Realistic Flies

By Mike Hogue


I attended the International Fly Tying Syposium and I was surprised by a very popular new trend in tying: realistic flies. These flies are a bit more than just your average sort of fly which looks similar to an insect, these flies look exactly like the real bug. Mayflies which are mating, caddis that flutter, stoneflies that actually crawl and spiders which look like they will like jump out at you are all part of the collections from some of these tyers. How this got going and what motivates some of these tyers to spend 2 full weeks making one fly is what I would to understand. Clearly this is simply art and tyers trying to prefect their craft as tyers.

One of my more obscure hobbies is collecting flies from various tyers I meet. I usually try to buy these flies if I can rather than stand around and beg for one. I know how much work goes into stuff like this so I usually think it best to buy something. Most of the time I have a limited budget and I try not to buy $200 flies. When I went to this year's show and looked at some of the flies and some of the tyers, I was simply surprised at the number of tyers which are actively creating all of this interesting reproductions. I will talk about a few of the fly tyers and some of the things I saw. With some luck maybe you can see these tyers or do some web searches and look up a few sites that some of these folks maintain.

One of the most interesting tyers was Paul Wellsley. Paul is from England and has the distinct recognition of being one of the first tyers to have his bug collection seized at customs because he was imported endangered and threatened animals. Imagine that! Flies that looked so real that a customs official actually accuses you of plasticizing a bug! Paul's bugs are amazing. I saw a stonefly which took about 2 weeks to make that was unbelievable. It literally looked real. It was still a fly in that it had a hook sticking out the rear end.

If some of you read the British Publication Fly Fishing and Fly Tying you will have seen an article about a married couple of tyers: Nadica and Igor Stacev. At this show, I meet Igor. This couple hails from Skopje, Macedonia. I am not just real sure where this country is, I guessing somewhere up near Russia. Anyway, Igor had some simply amazing bugs. Igor and his wife are commercial tyers. Igor and Nadica have won some pretty impressive awards such as: Mustad Open Competition, The Slovenian Open Fly Tying Competition and Brinkhoff's Fly Tying Competition (Brinkhoff's is a retailer in London). Some of Igor's flies including mating mayflies, a stonefly emerging, house flies and golden mayfly spinner. I bought some czech nymphs, some mayflies and a really cool hopper. Email Nadica and Igor at:

Steve Thorton is the inventor of nymph skin and he is author of a new book called Listen to the River. Steve's nymph skin is a latex type material which is split into strands and is colored . Steve makes stoneflies out of this material and uses some interesting materials to make his flies. Some of his flies have appeared in our Fly Tyer magazine. Very likely you can catch Steve again at Somerset in NJ next month. Steve has a web site called the virtual nymph.

Bob Mead is one of long time tyers making realistic flies. Bob's Praying Mantis is a thing of beauty. It takes Bob something like 2 weeks to make one of these. Bob told me that he will often sort through about 300 quills looking for the exact shade and shape of feather fibers for the legs with for this fly. Bob sells flies and will be at the Danbury show and I hope he will come again to our Guild show this spring. I should warn everyone to stay out of the line of fire between Dave Brandt, Bob and Harrison Steeves. These 3 have played some serious pranks and jokes on each other.

Floyd Franke is a guide and tyer from Roscoe. Floyd is one of the founders of the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild and serves as director of the Federation of Fly Fishers and serves on the Board of Governors for the Certified Casting Program. Floyd is also an instructor at Joan Wulff's Fly Fishing School. By far the best fly Floyd does are the bees and the house flies. These are very realistic looking bugs which are very cool. Some of the instructions were in a recent issue of the Art of Angling Journal , although offhand I don't remember which issue. Floyd will be at Danbury and Somerset.

David Martin is from Reno, NV. His flies were recently profiled in the Art of Angling Journal. David also sells his flies through The Flyshop of Redding , CA although you must wait in line for some time and don't even think about buying a cricket! The next he makes is mine!!!!!!! David makes some impressive flies which look amazing. If you get a chance look up this issue to see a bit more about David.

Brad Wilson made a set of wasps for me. This is in a bell jar and contains part of a real nest as the display. These wasps are wonderful and look like the real thing. I immediately snapped up this set as part of my fly collection. Brad's company is called the " The Artful Fly" his phone is: 570-537-3043.


Great Gift Idea:

I picked some copies of the Oliver Edward's Fly Tyer's Masterclass. These are hard backed copies signed by Oliver and not available here in the US. These are an idea gift! Hurry I have only a few copies. $35 each.

Tired of getting the same old stuff like socks and ties which stick in the back of your closet? I can help yours pick out a nice gift. Tell your Santa to give me an email and I will help them pick out a nice gift for you.

JW Outfitters is reintroducing the Tyer's bags. The old line will be dropped and the new line will out this spring. This is the last chance to buy one of the old style Pro Models. Price starts at $135. You can pack a ton of stuff in this bag. Sides of the bag makes a great place to put all of your pins on it. I keep mine packed at all times.

Thread trees are a great item for the bench. Made oak and holds a bunch of thread, wire and tinsels. I have a few left at $18.


New Stuff:

Mike's Hook Boxes: These are large stacking boxes. Made of high impact plastic, these boxes have a snap lid and can be used to store hooks, beads or eyes. No more fumbling around with tons of blister packs, zip bags. Can be used on the bench or as a travel item. Will hold hundred packs of hooks and will keep hooks up to a size 2. Sizes: Double ( on left): 4"*10" or Single: ( on right): 4"*10". Single size has interlocking feature to daisy chain several boxes together. Price: Single: $5.00, Double: $6.00

Pre Shaped Foam Chug Bug Bodies: These are a bit bigger than the SR bug bodes I have carried for the last few years. Not quite as big as a pencil popper, very unique shape. Easy to make: push onto hook, wrap hook with thread and then coat thread with super glue and pull forward. Dress with legs, eyes, tails and you are done. Colors: Chartreuse, Yellow, Purple, Black and White. 2 Sizes: Reg ( Size 2 Hook) Large( Size: 2/0). Both sizes can be used in saltwater. $4.50 Pack of 5

Pre Shaped Layered Chug Bodies: Same foam material as above in layers. Lots of unusual colors, useful for bass, saltwater and pike bugs. Layered colors: Red/White, Black/White, Purple/Black, Chartreuse/Yellow, Yellow/Black. Reg or Large. $4.50 per 5

Micro Bead Chain Eyes: These are small size bead chain eyes, pre-cut into pairs. Each pair is pre-painted to give the eye and interesting effect. Used on some Stalcup patterns and useful for nymphs and smaller streamers. Colors: Olive, Rainbow or Black. $2.00

Scud back; Very popular transparent strips that stretch. New colors: Black, Yellow, Brown, Chartreuse. Makes cool nymphs, super caddis bodies. These are all clear and 1/8" wide. $1.50\

Nymph Stretch ( AKA Nymph Skin) : Pre cut latex strips in dyed colors. Sub for nymph skin used in Steve Thorton patterns. About 1/4" wide, stretches and can be split. Colors: Black, Natural, Olive, Yellow, Brown, Caddis Green. $3.00

Stalcup's Flashback: Pearl sheet material dyed and crinkled. Can be used on scuds, flashback, crabs or shrimp. Really unique. Makes some cool stoneflies. Black, Pearl, Olive Brown, Peacock, Orange. $2.75

Australian Calf Body Hair: Extra select calf body hair, by far the best quality of material I have ever had! Use for Wulffs, Parachutes and Ausable dries. Tanned patches which are soft and flat with straight long fibers. Excellent. $2.50/patch

Finn Raccoon Tails : These are very nice and unusual. The hair is mostly gold with black bars. Hair is useful for making hair wings and Clouser Minnows. Colors: Natural Gold, Dyed Olive, Dyed Rust, Dyed Purple, Dyed Orange. $4.50 each

Two Toned Rabbit Strips: These are zonker strips with dyed tips. Base color is solid and the tips have a variety of colors. Creates a two toned effect for zonkers. Standard width with standard cut strip. Colors: (Tip is first) Purple/Fuchsia, Purple/Hot Pink, Black/Red, Black/Hot Orange, Black/Chartreuse, Black/Hot Pink, Black/Olive: $3.00

Icelandic Horse Hair: This is some really cool stuff! Shown in Fly Fisherman, this is a nice material which I have stocked for 2 years. The fibers are about 1 1/2" long and are used for salmon flies in Iceland. This could be used here for nice streamer wings. Use for Charlies or Gotcha's too. Colors: Black, Nat. Gray, White, Chestnut/Tan, White, Yellow, Orange, Chartreuse, Purple, Olive. $3.95


Coming in Jan: I will be carrying the new line of Whiting necks. These are spey hackles which have no stems. The feathers are sort of like blue ear pheasant, although not as large. They are ideal for spey hackle and are very soft. Tom spendt about 4 years developing this line and nothing is available like this. Colors are mostly white and dyed. I will have most of the salmon/steelhead colors. Price I think will be around $15-$25 for #3. I should have these at the winter shows.


Fishing report: Fishing is slow. Cool, lots of snow and I haven't heard much. Best bet is to dust of the vise and start tying. Another bet is to pack it up and head south. Florida can be very nice in the winter or so I am told. Snow is helping to restore the water in the Catskills which is needed. ======================================================

Shows I will be at the World of Fly Fishing Show, Danbury, CT Jan 3-5.

The next week I am the Fly Fishing show, College Park Md and I will be at Somerset Jan 23-25.


As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068 . 607-347-4946. Email:, Web Site:

Happy Holidays. Mike