Because every once in a while we like to share a photo of a humpy on hump day.. Mostly for the play on words, but also because we think they just look really cool.
We might operate a remote tent-lodge in Bush, Alaska, but as far as we’re concerned, we still eat pretty darn good.
Deneki guest, Maybank Hagood, gives us a taste with a photo of the menu board for a mid-week meal at Alaska West.
Not bad, not bad at all.
More on Alaska West
When fishing for fish destined to be released, we think that pinching down your barb is pretty cool. Fish are fragile, and removing hooks with barbs causes more damage than removing hooks without barbs.. It’s that simple.
In fact, at Alaska West we do our best to instill a 100 percent barbless policy, encouraging all of our guests to de-barb every fly before it hits the water. Why? Because not only is it easier to take barbless hooks out of fish, they’re also easier to take out of people too.. Yes, it happens. But, nobody’s perfect!
It’s easy to forget to smash down the barb when switching flies in the heat of the moment, or perhaps you left the pliers in the boat. We’re all human. That said, struggling to dig out a barbed hook from a fragile fish because you forgot to pinch it down is a bummer.. And we’ve all been there.
That’s why we suggest pinching down all your barbs beforehand! If you tie your own flies, make smashing down the final step after removing it from the vise. Don’t have a pair of pliers handy? Simply insert the hook point into the jaws of the vice, clamp down gently, and voila! Barbless. If you don’t tie your own flies, consider taking the time to smash down the barbs on your flies before hitting the water, like while watching TV. It might not seem like a big deal, but you’ll appreciate the time spent reaching for your pliers on every fly change. It’s one more instant your fly could be in the water, you know, catching fish.
We’re not here to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong, or whether barbed hooks catch more, or less, fish. All we’re saying is that if you’re like us and like to pinch your barbs, try doing it before you hit the water. We think you, and the fish, will appreciate it.
More Relevant Tips
Its been said that flies catch fisherman, not fish. Odds are most fish don’t notice that the head of the fly is a little on the bulky side, or that your wraps are not as even as they could be.
That said, well tied, tidy looking flies invoke confidence, and having confidence in the fly you’re fishing can make all the difference. Plus, tying flies is fun, and if we were only interested in what will catch fish, let’s face it, we probably wouldn’t fish with a fly rod.
So, if you’ve ever wondered why your flies don’t turn out quite as neat as others, or perhaps as tidy as the commercial version, keep reading, because today we present you with..
5 Tips for Tying Neater Flies
- Use Fewer Thread Wraps. One of the most common mistakes made from beginners is too many thread wraps used to anchor materials. Excess thread wraps create bulk. In most cases, a good 3-5 thread wraps are enough to secure most natural materials. Experiment with the least number of thread wraps required to hold your materials in order to reduce excess bulk, resulting in a slimmer/tidier overall fly.
- Fold Back Materials. When working with slippery or stubborn materials, sometimes the best method for securing is to hold the material in place with a couple quick wraps, and fold the material back before securing in place with a few more wraps. Folding back materials is a great way to lock in slippery materials with less bulky thread wraps, as well as double the overall appearance of your material with less waste. Its a win win.
- Tie In Materials to a Stopping Point. A common mistake made by many tyers when catching in a material is locking in a the material with a few wraps of thread, trimming the excess, and then wrapping over with a bunch more thread wraps to conceal the trimmed ends. Doing this results in an ugly bump somewhere along the body. Whether tying in a tail, or attaching trailer wire for a stinger loop, when catching in materials aim to cover the material with thread wraps extending to a stopping point before trimming – the eye of the hook, lead eyes (see photo above), or where another material will be added. This way, the trimmed end of the material can be concealed with other materials, and the underlying materials will be consistent, resulting in a nice uniform body.
- Use Flat Thread. One of our favorite fly tying threads for many situations is Ultra Thread (UTC). Why? Because it’s flat! Flat thread is versatile in that it can be spun to create a round profile like a rope when catching slippery materials, but can also be unwound with a quick spin of the bobbin to lay flat for less bulk. Flatter thread wraps work wonders when smoothing out bodies or creating clean looking heads.
- Think Before You Trim. When aiming to tie sharp, tidy looking flies, the angle of which you trim your materials can make a huge difference. Trimming materials at an angle can result in a more tapered base in which to cover with thread, while trimming materials square (at a 9o degree angle) will leave less distance to be covered along the shank. Weigh the options for the pattern you’re tying before making your cut.
More Fly Tying Tips
Over the past year or so we’ve heard quite a bit of hype surrounding Tacky Fly Boxes from Tacky Fly Fishing, and we’d be willing to bet some of you have too. Well, we hopped on the bandwaggon, picked one up, and today we thought we’d tell you about our first impression.
What’s the Difference?
There’s no foam! Foam has been used as a backdrop for fly boxes for a long darn time, and while newer ‘slotted’ foam has undoubtedly extended the life of most foam backed fly boxes, the fact remains that over time foam breaks down.
Instead, Tacky’s new fly boxes use a slotted insert made out of a sticky (ahem, or tacky) silicone material. The result? A more durable fly mat material that holds flies super tight!
We really liked the idea when we first caught wind of it, however since we don’t spend much time fishing with smaller ‘traditional’ trout flies at our lodges it wasn’t until we heard about Tacky’s ‘Big Bug Box’ for larger flies that we hopped on board.. And we’re sure glad we did.
Why We Like It
Aside from the unique silicone insert, one thing we like most about Tacky’s fly boxes are their slim profile. It seems like we’re always trying to consolidate our gear into a smaller pack, especially when stomping around on the flats. Nobody wants to wade around with a big bulky pack if they don’t have to, and more often than not, its fly boxes that take up the most ’empty’ space. Therefore, when we heard Tacky had a box designed for flies up to 2/0 in size that was only 1.125 inches wide, we thought that had bonefishing written all over it.
Also, one thing we’re hopeful about Tacky’s silicone insert is that it will take far less time to dry out than the foam boxes of the past. Wet flies have a tendency to saturate foam, taking a long time to dry out, often leading to rusty flies. However, made entirely out of silicone, we have a feeling flies will be able to dry far quicker, which is a really good thing.
Lastly, the box features a strong magnetic closure, without any sort of latch or snap to break or weaken over time which we really dig. At first, we’ll admit we were a bit skeptical of the magnet’s strength to keep the box closed, but after thrashing it around in hand we weren’t ever able to open the box with gravity alone, and thus have little doubt above the manget’s strength to keep it close. Plus, it just feels good when it snaps shut.
We think there’s a future in fly box design for Tacky’s silicone system. It appears incredibly durable when compared to foam and holds flies surprisingly tight. It’s also super easy to slide flies into which is not always the case with slotted foam boxes. We think the Big Bug Box makes an ideal box for anyone looking to target bonefish for permit, but will surely accomodate those looking to throw big gnarlies elsewhere as well.
The Tacky Big Bug Box retails for $31.95 and can be found at your local Tacky dealing fly shop. For more information about the Big Bug Box, or other Tacky products, check out their website by clicking right here.
More Fly Storage Solutions
While winter may have officially just begun, this time of year our minds can’t help but wander towards one of our favorite times of the year.. King season. That’s mid-late June through mid July in our neck of the woods, and unfortunately, that’s a long time away. That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news. We’re less than 6 months away from the typical first appearance of our king salmon run at Alaska West. That means we’re over halfway through the drought of our last pull from the almighty.
Congratulations everyone, we’re half way there. Let the countdown begin!
Curious what the hype is all about? Drop us a line for more information!
More on King Salmon
Last week week we shared with you a killer spey casting video from the folks at Headhunters Fly Shop featuring Mike McCune on the finer points of the downstream perry poke cast – particularly when casting short two handers for trout. If you missed it, not to worry, you can watch it by clicking right here.
Well, they’re at it again, and today we share with you another great video on managing running line while spey fishing – something we’ve written a whole lot about, and yet, still picked up some new tips. We think you might too.
Note: If you’re viewing this in a newsletter or a reader, click here to see the video on Vimeo.