Fly of the Month – Rockette by Scott Fisher

J.Stockard Pro Tyer: Scott Fisher, Somerville, NJ, you can find him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/troutjouster/

This time of year is a time we spend with our loved ones, and to be thankful for the things we have in life. It’s also the time of year a lot of us hunker down for the winter. As fly fishing slows compared to our peak seasons of spring and fall, we find ourselves at our tying desks cranking out flies for the upcoming spring, or honing our skills on new patterns and materials.

Growing up 35 minutes from New York City, my Christmases were always spent seeing Rockefeller Center, the giant Christmas tree, and the classic Rockettes. It’s difficult to imagine the Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Radio City Christmas Spectacular Show without these iconic group of talented holiday dancers.
When I imagined a fly that would hold the essence of these memories, these images told me where to start. Although this fly was designed with artistic purpose over pure function, it never hurts to cast these into the water to find out if the trout are in the Christmas spirit as well.

I hope you enjoy this festive wet fly pattern, and wish all of you a wonderful holiday. This is my Rockette.

Rockette

Materials list:

Hook: #10 Hanak 230 BL Stillwater/Wet Fly Hook
Thread: White UTC 70D
Tag: Gold Sm. French Oval Tinsel
Butt: White Ostrich Herl
Body: Red Silk Floss
Ribbing: Gold Sm. French Oval Tinsel
Throat: Chartreuse Ice Dubbing
Wing: Married Goose Shoulder in Red, Green and Peacock Quill
Head: Red UTC 70D

Tying Instructions:

  1.  Start by taking thread wraps down the hook shank, keeping your thread flat, until you reach the hook bend.
  2. Cut a 4” length piece of small Gold French Oval Tinsel. Take flat pliers to flatten a small tag end of the tinsel before installing. This will keep the body slim. Tie in on the underside of the hook, and take 5 wraps up the shank. Secure and remove excess tinsel.
  3. Use a single piece of white ostrich herl, and cut a half inch off the base of the herl to start with a clean section. Install where the tinsel ended, and take no more than two forward wraps before binding down and removing excess herl.
  4. To keep the underbody smooth, we will use a length of red floss and the excess tinsel and bind them both down on the underside of the hook the full length of the shank until reaching the ostrich herl. This is different then tying in the materials at the tie in point. Doing so will create bumps in the underbody.
  5. Keep the red floss flat by running your fingers along the piece, being careful not to pull too hard. Wrap the floss with touch wraps up the hook shank to create a smooth silk body for the ribbing to lay on. Secure roughly 2 hook eye lengths back from the hook eye.
  6. Take the small gold tinsel and take 5 open wraps, paying attention to keep the gaps between them even in spacing. Bind down at the same point as you did the floss.
  7. Dub the thread with a very small amount of Chartreuse ice dubbing. Just enough to color the thread. Take 3 wraps around the shank, covering the tie in points of the previous materials.
  8. Next we will prepare the wing slips. You will be creating a near side and far side wing, both mirrored to each other. This can be tedious, and sometimes is best to prepare before starting the pattern. I have noticed you tend to rush with excitement at this moment because of being in the momentum of tying the pattern.
  9. Take a left and a right goose shoulder quill in red and green and cut a 1/4” from both sides for both colors. Use a bodkin or needle, and separate 2 filaments from the red. Do the same with the green. Starting with the tips of the feather pieces, marry the two colors by gently aligning and stroking them in a single direction out toward the tips until the two become seamless. Bird feathers tend to have a “Velcro” like behavior, and will grab the next filament. Aligning with the tips first will create a nicely shaped wing crest.
  10. Continue this process until you have alternating colors, with 3 red and 2 green making the slip. If you cut from the right feather, these will be your near side wing. If you cut from the left, these will be your far side. Try not to mix up the two as you build the wing slips.
  11. Cut two single filaments of peacock quills and marry to the top of each slip, completing the wing with a crest of peacock quill.
  12. Gently put the two wing slips together aligning the tips. Measure the wing length before mounting, making sure the tips go just slightly past the end of the hook.
  13. Keeping that length, bring to the tie in point of the shank and hold the slips with your left fingers, making sure the wings rest directly on top of the shank. Holding firmly, take your thread and making a soft loop over the wings between your fingers. Using a pinch wrap, once the thread has made a full wrap around the slip, gently pull up with your bobbin to compress the wings down onto the shank. DO NOT let go of your left finger pressure. Repeat this again. Take a few more securing wraps before you “check in” on how they mounted. If you’re happy with your positioning, secure with a few more wraps being careful not to wrap backward onto where the wings begin. This can offset how they are sitting.
  14. Once the wings are secured, cut the excess wing material off close, again being mindful not to make any movements that will disturb the wings. Finish with a 3 turn whip finish.
  15. To complete, change thread to Red UTC 70D and create a red head, and finish with a 3 turn whip finish. Use head cement or resin to finish the head.

Tip: Use a small watercolor brush with saliva to wet the wing tie in point and thread. This will allow the thread to glide over the wing slips, and not cause any unwanted torque.

A Tale of Two Fish

Guest Blogger: Michael Vorhis, author of ARCHANGEL suspense thriller, OPEN DISTANCE adventure thriller & more to come

In January I spent a morning fishing a small river I’d visited several times in the prior two months, further honing my so-called “line of sight” skills and enjoying some success. I’d noticed in these outings that arriving at dawn mattered little because there was never any action until around 9 to 9:30 am…likely due to laziness on the part of the subaquatic insect life. Still I’d show up shortly after first light each time, full of coffee and hope.

This time of year this tailwater is no more than a small creek as little as thirty feet wide in some places. I always stepped in at the same hole, served by a well-beaten trail and a convenient clean log where gear (and one’s posterior) could be placed and boots could be tied. Why did I use the same on-ramp that every other joe used? Because using my own fly and my own techniques, I always still caught good fish from this little hole.

As luck would have it, this morning I’d met a fisheries biologist in the gravel parking lot while donning my waders — he was part of a team contracted by the state to perform fish counts and report on habitat. They too were getting into waders and readying non-lethal fish-stunning gear. We chatted briefly, he promised not to stick their cattle-prod-contraptions near where I was planning to fish, and he gave me his card.

I got down to the water and flogged away. At precisely 9:30am I caught a nice rainbow — one that had good size for this tiny place. About a half hour later I caught a second one on the same fly using the same methods, nearly as long but fatter. I photographed each before release. Both fish:

—   Were clearly of the Oncorhynchus genus (i.e. North American trout)

—   Were wild-hatched (adipose fins were intact)

—   Lived in the same hole

—   Subsisted on the same diet

—   Were almost identical in size and therefore probably age

—   Had never migrated to larger water despite this stream having a direct shot to the Pacific

—   Had struck the same fly at the same time of day

—   Had struck the fly exactly the same way (same “demeanor”)

Continue reading → A Tale of Two Fish

Simple Flies – Soft Hackle Streamer

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

What is known as the Soft Hackle Streamer is a Jack Gartside creation of some 25 years ago.  A prominent fly tyer and innovator, Gartside created the traditional Gartside Soft Hackle Streamer as a simple concoction of marabou and mallard flank feathers.  The original uses a solid colored marabou with a few turns of barred mallard flank to add some mottling to the front of the fly.  A few strands of tinsel were added for some flash.  Of course it is the seductive nature of soft hackle type feathers that make this style of fly a productive streamer.  Even using the Gartside formula, it can be tied with just about any color combination you want.  What’s different today are some newer materials that adapt brilliantly to the Soft Hackle Streamer design.

Whenever it was introduced, Barred Marabou created opportunities to add more realistic contrasts to streamer type flies.  It is now a common addition to Woolly Bugger tails and a variety of saltwater patterns.  The introduction of finely barred marabou by Hareline and Montana Fly has provided a material perfectly suited for the Soft Hackle Streamer design.  Add on Fish Masks and eyes by Flymen Fishing and you have the perfect combination for a simple to tie but upgraded Soft Hackle Streamer.

My adaption of the pattern includes the use of hen hackle and Polarflash for a body and mini-barred marabou for the wing.  The hen hackle and flash add a sharp contrast to the body underneath the marabou wing while the barred marabou replaces the need to add a mottled flank feather.

Continue reading → Simple Flies – Soft Hackle Streamer