Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo

January continues to fly by.  This past weekend found me at the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo.  What a great show.  Show Coordinator Eric Moncada and his team from the Boise Valley Fly Fishers are to be applauded for a job well done.  They were fantastic hosts. I am looking forward to returning in 2013.

Yes I now have to wear glasses when I tie!-Photo Courtesy of Erik Moncada

While at the expo I provided some of my more popular presentations including 10 Habits for Stillwater Success, Approaching a New Lake and My Favorite Western Canadian Stillwaters.  I even ventured up onto the casting pool and provided a Stillwater Presentation seminar with a particular focus on floating line techniques and retrieves.

10 Habits for Stillwater Success-Photo Courtesy of Eric Moncada

All of my seminars were well attended and I enjoyed talking to so many people.  Just about everyone I spoke to have an enthusiasm for stillwaters.  I also provided an hour and half fly tying session tying some of my favorite stillwater patterns featured in my books and DVD’s.  My Clearwater Pupa proved popular.  I really enjoy tying these realistic epoxy style chironomid pupa patterns that are so popular in Europe and England in particular.  I also featured my version of the Black and Red Ice Cream Cone, Herl May, Pearly Damsel and Foam Creeper from my latest book, Stillwater Selections.  This pattern is also featured on the Learning with the Pros-Stillwater Fly Tying Volume #1 DVD.

Foam Creeper

Hook:          Mustad C49S #6-#8
Thread:        6/0, Olive
Body:          Furry Foam Body, Tan/Olive
Wingcase:    Stillwater Solutions ¼”Midge Flex, Olive
Legs:           Stillwater Solutions Midge Stretch Floss, Olive or Light Olive
Thorax:       Stillwater Solutions Soft Blend Dubbing, Olive or Dark Olive Green
Head:         3MM Tan sheet foam, use permanent marker to create eyes and mottle as necessary to match natural nymphs

Tying Note:  You can make your own foam bodies by gluing Furry Foam to 3MM sheet foam using 3M's Super 77 adhesive.  Use a River Road Creations Cherobyl foam cutter (tapered) to cut our the body.

I had hoped to spend some time on the water with my good friend Pete Erickson but unfortunately temperatures were below zero.  The brisk wind further compounded things.  We opted for football and catching up.

Jeff Currier (Left) and Pete Erickson (Right) enjoying a relaxing dring and great Mexican food

For those of you who don’t know Pete is an excellent fly fisher with a particular talent for Euro Nymphing.  Each time I come to Boise I enjoy getting on the water with Pete and honing my contact nymphing skills.  Pete provided his always popular Contact Nymphing presentation.  The theatre was packed, standing room only.  If you haven’t tried this nymphing method I strongly recommend it.  Once mastered the results are nothing short of incredible.

I was first introduced to the method in Durango, Colorado when I was providing stillwater instruction to the U.S. Fly Fishing team.  I watched a good indicator fly fisher work his way through a run taking a half dozen fish in the process, pretty good results in my opinion.  My opinion was shattered when another teammate went through the run behind him using the Polish nymphing technique.  I can’t recall the exact number but it was almost triple that of the indicator angler.  I knew right there I had to learn the method.  The original nymphing techniques that Vladi Tzebunia stunned the world with at the 1989 World Fly Fishing Championships have evolved into the one of the most popular nymphing methods today.  It was also at this event where I first met Pete.  In addition to his Euro Nymphing skills Pete has a particular appetite for stillwaters.  Loch style techniques in particular.  I can’t imagine why we became friends?

I am already looking forward to returning to the Boise area again this year for some focused chironomid seminars including hands on leader and tying sessions.   You will also have a chance to spend time with Pete to learn more about his Contact Nymphing methods.  Class size will be small to provide maximum learning and interaction.  Pete and I are working out the details and we hope to be making an announcement shortly. If you are interested in attending one of these sessions please let me know.  We are also hoping to add a few other session subjects too with other presenters.

I am busy preparing for the Northern Lights Fly Tyers Trout Unlimited Edmonton seminar this weekend in my home town of Edmonton at the downtown campus of Grant McKewan University.  Jack Dennis will be my partner in crime for this fun educational event.  If you are in the Edmonton area and are looking to escape winters icy grip why not drop in and check things out. Tickets, at $65.00 for two days and $40.00 for single days, are on sale at club meetings or via e-mail. Tickets should also be available at the door.

After my weekend seminar I am off a few days later for the Somerset Fly Fishing Show.  I will be there manning one of The New Fly Fisher booths answering questions, both about our show and the great destinations we get to visit.  Hopefully some of you will be able to drop by.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Show Season has Begun

The holiday season has come and gone.  My 2012 show, seminar and workshop season has begun.  January is a busy month for me as I will be busy every weekend.  This past weekend I spent Saturday January 7th in Red Deer, Alberta with the Central Alberta Tying Club providing my annual fly tying session.  The Cental Alberta Tying Club has become a tradition for me and signifies the start of my annual show, seminar and workshop season.  

Stickin' Foam

For the past six years I have provided a one day tying seminar that included materials.  Previous seminars include stillwater patterns, streamers, nymphs, dry flies and last year Flies for Big Fish.  This year I was joined by 32 students as we had ‘Fun with Foam’. 

Floating Minnow

Hook:  Mustad R74-9672 #6-#12
Thread:  6/0 White
Tail:  Stillwater Solutions Grizzly Marbou, Natural, Olive or Brown
Underbody:  2mm Sheet Foam, White
Body:  SuperWeave Mylar, Medium

Over the course of the day students were introduced to a variety of foam and foam tying techniques.  Things began simple with the Sugar Cube, a variation of a Shipman’s Buzzer.  The Shipman’s Buzzer is an English pattern.  It is an excellent chironomid emerger designed to suspend in the surface film.  The original yarn breathers at the front and rear of the pattern are replaced with a loop of Ethafoam.  Electronics are typically packaged in Ethafoam and a new TV or Computer can provide a life time supply.  Right after Christmas there is usually lots of packing foam kicking around.

Sugar Cube
Hook:  Mustad R50-94840 #12-#16
Thread: 6/0 Colour to match body
Trailing Shuck: White Packing Foam or Sheet Foam
Rib: Pearlescent Crystal Flash
Body:  Stillwater Solutions Soft Blend Dubbing Maroon, Olive, Dark Summer Duck
Thorax: Stillwater Solutions Soft Blend Dubbing-Maroon, Olive, Dark Summer Duck
Suspender Bubble: White Packing Foam or Sheet Foam

Students were taught a variety of techniques including how to glue foam together, use foam cutters, tie extended bodies, make Booby eyes and glue dubbing to preformed foam bodies.  By day’s end we had tied nine patterns and students had a cross section of surface and subsurface flies to use as templates for their personal tying.  The Club Sandwich was popular with students as was the Ultimate Boatman, Extended Body Dun, the Floating Minnow and King’s Foam Dragon.

Club Sandwich
Hook:  Mustad S-80-3906 #4-#10
Thread:  6/0 Color to Compliment Foam Body
Body:  2mm Sheet Foam, Tan, Brown and Orange glued together and trimmed to shape
Legs:  Round Rubber Hackle, Knotted
Indicator: 2mm Sheet Foam, Hot Orange

Tying Note:  Check out Juan Ramirez’s Hopper Juan Blog for an excellent video tying tuturial detailing how to tie the Club Sandwich.

Although foam is a common ingredient in many dry and emerger patterns it really shines when used for subsurface patterns.  Foam provides not only function in regards to its natural buoyancy but form as well to suggest different features.  When it comes to subsurface patterns water boatman, backswimmers, baitfish and dragon fly nymphs are personal favorites. 

Matt King’s Foam Dragon was a featured fly in my latest book Stillwater Selections and is an excellent example of what can be done incorporating foam for subsurface patterns.  Matt figured out how to glue dubbing to a preformed foam body creating a realistic dubbed pattern you can work in and around structure and over weed beds with minimal risk of a hang-up

King's Foam Dragon

Hook: Mustad C49S #8-#10
Thread: 6/0, Black or Olive
Body:  Foam Body, Plump or Slim, Covered with Dubbing
Legs:  Stillwater Solutions Grizzly Marabou, Round Rubber Hackle Barred
Thorax: Dubbing
Wingcase: Thin Skin, Mottled Oak, Two Sections
Eyes: 1/8” Wide Strip of 2MM Black Sheet Foam

Plans are already in the works for 2013 and if my schedule allows there may even be a fall class.  Right now I am on my way to Boise for the Boise Valley Fly Fishers annual Fly Fishing Expo.  I will be presenting a number of seminars, providing a casting and retrieves demo on the casting pond and a stillwater tying demo.  This show is always well attended and I am looking forward to catching up with friends including Pete Erickson, Jeff Courier and Jack Dennis.  I wonder what stories Jeff will have from his recent trip to Brazil.  He always manages to have some escapade! 

The weather is also supposed to be good.  I hope to get a day or two in on the water.  I have my gear with me.  Not bad to be fishing in January.  I will post a complete show and hopefully a fishing report next week.  If you are in the Boise area this Friday and Saturday please drop by.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Winter Tying

Happy New Year and all the best for 2012!  

Although I typically don’t make New Year’s resolutions in 2012 I am trying to get a handle on my winter tying efforts in a resolution-like manner.  Most of you probably make similar commitments or promises each year.  You know, review the fly boxes, figure out what patterns need to be replenished, which patterns you would like to add and then set about some sort of plan to get them all tied before the 2012 season starts.  Concentrated, week before the trip, binge tying has predominated most of my tying efforts in previous years. 

Where I live in Alberta we are known for our long cold white winters.  Open water fly fishing is few and far between.  Perfect conditions you would think for some concentrated organized fly tying.  Unfortunately this has not been the case.  My show and seminar speaking schedule starts in earnest in January and doesn’t wind down until mid-April only to be replaced with stillwater schools and workshops.  Finding time to tie flies has been tough.  This year I have allocated bench time to get a handle on some of the white spaces in my fly boxes.  So far it seems to be working.

Two patterns that made my list are a result of their positive impact during my last trip to Manitoba in mid October.  I met up with producer and creator of The New Fly Fisher Colin McKeown to host a stillwater episode for a new show, The Orvis Guide to Fly Fishing which begins airing on the World Fishing Network (WFN) later on this year.  We spent the better part of a week battling high winds that made things more than challenging.  The rainbows and browns we were targeting where, for the most part, willing to chase our flies.  Although the water temperatures were higher than expected due to the warm summer and early fall large fall fish were beginning to strap on their feedbags prior to freeze up.

Colin battles a large brown near a beaver lodge

At this time small baitfish representing both mature and juvenile fat head minnows and backswimmers worked.  The shoreline shallows were choked with fat head minnows.  One of the best patterns during my October trip was Crystal P-Quad a variation of Mark Olinger’s P-Quad.  The P-Quad received its name from the four primary materials used in its construction, pheasant tail, partridge, peacock herl and pintail fibers.  Pintail isn’t always easy to obtain and I find teal flank fibers make a great substitute along with bronze mallard.  The original P-Quad has worked well for me as both a searching fly and when trout are fixated on scuds.

Mustad 3609B #8-#12
Thread: 8/0, Olive or Red
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Rib: Small gold or copper wire
Body: Peacock herl
Wing: Teal Flank
Hackle: Partridge

Our most successful version of the Crystal P-Quad included a small olive glass bead at the head.  The grey phase partridge and teal flowed over the olive body and tail mimicking the mottled look of the natural baitfish.  Our glass bead headed version dragged up some impressive browns and rainbows as we explored proven forage fish hangouts such as cattails and beaver lodges.  A slow 3-5 inch strip pause retrieve or steady hand-twist worked consistently.  If a trout was in the region we often hooked up within the first five casts.  

Glass Bead Crystal P-Quad

Hook: Mustad 3906B #8-#12
Thread: 8/0Olive
Tail: Stillwater Solutions Long Marabou Olive, Mixed with a few Strands of Olive Crystal Flash
Rib: Small Copper Wire
Body: Stillwater Solutions Soft Blend Dubbing, Olive
Wing: Teal
Hackle: Partridge, Grey Phase
Bead:  Olive Glass Bead

Most of the boatman and backswimmer activity was over but the browns, rainbows and tiger trout the Parklands region is famous for still chased down our boatman and backswimmer patterns.  A new pattern in my box was the backswimmer equivalent of my Water Floatman, the Greater Water Floatman.  The fly's name sake came from the greater water boatman the naturals are sometimes referred to in England.  Since the backswimmer facelift made for a larger version of my Floatman the name made sense.  I tie the shellback along the underside of the shank so the fly rides in the water in the same fashion as the natural backswimmers.  The Greater Water Floatman is a simpler tie as compared to another of my favorite backswimmer/boatman patterns the Ultimate Boatman I mentioned in my previous blog entry.  

Greater Water Floatman make nice snacks for large brown trout

 It performed so well that it made my winter tying list in sizes #8 and #10.

Greater Water Floatman
Hook:  Mustad R-50 94840 #8-#10
Thread: 6/0 Black
Shellback:  Booby Body Foam, White, Medium, Tie in the Shellback Along the Underside of the Hook Shank.
Body:  Stillwater Solutions Crystal Chenille, Peacock Green, Medium
Legs:  Stillwater Solutions Midge Stretch Floss, Olive
Tying Note:  Apply the markings to the shellback using a Prismacolor Spring Green marker along with black and red Sharpie markers. 

Join me in the Parklands for 2012!

As you probably know if you have been reading some of my previous blog entries the Parklands region of SW Manitoba has become one of, if not my favorite, stillwater haunt in North America.  For the past three years I have been hosting spring and fall trips to this region.  My trips include all food, accommodation, seminars and time on the water with me.  I run both weekend and weeklong excursions.  My spring 2012 trips have already sold out completely.  I didn’t even have a chance to promote them.  My fall trips slated for September 13-17, 2012 and September 17-23, 2012 still have space available.  Please view the informational brochure on my website if one of my fall trips interests you. If my spring trips are any indication these trips will book quickly. 

Falcon's Ledge offers first class facilities and fly fishing-Photo Courtesy of S. Higa
My last stillwater seminar of 2011 took place at Falcon’sLedge located in Altamont Utah.  Falcon’s Ledge is a first class Orvis Endorsed lodge.  The food and accommodation was nothing short of spectacular and provided a perfect backdrop for my workshop.  My students and I had access to all of their private lakes.  Each lake was fishable from shore which provided a unique instructional perspective for me as I could easily move between students to work with them in a one on one setting to help with their stillwater presentation techniques.  

Dave Danley from Falcon's Ledge with a nice plump rainbow
Dave and Spencer from Falcon’s Ledge made a point of saying that the trout on the lodge’s lakes showed a particular affinity for any red fly or having red as key component color.  The maroon/claret pheasant tail body and red holographic Mylar shellback of my Red Back Pheasant chironomid pupa pattern was a consistent producer and took a severe mauling.  As a result this pattern is also on my winter tying list.  You can also pick up this fly through the Stillwater Solutions fly program.

Red Back Pheasant
Hook:  Mustad C49S #10-#14
Thread: 8/0 Black or Maroon
Rib:  Gold Wire, Fine
Body:  Stillwater Solutions Bleached Pheasant Tail, Maroon/Claret
Shellback: Holographic Mylar, Red
Thorax:  Peacock Herl
Gills:  Stillwater Solutions Midge Gill
Bead: Gold

I will be returning to Falcon’s Ledge again in 2012 for another stillwater workshop on May 18-20.  At this time chironomids, damselflies and Callibaetis mayflies should all be on the menu.  My seminar subjects will have a definite slant towards imitating these insects including both sub surface and surface tactics and techniques.  For more information on booking please visit the Falcon’s Ledge website.

The landscape surrounding the private lakes at Falcon's Ledge is unique
Good luck with your winter tying efforts.  I hope to see some of you at my seminars and workshops in 2012 or if you are planning attending any of the shows listed on my Calendar please drop by and say hello.