Fly-Fishing: Annual ‘Hatches’ magazine has insights, tips on winter fly-tying

For those who are so inclined, there’s still fishing to be done this season.

But for the res


For those who are so inclined, there’s still fishing to be done this season.

But for the rest of us, it’s getting to be time for fly-tying and reading, which makes this a good time to talk about “Hatches: Practical and Artistic Fly Tying,” a new once-a-year magazine.

The second issue of Hatches has just come out, and I’m enjoying it. There’s a piece on fishing for Great Lakes steelheads with a wet-fly swing, rather than dead-drifting nymphs or egg flies, and some nice wiggly soft-hackle patterns to use. There’s an informative piece on “weaving” two-tone nymph bodies. There’s an interview with Jason Borger, son of the guru Gary Borger and Brad Pitt’s casting stunt double in “A River Runs Through It.”

If that sounds like standard fare for a fly-fishing magazine, I suppose it is. But there’s also a piece on tying a big streamer called the Hang Time and using it to fish for muskellunge, and another on fishing for gar with a pattern called the Gar Tiger (“Hook: The biggest, longest shanked hook you can find!”)

So there’s a bit of the “extreme” in hatches, due no doubt to the influence of its under-30 owner and managing editor, Will Mullis of Cincinnati.

Headquartered as it is in the heartland, Hatches places a generous emphasis on warm-water spec­ies like bass and pike, and there’s plenty about Great Lakes salmon and steelhead. And while the magazine is based far from the coast, the saltwater tying and fishing articles ring true, based on my own exper­ience with stripers and bluefish.

But fly-fishing is mostly trout fishing, and Mullis has stocked the first two issues of Hatches with fresh, beautifully illustrated pieces on trout flies and how to fish them. Chris Del Plato’s exhaustive piece in the 2007 issue on tying the Carrie Stevens-style streamer flies from the Rangeley Lakes region of Maine, most notably the Grey Ghost, sent me scurrying to my Tupperware bins to rummage for golden pheasant crest and wood duck.

And you would not believe the modern, intricate, original full-dress salmon flies tied by Bud Guidry of Louisiana — especially when you read that he has been tying flies for less than five years.

The 2008 issue is just as good. There’s a huge streamer called the Rump Shaker for bass which has a stinger hook dressed in marabou — you can easily picture the thing wiggling along and provoking fur­ious strikes from smallmouth bass. There are some really cool ultra-realistic flies, more lovely full-dress salmon patterns and lots and lots of practically fishing flies — dries, nymphs, streamers, bass bugs, etc.

There’s also a companion Website,, and it’s one of my favorites. Loaded with free articles, photos and videos, it in some ways outshines the mag­azine. But unlike other fly-fishing magazines’ Web sites, the Hatches site precedes the print magazine; it’s been around since 2006. Mullis also is the founder of, a huge cache of fly-tying information, innovation and opinion that deserves a place on your browser’s Favorites list.

The photography in Hatches is outstanding, and the magazine is printed on nice, heavy paper.

The articles are long, thorough and generally very enjoyable. The cover price is $6.95, and it’s worth every penny.

I suggest we anglers welcome Hatches to our mailboxes, along with all the established magazines we know and love (especially Fly Tyer, which has even published a few pieces by yours truly). We might be in for a cold snowy winter. We’ll need all the fly-tying articles and photos we can get.

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