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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

This is my first time posting anything I've ever tied for others to see... Been studying this section of Spey Pages for quite some time now; learned a ton and have been inspired by many of you talented tiers out there, many thanks to you all! Also got the Shewey book 'Steelhead Flies' at the beginning of the summer and could hardly put it down! Decided to take the plunge and buy a bunch of materials before field work this summer and the many long nights ahead.

My first trip ever to the Skeena this year was the motivation I needed to hit the vice. I started with some hairwings as I figured they'd be a little easier, then attempted a couple feather wings and hackle-tip styles as I became a little more comfortable. Still got plenty of work to do, but I'm super pumped to have started down this seemingly endless creative path! It appears to be a slippery slope... Please, any critiques, thoughts, suggestions, don't hold back!


Here are my three favourites after a hard week of fishing Skeena country:


The first is my take on a Skykomish Sunrise - The wing could be a little fuller as it swam kind of off to one side, but still did alright.


Black hackle tips


Blue dun bucktail - hooked a beauty on the Kispiox with this!


This one sinks fast - might be good for low and clear days in the winter


This little one hooked a little one on the Bulkley


The bottom two are one size 8 and 10 hooks for low water


Lastly, my best attempt at mounting BM wings - which proved to be very difficult as I assumed it would be. The hackle is way too full as well; need to strip one side before attempting this again


That's pretty much all I've got for now. Sorry for the mega post, but figured it was better than a bunch of individual little ones... Will do my best to post again soon with new and improved stuff, but its back in the office shortly to start writing my thesis, and that'll require a bit of dedication which means time away from fishing and the vice :(

Cheers,
Collin
 

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I'd say your going to fit right in, I know how hard it is to make that first post but I guarantee it's the best thing you will have ever done!
For the flies the first thing I noticed is your proportions and for the most part your right on, your self critiques are right! I'm short on time so I will leave this one with all positive stuff! It's very encouraging work and you will do great at this if you stick with it and keep asking for help!
 

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Some very nice flies you are producing :)
Just a few things that I can offer to remember when sitting at your tying bench:

1. Avoid making bulky flies . Heavily dressed flies can look great in the vise , but the movement is lost under surface and under tension . Heavily picked out dubbed bodies can stop body hackles and collars from pulsing and "breathing" . It can also impede proper wing setting , the wing will be set too high . Try to reverse taper your bodies or keep them thin with little picking out . Now the wing material , whether hair , hackles or quills , can lay properly and set evenly over the body .

2. Avoid the urge to keep wrapping hackles . Much the same as above , but I wanted to focus on it because it is often done by both beginner and seasoned fly-tyers . Not sure why it happens , whether the tyer is watching the feather and not the profile and density , or the feather still has barbules on it so the tyer takes the feather until the end ... not sure what the thought process is ??? All I can offer is this , for both collars and body hackles , automatically strip one side off of the chosen feather before tying it in . High density body hackles and collars can easily over power the wing and cause the fly to flip or turn on it's side . Also , avoid pulling the body hackles down to the bottom of the fly , keep the palmered hackle "in the round" fashion . It will equalize the profile and consistency . Sparse hackles move better and add life to the fly . Heavy hackles only limit movement and do not allow the currents to flow through them . The result is the wet sock effect .
If you are to tie in collars as a "beard" style , limit the barbules used and keep them short , about 1/3 or less of the body length . This will ensure the beard is not overly dense and will not over power the wing . Remember that body hackles offer movement and collars offer contrast to the fly . Both should be tied in as such and not to add to the profile of the fly .

3. Get consistent . I have offered this method up many times before and feel it is a fantastic learning tool and will minimize the learning curve . Step 1 , take 4 hooks of the same size and pick one pattern . Tie in the tip ,tag , tail and butt then tie off . Observe your work during each process and note what you like or dislike . Take the next hook and repeat , tip , tag , tail and butt . This time remember the changes you wished to make and do them . Once you are happy with the result , repeat on the next two hooks . Step two is much the same , but doing the body , ribs and body hackles up to the point of wings . Repeat the process from the last step by observing and making changes and implementing them on the next couple hooks . Step 3 is setting the wing , cheeks , collar and finishing the head . Same process as before . Step 4 , take another hook and do all the steps from before , same pattern and making note of each step and changes that you made while you tie this fly . I always tied 2 hooks this way and found that I remembered proportions better and became consistent quicker .
This process really helped me out , I still tie in this fashion today . It keeps the working materials down to a minimum , so you can focus on selection and usage . Also , why wait until the end of the fly to note problematic areas with your tying . Make the changes while they are fresh in your mind so you have a plan of what you want to see as a result .... makes sense ??

Hope this helped somewhat :)
Overall , your tying is good and you should have no troubles having confidence in your work ... swing them proud !!


Mike
 

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"This little one hooked a little one on the Bulkley"

That's what it's about. Nothing more need be said, except good job and keep at it!
 

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Great start!

I think Mike's summed it up nicely for you. Lots to learn, and tons to focus on over time. But that's the beauty of it. Just focus on one little bit at a time and your progress will bread confidence.

If there's anything we can offer in the way of help, don't hesitate to post questions or send PM's.

Keep at it,

Scott.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey, thanks for all the kind words everyone, and especially for taking the time to give some great detailed instructions on things to work at. It's all very much appreciated.

I'll get practiced up a bit more and post some pics again soon. Will not hesitate to ask if I've got questions...

Many thanks!
Collin
 

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Hi Collin,

For a beginner you are tying really nice flies and based on your post they are catching the fish for you too. It's wonderful to see a fellow get off to a good start and you are showing me how it's done.

Welcome to the group,

Ard
 

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hackle gauge

You might consider buying an inexpensive hackle gauge. I note that several of your ties have hackles that are too long and several are too full. Hackling flies is a bit of an art - on a wingless fly, like an intruder, hackles can be a bit fuller and longer than is normal - and the "spey" hackle on some flies envelopes the body (like the mallard on a Silver Hilton), but for most wet flies, hackle should not extend much beyond the point of the hook. Also, unless tying hackled dry flies, 4 turns of hackle (or less) is usually sufficient. Otherwise, your tying, for a beginner, is quite good - you've got the knack. Beware, it can become addicting. Signs are: you start inspecting everything (like gift wrapping paper) for its fly tying properties, you carry gear in your car to facilitate collecting roadkill, your dog (or cat) starts looking a bit mangy, and your fly tying stuff ends up all over the TV room as you tied a dozen or so during the big game. Enjoy
 

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Something that helped me in my early years was pulling the fly thru. a bath tub to see how the hackle moved and how balanced the fly was, this helped me develop the wing and hackle balance. Keep up the good work and welcome to the forum, I look forward to seeing some great flies from you in the future.
 

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The bath tub is a great idea but honestly a swim tank was one of the best things I've ever done since you can look at it from any angle, I spent less than $40 to build mine. You really learn how materials work and what the best application is
 

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That blue and white fly is awesome. Id fish that with confidence.

And as to hackle density and how much body fur is picked out, it all depends on the situation. A thick picked out body with a hackle which isnt stripped may not sink very well, but in fast flows wont flatten out and keep a nice volume in the water. Where as thin bodies and stripped hackle will sink well, but flatten out and get pressed up against the body in faster flows.

Slow flows with a sparse fly let the fly sink well and move well. It all depends on the look you are trying to achieve in the water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
A few new ones for comparison...

Thanks again for the kind words of encouragement and the critiques...

I had a sense that my hackles were likely too full, so I tried to be a little more sparse on some new ones I tied up for the Thompson this past weekend; a couple still didn't quite swim the way I wanted them to though.

The pic below shows the 6 new ones. I decided to tie a couple non-winged Hoh-Bo style intruders as well to experiment with different densities of marabou and dubbing and to see how they compared with swimming classic style flies...



The dark fly on the left had a much fuller dubbed body and a few more wraps of marabou compared to the light one on the far right with a sparser body and fewer wraps of marabou. I liked how the dark one swam, but it didn't have as much movement as I would like and cast kind of like a wet sock - I think it would be better suited as a winter fly. The light one on the other hand, though it never actually touched the water, is lighter in hand and sparser all around and I think would swim nicely on a bright day in low-clear conditions.

This little guy was really fun to tie and looked great in the water, though next time I think I'd tie in the flash laterally with a little under the wing as well to give it more sparkle all around. I stripped the hackle to help thin it out, though next time they could be a little shorter still.


My first attempt at this classic. It swam nice but the wing needs to be much fuller for how big the hackle is; still got me a solid tug mid swing though!


I was going for something dark and simple here. Kinda screwed up mounting the tail as some fibres rolled under the hook and I had to cut them out, but it wasn't the end of the world. How are the hackles, still too full? It swam pretty well overall. The head is horrendous. Good thing I snagged and broke it off, time for a redo.


Just went for it with this last one. Its guinea for the tail and hackle, green sparkly chenille for the body, and back feathers from a golden pheasant for the wing - but you probably already new all that. It looked super cool with the sun on it in the water and really popped colour wise, but it swam kinda poorly. So poorly in fact that it actually skated through some glassy sections - need to thin out those hackles more I guess. Any other suggestions on how I could make this swim better? I really liked how the colours worked in the sun and would like to improve on it.


Lastly, I'm having a ton of trouble getting the consistently clean, shiny, and tidy heads on my flies that I would so love to achieve. I accidentally left the lid slightly off my head cement jar and lots of the liquid appeared to have evaporated and it looks a lot more viscous now, this might have something to do with it... How do you guys do it, besides lots of practice of course?

Cheers,
Collin
 

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I'd swing those all day long. Time at the vice will only sharpen your skills. Try Sally Hansen's Hard as nails for head cement. I've used it for streamers and it made a big difference on gloss. I just got some UV cure stuff to play around with, but I'm thinking it will be the ticket. I've yet to tie up some traditional salmon flies, so I hope my first attempt is as good as yours.

Good job bud.

Mike
 

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Very, very nice work for your first attempts. Lots of good suggestions here (lots!). Swing 'em w/confidence. I would.
 
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