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Articles: Discovering Fly Fishing with Jason Akl
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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.

The 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

1. 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.
 

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 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
Jason Akl

 

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