Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tying Tutorial: An Unnamed Dragon

Kiley's Damzel Tails have been a material in my tying bins for multiple years now, and I still had not quite figured out the best way to utilize them.  Knowing dragonfly nymphs are a key food source for local creek fish and carp, I kept at it and finally have what I think is my best pattern using the Damzel Tails.  This fly pattern might look complex but it's not all that difficult to produce.  Combining the bent shank hook with medium bead chain eyes gives the fly enough mass to sink slowly and still ride point-up.  Here's the recipe for the pattern:

Hook - DaiRiki 700B size 10
Thread - rusty brown 6/0
Tail - Kiley's Damzel Tail (olive)
Tag - Arizona Diamond Dub (copper olive)
Shell Back - Kiley's Exo Skin (purple/olive)
Abdomen - Stonefly Chenille (olive/black)
Rib - 4lb mono
Eyes - Medium black bead chain
Legs - MFC Sexi Floss (barred olive)
Thorax - Arizona Diamond Dub (copper olive)

To begin, tie in the Damzel Tail to the top of the shank by the rubbery tag.  Make sure this is tied securely.  If not, they can spin on you a bit.

I add a small tag of Diamond Dub on the bottom of the Damzel Tail simply to add some "body" to the tail.  It doesn't hurt that it adds a glimmer of flash, also. 

Next is, in my opinion, the trickiest part of the fly.  Tie in the shell back (I used Exo Skin) to the underside of the hook shank.  Working around the hook point can be a bit of a pain. 

Tie in the chenille a little ahead of the bend of the hook shank, tying it down all the way back to the base of the tail.  This will help add some body to the fly.

Add in the 4lb mono ribbing (you could sub any ribbing you'd like: wire, tippet, etc...).  I leave a bit of space between the ribbing material and the chenille for a good complete turn of chenille behind the ribbing.

Wrap the chenille abdomen forward to the bend of the hook shank, tie it off, and trim the excess.  You can see the space I left between the ribbing and the chenille now.

Stretch the Exo Skin forward (I pull it fairly tight) and tie it down.  Do not trim the excess, it will be used to finish the fly.

Rib the abdomen, tying off the ribbing material and cutting off the excess.  The last two ribbed portions will be ribbed with the tying thread.

Folding the shell back rearward and anchoring it down will both keep it out of the way and provide a little bump to the body that I like.

Tie in your bead chain eyes now, leaving a bit of space between them and the hook eye.

Now the sloppy part: dealing with the legs.  I tie a single strand of Sexi Floss to each side of the fly, angling it rearward towards the tail.  They will tend to stick straight out until you add the dubbing for the thorax.  I also double over a strand of Sexi Floss creating a pair of legs on each side between the end of the abdomen and the eyes.  Do not worry about where these are trying to lay now, th dubbing will help control them.

Dub a somewhat chunky thorax of Diamond Dub.  Use the dubbing to help push the rear legs back, as well as spread and prop out the front legs.  If the leg material is too unruly, using a small hair clip or a few wraps of wire to tame the rear legs can help.

Pull the shell back over the thorax behind the eyes and tie it down with a couple of tight turns of thread.

Dub the head with Diamond Dub going around the eyes and finishing behind the hook eye.  Pull the remaining shell back up to the hook eye and tie it down tightly.  Whip finish, then pull the Exo Skin tight and trim it as close to the eye as you safely can.

Trim the legs to the desired length and you're done.  I trim the rear legs to about the length of the tag of dubbing under the Damzel Tail, and the front legs much shorter/stubbier.  If you wanted to add a clear coat to the shell back, like a UV product, that's entirely up to you.  I choose not to do so because I intend to fish these for carp, and I avoid head cements or any products that might carry a chemical odor on carp flies.  Even with most carp flies on which I have used no cements, I will usually rub some silt into the fly before I fish it to try to knock any human odor off the fly (or conceal it).  I have seen carp refuse flies at the last second a lot where I have used UV resin or Liquid Fusion to form heads, so I do believe they smell something unnatural and refuse some flies.  Tie up a few dragons, fish them hard, and let me know if they catch fish for you!

Tying Tutorial: The Drowned Bee

Bluegills become a target of opportunity for me at certain points of the year.  Early in the year, when the ice is gone and the water is slowly warming, bluegills are always willing to eat.  During their spawn I enjoy targeting the bigger bluegills and sunfish when they come shallow.  Again, late in the fall when the water cools back down, they are still willing to eat.  Bee flies, like the McGinty, have a solid track record in producing bent rods from bluegills.  I've often wondered how I could tie a bee-like pattern with more modern materials and maintain the durability I love from good bluegill flies.  Lots of brainstorming has led to the Drowned Bee, a 100% synthetic fly that should produce well.  The fly is lightly weighted to get it to sink, but will not drop like a rock through the water column.  The recipe is as follows.

Hook - Moonlit ML051 size 8
Thread - yellow 6/0
Bead - 1/8" brass, black
Tag - red Laser Dub
Rib - UV black Ice Dub in a skinny dubbing loop
Abdomen - yellow Ice Dub
Wings - pearl Krystal Flash
Thorax/Legs - black micro polar chenille and black UV Ice Dub

Begin by tying in the red tag.  I fold the Laser Dub over the hook by the bead and lay thread over the material towards the bend.  This helps build the underbody, fattening it up a bit.  Trim the tag short and stubby.

Make a short dubbing loop near the tag and use a material spring or similar method to keep the loop out of the way for now.

Dub a thick body of yellow Ice Dub, leaving a little more than a bead's length of space behind the bead.

I color the dubbing loop with a black Sharpie, then load the loop with a small amount of black UV Ice Dub.  Keep this loop sparse and be sure the material is inserted into the loop as near to the body of the fly as possible.

Rib the abdomen with this thin black UV Ice Dub loop, making open spirals to the space behind the bead.

Typically, the abdomen is really bushy and buggy.  You can leave it as-is if you want, I prefer to trim it cleaner with a pair of scissors.  Try to trim it narrower at the rear, fatter towards the head.

Tie in a clump of pearl Krystal Flash behind the bead, sweeping half of the clump to each side to form the wings.  Pull the flash rearwards after securing it and trim it to the length of the abdomen.  You should end up with two separated wings like this.

Tie in the black Polar Chenille, then dub a little thorax with the UV black Ice Dub.  The dubbing helps bulk up the area behind the bead.

Wrap the polar chenille forward to the bead, tie off, and whip finish.  I again hit the thread with a black Sharpie to help hide the yellow thread.  Snug the whip finish down behind the bead and trim your thread.

View from above showing the segmented bee abdomen and the separated wings.

The Drowned Bee is a fairly simple pattern that is quick to crank out.  It hits on the key elements that I love in bluegill flies: 1) It catches fish, 2) it's extremely durable, and 3) it's a quick bug to tie.