Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tungsten Density Experiment

Tungsten beads are popular in fly tying circles, but they are subject to never ending discussions about their quality (or rather cost vs. quality ratio). The discussion usually ends up that the cheap beads are sure to be Chinese (with implication that nothing good ever came from China, with possible exceptions of paper currency, gunpowder, tonkin cane and cheap takeaway food).

By a fortunate coincidence I received a significant order for tungsten beadheaded flies and discovered very competetively priced beadheads on a Polish internet site (www.taimen.com) in a single week. This led to me obtaining enough beadheads to be able to measure their density directly.

I used a method very similar to the one employed by Mr. Archimedes to determine the purity of a golden crown for Hiero II of Syracuse. I measured 10 ml water in a beaker and poured enough 3.3 mm beads for the water level to rise to 20 ml. It took 755 beads to acheive that.

The second step was to let the beads dry and weight them. The 755 beads weighted 188.5 grams, i.e. the observed density of my beads was 18.85 gr/cm³.

The result came as a pleasant suprise, as the observed density was very close to the density of pure Tungsten (19.25 gr/cm³) and significantly above both Brass (around 9 gr/cm³, depending on alloy) and Lead (11.34 gr/cm³). Lower density than pure tungsten was to be expected due to technology used to make the beads and the fact that the beads are gold (i.e. brass) plated.

My conclusion therefore was that the Taimen beads are perfectly OK to use; to get better ballast I would have to resort to pure gold (density 19.30 gr/cm³) or platinum (density 21.41 gr/cm³), both of which are highly impractical for fishing use.

It also led me to think that some of the disparaging of cheap "Chinese" beads by fly shop proprietors might be due to other reasons than quality of the product.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Muskrat & CDC Dun

With all the snow and frost rendering fishing unpractical (I must be getting old!) and the shopping madness that has little to do with the birth of Christ raging in the town I decided to seek solace at the tying table. This little Iron Blue imitation reminds me of happier days...

The tie:
#16 Hanák 130BL hook
14/0 Sheer thread Grey
Coq de León tails
natural Muskrat fur
1 CDC feather natural and 1 CDC feather dyed pink, spun in loop and cut to shape

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pale Olive Dun

A test of homemade silk dubbing that I dyed myself  to Golden Olive color and mixed in a coffee grinder. I have to work a bit on the color range, but for a first result it is not so bad. Looks well and makes a fine dubbing rope, suitable for the very smallest flies.

The tie:
#18 Hanák 130 Hook
14/0 Sheer thread Grey
Coq de León tails
homemade Pale Olive dubbing
CDC wing

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BFFI 2011

In true Godfather fashion I received an offer from Steve Cooper that I was unable to refuse. So on June 18 and 19th next year I will be tying on the British Fly Fair International. It may be still early December 2010, but I am already looking forward to the event :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Late Season Jig

Late in the season Grayling can't be troubled to rise anymore - and if you want to catch them you have to present your fly at the depth of their choosing, not yours. This fly is designed to get down and stay down, and it will even sink a smaller nymph on a dropper. Since it is tied on a jig hook it will bounce on the bottom hook up, so it will snag a bit less than a conventional beadhead (but a fly this heavy will snag sooner or later).

The tie:
#10 Skalka Jig Hook
4.6 mm Tungsten bead
layer of lead on hook shank
6/0 UNI thread Tan
Australian Opossum fur for tail, natural grey
Hare & Seal dubbing, natural grey
lightweight pink wire
flashy scud back
light touch of hot pink SLF

Friday, November 19, 2010

Herl Bodied Grayling Fly

A new SBS has been added - Herl Bodied Grayling Fly. It is an easy fly to tie, but never the less quite deadly to the Ladies. Unfortunately the fly is so easy that no matter how I tried I was not able to stretch the tying sequence to 10 steps and had to settle to 7 :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Memories of the BFFI

The British Fly Fair in late October was the biggest gathering of fly fishing enthusiasts I have witnessed to date, so it comes as no surprise it made a lasting impression on me.

I learned many things, among them that fruit flavored alcohol is popular with European fly fishermen, but Sloe Vodka from the north west part is not the same thing as Sliwovitz from the center of the continent (no use trying to strip paint with Mr. Tango's creation)

I learned that in Scandinavia it takes a bear of a man to tie the most delicate and graceful dry flies.

I experienced the warm welcome of my Slavic cousins from Serbia on Zoran's flies stand and I was invited to the famed Chinese dinner by the gang from the UK Fly Dressing forum (too bad I didn't take any pictures there)

I gazed in awe at the work of masters of the salmon fly, which is a style quite foreign to my land locked country.

I learned that the fly tying art in Scotland has style to match its formidable traditions...

...and that its appeal is not lost on the youngest generation.

But most of all I had a great time! My thanks to all who made my visit such a memorable experience :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CDC Caddis

The tie:
#10 dry fly hook
8/0 UNI thread Tan
fluo green floss (glo brite used here, but any would do)
scruffy hare dubbing
gold rib
3 CDC feathers for wing
2 CDC feathers spun in loop for hackle

Good fly for midsummer evenings. It floats like cork, so perfect for faster riffles. Excellent sport can be had with it by jerking it underwater on a slowly sinking leader. It will skitter and pop back up, drawing furious strikes

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Return to Šumava

Today I returned to Šumava, where I had remarkably fine fishing two weeks ago. The river was a tad higher than last time, but still at level comfortably allowing for dry fly fishing.

The day was clear and sunny with no wind, but up here in the mountains (altitude of some 750 meters) the season had already progressed and parts of the river were already frozen over when I arrived.

In 1930's, when war with Nazi Germany was considered imminent, Czechoslovakia built a defense line on the Vltava. To this day the river is lined with concrete bunkers, now overgrown by forest.

The going was tougher than when I visited here two weeks ago. Instead of the solid hatch of Baetis mayflies I encoundered in mid October there was much thinner hatch of smallish stoneflies. The stoneflies were not numerous enough to keep the grayling rising consistently and the bright sunshine made them easily spooked. Accurate presentation was therefore required, as I could not afford many misses.

Still I was able to connect to a few fish of decent size. They were remarkable for their variance in color, from very light ones to some almost completely dark.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fine Grayling Dries

Many consider fishing for Grayling on dry flies to be the pinnacle of the Art of Angling. It requires careful prospecting and river knowledge, as Grayling rises are so gentle they are easy to miss if you don't know where to look at and what to look for. It requires first class presentation, as the Grayling will not tolerate any drag at all.

But most of all it requires finery - finery both of approach but also in tackle. Fine lines, fine rods (my favorite is a #4 weight Gary Marshall bamboo), gossamer tippets and delicate flies. Here are a couple size 20 Eagle Owl flies that have proved most satisfactory this Grayling season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Grayling

Late last week a cold front arrived to the Czech Republic. Relatively speaking warm and sunny days with clear skies were replaced by cold, mist and light drizzle - in other words prime grayling weather. With a group of like minded individuals I headed south to the German borders, where some of the best grayling fishing in the Czech lands can be had on the Vltava river.

From the look of the countryside it was obvious that the summer was a distant memory by now and winter will be soon making itself felt. The river was about 6°C cold and gin clear, with the water levels having only recently receded from rains.

The river seemed still on the surface, although some sport could be had by short nymphing - this was however not the reason why we came to the place. Shortly after noon a trickle of smallish olive duns started to float down the river, with Mr. Grayling soon taking notice of them - the dry fly time had finally arrived!

The grayling proved to be very finicky eaters, and could be tempted only on the very smallest imitations - #18 and #20 mayflies with body of heron or Eagle Owl feather and CDC wing. In addition our quarry were extremely sensitive to drag. We understood that perfectly, but watching for drag of a size 20 fly put some strain on our eyes - luckily for us the grayling were not spooky and allowed us to cast from quite short distance.

On early Sunday afternoon I discovered this place - a dry fly fisherman wet dream. The half sunk log served as a barrier of sorts, funneling all flotsam from half a river width to single stream, no more than 20 centimeters wide. In this bubble lane, clearly visible on my photograph, a couple of sizable grayling were rising nonchalantly.

The fish were not spooky and allowed me to get close and observe. They were not stupid either though, and firmly refused any fly that shoved even slightly unnatural drift. Any instance of drag was met by a swift and utter refusal of my imitation. Getting the drift correct in all the conflicting currents was a tough nut that I spent almost an hour trying to crack. At the end I finally succeeded and was rewarded by a lovely colored grayling, my biggest for the whole trip.

The fly that made my success possible was size 20 Výrovka fly, made from the herl of the Eagle Owl feather.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anodized Pink Beadhead

It is well known that pink beadheads have strange appeal to grayling. I have been using beads painted pink for some time with great success. They seemed to have only one drawback: after being fished hard in shallow stream the paint peeled off.

I have acquired some beads with anodized pink, and I am looking forward to see if they perform as well as the painted ones while lasting longer.

The tie:
#12 Hanák 260BL hook (shortened shank, has the length of a #14 hook)
2.8 mm beadhead anodized Pink
tan UNI 8/0 thread
red rooster hackle fibres for tail
scruffy dubbing from hare's back
UNI #16 gold tinsel

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tiny Shuttlecock

A fly for the times when the Grayling play it difficult and get selective on emerging olives. Depending on how you grease it with CDC oil it could imitate an emerger (only the tuft greased) or a stillborn (whole fly greased).

The tie:
#18 Hanák 130 BL
17/0 UNI Trico Thread white
Mink dubbing Light Olive
very thin copper wire ribbing
Australian Opossum mixed with Claret UV flash for thorax
2 CDC feathers for the tuft

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Smrdutý Opossum / Stinky Opossum

Not a fancy pattern, more of a "pork & beans" approach. It takes name from its chief ingredient  - hair of the Australian Opossum (Trichosurus vulpecula) and a famous quote from a Czech 60s cult movie Limonádový Joe: Did you just call me an opossum? No, I called you a stinky opossum!

The tie:
#10 wet fly hook
6/0 UNI Thread Gray
eyes from kitchen sink chain
Australian Opossum tail
Gray Hare and Seal dubbing mixture

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Drowning Beetle

With the trout season progressing to its close (and prime Grayling fishing drawing near, muhawha....!) the terrestrials are becoming more and more important.

This fly truly made my day on a recent trip to my favorite small stillwater. A light breeze brought a steady fall of all kinds of bugs to the water, and the resident rainbows were munching on them as on some sort of rare delicacy.

The tie:
#12 Tiemco 2487BL hook
8/0 UNI Thread black
1/0 UNI Neon Burnt Orange tag
two fibres of Peacock Herl for body
very thin copper wire ribbing
Tiemco Aero Dry Wing tied cross wise (as when tying spent mayflies)
low quality black rooster feather (to add movement rather than flotation)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August on Střela

Late August - it is still hot, with the temperatures around 30°C - but the summer is clearly ending. This was possible the last really hot weekend this year.

For the weekend I headed west to Střela, my favorite small stream. Due to its smaller size it regained fishable level after the recent floods faster than bigger rivers. The waters were still a bit higher and more colored than I would like, but the river was clearly fishable.

I fished with my good friend Vlado, who has a small cabin on the river. We originally struggled to find the right fly - in the end Vlado selected a big juicy Stimulator, and was rewarded by some fine trout.

I for my own part stuck to the Barbie dun pinkish mayfly. The pattern proved to be just irresistible to both trout and grayling alike.

At the end of the day a very late Mayfly dun floated by me, as I was wading the river. I don't know what it was looking for, but it surely was way past May today :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grey Dust

A couple flies for the time when Grayling become obsessed with hatching "grey dust". All tied on #20 Hanák 130BL hooks, with body of grey Muskrat or Eagle Owl feather.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pink Bug Variant

With the current water conditions unsuited for fishing I am left at the tying table preparing for fall, the main Grayling season of the year.
The Pink Bug has performed well for me last fall. It seems to do its best fished under an indicator - either French style spiral or a bushy dry fly.

The tie:
#16 Tiemco TMC 2499BL hook (short shank hook, length is about normal size #18)
2,3mm Tungsten pink beadhead
Orange Hends Grall thread
Red rooster hackle fibres
fine copper wire
Opossum dubbing mixed with UV flash

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flood on Jizera

I was planning to fish the Jizera river over the weekend - but the rain had me check the online peg first. The river is at its dry fly best at flow just above 10 m3 per second - and right now it about 370, no doubt causing serious problems to people of Železný brod. Uh oh...

Looks like a rewarding tying weekend ahead of me.

The scary picture was taken from pages of Povodí Labe (Labe Watershed Servicing Co.), a very helpful site for anyone fishing in the Czech.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I have a soft spot for the Alexandra, despite fishing it very rarely. For it was from Alexandra of Denmark, the lady to whose honor the fly was named, that Edward VII hid with his mistresses in Marienbad in Austria-Hungary, now Mariánské Lázně in Czech :-)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Easy Daddy

The time of Daddy Long Leggs (Tipula sp. for those of Latin inclination) is getting near. For the time it comes I propose the following simple and easy imitation made almost entirely of Pheasant tail.

The tie:
#10 Tiemco TMC 100BL hook
8/0 UNI Thread Tan
Pheasant tail body ribbed with leftover body thread
Pheasant tail legs (I used 4, but 6 or even 8 are a valid option)
Polypro yarn wings
Hare dubbing thorax

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Black Beetle

The Mayfly season is past, and Caddis hatches are dwindling too. The terrestrials are becoming more important each passing day.

This smallish black beetle has brought to my net nice trout and - I am ashamed to admit - some fat Chub as well.

The tie:
#16 Hanák 130BL Hook
UNI 8/0 Thread Black
Deer hair dyed Black
Opossum dubbing dyed Black (artificial peacock dubbing is a valid option)
a few turns of black rooster hackle (just for movement attraction, flotation is from the deer hair)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mission Caddis accomplished

Having finished a SBS for the missing piece, pupa, I finally completed a project of Step By Step tying sequences for all three major life cycle imitations of the Caddis Fly. All three are on my new SBS page.

The nymph - CZ Nymph in 10 easy steps

The pupa - Caddis pupa in 10 easy steps

The adult - CDC Caddis in 10 easy steps

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Barbie Power

The going was slow on the Jizera river  - a very welcome cold front brought some rain and respite from recent period of tropical heat and drought, but left the fish feeling somewhat sluggish and the water high and colored. A small hatch of pale wateries was going on, but my imitations produced no takes.

Out of desperation I tried my Barbie Dun fly, which I tied this winter more as a curiosity than a seriously meant fishing fly - only to be surprised by the number and viciousness of strikes it generated.

The intended target of this fly were the grayling. The Ladies of the Stream are well known to have soft spot for the color pink and it did entice a few - but to my surprise the fly took many a brown trout as well. Why should any self respecting and manly trout care for this thing is beyond my understanding (perhaps they felt a duty to obliterate such a pink abdomination) but who am I to argue with them? :-)

The dressing is described on my February post

Friday, July 16, 2010

Step by Step Patterns

Over the time I published a couple of Step by Step tying instructions on various internet forums. I decided to to put them on my blog pages; with this in mind I created a new Step by Step page.

At this time the list consists of a Czech nymph, Hawthorn fly and CDC Loop Caddis - with of course hope for more to come in future :-)

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Olive Otter

The Otter underfur with guard hairs removed makes some very fine dubbing for dry flies, with natural water resistant ability. Very handy for small summer mayflies.

The tie:
#18 Hanák 130BL hook
white UNI 17/0 thread
3 strands of orange Flashabou
2 smallish CDC feathers
Olive Otter dubbing

Monday, June 28, 2010

Into the West...

The westernmost part of the Czech Republic is a troubled country - since time immemorial inhabited by ethnic Germans, who were expelled in the aftermath of WWII it was for 40 years a no entry zone due to its proximity to Western Germany. History left many scars in the countryside, but an interesting side effect was that the  isolation resulted in some fabulous trout fishing.

For this weekend I received invitation from my friend Rosťa, who besides having an interesting job as a moulder of lava in basalt foundry is a first class fisherman of small streams and a veritable font of knowledge of the west country rivers. I have agreed not to delve too deeply into the details of the rivers we fished, but a couple of pics should be OK.

Rosťa is a terror on the small streams, in part helped by his unusual fly rod - an ancient 7 and 1/2 foot Cortland fiberglass rod rated AFTMA 6/7. The heavy line loads his wimpy rod easily allowing for hellishly accurate casts, while the short length leaves lots of room for manoeuvrings under the overhanging foliage.

Rosťa gave me a grade C for my fishing - I got positive points for tying flies that fish liked, but negative for not having sufficiently mastered the arcane art of jungle casting. I took it as an overall compliment :-)

We successfully pursued a number of indigenous brown trout and grayling and introduced rainbows and brook trout. The rainbows and brookies don't spawn naturally in our rivers, but over here they were stocked as fingerlings and left to grow naturally to perfect condition - not like the malformed sickly stockies so common in the rest of the country.