Here at the shop when it comes to flies, many people tend to lean towards the side of tradition. Even though we bring in new fly patterns every year, I bet you can guess which flies sell the most. The standards of course: Parachute Adams, Prince Nymphs, and Wooly Buggers. When these patterns have worked so well for this long, a new pattern can be a hard sell. It’s a risk that some don’t want to take.
The same goes for fly tying materials. Our walls are absolutely loaded with hooks and materials of many varieties. It can seem daunting to some and oftentimes folks may just stick to what they know best. They may try a new color of dubbing every now and then, but for the most part, they remain (and I don’t mean this in an insulting or discouraging way) unchallenged. I don’t blame them either. It’s easy to stick to what we know and to venture into unknown fly territory means a risk of lost time, failed flies, and frustration.
Let us remember that it is in these risks that innovation thrives; where creativity flourishes. Sometimes, I think we all need to step away from the fly recipes we find online and into something new. Well, in attempts to push our customers as well as ourselves (we can always learn something new too); we have once again taken yearly inventory of our fly tying selection and brought in a handful of new and interesting materials, tools, hooks, and books that are really pushing the envelope of our tying.
Read through the following list of new additions in the shop and consider how they can be used in your own personal tying. Don’t let your internal “I can’t use that” filter discourage you from really getting creative. Remember that fly tying is as much an art as it is a science of “matching the hatch”. You may well discover your new favorite pattern…or secret pattern.
Materials are really getting quite interesting these days. Every year, we see some really great stuff come out and one could even say we live in the Golden Age of Fly Tying. It’s a good time to be a fly tier.
Depending on your tying style, Predator wrap may already be a staple in your arsenal. You may also be scratching your head, wondering “what is this Predator wrap that you speak of?” Well, Predator wrap is a synthetic material from the mind of Greg Senyo that was created to add color and movement to his Great Lakes steelhead intruders.
Now we know most of our patronage are not steelhead anglers. Don’t run from Predator wrap, embrace it! In the past few years, this material has become a staple among big fish/streamer junkies. I personally am a fan of using Barred Predator Wrap in pike and musky flies, but it is also a great material for big trout streamers. We even find predator wrap to be a great rubber leg substitute in bass bugs.
The latest frontier of Predator Wrap is in saltwater and we have heard some interesting reports with predator wrap being tied in facing forward over the hook eye and then pulling the fibers back to create baitfish patterns for stripers, snook, tarpon, and false albacore.
A lot of people ask “how do I tie better-looking flies?” The answer is usually very simple: use better materials. Whiting is world famous for producing some of the best dry fly hackle in the world, and their Bugger Packs follow the same tradition of high-quality saddle. While the name gives away their intended purpose (Wooly Bugger hackle), bugger pack feathers are fantastic for streamer hackle, wings, and tails. These also make great tailing on saltwater and pike streamers.
Great colors, a little UV flash, and micro spandex stretchy legs blended in to create some of the buggiest dubbing ever beheld by mankind. Don’t let the name fool you, Cohen’s Carp Dub can be used in flies tied to target bass, bluegill, and trout. I have even had a lot of success creating shrimp and crab patterns for bonefish and redfish.
With that, I present the Cray Cray Nabber tied with Cohen’s Carp Dub. Killer crayfish for carp and bass…but I really dig it for Animas browns…
Finn Coon, aka Finnish Raccoon, is a hair similar to arctic fox. Some even harken it to polar bear. It has all the traits of a good streamer hair: marabou-like action with more durability and bulk. Salmon and steelhead patterns are a given with this stuff along with trout and bass streamers. However, some of us are finding Finn Coon to be a fantastic saltwater material, especially for tarpon flies.
Baitfish, that is what SF Blend fibers were created for. These fibers are a great a bucktail alternative when you need to whip up some synthetic Clousers or EP style baitfish patterns with a little added flash. The coolest thing about Steve Farrar’s SF Blend is the interesting and unique colors that make up this material. Even the standard olive has a nice color contrast with the mix, but our favorites might be Bleeding Black and Dark Purple.
For those with pike, musky, tarpon, stripers, or bass on the brain…SF Blend is what’s up.
Para Post Wing is our new favorite dry fly winging material. Highly visible, we have made the switch to para post wing with our parachute dry flies as it sheds water far better than other yarns. Probably because it is treated with Water Shed. While purpose built for parachutes, Para Post also works great when used on emerger cases and split wing dry flies.
UV Polar Chenille is much like traditional Polar Chenille, except with a heckuva lot more UV flash. You may have noticed a trend with a lot of these new additions: they are streamer materials. Well we love tying streamers. UV Polar Chenille is great when you need to add a little (or a lot) of flash to the underbody of your favorite articulated monstrosity. We have been digging this stuff on our own personal trout spey flies but it is a nice flashy addition to buggers, steelhead flies, and leeches.
Ok, so this might not exactly be a “new” material by any stretch, but we are happy to announce we are now carrying a selection of dyed partridge colors. You probably know partridge as the go-to wet fly hackle; but it can also be used for tails, wings, legs, and even fins. Basically, partridge is a staple in any fly tier’s material selection. Black is my personal favorite for wrapping quick legs for Piedra river stonefly nymphs.
Rainbow Scud Dub is one of those strange materials that fits nowhere and everywhere. It actually only comes in 2 colors: light and dark. As a fly tier, if you were only limited to 2 dubbings for the rest of your life; it could be possible to use only this dubbing forever. Holding the color of your dryer’s lint trap, the traditional use for this dubbing is on scuds and sowbugs, but in recent years, the Rainbow Warrior has brought this material to the forefront. I have even used Rainbow Scud Dub on sulphur and PMD emergers and dries. It’s a weird deal man, just try it out.
Flash and rubberlegs combined! Tie on rainbow trout imitations like Craven’s Rainbow Double Gonga for giant brown trout reactions. Rainbow Shimmer Legs are sweet for quickly adding a little flash and a lot of movement to your flies.
So here in Colorado, it’s quite possible that you don’t even know what an intruder is. Short story, it’s a steelhead fly. Longer story: the principle behind the intruder is to create a big profiled fly using very little material and getting solid hookups every time. The hookup is where the wire comes in. Steelhead will grab a fly and take it back to the depths before really clamping down on it. Senyo’s Intruder Wire wire allows for a stinger hook that usually results in a perfect hookup in the jaw. It also keeps your hook from sagging too low below your swimming fly materials. It keeps your hook disguised!
While this is a steelhead story, there are plenty of trout streamer uses when a stinger hook is called for. We have been fishing a lot of trout intruder patterns as well, and this stuff fits the bill nicely.
Another curved nymph hook? Why yes indeed. The Tiemco TMC 226 BL is a curved nymph hook we brought in the shop this year. Why? Well, this hook is fine wire, up eye, and barbless. This hook is a great choice for caddis and midge pupa as well as shrimp, scuds, small stonefly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, and emergers. 226 BL hooks also work great for parachute Klinkhammer style dries and Czech nymphs.
The Umpqua S506 Jig Hook is a unique hook to the Duranglers fly arsenal this year. A new concept in the world of competition fly fishing, many anglers are finding a variety of uses with jig hooks in their tying. The use we have found is to build Meat Whistle and jig style streamers patterns with these hooks. The 60-degree bend will give your flies a unique swimming and diving motion…perfect for sculpins and crayfish! With a black nickel finish, they can even be utilized in saltwater environments.
What is notable about the U401? Well, it’s a saltwater hook…a lower price point saltwater hook that is. It is no secret that saltwater hook prices have gone up in recent years. With the high price of premium saltwater hooks, the U-Series U401 fit the bill when the best of the best is not needed. Try these out on some of your favorite saltwater flies. The larger U401 hooks have also been good to us when tying pike and bass flies.
Dr. Slick has long been the standard by which all other fly tying scissors are made. Because of this, it was about time we brought in the Dr. Slick Hair Scissors. If you tie big stuff, then these are the scissors for you. Streamers, spun-hair bass poppers, pike flies, musky flies, and saltwater bugs built for tarpon and snook are where these scissors find their home. Designed to chop through tough materials with ease from the natural to the synthetic, DS Hair Scissors are a true workhorse.
If you have not heard of Charlie Craven before, you are probably new to fly tying…or you have been living under a rock for the past 10 years. Charlie Craven’s newest book, Tying Nymphs, is an absolute must-have for the aspiring nymph tier. Now that may seem like a cliche statement, but it’s true. If you want to produce better nymphs (especially if you are tying for Colorado trout), then you really should pick this book up. Charlie Craven is a master of teaching subtle techniques that make all the difference in a fly. Especially when it comes to tying better looking flies, and tying them faster.
No other tying book in recent memory does the author go into as much depth on his design process as Drew Chicone does in Feather Brain. While this is a saltwater fly tying book, the subtle nuances and design process discussed can be utilized by any fly tier to truly take their flies to the next level. If you are planning a saltwater trip in the future or you really want to up your saltwater fly game: Read. This. Book.
…learning to dye materials with Kool-aid is just one of the really awesome things you can learn in Feather Brain too…