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Tying the Pheasant Soft-Hackle
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Pheasant Soft-Hackle

Hook:   Orvis 1526 #8
Thread:  Veevus 140 hot pink
Body: Peacock herl
Tail:   Uni-floss red 
Rib: Krystal Flash copper
Collar: Pheasant rump
Head: Thread and epoxy

Soft-hackle patterns are some of the oldest styles and the easiest to fish. Because these sub-surface patterns utilize soft, webby feather from hen necks, pheasant, and grouse or partridge, they move and undulate without any stripping action on the part of the angler. This makes the patterns perfect for cold weather swinging soft-hackles avoids ice-filled guides. This pattern can be tied in a variety of bead and body colors to entice Spring steelhead and Fall salmon as well resident trout.


February 26, 2024
The following fly tying videos represent the Streamside Orvis 2024 Fly Tying Class patterns.

Tying the Clipped Tail Mayfly
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Clipped-Tail Mayfly


Hook: Firehole 413 #16

Thread: Uni-thread 8/0 yellow

Tail/abdoman: Clipped Hungarian Partridge

Thorax: Peacock herl

Wing: CDC dun

Once again, Tyler Sarasin has come up with an unusual pattern to float high, and fool even the pickiest trout. In this case, it will fool a rising trout picking up sulfurs or dorotheas in June. When the sulfurs are coming off from 8-9pm every evening in June, this pattern will ride low and really work.  It can be varied in size and color to imitate Hendricksons #14, light Cahills #14, blue winged olives #18, mahogonies #16, and march browns #12.


Tying My Little Goby

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My Little Goby


Hook: Firehole 811 #4
Thread: Veevus 140 white
Tail: Tan craft fur
Body: Laser dub dark tan

Belly weight: 2-3 5/32” brass beads
Eyes: 4 bead chains
Wing: Barred grizzly Zonker strip
Fins: Strung Fuzzy Fiber gray

Tyler Sarasin’s My Little Goby is a derivative of the Potato Chip Goby that imitates the invasive Goby which is a favorite food of smallmouth bass, carp, and lake trout in Lake Michigan and its tributaries. This is a bottom hugging pattern that rides keel to avoid hanging up on rocks, and debris. The flat wide pectoral fins are dead ringer for the real Goby. It can be tied in a variety of colors to match the bottom, as real Goby will take on the color of the bottom they frequent.


Tying the Clouser Minnow
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Clouser Minnow


Hook: Orvis 228S #2
Thread Veevus 140 white
Eyes: Medium red Pseudo Eyes
Tail: White buck tail with complimentary color Krystal Flash
Wing: Blue buck tail

Bob Clouser’s Minnow was known as a must-have striper fly but quickly became the go-to fly for pike, trout, baracuda, and almost any other fish in the water. Bob once explained that the way to fish his pattern was with an abrupt strip at the very end so the fly rises quickly and falls straight down. His belief is that this fly is almost always taken on the fall. It is tied in sizes from #6 to #2/0. The color combinations are limitless with red/white, blue/white, olive/white, white/white, and chartruese/white being the most popular.


Tying the Madam X
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Hook:    Firehole 618 #8
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 black
Tail:       Elk hair tips
Body:    Yellow floss
Wing:    Elk hair
Legs:    Round white rubber legs



The Madam X is an especially versatile pattern that has spread across the country from Montana. Doug Swisher is credited with it’s invention. It is one of the best attractor patterns that can easily imitate a caddis, stonefly, or hopper and is highly bouyant. It is tied in sizes from#14 to #8 in yellow, peacock, royal, tan, olive and black.

Tying the Lightning Bug
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Lightning Bug
Hook: Orvis 1524 #14
Thread: Uni Thread 8/0 black
Bead: 1/8” gold bead
Tail: Pheasant tail fibers
Abdoman: Gold holographic tinsel
Rib: Gold wire
Thorax: Peacock herl
Legs: Pheasant tail fibers
Wing case: Holographic gold tinsel

The Lightening Bug is a quick sinking, flashy nymph pattern developed in 1992 by Larry Graham for use on the Yakima River in Washington. The pattern is one of the most commonly used attractor nymph patterns and is now tied in a variety of colors that match the river bottom.

March 4, 2024
For those of you unable to attend the leaders and tippet class at Streamside Orvis, here's a review of the information provided.

Choose the Right Leader
by Dave Leonhard

As a fly shop owner for the last 30 years, I am obviously asked a lot of technical questions about flyfishing. Without a doubt, no one subject is as confusing or misunderstood by the average angler than selecting the proper leader and tippet for their fishing situation. So I’d like to share some basic information about leaders and tippet material that will help to simplify your selection process.

There are three important choices to consider when choosing the right leader for fly fishing: the length of the leader, the diameter of its butt section, and diameter of the tippet (or level portion at the end of the leader).


Three factors determine what length leader to use: the water condition, the type of fly line used, and the specie of fish to be fished for. Sinking lines are nearly always fished with short (4-6 foot) leaders so the line can sink the fly more quickly and remain lower in the water column for a longer period of time. 

Floating lines are almost always fished with leaders from 7-12 feet long.  Shorter 7 ½ foot leaders are used when water conditions are murky and visibility is poor or when water speed or turbulence require that fish be more opportunistic. Longer 9 foot leaders are required when the water is shallow, very clear, or moving more slowly. Flat water, or still water requires even longer 12 or 15 foot leaders. Simply, the more a fish can scrutinize the fly, the longer the leader needs to be.

Species are also a consideration. Bass and panfish are normally not very line or leader shy and can be fished with shorter leaders.  Trout, on the other hand, can be very selective and wary. Longer leaders (9-12 feet) are important when fishing for spooky fish in low, clear water.  These fish are often very line-shy and the line must be kept away from the fish by using a longer leader.

Butt Section Size

For a smooth transition from fly line to leader, it is important that the butt section be the right size.  Leaders with butt sections that are too small or too large a diameter will tend hinge, jerk, or fail to lay out smoothly. In general, leader butt diameter should be approximately two thirdsthe diameter of the tip of the fly line.  For normal trout fishing, leader butts should be .019-.023”. Manufacturers typically choose .021” for trout leaders. Larger, heavier tippet leaders are often designed with .023-.025” butts that correspond more closely to the diameters of the larger line weights.

The "butt section" of the leader is followed by a section that tapers down in diameter as it approaches a level tippet section. Originally, tapered leaders were tied by knotting progressively thinner sections from the butt to the tippet. These were called “compound leaders” and were generally thought to be more reliable than the extruded nylon “knotless” leaders. However, modern technology has made today’s knotless leaders extremely reliable.

Tippet Size and Length

Tippets are one of the more confusing aspects of flyfishing for novices. First, the word “tippet” refers to level monofilament. That’s all. Every knotless, tapered leader tapers down from the butt section to a level portion at the end of about 18-24 inches that is referred to as the tippet. If you have chosen the correct diameter leader, you could tie a fly on that leader and easily fish it right out of the package. However, as you change flies, break off, knot up… etc. the tippet section (once again, the level portion of the leader at the end) gets closer to the taper and thus can begin to get larger in diameter and it is difficult to recognize the diameter getting larger. So, most fly anglers will take a new leader and add 18 to 24 inches of tippet material to the original tippet right out of the package. This allows the angler to know when the tippet is getting shorter (as it approaches the knot) and replace it when it gets too close. This will also make your leaders last longer.

Small flies require less energy to carry them through the friction of the air and thus use small diameter tippets. Larger flies require more energy and thus larger tippets to work properly.  In general, the size of the fly divided by 3 gives a good approximation of the “X” rating of tippet that should be used. We refer to this as the “Rule of Three”.  For example, a size 12 fly is normally fished with a 4X tippet and a size 18 fly is commonly tied to a finer 6X tippet.  For extra clear water and spooky fish, you can use one size smaller.  For murky, fast water or night fishing, you might use one size larger. In fact, many have “tipped down” one size smaller to fool a very selective fish.

The exception to the “Rule of 3”, is when fishing for large species. For example, while a 20 pound salmon might eat a size #12 nymph pattern that I can cast easily with a 6 weight rod and a 4X, 6 pound tippet. However, that salmon will need a stronger weight tippet strength to fight and land. So species size is also a condition.


“Rule of 11”

     The “X” rating of a leader added to its diameter in thousandths = 11. (e.g. 5x tippet = .006” diameter)

“Rule of 3”

     Fly size divided by 3 gives approx. tippet size to use.

     (e.g. size 18 fly = 6x tippet) 

Leader Taper Dimensions

     The purpose of a tapered leader is to make smooth transition from fly line to fly. Both knotless and knotted leaders are heavier at the fly line connection and lighter or thinner at the fly or tippet end.  The tapering of the leader allows the friction of the air to take a greater and greater toll on the speed of the line as it gets thinner toward the fly. Below is a general breakdown of how a leader is tapered.


Butt section

A heavy part that ties to the fly line. (60%) The butt section is approximately two thirds the diameter of tip of fly line. (.019”-.025”)


A transition section that reduces size to tippet. (20%)


The finest portion of leader that ties to fly. (20%) The tippet should be approximately 18" to 36” depending on water conditions. To accomplish this, additional tippet can be added after the leader is attached. 


Last, but not least, when in doubt, ask your local fly shop expert which leader is suitable for the flies you’ll be fishing and the specie you’ll be stalking.


Dave Leonhard is a left-handed master casting instructor for the Fly Fishers International, former casting director for the Michigan Council TU Fly Fishing School, a life member of TU, owner of Streamside Orvis in Traverse City, Michigan, and owner of the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School in Traverse City, Michigan.

February 21, 2024
The Gentlemen's Hatch — Hendricksons

This is an article which appeared in Michigan Trout magazine and was written in May of 2015. It shares the personal reflections of a dear friend, Tudor ApMadoc, who held an annual "Trout Camp" the week of the traditional trout opening day, the last Saturday in April each year in the 70's and 80's. To describe Tudor as expert fly angler would be a terrific understatement. Not only was he the most prolific trout angler I have ever known, he was one of a group of Michigan trout anglers who pioneered what we know today as modern fly angling. His camp gathering was held at Whippoorwill Lodge on the Holy Waters of the AuSable river in Grayling. The section from Stephan's Bridge to Wakely is well known for it's spectacular Hendrickson hatches. Each year his camp would host a dozen or more angling friends who would share their stories, angling exploits, and tales along with bourbon, scotch whiskey, and soda crackers topped with stilton cheese and black current preserves until the wee hours of the night. This article is how Tudor described the first major hatch of the season, the gentlemen's hatch - the Hendricksons.   Dave Leonhard

Tying the Hazy Cripple

Hazy Cripple

Hook:Orvis 1523 #12-14

Thread:Uni Thread purple 8/0

Tails:Brown Z-lon

Abdoman:Purple Life Flex

Wing:White Parapost

Hackle:Grizzly/Brown mix

This is the 6th week of the 2023 fly tying class. Walter Weise’s Hazy Cripple is based on Rowan Nyman’s DOA Cripple which is based loosely on Bob Quigley’s cripple. Emergers and cripples, as Weise explains, are more effective when fished for selective or heavily-pressured trout. This pattern is Weise’s offshoot of the Purple Haze, one of the most popular attractor patterns for mid-Summer trout fishing.

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February 16, 2023 Tips, Forum

Tying the Predator Gurgler

Predator Gurgler

Hook:Firehole 801P #1/0


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February 23, 2023 Tips, Forum

Tying the Euro Jig Sculpin

Euro Jig Sculpin

Hook:Firehole 516 #8


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January 26, 2023 Tips, Forum

Tying The New Age Gartside Soft-Hackle Streamer

New-Age Gartside Soft-Hackled Streamer

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January 18, 2023 Tips, Forum

Tying the Hungarian Prince

Hungarian Prince

Hook:Orvis 1524 #10

Thread:Uni Thread 6/0 black

Tail:Brown turkey biots

Body:Peacock herl

Rib:Gold french tinsel

Wing:White turkey biots

Hackle:Hungarian partridge

This is a Blue Ribbon Flies pattern that modifies the original stonefly pattern to include a soft hackle partirdge feather. It can be fished dead drift or swung like a traditional soft hackle pattern. This a great pattern for late June or early July when black stoneflies emerge along the banks. It’s also a favorite attractor pattern where the giant black variety is found since that variety requires 3 years to mature, one and two year old black stoneflies are always available.

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January 11, 2023 Tips, Forum



Seven Steps Fly Casting Method
A guide to learning fly casting

by Dave Leonhard


Seven Steps To Learning Fly Casting

1. Setup. Proper grip and stance.

2. Pickup and delivery. (Stop and wait. Stop and wait, and deliver.)

3. Pickup, false cast and delivery.

   (Stop and wait. Stop and wait. Stop and wait. Stop and wait and deliver.)

4. Stop and hit the target. Where the rod stops determines where the fly goes. False cast and deliver.

5. Introduce the line hand. False cast with both the line hand and rod hand moving in unison.

6. Introduce line control. False cast and deliver. On the hand, off the hand.

7. False cast, shoot line, and deliver. (Stop, let go and deliver.)


1. The set up

The preferred grip for holding the fly rod is with your thumb on top of the cork handle.  This “handshake” style grip gives the caster the strength for endurance, control, and distance. Another style has the index finger on top of the cork. Some people prefer this grip for accuracy, but it can result in fatigue on longer casts and or when casting heavier line weights.


The preferred stance when practicing on land is at 45o from the direction of cast. This is referred to as an open stance and allows the caster to watch the back cast more easily to aid hand-eye coordination. Other, more direct, or “square stances” are also acceptable but require more effort to watch the line lay out on the back cast.  Watching the backcast and focusing on the rod tip, will dramatically aid in determining where to stop the rod, and how long to wait to begin the forward cast. In the water, anglers generally stand fairly square to the target after checking for obstacles behind them that might interfere with their back cast.


2. The pick-up and delivery

Rule #1: The line follows the rod tip. To make a cast, one must stop the rod and allow the line to go past the tip.

The pick-up and delivery are very important because they get the line from the water and return it to the water so that the fly can be fished. The motion involves picking the line up from the water and stopping the rod to allow the line to pass by the tip, propelling the line high behind in back. When the line is nearly straight (which allows the hand time to prepare for the forward cast), move the rod forward dragging the line through the air and stop the rod to allow the line to once again pass the tip.  The delivery is accomplished by simply allowing the line to pass the rod tip, waiting for the line to lay out fully, and then following the line to the water.


3. Pickup, false cast and delivery

Rule #2: The shape of the loop is determined by the path the rod tip travels before the stop.

False casting is the same casting stroke as normal casting but without the delivery of the fly. We false cast to shorten or lengthen our casts, change direction, dry our fly, or even delay our delivery to wait for a rising fish. False casting is also a good way to watch loops form and learn to control their shape.  Pick up the line as usual.  As the line lays out above and behind you, make your forward cast as usual. (Stop and wait.)


This time when the line lays out straight in front of you, rather than dropping the rod tip to the water, repeat your back cast.  (Stop and wait again… Stop and wait, stop and wait.) Make several false casts in succession being careful to watch your loops as they pass the rod tip. Make the necessary adjustments to your stopping points to affect the shape of the loop. Make 3 or 4 false casts and then a delivery to a designated target. If the line piles up, your loop is too wide and you will need to move the rod tip in a straighter path.


4. Pickup, false cast, delivery, hit a target

Rule # 3: The fly will go in the direction the rod tip is traveling when it stops.

First, the fly will go where your rod tip is pointing when you stop it and form a loop. In a perfect world, your loops are tight and the line will lay out in a straight line to the target. Yet, there are additional factors that affect accuracy. For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume there are no external elements (i.e. wind) to affect the cast. The most accurate casts result from a perfectly perpendicular (not off-the-shoulder or side-armed) rod and a tight loop that lays out straight toward the target. We refer to this as a perpendicular plane. Since we almost always add more power than is needed to make the line lay out fully, the fly wants to continue beyond a straight line. Thus, for every degree a caster cants the plane of the rod off the shoulder, the fly will go a corresponding distance past the target.  When accuracy is paramount, use a perpendicular cast to the target. To practice, pick a variety of targets around your practice area, and then add the elements (wind strength and direction, bushes, trees). As the distance increases, it will surely challenge your accuracy.


5. The line hand

Line control enables you to lengthen or shorten your line, set the hook when a fish strikes, add energy to the cast (hauling line), stop a fish from running, strip line in to land a fish and other techniques to help you cast and fish effectively.  Once you have made your delivery, place the fly line under the index finger of your rod hand so that you are in control of your line. 


  1.   Before you begin pick up the line, take the line from your finger on your rod hand and hold it with your free hand (line hand).
  2.   When casting, keep your line hand and line the same distance from your rod hand at all times. Hold your line hand next to or ahead of the rod handle. Move your two hands in unison as you false cast. This will avoid unintentionally pulling the line (hauling) or creating slack. It will also prevent you from inadvertently hooking the line on the butt of the rod handle or around the reel.


6. Line control

Line control enables you to lengthen or shorten your line, set the hook when a fish strikes, add energy to the cast (hauling line), stop a fish from running, strip line in to land a fish and other techniques to help you cast and fish effectively.  Once you have made your delivery, place the fly line under the index finger of your rod hand so that you are in control of your line.


7. False cast, shoot line, and deliver

Shooting line enables you to cast farther. When you stop the rod to make a delivery and allow additional line to travel through the guides, you are shooting line.


Pull an additional 6 feet of line off of the reel and let it lay at your feet.

While holding the fly line in your line hand while you cast, make a false cast and create tight loops in front and back. (“Stop and wait. Stop and wait.”)

When you decide to deliver the line, add a little extra energy, stop the rod solidly to form the loop, and then let go of the fly line in your line hand and allow it to shoot through the guides adding length to your cast. You must stop the rod before letting go of the line or the line will not shoot. (“Stop and wait. Stop and let go.”)

Once the line is on the lawn or water, place the line under your rod hand finger, and strip in the additional line you shot by stripping it in behind your finger.


Controlling The Cast

Loop Control

By controlling the line, we are able to reach targets that are farther away with greater accuracy. We control the line by controlling the shape of the line as it travels past the tip of the rod. These shapes are called loops. There are several loop shapes.  The most important aspect of fly casting is understanding and learning to control your loop shapes while casting. 


Understanding the dynamics of casting allows you to analyze and correct your own casting problems, even when you are on the stream.


Loop Shape

Rule #2: The shape of the loop is determined by the path the rod tip travels before the stop.


A tight loop is a fly line loop shape that is narrow in profile and is produced by moving the tip of the fly rod in a straight path with a small arc.  Tight loops are easier to control, travel through the air more efficiently, and can control the delivery of the fly more accurately.


A wide loop is a fly line loop shape that is open and large in profile, and wind resistant making it difficult to cast with accuracy. These loops will not lay out fully and usually pile up well short of the intended target. Wide loops are produced by moving the tip of the rod in a wide arc.


A tailing loop is a fly line loop shape that is closed on itself in profile and is created by the abrupt application of power that causes the rod tip to travel in a concave path. Knotted tippets, and collapsed leaders are the undesirable results.


Note: Remember, to make your loops tighter, move the rod tip in a straighter path to the stop, with a shorter arc, and with slightly more energy. When practicing, 2 or 3 false casts is sufficient before your delivery.



This week's fly is the 5th in the 2022 fly tying class series. The Hendrickson Biot-Body Dun is a great first of the season patterns.


Hendrickson hatches occur in water that has lots of gravel and faster moving water. The emergence occurs late mornings to early afternoons when water temps reach 53 degrees. Vulerable crippled insects are prime for fish to take and they look for them. This pattern rides low in the water floats well and is perfect for the emergence all late April and early May. For more infomation, check out "The Gentleman's Hatch" on

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February 25, 2022 Tips, Forum



We first discovered this pattern in the late 1970's in Grayling. The pattern is a very low riding one and is very sparsely tied. The one we are tying in black with the green egg sac is deadly when fished during black caddis egg laying in the late afternoon to early evening on either the AuSable or Upper Manistee rivers in May. When fishing the Hendrickson spinner falls, be sure to have this pattern in your box when feeders won't take your
Hendrickson spinner pattern. They are probably on the egg-laying caddis. This one will work. In a tan or olive body color (both in #12 and #14), this can be one of the best mid-afternoon prospecting patterns in June and July.

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February 25, 2022 Tips, Forum



This week's fly for the 2022 fly tying class is the Hatch Master. Harry Darbee and his wife Elsie were pioneers in the art of tying fine, sparsely-tied dry flies in the traditional Catskill style in the 1930’s. Harry Darbee invented the Hatch Master using mallard flank and breast feathers to create the illusion of a large heavy bodied mayfly without the actual bulk that was difficult to float. This is a highly creative design t

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February 11, 2022 Tips, Forum

Contact Information 

Streamside Orvis
300 E Front Street, Suite 101

Traverse City, MI 49684  

(231) 933-9300  


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