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Thread: First flies: best few for a good foundation of techniques?

  1. #1
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default First flies: best few for a good foundation of techniques?

    Looking back, and giving credit to Bill England (formerly at Mtn View Sports), the techniques learned in tying these basic flies can form a good foundation for independent learning:

    Beginner: 1). GloBug, 2). Wooly Bugger, 3). Mickey Finn (or similar smolt) and 4). Prince (or similar) Nymph. Some would add Parachute Adams or other dry pattern here, but I think the delicate materials make dries best suited to Intermediate level.

    Intermediate: Parachute Adams (working with small, delicate materials), Sculpin ptrns (woolhead and spun deer hair techniques), more elaborate leech patterns -articulated leeches, weighted eyes, etc, epoxy-coated smolts.

    Opinions from more experienced flyfishers: What would you teach at AK Fly Tying University? What AK species you fish successfully might influence what you'd recommend beginners learn first, but what works and what would you say is best for beginners (and intermediate tyers) to learn to tie first?

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    Default couple thoughts

    Since I elected to watch the USA narrowly lose the gold to Canada over fishing I can be the first to comment here:

    I would add egg-sucking leeches, not much different than a wooly bugger but an extremely versatile producer. Maybe an Illiamna pinkie before a Glo-bug, since chenille is easier to use and is an effective substitute. Polar shrimp and its variants and you can't pass up the ubiquitous flesh-fly. I think a good starter dry-pattern is a simple elk-haired caddis (minus body hackle), which still fools less discriminant surface feeders.

    Think that for many tying a fly that catches more fish drives the tier to develop their technique.

    Good luck with enrollment at fishing Univ. of AK.

  3. #3

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    if you're teaching someone to learn how to tie....start simple,

    First one step flies, illiamna pinky

    2nd, salcha pink, 2 step fly and a griffiths gnat

    3 step fly wooly bugger 3 step fly

    4th egg sucking leach 4 step fly

    5 would be a hares ear nymph
    Learning to dub, rib, maybe add a bead and weight it's only a 4 step fly but it take smore then the ESL to make correctly.

    Next I'd add a glo bug

    fat freddie

    and a fushcia bunny fly.

    You'd be teaching in stages and teaching flies for alaska....a win win. There is a ton more, these are a very basic go to foundation.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Default My $.02

    Can't say I've earned my tenure yet, but I've taught quite a few people how to tie (at least to some extent - some are better students than others ).

    As for Alaska, on the beginner level...

    I'd start with a woolly bugger hands down. I mean really an ESL is essentially a woolly bugger, with some extra chenille up front. Battle Creek: flesh fly version of woolly bugger. You learn how to use hackle and chenille, how to control marabou, and by varying the colors and sizes you can go from a size 10 or 12 in natural colors as a nymph to huge gaudy buggers for kings. Add beads, add flash, but the woolly bugger is one of the most effective flies on the planet and is a solid, easy, fundamental pattern to learn.

    Next up... bunny leech. Wrapping rabbit fur/zonker strips is an easy fly to learn, but again offers good versatility for AK. Use flesh colored rabbit for (of course) flesh flies. Leeches (black, purple, olive, etc.) for bows and dollies. Add some dumbbell eyes, go with some pink leeches and black leeches and whatever other color appeals to you - you're pretty much covored for silvers, kings, pinks, chums. Add flash, etc. etc.

    Bucktail streamers... from smolt patterns to Russian River flies, match your needs based on what you're fishing for. Simple and effective.

    I agree that an elk hair caddis is a good starter dry - with or without palmered hackle. You learn about dubbing, it floats well, it catches fish.

    Hair's ear is a great starter nymph. Pheasant tail is another good one.

    Personally, I think tying glo-bugs could be a bit frustrating for a beginner. Heck... they're still a bit frustrating for me. I'll admit it, I don't like tying them. It takes some time to learn the line tension (without breaking the line) and to minimize thread wraps to really pull this pattern off, especially when you actually get down to 10mm and 8mm. Plus, most people just go straight to beads anyway...
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Default

    when I teach people how to tie, I start with a bunny fly, simple as anything and gets people wrapping everything in the right direction. The other basic fly I teach is a bead chain smolt, which is just fis hair and bead chain eyes (and deadly) then I go to a thunder creek to introduce hair management (stacking, reverse tying etc). Next I introduce hackle with the wolly bugger. So at that point we've covered fly tying basics, putting on eyes, hair managment, hackles, and multiple coverings (ie tie the feather in first then the chenile before wrapping). Then I move on to a basic hairs ear nymph, to introduce wing cases and dubbing. Then I might do a zonker to introduce tubing, then a feather wing streamer finally I do dry flies, starting with a basic, then a hair wing, then a feather wing.

    after that you've got basically all the skills you need to tie any fly for fishing.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default

    All these sound like good starting points. I'd say Woolly bugger is maybe number 1 on my list because they are: cheap, easy, big, and considering materials you use you will learn how to proportion flies (measuring tails and leaving room for the head) as well as wrap hackle and add several materials. Add an egg and now you've got your first egg sucker. After that I'd say a nymph is good, wet flies are easier and a hairs ear will teach you dubbing as well as adding a wing case and by swapping wire for hackle it's not too big a leap from a woolly bugger. Then I'd say learn a dry fly, mosquito or adams. I found once I got good at woolly buggers it was more an issue of proportions when it came to smaller flies. All flies (with a few complicated exceptions) are tied similarly, from the hook bend to the eye, understanding how to leave room for all the stuff takes the most time.
    River Runnin

  7. #7

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    just becareful teaching a fly that takes a mulitude of tasks to complete....it can be overwhelming for someone who knows little to nothing about tying. They'll get there, doing WB and Esl's pretty dern quick. Teach them in stages. easy simple flies, to learn tying in, and finishing a fly. Kinda like learning to ride training wheels before you jump into a nascar rig .

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Tried McFly Foam for Glo Bugs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    ...Personally, I think tying glo-bugs could be a bit frustrating for a beginner. Heck... they're still a bit frustrating for me. I'll admit it, I don't like tying them. It takes some time to learn the line tension (without breaking the line) and to minimize thread wraps to really pull this pattern off, especially when you actually get down to 10mm and 8mm. Plus, most people just go straight to beads anyway...
    I always carry and enjoy tying Globugs. Catching any fish is more satisfying to me with Globugs (or any tied fly) than beads, though some days beads are easier - almost too much easier.

    Anyway, one October day on the Anchor River, I fished a very productive gravel bar with Bob, a stranger til that day, a chef on the Slope who'd been fishing the Anchor every year since 1979. The fish were running and I'd landed steelhead on leeches, nymphs and egg patterns. Bob had a small flybox filled with nothing but GloBugs. That was the first place I ever saw the Globugs known as Jerry Garcias, strange looking Globugs with purple , yellow, pink and orange - very neatly trimmed in perfect spheres. During the day, Bob tied on Globug after Globug. In one stretch, I saw him land 3 steelhead on 3 casts. Sometimes steelhead do take Globugs well. Since then, I've always carried Globugs and similar yarn egg patterns.

    Two things that make tying Globugs easier:
    1. Use kevlar thread to tie - very forgiving when you want to apply lots of pressure
    2. Try McFly foam - really fluffs up nice.

    Spring's coming!

  9. #9
    Member neverborn's Avatar
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    Default

    my opinion for beginners learn first !!!! history of the Classic Salmon Fly
    The colors theory, the proportions and the harmony of the feathers dressed with maniacal precision give an unspeakable satisfaction to the tier. Looking at the writiong of some of the most famous tiers of the Victorian Age makes us understand how much love is necessary to undertake this difficult yet rewarding art form.

    After this you can already tying basic flies ....

  10. #10
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Colors theory?

    Hey Neverborn - If you have time for this, it might be fun to learn.

    Half the appeal when I started fly fishing was how accessible fly fishing can be here. With just a flip and a few leech patterns, it's possible to catch good fish here - not much technique or knowledge (entomology, etc) required. Same with fly tying. I wouldn't say I'm much educated about flies, but I am curious.

    I didn't really follow what you mean by "my opinion for beginners learn first ... to undertake this difficult yet rewarding... form". Hey, it being winter...and all -if you have time - what's "colors theory"?. Are you saying that understanding it and how to tie classic salmon patterns gives beginners a fuller appreciation of the aesthetics and history of fly tying? Thanks!

  11. #11

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    wow..telling a brand new fly tier, heck even and intermediate fly tyer to take the task of a full dressed salmon pattern....That'd be a little much dont ya think?

    They are fun to tie, or atleast in my world, attempt to tie. I'd think in the real world if you're not more pigheaded then myself, learning to tie them right out of the gate would be a lesson in futility, likely ending someones time in tying before it ever started.

    Stick to the basics...basic basic, you've gotta remember many still dont even know the knots yet, let alone dealing with proportions, , learning how to read a recipe, hooks (styles and use), list goes on and on.

    Full dressed, salmon or speys...are a hoot and have their place. Some are great to tie for even a relative new person, some like say a jock scott, will make an even advanced tyer spend many nites behind a vise in frustration.

    KISS, build on a foundation....

  12. #12
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 6XLeech View Post
    I always carry and enjoy tying Globugs.
    More power to you, then! ha ha j/k

    I agree with you on getting more satisfaction out of fooling a fish with a fly I created myself. And although I don't love tying them, I carry a decent selection of glo-bugs.

    I learned about kevlar thread a long time ago, luckily, but I have honestly never tried McFly foam. I've heard good things about it, though. I have a bag of a couple dozen globug yarn colors, and occasionally try to keep myself from spending more money on fly tying materials, but maybe I'll try out some McFly foam sometime.

    That sounds like it was a really nice October day. Definitely one for the memory books.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

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