Two Generic Patterns from Theo

Here are a couple of generic patterns from Theo Bakelaar in Holland. His Little Black One is simplicity to tie, but very effective. Body: black ostrich herl, bak, Swiss straw, tail: red yarn.  It can be dressed with a peacock herl body or with coarse dubbing, or fine feather dubbing, etc.—color of your choice. The back may be Swiss straw, flash material, peacock herl, deer hair, or a host of other materials. In other words, this is a generic pattern that can be pushed in every direction possible. Want to go wild? Add rubber legs or folded hackle, or…. Note the red tail. This is a strong feature in many imitations from England, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. In other words, it works.

The Sili-Skin sand eel is another example of a pattern that can be modified in many ways. The colors of material used, the type of materials used, the length of materials used, the bulk of the fly, the colors applied with the marker, and so on. Fuss a bit, it’s a fun imitation to build from.


Little Black One


Sili Skin Sand Eel


Thread of contrasting or complimentary color–dependent on final imitation design. Tie in a wing/tail of flash material.



Wrap a strip of “skin” around the hook to build the body to the desired thickness. This can be omitted if the body is to be very thin.



Tie in a wing of whatever materials you wish, mix in flash, of a different color than tail, etc.



Fold a strip of “skin” over the fly–length depends on final design.



Trim “skin” to shape.



Add eyes and color with permanent markers.



Lots of options with this pattern technique.

Fight ’em off the Reel

Capt’n Jake Jordan is currently holding marlin school in Costa Rica. His students always do exceptionally well partly because Jake and his crew know where and how to find marlin, and because Jake really knows how to take the fight to the fish. Imagine hooking a blue marlin of 120 pounds in the open ocean as far as 150 miles offshore. How long does I take to land a fish of that size (and bigger) on a fly rod? Well in the open ocean for the average fly fisher, probably an hour or more. Jake’s students do in under 20 minutes. The secret lies in the fighting tactic. The fish is fought directly off the reel. The rod is pointed at the fish, and the drag set light. After the first run the drag is tighten just a bit. After the second run the drag is tightened more. Another run and the fish is basically exhausted. I have used this tactic for many years on king salmon in Alaska, landing fish in excess of 50 pounds on a 6 or 7 weight. Friends use it on wahoo along the south coast, fishing from their sea kayaks The only caveat is that the reel must be up to the job, and the angler must know exactly, as in exactly, how to adjust the drag with great precision. This is where I find the Hardy Ultralite and Fortuna reels to be so effective. From 0 drag to 29 pounds in less that one rotation of the drag knob. Easy to calculate drag at each point with a spring balance and then readily apply it as needed during the knock-down-drag-out fight. By the way, Jake and others, like Andy Mill, are now taking this tactic into the tarpon world with great success.


This is the critter they are after. Hook this on a 5-weight!


Greyhounding blue marlin. Notice position of rod.


Jumping marlin. Notice position of rod.


Crash, bang, boom. Notice position of rod.


Cranking–notice position of rod.

More Theo Flies

Theo’s in the Fly Tying Olympics—or at least it seems that way. Here are three more patterns that he finds especially useful in Holland and other European venues. He has also fished them in the U.S. with great success. I will say this, his Wood Louse imitation is one of the best uses I’ve ever come across for hot melt glue in fly tying. Of course the Wood Louse is only a minor step away from a scud or cress bug—Hmmm. By the way, you can buy hot glue in a variety of colors—orange scuds, grey scuds and cressbugs–they even come in glitter.  I can see them now.


Palmered Hackle


The Palmered hackle fly has long been a favorite. Theo’s reminder is to start at the front of the hook and wrap rearward.


Once the shank is fully paltered rearward, reverse and wrap back to the eye, tie off and finish the head.


This fly makes a great suspender for a small nymph or pupa–hang it 15 inches or so off the bend of the hook, tractor/trailer style.


Theo’s Danger Baby


Theo’s danger Baby. Simple to tie, but very effective. Try different wing colors, and perhaps a red tag instead of a green one.


Hot Glue Wood Louse 


Wrap the shank with ostrich herl–for small flies, use peacock herl or coarse dubbing spun thin in a loop.


Swipe the melted end of a glue stick over the top of the imitation–front to back.


One tasty looking imitation that can readily morph into a scud or cress bug.

Theo’s Recommendations

Theo’s been at it again. He’s in a tying mood and wanted to share some of his favorite patterns. The Goldbead Bomber is very similar to the old Brown Hackle imitation, or the Red Tag. For some reason, peacock herl, brown hackle, and red tag have always made a great searching imitation, both dry and wet. Really, the photos are self-explanatory. Have a look.

Then, there’s the Goldbead Terminator. Not exactly an Arnold look alike. More of a Prince Nymph variant. The flash is a nice addition that substitutes for the white biots of the Prince.

Now for a very interesting concept—the Oval Bead Boatman. Gotta get the hook eye really hot. If you get the bead half way on and no further, it’s there forever. But, a really fun fly to tie. Can’t wait to try it. I can imagine a whole series of flies with oval bead bodies. Great tying concept.

The Goldhead Bomber


The Godhead Bomber is fast and easy to tie and always a good choice for opportunistic fishing.




The Goldhead Terminator


The Goldbead Terminator opens with a gold bead at the head and dubbing ball at the rear of the shank.


Dubbing ball helps spread black biot tails and silver flash material.


Tie in ginger hackle by tip at rear of hook,  form a peacock here body, pull silver flash to front along sides of hook.


Wind hackle palmer to head, make several more wraps right behind bead, finish fly.


Oval Bead Boatman


Get it good and hot.


Force bead over eye to melt it onto hook shank.


Tie in black plastic strip at rear of body, pull over top, and tie off, cut away excess.

Boatman fihisned

Add biot or rubber legs at side and finish fly.

J:son Caddis Legs and Back

Out friend from Holland, Theo Bakelaar, continues to experiment with the Swedish products from J:son. This is a really fast, and refreshingly great looking caddis imitation using the performed legs/back:


Dub a rough abdomen on bent hook.


Add dubbed thorax and trim fly.


Tie in J:son caddis legs and back.


Wrap rearward to lock on legs and back.


Finish at rear of shank.


Color legs, top of thorax and top of abdomen as desired.


Hmmmm, looks rather real.



Brooke’s First Fish

Granddaughter Brooke had her first fishing outing with Jason (dada) on Sunday (July 24, 2016). She used her Echo Gecko rod-7’9” for 4/5 line–to cast to and catch bluegills and bluegills and bluegills. She selected the flies to use-all dries-and cast two handed. The Echo is designed so that young kids can use it two handed. When asked if she wanted to stop for lunch, she stated emphatically, “No, I want to fish.” Really, what other choice did she have?


Goin’ fishin’


Getting ready to cast her Echo Gecko for the mighty bluegill–there they are!


How did she know that pose?


First fish on the fly she selected and cast by herself.

Theo Bakelaar’s Twisters

Is it finally a marriage between the fly side and the gear side? Have fly tyers finally learned that bass, pike, and other finny guys want something to chomp on besides dry fly and nymph? Or is it all just a marketing ploy?

Well, from my 6 plus decades of fly fishing the globe, I can tell you that big moving chunks of junk catch way more fish—big trout included—than dries and nymphs, day in and day out.

The world is finally seeing twister tails making their way into the fly rodders kit bag. Twister tails are staple for the bass guys, and great for just about everything that swims.

Theo is lashing them on hooks for pike in Holland and for stripers and blues off the coast of NJ during the International Fly Tying Symposium in November. He’s got some great looking stuff!

Want to give ‘em a try? Best place I’ve found to get them—7 per pack, available in 7 colors:

Rip ‘em.


If it ain’t chartreuse it ain’t no use! Looks really great for just about anything that swims.


Change just the tail and give the imitation a whole different look.

Pike Jamboree—US Division 2016

My friends, Chuck Furimsky (The Fly Fishing Shows), and Bill Keough (Keough hackle) wanted to make a serious impression in the ongoing pike jamboree, so they grabbed fly rods and headed north into Canada for some big pike.

And they succeeded. Chuck nailed a real beauty—3 feet of impressive northern pike on the fly rod.

Not to be outdone, Bill hooked one of 42 ½ inches, and just to be certain that he received “best angler” award for the trip, immediately reset the drag very loose. The reel overspun and a massive bird’s nest ensued. To make it a bit tougher on himself (again to prove he was the most qualified for the title), he then wrapped the line around the rod tip several times. Now it gets really good. Again, in his fury to be voted top dog of the expedition, he handed the rod to the guide to untangle, and held the line between thumb and forefinger, keeping tension on the pike. The fish must have been nonplussed by these antics and simple held on until Bill was ready to go again. The fight ensued, and the guide scooped the big fish into the net.

This was a pike fishing expedition, so they also caught walleye pike—in amazing abundance. They caught enough to make walleye popsicles (if they had wanted) in addition to all the ones they tossed back and ate for lunch every day.

All in all a most successful trip.


Chuck took a very fine pike of 3 feet.


Not to be outdone, Bill took this monster by mis-adventure.


Perfect size for walleye-sicle, a.k.a. frozen pike on a stick.


The lunch stringer.


Chuck with another plate of walleye filets–Mmmmm.

IFTD Show 2016, my day two

My second day at the IFTD went quickly and smoothly. The crowd was not as heavy as yesterday, but the booth was busy for the greater part of the day. Later in the day, the Show awards were given out, and all the booths emptied out as exhibitors and attendees waited to hear the announcements.

I had an opportunity to visit with friends—which I get to see only once or twice a year—and to examine the new reels that Hardy is releasing for the 2017 season. Their Ultralite ASR won a best of show award at the EFFTEX show in Europe. This cassette reel offers the angler the ability to rapidly change lines without the need to buy metal spools. The cassette is extra tough plastic that positively snaps into place. It only takes moments to change cassettes. This reel should become the darling of stillwater anglers, allowing line changes several times a day, as needed.

Hardy has reintroduced their highly successful Marquis reel. This rim-control beauty is a superb choice for the trout angler. Huge line capacity (small arbor) and typical excellent Hardy construction make this reel model a great buy.

And then there’s the Perfect. Introduced first in 1893 it has been the preferred choice of may fly anglers ever since. The up-scaled Perfect is so near the original, that many of the parts from the new reel will readily fit the older reels. The wide and narrow arbor give the reels unprecedented line capacity, while still retaining the look and feel of the original Perfect. A very fine reel, indeed.

Their Fortuna reels have been lightened and given a slightly more stylish look. These big boys also now go from 0 drag to full lock (29 pounds) in less that one full turn (about 320 degrees). This makes drag settings much more convenient and much more precise when fighting big fish.


Hardy’s Ultralite ASR cassette real won best of Show at EFFTEC–the Europend fly tackle deealer show.


The rim control Hardy Marquis–one of my long time favorite trout reels.



The newly updated Hardy Perfect, first introduced in 1893, is still a favorite among many trout anglers.


The Fortuna is lighter, stronger, and has a drag that is readily manageable.

IFTD Show 2016, my first day

The International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Orlando opened on Tuesday, July 12th. I arrived at 10 pm in preparation for my first day, Wednesday, July 13. The Show opened at 9am and went until 6pm. The Hardy Booth, where I spent the day, was busy from the start, but at 4pm they brought our refreshments, and then the Show got really busy—at least there was a lot more talking and laughing.

I was eager to see the new things that Hardy had for 2017, and was pleasantly surprised by a new lightweight cassette reel and their Demon Smuggler, 6-pc rod. A 6-pc rod can be put in a carry-on, so I was eager to see how it performed. With that many ferrules, smugglers often tend to be a bit choppy in they way they perform, but I was delighted with this one. I cast the 905 and it was smooth, and it could do anything I asked it to do, from casting nearly a full line without hauling to strange stuff like an overpowered pile, Out Front Roll Cast, Hump Mends, Snap Pickups, and all the other fun stuff. Can’t wait to get one, and give it some exercise on the river.


The Hardy Booth had plenty of interest all day.


The casting pond was busy from morning to night. Good exercise for al the fly rods.


6-piece 905 laid out on an opened Hardy catalog.