Day 102 – Creating Wonder Woman

17 12 2009

Ever since I read that article in Fly Tyer magazine about creating Super Hero flies, I’ve been preoccupied with that idea.  My wife is a big fan of Wonder Woman, and I’ve been trying to think how I would create a Wonder Woman inspired fly pattern.

I guess I should answer whether I want this fly pattern to be a wet fly, dry fly, or a terrestial.  Now Fly Tyer magazine only listed nymphs in their article, but I don’t want that to bias my decision making.  I am partial to nymph fishing however so that may play a factor.  But what about the character herself.  Would Diana Prince (aka Wonder Woman) be a nymph?  There’s some humor in that question and I beg your forgiveness for phrasing the question in that matter.  Would Wonder Woman be better represented as a dry fly, a nymph, or a terrestial.  I can see the merit in all three styles, but I think I’m going to have to say a wet fly as I like the idea of Wonder Woman being active, and the way you fish a wet fly pattern is a little more active than a dry fly pattern.

OK, the Wonder Woman pattern is going to be a wet fly pattern.  Let’s break this down even farther.  Should I stay with a traditional wet fly or do I move to a nymph pattern.  In my head, I see the merits of staying with a wet fly pattern because of the movement that it will create in the water.  However, there is still something to be said that the Wonder Woman should be a nymph (there I go again, please forgive my insolence).

Color is the next thing to choose.  I’ve posted a picture of Wonder Woman for a little inspiration on the subject.

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

It looks like our heroine is decked out in red, gold, blue, and white.  Of course we can’t forget her signature jet black hair.  Also, how are we going to incorporate her golden lasso, boomerang tiara, and bullet bouncing bracelts?  Hmmm… let’s get the thought machine going, shall we?

Maybe we should discuss what makes up a wet fly?  That way we can start to look at what materials should go where.  A traditional wet fly pattern typically includes: a tag (a couple wraps at the end of the hook with some sort of material), a tail, a rib (usually wire that is wrapped over the body), the main body itself, a hackle (sometimes called a beard), and a wing.  There are some other variations that include cheeks, butts, and married wings (feathers from differnt birds carefully aligned together).

Looking at the picture, I can see that her costume is blue on the bottom.  What if I were to give the pattern a blue tail.  I could either use some dyed feathers in Kingfisher blue, or use some Peacock Swords.  Both sound like good ideas, but I plan on fishing this pattern, and I love the allure of peacock.  Still, I’ve never used dyed Kingfisher blue feathers.  Choices.  I just went to my tying chest and pulled out the hackle and peacock.  I think I really like the looks fo the Kingfisher blue.  That’s locked in.

I’ve been thinking about the golden lasso and how to incorporate that into the pattern.  When you look at the picture above you can see the lasso tied in at her hip.  The geography of the tag is at the rear of the hook below the tail.  It seems to me that the tag would be a great place to incorporate the golden lasso.  Therefore, lets go ahead and tie the tag with flat gold tinsel.

So far, so good.  On to the body.  Looking at the picture, it is clear that her body is in red.  So it would be an obvious choice to use some red floss.  As for the rib, lets continue to use the gold tinsel as Wonder Woman has the Golden Bra and Belt thing going on there.  I’m sure there is a technical name for that, but it escapes me.

Now, the only things left in the traditional wet fly pattern are the wing and the hackle.  Looking at Wonder Woman, she has that lovely jet black hair.  It makes sense that the wing should be black.  As for the hackle, why not use some yellow feather fibers to imitate her Golden Bracelets?  Sounds good to me.  I think I’ll get to work on that pattern tomorrow and see how it goes.  If it looks good, I’ll post it.  However, if it looks like garbage off to the Crap Jar and we shall never speak of this again (at least until the next time).

So here is what I figure the Wonder Woman recipe should be:

Wonder Woman
Hook: Traditional Wet Fly Hook; size 12-18
Tag: Flat Gold Tinsel
Tail: Kingfisher Blue Hackle Fibers
Rib: Flat Gold Tinsel
Body: Red Floss
Hackle/Throat: Yellow Hackle Fibers
Wing: Black

Day 101 – Working for the man… maybe!

16 12 2009

The majority of my day today has revolved around a certain someone getting a contract position in Winston-Salem.  That’s right I received an email today from a head hunter here in Greensboro who said they were looking for someone to do some database SQL stuff for an international company.  A questionnaire was sent over and I responded a little apprehensive about the correctness of my answers.  The questions were all based upon using queries within databases.  Not necessarily my strongest business skills, but ones that I wouldn’t mind building up with a six month contract.

Needless to say, I didn’t do a whole lot of thinking about fly fishing today.  I still thought about fly fishing, but it wasn’t always at the foremost part of my brain.  For instance, knowing that I needed to bone up on SQL I decided that I should buy a book on the subject.  While at the bookstore, I found my feet taking me to the fly fishing section and I glanced over the titles to see if anything new has been added since my last visit (nothing was, schucks!).

An unexpected surprise did occur today that got my ego going a bit.  My angling buddy John received the flies that I sent him today.  In a bit of excitement he tweeted about them and how he looked forward to trying them out.  It made me happy and I had to puff out my chest a little bit.  It is always nice to have your work appreciated/admired.  I may have to open a sideline business to keep my hands from being idle, especially if the response is this good.  I think maybe that might not be a bad idea.  At the least it will provide me with some beer money and some material for my own patterns.

Day 100 – Trophy Trout

15 12 2009

Wow.  Milestone today.  100 days without a miss.  That might be a record for me.

They say that certain fish will haunt you.  They will slowly creep up on you while taking a shower, driving to work, or while sitting in front of a computer typing a blog.  I don’t know who “they” are but “they” are right.  For me, this trout that has been haunting me is the big rainbow from Stone Mountain State Park.  I can still see the hazy scarlet cheeks of that fish as I used my rod to lift its nose out of the water.  I think the part that haunts me the most is that I never got a good luck at it.  Instead, my machismo got the best of me and I tried to heft it out of the water with just the line.  Hook pulled free and into the inky abyss it slipped into, leaving me feel a little ashamed for not taking the time to net the fish properly.

Usually, the size of my fish are not something to write home to mom about.  I catch my fair share, and have even eeked out a few fish when no one else have.  However, the size of my fish are a little diminutive.  The typically range from 8″ to 14″ (weighted heavily towards the 8″ in most cases).  Normally this hasn’t bothered me.  In fact, when I was working at the HQ for a certain Hunt, Fish, Camp retailer I was teased that the size of the fish that I caught could be considered bait to many of the fishermen (and women) that I worked with.  Living in Minnesota, the typical angler there fishes for walleye, pike, and muskie.  I never really cared, because I thought my fish were more difficult to catch.

Then there came the day that I volunteered to “shock” fish on the Vermillion River, just south of the Twin Cities.  I showed up, put my waders on, grabbed a net, and scooped trout as they came to the surface.  I should explain that shocking fish is a way to count fish in a section of a stream to diagnose the health of the river.  The fish are mildly disoriented by an electrical current, then weighed or measured.  They are released back into the river with as little stress as possible. 

Anyway, the size of the fish that we were pulling out of there were huge.  Some measured over 26″ and were taken from sections of the river that didn’t look to me as fishy.  Some of them were way under banks.  As soon as I started seeing the quantities of these trophy fish, I recalled some hearsay about an angler in the area who only fished with an 8 weight rod.  At the time of hearing this, I thought this was a Paul Bunyan tale and laughed at the idea.  When I saw those fish, I thought maybe there was more truth than tale.

After that fish shocking, I was never quite able to go back and fish that section.  Even if I had, I doubt that I would have caught anything of size and would have left feeling frustrated.  To be truly honest, I never had trophy trout fever.  I just assumed that the people that caught large fish were just luckier than me.  Now I believe that I may have been mislead on that idea too.

I have a book in my library called, “Big Trout: How and Where to Target Trophies” by Bernie Taylor.  Like some books in my library I purchased this one along the way, put it on the shelf and completely forgot about it.  I pulled it down the other day and it now sits at the top of my reading pile.   I thumbed through the chapters and I’m kicking myself for not taking it down sooner. 

My wife and I say that there are things I don’t know that I don’t know, things I know that I don’t know, things that I know that I know, and finally things that I don’t know that I know.  This is a simplified dumbed down version of a learning process.  While it is easy for me to say that I know that I don’t know how to catch trophy trout, it really comes down to I don’t know that I don’t know.  There are so many things that factor into catching fish that I feel that I am back in elementary school learning my A-B-C’s.  Weather, moon cycles, water temp, water color, water speed, time of day, season… they go on and on.  To be honest, I just thought it revolved around one idea: Structure.  But that my friend is only a very small piece of the very large puzzle.

Consequently, I will read this book and study it’s secrets.  If for no other reasons that it will at least allow me to increase the quantity of my fish if not the size.  I will learn the crazy notions of wind direction and zooplankton, the difference between green water days and blue water days, and other such madness.  And if I find something that is truly impressive, I might even share it here.  Afterall, I don’t fish with all of you so you might as well learn to catch the big one as well.  Just do me a favor, if I am fishing with you, let me catch the big one.  I have an ego that needs to be fed and I don’t want to be haunted by any other fish that got away.

Day 99 – Discovery

15 12 2009

I may have mentioned in passing that I once tied a pattern using filoplume.  Filoplume is the webby soft underfeather from the hide of a pheasant.  It’s incredibly soft and creates perfect gills for nymphs.  The downside is that this feather tears apart with little effort so most fly tyers disregard this feather. 

Anyway, I managed to find the recipe today by accident.  I was searching through boxes in the garage looking for some documents for my wife.  As I was searching through a plastic bin of my old youth ministry papers and coursework, I noticed a few pages weren’t in binders or folders so I grabbed them to see what their deal was.  The deal was that these photocopies were actually patterns that I began tying years ago (close to 7 years actually).  Excited about this find, I made a concentrated effort to tie the Filoplume Mayfly for all of you.

David Klausmeyer's Filoplume Mayfly

The Filoplume Mayfly


Filoplume Mayfly
Hook: Curved-shank nymph hook, sizes 20 to 12.
Thread: Color to match the body, size 8/0
Tail: A bunch of marabou – olive, brown, black, or gray
Body: Marabou to match the tail
Rib: Copper wire
Thorax: Filoplume from the base of a pheasant body feather
Wing Case: Peacock sword fibers

The other patterns that I will probably tie over the next few days include the Double Sparrow, Terrible Troth, and Iwamasa’s Tarcher Nymph.  I’ve admitted it before that I always find fly fishing related items stashed everywhere throughout my house in boxes or bags or tackle boxes or books… the discovery of these patterns make me happy and helps me remember where I started out in my fly tying.

As an FYI, the Filoplume Mayfly was designed by David Klausmeyer and was featured in Fly Tyer magazine, page 32.  Unfortunately I’m unable to give full credit to the tyer and/or the magazine as I only have a photocopy of the original pattern and am unable to tell what issue.  If anybody knows it, I’d love to be able to update the blog and give credit where credit is due.

Day 98 – Holy Grail

13 12 2009

I stopped by the fly shop to pick up some additional materials and a fly box for a friend.  The manager of the fly fishing section happened to be there, and we ended up exchanging phone numbers.  He’s got a better setup then I do for fly tying, and he happens to live in the neighborhood.  The plan is to meet up and tie some patterns in the future.

It seems lately that I can’t get to the stream as much as I’d like.  However, I’ve noticed that I’ve kicked up my fly tying a notch.  I’ve now tied more in the last weekend than I’ve tied all year (well, maybe not but pretty close).  Most of what I’ve tied has been with the intent of selling to friends.

Over the last few weeks I’ve tied over 3 dozen Slumpbusters in size 6-8, close to two dozen Pink Squirrels size 12-18, about 2 dozen Y2K size 14-18, a dozen Zebra Midges, half dozen Blood Worms size 24, and quite a few patterns that I’ve experimented with.  I’ve tied with thread, beads, holographic braid, dubbing, wire, peacock herl, partridge feathers, zonkers (rabbit strips), non-lead wire, pheasant tail, goose biots, and even a condom or two.

I’ve found this increased time at the vise to be somewhat relaxing.  I sit down, listen to some classic rock, and crank out flies.  My learning curve has been greatly accelerated the last few weeks and I’m starting to be able to figure out a few tricks of my own which give my flies a personal distinctiveness.  I imagine that all fly tyers have their secrets which are sort of a signature to that tier.  These nuances can be that you always cover the hook shank with thread, whip finish the fly with two sets of five turns, double the material around the thread to multiply the number of tail, dub with no wax, or help stand up your parachute post by wrapping under the post.  The end result is uniquely you.

Maybe I’ve been doing this tying as a way to help find the Holy Grail of Flies.  I know some of you out there have found your Holy Grail of Flies.  Someone mentioned to me recently that the Holy Grail is the Grey Ghost, a classic salmon/steelhead pattern.  It definitely is something to look at, and it may be fun to tie.  I’ll give it a try, but I have a hunch that it may not be the pattern for me. 

I’d be interested in hearing what your Holy Grail Fly is.  I’d be willing to try just about any pattern and would be willing to discuss it here on the blog.  So, go on and submit a comment below and let’s get things rolling.

Day 97 – Comedy and Super Heroes

12 12 2009

Today started out in a comedy of errors sort of way.  A couple of days ago I was invited to go fishing today.  Unfortunately at the time I had made other plans with some new friends and wasn’t able to go.  Last night, these new friends were not able to meet today as family members unexpectedly showed up in town and my friends were forced to reschedule with us (me and my wife).  So, like any good fly angler I contacted my friend who wanted to go fishing and said, “Ummm… do you still want to go tomorrow?”  As an FYI, this was around 10:00 PM last night.  I received a reply shortly after saying sure.  The plan was for me to meet at his place at 8:00 AM this morning.  This would require me leaving my house around 6:00 AM.  Because this if for fishing it’s not a problem.

I wake up at 5:30 AM and check my iPhone.  I have a new message stating that there was a hiccup and that the fishing trip was going to have to be postponed.  A few more hours of sleep, sweet.  Now I’m a little disappointed that I’m not able to go, however I still don’t have all the Slumpbusters that I need to tie up finished, so it worked out OK.

While getting Christmas presents for my niece and nephew, we ended up stopping at Books-A-Million.  As I always do at this store, I made my way back to the magazine stand and took a look at the latest fly fishing magazines.  Fly Tyer has an interesting article about Super Hero flies.  The article is about flies that are inspired by comic book super heroes.  The Superman nymph is complete with classic Superman outstretched arms in blue.  The Green Arrow and The Dynamic Duo (Batman & Robin for you non comic book educated readers) also appear in the article.  The article showed numerous pictures of other heroes, but said they would like to hear from the readers and were directed to the Fly Tyer Forum online.

Now I grew up reading comic books.  I love the idea and I miss my Superman sheets (however I’m sure my wife is glad that they are a thing of the past).  Superman has always been my hero of choice and Wonder Woman has been my wife.  So you can still see that they influence me on some level.  What a novel idea to combine fly fishing with comic book heroes.  Now, if the fly patterns catch fish it would be an intriguing concept to have a fly box full of these patterns.  Maybe you could even add a few stickers or decals to the fly box to add a little pizzazz.  Nothing like catching a monster brookie with a Wolverine inspired fly.  A big brown with a Green Lantern?  How about a rainbow trout on a Wonder Woman?  Yeah, I’m really digging this idea. 

Kudos to they men and women at Fly Tyer for coming up with this idea, it may not be a thing for everybody, but I think it is something I might be able to get behind.

Day 96 – Repetitive Motion

11 12 2009

Today has been pretty much been a day of fly tying for me (that and pot roast, but that’s another story).  After getting a few comments on yesterday’s Slumpbuster, I agreed to tie some patterns for a few people.  So a quick check of current supplies on hand and I realized that I was in need of some materials.  So off to the store I go.  The Wonderpup was happy to get out of the house for a little bit, even if he did stay in the Trout-mobile the entire time.

After picking up some material (zonkers in pink, black, and olive, some conehead beads, and hooks in #6 & #8) I was off to go finish a few other errands before I could get going at the vise.  I finally made it back home around noon time, but then spent the next 30 minutes prepping the pot roast that was dinner tonight (got to love crock pots).

By 2:00 I had eaten lunch, had the crockpot up and stewing, and had finished the tail end of an old B&W comedy movie on AMC.  It was now time to sit down at the vise.  To be honest, I’ve never taken on such a project before and didn’t know what I was really getting myself into.  But with valiant spirit and dogged determination and I settled into the chair and got started.

One of the first things I did was to do a little prep work.  As a student of lean & agile (a business philosophy for production) it made sense to get everything ready.  I divided my hooks up into piles of twelve and then slipped the coneheads onto the hooks.  After this I set aside one pile for my work in progress and started to get moving.  I tied the black version of the Slumpbuster first.

It’s interesting how a person thinks about modification to the process when they know that they will be doing a lot of it.  Let me reword that:  when things become a pain in the butt, you learn quickly how to change your process.  Yesterday’s tying session required the tying on of both holographic braid and zonker at the same time.  I have a rotary vise and a Scottish inclination towards being thrifty (some say cheap).  When I tied on the zonker, I couldn’t use the rotary vise to build the body with the braid as the zonker would get all tangled up.  I wasn’t an expert of how much the zonker had to be so I couldn’t trim the zonker down before hand.

I reviewed the steps for this pattern in my head and realized that I could tie on the braid, build the body, and then come back over the body with the thread in large spiral loops and then tie on the zonker strip.  Doing it this way kept the zonker from tangling up, and allowed me to focus on one material at a time.  I think the end result actually turned out better than the ones that I tied up yesterday.

I either read or heard from a professional fly tyer that it takes at least a dozen flies before you get some of the kinks out of the way.  I have to say that is true.  While the first dozen came out pretty smoothly for the most part, I do have to admit that I was having trouble with the last step of wrapping the zonker strip to create the collar of the fly.  It wasn’t until I was in my second dozen that I realized that a 90 degree turn of the zonker strip and then butting wraps towards the conehead eliminated my problem.  I also learned that to get a wrap done so that it looked right required that the last few wraps of the zonker had to be wedged under the conehead.  After that it was just a matter of time to finish that dozen.

The next dozen is still under way.  I moved to the gold tungsten beads that I used yesterday instead of the coneheads.  I also dropped down a size from #6 to #8.  These will be the pink Slumpbusters.  The holographic braid that I’ll be using is in claret.  The thread is a new brand that I’m using and I will probably not purchase again.  I forget the namebrand, but it keeps breaking on me.  I bought it because it matched the flourescent pink zonkers.  It is so brittle that I’m considering going to the red thread that I used for the Woody Troutpecker pattern that I tie.  I’ve only tied up two flies and the thread has broke about 5 times on me.  The first two times that it happend I thought I was putting too much stress on the thread, the next time it broke with very little tension.  Hmmmm…

I think before I head to bed that I will tie a few more up.  I might not get the whole lot done tonight as I’m getting a little tired and I’d like to spend some time with my wife as well.  It’s all about finding the rhythm of fly fishing and family life.