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Flymen Blog

Fly Design and Material Selection

One of the Most Fun Parts of Fly Fishing Is Designing and Tying Flies.

As a fly tying instructor, I often have clients who have designed and tied a new pattern, but there is some flaw in the design (e.g. the wrong hook, articulated when it is not needed, too big, or too small) or material selection.

These are integral parts of fly design. The large cunning fish you'll be targeting know how their food choices move and will shy away from flies that do not move naturally.

Destination Articulation Fly Tying Contest

Thread your bobbins.

We love tying articulated flies and if you ask us, winter is one of the best times of year to whip them up at the vise. We've seen more and more photos on social media of amazing articulated flies tied by tyers like you with shanks from the Flymen Articulated Shank family.

The flies we've seen are just the tip of the iceberg, so we're holding a fly tying contest on Instagram to help you show off your patterns to the world and give you the chance to win grand prizes from Renzetti, Taylor Fly Fishing, and Ahrex Hooks as well as weekly Flymen prize packs!

Orvis had to get in on the fun as well. If you take part in voting in the final round to decide the winner you'll have the chance to win a Helios3 Fly Rod!

It's easy to enter – tie a fly and snap a picture. 

  1. Tie a fly that integrates a shank from the Flymen Articulated Shank family (it can be any of 6 different types of shanks) and take a photo of it.
  2. Post the photo on Instagram, tag @flymenfishingco, @orvisflyfishing, @renzettiinc, @taylorflyfishing, and @ahrexhooks in your post (make sure you're following all of us!), and hashtag #DestinationArticulationFlyTyingContest.

Designing Flies That Move Part 2: Creature Feature.

The basic principle of fly tying is to come up with a fly that imitates a fish’s choice food.

This gets a bit trickier, in my opinion, when you are imitating creatures other than insects.

A mayfly’s movement will change depending on what part of its lifecycle is occurring or if wind or weather is a factor in the hatch, whereas a creature like a frog, on the other hand, will desperately move all kinds of different ways when a hungry largemouth is chasing it. 

Designing Flies That Move Part 1: Pure Attraction.

Flies that do the shimmy are all the rage right now.

A lot of this is due to all the new materials and hardware now available for fly tyers. Ranges of articulated shank systems and heaps of new synthetic materials that easily shed water are changing the way we tie flies.

Articulation used to be a term for wire and beads joining two hooks in order to do the S-curve movement in the water.

Modern innovations in fly tying materials give you the ability to step beyond purely mimicking the appearance of a prey item – you can mimic its movements as well.

Make some noise! How to tie loud flies for esox fishing.

The Esox family has evolved over thousands of years to give us a top predator to chase on the fly.

These beasts' senses are tuned to the max.

One sense that is important for pikes/muskies is the lateral line, a system of tactile sense organs located in the head and along both sides of the body, used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water.

They use their lateral line in conjunction with their sight to give them a more accurate picture of what’s going on – how far away their prey is, how fast it's moving, and its size.

The lateral line is often forgotten by the fly angler. We tie pretty flies, but most of them have a very small footprint in the water. I'm not saying these don’t work, but why not maximize your chances of attracting more fish or perhaps bigger fish?

So how can you make a loud fly? 

Unwritten rules of the fly shop: How to not be "that guy" (or gal)

'Tis the season for fishing, sun, and, in some cases, being a tourist in another state on another trout stream or bass pond.

And because all fly anglers are magnetically attracted to every fly shop within a 100-mile radius, this means visiting new fly shops too.

After many years working in and guiding out of a fly shop, I compiled a list of the do's and don'ts of fly shop patronage to help you make your trip more successful.

Inside Look: Designing the Surface Seducer Howitzer



One of the most exciting areas in fly design is the development of next-generation topwater flies to enable the modern fly fishing angler to successfully target and land a growing variety of freshwater and saltwater gamefish across the globe.

To support this trend, in 2016 we announced our intention to create a full range of modern innovative foam fly tying materials under the new...

Continue reading

Blasts from the past: Adding a modern touch to classic fly patterns.

If you have a '57 Chevy in your garage, you might update some parts and do some body work, but you'll try to keep as many original parts as possible.

The flies we regard as true classics have achieved that status for a reason.

While fishing the Ausable River in my home state of Michigan, my eyes were opened to why classic fly patterns are still catching fish many years after their creation.

I was running short on dry flies as the sulphurs were hatching, so I dug in my brookie box and saw a glint of yellow and silver. As soon as I tied on that size eight Mickey Finn, my numbers and quality of fish instantly improved.

By saving the features that make these classic flies produce and adding a modern touch with new and innovative materials, you can take them to the next level.

Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail Fly Tying Contest.

The Faux Bucktail Throwdown.

Since launching our new Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail, we've seen more and more photos of amazing flies tied by people like you on social media.

The flies we've seen are just the tip of the iceberg, so we're holding a fly tying contest on Instagram to help you show off your patterns to the world and give you the chance to win grand prizes from Thomas & Thomas Fly Rods, Hareline Dubbin, and Loon Outdoors as well as weekly Flymen prize packs!

It's easy to enter – tie a fly and snap a picture. 

  1. Tie a fly that integrates Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail in some way (Faux Bucktail does not necessarily need to be the primary material) and take a photo of it.
  2. Post the photo on Instagram, tag @flymenfishingco@thomasandthomasflyrods, @harelinedubbin, and @loonoutdoors in your post (make sure you're following all of us!), and hashtag #FauxBucktailThrowdown2017.

Inside Look: Designing Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail.


Taking synthetic fly tying fibers to the next level.

We're excited to introduce our newest fly tying material, Fish-Skull® Faux Bucktail™, which is the first synthetic fiber tapered to a point like real animal fur for use in fly tying and lure making.

Continue reading.

Where the heck is my bobbin? The messy fly tyer's guide to organizing fly tying materials.

fly tying desk

We've all experienced the frustration of not being able to find a material you need while fly tying.

I'm probably one of the least organized people on the planet, but recently my custom fly tying business has been busy and tying is taking me longer than it should due to me losing materials in what I used to call my "organized chaos."

We all know what that means.

The main sources of my problem are me not putting materials and tools away when I'm finished with them, shoving them in random drawers, or simply never putting them away when I bring them home. 

Although I barely own any storage items specifically designed for fly fishing or tying, there are a few I recommend everyone to have to make your fly tying more fun and less frustrating.

The power of suggestion: 3 key elements of streamer fly design

Gunnar Brammer fly fishing Flymen

Everything we create in the search to fool fish is an imitation of life, a suggestion of realism.

A size 16 Adams, a 4/0 Flashabou streamer, and even a #14 Husky Jerk are all attempts to convey the same thing to the fish we target with them — that they are food.

How closely they imitate life, and how well they suggest their intended identity are what make flies successful, or not.

What I want to discuss is a simple idea, and this idea applies to every fly, lure, and flure that has, or ever will exist. The idea is in regards to a predator's search image, and its impacts on design and design simplicity.

What is a search image?

Fly Tying: Oskar Hagelin's Dive, Kick Ass, Repeat

Fly recipe

Rear
  • Hook: #2 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Tail: Flashabou
  • Tail 2: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
Front
  • Hook: #1 Gamakatsu B10s
  • Body: Senyo's Fusion Dub 
  • Body 2: EP Tarantula Brush
  • Pectoral Fins: Deer Hair
  • Wing: Magnum Rabbit Strip
  • Head: Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet

Swing it! Spey streamer fly fishing tips.

Reddington fly rod stream

Everyone has their own style of fishing whether it be with a spinning rod or a fly rod.

Those of us who choose to pick up a fly rod also have our little own niches in which we choose to stick with.

Unfortunately, we tend to put our streamer boxes aside during this time of year and stick to more traditional approaches.

Yes, it’s exhilarating to watch that giant brown trout come to the surface and take your size 18 dry fly as you fish a tail out of a pool or a nice steady run, but what is more heart pumping than watching that same giant fish chase your 4” to 8” streamer from bank to bank and demolish your fly on the strip or the end of your swing?

Inside look: Designing the Surface Seducer Double Barrel

Surface Seducer Double Barrel popper and slider body

Putting the POP back in popper flies.

This may be the most exciting time to be involved in fly fishing!

In recent years, fly fishing has rapidly evolved at an unprecedented rate.

No longer restricted to trout or salmon, fly fishing has become "anything goes if it's on the fly," with fly anglers now able to actively target and land virtually any species of freshwater or saltwater gamefish on a fly rod. 

As fly anglers expand their horizons, the hunt for more species in widely varied types of fisheries across the world is rapidly driving the need for innovation in the fly fishing industry with specialized flies and equipment for enticing and landing these fish.

Inside look: Designing the Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail.

Martin Bawden fly fishing Bahamas

Sight fishing for bonefish, permit, or redfish is one of my favorite things in life.

It combines many of the visual pleasures of fly fishing with some of the toughest technical challenges, creating a scenario in which so much needs to come together perfectly to be successful.

Travelling to a beautiful tropical location and searching for an almost invisible, elusive quarry among endless sand flats, palm trees, mangroves and crystal clear water is incredibly relaxing.

Then add the heightened sense of anticipation, the sudden jolt and adrenaline rush as you first sight the fish – heart pounding, panic setting in, and of course the pressure! Pressure from your guide, your buddy, and yourself to put together the perfect cast at the perfect time to deliver your fly to the perfect spot in the hope (or prayer) that you'll be rewarded. 

So much fun!

The idea for the Fish-Skull® Shrimp & Cray Tail™ first came to me during one of these trips to the Bahamas in late 2014. Out on a flats boat in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere between my fourth bonefish and third Kalik of the day, the idea formed to create an alternative to the established fly tying method of using bead chain eyes or small dumbbells to weight shrimp or small crayfish patterns. Continue reading

3-minute fly: Tie the Mottlebou Mop Fly.

3-minute fly: Tie the Mottlebou Mop Fly

Forget the Squirmy. Forget the egg flies. The Mop Fly is the most sinful fly of all time.

You’ve seen them – you’ve seen the chenille fingers coming off an array of products these days, from dust mops to car washing aids to teddy bears to throw pillows. You can clip these off their backing and have a killer fly if you lash those fingers to a hook.

Pushing fly fishing forward: The next generation.

5 Rivers Rendezvous Colorado

When I graduated college in May of 2015 and shared with my peers that I was going to be working for a non-profit conservation organization to work with college fly fishing clubs nationwide, I got a variety of responses ranging from, “Whoa, that's sick,” to, “What are you doing with your life?”

Many of my peers in college viewed fly fishing as an old guy sport, with their closest mental image being Brad Pitt “shadow casting” on the banks of the Bitterroot in A River Runs Through It.

Little did they know, fly fishing is actually a growing sport in the millennial generation.

Teaching fly tying to kids: Where to begin?

Mark Dysinger kids fly tying

Many of us who tie flies and have children would love to see them take up the hobby.

If you aren’t a parent, maybe you have some young relatives or know some local youngsters who have shown an interest in fly tying.

Time spent tying with kids can be fun, productive, and higher quality than most people think.

Before you go down that road, here are a handful of things to keep in mind.

How to fly fish tide pools for groundfish.

Blue cabezon fly fishing

When I started fly fishing tide pools along the West Coast, there wasn’t any information about how to go about fly fishing these areas.

After much trial and error, I eventually started finding success using a mix of techniques from various aspects of fishing, which opened up an exciting and diverse new area to explore using a fly rod.

Hopefully this article will help ease the learning curve into this great and ever-changing fishery!

Fly tying: How to hide your weight.

Brita Fordice fly tying

As a woman, when you gain a little weight you have 3 options:

  1. You can lose it.
  2. You can just deal with it and not do a thing.
  3. You can buy one of those horrific sucker-inner-things that make you look 10,000 times thinner but make you cry trying to imagine how to pee out of it.

And your poor fly has to worry about the same thing. Well, not the peeing part.

You have 3 choices when tying your fly:

  1. It can lose the weight and sacrifice action.
  2. It can stay big and bulky and sacrifice appearance.
  3. You as a fly tyer can conceal the weight.

Here are my favorite techniques to conceal weight in a fly without sacrificing appearance, or running up a Nordstrom card on some fly spanx. Continue reading

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