Black Mamba

In any subject, there are a few known names that, with the simple utterance of opinion, can change the landscape of their respective industry. In fly fishing, geographically speaking, Charlie Craven and Pat Dorsey are two that come to mind out here in Colorado.

Their names will forever grace the list of who's who in Fly Fishing lore, and rightly so. They've contributed much to the sport and continue to carry the banner for the rest of us river urchins.

My name, on the other hand, seems destined to be attached to a rambling manifesto, written in seclusion at a cabin deep in the Montana wilderness...or so the voices are telling me.

Like the old saying, 'put a bunch of monkeys in front of a typewriter, and eventually they'll write a novel' the same holds true for me: put me in front of a vise and eventually I'll come up with something useful.

And nowadays, thanks to the eggheads over at DARPA and their ingenious use of networks, it's easy to share that 'usefulness' with other like-minded individuals - as opposed to the 'not so useful":

"Hey guys! Here's a fly that absolutely sucks! Enjoy!"

Now raise your hand if that would be something you'd be interested in. I didn't think so.

So, in the spirit of playing nicely with others, here's my little contribution to the sport via modern technology. No, it probably won't change the world of fly fishing as we know it, but if it manages to work for just one or two of you out there, then I've done my part by paying it forward.

Sure, it's nothing to write home about and, at first glance, it reminds you of any number of other flies - it's what I refer to as the 'tastes like chicken' syndrome.

Midges are a dime a dozen in our business - and throughout the years, there have been all sorts of variations - and each one captures a little essence of reality that triggers a response from the fish. As a result, a lot of the flies can (and do) show some familiarity between them.

And who's to say that a little familiarity between consenting flies is wrong? Not me, especially when I've been hitting the sauce. Or when a fly can pack a wallop like this one seems to do.

Ironically, this one started out looking a bit different than what it is now - the real larvae that I based this pattern on is actually light-green in color and is as scrawny as a runway model.

I was really proud of that initial tie, but just for grins, I decided to whip up a few in white. And I'm glad I did, since the white was the clear winner - both with Jerry (who graciously volunteered to test drive the original pattern) and myself.

After several mad-scientist-like tweaking sessions in the wee hours of the night, I finally settled on the pattern that you see here. And it works.

But more than that, it's simple, which for me is the selling point of any pattern. As I've stated before, I have the attention span of a circus monkey. Couple that with my caveman-like fear of anything too fancy on a fly, and you can pretty much guess my preference for tying: if I can't hammer out a dozen in about 10 minutes, I'm not interested.

And finally, the name. Sure I could continue to call it the Thing, or Experimental Fly...but something this good deserves a name. Something cool that conveys it's lethality...like Black Mamba.

For those not familiar with the Mamba, it's an African snake and going by the name, if you were to assume it's black, you'd be wrong, my sticky little friends. The only black on the snake is inside the mouth, which is the most dangerous part.

Born in Colorado, and successfully tested on the waters of the famed Cheesman Canyon, I hope it brings as many fish to your net, as it has for me and my friends so far (just use something stronger than 7x if possible).

Hook: #18 Tiemco 2487
Thread: 8/0 Black UNI-Thread and 8/0 White UNI-Thread
Thorax: Fine White dubbing
Wing Case: 4 Pheasant Tail Fibers
Bead: 1/16th Tungsten (Black or Gold)

My apologies for the crappy screen-caps - I don't own a digital camera that takes macro photos - so I basically go the video route and take caps from that. If anybody has some suggestions for a digital camera that takes good macro shots, let me know!

Step 1

Well, it looks like I've done the hard part for you - but in case you haven't been paying attention, start by putting the bead on the hook, and wrapping your black thread to the back of the bend.

Once there, give the thread a few spins around the hook to build up a nice little round nub - not too big, but big enough to give 'baby some back'.

Once you've got that, loosely wrap your thread back to the bead and tie if off. Cut your thread and get your white spool ready.

Step 2

Attach your white thread like you normally do, and after getting it secured and the tag end clipped off, take some head cement and wet the black thread.

Now, take your white thread and loosely wrap it back to the 'nub' and, once there, start building your first segmentation, making it slightly smaller than the initial black.

Once you're done with that, move up the hook slightly, allowing some of the underlying black thread to show through, and start the second segment...and so on, until you reach the top, about a 1/4 from the bead, making each segment slightly larger than the previous. On a size 20, you should come out with 4 segments.

Step 3

With your grubby little digits, go ahead and fetch about 4 fibers from your pheasant tail and tie them onto the hook...and then take a moment to watch the episode of Spongebob that your child is watching on TV - go to step 4 when finished.

Step 4

Next, take a small amount of fine white dubbing, and build the thorax of your fly. Once you've wrapped it, go back over it with your thread a few times which a) gives it a nice little profile and b) holds it in place and keeps it from swelling up like a balloon when it gets saturated.

Step 5

Pull the pheasant tail fibers over the top, and secure them down. Clip the ends and whip finish this one off.

Now that's a painless tie, is it not? Your creepy Uncle Ron would not steer you wrong...

Step 6

Coat the entire fly with a generous layer of head cement - body, thorax, wing case...get it all nice and soggy. Hell, coat yourself, too, if you're of a mind. Why not?

Once it's soaked in really good, use a small piece of paper towel, or the corner of Eva's favorite shirt, and 'squeeze' the fly to get the excess out.

Now, take it out of the vise and let it dry.

Step 7

Stop putzing around and take that thing out and catch some damn fish, already!

And send me any pics you get of a fish you caught with this fly so's I can post it up!


Bigerrfish said...

sweet lil bug dude!! I'll try em out... Hey about the micro shooting camera...... Have you checked the settings on your cell phone camera? there getting better and better all the time... thats what I use for fly pics.. my digi cam is an old sony, no micro mode an been wet twice.. check out your phone... I bet it has micro mode... quick question on that fly.... doesnt that glue, fog the the material and how do you get the fly off of her shirt if you squeeze too hard?

Colorado Angler said...

Josh, thanks for the heads-up on the camera. After reading your post I looked into my settings - the only options mine has are for the resolution of the pics. Nothing there about Macro.

Ah well...looks like I need to pony up for a decent digital still that does macro.

As for the cement - no, it doesn't fog it up. My head cement is water-based, so it soaks into the material real well, and set's beautifully without discoloring the material.

As for being caught in her shirt...shhhh...I just don't say anything and she ends up thinking that she ended up with flies caught in her clothes by accident.

Midgenut said...

Good looking bug! Got to put a few of those in the boxes this afternoon....

Colorado Angler said...

Thanks Midgeman! I'm actually really surprised at how well it's worked. Something about the pattern that the fish really love...

Bigerrfish said...

just scored a Sanyo s120 check it out. bitchin macro mode and the price is sick!!! a fly post coming soon!!!

KVeMAN said...

Hey sweet lookin fly. I'll give it a go sometime soon. I will tie some red and some chocolate too and let you know my results. I have an idea for a variation of my own as well. Creativity is hard to come by in fly tying these days. Props man!

Rebecca said...

Where's the buy button? I know I can't see the video's on this site of yours, but surely you have a store tucked around here somewhere for those of us who haven't embraced our inner fly tyer...yet covet the flies of those who do???
If you sell the Black Mamba that would make it official right? As in you'd be famous in no time at all.....cabin in Montana optional

Colorado Angler said...

Garlock...embrace that inner fly-tier! Most of the flies that I use are extremely simple to tie - namely because I'd rather be fishing than tying.

Famous? HA! That's the last thing I would want - unless it is the by-product of that cabin in Montana!

Midgenut said...

OK it's official... after having had a short summer, but fishing your Mamba a bit, then putting it in the hands of a couple of pretty good fly fisherman for a couple of months, you are officially given notice that your Black Mamba is a, and I quote: "Damn good little bug"! Onward and upward from here... You know there are Brown Mambas, Green Tree and Yellow Tree Mambas out there in the jungle. You got some tying to do Ron. Tying sessons at 2 AM looking at differnt body and ribbing combinations etc.... Your little Mamba has found a home in my box and a couple of more to boot.

Colorado Angler said...

HA! Thanks Midgeman! Especially for the feedback! You're right...so many variations...and I will have them all as soon as I get the hooks.

It's a great little pattern - and even better now, with the 'refinements' - I've stuck some big fish in 2010 with this one, and I think that may only get better now!

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