Tying Unsinkable Dry Flies

This blog will take off where the book "Unsinkable Dry Flies" left off, listing new and different ways to tie flies by attaching a air bubble to the hook. The flies displayed may be imitations of flies found in other reference materials or something completely unique. If you have a new idea email us, we will endeavor to post it on the Blog with your credit.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Salmonfly - Unsinkalbe

The first fly I ever tied using heat shrink was a poorly designed Salmonfly.  The Salmonfly is still one my favorite flies to tie.  The latest and greatest version of this fly is pictured below. .  This fly floats like a cork and is impossible to sink.


Salmon Fly tied using colored latex tubing
In the fly above I used colored latex tubing vs heat shrink to form the air bubble because the coloring more closely matches of the insects found on my home waters of the Big Hole River.  

The materials are as follows:

Hook - any brand 6x long
Thread - brown and orange
Body - either colored or orange heat shrink or colored orange latex tubing
Wing - home made wings brown-green mix with black netting (see blog posting 2-19-2012)
Legs - brown rubber
Eyes - black mono
Egg Sack - round black foam
Collar - brown saddle




Shown in the picture above are the materials that can be used.  Note the two bodies the one on the right is the colored latex and the other orange UV heat shrink available from Performance-PCS. The heat shrink body has been shaped with a soldering iron prior to attachment to the hook whereas the latex body is shaped by pulling the thread tightly around the hook shank.  The egg sack is glued into place with super glue.  The eyes shown are mostly for show and not really necessary to tie a good working fly.  On the underside I cut the bottom off the optional brown saddle to provide a better profile on the water.  

The flies below do not have the optional brown saddle collar.  The reason most salmon fly tiers add a collar or fur as wing is to provide flotation.  This is not necessary on many unsinkalbe flies, especially large ones like a salmon fly, because of the air trapped inside the fly body.   If you like a really bright fly try using metallic orange thread for the collar as well as UV orange heat shrink like the top fly below.   


Salmon Flies w/o optional brwon saddle

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BWO - Emerger - Tying Mayflys

Recently I found a great article in Flyfishing & Tying Journal (Summer 2015) by Boots Allen titled Better Buoyancy for Your Mayfly Emergers.  While the article content is outstanding and I'm a believer in the use of foam, the application of Heat Shrink tubing can create a Ever Float Emerger that will out perform any emerger you have ever tied or used.  

The materials used are as follows;

Hook - Size 16 Sproat Bend
Thread - 6/0 Olive
Body - Heat Shrink (HS) 1/8 Inch Clear - Colored with Olive Alcohol Ink
Ribbing - Gold Thread
Hackle - Grizzly
Wing - Polypropylene Hair
Tail/Suck - Tail Mono Green or Suck Gray Polypropylene Hair



HS  Before Coloring - Hook - HS After Coloring - HS Ready For Hook


The fly above has a tail and no suck.  To add a suck replace the 3 green mono with a thin grouping of light gray polypropylene hair.  This HS Emerger will float better than one tied using foam because of the air trapped inside and the fact polypropylene is used as the wing.  HS can be used to tie any Mayfly - if you want to tie smaller than size 16 you will have to use smaller diameter HS.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hybrid Imitator


This fly is a cross between a Royal Wulff, Royal Trude, Parachute Adams or Humpy, Spinner, and my own Wonder Bug.  I tied it for the dog days of summer and it works well to bring larger fish to the surface.  Out performs a Royal Wulff I believe because of the great silhouette it presents in the water – to see what I mean look at it from the underside with a light above as shown in the last picture above.

Hook:    Any brand 4X long size 6 to 16 with a fine wire, having as wide a gape as possible or a Mustad 3261
Thread: Black6/0 (70 denier) or larger
  Tail:       Golden pheasant tippets
Body:    (Traditional Materials) Peacock Herl/Red Floss/ Peacock Herl – (Non-Traditional Materials) Black foam or Floss/Red Heat Shrink/Black Foam Floss(as presented)
Legs:    Medium to fine speckled white rubber centipede leg material
Wing:    White material made with heat-n-bond and netting
Post:     White Polypropylene Yarn
  Hackle: Tied parachute style Grizzly and Brown mixed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Articulating Dry Flies and Nymphs

Articulating flies have been part of streamers for some time and a gentleman named Dave Hise started appling this principle to nymphs and dry flies.. A couple of months ago before I knew Mr. Hise was out there I started tying such flies in sizes 6 to 18 using both my unsinkable method as will as more conventional materials . The first fly I tied and fished was a red ant which I call my Fire Articulating Ant.  


To test any new fly I generally take it to a spot on my local river that gets pounded by drift boats as well as walk in anglers.  I don't always have success at such a place, but if I can catch fish here, I figure I can catch them anywhere.  To my amazement the articulating ant was an outstanding success.  This is what made me apply this articulating style to other flies both dry and wet as shown below.   These flies have a catch rate that would make most any angler happy.


To tie such a fly use two hooks and tie the back half of the fly first.  Then using a small section of something like Spiderwire (Braided Cord) in at least 15 pound test attach the back half of the fly to the forward hook that will become the front of the fly (See Below). 


After wrapping the front hook shaft with your thread (shown in yellow) fold the Spiderwire back and wrap again to insure the attaching line will not separate under hookup conditions. Once the hooks are connected you can finish tying the front half of the fly. The pictures below show the actual attachment method.  The last picture in the series the excess braided cord being clipped off prior to tying the front half of the fly.   


The two most successful flies I have tied to date are a salmon fly nymph and my own creation the Wonder Bug shown below.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Making Fly Wings That Float

Making wing material that floats is a fairly simple process. To start you need the following items:
1. A pressing table
2. Iron
3. Scissors
4. Heat-n-Bond
5. Netting or Polypropylene (PP) Hair
6. Polyethylene foam sheeting
7. Alcohol ink for additional coloring
8. Teflon Pressing Pad

The next step in the process is to determine the color of the wing material to be produced. The wing material can be colored with alcohol ink or just the use colored netting or hair. If ink is to be used it is best to apply it to polyethylene foam sheeting or in some cases directly to the Heat-n-bond material. If ink is used color the entire sheet of material to be used.



After coloring whatever material you are using cut a sheet of Heat-n-bond twice the size of the wing material to be made and lay it out with the colored sheet on top. Then add the netting or PP hair. In this sample the colored sheet is red and black netting is laying on the bottom half with PP black hair on the top half laid out in a random pattern. The Heat-n-Bond is now ready for folding after application of a second colored polyethylene sheet.

With the second sheet applied fold the Heat-n-Bond over to form a sandwich. The two sheets of foam, netting, and hair are all inside the folded Heat-n-Bond. The iron has been set on the hottest setting and the sandwich placed on a Teflon pressing pad to avoid sticking of the over lapping edges of the Heat-n-Bond.


Using the iron press the Heat-n-Bond from the fold to the outer edge until one side is completely flattened. Then turn the sandwich over and press the other side making sure that all edges on both sides are covered. Set the pressed sandwich aside and let it cool completely.




After the sandwich has cooled complexly peal back one side of the Heat-n-Bond. Then peal the other side from the fold to remove the backing from the now completed wing material.



The finished material will look some thing like this or these other examples we have made (see below). If you do not use the polyethylene sheeting, as we did above, you should add another sandwich layer of Heat-n-bond to provide sufficient strength and prevent the wing material from tearing. It should be noted that you can also add glitter, flash, tinsel, or other attractor materials to make the finished wings more luminous.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7 Killer Unsinkable Dry Flies

Red Eye PMD - Skwala - Stonefly







Mige Size 18 - Linneweh - Golden Stone








Black Caddis


These patterns are very effective





Friday, December 9, 2011

Rubber Tubing

Natural Latex Rubber Tubing is another material that can be used to tie "Unsinkable Dry Flies." The material comes in sizes with an inside diameter of 1/16" to 1" with the most useful sizes being 1/16", 1/32", 1/8", and 3/32." The best wall thickness is 1/16" to 1/32." The tubing has specific gravity of less than one and will float even without an air bubble trapped inside. Colored tubing is available but is expensive compared to the natural color shown here. The tubing can be colored with permanent marking pens or inside with the use of alcohol based ink. It also works extremely well to tie nymphs. An example is shown to the left -- simply wrap the hook shank with lead and slide the tubing over the wrapped shank -- Then add skin, legs, antenna, etc.