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Holey Head Flies
Holey Head Flies
Vladimir Markov, Irkutsk, Russia

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Holey Head Flies

Flies like Bead Head Flies appeared in many countries independently and long ago. Mormyshka - the Russian variety of this fly with at least a century long history has a number of features and advantages.

Most probably Mormyshka was invented in the last century in Russia. The prototype was big spoon-baits used in wintertime ice fishing, trying to imitate scuds.

Winter fishermen made it much smaller in size and changed the way of fixing it on the line. As a result there appeared an efficient lure that spread quickly among winter fishermen all around Russia and Scandinavia. I managed to find the most ancient mention of it in the book by L. P. Sabanejev Fishing Calendar published in Moscow, 1885. Mormyshka changed little since then and it is still used mainly in winter ice fishing. Some factories in Finland and Russia started serial production of good quality winter Mormyshkas.

For the past few years Mormyshka has been used in summer fishing with the long rod and a float. It is used either with live baits or alone. Also anglers use Palmers tied on Mormyshkas.

Some years ago when I started to use Mormyshkas in fly-fishing. I asked craftsman to solder Mormyshkas on nymph fly hooks and I tied my own and standard fly models on them. Those flies were very similar to the Bead Head Nymph and as efficient as the latter but they caught the bottom much less.

At first sight Mormyshka is a spitting image of Jig Head or Bead Head on the hook. But at first only! On more thorough consideration you can discover a big number of advantages:

    1. Mormyshka is not always globe-shaped. For example you can make it flat imitating the Stonefly head. You can shape it like the Dragon fly head etc.

    2. Mormyshka catches the bottom much less because the point of the hook is in upward position.

    3. In contrast to Jig Head, Mormyshkas have no upper eye. That enables you to create miniature flies with a very realistic shape of the head.

Let's have a thorough look at the design of Mormyshkas and the ways of making them. The head is soldered near the eye and can have different shape and design. As the base form it is cast entirely of tin or solder. A little more difficult are the heads with crown but they are much more efficient. They are made in the following way. You punch a crown of the needed shape with a hole of thin (about 0,008 inch) sheet brass, copper or silver. You put the hook on the crown and thread a tungsten wire through the hole. Then you drop a little solder in the cup made by the crown then cool it and remove the wire. It is advisable the solder be with rich silver content, this way when using brass crown you obtain absolutely gorgeous Mormyshka head. The crown can be either above or below the hook. You can make Mormyshkas with a double-sided crown but they are considerably more expensive and not worthwhile. As a part of fun you can also make hooks with gold crowns. [See drawing at the end of this article.]

To tie Holey Head Mayfly I choose Mormyshka with silver crown most often. Shining natural silver from which the crown is made makes it definitely tempting for fish. Such a fly has a realistic silhouette and especially nice with a little flatted head when imitating nymph. With proper color design Holey Head Mayfly is often irresistible.

For the Holey Head Stonefly I can recommend Mormyshka with a brass crown below the hook. Many Stonefly species have yellowish color of the bottom part of the body. Yellow color of the metal imitates the insect well and attracts fish.

I use Holey Head Gammarus mainly for lake fishing to imitate Gammarus,[Scuds]. In the water the fly is in upside-down position. Its legs, point of the hook and the crown of the head are pointed upward. Such a position of a nymph doesn't alert fish but on the contrary, to my mind, is an extra triggering factor.

Combined with Mormyshka there should find application all the models of flies tied on bead head: Hare's Ear, Pheasant tail, Zug Bug, Prince, Soft hackle and others. Your own proven models can be also very friendly with Mormyshka. ~ Vladimir Markov

Illustrated method

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying and Intermediate Fly Tying.

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