Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Quest Begins

On the 14th of June Angel and I began a family vacation with nine of our family members on her side. We did all of the Alaska things including sea kayaking, glacier tours, halibut fishing, clam digging and many traditional touristy things. While down in Kenai we stopped in to see a dear friend of our who's husband died three years ago from pancreatic cancer. Dennis was an avid outdoorsman, fly tier, fly fisherman and all-round good guy. Dennis had taken Angel and I on our first raft trip on the Kenai river and introduced us to fly fishing for red salmon, he sold me my raft and was part of the inspiration for this adventure I am on. While we were visiting with his wife, Janet made me a wonderful gift of his fly tying materials and tools. I am deeply touched by this and will continue the tradition of tying and fishing flies in his memory. I will be showing some of the materials and tools as well as some of his flies in future posts.

Our family vacation culminated in a fly fishing raft trip on the Chena river with some of the guys.

We started off by tying our own flies the night before, we tied dry flies, bumble bees and nymphs. Here are some of nephew Nicks flies, not too bad for a guy that had not tied a fly before. These all caught fish.

This is my very first catch to begin the quest to catch each of Alaska's game fish with a fly pattern of my own. He liked the look of one of my spruce bud-worm moth flies. This one was one of the smaller of the 12 to 16 inch fish we were to catch that day.

These fish are so pretty, I never get tired of looking at them. This one bit on a moose hair mosquito.

This one, also caught on a mosquito, shows off his colors well.

Nick picked it up quickly, here he is showing how to do it. The weather was nice, the water clear and the fish were hungry.

The Chena river is a catch-and-release river, we took care not to lift the fish from the water and release them in good shape.

The bumble bees worked good too, though they floated a little low in the water. I'm going to tie some on re-shaped dry fly hooks and put on some extra hackle to help them float a little higher next time.

We saw some of these along the river, here's a shot Nephew Josh took a couple of days earlier.

My Brother-in-law Mark in the bow as I guide the raft around sweepers and shallow riffles.

This is a great shot by Josh.

Here's a nice look at the mosquito. The rib is tied with white moose hair.

Why would you want to be anywhere else.

Brother-in-law Mark showing his form.

And Josh, we were not doing too bad for a bunch of rookies, we were making twenty and thirty foot casts and some of them were kind of pretty.

The sun sets on another beautiful day on our family trip in the great land. I was successful in catching the first of 25 species on two of my original fly patterns and can't wait for the next trip. I'm planning a trip for rainbows and char. Thanks for looking.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New wings

I was never really happy with the wings on my "realistic" bumble bee so I went back and re-did them. For these pictures, I followed Amy's suggestion and included a penny for scale.

The new wings.

The new wings on the old bee.

I'm pretty happy with this bee, I'll tie more for practice and to have some to fish with.

The real bee "model" and the tied bee. I just realized, as I looked at this picture, what has been bothering me about my bee, I put the wings on up-side-down, they taper to the center, not the outside.

In the center top a No. 14 dry fly hook, second down, a No.12 and just above the penny the No.10 hook, with all the moths, the bees and the bee model.

Here they are all lined up in the fly box with some more common patterns I tied. On the right are the bumble bee model, and a new model, a wasp to try next. I saw a live stink bug a few days ago, I didn't want to kill him for use as a tying model so I'll wait for a dead one to show up, or I will go from pictures.
Thanks for watching.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Bumble Bees

Three somewhat significant things happened since my last post. I am sure they will all have an impact on how I tie and fish flies.

First, my wife Angel and I spent a wonderful Memorial Day with Bob and Kathleen Hook. Bob tutored me in casting a fly rod, he is very helpful but I'm afraid I have a long way to go.

The second thing- I got Carpel Tunnel surgery done on my left hand. It's an affliction I have been dealing with since the early days on the trap line and I am happy to have the first of the surgeries done. I'm sure it will help me become a better fly fisherman if my hands aren't going to sleep all the time.

The third has more to do with the fun of tying flies than tying effective flies or fishing them. I had spent some time developing and tying the bumble bee pattern I want to fish and then I found a dead bumble bee in my window sill. I will still tie the pattern I had settled on for fishing, but I spent a half a day tying a more realistic one and it is a lot of fun. I will do more of them. And what better physical therapy could you find for Carpel Tunnel surgery.

The Bumble Bees

There are lots of examples of nicely tied bumble bee flies but I chose to do it because I thought it would be fun and there are no other overwhelming hatches I will need to compete against in the fall where I plan to fish. It also brings back my earliest memories of fly fishing for pan fish and bass when I was a kid.
I tried patterns with black mottled Thin Skin for wings, and black deer hair for legs and patterns with black hackle for wings and legs. What I settled on was feather ends for wings and hackle for legs and to help it float. I also chose to use a light curved pupa hook for the shape instead of the standard dry fly hook. I tied them in size ten to start and 12s and 14s after I had Tied a few.

The Materials

Size 10-14 curved pupa hooks
Body- small yellow, light olive and black chenille
Wing- black feather tips
Hackle- black chicken hackle

I dressed the hook down around the curve for the stinger.

I tied in the black chenille at the bottom of the curve, wrapped it a couple of times and tied it down, then tied in the yellow or olive.

A couple of wraps of yellow over the black, a couple wraps of black over the yellow, and a couple more wraps of yellow to a point where the wings are tied in just a little past half way on the straight part of the shank of the hook.

I chose two evenly sized feather tips for wigs, clipped them to length and stripped the large end of the quill for a place to tie it down.

The first wing is tied in.

And the second.

And the hackle is tied in.

The hackle is wrapped and tied in and two more wraps of each color of chenille.

A whip finish is tied, I painted some yellow paint on the legs to simulate pollen just for fun.

These are the fishing version of the fly, next, the more realistic one for the fun of it.

The real one.

I tied on yellow chenille from the curve to the head.

Melted some thirty pound mono from both ends to make eyes.

I colored the yellow chenille with orange and black indelible markers to look like the real body.

I tied in some small olive chenille to go between the eyes.

Tied in the eyes and the olive chenille between them.

Tying in the antennae, black feather quill.

For the wings, slightly holographic clear cellophane, there's my bandage from the surgery.

I darkened the plastic with marker.

and cut them out and tied them on. I used black feather quills with the feathers cut off for legs just like I did with the antennae.

Here they all are together with the real one. Next, stink bugs.