Category Archives: Fly Tying Materials & Supplies

Firehole Sticks in the Salt

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

My experiences so far with the new barbless hooks called Firehole Sticks has been great. Overall, they are a joy to tie on and make for some attractive looking flies. Firehole Sticks are a no brainer for freshwater flies, but I wondered how they might hold up under saltwater conditions. If you read just about any blog or article on fly fishing for speckled sea trout or snook, authors encourage anglers to pinch the barbs to protect the tender mouths of snook and trout. A 2010 article in Saltwater Sportsman went into a lot of detail on the best hooks for de-barbing flies and their use in saltwater. Clearly there is an application for barbless fly hooks in the saltwater environment. more…


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

There’s a haunting lyric in a “Phantom of the Opera” song (now, stay with me here, I won’t take this gooey culture stuff very far) that goes something like, “Flowers fade, the fruits of summer fade; they have their seasons, so do we….”

The fact is that everything has its seasons–apples, screech owls, mountainsides, trout, athletics, human beings…and fly tying materials. In a world that has us tying flashabou this and antron that, using mylar sheet material for wing case covers and trilobal streamer hair, adding latex wiggly-legs, and watching as even synthetic hackle makes its way onto the market, Mother Nature can sometimes take an unintended back seat. A “season” to us is the length of time the fishing license remains current. We default to engineered polyester dubbing; we install long perfect monofilament mayfly tails. We skip the body-tapering step entirely and just shoe-goo on a hotdog-shaped piece of open-cell foam. Depending on the species we target and our capacity for patience, it can be easy to go periods of time without ever using natural materials. more…

Dry Fly Tails & Quill, Hackle Stem or Biot Bodies

Guest Blogger: Clay Cunningham, Cody WY, Former National Park Superintendent

For many years I used hackle, Coq de leon, pheasant, deer hair, moose hair, and a lot of other hair choices for the tails of my dry flies. When the artificial tapered nylon mayfly tail material became available in various colors, I switched to them exclusively for all dry flies. The material is buoyant and imitates typical dry fly tails extremely well. The survival of emerging duns long enough to molt and become “spinners” for mating is because they emerge in high numbers and many survive the feeding trout in very large numbers. This is the time when the water looks like it is “boiling” as the fish feed voraciously. Many of the massive numbers emerging eventually molt and become strong fliers and begin mating. Their life span then depends on the species I which often ends minutes after mating.

It is quite a mystery that when the water is virtually covered with emerging duns and I cast my dry fly imitation into the massive pile of crowded insects floating by that any trout would strike my imitation. My flies are not ugly or poorly tied, but even to my eyes they don’t look like the thousands of duns on the water during a hatch. Yet my artificial fly is frequently selected by fish. Why is that? more…