Less is More Nymphs with glass bead thorax
Less is More Nymphs with glass bead thorax

Guest Blogger: Jonathan Lagasse

If you tie flies, or have ever aspired to do so then there is a chance you have searched the internet in some fashion for pictures, recipes, patterns etc. This is something I constantly do myself and I am continually blown away by the artistry that some people incorporate in to their tying. Actually, early on in my tying it used to frustrate the heck out of me as well. When I would sit down at the vise, there would be one of those pictures in my mind, and I was determined to make my fly equally as polished. What I ended up with was a pile of feathers and chenille otherwise known as a bead head wooly bugger that had so much marabou in the tail it floated upside down like a dry fly. You can imagine my disappointment as the little black puff floated downstream with the gold bead hopelessly trying to pull it under. I share all of this because I would like to share something that jig hooks and tying with jig hooks has taught me.

Less is More Leeches
Less is More Leeches

Less is more sounds easy enough. Only three little words but as you sit down at your bench and begin digging into your materials it often goes right out the window, which brings us to the jig hook. There are multiple reasons why I tie a large number of patterns as jigs, the most notable being that a small set of barbell eyes or a slotted bead will allow your fly to ride hook point up. The hook point up greatly reduces snags along the bottom and when fished under an indicator will generally result in a fish hooked right in the top of the mouth which is near impossible to shake even with barbless hooks. The downside is that the fly must be tied upside in effect (wing casing is tied where the belly would be on a normal hook) and this leaves the hook point to contend with. If you’re as clumsy as I am, you already poke yourself enough as it is, trying to get one fly out of the vise, let alone having to try to lash material down all the while navigating around a hook point with every wrap.

Less is More Nymphs in the round
Less is More Nymphs in the round

There is a simpler way, and I would like to offer two suggestions for you to try.
1. Tying in the round, which is when the fly is tied so that it appears the same from all sides. (no wing case to finagle with, often just a tail, body and thorax) All of your classic nymphs can be tied in this manner (Hairs ear and pheasant tail come to mind) and will catch fish, often as well as their more complex counterpart. Many European style nymphs are tied in this way and incorporate hot spots, or sections of bright dubbing/thread that serve as triggers for the fish often placed in the thorax area and thus eliminate the use of a wing case. Specific patterns I would suggest trying/tying in this style are the pineapple express and the frenchy nymph, but really pheasant tails, hairs ear and small black stones can all be tied in the round. Something I’m currently experimenting with is using a colored glass bead in place of the thorax in an attempt to add color and also additional weight to my nymphs.
2. Tie single material leech style patterns. These little guys push the boundaries of jigs vs. fly’s, but flat out catch fish regardless of which side of the fence they fall. My personal favorite materials for these are Marabou, and rabbit fur. A bead, and a small clump material give arguably one of the simplest fly’s you could tie, and as a bonus has a ton of natural movement. Tie them in white as a baitfish imitation, brown or olive as a sculpin/crawfish, and black as a leech/salmon fly. Other options are chartreuse, or pink as attractor colors. If you have a fly shop or craft store near you, craft fur makes for multiple uses as well. If that’s too simple I would then suggest John Rohmer’s Arizona Simi seal dubbing which is a combination synthetic, natural fibers and flash in a rainbow of colors that can be used to tie the Simi Seal Leech. Much like a wooly bugger there is also no wrong way to fish these, swing em, strip em or drift em. As long as they are in the water you have a chance.

Regardless of whether you tie with jig style or traditional style hooks, I believe we can all save a little time and frustration by simplifying. Aspiring to have your fly’s be little works of art is definitely something to strive for, but ultimately ask yourself, is it more important that you find the fly appealing or the fish find it so? Sometimes it seems like the more gnarled a fly becomes often the more desirable it becomes to the fish. So next time you’re at the vise, try to add a wing case to a jig style fly. If you get it with out donating blood that is great, but if you’re like me maybe it will help you question what actually needs to be on your fly to make it catch fish. Less time + less material + less frustration equals more fun, and definitely lends itself to more successful fishing.

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