Monday, March 31, 2014

Thinking Outside of the Box with Don Andersen

Twenty four fly tyers spent the evening taking in the final presentation of the year from Don Andersen. Don Andersen would be considered by many to be unconventional but his innovative ideas work. Don is known in the fly fishing world for his quality bamboo rod construction but tonight he shared three excellent patterns with the group. Don has also developed many tools for fly tying. Don spent a large part of his presentation showing us some of the tools he has fashioned over the years. I hope to do a blog post showing many of these tools. Don's many years of contract fly tying experience has taught him many techniques that made him an efficient tyer. Don shared many of his ideas tonight. Don's keen observations on the rivers also lead to some of the patterns we tied tonight! Thanks Don for a very educational evening of fly tying! is a note from Don

Take a look at the above video to see the slide show of Don's fly tying tools!


It was a pleasure meeting folks  and getting a chance to show some of the flies & tooling I have used over the years.

During the presentation I referenced a number of companies products and where to find them.

Here is a partial list of some of them.

1] The scissors I use are made by Anvil - see anvilusa.con and look for the Super Sharp STRAIGHT Fine Point - Rust Resistant Stainless Steel -  One Blade Mirco-Serration scissor

2] Scud back material is used for a host of flies - caddis nymphs, chironomids, dragon nymphs. This product is available from Fabric Land in Red Deer. It's located north of the Super Store.

3] The Booby eyes are a Veniard Product and I bought them through Cliff Harvey fly tying see: for the home page and the actual product is: The most useful sizes for me would be Medium and Large.

4] The Macreme Cord used for the BM is available from the Macreme Store. with the product used is There are many colours listed.

5] The mustache comb I used was bought in Rocky @ Shoppers. Combs are availalbe apparently in Walmart. See:

6] Scud back can be dyed or marked up with alcohol based markers. The folks @ the Alberta Art and Drafting Supplies carry Pantone Markers [ which are the best there is]. They allow you to try out the colour before buying. 

If you have any questions about the flies or the tooling, give a shout.

And lastly, there was a whack of questions regarding the hows and why of boobies. Here is about the best write-up I've seen on the subject.

After using them a couple of times, I quit as the hooking was deep. After watch Brian Chan fish them on a lake near Kamloops, I realized the he was retrieving them quite quickly. So, I gave it a shot. The results were no hook ups deep and lots of fish. 

It is hard to be believe that we are bringing down the curtain on another fly tying season! We owe all of this year's presenters a great deal of thanks. It takes time to pull together a presentation. Gathering an idea, pulling together the materials and then doing a presentation takes time. I am so impressed with the creativity of all of our presenters. Our group has a lot of expertise to be shared. The part of the group that I enjoy the most is the friendly atmosphere. Fly Tying Mondays are are great night out and certainly helps us all get through the winter.

The New Fly Fisher this Saturday will air an episode from the Parkland Region of Manitoba hosted by Phil Rowley. The theme is forage fish. It will be on WFN at 8:30 am.

Please drop me an e-mail right away if you are interested in spey casting lessons or single handed casting lessons with Maxwell Robinson. I am trying to line up lessons for around April 19th or 20th. If we get enough interest, I will get everything lined up!

Remember that you need a new Alberta Fishing License starting tomorrow, April 1st. Head over to Alberta Relm. To purchase you 2014 license on line!

I would love to post any pictures of your fly fishing trips. Send me an e-mail and I will get the pics on our blog!


OJ "Orange Juice"

Hook: Standard dry fly size 12
Thread: White 8/0
Body: Orange antron (or any bright colour)
Hackle: Antron palmered from a rough dubbing brush
Colar: Squirrel

Billy's Monster (BM)

Hook: 3 XL streamer hook size 10 or 12
Tail: Brown macrame
Body: Olive dubbing
Thorax: orange dubbing
Wing/Head: Brown Macrame


Hook: Mustad C49s size 8 or TMC 2457 size 8
Tail: Marabou
Body: Cactus Chenille or Fritz
Eyes: Booby foam

Friday, March 28, 2014

Escaping Winter With Our Fly Rods

Spring break was early this year but Karen and I decided to still make a dash for a warmer climate to fly fish. The mercury was close to -20C as we pulled out of the garage heading for the south end of the Okanogan. The driving was great until we started to work our way up the Okanogan, then it started to snow. Our I-phone told us that we were going to drive out of the snow. We did. The thermometer read 15C as we pulled into out motel parking lot after an 11 hour drive. 

We had a bit of trouble finding Karen a fishing licence because the new fishing year was about to begin. We still need last year's license. We finally found a place to buy one and we were off to the lake. We were checked by the Fish and Wildlife Officer in the area so it was good that we did find Karen a current license. 

We knew the fly fishing would not be fast and furious but it was steady. We even caught some very impressive lahontan cutthroats. We used our Spring Creek pram to get around the lake. The wind was not a big factor on this 7 mile long lake! It was nice to enjoy spring. 

We  meet up with our dear friend Leon. It was just plain fun to talk and catch up! We had lots of laughs and exchanged some neat stories!

The final day of fishing reminded us that not every day is perfect. A cold front pulled in and the showers were steady. To add to the bone chilling weather, it was obvious that the lake had received 1000's of stockers. The big boys had a feast and our fly rods went relatively silent as we watched large pods of 6 to 8 inch lahontans cruise the shore line. Leon watched a large cutthroat smash a 6 incher right at his feet. We knew that the real thing would trump our offerings. It was time for a hot coffee, a warm shower and some shopping at the Big R Fly Shop! The long drive home was quite painless until we headed north on Highway 2 at Calgary, then the reality of aggressive drivers along slippery roads reminded us that our trip was coming to an end. We arrived home to lots of new snow. We had to shovel the driveway just to get up to the garage. Great trip. The pace was just perfect for an early trip.

Karen fished with her trusty vampire leech. She had a lot of success with Todd Oishi's streamer!

We fished from both our pram and shore.

I love the colourful lahontan cutthroats!

The lake is alkaline! Lahontans thrive in this unusual situation! Other trout species would not survive.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Early Spring Fly Fishing in Southern Alberta

Larry and Bob have been tracking the weather the last week just waiting for their opportunity to make a dash to the Crowsnest Pass to fly fish. The gear has been sitting at the door ready and finally the opportunity presented itself. That means the wind and weather might be tolerable to get the casting arm going. We started off on the Oldman River. It was windy but we did catch half a dozen rainbows by lunch time. The wind was rocking and the chinook arch was right over our heads so we decided to spend the afternoon on the Crownest River. It was a great decision because the fishing on the Crow was excellent. We caught lots of rainbows, a few rockies, a cutty and even a bull trout! Luckily we escaped the wind while on the Crowsnest River for a few hours. Today is the first day of spring and of course we have a storm! The Alberta fly fishing season got off to a tremendous start for Larry and Bob!

Time to dig out the gear!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Art of Furling with Doug Pullen

Hi Everybody!

Doug Pullen introduced 20 fly tyers to furling flies. This tying technique is well explained below in Doug's notes. Thanks Doug for another excellent presentation. 
Remember that there is no fly tying next week because of Spring Break in the schools.
Our final session of the year is Monday March 31st. Don Andersen is our presenter. This is one presentation that you want to take in. The theme is micro leeches and boobies.
I am also in the process of setting up casting lessons with Maxwell Robinson. This would include both spey and single handed casting. Let Bob know if you are interested and he will set up a date!

My fly presentations have always been designed to not only present effective fly patterns but also to develop your skills as fly tiers and give you a better understanding on why the flies work.. 
It was once said that there is nothing new left to be discovered in fly tying. Most of the so-called  modern fly patterns that you see in magazines, books and on the Internet are earlier patterns that use newly manufactured materials and adopting existing tying techniques to achieve a new look. 
Our artificial fly patterns irrespective of the materials used allows us to simulate wings, tails, legs, antennas, eyes, thoraxes and abdomens often called bodies. These bodies can be built directly on the hook shank or be developed as an extended body which extends past the bend of the hook.
Extended fly body patterns have been around for more than a century and have evolved to include many variations. Early tiers called extended bodies either detached (when mounted immediately behind the wing) or semi-detached (when mounted mid-shank or beyond. Some extended bodies only use feathers, some use animal hair while others use synthetic materials. Some are simple to create while others are more complicated. So why should we consider using extended bodies in our fly designs. Even though there are plenty of effective fly patterns that have their bodies built around the hook shank, there are a few ideas that we should consider. A fly that has an extended body looks more realistic and life like. Some extended bodies provide good segmentation which is more characteristic of the natural as well as improving their silhouette. 
Leonardo da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication”. 
To-night’s presentation introduces you to a way to make simple and life like extended bodies. 
Each fly you offer to a fish must provide the impression of life. This illusion is created by shape, size, colour, silhouette, texture and movement. Most of these can be a primary trigger response while some may become secondary trigger responses. However, the fish sets the terms of the engagement. I consider texture as an important secondary trigger response. Texture is often an overlooked element in the design of an effective fly. Examples of texture include meaty, soft, chewy and crunchy on the outside. Flies that have furled bodies emphasize a meaty and chewy texture. The longer a fish holds onto the fly because of a positive reaction due to texture, you will have a greater chance to set the hook. After texture, I tend to focus on shape, size and colour. Shape addresses bulk and taper. Common shapes are cone like, tubular, round and flat. 

The extended bodies that we will create this evening use a process called furling. Furling means, "to gather into a compact roll and bind securely"; from a fly tying perspective, furling involves twisting a material and allowing it to fold and wrap around itself. The end result is a durable tapered body that is simple to create. A furled body can be incorporated into any fly pattern that uses an extended body. The most common application of furling is the creation of extended bodies, but antennas and legs can also benefit from this technique.
Texture and strength are the major characteristics to consider when choosing a material to furl. Also, you may want to consider if the material is to shed water or hold water. Materials that can be furled are synthetic and non-synthetic yarns, silk floss, super stretch floss, dubbing brushes, chenilles, rubber and monofilament. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different materials which often will result in unique body designs. When using soft materials such as Anton, dipping the completed furled body in Softex prior to tie in provides additional durability and reduces the chance of the extended body from fouling around the hook bend.
Furled bodies also offer the added benefit of built in segmentation, ideal when tying damsel and dragonfly nymphs and extended body dry fly patterns. Segmentation is a byproduct of direct pressure and the number of twists applied while furling. The more pressure and twists you use the greater the segmentation. When tying in a furled body, use firm thread pressure and a number of wraps to bind the body to the hook shank. To ensure that the body remains on top of the hook shank, firmly hold and twist the body during the tie in process. 
Furling can also be used to create durable cores for large articulated patterns. 
There are three techniques that can be used to furl a body. These are the finger roll, using the vise as an anchor or furling directly on the hook. Each technique has its place and provides options in developing a furled extended body.

Para Glen

The Para Glen embodies a simple but effective parachute pattern which requires a minimum number of materials. The ease of the tying procedure allows the fly to be tied very quickly. It is very effective when fished as an indicator with a smaller submerged nymph on a dropper. With the bulk of the hook shank bare, it fishes like a parachute even though the hackle is wrapped around the hook and not around the post; in essence, a parachute that’s not. The fly tier can modify the pattern to match almost any size and colour of mayfly.
Hook: Tiemco 100 (dry fly hook) sizes #12-#20
Thread: 6/0 to 8/0, colour to match the body and wings
Body/Wing: Polypropylene yarn, colour to match the insect
Hackle: Grizzly

Tying Instructions:
Apply a thread base directly behind the hook eye which only covers the front ¼ of the hook shank. The back ¾ is to remain bare so it will sink quickly.
Tie in the poly yarn behind the eye to form the post and continue to bind down the poly yarn to form a small thorax.
Twist the poly yarn that extends to the rear very tight until it starts to bundle upon itself.
Take your bodkin at the fly’s body length point and fold over the poly yarn. Have your fingers hold both strands of poly yarn where your thread left off.
Remove the bodkin to allow the poly yarn strands to twist together. The furled body is now formed. Secure the furled body to the hook shank with a few wraps of thread.
Tie in the hackle feather directly behind the extended body and then advance the tread in front of the furled body.
Wrap the hackle 2 turns behind the body and then several more in front of the body. Tie off directly behind the wing and whip finish. 

Green Drake

This mayfly has a very robust profile which attracts a lot of attention from trout. Alberta is fortunate to have prolific Green Drake hatches in many of our streams, rivers and to a lesser degree, some small lakes. Nymphs prefer riffly water, but they will emerge in moderate flows. Emergence usually takes place in the late afternoon and early evening sometime in late May and through June. Hatches are short lived only lasting one or two weeks on any specific water.
When fishing this fly, don’t skate it: just twitch it to cause a disturbance on the water’s surface. This pattern rides low in the film simulating a struggling natural dun. Use fly floatant to avoid the fly going subsurface.

Hook: Tiemco 200R-BL (straight eye, 3x long curved shank) sizes #8-#12
Thread: 6/0 to 8/0 black
Eyes: Black Plastic, extra small to small
Extended Body: Dark olive and gold antron
Post: Dark olive and gold antron
Legs: Speckled olive rubber legs, medium
Thorax/Head: Olive dubbing 
Hackle: Grizzly dyed olive

Tying Instructions:
Select a full portion of dark antron and a smaller portion of gold antron and secure both colour segments in the vise.
Twist them tightly together. Watch the segments as they develop a mottling effect. Fold this antron rope in half using your fingers allowing the furling effect to occur.
Dip 2/3 of the furled abdomen in Softex to increase its durability and to reduce the chances of fouling the furled body around the hook. Set aside to dry.
Secure the hook in the vise and apply a thread base from the hook eye to the 3/4 point and then return the thread slightly behind the hook eye.
Tie in the plastic eyes and secure with a drop of cement.
Measure the abdomen length from the hook eye to the barb. Tie in the abdomen at the ¼ mark from the hook eye ensuring that the abdomen is securely fastened on top of the hook shank. Bind the abdomen down to the ¾ mark and advance thread back to the head of the abdomen.
Take the unfurled antron and build a post so that it is perpendicular to the hook shank.
Strip away the fuzzy material from the base of the hackle feather and bind the bare stem onto the wing post.
Move the thread to where the extended body occurs and form a dubbing loop. Fill the loop with dubbing and form a dubbing noodle. Wrap the dubbing noodle up to the wing post.
Tie in the rubber legs on each side of the fly just in front of the wing post.
Form another dubbing loop and continue building the body pass the eyes up to the hook eye and whip finish.
Re-attach the tread at the base of the wing post creating a small thread base for wrapping the hackle around.
Wrap the hackle working down to the base of the wing post and whip finish to lock down the feather.


There are over 400 different species of dragonflies in North America. This evening’s pattern is known as a Green Darner. All dragonflies are big and bulky suggesting themselves as a meaty morsel and therefore are an important food source to trout. Dragonflies like their name suggests are furious predators and are at the top of the food chain in the insect world.  Sometimes they are motionless waiting for their next victim while other times they move with lightning speed to capture their prey. Darners are found in lakes, ponds and pools of rivers and streams. They are most active in the summer which coincides with their mating flights. The female darners have tan or rusty coloration while the males have darker greens with hints of blue and purple.

Recipe (Female Green Darner)
Hook: Tiemco 200R (straight eye, 3x long curved shank) sizes #4-#6
Thread: 6/0 camel
Eyes: Olive or Black Plastic, large
Extended Body: Caddis green, tan and rust antron
Wings: Pale olive super floss
Thorax: Light olive and dark green dubbings blended
Head: Antron fibers from the extended body

Tying Instructions:
Select 3 equal portions of green, tan and rusty antron and construct a furled abdomen that is about 1-1/2 times the length of the overall hook. Dip 2/3 of the furled abdomen into Softex and let dry.
Secure the hook in the vise and wrap a small thread base behind the hook eye. Tie in the furled abdomen behind the hook eye and add drop of cement for extra security.
Tie in the plastic eyes behind the hook eye and on top of the antron fibers. Bind down the furled abdomen back towards the hook gap but stop where the shank begins to drop off. Apply cement to the bound down abdomen.
At the rear portion, create a dubbing loop and then advance the thread to mid-shank. Create a dubbing brush with the thorax dubbing materials. Wrap the dubbing brush forward to the ¼ mark ensuring that you pull the fibers towards the rear so you have long flowing fibers together with a mottled look so a natural looking thorax of light and dark is achieved.
Use 3- 4” to 6” lengths of the Super Floss to provide the illusion of wings. Fold and double the floss so it lies on both sides of the hook shank. Use a material clip or a piece of tape to hold the floss wings so they are stretched to the rear of the fly.
Make another dubbing loop to produce another dubbing brush using the same thorax material as before filling the gap between the wings and the plastic eyes.
Comb out the antron fibers from the abdomen and pull back over top of the plastic eyes. Secure with a few tight wraps and then whip finish.
Trim off the antron material to a length of ¾ of the thorax.

Trim the floss wings to match the length of the furled abdomen making sure that the floss is relaxed prior to cutting.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Changes to Purchasing Your Fishing Licenses in Alberta on Line

Alberta Relm is upgrading their web site. This is the web site that we use to purchase our fishing license on line!

Take a look right here for the details!

Monday, March 10, 2014

PMDs and Ants with Tim Maley

 Hi Everybody!

Spring is finally showing itself as we take in our final three sessions of the fly tying season. Tonight Tom Maley showed us some very innovative ant and PMD patterns that will certainly be fish catchers. It is fun to see Tim show us how to take rubber shelving material and transform it into an ant pattern that will fool fussy trout. For 8 dollars you can have enough tying material for 20 guys tying ants for life! Wow! Tim also showed us a second ant pattern that he came up with. For our final fly of the evening, we tied a PMD pattern that you can find in Shane Stalcup's book, Mayflies -Top to Bottom!

Next week, Doug Pullen is our guest instructor. You know Doug has planned an educational evening of fly tying. Come on out for the second last session of the season!

Biot PMD

Hook: Standard dr fly #14-18
Tail: Antron
Rib: Thread PMD 8/0
Body: Turkey Biot
Wing: Medallion sheeting
Thorax: CDC

Shelving material makes great ants!

Tim's Ant #1

Hook: Standard dry fly size 16
Body: Shelving material
Wing: White Antron
Legs: Black Flashabou

Tim's Ant #2

Hook: Standard dry fly size 16
Under Body: Black antron
Over Body: Black 2 mm foam
Wing: White antron
Legs: Black antron

Monday, March 3, 2014

Terrestrials and an Ant with Larry Prowse

Eighteen fly tyers came out to take in Larry Prowse's presentation that included three excellent fly patterns. The first pattern was developed by Mike Lawson. It is called the Henry's Fork Foam Golden Stone. This pattern included using EP fibres for the wing and a unique way to finish the front of the fly. We then tied Davie McPhail's Black Cricket. It is a very neat looking pattern that will have a welcome spot in my fly box. We had time to also tie Mike's Honey Ant. Another excellent pattern.

Remember that the IF4 Film Festival is this Thursday at Carnival Theatre. Josh Nugent will be there to greet you at 6:30 p.m. with the films starting at 7 p.m. You can get your tickets on line right here. You save a few bucks by getting your ticket on line!

Next week, Tim Maley is our guest tyer. See you then!

Henry's Fork Foam Golden Stone (Mike Lawson originator)

Hook: Mustad 9672 size 10 or TMC 5212 size 10
Thread: TMC 70 rust brown
Egg Sac: Crystal Flash Balck Pearl
Overbody: 2 mm Cinnamon Foam
Head: Razor Foam Brown
Dubbing: Wapsi Ginger
Wing: EP Fibers Golden Olive
Legs: Barred Pumpkin

Davie's Black Cricket (Davie McPhail originator)

Hook: TMC 100 size 10
Thread: Black UTC Black 70 denier
Tail: Black Turkey Biots
Body 1: Micro Thin Foam
Body 2: Black Superfine Dubbing
Back: Micro Thin Foam
Legs: Dyed Black Turkey Biots
Legs 2: Dyed Black Hen Hackle
Thorax Cover: Micro Thin Foam
Head: Black Superfine Dubbing
Horns: Dyed Black Pheasant Tail

Mike's Honey Ant

Hook: TMC 100 #14-18
Thread: TMC Olive 70 Denier
Abdomen: Wapsi Sow Bug Dubbing
Legs: Pearlescent Copper Krystal Flash
Wing: Dun zelon
Head: Rusty Brown Opossum