This post is part of a series of interviews with our J. Stockard Pro Tyers. We hope the series gives you some ideas on various materials, tools, flies or styles of tying you may want to try yourself. We also want to focus on our Pros thoughts on tying for a specific species of fish.
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1. What type of trends in tying have affected you in the past or at this time?
The use of synthetic materials, specifically foam… As an “old school” fly tyer, I grew up using mostly natural materials in my fly patterns, a lot of which I had harvested the materials myself by means of hunting! I still have a love for feathers, hair and furs… All the good stuff! Advancements of synthetic materials and the many fly patterns incorporating those materials have really revolutionized fly tying over the last couple of decades. Adjusting to the use of and trends of modern synthetic fly tying materials has absolutely effected me and my fly tying.
2. Are there any newer tools or materials out right now that you really enjoy tying with?
So, this would be a long list but I’ll summarize it some… There are a few tools I really like using. The Stonfo’s Roto Dubbing Twister, Dr. Slick’s Tungsten Carbide Scissors and Glass Bobbins and the Marc Petitjean Magic Tool sets are a few of the tools I absolutely love. Materials wise, Semperfli’s Nano Silk Thread has all but obsoleted all of my other threads. It is by far the best thread I have ever used, period. I really like Semperfli’s new Kapok Dubbing too! It’s what “superfine” dubbing wants to be and the best part about it, it’s a sustainable natural material!
3. What are some of your favorite materials and why are they your favorite?
As mentioned earlier, I’m an “old school” fly tyer… I like feathers, hair and furs. I grew up using these materials tying traditional fly patterns. A lot of my natural fly tying materials are from birds and animals that I’ve harvested myself.
Some of my favorite tying materials are:
Semperfli thread and Kapok dubbing. Semperfli produces the very best thread on the market, period. Strongest and thinnest too and the dubbing is absolutely fantastic!
Feathers from Whiting Farms. Whiting Farms produces the world’s finest genetic chicken feathers on the planet. Dry fly saddle hackles specifically are my favorite. I love being able to tie a dozen + flies with a single feather and the unique colors are absolutely beautiful too!
I really like CDC too. Easy to work with, floats like a cork and good for both dry and wet flies.
Elk, deer and moose hair. I like moose hair for dry fly tails. Deer and elk hair for wings on many patterns.
Barbless hooks. Today’s barbless hooks are beautiful. I really like the black finish most of them have, they really make a nicely tied fly that much nicer. In addition, barbless hooks are good for the fish making releases quick and easy.
4. What is your favorite fly tying vise? Tell us about it. Do you have more than one favorite?
My favorite vise is a Renzetti Special Edition (black) Master Vise. It is a true rotary vise with a pedestal base. Black finish with bronze accents, it’s beautiful.
Yes, I have more than one favorite vise. I also own several Regal vises. Three Medallion series and 2 two the Revolution series. I have been a long time Regal vise user up until 2 years ago when I purchased the Renzetti Master. I still like and use my Regals, but most of my flies are tied on the Renzetti now. I really like the compact size of the master vise, its ease of use, true rotary function and the adjustability features it has.
My Alaskan fishing trip in 2015 is one that really stands out… Spent a day chasing Alaskan pike and it was the most fun I think I’ve ever had while fishing and the mouse eating Alaskan rainbows were fun too! Another trip was to a tributary to the Clarks Fork river in Montana. That was the most epic caddis hatch I think I’ve ever experienced. The BWO hatches on the Provo/Green are something to “bookmark” along with numerous float fishing trips on the Madison (Montana), South Fork of the Snake (Idaho) and the Green (Utah) are all noteworthy as well.
No, no trips planned at this time. But the year is young and world class trout fishing rivers aren’t too far away from home for me…
6. What are some of your favorite flies to tie?
Dry flies! Parachutes and traditional dry flies specifically, including a few Catskill classics…
I like trout, bass, crappie, carp, bluegill, pike, musky, perch, walleye, etc., etc., etc. Why? Because they’re beautiful and fun to catch!!
8. What type of fly rod do you like to use? Can you tell us a little about a couple of your setups? Rod, reel, line, leader?
I’m a “Sage” guy. I use Sage fly rods mostly and I have them paired with Lamson reels loaded with SA (Scientific Angler) fly line topped off with Moonlit Fly Fishing furled leaders. I also use a couple of Tankara fly rods and I have some Moonlit and Nirvana (fiber)glass rods too.
The setup I use depends on where I’m fishing… If I’m on stillwater, I’ll have a 9’6″ or 10′ 6wt/7wt rod and a sink, sink tip or intermediate fly line. If I’m on a small stream, I’ll have either my 3wt or 4wt rod with floating line and shorty furled leader, sometimes I’ll take my Tenkara setup for that situation. More often than not, my Sage 9′ 6wt fly rod with a Lamson reel and floating line topped off with a Moonlit furled leader is my all around, all year, all places set-up that handles most situations and most fish, everywhere I fish. I have a Sage Pulse (690-4) 9′ 6wt fly rod with a Lamson Speedster reel, SA Ultimate Trout line and a Moonlit furled leader and SA tippet. That is my “workhorse” setup.
Well, I grew up tying and fishing classic fly patterns so yes! A lot of classic fly patterns have given me inspiration and I still tie them to this day.
10. If you tied some flies to fill a fly box to target your favorite river, what specific flies would be in it?
Flies in this fly box would be fairly diverse… There would be dries, nymphs and streamers mostly and a couple of wet flies too. This river is a challenging place to fish and has some major insect hatches throughout the year along with a strong terrestrial presents in late summer and fall. This place is full of caddis and stoneflies and is known to have a thick PMD hatch and giant green drakes… Turning rocks for “streamside entomology” reveals sculpins, giant stoneflies, mayfly and drake nymphs and at least 3 different caddis species. There are plenty of grassy banks too… During the summer, hoppers, ants and beetles rule the day but at dusk that caddis take over as the main course. Later at night, a mouse fly will bring out the monsters… I’ve had fish snap 1x tippet on the take like it was nothing!
Dry fly patterns: Fluttering caddis (my PFCs), Henryville special and Stimulators, foam stones. Royal, green drake and Adams Wulffs, parachute Adams, parachute Hare’s Ears. The Lady M in a couple sizes and colors with a couple Dave’s Hoppers, meadow hoppers, foam beetles and Egan’s bionic ants. Need to have some mouse flies in there too! I like the Mr. Hankey, Morish mouse, field mouse and mouserat patterns.
Nymphs: Pheasant tails, Hare’s Ears, Prince Nymphs and some giant stoneflies like Kauffmans stone and soft hackle stones (with and without a bead). Rainbow Perdigons, Zebra midges, thread Frenchies and Mercers green drake nymphs are all solid selections and consistent producers.
Streamers: There would be Muddler Minnows, my Balanced Matuka Muddler and Zonkers. Most of the sculpins I’ve seen here have been tan in color and about 3″ in length.
Wet flies: Drowned caddis, peacock and grey and the lead wing coachman are solid choices to have in the box and fish trailed behind a dry fly