A little Leisenring, a little Culton, a little North Country Spider

Soft hackles and wingless wets ready to swim. Clockwise from upper left: Pale Watery Dun, Grey Watchet, Old Blue Dun (and a random Partridge and Rusty Brown), Squirrel and Ginger, Pale Watery Wingless AKA Magic Fly.

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Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Brown or Red Hackle

I can’t make up my mind whether this is a beetle or an attractor. Leisenring must have had some trouble deciding on the pattern as well. Brown hackle? Or red hackle? Ah, what the heck. While we’re pondering these delicious mysteries, let’s go with this: the Brown or Red Hackle looks like something that’s alive and good to eat.

Brown or Red Hackle

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Crimson or claret
Hackle: Red furnace
Rib: Narrow gold tinsel
Body: Bronze peacock herl
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Tying Notes: I have a nice reddish brown Whiting wet fly hen neck. It’s more badger (feathers with a dark center, lighter toward the tips) than furnace (dark center, lighter middle, dark tips) but it’s close enough. I used two strands of herl to wind the body, and I used the technique of pressure from the thread in front of the herl to make a nice, compact wind (you can see that technique in Tim Flagler’s excellent Squirrel and Herl video.)

Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Light Snipe and Yellow

Inspired by classic North Country flies, James Leisenring developed an arsenal of reliable patterns to match the hatches of his beloved local streams. You can clearly see the Snipe Bloa and Poult Bloa influence in the Light Snipe and Yellow. Farmington River trout love this fly, a lesson that is repeated on cool June nights when Light Cahills or Sulphurs are emerging and the water surface is boiling.

Light Snipe and Yellow

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Snipe undercovert
Rib: Fine gold wire
Body: Primrose yellow buttonhole twist
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Tying Notes: Instead of working silk, Leisenring used buttonhole twist (the thread that’s used on the borders of buttonholes) for the body. You don’t need to do that — your favorite silk or thread will work. But if you’re shooting for authenticity and can’t find buttonhole twist, try DMC embroidery floss. It comes in a bazillion colors (this is #744). It’s multi stranded, so cut a length then separate a single strand for the body. No snipe? Try starling or woodcock undercovert. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Snipe Bloa

The Snipe Bloa is one of those flies that has a palpable energy, even when it’s resting in the palm of your hand. I think I prefer James Leisenring’s take on this pattern, the Light Snipe and Yellow, which uses Primrose silk, a fine gold wire rib, and snipe undercovert. This version (you can find many iterations of the Snipe Bloa; Pritt lists two) is taken from Sylvester Lister. It’s also called the Snipe and Yellow. Yellow Sallies, Sulphurs, Dorothea, Summer Stenos — the answer is “yes.”

Snipe Bloa

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 16-20
Silk: Yellow
Hackle: Small darkish feather from under snipe’s wing
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Tying Notes: No snipe? No worries. Starling is your friend. This is a fast, simple tie. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Poult Bloa

Pale Wateries, indeed. The Poult Bloa has Light Cahills and Sulphurs written all over it. When it comes to matching those hatches with North Country style spiders, I have been using my home-brew Partridge and Light Cahill and one of Leisenring’s favorites, the Light Snipe and Yellow. Clearly, the Poult Bloa needs to move into the rotation. This fly would work both as part of a swung team, or as a dropper off a dry.

Poult Bloa North Country Spider

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-18
Body: Straw silk
Hackle: Feather from the inside of a grouse wing
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Tying Notes: No straw-colored silk? Not to worry. UNI makes a very nice Light Cahill thread. Absent an English grouse wing, you could use any number of lighter colored hen hackles. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

 

 

Wingless Wet Fly Video Sampler

A short tour through the art form that features classic wingless wet fly patterns developed by James Leisenring and others. This clip will be part of my revamped “Wet Flies 101” presentation.

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The sulphur hatch seems a long way off on this frigid January day. Still, an angler can dream…

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Pennsylvania, meet Pulaski (by way of Yorkshire)

It’s cold in Pulaski, but even on the most miserable days there seems to be a midge hatch. I’ve decided that small flies in natural colors are underutilized on the Salmon River. And so, buoyed by last week’s success with the Snipe and Purple, I took to the tying bench.

Here are four classic soft hackles adapted for steelhead: Pheasant Tail, Leisenring’s Black Gnat, Starling and Herl, and a midge-like rendering of Leisenring’s Iron Blue Nymph. Three of them use the Orvis 1641, a 1x short, 2x strong wet fly hook. They’re a size 12, so they’ll effectively fish as a 14. The other hook is a size 12 Daiichi 1120, likewise 1x short/2x strong. Some of the original patterns called for tinsel; I substituted small diameter wire.

Now all we need is a hatch and some feeders.

Steelhead soft hackles, clockwise from upper left: Pheasant Tail, Black Gnat, Starling and Herl, Iron Blue Midge. 

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Pheasant Tail
Hook: Daiichi 1120 size 12
Thread: Brown 8/0
Tail/Abdomen: Pheasant tail fibers
Rib: Small copper wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Brown hen
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Black Gnat
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: 3 fibers from a jackdaw secondary wing
Rib: Small red wire
Hackle: Iridescent purple from a starling shoulder
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Starling and Herl
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: Peacock herl
Rib: Small gold wire
Hackle: Starling
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Iron Blue Midge
Hook: Orvis 1641 size 12
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer Silk, claret
Body: Mole fur spun on silk
Rib: Small silver wire
Hackle: Light blue dun hen