Archive for May, 2009
The May edition of Art Fly is now up. Click the picture above to visit the gallery slideshow.
This month’s theme is saltwater! I can’t wait for my upcoming trip to Florida for Kayak Fishing for Red Fish and then on south for Tarpon.
The Tarpon Toad
The Toad fly was invented by Gary Merriman (owner of the The Fish Hawk in Atlanta, Georgia). It is a light weight, slow sinking fly designed for Tarpon fishing in the flats. The original version employed a rabbit strip for the tail. Later, the fly was changed by Captain Tim Hoover when he tied some toads with marabou for Andy Mill. The marabou version is now more popular than the original.
I recently spent some time with Gary and learned about the history of the fly and the proper tying techniques for success. In the coming weeks I will provide a full write-up of our conversation on Fly Art Studio and incorporate some shots of Gary tying the original Toad fly. For now, here is a tutorial on how to tie the original Toad.
Original – Rabbit tail with marabou body
Variant – Marabou tail with rabbit body
Hook – Owner SSW, Straight Eye, model 5180-121, size 2/0
Thread – Danville’s 210 Denier, waxed flymaster plus, chartreuse
Tail – Rabbit strip, barred or natural-dyed
Body – Marabou
Flash – Crystal flash or Midge flash, two or three strands only
Head – Enrico Puglisi fiber, small bunch only, tied in four sections
Eyes – Mono eyes
1. General color schemes depend on location and experience. Common colors include: A) rust tail, rust marabou, rust head, green eyes, B) brown tail, rust marabout, rust head green eyes, C) Chartreuse (sea yellow) tail, white/off-white (saltwater yellow) marabou, off-white head, black eyes, D) Pink tail, white/off-white marabou, black eyes, E) others – black/red, black/purple, pink/flesh, or ask your local guide before tying for location specific colors.
2. The mono eyes should contrast the general color scheme. If the body is darker, like rust, then green eyes are a good contrast/compliment. If the body is lighter, like off-white, then black eyes are a good contrast/compliment. These are just general guidelines.
3. Tie the fly sparse. Remember, this is a slow sinking fly which should be full of life and action. If you add too much bulk or too many EP fibers, the profile will be less effective.
4. You can use chartreuse tying thread for almost any fly. Just buy two spools of chartreuse.
Start the thread base to only half the length of the hook, end at the hook point. This leaves room at the back for the tail and keeps the rabbit fur from fouling.
Cut the rabbit strip to about 3 inches or 2.5 times the length of the hook
Tie in the rabbit strip at the hook point. Use only a few wraps and avoid bulk.
Then lift the rabbit strip and make about 8-10 wraps around the base of the material similar to a parachute post technique. This will lift the material off the hook and keep it from fouling on the cast.
Now you are ready for the marabou. It is important to choose the right material at this step. You want good quality marabou fibers. Pull out two blood quills and stroke them find the light billowy fibers.
This is what you want – a small clump of fine fibers without bulk.
This is how you accomplish the task – take the quill and find the point barb, then pinch the tip and stroke the fine feathers backward. Then cut off the barb and discard. Then restroke the feathers back in to place. The end result should be a nice small clump of angle-like feathers.
You want a quill like the one on the left. Avoid quills like the one in the middle.
Next, tie in two (or three) strands of flash. Not too much, keep it simple.
Next, tie in a small clump of marabou on the bottom of the fly. Make sure to avoid excess length on the back. Aim for something like 1/2 the length of the hook.
Do the same on the top.
Next, cut off the excess marabou in the front and be careful to avoid bulk. It is best to cut at an angle here. Wrap tight once finished but (you guessed it) avoid bulk.
Now prepare the EP (Puglisi) fibers. You want to pull of a very small bunch, something like half the diameter of a standard pencil. Avoid bulk, error on the side of smaller.
Next, tie in 4 separate strands over the TOP of the fly. Center the strands and secure with a figure 8 wrap. I make only 2 wraps each direction, followed by three wraps in front. Cut off the fiber clump at the end of the wrapping but make sure to leave a small amount of extra length on the side (you are going to trim it down later). Do this step four times and make each section tight (i.e. very close) to the previous tie in.
This is what the fly will look like once you complete four wraps.
Next, tie in the mono eyes in front of and tight to the last section of EP fibers. Use green eyes for darker flies and black eyes for lighter flies.
Next, trim the fibers in a rhomboid shape with a slight flare-out toward the back. Note, it helps to first pull the entire side clump tight and perpendicular first before trimming with one quick motion. Make sure the two sides match.
Next, scuff up the side fibers with a wire brush or Velcro tool. Whip finish and cement the head. Your done.
Finished Tarpon Toad.
NOW – GET THE FLY WET AND HAVE FUN!
“Y’all have created a monster. I’m pretty impressed with this result, considering it’s a waterproof snapshot camera.” – Abe Mathews -
This is a guest host fly tying tutorial and also a lesson on how to correct white balance using computer software. The guest, Abe Mathews, shows us how to tie the HL Midge. This was originally posted on The Itinerant Angler (www.itinerantangler.com). It is a great looking midge pattern and Abe does a great job detailing the tying steps. He used a Pentax Optio W60 waterproof point-and-shoot camera for this series. We had been discussing white balance and the challenges of getting truly corrected color out of a point-and-shoot camera for on-the-bench tying instruction. As you know, those incandescent and fluorescent bulbs can really throw off the auto white balance. However, there are some good techniques to help combat this situation before shooting and some even more powerful tips and tricks to correct color in the computer once the shoot is over. With that in mind, let’s look at Abe’s great tutorial and my follow up comments on white balance correction.
***The original Tutorial***
***The HL Midge (Hobby Lobby Midge)***
OK, I’m going to try this. I’m an awful photographer, and not much of a tier, but you all will just have to suffer through it. This is an excuse to play with the macro mode on my new camera, a Pentax Optio W60. I know the lighting is bad, I have every light I can grab on the subject right now.
I call this the HL Midge. I am positive that at least 5,000 other tiers have come up with this, but I can’t find a real name for it. The HL stands for Hobby Lobby, which is where I bought the material that makes up the fly. This is my go-to fly on the Clinch River tailwater now. I have fished Zebra midges up there for the last 4 years, but I figure every trout in the water has seen Zebras by now. Last fall I started playing around with different materials and watching the bugs on the water. It always appeared to me that the midges developed a translucent halo around them from the gases under their skin. I wondered if I could get that effect with other materials. I also noticed that the midge heads looked somewhat squared off, moreso than the rounded beads I’ve been using.
So one night Hobby Lobby was having a sale on beading materials, and this is what I came up with. It’s stupidly easy to tie, durable as hell, and catches fish. This fly has accounted for two of the largest trout I’ve caught on the Clinch. They’re not huge by other’s standards, but they still have made my day.
OK, so we start out with the materials list. 8/0 Uni Thread, Red:
Yes, that’s they finished fly on the thread spool. Then the bead. These come from Hobby Lobby, and they’re size 10/0 silver lined beads. The pictured beads are lime colored, but the one I am using on this fly is a root beer color:
The body material is a jelly-rope type material for beading. I got this sweet stack of colors, each one with something like 10m of materials for $6:
Here’s the spool we’re using, a fire orange:
Hook is a TMC 2487. I also use the 2457 and I just started using the 2488H, which I like a whole lot:
So here’s the hook and bead in the vise:
Start the tying thread and wrap an even base back to the tip of the bend. Leaving gaps in the thread also works, as it adds a variegated base color to the fly:
Here’s where I differ from a lot of recipes I’ve seen. I think the midge body should be narrow. Some recipes I’ve seen call for wrapping this type of material along the hook shank. I tie the material in at the end as if I were leaving a tail of beading cord behind the fly. I use 4 wraps with increasing tension to hold the cord in place. Then wrap quickly back to the bead:
I counter-wrap the beading cord up to the bead. I think this helps when tying off with keeping the fly from unraveling. I hold the tag end of the material in my left hand when starting out. I use a lot of tension on the first few wraps and back the tension off as I get closer to the bead to try to taper the body some. I use 4 wraps to secure the beading cord.
Pull the cord tight before cutting, it will retract back to the wraps. I muffed this a bit and ended up with a small tail of beading cord at the back of the fly. I haven’t noticed that as a problem:
An 8-wrap whip finish and you’re done!
I fish this as the point fly in a 2-fly rig. I normally have a heavily weighted size 16 Sparkle Pheasant Tail (If this goes well, I’ll do a tutorial on that one) under an indicator. 2′ of 5X to the PT, then 18″ – 24″ of fluoro 6X to the HL Midge. I carry the HL Midge in size 20 and 22, in the shown red/orange and olive/chartreuse. The fish seem to prefer the red/orange combo, but it’s somewhat dependent on the day. To get deeper, I will sometimes put a size 6 split shot about 8″ above the fly.
I fish this across into holes by casting about 4′ above the hole and letting it drop from the shelf. Takes are normally pretty solid. The only downer is that the bead is somewhat fragile, and will break if it bounces off the rocks.
Hope this fly works for you all, and I apologize if this is one you all know already. Also I apologize for the photo quality, this is new to me.
***My Reply to Abe***
Thank you for sharing the interesting HL Midge pattern. In response to your comment about photo quality, I must say that you are indeed a good photographer and your tutorial is a wonderful example of how to show others the steps involved in a fly recipe. I do agree that the color is off a bit and that is due to incorrect white balance. This is a wonderful example to show others how to correct the white balance.
White balance is important for any photograph but especially critical for fly tying photography. The viewer depends on the color of the material to understand the pattern. There are two options for balancing color in .jpeg – either “in camera” or during the shot or “post” using computer software. Photographs captured in RAW format are much easier to correct in post because the digital negative “raw” information is available to manipulate. However, most camera like the Pentax Optio and Olympus Stylus and other point-and-shoots do not have RAW available. Instead they use .jpeg which is a smaller compressed file, which unfortunately can’t be manipulated as efficiently. Thus, getting the white balance correct from the beginning will save you time and frustration when shooting .jpeg.
***Getting correct white balance in-camera***
For the Pentax Optio W60 (for example), download the .pdf user’s manual herehttp://www.pentaximaging.com/files/manual/OptioW60_e_web2.pdf
Page 51 – How to work the menus to set white balance
Page 108 – This begins the discussion on how to set your white balance. Learn it!
Page 109 (THE MONEY PAGE) – The Pentax Optio is awesome! It allows you to set a custom white balance! Again, “A custom white balance”! I wish my Olympus Stylus had this feature, it’s a big deal. Basically, you will set up your background at the beginning of each series of shots and record and set the white balance from the background (use a white or neutral grey background and avoid colors).
Page 110 – This tells you how to “meter” your fly subject. All cameras have three basic metering functions which include “multi – or – matrix”, center weighted, and spot metering. For fly pictures I generally choose spot metering because it will focus/meter on the fly itself instead of that big white background behind your tiny little fly.
***How to correct white balance on the computer without expensive software***
Here I used iPhoto but all entry level software programs offer similar sliders/adjustments (iPhoto is very good actually).
This is a screen capture of the original photograph. Notice the yellow/orange color cast on the background. This comes from the use of incandescent lighting, whether or not fluorescent lighting is used in conjunction with the main light source. To remove a color cast you have to add more of the “opposite” color. So here we will put the picture in edit mode and go the temperature sliders (if you had a RAW file and Photoshop or Aperture/Lightroom you would have more editing capability and adjustments). Adjust the sliders first with temperature to the blue/purple spectrum to cool the image. Then adjust the tint to either green or purple until the whites look white. It won’t be perfect, but it will certainly be better than the original. Once the white balance is set you can hit the image with the additional sliders above until the fly pops and looks better. Notice the settings I made below.
Hint – Once you’ve done all this work make sure to click the Copy button at the bottom so that you can apply these settings to additional images from the series by opening them into edit mode and clicking Paste. This is a huge time saver.
Original Adjustment Sliders set to zero
Modified Image with corrected white balance (not perfect, but much better). Remember, the better the white balance correction in-camera, the less work and better results in post.
Modified Adjustment Sliders (make sure to click Copy to save the settings).
Once you have copied a white balance adjustment, it can be applied to additional images with a simple paste function. Here are two examples. Notice that I made a few additional adjustments to each photograph to tweak the color.
***Advanced color correction with Photoshop***
Have you read my tutorial on getting started with point-and-shoot? Check it out here http://flyartstudio.com/wordpress/?p=187. Lot’s of additional tricks on how to get light on the front of the fly to open up the shadows and mid-tones.
Here are a few follow up pictures from Abe after he downloaded the .pdf User’s Manual and learned how to set a custom white balance. Wow, what a difference and you can tell that he is having fun. Now that is progress in very short amount of time (less than 12 hours and look at the improvement). Like most things in life, you just need to know where to look. Good job Abe.
“Hey Neal, does this one look a bit better”? Abe Mathews, less than one day after reading his manual.
This is one of my other favorite flies, the Sparkle Pheasant Tail. Shot using the manual white balance, and spot metering as suggested. No post-shot manipulation other than resizing.
This one I adjusted the light position for. I was having trouble getting the olive wire to be visible. Getting the colors of the Pheasant Tail to come out was difficult. I can see how this is kind of a running series of compromises.
OK, this is way better. Same fly, same camera settings, but I swapped out the white background for a black one. I think that really made it pop. You can see the olive wire, as well as some of the olive highlights from the dyed Pheasant Tail I used. Plus the peacock stands out better.
Y’all have created a monster. I’m pretty impressed with this result, considering it’s a waterproof snapshot camera.
Size 22 Brassie, same deal.
I tell you what, this really exposes all of one’s flaws in tying. I look at these pictures and go “yeesh, that’s a bad tie!” Something to strive for, I guess.
***One last teaching point***
If you move the background further away from your fly (4 to 6 feet actually) and use a white sheet of paper to reflect “bounce” light back on the front of the fly you will open up the shadows and brighten up the fly without getting light contamination on the background. That is deadly trick for doing macro fly photography.
It would look something like this.