Clark Kent (Superman), Peter Parker (Spiderman), Tony Stark (Ironman) and Bruce Wayne (Batman) – the names of revered superheroes that generations have come to worship and envy. Now a new one joins their ranks, but instead of donning spandex-figure-hugging outfits and wearing what does not look unlike a misplaced flag around his neck, Drew Chicone has elected to devote his time to the noble cause of becoming a Saltwater Fly-tying Genius.
We first spotted evidence of his blinding skills and powers in the pages of his latest book, Feather Brain, as it hit our shores early 2014 and it was immediately evident that he was on a whole different level when it came to practical and innovative fly-design, fly-tying techniques and fooling that uncatchable trophy.
He is a true teacher and visionary, more than willing to share his mad-skills with the world
Reaching out to Drew to perhaps cover one, maybe two, of his favourite patterns within our pages, we quickly came to realize he is a true teacher and visionary, more than willing to share his mad-skills with the world – a real superhero. Drew’s work with feather, fur & synthetics has been well-documented and extensively published within various international fly fishing magazines; his own published books and current tying endeavours can be viewed at www.saltyflyting.com.
Though we will be covering his books in a dedicated review, we have taken two info-graphics from Feather Brain to illustrate the thought process that Drew employs when developing a new pattern. Though seemingly straightforward questions,“What are they eating” and “Where are they eating” it takes insight, understanding and time on the water to turn this into a pattern that will ultimately be launched into the ocean after a potential reel-buster.
Each of his books are exceptionally well illustrated and written so that even the trout-bum will be able to pick up invaluable tips; his range of paperback and e-books include:
- Feather Brain – Developing, Testing, & Improving Saltwater Fly Patterns
- Essential Bonefish Flies – 7 must have flies for stalking Big Bone on Andros Island, Bahamas
- Redfish Flies – Eight Effective Patters for Catching Redfish
- Snook Flies – 8 Proven Patterns For Catching Snook From The Beach
- Essential Permit Patterns – 5 flies that must be in your box for chasing the “Black Fin Devils”
Drew has selected his top 10 flies, 5 of his own design and 5 by other celebrated tyers, and over several weeks Vagabond Fly will be covering these in dedicated STEP-BY-STEP articles by Mr. Feather Brain himself. These are :
Drew’s own patterns
- Detonator Crab – Tarpon Fly
- Tuscan Bunny – Snook, Tarpon, GT
- 5 Minute Finger Mullet – Utility Fly, everything eats these
- Captiva Cannibal – Snook, Tarpon, GT
- McFly Crab – Bonefish, Permit, Redfish
Patterns by other tyers
- Joe Mahler’s Strawboss – Snook, Redfish, Jacks
- Charlie Cravens Bonefish Junk – Bonefish, Permit
- Don Reed’s Batman – Redfish, Bonefish, Permit
- Bob Veverka’s Spawning Shrimp – Bonefish, Permit
- Greg Bowdish’s Soluble Minnow – Utility Fly
We managed to pull the man from behind his vice for a brief interview as an introduction to the author behind this series of fly-tying articles:
With so many new materials coming out, what is the ‘next best thing’ that scientists should be working on?
Dubbing Brushes. I would love to see some commercially made dubbing brushes with a blend of synthetics, fur, feathers and flash.
You tied your first fly back when you were how old and give yourself a score for the first fly you ever tied out of 10 (10 being the best)?
I tied my first fly around the age of six. It was an amazon sized mosquito imitation (I still have it…) As far as the fly goes, I give it a score of 4. The perfect 10 goes to my father for unfaltering patience.
What is the one ‘thing/organism’ that still has you skunked trying to come up with the perfect imitation?
The glass minnow. In my opinion, there is no finer entertainment than watching tinny bait fish getting crushed under a doc light. You would think they would be easy to mimic, but their translucent appearance, speedy movements and position in the water column is very difficult to emulate effectively.
What makes you more nervous to fish for – a 100lb tarpon or a permit in skinny water?
Permit, no contest. They have an innate ability to corrode one’s confidence just by showing up.
You test your patterns extensively on location: name your top three favorite testing grounds.
Sanibel Island- Florida, San Pedro-Belize, Andros – Bahamas
What is the most common mistake saltwater fly-tyers make, in your opinion?
Proportion of material…Way too much material with far to many wraps. Sparsely tied flies are far more effective.
If you weren’t a legend fly-tyer, what career path would you have followed?
I love cooking and eating, so I guess it would be Chef. I always wanted to go to culinary school.
Who would play you in a movie made about your life?
If my man Patrick Swayze were alive I would say him… I bet I get “you know you look like Patrick Swayze” about once a week. My second choice would be Mathew McConaughey, he seems like he may have spent too much time around open glue and would make a good fly nerd.
AC/DC! For those about to rock, we salute you!
Okay, you are a real man, but also an experienced tyer, what is your favorite color?
I have to go with “Lefty” on this one, If it ain’t chartreuse, it aint’ no use… Purple is a close second though.
If you could fish for only one species with one fly – what would it be and name the pattern?
Sight casting to snook in clear water with my yak hair baitfish pattern the Sanibel Cannibal.
Drew is a popular speaker and frequently hosts destination schools/fishing adventures anywhere saltwater species can be fond. For more info on Drew, his latest works and hosted trips, visit his website and blog at www.saltyflyting.com. For product reviews, tip, tricks and more, feel free to subscribe to the Monthly Newsletter “The Salty Fly Tying Chronicle” or join Salty Fly Tying on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.