Tuesday, 28 June 2016

tying a shinobi daddy

We are all going to hell in a hand cart.
At least according to the press covering the current political upheaval here in the UK. So safe in this knowledge I did what any sane man would do and took to the tying bench. There .. very therapeutic, and in fact I'm on a bit of a roll. 

Following on from my last blog I've taken the daddy theme a bit further, this time with a shinobi style pattern. I just love the way big leggy and light patterns like this float like thistle down as they land. Then I got to thinking how this might lend itself to a 'kissing the water' style presentaion which is said to drive the fish crazy on the right day. 


For the uninitiated this is the trick of allowing your dry fly to settle oh-so-gently on the surface film for only a split second before lifting off and recasting to repeat - maybe several times before letting your fly finally settle. It's a kind of induced take technique that mimics those flies that skip about on the water's surface to lay their eggs. It's also very reminiscent of the flight habit of the daddy long legs. 

For anyone interested here's how  tied this one :   

Shinobi daddy

Secure a shinobi 7.5 hook in your vice

Run purple 8/0 uni thread down the shank to the bend and back up to the start of the shank in touching turns..

Take 1/2" (12mm) black 0.45mm silk bead cord and fold in half to make loop..

Lay the tag ends of the loop along the shank with the loop overhanging the front end of the hook (adjust this to give the loop eye size that you prefer). Run the tying thread back down the shank in touching turns to secure the loop eye, stopping at the hook bend..

Catch in a light brown cock furnace hackle tip to form the tail, secure with thread wraps then run the thread back down to the start of the tail..

Catch in three strands of peacock herl, plait them to form a rope and then wrap the rope around your tying thread.. and run the herl/thread rope back towards the front of the hook in touching turns to make the body. Leave enough space for the head to sit just behind your loop eye.. 
Take two matching black cock hackle tips and turn them front to front and catch them in upwing style and secure with a whip finish..

Now for the legs take six filaments of cock pheasant tail and knot each one a third of the way down to create a knee joint..

Tie them in three each side, the more splayed the better..

Finally catch in a some light brown furnace hackle just in front of the legs and wind it round and secure with thread wraps, building the wraps up just behind the loop eye to form the head. 

Trim the hackle short to give a fuzz around the head..     

It's done! 


Friday, 24 June 2016

go daddy!

It's a bit of a beast
and certainly not a classic tenkara fly, but I intend to fish it with tenkara. 'Go daddy'  is for my latest dalliance, the chub. Big ones are renowned for their huge bucket mouths and liking for a good gobfull and daddy patterns often score well. The river I am fishing is gin clear and the fish are easy to spot, but they are of course easy to spook too. 

A feature of this stretch of water are the deep potholes that suddenly seem to open up here and there in the otherwise shallow stoney river bed. Depth can go from a foot to several in just a step or two so for wading it's a good job that the water is clear. The bigger chub like to sit in these holes waiting for food items to pass by. Last week I had some success swinging across these deep pools but more often the fish were reluctant to rise to my fly, which was suspended in the top foot of water. Some times a big chub would tilt over to look up at my fly though and I instinctively I felt I needed a juicier mouthful fished a bit deeper to close the deal. 

So I have cooked up 'go daddy' which will go where other daddy patterns can't (at least not without a split shot). The long trailing legs should be a nice trigger in the flow, particularly when the rod is lifted and dropped to manipulate the fly.

For anyone wishing to give it a go here is the recipe..

Hook - Mustad Drop Shot size 4 (I did say it was a bit of a beast)
Bead -tungsten 5mm
Thread - purple 8/0 uni thread
Tail - grizzle cock hackle tip
Body - rope of three strands of peacock herl
Wings - black cock hackle tips
Legs - cock pheasant tail fibres knotted once
Hackle - grizzle cock hackle

..and if you do be sure to let me know how you go!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Super Shrimp - experiments in fly fusion

I'm not that good at it but
I love tying flies. All sorts of flies. Not exhibition flies. Fishing flies. I love trying to solve fishing problems with new fly designs. If they don't fish well they go in the bin no matter how well they look. I heard it said that most shop flies catch more anglers than fish. I also heard it said that the problem is fish don't have any money. So commercial flies have to appeal to anglers. And that is the great advantage of tying for yourself and pleasing yourself with your designs. You can do what you like. I like to tie flies that catch fish and I like my flies to be idiot simple to tie. If they also turn out to be something rather beautiful that's a lovely bonus.

Kebari patterns appeal to me because they are very simple and need very limited materials to construct, yet can be applied to many different fishing scenarios. From this basic starting point I started to think about how I might design a fly that was very simple a quick to tie and consisted of a single hackle, some thread and a hook, yet would give an impression of a meaty mouthful. My quarry in mind is summer chub and I have watched them feeding well on what I take to be freshwater shrimp in a chalkstream not too far away. My intention is to create an exaggerated shrimp dressing that while not being very imitative, might have enough of a trigger about it to get it nailed.

Then I saw the Teeny Nymph tied by tied by Robert Olsen in the Summer Issue of Tenkara Angler magazine. Inspired by this I added in a tail and half palmered the hackle (I think a bit of north country spider crept in somewhere too). A real fly-fusion. It's probably been done somewhere before but it's new to me and anyway I'm not looking for immortality by having a pattern named after me.  I'm very happy with the end result and I hope the chub are too..  

Speaking of Tenkara Angler I'm dead chuffed to have my humble little article appearing in the current issue just out yesterday. Massive thanks to Mike Agneta at troutrageous.com  
for all his hard work in delivering such a great free resource


Thursday, 16 June 2016

of minnows and monsters

Fish are swimming before me when I close my eyes.
It's something to do with the crystal clear water and light gravel bed of the river that has burned the silhouetted shapes of chub, large and small onto my retina. That and the past several hours spent wading and peering beneath the water to watch them hustling as they twist and turn for freshwater shrimps, and occasionally my fly. 

It's late afternoon and I'm back home. I've been up since 4am and I'm feeling knackered from a day of wading and scrambling and ducking and diving. But it's a small price to pay for spending the season opener on a wonderful little chalkstream, chasing chub with tenkara and my good friend Fred. 

It has been a good day, one to remember. So here it is, a day in pictures.

Fred on the stream today. It's crystal clear and the fish are spooky. Look at the fish in the foreground, they swam around our boots but were very difficult to catch!  

2016 account opened with maybe the smallest chub I have ever caught! We saw some real monsters but they evaded capture this time..
Fishing the weir pool in the village centre. We dead drifted nymphs and wets over a deep hole in mid channel.

Persistence eventually paid off. After many changes of fly this lovely chub took a traditional wet - a black pennel. The take was so subtle it didn't register on the french indicator but I struck when I saw the flash as it turned on my fly. A personal best for me on tenkara and a lovely opening day highlight. 
Ringing the changes with fly choice seemed to tease out a few fish when the action got slow. I was keen to try out my new pimped shrimp pattern..
..however, I didn't expect my first fish on the new pattern to be a minnow! A first for me on the fly.

Last fish of the day for me. A beautiful chub on the pimped shrimp, one of quite a few that came to hand for Fred and me before the fish switched off in the afternoon. No matter, account opened on a wonderful little river. Good fishing and good company and my first time out after chub on tenkara. What could be better?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

summer days and razor blades

'Razor blades' are those
one and two-year class perch that we learned not to rub up the wrong way as kids because their gill plates are sharp enough to cut you. My friends know that I have something of a passion for  chasing trophy perch on the fly, but they also poke fun at me for my enthusiasm in catching these little ones too. I just love them. They are so exquisitely marked. Perfect warriors in miniature and I can think of no finer way than tenkara to fish for them.

And right now in the margins of the lake down the road  there are lots of voracious little razor blades bunching up. I am learning ways I can adapt standard tenkara to stillwater presentations and I have an approach in mind that I am keen to try. 
The normal practice of holding the casting line off of the water that is so effective on rivers can be irrelevant on still water I think. I will be letting almost all of the line lay on the surface most of the time so I have dispensed with the normal  fluorocarbon casting line, replacing it with a monofilament which is less dense. This is important because I am using a buoyant indicator fly and I don't want a heavy casting line to drag it down. The whole setup consists of the level mono casting line (which at 8ft is the same length as the little zoom rod I am using,) plus 4ft of 6x mono tippet. 

This is effectively a duo rig. The indicator fly is a foam beetle pattern with a red sight post. The point fly is at the business end of the rig though. It seems appropriate that a fly to catch 'razor blades' should be red so I have tied up a scruffy non-descript size 14 pattern from red dubbing ribbed with mylar. It could be taken as a nymph, bloodworm or buzzer and should work well for stillwater perch. 

What makes this rig slightly different from a conventional  New Zealand style dropper is that the indicator fly is not fixed. Instead, the the thread is just passed through the eye of the hook once with a float stop threaded on the line either side. This effectively locks the fly on the line but it can be adjusted to vary the length of the line to the point fly. This is useful to allow the point fly depth to be adjusted to waft about on or near the bottom, or to suspend it below the buoyant indicator fly for taking fish in mid water. It's a lovely finesse presentation for shallow lake margins and it's really sensitive in signalling when fish are mouthing the point fly. Also, if you wish to manipulate the point fly the indicator fly shows you how much you are moving it.  

These small perch hunt throughout the water column  and fly will often be taken 'on the drop' as it sinks. I find that the best approach is to cast, allow the fly to sink then lift the rod to repeat the cycle. Positive takes are signaled by the beetle skating away across the surface, but if nothing develops I cast to a new area. If there is a breeze or convection current to drift the flies then so much the better as more water can be covered with each cast. Great fun on tenkara, and I soon lose count of how many little razor blades come to hand as I work the shore line. Occasionally I pick up a bigger perch too with a few hard scrappers of around the pound mark putting a good bend into the rod. It's addictive fishing and great to be catching on tenkara, in between those too infrequent trips to the trout streams!