Monthly Archives: July 2013

Rite Bobbin review


Bill Merg, a German born and educated Manufacturing Engineer and master fly tyer conceived the Rite Bobbin in 1965. After spending several years perfecting the design, Bill with his wife Eva, began Merco Products in Sunnyvale, California in 1993.
Lyle Graff, a retired airline pilot, first met Bill Merg when he had an issue with one of his bobbins. In 2006 the Mergs retired, selling and assisting Lyle, the new owner of Merco Products. They have not altered the original concept created by Mr. Merg.

If you are a fly tyer, it doesn’t take long to notice Rite Bobbins. You might see the one arm design or the four leaf gold dial in other tyer’s hands or hanging from their vise. When people ask for a bobbin recommendation, a Rite is commonly suggested.

The main advantage Rite has over other bobbins is the adjustable tension that allows thread control. This is a spring drag system controlled by a dial on one side of the thread spool.

All Rite Bobbins are manufactured in the United States. Merco manufactures five models including Standard, Shorty, MAG, Cermag and Half Hitch MAG. The Standard and the Shorty are identical except the Shorty is well…shorter. The Shorty is made for smaller flies and smaller hands, but you may even want to use one if you happen to like shorter bobbins. Both are ceramic bobbins created with the strongest ceramic available. Rite uses zirconia to make their ceramic tubes for their bobbins. I’m sure you have heard of zirconia, it’s what they make fake diamonds from. The type you would rather buy for that special someone, because it’s much cheaper, but the ladies would despise you for it! Anyway, it happens to be the material that makes ceramic extremely strong. You can use wire bobbin threaders in these particular ceramic tubes without worry.

The Cermag has a longer reach with an extended ceramic insert. It has a high pressure click drag system and heavy duty thread tension. If you’re looking for a ceramic bobbin to spin deer hair for example, this one is recommended.

If you need a stronger bobbin, you can go with the next model, which is the MAG Bobbin. Originally designed for saltwater fly tying, the tube is made of stainless steel. The thread tube is also larger in diameter and is a good choice to use with yarn.

Besides the four basic models, Rite has added their latest creation. I have fallen in love with this bobbin. It’s the Half Hitch MAG Bobbin. This essentially is the MAG Bobbin with a couple of other features that puts the icing on the cake. It has the strong stainless steel tube like the MAG, but the barrel is tapered to allow thread to slide off the barrel to help you tie half hitch and whip finish knots. After the legendary Joe Humphries visited Lyle and showed him the technique of using the barrel of a bobbin to tie these two knots, the design of the tapered barrel came to life. In the following video, Lyle demonstrates this technique.

Another feature of the Half Hitch MAG are the colored o-rings. These rubber rings act as a thread keeper when the bobbin is not in use. They act as a functional grip for the tyer as well. I have used both of these features myself. One other thing about the o-rings are the colors. If you have multiple bobbins you can use the colors to easily tell them apart.

I have used the Half Hitch MAG and the Standard and really like both models. I like them so much that I will not be going back to using my other bobbins. As I already stated, the Half Hitch MAG is definitely my favorite. The other thing I like about Rite Bobbins is the diameter of the barrel. I can usually thread the bobbin without using a threader. You can place the thread enough inside the barrel to suck it up through to thread the bobbin. This works especially well with the stainless steel tube. I didn’t think the tension control would be a big advantage, but I enjoy using it and found that it’s a huge advantage since I don’t have to worry about how tight a two-armed bobbin holds onto the thread spool.

The only downside to Rite Bobbins I found was the cost. The price is higher than other bobbins, but after using them for myself, I believe they are well worth the extra price. They provide added features and Merco guarantees them for life. Here’s what owner Lyle Graff says about the pricing of his bobbins.

“The bobbin is the fly tyer’s most important tool and in hand far more than any other tool.  That is where a great tool will become a pure joy and pay for itself many times. Our goal is that they become heirlooms for the tyer’s grandchildren, cheap at $22.00-$32.00 bucks.”

To follow-up my review, I think you will find this video from Tightline Productions helpful. By viewing it, you can get a better view of some of the items I was explaining. I hope you enjoyed the review and thank you for reading FrankenFly!


Filed under Product Review

Schultzy’s Fate Fish



Mike Schultz of Schultz Outfitters tied his summer time off colored water baitfish pattern he calls Schultzy’s Fate Fish. His detailed instructions follow.

Rear Hook: Daiichi 2546 Size 4 or 2
Front Hook: Daiichi 2546 Size 1 or 1/0
Eyes: Small Pseudo Eyes, Real Eyes or iBallz, I hate lead… It BREAKS!
Connection: 30- 45lb American Fishing Wire or Rio Bite Wire DON’T use the CHEAP Stuff.
Beads: Small Round, The ones we stock at SO.
Tail 1: Small clump of Buck Tail to prevent fouling as well as adding to the life of the fly if the feathers break off.
Tail 2: 4 Saddle Hackles, Multiple colors are always nice.
Rear Body: 2 Wrapped marabou feathers, preferably shorter than the ones used on the front to give the fly a tapered look. White first then color of choice.
Rear Flash: Flashabou, Mirror Krinkle Flash or New Age Holo Flash from ORVIS
Connection Cover: Flash
Front Body: 1 White Wrapped Marabou Feather, followed by a large piece of Schlappen wrapped for bulk.
Optional Rattle: Tie in on top at this point and glue, Glass or plastic 3MM.
Front Body continued: Wrapped Marabou followed by another wrapped Marabou in a contrasting color.
Front Flash: Tied in around the Marabou
Throat: Red Ice Dub (NOTE: NOT IN FLY PICTURE)
Head: Long magnum rabbit trimmed off leather and spun in a dubbing loop. Figure 8 around the eyes.

TIPS: Fish on a Rio Outbound Short Floating Intermediate with a 4-5ft hand made leader. I use 25lb 18″ to 20lb 18″ to 16lb or 12lb 18″ SIMPLE.

Tie sparse! Don’t over do the Marabou and disrupt the “Swim” of the fly.

Fish down and across, cast into slack water and swim the fly sweeping it through the seam then out into the current. A Strip Pause retrieve is best this time of year.

DON’T go too HEAVY with the weight, If large eyes are used the fly won’t “Swim”. It will JIG which will catch fish but IMO not as many.

Proven color combos…
ALL White “Ghost Minnow” with red throat & plenty of FLASH
Chartreuse & White
Gray & White
Olive & White
Black & White
Use different hues throughout the fly to create multiple “targets” for predator fish. Multi colored flies will out fish solid colored patterns.

Good luck!

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Filed under Largemouth, Smallmouth, Streamers

Articulated Fish-Spine – first flies

So fly tyers are starting to get their hands on the new Flymen Fishing Articulated Fish-Spine. Here are some of the first flies coming out of tyer’s vises.


Marcelo Morales tied this rainbow trout.


John Collins tied this striped version using a sculpin helmet.


John Collins then went with the Fish Skull. He’s calling this one the “Read End” Rabbit since it has a hook riding in the tail.


Philippe Rossolin tied this baby peacock bass using Enrico Puglisi products and Congo Hair.


This one came from Casters Fly Shop. You can see the segmentation.


Casey Ryan put this one together. He used CCT body fur to create the body and yellow streamer hackle for the tail to imitate the yellow tail of the threadfin shad.


Mark DeFrank used Hareline Ice Dub & Glo Bug Yarn to create this look. This would make an excellent goby imitation.


Mike Schmidt tied this little guy as soon as he got his hands on the new spines.


Dougie Loughridge tied this big pike fly and it didn’t scare this brave little pike!

It will be interesting to see what will be created with these new Fish-Spines in the future. There are a lot of possibilities with this new product and tyers are just now starting to tap into them. There should be some stunning new flies coming within the next year!


Filed under Streamers


If I was limited to fishing with one fly, it would be the Brooks Blonde, most likely the all white version known as the Platinum Blonde. Why? Because it’s simple, quick to tie, effective in just about every fishing environ and because it just plain works. I have used this fly up and down the east coast, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic for stripers, blues, albies, jacks, snook, ‘cuda, smallies, largemouth and pickerel.

Originally tied by fishing legend Joe Brooks for striped bass in Chesapeake Bay back in the 1940’s, the Brooks Blonde has been used in nearly every saltwater and freshwater fishery and has been responsible for over two dozen world record catches. The Blonde is actually a series of flies, the most well known being the aforementioned Platinum Blonde, the Argentine Blonde (light blue over white), the Honey Blonde (all yellow) and the Irish Blonde (chartreuse or green over white). The beauty of this pattern is that it can be tied quickly on any color combination to match the prevalent bait and can easily be cut down and thinned on the water if necessary. The first Blondes were tied before flash materials were available. The addition of flashy body material and wing flash give an already productive fly a little more punch.

In my opinion the Brooks Blonde is the “chassis” upon which many different patterns have been built upon over the years. For this reason, when I teach tying classes, the Blonde is the first pattern we cover. From this fly it is a natural progression to the Clouser, Juvie, Deceiver, Mushmouth…the list is endless. With the addition of just a few steps and materials, the Blonde can be altered to provide you with 4 baitfish profiles that will cover most scenarios. For the fly tier just starting out, all that is really needed to generate these four patterns (and they will all catch fish consistently) is a RUSH CD, a white bucktail and a package of Flashabou.

Turn on the CD, I recommend “Permanent Waves”. Here we go:
(Check out Mike’s Mud Dog Saltwater Flies website)




Hook #1 to 4/0
Thread Danville’s Fine Monofilament
Tail White Bucktail
Body Pearl Saltwater Flashabou
Wing Bucktail, color of choice
Flash Krystal Flash or Flashabou
Head Black thread, head cement or epoxy


  1. Wrap hook shank with mono, tie in a clump of white bucktail on top of hook shank. Wrap from hook eye back to just above hook point pushing down on bucktail to roll it around the shank.
  2. Run a thin bead of glue/head cement over the wraps, tie in a strand of pearl Flashabou and palmar wrap from the back end to the hook eye. I like the Flashabou in lieu of bodi-braid or similar because it’s more cost effective per fly and it will take on the colors of the wing material.
  3. Fold in a couple of strands of Krystal Flash at the hook eye.
  4. Tie in a clump of your choice of color bucktail for the wing. Create a head about a 1/8” in back of the hook eye.
  5. Cover with black thread and cement or epoxy.


From this, add a few different steps and start building your arsenal.



This pattern is truly born from the Blonde and bridges the gap to the next pattern.


Hook: Favorite 1/0 or 2/0 standard shank
Thread: Danville’s Fine Monofilament
Tail: White Bucktail
Body: Pearl Saltwater Flashabou or Bill’s Bodi-braid
Wing: Olive Bucktail
Topping: Peacock Herl
Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash
Throat: Red Krystal Flash
Eyes: 3/16 molded holographic, black pupil on silver


  1. Cover the hook shank with thread, Tie in a clump of white bucktail on top of the hook shank. Wrap the bucktail with thread back to just above the hook point.
  2. Tie in a strand of Saltwater Flashabou or bodi-braid at the end of the bucktail wraps, coat the bucktail wraps with head cement and palmar wrap the Flashabou forward to the hook eye. Fold in two strands of pearly Krystal Flash at the hook eye.
  3. Tie in a clump of olive bucktail (or your color choice for the wing).
  4. Turn the fly over and tie in a few strands of red Krystal Flash at the throat.
  5. Turn the fly back over and tied in a few strands of peacock herl on top of the wing. Wrap back softly about and 1/8” in back of the hook eye and then tie off
  6. Attach eyes with Goop and let set up.
  7. Epoxy the head or cement it.



This can be as fully dressed as you want and as long as you want depending on the length of the bucktail that you have on hand.


Hook: Favorite standard shank
Thread: Danville’s Fine Monofilament
Tail: White Bucktail
Wing: Choice of color of Bucktail
Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash
Throat: Red Krystal Flash
Eyes: molded holographic, black pupil on silver


  1. Wrap hook shank with mono, tie in a clump of white bucktail on top of hook shank beginning just forward of the hook point. Make sure to glue/cement the wraps.
  2. Fold in a couple strands of Krystal Flash (pearl) and the glue/cement the wraps.
  3. 1/3 the distance between your last wraps and the hook eye, tie in a clump of colored bucktail on top of the shank to begin the wing followed by a clump of white below (invert the vice) for the belly.
  4. Repeat Step 2.
  5. Repeat Step 3 half the distance from your last wraps to the hook eye.
  6. Repeat Step 5 right behind the hook eye.
  7. Turn the fly over and tie in a few strands of red Krystal Flash at the throat. (If you want to dress the fly up a little, add a few strands of peacock herl or Black Holographic Flashabou to the top for a back, or to keep it simple just tie it off now, cement the head and go fishing.)
  8. Attach eyes with Goop and let set up.
  9. Epoxy the head or cement it.



Everything eats a Clouser and every fly box should have at least one chartreuse/white Clouser in it.


Hook: Favorite standard shank
Thread: Danville’s Fine Monofilament
Tail: White Bucktail
Body: Pearl Flashabou
Wing: Choice of color of Bucktail
Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash
Eyes: Hourglass eyes (they will self-center as opposed to dumbbell eyes.)


  1. Tie on hourglass eyes on top of the hook shank with figure 8 wraps, leaving about a ¼” bare shank between them and the hook eye. Remember the weight of the hourglass eyes inverts the fly in the water so that it swims hook point up.
  2. Wrap the shank with thread behind the eyes to just above the hook point then wrap back up to the hook eye. Add a drop of glue/cement on the wraps holding the eyes on.
  3. Tie in a clump of white bucktail at the hook eye, bring the clump of bucktail over the eyes so it lies down in the notch between the sides of the eyes and then pinch on to the hook shank and wrap the clump onto the top of the shank back to the hook point.
  4. Tie in a strand of Pearl Saltwater Flashabou over the hook point and then coat these wraps with glue/head cement. Palmar wrap the Flashabou forward to the eyes and figure 8 wrap the eyes with it. Make a couple wraps with it forward to the hook eye, wrap a few times with the mono and clip the tag end of the Flashabou.
  5. Fold in a couple strands of Krystal Flash.
  6. Invert the fly in the vice and tie in a clump of your choice of colored Bucktail as the wing (this will be the top of the fly when it’s in the water). Finish the head off with several wraps and tie off.
  7. Head cement/epoxy the head.


From one fly you now have four “quick-tie” patterns that will cover a broad range of bait profiles, different levels of the water column and all phases of the season.


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Filed under Saltwater

The Founding Flies book now available!

Master Catskill fly tyer Mike Valla has just released his new book, The Founding Flies. Mike grew up near the Catskills and was friends with Walt and Winnie Dette. He grew up learning from the masters themselves. In this book Mike covers 43 American Masters.


I just purchased Mike’s previous book, Tying Catskill-Style Dry Flies and I love it! I’ve been pouring over it. He covers a lot of history, patterns, and if you want to learn how to tie Catskill-Style dry flies, it is a must. So I have no doubt his new book will be just as good.

Mike Valla will be signing books at Dette Trout Flies fly shop in Roscoe, NY on August 10th. Go to the Dette Trout Flies website to see more details.


•    Color photos of the flies plus recipes for nearly 300 flies—a majority original patterns tied by the masters themselves.
•    The flies were developed on waters across America from California to Wyoming to Wisconsin and from Maine to Michigan to Pennsylvania to West Virginia.

 There’s Mary Orvis Marbury, and Thad Norris and Theo. Gordon along with the “Catskill” school of fly tiers. Len Halladay and Art Winnie and Dave Whitlock. Fulsher and Oatman are there, too. There’s Chauncy Lively, Marinaro, Leisenring and Hidy. John Alden Knight and Joe Messinger, Sr. C. Jim Pray and Polly Rosborough and Don Gapen and Franz Pott and George Grant. Buszek and all the others—40 chapters
Mike Valla, author of Tying Catskill-Style Dry Flies (978-1-934753-01-9), has published articles in Fly Fisherman, The American Fly Fisher, and a variety of other journals. He’s written extensively for Eastern Fly Fishing magazine and is the Northeast Field Editor. He lives in Ballston Spa, New York.


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Filed under Classic, Trout flies

Dave’s Hopper

Daves Hopper

This is a classic hopper designed by Mr. Dave Whitlock. This one was tied by Charlie Craven. Since it’s the middle of summer, I was thinking hoppers and couldn’t think of a better hopper pattern to post than this little darling. This is good to use whenever the grass hoppers are out. Give it a try!

Head over to Charlie’s Fly Box to see a step-by-step of how to tie Dave’s Hopper.

Materials List:

Hook: TMC 5262 #4-12
Thread: GSP 50, Brown
Tail: Red Deer Belly Hair
Hackle: Brown Rooster neck
Body: Yellow Poly Yarn
Wing: Mottled turkey quill, vinyl coated
Legs: Knotted Ringneck Pheasant Tail fibers
Head and Collar: Natural Deer Body Hair, spun and trimmed to shape


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Filed under Hoppers

Griz’s “Big & Ugly/HD” Hellgrammite


Hook: Streamer Hook size 4 or 2, bent up like a swimming nymph hook
Weight: .30 or as heavy as you want to get it (see below)
Pinchers & Tail: Turkey Biots (Black, Brown, or Olive)
Rib: Blue, Purple, or Black 26 gauge wire
Body: Thick Black, Olive, or Brown Chenille
Legs: Coq De Lon Feather – palmered
Shell: Black or Brown Thin Soft Leather. Trimmed with a curve at the bend, and hook gap width
To Finish: I coat the leather with Sally Hanson’s Hard as Nails Clear

Tying Tips:

  • The weight can be wrapped around the hook, placed on either sides or put on one side to create the Drunken Sailor effect.
  • The shell is cut in half then retied back on as a normal Hellgrammite split shell.

My passion is chasing Smallmouth with the Fly Rod on the Huron River, Shiawassee River, and Grand River, that is how and why this fly was created. I watched spin casters using live Hellgrammites for Smallmouth and I wanted a fly of my own that represented the nymph of this Dobson Fly.

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Filed under Smallmouth

Martinez Black Nymph

Tied by Paul J. Beel

Tied by Paul J. Beel

The Martinez Black Nymph was designed by Don Martinez back in the 1940s. It was without a doubt the dominate nymph of the era. Mr. Martinez ran a fly shop in the West Yellowstone area. Pat Barnes worked for Don Martinez after he graduated from college and according to Pat, Don upgraded his skills considerably. Pat had this to say about the Martinez Black Nymph.

“Fishing and fly tying became my hobbies throughout my school days, including college. Like others of that time and place, I primarily tied and fished with standard wet fly patterns: Grey Hackles, Black Gnats, Royal Coachmen, or various streamers.
But after watching a fisherman catch twelve fish in quick succession on a Martinez Nymph, I became a nymph tier. The Martinez Nymph, named after an accomplished fly tier, friend, and West Yellowstone tackle dealer of the late 1930s, is still one of my favorite nymphs.”

The Martinez Black Nymph inspired Pat to design his own effective nymph pattern. You can find out more about that in a previous post here on FrankenFly.

Hook: Mustad 3906B size 12 (between 8-14 will work)
Thread: Veevus black 16/0
Tail: Spirit River Guinea – natural
Rib: copper wire
Thorax: black chenille
Wingcase: Spirit River Swiss Straw – insect green
Body: black dubbing – original was black seal fur
Hackle: Nature’s Spirit Partridge – natural

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Filed under nymphs, Pat Barnes, Trout flies

Breadcrust – Doug McKnight


The Breadcrust is a old Pennsylvania wet fly that I was introduced to many years ago, when I was getting started  in tying and fishing.  This fly was the first emerger that I ever had any luck with, which was groundbreaking to me at the time after countless situations where I could not fool rising fish with dries.  The original Breadcrust is pretty much a soft hackle emerger that I have seen tied a few ways and color schemes.  The one thing that these variations have in common is that they use a trimmed Ruffed Grouse Tail feather as a ribbed body, along with a dubbed body or floss underneath.  That sounds simple enough, but that quill is so stiff and thick, one has to split it down the middle with a razor blade.  I don’t know how many quills I destroyed in getting the hang of this!  However, despite it being a pain to tie, this soft hackle emerger crushes fish eating emerging caddis and mayflies, and I always find the time to stock my boxes with a full range of sizes and color schemes of the “Crust”.  Tied properly, it is also an exceedingly durable fly, as that stiff, shiny quill is like armor.

Besides using a Ruffed Grouse tail feather, you can also use any shiny quill that you want for this pattern that has the color that you want.  It does not even need to be a tail feather either, wing quills and large coverts will work fine too.

A third option for this fly is one that uses a large, thick stemmed Rooster neck hackle.  It does not have the beautiful and durable, thick, shiny ribbed body like one with a split quill.  However, it sure is a lot easier to tie and most tyers have a few capes lying around.  It is a nice alternative if you don’t have Ruffed Grouse Tail Quills, or don’t feel like splitting quills.  One of the great things about this fly is your ability to change colors and cover any flavor of emerger.

Here is a good video that I did with the weekly fly that covers how to tie one and split that quill the right way.  Don’t feel bad if you destroy some quills, Henry had to do some heavy duty editing after I did it on camera!  Also take extra care not to cut yourself when using razor blades:

Here are photos and recipes for three of my favorite “Crusts”:

Original Breadcrust:

Hook: Sproat Bend wet fly hook
Thread: UTC 140
Body:  Orange floss, Ruffed Grouse(Brown phase)
Hackle: Grizzly Hen Hackle

Hare’s Ear Breadcrust:

Hook: Sproat Bend wet fly hook
Thread: UTC 140
Body:Hare’s Ear Dubbing, Ruffed Grouse(Brown phase)
Hackle: Hungarian Partridge

EZ Breadcrust (Mother’s Day Caddis)

Hook: Sproat Bend wet fly hook
Thread: UTC 140
Body:  Peacock Herl, Whiting Farms Coq de Leon Neck Hackle
(feel free to sub any flavor of rooster hackle you have on hand)
Hackle: Hungarian Partridge

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Filed under Trout flies

El Tigere tutorial by Ian Bohon

List of Materials Needed

Dai-Riki #700 size 2 or any 4x long streamer hook
UTC 140 Thread Burnt Orange
¼ Dumbell eyes
¼ Clear Cure Eyes Peacock
Clear Cure Goo Hydro / curing light
Orvis New Age Holo Flash Amber Stone
White Marabou
Hareline UV Ice Dub Orange
Hareline Magnum Rabbit Strip Barred Orange over White
White Rubber Legs
White Schlappen
EP 1” Tarantula Fiber Brush Tequila Sunrise

Take your new buddy for a swim and rip a few lips. Until next time kiddies if the ladies don’t find you handsome at least they can find you handy, lol keep your stick on the ice! Honey, I’ll be home after I help Frank jump start the Taco Wagon….

This was my first tutorial so any advice or criticism will gladly be taken with a smile. I hope you all enjoy this pattern and may it fish for you just as well… Tight lines everyone!

Ian Bohon
Big Daddy Bone

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Filed under Step by Step, Streamers