Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Internet Blackout Blue-Winged Olive

A popular myth says that nine months following the Northeast Blackout of 1965, New York City experienced a surge in babies being born.* Now, I'm not sure how true this is, but I had a similar experience Monday night. No, Emily's not pregnant, but my internet was out for about 6 hours and I tied a Blue-Winged Olive for the first time.

My internet went down at about 3:30 on Monday afternoon. I was working from home at the time so this was a real problem. I had to gather my laptop and high-tail it over to Starbucks to steal some wifi. When I wrapped up later in the evening, I came home to an empty house. Emily had a study group, ironically at the same Starbucks. I gave her a polite nod on my way out to avoid embarrassing her in front of her grad-school friends. Like I said, I was working from home that day and looked like crap. Not the best first impression. Not only was the internet still down, but we had recently gotten rid of cable as well. I had no idea how to waste my time, so I decided instead to actually do something productive, like tie flies.

John Gierach talks about Blue-Winged Olive constantly in his stories. Because of this, I bought Blue-Winged Olives constantly when I first started fishing. (I'm going to shorten this to BWOs for the rest of this article. It's a pain in the butt to type that out each time.) Now, I've never caught a trout on a BWO, mostly because I have only ever caught a handful of trout, but because I enjoyed, and continue to enjoy Gierach's stories so much, BWOs have always been a personal favorite of mine. So when the internet went out Monday, I thought I'd try my hand at tying one.

Blue Winged Olive
Still pumped about my new lenses.

Like most fly-fishers in Saint Louis, I get most of my materials from either T. Hargrove's or Feathercraft. The recipe I was using called for blue dun cock hackles, olive dubbing, and olive thread. I did not have any blue dun cock hackles, but I did have some Pearl-Gray Saddle Hackle from Feathercraft.

Blue Dun Cock Hackles

Now, I'm still very, very new to tying, and hopefully someday I'll look back on these posts and laugh at how green I was, but I feel like these hackles weren't the best for this fly. For one thing, they were far too big for the hook I was using (size #16). I guess I need to buckle down and get a decent saddle for that hackle. Otherwise I'm going to be very limited in what I'll be able to tie. (No one wants to read another post about me tying Pheasant Tail Nymphs.)

The dubbing was an Angora Goat died olive colored. The thread was a size 8/0 olive thread. A few things about the dubbing material and the thread. First, they both look very, very green to me. I know what you're saying, "Jake, green equals olive, you fool." And I agree. However, all of the olive colored materials in the books I've read look far more tan than green. I guess I could mix in some tan material with the olive dubbing material to mute the color. I just thought of that as I was typing this. Seems obvious now. Dammit.

Olive Angora Goat Dubbin

The thread was another story altogether. I don't know if I have a defective bobbin, or if I'm used to size 6/0 thread, but this stuff kept breaking off the hook. Do you know how frustrating it is to finally wrap your hackle around the wings and have the thread snap. Maddening. I'm going to take the mature route here and not blame the thread. We all know it was my own inexperience at fault here.

Olive Uni-Thread
Like really really green.
Speaking of wings, I thought the way that the book presented the wings and tail was quite brilliant. The wings are comprised of hackle tips, but the hackle stems are kept long on purpose. After securing the wings to the hook (and yes, I know the wings on the pic below are ridiculously big), you pull the stems back through the wings, down the hook shank to form the tail. Super efficient. Between the tail, the hackle fiber collar, and the dubbing material hanging from the body, I feel like this fly will push a ton of water and actually float. Whether it catches fish is another matter entirely.

The Finished Product
Finished product, after trimming away some hackle at the eye.
Oh well. Time to keep practicing and tie another. Maybe this time mix in some tan dubbing material. I need a ton of practice wrapping hackle. Collar hackle is hard enough to tie. I have no idea how anyone managers parachute patterns.

*I feel like I don't need to cite my source on this. For one thing, this is a fishing blog. For another, I'm sure you know how google works.

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