Anyone else have this problem?

#1
This is my first post and something I’ve been trying to figure out for awhile.

Anyone else struggle with understanding all the materials that you need for a set of flies (10-15 different flies)?

Its usually an issue for me when is start preparing flies for trips that I’m taking (like my 2019 Alagnak River float trip in south western Alaska). I usually find a bunch of fly recommendations online and use YouTube to watch how they are done. Then when it comes time to buy material, I use a handwritten list which inveribly has a bunch of overlap and is a pain to create. In addition, I already have a bunch of material but it’s just not quite the same as what the guy or gal in the video used.

I realize that it doesn’t have to be exactly the same but as an intermediate fly tier I’d like to know I’m in the right ballpark. I see a lot of amazing flies on this forum so it might be different for experts.

Any ways you guys get around this?
 

mikemac1

Active Member
#4
Pick any well known pattern and do a google image search. Most likely the ones that show up all look a bit different from one another. Fly tiers often recommend specific materials because that’s what they have. Focus on tying techniques that produce functional, durable flies not exacting patterns. If a specific fly doesn’t produce, so be it. There was a English trout pattern in the 19th century that called for dubbing from the urine stained belly fur of a female fox. Last time I checked Wapsi or Hareline weren’t selling anything that’s been pissed on. Form and function is inherently more relevant than exact material matches.
 
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#6
Thanks for the advice all. I do try to riff once I’ve had a chance to tie a few of a specific pattern. Any recommendations for how to know which materials are comparable to others? Any good resources out there that I can combine with the trial and error?
 

Old trout

Active Member
#7
What everyone has said is true. That said, I sympathize with you, as I will go to great lengths to obtain the material called for by the originator, although I have yet to piss on female fox fur. And once I find it, if one package will do, buy five, its better. This is why I have more Material that will last5 lifetimes as all of it is interchangeable. Follow everyone's advise and use what you have.
 

tackleman

Active Member
#8
Get to the best fly shop for materials that you can. Hang around long enough to discover whose got the 'real knowledge', not just a person who can find the peg and sell you stuff. As has been said, materials to tie a fly are necessary but the way the fly is tied is more important. Just before your trip, check with your guide/outfitter for what patterns you should have and if they sell them. Then tie/buy a few!!
 
#9
http://www.wapsifly.net/category/flytyers/comparison-charts/ (scroll down for dubbing)

As others have said, you can substitute to your heart's content. I would pay most attention to the material's properties or behavior in the water. If the pattern requires something really flexible with lots of movement, substituting in a 2x4 is less than ideal. If you need a really long-fibered dubbing, you won't have similar results with something short-fibered.

But if your worried about one brand of sparkly dubbing vs another, don't. If your really worried about it, mix and match with what you have. I'll often blend in some ice dub or blend in some natural to add or subtract sparkle.

Or just don't worry about it. A million fish have been caught on Pheasant Tails or Hare's Ears with almost no sparkle. And a million fish are caught on Perdigons and Lighting Bugs and whatever that are 50-90% flash. I'd worry more about size, weight, profile, overall color, and movement far more than I would about the exact blend of fibers.

A lot of videos are posted by fly shops, and they frequently use some material(s) that's fairly new to the market. There's a reason for that--they want you to buy the new material. Not faulting them for that--they've got to make a living. And when I was accruing materials early on I would frequently buy large orders of stuff, often the latest and greatest. Now, not so much. But they still need people to do what I used to do.

So again, I would focus on the properties of the materials: long or short, flexible or rigid, reflective or not. Half-way close in color. Super-dark brown isn't anywhere close to light tan. But if you got something just a couple shades off, do you think a trout is going to be mid-attack on a sculpin and say hey, they didn't use the latest groovey bunny tripple-dyed tiger-barred rabbit strip--I'm going to pass on that? It's the general shape, the general color, and the the general movement--weighted and/or fished correctly to have the right movement and position in the water column--that is what will trigger the strike.

Lastly, if you want to get really cranked up about it, start a spreadsheet. If you don't have excel you can use Google Sheets. It's more work than its worth IMO, but there's a certain satisfaction to having everything exactly detailed out. You can highlight what you have, or what you'd sub, and then see what you still need to fill in.
 

jasmillo

Active Member
#10
I have only been tying for about 2 years now. For me, fly tying is a lot like cooking. If I want to make something I never have before, I’ll read a recipe for the technique or basics (the structure if you will) and go rogue from there. I have posted a ton of flies on this site - very few of which were not at least inspired by someone else’s tie yet I never read materials lists. 95% of what I tie are saltwater flies so early on I bought the basics (bucktail, uv cure, eyes, flash, bunny strips, etc) and I went off on my own from there. Outside of a few patterns I tied to be sure I had proven stuff in my boxes (clousers, surf candy, squimps, etc.), I actually go out of my way to not tie exact replicas. That’s what makes fly tying fun to me. Catching stuff on patterns I tied where at least some creativity or thought from me was required. I do not have any interest in sitting down and knocking out exact replicas of patterns. If I wanted exact replicas, I’d just buy them. Tying is time consuming and not cheaper than buying in many cases.

In the end my flies are rarely exact replicas and they catch fish, even with the marginal tying skill I currently posses. As @Krusty said above, finding fish and presentation is most of the battle. I believe that fully, with most (not all) fishing situations. It many cases something that looks a little different is what will actually work - especially on pressures fish.
 

Trapper

ISO brown liquor and wild salmonoids
#13
Its usually an issue for me when is start preparing flies for trips that I’m taking (like my 2019 Alagnak River float trip in south western Alaska).
I spent 5 months straight working for a lodge about 100 air miles south of where you'll be this summer. When the schools of silvers, chum, pinks, grayling, and char are running, they are not all that picky. I have found over the years they seem to show an affinity to colors in the pink-fushia range and it's important to get the fly down to them, but if you use a silver or gold conehead, bunny fur or caribou, holographic or plain tinsel, they don't see to discriminate. When you get into them big time they will eat a mouse pattern off the surface.

It's likely you'll find a wide range of patterns they'll take. Let's face it; if a fish will eat a plastic bead they are not all that picky.

I usually find a bunch of fly recommendations online and use YouTube to watch how they are done. Then when it comes time to buy material, I use a handwritten list which inveribly has a bunch of overlap and is a pain to create. In addition, I already have a bunch of material but it’s just not quite the same as what the guy or gal in the video used.
While some tiers seem convinced you need, for example, the urine stained belly fur of a 3-year old female Arctic Fox in order for their pattern to work, fish, particularly those in Alaska, will take a fairly wide range of color and materials.

Tie a Clouser and you'll catch Dollies until you puke.

In my never to be humble opinion, the presentation, and within reason pattern size, is more important than pattern materials. Some people want to declare their fly fishing problems are caused by the fly. The perfect fly with the wrong presentation is less effective than the wrong fly and perfect presentation.
 
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#14
I spent 5 months straight working for a lodge about 100 air miles south of where you'll be this summer. When the schools of silvers, chum, pinks, grayling, and char are running, they are not all that picky. I have found over the years they seem to show an affinity to colors in the pink-fushia range and it's important to get the fly down to them, but if you use a silver or gold conehead, bunny fur or caribou, holographic or plain tinsel, they don't see to discriminate. When you get into them big time they will eat a mouse pattern off the surface.

It's likely you'll find a wide range of patterns they'll take. Let's face it; if a fish will eat a plastic bead they are not all that picky.


While some tiers seem convinced you need, for example, the urine stained belly fur of a 3-year old female Arctic Fox in order for their pattern to work, fish, particularly those in Alaska, will take a fairly wide range of color and materials.

Tie a Clouser and you'll catch Dollies until you puke.

In my never to be humble opinion, the presentation, and within reason pattern size, is more important than pattern materials. Some people want to declare their fly fishing problems are caused by the fly. The perfect fly with the wrong presentation is less effective than the wrong fly and perfect presentation.
Thanks the input trapper. I’ll focus on weight, profile and presentation.
 

DukeCB

Active Member
#15
I just got my first vice and am in the process of making sense of all the tying materials. It's a bit overwhelming trying to figure out if I have all the stuff to get started. I have been wondering about the same questions the OP asked and the responses here have been very helpful to me. Thanks! I hope to be posting pics here someday.