Category Archives: Michigan

Game Warden

This fly was designed by Earl Madsen in the late 1950s in honor of his friend Clarence Roberts. Earl was a famous Michigan river boat builder and legendary fly tyer of the Au Sable River in Grayling, Michigan. He has designed many popular Michigan flies, including the Madsen Skunk.

This particular fly was tied by Jerry Regan, a fabulous Michigan fly tyer himself.

This dry fly can be used for the big Yellow May hatch (Ephemera varia) in July.
NOTE: I’ve had good luck with white flies even when there isn’t a hatch. So give this fly a try at other times too. As Jerry will tell you, there doesn’t have to be a hatch happening for some of these flies to work and work well. -Paul

Fish the fly dead drift, twitched or skated.

***As you will notice in the material list, the butts of the underwing, which is deer hair, are pulled up and used as a post.

Materials list:
Hook: Mustad #94831 Size: 10
Thread: Yellow, 3/0
Body: Yellow Poly Yarn
Rib: Maroon Embroidery Floss, DMC #815
Underwing: Deer Hair, tied down wing style
Post: The butts of the underwing pulled upright, trimmed short.
Overwing: Grizzly Hen Neck, tied down wing, delta style.
Hackle: Brown & Grizzly, mixed, tied parachute.

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Filed under Dry Fly, Michigan

Borchers Parachute – Tim Neal

Tim Neal has a series that he has started on YouTube titled, “Tying Michigan’s Best Trout Flies”. Tim shows you how to tie a Borchers Parachute in this fly tying video. There are many that prefer the Borchers over the Adams, including me. So be sure to check this one out!
-Paul

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Filed under Dry Fly, Michigan

Trout on the Swing!!! by Jeff Hubbard

These small Streamer patterns work well in the Spring in Michigan. These flies represent two very important baitfish patterns in the diet of our cold water fisheries in the Great Lakes Region. The Salmon Fry and the Smolt pattern. In the Spring thousands of wild King Salmon fry hatch in the Pere Marquette River. These small minnows become a huge staple in the Brown and Rainbow Trout’s diet until the insect hatches begin. These fry sit along the banks in huge numbers allowing Brown and Rainbow Trout to slam them in the shallows. Almost like witnessing a blitz in salt water where a big fish is attacking the bait. In the Spring the Smolt of these King Salmon and Steelhead of two years of age, start to school up to make their long migration back to Lake Michigan following the adult Steelhead after they spawn and head out to the Lake. These become a big piece of protein for a giant Brown and Rainbow Trout as they try to ambush them on there way out of the river system. Another major food source for our resident Trout is Sculpin’s. The Pere Marquette River and other Great Lakes tributary’s are full of these baitfish. You can find them hiding everywhere, especially rivers full of woody debris.

In the last two Springs I have been playing around with smaller weight size switch rods and short Airflo Scout heads. This system is a ton of fun to cast and hook fish on. Swinging not only for the resident Trout but for any Steelhead that might be left in the river later in the Spring. I find fishing these smaller flies, can be even more effective, then stripping giant Streamers off the bank at a much faster speed. Swinging these small flies is more of a match the hatch scenario and do to the fact your presenting them at a much slower speed with cold water temps on the swing, can trigger more strikes. You give that big trout a little more time to react to a fly in the cooler water and due to the smaller size and life like look they are willing to take it. These flies are all simple to tie with not a lot of steps or materials involved. Good luck and Tight Lines, Jeff Hubbard

Flies

Hubbard’s Flash Fry


Hubbard’s Flash Fry
Hook: Heavy Wire Long Shank Nymph Hook Size 6
Tail:  3 pieces of Pearl Fringe
Body: Peacock Ice Dub Wrapped towards eye of hook and use more as a shoulder.
Wing: Tie in a reverse piece of Olive Artic Fox or Craft Fur, fray out with fingers and pull over Ice Dub shoulder and Tie off. Then add three more pieces of the Pearl Fringe.
Collar: tie in a nice piece of Mallard Flank natural by the tip and palmer towards eye of hook.
Eyes:  Gold Bead Chain Eyes small or medium in size tied on top with Ice Dub , dubbed around them towards eye. 
Finish off eye with whip finish.

Hubbard’s Swinging Smolt


Hubbard’s Swinging Smolt

Hook:  Daiichi 1750 size 4
Tail: two soft grizzle hackles tied in Matuka style off the back of hook.
Body:  Green Caddis Ice Dub , dubbed towards front of hook putting more on towards front to form a shoulder.
Wing: Tie in reverse Artic Fox White. fray out with fingers and pull over  Ice Dub shoulder.  Two strands , one off each side of Lateral Scale Pearl (1760 is the number).
Collar:  Tie in natural Mallard Flank tip first palmer towards eye of hook.
Eyes: Medium Silver Bead Chain Eyes.
Head:  Clump on Senyo’s Laser Dub Silver Minnow Body to form head, trim and form with scissors’ around Bead Chain Eyes
Tie off and whip finish.

Hub’s PM Parr “little fry”


Hub’s PM Parr “little fry”

I developed this fly long ago for Nymphing , learned lately it swings well too.
Hook: Daiichi 1750 Size 6 or 4
Tail: White Grizzly Marabou
Body: Olive Ice Dub with Mallard flank palmer to front of hook
Wing: Grizzly Marabou pulled over top
Eyes: Med Red Eyes
Head: Shrimp or Orange Ice Dub

Mini Pugsley Sculpin


Mini Pugsley Sculpin

Hook: Daiichi 2461 Size 2
Body:  Peacock Ice Dub wrapped towards front of the hook then make a shoulder of dubbing.
Collar:   Tie on a sparse amount of the Rubber Bass Skirts this color is Green/Pumpkin Orange.
Collar: Tie in brown shlappen by tip palmer towards eye of hook.
Wing: a few strands of Red Flashabou tied in behind the Sculpin Head.
Head: the key part for any Sculpin pattern.  Tie in a clump of Rusty Brown Senyo Laser Dub and trim to give the Sculpin head your looking for.

These Fly Patterns are a Copy Right of Outfitters North Guide Service 2017

Can also be found at http://outfittersnorth.com

Jeff has been a full time professional Fly Fishing Guide in West Michigan now for 20 years.   He spends a majority of his guiding and fishing  time on his home river the Pere Marquette.  Jeff provides all his own flies on his guide trips, he ties a lot f patterns from Swing Flies for Steelhead to Hoppers in the summer.    Operates and owns Outfitters North Guide Service.  http://outfittersnorth.com  where you can find other great fly patterns for Trout, Salmon and Steelhead. His favorite method of fishing is Swinging Flies for Steelhead November through March.

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Filed under Michigan, Salmon, Steelhead, Streamers, Trout flies

Grayling, Michigan 2016

river-edit

Headed up to one of my favorite places on Earth last week, Grayling, Michigan. Staying in a cabin on the Holy Waters of the Au Sable River, I was able to fish daily. My oldest son, Brayden, joined me.

Paul

Paul

During the day I fished dry flies and caught many brookies. You catch smaller fish mostly during the day. The big ones come out at night. But the fishing is still challenging. You have to have a good dead drift presentation and the right fly. I was able to catch several the first couple of days on a Borchers Parachute. That quickly faded and they wouldn’t rise to it any longer. I tried many other dry flies, including an Adams, but the fish wanted nothing to do with it. So I tied on a fly I always have luck with, a Madsen Skunk. I caught trout the rest of the week just using this fly. Even if there were no visible risers, they would come up for this fly.

Paul with trout

Paul with trout

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Madsen Skunk tied by Paul Beel

Madsen Skunk tied by Paul Beel

Every night we went out late and tried mousing. This is a hunt for the big ones. Sometimes it pays off, other times it doesn’t. My son got lucky on the 4th night and landed a good sized brown trout. He acted like it was Christmas morning and was talking about that fish the rest of the trip. It was one heck of a trout!

Brayden with big brown

Brayden with big brown

A little side note about fishing at night. We were still seeing some Hex on the windows of the cabin and near the river.

Hex

Hex

For me, the highlight of the trip was fishing for smallies with Chris Lessway. Chris is the head guide for the North Branch Outing Club in Lovells, Miching, near Grayling on the North Branch of the Au Sable River. We floated in Chris’ Hyde Drift Boat and had a great day. Even though we had warmer, bass style weather earlier in the week, the day we went was much more like trout weather, cool, overcast, and misty. Regardless, as soon as we left the boat ramp I caught the first smallie of the day right off the bat. It was a good sign, but during the day we had periods where they would turn off and then turn back on while we searched for the right color and fly they wanted. But we had action and caught fish all day long. We were successful on a 4 inch streamer, an articulated streamer, and even some poppers got them to rise to the surface. Olive seemed to be the best color of the day.

Paul

Paul

Chris

Chris

Brayden

Brayden

I spent some time on the sticks so Chris had time to fish too. I was shaky at first, but by the end of the day I felt comfortable behind the oars and it felt good to add this skill to my repoitoire.

If you are looking for a guide up in Northern Michigan, I highly recommend Chris Lessway. He is a highly skilled angler who knows the waters in the area very well, plus he is a super nice guy. He can definitely put you on the fish!

I can’t wait to head up to Michigan again, I’m missing it already!

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Filed under Foam, FrankenFly, Hoppers, Michigan, Smallmouth, Trout flies

Duffing’s Night Caddis

Duffings Night Caddis

I wanted to post a fly from my old buddy, Tom Deschaine’s website MichiganDryFlies.net. Tom passed away about a year ago, but he did a lot of work trying to track down information and recipes from old Michigan dry fly patterns. He is one of the major sources I’ve used when tying some of the Michigan Classics I tie.

This particular fly is Duffing’s Night Caddis designed by Harry (Henry) Duffing of Baldwin, Michigan back in the 50s. It always struck me as a very beautiful pattern and could stand up with the rest of the patterns available in the 1950s. Tom recommended to Flexament the wings to make them more durable. The wings may also be tied upright and divided. The egg sack in the back could be tied in either gray or yellow.

All Tom found out about Mr. Duffing is that he owned a barber shop in Baldwin, Michigan and was an amateur tier who specialized in heavily hackled flies. I would say for an amateur tier, he sure designed a beauty here!

This fly was created to be fished at night for the Hexagenia hatch. It is recommended to use dry fly powder floatant or liquid floatant to keep old flies like this afloat.

Recipe is as follows:

Hook: Mustad #79580 Size: 6-8 4XL
Thread: Black or Brown, 6/0
Tail: Two Pheasant Tail Fibers, tied in a “vee”.
Body: Gray Wool Yarn
Rib: Gold Tinsel and Palmered Brown Hackle.
Wing: Gray Mallard Wing Segments, tied upright & divided.
Hackle: Brown

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Filed under Classic, Michigan

Deer Fly – Bob Smock

Deer Fly - tied by Bob Smock

Deer Fly – tied by Bob Smock

Materials list:
Hook: Mustad #94840 Size: 10, 12, 14, 16
Thread: Black, 6/0
Body: Peacock Herl
Wing: Grizzly Hen Hackle Tips, tied
down wing, delta style.
Hackle: Grizzly

Bob Smock (1927-2005) was an accomplished fly tyer from Grayling, Michigan. His mentor and fly tying teacher was Clarence Roberts. This fly was probably created by Bob between 1981 and 1986, when Bob owned the “Old Au Sable Sporting Goods” shop in Grayling, Michigan.   This fly was designed to imitate a deer fly.  It should be fished under cedar trees and under bridges, or any time deer flies are present. It could probably just as easily imitate a horse fly tied in larger sizes.

Bob designed another fly pattern that is much more popular named Smock’s Sulphur Dun.

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Filed under Classic, Michigan, Trout flies

Secret Rubber Bug – Rusty Gates

Secret Rubber Bug (SRB)

Secret Rubber Bug (SRB)

Tying for Gates Au Sable Lodge, I have made myself well aware of the history of a lot of the flies that Rusty Gates designed and created. This is kind of a tricky one to tie, but with practice, you can master it. I’ve taken some of this information from Tom Deschaine’s old dry fly site, but I’ve also added my own tips here and there.
-Paul

This fly was created by the late Rusty Gates back in the late 1980’s or early 90’s. Rusty’s favorite way to fish this pattern was in tandem. The trailing fly should be about 18” inches behind the 1st fly, and smaller in size then the lead fly.

Materials List:
Hook: Standard Dry Fly. Size: 12-16
Thread: Black, 6/0
Shellback: 2mm Black Fly Foam
Body: Peacock Herl
Wing: Grizzly Hen Tips, tied spent and
swept back.
Hackle: Grizzly

Tie the foam on to the shank of the hook leaving room for the wings and hackle. The foam should extend beyond the bend of the hook. Once the herl body is tied in place, I tie the wings in and pull the foam back over the body and tie it off to form the shellback. The wings are tricky. Take your time and make sure they are in place before tying down the foam to for the back. When tying the peacock herl body. Twist the herl around the thread (like you would dubbing). Wrapping the body in this way makes the body more durable.

This fly was designed to imitate a ‘deer fly’. It can be effective by fishing under cedar trees and under bridges. However, you can fish this when there isn’t any hatches as a general attractor pattern. Give it a go, it is a great floating fly and really buggy looking as you can see.

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Filed under Classic, Michigan

Bicolor Walker

Bicolor Walker - tied by Paul J. Beel

Bicolor Walker – tied by Paul J. Beel

The Brown Drake hatch is kicking off on the Au Sable River in Northern Michigan right now. Next to Hex, these are the largest mayflies seen in the area, so needless to say, anglers are excited and drooling at the sight of these bugs! To see a beautiful brown drake check out the photo below taken this week by North Branch Outing Club‘s guide Chris Lessway. It doesn’t get any better than that!

With Ralph Hanna really being a big influence on my Michigan dry fly tying, and with the brown drakes hatching, this is the perfect time to shine some light on Ralph’s most popular fly, the Bicolor Walker. This is a fly you can use if you are fishing the brown drake hatch. Be sure to read more about Mr. Hanna in a post I wrote a couple of years ago. You might be thinking about fishing a Borcher’s Drake, Roberts Yellow Drake, or a McClain’s Drake for this hatch and those are excellent choices. But maybe show the fish a little something different this time around and try a Bicolor Walker. I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Materials list:

Hook: Partridge H1A Size: 10-14 2XL
Thread: Black, 6/0
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers, tie in a ‘V’
Body: Reddish/Brown Yarn, tied with a tuft or loop at the end, that extends beyond the bend of the hook.
Body Wing: Brownish/Gray Deer Hair, tied trude, extended beyond the bend of the hook, tied sparse.
Throat Wing: White Hen Neck, tied spent
Hackle: Brown & Gray, mixed.
photo by Chris Lessway

photo by Chris Lessway

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Filed under Michigan, Trout flies

Caplis – Tom Deschaine

caplis_A

I used to chat with Tom quite often through email about classic Michigan dry flies. We both had a great interest in them and it was nice to talk to someone who shared that interest. It has been almost a year since Tom passed away and with spring coming, I miss chatting with him about flies. So I wanted to post one of his dry flies that is a consistent producer, called Caplis. I plan to tie some up for summer and I hope you do too. I know Tom would be smiling.

Materials list:
Hook: Mustad #94840 or #94833 Size: 8-18
Thread: Black, 6/0
Tail: Red Hackle Fibers, tied short
Body: Peacock Herl
Wing: Bleached Elk Hair, tied down, caddis style
Head: Trim off wing butts, tie caddis style
Hackle: Furnace

Designed as a caddis attractor pattern with multiple uses. It can be fished on lakes, rivers or streams, fast water or still waters. It’s highly visible and a great floater. In larger sizes it can be used for bass and in smaller sizes it can be use for pan fish. It’s deadly for brooks, browns and rainbows.

Designed in 2007 the fly has become very popular having appeared in Fly Tyer Magazine and Fly Fish America and on multiple web sites. The fly was designed by Tom Deschaine, a retired school teacher from Westland, Michigan.

A step-by-step of this pattern is posted here: http://www.mustad.no/action/flyofthemonth/archive/caplis/caplis.html

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Filed under Michigan, Trout flies

Gary’s Gremlin – Gary McClain

Gary's Gremlin

Gary’s Gremlin

I have just returned from the Great Lakes Council Fly Tying Expo, as I’m sure you are aware from my previous posts. More to come on that later. However, while I was there a friend of mine and the nephew of a legendary fly tyer and fly fisherman from Grayling, Michigan, paid me a visit. Gary McClain is the nephew of Jerry McClain who created McClain’s Drake, a classic Michigan dry fly that I’ve posted about before on FrankenFly. These days Gary works for Cabela’s.

Gary brought me some gifts. One was a piece of sweater that Jerry used when he first made the McClain’s Drake. So cool! The other was a fly that Gary himself had created and was showing and telling about it for the first time. For the body of this fly, Gary used the same Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky Walnut yarn that we now use for the McClain’s Drake. Brilliant!
NOTE: Why do I say “brilliant,” you might ask. Well, the McClain’s Drake using this type of body is definitely known to catch fish. Gate’s Au Sable Lodge just ordered some from me to keep in stock. A guy that stopped at my table at the show said he tied some up from when I posted about it before, went to Montana and it caught fish all day long. Jerry Regan, a well known fly tyer from Grayling also uses the pattern with great success. So Gary using this body type following in his Uncle’s footsteps, knew what he was doing.

This is an all purpose fly. Gary starts the season with size 16’s… gradually increases size to 8’s by late August and has even been known to tie in some rubber legs when it’s time for hopper season. Gary cautions to use 3X or heavier tippet because if you use smaller than that it may twist your line. But Gary expresses this to be a real fish catcher!

Material List:

Hook: 3XL dry fly
Tail & Back Wing: medium brown calf tail
Body: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky Walnut yarn
Hackle: 5 or 6 turns of grizzly and Coachman brown rooster hackle

I want to thank Gary for letting me post this here on FrankenFly. This is one of these patterns that some fishermen will keep hush hush and not tell anyone about. If he wanted to keep it a secret, I would have absolutely honored that. But he was fine with me posting it. I plan to tie some up myself!

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Filed under Michigan, Trout flies