Salmon Fly Wine Charms

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Another unique christmas gift that the girlies made this year was salmon fly wine charms. Each of the girlies have a Jar in my Fly Tying Studio where we put their flies, the jar was getting pretty full so I was thinking of a use for them, and voila, Pinterest comes to the rescue again. I asked the girlies if they wanted to make some special decorations for their flies and they were all over it. I picked up the formed metal hoops and the beads at Michaels, but if you have any extra bead s around from bead-heads they will work fine. 

I took the girls flies and cut off the hook-tip with a pair of heavy duty side cutters, use a pair of flush cutting if you have them, tears up the hook less. and then I glued a bead on between the barb and the cut hook tip, and if you cut just correct, the bead will rest with no hook sticking through the bead, I then cut the formed metal hoops so they were all the same size, there was a lot of variation in diameters in the pack I picked up.

The girlies then used the fly’s and beads to decorate their wine charms, I used a bit of head cement at the end to glue the two end beads in place to keep them from rotating, and voila, displayed on a cork and the girlies were proud of their creations. They were very happy to be giving away Christmas gifts the they made themselves. I might try and make a set myself with classic feather wings.


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Christmas Fly Wreath

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Have you ever tried a year where you gave away all homemade gifts for Christmas? It is Freeking Stressful, trying to make sure everything is as good as you want it to be. And this was to be that year, of course we didn’t decide that until November, then we had homemade t-shirts to make, a book cabinet to build, fly-tying wine charms to make, cakes and cookies to bake, and this fly tying wreath to make (to name a few). I’ve been toying with the idea of a Christmas fly wreath for a while, but couldn’t see anything on Pinterest that matched my idea’s, I wanted to make a wreath where the red holly berries were actually made up from flies, I actually started to make the flies two years ago, and the half finished hooks stood in a mason Jar on my fly bench for over a year (according to the dates on my Apple Photos). I made this wreath for Mom, I used all Wulff pattern flies as this fly pattern variant used to be dad’s favourite fly (Punchin Wulff).

So first I started with some 20 gauge hardware wire that I picked up at the dollar store, I cut the pieces about 6 inches long, and then bent one end about 1/4 inch at a 90 degree angle, this would give something to tie the wire onto the fly.

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I then tied the 1/4 inch bend onto the base of thread on the hook body, I covered the wire completely as this will prevent the fly from falling off.

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I prepared twenty or thirty of these hooks before I began to tie the flies.

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I tied a bunch of Wulff type dry flies, some with red wings, some with white wings, just some little differences to stand out.

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I then picked up some ribbon and a rustic wreath base at Michaels.

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And wrapped the wreath with the ribbon.

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It looked kind of sparse when I was finished so my wife picked up a ball of holly at the dollar store and cut all of the holly leaves free, then used hot glue to attach all the holly to the wreath.

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My wife was all concerned that someone may walk into the wreath and get piked with the hooks, so we found a good use for all the holly berries that were in the holly ball.

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I slid them all on the ends of the hooks to give the wreath some more color (and to prevent some poor soul from stumbling into it while enjoying too many Christmas festivities).

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The stems of the wire were then glued into the wreath and voila, a Christmas fly wreath. 

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Let me know what you think of this project. I will make a couple more for next Christmas, so hopefully I remember all the tricks from putting this one together.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.




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Floss Spool Saver

So once again my fly tying bench is attacked by a Pinterest project, I was a little skeptical about this one at first, but they turn out to be pretty useful. Through all my years of fly tying I have always found I wasted a lot of 4 strand floss. I know that today single strand floss is all the rage (in a huge varity) but twenty years ago when Wescal Sports in the Carbonear Mall was the only place to buy materials, you had to make due with what was available, so needless to say, I still have a lot of spools around my bench. My issue with 4-strand floss was every time I would slide the unused floss underneath the slit in the spool, it would always rip and fray the floss, and you would always lose an inch or two of floss. and since there are 4-stands this would always be about 6-8 inches of material lost every time.

So when I say these little spool savers on pinterest, this little pet-peeve of mine was the first thing that came to mind. Its actually pretty easy to make, and come in handy. All that is required are small plastic beads, knit elastic and a strong glue. I tried to use hot glue, but it shouldn’t hold the bead to the elastic too well so I tried some E6000 my wife had bought for another project and this worked great.

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First I cut the knit elastic to length. I used a spent bobbin and cut a length of elestic the exact circumference of the bobbin, this length makes the spool saver slightly tight on the bobbin when the bead is glued on.

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Use a bodkin or toothpick to apply a slight bit of glue to both ends of the elastic. I have found that the E6000 cures quickly, but if you squeeze a small drop out on some paper, you should be able to make about 8 savers before the glue is too hard to use.

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Sandwich a bead between the two glued ends of the elastic, and squeeze down with your fingers. Remember to look for any burrs or imperfections  on the bead face before gluing in place, this will prevent the bead from tugging on the floss. An X-acto knife is great to remove burrs.

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I found that wooden cloths pins are the perfect size to hold the elastic in place while the glue cures. If the bead turns while clamping down the cloths pin, use a pair of fine needle nose pliers to rotate the bead.

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Once the glue cures, slide them on your bobbins, and voila. I’ve been making one batch at a time, and then walk away for the glue to cure (I only have 6 cloths pins at my bench). I may try some heat shrink over the bead next time, make it look a bit nicer, but for night now, they are pretty functional.

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New addition to my Fly Tying Desk

So I picked up two fly-fishing pattern thermos’s about 16 years ago, and through all the moves and lives changes, one seemed to survive. Very simple conversion to a lamp, now to find a suitable lamp shade.


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Just hanging out in Daddy’s Fly Tying Studio

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Happy Fathers Day in Heaven.

Happy Fathers Day Poppy Forward. Your grand-daughters wanted to make you some flies for the cemetery, so you can go fishing with the Angel’s.

Miss you Dad.

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Altoids Fly Box

I am hooked on Altoids, cinnamon Altoids to be precise, and here in Newfoundland there is only one place to buy them, Freak Lunchbox downtown. Usually when the girlies have their choice of a Daddy-Date, it involves going to the candy store. They like to pick up a bagful of candy each, and I like to pick up a couple cans of Altoids. If you do a search in Pinterest you can find a million uses for Altoids tins, but this is my favourite use, fly-boxes. Below is how I find it best to make them, what works for me, but Im sure there are a million other ways to do this.

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I made a  template for the top and bottom covers of the Altoids box, I can’t really give any dimensions, because they were made by trial & error, I kept cutting here and there until I made something that fit quite well. I made the template out of craft foam from the dollar store, a sharp pair of scissors are definitely necessary, I have a medium pair of fiskars on my tying bench, I wouldn’t use tying scissors as I’m sure this foam will prematurely dull the blades.

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 I use the template and a pencil to outline some craft foam and then cut out the inserts.

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 I use spray adhesive to stick the foam inserts to the inside of the Altoids tin. I know this adhesive should hold tight, I’ve used the adhesive to hold signs/labels in place outside on offshore il rigs (if it can withstand hurricane force winds / salt water sea spray / and ice, it should be able to withstand dropping the fly-box in the water a couple times.

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My workbench top is well used, me and my Father-in-law have built a lot of projects on this bench (it was the first thing we built when we moved into our home), but I found out the hard way how long the spray adhesive stays tacky on the work surface. I was using my scroll saw to cut out foam shapes for my wife, and of course every piece of foam stuck to my bench and I had to take it off with a palm sander.

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The longer you leave the adhesive on the foam, the more tacky it is when you place your inserts in the Altoids tin, if you want to be able to move it around a bit and centre it,place it quickly, if you think you can centre the foam first time, then let it set. There must be a reaction between the spray adhesive and the foam also, once you spray the foam, the corners will start to curl up. The first time I tried this I had to replace the foam a couple times because the edges were lifted. The solution was to use woodworking clamps and 1”x1” wood to ensure the foam is seated correctly when it cures.

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Place the foam in the cover and secure with more wood and clamps. Play with the cover foam a bit to get it in the correct location, too close to the hinged side and the foam will constantly rub on the bottom-hinge, too close to the other side and the fly-box will not close correctly.

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The foam compression in the fly-box will eventually disappear. I have used woodworking clamps without the wood and it left very deep dents in the foam, after a couple days the dents had disappeared.

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And the finished product is pretty neat, $4 for a tin of Altoids, $2 for a package of 25 sheets of craft foam at the dollar store, and $20 for a big can of spray adhesive. Oh……… and did I mention you get to eat the curiously strong mints???

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Busy Saturday

These girlies have much more busy schedules than i had as a kid. This morning we went up to the girlies school to help clean up outdoors for the 3 hr challenge. We were only able to stay for an hour because J had a birthday party to go to. Now im at a party (well in parking lot with a coffee waiting, giving j some independence). This afternoon the girls wanna go to our playground and pick up some more garbage (they definately wanna do their part for our community), then we started reading Harry potter (last night was spent trying to find pictures of events from every chapter), and tomorrow is the twins birthday party. These kids have much more on the go than I did at their age……….. but I was happy to hear them making sand cakes in the back yard (21st century mud pies) and hear one of them say “who wants a carpenter smoothie……….. made with real live carpenters”. ………… if you can keep them away from technology, the sound of childhood never changes.



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Fly Tying Masters……… well soon to be.

I can never turn these girlies away when they say they want to tie some flies.

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Fly Tying Time (Unfinished Business)

I was cleaning up the fly tying studio today and I came across something that made me smile, I found an unfinished clock. This clock has been kicking around quite a lot of apartments over the past 20 years.

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I remember still being in High School and going over to Dave Dukes Woodworking shop in Carbonear. Of course I never had much money back then, I was working at Dominion Grocery Store for about 6-8 hours a week and almost every penny was spent at Wescal Sports in the mall buying hooks and fly tying supplies (I remember seeing all of the Lee Wulff books there, but couldn’t afford them, Years later after a long internet/library/bookstore search I was finally able to purchase Bush Pilot Angler, an awesome book). I saw a fly-clock in the background of a picture of fly-tyer magazine and I wanted to make one with my own flies, so when I saw a clock-mechanism insert at Dave Dukes store, I had to get it. It was probably only 20 bucks, but when you only made $30-$50 in the past week, it seems like a lot.

So I took my newly purchased clock insert and my “vision” and went down in the basement to build the first project on my own. I mean, I grew up helping dad build stuff, by the time I was 18 I probably helped build enough cabinets to have my apprenticeship carpenter’s time. But this was the first project that I was going to design/build/finish myself. I sifted through the scrap pine that was always kicking around the basement and picked out enough scrap wood without too many nicks and bangs, and as soon as I turned on the table saw, Dad walks in. Now thinking back on it I’m sure as soon as he heard the table saw start he jumped up and ran downstairs, not that he didn’t trust me to use the table saw, but I think this was around the time Dad cut his hand on a table saw when a knot caused it to kick back (I remember his biggest worry is that it was his fly-fishing hand, he had to learn to cast again, and would routinely complain after a day of fishing that a piece of wire was poking out through his skin).

I don’t remember the exact details of building the clock, but what I do remember is that Dad could tell I wanted to build this myself. He stood back when I made my cuts, drilled my holes and sanded it down. He helped my measure my angles for the trim, and set up the cut-off saw, he gave me tips on what to do, but only after I asked. Of course he couldn’t understand why I wanted to use stain because everything he built was always bare varnished pine, but he never said anything, just gave me tips on how to get an even stain and varnish. I guess the biggest thing I remember about building this clock is that it was probably the first time Dad would ask me how I wanted to build something and assist me, instead of the other way around. This is far from a coming of age story but for me its one of the times when a parent treats their child as a equal and not a kid. I know thats a long way away for the girlies but like they say, “they grow up so fast”. I never really appreciated these words till I had kids of my own, now every time I head off to sea and come home I am amazed that “they grow up so fast”.

So this morning ashley helped me finish up the clock. Ever since it was built I never did ever put any flies on it, probably because I never ever had a place to hang it, or probably because I could never part with 12 flies, First she took the clock and cleaned up the years of dust, she was determined to get every spec of dirt off it. She then told me it wasn’t sparkly enough (needed to shine like her new lego table), so I shined it up with some woodworking oil. I asked her to go through Dad’s fly boxes and pick out 12 of her favourite fly’s and give them to me in the order she wanted me to put them on the clock, a job she took very serious, then she helped me install the fishing rod clock hands I picked up at Lee Valley a few years ago and then nail a hook on the back to hang it on the wall.

When I told Ashley that her and Poppy Forward both build this clock it made her smile, but she has no idea how happy it made me to have one of my girlies build a project with Poppy Forward. Pretty simple clock, but it is definitely one of the prized possessions in my fly studio.


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