Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ACF Step By Step: Junk Yard Dog

I have had people asking about this fly for a few months now and have not been able to get the time set aside to compete a step by step for it, but a few weeks ago that changed and I was able to get the shots.  This is a large weightless fly that is best fished on a full sinking line, and has a great swimming motion especially when retrieved with short and hard stopping strips.  Tie some up and have at it!

UTC140 denier, brown
Gamakatsu SP11 3L3H size 1
Gamakatsu B10S size 2/0
Marabou, tan
Polar chenille, UV Copper
Marabou, tan
Arctic Fox tail, rusty brown
Arctic Fox tail, dark tan
Senyo Laser Dub, Dark Tan
8mm Clear Cure Dumbbell eyes, steel
Beadalon, 19 strand .018"

STEP 1:  With your Gamakatsu SP11 3L3H size 1 in the vise get your thread started and wrapped to about mid-shank.  Secure a single marabou feather hanging off the back of the hook approximately one shank length.  Clip the excess about an eigth of an inch behind the eye and bind the feather to the top of the hook shank.  End with your thread at the rear of the shank, with your thread hanging down halfwy betweenthe hook point and the barb..

STEP 2:  At the rear tie in point, located above the midway point between the hook point and the barb, tie in the Polar Chenille then wrap your thread forward nearly to the eye.  Palmer the Polar Chenille forward taking care not to bind any of the pieces to the shank.  Once behind the eye then secure the material with a few tight wraps of thred then clip the excess.

STEP 3:  The next step will be to make a marabou veil over the back hook.   Prepare the marabou feather by coming down from the tip and trimming  out the top by clipping the center stem at the point where the fibers are long enough to reach past the Polar Chenille once wrapped around the shank.

STEP 4:  To form the veil I hold the marabou on top far side of the hook shank, using your left hand to hold lightly you push down the far side of the shank with your index finger to start the feather around the shank.  Come over the top of the shank with a loose wrap of thread and then tighten straight down with the thread and use the thread tension to pull the marabou up the close side of the shank.  The result is that you spin the marabou similar to how you would spin deer hair.  Once the marabou is all the way around the hook shank then you can carefully trim the butt sections behind the eye and make a few wraps over them, advancing your thread to just behind the eye of the hook.

STEP 5:  The last material on the rear hook will be a topping of Arctic Fox tail.  Take a pinch of Arctic Fox Tail and tie it in with the tips hanging out over the eye of the hook.

STEP 6:  Use your thumb to reverse the Arctic Fox Tail back over the rear hook and then bind it down on top of the shank with a half dozen wraps or so in a tidy bullet head.  Whip finish over those wraps and the back hook is complete.

STEP 7:  To connect the rear hook to the front hook you will use a 4" piece of 19 strand .018" Beadalon with a few beads to close the gap.  Place your B10S size 2/0 in the vise and then secure the back hook with tightly wrapped crossing wraps of thread up and down the shank of the hook.  Make sure that the loop is vertical in the back once bound down so that the rear hook will have unimpeeded movement.

STEP 8:  Wrap the thread forward about one third of the hook shank and there we will add the marabou for the mid-body section.  Take two fluffy marabou feathers and hold them on top of the hook shank, then use the thread tension to help spin them to encircle the shank (similar to how you formed the veail on the rear hook).  Once spun around the shank then make a few security wraps before trimming the excess, then wrap over the butt sections.  If you prefer, an alternative method is to tie in a feather on to of the shank and one underneath.

STEP 9:  The eye on the JYD is an 8mm Clear Cure Dumbbell eye in the steel color.  Figure eight in a set of the eyes on the underside of the hook shank.  The front edge of the dumbbell eyes should be just back of the eye of the hook.

STEP 10:  To give the front hook the bulk to make the fly push water but still be light, we will hollow tie a fox tail collar.  At about mid shank you will take the lighter color Arctic Fox Tail and spin it around the hook shank, with the tips out over the eyes.  Once spun in place then work your thread through and make a few wraps at the base of the hair, then advance your thread about to the rear of the dumbbell eyes.

STEP 11:  Just behind the eyes spin in a second darker color of Arctic Fox Tail, hollow tied as in the last step.  The butt sections of the second color should be tied in over the top of the hair from the first stack, and will help to hold the hair back as a collar.

STEP 12:  To create the head of the fly we will clump tie in four stacks of dark tan Senyo Laser Dub.  To prep the materiaal for each step you will separate and stack the Laser Dub so that the fibers all line up in the same general direction and are about the same length. For each stack you will tie in the Laser Dub with two or three tight wraps directly on top of each other, then pull the material back out of the way and secure with two wraps at the base of the material. You will tie in one stack on top of the hook shank just behind the eyes, then one on the bottom of the shank.  Then tie in a stack on the bottom of the shank in front of the eyes and finish with one more stack on top of the shank in front of the eyes.  Pull all the Laser Dub back out of the way and whip finish right at the eye of the hook.

STEP 13:  To finish the head of the fly we will make two cuts.  Pull the Laser Dub vertical on top of the hook shank and make one cut from the eye of the hook on a upward angle from the eye of the hook to just above the dumbbell eyes, and then make the final cut from the eye of the hook on a downward angle just below those eyes.  The result is a wide wedge-cut head that will push a bunch of water and make the fly move like crazy when stripped.

-mike schmidt

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4/20 TCO Streamer workshop

My final tying event of the season came and went last weekend, it was a long awaited streamer workshop for TCO Fly Shop in State College PA.  After work on Friday I hit the road headed east to crash at George Daniel's place.  Upon arrival we hung out for a bit and talked some fishing before hitting the sack.  Despite the serious rain they had gotten that day we were going to try and hit some water in the morning. 

We awoke to near freezing conditions and just about everything but Big Fishing Creek blown out...and even that was pretty gnarly water.  We got out for an hour after breakfast and despite the conditions enjoyed the crisp morning.  Lots of casting and no fish willing to play.

After getting changed we headed about 15 miles up the road to the bed and breakfast where the class was to be held.  We had a good group of guys and covered four patterns as well as some rigging and tactics while we tied.  It was a fun class and the guys kept me on my toes with a lot of questions as we worked our way through two patterns before lunch and then two after.  Hopefully the guys learned a few things and will be tying up some more streamers to hit the water soon!

Afterwards I met up with Lenny Gliwa and headed back out to the river...which was still pretty blown.  We gave it a shot and after a few hours I finally hooked up with a mid-teens fish that performed an expert lond distance release after aabout ten seconds...and that was the only fish I would feel. 

That night was an absolute blast with a bunch of the local guides coming over to Georges for some dinner after which we had cocktails and BSd long in to the night.  Lots of stories were told...almost none of which I could repeat to my mother.  It was awesome!  I finished off the trip with below freezing conditions on the water with George on Sunday morning.  We gave it a shot at three different stretches but to no avail.  I thouroughly enjoyed hanging out with George and the guys, and seeing some new water.  I will definitely be back to hit that water again in more favorable conditions!

Sorry for the short and sweet report but I am working on getting caught back up on orders and am exhausted.  Keep your eyes out here as in the next day or two I plan to post a new step by step which peope have been asking for over hte last few months.

-mike schmidt

Sunday, April 14, 2013

ACF office rebuild complete

For some time now I have been making due with the space that I had to produce the flies for myself and all the Anglers Choice Flies orders.  As I sat at the old desk I devised a layout in my head that would allow for a more economical use of space.  this weekend I decided to head out and pick up the supplies to make that design come to life.  Here are some shots from the build.


-mike schmidt

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweden2013 heavy on the pictures...with a few words thrown in for good measure

For a long time after agreeing to head over to Sweden to tie classic winged wet flies, at the Flugbindargatan Sportfiskemassan, it seemed as though the week would never come.  Then all of a sudden it was on top of me and I was in a mad rush to tie up all the loose ends and be ready to hit the road. 

I started off with a quick hop from Columbus to JFK, and then after a long layover boarded a Finnair Airbus A330 for the eight hour flight over the ocean.  Admittedly I was a bit rattled after getting on the plane as it was eight wide and that was a LONG way over water, but after forcing myself to calm down I had a bite to eat and then settled in for the long flight and tried to get some sleep.  As I woke in the morning I looked out the window and caught my first glance of foreign soil east of the Atlantic...the Norwegian Archipelago as we crossed over land somewhere just south of Tronheim.  It was a cool area to see for the 15 or 20 minutes we were over it, but I was glad to be on a plane as it looked to be a very cold and not so friendly a place to be on the ground.

We landed at the Helsinki Airport under amazing bluebird skies.  After a short taxi we deboarded and I made my way towards the security and immigration checkpoint.  I had a short conversation with a the man in uniform explaining my business there...which drew looks of doubt (since nearly everything there was still frozen soilid) until I explained I was just demo tying flies and through the gate I went.

The airport in Helsinki is one of the cleanest I have ever been to, and there are bits of art here and there to give travellers something to look at as they make their way to and from the gates. Not going to lie though....after being awake for most of the night as we crossed over the Atlantic my sleep deprived mind found this rabbit sculpture to be extremely creepy! 

I had about three hours to kill at the Helsinki airport before the last flight back over to Gothenburg, so I decided to belly up at the Old Oak Barrel Pub and try some of the local wares.  I figured that even though it was early morning there my body was feeling it to be far later in the day.  For a bit I was the only one sitting there looking down the hallway, but it did not take too long before the airport came to life and there was not a spare seat in the place.  For my first beer east of the ocean I went with a Lapin Kulta...and it was magnificent!

The flight from Helsinki to my final destination at Gothenburg was barely over an hour, so I caught a very short nap and woke as we touched down.  I quickly moved through the airport to see if my bag made it, and was relieved to find it there and exactly as I had packed it the day before.  I had some hours to wait on the ride that was coming to pick up all the international tiers and was already past security so, after a quick jump online to let the wife know I had made it, I ventured outside to a welcome 40-ish and bright sunny day.  I stretched my legs with a bit of a walk and then decided to hang out with this wolf for a few hours and smoke a few cigars to pass the time.  Before I knew it Marcus and Christer pulled up in the van and, after collecting the others, we were on the road headed towards Jonkoping.

We pulled in and found that we would be staying at the Sjohaga Pensionat.  A Pensionat is basically a cross between a Bed and Breakfast and a Hostel.  The main house contained the kitchen where the staff expertly prepared our food, a small stocked bar, a few sitting rooms, and a large dining room.  Out behind this building was a second that housed all the guest rooms (pensions).

I quickly went around back to drop off my bags and splash a little water on my face.  This shot was down the hall on the first floor.  Each room contained a single twin, a desk, and a twin bunk so we would all be able to stay in the same place for the week between the rooms on the first and second floors.

There was also a small kithcen nook with a well stocked fridge, or as the UK boys said...a proper fridge.  Guldkallan was the second beer that I had and was the one I had most of over the week we were there.  It was tasty and we had both the 4.8% variety in the white cans as well as the 5.7% variety in the black, which I thought was much better.

The first night as everybody came in they all dropped off bags back in the bunkhouse and then made their way up to the sitting rooms to share beverages and stories.  We had mostly all met on line before and some had met in person so there were no strangers in the room.  Several beers and whiskies went down the hatch that long first night and there were a lot of laughs to be had, a bit of arm wrestling, and a few that needed assistance making it back to the bunk rooms to end the evening.  Perfect way to blow off some steam and start the week!

I made it back OK and realized just how tired I was after all the travel and fun...I was out before my head hit the pillow and did not move until the morning. 

In the morning we had a quick breakfast and then it was off to the Baltak stretch of the Tidan River to see about some fish.  Left to right here are Trevor Jones (Welsh), Ulf Hagstrom (Sweden), Dougie Loughridge (Scotland) and myself.  I am pretty sure we were all dealing with a bit of a hangover to some extent but none complained as we were headed to the river!  We actually drove past the river on the way to the fly shop to visit Johan Klingburg and Marcus Hermansson-Thorvald, and pick up some last minute supplies and gear for those that needed it.  After a quick stop we were headed back over to the river and got geared up.

There was one house acorss the way from where the parking area was, but other than that the river flowed mostly through farmland.  It was a nice stretch of water not dissimilar from many rivers that I fish here in the states.  There were different 'zones' that we fished through that had slightly different rules so you had to pay a bit of attention to whether or not you could be in the water, but we spread out and made our way downstream.

Marcus Hoffman getting geared up.  Watch out fish!

There was a bright high sun so the fishing was tough to start the day.  I fished for a few hours until we had a lunch of hot dogs and beer waiting for us.  As we relaxed back by the fire I spoke to Johan and Martin Agnell about what to do next, and the consensus was to go sinking line and small streamer.  Martin worked his way downstream with me and we hit a few likely spots but it was not until we had gone farther than we had that morning that we found some fish.

This was a nice deep pool that lent itself especially well to swinging a small streamer.  I carefully worked my way over the shelf ice lining the river and got out to a rock that I was able to get up on to have some solid fishing.  After a dozen or so swings through the pool I felt a little thump-thumpthump and it was game on!  After a nice fight I had my first fish to hand in Sweden, this nice female rainbow.

After a few pictures she went back to the water and there were plenty of smiles and high fives to go around.  That was not the biggest rainbow I have ever caught but it may have been one of the biggest smiles on my face as that was my first fish there.  The moment was marked with a fresh cigar and a beer before getting back to work on the pool.

Good shot of me and my friend Ulf Hagstrom.  I think Ulf and I had been messaging and emailing back and forth for a number of years before meeting in person at the 2011 Fly Tying Symposium.  It was great to see him again and get out on the water for the day.

This shot pretty well sums up the pace and mood of the day.  It was a blast!

After having a nice fish take nearly at my feet and spit the fly back at me I did keep at it and got in to this nice male late in the afternoon not too long before it was time to go.  He had a much lighter take but once the hook was set he did his best to put me around some rocks and get under the ice shelf...but to no avail.  After a few minutes he was in hand.

He of course also went back and there was another round of high fives.   I will never get tired of bringing these guys in and then watching them swim strongly away.

As the day wound down I took a few shots of the river as it had some truly spectacular areas to it.  This particular set of pools and runs was just below where I had gotten in to the last fish and looked extremely fishy to me, though I did not end up hooked up here.

The sun on this old riverside building was just about perfect for my last shot of the day on the Tidan.  It was a great day filled with laughs, beer, and a few fish.

Back at the Pensionat in short order we put down dinner as a group and then proceeded to share whisky, beer, and stories late in to the night again.

Before I went to bed though I made sure to set aside the fly that caught my first fish in Sweden so it could be put in the frame once I have a print made up as a momento from the trip.

This is a bit out of order as it was not until after the fist day of tying, but I think it fits better here than breaking up the show shots.  Each year for the show Hakan Karsnaser invites all the tiers over to his house to share a meal with him and his family.  This is the shot I took from his kitchen as the sun was headed down over the lake in his back yard.  Pretty awesome spot!

He had multiple tables set up in his kitchen to try and get us all crammed in for what was a delicious meal of stew and rice.  It was great to have everyone together for a grat meal and more stories...pretty much a nightly occurance while we were there.

While the first few days were a blast the day had come to get some work done...Friday was the start of the Fishing Fair.  We got up early and put down some food and then headed a half hour up the road to Elmia convention center in Jonkoping.

The show this year was by all accounts a huge success.  The entire floor of the of the center was covered with every manner of fishing equipment, bait, lures, flies...and a sea of people.  Day one saw well over 3,000 people come through, and by the end it was nearly 14,000 by the time the weekend was over.

Anders Grunning put together one hell of a nice tying row...pretty much the nicest I have ever tied at.  We were set up to occupy the corner of the convention hall bordering on the casting competition and demonstration pond.  Throughout the weekend we had a steady flow of people coming through to see what was happening in front of the red walls.  We had quite a variety of flies from streamers to wet flies, realistics to Catskills, shrimp to full dressed salmon flies...something for everyone even if they did not fly fish.

Over the weekend I tied a whole mess of wet flies and on day two decided to tie up a Jock Scott based on the shots from Trout.  I did not have any white tipped turkey for the bottom slip so I just used black.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out; always fun to tie complex patterns on small hooks.

This is the view from the other end of the side I was on.

And this is the other side.  We had tiers that were Swedish, Norwegian, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Finnish, British, and American.  It was an awesome group of guys.

This was a very common site for me throughout the weekend...people dropping by to see the amazing split wing technique that Trevor Jones was tying for the show.  Difference in this shot is the audience is one of the best full dressed salmon tiers in the world, Paul Little.  No doubt that we all learned from each other over the weekend.

One of the cool other exhibits that was there was this tanker sized tank that held some pretty large rainbows, browns, and pike.  They had lure demonstrations from up on the casting platform to some good sized crowds.  The fish generally stayed away from the demonstrations, but it was cool to see them swimming around in the tank all day.

Overall it was a fantastic show with great crowds.  I would not hesitate to go back to share the stage with that group of guys to entertain the masses!

On the final evening after the show Dougie Loughridge, Ted Patlen and I laughed some more over a few beers at the airport hotel while the Tigers game was on the TV over the bar.  Early in the morning we got up and made the couple hundred yard walk back over to the airport and settled in for a long day of travel back to our homes.  I had an amazing time taking in the culture, enjoying time with my friends, and of course tying a few flies.  It was my first time headed overseas for a show but I am certain it will not be my last.  Next up on the radar are some shows in Galway, northern Ireland, and BFFI...will have to see how I can make them happen so I can get back over there for some flies and fishing!

-mike schmidt