Impressionism in tying

Buzzy

Active Member
Last fall I started tying "snail" flies after WFF'r @John svah shared pictures and thoughts. I had a couple memorable trips hanging John's "snail" under an indicator. This fly has been a game changer this spring but like all good things, it doesn't always work (as planned).
snails2.jpg

Wednesday, Fred (@wanative) and I were fishing a small, hike-in Basin lake. I had rigged the snail on a long leader and was fishing it about 14' below the bobber. It was working and then it didn't. I kicked my float tube up onto a shoal, cut off the fly, slid the indicator off and knotted the fly back on. My leader was about 18-feet long. I was working my way up this shoal into a narrow arm of the lake when I noticed a bulge near the tules. Casting towards the bulge rewarded me with a good fish.

Instead of hanging this fly under an indicator, I was fishing it in "skinny" water and stripping it in quite quickly (tungsten beads sink). After maybe an hour I'd hooked seven fish in this skinny water using the quick, short strip. I thought maybe the fish were mistaking the "snail" for a mayfly or for a dragon fly nymph. In talking with Rex (@Starman77) he asked me if I thought the fish might be taking it for a water boatman. CLICK, the light (finally) came on. Yeah, water boatman. Hence "impressionism".

snails3.JPG

For years I've tied water boatmen with legs and sometimes with a bubble (flash back). Thanks to Rex it dawned on me that an simpler pattern, impressionistically tied, can work as well as something a tad more realistic. Presentation may count more to triggering a fishes strike than the actual fly pattern.
 
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Buzzy

Active Member
“...fly-fishing being a high art, the fly must not be a tame imitation of nature, but an artistic suggestion of it.” - Charles Dudley Warner ~1878
"Tying and Fishing the Fuzzy Nymphs" Polly Rosborough
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
"Most of what a trout eats is brown and about 5/8" long"

I can't remember who said that but I think of it quite a bit. One of my best trout streamers resemble a lot of things in general but nothing in particular.
 

Zak

WFF Supporter
"If you will look closely at a live dun (not one in a specimen bottle) you will observe that his coloring is “impressionistic.” It is built up of many tiny variations of tone such as we find in the paintings of Renoir, Monet and others of the impressionistic school of art. The body usually varies in color from back to belly and from thorax to tail. The thorax very likely contains little accents of color—bright pink, yellow and even bluish tones. The eyes in some naturals are brilliant dark blue or violet. Frequently the legs are spotted, and sometimes of strongly differing colors, the front pair being light and the others darker. All May flies have delicate veined wings and some, such as the March Brown and Green Drake, have very dark and distinct wing spots of brown or black. Add to all this the iridescence of the wing as it reflects the light, and it seems quite remarkable that the trout take our poor imitations at all.
As an artist, realizing how the intelligent use of color can give life to a picture, I feel that anglers are prone to neglect the possibility of using more living color in their flies."
John Atherton, The Fly and the Fish.
 

Smalma

Active Member
The soft hackle flies are the classic example of impressionism in fly tying. For decades a wide variety of soft hackles have held a key place in my fly boxes. Depending on the size, body and hackle color they can make a reasonable presentation of a wide variety of typical trout "food". Have had success with them as small as 20s and 18s (chironomids and scuds) to as large as size 6s & 4s ( spiders for coho and cutthroat. The combination of suggestive colors and shapes coupled with the translucence and subtle motion provide by the sparse hackle can be deadly!

Curt
 

Riogrande King

WFF Supporter
Viva impressionism!

Here's another, more specific, color tip.

“No matter what color of dubbing one uses in the world of fly tying regarding insects, add one to two percent of olive or green to the dubbing. You may not see it mixed in the total volume of dubbing but putting a touch of green into all your dubbing when tying insect patterns is like increasing the octane attracting powers of your creations, believe it or not. I've learned this simply from a lifetime of experience and it works no matter what materials you're mixing or using.” George Gerhke
 

Zak

WFF Supporter
Viva impressionism!

Here's another, more specific, color tip.

“No matter what color of dubbing one uses in the world of fly tying regarding insects, add one to two percent of olive or green to the dubbing. You may not see it mixed in the total volume of dubbing but putting a touch of green into all your dubbing when tying insect patterns is like increasing the octane attracting powers of your creations, believe it or not. I've learned this simply from a lifetime of experience and it works no matter what materials you're mixing or using.” George Gerhke
Great tip!
 

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