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Hollow Fly Update

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As earlier posted, I started building large flies for saltwater and pike and my early results was a pleasant surprise.

I used one of the most under-used tools to correct the lateral line, the surgical scalpel and with respect to using tab eyes from China (eBay: lifefly-outdoor) and the UK (Funky Eye Tying) – just do it!. The UK supplier has greater diversity, but the eyes from China seem fantastic as well at a great price.

I used for the first time, the video feature in my camera and hopefully this video will provide a sense of the form of the fly.

And yes, if you are tying hollow flies, please go with tab eyes. No they are not common or easy to find, but they do not crush the body you just created.




Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/29 at 06:23

Hollow Flies

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Early Review – as earlier stated, I do not like doing reviews until I have an extended time with the product or experience, et cetera.  In this case, I am impressed enough to provide some feedback before the usual year has gone.

    1. Gunnar Brammer Flies – Excellent!  I have really enjoyed fishing his Catnip and Jerk Jr.  90+% of the flies I fish with I tie, but I have, will and continue to use well-tied flies by others.
    2. Gunnar Brammer Fly Tying Video – Excellent. The information provided is not just to tie a fly, but how to improve as a tyer.
    3. Steve Farrar Fiber Blend – Excellent for Hollow-Point Flies.

So here is my first hollow fly (preparing for Pike Season for next spring), and even though this was an experiment (with some errors and improvements are required (see notes below)), it is an excellent and fishable pike 6″ (150cm) long fly.


hollow 1_DSC1490

hollow 2_DSC1484


  • Hook – Mustad 34007 1/0 (some of my spares), but probably would goto the Ahrex Aberdeen Predator PR330 (once all of my 34007 are gone) or Partridge ACS/E Attitude Hook.
  • Tail – Old Standby – White Deer.  This is a fine choice, but if you want a really long tail, consider some robust (saltwater) rooster saddles.
  • Top Body – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Olive. Until this week, I have not had a good word for artificial winging hairs, but I have changed my view. These “hairs” are light, do no absorb water and with the wave pattern you can build bulk-shape easily. I have a limited selection of colours (as illustrate above), but I will be investing more.
    Like EP fibers, SF Blend is not cheap, but this material allows you to build a large fly that will not be heavy!
  • Under Body – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Off-White.  Of the starting 5 colours I have, this one did not have the same pattern and does not build up as well. I will be looking at other light colours that have the same “volume” as the Olive.
    These materials are not available to me locally, so I have to mail order them, and sometimes you are disappointed.
  • Top Wing – Steve Farrar Flash Blend – Bleeding Black. Excellent.
  • Tie in Technique – The fibers were tied to the back and given the body of the SF Hairs, this worked well. Never-the-less, traditionally Hollow Point flies are tied points forward, then push back and held in place by a thread dam. I will need try this on test 2.
  • Lateral Scale – I should been more careful on the placement, length and clipped off the curl. My bad and I got sloppy as I was so focus on the artificial hair.
  • Eyes – And though not illustrated, my initial experiments with traditional eyes was not satisfactory. Yes, compressing flies to the head is great for “jerk” flies, but destroys the body for a hollow fly.  So either go with no eyes or tab eyes.
    I have some tab eyes on order, and will experiment with them.

So, some experiments are still outstanding, but if you are looking to some large flies for Pike or the Salt, look at Gunnar’s site and give Steve Farrar Flash Blend a try.

If you want to get some additional pointers from youtube, then search for ” aswfstevefarrar  “, and my intent is still stick with this, and improve.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/11/08 at 23:45

Veevus 14/0, if not Danville Threadmaster

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As reported earlier, I have been slowly transitioning to Veevus thread as my replacement for the discontinued Gudebrod for trout flies, but have wondered what thread “size” is right (for Veevus).

While cleaning up my area, I noticed I had 3 similar pink threads – Danville 6/0, Veevus 10/0 and 14/0.  Thinking what would be a good practical test, I settle on a trout fly that demands fine and strong thread – a small Kaufmann Stimulator – tied on a size 16 TMC 2312.  Bulky thread makes a clean head difficult, while a weak thread will break when you tie in the deer hair wings.  It is a fly that demands good thread control, with a thread that is fine and strong, but lays flat so as not to cut the deer hair.

Now – for me – this is a demanding fly, and I need to be warmed up – to do this fly well, id est the old adage applies – the first hundred are practice.  It is this reason that I referencing a video showing a good tie, than  picture of some poor test flies I did.

But in the end, my test results were:

  • Veevus 10/0 – strong, but created a bulky head – not accepted.
  • Veevus 14/0 – strong enough and created a fine head – acceptable.
  • Danville 6/0 – strong enough and created the finest head – preferred.

This is a great fly, and it has served me well, but I find it spins on the cast and after some time results in a twisted leader. With experience, I have developed a preference for a dry fly that sits into the film, so I rarely tie this fly on.

If I am not using a stimulator, what I have replaced it with?  I start off with the Oliver Edwards’ Caddis from his book – Raffia Wings with a dubbing-deer hair body mix – as a diving Caddis.

Caddis 5 DSC_7220

I forget where I picked this pattern up, but its similarities to the Stimulator are high.

ys 5 DWW_4522

And then there are Roman’s Ballon Caddis.

Balloon Caddis_1850

So deer hair is prominent in all flies here, but if there is another recommendation – but admittedly one I have not used – I would suggest the CDC Bubble Caddis is worth the effort it tie and experiment with.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/15 at 03:28

Posted in Dry Flies, Fly-Tying

Tube Bunnies – Supporting Notes

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z Olive_DSC9939

z Chatreuse_DSC9948

Note that I am using white Lady Amherst as my lateral line.

z Black_DSC9957

Supplier – ProTube.  The system provided by Protube is fine, but I wish the same could be said for their supply change.  The broad discussions with retailers in the US and Canada would indicate the faults of supply and availability are up the supply chain – distributor and-or company itself.

I have not found supply to be better in Sweden either, and ProTube’s head office is in neighbouring Denmark.

If I was starting fresh, I would look to Canadian Tube Fly Company .  I would call Stuart and have him to create a kit for the species you want to target.  He also has some great feathers to.

Rigging – I been working with two distinct approaches – trailer and in the tube.

For long flies that are always under tension on a swing, I will extend the hook back using an open loop knot that wraps around the hook eye (like a Turle knot). The beads are used to prevent the knot coming into the tube, and thus defines the length of the trailer.  The tippet should be stiff, and my preferred tippet is Chameleon 12 lb or if I am using 16-20 lb, then will transition to Seaguar Blue Fluorocarbon and be prepared to use a size 4 hook.

The hooks I use are Black or Read Up-Eye Hooks – Gamakatsu Octopus 2306 Sizes 8 and 6, Mustad 92568 BLN Size 6, 4.  or Owner SSW 5115-073 Size 4

The challenge is defining the open loop length, which in the following image is too small.  (I bought this fly out of the UK, so see how they (he) ties flies for a reference).

z hook _DSC0103

And for small flies, put the hook eye into the tube (after you have tied on the tippet).  And which hook do I use for this? – Gamakatsu C14S, size 8 and 6.

z hook _DSC0114

Above is an alternate tie that I like to for black tube bunnies – silicon legs and guinea collar.  I have also done dark purple under bellies to.

Rod – I will use my tube flies to chase trout, but you do not want to use a traditional single-hand 4-5wt to throw my tube bunnies, as the fly is too heavy after it absorbs water. Thus,  if I have my dry fly rod in my hand, and want to move to a streamer, I will change over to a muddler or change my rod – either a two-hand Meiser 12’6 4wt (1264S) or my single hand Scott Arc 10′ 7wt.

Please note the AFTM rating for a single hand 5wt rod is 140 grains, but the line weight of the shooting head for the “Trout” 4wt Meiser is 324gr – much more than single weight rod and can handle the smaller tube bunnies. This illustrates, where traditional line rating for “spey” rods does not transpose to the single-hand family of rod.

I would also caution, if you want to throw larger tube flies on the Meiser 1264 than my previously posted tube bunnies, I would suggest you change materials (Arctic Fox) or get a heavier rod!

What heavier (stronger) Spey rods, do I have

  • Meiser – 1305S – 5 piece (it can travel with me) – with a 411 grain head
  • Burkheimer 7134 – 520 grain head.  Makes a great steelhead rod, but a little too much for most trout.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/06 at 01:18

Streamers – tube bunnies

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AA DSC9922

And with the exception of my black flies, this is the gamut of tube bunny colours that I use.

For fly-fishing, I like to throw dry flies, but if the fish are not eating off the surface, I am more likely to move to streamers or wet-flies, versus the effective (efficient) nymph techniques that has been so well refined in the past 20 years.

I will catch fewer fish, but I seem to enjoy the hunt more, with throwing that large streamer in the pool or pocket, searching for that aggressive fish.

So what flies are critical to me, in this pursuit.

  1. Sculpzilla – Size 8
  2. Marabou Muddles – Size 4-6
  3. Conehead Muddles – Sizes 10-6
  4. Tube Bunnies – Tube flies <5cm.

There are other great flies out there – think the Deceiver, Clouser Minnow and anything articulated from Kelly Galloup.  If I was going to add more flies into my box, it would be a Clouser for mid-summer crawfish imitation or Galloups’s Heifer or Dungeon for the good big or go home events.

One observation from our last fishing trip – in soft water where you are stripping in flies – the rear weighting of a tube fly can result in an unnatural pause as the fly slides back with the rear hook weight. It is important to have weight in the head of the fly in these situations.

So here is how I tie my trout tube bunnies for soft water, where the fly may not always be under tension, when presented to the fish. (The alternative is to tie on a Sculpzilla). (Please note that I am experimenting with using an iPhone 6 as my camera for this SBS).

Using the Protube System, put on a medium bullet weight.

1. IMG_6634

Secure your thread, as bulk is important (or lack of it), I am using Danville Flymaster 6/0.

2. IMG_6636

Attach the X-Cut Rabbit for the under belly, at the front of the weight.  Sorry, for the picture, I am also showing a waste piece extending on the far side. This is not necessary.

3. IMG_6637

Using a Magnum (wide) Rabbit strip for the top, cut a 6cm strip,  Trim the tail end to form a blunt taper. This provides for a more natural profile, when being fished.

4. IMG_6639

Leaving 3cm for the rear, wet the front of the rabbit and pull forward to separate the fibers.  Then secure the rabbit  over the X-Cut, at the leading edge of the weight.

5. IMG_6641

Do a tight wrap forward of the under-belly – 3-4  turns, and secure. You should not have advance more than 15mm forward.

If using a plastic head, keep the underbelly to 10mm.

6. IMG_6643

Trim the top head to a taper. This is important to keep the bulk of the head down.

As we are concern with keeping bulk of the head to a minimum, we need to use good thread practices:

  1. No more than 5 turns to secure! I will use 3.
  2. Keep thread the flat – using Danville Flymaster.

7. IMG_6646

Trim the tag – excess. I will often use a scalpel to do this, but in this SBS, I have used scissors. You will also find having a small “trough” where the thread compresses the rabbit will help in securing the Lady Amherst fibers.

8. IMG_6647

Add the lateral line, with the material of your choice.

9. IMG_6650

With one turn of thread, add a clump of Lady Amherst Center Tails fibers that have been separated for the top half of the fly.

I like the colours to compliment the body, reflecting the natural I am “mocking”, but use the irregular pattern to break the uniformity of the rabbit.

10. IMG_6651

Use the bodkin and fingers, separate the feather fibers, while being head with one thread. This is a salmon fly tyers technique (shown to be my Scoville Stack), where he is using the weight of the bobbin to provide just enough weight to keep the father in place.

11. IMG_6653

Once fibers are in place, apply head cement to the top, and add a wrap.  Repeat for the bottom, and as illustrated, I have been able to secure the Lady Amherst on all sides with 3 turns of thread.

12. IMG_6659

Five (5) turn whip finish, then apply a little head cement. Here you can see, I have some bleed into the rabbit, but this will not harm the fly’s action, but avoid doing this.

13. IMG_6660

Pull fly out, apply head and trim the excess front tube, leaving

14. IMG_6664

Push the fly back onto the needle, such that the needle and tube end is flush. Then, use lighter to melt the plastic back to the head.

15. IMG_6665

Take the fly out and trim excess tube at the rear.

16. IMG_6667

I want the hook to set as closest as possible to the front, but not so close that the rabbit rear can foul (wrap) around the hook’s end.


Written by raspberryfisher

2017/05/05 at 02:38

Dye Results

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In continuation of my theme on dying and references, here are some pictures of what the dyes “will” do, with some commentary.

Please note colours do change from camera to reduction into a jpg and lastly on your screen. I suspect procedure and materials also impact the outcome. So the results will change and some subtle elements may have disappeared in this quick study below.  Never-the-less, I long ago learnt colour references are names (from watercolour painting) are not accurate indicators of outcome and very open for misunderstanding. As such, I hope this is a starting point for some.


Starting at one end of spectrum (subtractive), lets begin with

  • Jacquard Hot Fuschia – Intense and saturated
  • Dharma Pink Orchid – Tends to blue and a little dark
  • Superfly Hot Pink – Saturated and strong and a little lighter than J Hot Fuschia
  • Dharma Flamingo Pink – A dirty red.
  • Pro Chemical Hot Pink – Another strong Pink.

If I had to pick one – Pro Chemical Hot Pink, then Jacquard’s Hot Fuschia

Oh yes, this reference was intended for me, so please excuse consistency in labeling and spelling errors. Moving to the Reds …


  • Jacquard New Red – strong and intense
  • Jacquard Olive – Great Mid to Dark Olive Brown with tones to a warm red (Orange)
  • Superfly Red – string and intense –  match (same?) as Jacquard New Red
  • Dharma Flamingo Pink – as previously posted – darker, dirty red
  • Jacquard Salmon Red – muted dirty red, could be used for Claret

Must haves?  Jacquard New Red and Olive.


Took sometime to get an Orange I am happy wit, with reflects in the large sample base.

  • FlyDye Hot Orange – Nice tone when dyed strong and weak – vibrant
  • FlyDye Orange – A good orange, but it is in a strong group of other oranges.
  • Veniard Summer Duck – I find this colour deeper than actual “summer duck” feather, but it is a natural warm tone that is very pleasing
  • Jacquard Gold Ochre -Stronger and more orange than Summer Duck
  • Dharma Blazing Orange – Red and orange-red, with a complex tone
  • Cushing Buttercup Yellow – Complex, natural and great when lightly dyed
  • Veniard Flo Orange – Nice Orange, but not fluorescent
  • FlyDye Fl Orange – Yes, a strong orange that almost glows

The must haves?  FlyDye Fl Orange, Dharma Blazing Orange, Cushing Buttercup Yellow and yes, the Veniard Summer Duck

Having FlyDye Hot Orange and Jacquard Gold Ochre is also a good move.

Oh yes, there are some dye references that I do have, but not picture. I want to focus on the fair to excellent. Those that are absolute failures are not noted.

muted orange_DSC8684.jpg

With the exception of the Veniard Golden Olive and Ginger, I have noted the other colours above.  I have created this group of natural tomes for general review.

As noted, I would consider buying the Veniard Summer Duck, Jacquard Gold Ochre, Dharma Blazing Orange, Jacquard Olive and Cushing Buttercup Yellow.

700 neutral_DSC8689.jpg

  • Jacquard Silver Grey – use with another colour, as by itself it seems to machine like.
  • Jacquard Ecru – Natural mid-tone that is warm. I prefer this over the Silver Grey.

700 Yellow_DSC8686.jpg

  • Jacquard Yellow Sun – Bright and brilliant
  • Jacquard Bright Yellow – Paler and softer than Yellow Sun
  • Cushing Buttercup Yellow – Shows up again, as it natural spans and range is wide
  • Veniard Flo Yellow – Yellow-Green (does not show up on my screen)

What to use? For strong brilliant yellows goto Jacquard Yellow Sun and for natural tone colours, think Cushings’ Buttercup Yellow.

700 Green_DSC8687.jpg

I do not have a dark green, but what I do have is:

  • Jacquard Emerald – mid to dark green and if it absords, it can be closer to dark.
  • Veniard Chartreuse – dirty yellow-green
  • Jacquard Kelly Green – saturated and brilliant green
  • Jacquard Chartreuse – Yellow green and best when light in tone

I do not dye green often, but when I do I will use Jacquard’s Emerald or Kelly Green. The former if I want a bright in your face green.

700 Turq_DSC8688.jpg


Simple answer for me is Jacquard Turquoise, but the short observations are:

  • Jacquard Turquoise – Is my interpretation of Turquoise and a goto
  • Pro Chemical Turquoise – Nice, but not seen is a metallic look – see note below
  • Dharma True Turquoise – like Pro Chemical
  • Dharma Bright Aqua – Very much between blue-green (actual sample is more green)
  • Cushing Turquoise – Similar to Dharma’s Bright Aqua, but darker and duller

Phthalo Blue and Green is a synthetic metallic pigment that has a tone I have never liked and always shunned. My wife thinks I am hyper-sensitive (crazy) to this colour, but I openly noted I have a bias, but when I detect it, I shy away from it.

In the many raw pigments that you can get, this is these are the one set of pigments I find distasteful. I clearly see this pigment within the Pro Chemical and Dharma Turquoise when dyed deep.



And closing the reference pictures are the deep blues-violets.

  • Jacquard New Blue – Nice clean mid-blue
  • Jacquard Sky Blue – Pure with a large working tonal range.
  • Dharma Lilac – Again a pure color with a  wide working range.
  • Dharma Electric Blue – Deep and strong purple
  • Veniard Purple – Nice mid range purple
  • Veniard Lt Blue – Wants to dye dark

So which dyes do I reach for? Jacquard Sky Blue, Dharma Lilac, Dharma Electric Violat and yes, will use the Veniard Purple.


I hope his helps others.





Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/02 at 02:00

Posted in Fly-Tying

Dyes – Notes and Tips

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First a shout out to Gary Tanner, who details how to dye fur and feathers for fly-tying on his blog “The Rivers Course“.

Like Gary and most other serious fly-tying enthusiasts, I bought many of my acid dyes from Dharma Trading, and use Dharma’s Brand, as well as those produce by Jacquard.

Harder to find, but can produce vibrant oranges is Fly Dye, which I bought from Anglers Workshop and believe is rebranded from Orco.  I also use dyes from Pro Chemicals.

I have found Veniards’s inconsistent, so though I can highly recommend Veniard’s head cement, I cannot fully recommend their dye. There are some coloura, I may rebuy.

Similar to Veniard’s, SuperFly also repackages dye to the fly fishing community. To date, I have been happy with SuperFly, but unfortunately SuperFly is not easy to find.

Last, as reported a few months ago, I have picked up my Mother’s Cushing’s Perfection Dye stock, and very happy so far what I have used.  These Cushing Dyes are more subtle and natural (versus saturated brilliant colours from Jacquard, Dharma, et cetera that I have acquired).

What is my tip? Keep with the dyes a white hen cape (feathers) and with each batch dye a couple of feathers, dry, identify and bag them for reference. In this way, you will have a record of what the dye will do, as names are so inaccurate when describing what is produce.

Oh yes, include a feather that was in the dye bath briefly and then over an extended period, which should be near complete absorption.

My collection to date, in a container with my dye kit.


And some blues …



And my notation is to list manufacturer and their identification for the dye …



Written by raspberryfisher

2017/02/01 at 04:30

Posted in Fly-Tying