Parachute Midge and other flies

Aileen Lane is an excellent fly tier and angler, and we are excited to welcome her to our Pro Staff team. Here are some pictures of her work.

parachutemidge soft hackle CWDC SoftHackleMidge



Cool Biot Stonefly Nymph

This is a pretty cool version of a nymph, dubbed “Biot Stonefly Nymph.” It’s basically a combination between two patterns, pulling key characteristics of each in order to represent the stonefly nymph.

From what I hear, the pattern is effective to fish and an intermediate tie, thus one that should find a spot in most trout fishermen’s boxes.

Take a look…

Golden Boy Fly Wins at Sowbug Roundup Tying Contest


We wanted to congratulate one of our customers, David Boyer, for winning the prestigious Sowbug Roundup Tying Contest under the Wet Fly Category. Dave is a fantastic tier and has a great technique for weaving. He used our Brown Dun JV hen skin for this beautiful Golden Boy fly. (Note: The Brown Dun in Mature Hen skin will work just as well since we sell out of the color in JV very quickly.)

Here is the pattern:

Hook: TMC 200R – #20-#12 or similar (Size 16 in photos).
Bead: Appropriate size for hook, black or gold (Black 3/32 used on #16 hook)
Thread: Dark Gold – Abdomen, Black – Thorax 14/0 or 8/0
Tail: Golden Pheasant Tail Fibers or Hen Hackle fibers
Underbody: Dark Gold Thread
Wire Body: Top Side: BR Copper Brown,
Hook Side: BR Gold (go down to small wire for smaller hooks and medium wire for larger hooks as desired.)
Hackle: JV Hen – Dark Dun with Brown Tips, badger or brown will also work.
Thread Head: Black 14/0 or 8/0


De-barb if desired. Place bead on hook and hook in vice. Start gold thread about 1/3 way back from eye and wrap to just above barb. Use about 3-4 Golden Pheasant tail fibers for tail with length about ½ hook shank length. Tie in Copper Brown wire on far side of hook with tag end starting at 1/3 mark (same location as gold thread start) and wrap to tail tie in point. Tie in Gold wire on near side of hook with same tie in and end point as Copper Brown wire. Flatten thread (counter-clockwise spin of bobbin) and using tight wraps take thread up to tag ends of wire creating a smooth underbody and covering the wire. Do two half-hitches or whip finish and cut off thread. Do shuttle weave of the two wire colors with Copper brown on top of hook. Take one weave past the tag ends of wire and stop. Cut wire such that bead will slip over last wire weave and “lock” weave on hook. You should have about 1/4 of the hook shank now exposed in front of the bead. Tie on black thread and prepare base to hook eye. Tie in hen hackle by butt end with barbs that extend from between the hook end and end of the tail fibers. Take four to five hackle wraps, tie off and make sure hackle sweeps back. Use thread to build up head, whip finish and use favorite adhesive on thread head.

Fish as you would with any wet fly. With the wire and bead, fly will sink faster and is also good in faster flowing waters.



How Does Genetic Hackle Work?

A Trout Ate My Homework

Clearwater Hackle Feathers

Dries, wet or streamer flies – ever wonder how they produce such amazing fly fishing hackle – colors, length, resistance, differences? It is the hard work of hackle companies, which dedicated themselves to provide the best quality hackle feather for fly fisher and fly tier. Lars Benson, owner of Clearwater Hackle, will answer some of my questions and share with us what it means to raise fly tying hackle birds. I hope this will help you understand a tiny bit more about the care and genetic effort behind it!

Why did you decide to take over Clearwater Hackle bird company?
It combines two loves: fishing and birds. My grandpa would take me fly fishing with him to some of the best trout streams in the world. I was too young to cast, but he would let me land the fish. It was a blast, and you could say I was…

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New Mayfly Nymph Dubbed “Clearwater Special”

One of our pro reps, Lee Blanton, recently tied a fly that has proven to be quite popular while he’s been attending fly shows. He’s named it the Clearwater Special. And we quite like the name! :-).  The recipe is on the picture (click to expand).

Clearwater Special Mayfly Nymph

He used some of our special JV Hen hackle that we developed and named Hungarian Partridge. It is an awesome substitute of the wild bird, and in many ways superior. The color is not an exact match but is close. The stems are so much easier to tie with compared to the wild Hung Part, and the feather fibers undulate in the water in such a way that they mimic an insect quite closely.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it) we sold out of all of our Hungarian Partridge skins in less than a week after posting. Won’t have any ready until summer 2014.

Cold Weather Means Great Feathers

Cree Rooster Genetic Hackle

When I woke up yesterday it was -18F outside. With the wind chill it may have dipped down close to -30. Not as cold as some places on this great planet, but definitely not Hawaii weather either. It’s so cold that my teeth nearly froze together while out doing chores. In fact, and this is a true story, one of the local ski hills even closed down because of the cold! (Seriously)

The cold means a lot more work too (breaking ice out of water dishes alone adds hours). But there are positives, at least when it comes to hackle.

Feathers are an excellent source of insulation. When our hands are cold you can hold a bird with your fingers underneath their feathers and almost instantly warm your hands. (There are some backyard chicken owners who don’t know any better and feel that they need to wrap their birds in sweaters. In reality, they may actually be doing their birds a disservice.) If chickens are under shelter – out of wind and rain/snow – they are quite hardy. Our feather cockerels are in such a building, with no additional heat source. I’ll go outside at first light and hear the roosters crowing just as loudly as they do in the summer.

Higher Quality Feathers

The cold triggers a hormonal response in the birds, which leads to more feather development. Not only does the chicken produce more feathers but there is even evidence to suggest that the quality of feather improves too, such as greater barb density. This is one reason why chickens raised in hot environments are inferior feather-wise, such as the birds that give us Indian capes. (And even more importantly, they lack the genetic makeup.)

So as I bundle up to face the cold these next few days, I can take “warmth” knowing that the birds will be growing some fantastic hackle.

35 Inches of Awesomeness

This is one of the bigger northern pikes we’ve seen so far this year. It was just 1 inch shy of 3 feet. Fought hard and made my day.

Been experimenting with a few new techniques this year, including sounds, presentation/movements, and scents. Jury is still out.

35 Inch Northern Pike

35 Inch Northern Pike 

The ugly fly is my own invention – some grizzly dun schlappen, wet feathers from our JV hens, heron feathers, flashabou, beads, and a couple other ingredients I’ve been playing around with to make a rattle sound. Still a work in progress.

Fly Tying with Hen Hackle: Tips and Techniques

Check out this new video that explains the various feathers you can expect to find on a JV hen skin. It also discusses some great uses for the feathers such as: tailing and legs (especially for use with patterns such as the Copper John), beards on wet fly patterns, and soft hackles.

These are just a few possibilities for utilizing hen hackles. The JV hen is a very versatile product for both wet and dry fly tying.

Wild Cat Problem

barn cat

When building our facilities we made them “predator” proof. At least for the common predators we see in the area: bear, wolf, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, and the occasional adventurous child ;-). What we did not consider were stray cats.

This past week a wild cat found its way through a ventilation hole and then gorged itself on several young birds. One of which was a rare Chili Pepper cockerel showing lots of promise, a heavy loss. We were able to scare the cat off but not catch it.

[Note: Chili Pepper is a new version of Cree we have been developing. Exclusive at Clearwater Hackle. Email us to inquire about current inventory.]

It’s not just the loss of a bird that hurts. It’s the loss of the genetics the cockerel possessed. He was the culmination of meticulous breeding and careful planning. Our breeding objectives for these genetic hackle chickens span years. We have the next 5+ years planned out and the results we want to see. Losing a prized bird like this could stunt the program.

Fortunately we identified a brother that is displaying the right traits too.  It’s been our practice to keep a back up, a Plan B if you will, of the birds. Thank goodness for that.

Last night we set live traps, and I just saw that we caught the cat. We will be taking it to a new home here shortly.