Tuesday, March 27, 2018

1-step looper review

After i posted my last video on how i make my own shanks , i got a message from "anthony_lee " on Instagram, and he put me on these pliers.
After a quick search, i found the best value was on amazon. Two clicks and two days later the loopers arrived. Right out of the package my first impression was not great , as the pliers were smaller than what i was expecting. Are they gonna do the job with thick stainless steel?...
 I ordered the 3mm loop maker for my pike shanks. Not disappointed with the size of loop it creates, i rather have a larger loop to help with movement and not to  get stuck sideways like some shanks can do when you cast them.
You have two other options as well if you want to make smaller and lighter shanks for your trout or bass streamers, the 1.5mm loop and the 2.25mm loop.
I open the package and as soon as i have them in hand, they feel heavy. (usually a good sign) The grip is very nice and it does feel like a quality product...Now lets bend some wire and see...
First go and it makes a perfect round closed loop, effortless! Just need a little squeeze with a set of normal pliers to finish the loop properly. This is so easy!
While applying pressure to cut and bend the wire at the same time, i didn't feel like the whole lot was going to fell apart. It's a solid piece of equipment! My first impression was well wrong.
The bonus with this looper is that you can do the "r" loop as well, not sure if they are fully designed for that but it works perfect. Just check the video to see the different way you need to feed the wire inside the jaws.
At around 25/30€ its not that cheap, but just look at  the price of the shanks in fly shops....If you buy more than five packs of shanks in your fly life, then this is a tool well worth having in your tying desk.
If you want to get one just check the left column of the blog ←, there's a direct link to Amazon (thats the cheapest i could find).
Now i will have to use it for the next 6 months, and i will come back with an update to see if they are still working...I have a good feeling about this one.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Articulation Nation: An introductory into the world of shanks

Over the years of fly fishing for pike my choice of flies as changed a lot. I'm a firm believer that size does matter , and this does not mean only using big flies. The size of the fly goes with the appetite and mood of the pike. Generally i tend to use  my big flies early spring and mid to late autumn into winter. Big flies range from 20 to 30 cm
The rest of the time i fish "small" flies (around 10 to 13 cm).
As for the models that are prominent in my boxes, well that's easy: the articulated ones. It usually involve one or many articulations.
If i only use one shank, its placed in front of the hook and not behind. I like that position as it pushes the hook back and balance the streamer very well.And it can result in more positive hook ups.
Mini T-bones are an absolute killer and you can make so many variations.
MiniBone, 40mm shank in front, 6/0 behind, rabbit whiptail

For this type i only use strong shanks, like the big game shanks from Flymen, or homemade shanks ( made from hard stainless steel wire of 1mm)
One type of fly that requires shanks is definitely the game changer.These are time consuming to tie but i absolutely love using them! Variations are endless on a GC, but i use two types:
Large, two hooks GC.
The first is the one with two hooks, and that's the larger model i fish. One large hook at the front, 6/0, four shanks and a small hook at the back  1/0. Only big game shanks should be used for this one as you dont want anything to open up if a large fish is hooked on the back hook.
Big game shanks, 100% secure.

Smaller GC where the lighter shanks are a good choice

If you want to make these yourself i made this short video where you can see how i make mine.

The second type is a smaller version with only one hook at the front. The body and tail is made with lighter shanks, stainless steel of  0.7 up to 0.9 mm. These are the normal shanks with the little eye at the front. Same here you can buy the directly from fly shop, or you can save money and make them yourself.

Normal shanks with a closed eye on one end.These are strong but could open as the eye is not secured with thread.

For this small shanks, you can of course buy them already made, but with the right tools you can make them yourself as well.If like me you can go though 100's of shanks  (i do tie a lot for clients that come to my lodge) It's something to consider doing, if you only use a few , many buying them from a shop would be a better option money wise...
So for them u need a lighter wire and one special pair of pliers, the Beadsmith 1 step-looper.This is going to make your life so much easier! 

Three different type of looper exist, make sure you get the large 3mm model so your shanks will articulate with ease.

Now for the wire i use, and where i get it!
The wire is stainless steel grade 316 ( medical/marine) solid, and never any rust even in saltwater use.( try them on seabass!Well with it!)
I order all my wires from https://www.wires.co.uk fast postal service and great products.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

First raft trip of 2018

I am just in between two groups of anglers at the moment, so with a few days off i better make the most of it and enjoy a day's fishing for myself. After the cold weather we had and with an other spell coming at the weekend, i knew this was the time to hit a river.

We got a good few fish, mostly jacks on the fly. Intermediate line and large game changers was working well for me. Every time i go out and fish a game changer i realise how deadly this pattern can be! So good that every time i come back home from fishing i need to tie some more for my box.
An other thing that i had time to test properly was the Bad ass glass rod from Echo. My first impression of the 10 weight model was not great as the rod felt fairly heavy in my hand (compare to the one i'm mostly using, the Bandit from Epic). But after a couple of hours casting, i got my rhythm and the rod totally changed my early impressions. I find it very capable at casting large streamers with ease. As with all glass rods, you need to slow down your movements, and with practice it becomes very addictive. I have been fishing fibreglass all the time for the last two years now and it's going to take a lot for me to go back to graphite.

 The Echo is a great entry level rod for the one who likes to try glass for the first time. The Bandit, because of its price tag is better suited when you know that glass is for you and that you want to commit with these rods ( or you are well off money wise..)
I had the chance to try the Bad Ass in 8 weight and its a fantastic rod. It's a lot lighter than the 10 weight. You probably won't be able to cast big chunky chicken flies with it but for the smaller streamers, its an absolute pleasure to use. And don't be scared by using an 8 weight (fibreglass) for pike, these rods have huge reserve of power in the butt section. I had the 10 weight sent to me from Toby at Funky fly tying. I am not longer with funky fly tying due to personal reasons, but if you want to try the Bad ass for yourself, get in touch with funky and get your hands on some glass.Life is too short just to cast fast rods... Ad some fun to your fishing!
There will be a lot less fishing for me from now on as the new season will get very busy here at the lodge, but i will keep on tying flies as the Alaska summer trip is coming fast!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Freestyle tails and where do i get them.

Now, i know i have been teasing many of you guys to where i get my material to craft my own tails.I have got so many people asking me where do i get my stuff. And because i'm a sound guy, i like to help as many fly tyers out there (wink)
Pike/burbot mutant

We all work on a budget, and lets face it, some materials are just crazy money! So nothing wrong to try to source materials by yourself, and frankly i am so surprised to see so many not making the simple effort to search the various retail sites out there. Ebay is one of my strong favorite! So do yourself a favour and browse stuff on it, buy samples, sometimes its a miss and sometimes you find fantastic materials out there at unbeatable prices!
Freestyling is the best! Design , cut, colours! One of a kind!

The material i use for my tails is called Ultrasuede microfibre, or faux suede/shammy. You find it in many thickness, but for optimum resistance and movement , i use the 0.5mm. One large sheet cost around 35€ for a mighty size of 137cm X 91cm!

 If you only tie a few streamers a year this could be too much, but why not sharing with a friend? I tie 100's of predator flies a year, for myself and clients that come for a week at the lodge or for a day guiding, so i have no problem using this much.
But the advantage is not only money, it's the freedom that you have, make the tails the size shape and colours that you want.Ok maybe the finish product might not be as nice as some of the ones sold in fly shop but who cares? Certainly not the fish and that's good enough for me!
The platypus tail.

Golden trout on a forked tail and side fins design.

For the moment i get it from South  Korea, click on this magical link and let your creative-self take over! No stoping you now!
If you read this article and the link doesn't work anymore it simply because the seller is gone or the stuff isn't available, just start a new search, you know how its called now!
Invent, create, explore, possibilities are virtually endless now!
Here's a new video up on Youtube, as usual, please like and subscribe or you will never catch a big fish again...

One thing super important when you create your tails is to have a very good pair of scissors. Same thing here, i used for years scissors "made for flytying" and yes there is many great brand out there and good tools, but again the price can be ridiculous! Most value scissors come from the same factories in India,Pakistan or china, just the branding changes and the prices...I use mostly FISKARS now.They have a great hold, and the blades stay sharp for overland they are certainly not more expensive that a mid range pair of scissors bought from your fly shop..
One design that i used for a long time now, side baitfish is awesome!

The simple and classic wiggle tail, just look how i include an anal fin to most of my designs, this act as a splash of colour, and a mini-keel to balance the streamer.
Keep and eye on the blog for more Tips and tricks about buying materials.