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Old 04-06-2010, 09:54 PM
Gallahbrains Gallahbrains is offline
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A few beginner's questions - fly tying & hooks

Hi,

As this is my first post here, I'll do a quick intro ... I'm 32yo male from NSW, Australia. Although I've been fly-fishing for many years I still count myself as an absolute beginner because I just haven't been able to put much time into it. I'll be happy for as much advice and tips as I can get! I have a 6# and a 8# rod and 98% of my fishing is done in saltwater estuaries and harbours in NSW. However, I am soon looking at a move to Switzerland, and I'd like to continue fly-fishing there although I don't know anything about fishing in that country.

I've recently started fly-tying, and I have a few questions about the hooks being used:

1 - In most of the books/examples of fly-tying that I've seen, they all use hooks where the eye of the hook is bent down slightly towards the point (like this). I'm assuming this is a desired feature for fly-hooks? Why is that?

2 - When I'm looking to buy hooks, most of the ones that fit the description in the books or web-pages I read are bronzed. But in his book, Lefty Kreh advises not to use bronzed hooks because they rust more quickly. What I'm looking for really is a "standard" hook with a bent-back eye as described above, in sizes 2,4,6,8 & 10 and not bronzed and without barbs on the shank. Also long-shank versions in size 8 and 4 for streamers. I don't mind ordering on-line, but hooks that fit the description seem seem impossible to find (for example, the one above has all those features, but it's bronze); and finding a long-shank version with all those features is doubly as hard. Any advice? Do I really have to avoid using bronzed hooks?

3 - I've noticed many patterns can be intricately detailed and specify precise colours and materials to be used. Is "close enough" good enough? After-all, if the fish are willing to ignore the huge and unnatural-fuggen-metal hook hanging out the back of the fly, surely they can't be that picky when it comes to details?? I just struggle to believe that a fish who isn't picky about the fly having a big, barbed hook hanging out if it's bum is going to be picky about the exact type and colour of hair-material or feather used to tie the pattern...? Again, I'm a rank novice, so if anyone can help me out with a bit more "fish sense" as far as that goes, I'd be much appreciative.

4 - What's the difference between a "wet fly", a "streamer" and a "hair-wing"? Am I right to assume that "streamers", "nymphs" and "hair-wings" are all just sub-categories of "wet flies"? And that maybe "hair-wings" are a further sub-category of "streamers"?

5 - Can some experienced members please suggest some "generic" fly patterns that I should tie so I can hit the ground running (fishing) when I get to Switzerland? I'm guessing that would include a small selection of the most popular and most common fresh-water wet flies, but having never fished outside of Australia, and almost never in fresh water, I don't really know where to start... a woolly bugger?

Sorry for all those (perhaps stupid) questions. (Un?)Fortunately, fly-fishing is not really big where I'm from, so I'm totally self-taught. Often the books and websites that I read skip over the very basics.

Thanks for any advice.

Cheers.
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  #2  
Old 04-06-2010, 11:40 PM
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Eric Eric is offline
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Welcome to the Forum and your questions are anything but stupid. Just reading your post made me do a lot of thinking and rethinking.

To answer you adequately would take a book. In fact, you allude to source material (printed and on-line) that indicate you've found advice and information pointing you in the right directions as you begin your fly-fishing journey.

Bronze hooks rust? Maybe they do. So what? You can always tie more flies and rustability is a good thing when a fish breaks off with your fly still imbedded in its mouth. Bronze hooks will last as long as you need them to as long as you don't submerge your fly boxes and let your flies swim in the mess for prolonged periods. I have dry flies that I tied when I was a teen ager that are still quite servicable, and I'm so far advanced into extreme geezerhood that this claim seems incredible.

Don't know nuthin' 'bout fishing in Switzerland. Lots of lovely lakes and streams. Trout, char and grayling, I would imagine. Check out the international angling guides. Which you've probably already done.

Turned-down eyes are common for smaller fly sizes. I suspect (and am too lazy to look this up now) that this is in large part due to hoary tradition, when flies were snelled to gut leaders and the turned down or turned up eyes helped form a straight connection. For salmon and steelhead, turned up eyes are preferred for traditional patterns because they allow, again, a straight-line connection with a double turle or Cairnton knot which aids in swimming the fly properly.

Hopefully Forum members much more knowledgeable that I will chip in to answer some of your other questions; I'll just make one more comment before shuffling off to hibernation:

Is color important? Yes it is. But who knows how perfect a color must be in matching a natural insect or how appealing it must be to tempt a steelhead to strike. When fish are actively feeding, it's important to try to match the hatch in size and color. Approximately as you can. From then on, it's your skill in fishing the fly, as well as other factors such as your leader size, the sophistication (wariness) of the fish, and so on that will determine your success. Sometimes fish can be maddeningly picky ... they see color very well. Get as close to the naturals as you can. Even that may not work, but you've at least given it your best shot.

Good luck with your move to Switzerland. Stay in touch, and, again welcome and thanks for posting.

Cheers,

Eric
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Old 04-06-2010, 11:46 PM
Gallahbrains Gallahbrains is offline
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Thanks mate, very much appreciated.

I guess I'll go for those bronzed hooks after-all. The very fact that there's so many available seems to suggest they can't be that bad. But then again, maybe fishing in salt-water does much more damage to them then freshwater...
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Old 04-07-2010, 06:28 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Welcome aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gallahbrains
1 - In most of the books/examples of fly-tying that I've seen, they all use hooks where the eye of the hook is bent down slightly towards the point (like this). I'm assuming this is a desired feature for fly-hooks? Why is that?
Eric offers great advice, and I don't know the history either but as a fellow steelheader I also look for upturned eyes for 'classic' salmon / steelhead patterns for the same reasons.

I also use straight eyes and down-eyes and tie a different knot, for instance an palomar or fixed loop.

One hook I really like is the TMC 200R. It has a straight eye but great profile for soft hackles. The down eyes are common for nymphs and streamer flies, muddler hooks etc. For me the down eye works well for muddlers because a straight eye can get lost in the spun deer.

Quote:
2 - When I'm looking to buy hooks, most of the ones that fit the description in the books or web-pages I read are bronzed. But in his book, Lefty Kreh advises not to use bronzed hooks because they rust more quickly. What I'm looking for really is a "standard" hook with a bent-back eye as described above, in sizes 2,4,6,8 & 10 and not bronzed and without barbs on the shank. Also long-shank versions in size 8 and 4 for streamers. I don't mind ordering on-line, but hooks that fit the description seem seem impossible to find (for example, the one above has all those features, but it's bronze); and finding a long-shank version with all those features is doubly as hard. Any advice? Do I really have to avoid using bronzed hooks?
My guess is Lefty was talking about saltwater fishing. Freshwater hooks are typically bronze, or nickel plated vs. SW stainless.

Good quality TMC bronzed hooks don't rust unless you put them into a soggy box and forget them. Just let them air dry and they will last for years.

Quote:
3 - I've noticed many patterns can be intricately detailed and specify precise colours and materials to be used. Is "close enough" good enough? After-all, if the fish are willing to ignore the huge and unnatural-fuggen-metal hook hanging out the back of the fly, surely they can't be that picky when it comes to details?? I just struggle to believe that a fish who isn't picky about the fly having a big, barbed hook hanging out if it's bum is going to be picky about the exact type and colour of hair-material or feather used to tie the pattern...? Again, I'm a rank novice, so if anyone can help me out with a bit more "fish sense" as far as that goes, I'd be much appreciative.
I will put down my web guy hat and answer that one as a guide - I have a ranking for the things we need to think about to hook fish, and the other guys are probably already sick of hearing this but here goes:

Juros order of importance:

1) Presence of fish (obvious)

You can flog or fish barren water all day and the results will be the same. ZILCH.

2) MOOD of the fish

When they are in the mood, they will take anything you plop in the water if they are around.

3) Presentation

When they are tight lipped but can be had, presentation is of utmost importance. Any one of a dozen flies will do the job when presentation is correct and they are in the mood and they are around.

4) Fly

When you're down to the fly you've already gotten past 1-3. Answer: the fish (and only the fish) can tell you what they want.

Reps my friend, reps.

Quote:
Am I right to assume that "streamers", "nymphs" and "hair-wings" are all just sub-categories of "wet flies"? And that maybe "hair-wings" are a further sub-category of "streamers"?
Yes. Except hairwings can be further categorized as a method of short-cutting the traditional feather winged wet flies with a cluster of hair which is easier, cheaper and often just as effective.

This is especially true of salmon and steelhead flies. The Jock Scott for instance is an ornate celebration of 27 bird feathers most of which will land you in a US prison for having Strands of feather barbs are pulled and weaved together to create multi-banded wings, and you really don't want to fish these creations.

The practical yankee angler just replaces that with hair, and the meticulous ones will take a moment to stack the hair wing so the tips are aligned. Look up 'hair stacker' on google, although fair warning you might get some indecent results there

Quote:
5 - Can some experienced members please suggest some "generic" fly patterns that I should tie so I can hit the ground running (fishing) when I get to Switzerland? I'm guessing that would include a small selection of the most popular and most common fresh-water wet flies, but having never fished outside of Australia, and almost never in fresh water, I don't really know where to start... a woolly bugger?
I would defer to local knowledge but you can bet my box would have woolly buggers in it for sure.

OH and please keep us posted from the Alps, and lots of pictures of the local Swiss flora and fauna
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  #5  
Old 04-07-2010, 06:37 PM
Gallahbrains Gallahbrains is offline
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Juro,

Sounds like top advice mate. Thanks very much I appreciate that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by juro
Juros order of importance:

1) Presence of fish (obvious)

You can flog or fish barren water all day and the results will be the same. ZILCH.

2) MOOD of the fish

When they are in the mood, they will take anything you plop in the water if they are around.

3) Presentation

When they are tight lipped but can be had, presentation is of utmost importance. Any one of a dozen flies will do the job when presentation is correct and they are in the mood and they are around.

4) Fly

When you're down to the fly you've already gotten past 1-3. Answer: the fish (and only the fish) can tell you what they want.
Has the ring of truth for me. Good stuff; and it really follows the same lines of what I was thinking: surely the intricate details in the fly aren't that important if the "detail" of a huge hook hanging out of the fly's backside goes unnoticed.

Quote:
Reps my friend, reps.
What does this mean? I know it's some Internet lingo and I've seen it before. Thought I'd better educate myself...

Quote:
The Jock Scott for instance is an ornate celebration of 27 bird feathers...
I googled this to see what you're talking about. That's amazing! I can't believe anyone would fish with this fly! Imagine losing it on a snag. However I also saw, just as you say, some versions made with buck-tail that could be fished without the stress.

Quote:
The practical yankee angler just replaces that with hair, and the meticulous ones will take a moment to stack the hair wing so the tips are aligned. Look up 'hair stacker' on google, although fair warning you might get some indecent results there
It makes me wonder about something else I was going to ask. In Australia we have lots of pretty impressive parrots flying around, especially where I live. Since I started fly-tying I've made a habit of collecting their feathers when I see them lying around in good condition. There's some really colourful and extravagant ones. Being new to fly-tying I have no idea if they'll ever be of any use.

Further to the point above (above the exact pattern of the fly being amongst the least important factors of getting a fish to bite - or at-least at the bottom of the list), do people often just invent their own flies and have a crack? I mean, obviously people do, but I'm not talking about Lefty Kreh and Bob Clouser. I'm talking about your average joe at home. Or do most people stick to generally well-known patterns? It seems like a silly question (because I'd imagine, "of course people invent their own"), but I never seem to read anything about it. Only about tying already devised and commonly known patterns...

Just while teaching myself to tie, I've tied some unique and different patterns ... more often than not, that's been completely unintentional though! But in the end I think, "well this didn't exactly turn out how I expected, but I wonder if a fish would still go for it...?"

One example is that I tied some crazy charlie patterns with the white fibres from a Cockatoo's wing feather instead of fur/bucktail. I also invented my own body for the fly with some glitzy, stretchy plastic stuff I found in a craft store. It didn't turn out looking like a conventional crazy charlie, but I think if they eat one, why wouldn't they have a go at my funny version? I guess I'll find out...

Quote:
I would defer to local knowledge but you can bet my box would have woolly buggers in it for sure.

OH and please keep us posted from the Alps, and lots of pictures of the local Swiss flora and fauna
Sure will. But hopefully (if I catch anything with my sloppy casting and "interesting" flies) then I'll post some pictures of the local Australian flora and fauna first! Won't be making the move to Switzerland for about 3 months yet...

Thanks very much guys. All very helpful and interesting.
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