Monthly Archives: July 2014

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine – Summer 2014

Summer 2014 cover

Montana Fly Fishing Magazine announces their latest issue: Summer 2014. This volume contains 90 pages of colorful photos and videos, personal stories, helpful advice, fly-tying techniques, homegrown videos and poetry.

In this issue:

“Sunup to Sundown” photography by Toby Swank
“How to Get a Kid Hooked on Fly Fishing” by Robert Prince
“Chuck’s Fly Tying Bench” by Chuck Stranahan
“Salmon Bugs” by Western Fly Media
“The 20/20 Club” by Charles Cantella
“YouthFish” by Joe Cummings
“Chasing Summer” photography by Pat Clayton
“Hotspotting on the Yellowstone” by Greg Lewis
“Brown Trout in Bear Trap” by Jesse Bussard, illustrated by Ben Whitehead


Filed under Uncategorized

Chernobyl Ant – Philip Rowley


Like the sign said last week at Gates Au Sable Lodge, “Tis noble to fish a Chernobyl.” It’s that time of year where fishing an ant pattern is a great way to go. Even better, a big, bright, gaudy ant pattern like the Chernobyl. Philip Rowley was nice enough to contribute this step-by-step of the Chernobyl Ant to FrankenFly. Phil is an expert in still water fly fishing. Check out his website Fly Craft Angling with Philip Rowley and also his Still Water Fly Fishing Store ran by him and Brian Chan. I would recommend looking at the book section of their store especially if you are doing some stillwater fly fishing. Ok, I’ll let Phil take it from here.


Hook: Mustad R74-9672 #6-#10
Thread: Black 3/0
Under-body: Orange 3MM or 2MM Sheet Foam
Over-body: Black 3MM or 2MM Sheet Foam
Legs: Barred Round Rubber Legs-Hot Orange or White Rubber Hackle
Indicator Posts: Orange 2MM Foam

Tying Notes: This version’s colour scheme is suggestive of the large Pternonarcys stoneflies or salmon flies. Vary the leg, under-body and over-body colors to suggest golden stones and grasshoppers. Gaudy attractor colors also work well.

Cruising through the dry fly bins in most fly shops reveals some bizarre looking patterns, Amy’s Ant, the Club Sandwich and the Fat Albert to name a few. Large, unique and unorthodox, these patterns share two common denominators. They float like corks and utilize large quantities of foam. In recent years foam bodied dry flies have exploded in popularity. This explosion can be traced back to one particular fly designed for the Green River in Utah, the Chernobyl Ant.

As its name would suggest the Chernobyl Ant resembles a huge mutant ant that trout can’t resist. Simple to construct, the Chernobyl’s long gangly rubber legs and dual layer contrasting foam body screams to be crushed and drowned as it bounces and bobs downstream. From my research the Chernobyl Ant was originally a black bodied fly known in some circles as the Black Mamba. Most versions now feature two colors of foam. Black and orange to suggest large salmon-flies, brown and yellow for golden stones and yellow and tan for hoppers.

Depending upon pattern size and river conditions two hook gape wide slices of 3MM or 2MM closed cell sheet foam is a Chernobyl standard. A straight edge and utility knife provides the most consistent results for cutting the foam strips. Specialized foam cutters can also be used to create size specific foam bodies. I use 3MM foam for #6 and larger Chernobyls, 2MM foam for #8 or smaller. If you are in doubt use thicker foam as it can be thinned by carefully stretching and stroking the foam strip.

Securing foam requires firm thread pressure. Use strong tying thread such as 3/0 to avoid accidental breakage. Cover the shank with thread creating a sound base so the foam doesn’t roll around the shank. Apply thread pressure using a tight, tighter, tightest philosophy so the wraps constrict around the foam strip locking it in place. Pinching and narrowing the foam at the tie in point also helps. Add 6-8 additional wraps at the tie in points. Buoyancy will not be affected. A collection of wide thread wraps at the front and rear tie in areas of the body also helps splay the legs.

There are a number of ways to tie a Chernobyl. I begin by tying in the under-body foam just back from the hook eye. Once the initial tie in is complete wind the thread backwards to the bend using open wraps to segment the body. Secure the over-body, rear set of legs and indicator post at the rear of the hook. Lift the over-body and rear legs out of the way and wind the thread forward to the under-body’s initial tie in point travelling through and further securing the initial body segments. Looking from below the under-body foam should completely envelope the hook shank. To complete the fly secure the over-body, front legs and indicator post in place just behind the hook eye.

Chernobyl Ants ride low and can be difficult to track. Most versions include small foam indicator posts tied in at the front and rear tie down points on the fly. I use thin 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide slivers of 2MM foam for my indicator posts. High visibility indicator posts can be the same color or alternate colors such as hot orange and yellow providing two sighting points. Either color may be more visible depending upon light and water conditions.

The original pattern featured black or white round rubber hackle legs. Mottled or barred legs are now common. I use these legs most often. Mottling your own legs is easy. Place a light colored length of rubber hackle in the jaws of the vise. Pull and twist the leg tight until it wants to double back or furl onto itself. Take a permanent marker and make one single pass down the extended length of the twisted leg material and you have one barred leg. Do not make multiple passes as the leg will not mottle properly.
Rubber hackle stretches when pulled. Take this into account when trimming. If you trim stretched rubber hackle the net result will be short stubby lifeless legs. Gather and support the legs but do not stretch when trimming. Keep your Chernobyl legs about body length as lanky legs are important. Long legs jiggle and bounce providing superior action.

Although a straight forward pattern to tie it pays to use disciplined approach. Incorporating production techniques to prepare and tie in the foam and legs improves your speed, pattern quality and consistency. Once you get rolling it doesn’t take long to produce a succulent handful of Chernobyl Ants.

Tying instructions:

1) Cover the hook shank with tying thread creating a solid thread base. Leave the bobbin hanging two hook eye lengths back from the hook eye. Depending upon your hook size, trim a hook gape wide section of 3MM or 2MM sheet foam for the under-body. Foam thickness depends upon hook size. Use 3MM sheet foam for larger #6 and #4 Chernobyl Ants, 2MM for small versions. Secure the foam strip in place just behind the hook eye ensuring the end of the strip protrudes approximately ½ the shank length in front of the hook. Pinch the foam at the tie in point and use constrictive thread wraps to secure; tight, tighter, tightest.

2) Secure the under-body foam down the shank using open wraps to create a segmented appearance. Place 6-8 firm thread wraps at each segment. Leave the tying thread hanging roughly half way between the point and rear of the flattened barb. Trim the foam strip at the rear of the fly so it is 1/2 the shank length.

3) Lay the foam over-body on top of the under-body and secure in place at the rear of the hook using the same pinch and constrictive thread wrap process used to secure the under-body. Place additional thread wraps at the initial tie in point to further secure the over-body. The over-body foam strip should be the same width and length as the under-body. Secure a pair of legs on each side of the fly at the rear of the hook. Keep the legs long. They will be trimmed to length later. Cut a thin strip of 2MM sheet foam for the indicator post and bind in place at the rear of the hook, so there are equal amounts of foam on either side of the tie in point. Trim the indicator post so it is roughly 1/8” high. Lift the over-body up out of the way and wind the thread forward over the under-body through each of the body segments. Place additional thread wraps at each segment to further secure the under-body. Leave the bobbin hanging at the initial under-body tie in point. The foam under-body should envelope the hook shank.

4) Lay the over-body flat on top of the under-body and secure in place just behind the hook eye where the under-body was initially tied in. Bind in two pairs of legs along each side of the body and a 2MM foam indicator post in the same manner as the rear legs and indicator post.

5) Build a neat head at the hook eye under the foam protruding in front of the hook. Whip finish and remove the tying thread. Bevel cut each corner of the finished foam body to form a rounded appearance. Trim the legs so each pair is roughly the same length as the finished body. Apply gel super glue to the head, thread wraps along the under-body and between the extended portions of the under and over-body. Carefully pinch the extended portions of the under and over-body to fuse them together. Remove any excess glue with a dubbing needle and use it to secure the indicator posts.

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Filed under Step by Step, Trout flies

Rydare Mouse Fly

Since I just posted that cool video on rainbow trout going after mouse patterns, I thought I better follow it up with a mouse pattern video. This one is fairly straight forward and easy to tie. Give it a whirl, if you want to do some mousing of your own!
This one is tied by Ryan Soillers.


Filed under Largemouth, Muskie, Smallmouth, Step by Step, Trout flies

Rainbow Trout eating mice patterns in Colorado

We were just talking about throwing mouse patterns up in Michigan. I thought this was a cool video. Enjoy!


Filed under Trout flies

Michigan trip – part 2

I was lucky to be able to spend a few hours on this trip with two great guides in northern Michigan. It was really what made the trip worth while. Keep in mind, this trip wasn’t a fishing trip, but a vacation with my family where I was able to steal a few hours here and there to go fishing.

First, I went on a morning float on the Jordan River with Brian Kozminski of True North Trout. My first thought was how much I liked the boat we were using. Koz has an Adipose from Montana. The low sides made for easy access to the water and the stability while moving all around the boat was excellent.



This time of year is a good time to throw ant style dry flies, like the Amy’s Ant and Chernobyl. The fish had a thing for the Amy’s Ant on this particular day. It made me a believer in the pattern, because I had never used it before.


While on a more open stretch of river, Koz had a rod loaded with the new Sharkwave line by Scientific Angler, so he let me try it out. I liked the way it casted. I thought it felt smooth running through the guides and I felt I could shoot line easier.

Another product that Koz had in the boat was Frogs Fanny floatant. This is a powder based floatant and water would just bead up on this stuff. It was awesome! Check this video out to see what I mean.

After the float, Koz showed me a stretch of wadeable water. It was a beautiful section and I caught a couple more brown trout before calling it a day.

Later in the week I met up with Alex Cerveniak of Northern Michigan Fly Fishing. I had my step-son with me this time and he is a novice fly fisherman, so I was just hoping Alex could put us on some fish, any fish. He did just that. To our delight, when we arrived at the river, fish were rising. Alex was great with my step-son. Since it was a narrow river, we needed to do a lot of roll casting, so Alex showed him how and he was catching fish soon after.


One of the exciting things for me was the chance to catch my first brook trout. I’ve caught many brown and rainbow trout, but have never caught a brookie. I was surprised to learn the main species in the stream Alex chose was none other than brook trout! I was anxious and a little shakey because I wanted to land one so badly. I missed several rises and bites because of this. (either that or I just suck, LOL) It wasn’t until I switched to one of Alex’s flies called the Otsego Ant that I finally caught my first brookie and it felt amazing. We fished into the darkness, taking turns and catching several more brookies.


Alex showed me a casting technique that I had never seen before. It is called the bow and arrow cast. It can be used in very tight quarters which makes it handy to learn. Plus, it’s just plain cool! Check out this video to see how it’s done.

I had a blast with both guides and would fish with either one again any day. Next time, I want to spend much more time fishing, so I plan to make it an official fishing trip!


Filed under Michigan, Trout flies

Michigan trip

I know it has been slow here on FrankenFly the last week, but if you read my last update, you know I have been in Michigan. I thought I would write a few different posts highlighting the trip. To kick it off, a visit to Mayfield Pond.

Mayfield Pond

Mayfield Pond

This year my cabin was only 10 minutes away from Mayfield Pond where the most famous fly in the country, the Adams, was born. I didn’t have time to tie an Adams, but Leonard Halladay actually tested all of his flies at the pond. I had a Halladay Hair Stone that I had tied up, so I put that on my line and gave it a float. The pond is in a very peaceful park which made it enjoyable to fish and relax. The pond was created by the damming of Swainston Creek, a tributary of the Boardman River.  I did switch to a small streamer and worked some of the water. No bites, but it was a pleasure and an honor to fish this historic pond.

A sign explaining the functionality of Mayfield Pond.

A sign explaining the functionality of Mayfield Pond.

The Halladay Hair Stone that I mentioned above was said to be Len’s favorite fly. It is a general pattern that can be used to imitate a variety of insects. Mr. Halladay added the red tail because he said he wanted it to not only attract fish, but fishermen themselves. The one below is tied by me (Paul J. Beel).

Halladay Hair Stone

Halladay Hair Stone


Hook: Mustad Dry Fly Size: 8-12
Thread: Black, 6/0
Tail: Pig Bristles, 2 or 3, dyed red
Wings: Deer Hair, tied spent
Body: Gray Yarn
Rib: Yellow Monocord, 3/0
Hackle: Brown & Grizzly mixed, 2 brown an one grizzly.


Filed under Classic, Trout flies

Brian and Flip Carp Fishing- Part 3

Flip Pallot and Brian Flechsig chasing carp during the famous Mulberry season in Ohio.
See Part 1 here.
See Part 2 here.

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Filed under Carp flies

Tabou Caddis Emerger

Detailed instructions for tying a Tabou Caddis Emerger by Tightline Productions.

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Filed under Trout flies

Flymen Fishing Company Launches 2015 Product Portfolio

Flymen Fishing Company has launched some new products at the International Fly Tackle Dealer show. I have already posted about their Fly Tester, so I do not link to it in this article. Just scroll down FrankenFly to read more about the Tester. See below to read about the other new products from them.

2014 International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) show, Orlando FL, USA, July 16, 2014. Flymen Fishing Company announced the expansion of the Nymph-Head® and Fish-Skull® brands with the launch of several new, innovative products.

  • Nymph-Head® Evolution Beadhead
  • Nymph-Head® Evolution Fly Range
  • Fish-Skull® Fly Tester
  • Fish-Skull® Articulated Fish-Spine (individual sizes)

These new Flymen Fishing Company products are now available for dealer pre-order and will start shipping by the end of July, 2014.



Nymph-Head® Evolution Beadhead

Nymph-Head® Evolution™is a family of tungsten fly-tying beads molded in the natural shape, size and colors of the heads of the three most common aquatic insects that trout feed upon and which fly fishermen attempt to imitate, namely mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies.

The four Nymph-Head® Evolution family members consist of:

  • The Evolution Mayfly Swimmer & Burrower beadhead
  • The Evolution Mayfly Clinger & Crawler beadhead
  • The Evolution Stonefly beadhead
  • The Evolution Caddis beadhead

Moving beyond the traditional round bead…the Nymph-Head® Evolution™ beadhead allows fly tiers to tie nymphs that not only sink quickly, but have a more anatomically correct profile and head-size relative to the insect’s body.

Key Features:

  • Tungsten for fast sinking flies
  • More Realistic Fly Profile (mayfly, stonefly, caddis)
  • Natural Fly Colors (brown, black, olive)
  • Up to five sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL)
  • Premium quality retail packaging with MSRP $7.45

Product information:


Fish-Skull® Articulated Fish Spine™

Released in 2013, the Fish-Skull® Articulated Fish-Spine™ is an innovative system of interconnected, articulated shanks that combine to form a multi-jointed, “fish spine” upon which incredibly animate and realistic baitfish patterns can be tied. In addition to the original Starter Pack, we NOW expand this product to offer all four shank sizes individually packaged which enables fly tiers to purchase the specific sizes of shank they need.

Key Features:

  • Sizes 10mm, 15mm, 20mm & 25mm.
  • Tapered, daisy-chain effect creates life-like action.
  • Stainless steel for saltwater flies.
  • Individual shank size packs (24 shanks) MSRP 7.95.
  • Starter pack (6-8 spines/ 24 shanks) MSRP $9.50

Product information:


Nymph-Head® Evolution™ Fly Collection:

The first in a series of next generation nymphs tied with the new Evolution™ tungsten beadheads. Anatomically shaped tungsten heads combined with natural colors make these flies irresistible. MSRP $4.95 per 3-fly box.

NH Evolution™ Fly Collection Product information:



“We are really excited about launching our new line of products today! Both the Fly Tester™ and Evolution™ Beadhead demonstrate our company’s single-minded focus on designing and introducing innovative, ‘next generation’ fly tying materials and flies,” said Martin Bawden, CEO of Flymen Fishing Company.

“Under the theme of ‘Design Better Flies,’ the Fish-Skull® Fly Tester™ is the first readily available, out-of-box solution for fly testing and demonstration. The ability to ‘Test’ fills the critical gap that exists between tying a new fly that looks great in your vise and then going fishing with the hope it works!”

Bawden also commented: “The Nymph-Head® Evolution tungsten beadhead represents the natural progression (evolution) of the traditional round fly tying bead. The combined benefits of having a more realistic insect profile, natural fly colors and fast-sinking tungsten now enables fly fishermen to create a whole new generation of better beadhead nymphs.

“Building on the success of the Articulated Fish Spine™ launched a year ago, we are responding to customer demand to offer the different sizes of shanks in individual retail packs. This allows fly fishermen to purchase the specific sizes they need for their Game Changer style flies instead of having to buy the full Starter Pack each time.”

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Filed under New Product

a Tight Loop – Summer 2014

The new issue of a Tight Loop is out! Check it out!


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Filed under New Product