Do Trout Laugh?
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Author:  Tinsnip [ March 29th, 2019, 7:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Do Trout Laugh?

I'm guessing they would if they got a glimpse of my fly tying efforts. I've dusted off a kit from over 20 years ago and decided to start again. Bought some of this and some of that and watched a bunch of videos. First of all, from what I've seen from you folks here and at the recent tie and lie, you guys are good. Second, those YouTube videos make it all seem so simple. Hah! If they could only see the FrankenFlies I've been able to produce.

Still. I won't quit. I know that everything worth doing, is worth doing poorly and eventually I'll get better. But "oh the humanity" until then. The hooks are probably embarrassed as heck at what I'm doing to them. If Trout don't normally laugh, they would if I tried to fish one of my current creations.

Author:  TGIF [ March 29th, 2019, 7:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Stick with it! I found that once a few skills were mastered, The rest of the learning curve was pretty brisk.

Pinch wraps, good tension, whip finishing and practice will get you most of the way there.

The thing that separates the good from the great in my opinion is proportions and thread control.

Author:  1weight [ March 29th, 2019, 8:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

And don’t stop watching the videos. I’ve been tying for over 35 years. And the videos have made more things so much easier. I’m totally self taught like most people I presume. But the videos have really fine tuned my tying. Just keep on keeping on and remember if the fish are laughing that means their mouth is open and maybe your fly will fall in and hook him.

Author:  Tinsnip [ March 29th, 2019, 9:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

I appreciate the encouragement. I do plan to stay the course and improve. If nothing else, my early efforts have given me a better appreciation for a well-tied fly. Nowhere to go but up at this point!

Author:  Ken B [ April 5th, 2019, 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

And if all else fails you just ask Dave M, Parker, Hutch or TGIF for some flies!

Author:  Dave M [ April 5th, 2019, 10:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

My advice, fwiw, is to try ( somewhat desperately) to not flock shoot———so to speak. Tying two of these, a couple of 5hose, and some of these doesn’t really help much.

Instead......try tying one fly, and only that one fly, in that one size, until yours look better than the Umpqua ones. Go for consistency from fly to fly.

My advice to new, or starting over, tiers is Togo with the ubiquitous Elk Hair Caddis.......in a nice big size 14. Always a great fly to have......in fact, most of us can’t have enough of them, and you’ll be cranking out really good ones in no time.

Then go to a bit more challenging ties. Good luck, and good tying.

Dave M

Author:  Tinsnip [ April 5th, 2019, 11:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Dave M wrote:
....try tying one fly, and only that one fly, in that one size, until yours look better than the Umpqua ones. Go for consistency from fly to fly.

Dave M

I like that. Makes sense. I confess I've been trying to tie 3 very different patterns and not having much luck with any of them. On the positive side, that approach has revealed my weaknesses (thread control and hackle winding among others) and shown me where I need to pay more attention. But I like the idea of working at one pattern until I get it right. Elk Hair Caddis is certainly worthy. I'll try that.


Author:  Parker [ April 5th, 2019, 12:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

I agree with Dave.
In most of the books (before u-tube) I read the pros all said to tie at least 12 of the fly you want.
Then compare the first to the last. Recover the hooks from the ones you don't like and retie until you get a dozen you like.

Good materials make better flies.

We have discussed hooks many times. I use the least expensive hooks that meet my needs for nymphs and buggers.
Most are lost to bottom before hook quality is an issue.
Dry flies up to 16 are tied on the same level of hooks. Almost any basic hook of the correct size and style will be ok, not great but ok.
Size 18 down to 24 are all on TMC hooks the quality is very good. Smaller than 24 is beyond my ability, but I will say the 22-24 look big on the water compared to the naturals.

If you watch u-tube for instruction here's a story.

A friend called me saying he couldn't get his Kauffman stimulators to look like the ones he saw on the video he was watching.
Told him to watch it without the sound but to watch what the instructor was doing. Most times people tie while "watching" an instruction video are doing too many things at once and miss stuff. Also the instructor is doing things they are not explaining verbally because they don't really think about what they are doing. Lots of small tricks can be picked up this way.

I do have a brother who says consistency is an indication of a feeble mind and that he is more of a expressionist in his tying.

Author:  Tinsnip [ April 5th, 2019, 1:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Very good to hear your advice about hooks. I’ve read a few of the discussions about them here and elsewhere and ended up more than a little confused. I’m guessing that the long-term tiers have hook evolution in common as well as opinions based on years of experience. For now, I am buying hooks from sites that seem practical and run by tiers. Someday I’ll have enough experience to hold an honest opinion about which I like best, but for now, I can’t see the difference.

As for videos, it’s a damn good thing there’s a pause/rewind button! Your brother might be on to something re: artistic expression. I think I’m in the Salvador Dali stage. :?


Author:  Hunter [ April 5th, 2019, 3:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Parker wrote:
I do have a brother who says consistency is an indication of a feeble mind and that he is more of a expressionist in his tying.

Lol. I've got a bird dog that feels the same way about being steady to flush and/or shot.

Author:  Dave in Maine [ April 27th, 2019, 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Yes, they do laugh. At you, not with you.

Author:  Tinsnip [ April 27th, 2019, 3:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

Dave in Maine wrote:
Yes, they do laugh. At you, not with you.

I knew it.

Author:  johnineson [ April 28th, 2019, 1:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

What you can really learn from those videos is how to handle material. Most of us think of tying flies as just tying the stuff on, but the real work is in the preparation of the material -- its quality and how it is made ready to be used. Videos by Davie McPhail are excellent. Not only is McPhail a terrific tyer, but he takes the time to explain material preparation. Of course, you have to wade through his considerable Scottish brogue to understand exactly what he's saying, but that forces you to listen very closely.
Unless you're intending to enter some kind of fly tying contest what you do is between you and the fish, and the fish ain't talking. No trout ever thought, "I can't believe that I fell for such a poorly tied fly!" In fact, the fish can be remarkably forgiving. We've all had fish take a fly that, by our lights, should have been deep sixed a couple of fish ago. When that happens it gives lie to all this concern about how the fly looks. I mean, who ever saw a bug with a hook protruding from its rear end? And we're concerned about making a neat head?!
So there's something else besides fishability going on here: craftsmanship. My suggestion is that we let the craftsmanship issue slide a little (unless we're hoping to tie for exhibition). It will come around in time. Meanwhile, we'll create plenty of fish-catching flies and have a lot of fun. I have caught thousands of more fish than I've had requests from other fishers to see my flies. If you have ego needs, satisfy them by demonstrating whatever else it is that you do well enough to show it off. For now keep your fly tying between you and the fish.

Author:  Tinsnip [ April 28th, 2019, 4:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

johnineson: I fully intend to keep my tying to myself (and those fish who show poor judgement). Trust me, my ego ain't getting anywhere near this particular endeavor. But I know myself well enough to realize that when it's something that's not pushing all my buttons but that I still want to learn to do, I have to take it slow and steady. My actual goal is to make tying a consistent thing rather than a flash in the pan. Even if consistent means just tying three patterns every year well enough to catch fish.

And for sure I have been amazed in the past when a fly has unraveled, sunk, and all but disintegrated and the fish still hit it. Which is not an argument for sloppiness. I have to take some pride in my work. :D

Author:  Parker [ April 28th, 2019, 5:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Do Trout Laugh?

The below blog post is from Parks fly shop.
The pictures didn’t post, but they are of a down wing caddis, purple cripple and a cinnamon ant.

April 16, 2019 Walter Wiese

Four Reasons to Fish Imitations of Impaired Insects
While giving fly tying demonstrations over the weekend at the Wasatch Fly Tying and Fly Fishing Expo in Salt Lake City, I mentioned to several people observing me tie that I almost always fish imitations of insects that are in some way impaired. What do I mean? I am referring to flies imitating or at least suggesting aquatic insects that are emerging, crippled, spent, drowned, or waterlogged, or of any terrestrial insects that fall in the water (since land insects in the water are by their nature in trouble). Here are five reasons to fish flies meeting one of the above criteria.

Trout Prefer Them
This is the most obvious and important reason to use such flies. Various studies on trout feeding behavior find that they prefer to feed on insects during their life stages in which they’re in trouble, or on individual insects that are experiencing difficulty. For example, they’ll emerging or crippled insects in preference to adults, and they’ll eat dun mayflies that have been knocked over in preference to those riding “like little sailboats” upright, as they’re often described.

The reason trout prefer insects that are in trouble is simple. They’re less likely to get away. Each time a trout rises to eat an insect and it flies away, that’s a calorie the trout has wasted. Over evolutionary timescales, it has made more sense for fish to key on bugs that are less likely to get away and more likely to prove an easy meal. The smaller the insects, the more important this is. So trout really prefer spent, crippled, emerging, or otherwise distressed ants, PMD, BWO, midges, and tiny caddis over their healthy brethren.

Flies Will “Behave” Impaired Anyway
This is a more esoteric reason. Look at a healthy dun mayfly. It rides up on its tippy-toes, above rather than in the surface film. Many flies were nominally designed to match this behavior. The classic Catskill-style mayfly dry is a perfect example. Drop it dry on a glass of water and it’ll ride high, just like the real bug.

Yet in fishing situations, no fly pattern will ride as high as healthy naturals, at least not for long. All flies get waterlogged, ragged, chewed-on, and otherwise stop looking like they do in the fly shop display within minutes or seconds of being tied on the end of your line. In other words, they start looking and behaving more like distressed insects, no matter what you do. This partially explains the common phenomenon of a fly working better the more beat-up it gets.

If your fly is going to look and act distressed anyway, why not emphasize these attributes, rather than trying to minimize them?

They are Fast and Easy to Tie
Look at any fly intended to represent a mayfly emerger, cripple, or spinner. Look at spent caddis patterns. Look at most traditional “fur and feather” ant imitations. They’re all dirt simple. Even many foam grasshopper imitations likewise aren’t very complicated, even if they’re large. Most utilize less than a handful of materials, and often rely on synthetic materials with hints of flash or sparkle that are easy to work with and cheap to buy. Here are some examples, none of which take me more than three minutes to tie:

This caddis cripple pattern uses three materials (in addition to thread and hook): dubbing, a synthetic yarn, and hackle. When tied to match the important Nectopsyche caddis on the Firehole, it’s my #2 dry on that river. When tied in tan, it imitates both emerging and egg-laying tan Hydropsyche caddis, the most important summer caddis in the entire region. In pink, it’s a great attractor for bright summer days on the Yellowstone.

This attractor suggestive of a mayfly cripple uses five materials: a synthetic yarn for the tail, spandex for the body, a different synthetic yarn for the wing, and two colors of hackle (Adams-style). Since both bunches of synthetic yarn or tied in as clumps and then trimmed to shape, this is a much faster fly to tie than the original Purple Haze Parachute on which it’s based. It’s also three times as effective. It has been our top dry fly period since the fall of 2009.

This is our top-producing terrestrial pattern most seasons. It uses three materials: acrylic yarn chopped into dubbing in a coffee grinder, synthetic yarn, and a brown hackle. We use these everywhere, from little mountain creeks to the roaring Yellowstone. I can whip one out in about two minutes.

I went a little long in this point, but it’ll tie in with my next post on the subject (expect it around April 20-22), which will be about designing and tying patterns that match impaired bugs.

Most Anglers Use Something Else
Think about the dry flies that fill fly shop bins, especially those considered classics and standbys. They’re generally bushier and more complicated. This applies to everything from mayfly imitations and attractors suggestive of mayflies (Adams, Royal Wulff) to caddis (Elk Hair Caddis) to stoneflies (big foam monstrosities and Stimulators) to terrestrials (big complicated foam hoppers and most ants). These flies generally aim to suggest healthy dun or adult aquatic insects and terrestrials that haven’t started to succumb to their unplanned swim. While it doesn’t matter on lightly-pressured waters, opting to suggest something else will earn you more confident strikes and more fish.

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