Friday, 31 December 2010

What a great way to end the year

It’s always good to fish with somebody who knows the water, and Koen turned out to be a fantastic guide again. He knows these polder waters like he was born among the pike who inhabit them. There wasn’t much fish to catch though. We both had some followers and some bites but we couldn’t hook any fish…

Until Koen caught this beauty on one of the last casts of the day.

I had a fantastic time today (thanks again Koen)!


And to all followers and visitors of this blog:

Have a great party tonight,
and I wish you all a happy new-year! 

Thursday, 30 December 2010

More luck tomorrow?

Finally, a couple of hours by the water again, and it felt very good to be outdoors! But new waters often have some surprises, especially this one. I’ve fished in polder waters before, but never this close to the sea. When I arrived, the water looked very murky, which wasn’t  a good sign but I figured, with some bright colours and flashy fluff, I might still have a chance. But after a few minutes, my line (on the water) went from straight to half a circle in no time. The current that appeared so suddenly, was something that I have never witnessed before. Every day, when it’s low tide in the North Sea, they open the lock gates in the next village and release the polder water. I was warned for this current, but I didn’t expect anything like this though.

Apparently, pike don’t like this either, and it’s a bad time to fish them. I saw one pike though, (around 80 cm) right at my feet. When you strip your line, it always kind of slaps the water right in front of your rod tip, and this pike seemed to be very interested in this movement on the surface. She came swimming up to my line, looked at it, and disappeared again.

On my way back home, I checked out some other waters that I’ve fished before, but they were even murkier than the first one and/or they were still covered with a thin layer of ice.
This ice will be gone in a day or two, but according to our (wonderful?!) Belgian fishing laws, tomorrow is the last official day of the pike season (luckily there are a few exceptions and some private waters).

There is only one way to deal with this problem, and that’s to give it another try tomorrow. This time, I’m going together with Koen (who knows this water very well), and we tend to arrive there at high tide. This way, we will still have a couple of hours without the turbulent current. So maybe we will have more luck tomorrow. Either way, I think it’s a beautiful way to end the year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

If it were not for hope, the heart would break!

I got a call from my fishing buddy Koen today. Apparently there are some waters without ice in the Belgian Polders. He fished there yesterday and caught two pike. Today I had other obligations, but tomorrow I will definitely go check it out myself! I’ve already set the gps (and printed out a map, just to make sure), checked my rods and lines, put new leaders on, selected my flies… I just feel very much alive. Even if I don’t catch anything tomorrow, the thought of being able to fish, be outdoors, and try out some of my new flies… Aaagghhh!!!


I probably overdid it again. Most likely, I will use only one rod, but that’s what wintertime does to a fisherman.

So wish me luck, and I will post whatever happens tomorrow evening…

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Pike flies

Of course, I’m still playing with ostrich herl. I should have started dying this stuff a long time ago (instead of paying a ridiculous price for something so simple).

This is how I store different colours. I’ve put my saddle hackles in folders like this as well, it’s very practical.

These are the flies I’ve tied today (I’ve been playing with the Shinetail pattern as well, but more on that later). All three are about 18 cm long, tied on an SS-1930 inox (from TOF), size 4/0.


- I’ve started with orange Vampire Plush (chenille) around (1 cm of) the hook shank
- then yellow bucktail around the hook shank
- yellow Krystal Flash on top
- yellow ostrich herl on the sides and on top (about 55)
- orange ostrich herl on top (10)
- 5 orange grizzly saddle hackles
- and the head is yellow, orange and black lama hair (cut into shape) with homemade epoxy eyes.

And again, I forgot to put the Crazy Legs in the head. And again, they where laying in front of my nose. I think they are cursed!


I’m very pleased with this one.

- yellow Vampire Plush around
(1 cm of) the hook shank
- purple bucktail around the hook shank
- mixed yellow and purple ostrich herl on the sides and on top (about 65)
- two yellow and two purple grizzly saddle hackles on top
- the collar is made of 4 artic fox dubbing loops (yellow, purple, yellow, purple)
- sequins and epoxy for the head

The purple ostrich herl turned out a bit pale (that doesn’t mean they are rubbish), but the ones that are drying now, look a lot better (I’m still experimenting).

This is my version of a torö killer by Ulf Hagstrom. You can find a tutorial on the ‘real thing’ at

- I’ve started with 10 strands of light olive ostrich herl around the hook shank
- some yellow Krystal Flash around it
- light olive Vampire plush around the hook shank
- light yellow bucktail around the bottom of the hook shank, and olive bucktail around the top
- light green Krystal Flash on top
- light olive ostrich herl on the sides and on top
- again light olive Vampire Plush around the hook Shank
- olive bucktail around the bottom, and green bucktail around the top
- light green Krystal Flash on the sides, and dark green on the top
- light olive ostrich herl on the sides, dark olive a little bit higher, and green on top
- olive bucktail around the bottom, and green around the top, both towards the hook eye
- fold back the bucktail, secure it with your thread, glue in some epoxy eyes, epoxy the head, and remove the thread

Aesthetically speaking, this one has a bit of a chin, but sister pike won’t mind (so neither do I).

Ulf Hagstrom is a real artist (check out his blog, and see for yourself), so I can only dream of his skills. But I’ve fished with this pattern a lot last winter (we didn’t have this amount of ice last year), and by adding the bucktail in the tying process, this fly has a lot more volume when wet, and it keeps the ostrich herl from wrapping around the hook.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Dying experiments with ostrich herl

I intended to try this a month ago, but there was always something else that I wanted to do first. In the mean time, I’ve gathered some information and received a very interesting mail from Liviu (aka Parintele), how to dye feathers with natural pigments (like saffron and henna), thanks again for that Liviu.


But first, I wanted to try the stuff that I already had. Like this pigment to dye textile, I received from Fario Jan (still my favourite fly shop).


The manual that came with the pigment, indicated it was necessary to heat the water. This might be so, but putting the ostrich herl in the hot water, wasn’t a very good idea.


After drying, it looked like mice had it for breakfast.


When I tried again, this time the water at room temperature, the result was a lot better.


This stuff is pigment that my mother used to dye silk. The box you see on the picture isn’t even half the stock she had in her closet. So I definitely had to try that!


This was my first attempt, and I’m very pleased with the result.
Here I used the pigment undiluted…


and here I added some water, to have a lighter colour, which works as well. So I don’t think I have to look much further.
The result is good, and I’ve got plenty of colours in stock now.

The next colour is orange.

And of course, I’ve tied some pike flies with my new colours. They are about 14 cm long.

- the first one, I’ve started with a 5 mm tungsten bead (which is inside the head)

- then orange Vampire Plush (chenille) around (1 cm of) the hook shank
- yellow bucktail around the hook shank
- yellow Krystal Flash on top
- 10 strands of yellow ostrich herl on each side, and 15 on top
- again yellow bucktail around the hook shank
- 10 strands of yellow ostrich herl on each side, and 10 on top
- some sequins, and epoxy for the head


The second is tied the same way, but here I only tied in the bucktail and ostrich herl once (but a bit more), then a collar of orange artic fox in a dubbing loop, and there is no bead in the head.


The third one, I’ve used pink Polar Flash in stead of the Krystal Flash (but more), two kinds of ostrich herl (pink and white), and the collar is pink (Steve Farrar’s) SF Blend in a brass wire dubbing brush.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Time for study


It’s been a few days, but I’m still here.
I bought me some interesting books lately, and looked up a lot of fly patterns in magazines, books and the internet (mainly for trout). So I still have a lot of reading and tying to do.


All this, because I plan to go more to the Belgian Ardennes again. I spent two weeks there last summer, but I used to go there almost every week until a few years back. And I miss it a lot!

I also started dying feathers, but more on that later...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Pike flies

My evening was mainly filled with experiments… with very disappointing results.
But hey, that’s the best way to learn. I’ve found out some interesting things
(primarily what not to do with certain materials).


So I've finished with the same pattern of the last few days again (just filling up my boxes).

But again, I've managed to forget the Crazy Legs in the head…



(and they were laying right in front of my nose!)

But, third time lucky.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Pike flies


I’m still playing with the same pattern. This time in white and pink.


Actually I wanted to put some Flexifloss in the head, but I forgot…


so I’ve tied another one.

These flies are about 20 cm long, and tied on a Gamakatsu SC15-2H, size 5/0.


- I’ve started with a white rabbit zonker strip
- then some pink Ice Chenille wrapped around (1 cm of) the hook shank
- pink bucktail around the hook shank
- pink Polar Flash on top
- white saddle hackles
- and the head is white and pink lama hair, six strands of pink Flexifloss (three actually, folded double), and homemade epoxy eyes.

I like the look of this Flexifloss (or Crazy Legs) in the head, and they will add more movement, so I will be using this stuff more often.

I’m dreaming of… a sunny Christmas!

I just got a call from my fishing buddy Koen.
“Don’t you just have that aggravating feeling inside. We’ve got the time and the urgent need to go fishing, but we just can’t!”
“Well”, I doubtfully said, “we can tie flies.”
“That’s true”, he answered, “but it isn’t quite the same thing.”

Point taken, but as you can see trough my window…

Lots of people may like a white Christmas, but this time last year, I was still fishing!

Polypropylene fibre

Now, what is this polypropylene fibre, I keep rattling on about?
Well this stuff is made for industrial use, in this case to make carpets.


It comes in a thread (on a bobbin), which is welded every few centimetre. So you still have a bit of work to do before you can use it.


I use this handy tool, which is a piece of wood with three nails in it (thanks for the tip Renzo).
Wrap the fibre around the nails about 15 times (more will make it difficult to comb out). Then put a little strap around the fibre on one end, and cut it an the other end.

This is the result.


Then take a wooden plank (but your oak table will work fine as well, if you don’t mind the scratches), and a comb like this.


Then comb everything out until you get your end result. Which is a fantastic fibre!


In various colours (I will have more colours soon).

And if you run out… just take a bobbin, and make some more.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Pike flies

You have probably noticed that I use a lot of polypropylene fibre lately, and I’ll try to do a post on that stuff soon.
The last couple of days I mainly used it to build heads on my flies. I know some of you are interested to give it a try as well, but don’t have any polypropylene fibre. So I’ve tried a couple of alternatives.


The first one, I’ve build a head with lama hair, but any kind of wool will do. Icelandic sheep for instance. I’ve got a lot of Merino wool laying around here, and it works fine too.
Of course, this stuff absorbs a lot of water, and will be heavier to cast. But it’s not so difficult, it’s fun to work with, and you get a nice result.

- I started with tying in a purple/black bunny zonker strip
- then purple Ice Chenille wrapped around (1 cm of) the hook shank
- black bucktail around the hook shank
- purple Christmas tinsel on top
- pink (it’s more like purple actually) grizzly saddle hackles
- and the head is purple and black lama hair (cut into shape), with some homemade epoxy eyes


If you do want to use synthetic fibre, make sure it’s not too stiff.
EP fibre works very well .That is basically the same as the polypropylene fibre I use, except that 1 package of EP fibre costs more than 1 kilo of the fibre I use (but more on that matter later).

The bottom of this head is Flash’n Slinky, but I find it way too stiff for this purpose.
The top of the head is Mirror Image, which is a lot better already, but it’s still too stiff for me. Perhaps on a bigger hook (this is only a 2/0), it will be easier to work with.
If you don’t have anything else, this fly will catch pike, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

There is one synthetic fibre that I can highly recommend for this purpose though.
It’s called Frizz Fibre (also from H2O). This fibre is even softer then lama hair, and very easy to use. In fact, I like this stuff even more than the polypropylene fibre (of course there is still a big difference in price, but it’s cheaper than EP).


I tied this fly the same way as the purple one (but orange, of course), with Frizz Fibre for the head, and no eyes (that would have been too much).

I’ve got a lot of tying material in stock, but I haven’t got everything, so I’m sure there is other stuff out there that works equally good. Just make sure it’s not too stiff (the softer, the better!)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Pike flies


I’m still testing the possibilities of a polypropylene fibre head (I just can’t get enough of this stuff).


This fly is about 25 cm long, and tied on a Mustad Salt Water (92247), size 6/0.


- I started with some pearl Krystal Flash
- then a white rabbit zonker strip
- white bucktail around the hook shank
- some chartreuse Krystal Flash on top
- two white saddle hackles on both sides, and two on top
- four grizzly-chartreuse saddle hackles on top
- white artic fox around the bottom of the hook shank, and black on top
- and the head is polypropylene fibre: natural belly, chartreuse and black (cut into shape), and some homemade epoxy eyes

- this one, I started with pearl Polar Flash
- then some Vampire Plush (chenille) wrapped around (1 cm of) the hook shank (its orange, but it doesn’t matter because you don’t see it)
- 10 strands of natural ostrich herl on each side, and 15 on top
- white bucktail around the hook shank
- 10 strands of natural ostrich herl on each side, and 5 saddle hackles (black at the start, grizzly at the ends) on top
- the head is polypropylene fibre: red, natural belly, and black (cut into shape), and some homemade epoxy eyes

And now I’m off to bed… time flies, when you tie flies!