Category Archives: Fly Tying Tips & Tools

The Skinny Humpy

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

I can claim no credit for the name as other tiers have coined the name “Skinny Humpy” for sparsely tied Humpies. As we all know the Humpy is a popular fly, especially for fast pocket water. The buoyancy of the deer or elk hair and heavily hackled front end are its key defining attributes. Paul Beel wrote a nice post a few years back about the pedigree of the Humpy.

Of course the downside of the Humpy is that it is not an easy tie, especially in smaller sizes. There are any number of You Tube videos and fly publication articles that tout easy methods of tying the Humpy. My favorite is Charlie Craven’s “Craven’s Easy Humpy”, (Jan 2016, Fly Fisherman). His method employs tape to tame unruly hair during the tying process. Still tedious to get a well-constructed fly. I needed to tie up a bunch of small Humpies for this summer on the Gibbon (June) and Upper Ruby (July). These fast water, turbulent streams were the perfect for the buoyant Humpy. more…

Rotary Fly Tying – Featuring the Norvise

Guest Blogger: J. Stockard Pro and Owner of Norvise: Tim O’Neill, Hockessin, DE

As we travel the country on the fly fishing show circuit I am always amazed by something I observe when I look at the “ring of tyers” at each location, whether we are up in Marlborough, Massachusetts, Atlanta, Georgia or Pleasanton, California one thing seems to repeat itself over and over.

Rotary fly tying is nothing new; vises that you can slowly rotate 360 degrees have been around for a long time. The thing that I find odd as I watch tyers from all around the country is that very seldom do I see people using the rotary function of the vise as part of tying the fly. People will invest a lot of money for these tricked out rotary vises, and I am not saying they are overpriced, I am saying it is an investment, and they only use the rotary function of the vise to turn the hook to look at the other side of the fly. This always seemed strange to me.

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An Expletive that Catches Fish

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

Now, I know what you’re going to say: “Mike, stop trying to sound tough; you’re no street-cred-wielding expletive-user…you wouldn’t know an expletive from extra cheese.“ Well, let me tell you, that there’s a bunch of horse patootie, that is.

Expletives of one sort or another can roll thick and fast from my lips when I’m tying flies. Feather and fur have minds of their own, and sometimes just won’t do what they’re told, and I’m forever schooling the stuff verbally, to my family’s eternal embarrassment.

For example, when tying any kind of dry fly or wet fly that needs a tail, in my stupid haste I can sometimes make the mistake of letting the hackle fibers slide around the slippery hook wire and execute a very impressive barrel roll–the result is some tail fibers partially snaked under the hook bend, some partially coming from one side or the other, some partially angling down from on top, all at a mish-mash of angles that won’t do at all. Enter the razor blade. Exit a perfectly good clump of tail fibers. Cue the frustration. Start again. Expletive!

I tie a lot of soft hackle wet flies, in great part because I love that style of fishing, and of course because the lion’s share of trout that come to my net have taken such a fly. But while many soft hackle wet flies use tiny hackle feathers such as partridge, starling, or other very small bird feathers, some patterns I love need barbs from wood duck or Gadwall feathers, or from other larger flank feathers, and the barbs of such feathers can be somewhere between long and extra long. You can’t just wind a flank feather stem around a size 16 hook shank like you can a little partridge hackle feather, or your soft hackle “legs” will end up eight times the length of the hook. more…