Foam and synthetics

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dennis
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Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 10:37 am
Location: Ohio

Foam and synthetics

Post by dennis »

Hi,

Been awhile since I actually had time to set down at the computer and catch up on things. My wife had a hip replacement and was in the Hospital longer then we imagined. She is home doing well and starting to be her self again :) So, I thought about discussing a subject that has been brought up from time to time. Mostly joking at one or another but not actually opiniones....... So what do you think?

I'm sure that just about everyone here is familar or has fished with some type of foam or synthetic fly, be it an ant, beetle or one of the aquatic insect patterns seen in some flyshops. So, what's every one's feeling about foam flies such as the chernobyl and other similar flys? I have never fished the chernobyl but know it's very effective by "splatting" it on the surface. This technique has saved me from a few fish less days on summer's low waters using a Crowe Beetle or other deer hair terrestrial. Is foam going too far, too artificial?

I own Bill Skilton's book on tying with foam. Lots of interesting patterns. I am not the greatest tier in the world, probably because I don't spend a lot of time doing it. But, some of his creations are a work of art. My introduction with terrestrials was through Fox, Marinaro , Schwiebert and Chauncey Lively ties. His book, "Chauncey Lively's Flybox") was a main reference of patterns for me early in my fly tying days. I still depend on his patterns today. His Quill-Back Beetle is my most used fly in summer. My feeling has always been other tiers are completely welcome to tie and fish whatever they want, but I personally find all foam patterns obnoxious. I guess it all depends on the era, when we began fly tying, or is it something else. I'm not a Gierach fan, more of a Zern, Sparse or Lyons fan but the following quote is very cool.

Dennis

"If we carry purism to it's logical conclusion, to do it right you'd have to live naked in a cave, hit your trout on the head with rocks, and eat them raw. But, so as not to violate another essential element of the fly-fishing tradition, the rocks would have to be quarried in England and cost $300 each."

-John Gierach

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ewpeper
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Location: Austin, TX and Island Park, ID

Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by ewpeper »

I agree with you regarding the overall obnoxiousness of foam, Dennis, but I have trouble resisting the simplicity and durability (versus deerhair) of a foam beetle. I don't use beetles for long periods of time, but they are one of my regular "let's try it" flies. The only other foam I use is in Charlie Craven's Charlie Boy Hopper (another fly I seldom use, even less often than the beetle) and tiny fragments of yellow foam as a parachute post on spinners. I don't believe I would ever use oam as the basis for a new design, nor do I understand its application in so many flies.

Eric
A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich

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Eperous
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by Eperous »

Dennis, I'm not into foam ants, though I have "the stuff" to tie a few... for that matter, I probably have "the stuff" to tie lots of patterns that I don't... :shock: :roll: that said, I do tie, and fish, Yellow Rainy Foam Hoppers... this big piece of foam has sent trout running for cover on the Neversink, but on the East Branch of the Delaware along corn fields, a few trout have left holes in the stream's surface rising to it... :o not often, but enough that I keep tying and fishing these... 8-) that also said, my preference for Hoppers is the Letort Hopper, most times, most places... :D

And I agree with Eric about Beetles... I love a simple Crowe Bettle with a peacock body and deer hair covert... I don't fish it often, but when I do it's because everything else I tried failed to do anything at all...

I think Beetles, Woolly Buggers, and garden hackle - worms - all have one thing in common, they catch fish... ;)

Ed

Mantis
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Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 12:43 pm

Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by Mantis »

Deer hair ants and beetles float much better that those made of foam. On the other hand foam is much easier to work with if that is what is important to oneself.
Sure there are different types of foam, but the majority of foam packs, or the foam ants you buy are made of the type that absorb water and sink rather quickly. In other words - craft store foam sheets that someone cut in strips to pawn off as a fly tying material.

You can coat foam ants with flexament or a similar sealer before you hackle them, but on the smaller ones the sealer only adds weight. Another solution might be to over-hackle them. Not that sunken ants and beetles don't work, but I fish on top or in the film 99 percent of the time. My choice is deerhair.

narcodog
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by narcodog »

I have foam, foam cutters and foam flies but I just can't wrap myself around the stuff. Like Eric I use the stuff for some posts. I asked a guide in a well respected shop in Mt about foam hoppers his reply was that they are cheap and most of his clients loose so many flies that is was cheaper and easier to tie them then to use fur and hair, his favorite hopper as is mine is a Schroeder.

John Lea
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Location: Marietta, GA USA

Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by John Lea »

I returned to fishing/tying about 18 months ago and was gobsmacked by the growth in synthetic materials since the 1970s. I am not catching fish so I am using anything thing that I think will help short of dynamite (joke).

Back in the day using an egg fly would have resulted in being shunned by my small group of friends and I didn’t think we were aware there was such a thing. A strike indicator would have been humiliating as well. Now that I think of it I did not do all that well then at catching either.

I wonder if Dame Juliana would have used foam? I wonder if wire, tinsel or nylon are synthetic

catskilljohn
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by catskilljohn »

I think one of the big reasons foam is popular is its price. Its also unsinkable, durable and well, ugly as hell. It handles well on a hook too, so you dont have to be extremely experienced at tying to get a production tyer look.

The synthetic vs natural material war will rage on forever. I say do what you enjoy and enjoy it, just dont post any foam fly pictures on here :lol: CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

chase creek
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by chase creek »

As for the general arguement against using foam and synthetics, "back in the day", tiers used what materials were available, which of course were a lot of furs/hair/feathers. If they would have had synthetics/foam/etc. at their disposal, I'm sure they would have used them to good advantage.

I tie mostly traditional patterns, mostly soft hackles now, but I certainly don't have a hatred of foam or synthetics. It's just my choice not to use them in most of my tying. As I said, if those materials had been available way back when, we'd probably be looking at some pretty interesting "classics" now.
Never sit when you can stand,
Never ride when you can walk,
Never lean.

redietz
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by redietz »

chase creek wrote: I tie mostly traditional patterns, mostly soft hackles now, but I certainly don't have a hatred of foam or synthetics. It's just my choice not to use them in most of my tying. As I said, if those materials had been available way back when, we'd probably be looking at some pretty interesting "classics" now.
Well said. Now days, I try to fish only flies that were around before I was born, so that precludes foam, but only by accident of history that foam wasn't available back then. There are some wonderful flies being created today that use foam/synthetics; I just don't happen to tie them myself.

The reality is, I don't raise fowl and haven't hunted in years, so any tying materials I use are purchased, so in some sense, nothing is more "natural" than anything else.

The only thing that bothers me about newer materials is that I hate to see effective older patterns discarded just because of a mistaken belief that newer = better. In some case, it does, but not as often as we tend to believe.
Bob

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ewpeper
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Re: Foam and synthetics

Post by ewpeper »

redietz wrote:
The only thing that bothers me about newer materials is that I hate to see effective older patterns discarded just because of a mistaken belief that newer = better. In some case, it does, but not as often as we tend to believe.
Good point there. Sometimes "new" is an improvement, but my own experience is that "different" is almost always an improvement.

Eric
A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich

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