Discovering Fly Fishing with Jason Akl
Red Barron Epoxy Minnow
By: Jason Akl
Fly patterns that are incorporating epoxy into their construction have
exploded in popularity in the salt-water fly tying world in the last few
years. These patterns can range anywhere from minnow mimics to any form of
crustacean and even to copying squid. The uses of epoxy with flies are
endless. More often epoxy is starting to make the transition from
primarily being used in large saltwater flies to the smaller more subtle
patterns used in freshwater fly-fishing. The advantages that make epoxy
patterns so popular for saltwater fly-fishing (i.e. aerodynamics/
cast-ability, toughness and realism) are now being sought after by
freshwater fisherman. Making the transition with epoxy flies from the salt
to our favorite river or lake patterns is easier than you think.
pattern that I am going to be demonstrating in this article is an epoxy
minnow pattern that I like to call the Red Barron. This type of epoxy fly
pattern has been around for a long time, but it has been altered many
times to suit each angler's individual needs and desires. The Red Barron
is my rendition of how a good minnow pattern should look when trying to
imitate a young version of the Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus). This
pattern can also be used effective in salt-water situations, simply by
using a stainless steel hook in a larger size. Also, one should scale up
the body proportions to suit the larger hook accordingly. Fishing this
pattern is similar to using other streamers, which you many carry in your
flybox. You can fish the Red Barron using the traditional streamer swing
technique; where by most strikes will come at the end of the swing. This
pattern can be brought almost to life by a swimming retrieve. A few timely
placed short strips of line alternated with short delays to imitate a hurt
minnow will only improve your odds of a big hit.
Before we get to the actual steps involved in tying the fly I want to go
over a few principles about epoxy that will help in your understanding of
epoxy's use in general. First of all, epoxy is a 2-part adhesive; one part
is a resin and one part is a hardener. When making fly bodies from epoxy
you must make sure that you use equal amounts of these two components. Not
sufficiently measuring out the resin or hardener will cause the epoxy to
not cure properly, leaving your flies with a soft sticky overbody that
will be good for nothing. Another important point about epoxy is that
after you have measured out two equal quantities of resin and hardener you
want to mix the batch of epoxy very well. While mixing the epoxy it will
go through two transformations. First, the epoxy will get heavily clouded
and slowly through the mixing process once again turn clear. You should
keep mixing the epoxy until the entire batch has returned to a completely
clear state. Remember; as soon as you start to mix the epoxy you have set
forth a chemical reaction that will eventually harden the epoxy. You have
a finite amount of time to apply the mixture and position it on your fly.
To increase the working time of your epoxy try mixing it on a sheet of tin
foil, a pie tin also works nicely. Also the temperature of the room you
are working in effects the curing rate of epoxy so try and stay between
70-80 degrees for best results. When you are mixing the epoxy make sure to
do it with smooth strokes. If you push and pull the epoxy too fast you
will add air bubbles into the mixture; which will have to be taken out
later. To apply the epoxy to the prepared hook use a small sharp object (I
use a bodkin) and just add a little at a time. If you try to place large
amounts of epoxy on at the start of the fly it will make it hard to keep
the epoxy where you want it to stay. After you have completed the fly
place it on your rotary device. While the fly is turning, apply some heat
(I use heat lamp) to facilitate the escape of any bubbles from the epoxy.
You can also do this before applying the epoxy to the fly but be careful
not to waste too much time or else your epoxy will start to harden before
you have finished.
The Materials for the pattern are as Follows:
Hook: Mustad Size 4.
Tail: Red Marabou.
Underbody: Silver Tinsel.
Overbody: 5-Minute Epoxy (Red Sparkles Added)
Eyes: Stick on Holographic Eyes
Flash: Red Krystal Flash
Frame: 30 pound Monofilament Fishing Line
Red Barron Epoxy Minnow Step-by-Step Instructions
Start this fly by placing your hook into the vise, making sure it is
secured tightly. Start the thread behind the hook eye and wrap a thin
smooth base of thread back towards the hook bend. Keep wrapping the thread
until you reach the point above the barb.
From your strung marabou choose a single marabou feather that has a full
and thick tip section. Bring your thread back to the front of the hook and
measure the feather so that when tied in the tail will be the same length
as the hook shank. After you have found the right length for the tail, tie
it down on top of the hook shank. Now wrap the thread down to the point
above the barb and back up the hook shank ending just behind the hook eye.
Select 5-7 fibers from a package of red krystal flash and tie them in
behind the hook eye. Again wrap the thread down to the point above
securing the flash in place. Trim the ends of the flash so that they are
equal to the tail you made from the red marabou. Now that the tail section
is done cut a strip of silver flat tinsel and tie it in at the point above
the hook barb. Wrap the tinsel up the hook shank and back down to the tail
section creating a smooth body that has with no gaps between the tinsel.
From some thirty-pound monofilament fishing line cut a section about 6
inches long. Take this section and pull it through the hook eye and
stretch it evenly down the top and bottom of the hook shank. Using your
thread, tie off the monofilament so that it is snugly attached to the top
and bottom of the hook shank. Once the mono is tied off whip finish the
thread and adjust the mono which is still in place on top and the bottom
of hook, to the shape you want for your minnow (make it fatter or
skinner). Trim the ends of the mono when you have the shape just right and
cement the tie off point.
Take the completed fly down to where you will be epoxying it. Get you
5-minute epoxy, red sparkles and epoxy drier ready. Before I start I like
to turn my drier on and have it turning, I suggest you do the same. Now,
mix equal amounts of the epoxy and add about ½ a teaspoon of red sparkles
till you have a nice red mix. It will be hard to tell when the epoxy mix
has cleared but give it a little time. Apply the epoxy to the fly,
starting at the rear and working towards the front (the fly should be
tilted on its side). Only add epoxy to one side of the minnow, because it
will slowly leech through to the other side by itself. Using you bodkin,
run up and down the underside of the fly to help pull the epoxy through.
Once the epoxy is covering both sides of the fly, take a quick check to
see that all parts are thoroughly covered with the epoxy mix.
6. Place the fly onto your drier and watch to see if the epoxy is
being smoothed out to your liking. If the epoxy is not reaching all the
way to the tail or clumping up into a big mess simply remove the fly and
manipulate by hand. Turning the fly by hand will allow you to precisely
adjust the epoxy the way you want it; then place back on the drier to
finish curing. After the fly has completely hardened, I like to leave them
over night; I mix a second small batch of epoxy. From this epoxy I place
small amounts on the head of the fly where the eyes will eventually be
placed. I then place the holographic eyes into the epoxy and let them dry
for a few minutes. After the eyes are permanently glued, I coat the whole
minnow body with head cement. This coating is not necessary, but I find it
gives a crystal clear look to the epoxy and fills in any little holes that
might be present. When tying this fly pattern I suggest tying a dozen or
so flies at one time, and then epoxying them all at once. This way you
will not waste as much epoxy between steps and really get the hang of how
to handle the epoxy.
Tight lines and Smooth threads