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Are we regressing?


Don Andersen

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Guys/Gals,

 

I've looked over a sack full of flies over the past years and one thing became apparent. We are coming full circle. The Birts took the lead with the Salmon flies in the 1800's and now most tiers are regressing to that level of piling things on.

If you look @ the most successful flies of all time, you will notice that they rarely have more than five and usually four items tied on the hook [ dicounting the hook and thread]

But what seems to entertain a lot of us now is how many things can be attached to a hook.

The most successful stillwater fly I've ever used [ Catatonic Leech] has just one material - marabou, Chromies are 4 material flies + a bead if you're slanted that way.

So here's the challange, can we make them as simple as the Adams and will they still work?

 

For some examples of simple patterns that work - here they are - not a bunch of materials tacked on just because we got them.

 

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Don, the quickie or guide patterns are great, durable and effective but tying flies is almost a separate discipline from our fishing. For many tying is enjoyed equally as much as a day on the water. The procurement of materials, new techniques and the creation of our own designs that fool a fish or fail are as necessary as the fish to our fullest enjoyment of this contemplative pastime. I see nothing untoward about using numerous materials as long as the pattern doesn’t become choked. Too much material even in simple patterns will hinder the translucence or breathing ability inherent in the material and in the other parts of the fly. The sparse quality that allows a pattern to breath/move in the water must remain present to have a successful pattern that can trigger a feeding response. Also the translucent qualities of materials, another trigger, must not be sacrificed with the application of too much material. The silhouette each material produces is another trigger our imitations require to be winners. So using all the materials we think are need on our creations is artful if we build our patterns with these thoughts foremost. Your reduced patterns are successful because they follow these principals allowing the pattern and material to work its magic. That said, we know there are still no guarantees when it comes to a hungry or finicky fish.

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Wally,

 

Fly tying can be an art form. Traditional Salmon flies are certainly that. But, cutting to the chase, we tie to catch fish. Least I do. They should be the only judge of what works.

I seen some god-awful things chucked out there. Sometimes they catch fish, but more often that not, they just clog up the air.

 

With the enormous selection of petro-chemical products availabe to to tier today, there is no end to the stuff that can/will stacked on a hook. The question is - -should it be?

 

Looking @ bugs, sure they are full of little [ emphasis on little things hanging out all over the place], but I'm not sure that we have to imitate all the little portudances.

Some of the most effective flies out there have to be midges. And the simplest I've ever used was just a thread body with 2 wraps of herl @ the head. Worked like magic on the Crow in the fall.

 

 

How's the retirement thing going. Miss work yet?

 

regards,

 

 

Don

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Agreed, but if tyed within the outlines I suggest exact duplication of bug life is probably not an option though far be it from me to say what anyone fishes with. I imitate not duplicate so if a new material can enhance a pattern I'm willing to give it a try, or a new technique.

 

I've noticed that last years pattern sometimes just doesn't work as well as it did the previous year and then I need to find another that will. Yet the old is kept and used again another day. It's the new ones the experiments that I turn to looking for "Shuptons Fancy."

 

Not enough hours in a day just too much fun doing what I want to. Miss work never!

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All I ever use are simple patterns and am of the opinion that presentation is way more important than pattern in catching fish. Some people enjoy tying intricate patterns and that is cool for them. There is a great deal of satisfaction in improving one's skills and abilities.

 

Sometimes I think that the drive for new materials and patterns has to do with marketing more than anything. Every new material is sold with the promise of more and bigger fish and for maybe 5% of the time it turns out to be true, most of the wonder stuff just get pushed aside by the newest super material. It gets people buying and keeps the economy moving. Nobody wants to miss out on more and bigger fish so there is a lot of power in the 'new and improved' argument.

 

Me, I think I would rather spend that money on fishing gas. I also think it is kind of funny when I show people the flies that I have been catching fish on. They seem to think that one needs to put a lot more effort into tying in order to catch fish. But hey, each to their own.

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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Don,

 

I agree with you that some tiers are making flies that are way too complicated, but they are tying flies to catch anglers, not to catch fish.

 

But most people are still tying simple patterns that work. At least that's what I do most of the time. Once in a while I will try something a little more difficult, but only for the practice. If it works then I see what can be removed so it still works.

 

I remember George Griffiths saying in an interview that he tied a fly to match a hatch when his old patterns wouldn't work. Then he started removing materials, and ended up with the Griffith's Gnat which, with two materials, is almost as minimalist as you can get.

 

I have a midge pattern that consists of tying thread and nothing else. I'm working on a bare hook pattern. ;)

 

Michael

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Don,

 

I agree with you that some tiers are making flies that are way too complicated, but they are tying flies to catch anglers, not to catch fish.

 

But most people are still tying simple patterns that work. At least that's what I do most of the time. Once in a while I will try something a little more difficult, but only for the practice. If it works then I see what can be removed so it still works.

 

I remember George Griffiths saying in an interview that he tied a fly to match a hatch when his old patterns wouldn't work. Then he started removing materials, and ended up with the Griffith's Gnat which, with two materials, is almost as minimalist as you can get.

 

I have a midge pattern that consists of tying thread and nothing else. I'm working on a bare hook pattern. ;)

 

Michael

Isn't that when the bait been stolen?

 

Can't wait for June and the Babine. Is it too soon to know yet if you're interested?

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I hate to come down on everything new so I thought I would also mention some "new" materials that I have really bonded with:

 

Foam - especially for making floating backswimmers and boobies.

 

Beads - well they are relatively new and have almost become a standard feature on nymphs

 

Heavy wire - The stuff that is used on San Juan worms.

 

CDC - it is kind of handy

 

I would say that the rubber legs used for backswimmers are another good new item but they have been around for a while.

 

I am sure there are other new things that I have bought but these four have really become welcome additions to the ol tying box.

 

Cheers,

 

Tim

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Hey Don,

 

I've tyed Rangeley patterns for years. A little complex but not too bad if tyed in a conveyor belt method. Great patterns in the mountain lakes.

 

For simple flies my Snow Shoe Hare (SSH) patterns are as easy as they get. Bunny and more bunny. Stoneflies, crickets, mayflies, caddis, and attractors all made with bunny. The only downside to having lots of bunny feet around is my daughter and her friends always want to have a "Lucky" bunny foot!

 

The Teeny nymph is another good one. All pheasant.

 

Cheers,

 

Alan

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Al,

 

Weren't Rangley Flies trolling flies tied to catch fishermen & boost the income of the tier.

 

And The Usual is a great fly. Two materials only.

 

 

And which one of the two pictures below would do the most catching?

 

Queen Victoria or the Little Black Dress....

 

 

 

 

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Hey Don,

 

Yep, the Usual and the other SSH patterns of mine are great. Mostly only 1 material with sometimes two colors.

 

The Rangeley's when used as trolling or casting streamers are killers. In the mountain lakes, they catch fish as well and usually better than most of the patterns used by other folks when I am there. The locals and guides with bait rarely have better days than me and my boys. Like Spey flies, they do take a bit of skill to tie.

 

Of your two pictures, as a subject of a queen - you should know the answer. The queen pictured owned a pretty good chunk of the world. Comparing the blond in the black dress to the Queen, is no comparision. The blond would do good getting a Calgary oil exec with a BMW, that Queen owned Canada. But I agree the blond would probably be more fun, except maybe on shoot days at Sandringham.

 

Softhackles are other classic and simple type of pattern to tie. Usually only 2 to 4 materials are needed to tie them. Lug and woodcock being one of my favorites.

 

Cheers,

 

Alberta Al

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Al,

 

Weren't Rangley Flies trolling flies tied to catch fishermen & boost the income of the tier.

 

And The Usual is a great fly. Two materials only.

 

 

And which one of the two pictures below would do the most catching?

 

Queen Victoria or the Little Black Dress....

 

 

 

 

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Tradition is hard to break we see it in the flies we drown and in the tools we use. We can use graphite (black dress) or bamboo (Vicky) what ever works. :D
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Re above post: The Woman on the left looks that way 'cause she wants all your money. The Woman on the Right already has it...

 

Who's caught who you ask?

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Guys,

 

Black is where it's at? Graphite is black - least the cheaper ones are. Good ones are green. How do you make graphite green?

 

Still, all in all, if I was fishing and intending to catch anything, Queen Vic doesn't cut it.

 

No I'm not against technology. Spent all day tying petrochemicals on hooks and attempting to get them translated to digital messages.

 

Looking @ the new Pentax WP10 for better close-ups.

 

Don

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Read the article by Jeremy Daivies in this months Fly Fusion Magazine. He raised some interesting points about this very topic... of "keeping things" simple and the use of synthetic materials.

Edited by RangerBob
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RB.....

 

Read the article. I use a bettle made of three materials, blk. foam [ resuced from a back pack shoulder strap], herl body and black hen hackle. Fish it c/w a indicator in the tippet knot. No need for colored posts then.

Not sure what the biots on the article's fly are for.

 

regards,

 

 

Don

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Been to Big "E" and back spent my Jack money 75.00$ on additional material for my library! Found a new book at Chapters by C. Boyd Pfeiffer, 2005, SIMPLE FLIES "flies you can tie with three materials or less (exclusive of hook & thread)." Got a few of everything in this one streamers. dries, terrestrials, poppers, nymphs, wets and saltwater flies too. 178 pages with a pile of flies and illustrations; haven't had a complete read yet but sure fits well with this topic.

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It was 39.00 Kanuck and I think a good buy; a few patterns of the couple hundred listed I haven't see so it works for me. Best bet would be to find one on the shelves and have a look.

 

Also picked up a copy of ROD RAGE by Rhea Topping, "The ultimate guide to Angling Ethics." Never hurts to bone up on my manners on the water. I know we all run into unethical behaviour and it can spoil a good day. Here's a place to start a little conformity in our fishing interactions. 33.95 Jack money so I over spent a little but nice additions to my library.

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Been to Big "E" and back spent my Jack money 75.00$ on additional material for my library! Found a new book at Chapters by C. Boyd Pfeiffer, 2005, SIMPLE FLIES "flies you can tie with three materials or less (exclusive of hook & thread)." Got a few of everything in this one streamers. dries, terrestrials, poppers, nymphs, wets and saltwater flies too. 178 pages with a pile of flies and illustrations; haven't had a complete read yet but sure fits well with this topic.

The simple ones are the effective ones. Link to book here.

 

http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/item/b...89/Simple+Flies

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My take is that simple flies come from four sources.

1. Very old patterns where materials were limited and tying techniques basic

2. Field experience where a few quality materials impart more life to a fly

3. Commercial tyers who want to turn out flies at a high rate.

4. Fishers who are tired of losing time consuming patterns to trees and fish

Any of these is a fine reason to tie simple flies.

 

That's not to say that some complex patterns don't work well.

For classic atlantic salmon flies, most can hardly be called simple.

Yet they must work well enough to have survived the sustained effort (and high cost) required to tie them and use them on the fish.

 

And on the synthetic versus natural material debate:

Some natural materials are becoming hard to come by and can run afoul of environmental issues. And can you really lump todays' fine genetic hackle in with older "natural material"? Allthough of organic origin, it is the product of an agricultural research and development process.

 

I'd also say that today's tying threads are far from natural or simple.

Even where they use natural cotton, the manufacturing process is far from simple, and produces a product that is a far cry from the original silk. Yet one would be hard pressed to say it doesn't work well for tying simple flies or eschew (how do you like that word) its use simply because it's an artificial material.

 

Ditto mylar tinsel when compared to the tin based stuff early tyers used. Just try to find shiney ribbing that isn't the result of a complex extraction, refining and manufacturing process.

 

All I'm saying is that most materials used to tie flies today are way different from what the pattern originators of Skews, Walton and Sawyers days used. So in some respects most flies today are largely based on synthetic or manmade materials.

 

In my view, its' not the material's provenance (another nice word eh?) that's important, but how well it performs when incorporated into a fly and how it looks and moves in the water that is the critical test.

 

On the other hand, a true partridge and orange works best if one uses Pearsalls silk as a tying thread, dyed rabbit dubbing for the throax and natural partridge for the hackle. It has something to do with how those materials change color, trap air and breathe with movement when fished. Easy to tie too.

Edited by dave robinson
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http://www.midcurrent.com/articles/gear/cutchin_kalax.aspx

 

I just ordered one of these "KalaX" doojiggers. Looks like a good idea; I'm forever filling the bath to test my experiments. The thing produces a current; apparently at differing speeds too. Should make it easier to determine if I'm using the right material for the application.

 

Good post Dave!

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