Category Archives: Dry Fly

Griffith’s Gnat step-by-step by Son Tao

Size 20 Griffith Gnats


The Griffith’s Gnat was George Griffiths favorite fly. George was one of the founders of Trout Unlimited which had its origins in Northern Michigan. He made this fly famous and it is definitely a real fish catcher.

Son Tao ties a terrific looking Griffith’s Gnat. He recently did a step-by-step of how he ties his Griffith’s Gnats, so here it is.

Son says:
“I use Semperfli 18/0 30 Denier thread for flies size 16 and smaller. It’s very small diameter thread that lays flat and is GSP. So it’s about as strong or stronger than 140 denier thread. I just color it before the whip finish. Difficulty is 1/10.”

Materials list:
Hook: Tiemco 100 or any standard dry fly hook in sizes 14-24. This tie is a size 20.
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: Whiting Grizzly

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Grayling, Michigan 2017 – FrankenFly


Well, another trip up to Grayling in Northern Michigan is in the books. This trip will definitely be one to remember because I couldn’t have asked for better fishing. Although, there was a really big one that got away, but I’ll explain that in a bit.

We stayed at a nice place right on the Au Sable River, which supplied nice wade fishing. I went out right away and caught a handful of brookies. The largest being about 9 inches long. Which is not too bad in this stream. What was great about this stretch, was that my son was enticed enough to ask me to take him fly fishing for the first time. He had used a Zebco type setup in the past, when he was around 7, but hasn’t fished in a couple of years. He is now 12. To my surprise, he came out and asked me to teach him how to fly fish. So I tied on a bright foam Chernobyl dry fly and taught him how to dry fly fish. He was moving down the stream and casting really well. We were able to land him a little brookie and he loved it! This was a fabulous part of the trip and another experience that made this trip memorable.

One day, I met up with Brian Kozminski of True North Trout, for an evening float. Brian’s truck was in the shop because of a collision with a deer, so one of Brian’s other guides, Randy Monchilov, brought his Adipose drift boat for us to use. All three of us went out and had a nice evening of fishing, catching many brookies and browns. I have to say, the Adipose boat is a dream to float in. It has great stability and I like the low side walls. One other item to mention, is that Brian had the Temple Fork Outfitters Axiom II fly rod with him, so I was able to cast this and get the feel for the rod. I loved it! I like the backbone this rod has. If you are familiar with TFO rods, it was like a BVK but with more backbone.
Brian and Randy are nice guys and know their stuff. If you are looking for a guide up in Northern Michigan or you want to use some TFO fly rods or float in an Adipose boat, contact True North Trout. They will no doubt get you into some fish!

In between fishing, I made some other stops into some fly shops, like Gates Au Sable Lodge & Fly Shop, Ron’s Fly Shop, and even drove over to Traverse City and visited The Northern Angler.

I went out on a couple of other special fly fishing excursions, with my good friend, Chris Lessway. First, we spent an entire day and evening fishing for smallmouth bass. We floated in Chris’s older, but still quite capable, Hyde drift boat. I shared time on the sticks, so Chris could fish as well. I want to thank Chris for putting up with my rowing. Even though I’m getting better in this area, I am still learning to keep the boat in the fishing zone. It takes time.

We were catching fish right off the bat using my Thunder Mutt streamer. As we fished throughout the day, we learned that the smallies were a little finicky on that day. They were always hitting on the pause. It helped that we were able to see them most of the time. So I would pause it for even longer and wait until they hit, to try and set the hook. We switched up and went through many flies, trying to find a fly they might like better. But in the end, it was the Thunder Mutt which I had in a Chartreuse/Olive and a white streamer that worked the best.

However, things changed when the evening came. Since the sun was going down, we decided to start throwing poppers. Besides morning, this is the best time to do this. We were also on a different stretch of river. The pause didn’t change in this regard either. I was getting most of my fish by doing a pop, a twitch, and then letting it sit. Then BAM!

So this brings me to the fish I mentioned in the beginning. I did a pop, twitch, and then let it sit. I saw this smallie coming up from the side and munch down on the popper. I set the hook and it felt like a nice fish, but I didn’t realize how nice. Then it started pulling line out and then it took its first jump and Chris and I at the same time, said, “Holy Crap!” This thing was a monster. I have never seen a smallie this big. It proceded to take 4 more jumps and I continued to fight it and give it line when needed. After the 5th jump, it pulled a bit and the line came loose. The thing you never want to happen, happened. The biggest smallie I had ever seen, broke the line and was gone. It was gut wrenching. Chris and I talked about that fish the rest of the week and I stil think about it. What a fish…

Then Chris said, “We will get another one.” So we continued on downstream and I continued to throw a Rainy’s popper that I had tied. Chris was right, we did get another good one. Granted, it was not near as big as the one we lost, but it was a really nice fish! This time, I was able to land it after a great fight.

Chris netted it for me and it was in the boat. This is the smallie that is pictured. I was extremely happy to get that fish. Needless to say, it was a fantastic day of smallie fishing.

The final time I went out with Chris, was a quick morning float, we did early one morning. This time we were after some trout. It was an overcast morning with slight sprinkles of rain at first, but that tapered off to be just a cloudy morning. We tried some streamers at first, but with no luck, we switched back to dry flies. Terrestrials seemed to be what was on the menu, so I stuck with that, catching some brookies and a nice little brown trout. As we made out way downstream, I kept casting to various spots, and then it happened. My personal best, brown trout, sipped in my dry fly and doubled my 7 weight rod over. Of course, after losing that monster smallmouth, Chris and I were on the edge of our seats, as I tried working this brown trout to the boat. Chris was calling out logs that the fish was trying to run under and I would guide it away from. Finally, I worked him to the side of the boat while Chris had the net ready and I was able to guide him in. The largest brown I had ever hooked, was landed!


Chris Lessway guides for the North Branch Outing Club, located in a small area called Lovells, right outside Grayling, Michigan. The NBOC provides lodging, a guide service, and a fly shop right on the Au Sable River. Chris is the head guide there. So, if you are looking for a terrific guide, give Chris a call at the North Branch Outing Club.

So this ended an awesome trip up to Northern Michigan. I want to apologize for not having the time to meet up with Jeff Marsh of High on the Fly and Michael Williams of Green Bus Designs. I had to cancel, but will definitely meet up with these two the next time for some fly fishing action!

Thank you for reading FrankenFly!

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Filed under Dry Fly, Fly Fishing, Foam, FrankenFly, Michigan, Poppers, Smallmouth, Streamers, Trout flies

Chernobyl ant with easy new parachute technique

Ruben Martin shows how to tie his Chernobyl ant with a new and easy parachute techniques for foam flies.

Materials list:
Hook: AHREX NS156 – TRADITIONAL SHRIMP
Back: tan and Brown foam 2 mm
Body: senyo fusión dubbing rainbow
Hackle: whiting golden badger rooster saddle
Legs: Barred sili legs
Parachutes: whiting golden badger rooster saddle
Thread: Uni 8/0

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Cinnamon & Olive CDC/Elk Hair Caddis – Davie McPhail

Materials list:

Hook: Fulling Mill Ultimate Dry Fly size 16
Thread: Uni-8/0 Tan
Body: Olive CDC Feather or Dubbing
Wing: Light and Dark Cinnamon CDC and Elk Hair
Thorax: Light and Dark Cinnamon CDC Fibres
Horns: Bronze Mallard Fibres

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Patriot – tied by Michael McAuliffe

Charles Meck was the originator of this dry fly pattern and sat down and taught Michael McAuliffe how to tie it the correct way. Here is what Michael had to say about how to tie this great attractor dry fly.

“Tied a few PATRIOT dry flies this morning while I drank my coffee. This is tied the way Charlie Meck taught me. Nice big bright wings so you can see it after you cast it under bushes and a full 13 wraps of Hackle so it can suspend a good size WEIGHTED dropper. I always see these tied in the manner of Catskill Dry when it’s intended to be closer to a Wulff. Buggy and Messy and Garish and Fishy and still my favorite attractor.”

Material list:
Hook: Partridge H1A 1X-long nymph hook (12-16)
Thread: Red Uni 6/0
Tail: Brown hackle (I substituted Whiting CDL Cape Badger Dyed Burnt Orange)
Body: Smolt Blue Krystal Flash wound around the shank; wind some of the red thread in the middle of the shank, similar to the Royal Coachman
Wings: White calf body hair.
Hackle: Brown dry-fly hackle.

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Regan’s Hex Spinner

The Hex hatch is happening right now up north in Michigan.
Tim Neal shows us how to tie Jerry Regan’s Hex Spinner. This pattern has been popularized by well known Michigan tyer Jerry Regan. It’s a classic that has been responsible for many large browns.

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The Fly Tying of Son Tao

I recently started to notice some beautifully tied flies posted by Son Tao. After seeing a friend from Indianapolis post that he was fishing with Tao, I was surprised to learn he was here in Indiana. I contacted him and below you can read a little about him. He has also been touched by Project Healing Waters, which is a fantastic organization that help vets. In a very short time, you can see by the photos, that Son has skills! Check out his work below!

From Son Tao:
“I’m 44 years old and currently live in Indianapolis, Indiana. I grew up in Pennsylvania but have bounced around for the past 16 years since I am active duty Army. My current rank is Master Sergeant.

I’ve been tying for 14 months now. I was first introduced to tying by a Korean War vet as a way to deal with post traumatic stress. I’ve been deployed 5 times and have seen some unimaginable horrors around the world. After dealing with numerous surgeries and the horrors of war, I was in a dark place. Fly tying provided me with an avenue to escape those memories. It relaxes my mind and focuses my attention in a positive way.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoy tying classic patterns. I’m a history nerd and find the story behind Flies as interesting as fly fishing itself. So when I got started, I naturally was drawn to Catskill style dry flies.”

Stimulator with Elk wing

Fan Wing Ginger Quill

Lady Benson

Foam Back Humpy

Size 20 Griffith Gnats

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Filed under Catskill, Classic, Dry Fly, nymphs, Trout flies

The Green Drake – Bob Jacklin

Bob Jacklin ties The Green Drake and he is always full of information. So listen to Bob and watch one of the masters.

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Flies Around the Net – May 2017

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Filed under Deer Hair, Dry Fly, Foam, Hoppers, Intruders, nymphs, Poppers, Saltwater, Streamers

Deer Hair Cicada – Daniel Seaman

Materials list:
River Road Creations – Beavertail Foam Cutter Large
6mm Crosslink Foam
10/0 Veevus Thread – Hot Orange

Daiichi 3111 size 1/0
UTC 140 – Any color
Super Glue
Parapost – Hot Orange
Mallard Flank – Natural
Veevus 200D Gel Spun Thread
Deer Belly Hair
Double Edge Razor Blade

Optional:
Cautery Tool
UV Resin
Marker

Daniel mentions that the body of this fly is from Fly Fish Food’s Project Cicada. So here is the link to all of the information about that pattern: Project Cicada from Fly Fish Food.

Finished cicada tied by Daniel Seaman.

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Filed under Dry Fly