Apr 28, 2010

The local fly shop

One of the joys of being a fly fisherman in central Illinois is abundance of local fly shops. Well, not really. The local Gander Mountain has discontinued their meager tying selection, which featured mostly materials to tie trout flies for our nonexistent local trout population.  No wonder they discontinued it - most of their stuff was useless to the three fly tiers around.  Gander's missed market exit leaves me with a grand total zero stores in which to look and feel before I buy. Without the interwebs, my life as a fly angler would be a rough series of lessons learned - one at a time.

After Friday's outing on the Mackinaw River, I was inspired to tie some better minnow patterns.  On the web I've read about a few possibilities that don't look too tough to tie.  One of my partners on that day was Jonn, who as a fellow central Illinoisan feels my pain, but had some pattern tips.  After chatting with him about our lack of fly shops and some good web sources, I settled on buying the goods to tie Bart-o Minnows and Murdich Minnows.  Two flies originating at the Tight Lines Fly Shop in Wisconsin; also the source of Jonn's recent guided Menominee River trip.

I rounded up a list of the required materials and started shopping.  Seeing as these flies originated on Tight Lines' vices, I figured that would be a good starting point.  Strangely they don't sell materials on-line, but their sister shop does.   Just as strangely, they didn't have everything to make these flies.  I had to find Icelandic sheep hair at Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters.  Orders were placed and I waited anxiously until today.

I expected delivery today and found no packages in the mail, nor behind the front screen door where big packages are usually ignored for a day or two.  Double checking the tracking numbers told me I better look harder.  Finally found them...we've got a new mailman, and now I know where he puts the over sized packages.

Packaging was removed, and inventory taken.  Delivered was everything needed.  I was also able to confirm Jonn's warning about the size of Tiemco 8089 hooks, but that bit of useful information is deserving of it's own post...check back later.

Here are the videos for how to tie a Bart-O Minnow (Barteaux Minneaux) and how to tie a Murdich Minnow. Wish me luck!


  1. First off, I am shocked that Tight Lines did not have Icelandic Sheep wool. In my experiences, they always have everything needed to tie any of "their" flys. The Tight Lines shop is a wealth of information. I have found that you can call them without buying anything and just ask questions and they are more than happy to help.

    I think you will find the Barto and the Murdich fairly easy ties. They are also fish-catching streamers. What size 8089 did you get? #6 or #10?


  2. Hey-

    I'm sort of stumbling through different blogs when I came across yours. I live in Peoria and just started getting really serious about fishing a couple months back so it's pretty cool to see other local guys on here. I'll also be trying fly fishing for the first time within the next month so it's good to know I won't be the only one in Central IL wetting a fly. Very interesting so far, keep it up!

    Quick question, I haven't been able to check out Banner Marsh yet, is it pretty accessible to shore fisherman?

    I'm just starting a blog from the perspective of someone taking fishing really seriously for the first time. I'll be putting reports from some different places in and around Peoria. I'm pretty new to the area so if you have any suggestions they'd be greatly appreciated.

    Hope you catch your lunker soon-

  3. @Jonn - I looked all over their site for the Icelandic sheep and found nothing. I figured they would send it if I called, but I had everything in my basket already anyway so I just ordered it online.

    @Mark - First off, welcome to the blog. I'm fairly new to fly fishing myself, you're only about 1.5 years behind me. Catch up quick and we'll learn together.

    Banner Marsh is an awesome large mouth fishery. They have a lot of areas for shore fishermen, especially at the Belle's Landing access. Be warned it is highly pressured. Luckily the lakes are large and to find the pigs, plan on stepping off the beaten path - find your own "secret" spot. There are a couple areas I know where wading is possible, but the lakes are mostly too deep for that stuff.

    Check out the walk in lakes at Snakeden Hollow for some more shore fishing options.

    I checked out your blog. Keep posting and you'll find blogging can be a quick way to make fishing more interesting.

  4. Thanks!

    I'll have to make a trip out the marsh soon. I'll make sure to wear some hiking boots.

    Snakeden Hollow sounds great too. I appreciate the info.

  5. Clif:

    They have a ton of stuff in their shop that is not on their website. I never order from them through their site. I always call and talk to someone personally as they always give me good insight and they can also literally go to the shelves and check their supply and color selection. I bet if you would have ordered by phone, they would have had Icelandic sheep.

    glad to hear you were happy with everything else, especially those Tiemco hooks........they are a great hook.



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