One of my primary attractions towards fly fishing and tying
is the fact that you are constantly on a voyage of learning and discovery.It is such an ingrained philosophy that it is
the basis of my website slogan, “Because you never stop learning.”
Silvia Releases a stunning rainbow.
My recent trip to Manitoba was a prime example.As most of you probably know, I have been
running hosted educational trips to the Parklands region of S.W. Manitoba for
the past four and a half years.Students
from all over North America join me to experience some of the spectacular
stillwater fly fishing this region offers and to, perhaps most importantly,
improve their stillwater fly fishing skills.My students are not the only ones learning, with each trip or day on the
water I learn something too.
Ron Enjoying his Parklands Experience
Joining me on my fall trip was Jerry McBride from Spokane
Washington.Jerry is a member of the
Inland Empire Fly Fishing club and originator of balanced flies.Jerry’s balanced fly philosophy has had a
significant impact on my stillwater tying.I was looking forward to seeing Jerry once again and in particular spending
time on the water with him.Over the
past few years Jerry and I have communicated back and forth regarding balanced
flies but I have never had the good fortune of watching him tie of his
A typical Parklands rainbow
During the middle of our one week excursion Mother Nature
showed her maniacal side as strong 60 km/h plus (40 mph) winds buffeted the
region for the day.Winds so strong our
cabins shuddered and creaked throughout the day.The winds showed no sign of abating. Everyone
unanimously agreed, staying off the water was the only sane course of action.
Parkland browns are fat and healthy
To pass our ‘cabin day’ I provided a couple of seminars,
fellow Inland Empire club member Leon Buckles provided two entertaining
presentations he had on hand.Hawaiian
bonefish and the cutthroat slam are now on my bucket list.Actually it should be a barrel list with the
amount of stuff I have been putting in it of late!
I watch as Jerry demonstrates-Photo Courtesy of Bob Vanderwater
In addition to Leon’s presentations Jerry agreed to provide
a tying demonstration featuring a couple of balanced leeches and his devastating
Bionic Worm.I sat close by Jerry
watching him tie.Although I had been
tying balanced flies for a number of years now, Jerry demonstration proved a
welcome refresher and provided some tips that I have now added to my balanced
fly tying repertoire.
Here is what I noticed and learned from watching Jerry tie;
Most of my balanced flies, leeches in particular, use 7/64”
diameter tungsten beads.Jerry likes to
use much larger beads up to 5/32” on some of his leeches.Tied on these sizes the leeches looked
balanced and proportioned.Going forward
I will make use of larger beads as they sink much quicker especially in windy
conditions when circulation currents might slow down the sink rate of the fly.
After years of tying chironomids my instinctive method of
sliding the beads onto the pin was narrow end first.Jerry slides his beads onto the pin large end
first when using tapered beads.The pin
head disappears flush into the bead.This
also requires less thread to lock the bead tight against the pin head as the
narrow end of the bead is closer to the pin diameter.
I am a fan of up eye jig hooks, especially the Mustad32833BLN in sizes #10 or #8.Jerry prefers
to use standard shank down eye hooks feeling the wire is stronger and better
suited to the rigors of battling large trout.His current favorite is a 4X heavy wire Mustad R90.
Prior to discovering up eye jig hooks I used down eye hooks
all the time.The challenge is
remembering not to obscure the hook eye with the body materials so you can tie
the fly on.Jerry adjusts how he forms
the body to ensure the hook eye is clear.When using materials such as Crystal Chenille he pushes and compresses
the material to keep the hook eye clear.Standard shank hooks are ideal for tying smaller balanced flies such as
scuds as up eye jig hooks are tough to find smaller than size 10.
Jerry uses leeches tied using the small secondary aftershaft
or filoplume feathers on a pheasant rump feather.Once wet, these feathers spring to life providing
a seductive action trout find hard to resist.For years I used aftershaft based patterns, primarily damsel and dragon
nymphs along with leeches.Time to dust
of those materials and get them into the game more often.
Jerry's balanced flies
The learning opportunity our cabin day provided proved to be
one of the highlights of my trip.Proving once again, you never stop learning.
Jerry and I enjoying time on the water-Photo Courtesy of Scott Fink
If you are interested in joining me in 2013 for one of my on
the water educational stillwater seminar trips in Manitoba please let me
know.We are just finalizing our 2013 dates
but it looks like we will have a weekend trip during the first week of June
followed by two back to back week long trips.We will also be offering a week long fall trip.These trips book in the blink of an eye so
send me an email right away and I can get the pricing and seminar information to
Join me in the Parklands in 2013
Here is a small informational video clip we put together
that provides some additional information too.