Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Leader Design

Leaders seems to be on the menu lately. I learned from my old friend Bernie – who sadly passed away this year. That he was pretty old (over 85 or so – nobody really knows) does not ease the loss.  I really miss him. He was quite a character.

Back in the days we worked on a leader which allows very precise control. The rivers Kyll and Ahr  we fished together in Germany, were small and we did not want the loop to open until the very end of the leader. Otherwise the fly ended up in the bush above – we are talking tunnel fishing here.

 the video is a documentary about Bernie
… my first proper flyfishing teacher
(nevermind the clown with the microphone)

Generally speaking (in fishing-lingo that is) a leader is the piece of line between the hook and the main line. This piece of line is normally somewhat smaller in diameter than the main line. Various sorts come into play, level line monofilament for bait fishing, wire (for pike and the like), a shock leader for fishing in the sea – and the so-called tapered leader for angling with the fly.

That’s it. There’s not much more to say, is there? Well if it were all so simple you’d not be on this web site, would you?

Presenting the fly to a fish (tossing a hook with fluff around onto or in the water – in simpler language) is a rather complex affair, which should not be underestimated. So let’s look at the problem from the start, the feeding fish in a stream, Mr. fish is looking upstream, feeding. He grabs a bite whenever the big conveyer belt-like flow brings food downstream- either on the water surface or in the water body. Therefore the fish is looking upstream virtually all day.

A rather boring life. Well fish don’t know that, so… However, being in such a position for extended periods of its life imprints some very well-defined patterns in that little fish brain. For instance, the fish has never seen a mayfly with a v-wave in front like a boat, so you (the clever angler) needs to avoid this happening. Sounds simple.

Presenting a fly like that is called dead drift. OK, there are other forms, the famous running sedge or the little bait fish escaping for example, but in imitating all such behaviour one must have good control over the lure.

I guess you start to get my point. Let’s continue looking at dead drift. Drag (that tiny, tiny v-wave), is caused by a taut line. Therefore you need slack line between you and the fly. The trick is to have just enough slack in the line to avoid drift, but enough contact to hook up with fish. The flowing current does not make this any easier.
So that’s the problem in a nutshell. The more natural your presentation looks to the fish, the more you’ll catch, particularly the wild ones.

The system consisting of fly line and precisely matched rod tapers all the way to the end point. At the end of the line a leader is attached.
Casting this system is done with subtlety rather than power, as it is manoeuvered to develop a loop. This loop gains great speed, even when cast with the most minimal power. This power needs to be spent so the fly lands on the water with natural elegance. The more precisely such behaviour is mimicked, the more fish you catch.

Landing a dry fly softly also increases its tendency to float. This allows you to use sllimmer and more natural fly designs. Likewise for Nymphs, which you can drop into the water precisely where you want them. When you can control the amount of slack in the leader and tippet, a nymph can sink without being hindered by the line. The flies don’t need much or even any weight added to them.

There are tapered, furled or braided, and knotted leaders. All have pro and cons. In my opinion the knotted type is preferable for the type of fishing described above. So I looked deeply into this kind of leader.

My very first book on Fly-fishing was “A fly fisher’s life” by Charles C. Ritz – ASIN: B0007EI4CU which had some information about knotted leaders. As this was „an old“ book I smiled arrogantly and went ahead tossing hard-earned money out of the window by shopping for all these fantastic things one gets offered by the „industry“. You guess the outcome. The fishing never really worked. Through contact with some other anglers and reading more in books and the „net“ I frequently ran into advocates of the hand-tied leader.

So I searched for my first book again to look for the detailed recipes for knotted leaders. Charles C. Ritz describes three main parts of a leader.

  1. power transmission – 60% of the total leader length
  2. taper – 20% of the total leader length
  3. Tippet – 20% of the total leader length

The total length is in Ritz’ book is never really more than 2,9m. I suspect this is because of shorter and different action of the cane rods of the time.

From other sources I heard that a leader should be 1.5 times the rod length. I found others advocating a similar ratio so I applied this to the Ritz 60/20/20 system and experimented. With modern rods and lines I concluded that a leader of 1.35 times the rod length worked best for me. I tied a few for some friends as well and the reactions were all more than positive. As this system seems to work for my friends from Lapland to Nevada, that is why I am sharing it with you here.

On to the technical bit. The single pieces of monofilament line are tied together with blood knots, named after their inventor Mr. Blood. These knots are ideal as they provide a perfectly straight connection without any bends and turns. I mostly use Maxima camo for the leader and Stroft GTM for the tippet, but choice of monofilament is very much up to you. If you believe all the hype, you can even use fluorocarbon.

For the connection of taper and tippet I insert a little ring, known as leader ring. The Leader itself is connected to the fly line with a nail knot or similar. Don’t worry about having to change the whole leader often. You won’t have to.

Have fun tying the leader. It’s a little easier with using a Blood-Knot tool though.

dubbing blender

There is quite a lot of underfur and snippets left over. I keep them in small plastic pouches and make new dubbing with it. How? …

Don´t throw it away. Keep the waste you have when tying. Why? The old is new. Dubbing specifically. Have I mentioned I use a lot of fur, mostly hare, for my flies? No? I am sure I have.

What the hell do you do with that old coffe grinder I am often asked – when people find it on my tying desk and not in the kitchen. Honestly – I buy ground coffe, even though I have a very nice hand driven grinder. Anyway – coffee is essential to fly fishing. Cooked in a small pot over campfire. Brilliant. Nothing beats this. I do not understand when people call it a fishing trip and do not have the very essentials with them … a coffepot and coffe that is.

That is maybe the main reason I emigrated … ze Germanz allow campfire only with permission and whatnot …. different here in Scandinavia. However, Grunde has a good life hack for places with limited allowance for campfire. Some very special pot which has the fire inside and the water in som sort of tube around the fire inside. Very very technical. It envolves a lot of blowing too – but his coffee is among the best on this planet. Must be his company as well.

20150430_143719274_iOS
Grunde working the coffemaker… a man of many talents and incredible kindness.
coffe on fire
my very own pot on fire (in new zealand actually – bringing culture down south) I met one of Swedens most respected movie directors by that fire. the coffeesmell attracted her ….

OK, back to the coffee grinder on my tying desk … I have an old electric grinder I use to blend dubbing. Just give it very short burst. Watch your fingers … and oh – of course keep the lid on when “grinding” your dubbing. Only use small amounts and check your result after a “burst”. You do not want to shred the stuff to dust.


arctic hare foot

So nature has to really prepare the animals living under such circumstances. They need real high outdoor clothing. The area I fish in summer is that cold. They hit minus 40 and below every year. This created a very special breed of hare …

Ice. Snow. Cold. That is what one thinks when hiring the word “arctic” – the record in Norway is minus 50 or so C. That is technically speaking damn cold. Unimaginable cold. I was in minus 27. That was cold. But minus 30 and below is really way too much for me. Call me a wimp if you will.

The hares of Lierne grow really big. I call them “jurassic hare” … the T-Rex of the “Lepus” family. They are very strong and fast and have very good meat. This is why the people up there hunt for them in fall before the temps get too harsh.

Really tough men these hare hunters. Hard shelled and soft hearted amazing human beings with a real good sense of humor. However, when I presented them with the request for hare feet they laughed. They couldn´t see the connection to fishing. It took a few years until they started to take this serious and were so nice to keep the feet for me. They are of course compensated generously for their efforts.

The hare feet are huge. Twice or three times as much material one normally finds. The fibres are really long too. I use it for a lot of flies. It floats well and has a very interesting shine to it. – by the way – you can use thesearch function on sexyloops for “hare” so you find all the patterns.

Since I also had few front feet I dared to dye them. It worked really well. Thanks to all the good advice from the “seals fur guru” Claus Damsgaard Jensen. Thanks again for all the help.

Drop me a note if you are interested in some of the feet. I have few “on stock” now. This is really special stuff.

chain eyes

Hey honey, what are you in bathroom so long for. — Oh, erm … no nothing. — But what´s that noise? Is all alright — (the man comes out of the bathroom with a pair of pliers in his hands and a guilty look on his face) — what did you need the pliers for ?? — Oh, I just fixed something. —- OK, I got you – you stole the chain for sink lock again. Give it back ….

….. such and similar scenarios happened in many flyfishers homes back in the day. Now the tackle industry has saved us fly-tiers (and future generations of tiers) from such embarrassing moments. However, I still fancy chains found in hotels.

Always carry pliers or better a Multi Tool like a LeatherMan 300. I have lost mine in one of these completely useless and stupid security checks at the airport … what is all this 100ml nonsense about for example? Utter BS if you ask me. And what could you do with a pair of pliers or a pocket knife? Pauls socks are allowed in the cabin … they are more dangerous. Believe me. Anyway, I go along with French Airlines banning swedish canned herring known as surströmming from airplanes. That´s a bomb this stuff. However, it doesn´t taste as bad as it smells … herring … right — sorry – back to the actual topic. Fishing.

So in previous article we covered the topic of legs. Now something similar – eyes. There´s many who believe eyes are important on streamers and such. The easiest way is to use the above mentioned «chain eyes»

I like them because one can balance the fly with them, meaning they «turn» the fly in the water the way you have intended it to. Hook up or down for example. Very easy to use and not expensive (heck even free should you dare to take them from that hotel bathroom).

How to attach the eyes is very simple too, and even easier if you do not cut the the chain before them «eyes» are secured with thread wraps.

Next week we´ll do a fly with them .. I promise. And how about discussing «eyes» on streamers on the board? I´d like to hear all the pro´s and cons.

120703342ce313d61108f0c86e5d3f84

leaders for trout fishing

t.z. | Friday, 4 September 2015

I dug out an older text I wrote quite some years back. I recently heard from a quite respected flyfisher from Ireland that he found my artcile in 2007 and it was an eye opener to him. I think this text should be in the s-loops archives.

Generally speaking (in fishing-lingo that is) a leader is the piece of line between the hook and the main line. This piece of line is normally somewhat smaller in diameter than the main line. Various sorts come into play, level line monofilament for bait fishing, wire (for pike and the like), a shock leader for fishing in the sea – and the so-called tapered leader for angling with the fly.

That’s it. There’s not much more to say, is there? Well if it were all so simple you’d not be on this web site, would you?

Presenting the fly to a fish (tossing a hook with fluff around onto or in the water – in simpler language) is a rather complex affair, which should not be underestimated. So let’s look at the problem from the start, the feeding fish in a stream, Mr. fish is looking upstream, feeding. He grabs a bite whenever the big conveyer belt-like flow brings food downstream- either on the water surface or in the water body. Therefore the fish is looking upstream virtually all day.

A rather boring life. Well fish don’t know that, so… However, being in such a position for extended periods of its life imprints some very well-defined patterns in that little fish brain. For instance, the fish has never seen a mayfly with a v-wave in front like a boat, so you (the clever angler) needs to avoid this happening. Sounds simple. Presenting a fly like that is called dead drift. OK, there are other forms, the famous running sedge or the little bait fish escaping for example, but in imitating all such behaviour one must have good control over the lure.

I guess you start to get my point. Let’s continue looking at dead drift. Drag (that tiny, tiny v-wave), is caused by a taut line. Therefore you need slack line between you and the fly. The trick is to have just enough slack in the line to avoid drift, but enough contact to hook up with fish. The flowing current does not make this any easier.

So that’s the problem in a nutshell. The more natural your presentation looks to the fish, the more you’ll catch, particularly the wild ones.

The system consisting of fly line and precisely matched rod tapers all the way to the end point. At the end of the line a leader is attached.

Casting this system is done with subtlety rather than power, as it is manoeuvered to develop a loop. This loop gains great speed, even when cast with the most minimal power. This power needs to be spent so the fly lands on the water with natural elegance. The more precisely such behaviour is mimicked, the more fish you catch.

Landing a dry fly softly also increases its tendency to float. This allows you to use sllimmer and more natural fly designs. Likewise for Nymphs, which you can drop into the water precisely where you want them. When you can control the amount of slack in the leader and tippet, a nymph can sink without being hindered by the line. The flies don’t need much or even any weight adding to them.

There are tapered, furled or braided, and knotted leaders. All have pro and cons. In my opinion the knotted type is preferable for the type of fishing described above. So I looked deeply into this kind of leader. My very first book on Fly-fishing was “A fly fisher’s life” by Charles C. Ritz – which had some information about knotted leaders. As this was „an old“ book I smiled arrogantly and went ahead tossing hard-earned money out of the window by shopping for all these fantastic things one gets offered by the „industry“. You can guess the outcome. The fishing didn´t quite work out for me. Through contact with some other anglers and reading more in books and the „net“ I frequently ran into advocates of the hand-tied leader.

So I searched for my first book again to look for the detailed recipes for knotted leaders. Charles C. Ritz describes three main parts of a leader.

1. power transmission – 60% of the total leader length
2. taper – 20% of the total leader length
3. Tippet – 20% of the total leader length

The total length is in Ritz’ book is never really more than 2,9m. I suspect this is because of shorter and different action of the cane rods of the time

From other sources I heard (I think it was Paul actually) that a leader should be 1.5 times the rod length. I found others advocating a similar ratio so I applied this to the Ritz 60/20/20 system and experimented. With modern rods and lines I concluded that a leader of 1.35 times the rod length worked best for me. I tied a few for some friends as well and the reactions were all more than positive. As this system seems to work for my friends from Lapland to Nevada, that is why I am sharing it with you here.

On to the technical bit. The single pieces of monofilament line are tied together with blood knots, named after their inventor Mr. Blood. These knots are ideal as they provide a perfectly straight connection without any bends and turns. I mostly used Maxima or Stroft for the leader and Stroft for the tippet, but choice of monofilament is very much up to you. If you believe all the hype, you can even use fluorocarbon.

Here is the leader recipe for a 9ft rod – I like to start with 0,50 or 0,45 with a 5wt line

1. power transmission – 2 pieces – 116cm 0,45 and 106cm 0,40
2. taper – 20% – 4 pieces 19cm each stepping down 0,35 – 0,30 – 0,25 – 0,20
3. Tippet – 20% – 80 cm – 0,18 to 0,12 depending on fly choice

And this is what I use mostly nowadays on my 4wt HT

1. power transmission – 1 piece – 200cm 0,40
2. taper – 20% – 2 pieces 30cm each stepping down 0,30 – 0,20
3. Tippet – 20% – 80 cm – 0,18 to 0,12 depending on fly choice

For the connection of taper and tippet insert a little ring, known as leader ring. The Leader itself is connected to the fly line with a nail knot. Don’t worry about having to change the whole leader often. You won’t have to.

Have fun tying the leader. It’s a little easier with using a Blood-Knot tool though.

there is a discussion on the board about leaders – http://www.sexyloops.co.uk/theboard/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1721

organizing tying materials

t.z. | Thursday, 27 August 2015

Flytying stuff, and/or stuff in general is very connected to the big question in life. Where do you put your stuff? George Carlin did a very nice piece about that.

My approach is minimalistic. I try to use very few materials to generate the flies I need. It´s my thing. Others do have different approaches, which is nothing wrong with. But my simple mind needs to have overview. I feel my flies get better than too.

So over the years I have (and still am) perfecting my kit. I will give you a quick run through which materials and tools I use and how I store them.

tying desk.
I like to have a dark surface under the materials and in my view. It really helps when trying to focus on the fly in the vice. A busy backdrop confuses the eye and is tiresome.

light
make sure you have enough light when tying. I found nice daylight lamp with a magnifying lens for rather small money.

thread
I mostly tie with very thin Dyneema in white. It is very hard to break and the thread is mostly a means to hold the materials. Of course one can use thread as „tying material“ as well which results in a different choice of thread based on the fy designs various parameters – as in North Country Spiders for example.

tools
a set of small, very sharp scissors / a larger pair of scissors for cutting rougher materials

bobbin holders – it is handy to have two at least. It is essential for some patterns and can be a live saver when one thread breaks and one needs to continue tying without having to redo the whole fly

material clamps – regular paper clips sold in office supply stores are very sufficient for the job, however – there is several specialised clamps and even clamping systems on the market.

knotting tool – I use a simple version or my fingers

bodkin needle

a piece of velcro or an old toothbrush for roughing up the flies

fly tying vise
The vise is a tool holding the hook. In the older days flies were tied on hand, meaning by holding materials and the hook in the hands without any vise. A vise is very handy though. In my mind it has two main functions a) holding the hook and b) support the hand which is offering the material onto the hook. I prefer vises with pedestals. Clamping a vise to a table did not work so well for me, but this is personal preference really. The drawback on pedestal version is the weight.

hooks
all Partridge of Redditch

CZ – 10 to 18 – http://www.partridge-of-redditch.co.uk/products/barbless/patriot-barbless/patriot-czech-nymph
SLD 2 – 10 to 18 – http://www.partridge-of-redditch.co.uk/products/barbless/patriot-barbless/patriot-standard-dry
CS 54 SE – http://www.partridge-of-redditch.co.uk/products/saltwater/salt-water-shrimp

dubbing
I mostly use seals fur or hare dubbing. The dubbing is stored in small plastic pouches. I cut one corner of the pouch to access the dubbing. The other storing method is to stuff the dubbing in to see through drinking straws or in a plastic container made from greenhouse window material. I got that tip from the famous Norwegian fly tying woman Marit Kronen.

wing materials
fibres from an arctic hares foot , also known as snowshoe hare. Beware of copies, the arctic hare is not a rabbit.
deer hair – I trie to get it directly from a hunter. The stuff sold in shops is softer.
antron yarn for wingpost of parachute flies

materials for extended bodies
synthetic yarn like antron or polyester nylon
foam
deer hair

body materials for nymphs
I mostly use Virtual Nymph nymphskin products. They are easy to use and quite reliable in their quality.

feathers
I have a whole skin from a partridge, a few pheasant tail feathers and a big bundle of peacock herl.

hackle
I use very little genetic rooster hackle in my flies and keep it to either black or grizzly.

fur
a hares mask is very useful and can be used for many flies. It supplies hackle, dubbing, tails & legs … you name it
squirrel skin, mink zonkers

ribbing materials
copper wire, tinsel

beads & lead
Tungsten beads are a good choice. Due to the high specific weight of tungsten beads from that material can be of smaller size as other materials. Lately some new form of tungesten heads cam onto the market featuring up with eyes and such. Nice to look at but not necessary.

adhesive lead foil

storing pouch
I found a pouch for – believe or not – orthopaedic stockings (not mine in a shop). This bag is really „it“ – all material & tools (except the vises pedestal) has place in it. It simply is rolled together for transport.

So you can see that it does not need halv a house for a quite a fly tying kit. All the flies below are tied with what you see on the table.

tztyingdesk

tztools

tzstoringdubbing

tzstoringyarn

tzmaterialspouch

SnowshoeSealDarkOlive

BlackGnat

Shipman

BlueBottle

SSE

BulletHeadCaddis

CarpetYarnCaddis

HHF

HHPrinceps

SSPrinceps

RealDaddy

RealCaddisLarva

RealClinger

sculpin

poor light and small flies

t.z. | Thursday, 20 August 2015

Insects hatch in the evening when it gets dark (and less windy).

The before unseen fish start feeding – and panic kicks in. What are they feeding on?

You might find that midges are on the menu – and than what? You have to change the fly of course. Changing the tiny thing at the end of your leader in the dark can be a real pain in the butt.

Chill, here´s a little tip to ease the struggle!

Have you ever been eyesore? I mean really having trouble seeing that little hole on the fly where the tippet is supposed to go? It never occurred to me during daytime of course. It is always the case that in the evening with a low sun those fish are set out to only take the smallest flies …and even smaller.

For these moments I have a simple, actually a very simple solution. Just thread your flies on a tippet material loop (make sure you thread both ends through the eye of the flyhook.) Add a little paper clip which stops them from escaping and the flies can now easily be transferred from the storage-loop onto the tippet on your leader. Just take away the paper clip, bring your leader through where the clip was before and push the fly from one loop to the other. Move it up the leader until that loop opens and you can take the tippet out and put the paper clip back. Very simple. Done.

The pre threaded flies can be stored in a compartment of your box, or you can attach the string in a foam flybox with a security pin or something similar. I leave that up to you.

 Gnats on a string

Don´t panic – it´s only mozzies.

t.z. | Thursday, 16 July 2015

Trout and similar feed on insects – fly fishers make use of this behaviour. So the presence of insects are a good thing – mostly. However, due to unknown reason som of these insects do feed on blood. I assume on all sort s of blood – but I am pretty sure they feed on my blood. The fact that the suck my blood sucks … really.

To get my blood they have to injects som prisons which itch very badly. I give a rats ass about the scientific explanation. Why has this not been designed better. I had no problem to shed a few drops if it helps the environment.

So why this itching? I guess I can´t change the anatomy and function of Mosquitos, Sandflies, Knott (Scandinavian term for tiny, tiny and even smaller) insects which give a real burn. My friend „Lasse the flybox maker“ calls them „little mouthes with wings attached. Here in Scandinavia it can be quite severe, but remember – itching normally means that some hatch is going on and you´ll be catching fish soon. I promise. 😉

What I propose is to deal with the problem.

– try to be in windy place when it gets too tough
– make sure to dress to the occasion – tight sleeves on the shirts and trousers, sting proof fabric
– a cap is essential
– a buff impregnatetd with some kind of DEET product
– thin neoprene gloves
– sunglasses which cover the eyes tightly help against the „knott“
– get insects repellent with a high concentration of DEET (given you have kids already and fo not want more)
– a net for over the head – make sure it is tight enough for the smallest of the bastards – you won´t see much when you use it, but it is really a last reasort measure 😉
– after bite medicine to ease the itch
– insect repellent which can be burned / works as “smoke”
– make a campfire and stand in the smoke
– insect spray
– coffee for staying awake

onlymozzies - 4selection of armory agains the “biting bastards”

onlymozzies - 1
mozzie net – I can´t see (pun intended) how one can possibly fish effeiciently wit this,
so for me this is more of a “last resort solution when the panic kicks in

onlymozzies - 3
DEET is “the shit” – max legal concentration to sell in Norway is 20%

Important is tactics and calmness. It is a good idea to dress and protect the exposed sin before you go „out“. Generally it is too late once you are in a mozzie zone . Stay calm.

Don´t panic! – frantically fighting hem off by waving your arms just attracts them and makes them even more agressive.

So again – Don´t panic! – it´s only mozzies

Enjoy the fishing.  /t.z.

The 5 Fly Casting Essentials

Essentials of fly casting by Bill Gammel – presented by Carl McNeil
watch these vids for better understanding the fly cast … and if you like these vids get a DVD from Carl. Enjoy & tight lines – www.tzflyfishing.no

Introduction

Essential 1, Eliminate Slack line

Essential 2, Timing

Essential 3, Vary the Casting Arc

Essential 4, Power Application

Essential 5, Straight Line Path of the Rod Tip
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Bg6njFSKv4

BACK TO THE MAIN PAGE – tzflyfishing.no

STORING YARN 

Some yarns can just be the ticket. Like this green yellow olive something I got from Staffan Lindström. It is perfect for extended bodies like the one on this sedge emerger. (Tied on a CZF hook size 16).

However, these tiny amounts – a few yards are good for a lifetime – are difficult to store. I found this to be a neat trick… just wind the yarn around a clothes peg and hey presto, you save hours untangling!

Enjoy & tight lines – www.tzflyfishing.no