Category Archives: Michigan

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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Filed under Dry Fly, Michigan

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

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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Filed under Dry Fly, 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