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Pattern Index

Twisted Patterns

Saltwater fly patterns can develop behavioral problems when they get stacked on their tails in your fly box.

It happens. I carry a surf bag that has enough room to pack three boxes, lined upright. I try to make a point of facing all of the patterns in the same direction, and stacking the boxes so that the patterns position head down. Inevitably, I'll put a box back upsidedown, and not discover my error until the next time I dig for a pattern. By then, hackle, bucktail and synthetic fibers have taken a "set," curving, twisting, and snarling seven ways from Sunday. There's no setting things straight right away.

Pulling periodic maintenance on your patterns throughout the season will increase your chances of having the right pattern ready when it's needed. To correct problems in large or long patterns, hold the pattern by the head under hot, running, tap water. About fifteen to thirty seconds should do it. Make sure to hang the pattern tail down as it dries. Oh, yeah. I can see weird-looking backyard clotheslines and inquisitive neighbors already.

For smaller patterns, borrow a trick from freshwater fly rodders, and steam the pattern. That is, put the tea kettle on and hold the pattern over the hot vapors as you work the flaws out.

The freshwater crowd also has a little gizmo to prevent them from having to take over the kitchen. It's called the Hackleperk, and it's small enough to fit on your tying table. An electric coil boils the water, ushering the steam through a small hole in the top of the Hackleperk. The manufacturer includes a long-handled magnet so you won't scorch your fingers, but that may not hold large saltwater patterns. Use forceps instead.

While you're at it, make it a habit of re-sharpening hook points whenever possible. Several diamond-grit hook files are available on the market, but the big, yellow-handled Luhr-Jensen metal file beats most for saltwater hooks. Yes. If you pack it along, it will eventually rust, but it does the best job. You can also use a Dremel tool fitted with a sanding disk, but be careful. Those high RPMs can eat right through a hook.
It's best to do all of your hook sharpening at home, but carrying a sharpener in your gear bag isn't a bad idea, either.

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