I watched “Mysis Mike” Kingsbury throw a forged upstream to a pod of feeding browns. Mysis Mike’s dry fly disappeared in a swirl, and he waited a full depend earlier than firmly lifting his rod, driving the hook level house. His rod buckled and bounced, and I waltzed upstream to see the fish. Blue-winged olives hatched in earnest throughout me.
“What fly are you utilizing?” I requested Mike, as soon as he pulled the hook free. He knelt and cradled the massive brown — a pleasant 21-inch trout — within the water, admiring the fish’s pale yellows and brilliant blues.
“A hook,” Mike replied.
Mike’s not the sort to make smartass feedback, so I requested to see his rod. Certain sufficient, secured within the hook keeper was a measurement 18 dry fly hook. Just a few strands of black thread clung to the in any other case naked shank.
“It was a Griffiths gnat, but it surely obtained chewed up and I don’t have anymore,” Mike defined, not taking his eyes off the fish. He held it calmly, supporting it within the water whereas it gathered the energy to swim off. “They don’t need the rest in my field.”
Mysis Mike mentioned he’d been fishing that “Griffiths gnat” for the higher a part of an hour. I shook my head and grinned, as a result of Mike’s the sort of man who pulls off feats like that regularly, utterly unaware of simply how uniquely gifted he’s.
I tied on a Griffiths gnat and obtained into some fish, however I realized shortly that the flies I’d tied weren’t as much as the job. I’d get a couple of fish out of every one earlier than it devolved right into a thread-and-hook affair. Regardless of making an attempt, I couldn’t catch fish with that, though Mike didn’t change his fly once more till the hatch ended.
Since then, I’ve spent a good bit of time making an attempt to tie flies that can last more. After I began guiding three years in the past, that want for sturdy flies grew extra urgent. Cobbled collectively from suggestions from the blokes at Fly Fish Meals, my native fly store, and experiments of my very own, these are 5 issues I do this assist my flies last more.
Use GSP Thread
On dry flies, the fabric that fails first is often the hackle. Typically, that’s as a consequence of fish chomping on it, or grabbing it with forceps or hemostats when eradicating the fly from a fish’s mouth. Typically, nevertheless, hackle fails on a fly as a result of it slips free from the thread wraps which are alleged to lock it in place. For some time, I attributed this to me failing to bind the thread down tightly sufficient. Nevertheless, as I attempted so as to add extra stress to these hackle-securing wraps, I stored breaking thread. On the time, I completely used UTC Extremely 70 denier thread.
Then somebody handed me a spool of Semper Fli Nano Silk, and I by no means regarded again. This new gel-spun polyethylene (GSP) thread lays extremely flat, however is h4er by virtually an order of magnitude than another conventional fly tying threads. I do know one skilled tier who switched to GSP thread when it first hit the scene, and he informed me he’d damaged hooks in his vise whereas making an attempt to get his thread to interrupt.
Is that an exaggeration? Perhaps, however I can vouch for it. Since switching to GSP thread, I haven’t had my thread break as soon as whereas tying. I’m in a position to crank up the stress when cinching down hackle. And whereas my hackle nonetheless succumbs to fish, I’ve observed a definite lower in how typically hackle slips freed from the thread wraps.
And it certain is sweet to not take care of thread breaking on me whereas on the vise.
I do my finest to help native fly outlets. I purchase as lots of my fly tying provides as potential from them, however I’ve tried each sort of head cement and resin on the cabinets and have but to search out one thing as efficient at retaining thread locked down pretty much as good ol’ superglue.
My go-to is the Brush-On Krazy Glue. This glue is skinny sufficient you possibly can brush it on thread and whip-finish your fly earlier than it dries. Whereas there are many fly-tying particular glues with brush-on applicators, you often need to skinny the glue earlier than use. Krazy Glue is able to use proper out of the bottle, and it’s low cost.
Along with utilizing it on thread simply previous to a whip end, Krazy Glue works wonders in securing normally-fragile our bodies and supplies to the hook. Keep in mind how shortly my Griffiths gnats fell aside? After that journey, I began laying down a base of Krazy Glue, then wrapping the peacock herl across the shank. The glue binds the delicate peacock herl to the shank virtually immediately, and I’ve truly discovered the hackle getting chewed off my flies earlier than dropping any of the peacock herl.
Use Forceps and Pliers Appropriately
With the mountains of educational supplies on-line, you’d suppose most fly anglers would have higher abilities when utilizing forceps to take away flies from a fish’s mouth. Sadly, that’s not the case. Typically, I see individuals simply seize the fly with their forceps and yank and pull and tug, making an attempt to tear their hook free. Much more typically, I catch fish on my native tailwater which are lacking mandibles, or have severely deformed tongues, due to improperly eliminated hooks.
The correct technique to take away hooks with forceps is to roll the hook barely side-to-side, then gently rotate the hook out in the other way from which it caught the fish. For those who’re utilizing barbless hooks, you gained’t even have to roll the fly. A easy flip along with your forceps will free the fly.
However what does this need to do with serving to your flies last more? Properly, once I watch individuals seize and take away flies, I typically see them seize the fragile our bodies of flies. Even a superglued zebra midge gained’t final lengthy when it’s yanked on by serrated metal jaws.
As an alternative, be sure to’re grabbing the fly by the bend of the hook, or another naked half the place you possibly can simply clamp your forceps. This not solely helps enhance your catch-and-release efforts by growing the management you could have of the fly as you take away it, it extends the lifetime of your flies.
Overhackle Your Dries
Until you’re particularly making an attempt for a sparse look (possibly you’re tying emergers or spent-wings) along with your dries, I like to recommend utilizing extra hackle than you suppose you want. I truly picked this trick up from my grandfather, who tied commercially for 27 years. He all the time put tons of hackle on his dry flies, and I’d balk at his defiance of the directions in my fly tying books (books he’d given me!). When flies known as for not more than 4 wraps of hackle, Grandpa used a dozen.
His flies hardly ever misplaced their hackle, although, and I lastly stop following directions to the letter. I nonetheless don’t use as a lot hackle as Grandpa did — it’s much more costly now than once I realized to tie — however I positively use greater than most tiers I do know. Through the years, I’ve noticed that including extra hackle appears it keep intact longer. It helps flies float greater for longer, too.
Resin Isn’t A Fad
Earlier, I mentioned I’d by no means used a resin that helped maintain my thread locked down as successfully as superglue. I additionally talked about you can coat thread-based flies with superglue to extend their longevity.
That’s all true, however superglue doesn’t work on the physique of each fly. Including a layer of superglue to a hare’s ear, for example, would negate the free motion of the fabric that’s a part of the fly’s enchantment.
Resin doesn’t enable for the free motion of fabric both, but it surely differs from superglue — or another head cement — in an important means: it doesn’t soak into and thru fly tying supplies.
You’ll be able to simply add a coating of resin on the again of a scud, hare’s ear, pheasant tail, rainbow warrior, or nearly any nymph, and the resin stays in place. It doesn’t soak via the dubbing, onto the hook, and out the opposite aspect. The appearance of UV resins is among the finest improvements the game has seen in many years, as a result of it actually modified how we’re in a position to tie and produce long-lasting flies.
When UV resins began to get actually widespread a couple of years in the past, I wrote them off as a fad. They have been dearer than superglue, and the UV lights weren’t low cost, both. I stored on with my same-old strategies, till I lastly admitted to myself that there may be one thing to the frequent use of UV resin within the fly tying world.
As of late, I exploit resin on practically each nymph I tie. It’s a improbable coating on zebra midges, and works to lock down the ribbing on a hare’s ear. It extends the lifetime of a Frenchie, and creates a clean wing case on mayfly nymph imitations. Resin accomplishes this all with out inhibiting the pure motion of fibers within the water, which is important to fly efficiency.
Over time, you’ll develop your personal methods to assist your flies last more, however these 5 suggestions ought to function jumping-off level. On the very least, they need to supply one thing new and fascinating to strive subsequent time you’re on the vise or on the water.
If in case you have suggestions of your personal, please go away a remark and assist one other angler out.