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Mops Anyone?

A couple of weeks ago some friends and I attended the Fly-Fishing Show in downtown Lancaster. If you are a fly-fishing enthusiast then very likely you are also a fly-tying devotee as well, and if that’s the case, this show should be on your agenda. Anything a fly tier would ever need is on display and for sale at this show, and there are plenty of expert fly tiers on hand to demonstrate the latest trends in the art of fly tying.

For those who may not be familiar with the art of fly tying it’s very simply the use of hair, fur, feathers and a host of other natural and synthetic materials to fashion a “fly or bug” or some other creature that fish like to eat. For many years most fly tying was done with the use of natural materials like various animal furs and hair and feathers from an assortment of flying critters. Feathers from the neck of a chicken — yes, you heard me right, can fetch up to $70 or $80 — yes, you heard me right again. These necks or capes aren’t from your average barnyard chickens by the way; they are specially raised to produce the type of feathers coveted by fly tiers. Pheasant tails, rabbit ears, turkey feathers, deer hair and a host of other materials are all used to fashion a number of desirable flies that are used to catch trout.

In more recent years a variety of artificial or synthetic materials have been added to the list of tying materials coveted by fly tiers. Things like “furry foam,” flashabou, Mylar body tubing, Antron dubbing, artificial foam popper bodies, gold and silver ribbing material and “thin skin” are just some of the new materials available today. I don’t know myself what some of these materials are made from, but they do get the job done.

Now, as you would expect, most of us fly-tying types would shop for our materials at a specialty store that caters to fly fishing and fly tying, but with the addition of so many new artificial and synthetic materials, we can now look in other places. I’ve seen a number of materials that I can use for fly tying at stores that cater to the craft and hobby trade and even hardware stores will have some surprisingly useful materials. It’s this last paragraph that finally brings me around to the story title, “Mops anyone?”

What do mops have to do with what I’m talking about? Plenty. I suspect a few years ago some fly tier saw a mop and thought the “noodles” would make good wormlike fly bodies and the mop fly was born. Until a few weeks ago I never tied a mop fly, but my friend Doug Zehner, who is an expert fly tier recently showed me how to tie one. Doug bought mops from Wise Market, Walmart, Coles Hardware, a pet store, and even BonTon before they pulled out of the area. With plenty of colors to work with he went to work tying.

The mop fly is very easy to tie. Doug likes to add a bead head to some while others he ties without the bead head. You just slide the desired bead onto the hook and then tie in some tying thread behind the bead. Add a length of the mop noodle — about one inch or more if desired and tie in right behind the bead — that’s it. I’m not sure what it imitates, but I know it catches fish.

I intend to give the mop fly a try in the next few days at one of the special regulation stretches. I suspect fishing it like a nymph should do the trick. If it works, I may go mop shopping over the weekend.

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