Tying and Fishing with Daddy Longlegs Fly Patterns

If the excitement of the dry fly season seems to be waning as we reach September and early autumn, there is still one very good reason to get excited. With a long body, big wings and gangling, clumsy legs, the crane fly (better known as the daddy long-legs) is a fly to excite both trout and anglers.

Just about any water bordered by lush fields will contain these beasts, which proliferate in the late summer and autumn. Not only are they hard to miss, they are also –if you’ll forgive the turn of phrase- completely crap at flying. Any keen wind is liable to send them blundering across the water, where they do an even worse job of swimming.

Unsurprisingly, they draw full-blooded takes and fishing the daddy long-legs fly is not so much a game of finesse, but a more visceral experience for the fly fisher. We produce a whole host of effective daddy longlegs fly patterns at Turrall: our foam bodied classic daddy is one of our best selling flies of all time, while detached-bodied, CDC and even sinking daddy long-legs are all popular choices.

However, for our fly of the month in September, we are going to look at the muddler or Muddle-Headed Daddy Longlegs. Why? Because when the fish are really hammering the natural flies, or need a bit of extra provocation this is a superb pattern to try.

A muddler style head of deer hair is the key with this pattern; not only does this make a nice commotion when twitched, it also renders the fly very buoyant so you can move it with little risk of the fly sinking.

Fishing the Daddy Longlegs
Before we look at a step by step tying guide, we’ll quickly look at a few fly fishing tips:

-A breezy day is best for trying daddies, on rivers or lakes. Pick an grassy bank or meadow where the wind is blowing out onto the water.

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-On small stillwaters, the daddy will also work around cover, flicked under branches.

-For tackle, don’t go too light with leaders. You could step down to a four or five weight rod, but very fine tippets can get twisted or kinked by these meaty flies. We’d recommend starting with 5lb tippet.

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-Don’t just cast out and wait. By all means use any natural drift, but try recasting regularly and twitching too (especially good with our fly of the month!).

-Takes can be violent, but don’t strike too early or too hard. Let the fish engulf your fly properly, before giving a measured lift.

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-Finally, don’t think of the daddy as purely a trout fly. It can be excellent for chub, while carp will also sometimes take one fished static.

Tying the Muddler or Muddle-Headed Daddy: A Step by Step Guide

Hook: Mayfly, size 10
Thread: Brown
Body: cream or off white floss or thread
Legs: Turrall daddy legs
Head: Deer hair, tied muddler style

Step 1: Begin by running the fine cream floss onto the hook, a little distance from the hook eye, to leave space for the legs and head.

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Step 2: Build a nice even body. With a little care, you can create a tapered effect as shown.

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Step 3. Tie off the body material, before running a little base of brown thread just towards the eye as shown.

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Step 4. It’s time to select our legs. You can knot these yourself, but Turrall also produce ready tied Daddy Legs that save time and fiddle.

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Step 5: The legs are easiest to tie in each side separately. Trap with a couple of turns of thread and splay them out a little.

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Step 6: Now we can add three legs to the other side, before covering up the stumps with thread.

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Step 7: Take a good pinch of deer hair for the head (the best part of a pencil’s thickness is ideal). Pinch in place and apply one loose turn of thread.

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Step 8: Now make another turn and pull steadily, allowing the deer hair to flare out and turn around the hook. 

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Step 9: Make another tight turn, before sweeping back the hairs and making a few turns of thread at the head, to keep the eye clear. 

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Step 10: Now you can tie off the thread and begin trimming. A really sharp pair of scissors really helps here. I prefer to trim the head fairly tight, but then leave some longer fibres facing backwards, which will add a little more profile and disturbance.

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Step 11: The finished fly. Apply some fly floatant straight from the vice, as well as another coat on the bank, and you have a super buoyant fly that can easily be waked or twitched without sinking.

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(Below): A fine rainbow trout taken on the muddler daddy; this one wanted dinner with a twitch

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More Info: For more fly fishing news, patterns, tips and prize giveaways, check out our Facebook page.

Tying and Fishing the Diawl Bach: Fly of the Month (August 2015)

From small stillwaters to wild lakes, the Diawl Bach is a deadly little all rounder. Here are our top fly fishing and tying tips for this excellent, easy to tie nymph pattern.

A go to pattern in so many fly boxes, the Diawl Bach must take its place as one of the best stillwater flies of all time. It might look skinny and modest in the palm of your hand, but there is something both brown and rainbow trout find irresistible about this fly.

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The pattern has its roots in Wales (the name means “Little Devil”), where the original was a busier, more traditional looking fly to the version most of us know today. Traditionalists may sigh, but the slimmer, modern Diawl Bach has well and truly earned its place as a top fly for lakes of all kinds, from small trout lakes to the giant reservoirs.

Devilishly Simple
One of the key strengths of the Diawl Bach must surely be its simplicity. With a sparse design and only a few key materials, this leads to infinite variations. At Turrall, our range includes several Diawl Bach variants that you’ll find useful, or can easily try tying yourself (see our step-by-step fly tying sequence “How to tie a Diawl Bach” at the end of the blog for see for yourself!).

The basic Diawl Bach is simply a sparse, peacock bodied fly with a tinsel rib- an excellent all-rounder. But alternatives worth looking out for include our red ribbed and UV versions. UV-reflective materials certainly give an edge to flies , coming into their own when light levels are low (see our blog on tying with UV materials). The red variant is nice, visible option where you find less than clear water or algal blooms.
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Of course, you can always mix and match with colours. Bachs can be fished singly, but are quite often fished in a team of three or even four nymphs. Try different versions of the fly on the same leader to see which the fish prefer.

How to fish the Diawl Bach

For many stillwater trout fisheries, Diawl Bachs can be fished in a similar style to buzzers, with only a very gentle retrieve. The leader and end of the fly line should be watched carefully for takes that may only be a slight draw.

The Bach might be most heavily associated with reservoir fly fishing and rainbow trout, but this is also highly underused fly on lochs and wild lakes for brown trout. If the fishing is tough, or there is little wind, a Diawl Bach on the point presents a subtler target for less aggressive fish.

Another key area when fishing the Diawl Bach is the end of the retrieve. Never rush to bring the flies out of the water, but make a slow steady lift, by gradually lifting the rod as you bring the last few feet of fly line in. This can take twenty seconds or more and the ascending motion will quite often bring a late take if you get it right.

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How to tie the Red Daiwl Bach: a step by step guide

Even if you’re only just beginning fly tying, the Diawl Bach is a fly that shouldn’t pose too many problems. With just three materials other than the hook and thread typically, it is one of those easy to tie fishing flies that is reassuringly simple to master.

For our step by step, however, we will tie a red-ribbed variant that is useful for coloured water.

Hook: Standard or heavy nymph, size 10-16
Thread: Red, fine
Tail & throat: Red game fibres
Rib: Red Turrall Multiflash
Body: Peacock Herl

Step 1: Fix your hook in the vice and run on some thread in neat turns, stopping just before it reaches above the barb.
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Step 2: Select a little pinch of red cock fibres for the tail. The tail length is a matter of taste, but I like about half the length of the hook. It is best tying the feather fibres in right along the hook shank, as shown, to get an even body. 

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Step 3: Run plenty of turns of thread evenly up the hook to bind the tail materials down securely. Once you reach near the eye, catch in your rib material and bind this in place and start to return the thread towards the tail again:

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Step 4: Once you’re at tail, you can then attach your body material, a single strand of peacock herl. Again, this is best bound into place by tying evenly right along the hook to get a nice even body. Stop when you get about 2-3mm from the eye of the hook:

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Step 5: Wind the peacock up the hook in close turns to make an even body, before securing with a couple of turns of thread.

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Step 6: Now the rib can follow. Wind the tinsel round in nice even, open turns, taking care to keep plenty of the little peacock spikes exposed. Again, secure at the head with a couple of turns of thread.

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Step 7: The next part of the fly (tying in the throat hackle) is easiest with the hook upside down. With a rotary vice this is easy- but for more basic models you can carefully open the jaws and turn the fly over.
Now take a little pinch of red cock fibres and measure up, before pinching and tying in place securely.

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Step 8: Flip the fly over and all that remains is to whip finish, trim the thread and add a spot of varnish.

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Final tips and tweaks…

– If you’re getting an uneven or thick fly, try a thinner thread. This way you can get more turns in without bulking things up too much.

– A standard nymph hook works fine, but it can also be worth experimenting with heavy nymph hooks for faster sinking flies- or indeed an emerger hook for fishing just under the surface.

-Do also check out our Facebook page for more news, flies and tips, while you’ll find our excellent range of fly fishing materials and accessories, as well as our various Diawl Bach variants, at your nearest Turrall stockist or online fly tying shop. For your ribs, our UV materials are brilliant, while Turrall Multi-flash gives you several different colours in one pack:

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Fly of the Month (July 2015) How to tie a Bibio

With a bushy profile and a dash of colour, the Bibio is an excellent loch style fly, that works on wild lake trout wherever you find them. We also like it because it produces well in the sort of blustery, unsettled conditions that have characterised large chunks of the British summer this year! Here’s how to tie our fly of the month for July 2015, along with some fly fishing tips:

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The Bibio is a best described as a bold, no nonsense fly for targeting the trout of windswept waters. It can hardly be called a realistic fly, but is nonetheless highly effective. The busy hackle can suggest any number of waterborne or drowning flies, while a dash of red makes it easily locate for trout even when conditions are rough or visibility poor.

It is a fly few loch fly fishers would be without in the larger sizes such as a 10 or 12. That said, finer versions also work well for smaller trout or less blustery lakes. This is no finesse fly however, and works best when pulled or tweaked through the water on breezy days, when insects are blown in and the trout are aggressive.
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There are different ways of tying the Bibio, not to mention one or two little tweaks that can improve the fly further. One is to use hen hackle, for example rather than cock. Black hen is less stiff, but gives better movement, especially with smaller flies.

The other parts of the fly can also be adapted. A little sparkle mixed in with the dubbing can add attraction. The rib itself can also vary. Our tying sequence shows a rib made of oval silver tinsel, but silver wire is much easier and clogs up the hackle less if you tie Bibios down to sizes 14 and smaller.
Hook: Turrall Standard Nymph size 10-14
Thread: Black
Rib: Oval silver tinsel, or wire
Body: Black and red dubbing (seals fur or sub)
Hackle: Black cock or hen
1: Run some thread onto the hook until it catches.Bibio01
Step 2: As you wind the thread down the hook shank, catch in a length of silver oval tinsel or wire.

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Step 3: Once the thread is roughly above the hook point, rub some some black dubbing on between your finger tips.

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Step 4: Apply the dubbing in even turns until you reach just before half way. Now apply a little red to the tying thread. It’s easier to apply too much than too little, but you can always tease excess off the thread.

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Step 5: Make 2-4 turns to form a red centre point.

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Step 6: Now apply just a little more black dubbing, leaving ample space to form a head later.

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Step 7: Tie in your hackle, as shown. You can use either black cock, or hen for a softer hackle.

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Step 8: Wind the hackle back in even, open turns, taking care to keep the red middle exposed.

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Step 9: Now comes the tricky part: pull the feather tight at the end of the body and trap in place with two tight turns of your rib. Keeping the tension, trim the end of the hackle feather.

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Step 10: Now pass the silver rib back towards the eye of the hook in secure, even turns. You can always undo a turn or two and try again if you don’t get it right the first time. Trap the rib with tying thread, close to the eye of the hook.

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Step 11: You can now use a dubbing needle to tease out any trapped feather fibres and make the body a little buggier.

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Step 12: Whip finish and add just a spot of varnish to the head to finish.

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Further Pointers…

A few Bibios in sizes 10-14 are worthy of a place in any fly box. A fly to rely on when the wind is up and the chips are down, they work singly but are even better as part of a team of three- and if there is a good chop on the water, don’t be afraid to give them a lively retrieve to grab the attention of the fish.

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Should you want a few flies to start you off, our range includes not only the Bibio and other loch style classics, but some great value fly collections with the Turrall FlyPod.

Happy fishing for now and don’t’ forget to follow Turrall Flies on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for regular news, flies, tips and giveaways.

Stalking Success: Fly Fishing Tips for Clear Water

Wherever fly fishers find clear water, the challenge of stalking your quarry in clear water is a thrilling -but testing- challenge. Whether the quarry is trout, chub, carp and any of the coarse species, these tips and fly patterns should stand you in good stead:

1. Who spotted who?

Fish of virtually all species can spook easily on bright days. Do move slowly and carefully on the water, and watch the position of the sun to avoid throwing a shadow over the fish. Remember, if you can spot a fish, you only need one good cast to catch it. Far better to make one or two really good casts than to rush in and make many.
Chub are especially spooky, with trout a close second. Remember that these fish tend to face into the flow, so cast upstream to them if you can.

2. Subtly does it…

Fish are often more suspicious of flies in clear water, so it often a question of going a bit smaller. A Beaded PTN or Copper John is excellent for trout on rivers, while a classic Stalking Bug is often the favourite for stillwater rainbow trout. If the fish are spooking, try smaller versions of your favourite flies.

That said, stalking with a fly rod can work excellently for perch and chub, both of which like a good mouthful. For chub, try a large dry fly such as a Hopper, Kicking Beetle, or Black Cricket. If they won’t move from cover, a small streamer can work. The same is also true for the perch: try a Woolly Bugger or Perch Special.

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3. Cut down on false casts: 

Most fly fishermen make too many back casts. Ok, so it’s not a shooting offence, but the more times you put that fly line through the air, the more likely the fish are to take cover. Try making just one back cast if you can. Keep everything smooth and deliberate, and make few but clean casts.

4. The anticipation is killing

Stalking is very often a game of clear anticipation. It is about presenting the fly where the fish can see it, but not spook it. Casting a slow sinking fly so that it just nestles into the path of a sighted fish is a real art form, but only truly comes with practise.

Try not to alarm fish by casting too close to them- fish aren’t stupid and as tempting as they look sitting there, you don’t want to be hitting them on the head. Even pike will spook with the wrong cast.

Clear water is often deceptive, and it can take a few seconds for the fly to sink. Try beaded nymphs if the fly isn’t getting down to the fish quickly enough.

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5. X-Ray Specs

It should be bleeding obvious, but don’t forget a good pair of polarizing glasses. They’re easily lost or abused, so buy a spare pair for the car and keep your best on a lanyard. That is all (says the man on his thirteenth pair).

6. Be ready to strike

Be honest, how many times do all of us spot a fish, but not react quickly enough? Tangled line or a loose fly can take vital seconds to sort out- and this stalking style of fly fishing is all about taking opportunities at a moment’s notice. The remedy is simple: keep the fly located in one of your rod guides, and your fly line tidy and to hand.

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Don’t forget to follow Turrall on Facebook, as well as this blog, for the finest flies and latest news…

The magic of ultraviolet: Tips for using UV fly tying materials

If ever there was a phenomenon in fly materials to take the modern tying scene by storm, it has to be the world of ultraviolet (or “UV”) reflective materials. Why the fuss? And more importantly, can such materials really make a difference to your catches? We certainly think so. The results are backed by catches on the bank and science, besides hype, with several of our best selling flies incorporating UV materials.
Can you see the difference with your own eyes? In practical terms it would have to be a no, because strictly speaking, ultraviolet light is a form of radiation not visible to humans. Various fish species are indeed sensitive to UV light however, and trout seem particularly responsive to it. Flies incorporating special UV reflective tinsels, fritz or dubbing have an additional appeal to fish when light levels are low and standard colours get lost. This makes them especially valuable early and late in the day.
We’ll spare you the science lecture on this occasion, but suffice to say that UV materials seem capable of enhancing many of the patterns you favour, turning good flies into deadly flies. But it isn’t just a case of using them blindly, or flooding hooks with fancy extras. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective uses, tips and products: Fly Applications There are various ways to incorporate UV reflective materials into your flies without overkill. For the rainbow trout fisherman, perhaps the most obvious is by adding simple cheeks to nymphs and buzzers. You don’t need a vast amount of material and in fact tiny slips are ideal:

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An extra tip here for those who struggle to tie in fiddly little slips of material is to simply stick in place at the end using head cement or epoxy; a dubbing needle is far better than fingers too.
Ribs are another classic- especially with either light coloured materials or those with a naturally reflective sheen to them such as peacock. A UV rib is superb with classics such as Daiwl Bachs. Again, you don’t need loads to make a fly that stands out and another good tip for smaller flies is that you can make a thinner rib by gently stretching most tinsels and flash materials.

 

Which materials would we start with? Packs of UV Multiflash or UV Enhancer are both ideal for a range of uses and great value, since each pack gives you two or more colours to try:


The original purpose of these flashy strands was for lures and predator flies however and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t use them for exactly that. They can be used for some deadly reservoir trout flies but another popular use would be in pike fly tying. You don’t need a huge swathe of material, but just a few strands of UV reflective material seem to really appeal to the fish. Dawn and dusk, when UV comes into play even stronger, are also absolutely key times for pike to feed as any keen predator angler will tell you. Here’s a variant on Dom Garnett’s “Black Beast”, which makes good use of our UV fly tying range:

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On the subject of predator flies and lures, a really easy way incorporate some neat special effects into your flies is to use some UV fritz. The “Kennick Killer” has been one of our most popular reservoir flies for several seasons now, with original creator Duncan Keir a huge fan of UV. In fact, we had so much interest in the materials that we ended up producing “UV Killer Fritz” in various colours and guises.

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The sky is the limit as regards your own tweaks. Another area well worth investigating is using little patches of white or light colours beside your UV hints, for example, for maximum reflection. River anglers can also try swapping the gold beads on their river nymphs for silver or even white versions for deadly effect. Whether you experiment with your own ideas, or simply grab a few of our bestselling flies that use the special effect of UV, we’re sure it’ll put another few fish in your net this season!
Remember you can also share your catches with us on Twitter, using the handle @TurrallFlies while we also have plenty of exciting news, tips and more on our new Facebook Page. Meanwhile, you can also catch some mouthwatering images of our favourite fly fishing haunts, catches and favourite flies on our Pinterest galleries.