Upgrading simple flies

I tie flies most days. I am a fixed line fly fisherman specialising in fishing for English freshwater species on the local canal. I like simple flies, mostly soft hackles, nymphs and midge patterns. Occasionally I will tie a Kebari style fly, usually in the reversed hackle style as in a Sakasa Kebari.
Recently I purchased some holographic tinsel and I am amazed at the effect it gives after being treated with UV resin.
Have a look at the dressing below.

I have used a Hends BL550 size 14 hook with Uni-thread 8/0 black and a 2.5 silver tungsten bead. The body is formed with thread then over wrapped with Hends Black Holographic tinsel which is treated with Deer Creek UV fine resin I have used a Hen Pheasant back patch hackle. The body colouring is very subtle - various greens.


It looks very nice. Two questions come to mind, though. Are you tying for yourself or for the fish? If for the fish, does the holographic tinsel and UV resin catch more fish than simple black or green thread? For some fish here in the States, the tinsel wouldn’t matter but the resin would add protection from sharp teeth, which will tear a thread body apart after only a few fish.

I was about to post one of my most leaned on flies has a gold metalic thread, but to also it suites to answer your question too @CM_Stewart . I usually coat it with head cement because if I dont, the fly will get torn and unravel. The thin gold foil that wraps the thread in my case is very brittle. I have a few early versions of the fly that had a lot of mojo unravel and I had to try to mend them streamside…hahahahha.

I use my metalic gold thread in a lot of water you and I fish. I find it can work when the water is stained a bit, which when we do get rain, can be often. I use it less in crystal clear water unless it is fast running and I want to draw attention to it, or naturalistic is not working. I feel the form is both flashy and naturalistic. Tiny air bubbles and transparent/translucent body parts can refract/reflect light and create similar sparkle.


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Let’s just say I am trying to look at the holographic effect as though I am a fish. To me it reminds of the ‘flash’ and coloration that one finds on quite a few insects. However what it does do is it gives ME confidence. It probably makes not the slightest bit of difference but I feel better for it.

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I think flash can super important in a fly in some senarios. Most of my flybox are all the same form and I only carry one that has a similar sparkle as the one you posted David. My flies are mostly either shetland yarn bodied or this gold one. My flybox is super minimal, and I can say sometimes putting this fly on instantly makes a difference. It could be that there are other factors at hand or that the form like Davids has a lot of good attributes. Contrast might be part of it, but the glint/flash I really feel can be a tipping point to either annoy, draw attention, or match the attributes of real insects. Reflective flake is widely embraced in all lures and soft plastics. I do not think this is an additive for just fisherman.

This was before I started the coating of head cement.




UV resin is not required to get the POP, clear head cement will do the same but would require several coats to get the same thick lenses effect.

While the Hard-Bodies sure look great, sink fast and are very durable, they lack the motion in the water and the soft Cheney texture that yarn, dubbing, chenille and herls have. If a fly feels alive in the fish’s mouth, they will hold on to it longer, substantially increasing your chances of hooking any fish that takes your fly, which I believe is far more important than appearances.

Slightly off topic, but definitely along the same line of thinking, I kirb all my hooks (that don’t already have it) so that it’s more difficult for the fish to quickly spit out.
I learned this when I first fished for wahoo with lures. An old master saw how often I was missing fish and grabbed my jig and a pair of channel locks and bent my hook so that the point was over 30° out relative to the plane of the hook. Worked like magic! Suddenly I was hooking up constantly.
I did that with all my conventional fly fishing streamers, same result. Now I do it to all my tenkara flies… still works.

Do you notice any increase in hook breakage? Any example photos?

I kirb before I tie, and only recall breaking one or two hooks ever, when I started doing this with flies and didn’t know how far I could safely go. It doesn’t take a whole lot to send your hookup percentage up a lot.

Photo is a little fuzzy, but you can see pretty accurately how much I usually use. That’s a size 12 hook and I could safely go a little more. Smaller hooks need a little more because they’re, well, smaller, and I want that point sticking out where it’ll do me some good.

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Thanks for the photo and additional info @jamezu. Very interesting. I’d never heard of kirbing before this. May have to give it a try.

Does it make a difference which side you Kirb to?

Not at all.
When you try this at first you should look at the hook from the side afterward and make sure you didn’t deform the bend of the hook, opening the gape. You’ll know it when you see it, it’ll really look obviously wrong. Ideally you want to tweak the hook exactly at the place where the bend is perpendicular to the shank, OR bend the hook at the point where the shank starts. No real difference, we’re talking trout, not wahoo or tuna.

Thanks for sharing. Interesting.

So, basically just taking the hook curve out of plane a little. I have seen this in other hook forms but am trying to remember the application.

I found this blurb:


Hooks can be straight or offset. “Kirbed” hooks are offset left; “reversed” hooks are offset right. While a theoretical case can be made for offsetting left instead of right, or vice versa, it has little to do with basic fishing.

Fishermen who prefer offset hooks believe they increase the potential to catch hold. Offset hooks require slightly more force to sink in, however. Other fishermen prefer straight hooks. To ensure high-percentage hooking, some fishermen increase gap size by fishing a larger hook – a #6 instead of a #8, and so on.

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Exactly! When I was shown this we were wahoo fishing, very fast fish with VERY hard mouths full of razor sharp teeth. So I figured if it sent my hookup rate with them way up it should help my tenkara hookup rate too.
It does.