Some ten years or so past, my friend Jon Hazelet taught a spey casting clinic on the Mckenzie River for the Caddis Fly Shop. As I spoke with Jon at the end of the day, I opened up one of my fly boxes and picked out a dozen or so of my favorite summer steelhead flies, several color varieties of the Steelhead Simplicity.
Yesterday, on July20, 2017, Jon sent me this photo and a short note.
“Just caught my first summer steelhead of 2017 ten minutes ago. Remember giving me 10 or so flies years ago after the first Caddis Fly Spey class I did? Thanks buddy for the good mojo!”
Thanks for your note Jon. You made me smile. The Steelhead Simplicity will be featured in Modern Steelhead Flies (Stackpole Books; Rob Russell and Jay Nicholas, due to be published in fall 2017) as an example of the humble roots of the innovative and specialized range of steelhead flies that are being fished today across the range of the species.
The modern steelhead angler now has the opportunity to fish excellent patterns that had not even been imagined 50 years ago.
I still have a few, probably less than two dozen, of the flies that were in the box that held the flies I gave to Jon. I’m really-really happy that those flies are still producing.
My best to you all –
Jay Nicholas (21 July 2017
This is NOT a high quality video, but I think most tyers will be able to get the gist of how to tie this fly. I shot this on a Go Pro camera that insisted on focusing on my shirt instead of on the fly.
The point of this pattern is to imitate the ballyhoo fish shown below in an image I downloaded from the internet at imagearcade. My thanks for this image.
As you can see, these are large baitfish and may easily be 5 – 6″ long, so your flies should be similarly proportioned.
Hook – Gamakatsu 811-s size 2/0 or 3/0
Thread – clear mono or white
Belly – white material such as SF blend, Yak hair, varieties of sea hair
Lateral line – Hint of grey
Back – light olive, mackerel, or tan
Top of back – (optional) a few strands (perhaps 6?) in black or peacock
I fished flies like this in Baja out of Gary Bulla’s in La Ventana last week and had a great time under difficult fishing conditions of wind and short supply of baitfish. Several people in our party caught nice roosters but I did not. I did however catch dorado, skipjack and small jacks.
My week was most enjoyable owing to a combination of very nice fishing companions, experienced panga captains, comfortable accommodations, wholesome meals, and Gary Bulla himself, a gentleman/host who is enthusiastic, experienced, and held in the highest regard by his guests, staff, and panga captains.
I will follow with posts on the adventure and gear as time permits.
My best to you and thanks for all of your good wishes.
Jay Nicholas May 24 2017
This is the director’s cut of a shorter video posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog. Thanks to Guy Allen who has tied and fished this fly to perfection and is always prepared to fish some version of the pattern on his yearly trip to Baja.
So. Last minute, I decided to join Guy and Jim on their adventure to Baja. I had a great time and some blog posts will follow when I get time to write them. For the week we were there, the sardina caught a few fish but the ballyhoo fly was better because there were not very many flat iron herring around. Still this is a pattern one would be foolish to omit from their Baja fly box.
I hope you enjoy the discussion as Guy and I explore the tying and fishing of this great saltwater fly.
Jay Nicholas, spring season 2017
Chris Daughters asked me to check out the new Faux Bucktail and shoot a video to introduce this material to consumers. I picked out a few colors and it sat on my bench for over a month, with me looking at and wondering if I really wanted to mess with the stuff. It looks so picture perfect. Each fiber is the exact same length and each fiber has a perfect sharp tip. I could tell that the material would not compress and flare like the natural, and that didn’t make me happy.
Eventually I gathered courage to test drive the material.
My first dozen flies were not entirely satisfactory and I was beginning to doubt the stuff. I should note that I was also trying to tie some odd patterns and not my usual flies, so that probably influenced the outcome of my experiments.
Eventually I let go of the exploratory patterns and settled in to tie my signature bucktail fly, the Clouser Minnow. Although the result is a slimmer fly than I am accustomed to tying, the results are quite pleasing. Plus—I am convinced that my new FAUX Clousers will stand up to chewing by black rockfish far better than natural bucktail clousers have in the past.
Anyway, I invite you to check out this video, the long version of one that I recorded for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog. See if you like the fly I’ve created and then decide if you want to try the new material or stick with the usual stinky natural bucktails!
Me? I sincerely hope I’m out in a dory sometime in the next few weeks to fish these new found materials.
My best to you
Jay Nicholas – Spring 2017
You will ever fish.
Yep, that’s right.
This is the long version of the video on tying this fly complete with much conjecture and rambling. The short version will be posted very soon on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.
I hope you enjoy this extended edit of the video. This is a fly that has caught hatchery and wild rainbow, sea run cutthroat, and summer steelhead on many occasions. Tie and fish it with confidence and vary the color of the glass bead to suit your preferences.
Thank you all for your patience and good wishes.
Jay Nicholas, Spring Season 2017
Yes, I realize that I’ve already published two videos this week, but I’m on a mission to create fresh content for my blog and my YouTube Channel, so consider this a bonus post.
The fly featured here is a purple-hued rabbit-strip steelhead fly tied on a tube. My thanks to Brian Silvey for his inspiration. Most of the flies that look roughy like this are related to his rabbit strip fly. We just can’t help ourselves, can we. I’m quite sure that I will feature more rabbit strip flies similar to this but tied with different color rabbit and hackle collars.
The fly is so simple that I will not list materials but will refer you to the short version of this video at the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.
The video posted here continues my pledge to post the abbreviated (land the plane, Jay) on the Caddis Fly Blog while posting the long, rambling, story telling version on my personal blog.
One way or another, I invite you to browse the world of fly tying and see if you can find ideas and techniques of interest.
My best to you all.
Keeping with my goal of producing roughly one post for each week, here is the latest installment. This is a steelhead tube fly very much fashioned after Jeff Hickman’s Fish Taco. I have tied this fly with a blue/black color theme but I’ll reiterate my advice that most steelhead and salmon flies are not intended to be tied EXACTLY as illustrated. Part of the fun and creativity is that each tyer has the freedom to diverge, adapt, and modify flies as you see fit.
If you view this video you will see that I am learning how to edit video, and will probably decide that I have a long way to go in developing my skills.
Thanks for your patience – I hope you find something entertaining here.
Winter season, 2017
I’m starting to get into the swing, figuratively speaking, on editing and posting video content.
The Flame Boss in all its various forms is a glorious fly to fish for steelhead and salmon, heck I bet the anadromous salmonid that can resist this fly is the rare individual indeed. So I’ve taken one of my favorite steelhead flies and adapted it to a tube as shown here in this video.
The Flame Boss—if tied on a shank—would not have quite so voluminous a tail or wing. This fly tied with Pro Sportfisher Marble Fox tail seems shockingly bulky but I promise that it becomes nearly transparent when it swims. Most likely I should use the term translucent. Regardless, it is not overpowering in the water and this is a very effective fly. It is light to cast and the fish love it. A friend brought three winter steelhead to hand during this winter season while swinging this pattern.
The recipe for the fly is posted on the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog.
I hope you find some entertainment in my long rambling conversation and catch many fish on the flies you tie.
Jay Nicholas – winter season 2016/17
Here it is in late March 2017 — I’m embarking on a quest to create a new video library of (mostly) fly tying videos. I probably have over a hundred videos on the Caddis Fly Shop YouTube channel for the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog, but many of those are old news and I wanted to shoot a series of new videos that will reflect my current abilities, hair cuts, declining vision, and ever thickening glasses. Not to mention new materials, fly styles, and my latest stories and opinions.
Here is the basic approach. Chris Daughters likes me to produce short, snappy, business-like videos for the OFFB. I prefer to produce long rambling videos that allow me to go on and on about materials, and fishing techniques and such forth, including all the mistakes and broken threads and non-cooperative feathers and the like.
So I’ve decided to edit many of these new videos down to a short business-like time frame for Chris, and then edit a longer (Director’s Cut) version for my own blog.
This has been fun so far. Finally, I’m learning how to edit video with transitions and audio. I even purchased a sound track to use at the beginning and end of these videos. I sure hope you can stand the guitar, because we’re going to be hearing it over and over again.
This pattern is the first in the fly series. I hope to shoot all kinds of fly tying instructional videos for this new library—but who knows how it’s going to go. So little time and so much to do.
Jay Nicholas, March 28, 2017