Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Rabbit Strip Patterns That Do Not Foul Your Hook

Tie in some rabbbit strips and then add a few turns of rabbit on the shank done! Not so fast! Yes there is a problem with rabbit strips.. They can foul the hook so they do need some reinforcement near the curve of the hook shank so the rabbit strip does not droop too badly and tangle on the tip of the hook.

There are two or three simple solutions to the problem. Try tying in some bucktail first to help prop up the rabbit strip, or use some 20 pound mono in a loop. Some tyers like to poke a hole in their rabbit strip and loop some mono through to add some reinforcement so the rabbit strip will not droop. All of these ideas work well. They add just a single extra step that will definitely help on the water! Rabbit strip leeches move so nicely in the water although they can get heavy when wet. They will certainly get the attention of a big brown trout, pike, walleye or what ever you are targeting in the water.

...a simple idea that will save you some frustration on the water!


Monday, March 27, 2023


John Kent developed this great little pattern many years ago. He initially used a glass orange bead, then a brass orange bead and now; we can tie them up with tungsten Head Turner Beads on jig hooks.

I love head turner beads because you can hang this pattern under a strike indicator in a balanced (horizontal presentation) fashion by using a clinch knot and sliding the knot slightly towards the body of the fly. The tail is olive marabou, the body is a blend of olive rabbit with a pinch of olive ice dub and the hackle is orange. You can keep the hackle sparse by stripping the hackle fibers off of one side of the feather. If you die your own hackle feathers, try unsweetened kool aid with grizzly hackle. John did not reinforce the hackle with wire because he figured the hackle was buried far enough inside the dubbing to keep it from falling apart. Many tyers do decide to add a wire rib to reinforce their pumpkinheads. I do not!

Remember you can purchase head turner beads from Canadian Llama Company.


What Is Your "Go To " Balanced Leech?

Where did this snow storm come from? Spring weather in Red Deer, so unpredictable. I have been at my tying vice trying to fill in the gaps in my tying kit and as I discovered, there are a lot of gaps! My mind has been visualizing getting back out on the water, so I had better get busy! Blood worms, chironomids, and balanced flies have been on my tying vice lately. 

Last week, Parks Canada opened bookings in their new and improved system to secure backcountry camp sites. Karen and I love backpacking and fly fishing in the National Parks in Alberta. We feel so lucky to have to opportunity to enjoy such a spectacular place. The backcountry since COVID has become popular but 99% of those individuals do not fly fish! We were lucky enough to get several backcountry bookings!

Last night I was tying up some damsel patterns for an upcoming trip and then some balanced flies. I got thinking about what are the flies that are your "confidence" flies. We all have them, me included. I always have a variety of balanced flies but the Vampire Leech (Todd Oishi) and the Bruised Leech (Phil Rowley) seem to be the two that I reach for. I have also been tying up a lot of Tokaryk Specials. The Tokaryk Special was developed for fly fishing in the Parkland Region of Manitoba. I have had great success with this simple little pattern. Oh yes, my friend, Dave Green developed the Candy Corn. Another great pattern that I use not only for trout but also walleye!

What are your "Go To" balanced leeches? If you have time, send me a note and a picture and I will post them. Everyone definitely has their favourites. Me included!

Don't forget that fly tying sessions on Monday night are now over. Be sure to get your fly fishing license from Alberta Relm. Download the APP for your phone RIGHT HERE! That way you will always have your fishing license on your phone, unless you are over 65 years of age.

...and now it is time to reach for my snow shovel! ...sigh!


Friday, March 24, 2023

Fly Tying Mondays Have Come to the End of the Season

 Hi Everyone!

Our host for fly tying Mondays, Adam, has headed to BC to help his parents who are having some medical challenges. Fly Tying Mondays are now over for the season.

We have had an amazing season. I want to add my personal thanks to all of the presenters. It has been very satisfying to get the group back together face to face.

We will get back to it in November of 2023. Enjoy the upcoming season. Spring has sprung!

Remember to head over to Alberta Relm to get your fly fishing license for the season unless you are older than 65!

Do check the blog! I will be posting updates on open water and posting fly patterns that maybe useful for your adventures.


I am gearing up for several trips so my tying area is quite the mess. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Winning River Nymphs with Garnet Clews

Garnet is a river fly fisher. He loves rowing his drift boat down the Bow River or  heading into Montana to enjoy some days on the Missouri River with friends. Garnet shared three excellent fly patterns that he uses a lot when on the Bow or Missouri when he is nymphing. Garnet knows "what works" and he was kind enough to share some winning nymphs if you can present them at the right depth with a drag free drift! We also spent some time looking at how to set up a home made nymphing system. I added some animated knots that will help you make your own leaders. Thanks for the delightful evening Garnet!

This Saturday at 12 noon is the IF4 Film Festival in Olds. You can get tickets RIGHT HERE!

Next week,  Larry Prowse is our guest tyer. This is our final tying session of the season. See you then.

San Juan Worm

Hook: Mustad 37160 size 4 spray painted red
Body: Stretch tubing, medium (Wapsi)
Rib: Copper wire
Thread: Red 140 denier
Bead: Brass or tungsten depending on depth and speed of river

Olive Thread Frenchie (see video)

Ambush PMD Nymph

Hook: Jig Hook size 14-16
Slotted Bead to match
Tail: Coq de Leon
Body: Thread, dark brown
Wing Case yellow razor foam

Below are three knots that you will find useful in constructing your own leader.

Building a 4x leader with Tim Flagler

Perfection Loop

Blood Knot

Surgeon's Knot


Monday, March 13, 2023

Extended Body Parachute Mayflies with Rick Miyauchi

A few weeks ago, Rick Miyauchi offered to do a second fly tying session for our group! There was a request to do extended body flies and another to do a session on parachute flies. Well Rick was able to put the two tying ideas into one session! After tying a basic Klinkhammer like fly so everyone could learn how to tie a parachute onto a fly, the group learned how to tie extended body flies. We focussed on green and brown drakes. That was an excellent decision because we see brown drakes on the Red Deer River and green drakes can be found in so many locations on flowing water in Alberta. Once everyone got the hang of tying an extended foam bodies using a long narrow sewing needle; adding a post, thorax and parachute hackle made the green and brown drake mayflies look like an imposter that will definitely fool the wary brown trout and suspicious rainbows and cutthroat trout.

Thanks Rick for the fantastic instruction. We all learned a lot!

Next week, Garnet Clews is our guest presenter. Garnet asks you to bring 70 denier olive thread, thin resin like Loon Flow or something similar, thin brown thread (the thinner the better) and a nail knot tool!

Turn the fly 90 degrees to install the hackle.

Klinkhammer Special (Originator: Hans van Klinken)

Hook: Klinkhammer Style or Mustad C49s
Thread: UTC 70 color to match
Post: Polypropelene Yarn-color to suit visibility
Body: Natural Fur
Rib: Optional: wire or tinsel
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Dry Fly grade: grizzly, brown or dun

Extended Body Mayfly (green, brown drake, hexagenia)

Hook: Curved Scud Hook
Thread: UTC 70 color to match
Post: Polypropelene Yarn-color to suit visibility
Body: 2 mm sheet foam, cut strips 3-4mm in width
Rib: Tying Thread
Tail: 4-5 black or natural pheasant tain fibres
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Dry Fly grade: grizzly, brown or dun
Markers: Waterproof to add maottling

Two examples of drakes tied with deer hair bodies.


This brown ate a brown drake imposter!

Brown Drakes

Perfectly Tied Jecinda

Doug with a perfectly tied brown drake!

Oh Garnet!


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Thanks to Eugene, Jecinda, Willy, George, Garnet and their Helpers at the Sportsman Show

The Red Deer Sportsman Show was this past weekend. I was away but Willy organized an army of volunteers to help with fly tying demonstrations. The gang even got many of the attendees to tie their first flies. This is outstanding positive public relations for our club! 

I wanted to give a huge shout out to the volunteers. I know that Willy spearheads the effort to make this weekend a success. Well done everyone!


Monday, March 6, 2023

Some Excellent Chironomid Patterns to Add to Your Fly Box

Chironomids are a staple for all stillwater fly fishers. There are so many chironomid patterns out there. Many tyers will gear their patterns to match the colours of their local chironomids. Tonight we took a look at 4 great chironomid patterns. The blue dun thread chironomid, two antistatic chironomids and a basic black and red chironomid where we blended threads.

Here are some places you can buy precut Antistatic Bag (there are definitely other sources too) Tonight we used .5mm antistatic strips:

5. Contact: Heidi Barby on Facebook

Next week, Rick Miyauchi is our guest tyer. Rick is going to be tying some extended body mayflies. Bring a long needle that is not too thick (sewing needle). I think we will also be tying some parachute flies. See you next week!

Adult chironomids


Blue Dun Chironomid (BC FlyGuys)

Hook: 1760 size 14
Bead: Black, 3/32nd
Gills: Unistretch
Rib: UTC 70 thread
Body: Blue Dun Thread 8/0
Collar: Burnt Orange UTC 70

Black and Red Chironomid with Blended Thread

Hook: 1760 sizes 16-12
Bead: White 3/32nd
Thread: UTC Black and Red 8/0
Rib: Red wire extra small