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Fly Tying – Good way to learn about insects

02/28/08 – I enjoy books like Tom Ames book Hatch Guide For New England Trout Streams. Few books will give you as much

Hatch Guide

insight  on how insects and trout interact.  It’s one of my “go to” books.  Another less thought about source of the same type information are articles in Fly Tyer magazine.

For example, even people who don’t tie will benefit from articles Little Black Stonelike the one by Oliver Edwards in the Winter 2007 issue of Fly Tyer.  The article titled “Mighty Mites – The Forgotten Stones” was a top notch article whether you fly tie or not.

The article gives step-by-step instructions for tying the stone above and then tells you why it works.  Edwards breaks Stoneflies down and give you identification techniques along with instruction on how to fish them.  He even borrows from the bird watcher world and tell you how Early Stoneto apply the GISS (general impression, size, shape) system to identify and remember your insects so that you can apply proper fishing techniques.  Nice.

Now certainly Fly Tyer isn’t the only magazine that has good tying articles they appear in many magazines.  My point is some people breeze right by the articles without ever realizing there is good fishing information mixed in with the tying and it’s a shame.

Fly tying may not be your thing but if you plan on staying with fly fishing and want to learn bugs you ought to give it a try. When you start tying one of first revelations is how small the bugs you’re trying to imitate are.  Most people who take our beginner fly tying class look at a size 12 hook and say – “man – that’s a small hook.  A year later when you talk to them and ask they’ll tell you they seldom tie on hooks larger than a 14 when tying imitations (not attractors).

One of the reasons for that is they have come to realize that every time they look up a new pattern to imitate a specific insect they see the size range of recommended hooks.  Most it turns out are small so they just get used to tying to imitate the actual size and then start fishing those smaller flies and – generally – their catch rate goes up. Take a look at the Orvis Hatch chart below and you’ll see what I mean about insect size.

Now the information about insect size has been out there for years but what drives the point home is the actual tying.  If you tie to match and actual insect and want to fish the flies you tied – well – pretty soon your realize you only have small imitative flies in your boxes.

Of course there are those like the Green Drake, Hexagenia and Golden Stones that are bigger (some up to an 8) but in general bugs Big Drakeare just plain small.  That’s certainly not all you get to learn about bugs by tying.  You just can’t help but pickup a lot of other good useful information about habitat, hatch temperature, hatch times and water preferences.

Yep fly tying can teach you a lot.  And even if you don’t tie flies the next time you’re flipping through a magazine be sure a give those tying articles a second glance.

Eastern & Mid-Western Fly Hatches
Common Name
(& Latin Name)
Fly Size
 
Mar
Apr
May
June
July
Aug
Sept
Oct
Midge
(Chironomidae
)
16-26
Quill Gordon
(
E. pleuralis)
12-14
Blue Wing Olive
(B. vagans)
18-20
Little Mahogany
(P. adoptiva)
16-20
Little Black Caddis
(C. aterrima)
16-18
Hendrickson
(E. subvaria)
14-16
March Brown 
(S. vicarium)
10-12
Eastern Gray Drake
(S. quebecensis)
10-12
Large Sulphur 
(E. invaria)
14-16
Little Sulphur
(E. dorothea)
16-20
Light Cahill 
(S. candense)
14-16
Gray Fox 
(S. fuscum)
12-14
Little Yellow Stonefly 
(A. chloroperla)
12-14
Eastern Green Drake
(E. guttulata)
8-10
Isonychia
(I. bicolor)
12-14
Brown Drake 
(E. simulans)
8-10
Hexagenia
(H. limbata)
6-8
Yellow Drake 
(E. varia)
12-14
Golden Drake 
(Potomanthus distinctus)
8
Slate Wing Olive 
(E. lata/attenuata)
16-18
Trico
(T. stygiatus)
22-24
Tiny Blue Winged Olive 
(P. anoka)
22-24
White Mayfly 
(E. leukon)
14-16