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Flies Questions about flies. What flies work and don't work. Complete fly talk...

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Old 07-20-2012, 07:38 AM
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Default The weight of the fly

Short back story. Last Saturday I stopped in at the local fly shop and they gave me some flies for Smallies. They gave me 3 different flies, 2 of which I can't cast at this point due to experience or equipment. I have a 5wt and while building my casts these 2 flies would swing rather badly pivoting from the line/leader connection. The third I was able to cast simply by using a little more effort.

Now for my question:

I ordered in some size 8 and 10 hooks to replicate the 2 flies that I couldn't cast into smaller flies. As I was pulling out the beads for one, and lead eyes for the other fly I decided to pull out my grain scale (I reload as well) and make sure that my new flies would indeed be smaller (lighter) than the flies I was copying.

Thinking back I have not personally heard or read anyone choosing or referring to flies by weight, only size. Is building by weight something that is done, but I just haven't noticed it? Or do most fishermen fish enough flies before they start tying that they just sense, or know what will be close enough in weight?

A lot of my day job has to do with process improvement and cost reduction so I am probably over thinking the whole thing. It's just one of those questions that my brain just wants to know whether it matters or not. It would seem that if I can cast a size 10 cone head that I could also then cast an unweighted streamer up to a size (throwing a number out) 2. Removing the cone while increasing the hook size could end up near the same weight. But then how big of a fish would I attract, and could my starter rod handle him without becoming 1000 toothpicks? On and On and On and On..."SHUT UP BRAIN BEFORE I STAB YOU WITH A Q-TIP!!"

Ah, the joys of OCD.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:19 AM
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Default Re: The weight of the fly

One thing that will be an issue between weight and size is wind resistance. While a smaller fly with a tungsten bead may be heavy, a light but large popper is going to be a lot harder to cast. The relationship between size of fly and size of fish is a difficult one, since you have both people catching giant fish on tiny flies and people saying you need big flies to catch big fish. It depends on the situation (and the quarry), but both can be right at times. Weight IS an issue when your fly is not getting deep enough to get to any fish, or on the other side of the coin, going too deep (the latter has been much less of an issue for me). Personally, most important when I'm tying flies is hook size, followed by proper bead size, and then bead material depending on where I want the fly to be in the water column/what water depth will be. On one particular stream I fish, pheasant tail nymphs in 14 and smaller are deadly. While this example is a bit of a departure from the streamers you're discussing (though PTNs are GREAT for smallmouth in ripples, not kidding there...), if I were to remove the bead and UP the hook size, I'd likely be seeing a whole lot less fish on the end of my line. In fact, the smaller flies tend to be even more productive on the stream in question, maybe in part due to pressure.

Yes, in the case of the hinging that you're seeing you may indeed have to lighten the fly (though there's also another possibility; see next paragraph). However, scaling the entire fly down would likely be your best bet, rather than changing individual elements (that is of course assuming that the fly is perfect as is; changing individual elements may result in better fishing performance, not just casting). A heavy head will give the jigging motion that is a killer on many bass patterns.

To answer your question quickly: sometimes. I more often refer to flies by size than specifically by weight (besides relative light/heavy judgments) but there are times when it is necessary. This is the same reason there are both brass and tungsten beads. Sometimes you need a heavier fly of the same size to get to a section of water, other times you need the same fly with a glass bead or none at all.

And just to be difficult, you could try a sinking line with unweighted or lightly weighted streamers to get to the same section of the water column without the hinging fuss ;D The hinging could also be a result of improper leader construction. The heavier flies will require a stouter butt section on the leader (and likely a shorter leader altogether), which will likely eliminate some if not all of the hinging.

Sorry for the difficult and rather twitchy response, hope it answers more questions than it leads to!
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Old 07-20-2012, 11:47 AM
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Default Re: The weight of the fly

Thanks Gator!
I didn't find the response twitchy at all (When I know you better I can comment on if that's good or not). I actually used to run wires for Boeing and Uncle Sam, and aerodynamics didn't even enter my mind.

For some hobbies you learn the basics and then spend years practicing and perfecting your skills. I'm starting to get the feeling that fly fishing has enough dimentions that it could fill the course plan for any standard 4 year college degree. I'm not sure life gives enough time to practice everything I've learned.

Entomology
Aquaculture
Ethics
Physics
Aerodynamics
Chemistry
Geometry/Trig
fluid Mechanics
Statics/Dynamics
Thermodynamics
Mechanics of Materials
Manufacturing methods

My wife does NOT believe this would make a viable degree path! Sheesh...
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Old 07-20-2012, 12:58 PM
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Default Re: The weight of the fly

Casting issues can be solved by altering your rig.

One thing that you did not mention is your leader. When fishing larger and/or heavier flies, it is a good idea to shorten the leader and use a thicker tippet size. That combination will help transfer energy for a more efficient cast. Don't forget that bass are not leader shy.

You can also upline your rig with a 6 or 7 weight line. This will help you get a deeper bend in your rod to help create a more open loop.

Dennis
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:43 PM
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Default Re: The weight of the fly

Recriger, I've been doing this for over 45 years, and am still learning, so you may only be partially correct. Fly fishing & tying is like life, an ever evolving endeavor.

I have to agree with all the above. I'm not a reloader, but am a lure maker too.
You could get very precise with weights, however IMO it's not a necessity. I'm to the point of just knowing how much weight to build into a fly, and don't think a lot about it.

I've learned that with lures such as jigs, the advertised weight is usually not the actual weight, (example, most 1/4 oz jigs are not) so rather than get concerned about actual weight, I keep things simple. ( I have a jewelers scale so I have weighed jigs & flies!) When I need deep, I tie heavy, and use appropriately sized equipment & leaders. Very much agree with going heavier on the entire leader & shorter as I increase the weight. You do have to keep everything working together properly.

I've fished for Smallmouths quite a bit with a 6 wt, but now have several other rods I can use, both lighter & heavier. Another side affect of the many years of being involved in the sport. Just as with other types of tackle, one size does not fit all, and doesn't work best with all size or weight of the flies. Wind resistance is another problem as has been mentioned by gator!
It could be like trying to cast 1 oz lures with an ultra light spinning rod. It can be done, but not the best combination.

What gator said about using unweighted flies & sinking lines works too, as you're simply relocating & redistributing the weight. But, sinking lines come in many types of sink rates, and even various lengths so, a specific line may not work for you in all situations, so you'll end up adding additional lines to again fill the need.

I actually own several sinking lines of different configurations & still add weight to most of my sinking flies. I can usually figure out some combination that will fit the situation, but not always.

I'm one of those who do feel that bigger flies are more often better for bigger fish. But, size of the fish will be relative to the waters being fished. I've fished tiny streams with a 3 or 4 wt where and average fish is 8" and a 12" Smallmouth is a big one, so a size 8 or 10 fly may be "big". I've fished for LM bass with a 10 wt, and use it to cast rabbit strip flies that may be 8 to 10 inches in length, or 4 inch weedless flies that are cast into really heavy cover.

A 2 lb LM is average in the rivers I fish, and a big one may be 5 lbs. I don't need a 10 wt for the size fish, I've caught plenty with a 6 wt, but do need it for the flies I use & for the cover being fished. Plus, I fish in tidal waters, where there's the possibility of catching Striped Bass, which are often much larger than the LM bass. So again, selection of fly size & equipment size are meant to work together, and not always for the size of the fish.

In most streams I've fished for Smallmouths, my usual fly size is one tied on a size 2 or 4 hook, and generally about 3 inches in length. I'll fish them using a 6 wt. Even on tiny streams with a 3 or 4 wt as I mentioned before, I'll still use a size not smaller than an 8 most times. Smallmouths will eat tiny flies, but they're not trout, they tend to eat bigger things than trout, although I feel trout do also, more so than given credit IMO.
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