Category Archives: Fly tying

Another Fly-Fishing Gadget


I’m not a big gadget guy, but lord knows there are enough tools in fly fishing. Entire Orvis and L.L. Bean catalogs are full of assorted nick nacks. I’d like to think I can do without most. Simpler is better. However, I must admit my vest, fly-tying desk and garage are bulging at the seams with more and more stuff every season.

But I’ve finally bought something that’s small, compact (very important) and that makes life easier for your average angler. It’s called the Tie-Fast knot tool. It’s made my Cortland. I bought mine at the Port St. Lucie Bass Pro.

Ultimately, I’d like to work for Bass Pro in the fly shop department. To do that, I know I need practice tying knots. I can handle the basics, but I quickly realized, it’s tough to get repetition on the knots needed to set up a fly reel — the albright, arbor, spider hitch and nail knot. Once I set up a reel, I rarely go back to these knots. So … I had to practice. That’s where the Tie-Fast tool comes into play.

You can use a pencil or straw for the nail, but this tool makes it easy. Here’s a video from IntheRiffle that shows how.


Filed under Education, Fly fishing, Fly tying

More Pub for the Spoon Fly

My story on tying the spoon fly in Hatch Magazine. Enjoy.

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A Classic Fly

With the recent wind and rain, I’ve spent most of my time inside tying. Fishing will have to wait a few more days. In the meantime, I’ve been working on tying Lefty’s Deceiver. It’s a great fly, but it takes a bit of practice to master. Even after all these years, I have to go back to basics to get it just right.

One, don’t worry about tying the tail feathers (saddle hackle), so they perfectly align. It’s way too tedious and takes way too much time. Rather, do what Lefty does and grab a clump of hackle and tie everything on top of the hook shank. It’s a lot easier.

Second, take your time to measure out your bucktail and don’t tie everything down too close to the hook eye. Get too close to the eye and tying off cleanly will be a chore. Be patient with this step and you’ll be happier with the end result.

Deceivers take time, but they’re worth it.


A chartreuse Deceiver ready for the beach.


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EP Baitfish Insight IV

Touching up, trimming. Joe wraps up the EP Baitfish. …

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EP Baitfish Insight III

Getting closer to the finish. … Not the tapering of material near the eye of the hook.

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EP Baitfish Insight II

Joe goes over the midsection, tapering, etc. Very detailed.

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EP Baitfish Insight

I admit it. I’ve been tying the EP Baitfish pattern for months and now I’ve finally gotten it right. I must give credit where credit is due. Joe C of YouTube fame has three in-depth videos. Each one is 10 minutes long. No detail is spared.

The main things I learned: Use less material. This pattern is wafer thin. How much is too much? If you can’t see the hook shank, it’s probably too thick. If you can see a bit of metal, that’s good. The fly will sink faster and the eyes will be easier to attach. Metal bonds better than EP fiber. Too much EP and you really don’t get a good foundation for the glue to hold the eyes in place.

Also, taper the EP as you tie in the material. Use longer strips at first. Cut those strips in half as you get to the mid point and then the eye. It makes trimming a LOT easier and gives the fly a more natural baitfish shape BEFORE you trim. This saves a lot of time. Essentially, you shape the fly as you go.


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EP Baitfish Blues

EP Baitfish are great flies,  but they’re tough as hell to tie well. You can tie to a certain level of mediocrity, but that only goes so far because the fly won’t float properly if the proportions are off or you don’t trim it right.

It took me a few tries —- actually about a dozen — to truly get locked in on how to use EP.  A couple thoughts:

It’s important to know how to tie in the EP. Most videos show a stacking method, which is one strand on top of another. This works fine, but a better approach is to angle the EP in a V shape, so that you can either pull the material straight back to create a wider profile or straight down to create a thinner, bladed look. I go for the bladed look toward the back and front and a wider profile in the middle.

Once you tie in everything correctly, it’s time to trim and that’s not easy. In fact, it took me a while to become confident with the shaping. Pinfish tend to be circular and wider; mullet and assorted whitebait are longer, more streamlined.

At first, I cut at an angle too aggressively too early. The best thing to do is to leave your fly longer, as a rectangle if you will and then round the corners at the end. If you want a shorter stouter fly, go for a squarish shape before trimming the corners. BUT don’t trim too sharp too early. Go for the longer, slender look like this:

EP Mullet

EP Mullet



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Filed under Education, Fly tying

The Importance of Monitoring Progress

Ever try to tie a few flies and the first one is less than perfect? It usually takes me at least one run of trial and error on a pattern before I get the proportions just right. I used to throw all of the initial efforts in the trash.

Not anymore.

I was embarrassed at my initial lack of skill. If I didn’t like it, why would a fish? Now I save every effort at the vise. Each fly, no matter how dreadful, goes in a plastic bag.

The reason for the change of heart is two fold: One, I can really study where I made the mistake and adjust accordingly.  Two, I can measure my tying progress. This sport is hard enough to master. Every bit of motivation helps.  Seeing the actual improvement ignites that.

Below are a couple of EP baitfish patterns. I hate trimming flies, but as you can see I’ve gotten better.


A few flies later.


The first try.

The first try.

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Getting Ready for the Beach

D.T. Variation

Courtesy: Steve Gibson.

The winds are supposed to subside later this week. Hopefully, beach snook will be waiting. One of the best flies for this type of fishing is the D.T. Variation, a pattern developed by Sarasota guide Steve Gibson. It’s quick and easy to tie. I love Deceivers, but they’re time consuming. This fly is a breeze.

Materials: Mustad 34007 No. 1 to No. 4, white flat-waxed monocord, four white neck hackle (two on each side) facing (not splayed), pearl krystal flash, white neck hackle (palmered, 3D Prism Stick-On, Devcon 2-Ton expoxy.


1. Mash the barb down on a standard size 2 hook. Attach thread at the rear of the hook shank just ahead of the bend with a half hitch.

2. Select four white neck hackles and make two pairs with the curve facing inward. Measure the feathers against the hook shank. Secure with tight wraps.

4. Select two or three strands of pearl Krystal Flash. Secure them to the hook shank in front of the feathers equally on both sides.

5. Tie in a white neck hackle. Palmer with five, six wraps. Try to get the fibers to lay back.

6. Build a head. Tie off.

7. Attach the 3D prism eyes on each side.

8. Re-attach red thread and wrap a band of thread about 1/8th of an inch to create the tip of the head.

9.  Coat the head, eyes and red band with Devcon 2-ton.



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