Emerging March Brown Soft-Hackle – Flymph

My friend Bill in Maryland sent me this photo of a March Brown Soft-hackle / Flymph that he recently tied all in the style of and following the recipe of Vernon L. “Pete” Hidy. Bill is an excellent tier and does great work on these patterns. Here is the e-mail message from Bill. I started off asking him a question about this fly, was it a soft-hackle or a flymph? Here is Bill’s reply, the fly photo, and recipe.

“Technically it’s both; all flymphs are soft hackles. “Flymph” is the term coined by Pete Hidy to describe the type of pattern that Jim Leisenring developed to imitate the stage between a nymph and an adult. Here’s the recipe for this Pete Hidy version of an emerging March Brown as published in T. Donald Overfield’s Famous Flies and their Originators. (Note: Both Leisenring and Hidy used large ribs on many of their patterns, so I substituted for the ribbing in the Overfield recipe to make it look more like their original flies.) Great tying Bill!

Pete Hidy style Emerging March Brown, dressed and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Pete Hidy style Emerging March Brown, dressed and photographed by Bill Shuck.

Emerging March Brown Soft-hackle / Flymph

Hook: Long shank mayfly, Size #12 Mustad R50U

Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, #19 hot orange

Hackle: Brown partridge

Tail whisks: Brown partridge

Rib: Gudebrod “D” rod winding thread (sub for Primrose silk or gold wire)

Body: Blend of hare’s poll (90%) and orange-brown wool (10%) spun in orange silk thread on a Clark spinning block.

Very nice tying job, Bill! Thanks for sharing the photo and information!

Martinis and Thread Wraps

I’m sitting here tying some classic Fanwing Royal Coachman drys, just started on some #8 hooks; all two dozen hooks #8, #10,#12, have the wings already mounted, so the hard part is done! This thought hit me as I set the tinsel tag on the first hook:

What is the similarity between Martinis and thread wraps to secure tags, tails, floss, ribbing?

One is not enough, three is too many!

Yup. Tie in and wrap the tag, secure with two wraps. Add the tail, secure with two wraps. Add the peacock herl for the rear of the body, and here of course you have to wrap forward to the hook point. I’ll try to get photos to post before I ship the order.

Soft-Hackle Wet Flies and the Fly Fishing Show – Marlborough, Massachusetts

This is a brief report on the Fly Fishing Show last weekend in Marlborough, Massachusetts. I had a great time, but then I always do at these events. I met some new customers and made some new friends, and I saw a good number of my old friends and customers. We shared stories, family news, and had lots of laughs. Laughing is always important.

In particular I want to note that I had a very nice, long visit and pleasant conversation with Lance Hidy. Lance is the son of Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy, who along with one of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legends, James E. Leisenring, helped pen Leisenring’s book The Art of Tying the Wet Fly in 1941. A later revised edition of Leisenring’s book, titled The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph,” was co-authored with his friend, Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy, and released in 1971.

During our conversation Lance informed me of some very interesting information; that Jim Leisenring had only an eight-grade education, and his spelling and grammar was not sufficiently proficient to write a book without some assistance, which came from Pete Hidy. More interesting was the fact that another fly tying legend, Reuben R. Cross, author of Tying American Trout Lures, 1936, actually was responsible for introducing Leisenring and Hidy; the two of them became friends and fishing companions, consequently, without that introduction perhaps Leisenring’s book would never have come to pass. (This is what I initially wrote from memory. Lance Hidy sent me the following corrections when I sent him this link).

“Reuben Cross recommended Pete Hidy to his editor at Dodd, Mead, and then mentored Pete through the process of producing the Leisenring book. Without Rube’s support, it is unlikely that the book ever would have been published. Pete introduced Rube to Jim Leisenring. The two men admired each other’s tying, and in particular, shared the same high standards for hook quality. So you see, Jim and Pete were not introduced by Rube, but met each other the old-fashioned way, while fishing. Young Pete watched Big Jim land a fish on Brodhead Creek, and then asked to see the fly Jim used.”

I also asked Lance if he had already or was going to record this information. He replied that was working on a book to that effect. That will be great!

Lance had a sample Olive Soft-hackle fly that he had tied, and also showed me a card of prepared dubbing loops that he had made. It is significant to note that the method Lance uses for these dubbed, twisted thread sections is the same method used by his father. He also showed me a replicated wooden block that Pete made out of pine; Lance’s fellow soft-hackle addict, William Anderson, is making the blocks from hardwood. They are available for fly tiers to use, if one is interested in replicating soft-hackles and flymphs with the same methods used by Leisenring and Hidy. Here is a link to purchase the spinning blocks:

http://www.williamsfavorite.com

More info from Lance: “Leisenring spun his bodies on his knee. Dick Clark, a friend of Pete and Jim, invented the spinning block, which was modified by Pete, and then fine-tuned again by William and me.” Here are a couple photos sent to me by Lance:

Lance Hidy and William Anderson at the Danbury Arts of the Angler Fly Fishing Show in November, 2013.

Lance Hidy and William Anderson at the Danbury Arts of the Angler Fly Fishing Show in November, 2013. The wooden spinning blocks made by William can be seen lying on the table.

And a spinning block that Pete made. He gave these away to anybody who showed a serious interest, including to Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele who continue to demonstrate the method at fly shows.

A spinning block that Pete Hidy made. He gave these away to anybody who showed a
serious interest, including to Dave Hughes and Rick Hafele who continue to
demonstrate the method at fly shows.

Below are a couple photos I took of Lance’s fly and dubbing loops:

Olive Soft-hackle Wet Fly, dressed by Lance Hidy. Photo by Don Bastian.

Olive Soft-hackle Wet Fly, dressed by Lance Hidy. Photo by Don Bastian.

prepared dubbing loops, made by Lance Hidy from olive wool and seal fur.

Prepared dubbing loops, made by Lance Hidy from olive wool and seal fur. Photo by Don Bastian.

And last but not least:

Photo of yours truly, taken by Lance Hidy at the Marlborough show. My friend and Lance's friend Bill Shuick from Maryland,

Photo of yours truly, taken by Lance Hidy at the Marlborough Fly Fishing show. My friend and Lance’s friend, Bill Shuck, from Maryland, is a fellow soft-hackle tier and member of the Flymph Forum. Bill sent this photo to me, titled, “Donnie at Marlborough.” All of my family and most of my close friends call me Donnie. But some of you already know that.

I know, that boy can lose a few pounds, but considering that last year at Marlborough, I had no gut and weighed 160 pounds. This year, after my bout with Crohn’s Disease last year, I’ll take the few extra pounds and the belly – and my health!

For more information on Flymphs and Soft-Hackle Wet Flies, check out: http://www.flymphforum.com/

Finally I could not write about Marlborough without thanking my friends, Angie and Jim Kennedy from Ashland, Massachusetts. They were my hosts for the weekend, and among the great meals they provided and bottle of Wild Turkey 101 Single Barrel bourbon, (Thanks Jim!), I have to say Angie’s brownies and chocolate creme pie, both made from scratch, were hands-down, the best I have ever had! Thanks Angie! You guys are great! Now my mouth is watering, I need a brownie! Wait, I still have two left!

Fly Fishing Show Somerset New Jersey

I wanted to post the news to my readers that I will be at the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, New Jersey, this coming weekend, January 24, 25, and 26. I am sharing a table with Dean Myers, fellow Pennsylvanian and the new owner of MyFlies.com. As a member of the Regal Vise Company Pro Staff, I am also presenting a two-hour fly tying demonstration at the Regal Engineering Company booth on Friday afternoon from 2 – 4 PM.

I will be tying patterns such as parachute drys and scud hook nymph patterns for which the Regal non-true rotary design feature provides unique ergonomic advantages. I will also demonstrate setting of fan wings on dry fly patterns, showing how to mount, position, and align these tricky wings in less than two minutes.

I addition I will have my usual selection of classic wet flies for sale, including replicated antique flies on antique hooks with antique silk gut snells and snoods, along with my usual assortment of various fishing patterns and classic wet flies and streamers, singly and in pairs for the collector. Stop by and say hello!

Woody and the TV

This is very funny and I wanted to share it.

My niece, Emily, in Maine, just sent me this video clip. It is my brother’s family dog, Woody, a Springer Spaniel, reacting for the very first time ever, to the television. He’s about eight or nine years old, so any reaction to the television at all is noteworthy. The more interesting and funny part is, Woody is reacting to me on the television. Emily was working on some wet fly tying, watching my DVD Advanced Classic Wet Flies, made in 2007, and for some reason he got “interested.” This video link illustrates Woody’s unusual reaction to me. I think it’s my image and voice together, because Woody knows me well, but he even growls at my image and voice, and sounds aggressive, but I think it’s more that he is barking from excitement. And he misses me! Awwww! But then again, perhaps my fly tying instruction is just going to the dogs.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4wHIoapm3L8N2RLbXZXZ1hQcFU/edit

The funniest part is when Woody shakes his head in response to Emily’s question, “Do you like fly tying Woody?”

Close Enounters of the Trout Kind

This article developed into a bit of a larger piece, based on my personal years of experience and observations, as a result of my reply to a recent post on Gink and Gasoline. The article has a really long title so I’ll just post the link. I suggest you read this post before continuing here, it will help build my case. http://www.ginkandgasoline.com/fly-fishing/fly-fishing-is-there-a-time-when-anglers-should-admit-defeat-and-move-on/

My personal experience bears out the fact that, as long as a trout keeps feeding, he is not spooked and can be caught. That is where the challenge and appeal to keep trying comes in. Because many trout under the surface of the water cannot be seen from above, most anglers do not realize that a nymphing trout or a trout feeding off the bottom anywhere in the water column will do the exact same thing to your fly that a surface feeding trout does – which we can visually verify because we see it happen. They will look at your fly as it drifts by without taking it, or they swim over, look at it, and refuse it at the last moment. Trout will and do eat our subsurface flies, and many times, of course, we don’t “see” the take, regardless of what type of indicator system used. There is no such thing as the perfect strike indicator or indicator system. Too many variables. But, trout take our nymphs enough of the time, and give us an indication of that so that we have the instant reaction to set the hook and land the fish. This causes us to deem nymphing for trout to be a relatively successful method.  It is the best idea we angler’s have come up with so far, when presenting subsurface imitations at a natural drift.

Of course, you keep casting if you can see the trout feeding, along with his reactions to your offerings. Then maybe after five or eleven or nineteen or thirty-two drifts, the trout suddenly takes, or may never take, but again, if the fish remains in place and continues feeding, then we as angler / predator, are naturally tempted and motivated to continue fishing for that particular trout.

 When a fish takes your fly without your awareness and reaction, they merely spit the fly and continue feeding, and in 99% of the cases, they will not take the same “fake” again. They might look at it; I have in fact seen trout do that plenty of times, but as a rule, a fish will not take the same fly again, that they know from previous experience is not a food item, or if they were previously hooked on or just “stung” with a certain fly. However, there are variables to this assumption. Change the pattern size or switch to a different fly, possibly. It’s like pushing the reset button and the game starts all over again. Any fly the fish has not seen can potentially be taken, so each time we change patterns, we need to be sharpen our concentration a bit more to be prepared for the possibility that we have suddenly picked the fly that the trout will eat. However, sometimes a trout will eat the same fly after being hooked on it.

To follow up my comments above about trout never taking the same fly twice after being hooked, I have two true stories to share. These incidents both took place on Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek in Centre County.

One year in mid-June after the sulfur hatch was over I was nymph fishing one morning using a Cress Bug pattern. Things were going well; I had taken several trout in the first half-hour. Then I came across one of those trout you want to catch; he was a large brown, lying in a narrow current trough about three feet wide. I estimated his size at nineteen inches. He was actively feeding, all sub-surface. I made a couple casts, and on the second or third one, the drift and timing meshed perfectly with his feeding movements, and he took my Cress Bug. I hooked him, he flopped once in the shallow water, and the hook pulled free. To my surprise, he remained right where he was. I watched and waited for just a couple minutes, and he resumed feeding. I thought, “What the heck?” I cast the same fly over him again, and he looked at it several times, but he never took it again. So, I changed flies. During the next full hour, and I know because I kept glancing at my watch, I continued to work that trout. I tried at least a dozen different flies. He looked at almost all of them, took a couple, but ejected them before I reacted. Finally, at the one hour mark, more or less in desperation, I tied on the exact same Cress Bug fly that he had initially eaten, and I guess his memory had lapsed. He ate the fly; I set the hook, and eventually netted him – at nineteen-and-a-half inches, and released him.

A second incident took place that has a longer beginning to it, but I’ll just give the short version. I was with a couple friends one night on Spring Creek above Fisherman’s Paradise, and the Sulfurs were on, and very heavy. This particular night was one of those with tons of insects about, but few trout rising. Will we ever figure that one out? On a previous afternoon a few days earlier, I had located a freely-rising brown trout. The time was mid-afternoon, and not much was happening, but this trout was a steady riser. He was seventeen inches as a matter of fact, because one of my guide clients hooked him, and I netted and measured that fish.

I was not far from that pool as my friends and I despaired over the lack of rising trout. I announced to them, “I know where I might find a rising fish,” and off I went. When I got to the location, there he was, gulping sulfur spinners and / or duns off the surface, rising at a steady pace of sixty to seventy times per minute. Bear in mind the water was covered with bugs, few trout rising, but this guy was aggressively feeding. I had on the usual #14 Sulfur Spinner on 5x tippet. As rapidly as this trout was rising, my cast and subsequent drift over the fish had to be timed to the rhythm of his feeding. The number of necessary casts made to a fish feeding at a fast pace increases accordingly to the rapidity of the rises. I had made about fifteen casts, when I finally worked the time and place of the imitation to his liking. He took my fly, and I hooked him. I played the trout for about a minute or so, and then figured, he’s not that big, I can bring him in pretty quick. When I lowered my rod tip to increase pressure with the horizontal rod angle, the leader parted. I discovered that my leader had severed on the 4x section, above the 5x tippet. There had obviously been a bad spot in the leader. It was about 8:45 PM, and the light was fading. I had to replace both the 4x section and my 5x tippet, plus tie on a new fly. I chose the same exact pattern and size. My first attempt at tying the fly failed, the knot pulled loose when I tightened it up. So I had to tie the clinch knot twice. About five minutes had passed from when I initially hooked that trout.

By this time, among occasional glances, I noticed there was another trout feeding in the spot where the first one had been. Or so I thought. I made about eight casts, the fish took the fly, and I soon noted he wasn’t fighting very hard. I worked him in closer and netted him – along with my #14 Sulfur Spinner in his jaw still trailing the tippet and broken section of leader. I believe that was a case of the trout being stimulated by the abundance of food. Plus he had been caught before.

Fishing a single nymph rather than a tandem rig, and making accurate casts to have the fly, not the tippet, present to the front or slightly off to the near-side of the trout will help to minimize flossing, which was referred to in the Gink and Gasoline article.

Wet Fly and Streamer Classes

There is still space available at two upcoming fly tying classes that I am teaching in Maine in March. The location is Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop, Cape Neddick, Maine. This is near the town of York in southern Maine. The dates are Saturday and Sunday March 15 and 16. Here is the information from Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop Class Announcement:

DON BASTIAN   When it comes to tying classic streamers and wet flies, Don’s name is synonymous with excellence. With the popularity of classic streamers and wet flies on the rise, we feel grateful to have a fly tier of Don’s caliber instructing these classes for us. Don has been tying flies for 50 years, has been a fly tying instructor for the past 29 years and tied commercially for 12 years. He has guided fly fishermen in Pennsylvania for 16 years and he has authored three fly tying DVD’s: Advanced Classic Wet Flies, Traditional Streamers and Bucktails, and Tying Classic Wet Flies. Don was the featured author of Ray Bergman biography in the book Forgotten Flies and has a combined total of approximately 765 flies published in that volume. His flies were regularly published in Art Of Angling Journal 2001 – 2003 and he has been published in Fly Tyer, Fly Fisherman, Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide, Hatches Magazine, Fly Tyers of the World, Vol. IV, (yet to be published), and Fly Fusion. Don will be instructing two full-day classes.
Many of the techniques and methods taught in this class will be of benefit to you regardless what type of flies you tie.

Classic Wet Flies       This class will focus mostly on the old Maine Lake Fly patterns dating back to the 1800’s. We will tie at least one each; a snelled pattern and one with a gut snood, both on blind eye hooks.

Date: March 15th, 2014 – 9:00am till 4:00pm ~ Full day class

Cost: $75.00 per Student ~ Lunch is included

Classic Streamer Flies      This class will focus mostly on Maine patterns which will include some of Carrie Stevens unique Rangeley Style methods of construction.

Date: March 16th, 2014 – 9:00am till 4:00pm ~ Full day class

Cost: $75.00 per Student ~ Lunch is included

Classes are limited to 13 students ~ Payment in full is required to hold a space in these classes ~ All tying materials (except thread) will be supplied ~ Students need only to bring their vises, tools & thread.

To register or for more information, please call Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop at: 207-363-9269 or 9279;
or Toll Free: 877-427-9345.