Friday, April 25, 2014

A Flatwing Sculpin

     Really liking the flatwing creations of Ken Abrames & other East Coast tiers, & fascinated with the beautiful designs of the Puget Sound anglers, who have adapted the style to match their bait, I thought to try some patterns designed to meet trout in my home waters, & over the next few posts I’ll feature a few that I think are worthwhile. 

A sculpin was the first critter that came to mind as a flatwing candidate. I fish sculpin patterns a lot on the UC, & I'm always looking for a better one. Peter Van Hest fished the first flatwing out of the vice & had a really good morning swinging it from the bank, catching two nice redband & the chunky surprise of a smallmouth bass, before losing the fly on the bottom. Then we spent most of the day tying a bunch more –  

(And it wouldn’t surprise me that the Flatwing Sculpin is taken for a crayfish, as stillwater smallies seem particularly fond of it. With a built-in action that bass like, I see a lot of potential in flatwing designs tied for freshwater bass.) 

Usually mottled tan, brown, or olive, & barred down the sides, sculpin vary in coloration according to location. I’ve seen both brown & olive specimens from the UC, so variations do occur in the same water.

I like the sculpin tickling over the bottom on the swing, & tie the flatwing unweighted (for best action), relying on a sink-tip or full-sinking line to get it down.   

Flatwing Sculpin

Hook: #2-#6 Mustad 9174 (or other heavy-wire, short shank hook)   

Thread: Black, brown or olive

Body: In order: Wind base thread even with the hook point; tie in a pinch of white or yellow bucktail as tailing, short, about the same length as the hook shank; dub tan, or olive rabbit onto thread & cover the rear half of the hook shank, winding forward toward the eye; add a small pinch of natural brown (or olive) bucktail, extending back, tips even with the white (should have used a bit more bucktail on the fly in the photo); tie in a ginger, brown, or olive grizzly neck hackle, flat to the top of the hook shank, tip down; apply a wind of dubbing; tie in a matching saddle hackle, tip up; tie in two strands of copper or olive mylar flash, one on each side of the hook shank (as lateral lines); tie in a topping of six to eight peacock swords.

Head (Hackle): One pheasant rump hackle, then two brahma hen hackles, wound to the hook eye – & finish.   

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tubing & Bunny Sedge Pupa

     Readers who’ve followed the last few posts (as well as older posts) featuring variants of the Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa might be wondering why I tie so many versions of the same insect, a caddisfly for that matter. And the simple answer might be that I can’t leave well-enough alone. And to that I might add that I believe spotted sedge to be the most important trout stream insect in the West, so deserving of more than just ‘well-enough’. There’s always something that works better. Or something that works better meeting the same hatch but on a different river, or in different light. I live beside a river where spotted sedge is the major hatch of summer, & fish over it nearly every day during the emergence season. Some evenings the sedge are coming off so thick you have to keep your mouth closed to keep from breathing them in, & the bodies of spent egg-layers so thick on the eddy seams they form mats. The imitation is competing against a bazillion naturals for attention. It’s a situation that inspires turns at the vice, again & again. So, ladies & gentlemen, yet another version of the Bunny Sedge Pupa. I tie these to meet spotted sedge, & the olive version fishes for grannom sedge as well; but the design, with some color variation, might be applied to a lot of caddis species, East & West.

Tubing & Bunny Sedge Pupa

Hook: #14 Daiichi 1150 (#10-#12 will cover great gray spotted sedge)

Thread: Camel or brown

Abdomen: Hareline standard tubing – light olive/with underbody of silver tinsel, or brown/underbody of gold tinsel

Thorax: Two turns of chestnut-brown hare’s mask dubbing – mix in a bit of black rabbit

Hackle: Brahma hen (brown partridge or grouse can be substituted)

Head: Chestnut-brown hare’s mask on a dubbing loop of the tying thread, or twist-dubbed, ahead of the hackle - & finish ~           

Fly fish NE Washington with Steven Bird:  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa 

     Widespread, abundant, & with a long emergence season, spotted sedge (Hydropsyche) are the most important insect hatch of the West. And though it is true that spotted sedge are often the vexing culprits masking summer mayfly hatches, more often than not it is the main fare, or, at least, represents a good part of the stream trout’s daily fare, June through August.

Spotted sedge adults are generally a #16, with the emerging pupa a #14. Egg-laying flights are coincident with emergence; & my own experience leads me to believe that trout prefer the pupa stage to the adult, until the latter part of the season when emergence diminishes, yet a lot of adults have accumulated, then the balance tips, though not entirely in favor of the winged adults, as trout will usually take a swinging & rising pupa right up until the last whisper of the hatch season.  

There is no be-all-end-all pattern to meet spotted sedge with, at least that I have found, so it is good to carry several versions of the pupa, as trout will exhibit regional preferences, & even daily preferences on the same water. The all-rabbit pattern featured in my last post is the basic design of the Bunny Sedge series, & using that basic tie, you can incorporate a variety of abdomen materials to simulate spotted sedge, & I’ll be featuring some of those in the next few posts. As for now, there is no arguing the effectiveness of pheasant tail or hare’s mask, & the two old standbys combine to create a fine spotted sedge pupa which might come in handy on waters like Washington’s Yakima River where pupae exhibit decidedly brownish colorations over the abdomen, which pheasant tail simulates very well.

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Hook: #14 Daiichi 1150

Thread: Camel

Rib: Copper wire reverse wound over the abdomen

Abdomen: Cock ringneck pheasant tail swords

Thorax: Dyed-brown hare’s mask with a bit of black dubbing added – 2 turns

Hackle: Brahma hen (may substitute brown partridge or grouse)

Head: Dyed-brown hare’s mask with guard hairs, wound in a dubbing loop of the tying thread (actually a continuation of the thorax in front of the hackle) –  & finish.        

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: