Fry Flies and UV Cure Head Cement

I’m headed to Alaska with my friend, Dave Graebel, in search of some big rainbows on the dry fly. This is the time to do it. The trout are not yet so fixated on eggs that they will take nothing else. And, the mayflies are on the wing—both the Western Green Drake and the PMDs. I’ve got the dry flies all tied and resting patiently in the box. And I’ve got my Stroft tippet material packed, too (see here).

But this is also the time when the sockeye fry migrate from the headwater streams down to the first lake, there to remain for a year or two until they become smolts that migrate to the sea. The big rainbows eat the fry by the bucketful, and so, having a good selection of fry flies in the box is a wise move.

One of the chief features of the young fry is the very large eyes, relative to the size of their body. I tie the inch long or so flies on salmon egg hooks or other similar short shank hooks because the wire in them is extra strong. A caddis bend hook or other similar fly tying hook is often straightened by Alaska’s husky bows. And I fish them on 2X so that I can really pour the pressure to them on my 9 foot 6 or 7 wt Hardy Zenith rod.

In the past, I tied the flies, added stick on eyes, and then coated the head with epoxy, stuck them on a drying wheel and came back 24 hours later to claim the finished product. Not now. Now I use Silvercreek’s Crystal UV Coat. It cures in seconds, literally, and is not tacky when hardened. It comes in two varieties (1) the original, either thick or thin, and (2) Flexthin. I love ‘em all. Tie the fly, slap on the eyes, coat the head with cement, shine the UV light on it and voila, it’s done. When I coat the head, I go right over the eyes so that everything is fused into a single unit. Works like a charm. The little bullet head allows the fly to get under the surface with ease, and the eyes stay put fish after fish.

Silvercreek’s Crystal Coat comes in a 15cc bottle, with applicator, for $15.00. That’s enough for hundreds of flies. You can get it, and/or a UV flashlight or UV laser from (at this time they only ship to US addresses). Read more about this great product at



The first step in the fry fly is to tie in a little crystalline flash material. This will form the core o fhb body, and give a bit of flash from time to time.


Form a loop and spin a bit of cream fur to form a 3-D hackle. Wind over front half of shank to form body.


Add the stick on eyes, one on either side, obviously.


Coat the head and eyes with UV coat, hit em with UV light, and the fry fly is complete


Silvercreek’s UV coat comes in a 15cc bottle with brush applicator/ Easy and very fast to use.


Both UV Coats come in a 15cc bottle with an applicator brush. They are $15.00 each.


I also carry two types of UV flashlights and a UV laser.


Let  your readers know that they can reach me at for information. I ship only to USA addresses.


They can read about what I offer at:

Spare Time Exploits

What do fly fisher’s do when not fishing. Many of us tie flies, but that can’t occupy every brain cell. Theo Bakelaar is certainly a fly fisher and fly tyer, but his other interests run to things like the carving that you see below. This one features a polished figure standing in the stone from which it was cut. Very elegant.


One might expect a fly fisher or a fish, but not so.  This elegant carving is by our fly fishing friend, Theo Bakelaar, shows another side to his creative genius.

PM Fly Fishing School

This past weekend (6/13-6/14/2015) I conducted a fly fishing school at the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club on the banks of the Pere Marquette River at Baldwin, Michigan. The 20 students had a great time. We managed to do our casting exercises between the rain storms; none-the-less, we received between 2 and 3 inches of rain in two days, and the PM zipped up at least a foot, if not more. We were a bit worried that the water might be a tad high for the students to be wading about and collecting insects, so they held forth on the bank and Jim Hagar and I seined insects, scuds, and steelhead fry for everyone to examine closely, before returning all the collected critters back to the river.

Sunday evening Jim and I floated the river with guide Tommy Lynch in search of some big browns. We had hoped to “mouse” them up, but the high, dirty water dashed all hopes of that. So, under Tommy’s instruction, we slung big articulated streamers. I managed to pull 6 very nice browns out to roll on the fly without a single hook up. Jim had fish chase his fly, too, and managed to hook one on a chartreuse and white articulated streamer of Tommy’s design. Tommy know ever inch of the river, and fishing with him was great fun. The mosquitoes stayed home and the weather was very pleasant. All in all a very fine evening of fishing in high water conditions.


Insect collecting is always a highlight with the class. It’s great fun to see what the river holds, talk about flies to match them, discuss angling tactics, and so on, right there on the river bank. Photo by Krista Conard


A very nice PM brown in the hand of Jim Hagar. Look at the big fly it ate.


Just had an email from Theo Bakelaar about snails. He noted that snails are always around and so when the inset food fare is low, snails are a good bet. Yes, they certainly are. Theo tied a foam snail and did just fine. Bob Pelzl and I developed a snail fly back in the 1970s based on the Peacock Nymph.  It has proven  lethal on stillwaters the world over, and has become one of our “secret” weapons when fishing lakes. For complete tying instruction, see here.


Tasty escargot!!


Spring Smallies

Spring had sprung in WI, It was warm for a couple of weeks in April, but it’s been cold this last week and gonna be colder over the next few days. My friend, John Beth, and some fellow anglers had a chance in the early warm spell, to head out for some smallies. And they found them eager and ready to go. John took all his fish—any number of them in the 17 to 19 inch range—on a Bunyan Bug. Shades of A River Runs Through It. We’re trying to get something planned for later in the summer for another shot at those smallies, but that may have to wait until next summer. We shall see.


Now’s there’s a “happy camper”–er, “Happy Angler.”


Smallies this size are wonderful on the fly rod. See the red Bunyan Bug in it’s mouth?

Big Fly, Big Fish

One of the premises of my book “Long Flies” is “Big Fly, Big Fish.” I’ve seen it literally thousands of times in my six decades of fly fishing across the globe. For example, I’m head to Alaska in July with my friend, Dave Graebel. He loves to catch the big rainbows on dries, and we will try to focus on that as much as possible. But on the days when the hatches are not evident, I will be slinging really, really big leech and sculpin imitations on my Hardy Zenith 7-weight. The take by those big bows is very powerful; they leave no room for guesswork. Of course, the big kings, chums, and sockeyes on long flies fished on my Hardy 9-weght Proaxis-X will be great too.

What reminded me of all this was a photo that Theo Bakelaar sent of a big brown that gobbled a really big streamer. This is a great time of year for the big flies. The water is often cold and the hatches sparce. The big fish need plenty of food and respond very well to big stuff fished deep along the bottom. It’s a great time to haul out the fill sinkers or the 30-foot sinking head lines and scratch bottom with big articulated imitations.


Big Fly, Big Fish

Knotted Eggs—Clowns

There are those that love the “clown” eggs—eggs of two or more different colors. I like them, too, and tying them with the Knotted Egg method is very simple. Rather than using one strand of chenille, use two. The colors may be complimentary—like pink and magenta—or they may contrast more—like yellow and bright orange—or whatever. Just tie in both strands, tie the finishing knot and cut away the thread. Then, use both strands (or more if you choose) together to tie a single knot. Clip the chenille tight to the knot and apply a generous drop of flexible head cement.

Now, for the kicker. If you want to emphasize one color a bit more, use different-sized strands of chenille; the small one will be less apparent than the larger one. Further, you can use different sizes to achieve a variety of egg sizes. For example, in the photo below, the top egg is tied with one strand each of medium and small. The bottom egg is tied with two strands of small. Since they are so fast and easy to tie, you can experiment to your heart’s content—have fun.


By using two or more strands of chenille to tie the Knotted Egg, one can make “clowns” of all colors and sizes.

Theo’s Caddis Socks ‘em

Theo has been out giving the trout a bad time, again. This time it was with his foam caddis ( It floats very high and offers a great profile—at least the trout think so.


A very nice rainbow on Theo’s Foam Caddis.

Knotted Egg Revisited

I’m always searching about “sussing out” the best materials with which to tie my flies. Sometimes I find new materials that look promising, but which turn out to be no better than the materials I have on hand. Other times I really do find something that appeals to me. This is one of those times. I was looking in the FeatherCraft catalog and spotted “Trilobal Antron Chenille.” (

Hmm, this looked potentially like a better material for my Knotted Egg rather than the straight cotton chenille I had been using. And it is! It’s firmer and of course offers the advantage of the trilobal yarn. There are three sizes: small, medium, and large. The difference between small and medium is not as great as between medium and large. These three sizes offer an opportunity to tie three sizes of egg patterns. Small makes an egg of about 4mm, medium makes one about 6mm, and large yield one of around 9mm.

I tied all of them on a size 8 red hook for the photograph so that the relative size of each could be seen. For fishing, I’d tie the small on a size 12 or 14, the medium on a size 10 or 12, and large on a size 8 or 6.


Small, top; medium, middle; large, bottom.

Stroft GTM Tippet Material


I’m always looking for new equipment items in fly fishing, and I’m always looking with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Not because I’ve seen it all or heard it all, but because my background training is as a research scientist. In science we set a null hypothesis that says something can’t happen, and then we try to prove the null hypothesis to be correct. This means that every avenue must be thoroughly examined, and if anything can be shown to prove the null hypothesis correct, then we must reject all other results, good or not.

I had an opportunity to visit with Andre Giermann from Stroft (Strong and Soft) line manufacturers at the EWF Show I Munich, Germany, a couple of weeks ago. They produce both monofilament fishing line and tippet materials, and their product selection is truly extraordinary. He was kind enough to provide some spools of Stroft GTM tippet material for my testing when I fishing in Austria for a week after the EWF. First, Stroft GTM is produced in mm sizes and not in the inches (or the “X” system). That’s OK, because it’s not all that hard to go online and get a conversion program that will instantly convert mm to inches ( Then, by subtracting the thousands of inch from 11 we can get the “X” designation. For example, 0.16mm = 0.0063 inches. 11 – 6.3 = 4.7X. OK, so far so good. But then they also have 0.14mm material. Hmmm, that’s 0.0055, or 5 ½ X. And there are other in-between sizes, too. Suddenly tippet selection becomes a whole new ball game. For example, I used 0.14mm (5 ½ X) in Austria to fish dry flies. It’s perfect for size 14 – 18 dries. I used 4.7X for nymphing and was most pleased.

Not only that, but the strength of the material is greater than any other co-polymer material I know of. Strengths are given in kilograms (1 Kg = 2.2 lbs; see: See the charts below to get an idea of how tough this stuff really is.

Now, consider this for a moment. They offer tippet materials in 0.01mm increments from 0.03mm (0.0012 inches or 9.8X) up to 0.3mm (0.0118, basically 10/5 size–0X is 0.028mm). That is, there’s 0.03mm. 0.04mm, 0.05mm etc., all the way up to 0.30mm. From 0.30mm and larger, the step-wise increments get bigger—0.025mm. Hmmm, so many choices! Ya gotta love it, especially down there in the micro sizes. Have a look at the English version of their catalog:, and see pages 8-9 for diameters and strengths of Stroft GTM matrerials.


Here’s a conversion chart that I made from the data in their catalog for sizes 7X and smaller:

mm            inches        “X” Size     Lb. Strength

.03              .0012               9.8                 .55

.04              .0016               9.4                  .77

.05              .0020               9                      1.1

.06              .0024               8.6                  1.4

.07              .0028               8.2                  1.76

.08              .0031               7.9                   2.2

.09              .0035               7.5                    2.65

.10              .004                 7                        3.1


It’s nice that they make the material in a great range of sizes, including the super micro stuff, and great that it’s strong on the testing machine, but what about the actual toughness under fishing conditions? Surprise, surprise; I was astounded. I fished 4.7X (.16mm) and 5.5 X (.14mm), and was stunned at what I could do with it. Not only that, but the knots were perfectly strong. I got a couple of “wind knots” (actually bad casting knots with a split shot, and a bead head, and a Thing-A-Ma-Bobber all hanging on the leader), and they didn’t break, nor did they seem to weaken the material in any way. By the way, the 4.7X is a full 3 kilos or 6.6 pounds and the 5.5X is 2.7 kilos or 5.95 pounds.

Bottom line, I’m sold. Set me up with a full panel of this material! Of course I will pick and choose, I can’t carry 30 spools of material in my vest. By the way, the spools are small and light and come in 25 meter (27 yards) and 50 meter (54 yards) sizes. For my fishing I plan to use the following sizes, but please, pick and choose as you will.


mm   Inches        X size   lb. Strength

.28     0.011           0X            16.1

.26     0.010           1X            14.8

.23     0.009           2X            11.2

.20     0.0079        3.1X           9.3

.18     0.007           4X              7.9

.16     0.0063        4.7X            6.6

.14     0.0055        5.5X             5.95

.13     0.005           6X               4.4

.10     0.004           7X                3.1

.09     0.0035        7.5X             2.65


Remember, now, that we get the X by subtracting the thousandths from 11. So, 4.7 X is .7 X smaller than 4X (it’s almost 5X), and 5.5X is ½ X size smaller than 5X and ½ X size larger than 6X half way between 5X and 6X).

I will break these 11 spools down into three packs: 0X-2X, 3.1X through 6X, and 7X-7.5X. Since the spools are small and take up little room in my vest, I have no problem carrying them at all times. I also carry 0.020 inch and 0.013 inch Maxima Chameleon in my vest. These sizes allow me to build leaders in whatever length and final tippet that I need for any and all occasions for trout fishing.

Stroft also offers abrasion resistant materials, fluorocarbons, and others, and I plan to test all of them for future reports on this exciting, Strong and Soft material from Germany.

Now, where to get it. It’s available in a number of sizes from Yellowstone Angler in Livingston, MT: ( If you want to be more selective in picking your sizes, they you will have to endure translating from German to English. Stroft does not yet have an order form in English, but go here for the German version: If you wish, you can read all of it via Google Translate (


OR, follow along: here are the instructions for ordering.

  1. You should be on the order page for Stroft GTM material.
  2. Page down to the size selection chart at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click on the underlined size that you want (for example, click on

Stroft GTM Monofil 0.28mm 7.30Kg.

  1. The catalog new opens to the order page for that specific material and size.
  2. On the right of the page you will see the word Lauflänge (yardage), click on it and select the size spool that you want (select 25 or 50—I get the 50). You will see the price displayed immediately below in Euros.
  3. Just below that you will see an indicator for quantity.
  4. Immediately to the right of the quantity window you will see a cart and the words: “In den Warenorb” (add to cart). Obviously, click on it and add the material to your cart.
  5. You will get a window that says: “Der Artikel wurde in Ihren Warenkorb gelegt!” (This item has been added to your cart). Click OK.
  6. When you are done with that size, go to column on the left and look just to its top right. You will see a little hand and the word “Zuruck” (back). Click on it and it will take you back to step 2 above.
  7. Repeat steps 2-9 as often as needed to complete you order.
  8. When you are finished selecting all the materials you want, go to the upper right corner of the page and click on: “Zum Warenkorb” (go to cart).
  9. This will take you to the cart and your order summary. Here you can change quantity (“menge”) or delete items (“Loschen” with an “X” button). If you need to get back to the order chart, on the left side just above the descriptions of the materials you ordered, you will see a little hand with the words “weiter einkaufen” (continue shopping). Obviously click on it. I will take you back to the last item you ordered, and then you can go back to step two by following step 9.
  10. When you are satisfied with your order, go to the bottom right corner and click on the “Zur Kasse” button (Check out).
  11. This takers you to a page for name and address:


Firma:                          Company


Anrede:                     Title

Vorname:*                   First Name

Nachname:*                 Last name

Straße/Hausnr.:*                  Street number


PLZ:*         Ort:*                  Zip and city, state

Land:*                          Country

E-Mail:*                       email

Telefonnr.:*                 phone

Mobilfunknr.:              mobile


Below that you will see:

Kundennummer (falls bekannt):

Kostenlose 100m Spule Ihrer Wahl (ausgenommen STROFT GTP & STROFT FC) ab 35 € Bestellwert:

Bemerkungen, Hinweise und Anregungen:


Which translates:

Customer number (if known):

Free 100m reel of your choice (except STROFT GTP & STROFT FC) with 35 € order value:

Remarks, comments and suggestions:


If you want the free 100 mm spool, just write in what you want. For example if you use a lot of 5X, then type in Stroft GTM .16mm

16. When done, click on the “Weiter” button (next) on the bottom left corner of the form.

17. Now you are at the postal page. You will see a statement entitled DHL / Deutsche Post. This just means that in Germany the material is delivered by DHL. In the US, by regular mail. The cost is listed (usually 10 Euro). Again, click on the “Weiter” button.

18. This takes you to Step 3—payment. Use PayPal, it’s so much easier. Click on the little check button to the left in the PayPal row—it will turn blue. Click on “Weiter.”

19. Step 4. Get ready to finalize the order. Check it all over to be certain of quantities, sizes, etc., change as needed. At the bottom of the form you will see a check box labeled:

Ich habe die AGB gelesen und akzeptiere diese.

Which roughly translated means that you are placing the order and agree to the payment for the materials.

20 Click on: “jetzt bestellen” (buy now) at the bottom of the page.

21. You will be directed to complete you PayPal info. Once you do and click pay now, you will get a page that says “Warten auf Zahlungsbestätigung..” (waiting to complete payment)—wait.

22. You should get a message that says “BESTELLUNG ERFOLGREICH GESENDET” (Order received). If not, after a couple of minutes, click on the blue underlined sentence in the wait message (step 21 above), and it will take you to the order received line.

23. Get ready for the best tippet material you ever used.