Midge Madness – the Pyramid Buzzer

I’ve been playing with a new chironomid pattern for Pyramid. Truth be told you could probably catch a lot of fish at the ‘Mid with just a bead on a hook and some black or red thread covered in glue. Cutthroat aren’t exactly rocket scientists. Fortunately for you, In my ADD head, thread midges are really boring. Consequently I’ve been messing around with a new pattern and the fish seem to like it so far. I figured I’d share. It’s like a hybrid of the European loch buzzers and the holographic midges developed by Bill Ladner and Joe Winchester for use at Pyramid.

Slide a bead on a hook.(white, silver or nickel) Ive really been digging the nickel lately, but I ran out, so for this one I’m using white.  I usually use a Tiemco 2457 hook since the wire is nice and stout. Size 8 down to size 14 should be fine. I wouldn’t go much smaller or your hooks have a decent chance of bending out on a big fish. Even the 14 can be a bit sketchy if you try to horse in a fish at all.

Start the thread behind the bead. Choice of thread isn’t super important, I usually use black(or other matching color) 3/0 monocord since its quicker to build up bulk behind the bead, but 6/0 is good too.

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Catch in some small wire in 2 colors. I’m using hot orange and silver, but feel free to swap the orange for red, wine, black, etc. I usually keep the silver as a constant, but that’s not set in stone. Image

Keep winding toward the bend and catch in some black holographic tinsel. Sometimes I use some black holographic saltwater flashabou since its a little thicker and wraps faster. As long as you don’t use the super small stuff you should be fine. Image

Keep winding thread around the bend until you’re roughly around the same as the next shot. Next wrap the thread forward to the bead.

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Wrap a single layer of the tinsel towards the bead.

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Next wrap the wires together towards the bead. I usually make the wraps a little closer and gradually widen the wraps as I get closer to the bead. (I didn’t do it as much as normal on this example, but I think you’ll catch my drift)  Make sure to try to keep the wires together, sometimes it takes some fidgeting.

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Tie down the wire behind the bead. Cut or just break off the excess wire.

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Tie in some orange holographic tinsel. (If you’re wrapping with a red/silver wire combination, maybe try red tinsel). Tie in the tinsel so its angling slightly down on each side.

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Wrap the thread back and bulk up the thorax, so its a little longer then the bead, but not quite as thick. Image

Pull the tinsel forward to the bead, angling upwards diagonally.

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To make the front of the fly a little tougher, I pull the tinsel back, make a wrap or two and then whip finish.

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Cut the thread and snip off the excess tinsel with some fine pointed scissors so you don’t leave too much excess.

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Apply a couple coats of Sally Hansen’s hard as nails and you’re good to go.

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Finished fly.

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Now go catch some cutties! Good luck, Dan –

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Hackle Stacker step-by-step

My favorite mayfly pattern tends to vary on the conditions and the bug. Still, if I had one dry fly pattern to fish any of the common, medium to smaller mayfly hatches (PMD, BWO, callibaetis, mahogany, etc), it would probably be the hackle stacker. It’s such a versatile fly. It can imitate an emerger, a freshly hatched dun or a spinner depending on how it’s dressed.  It fishes well in the flats and the glides where most of the fish looking up are at, but it can also fish in riffley or broken surface water, where a lot of fish can be as well. This version is kind of my spin-off of Ned Longs version (the man many people attribute to creating this style of dressing). I wrap some of the floss behind the tails to prop them up a bit, a minor difference that’s not necessarily needed, I mostly just like the look. There is a much older style called a paraloop, that creates a similar effect to the hackle stacker, but is tied with a different procedure. The hackle stacker is a bit of a simplified version of the paraloop, and once you get used to the tying process, its a fairly quick fly to tie as well.

Materials – For this size 16 blue winged olive version, I’m using brown thread, yellow flexi-floss, light olive dry fly dubbing, dark coq de leon fibers and some dark dun hackle. Your favorite standard dry fly hooks should be fine. I like Tiemco 900BLs, 101s and 100s, but I’ll use almost any standard dry fly hook as long as the wire doesn’t suck. ImagePut the hook in the vise and start the thread a little behind the eye. Image

Next you’ll want your tailing fibers. I’m a big fan of coq de leon, but spade fibers from the side and bottom of a neck or Betts’ micro fibetts work fine too. Fine paint brush bristles are also a good supply for tails. For feather fibers, line them up at a right angle from the feather stem before you cut and your tips will be nice and aligned. Image

Compress with your thumb and index finger.

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Now you have aligned tips. Measure to length.

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Switch hands and pinch them onto the top of the hook at a slight downward angle. Image

Wrap a few turns of thread back towards the bend, and the fibers will spin onto the top of the hook. Image

hold the fibers in position so they don’t adjust, and now trim the excess. Then return your thread back forward to the starting point.

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Pinch some flexi-floss on the bottom of the hook, and pinch it with your fingernail so it doesn’t rotate onto the top of the hook like the tails did, but instead stays in place more on the lower part of the side when you tighten down the thread. Image

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Once you get a few wraps of thread in place, pull the floss low and tight, towards the tail. Wrap touching turns towards the bend, making sure the floss and tail fibers don’t move. If they adjust a little, just push them back in place with your finger. Image

Once you have the tail fibers and floss lashed down to a point just above where the hook barb would be, wrap the thread neatly forward to a point a little behind the eye.

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Next take one wrap of floss behind the tail fibres,

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Then put a wrap in front of them. This should prop them up a bit. You don’t want them going straight up, so I usually push them down hard with my thumb so they splay in a fan shape. Sometimes they can take a little primping, but they will usually give.

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Next, wrap the floss forward and catch near the front with a few turns of thread near the top of the hook.Image

Next pull the floss back, this will be what the hackle will be wrapped around. Tie back down to about the 1/3rd point on the hook shank.

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For hackle stackers I like hackles on the longish side, right about 2 hooks gaps in width. If you’re not sure, just measure it against the hook.

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You should have an area about one third of the hook shank near the front. That will be the thorax. Strip hackle off the bottom of your feather so you have bare stem, about two thoraxes in length.Image

Tie down the lower half of the stem onto the thorax. Now pinch the floss and feather together with your thumb and index finger. You’re going to start wrapping the thread upwards, around them both like a parachute. With the bobbin in your left hand, pass it around behind the feather and floss combination.

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Next, while youre still holding the hackle/floss with your thumb and index finger, catch the bobbin with your ring finger and pinky.

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Now hand off to your left hand and keep wrapping the thread up the hackle/floss. Once it is roughly the length of the thorax in height, start wrapping back down.

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Once you have a post of thread wrapped around the hackle and floss, its time to wrap the hackle down around it. If you were looking down on the fly from above, you’re going to be wrapping the hackle counter clockwise. I pull the floss up and tight, with my index and middle finger. I wrap the hackle in front with my left hand,

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and hand it off to my ring finger and thumb on my right hand.

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I reach around with my left hand, pass it off and repeat the procedure. Wrap down until you get to the hook.

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Once you get to the bottom, hold the hackle out to the right and stroke all the fibres back. Pinch and tie down the hackle.

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After around 3 good wraps to secure it, pull the hackle a little tighter with your right hand, then while you’re holding it tight, tighten down the thread with the left hand, then do a few more thread wraps for good measure, just passing the bobbin over while you hold the hackle.

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Trim the feather, and clean up any rampant fibers.

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Now pull out a very small amount of dubbing, just enough to tint the thread.

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Dub the thorax, in a tight, elongated oval.

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Pull the flexi floss forward and tie down with 3 wraps behind the hook eye.

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Then pull the floss tight, pull back and do 2 more wraps.

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Whip finish, cut off the excess floss and cement.

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Make sure to pull the floss a little tight when you trim. While you’re at it, trim any rampant hackle fibers and clean up the finished fly.

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Apply the head cement and let some seep into the hackle wraps a little.

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Apply a little glue along the abdomen. Don’t use too much, it adds weight and inhibits floatation. Still, the durability is usually worth at least a little.

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Finished fly – underneath from a trouts perspective

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Side view

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Above

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Let me know how they do for you,

cheers,

Dan

Trout in the Sagebrush

I snuck out with some old friends the other day, in an effort to shake hands with some critters. I heard some good dry fly action was happening, and it had been a good long while since I caught a fish topside. The sun was shining, teasing us with a springtime that was still a few months away from being reality. I was with the two Dave’s, both men in their late 50s who had been fly casting since adolescence. A couple dogs on the salty side, but as good a company as it gets.

We walked until we got to our temporary salvation. I watched the water, to find out who had come to play. I spotted a few fish, rising out in the open. They were making small, splashy rises. I walked around them, careful not to spook them, less they spook other bigger guys ‘n gals. But all in all, not giving them a lot of attention. Big fish don’t rise like that. After a while, I found who I was looking for. An aggressive boil, with a deeper resonance. He was tucked tight under a snarl of willow branches. I watched him rise a few more times, to get a feeling for his position and rhythm.  I made a few safe casts, just a bit short to avoid the bushes. He wouldn’t have it. He wasn’t going to move into the current to pick up a little mayfly, the bugs would have to come to him in the slower water. I looked at where I could get a cast far enough across, where it would still be out of the bushes. About 15 feet up there was a gap a couple feet wide, that went back almost to the bank. First cast made it in the gap perfectly, but the fast current seam pulled the fly out of its drift almost instantly. The fly pulled out, but far enough away from him that the poor drift didn’t seem to bother him. I tried again, and once again got it back in the slot. I mended the line up, big and hard, with a lot of slack to hopefully give it a chance to drift long enough and maybe have a chance to get that sneaky guy tucked in the bushes.

Drifting, drifting, drifting,  for eternity, drifting. Over where I saw him rise last, and past that, I was about to pull my little mayfly out to give it another shot and

SPLOOSH.

“oh crap he ate it. STRIP OUT THE SLACK IDIOT, FASTER FASTER. Got him!” I cursed at myself. Luckily the line was just about to start pulling tight from the ensuing drag, he almost hooked himself. Even luckier he took off down river instead of back into the snarl. I could feel him throb and pull down. “Good fish.” Pulling harder, “really good fish.” Luckily the rains from the day before left a tint and I was using a little heavier tippet then normal. I kept working him. He was stuck in the open, I knew I had him beat at this point unless something disastrous happened at the net.  Still, he kept surprising me with another surge, again and again. Bending my little five weight to the butt. Still, the last few runs took a lot out of him. I could guide his head now. I angled him back to me, before he got another wind, and slid him into the net. A brownie. A pretty male, with blue cheeks.  One of my favorite fishes. Attitude and beauty wrapped into a stout, predatory, yellow package.

We admired him, took a photo or two, then let him swim away. I felt refreshed, and relieved. I did what I came for. I walked up the bank and continued to scout, but I just wasn’t seeing the same kinds of rises that I wanted to see. I found a fast riffle up above and tried a nymph setup in the deeper water, somewhat reluctantly. I gave up probably too early, but again, I was satiated.

I headed back towards the starting point to see how the two Daves were doing. I stopped and just watched. I felt like Salieri watching Mozart. I could see genius, but I knew I couldn’t replicate it with the same grace. Almost fifty years of casting for fish teaches you a little grace it seems. I watched the boys hook a few more fish in the same water I fished earlier, although it looked like I got the big fish of the day. That felt good in this company. We left the water with some pretty images in our heads.

We all caught some nice, targetted fish on dry flies. Halford would be proud I guess, although Ive always been a bit more of a Skues/Sawyer man myself. Still, it was a mighty pleasant and productive day for late winter.

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