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Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create
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2006/9/11 8:26
From Chester County
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Today, with the all the online sources, fly tying is a whole lot easier than it was back-in-the-day.

When I first started tying flies as a kid, way back, I actually went to library (a building full of books) and borrowed fly tying books (those paper things bound together). Many of these books had plates, which are detailed pictures of flies with the recipes (hook and material list) for tying each fly. I would write down the recipes and info about the fly on an index card, and make a line drawing of each fly before returning the book to the library. I used the cards as my guide to tying all types of fly patterns. Later I was given or bought some fly tying books that I also used as guides for tying.

Today, as many other more experienced fly tyers, I'm more of a freelance tyer. I will use a picture of the actual insect or prey item I plan to imitate, a pic taken at the stream is best, but you can also use pics from books or online. "Troutnut" has some really great pics of insects on their site. I'll note the size, shape and color of the insect and try to tie a fly to match it.

There's a lot to consider when trying to come up with a winning fly pattern. The more you know about the behavior of the insect and how it hatches, the better. Does it ride low in the surface for a distance before hatching?...would an emerger work best?..a parachute pattern? Or does it skitter on the surface and best be imitated by a high riding pattern? You get the idea.

Many fly tyers that have been tying for quite some time have a unbelievable amount of fly tying materials on hand, and are able to look at an insect or prey item and choose the best materials to match it. Sometimes it works out the first time, but other times it takes a a few tries to get things just right.

I generally don't tie too many of my newest pattern creations. I fish them for a while to test them out, if they work well, they earn a permanent place in my box.

It's fun to create your own pattern, but I suggest when first learning to tie flies, it is often best to use the actual fly as a template or have a detail pic of the fly, and use the recipe of materials to tie it. There are thousands of videos on youtube or vimeo as well as other sources to show you technique used step-by-step. Note how the materials are tied and the proportions of the fly. Try to replicate it as close as possible.

The more types and numbers of flies you tie, the easier it becomes. At some point you may just have to look at the fly once and have a good idea on how it was tied and with what materials. With videos, you can learn to tie the fly step-by-step, or just fast forward through to see the techniques used.

One final thing. Following the recipe is usually best but most times it's not really necessary to go out and buy all the exact materials and follow the recipe and hook recommendation 100%...near enough is usually good enough when tying flies. Try out your new patterns and decide for yourself which flies work best.

Have fun.

Posted on: 1/8 11:52

Edited by afishinado on 2018/1/8 12:13:10


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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I'm more of the replicate school. I'm interested in flies that have a proven track record.

It's pretty much impossible to judge how effective your own creation is. If you go out and catch a bunch of fish when you try it out, you have no way of knowing whether it was the fly, or whether you were fishing in circumstances where anything you tied on would have worked. Similarly, if you fail to catch, if may not be the fault of the fly at all; for example, you could have created the perfect sulfur imitation, but tried it out in November. (Obviously, if you'd been trying to imitate a sulfur, you wouldn't have tried it out in November, but you see what I mean. Maybe a better example would be if you created a wonderful dry, where fishing nymphs would have yielded better results.)

OTOH, patterns that have been around for decades --and are still around -- have been field tested by thousands of anglers and proven to work, at least under the circumstances that suit them best.

About 15 years ago, I undertook an experiment whereby I fished only flies that had been around since before 1950. To my surprise, I caught approximately twice as many trout that year as in any of the previous ten years.

After that, with few exceptions, I've stuck with patterns that are at least 50 years old.

I'm not afraid to tweak a pattern, however, especially if it makes tying more convenient. For example, this year I discovered that you can use large partridge feathers, too large for soft hackles*, as wings on Catskill style dry flies instead wood duck. These are feathers that I might have thrown away otherwise, making them a heck of a lot cheaper than actual wood duck.

(* yes, you can use the larger feathers on soft hackles by using any of several techniques, but it's still extra work to do so.)

Posted on: 1/8 13:46
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Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create
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Designing new patterns that replicate specific bugs and prey species is definitely more my style.

About the only traditional pattern that I regularly use in it's original design is the Clouser Minnow.

Posted on: 1/8 15:18


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2013/3/14 7:13
From Norwich, CT
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what rdietz said

i prefer to replicate using established tying recipes that do not require the purchace of exotic materials

oh i'll try something new now and then but i still go back to traditional flies

i'm not into those humongous streamers using 27 layers of ep fibers or similar materials that take half an hour to tie

Posted on: 1/9 7:27
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Norm

Poor quality materials and tools are destined to discourage beginner tiers and cause greater expense when the time comes to replace them.

Fly tyers can be masters at making things complicated!


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create
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The patterns I tie are not necessarily the most realistic ties, trying to imitate a fly down to it's butt-hole and elbow. Quite the opposite. Most of the fly patterns I create are very simplistic and basic......thread on a hook midges or a ball of dubbing with maybe a feather for mayflies or caddis. Size > shape > color and movement in the water, especially for sub-surface flies.

Often I make take a fly pattern and subtract from it, not add to it. For example, I often omit tying in a wingcase on my nymphs. I tie them in-the-round and often use darker colored dubbing in the thorax to suggest the wingcase. I often tie with natural fur that is spikey and adds movement and as well initiates the gills of a nymph.

After size, shape is important so be sure to match the body type > chunky? thin? or in-between. Many if not most flies sold commercially are way too full-bodied and overdressed with hackle. Less is often more.

My baetis dry flies, for example, are just a parachute pattern to match the size, shape and color of the insect. I tie in dun split tails > dark olive/gray dubbing for the body (sometimes I tie the body with an olive stripped quill or biot)
> dark dun poly yarn for the wing > dun hackle for the legs.

For caddis imitations I often use the CDC and Elk pattern, and match the body color with the proper color CDC and tie in deer hair to match the wing color. Or you may choose to tie an Elk-Hair caddis to better imitate more active caddis on the water.

Once you learn the techniques for tying different styles of flies, you can choose a parachute, catskill tie, comparadun or any other style of fly that you think will best imitate the insect. You will be able to tie and match any hatch by changing up the size, tail, body wing and hackle (if the fly pattern includes hackle).

Anyone that has fished the Delaware River during the last decade or so will likely tell you, fishing a traditional catskill pattern will not fish as well as some emergers, parachute or some comparadun patterns.

There is a lot to be said for sticking to traditional ties if that's your thing, but for me, a big part of the fun in tying your own flies...is tying your own flies.

Posted on: 1/9 9:05

Edited by afishinado on 2018/1/9 10:25:59


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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I'm generally in the replicate camp with plenty of reservations. I do like to tweak flies and occasionally try something new, but the old standbys got there for a reason.

IMHO, when one starts out it is good to go according to the pattern exactly which builds skills. (As an aside, back in the old days trying to figure out how some flies were tied from written instructions was maddening; videos are much better). The more skills and experience with different materials one has, the more one can play around with the designs. For example, as I get older I end up tying bright posts on more and more flies for visibility.

Another trend I have had is to go simpler, as long as it catches fish. It is amazing how so many simple patterns like simple dubbed bodies (ie Walts Worm, Turd, Muskrat nymph, ball of polar bear hair etc) clobber fish. Two years ago I was having trouble with the BWO hatch on the East Branch. I kept going to more detailed flies, then finally had some of the best days of my like with nothing but a thread body and wound hackle wings. I rarely tie tricos with tails any more. Simpler is often better.

That said, after tying for 50 years there are times when I am bored with the old standards and I like to play around with new techniques and materials. For example, the last couple of years I have tried a lot of patterns hackle stacker style.

On more point is that for heavily pressured streams sometimes it is good to fish the fly no one else is. This leads to a lot of creativity with the regulars on highly pressured water - many new patterns come from locations where the old patterns can go stale. But even here, the old standards are always a good starting place.

Posted on: 1/9 9:39


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

Joined:
2013/2/25 11:38
From NW Pa
Posts: 47
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+1 with rdiedtz/norm

I had the fortune of having an uncle who was a parolific fly tyer who passed away in the 60's. His fly tying was based on the pre-50's patterns and materials which he left for me. It was like inheriting a major fly shop. When I began tying 40 years ago it was based on materials and patterns that he used.

Yes the newer materials are intriguing and some have worked their way into my patterns as variations, but for me using older Mustad hooks, hen necks, wool or angora still on their original Herters cards, or piersall silk threads, or Herters scud back thread add a certain nostalgia to my fishing.

Yes newer materials have been developed to replace these and in some cases have been an improvement, but for me the reach back into another time adds an additional allure to the challenges the early flyfishers were attempting to overcome. When my current supplies are exhausted I suppose I will need to transition to some of the newer materials, but till then I choose to maintain that link to the past and the old glory days.

Posted on: 1/9 9:48


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2011/7/27 22:21
From Peasant Gap
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I would say I probably tie 99% of my own patterns and 1% copies of standard patterns. But.......when I say I tie my own patterns, what I really mean is I tie modifications of other people's patterns or more frequently use bits and pieces and techniques borrowed from many tiers and combine them together for my own purposes. For me the joy of tying is all about creativity, problem solving, and constant learning. For that matter that's what all of fly fishing is about. Mimicking standard patterns would take much of that away for me.

My thoughts are similar to Afish on commercial patterns. I think most commercial patterns are grossly overdressed and I would be hesitant to copy them without modification.

I also strongly believe that I do not want to be using the same flies that everybody else is using. I want my flies to look as much like the naturall as possible and as little like everyone else's as possible.


Posted on: 1/9 22:08


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2011/9/13 11:13
From Flourtown, PA
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I think you tie the replicants until you master all of the techniques. Once you've done that, you should just be able to pick up a bug or critter and be able to engineer its replication in your head pretty quickly.

Posted on: 1/10 10:58


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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My ties are split about 60% mine and 40% replicas. I always start Winter with the plan to keep my fly selection simple. For example, nymphs such as PTs HEs, Prince, etc. in #12 - 18. Then I get creative and my plan falls apart. I have come up with some very effective variations this way, though.

Posted on: 1/10 11:52


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2006/9/9 22:43
From Delaware Co.
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I have only really started to create my own flies but it was only due to the lack of known patterns to me and google that could be fished effectively in some of the salad I was fishing in .

Overall I use patterns created by other anglers I'm not the type of person that changes one material on fly and gives it a new name and claims its a original pattern of my creation .

Posted on: 1/11 10:39
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Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create
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From Chester County
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Just as an example, I fished the Yellowstone in MT two summers ago. The go-to fly at that time was the Purple Haze, which is simply an Adams pattern tied with a purple body.

I brought the pattern back to PA and low and behold it worked well, especially during an Iso hatch / spinner fall.

I felt a little bad using it but when checked out some pics of Iso spinners on Troutnut I saw they had a purple tint to them (see pic below) so I was matching the hatch!

I tie it parachute style with a white Mcflylon Yarn post and use grizzly for the tail and hackle. You can use calf tail as a post as in the video, or any other thing else you may prefer.

It's great to try new patterns and new things mixing and matching materials and techniques to come up with something a little different than other anglers. Just look at catalogs or online listing of fly patterns. Most, depending on who ties them, are quite different, as well it should be, IMO.

I would venture to say, anyone that ties their own flies, the flies residing in their box will be a little different from other tyers patterns. And some are truly unique, and reflect the style and fishing / imitation philosophy of the FFer.

All the better!...have fun!




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jpg  Iso Spinner.jpg (49.58 KB)
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Posted on: 1/11 11:26

Edited by afishinado on 2018/1/11 14:17:45


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2013/12/7 0:10
From SE Pa
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I don't believe anybody is creating new and unique flies. New or different materials simply make for different variations of something that has already been tied in one form or another. Pretty much everything has been tied on a hook in every conceivable manner. Even the classics are nothing but different variations of the same thing.

I tie the basics like PT nymphs, hares ear, this dry, that dry and so on. Some have longer or shorter tails, more or less hackle, different colors or materials and the proportions may vary. I care so little about adherence to materials and proportions that maybe I'm a creator, maybe I'm a copier, who knows, who cares. Even the most perfect tied fly pattern has at best only the foggiest resemblance to the real thing, barring realistic ties, so adherence to these rules is rather pointless.

I learned when I was 10 years old that a simple piece of yarn fished properly will outfish the most realistic bug fished wrong. Life's to short to worry about the number of tail fibers.

Posted on: 1/11 18:51


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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2016/2/9 15:22
From Downingtown Pa
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In the last few years my tying and technique have greatly improved due to Tim Flaggler and others on Youtube. I pick a basic, proven pattern I see online, buy one at the shop if available, and then tie. I am definitely better at tying nymphs and have caught more fish on them then dries in the last two years.

These videos really take a lot of error and guess work out of the process and I learn great techniques along the way (without wasting time and materials on unfishable flies). Nymphs, dries, streamers and bass bugs, any time I can get to the bench is almost as nice as fishing time.

This year's goal is articulated streamers and smallmouth flies.

Posted on: 1/11 19:57


Re: Fly Patterns: Replicate or Create

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Another good purple fly I found in Michigan is the Purple Patriot - a Patriot with purple thread and flash and dun tail and hackle. Supposedly a PA angler fishing the Ausable was having great success with the Patriot when he ran out of flies and went to Gate's Lodge to have a few more tied up. That introduced the Patriot to MI and the next step was locals tied a purple version for olives. I brought it home with me and it works great in the East as well. Ideas go back and forth.

Posted on: 1/12 9:20



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