Soft Hackle Wet Flies

I just finished tying a custom order for one dozen Orange Fish Hawk soft hackle wet flies. This pattern is an old one, it is listed in Ray Bergman’s first book, Just Fishing (1932). Here’s a photo of a single fly:

Orange Fish Hawk -soft hackle wet fly, the hook is a No. 12 standard wet fly hook.

Orange Fish Hawk -soft hackle wet fly, the hook is a No. 12 standard wet fly hook. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

When my brother Larry and I were in junior and senior high school, the guy who owned Joe’s Pizza Shop (now Park Pizza – fifty years later, different owner, same recipe, still good pizza), on Memorial Avenue behind Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was a fly fisherman. At that time Joe told us one of his favorite flies was an orange soft hackle pattern. Either he didn’t know the name, or created it himself, told us, and we forgot the name. His fly was basically an Orange Fish Hawk but with a grizzly hackle. We tied that pattern and fished it on Lycoming Creek as we grew old enough to then drive off to more distant angling locations. We always called it “The Joe Pizza Fly.”

When placing a Soft Hackle Selection for sale on http://www.myflies.com/ last year, I included the Orange Fish Hawk. It’s a great pattern, good fishing fly, kind of similar to the old Partridge and Orange, but a bit more glitzy. Here’s a photo of the packaged order, ready to mail:

One dozen Orange Fish Hawk soft-hackle wet flies.

One dozen size #12 Orange Fish Hawk soft-hackle wet flies.

This carded fly selection includes a separate signature card, and is inserted into a 3″ x 5″ zip-loc bag. It’s nice because with a thin sheet of styrofoam padding, this fits nicely into a First Class Letter envelope. $24 including shipping. Here is the tying recipe:

Orange Fish Hawk

Thread: Danville Flymaster white 6/0 for body, black 6/0 for head

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Ribbing: Flat gold tinsel

Body: Orange floss, Danville No. 7

Hackle: Badger hen hackle, two wraps.

I wind the tag and ribbing all at once, as I learned to do in the Carrie Stevens Hilyard book, when making streamers; easily done if the pattern has no tail. Winding the tag and ribbing in one operation saves time, and I have found it is also applicable on wet flies. You’ll note the tightness of the rear of the floss body; that is because I use a single strand of floss tied in as a keeper, utilizing salmon fly tier Warren Duncan’s tag and body technique. I pull the keeper forward over the body and wrap it in underneath the third turn of floss. The butt end of this is then trimmed as the floss is wound forward.

While I’m at it, here are a few more soft-hackle wet flies:

Black Midge

Black Midge – Size #12 – pattern from Trout by Ray Bergman. Note the ribbing, my personal addition to improve the pattern durability. It’s a single strand of twisted black floss. This helps to reinforce the floss body, which on this pattern, has no tag or tinsel ribbing to back it up. It also tightens the body and gives a segmented appearance. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Black Midge

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, #8 to #18.

Thread: Danville Flymaster black 6/0

Body: Black floss

Ribbing: One strand of black floss, twisted

Hackle: Black

Anything black is always on the trout’s diet. An easy fly to tie, effective in a wet fly swing, or even rigged as a nymph with an indicator rig.

Brown Hackle

Brown Hackle – #10 – another standard soft-hackle pattern. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Brown Hackle

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, sizes #8 to #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster black 6/0

Ribbing: Fine gold wire, counterwound

Body: Peacock herl

Hackle: Brown

Gray Hackle Peacock

Gray Hackle Peacock – Size #10. This one is on the “short list” of soft-hackle patterns. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Gray Hackle Peacock

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, size #8 to #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster black 6/0

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Ribbing: Flat or fine oval gold tinsel

Body: Peacock herl

Hackle: Grizzly

Some years ago, I made this pattern in a #22 and named it the Griffith’s Gnat Nymph. I always fished that fly under a Griffith’s Gnat dry when I used it…it works, folks.

Gray Hackle Yellow

Gray Hackle Yellow – size #10. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Gray Hackle Yellow

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, size #8 to #16

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 white for body; black for head

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Ribbing: Flat gold tinsel

Body: Yellow floss – you can see the “keeper” on this sample, a single strand of yellow floss pulled along the entire length of the top of the body. It’s held in place by the ribbing. I sometimes use the keeper technique this way. Warren Duncan did this as well, over the entire body, on his hairwing salmon flies.

Sanctuary - size #10 - soft hackle wet fly.

Sanctuary – size #10 – soft hackle wet fly. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Sanctuary

Hook: Standard wet fly hook, size #8 to #16

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 Black

Tag: Flat gold tinsel

Ribbing: Flat gold tinsel

Body: Natural hare’s ear dubbing, dark gray

Hackle: Brown

These patterns are all in Ray Bergman’s Trout, except for the Orange Fish Hawk.

To place an order for these proven “trout-getters” in single patterns or as a selection with two of each pattern in size #10 and #12, visit: http://www.myflies.com/Soft-Hackle-Selection-P611.aspx

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Trout Wet Flies

Here is the finished product- so far – from Stanley Miller of Oregon, and his tying of wet fly patterns taken from Trout by Ray Bergman. Some of these patterns were already posted here, https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/some-classic-wet-flies-from-bergmans-trout/

A nice variety of classic wet flies, tied by Stanley Miller of Oregon.

A nice variety of classic wet flies, tied by Stanley Miller of Oregon.

Thank you Stanley for your great tying!

Extended Body Mayfly Duns

These extended body mayfly patterns are what I refer to as the “BXB” Extended Body Series. “BXB” is an acronym for Bastian Extended Body. The Slate Drake pattern was created about eight or nine years ago; the Coffin Fly, likewise, and in there somewhere I also tied a few Green Drakes and March Browns with extended bodies. The early Green Drake prototype had a dubbed body over closed-cell foam, but back then one could not get cream colored foam, so I “improvised.” The Floating Inchworm pattern body is made the same way. These bodies are made on a pin mandrel; from closed-cell foam of different colors. Last weekend at the Lancaster Fly Fishing Show, I upgraded through the kindness of my friend, Jim Kennedy, who saw a tube fly tool and thought I could adapt it to my method of tying extended foam bodies. Indeed, Jim was right, since I was tying on a pin, I had to remove the pin from the vise with each body to slide it off, because I was using a pin with a head on it. Now the tube fly tool makes it easy; I simply make the body and slide it off, ready for the next one. Thanks Jim!

These flies are effective on the water, and excel as fishing patterns. Last June, my neighbor Jim Latini and I made ten evening fishing trips to Lycoming Creek, just over the hill a few minutes away. We fished the Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern predominantly, since it was their season. See also:  https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/last-nights-fishing/

There are photos there of trout caught on the Slate Drake BXB Thorax Dun. These patterns excel as fishing flies for several reasons: The short shank hook makes the fly lighter in weight, therefore they present on the water more delicately, and also drift and act more like a natural mayfly. Hooking capability with this design is not impeded, but in fact enhanced. This is because trout can take the fly easier with the smaller hook, resulting in fewer missed strikes than are normally encountered with standard hooks. The extended abdomen is flexible, not stiff as on some other extended body patterns. The design is more realistic than standard dressings, and each pattern style – Thorax Dun, Parachute, Comparadun, Hackled Comparadun, and Spinner – always land right side up every time.

BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun

BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun, Don Bastian original pattern.

BXB Slate Drake Thorax Dun

Hook: Tiemco 2488 Up-eye scud hook, size #14

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #47 Brown

Abdomen: Brown closed-cell foam

Tails: Moose body hair

Wing: A post of Dun colored Enrico’s Sea Fibers, aka Beck’s Poly Fluff (1990’s), or Hi-Vis. (Same product).

Thorax: Rusty Dun rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Sandy dun, clipped on the bottom half way between hook point and shank.

This pattern, plus a Spinner, Comparadun, Hackled Comparadun, and Parachute are available individually or as a set of five patterns on MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/BXB-Slate-Drake-Set-P741.aspx

BXB March Brown Thorax Dun

BXB March Brown Thorax Dun, #14 hook, size ten fly.

BXB March Brown Thorax Dun

Hook: TMC 2488 straight eye scud hook, #14

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #47 Brown

Abdomen: Tan closed-cell foam

Tails: Moose body hair

Thorax: Tan rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Brown dyed grizzly and grizzly

Wing: Light tan Enrico’s Sea Fibers, or Poly Fluff, or Hi-Vis; same product different names.

Soon to be available on MyFlies.com.

These extended bodies take me between 00:01:20 to 00:01:40 to make; the rest of the fly is made in under two minutes, so these are extended body patterns you can crank out in under four minutes, once the tying procedure is learned. I apologize that it’s dang near impossible to do a step-by-step for the extended abdomen that would be feasible. This will be another reason for me to do a video tying segment.

BXB Green Drake Hairwing Thorax Dun

BXB Green Drake Hairwing Thorax Dun. I know, the Green Drake dun has three tails, but that third tail that should be in the middle is almost impossible to attach; besides I’m counting on the trout not to count.

BXB Green Drake Hairwing Thorax Dun

Hook: TMC 2488 straight eye scud hook, #12

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster tan for abdomen, yellow for thorax and head

Abdomen: Cream closed-cell foam, olive Pantone marker over the top of abdomen. Use the marker before making the body, otherwise the ink bleeds into the thread and discolors the ribbing.

Tail: Yellow-dyed gray mallard fibers

Thorax: Pale olive rabbit dubbing

Wing: Yellow-dyed deer hair

Hackle: Olive green-dyed grizzly and ginger

BXB Green Drake - Coffin Fly Spinner

BXB Green Drake – Coffin Fly Spinner

BXB Green Drake Coffin Fly Spinner

Hook: TMC 2488 straight eye scud hook, #12

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster Tan for abdomen, Black for thorax

Tails: Moose body hair

Wing: Clear Enrico’s Sea Fibers with two strands of pearlescent Krystalflash

Thorax: Black rabbit dubbing

BXB Yellow Drake

BXB Yellow Drake

BXB Yellow Drake Parachute

Hook: TMC 2488 straight eye scud hook, #12

Thread: Danville #47 Brown for abdomen, Yellow for thorax

Abdomen: Cream closed-cell foam

Tail: Yellow dyed deer hair

Wing: Bleached deer hair, later versions used tan Enrico’s Sea Fibers

Hackle: Ginger

Abdomen: Cream rabbit dubbing

These Yellow Drake patterns were tied on the spot at Wantastiquet Lake Trout Club in Vermont last June. I arrived for the trip of a few days and the Yellow Drakes were hatching. It’s an evening hatch and I got there early afternoon, so I sat on the porch of the cabin and cranked out a dozen of these for five anglers to use that evening. They worked like a charm! See also: https://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2012/06/27/the-view-not-the-one-with-whoopi-etc/

Floating Inchworm Pattern

Floating Inchworm Pattern, size #16 TMC 2488 hook.

The Floating Inchworm was developed last June. During a few of the evening trips that Jim and I took to Lycoming Creek, we successfully tested this Floating Inchworm pattern.

I hope you enjoy these patterns. The Floating Inchworm is available on MyFlies.com; the March Brown, Green Drake, and Coffin Fly Spinner will soon be available there as well.

Makers and Water Streamer Variation

My Kentucky friend and fellow streamer tier, Joel Stansbury, recently sent me photos of his Makers and Water Variation Streamer pattern. I liked the pattern and the concept so much that I wanted to post it here on my blog. I thought it would be nice for those of us who enjoy a little Maker’s Mark bourbon now and then, with or without water. I take my bourbon and scotch neat, or with one small ice cube. Follows is what Joel submitted with his streamer pattern:

“About 10-15 yrs ago I saw an ad in one of the Orvis Catalogs for an 8-1/2 Ft. Fly Rod, a Wheatley fly box and a streamer fly all with a Maker’s Mark Logo. They mentioned that the fly was originated by a Louisville resident by the name of Norman Wathen. I had been working on a Makers Mark streamer pattern and didn’t want to copy Norm’s pattern. We corresponded and he sent me the original pattern he had come up with, which was a casting type streamer, no belly, an underwing of “whisky colored craft fur”, 2 dark over 2 light ginger hackles, and a red duck breast shoulder and red throat. I have never been able to find “whisky colored craft fur”, but did recently find some amber bucktail. So this is my variation, no underwing, belly of amber bucktail, and hen back for the shoulders. That is why I call it a Makers & Water Variation.”

Norman Wathen was one of the Founders of the Louisville chapter of Trout Unlimited and passed away on 3/14/2008. He was well known locally for his streamer tying.

Maker's and Water Streamer Variation, originated and tied by Joel Stansbury.

Maker’s and Water Streamer Variation, originated and tied by Joel Stansbury.

The owner of the local Orvis Shop back then said the Maker’s items never quite caught on; I was lucky enough to get the Maker’s Mark Wheatley fly box and I treasure it along with my Maker’s Mark Whiskey bottles. A few sips when I am tying greatly aids my creativity!”
Cheers, Joel