Saturday, December 4, 2010

Curt Nordrum - The God of Sheet Foam!

I attended another great seminar today at Bob Mitchell's...headed up by Curt Nordrum. Curt is the God of foam! After about 60 minutes I had learned that foam flies don't have to be perfect to catch fish. Curt is a great tyer, but not really a perfectionist. A breath of fresh air from the trout snobs that always seem to be stationed at the fly shop for these events.

This pattern is called The Slider or The Seagull and is by far my favorite tie of the Curt's presentation. He had some other patterns that were derivatives of Jack Garside's creations.

Curt also tied up Hot Lips (below), Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, Blockhead poppers and many other simple but extremely deadly foam patterns geared toward what else....Smallmouth Bass!

Curt was a great presenter because of his practicality. He uses sewing thread, el cheapo Aberdeen (cricket) hooks, $1 sheet foam, super glue, chenille and a bunch of homemade tools. His barb crimper was an old dental tool and his bodkin was a broken section of bamboo fly rod with a needle insert! I'll take ingenuity over fancy anytime!

Now to convert these to tube flies....

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ugga Booga

Hook:  Tiemco 8089 (Size 6)
Thread: Olive Uni
Tail:  Olive Marabou/Green Sili-legs
Body:  Brown/Green Variegated Chenille
Collar:  Smallmouth Fly Box Secret PC
Weight:  Small Nickel Plated Conehead

This is a promising new pattern I am working on using a funky new material I got from an upholstery catalog.  I will continue to make improvements, but this one looks deadly right out of the gates!

I was going to call it the Smallie Siren because the fibers call the smallmouth like the sirens in mythology.  The fibers almost sing!  My son said it "looks like a giant booger," I called it the ugga booga.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Water Squirrel


Hook: Mustad Streamer Hook (Size 2)
Thread: Orange Uni
Tail: Red Squirrel Zonker
Body: Red Squirrel Zonker
Legs: Orange Rubber Legs
Eyes: Plated Dumbbell

This poor squirrel fell victim to my female German Shepherd. A little orange dye and a razor blade and we had some flies.

This is one buggy looking pattern. Nothing to it....on zonker, legs and plated dumbbell eye.

Those city squirrels are good for something!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fabric Fusion

The fly is no big deal, just an all purpose pattern I tie up for smallies and pike.   I do like the Hareline Yak Fur though,,,,cool stuff.

I used Aleene's Fabric Fusion for the head and I have to admit this stuff is great.  Water based, goes on thick and is nice and clear (see below).  I want my son to start fly tying and I don't want him using toxic adhesives.  Fabric Fusion is a very nice alternative to epoxy.  

I picked my bottle up at WalMart for $4.  Check in the fabric section...
Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Wilderdilch

Hook: Mustad 3366 Size 2
Tail Layer 1: Deerhair
Tail Layer 2: Barred Sili-legs (Orange)
Tail Layer 3: Saddle Hackle
Flash: Krystal Flash
Thorax: Deerhair
Head: Spun Deerhair

This is my new favorite pattern. The picture above is not my tie though, I'm working on this one and really enjoying myself. I'm on generation 3 of my rendition and will post my version shortly. This is the fun part of fly tying for me, seeing a pattern and reverse engineering it. .

My copy is similar, but it's more robust in the tail section. Like the prototype generation one had a single pair of saddle hackles in the tail. 3 pairs and things are looking better, more balanced.

This is a great pattern for me because it satisfies my deer hair spinning bug. It happens all the time, I get this urge to spin deer hair. The minute it starts getting complicated I lose interest. The head on the Wilderdilch is pretty crude. No razor blades, just a pair of scissors. Keep it simple!

The head holds some water and gets the fly down in the water column. This is a dandy! Ron from my local fly shop wants to see it in gray...I'm on the hunt for gray deer hair!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fly Box Hero - Ward Bean

Ward Bean of is definitely one of my biggest Fly Box Heroes. Ward's site is quite possibly the best online fly tying resource out there. A top notch fly tyer and pattern designer, Ward Bean has made fly tying a whole bunch easier for thousands of people. Ward's site reignited my love for fly tying after a decade long break. For that I will be forever grateful!

This sport would be nothing without guys like Ward, Joe Cornwall, Bob Clouser, Art Scheck.... I just hope one day that my name will be mentioned alongside guys like Ward.

Ward Bean is a retired community college instructor and lives in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Many of Ward's articles have appeared in Fly Tyer Magazine. Ward is also currently a member of the Whiting Farms Pro Staff. ( This is a group of tiers that Whiting uses to test products and create new uses for their hackle.)

The Sweaty Yeti

Hook: Mustad 9672 (Size 4)
Tail: Spirit River Mottlebou
Tail 2: Pumpkin Sili Legs
Tail 3: Grizzly Saddle Hackle
Tail 4: Silver Krystal Flash
Body: Cream Angora Yarn
Collar/Head: Deer Hair
Weight: Small Silver Cone

This is my interpretation of Tony Stifter's Wilderdilch seen in Chris Niskanen's article on the Snake River in the St Paul Pioneer Press in July of 2010.

The Wilderdilch is a great pattern, kudos to Tony. I chose to shorten the saddle hackles used in the tail. I personally don't like the use of feathers for tails, to me they are far too fragile. I'll probably substitute the saddle hackles for some synthetic material in the future. Overall the tail section on my version needs to be longer, but this is a good start.

I took a few key features from Kelly Galloup's Zoo Cougar and also the Cone Head Madonna. A Northern Minnesota Sweaty Yeti? My youngest son has a knack for naming flies! All I know is this Yeti will be sweaty hauling in fall smallies with this pattern!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Great Lakes Fly Shop

We got a chance to visit John Fehnel at the Great Lakes Fly Company in Duluth, Minnesota.  Cool little shop and John is a great guy.  John was right in the middle of moving, so the shop was kind of boxes, but I can tell it is a great place.

I like the fact John includes bass and musky/pike fishermen in his mix.  I picked up this fly at his shop and learned a very cool craft fur technique from John.  This is a very simple fly, but it looks deadly.  Craft fur is such a cool material!  My version of this pattern is coming soon.

Make sure to hit the Great Lakes Fly Company when you are in Duluth.  I hope to join John on a guided trip on the Saint Louis River in the spring of 2011.

Duluth Trip

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Toothbrush

Hook: Size 4 7311 VMC Worm Hook
Thread: 6/0 Chartreuse Uni
Belly: Hareline Medium Krystal Hackle (White)
Body: White Craft Fur
Body: White Ice Wing Fiber
Flash: Fire Tiger Flashabou
Body: Chartreuse Craft Fur
Eye: 3mm Holographic Dome Eye

This is a variation of a fly that JeffSod posted on the Fiberglass Fly Rodders site. I eliminated the worm rattle and used Krystal Hackle in its place. The reduction in weight gives this pattern a nice drift. Crappies won't leave it alone and bass hammer this guy.

Many people mention the fact that this pattern is tied pretty sparse. I've tried it bushy and sparse and for some reason I've had more luck with a fly that is on the trim side. Craft fur is the easiest material to use because it keeps the head small. The swimming action is nice and it is a very light streamer to toss.

VMC is a great hook manufacturer. I have used a few hundred of their hooks and am extremely pleased. Great products, good prices and really sharp out of the box.

Good luck with this one...I feel sorry for the crappies in your area.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Evening Scratch

Hook: Tiemco 8089 NP (Size 6)
Thread: 6/0 Brown Uni
Tail: Spirit River Mottlebou
Flash: Gold Krystal Flash
Body: Variegated Chenille Medium, Light Olive/Rust
Hackle: Medium Rootbeer Palmer Chenille
Legs: Chartreuse Rubber Legs
Weight: 1/50 oz. Black Presentation Eyes

This is one of my new inventions for 2010---my version of Tim Holschlag's HHF. It uses a few cool products that really make it shine. First, I used a very nice Tiemco hook with a very wide gap, the 8089 NP. The hook is a little expensive and not stocked at many places, but it is the best hook for the application.

I used another very, very cool material (new for me) by Spirit River called Brown Speckled Mottlebou. I was at Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop and Mike showed me the stuff....had to have it! This material is very cool. It's actually marabou that looks and acts a like fur. There are no stems to deal with and the material is actually stitched on a cloth runner. The mottled brown color is natural and can emulate a ton of different critters. The fibers have a very life-like texture that is incredible in the water. This is a must have material!

This pattern has a ton going on. The hook rides inverted---butt in the air to reduce snagging. The Mottlebou has a very unique action in the water- almost a trance-like quality. You already know by now I favor the durability of Palmer Chenille over hackle. The green rubber legs offer just another layer of deliciousness.

My youngest boy called it the "Evening Scratch"....a perfect name.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Happy Birthday E

We had a great day on the St Croix River! We paddled down for almost 3 hours and had a blast for E's 7th birthday.

I didn't bring a fly rod, but I wish I had! The river looked very fishy today.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Beaner's Perfect Poppers

Hook:  Wapsi Supplied Hook
Body:  Wapsi Perfect Pencil Popper Body (Hard Foam)
Tail:  Marabou
Flash:  Wapsi Palmer Chenille
Color:  Sharpie and PrismaColor Permanent Markers
Top Coat:  Clear Sparkle Nail Enamel
Eyes:  3mm  Red Prism Eyes

Another "kit popper" from Wapsi.  Ward Bean really shows you how to effectively decorate these foam buggers with nail polish and markers in Fly Tyer Magazine.

We tied these up and really like them, but they are almost impossible to see in the water.  I'll need to add a bit of color to the top of the popper to make it easier to see on the river.  I have big hopes for this get up!

This is what they look like out of the package.  A few markers, feathers and nail polish and you're good to go.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dick Gross - Crystal Falls Smallmouth

Dick landed this 4# pig on a Lake in Crystal Falls Michigan. I'll have to verify this, but I think Dick landed this toad with his old fiberglass Heddon Pal. I just got my Heddon Pal last week from Joe Cornwall....hopefully I get my 4 pounder soon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nail Polish Popper


Hook: Mustad 33903 Kink Shanked Hook Size 2
Thread: White Flat Waxed Nylon
Head: Wapsi Perfect Popper Foam Popper Heads
Tail: Sili Legs, Marabou, Flashabou, Just About Anything...
Gill: Wapsi Palmer Chenille or Hackle
Eyes: Prismatic Eye
Color: Prismacolor Marker
Finish: Glitter Nail Polish (Walmart $2)

This is my version of Ward Beans Perfect Popper on Warmwater Fly Tyer. These poppers are fun to put together and they are very durable.  Ward uses the Mustad 3366, but I prefer the Mustad 33903 kink shank popper hook because of the longer length.

I had some trouble with the markers bleeding when I applied the nail polish, but decided the fish wouldn't care much and just rolled with the punches. I'm sure there is a way to get a perfect finish, but Like Ward says...the decorations on these poppers are more for the fisherman than the fish.

The Wapsi Perfect Poppers have a nice spooned out face that really raises a ruckus on the surface.  The foam accepts permanent marker very well making them easy to customize.

I flipped one of these poppers for hours, caught a dozen or so bass and it looks to be as good as new. The nail polish is very durable and the glitter gives the poppers a nice fishy look.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Wet Mouse

Hook: Daiichi 1550 (Size 8-12)
Thread: 6/0 Brown Uni
Body: Pheasant After Shaft Feathers
Collar: Pheasant Back Feather
Weight: None

Another pattern created using feathers from the lowly ring-neck pheasant. Jack Gartside created this pattern and while it can be frustrating working with delicate after shaft feathers it is a very effective pattern for everything from bluegills to bass and trout.

The after shaft feathers are very delicate, but have a magical swimming action in the water. I tie in the butts of the feathers and wrap back to the bend. I counter wrap with light mono to increase durability. Once the fly is together it is surprisingly rugged.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fly Box Super Hero - Dick Gross

I met Dick Gross on bluegill fishing site ( in July 2009. Since then we have become great friends, almost like we've known each other for years. I posted a question asking what type/weight fly rod would be best for my then 8 year old son. Dick replied that he had a rod for my son and sent it up to him - wouldn't take any money. The rod belonged to Dick's son Chad who passed away unexpectedly many years ago. Chad's fly rod was perfect for my son, but the note Dick sent was something I'll never forget. Anyone who has the experience of meeting Dick quickly realizes he is a very special person.

As a young boy I formed a friendship with my Uncle Joe (see earlier post) from Terra Haute, IN. That bond was very strong, there isn't a day I don't think about Uncle Joe. Joe was a great outdoors man. He had a beagle named Snoopy and a dachshund named Smokey and he loved to hunt ducks and rabbits. He was an avid fly fisherman and was a die hard bluegill pond fisherman.

Uncle Joe died over a decade ago and I'll have to say I've never met a person that was even close to the man he was....until I met Dick. I'm not sure if it is coincidence or meant to be, but I met Dick on a bluegill fishing after he answered a random question I just threw out on a whim. He lives in Indiana, is an avid duck and rabbit hunter, has two beagles and is a die hard fisherman (both spin and fly). Dick Gross is from the same mold as my Uncle Joe.

We were fortunate enough to have met Dick and his wife Betty in person last summer and it felt like I was sitting with my dear Uncle again and my Aunt Doris (Sorry Betty, that makes you sound really old!). We had a pizza and spent a hours chatting it up. The next morning we met for coffee...had a great time really doing nothing but spending time together.

His wife Betty is a so much fun. Betty is a super talented photographer and she fishes too. They just don't make them like Betty and Dick anymore (Sorry again Betty....that makes you sound really old.)

Dick has since sent my youngest son his fathers Browning Silaflex and Chad's 1492 Medalist reel. He's sent me bags of turkey feathers, a few bamboo rods and countless other goodies and I'll send him some flies when I have something worth sending him.

Dick recently had a minor surgical procedure done and both of my boys asked if he was going to be okay. My 9 and 7 year old boys talk about Dick and Betty like they are the only family they've ever known. I know it sounds strange and I really can't explain it...Dick and Betty are part of our family.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Sparrow

Hook:  Daiichi 1270 (Size 6)
Thread:  6/0 Brown Uni
Tail:  Pheasant Marabou
Body:  Squirrel Dubbing
Gill:  Pheasant Rump Feather
Head:  Pheasant Filoplume (2)
Weight: None

This is another Jack Gartside creation.  How simple can this get?  The Sparrow is a great, nymph, crawfish, minnow imitation.

Super easy to tie and is great for bass, panfish or anything else that happens to be swimming by.  Jack Gartside was a smart, smart man - he kept it simple stupid!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Felted Reel Pouch Complete

Here is a complete felted reel pouch. The button is carved bone and is a nice touch. All in all I really like the final design and it really protects the reel while in transit to the river.

You'll also notice my new mint Browning Silaflex! The wool is a nice addition to the vintage package.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vintage Revelation Fly Reel

This is a garage sale find that is really nifty. I've had it for years and it balances out my vintage Fenwick FF806 perfectly.

The guys at the Fiberglass Fly Rodders site said this reel was made for Montgomery Wards. My boys call it my Iron Man reel....

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ward's Articulated Streamer

Hook: Mustad 3366 Size 2
Thread: 6/0 White Uni
Tail (Tip): White Marabou
Tail (Body): White Pearl Wapsi Palmer Chenille (Large Length)
Transition: White Marabou
Body (Main): White Pearl Wapsi Palmer Chenille (Large Length)
Eyes: Prismatic Dome Eyes
Weight: 10-20 Wraps .025 Lead Substitute

This is a fly that I initially emailed to Ward Bean at and it didn't look this good. Ward had an articulated minnow pattern on his site that used hackle to build up a nice body. I loved the pattern so much I started trying to mess with different materials. This is when Wapsi Palmer Chenille came into the picture. One email to Ward, he made tweaks and made a beautiful streamer. This is my version of Ward's Articulated Streamer followed right to the tee. Go to for detailed tying instruction.

If you look closely you can see this fly is actually 2 hooks joined with hard mono (see picture on right). The rear hook section is clipped, so there is no hook - just the shank. The mono joint allows this streamer to really have a beautiful swimming action. Ward is a great tyer, so this fly performs as expected...fabulously!

The best thing about Ward's patterns is he often uses the Mustad 3366 hook. For some reason many tyers are starting to shy away from this hook for fancy Tiemco hooks costing 4X the cash. I get these hooks from size 1/0 - 12 at Captain Hooks for $3 per 100.

Prismacolor markers dress out the fly. I went simple and used with a 60% Cool Gray marker, but Ward does some up that look exactly like baby perch and bluegill. Give it a shot, it is fun to dress these little guys up. Don't bother with a Sharpie....they will fade.

Kudos to Ward for perfecting this pattern and making it beautiful!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Called in sick....had trout fever!

This one had a funky gill plate?

My wife lands a nice one...releases it!

Swim home little boy!

This was the hot fly today! The March Brown Flymph.