Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Creating volume

If there is one country who’s fly tiers have probably been the most inventive and innovative in the design and development in pike fly tying then it has to be the Dutch. I always check to see who are the featured tiers at up and coming fly-fishing fairs, and if I see a couple of Dutch names listed you can guarantee I will be there. One of the best Dutch pike fly tiers is Herman Broers and have been privileged to have watched him a few times while I was working in the Netherlands. His whole ethos behind tying pike flies is to create the illusion of bulk without having to tie lots of materials onto your hook. The method to his madness was to tie two collars of bucktail and make them stand out like a cone around the hook. I’ve never been one for tying flies that have the appearance of a fish, I just don’t have the patience myself, but if that’s how you tie your flies, and like to present them to “Mike” then who’s to argue with you and you shouldn’t stop what’s been working for you.

What I thought I would do though, is show you in a small image by image tutorial, How you can create volume and size in a fly with minimal materials and especially with materials you might not have looked at using before.

Party wig bought from a toy shop

Here I have taken a small clump of the green hair strands from the wig + - 50mm worth and added a few strands of gold and silver flash.Tie onto the end of the shaft with everything facing towards the hooks eye.Make sure that the materials are equally spread around the hook shaft.I always start with shorter sections from the back increasing the length as I move forward along the shaft.

Pull back the materials and tie in directly behind the clump. Don't tie over these materials - just build up behind it.

Once you think you have enough cotton build up, release materials it should look something like this

Now add a slightly larger clump of the black hairs from the wig approx 55mm long and tie in just in front of the first Collar,making sure it is evenly spaced around the hook..Tie in tight.....

Pull back the black hair and build up again with your cotton behind the clump remembering not to tie over the hair.

Release the materials and you can see the second collar spring back

Repeat this method as many times as you you can see the fly is starting to take form and has considerable size to it already with minimal materials

Every so often I like to mix in other colours with some flash. Always remember to make sure that you add a slightly longer collar than the last

This is just a killer fly as it just pulses through the water between rests and retrieve and weighs practically nothing.Once you've done these a few times you can probably knock one out in around 20 min.

Here is the end product.As you can see this fly has loads of volume to it.This works well at all depths and I sometimes tie them with dumb bell eyes to get them down deep. I also finished it off with 3 different coloured green Maribu hackles tied in on the front.

One can tie this in bucktail off course, but I prefer using hair from party wigs as it has more of a wavy action when in the water and fluffs out a lot more when the retrieval has stopped.


Party wig- Black and lumo green

Red cotton - Any colour will do

Hook - Mustad long shank 6/0

Flash - Silver & Gold + Crystal mirror flash/Blue

Maribu feathers - greens

Monday, 23 February 2009

New flies

With spring only a month and a half around the corner I have been tying more flies this weekend with materials from the craft shop I visited the other week. Most have been made from hair strands from the party wig I bought mixed in with a little flash and some guinea fowl and Capercaille down feather,While other have Maribu feathers tied in over fox tail zonker fur strips.Here are just a few from the growing pile.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Dont you just love a good road kill

I’ve been known to pull up on the side of the road and run back a hundred meters along the hard shoulder of a motorway just to drag a road kill off it and scrounge either a tail or some fur from a carcass, being the tight arse that I am.

Well last summer Lena my partner while out in the forest with Dingo our dog, witnessed a male Capercaille fly into the side of a moving logging truck and break its neck. Without a second thought she picked it up and arrived at our front doorstep with a still warm bodied bird hanging from her daypack and a very pleased grin on her face. Now I don’t know whether she’s been hanging around with me far to long, or she was thinking about our stomachs?.....but you just got to love a women that’s resourceful.
Anyway we plucked the bird and promptly placed it in the oven and had it for dinner that night…….well we ate like kings from it for 3 nights actually.

The resulting plucked feathers are what you see on the table here. So if any of you out there are interested in a batch then just ask. Mc fluffchucker send me your address me old son and I will get some off to you A.S.A.P.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Living in the dark ages (part II)

You know……for a country that's brought us NOKIA mobile phones you would have thought that they would have embraced the world of information technology in the same manner, and when I mean information technology I mean the internet. Yet this is not true. Sure many businesses that deal internationally here have gone with the times and developed their websites to incorporate other languages so we the general public can access this information, but this is still a small minority on the whole. The Finish tourism boards travel websites although stacked with information looks like it was designed and build by government website designers and is most definitely ten years behind the times in regards to its looks, ease of use and lastly the amount of information that is offered to a prospective tourist. Sure its written in several languages….which it should be I might add! but it truly does need a serious overhaul.

Now with regards to the fishing tours industry here primarily(Fishing tours websites) I feel I need to compare it to another country and what better country to compare it to than Canada. Now you might say……. why Canada Si?……and not say………….Sweden, well its on the other side of the world and yet so many pike fly-fishermen would love to go there to fly fish as its believed that Canada is the holy grail with regards to fly-fishing for “Trophy” Pike….yet I have no intention of wanting to go there purely because I see the sizes of the pike being pulled out of our waters on a weekly basis here and there are as many trophy pike here as in Canada. The difference is that Canadian Lodges and fishing guides not only have fantastic websites but also run their own blogs and forums from them as well and more than likely will have several video shorts of the areas being fished not to mention the happy customers showing of their one in a lifetime catch for all to ogle over. Yet here in Finland when you spend some time trawling around looking at what is on offer over here, you suddenly hit a brick shit house wall and realize that these guides and tour operators truly have no idea how to market themselves to the outside world. 60% of all fishing websites here are generally in Finish with a smattering of English placed randomly around their pages. Most haven’t been updated in years which is evident from the quality of the images clearly dating back to the early nineties of clients proudly showing off scores of dead fish they have caught.

This is also another big difference when comparing the two countries approach to attracting fishing clients. Nearly all Canadian Lodges and guides work to strict catch and release policies………that’s unless they are taking one back to the lodge for an evening meal…….off course! and I have rarely seen miss handled or dead fish being shown on any of their websites yet over hear these companies are proud to have endless images of their clients holding up dead fish with fingers through their eye sockets and only a small minority of these companies practice catch and release……. Now I don’t know about you but that is just bad advertising if you ask me.

Now not all companies over here are what I would class cowboy fishermen, and there some extremely good guides around with some top notch websites but they are so few and far between especially ones with sufficient customer service, which is important in today’s day and age that trying to organize yourself a decent fishing trip here could take you in the region of a full 2-3 weeks. I know if I cant access the information I am looking for within half an hour I’m bored and move on to look elsewhere.

More on this subject later………………..

All these images were taken from a fishing tours website here in Finland. Two perfect examples of how to advertise your fishing tours industry...................not.

Just love the image with the bloke proudly showing of his catch with a pitch fork shoved through it.Then there is the 1st image where the chap has his thumb clearly shoved through the pikes eye. You just cant have images like this on your website for prospective clients to see and witness!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

New flies

I had a few hours to spare last night so I tied some new flies.Also made use of a few guinea fowl feathers.....well why not they came so cheap.How long they will last or stand up to a pike is anyones guess!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Mustad 34011 hook

More people are turning to fly-fishing for pike than any other form of fishing and as it gains in popularity more and more fishing tackle specialists are coming around to the idea that there is a market for the development of specialist pike fly-fishing tackle. A lot more effort could be put in to the development & research by fly rod manufactures into producing specialized pike fly rods though, but the one area that pike fly-fishing could benefit from is the development and production is specialized Pike hooks.
Sure there are a few specific pike hooks with well known fishing celebrities names tagged to them but on a whole this truly is an area that is in dire need of some development.
The Mustad 34011 hook has been around for donkeys years and is probably used more commonly by pike fly-fishermen than any other hook on the market. This off course is due to its long shank, and that it can be found in 3/0 size and is more readily available from tackle shops than other brands, Shapes or models. Specialist pike fly hooks generally have to be bought of the internet unless you have a decent retailer close by that understands the needs of a pike fly-fisherman……and we know how common they are!
I feel though the Mustad 34011 hook has some design flaws that I think the company could look into and change or either develop a separate hook altogether. Here you can see I have overlaid the Gamakatsu SL12S Big game saltwater fly hook over the Mustad 34011 to show you what I am talking about.As you can see the 34011 has a wonderfully long shaft which is so attractive for us pike fly-fishermen solely because of the amount of surface area we can tie our materials on too it, but the gape between the hook point and the shaft desperately falls short of what is needed…….which the Gamakatsu SL12S gives.
Now if Mustad or any other manufacturer for that matter could develop a hook with as longer shaft but with the qualities and size of gape, bite & bend the Gamakastsu SL12S saltwater hook has then they would be on to a winner. Alternatively Mustad also produce the Saltwater Tarpon C68S SZ hook which would be perfect if it had the longer shaft the 34011 has. Lastly I also feel if one of these manufacturers does eventually get of their arse’s and develop a range of specific pike fly hooks they could produce them with out a barb.
I feel this is a never ending topic I’m sure I will go on about for years to come.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Living in the dark ages

Now if you have never been here before I can truly say (and this is not because I live here or run a fishing tours business either) that Finland has to be if not one of the best fishing destinations in Europe. With 180 000 lakes, 200 rivers (found in some of the best untouched wilderness there is)….Oh!..... and lets not forget the Baltic sea to fish on or around…… you truly are spoilt for choice. We have Salmon, Trout (Rainbow, Brown & Arctic Char & Sea trout) Greyling, Ide, Zander (Pike-perch/Walleye), Northern Pike, Perch, Rudd, Crucian carp to name just a few species…..So why is it that so many anglers out there don’t know to much about this fantastic fishing destination?…..and what knowledge they do have is very limited. Well there are numerous reasons for this and over the next week or so I’ll try and iron out these factors.

Most peoples perceptions of Finland are of Nokia mobile phones, Snow, Rally drivers, Sauna, Father Christmas, Reindeer, Lakes and forests and lets not forget Eddie the Eagle and Monty Pythons satirical song “Finland, Finland, Finland … …well this is how the finish tourism board have marketed their country. …..yet with an un-decipherable language and English probably their fourth string choice behind Swedish and German, coupled with that a rather drab and less than adventurous cuisine, and an extreme lack of ingenuity with regards to evening programs, decent Countryside bed and breakfasts and such poor available information on the internet about all aspect of this country than you would care to think, is there any wonder why Finland is given a skip by most travelers.

Finland’s fishing tours business is no different and although well established is truly lagging behind the rest of the world and until something or someone stands up and realizes this, it will stay in the dark ages for many years to come.

Most of the organizations here are being run by ignorant twats (Likable to those running the Professional footballers association or the All England Cricket Club) All have waited years for their position at the top, and as they are old school by nature, are reluctant to change what they think is a winning formula……and yet how wrong they are…. which in hindsight is having a truly detrimental effect on the fishing tours industry here. We have a number of splinter groups all vying to be the number one association which isn’t helping matters to say the least, as each have there own take on how the franchise should be run so nothing seems to progress in a positive forward motion. The fishing tours industry alone could bring in millions of euros annually of much need revenue to Finland’s economy…………So over the next week I will delve into the subject to vent my frustration and hopefully get a few things of my chest…..well that’s what is all about……innit!

Eumer fly tying products

The boys at Eumer fly-fishing products here in Finland have recently upgraded their website to incorporate a larger range of fly tying materials. My only gripe with the website is that there are no prices available next to each product which is a bit irritating …….if you ask me! Whether this is to deter the general public like me and you from wanting to just order the odd small packet of that favorite flashebou you need could be the reason…I don’t know!

Anyway click the logo to visit their site

Saturday, 14 February 2009

If you could take just one fly along........what would it Be?

I was having a read through “Flies & Finns” fly-fishing forum the other day and one of the topics that was being thrown around was “If you could only take one fly out trout fishing with you, which one would you choose?”. Which off course got me thinking in terms of what fly would I choose with regards to fly-fishing for pike? If I was lure fishing then there would only be one answer and that would definitely have to be a KUUSAMO spinner/spoon combination …………but that is another talking point for a later topic.

With regards to a pike fly, and if it came down to the crunch of being able to only take one fly out with for a sessions fishing, I would have to go for a white feathered streamer with some red & white marabou feathers tied onto the front. This is off course if I was fishing between the times of an hour after dawn and an hour before dusk. I have caught more pike with this fly than any other fly over the last 12 yrs. (In all conditions I might add). In fact I invariably slip one on during the course of a session, and 6 out of 10 ten times I get a strike with it. What’s great about this fly is that it’s simple to tie up. All one needs is several small white chicken feathers slightly varying in length tied in along either side of the hook shank and some red & white marabou feathers placed in at the front………..eyes unimportant.

Now if I was fishing during the times of “Dawn or Dusk” I would use a black feathered streamer or even dark purple with a few strands of red slinky fiber tied in along its flanks. I prefer to use a darker fly for low light conditions. I’m not saying these streamers are my favourite flies but if I could only use one fly for the day, then this type would be the one sure bet fly for me.I would be interested to hear what fly you would take with you for a sessions fishing.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Pike don't always get their own way

This remarkable image was taken by photographer Stewart Canham.To read the full story and see how the pike got on, click this image.

Tight arse!

I’m sometimes as tight as a low flying seagulls arse when it comes to buying fly tying materials. In fact I’ve been known to rummage through dustbins on the odd occasion in the hope of finding something useful inside one. This isn’t because I feel these materials are over priced………well some can be!, but I’ve become quite a scrounger and am constantly on the look out for products that could be used in my flies that stop me from dipping my hands into my ever deepening pockets. My guinea fowl feathers are testament to that. I do use natural materials like furs & feathers on my flies, but I prefer to use a lot more man made products, than anything else. This probably came about due to me realizing through trial and error, that tinsels and flash strips are a lot easier to cast as they retain less water …..…which is a big help especially if its an all day session.Anyway to cut a long story short, while in Vaasa yesterday I popped into the Craft shop to see what I could scrounge and came out with a bag full of materials for under € 16,00
2 x party wigs with assorted multi coloured strands of hair
5 x multi coloured sheets of foam
6 packets multi coloured marabou feathers
2 packets (Red/Blue) goose quills
2 bobbbins of cotton
1 packet of multi coloured sequins
1 meter each (Maroon/Green) artificial fur strips
2 meters gold and silver strand
And 1 packet of last Christmases red and silver tinsel. Now if that’s not a bargain ….I don’t know what is!
Yes I’m a Tight arse!……….. and I’m proud of it!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Catch and Release study

I hope all that read this blog have a strict catch and release policy….well that’s unless you are taking one home for the table. I do, and have been looking for more information about the subject since moving here to Finland, so was very lucky to come across a masters thesis in marine biology by a By Martin Stålhammar (M.Sc). from Lund University on the Short-term effects of catch-and-release angling on pike (Esox lucius) behavior. If any of you are interested, click the link above and it will take you to his page where you will find the PDF file of his study..

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Double pike streamer

Here is another buck-tail streamer being tied in by Eiland van Maurik. The difference here he has tied in a double hook system which although adds immense volume to the overall fly and looks very cool, I just find the back hook a little loose for my liking. The trailing hook needs to be a tied in a lot stiffer. With so much movement like this fly has, chucking it becomes extremely hard going………..Trust me I have tied and cast a few like this, and I have found they invariably double over themselves during their movement through the air. This causes a lot more wind resistance, so don’t expect to be casting this fly extremely long distances. What’s great about this fly though Is that one can tie in man made materials with the buck-tail as well depending on how creative you want to be.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

"The Kelly kettle co"

Last year I was told about "The Kelly kettle co" by one of our clients Wilf, so after he left I made enquiries through their website & I acquired two for the business and to be honest they have probably been the best 2 buys I have made with regards to camping and fishing equipment in the last 5 yrs. No more having to make a fire to boil a kettle anymore. All one has to do is fill the cavity between the water container with sticks, twigs…….well anything that will burn really, and within 3 minutes you have a flask of boiling water. I know many of you out there have one but for those that haven’t, then I highly recommend you get one for your fishing trips.

Click the image to visit Kelly kettle companys homepage

Monday, 9 February 2009

Jaymorr fly-fishing & photography blog

Every now and then I stumble across a fly-fishing blog that just simply blows me away. 6 months ago when I stared pike fly fishing articles I came acroos JAYMORR’S fly-fishing and photography site through another blogger Deesox. Jay hails from Utah and his site is worth the visit for its stunning fly-fishing images and nature photography alone.

Click his banner to visit his site

Friday, 6 February 2009

Gamakatsu SL12S Big game saltwater fly hooks

You’ll read pages about the merits of what a good pike fly hook should have, but for me there is just one criteria I look for when choosing hooks for my flies and that is they should have a decent rounded gape between the shank and the point of the hook itself. I’ve never been bothered with a really long shaft, just so I can have enough surface area for all the materials I want to tie on it and the weight of the hook has never been an issue either for me as I would rather put up with a few extra grams with the knowledge that the hook will stand up to the rigors of a decent fight from a pike.
Over the years I have watched as much underwater video footage as I possibly could of pike attacking all manner of lures, and what I have noticed is that just at the point when the pike strikes the plug, spinner, jig or dead bait, it opens its mouth as wide as its gape allows it, thus allowing a rush of water to be sucked back through its gills which in turn…….all be it minimal, pulls its allotted prey ever so slightly in to its mouth.
Unfortunately a pike also snaps its jaws down equally fast which in turn expels water back out of its mouth just as quickly. This isn’t so much a problem for lures brandishing 2 sets of trebles but for a Pike fly it spells……..many a missed hook up.

Having a hook with a less wider gape in my eyes lowers your chances of getting that all important hook up considerably so that is why I go for a more pronounced bend and wider gape from shaft to hook point which gives you a larger surface area for it to find somewhere in the pikes mouth to get a decent hook set

I have been experimenting with quite a few brands, makes and types over the last 4 years in the search of a hook that I could call my favorite pike fly hook, but all have stood up to the test remarkably well although I have become a bit partial to the SL 12S BIG GAME 6/0 Saltwater fly hook from “Gamakatsu”and I have found they have increased the amount of hook ups I got last season. They are specifically for the Saltwater enthusiast & are made from top quality stainless steel and stay rust free for a longer period than other brands on the market, which has become far more cost effective for me to use them especially now in the Baltic. Now you could say that it was the design and type of the fly that attracted the pike to it Si, and not the hook…….which I cant argue with, but at the end of the day, it’s the hook that keeps you in contact with the caught pike all the way down your line to your reel and eventually is the only reason why you end up with you fish in the boat.
Anyway more on hooks a little later

Here is a regular Mustad 34011 long shank hook next to the Gamakatsu SL 12S BIG GAME 6/0 Saltwater fly hook. Sure the Mustad has a longer shank for tying in more materials but I'd rather sacrifice some length for a wider gape.