Friday, December 16, 2011

Industry Spotlight: Juan Ramirez

Many of us know him as Hopper Juan, his children know him as Dad, his wife knows him as a huge pain in the ass, and Montana Fly Company knows him as a cash cow.  Juan has been tying and fishing as long as he can remember and has perfected these skills to the point where he is considered by all, one of the best in the industry. Beyond his fly tying prowess, Juan carries himself as just an average Joe, but to those who truly know him, he's a lot more than that.  Soft spoken, congenial, and all around cool mo-fo can all be used to describe him as a person, and as a fly tyer, incredible is an understatement.  As a fellow fly tyer, I've had the opportunity to work with Juan and the noticeable distinction between he and most of industries finest tyers is that he is always willing to give away what is otherwise undisclosed.  Whether it's working with a new material, or another way to fashion it to the hook, Juan is always excited to share his skill set.  Granted, he always has his secret weapons stashed a little deeper in his boxes, but if asked, has always been willing to tip off those who show interest in learning a new technique or what to use in a certain situation.  If you haven't yet, and I doubt you haven't, check out his blog and see what I mean.

Guide Flies

Being busier than I've ever been with barely enough time to feed myself, 'Guide Flies' are usually those that appeal to me the most.  They need to be quick to tie, sturdy, inexpensive, fish catching flies that won't cause any mental distress if it gets snapped off on a fish or hung up on a rock.  Having a family, a day job, a mortgage, and a brown dog, my main goal at the vise is to pump out as many flies as I can in one sitting.  There's really no telling how long I'll actually be able to twist  before someone has a bad dream or a conference call meeting needs to be accepted, so having materials, hooks, beads, etc pre-loaded is important to keeping the efficiency high each session at the bench.  My good friend Juan Ramirez is always bitching about fact that he never has time to fill his own flybox, go on vacation or even watch TV and a few years back warned me of the evils of commercially tying, I now fully understand what he meant.  Here are a few things I do to insure my time is spent wisely. 
Buy your hooks in 100 packs, it's cheaper and can be organized to where you're not spending time searching through Ziploc bags to find the ones you need.

 Load your tungsten beads while you're waiting for your laundry to dry or on the phone and stick them somewhere you can get to them while at the bench.

Twist up all the bodies of your flies you'll need for a trip and stash them somewhere, that way, you can come back to them and finish the thorax.  This will allow you to get in the groove and not have to deal with too many materials all at once. 

Load the finished flies in your box with enough room to apply your epoxy and start in on another batch.


The 'Shotglass' is one of my newest spin offs of the original Splatte series and is a great pattern to have in the box when you're looking for something a bit different.  The original thought behind this fly was incorporating a clear glass bead into the thorax, representing the gas bubble in an emerging nymph.   As far as making for a great looking fly, this did the trick and put the smack down on fish in the process.  Not pictured are the Red, Blue Dunn, and Dark Brown version of this fly.  The Dark Brown and Dunn have taken the place of RS-2's and pheasant tails in my box, with the added durability and fish appeal it's really a no brainer.  With the variety of colors tungsten offered from Montana Fly Company, it was an easy exercise to incorporate tungsten into the pattern by replacing the glass.  Almost any fishy colored thread can have a Lucent tungsten bead to match.  Two of my favorites include the coffee and burnt orange, but they all have a place in the box.  Hook selection for this fly can range from straight to curved but the hook gap must be considered before expecting the fly to perform the way it should.  I originally tied this on the TMC 2488, like I do everything else, but found that the hook gap could be overrun by the bead in smaller sizes.  Field testing proved a ton of hook-ups, but I wasn't pleased with the amount of fish being unbuttoned during the struggle.  The clear choice from there was the TMC 2499spbl.  Despite the fact that this hook is technically barbless, the 'shovel' like barb has a holding property that allows fish and dropper rigs to remain on the hook, I've never had a problem with either coming undone.  Other than being super sticky as well, this hook has enough gap to hold super huge fish and has become my first choice when reaching into the hook bins.  The two downsides to this hook are the expense and the fact it's only made down to a size 18, it seems you pay a premium for all those features.   Special thanks to Hopper Juan for taking these pictures.   
Tungsten Shotglass (Watery Olive and Christmas Red Lucent)
Tungsten Shotglass (Rusty Brown and Burnt Orange Lucent)
Tungsten Shotglass Top View
Shotglass Midge (Black/Glass) Top View
Shotglass Midge (Black/Glass)


The SPlatte series of flies was created a few years back while fishing the South Platte River in the colder months, hence the name, "SPlatte".  We all know how effective Charlie Craven's JuJu Bee Midge is on tailwaters around the world but I was looking for something a little more versatile when dialing in the winter time naturals.  At the time, I was looking for a slimmer version that could be easily tied in smaller sizes (#22-#26)to resemble the midges being taken by the locals.  In this thought process the "SPlatte" was born and I was happy to call it my own.  With the number of materials it takes to create this style of pattern, it can easily be tied in whatever color to match the local watershed inhabitants.  It wasn't until Steve Gossage took a look at this fly at a tying session and requested a few to be sold at the Anglers Covey.  Tying changed for me at that point, it was a matter of production.  Thanks again Steve. 
Pictured above is my 'Tung SPlatte PMD' in a size #18.  The series includes a PMD, BWO, Trico, and Caddis Roller and are available in select fly shops in southern Colorado.