Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The fish, the flies

In August this year, will be my first big expedition to start the quest for all of Alaskan game fish. I will make smaller forays during the summer. I will do day trips to Quartz lake and Lost lake for rainbow, char and lakers, I will do some trips to the Salcha river for kings. But the first real expedition will be to the Salmon Fork of the Black River to do a float trip similar to the one Mike and I did last year. On this trip I will try for several species on my list. My primary targets will be arctic grayling, northern pike and sheefish. I also hope to pick up some other species like any of the three whitefish and burbot. Some friends will be accompanying Mike and I on the trip this year, Bob Hook, who I talked about earlier, and Paul Robinson, a long time fishing buddy of Bob's. Both of them are dedicated and experienced fly fisherman and I hope to learn a lot from them.
It's my goal to catch my Alaska 25 on my own fly patterns so, I want to tie flies I have not seen before. It's probable that variations of all of the flies I am going to tie have been done before, but I'm making an effort to stay away from the "go-to" flies, I'm staying away from fly pattern recipes and pictures of flies.
My procedure for each game fish will be to decide on two or three prey species to imitate, research that prey animal, and tie flies from pictures of the prey animal. In my research I will discover what stages of the life cycle my food species will be in when I plan to fish, as well as their ranges, color phases, size and other things.

There are lots of effective grayling flies, almost any dry fly will work, as well as nymph and egg patterns.
I have decided on three that I think will be a lot of fun.
A moth, a bumble bee and a stink bug.
There's a little white moth that I have often seen fluttering over streams in the fall, I have seen grayling feed on them and I have dangled small spinners inches above the surface of the water like a moth, enticing grayling to jump at it. I'm sure a Light Cahill would do nicely to imitate this moth, but I am on another mission.
In my research, I learned that the moth is likely a spruce bud worm moth. In many parts of their range they are bigger and darker, but up here in northern Alaska they are quite small and very pale. I thought I had an original idea, to tie a fly that emulates the moth, but as it turns out, it has been done before, lots of times.
I still liked the idea an copied some pictures of it off of the internet.

The materials I will use are:
No. 10 and 12 dry fly hooks, I will do smaller ones after I have tied a few of these.
The thread is light tan 70 denier.
The tail tuft and the dubbing will be mountain goat fur.
The rib, legs, and antennae will be white moose or caribou hair.
The underwing will be ring neck pheasant shoulder feathers.
The wing will be white chicken feathers.

My fly tying set up

I dressed the hook with the thread and tied in the tail tuft.

I had forgotten to tie in the rib hairs before spinning the dubbing, so I had to go back and do it. I tied in two rib hairs in case one broke while I was winding it, if I successfully wrapped the first one but clipped the other one.

The rib is wrapped and tied in.

Tying in the legs.

I clipped them to length and crumpled them. Caribou and moose hair are both hollow so they look segmented when they are crumpled.

The underwings are tied in.

And the over-wings.

The antennae are tied in, I whip finished it and cemented the head. 

Then I tied some more.

I've seen moths in the water with one wing out and one wing in, so I tied one. The "spent" variation, or crippled one.

I'm sure they fall in up-side-down, so I tied the "wheels-up" variation.

Here are the moths.

Next, the bees.


  1. Thanks Amy,
    Nice to see you again.
    I Googled the article about the poor guy that got drowned by the swan you talked about. That's really something.
    I used the location gadget to flag the location of the Salmon Fork of the Black River on the map, but I don't see where is shows up on the blog. I will have to look into it further.
    Talk to you later

  2. Hi Amy, I found the Location feature on the blog, it's all the way at the bottom under the first post.