Saturday, December 25, 2010

Baby Sparkle Sculpin Fly Tying Tutorial

Baby Sparkle Sculpin

Hook: Mustad 36890, Size 10
Thread: 8/0, Black
Wing: Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip, Natural
Body: Dubbing (any bright, flashy dubbing, SLF Prism in Olive shown)
Collar: Pine Squirrel Zonker Strip, Natural (same strip used in wing)


As always, begin by placing the hook in the vise.  I prefer the looped, up-eye salmon hooks for all my streamers, but, as usual, any long shank streamer hook will work.  This pattern is also limited in its size by the natural length of the squirrel fur, meaning that it will begin to lose proportion in sizes much bigger than #8, and the hide itself will make it too bulky to be practical much smaller than #12.

Wrap an underbody of .025 lead, proportioned as shown.  With the loop eye hooks, I tend to use the end of the wire as my transition point, wrapping the lead up to it, and using it as a sort of fixed 'landmark' for other proportioning purposes on a variety of ties, but you can tie it just fine on a ring-eye, just be sure to leave space for the collar.

Tie in the pine squirrel zonker at the back of the lead underbody, extending just past the back of the bend, but not long enough to foul, with the natural grain of the hair sweeping back.  Be sure to separate the hair at the tie in point so that you don't bind any of it down.  This will no only make for a neater appearance and maximum movement in the water, but binding down the hair will make the tie in point much weaker.

After making about 3 wraps binding the strip down, pull the front end back and make 2-3 more wraps tight against the tie in point to lock it in, then tie in a thread loop about 6" long, and advance your thread to the front of your lead underbody.  Then get your dubbing loop tool into the loop you created.

Wax the loop if you like, then fill it with your dubbing of choice.  Literally any dubbing will work here, though, in the interests of keeping it a "Sparkle Sculpin", bright, flashy dubbings are given the nod at my tying bench.  In this case, I'm using SLF Prism dubbing in Olive.

Twist up your dubbing loop.  For a loop this big, twist it up a lot.  You won't ahve to worry about twisting it too tightly, and twisting too loose might allow some of the dubbing to get pulled out by fish.

Wind the dubbing loop onto the lead underbody.  On a size 10 hook, that 6" loop will allow you to wrap it on pretty tightly, so try not to leave any bare spots.  Tie it off and trim any excess at the front of the lead underbody.  If you like, tease out the dubbed body with a toothbrush.

Pull the zonker strip forward, over the body.  There should be a little tension in the strip to keep it upright, but not so much tension that its going to pull itself out of place.  Tie the strip down at the front of the dubbed body, again taking care not to bind down the fur.  Also like last time, pull the strip back, and make a few locking wraps immediately in front of the tie in point.

Pull the strip to the side and make one wrap around the hook shank, making sure it lays with the hide side against the hook, with the hair standing out much like hackle.  After that one wrap, tie off and trim.  Leave room for the head, but if your tie off point is almost to the eye, don't worry about it, just snip it as close as you possibly can, to make for a smaller, neater head.

The finished fly.

A stringer of sculpins, tied with a variety of dubbings and colors.  From left to right: pink and red antron, olive, orange, and caddis green SLF Prism, blue ice dub, purple polar dub, and blue laser dub.

This is an evolution of a pattern that worked well for me over the 2010 season on both trout and steelhead as well as  warmwater bass who may have taken it for a small tadpole.  The old pattern used a body first of tinsel, then mylar braid (used on crystal meth)...this dubbed body version adds a lot of ability to customize the look for different tastes and conditions.  It may be my reason to try out some shaggy dub next spring.

Fish this pattern like any streamer pattern, drift, swing, strip as needed.  The fairly heavy gauge lead on such a small hook makes it ideal for probing those hard to reach areas like deep pools, exposed root balls, and undercuts, that the larger trout in a small stream usually claim as their own (and aggressively defend), and the small size makes it manageable for even a 3wt rod to throw at the distances usually necessary for small stream angling.  Toss upstream allowing it to tumble across the bottom into the lie, then after giving it a little time to sink, but not enough time to drift out of the lie, swing or strip it away quickly.  Usually for me, the strike will come just a few moments after the swing begins.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sparkle Minnow Tutorial

Sparkle Minnow
Hook: Mustad 36890, Size 6
Thread: Black 8/0
Weight: .015 lead wire
Body: Polar Chenille (UV Pearl)
Collar: Crosscut Rabbit Zonker (Blue w/ purple tip)
Topping: Polar Fiber, Icelandic Sheep, Cashmere Goat, or similar (Cashmere goat shown)


Place hook in vise.  I use up-eye salmon hooks for my streamers, but any long shank streamer hook will do.

Wrap an underbody of .015 lead wire to sink the minnow.  This pattern has a lot of bulk, so a bit of weight really helps to get it below the surface.  Using heavier gauge lead would help improve the sink rate.  Push the lead up against the end of the loop eye, or, if you aren't using a loop eye hook, leave some space behind the eye equal to the width of your rabbit strip plus room for a head.

Build a thread dam at the rear of the lead body to prevent it from sliding back, then tie in a piece of polar chenille at the back of the body, then advance your thread to the front of the lead underbody.

Wrap the polar chenille forward in touching turns to completely cover the lead underbody.  Be sure to sweep the fibers back after each turn to avoid trapping the fibers under the next wrap.  Tie off and trim.

Tie in your crosscut rabbit strip.  I'm using blue here, but nearly any color could work, I just associate white, blue, green, and silver with minnows.

Make one wrap of the crosscut, then tie off and trim.  Any more than one wrap will overcrowd the head of the fly, and will also tend to dominate the polar chenille.  One wrap will allow the polar chenille to deliver a subtle flash from below the rabbit, and also allow for the fibers of both materials to move freely in the water.

Tie in your topping.  Any long, supple material will work here.  I normally use polar fiber in olive or black, but here I've used chartreuse cashmere goat.  Other possibilities would include any hair you'd normally use on a streamer, bucktail, yak, peacock herl, etc.  You just want a material that will add a little contrast to the fly while again allowing for maximum movement.

The completed fly.

The fly wet.

You fish the sparkle minnow just like any other streamer.  Drift, swing, strip.  I've only ever used it in moving water, but I'd imagine bass and panfish would like it in stillwaters as well.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Cool Photo to Share

Hi everyone.  I know I haven't posted in a few weeks, but its honestly just due to a lack of fishing and tying combined with the short days effectively eliminating photography-friendly light.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to both fish and photo tomorrow, though!

To tide you over, I stumbled across this picture on a photography site I frequent, and while it may not be the most technically perfect or visually impressive shot, I think the power of the shot is in its message:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Fly Needs A Name

I'm finally getting around to using some of the beautiful feathers I brought home from the Symposium, and this is one that I'm very pleased with.  Figured I'd share it with you guys tonight:

Tied on a 1/0 Dai-riki #899, purple seal in front of the floss, and a wing of hackle dyed 'grizzly mot mot crown' from John McLain of FeathersMc.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Soft Water

Last weekend, I wanted to get out and spend an afternoon doing some photography, but as it turned out, I didn't even leave the house till nearly 4:00pm, already into the last part of the prime lighting of the day.  To complicate things, I'd decided to head for a scenic area that was located in the bottom of a valley, further cutting down on available light, and completely eliminating any warm, direct sunlight.  Should I have changed plans to get better lighting?  Probably.  But I didn't.

Eventually, I got to my spot, just one the verge of having insufficient light for any shot, especially in the shady valley.  So I wasn't going to get any of the shots I'd hoped for, but what was left?  I was pretty much limited to fairly long shutter times...

That's when I decided to embrace the low-light and try a few extended shutter exposures of the small, but fast-flowing creek.  While the fairly flat, indirect lighting made for some drab, lifeless color, the heart of the effort, getting the long-exposure shot, met a fair amount of success.  I ended up with fewer than ten 'keepers', but learned a lot.  Some of my settings were kind of off for conditions, but overall, I'm pleased enough with the results to share with the group.

Remember, as always, clicking any photo will take you to a full sized version, and if you'd like the EXIF data for any shot, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll be happy to add it.




Monday, December 6, 2010

The Golden Rod Classic Wet Fly

I finally got back around to the classic wet flies again this afternoon...

The Golden Rod

Hook: Mustad R70, #8
Thread: UTC 70, white
Tail: Red mallard quill
Butt: Peacock Herl
Body: Orange Floss
Rib: Gold tinsel
Hackle: Orange hen
Wing: Jungle Cock

Another pattern from Ray Bergman's Trout.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

On the Rocks

I decided to take my new camera to Beam Rocks in Forbes State Forest for an afternoon just after a recent snow dusting.  While there's still plenty to learn with this camera, I was very pleased with most of the results.

As always, clicking in the image will take you to a larger version, and all questions, comments, and suggestions are very welcome.  In addition, EXIF data for any shot is readily available upon request.

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