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Discussion Starter #1
Tying Insecta......

It took roughly 10 years of stick waving before I started my personal pursuit in fly fishing. It wasn't enough to present a fly to that wary feeder..... it became all about my tied fly..... then my own pattern.....and to this day I pursue both the fish and the pattern.

I started tying using recipes in books and magazines, as most of us did and do. These flies where the old traditional flies; Royal Wulff, Elk Hair Caddis, pheasant tail, hares ear, etc. Today, I would have to look up most patterns as the market has become filled with unfamiliar names; something that happens when your not buying flies, left printed recipes behind, and ventured into the world of insect mimicking. So when someone asks me what I was using I just reply Caddis nymph, Baetis emerger, etc. (Unless it's a Jujubee, I always give Charlie his credit) Then they want to see it and they say "Kinda looks like a _____". Great, but that name is meaningless to me. It's just my imitation of that particular bug at a certain stage.

I consider myself lucky I started tying when I did as I didn't get hooked on "flashy" bugs. This is where I diverged and followed the path of insect imitation. Midge larvae/emergers are the only patterns I have covering a rainbow of colors but they are also one of the most color ridden emerging insects. Otherwise, I only have subtle color variations, with one or two PMD exceptions, but some substantial variances in stage representation but no flashy dubbing, ribbing,...I avoid it all together.

I am just wondering:

1) How much flash do you incorporate into your flies? Why?

2) Have you become more successful by changing/adding some characteristics that are not available in store bought flies?

3) Do you tie your own pattern for a specific hatch/time on local water?

4) Did catching fish on your pattern change your perspective on fly fishing? For example: Did it make you branch out to refining other patterns?
Did you become more of a student of Insecta?

5) How much time have you spent "testing" your changes?
 

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Like you SS I started tying before everything had flash in it and before so many options were available. I do agree some flash is important, but you're right too much flash is not a good thing.

I do tend to add a little flash to a lot of the patterns I tie and especially streamers. I feel a little more flash stands out and gets attention. Some patterns like the rainbow warrior are super flashy, but man does it work!!

I feel adding your own personal touch to established patterns may help, but can't say for sure if it really makes a difference.

I can't say for sure that I tie patterns for particular location, but I try to tie the flies I need for upcoming year. Usually a ton of nymphs, still water patterns and some streamers. Some dries and I have really started tying more terrestrial patterns. I think the fish see a ton of the same thing over and over so variety is good.

I don't think anyone will ever forget catching their first fish on a fly they tied. From that moment on I was completely hooked and loved catching a fish on something I tied myself. Still remember that day on the Blue river with a tan elk hair caddis.

I've been fortunate enough to have fished with some great fisherman. One in particular was an amazing tier and came up some incredible patterns. Not only would they catch fish, but man his flies were almost bulletproof! I remember him saying if you're going to spend the time tying you might as well do what you can to help ensure they last. I find myself tying more like him and taking the extra time to strengthen my patterns.

Probably don't spend a lot of time testing my flies, but I think that has more to do with not having a lot of free time.
 

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1) How much flash do you incorporate into your flies? Why? Not much, seems most of the fish are conditioned to too much flash. Streamers are the exception.

2) Have you become more successful by changing/adding some characteristics that are not available in store bought flies? No, success is a product of presentation 10x more than the fly itself IMO. That said, my flies are sexy and it's fun to catch fish on your own well tied creation.

3) Do you tie your own pattern for a specific hatch/time on local water? Yes, but I could get away with almost any store bought pattern and have the same success.

4) Did catching fish on your pattern change your perspective on fly fishing? For example: Did it make you branch out to refining other patterns? When I first started it did, but then I realized it was just me wanting my stuff to be cool, when it was really just me being able to present a fly in a fish's face.

Did you become more of a student of Insecta? since I don't know what that is, no.

5) How much time have you spent "testing" your changes? Lots
 

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Did you become more of a student of Insecta? since I don't know what that is, no.
Class Insecta - Insects
Phylum Arthropoda - Arthropods
Subphylum Hexapoda - Hexapods
Class Insecta - Insects

Order Microcoryphia - Bristletails
Order Zygentoma - Silverfish
Order Ephemeroptera - Mayflies
Order Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies
Order Zoraptera - Zorapterans
Order Dermaptera - Earwigs
Order Plecoptera - Stoneflies
Order Orthoptera - Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids
Order Notoptera - Rock Crawlers
Order Embiidina - Webspinners
Order Phasmida - Walkingsticks
Order Mantodea - Mantids
Order Blattodea - Cockroaches and Termites
Order Thysanoptera - Thrips
Order Hemiptera - True Bugs, Cicadas, Hoppers, Aphids and Allies
Order Psocodea - Barklice, Booklice, and Parasitic Lice
Order Megaloptera - Alderflies, Dobsonflies, and Fishflies
Order Raphidioptera - Snakeflies
Order Neuroptera - Antlions, Owlflies, Lacewings, Mantidflies and Allies
Order Strepsiptera - Twisted-winged Insects
Order Coleoptera - Beetles
Order Hymenoptera - Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies
Order Trichoptera - Caddisflies
Order Lepidoptera - Butterflies and Moths
Order Mecoptera - Scorpionflies, Hangingflies and Allies
Order Siphonaptera - Fleas
Order Diptera - Flies
Order Protorthoptera - Primitive Winged Insects
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Did you become more of a student of Insecta? since I don't know what that is, no.
Did tying make you educate yourself on identifying different aquatic insects and their associated developmental stages, behaviors, etc.?
 

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Did tying make you educate yourself on identifying different aquatic insects and their associated developmental stages, behaviors, etc.?
A tad. It's important to know the general insects stages and when they are prone to changing. That said, the most basic of knowledge is plenty.

I see where you are going here, and when I said, "since I don't know what it is" I was being slightly smug. Mainly to emphasize that overthinking is not necessary (it can be fun for some folks who love knowledge).

So, I will go a step further. In today's age of marketing and the enormous crave of internet fame, folks have gone to great lengths to micro evaluate everything, mostly in an attempt to seem smart or better at fishing or whatever (not just fly fishing).

Put decent baits or flies in a fishes face and they will eat most of the time. I have hundreds of different flies and lures, yet changing the actual lures or flies is really not that big of a deal. Size, depth and presentation are everything. This holds true in all types of fishing and the sooner novice fishermen figure this out and quit wondering about the tiny details of a fly or lure, the sooner they will catch more fish.

I'm not trying to be cynical, I just like less experienced fishermen to hear this info so they don't waste money, time or energy on things that are not likely to really increase their success.
 

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I would say that the largest benefit of tying for myself would be the greater attention I am now paying to what is going on in the water. I carry a strainer with me to see what's floating around and try to identify them.

I will agree with Oyey in that people like to scrutinize over meticulous details when, in reality, getting the food in front of the fish is what really matters most.

I am most certainly guilty of adding a lot of "bling" to flies, more so early on in tying. Now I tone it down a bit while realizing some flash definitely has it's place on some stages/patterns.

I haven't gotten to the point where I am tying for a specific hatch or bug on a specific piece of water but I am sure I will get close to that point eventually. My tweaking of patterns usually is a result of trying to make something easier for myself at the vise or because I don't have the exact materials for the "recipe". That would be one thing I learned that was helpful and is now helping to save some money on the hobby- you don't need every exact material for a certain pattern. Substitute other materials with similar characteristics that you do have.

Catching my first fish on one of my own was a catalyst, for sure. Man, was that bug ugly.
 

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I definitely prefer my own flies. I have 2-3 patterns in particular that I can't get commercially. Also, I have found that commercially tied RS2s are always ALWAYS crap! lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Also, I have found that commercially tied RS2s are always ALWAYS crap! lol.
LOL. For a 3 material fly you got that right. Now days I see that pattern has become an overdubbed bulk and not the thread abdomen to a small tight dubbed thorax/wing. Easier to mass produce and hides the crappy thread wraps underneath I suppose.
 

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I started tying much later than when I started fishing. Fly fishing as a kid involved crickets, grasshoppers and cans of corn as much as any fly. So, when I became a teen and could afford my own flies, I started buying commercially tied flies and then started learning to tie in my early 20's. Now, 20+ years later, I find I care more about the fishing than anything and don't tie nearly as much as I should or could. I can give all the excuses in the world, but ultimately, my passion is the standing in the river part, not the sitting behind the vice part. However, I still do sit there, so here are my answers

1) How much flash do you incorporate into your flies? Why? Really depends on what I am tying. Streamers always have a bit to imitate lateral lines or to get attention, but in nymphs, the most I will do is try to imitate air bubbles or wing cases. rainbow warrior type nymphs are successful on the stockers, but the more wild/ educated fish tend to run away from those. I do believe it is much more about the presentation, but you still need to present a reasonable fake

2) Have you become more successful by changing/adding some characteristics that are not available in store bought flies? Yeah, I have a few patterns that are "my patterns" In so much that you can't, wont find anything similar any where.

3) Do you tie your own pattern for a specific hatch/time on local water? Again, yeah, I have a love of the Arkansas river that drove several that match a couple hatches there. They work everywhere, but I tied them specifically for down there.

4) Did catching fish on your pattern change your perspective on fly fishing? For example: Did it make you branch out to refining other patterns?
Did you become more of a student of Insecta? I don't do well speaking the scientific names of much of anything frankly, but I did study the phases of the major insects and have delved into that area. Mostly because I can be an insomniac and had nothing better to do at the time. Understanding the different phases helps more on the river than behind the vice for me. Knowing a rise to emergers versus a dry. Knowing that Stoneflies are molting etc. All of that gives me better insight on where and how to present.

5) How much time have you spent "testing" your changes? none lately. But when I am trying to get something right, I usually make a few iterations and give them a go.

Ultimately, I think learning all the areas of fishing from why rods perform the way they do, to the lives of the insects and bait, to the weather patterns and times of year, all lead to being a better over all fisherman (regardless of style)
 

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"Ultimately, I think learning all the areas of fishing from why rods perform the way they do, to the lives of the insects and bait, to the weather patterns and times of year, all lead to being a better over all fisherman (regardless of style)"



I totally agree with the above, but have to add the asterisk! I've explored the micro-analysis approach and the KISS approach over the years in all styles of fishing. Ultimately, no matter how much or how little I put into it, depth/presentation always always paid the greatest dividends! When fishing got difficult, it always seemed like I was thinking about every detail that I could adjust to get fish to eat. As I got better at figuring out the puzzle, it seemed like if I found the depth of the fish and applied the presentation properly (whether it be moving the fly/lure, pausing, neutral with flow, etc) the flies/baits really lessened in importance (granted, I was using something remotely close to what the fish are eating).

As the years passed, my thought processes simplified and the time in which I went from not catching to catching was smaller because I focused on those two things. This is what's lead me to try and simplify the thought process when asked my opinions.

There's lots to learn and that process should never stop, but over thinking the puzzle can lead to less results as much as underthinking.

This is all being written by a dude who spent the last two outings without as much as a single bite!!!! lol
 

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Agree Oyey. Once you learn all the stuff, you then have to realize that its a fish and not to overthink it.

Like some kind of Zen riddle meant to confound us into relaxation.......
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I agree with presentation having the greatest impact. Over the years I've also realized that presentation with a correct imitation leads to hooking those true trophies. Now, usually these are tailwater fish that have seen everything under the sun and even on a few tracks of heavenly flat water on the Snake, Big Horn, Gallatin, etc. that see little pressure. These fish become "picky" and presentation becomes 50% of the game. It's at this point I became a "student" of what fish see. Silhouette, dimple in the "mirror", size, tone, shape, etc. have become an intricate part of how I tie. Just last year CFLurker and I ran into fish that just didn't cooperate. It's those times that test me as a tier. To head home and duplicate that one specific bug, just to head back into the fray to test that addition to my arsenal...refinement. That to me is the challenge, proper presentation of the right fly. If it just about the fish, I would have had my fill a long ago. For me, and my fellow tying addicts, tying adds that dimension where, to use a cliche, the metal hits the meat.
 
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