It’s official: Spring has sprung. For plenty of us, that means it’s finally time to emerge from our tying caves and release the mass of bugs that have been meticulously assembled at the bench during the snowy season. For others, it means it’s time to tuck away the winter gloves and chapstick and get to work on replenishing warm-weather inventory. For those of us who wait to load our dishes, file our taxes, and, above all else, prep bugs for warmer months, we’re with you. While anyone can just waltz into their local shop and pluck some fresh flies from their trays, there are few better things than sitting down at the tying vice, cracking open a cold beer, and getting to work on this spring’s synthetic hatch.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for getting started: you’ve come to the right place. We’ve teamed up with Oskar Blues Brewery to bring you a shortlist of some killer flies to get your bobbin moving in preparation for days spent back on the river. As a bonus, we’ll be pairing each fly with the perfect OB beverage to go along with your tying pursuits. As food critics enjoy finely aged cheese and meats with wine, fly tiers understand the importance of the perfect beer with their bugs. So, allow us to be your “bugs and beer” sommelier as we get ready for beautiful evenings of fishing enhanced by the warm glow of the setting summer sun.
1. Pheasant Tail Frenchie & Dales Pale Ale
Ah yes, the old pheasant tail. Concocted from some of the weathered remnants your grandfather had laying around from his pheasant hunt a decade ago – or from your most recent fly shop run. The Pheasant tail nymph, in its many different forms such as the Frenchie pictured above, is an American classic that has defined nymphing for decades. Similarly, when you think of Oskar Blues, you most likely think of a cold can of “Dales Pale Ale“. This tasty beverage’s heritage pairs brilliantly with the classic feel of pheasant fibers being synched underneath the copper wire. If you’re a fan of the classics, break out your khakis and leather chaps for a perfect pairing of pheasant and DPA.
Click here for a “How to Tie” Tutorial from the one and only George Daniel.
2. “Something Swingy” – Double Dales Imperial IPA
Did you like our last recommendation? Good; because we’re doubling down with a unique pairing of “Double Dales Imperial IPA“. this beer dares to take something traditional, and bring it up a few kicks. So, we implore the most curious of streamer fiends to try their hand at something new; some big swinging soft hackle flies. While we don’t have a specific fly for this pairing, here’s a list of a few we think you might like:
For those still here, tying Spey flies, much like a tall “Double Dale’s”, is a fantastic break from the mundane and can be almost as fun as fishing them. Just remember, if you’re fishing in the high water steelhead enjoy, maybe save the beer for the tying desk. A few of them and you may be ready to invent some flies of your own…
3. Black Beauty Midge – Oskar’s Lager
It’s the simple choice…and you should be happy with that. Like a classic “Oskar’s Lager“, this pattern is enjoyed by freshwater fish everywhere. Sure there’s nothing super flashy about it, but then again maybe that’s why they like it. The folks at OB seem to have the same thoughts when it comes to beer, and while there’s a handful of razzle-dazzle craft IPA’s to choose from, they know that for many folks, sometimes all one needs is a moment to crack open a refreshing lager and tie up an army of little midges. This pairing is one made with a clearer state of mind in consideration. So go ahead, tie one on (to the hook), and enjoy the slow drift.
Click here for a “How to Tie” Tutorial
4. Yellow Duck Egg – Mama’s Little Yella Pils
Sometimes, all you need is a little yella’ in your life. The little yellow duck egg isn’t a pattern you’ll commonly hear of floating around in conversation, however, it’s definitely one the fish will see as it’s floating towards them. All it is, is an Antron yarn egg with an orange bead head added for a little extra character. For this pairing, we recommend OB’s, “Mama’s little Yella’ Pils“. This Bohemian Pilsner is a fantastic match for anyone who likes their flies, or lager’s on the paler side. Now, any “egg dunker” will tell you, they’re not here to make friends, “they’re here to catch fish”. The same goes for this beer. It’s not pretending to be anything fancy, however, this little yellow menace is certainly a deviation from what you’d label typical. So, enjoy something a little out of the ordinary, but can be enjoyed for a while – because if you’re tying eggs, you’ve got boxes to fill…
Here’s a speedy tutorial on this fly:
5. Mayers Mini Leach – Thick Haze
If the water’s hazy and you’re feeling lazy, you know what to do: strip some leeches. Like IPAs, leeches are those flies that come in all shapes and sizes, but there are some that just perform on a different level. Mayer’s-Mini-Leech, invented by published tying author and fly-tyer, Landon Mayer, is one of those leeches. Tied with a weighted bead head and a squirrel strip tail, this fly is a fantastic time at the end of your tippet, as well as on the vise. Pairing well with this tie, we have the Oskar Blues “Thick Haze IPA“. This flavor of leech is one of it’s own, so why not pair it with a unique tropical twist of a NE IPA that stands out in the haze.
Click here for a “How to Tie” Tutorial from Landon Mayer himself.
We have to admit – in the end, it doesn’t really matter what you’re drinking at the bench, so long as you’re having a good time. Whether you go with beer, spirits, juice, or water, just remember: tying is all about getting creative. So, while it’s great to have tutorials to reference, the real value of the tying experience comes from the weird frankenflies that emerge from your time at the vise – and in our opinion, beer helps that process. For those who do like a frothy beverage, head over to the Oskar Blues website and find the beer that’s going to best pair with you’re tying experience.
Always remember to drink responsibly.