Loon Outdoors D-Loop Tweezer

Loon Outdoors D-Loop Tweezer

Got a new piece of fly tying gear – a D-Loop Tweezer. As the name implies this item is primarily intended to be a dubbing loop twister. My main use is different, however. I needed to pick up small hooks and tungsten beads.  And then assist me in joining them together. It is not always an easy deal to accomplish. But this tweezer is proving a real help, especially with hooks smaller than size 14#. It was even able to pick a size 24! Wow.

To place a bead on, I first secure the hook upside down in the vise. Next I use the tweezer to pick up a bead and bring it to the hook point. If all goes well – and it doesn’t always-  it is a fairly simple task to get the bead on the hook bend. Once the bead is on, I put the tweezer down. Now carefully reverse the hook into its proper position to tie the fly. Go slowly. Be sure to hold the hook by the bend. This will prevent the bead from escaping. You’ll get the idea pretty quickly. 

Yes, slotted tungsten beads make this whole process simpler. But I have a load of  non-slotted beads on hand. And besides I bet slotted beads weigh less, and that is obviously counterproductive. You want the weight, right? Isn’t that the whole business of buying tungsten beads in the first place? Getting down. 

In the photos, I’m using a Tiemco 2487 in size 12. My bead is a red 3.25mm (1/8″)  tungsten. Hooks in size 10,12, and 14 went smoothly. And I got down to a size 16 hook and a 2mm bead, without a ton of  trouble.

 I also tried starting with the hook tipped farther back so the hook point is more straight up. That worked well too. And may be the right way to go with small gap hooks such as size 16. See if it works for you.

Tip of the hat to Loon Outdoors. I’ve purchased a number of  their products in recent year and they have all been of good quality. By the way, this tweezer has a overall length of 7.5″, making it easy to handle. Final Thought: Loon supplies a small plastic tip guard for the tweezer. Unfortunately the guard is transparent and very easy to misplace. So I colored it with a red magic maker. See it in the package picture up top.    


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An Anchor Fly on a Jig Hook

An Anchor Fly on a Jig Hook

Euro-nymphing continues to grow in popularity and with that growth jig style fly hooks have become harder to fine. One popular hook maker sold out their entire year’s supply by early February! Why are jig hooks in demand? Riding hook point up, they snag less on the bottom.

A few post back, I tied flies on the Wapsi JHCN10 Czech Nymph Leaded Body hooks. For this post, I’m using an Umpqua Competition Series size 10 C400BL jig hook. It is a black nickel barbless hook – designed for use with beads, has heavy wire, and a wide gap. Recently I  was in Upcountry Sportfishing in New Hartford and got some Hanak Competition H400BL jig hooks.  Like the Umpqua hook, they’re also black nickel and barbless.  We’ll look at them later another time.

My bead is a Lucent red tungsten, size 3.8mm (5/32). Why red? It creates a hot spot to attract fish. My thread is plain old Danville flat wax in white. The first step is to make a mound of thread up by the eye. Just enough so you can jam the bead forward. Then reattach your thread, secure the bead in place and cover the hook shank in thread. You can put a drop of super glue behind the bead, but it is really not necessary. (The body will lock the bead forward.)

For the body I have 5″ inches of transparent, green vinyl ribbing. Lash it to the top of the hook shank back of the bead. Wind your thread over it to the rear and then wind back to the bead. Next wrap the vinyl forward to the bead, keeping each turn tight to the previous one. You can use a rotary vise or do it manually. Either way. Once you reach the bead, tie the vinyl down.

The white thread shows through the vinyl. It seems to enhance the green color. To finish the fly I formed a thorax behind the bead with some hare’s ear dubbing. Obviously this is an optional step. Totally the tier’s choice. Whip finish and head to the water.


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The Hendricksons are Here!

The Hendricksons are Here!

Yes, the Hendricksons are on the Farmington River. In fact they started showing up in the Collinsville stretch about 10 days ago.  Then two cold days last week shut the hatch down. So weather has been a factor. It always is. And timing the hatch hasn’t been easy. Sometime it came off at 1:30 pm and ended by 3pm. Other days it didn’t start until 3pm? And get this. Oddly enough, on Monday myself and many others didn’t fish because of sustained 2o mph winds. Turned out that was the day of the most intense hatch so far. Go figure.

Male Hendrickson Dun on the Farmington River

Yesterday, in the first pool we tried, no signs of the hatch? Damn. Same thing happened to me on Tuesday. So took a gamble and went much farther upstream. Farther then we thought the hatch had likely progressed. Paid off. The duns came off about 2:40 pm in the head of the pool. Bingo I got my first trout of the year on a dry. Making it even more fun, I was using my Winston Retro Rod. Gotta love it.

Winston Retro Rod in Action

Caught a couple of fish, the biggest being a brown trout of near 15″. It slammed a Hendrickson ‘Comparadun” and put up quite a scrap on the “glass” 4wt.  Had my old Hardy princess singing a tune too. Unfortunately the hatch only last about 35 minutes. After that the action tapered right off. Oh well that’s fishing folks. As Mick Jagger said ” You can’t always get what you want.”  More Hendrickson hatch here. The Klinkhammer here And more hatch info. 

Winston Retro Rod with Trout

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The “Eighty-Eight”, a Forgotten Fly

The “Eighty-Eight”, a Forgotten Fly

A while back, I was looking though Paul Schmookler’s massive tome Forgotten Flies. Wow, what a fascinating book. There I came across a picture of a streamer fly I first learned of while fishing a fairly remote spot in northern New England. With me at the time was a professional guide who knew the waters well. We were focused on landlock salmon, at the time. So naturally I asked him what he felt would be the best fly. He relied an “88”.

Eighty-Eight Streamer

An “88”? Damn, I told him I had no idea what that was! He smiled, opened his fly box and hand me a small, slim, flat wing streamer.  The body was made of red and green copper wire. The wing was a mallard flank feather. Not much else to it really, but it immediately proved its worth, catching several landlocks. Since then I always carry a couple “88”s

Schmookler’s book offers no details, instead referring readers to Dick Steward & Bob Leeman’s book Trolling Flies for Trout and Salmon. There you will find the following dressing. Thread– brown; Body – 2/3 red wire- 1/3 green wire; Wing– lemon wood duck flank tied flat on top; Collar -a few turns of soft grizzle hackle; Comment– Considered a casting fly for brook trout, often tied with red and green floss instead of wire.  

Red & Green Wire Body

Steward & Leeman make no mention of the fly’s origin or creator. Hoping to find out more, in the intervening years I asked quite a few anglers, including some professional fly tyers, if they had heard of the “88”. The answer has always been – a resounding “no”. In fact I have never being able to discover anything more about this forgotten fly. It is not in Eric Leiser’s Book of Fly Patterns nor is it in Colonel Bates big book Streamers and Bucktails. Know anything?  

Ready for the Wing

I tie it mainly on a size 8# Mustad 9575 streamer hook. A fine choice for most any streamer.  Yeah, I’m no exhibition tyer so I don’t always stick to the recipe. My thread choice is red to start, switching to black for the head.  Don’t have any red and green copper wire? There are a slew of other materials you could substitute. Under the wing I may add a few strands of  pearl flash and a small touch of white bucktail. (see above) But I never add the collar. Still at times I do get fancy – coat the wire with clear acrylic, spray the wing with fixative, maybe add decal eyes.  None of that is really necessary. I fish it as I was shown years ago – short strips with pauses. It works, believe me. A small sleek streamer can be deadly.  

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A Winston Retro Rod: Part Two

A Winston Retro Rod: Part Two

Retro on the Left, Vintage on the Right

Ready to fling some fly line? Let’s cast the 8’, 3-piece, 4wt Retro rod. The line aboard will be a Cortland 444, DTF 4 with a 10-foot leader. Unfortunately, I do not have a vintage Winston 4wt for comparison. But I do have my vintage Winston 8’, 3-piece, 6wt, which has a Cortland DTF 5wt and a 10-foot leader. Perhaps it will still supply some insight.

Okay let’s start short. The Retro rod formed a nice loop with just 3-feet of fly line. Ummm. An evening “spinner” fall can have trout sipping at your feet. Clearly the Retro is ready for that. Gradually I worked out more line. There was no visible shock wave unless I pushed the rod. From 20-30 feet, the rod is very smooth. With some extra effort, I reached 35’, but in my opinion this is the practical limit of this rod. Add the leader and that is a 45’ reach. Plenty. Although Tom Morgan no longer worked for Winston when this rod was made, it is just what Tom Morgan would have asked for.

As you would expect the vintage 8”, 6wt is not exactly the same as the Retro 4wt. It is good at short range but not the equal of the 4wt. No surprise there. Each cast bears a tiny shock wave: totally acceptable. From 20-30 feet, like the 4wt, this rod is in its full glory, but it easily launched 48’ of line. Nice. The old war horse still has some juice!

Obviously, the Retro rod was not built on blanks identical to the Winston blanks of the past. Those rods came to a screeching halt when Fisher could no longer get the correct phenolic resin. Still Winston has done a fine joy of replicating the feel and casting performance of yesteryear. You gotta love it. Tip of the hat to Winston.

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