Monday, March 26, 2012

Roy Saunders brings the Curtain Down on Another Tying Season

Hi Everybody!

Roy Saunders was our guest instructor tonight. Roy showed 25 fly tyers three patterns. The first pattern was a steelhead pattern called the River Dragon. The River Dragon was designed by Bob Giles from Victoria for fishing the Cowichan River. Bob was the recipient of the Jack Shaw Fly tying award. The River Dragon has caught many a trophy brown trout, sea run cutthroat, coho, and steelhead. It is a fly that is very practical because of the materials you use to construct it. Roy's other two flies are real winners on our Eastern slopes rivers. Roy developed a new beettle pattern because the cutts were refusing the pattern he was using. His son Devon insists on using the newly designed beetle on our Eastern slopes rivers. The second pattern was designed by Bob Edens to fool fussy cutts that have seen a lot of flies. Bob's tiny foam pattern is a great imitation for a yellow sally stone. This imposter is a proven winner. Thanks, Roy, for a great finish to our sessions.

It's hard to believe that tonight was our final tying session of the winter. We have had 16 different individuals lead a tying session. Our gang learned to tie close to 50 different patterns over the course of the winter. That is impressive.

I will be sending out information on our spring fishing trip. It will be the first or second weekend of May. I will also get the final details out about the switch rod/ spey casting workshop that will occur on April 28th/29th.

Do check back to our blog often. I will update the blog on a regular basis. A new fly fishing season is right in front of us. Remember to get a new fishing licence. They can be purchased on line right here:

If you are looking for a fly fishing partner there are plenty of us who would love to get out with you.

Roy Saunders

Roy along side of his dad. Roy's Dad learned to fly fish in his late 70's.

Roy with a coho.

Bernie tying The River Dragon.

Brian and Ryan putting the final touches on their flies.

Devo's Beetle (Roy Saunders originator)

Hook: TMC 2487 size 12
Thread: Black 8/0
Body: Tan foam punched out of a casing (spent bullet)
Shellback: tan razor foam
Underbody: Antron dubbing (yellow/tan/claret/orange)
Legs: Small rubber

River Dragon (Bob Giles originator)

Hook: Mustad 9672 size 8
Weight: lead 0.025
Tail: pheasant rump feathers
Collar: Pheasant rump feather
Eyes: Moose main
Body: Olive seal (back half) and peacock herl (front half)

Yellow Sally Stonefly (Bob Edens originator)

Hook: TMC 200R size 18
Trailing shuck: Orange antron or orange foam
Underbody: Yellow antron
Overbody: Grey foam
Legs: Fine yellow rubber legs
Indicator: Yellow or orange razor foam

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bruce Tilbrook Tying Tiny, ...Midges

We were warned by Bruce last week that tonight's flies were going to be small, real small. Nevertheless, 30 keen tyers came to find out how to tie 4 of Bruce Tilbrook's favourite midges. Yes, it was a challenge. None of the flies were difficult to tie if we were using size 14 hooks. But we were using size 18 to size 22 hooks and that is where the challenge lies. Getting the proportions right can be a real challenge, especially not over dressing the fly. I over heard one of the gang say he loves to catch 20 inch trout on a size 20 fly. In fact it only took 20 years to accomplish the feat in his favourite rivers. Bringing a 20 inch trout to hand without breaking the fly off or straightening the hook is a real art.

Midge fishing is generally regarded, in the fly fishing world, as using hooks ranging in size from 16-28. The technical term for midges is the order of insects known as diptera; the adults are two winged insects, such as gnats, houseflies and mosquitoes. But midges also include very small beetles, shrimp, nymphs, hoppers, caddis, mayflies and ants. The four flies we’re tying tonight form only a small part of the repertoire of the serious midge fly angler.

The first two were originally tied by a fellow from Pennsylvania by the name of Ed Koch---the Jassid and the Herl Midge. These two flies beautifully copied the corresponding insects in the spring/limestone creeks of the Cumberland Valley near his home in east central Pennsylvania. He also ties the last two flies but mine are a variation on them.

If you desire to use these flies on stillwater, I would suggest casting them near lillypads and weed beds close to shore where trout are known to cruise in early morning or evening. The trout would likely be proposing quietly on a calm surface leisurely sipping them in. If after a minute there is no response, a slight twitch might be tried.

On the other hand, using these flies on moving water is sometimes easier to get the trout’s attention as they have less time to make a decision, therefore, maybe more hookups. A good day on the stream for these flies would be either clouds and a bit of sun or a completely overcast, maybe even a drizzly kind of a day.

Apart from the smaller hook size and tippet, the fly angler will sometimes lose sight of the fly, especially in low light conditions. If the angler tries this aspect of fly fishing often, the sight will sharpen quickly even in low light conditions.

I would encourage that you to try this unique part of fly fishing. If you ever hook and land an extra large trout on a size 24 elk hair caddis, you will rarely go back to the larger flies.

We were reminded that fishing Trico's, our smallest mayflies, here in Alberta can quickly become a neat experience at first light in the fall. Blue winged olives can hatch year round if those dreary rainy conditions or overcast days happen on your favourite trout stream. We all should tie on a size 20-24 midge and fish it in the early season. You maybe in for a real surprise.

Below are two suggested leader set ups for fly fishing midges.


10’ – 6X 12’ – 7X

BUTT: 48” OF .019 DIA. MONO BUTT: 54” OF .021 DIA. MONO

15” OF .015 24” OF .017

12” OF .013 12” OF .013

6” OF .011 10” OF .011

6” OF .009 8” OF .009

6” OF .007 6” OF .007

24” OF .005 6” OF .005

24” OF .003



Thanks Bruce for the challenge of tying small midges.

Nest week is our final tying session of the year. Roy Saunders will be our guest tyer.

Just a reminder that our spey rod/switch rod casting sessions will be scheduled for April 28th and 29th (two, one day sessions). Maxwell Robinson will be the instructor. You will have the chance to cast a variety of different spey rods. Just contact Bob ( and sign up. The cost will be $125.

Bruce Tilbrook

Barry brought the magnifier and he took full advantage of it tonight.

Jungle cock is very popular for tying eyes on many streamer patterns.

Herl Midge (Ed Koch originator)

Hook: dry fly sizes 20 to 28
Thread: Black 8/0
Tail: Black hackle fibers
Body: Black ostrich herl

Jassid (Ed Koch originator)

Hook: dry fly sizes 16 to 28
Thread: Black or brown 8/0
Body: Same as thread
Hackle: Black, brown or grizzly palmered
Wing: Jungle cock

Trico Dun or Tricorythodes

Hook: dry fly sizes 20 to 26
Thread: Black 8/0
Tail: Blue dun fibers
Body: Thread
Hackle: Blue dun

Blue Winged Olive

Hook: Dry fly sizes 18 to 22
Thread: Olive 8/0
Tail: Blue dun fibers
Body: olive antron/ rabbit
Wing: Tips from blue dun saddle/neck or poly wing
Hackle: Blue dun

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Evening Tying Emergers with Tim Maley

Hi Everybody!

Tonight Tim Maley had 27 fly tyers focus on emergers. We looked at three very different patterns that included at least two materials most of us have not used in our fly tying. The patterns were easily tied thanks to Tim's excellent instruction. Fly fishing with emergers is something that many of us do not use enough on our rivers and lakes. These three patterns can be applied to a number of different mayflies by adjusting the color and size of the pattern. Also consider putting your turkey/goose biots on a damp cloth for a few minutes before using them as a biot body. They will be easier to work with. Thanks Tim for the fabulous evening.

Next week, Bruce Tilbrook is our guest instructor. I believe we will be tying midges. Bring your glasses or magnifyers next week!

Tim Maley

Everybody was concentrating on their emergers.

Excellent wing materials. We used light dun tonight but this material can be bought in a variety of colors.

Emerger yarn works great for the Sparkle Emerger Pupa.

Emerger #1
Tim's Modified Polypropylene Emerger

Hook: Standard dry fly hook size12
Trailing Shuck: sparse yellow polypropylene or antron
Body: Olive turkey biot
Shellback: white/yellow polypropylene
Hackle: Green saddle
Thorax: olive antron

Emerger #2

Hook: Mustad C49S size 12
Trailing shuck: yellow polypropylene or antron
Body: Olive turkey biot
Wing: Medallion Sheeting Light Dun
Hackle: olive saddle
Thorax; green or olive antron

Gary LaFontaine's Sparkle Emerger Pupa

Hook: Standard dry fly size 12
Body: underbody caddis krystal dun caddis green
Overbody: Olive sparkle emerger yarn
Underwing: Olive sparkle emerger yarn
Overwing: Elk hair
Thorax: yellow or olive antron

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Phil Rowley tackles a Blizzard and Chironomids

"Hey Bob, I have a great idea. I am travelling through Red Deer on March 5th. I could drop in and do a fly tying session before I travel to Calgary for a meeting. Put me down as a Mystery Guest Fly Tyer."

That was a conversation I had with Phil Rowley last Fall. I smiled and added the Mystery Guest down on the schedule. The night before, Phil calls from Abottsford telling me the pouring rain may cause him not to make it. So I dusted off the Emergency Lesson in the box. Of course here in Red Deer it started to snow, it was snowing A LOT. Well Phil made it back to Edmonton where it was snowing lightly so he headed south. Well the blizzard intensified. Luckily Phil made it to Red Deer. Craziness because it was snowing hard and I estimated at least 20 cm plus is on the ground. Phil says he only "fish tailed" once and that was on the Red Deer River bridge on the way from Sherwood Park. I hope that is your one and only white knuckle drive this year Phil.

Well after getting organized we headed over to fly tying class figuring few people would show. We had 15 determined fly tyers who were treated to a delightful evening thanks to Phil. We tied chironomids and a blood worm pattern.

The blood worm pattern called the Bionic Worm came from Jerry McBride, a member of the Inland Empire Fly Fishing Club. Jerry noticed so many blood worms on his anquor rope early in the fishing season that he had to make a pattern that would do the job. Well the bionic worm was developed and Phil and I saw how effective this pattern can be when a fellow memeber of the Inland Empire Fly Fishers had a stellar day at Tokaryk Lake in Manitoba.

We have seen several variations of a Grey Boy. They all are effective. We tied the original version that is beadless. Wary fish will fall prey to this adjustment. Note the orange wing pads as well.

Antistatic bag material is now marketed by Superfly International. It is called midge body material. You do not have to search the dumpsters around electronics stores any more. Tonight we looked at different materials for shellbacks. Consider Pearl Mylar, Mirage Opal, Mirage Blue and UV Light Pearl SuperFlash for shellbacks. Phil also finished his chironomids off with 2 or 3 layers of brushable superglue followed by a layer of Hansen's Hard as Nails.

Next week Tim Maley is our guest tyer. I bet the roads will be way better. See you then. We are down to our last three sessions of the year. Spring is just around the corner, ...maybe!

That is the scene outside my front window here in Red Deer.

Phil Rowley

Alex preparing his antistatic bag material (called midge body material from Superfly) for his chironomid.

Bionic Worm (Jerry McBride originator)

Hook: Mustad C49S sizes 6 to 12
Thread: Orange or red 8/0
Tail: Hot Pink Marabou
Bead: 1/8 hot orange
Underbody: Red holographic mylar
Overbody: Red Stillwaters Solution 1/8th midge flex
Rib: Fine gold wire

Phil cutting antistatic bag material with an exacto knife into very fine strips.

Red and Black Static Interference Chironomid

Hook: Mustad C49S sizes 10 to 16
Thread: Black 8/0
Bead: Stillwaters Solution super white bead 7/64ths
Body: Antistatic bag material (midge body material from Superfly)
Rib: black stretch floss and red wire
Thorax: black thread

Doug could cut his antistatic bag material so fine, it almost looked like flashabou!

Clearwater Pupa

Hook: Mustad 3906 sizes 10-14
Thread: Black 8/0
Rib: Red wire
Body: Black Stillwaters Solution Midge Braid
Gills: Stillwaters Solution White midge gill
Wing Pads: Orange SuperStretch floss
Shellback: Pearl Mylar or Mirage Opal or Mirage Mylar Blue

Clear Water Pupa-Grey Boy (original pattern)

Hook: Mustad C49s sizes 10 to 16
Thread: Black 8/0
Gills: Stillwaters Solution White midge gill
Wing Pads: Orange SuperStretch floss
Body: Black Stillwaters Solution Midge Braid
Rib: SuperStretch Floss White
Shellback: Pearl Mylar or Mirage Opal or Mirage Mylar Blue