Tying your own flies is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an angler. Often your first fly looks more like a fuzzy meatball but as you progress you learn proportions, dubbing loops, and how to make the perfect parachute. Another common trend in fly tying is to get comfy using the same materials to make the same flies. We will never doubt a size 18 pheasant tail during a blue wing hatch or Blue Assassin at Jone’s Bridge but every year more and more creative materials come out to make your tying space a little more creative.
When sparkle minnows became a hot fly a few years back there wasn’t a good option for making your own. At that time the only option was to make a dubbing loop from thin wire and arrange flash into it. If you didn’t spin the wire tight enough the flash would fall out and if too tight the wire would snap. Montana Fly Company came to the rescue with pre-made dubbing brushes in every color imaginable. These brushes are a great way to spice up a Kelley Gallup streamer pattern or make a classic sparkle minnow.
The flash on these brushes make them an excellent choice for bass and saltwater patterns. They can handle high numbers of fish, teeth, and shed water quickly on the backcast.
Unless you’re from the land down under you probably aren’t familiar with the Emu. Behind the ostrich it’s the world’s second largest bird and can sprint up to 30 mph! Something more important to fly tying is that it has a double plume. The feathers are very soft as the vanes are not held together by barbs like most other bird feathers. All this adds up to an amazing soft hackle for nymphs. We currently have three color choices in the shop that will match any nymph pattern. The feathers are very long so you get many flies off a single feather. If adding soft hackles is something new to you Emu is a good starting material since it’s so easy to work with and makes stunning nymphs.
Most people are familiar with CDC emergers and dry flies but wrapping it around a nymph isn’t as popular. Emerging caddis and mayflies trap air inside their wing cases when they are about to become airborne. CDC has a beautiful way of trapping air bubbles when submerged, which looks very much like the real thing to a fish. Using CDC for soft-hackles is a great way to use the flies that aren’t good enough for emergers or dries. We do recommend some hackle pliers since these feathers can be small and hard to get a good grip on.
Egg patterns are very polarizing in the fly fishing world. Some consider it cheating while other consider it a useful pattern when fish are spawning or for freshly stocked DH fish. Whatever your stance is we think Spirit River makes great tying materials and their roe yarn is no exception. DH season is quickly approaching our region so it never hurts to have some egg patterns in the box for those first few weeks on the water.
Many streamers require spinning deer hair and that’s a terrifying thought for a lot of tiers. Sculpin wool is a great alternative for heads on streamers as it’s easy shaped, ties in quickly, and doesn’t leave you with a giant mess like trimming deer hair does.
Starting a journey into fly tying is a financial investment. Maybe in a few years you’ll start saving money on flies but for the most part you’ll be lucky to break even. Wapsi makes a great kit with plenty of materials and good tools to see if you like tying without a huge investment. The fact that they call a hare’s ear the “All Purpose Nymph” personally sold us on this kit. You can make anything from a bass fly to a dry fly for trout with this kit. This also makes a great gift for the fly angler in your life!
As always, please come by the shop or call for any of your fly fishing needs!