down the post while holding post upright with right hand. try not to over-lap windings. The hackle will look like a little pinwheel when viewed from the top, all barbules bending to the left. very important when finishing the fly.

Step 7) Holding the hackle pliers and hackle perpendicular to the hook shank and towards the eye, wrap the thread, which should be behind the post, COUNTER-CLOCK-WISE over, under hackle twice, close to the base of the post. try to keep things tight. clip off hackle tip close to the base of post WITH A HOBBY KNIFE! Important! Do not use scissors! An "Exacto" #11 blade or one similiar is perfect. Scissors will cut off barbules, ruining your fly! A single edge razor blade will work in a pinch, but not as effective as a hobby knife.

Step 8) The thread and bobbin should be hanging just in front of the post. Apply a little dubbing to finish thorax, ending up just behind hook eye. Half hitch or use a whip finisher. Clip post to about a hook gap length. Apply a dab of head cement, and Voila! The perfect parachute! A hardy little fly that will take a beating, unlike the ones you have been tying.


November 2011

Hemingway Caddis

Chris Wasta

 Hemingway Caddis  
Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size 16
Rear hackle: Medium Dun
Abdomen: Gray, Olive, or tan dubbing, depending on local caddis color
Underwing: Clear antron (Traditional is duck flank)
Overwing: Folded duck or goose flight feather
Front Hackle: Medium dun or grizzly
                                                   Tying and fishing notes:
I tie this fly in sizes 14, 16 and 18, with size 16 being by far the most useful. I substitute the duck flank with clear antron for the underwing because the female caddis dives underwater to lay her eggs and I feel the antron mimics the air bubble she takes with her underwater. Sometimes when fishing this fly in the evening, if short strikes or non-agressive strikes occur, I'll pull the fly under, resulting in much harder takes and more hook-ups. This fly was particularly effective in July and August, late afternoon and evening.


December 2011


Jeffery Skeate

 #10 NHYWBTB  
Bead: 1/8" Bead of Choice
Hook: #10 Nymph or Streamer
Thread:Black thread of choice
Tail: Black Marabou with a few underlying strands of black Crystal Flash
Body:Yellow Chenille palmered with large Grizzly hackle feather
                                            Tying Instructions and Commentary:

Tying Instructions:

  1.   Slide bead over hook point and up to eyelet.  Mount hook in vice.
  2.   Attached eight strands of black Crystal Flash to hook bend and cut to same length as Marabou tail.
  3.    Attach black Marabou tail over Crystal Flash.
  4.    Attach butt end of large Grizzly hackle feather just above Marabou tail.
  5.    Attach Yellow Chenille over Grizzly hackle feather.
  6.    Wrap Yellow Chenille over hook, tie off behind bead and cut off the tag end.
  7.    Palmer Grizzly hackle feather up to bead, tie off behind bead and cut off the tag end.
  8.    Finish fly by half-hitch knots behind bead.


Jerry Grehl asked me to present my favorite winter fly, and here it is. “#10 NHYWBTB” is an acronym for "#10 Nymph Hook Yellow Wooly Black Tail Beaded", which distinguishes it from other woolies I tie.  I use a #10 nymph hook because I have a lot of them left over from somewhere and don't use them anymore for anything else - you may use whatever hook you prefer.  The Wooly Bugger pattern is thought to have originated with a fisherman named Russell Blessing of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1967, which on the surface doesn't give it much antiquity.  Mr. Blessing tied the pattern to attract bass, and it's supposed to resemble a hellgrammite or Dobsonfly nymph.  The pattern's precise origin is somewhat obscure, but it clearly is a diversion from the Wooly Worm, which itself is an evolution of the old British palmer fly, dating back to Dame Juliana Berners, Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton.  I have landed winter trout in northeast Iowa on this particular Wooly Bugger pattern for close to twenty seasons now and that makes it my favorite.  It also works very well in stained water.

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