Adding New Life to Flies:

By Mike Hogue

Each season loads of new materials come out. Much of the time several of these products are very similar and so a fair number of tyers get confused by all of the choices and colors. Quite frankly we are very lucky there are so many new products and choices for us to use. Many of these new products can enhance or in some cases improve on traditional patterns that so many of us are familar with. I will try to give you some ideas on how to improve your flies.

I think that creativity, imagination and design are at the heart of any good fly. I can teach most reasonably talented people who can use their fingers and hands well the technique and skill of fly making. What I can't teach is artistic skills or a feeling for how textures can interact to create a new design.

I think the hardest thing any new tyer faces is repeating and making the fly exactlly as it is shown or in the precise manner described. Since a tyer is new, he/she has no idea of how to make the fly.In a fair number of books I have read, the instructions are difficult to follow, misleading or some cases just plain wrong. For instance for a few years I wrapped my thread backwards because I had practiced it that way for a long time. I had no idea I did this until someone corrected my mistakes. My point is this. Just because it says do "X" , use "Y" does not mean that is the only way to do it. If you are an advanced tyer please do not teach any student you have a "route"method of exactlly doing what I do.......Instead encourage folks to try new products, use new methods and to look at things as a whole rather than just the task at hand.

Keep in mind that are often subsitutes for many of the same things which work as well or better than the original product.

Try subbing materials. Try changing textures. For example Ultra Hair, Fishhair and Bucktail are basically can be used for the same type of fly. Mostly they are used for streamer wings but each has different textures. By adding several of these textures together you create a new fly.

Add highlites or mix disimilar products: I often use 5-6 kinds of dubbing at once. I mix several colors to get a mixed texture and colors. I will mix fur, flash and coarse hair dubbings to create a new mixture. Rarely if ever do I use a straight color for a body or a dubbing. Adding colored wires, tinsels or holographic materials can improve a fly also. A good example of this is using holographic flashabou as a tinsel. Use this to update a royal wulff for example. I often use silk floss mixed with a colored wire rib, to give the fly an extra punch.

Something simple as thread can be very effective. A good example is the Ausable Wulff. In Better's pattern he uses Flo. Orange thread to give the fly extra visability. I often use a Red collar or Flo Orange. When used against a dark color, the small bright collars create a really fish catching pattern. Thread can also be used for ribs on small flies too.

Look for materails in non traditional sources. I once ripped a new rug I bought to get the yarn. I was looking for antron yarn and I found some in a rug I bought for $3.00 at the lumber yard. Shopping in craft, discount or hardware stores is often a good bet. I have some nice products which a fair number of folks have discarded. A classic example of this is Bett's Zing wing which is basically Chinese twine used to bind stacks of books. Betts literally pulled this out of the dumpster at a Pier One Imports. I suspect that while you won't discover a new material and lots of riches in selling this stuff, you will have a bunch of fun seeking it out and making new flies with it. Good luck.

In effort to confuse you even more, I have found these items for you. I have done all of the leg work and every new worthwhile thing is here! By shopping here, I have saved you countless trips to Wal-Mart, Bass Pro, Cabela's and all of the rest. All of these things are different, unique and will enhance any fly pattern.

Bird Skins:

Whiting Farms Midge Saddles: Very tiny, small dry hackles. Ties size 22-24! 1/2 Pelt, Bronze Grade, Grizzly, Med Dun, Brown $45.00

Cortnix Quail: These are very cool for soft hackles. Mix of yellow, ginger, cream and tan. Great for caddis soft hackles, PMD's or any light mayflies. $12.00

Prairie Chickens: Mix of Brown, Tan and Yellow. Useful for sculpin fins and some interesting thorax flies. More or less the size of a small pizza. Call it Prairie Calizone. $6.50

Western Blue Grouse: Dark dun skins w/some fine speckling or white pepper. Ideal for stoneflies, large nymphs, small spey hackles. Mask & backs of wings are useful for soft hackles. Grade 1: $25.00

#1 Silver Pheasant: White or silver with black bars. Often used on Carrie Stevens flies. Complete skin (no tail) $42.00

Reeves Pheasant: Chestnut w/brown edge, used in streamer patterns. Sort of like the Whiting White Laced stuff. Very cool. No tail. $25.00

Assorted Feathers: I added some new feathers packets. Dyed gadwell is great for spey hackles. Use as an " over collar " or wind on the front to make a nice fly.

Dyed Gadwell: Wide and long dyed flank. Useful for spey hackle. Colors: Flo Blue, Chartreuse, Orange, Purple $1.75, all 4 for $6.00

Micro Fleck Turkey Flats: These are white turkey flats which are speckled and then dyed. Use on spinner wings or thorax flies or tie in as a clump. Used on many Harrop flies. Choose from Dark Dun, Lt. Dun, Olive, White or Wooduck. $2.50

Dubbing: I have added packets of Spirit River dubbing in individual packs. Stock up on your favorite dubbings or add to your collection. Great color and texture selections. Don't miss the industrial size packs I have listed below. This is the best way to get a boat load of dubbings.

Antron: Single packs of popular material. Squirrel Belly, Hare's Ear, Tan, Med Olive, Cahill Cream, Light Grey, Yellow Stone, Red/Black, Black, Pink, Orange, Charcoal, White. $1.50

Australian Opossum Dubbing: Long time favorite is back in single packs! Ideal for nymphs. Colors: Black, Rust, Olive, Natural, Yellow Stone & Sulfur Orange, Bleached $1.50

Fine and Dry: Dry fly dubbing in individual packs. Choose from: Black, Rust, March brown, Hare's Ear, Adams, Blue Dun, Med olive, BWO, Tan, Hend Pink, Creamy Yellow, Creamy White. $1.50

Spirit River's Dubbing Sof-Pak: Industrial sizes of dubbing. Tube with 10 colors. Chose from Squirrel Blend, 'Possum Plus or Fine N Dry. $9.00 each

Stalcup's Micro Fine Dubbing: A new natural dubbing dry fly dubbing. Micro Fly Dub is cut short so that even the smallest of flies can be tied evenly. Very nice and easy to use. Dispenser of 12 colors. $12.00

Streamer hair. Many of this will add new life to some of your favorite flies. Try combining several colors to improve your streamers.

Arctic Runner ( AKA Icelandic Horse).Dick Talleur loves this! Very nice hair which is about 1 1/2" Long. Colors: Purple, White, Dark Gray, Chestnut, Flo Yellow, Hot Orange, Olive, Chartreuse. $4.00 each

Strung Fuzzly Fiber: Soft wavy fibers for streamers and saltwater flies. 11" Long. Colors: White, Green, Chartreuse, Neon Blue. $3.00

Unique Hair: This is smaller, finer more supple version of super hair. 11" long. Colors: Chartreuse, Olive, Peacock, Orange, Smoke, Tan, White. $3.00

Bill Skilton Materials: Bill added some new things and I grabbed them up. His new book will be released shortly.

Cress Bug Yarn: Used to make Bill's cress ug. olive or tan. $1.75

Hard Shell Strechy Foam: Black hard shell foam that streches! New material which changes sizes. 3" x 6" sheet. $2.00

Maribou Chenille: Very soft chenille which gives you a marabou effect when wrapped. Use for tails or extended body nymphs. Makes cool leeches too. Olive, Black, Brown, Claret, Bronze Olive. $1.50

Nymph Gill Yarn: Used to make bellies of nymphs, nymph gills or on stoneflies and crawdads. Beige or Pale Olive: $1.50

Foam Inch Worm Bodies: Small 3/32 foam in chartreuse to make the famous PA inch worm. $2.50

Maribou Chenille: Very soft chenille which gives you a marabou effect when wrapped. Use for tails or extended body nymphs. Makes cool leeches too. Olive, Black, Brown, Claret, Bronze Olive. $1.50 ( Note some of this is due to come in shortly.)

Danville Single Strand Floss: For years I loved this floss but always hated splitting the floss and dividing the 4 strands. I had this made specifically for me by Daniville. Use w/ your floss bobbins! This is available nowhere else!!! Colors: Yellow, Burnt Orange, Black, Light Blue, Red, Purple, Olive, Green, Claret. $1.00

Danville Depth Ray Hot Floss: Single strand floss in hot flo colors. Very bright colors. Use for salmon or steelhead. Put under some jelly cord for cool effect on trout flies. Try as a California or TN Wulff is you use yellow and chartreuse. How about the Salmon River blue Wulff?????Choose from Flo. White, Flo. Green, Flo. Yellow, Flo. Orange, Flo. Red & Flo. Blue. $1.00

If you caught the Art of Angling Journal's primere issue, you saw an article about these great tools. I have added several new tools made by these fine folks. Each tool has a solid Cocobolo wood and brass handle.

Wastach Tools' Shepard's Hook. This is a dubbing tool shaped like a shepard's crook. Ideal for use in making dubbing brushes or dubbing wires. Similar to the old Matarelli hook. $15.00

Wasatch Bird's Tool: The head is shaped like a triangle, so that you can flip the head and twist the dubbing loops on the side. Cocobolo wood with brass. $15.00

Wastach Ceramic tip Bobbin: These have a ceramic tip w/brass feet and a wooden center thumb rest. Beautifully made! Standard or stout. $15.00

Wasatch Wood Stackers: Beautiful! Made of solid Cocobolo wood w/a small brass coin for added weight, these are the perfect stackers. Small: $10.00, Medium: $12.00, Large: $12.00

Badger Creek's Carrie Steven's Hook: From antique stocks. 10 XL w/a loop down eye. Use for making New England streamer flies. Size 4 only. $5.00/ pack of 50


Shows and such:

I will have a booth at The Fly Fishing Fair, March 9 & 10. This is Philadelphia's only ALL Fly Fishing Show. Show is located at the Tri-States Sports Complex in Ashton, PA. Short drive from NJ, DE and lots of PA. Speakers include Ed Koch, Ed Jaworowski, Jim Freda, Don Holbrooke, Chuck Furimsky, Gary Mauz, Charlie Collins. Ed Shenk and Rhea Topping. Go to for more info. or call 800-848-1020

I will also be at the Ithaca Fly Fishing Day, March 23 from 9 to 4. This is a fun FREE day of info on Ithaca fly fishing. Sponsored by the Community Fly Fisher and TU this will be a great day. For more info email Shahab Faranegan at or call 607-272-2292. Lots of guest speakers, games and fun for the kids. Ed Englemann will be there to show off the hub cap vise, the blender vise and several other tools.

Plan to attend the 1st Catskill Fly Tyer's Guild Fly Tyer's Rendezvous. This spring the Guild is organizing a special one day fly tying event. The Fly Tyers Rendezvous will include Tyers from all over the Northeast. We will gather in Roscoe within a short distance from the banks of the famed Beaverkill River for a day dedicated exclusively to fly tying. Join us for a day of fun-filled fly tying. See new patterns; learn a new technique from those that have mastered tying the Catskill style of fly.

Watch them tie the Patterns which were developed in this region. Come fishing, make new friends, and renew old ties. Over 50 Tyers will be demonstrating their skills and fly making abilities. This event is free, nonprofit and open to the public.

Date: Saturday, April 13, 2002 Time: 10 am to 3:30 PM Location: Rockland House Restaurant, Roscoe, New York.

For more info please contact: Mike Hogue, 1408 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, 607-266-0736 or e-mail:; or Judie Darbee Smith at 607-498-6024 or Email:


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, 1408 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850. 607-266-0736. Email:, Web Site: