Monthly Archives: June 2013

Parachute Purple Haze variant – Dustin Bise

Dustin Bise of Big R Fly Shop ties up a variant of the popular Purple Haze fly pattern. I’ve posted about the Purple Haze before on FrankenFly. I’ve always liked purple flies for my warm water fishing. I think with the Purple Haze fly fishers are starting to realize that trout like purple too!

Materials List:

Hook – standard dry fly
Thread – UTC 140 Purple
Tail – Purple saddle hackle fibers, UV Purple Crystal Flash
Body – purple tinsel
Rib – peacock herl died purple
Post – Widows web – white
Thorax – UV Black Ice Dub
Hackle – Ginger dry fly

The purple haze is an attractor dry fly pattern designed to imitate a variety of mayflies. By adding holo tinsel peacock herl, krystal flash and UV ice dub to this fly, these materials enhance the already highly UV purple colors and makes this fly even more deadly on your favorite stream or tailwater.

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Filed under Step by Step, Trout flies

Squirrelly Shrimp – Ben Treppa


What better to follow the Squirrely, than the Squirrelly Shrimp, haha! This one is from the designer of the amazing Franken Shrimp fly, Ben Treppa. Ben shows us how to tie another really cool shrimp pattern step-by-step. Be sure to visit his blog “Waiting on a bite…”


Place hook in vise. Secure thread at eye and wrap back to the hook bend.


Cut several pieces of pearl krystal flash off the hank, fold in half, and half again until its about 1 1/2″ long and attach to the rear of the hook.


Tie two orange barred centipede legs. Length is up to you but I prefer about a 1.5 times the hook length.


Attach mono eyes. I make the eyes using a 6/0 czech glass bead, 20lb hard mono, and Deer Creek Diamond Hard UV resin. The eye length is up to your own personal preference. Because I feel they are an important trigger for fish I make sure they are at least the length of the hook shank.


Wrap a rear collar of Crawfish Orange Barred Magnum rabbit. I prefer to cut it off the hide and put it in a dubbing look to help limit bulk. However, it will work just fine either way!


After tying in rabbit color tie in Pink sparkle flat braid. Work thread to 1/4″ behind hook eye. Wrap flat braid forward and tie off and trim excess. Choose eyes and attach 1/4″ behind hook eye. For this particular fly I chose Aluminum Sea Eyes. They aren’t heavy, especially for their size. Depending on where you are fishing or the style you may want to change to lead or bead chain.


Dub a small amount of shrimp pink ice dub behind the eyes.


Roate hook in the vise if you havent already (you want the hook to ride up so it is weedless). Cut a good sized clump of natural squirrel hair off of a squirrel tail. Try to find an area that has hair a little bit longer then the hook shank. Tie in “clouser” style. If it seems to be laying a little flat after tying it in simply lift up the hair and wrap a thread bump behind it.


Whip finish and coat threads with head cement, epoxy, or UV coating you prefer.


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Filed under Saltwater, Step by Step

The Squirrely – Kirk Dietrich


The Squirrely is a great small garfish fly but I don’t typically fish specifically for garfish nor do I catch them blind casting. When I cast a Squirrely to a gar it is because I’m looking for a change of pace in the carp or bream fishing. Those that have known me through fly fishing/tying can tell you that the Squirrely is my go to pattern for bream; it used to be the only fly I fished sub-surface for bream, lately I’ve been switching things up more but that’s another story.

Well, one hot summer day when the bream were nowhere, the only activity was eighteen to twenty four inch garfish breaking the surface gulping for the hot humid air; I decided to practice my sight casting. Throwing the small, gold eyed brown fly in front of and past a cruising gar, I held my rod up to keep the Squirrely from sinking and at the same time maneuvering the fly across the cruising garfish’s sight path. As soon as the fly reached the snout area, the gar slashed it toothy snout sideways capturing my little offering. I set the hook and was entertained by some feisty runs interspersed with airborne acrobatics that made me feel like I was playing a bass.

Anyway, after releasing that fish, I thought it must have been a fluke and tried at the next one I saw; no fluke, that one jumped on it just as fast but this time I got popped off. It was the only Squirrely I had, so I just called it a day.

That Squirrely is something I came up with back in the early 1980’s to provide me with a flyrod version to my favorite crappie jig, a grey squirrel tail jig with a black head. The flyrod version didn’t catch as many crappie as the jig did but what I discovered was that bluegill and bass alike both loved the little fly. Also, it has accounted for a number of catfish as well as carp and garfish. Grey squirrel tail hair is just a good mottled color that I think mimics a variety of food items from bottom crawling crawfish to dragon fly nymphs to little minnows.

I think if I targeted gar I would use a heavier tippet, I usually, as I said earlier, I haven’t caught a garfish blind casting but when I’m bored with the bream fishing; consequentially, I have less than 10lb tippet. I’m thinking 12 – 15lb flouro would help with the pop offs. While I’ve rarely had a gar pass up an opportunity to eat a Squirrely that has passed near its snout, other small flies work as well.

I’ve tried the larger rope flies specifically for garfish but haven’t had much luck with the smaller garfish, they seemed to spook from them. Now, maybe a smaller one would work fine but I don’t know how short you could go and still have the fibers long enough to get tangled and hold the fish.

They’ll hit small floating bream bugs but they’ll miss it often because I think the wake from their moving snout pushes the bug away. They don’t open their mouth much when they eat seeming to want to nip and slash at their food/your fly. That is why a small hook is so effective in hooking them. Size #10 and #8 are my favorite size but a #6 will usually work as well.


Materials List:

Hook: Mustad 3906b or equiv. size 10
Thread: 3/0 black
Eyes: Standard brass bead chain or lead eyes if needing to fish deeper or smaller bead chain if you want a slower sink rate.
Wing: Grey Squirrel tail, younger squirrel with distinct barring is preferred.

It’s several years old, but Kirk made a video of how to tie the fly. It has some helpful tips in it, especially for beginners, so it’s worth a look.

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Filed under Step by Step

Heavy Metal Worm – Andrew Grillos

This Gunnison Gorge Brown found a heavy metal worm in less than a foot of visibility.

This Gunnison Gorge Brown found a heavy metal worm in less than a foot of visibility.

Idylwilde produces this fly in two sizes, 10 and 14. The original sizes were supposed to be called Iron Maiden (10, heavy metal) and Van Halen (14, sort of metal), but my original sizing didn’t make the cut. There was also going to be a large number 6, which would have been Slayer sized (very heavy metal), but the huge one didn’t make the cut either. The official color of this worm is red like most worms, but I also tie it in pink, purple, brown, and chartreuse as well.

Everyone knows how effective worms can be when rivers are high and dirty, I really liked the rubber band worm but I never liked how light it was. I’m typically fishing worms deep, when the river is high, so I like having a heavy worm that doesn’t require quite as much split shot to get the fly down. I also like to use the heavy metal worm as a weight fly. I’ll often set my beginning anglers with a double nymph rig as it’s an effective way to get beginners casting, drifting, and into fish early in a guide day. I’ll use one large, very heavy fly equally for it’s bugginess as it’s weight to drag down a more accurate imitation of a mayfly or a caddis that otherwise wouldn’t sink as effectively on its own.

Blown River?  Bring on the worms!

Blown River? Bring on the worms!

My go-to weight fly was typically a Jimmy Legs, but sometimes I liked to mix it up a little and throw a different heavy fly, that will stand out from what every other guide is throwing. I remember days on the Upper Gunnison River when there might be 15 guide boats on 10-15 miles of water and 13 of them were probably throwing Jimmy’s/Pat’s. I had many great days with the heavy metal worm as I think it stood out from the dozens of stonefly imitations being dragged down the river. It sinks as fast, if not faster, than a large stonefly nymph as it’s sparse and very dense.

Another situation when the worm really excels is when the river is dirty. A brightly colored, wiggly, worm stands out in a blown river. A few years back we had some high water trips through the Gunnison Gorge and as guides we joked about how we had to polish the turd that management handed us. Every other company was canceling trips and refunding their clients because the river was blown out. Things were not looking good and in hindsight our outfitter had probably spent his customer’s deposits before the trip had even gone down the river. So he just sent paying customers on muddy water fishing trips and as guides we had to get creative to scratch out a few fish a day. It’s pretty much basic 101-level fly fishing to throw a worm when the river is dirty, and on our high water Gunnison Gorge trips the heavy metal worm excelled.

I definitely didn’t reinvent the wheel with this fly. However I do feel like I took a good concept, the rubber band worm, and made it better.


Van Halen (14),  Iron Maiden (10)

Material Specs:

Hook:        TMC 2499 SPBL
Thread:        UTC 70, Red
Tail:        Two Strands Red Spanflex
Body:        Red Ultra Wire, size M for 14, L for 10
Thorax:        Quick Descent Dub, Red
Head:        Faceted Tungsten Bead, Copper, 2.5mm for 14, 3.5mm for 10
Antennae:    Two Strands Red Spanflex

Special Tying Instructions:
The first step with this fly is to pull the two strands of red spanflex through the bead and then put the bead on the hook.  Then start your thread and tie down the antennas.  Then tail, then body, then thorax.  Also, I like to whip finish a couple times before dubbing the thorax and finishing with dubbed whip finish.

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Filed under Trout flies

Bruce Staples

Bruce Staples has fly-fished the Great Yellowstone area for over 30 years. He originates from Idaho Falls, Idaho and began fly tying in the 1970s. He has written for many popular magazines such as Fly Tyer, American Angler, and Fly Fisher. Bruce has also written three books, Snake River Country: Flies and Waters, Yellowstone Park (River Journal), Trout-Country Flies, and is now working on his fourth book, Flies for Greater Yellowstone Area.

Here are four patterns tied by Bruce. The first one is The Dry Muddler and is Bruce’s favorite pattern.

Dry Muddler

Dry Muddler

Dry Muddler

Hook: Daiichi 2220, or equivalent, size 2-12
Thread: Gray or yellow GSP 50
Tail: Small turkey secondary quill segments
Body: Gold floss ribbed five turns with gold variegated tinsel
Underwing: Tan calf tail
Wing: Turkey or other gallinaceous bird secondary quill segments
Collar: Natural tips of deer hair spun to form head
Head: Spun deer hair trimmed to shape


Purple Pompadour

Purple Pompadour

Purple Pompadour

Hook: Daiichi Alec Jackson 2055 spey hook
Thread: Gray GSP 75
Tail: Natural peacock tail support segment
Body: Gold Mylar tinsel
Underwing: Purple over Orange calf tail
Wing: Natural peacock tail support segments onto the top of which is married a segment of dyed orange peacock tail support over which is married a segment of dyed purple peacock tail support
Head/Collar: Dyed Orange deer flared around bottom half of circumference and purple deer hair flared around the top half, all trimmed to shape with natural tips pointing to rear forming the collar.



Funky Rangeley

Funky Rangeley

Funky Rangeley

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Rangeley streamer 6X or 8X size 4-8
Thread: Black 6/0 with red or orange band of 6/0 in head
Body: Black Floss
Rib: Gold Mylar tinsel
Belly: Orange buck tail
Underwing: 5-6 peacock herls
Wing: John McLain Funky dyed Indian Crow saddle hackle
Cheek: Mallard drake flank dyed purple under Am-gold hen mantle feather under Jungle cock nail
Head: Black tying thread with center band of red or orange tying thread band


Golden Stone Nymph

Golden Stone Nymph

Golden Stone Nymph

Hook: Partridge H3ST Draper Flat Body Nymph Hook, size 4-8
Thread: Orange GSP 50
Tail: Pair of goose biots
Body: Overhand weave of brown embroidery floss on top, orange embroidery floss on bottom
Legs: Stripped hackles heated or bent to shape
Thorax: Amber Antron dubbing
Wing case: Sections of ring neck pheasant rooster church window feathers cut to shape
Head: Rubber band section cut to shape
Eyes: Dumbell eyes formed by heating 40-lb test monofilament leader
Antennae: Stripped hackle stems


Whiting Rangeley Streamer

Whiting Rangeley Streamer

Whiting Rangeley Streamer

Hook: Gaelic Supreme Mike Martinek Rangeley Streamer
Thread: Black 6/0 with red or orange band of 6/0 in head
Body: Gold Mylar Tinsel
Belly: Purple buck tiaill
Underwing: 5-6 peacock herls
Wing: Lavender or magenta Whiting American saddle hackle
Wing veiling: Whiting medium pardo saddle hackle
Cheek: Silver pheasant mantle feather dyed purple under Reeves pheasant mantle feather under jungle cock nail
Throat: Lavender or magenta schlappen fibers
Head: Black tying thread with center band of red or orange tying thread band

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Filed under Streamers, Trout flies

James Hughes


James is a guide for Schultz Oufitters and mostly guides on the Huron River. He chases a lot of smallmouth bass and carp on the Huron. Here are two of his go-to flies for these two species. He says they aren’t real extravagant flies but that is why he likes them. Simple patterns get the job done and he can sit down and crank a dozen out without a major time commitment.

Ice Minnow

Ice Minnow

Ice Minnow
Hook: Daiichi 2546 size 6
Eyes: Bead chain
Tail: White Ice Fur
Collar: Mallard Flank
Wing: White Ice Fur
-This is my go-to for carp. The fish in our rivers spend a lot of time chasing fry and really key in on small white streamers. If the presentation is correct, there’s a solid chance you will be rewarded with a fish.


Murdich Minnow

Gold over White Feather-Tail Murdich
Hook: Daiichi 2546 size 1-4
Eyes: Hareline 3D eyes
Tail: Two Chinese saddle hackle feathers
Flash: opal and gold flashabou
Body: White Ice Fur
Head: Pearl Estaz colored gold on top using a Prismacolor pen
-The feather tail Murdich Minnow is one of my workhorses for guiding. The smallmouth in our rivers will crush this fly day in, and day out. The feather tail gives a really nice swimming action in the water compared to some other materials I have used.


Filed under Carp flies, Michigan, Smallmouth

Beel’s March Brown


Hook: Mustad 94840 size 10-12
Tail: Spirit River Mallard Flank – natural
Body: Spirit River UV2 Fine & Dry Dubbing – PMD
Rib: Danville’s 3/0 Monocord – dark brown
Post: Hareline Poly Yarn – white
Hackle: grizzly
Thread: Veevus 16/0 – tan

In my previous post, Back from Grayling, I posted about my return from the Au Sable River and I posted a photo of my dry fly floating in the river. That fly is what I now call Beel’s March Brown. The first night we arrived my step-son and I went down to the river. It was late in the evening, we were tired from the drive and didn’t have everything unpacked, but I at least wanted to see the stretch of water I would be fishing that week. I was ecstatic to see mayflies everywhere! We collected some specimens so I could see what fly we could try the next day.

Upon examination I really wasn’t sure what we were dealing with. It wasn’t yellow enough to be a sulfur and it didn’t look like a drake. It was a pale yellow or similar to cream, but it had brown on its back portion, with the tail having brown stripes and the legs were the same color. The wings were see through except outlined in black lines. See this link:

I explained this to Josh Greenberg at Gates Au Sable Lodge fly shop the next day and he pointed it out in a book and nailed it. The hatch I was experiencing was March Brown Spinners. Josh said they have seen more March Brown Spinners this year than ever before.

I didn’t think the flies they had at the shop matched what I was seeing very well. The closest I saw was a Roberts Yellow Drake. That evening I fished a Borchers Special to see if the fish would like that. I caught one fish.

I went to work late that night on the vise. I wanted to design something that compared to the look of the March Brown Spinners. I decided to make it a parachute for the floatability aspect. I struggled to find materials that matched the body. I finally noticed in my Spirit River dubbing dispenser that the PMD mixture matched the body of the March Browns really well. It does have a tint of green, but it had the yellowish with a dab of brown that closely matched. To add segmentation and more brown, I used dark brown thread and crisscrossed the thread wraps over the body. Many classic Michigan dry flies have crisscrossed thread so that was a no-brainer for me. The hackle I chose because I thought it gave the same look as the wings and the legs.

The big test came the next evening. My step-son was fishing with me and I gave him one too. We caught fish after fish with the new fly. This led to primarily using this fly the rest of the week. I even caught a couple smallmouth bass during the day on it when the hatch wasn’t on.

I would highly recommend this fly if you are fishing during a March Brown Spinner hatch and even if you’re not. It does an excellent job mimicking the hatch it was designed for, but it can also be used at other times.


Filed under FrankenFly, Trout flies

John Montana Bartlett – Hybrid Worm


John Montana is a carp junkie and he posts some killer photos on his blog Carp on the Fly. I gotta say, he’s inspiring me lately, especially with his latest at Lake Michigan. Wow! So I contacted John and asked him what carp fly is his “go to” pattern. Montana’s Hybrid Worm is John’s primary fly right now. Catch Fly Fishing is tying it commercially if you’re interested.  John mentions it’s an effective, but simple pattern and it’s popular with a lot of carp guys out there. With the experience that John has, I would say this one is definitely a good one to use when fly fishing for carp. Check it out!

Hook: size 8 Scorpion Gaper
Eyes: standard small dumbell or hourglass eyes
Tail: claret chenille
Body: peacock chenille
Hackle: yellow pheasant hackle
photo 1
photo 2
photo 3


Filed under Carp flies

Corey Thelen’s deer hair flies

I met Corey Thelen at this year’s Midwest Fly Fishing Expo. Corey is only 18 years old, but I was impressed by his deer hair flies. He has been tying flies for about 6 years and started tying deer hair flies about 3 years ago. He has been fly fishing for about five years and learned to tie at the 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp in Presque Isle on the shores of Lake Huron. Corey just graduated high school at Grosse Pointe South and is attending college for creative studies next fall. Here are four of his favorite flies. I’ll let Corey explain more about them.


The possum was the first critter I tied. I was experimenting with different materials for the ears and the feet. I used pine cone pieces for the ears and cardboard covered with electrical tape for the feet. For all the flies I found that balls of dubbing wax with black dubbing rolled into them make great eyes. The skunk was the next fly I made. I used wire to spin the tail on and switched to foam ears and feet.

The hummingbird was fun to make because I got to use a variety of feathers and new materials. For the wings and tail I layered green chicken feathers with different kinds of hackle, ring-neck pheasant, and peacock herl. The beak is made out of the center stem from an ostrich feather colored black.

The bat was the hardest to make because of the wings.  I tied the tips of the deer hair to hook and then used nail polish to glue them in a fan shape. You have to use your fingers to squeeze and smooth the wings until the nail polish hardens enough to hold the hair. It is a very messy fly the make, but after the wings are dry it is easy to trim them into whatever shape you want.  The deer hair needs to be very long in order to have the wings be sufficiently long after trimming.

Each fly takes between 3 and 5 hours depending on how complicated it is. I also tie deer hair mice and other streamers to sell at shows.













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Filed under Deer Hair, fly art

Mayfly Nymph – Kieron Jenkins

I thought this was a good looking mayfly nymph that is tied well by Kieron. Check it out, it should do well.

Hook: Kamasan b175 Size 12 (similar to Mustad 3906)
Thread: Brown70 UTC
Tail: Flexi Floss
Rib: Pheasant Tail
Blody: Tan Dubbing
Thorax Cover: Pheasant Tail
Cream Dubbing
Pheasant Tail

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Filed under Step by Step, Trout flies