Flies from Afghanistan - Part one
Flies from Afghanistan - Part 1
Being deployed offers many challenges; How will I perform my mission? How will I like my fellow airmen, sailors, marines and soldiers? Will there be personal conflict? What is my level of risk? How will my family handle my deployment?
These questions and many others go through your head at a furious pace. Once you have settled into a daily routine your focus can shift to your down time. How will I pass the time
without going nuts? Depending on your location, downtime can be tackled in numerous ways. I have never been much of a video game player so that is out. I love to read but that can only last so long. Through my many deployments the thing that keeps me going is pulling out the bags of feathers, yarn, and hooks and creating something that can transport you to a spot halfway around the globe. A spot in your mind where you can smell the moss and cedar, hear the rush of the current and share the company of the kingfisher and chickadee. As Norman Maclean said so aptly, “I am haunted by waters”…..and so I am, they are a perfect escape from a not so perfect situation.
Over a sixth month deployment one can find quite a bit of downtime. I was recently deployed as an Air Advisor to the Afghan Air Force and was embedded with the Afghan C-130 squadron out of Kabul, Afghanistan. The Afghan’s are truly remarkable people. So many of them want a better life for themselves and their country and to meet and get to know them makes their struggles become more acute. You truly want them to succeed and find peace in their private chaos.
Having an escape is critical to being able to perform day in and day out at a high level in a stressful situation, as I mentioned above fly-tying is my personal escape. One of my “goals” during my deployment was to fill my boxes with many of my go to patterns and also teach myself some new skills. I am happy to say that my goals were generally met. I tied hundreds of flies, many to catch steel, and was able to learn new techniques along the way, most notably tying tube flies. I also finally learned how to effectively tie small parachute patterns. The first installment of “Flies from Afghanistan” focuses on what I consider my “go to” steelhead pattern; the Sucker Spawn. This pattern is essentially a modified version of the Glo Bug and once you learn the tying technique it is pretty easy to tie up a pile to fill your box.
Here is the material list:
Hooks: #8 Tiemco 2457, I buy these in packs of 100
Thread: Orange or red Kevlar thread
Yarn material: Mcfly Foam Yarn, in whatever color suits your fancy. My most successful colors are; Ripple, Cerise, Early Girl, Orange, and Baby Blue.
Flash: Pearl Krystal Flash
How to tie:
To tie the pattern I lay down a base of thread along the entire shank of the hook. I tie in a small bunch of Krystal Flash creating a small “tail”. I tie in a small length of McFly Foam at about the location on the hook directly above the barb, the foam will be trailing from the rear of the hook.
To prepare the McFly Foam for tying I pull the material from the package and open it up. It roughly separates into strands. I peel off a strand that is roughly the diameter of a dime. I take this strand and cut it in half. I usually prepare several strands before I start tying. The shorter the strands are the easier it is to manipulate the material during the tying process.
I’m a right handed tyer so I tie in the strand with it trailing off the rear of the hook to the left. I then take my dubbing needle in my left hand fold the foam over the needle making a small, tight loop then I make several tight wraps of thread to tie it off, do not cut the foam. I then make another loop of foam with the needle, this time slightly larger than the last, tying it off as close as you can against the first. The third loop is usually the largest loop again tying it off as close as possible to the one before it. This loop should be at about the middle of the hook. I then begin to make the next loops smaller than the one before it.
The general idea is to have the fly be oval in shape when you look at it from above. The last loop should be a tight one. Tie off. I also usually coat the head and underside with some sort of head cement.
There you have it, the Sucker Spawn. Once you get the hang of the technique you can really crank these out and it can be fished just like any egg pattern using split shot or a slinky.
I’ll be back soon with another installment right in time for steelhead season. Birdog - Minnesota Steelheader | Director