My Beginning Fly Tying Journey – Chironomids

I have been a fly buyer for many years but this winter I wanted to learn to tie my own flies. I have been told by many friends who fly fish it is cool to catch a fish on a on fly that you have tied yourself – heightens the fishing experience. I decided to learn how to tie chironomids first and then would learn other patterns after that.

Fly Tying Learning Resources

Two years ago I purchased a bundle of online courses through the Stillwater Academy with Phil Rowley and Jordan Oelrich and within this bundle was a Chironomid Tying Course that Jordan had put together. It went over all the basics: equipment, materials, tying techniques and patterns. Once the lakes iced up this past season, I watched the videos over and over and built my shopping list.

Along with the course, I found the following helpful with recipes of patterns, tying techniques and/or video instruction:

Equipment and Materials

To help me understand tying vise options, I talked with Reid at Reid’s Fly Shop and I went with a Griffin Odyssey Spider vise. The vise came with a clamp only and after setting it up at home, I decided to buy a pedestal base to use with the vise. It is a good first vise purchase at a decent price. It took some practice to utilize the rotary feature effectively but what a difference maker.

My first purchases of materials focused on chironomids only. Here is a list of items:

ThreadBlack, Red, Rusty Brown, Burnt Orange, Olive, Light Olive, Gray Brown, Tan, Wine, Blue Dun, Brown
HooksScud Hooks Size 10, 12, 14
HooksCurved Nymph 2X Long Size 12, 14, 16 – should have went with size 18 instead of size 12
BeadsWhite Size 5/64, 3/32, 7/64
BeadsBlack Nickel Size 5/64, 3/32, 7/64
BeadsMagic Brown Size 5/64, 3/32, 7/64
ASBAnti-Static Bag 0.5 mm
Tinselholographic black, red and wine; laser silver, opal
Flashaboublack, red, holographic red, silver, cranberry, gun metal
Wirered, silver, gold, copper, brown, black
Buzzer Wrapsmoke, rootbeer
Gills or thoraxuni-stretch; peacock herl
Clear coatUV clear coat thin and UV Light


My first chironomid.

A rough looking first tie.

The majority of my first patterns were thread body and wire or thread rib – basic colour combinations – which allowed me to work on keeping the body thin and building a nice taper. Once comfortable with those techniques, I tried thread blending.

Then it was on to some other patterns and a few bloodworm patterns.

From a picture on Instagram, I noticed a system for batching your tying work. I would usually tie in groups of six – same pattern, 3 of one size, 3 of another size – so I created a simple magnetic strip system for my hooks. I would pinch the barb and add the bead in step 1, then add the gills to all the hooks in step 2, then tie the pattern. Using a magnetic tape strip, a paint stir stick and some duct tape I created a little tool to hold my hooks while I worked at each step.

Batch system

After some hours at the bench,

a full box to try this season.

Next up were leeches and scuds.

From Out There Somewhere

How To Build Team Morale Remotely – a good list of some Do’s and Don’ts

Remote Teaching Tip: Assessments In An Online Environment – some questions to consider when thinking about assessments for your students

Combatting The Challenges of the Concurrent Classroom with the Station Rotation Model – some things to think about – can this be used in a strictly F2F model

How To Create A Self-Paced Classroom – some interesting ideas in this one – really like the classifying of lessons idea and self-pacing within each unit

From Out There Somewhere

7 Characteristics of Effective Leadership (Infographic) – a good list to always consider and do a self check

Using Scavenger Hunts To Get Students Moving In Virtual Learning – some great ideas in to get kids away from screens and engaged

The Life-Enriching Opportunity of a Stop-Doing List – small thing to remove and re-evaluate after 21 days

Planning for the Concurrent Classroom – written for a concurrent model but strategies could easily be used in a strictly face-2-face classroom or online classroom (templates included)

What Podcasts I Listen To During Windshield Driving Time

Fly Fish University or Interior Fly Fishing Podcast (same host for both)


Remarkable People

The Knowledge Project

The Tim Ferriss Show

From Out There Somewhere

Math Anxiety Is Real. Here’s How To Help Your Child Avoid It – 4 good things to think about

Who Is Good At Discovery? – Apple, Netflix, …

Build Your Stacks: Books Exploring Divorce and the Many Ways To Be A Family – if you looking to expand your book selection for middle years school aged kids

A Primer On Algorithms and Bias

What Did I Learn From Anthony McLean? – a summary of a few key points from keynote address to start the year in the West Vancouver school district

5 Ways To Help Your Kids Find Calm – “Have an idea of what you want to do, but be prepared to throw it all out the window at the drop of a hat. One of the best tools you have is observation..”

Universal Design For Learning And Blended Learning: Representation – suggestions on options students get information; instructions/templates on choice boards, adding sound to slides, ..

Hexagonal Thinking: A Colourful Tool For Discussion – like how this could be used with students and a new way for me to think about organizing ideas/concepts; how could this be used with staff?

When Technology Takes Revenge – 4 types of revenge effects

From Out There Somewhere

Fighting Screen Fatigue – Steve’s Hand-Drawn Weekly Worksheet – a nice weekly over planning sheet broken down into AM/PM/Evening

Staying Connected To Meaning In Your Work – what is your why and how do you remind yourself

15 Mental Health Tips for Teachers – good stuff for us all to remember

10 Decluttering Skills Every Parent Needs – some questions and thoughts on mindset when it comes to supporting kids and their stuff

Being With Uncertainty – notice, remind, choose

Staying Focused With A Simple Method – list, order, execute, repeat …

Using Blended Learning Models To Teach Students In-Person and Online Simultaneously – some strategies to think about – could be used for just in-person learning

How To Use Jamboard In The Classroom: 20+ Tips and Ideas

Take Control Of Your Time – time blocking and a reason against the use of lists

10 Ways To Find Stillness In Turbulent Times – some good ones on this list

Aim For What’s Reasonable: Leadership Lessons From Director Jean Renoir – these are good points to remember and reflect upon

From Out There Somewhere

68 Bits Of Unsolicited Advice – lots of different thoughts on this list

4 Ways To Craft Choice Menus In Distance Learning Classes – some good examples of types of menus; continuum of more teacher directed to student directed

How Leaders Can Prepare For The New Normal – who are your “opportunity scouts’?

Mental Well Being For Leaders and Managers – a good list of reminders

Harnessing Interest In Middle School Students: Learning At Home – KVR Middle in Penticton BC put this together – like the weekly challenges

7 Classic Children’s Books That Teach Kids Mindfulness – will have to find these

The American Time Use Survey is “Poetry, In Data” – stories from graphs; “which graph is most poetic and why?” – great student question

From Out There Somewhere

The Importance and Impacts of Greetings In Virtual Hallways – some good things to think about and I like the meme check in

Empowering Students In Distance Learning Environments – consider equity, be patient and good suggestions at the end

Beyond Zoom: 3 Tips for Managing Employees Online During COVID-19 – empathy, clarity, reduce anxiety

Giving Meaningful Feedback To Kids Who Get Everything Right – “Feedback is the beginning of a reflective conversation.”

4 Ingredients For Human Well-Being – move, nourish, connect, be

20 Questions To Ask Instead of “How Are You Doing Right Now?” – building connections is important – 11 to help build connection and 9 to take the conversation a deeper

Like the message in this video, how will we make connections in our new reality.

From Out There Somewhere

The Ultimate Guide To Choice Boards and Learning Menus – some good things to consider if you want to choose choice boards. Nice examples of tic-tac-toe boards and a couple of other formats

Lessons from the NFL: Virtual Hiring, Leadership, Building Teams and COVID-19 – always enjoy the stats comparisons of these types of articles. The 4 take aways at the end were good – how would that link to education and schools?

Six Ways To Teach Poetry – love all the strategies and examples (from elementary to secondary) mentioned.

9 Actionable Ways To Lead With Transparency In Uncertain Times – good strategies here – article linked to uncertainty with COVID-19 but also good points when dealing with other change situations (ie budget)

Each Map Is Worth A Thousand Pictures – cool maps on a variety of topics that provide visual comparison

Why We Focus On Trivial Things: The Bikeshed Effect – interesting read and reflecting on how it relates to leading a school and what we talk about. Never heard of the term “bikeshed effect” before

From Out There Somewhere

How To Best Support Remote Employees – some good things to think about and examples of reframed check-in questions

10 Guidelines For Creating Opportunities In A Time of Crisis – some reflective and action items to think about. While based more on business, how would these guidelines translate to education.

7 Tips For Parents Supporting Remote Learning – a good infographic

On Predicting The Future – “We do it all the time, …, we’re terrible at it.”

Tips For Teaching “Live Lessons” During the Coronavirus – some good pointers from the author (who had 92 students! in a live lesson)

From Out There Somewhere

Don’t Let Remote Leadership Bring Out The Worst In You – some good points to consider on how to support your team and a format for weekly or bi-weekly one-to-one check ins

Early Season Fly Strategies – a quick article by Phil Rowley – didn’t realize the boatmen option right after ice off

Stillwater Fly Fishing Ice Out Tactics – good pointers from Brian Chan

Four Core Priorities For Trauma-Informed Distance Learning – “trauma is a lens not a label”

40 Free and Fun Things To Do At Home – an interesting list of a mix of things to do at home during the pandemic

Health And Wellness Choice Boards For Teachers and Students – like the idea of choice boards – the teacher one is about teacher wellness

Novel Hyperdocs: 25 Ready To Use Templates With Your Class – I like the idea of a hyperdoc (google doc or google slide with embedded links and activities). Novel hyperdocs shared are below

11 Practical Tips For Work/Life Balance When Teaching From Home – some good things to consider in our emergency remote teaching situation