above photo: I made a simple test tube stand with a block of Koa and a drill press. A very effective way to soak large quantities of quills with no color bleed using very little space on your table. The footprint is that of a 4x5 index card.
Many of us fly tiers love using quills for bodies, but the problem has always been manufacturers over bleaching quills or not effectively creating a stop bath. The result is quills that have a tendency to crack while you are winding them up a hook shank (even after soaking for a few days). I have bought many packages of quills over the years only to find that a large majority of them really are unusable.
About 17 years ago I purchased a crate of feather dusters from China. The feathers were all made of Chinese rooster with beautiful long quills! I now have a lifetime supply of quills. So if your looking around hardware stores or general stores always look for feather dusters! I have gotten over 200 quills out of one feather duster that costed me only three dollars. A packet of roughly 20 quills will cost you between four and eight dollars depending upon what country you buy them in. If you do the math its a very expensive proposition to tie with quills purchased at retail.
Soaking quills effectively is also part of the problem. I built myself a wooden test tube rack and I can fully immerse and soak multiple colors of quills. Using up valuable space and time with dishes and wet paper towels really is not the way to go if your cranking out a whole bunch of quill bodied flys. I built a test tube rack about four by five inches that holds eight test tubes. With this set up you can soak multiple colors without color bleeding and hundreds of quills if need be.
I hope this is helpful for anyone wanting to tie with quills.
*Also Check out A.K. Best's book Production Fly Tying the 1st edition. This book is great to learn how to strip and dye quills.
We often see pictures of midges with their wings pulled together and resting on the back of their abdomen. The wings often splay when they are stuck in the surface film along
creeks, rivers, and ponds. Typically the pictures do not capture that
struggle that the insect experiences. The wings of a midge are proportionately shorter than their abdomens and angle out and back like the delta wing on a fighter jet. The following pattern is one that I've developed myself over the years and really has saved me on the stream from getting skunked especially in the late fall (click on photos below to enlarge) This is a relatively easy pattern to tie and master in a few hours. Pay close attention to proportions and you will find it is a very useful pattern year round.
Delta Wing Midge~ Hook: TMC 531sizes #18-22 Thread: Veevus 16/0 black Body: SLF Spikey Squirrel black, clear Uni Mylar stretched thin Legs: Knotted pheasant tail black (double knotted segmentation) Wing: Med or light gray Hen Tips Hackle: Black
Tie in mylar to your hook then dub loosely your SLF squirrel three quarters up hook shank, Wrap mylar and tie off
Tie in pheasant tail legs two on either side of thorax area
Tie in Hen tips that are length of hook shank or shorter. Dub in a tiny doughnut collar just in front of the set of wings. This will keep them splayed back towards the end of the fly.
Wrap a horizontal hackle collar with your black hackle, three or four turns is more than enough.
This is a relatively easy fly to tie and the knotted legs give your fly stability and splay to form little outriggers to keep your fly on top of the surface film.
This fly has been a blessing and has saved me on the river countless times especially when the fish are very finicky!
Many people lately have asked me what kind of bobbin I use for Veevus threads. Some have said that the spools rotate too tightly others say that it makes a horrible squeaking noise when the bobbin turns. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, there is a simple solution that I have employed since I started using Veevus threads around eight years ago.
First take the outside cap off of the side of the spool. Then get a drop point pocket knife and run it along the edge of the center hole. You need to knock down the edge and create a slight chamfer on both sides of the spool. This will allow you to adjust the tension of the spool. The more you chamfer the center hole edge the looser the spool becomes. Do not get too aggressive with your blade when you first start. keep popping it back on your bobbin to check the tension you desire.
This operation takes all of a minute or so. (Note: I have tried chamfering the inner hole using a #11 xacto blade but it is too aggressive and leaves a serrated bevel so I have used my EDC drop point for chamfering and the edge is much more consistent) This is well worth the small effort because I have grown to love using Veevus threads for most if not all my trout flies. If you have an adjustable bobbin it’s not really an issue.
above photo: Biot wing midge #20 Tied with 16/0 Black Veevus
I have never found an adjustable bobbin I really like so for the time being this is how I have addressed this dilemma. Hopefully this is a helpful solution that is relatively simple. ~Clint Bova
An early fall and hot weather has made for some interesting color this year as well as some interesting insects that have been hatching out of season. Fumbling through fly boxes that are out of season and modifying patterns to keep up with the idiosyncrasies are a common fly fishing occurrence for the last three or so weeks. I suppose it keeps the angler on his toes and keep the creative juices flowing. My motto is “failure is always an option” just don't let it get you down.
I think my bamboo rod is the only familiar partner I have during this strange uncharacteristic season.
Some fall signs in the middle of August, the little black
The summer of 2017 to many fisherman was a very disappointing summer. It was a summer of constant rain and wind with fronts coming in from the west that seemed never ending. Relentless patience and perseverance was really the only tactic to track down the Brown Trout. As for myself I often put down my rod and lifted up a brush instead of fighting it. I was amazed at the light, color, and atmosphere these storms presented. I can only say failure sometimes brings new perspective. I failed often this season only to find consolation and beauty in and out of the Mad. I suppose at some point I just embraced whatever Mother Nature slammed down on me and tried to capture the moment.
“Downstream Winds” 6x8 oil on wood panel by Clint Bova
Field Study, Mad River June 11th 2017
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay at eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain”
~Henry David Thoreau
Nature will bear the
closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her
smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain
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