Friday, February 25, 2011

Tying Like Crazy.

This last week and a bit has been a tiring one at the vice. Lots of orders have been coming in from all sides, and its been time to crank down and get them out to customers. Here's a pic of some of the creations that have been developed.

A big thankyou goes out to David Fauquier, founder of YoungGuns Fly Club for the excellent photography. A link to his site and blog is available in the side bar on the main blog page.

 Soon to come is a sequential photo demo on how to tie a classic intruder. In comparison to the demo previous to this, its going to have more photos and step by step instruction. As well as a description on how and why certain things are done the way they are. I look forward to putting it all up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How to, 'Prawn'

There is something about people's flies that makes them theirs, it has to do with how they tie them, how certain materials are Incorporated, and the layout of the whole fly. Here is a fly that I have made my signature pattern. Its featured in the new flymaxfilms DVD to be revealed, situated in the corner of April's big buck. It also sits front and center on the opening page of, and now here!

Lets get started on the prawn!

Materials List:
Thread- UTC 140 Fl. Orange
Trailer Loop- 35lb Slickshooter
Shank- Tiemco 7999 2/0
Butt- Seal Fur
Tail- Whitings Spey Hackle
Feelers- Stripped Hackle Tips
Underbody- Silver Holographic Tinsel
Overbody- Palmered Saddle Hackle
Collars- Rhea
Shell Back- Golden Pheasant
Throat- Guinea
Eyes- Jungle Cock

Step One: Straighten out the bend on the shank you choose to tie on, and tie in trailer loop.

Step Two: Spin and wrap dubbing ball.

Step Three: Tie in Feelers.

Step Four: Tie in tail fibers.

Step Five: Tie in and palmer silver holographic tinsel, and then an orange saddle hackle.

Step Six: Spin another dubbing ball. 
Step Seven: Tie in a palmer rhea, and then fold over and wrap back.

Step Eight: Tie in two pieces of golden pheasant as a rear underwing.

Step Eight: Spin polarbear in dubbing loop and palmer an under collar
Step Nine: Tie in and palmer rhea, then fold over and wrap back.
Step Ten: Add a second set of feelers (optional)

Step Eleven: Tie in a guinea feather and palmer the final collar.
Step Twelve: Add a matching set of jungle cock eyes.
Steve Thirteen: Attach the final shell back of two golden pheasant feathers.

Here is the simplified version from the website.
And finally here is the proof that they work. The 'boss' with a slab from the skeena this fall.

I hope everyone who read the post enjoyed the fly. And that it brings you lots of fish and confidence on the end of your line. Till next time....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gone Fishing The Last Few....

Well after sitting in the shop tortured by the good water conditions and plentiful reports of fish, me and a friend decided to head out and try our luck. Rain, cold, wind and steelhead were all part of the 2 days on the water.

Here are our results.

 I managed a late afternoon nate buck the evening of the first day. He had a tiny bit of colour, but still plenty chrome for me.

 This big buck broke the drought for my buddy, not a bad way to start off the landing streak.

Not much to say after that..... this super hot, super chrome hatchery doe finished off his day.

All in all, another pair of great days on the flow. Its getting harder and harder to wait for a day off knowing the fish are biting. In the meantime look for a few demo's of some flies. I have a few in mind, everything from a classicy/fancy shadow box show fly, to a standard intruder, to me testing out the new tubology tying system. Until then, enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


With some time on my hands, and putting orders aside for about forty five minutes. I managed to do up this big wiggly thing. I'll fish it the next day I'm on the water, maybe it'll catch me a chromer.

Shank: Tiemco 7999 2/0
Thread: UTC 140 Fl. Orange
Trailer Hook: #1 Red Gamakatsu Octopus
Trailer Material: 35lb Slickshooter
Butt Section: Cerise Seal w/ Blue Grizzly hackle palmered over top
Rear Tent: Black Rhea
Eyes: Jungle Cock
Body Wrap: Steelie Blue Crystal Braid
Shoulders: Chartreuse Polar Bear
Front Tent: Blue/Black Rhea
Collar: Blue Guinea Fowl
Wing: Tented Chartreuse Grizzly Hackles

Monday, February 7, 2011

This Past Season Gone Bye. Part 2

So the middle of the summer season has passed on by, and with only a few weeks of truly warm weather left, the thought of steelhead drifts the mind north. Chilled nights, cool mornings and warm afternoons are the norm for the early season in the skeena watershed.

The first steelhead nose their way up into the main stem skeena in the first weeks of august. Chrome as can be, and great biters, anglers target these gems on the lower river bars. Headed for the upper tributaries, these forerunners of the steelhead migration have the farthest to go, and so are regarded as some of the strongest fish of the season. Open to a selection of just about any fly you can think of, whether it be a classic married wing, rabbit string leech, or the newly developed intruder, they show much love to all.
 T-Shirt Time!!!  This is what september is all about,
This fish was taken on a black/blue that I whipped up.

 Photos Courtesy of Rob Vodola,

A little later and a little colder and many more fish around, september is the migration month. The main stem skeena is plugged with fish, and many of the tributaries already have healthy showings of numbers, which are only an indication of what is to come. With this many fish around its hard to miss, the water temps are still above 50 degrees, and anything you put in the water is essentially prey. Although fishing with a sinktip can be more effective, many choose to stick with a dry line and get their hookups on top. Something about watching a boil, wake, or nose of a steelhead taking what is your fly swinging on top, in the film, or at most mere inches under the surface, is something that cannot be matched.

Above is the boss, April Vokey, doing a little product testing with the new flies headed for the new fly gal site. ( I think my creations worked fairly well on those september fish.

Here is the prawn that took that rather large buck. Sparse but lots of profile, and ORANGE!

As the last few days of september closed down, the trees began to grab their full fall colours, the temps dropped, and the rivers supposedly cleared. But this year, that was different story. Heavy rain fall in the upper watersheds of a few certain rivers, caused major flooding, putting them out and unfishable for up to a week at a time. While some were overflowing and brown, others were gin clear and low, being on the other side of the immense valley floor, their banks remained dry of any rainfall.

After hearing stories of the great fishing on the skeena and its tributaries up to this point, it was my turn finally to begin the fourteen hour drive north from my home in Vancouver to the great rivers of the north. Now filled with fish, that had pushed in with the high water the week before, I was more than a little excited to wet a line. Sadly news of another rainfall came, and our eyes were glued to the water graphs on our computer screens the night before our departure. The rivers began their drop in level, but would they be clear, and would they be fishable? Only god new, and we were determined to make it to Smithers by the next evening. Rod's, lines, reels, flies, and waders packed. We were off the next morning. Driven by extreme levels of Tim Hortons coffee, and breakfast sandwiches, aswell as the tunes cranked in the fishing-mobile nothing could stop us.

We rolled into Smithers that night to a bregade of trucks, cars, campers, jet boats, drift boats, and rafts headed the other way..... Was the effort of driving 1200km a waste? Pulling into the parking stall of our campground we were met by a friendly face, and explained to that in the few hours of fishing that evening, a fish had been contacted. Relief came across me, now knowing that they were here, and were still biting.

The next two days found us on the river, high and fairly dirty, with only a foot and a bit of clarity, we were discouraged but continued to fish. Water conditions were getting better over the course of the 2nd day, and by that evening things were looking a little bit better.

The next four days to come were some of the best fishing I have ever experienced on a fly. Events such as hook ups on my first casts of the morning, to last casts of the evening, to landing lots of fish, to 'hooking' BIG fish. Unfortunately 'walter' got the best of me, but just the grab, and getting a glimpse of him, was enough to give me shivers.

The fish of october really take a liking to dark, leechy flies. Speaking to a biologist weeks prior to the trip over the phone. His explination was that the lampreys that live in the rivers up north are 2-4.5" inches long and are black with a grey-ish, blue sheen. When eating flesh or sucking on eggs these little guys become immobile and unable to swim. Once letting go of the feed item they resume swimming up the shorline. So to me there is more than enough reasoning and explanation as to why many fish are taken on the 'turn' and 'dangle' during the swing. This combined with the fact that steelhead are already a combination of aggressive, predators, and in my eyes sometimes flat out dumb, it makes for a good choice of fly.

As days get shorter, the temperature drops and the waters get colder november is a month of probing. The energy levels of the fish slow way down as they begin to hunker into their overwintering area's where they will take refuge for the next four to six months. Heavier flies, tips and lines are the standard to get down to these fish. But with any rule, they are made to be broken, and there are exceptions, people have taken fish in 38 degree water on a dry fly. Though not the norm, anything is possible with these magnificent creatures.

So there is a wrap to the 2010 summer steelhead season for me. All in all, it was amazing, filled with accomplishments, learning, and heartbreaks. I thank every one of the steelhead caught on one of my flies for blessing me, my friends and anyone who fished them for the opportunity.


More flies, grabs, hero shots, tying and fishing instruction to come.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

This Past Season Gone Bye. Part 1

Its now february and the winter steel have come into the rivers, big, chrome, and healthy. But we cant forget their T-shirt weather brothers and sisters in the months past. Here's a re-cap of this past summer steelhead season.


The 'Dean':
Words cannot describe what happens on this river. The fish, the birds, the wildlife, the ecosystem as a whole is a piece of art. Located on the North Coast of British Columbia, the Dean River is both remote, and yet well known. Accessed only by boat, plane, or helicopter, it is situated in paradise. Lush coastal rainforests, glacial fed streams, the birds, bears and fish are what accompany you while you're there.

Now what we are here for... The Fish:
Set aside in a class of their own, Dean fish are the powerhouses of the anadromous world. Straight out of the Pacific Ocean, these guys and gals are ready to 'play'. BIG BRIGHT AND STRONG. They nose into the estuary and enter the river in a craze. Just leaving the feed in the salt chuck to return in order to begin their long spawning process, these fish are on the hunt. Connecting with one on the lower river is something on its own. Whether it be steelhead or chinook, 1 of 2 things is going to happen. You are either going to get your socks knocked off, or, you are going to need a ride back to camp to change your bottoms. Its plain and simple, these rockets are ready for take off, and your fly, and line in tow.

Flies for the Dean:
The great debate, "What to use?" Well here are some recomendations. In this corner, weighing from approx. 10-65lbs, Oncorhynchus Tshawytscha (Chinook Salmon) Some of the chromest, and hottest chinook you will ever encounter return to the dean, in the months of may, june and july. Fish of such power, that 2 handed spey rods in the 9-11wt are a standard, with 200 yards of backing being undergunned. Tippet? How does 15-25lb maxima ultragreen sound. You could hold a 747 Airliner back, but you can't stop these guys. On to flies, certain colours have been discovered to work excellent for nooks'.

Blue/Chart: The fly of all flies, blue and chartreuse is an excellent combo when targeting chrome anything. Not only will it get demolished by the nooks, but the first early steel that enter the river at this time in the season climb all over it.

Variations of the fly can be whipped together: With the chinook, profile and movement is more of the concern, rather than colour. BIG and IN THEIR FACE!

Here is the proof to the madness:
Photo courtesy from: Laurie Mroczek

Now to the real contenders and what most fishermen head to the Dean for. In the other corner, with a title of "The fish of a thousand casts" Oncorhynchus Mykiss (Steelhead)  Ranging in the weight class from 6-30lbs, built of muscle and filled with piss and vinegar, these babies are what stories are made of. They can be tackled with single hander or spey rod, floating or sinking line, dry and subsurface flies, you can tell they are players. Once the steelhead enter the Dean they are on a mission to go upstream, and on this mission they take interest to other fish, obstacles, and unfortunate creatures in the water, one of which may be your fly. Fish of ten pounds have been known to take people to the arbor knot on their spool. They are not to be played with. Tuck in your shirt and do up your collar, because they are an encounter never forgotten.

Steelhead Flies:
When the fish are fresh from the sea, they don't really care what it is. Personally I have seen the results of pink and orange, and you can't argue that they don't work. Even late running chinook will pick up an un-expecting steelhead fly with no problem at all.

Now the river has cleared a little and the fish are above the canyon, they are beginning to transition from the eating machines to stealthy movers. Still chrome and still aggressive, with lower water conditions, fly selectiong changes. They can still be caught on the big stuff, but it doesn't hurt at all to fish something with a little less profile. Something in black or natural tones (burnt orange, golden yellow, claret)

All photos courtesy from: Joe Karpinski - Dean River Guardian

IF IN DOUBT, FISH PINK!!!! There is no 2 ways around it, pink is a colour that isn't left out of a box headed towards the Dean and its fish. The cool thing about tying flies for steelhead and salmon is that you can mix and match so many different variations, that no two are usually the same.

After talking in so many people about their experiences, and fishing hours on the river. Its got me to a point of dying craze to go. There is no other fishery like it, and no other that I want to experience more.