12/26/10
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.    Blue-winged Olives
2  .  Sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish (Imitate with streamers)
3.    Midges


Matching Naturals - Fly Design Part Two
Continuing with Sir Hugo's questions,

Question #6:  Perfect Flies:   mayflies have only 3 tails and Extended bodies!!!
While your flies are VERY VERY close to the naturals in all stages of the natural’s
Live cycle, why haven’t you consider Plastics, injection molding and the like.
Why haven’t you Considered flies that HAVE the TEXTURE and absolute silhouette
and dimensions Like in bass fishing with “jelly”minnow patterns, using Modern
plastics or injection foam?
Your Perfection flies are MODERN and Enhanced designs, but I remember fishing
A “plastic/rubber” cricket (made of the material of a rubber worm) that was of perfect
Color had the right legs and exact dimensions where a cricket made of feathers
And fur looks close but not as realistic??  Plus the rubber Cricket had more of a
Realistic  “feel/texture” once in the trouts mouth/ .Why do none of your Perfect flies
not incorporate jelly/plastics/injection foam in there designs? Are the naturals to
small to imitate correctly?  Plastic is used in almost all other types of Fishing lures
fresh and salt water.

I am continuing the article of December 24th.
Certainly it is possible to make exact replications of any insect. In fact, it could be
perfected to the point it would be impossible to tell a real one (that didn't move) from
the fake. Doing that doesn't compare with going to the moon and we did that a long
time ago. There's three problems with doing this I can think of off hand and all of
them have to do with imitating the
movement of the insects, not just how they move
through the water but how their different body parts move.  

1. Making a fly that looks identical to the real insect is just a part of the problem of
fooling trout with flies. That's a big help but what's even more important is that the
replica moves and behaves like the real insect. If someone put a stuffed mountain
lion in your yard that was identical to the real thing, it would get your attention but if
it didn't move, it wouldn't take long for you to realize it wasn't real. If it was made to
move across your yard, you would instantly recognize it as a fake. Its legs, eyes, tail,
etc., wouldn't move, it couldn't walk and it would completely destroy the imitation of a
real mountain lion.

I usually say that I could cast a bronze replica of a mayfly nymph and fish with it, but
since it wouldn't move and act like a real nymph, most wild trout wouldn't accept it as
a real nymph and would probably reject it. Not only must a fly move like the real
thing, it should have the same
buoyancy. That's difficult to achieve. Real mayflies
have hollow parts within their bodies and different densities that affect their
buoyancy. The upward force on any object submerged in water is equal to the
weight of water it displaces less the weight of the object itself. Rubber or plastic
molded flies are generally much heavier than the insects they imitate. I'm sure this
could be solved on the nymphs fairly easy but it's a big problem on mayfly
emergers, duns and spinners, or adult caddisflies, stoneflies, etc. How the fly floats
in the water is critical to how well it imitates the behavior of the real insect. For
example, In the case of a mayfly dun when the fly is drifting up to and over a trout,
the trout can only see the parts of the mayfly dun that protrude below the
surface skim of water
up until the fly enters the trout's window of vision. If the
trout's only six inches deep, for example, that means it only sees the parts of the
mayfly above the surface through a window directly overhead that's not much more
than a foot in diameter. In water moving fairly fast, that would give the trout only a
split second glimpse. I don't want to get into physics and Snell's Circle at this point
but you can see where the buoyancy of the fly is very critical, especially on dry flies.
I should also mention that the trout can only see the parts of the dry fly that's above
the surface of the water in clear focus when it's at the center of that overhead
window of vision. It is out of focus to the trout at near the edges of the circular
window. If a dry fly floats half submerged, the trout can see the bottom half of the fly
even when it's a few feet away from its window of vision headed downstream
towards its position under most conditions. Buoyancy is a factor that must be
addressed for any dry fly. This is why floatants can be very important.

Complicating the imitation of emerging insects is the fact many have tiny gas or air
bubbles trapped within and around their bodies that affect their buoyancy.  In the
case of dry flies, foam is usually a lighter and better material to use than plastics. It
is usually less dense. The whole buoyancy thing is complicated more by the fact
real insects don't have hooks in them. Metal hooks are heavy. The material
must also be capable of supporting the added weight of the hook. The bottom line
to this is most dry flies, irrespective of what they are made of, depend on floatants
to make them imitate the real insects from a buoyancy standpoint.
In summary,
there are many things that must be considered other than the appearance
of the fly or its resemblance to the real insects.

2. Different parts of the insect's larval stage of life - nymphs and larvae, move
differently and have different buoyancy characteristics. When you mold something
out of any material with a uniform or consistent density, this makes it impossible to
imitate these movements. In other words, the gills, legs, tails, thorax, abdomen, etc.,
all have different buoyancy aspects. This is a big disadvantage of molded flies. It
could be done, but it would require molding different parts of the insect, with
different material densities. This brings up another consideration - the durability of
the material. It can't break or be easily damaged. For example, a tiny foam leg would
break easily. Most light density materials are not very strong.

We went to a lot of effort to make our Perfect Flies "move" like the real insects do in
the water. For example, mayfly nymphs have different types of gills. The crawlers
have large gills that are quite obvious to the trout because they live in a slow to
moderate stream flow with limited oxygen. Their gills are much larger to help them
acquire more oxygen. We go to the trouble to tie in two small EMU feathers to
imitate these gills on our crawler mayfly nymphs. They EMU feathers constantly
move and imitate the gills quite well. These extremely light and fine feathers won't
be still even in an almost dead air space.

3. The fly business is a tiny, niche market. Fly fishing is a small sport. The
commercial fly business is greatly limited by this. Unless someone just wanted a
huge tax write off for a business failure, they are limited as to just how much money
they can invest in making flies. If the cost of one trout fly was $10,000.00 there
would be very few people that would want one. The price of the flies was my single
biggest problem. Getting the cost and resultant price of the flies down to where
anglers would buy them wasn't easy. When we came out with Perfect Flies, they
were all priced at $2.25 each. I started out with almost 400 of my own fly patterns. I
knew that if anglers didn't buy them, I would take a pretty big lose. That was higher
than any flies on the market, yet I would still have to sell large quantities to break
even. We recently got some of them down to $1.95 each which helped a little.

I had several good fly tyers ask anywhere from $5.00 each up to double and even
triple that to tie the same trout flies we sell for $2.25. It took us over five years and a
lot of upfront expense to train the ladies that tie our flies. Our mayfly duns, for
example, takes about three to five times the amount of time to tie as the typical fly
shop fly takes. The stonefly nymphs require even more time. After the first few
months of selling them, the problem completely changed.
It changed from
worrying about the price of the flies to keeping them in stock.
We have a few
customers that have purchased over a thousand dollars worth of flies from us in
less than a year. The business is growing as fast as you could expect any small
business to grow. It has greatly exceeded our expectations.

In summary, to answer your main question, yes it is possible to design even better
flies and it's also possible that injected molding of some of the components may be
part of the solution. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of a way to
improve something related to our flies. It's just that you are greatly limited by the
size of the market and the cost of labor; however, that's just the type of problem I
enjoying solving. This isn't a money thing with us. It's much like the fly fishing itself.
The real benefit comes from the joy and satisfaction of doing it.

Copyright 2010 James Marsh