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> > Using foam flies - your thoughts...

LamAugust 31st, 2007, 5:28 am
Lancaster, PA

Posts: 81
I assume that just about everyone has fished with some type of foam fly, be it an ant or beetle. But how does everyone feel about other foam flies, like the chernobyl and other similar flies?

I have fished the chernobyl very effectively this year by "splatting" in riffles. This technique has saved me from a few fishless days on this summer's low waters.

What about foam bodied may fly immitations?

Is the foam going too far, too artificial? Or is it simply a matter of taste, the material is there, why not use it?

Sometimes I feel like I am using a big ole plug or piece of hardware that's more appropriate for bass when I fish for trout with the chernobyl but on the other hand, I can't argue it's effectiveness.
DavezAugust 31st, 2007, 5:56 am

Posts: 59
I would be nowhere on the stream or river without foam.

To each his own, but how can you argue a fly that never sinks, catches tons of fish and you can tie a box full of them in a short time? Not to mention, you can hang a tungsten fly off it and it makes a great bobber.

I like em. ALL of my smallmouth bass flies for the surface have some form of foam or synthetic in them.

for foam bodied mayflies, I don't know. The only foam mayfly I have used is a coffin fly- essentially a strip of white foam wrapped to make the body. works well, but I haven't used to many coffin flies that didn't work.

and smallmouth bass are alot more like big brown trout than you think. some of my biggest trout were caught on crayfish flies that I tied for bass. my biggest bass were on the same fly.

JADAugust 31st, 2007, 6:11 am
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362

Hello Lam.
I have this on my profile-"If we carry purism to it's logical conclusion, to do it right you'd have to live naked in a cave, hit your trout on the head with rocks, and eat them raw. But, so as not to violate another essential element of the fly-fishing tradition, the rocks would have to be quarried in England and cost $300 each."

~John Gierach

I think with this sport you have to do what's in your hart or what makes you feel good. What is right for me might not be right for you. Some of our fellow anglers use only dry flies,some tie only with natural furs . I find it hard to judge other anglers except,when they break the law.

John Dunn (Caddisman)

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cocks wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
SofthackleAugust 31st, 2007, 6:22 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
I agree with John (JAD). Foam has its place in fly tying. If it works I say-why not use it?

"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders:
Shawnny3August 31st, 2007, 6:34 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Well put, John. I agree in philosophy with everything you said. So let's make that clear before I say anything else - do what you like to do. Even though I have certain things I do and don't do, I try not to fall into the trap of attaching moral weight to aesthetic preferences.

My aesthetic preference is for materials that challenge my tying abilities. I use synthetics, but I try not to use them as a way to overcome my own lack of creativity or ability. I have debated the use of foam for a long time in my own tying and have until now avoided its use. I did buy some foam last year, though, and it sits on a shelf on my flytying bench, so the day may soon come that I start experimenting with it. If I do start using it, my intention is not to use it as the primary material in a pattern but as a small, functional accent to keep emergers or spinners in the surface film.

Other tiers are completely welcome to tie and fish whatever they want, but I personally find most foam ant and beetle patterns obnoxious. I have seen some that incorporate significant creativity and skill (see some of Gonzo's amazing foam patterns, for example), but they're still not yet enough to convince me that the material is right for me.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
LittleJAugust 31st, 2007, 11:12 am
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
I've been tying almost all my "drakes" in the foam extended body style. Not to say there's not a better way out there, but I haven't found an easier way to tie extended bodies.
MartinlfAugust 31st, 2007, 11:58 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3202
Jeff, I like the extended body drakes, and would be helpless without my foam ant and beetle patterns at times. I used foam for the posts in my somewhat infamous glow spinners, and nothing else that I know of would have worked there. Love the Gierach quotation, John.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
LamAugust 31st, 2007, 12:29 pm
Lancaster, PA

Posts: 81
Gierach is good for a lot of quotes but that's one of the best.

As for foam, I initially got interested because of Gonzo's book. I recently got Bill Skillton's book on tying with foam. Lots of interesting patterns. I am not the greatest tier in the world, prbably because I don't spend a lot of time doing it. But, I find the foam both useful and fun to expirement with.
JOHNWAugust 31st, 2007, 2:40 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
My first forrays into foam were the obvious beeetle and ant immitations, Then I started experimenting with 2mm razor foam for BWO's,, standard flat foam used as a supporting stirrup for cut wing parachutes, flame shaping foam cylinders for extended bodies. So yes I guess one could say I fish foam.
The only western foam fly that ever offended my sensibilities is a monster designed for the Lamar River called a "TAR BABY", This bug is a approximately a #2 4-6xl with four layers of standard flat foam tied in beetle style with some rubber legs at the front tie down point. It is tie to imitat (loosely speaking) the giant "mormon cricket" or "locust killer" found in said valley.

The sad thing is those Yellowstone Cutts in the Lamar Drainage actually eat these things.

"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
CaseyPAugust 31st, 2007, 3:12 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653
say, Shawn, would your cicada tie do for a Mormon cricket? they're about the same size. one would need some legs and an adjustment of color. just a thought...
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
Shawnny3August 31st, 2007, 5:08 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Possibly, Casey. I'm not a Mormon, though, so I really wouldn't be the one to ask. I did get the phone numbers of a few cute Mormon girls who came to my doorstep one time, "just in case I had any questions," but that was as close as I ever came to converting. Shameless, I know, but at least I didn't blatantly hit on them. To think that if I had I might be living with my family of twelve on a sheep farm in Utah... I guess I got a pretty good thing going right here, thanks.

Jokes aside, I'm sure the same techniques could be used for many other large floaters such as crickets and hoppers. I did develop those ties on my own, so they are "original" in that sense, but as is the case with most flytying inventions, someone else already invented those techniques. The first guy I showed those flies to said, "Hey, those look just like Chauncey Lively ties." I got one of Lively's books, and, sure enough, they do look like his ties. So if you'd like some other variations on those patterns, I'd suggest one of his books (I think the one I have is actually called "Chauncey Lively's Flybox").

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
RleePSeptember 28th, 2007, 6:05 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
I think foam has a lot of utility and I use it in hoppers, beetles and some ants. All the same, my warmer weather go-to searching dry fly on small streams and these half-pint spring creeks out here in the Midwest is a #10 ant. It has been my experience that the ones I make out of deerhair outfish the foam variety by at least 2-1. I think (always a dangerous endeavor for me...) that some of the difference is about the better splat I get with deerhair and about how the deerhair fly fly actually becomes more buggy looking after the first few fish begin it's devolution into a tiny black hair brush.

By the way, nobody else should tie or fish this fly... It's bulk makes it dangerous to you on the back cast and there is some research data that indicates that one of the components of the black dye used to color the deerhair is indictable in a number of horrible, disfiguring systemic diseases whose names I cannot spell.

So, while it is too late for me, none of you should tie or fish big deerhair ants....:) Stick with foam and be able to enjoy your grandkids someday.
GeneSeptember 28th, 2007, 2:18 pm
Posts: 107Gentlemen:

I have heard this argument often enough to say: "those who wish to limit the creativity of the fly tier by thoughts of Puritanism seldom feel the throb of their big bent rod on a fish!"

I remember when synthetics were coming into vogue years ago the same reasons were given. Tie, Tie, and Tie and use them all because unlike the mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies which are renewed each year our days are limited so enjoy them all with whatever you can concoct with magic of your hands.

tight lines and dancing nymphs


The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn;
He sets, and each ephemeral insect then
Is gathered into death without a dawn,
And the immortal stars awake again.

Shelly (Adonais)
MartinlfSeptember 28th, 2007, 4:47 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3202
Gene, thanks for the citation for the poem. I'm collecting fishy poems, and buggy ones now. I'll change my signature line soon. Perhaps now.

Oh, like Lee I agree that the dye used to color deerhair black is highly toxic and that the deerhair ant is very dangerous to cast, for many reasons I can't begin to describe.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
JOHNWSeptember 28th, 2007, 6:51 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
Perhaps the dye from black deer hair is profoundly toxic, however, I would wager that the radiation from just one nuclear spinner would be far more dangerous to the casual fly fisherman.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
Shawnny3September 28th, 2007, 7:40 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Hard to resist, wasn't it, John? Nice one.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
MartinlfSeptember 29th, 2007, 5:46 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3202
Yeah, JW, in the dark you couldn't see the lead vest and mitts I was using to handle them. I figured a one time-exposure wouldn't hurt you too much, though, as I didn't have a spare set of protective gear.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
RleePSeptember 29th, 2007, 9:10 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
Perhaps the dye from black deer hair is profoundly toxic, however, I would wager that the radiation from just one nuclear spinner would be far more dangerous to the casual fly fisherman.

Well, yeah. But... If you've been routinely fishing black deerhair ants for any length of time, what does it matter?

Your days are already numbered....:)
JOHNWSeptember 29th, 2007, 2:58 pm
Chambersburg, PA

Posts: 452
Actually I should thank you. Since sub-unit #2 was already hatched you saved me a trip to the urologist and a couple of days of vac. time with the radiation exposure.
"old habits are hard to kill once you have gray in your beard" -Old Red Barn
MartinlfSeptember 30th, 2007, 4:56 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3202
Anytime, JW; think nothing of it. :)
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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