Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Devolution of a Fly

Click on photos for full size image.
We have HDTV now, something I recognize as the wave of the future but probably could have survived without. But, it's simply amazing. I think of my Dad and my Father-in-Law, for whom getting the perfect picture on the TV was a constant quest. They worked the various knobs and controls like NASA engineers until clarity and color were just right, then jealously guarded the set to prevent anyone else from messing it up.
Come to think of it, I did that, too.
Now, you turn it on and the picture is perfect.
Yes, I like the sports and movies in HD, but what really got me to sit up and take notice was a flyfishing show. It was set on the Nipigon River where they were casting for lunker Brookies, and it was, well, like you were there. Every ripple, every drop of water, every sunlit leaf, every shimmering fish in perfect detail. It was beautiful. So I've started watching those shows again.
I recently saw one set on the Columbia River in B.C. They were fishing for--and catching--big Rainbows and they showed us the fly they were using, something they called the "Carpet Caddis" because its principal material was antron yarn. Like they make carpets out of. So I got inspired.
Their fly is a #14 and is intended, so it seems, to float. It's tied sparse. But I was thinking of flies I could swing, too, or troll behind the canoe when a local lake opens on April 1. A fly that would catch smaller fish but could also handle larger fish. A fly for rivers, but also for the infinite variety of conditions that I will encounter at my favorite lake this upcoming season.
All that may be a recipe for disaster. You can be the judge.
I tied these on a #12 streamer hook. I started this first one with a beadhead and when I came to the hackle it didn't look right. So I made a thorax of black krystal flash instead. I think that might work.
This second one I was intending hackle all the way, but then decided to try a soft hackle style. The first feather I came to in my drawer was a pheasant feather, beautifully shaded but way too long. I didn't let that stop me.
Finally, I tied it up according to the recipe, more or less, though the brown hackle is still a little too long. But, again, I think this one will be used primarily subsurface.
I'm not saying these are great flies, or that they're tied particularly well. But they're representative of the stream-of-conciousness approach that I find interesting and enjoyable in fly tying.
As always, I'm eager to give them a try in the water. There's only one judge whose opinion really matters: the fish.

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