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Testing The Master Angler Color Technology

Your experiments and findings on tenkara fly-patterns and fly-tying.

Testing The Master Angler Color Technology

Postby Karl Klavon » Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:34 pm

The Master Angler, by Phil Rabideau, is about using Color Technology to catch more fish with fishing lures. But I am a fly fisherman and not a lure fisherman. So I decided to use some of his recommended colors for the watercolor and water temperature ranges he talks about on a couple of highly successful fly pattern platforms I use to see if I could realize any fish catching improvement over what I have enjoyed in the past. And I have to say that reading this book has worked out to be a real game changer for me in my fly-fishing and fly tying.

TEST PATTERN # ONE: The first fly pattern tested was an already tied #14 Peacock Sheeps Creek model, to which I added a Tag of Sky-Blue # 14 GLO-BRITE FLUORESCENT FLOSS. Describing this altered pattern from the back to the front, there is the FL-blue tag ½ hook shank length, a FL-pink ostrich herl butt with a black starling hackle wound through it, then a body of natural peacock herl dyed black, then the whole thing is ribbed with raw pink copper wire, and finished off with a yellow wood duck wing and a black thread head. The FL-blue tag yielded a noticeable jump in the distance and speed with which the altered flies would catch the high lake trout I was fishing for under gin clear (blue) water conditions.

The next alteration required tying an all new fly, which pulled fish from so far away that I had trouble believing they could even see a fly under water from more than 20 feet away. But see it they did and sprint over to take it they did as well. This one had the same light blue tag, but with a FL-Chartreuse butt and a gold rib. Again, another significant jump in fish response was realized. So significant that I see no need to make any more material changes or do additional testing.

TEST PATTERN # TWO: The second pattern I call The Blue Herl Thing. It is tied on a #14 Umpqua Feather Merchants’ C400BL Jig Hook, using a 7/64” black drilled Bead, Brassy size gold wire ribbing, FL-Yellow 70D UTC Thread, and one flue of Kingfisher Blue, Mini-Barred Ostrich Herl. You tie in the thread right behind the bead, stab the wire in the bead and wrap it down to the hook bend, then tie the herl in with 2 to3 thread wraps, and wrap the thread back up to the bead. The tail is a hook shank or a little longer in length, as you prefer. The body is palmered herl, then ribbed with the wire so that the thread color shows through, finishing it off with a tight collar hackle of herl, and a Hot Spot made of the tying thread, right behind the bead to complete the fly, and you are all done. It's a quick, simple, and a very easy fly to tie that is unbelievably effective. And no pulsing is required to make the tail wiggle.

Here I started out with FL-Cerise colored thread and a silver wire rib, but the chartreuse and gold combination proved to be much more effective and have greater pulling power, just as Phil said they would. Who would have thought that light blue and chartreuse fly tying materials would produce such effective flies in gin clear waters? It is certainly a color combination that I would never have tried if I had not read about it in The Master Angler.

Conclusion: I have not had the opportunity to test Phil’s color recommendations for green and turbid colored waters yet. Trout season closes here shortly and winter is fast approaching. We have already gotten snow in the mountains. But I expect Phil’s color technology recommendations to prove to be just as valid and effective in those colors of water as they have proven to be for me in the blue colored waters I tested the above patterns on.
Last edited by Karl Klavon on Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Karl Klavon
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:01 am

Re: Testing The Master Angler Color Technology

Postby Karl Klavon » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:04 pm

To give you a better idea of what I am talking about with the Sheeps Creek fly patterns, here is a link to some pictures of the flies in both sunlight and in Black Light:
Karl Klavon
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:01 am

Re: Testing The Master Angler Color Technology

Postby Karl Klavon » Tue Dec 05, 2017 12:21 pm

On December 2nd I got a chance to fish a cattle holding tank, mostly for in-mature bluegill with the pond's owner - John. The water was at 52-degrees, considerably below the 65 to 75 degree optimum range for pan fish. The color of the water was a little hard to determine as there was still olive colored scum floating on the surface from last summer on the windward shore, and green algae was also suspended in the water as well. But I would call the water green/brown in color. The pond was also muddy in places, disturbed by cattle and deer wading in it to drink. Visibility was all of 4 feet with the fly pattern I was using - a #14, Peacock Sheeps Creek, with a FL-orange tag and a FL -chartreuse butt that the black starling hackle was wound through, a dyed black natural peacock herl body with a gold rib, and a yellow wood duck wing to finish the pattern off with a black thread head. Black shows up well in any water color or lighting condition.

The pond also has a Golden Shiner population, which are raise to be sold to bait shops to sell to their customers by the former owner, who also owns the adjacent property and its ponds and is John's brother-in-law. John fish a nearly white and silver pattern to imitate the shiners, and he got the first fish right off (a palm sized bluegill), and several more smaller 'gills before I got any action at all. Both of John's patterns were tied on #12 hooks with shorter shank lengths than what I was using, so the over all flies' lengths were fairly comparable in size. Later, John changed to a floating line and a twin tailed Blue Herl Thing. John fished 3/4s of the way around this 1.5 acre pond and then back to the car and quit fishing, with a final tally of 5 'gills. While I fished completely around the whole pond, with a 9 foot floating T-line, and a 5.5 foot tapered leader with a 2 foot 5X tippet, for a final tally of 26 'gills, with 4 specimens being palm sized or slightly better fish. The pond went completely dry in the summer of 2016, and the fish have been in the pond for less than a year now, along with 9 or so, 8 to 10 inch large mouth bass that were also stocked with the 'gills - which no one has caught as of yet.

Here was a case where applying Rabideau's color technology principles to pattern selection and fly construction did help me to catch more fish than John did by a better than 5 to 1 ratio, with more bigger fish also being landed and released on my fly. We both fished a lot of the same water at the same time fishing from shore, both fishing 3.9 meter rods, with John fishing longer lines, tippets and leaders than I was using. Beyond the point where John headed back, and I continued to fish on around the pond back to my starting point, in doing so I only caught 4 additional 'gills. So I believe the differences in the catch rates were primarily due to a better matching of my fly pattern's color makeup to the the color of the water (green/turbid) in the fishing conditions we experienced.
Last edited by Karl Klavon on Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Karl Klavon
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:01 am

Re: Testing The Master Angler Color Technology Update

Postby Karl Klavon » Tue Oct 30, 2018 1:14 pm

Introduction: On an earlier high lake fishing trip this fall, fishing around a very brushy lake, I lost my lake fly box and all the flies in it. But this minor setback turned out to have a silver lining in that I didn’t have to wait until I had lost or used up all the old flies before I could tie up the new variations I had been dying to test.

Oct. 12th, 2018, Mt S.Lake:

Conditions: Sunny at first, - 10:15 AM to 2:15 PM – becoming increasingly cloudy after noon, also breezy to windy as the day went on. The lake was @ 46 degrees in the sun, and gin clear, so the water was blue in color.

Tackle Notes: A 3.9 meter long fixed line rod, with an 11.5 Ft., long floating PVC coated, 000 Wt. fly line, and a 7.5’ long FC. Tapered Leader, with a 3’ 5X FC tippet was used.

Flies Fished & Results Achieved: 4 new variations on the Slinky Patterns were tried.

#1. The Green/Black Slinky - replaced the Green/Green Slinky, which had always put trout off in gin clear lakes. The new model, with the black Micro Ultra Chenille body instead of using a chartreuse green one, worked better than any of the earlier versions ever had and caught its 10 fish limit in nearly as many casts. The Flash material on this model is Accent Mirage Pearl Kristal Flash, which has gold highlights but tends to pick up and reflect the colors of the other materials the fly is tied in with.

#2. The Blue/Green Slinky is a new variation based on the great successes I have enjoyed with the Blue Herl Thing, which is tied with one Mini-barred flue of Kingfisher Blue Ostrich Herl, and FL-Chartreuse Thread. Except that the Blue/Green Slinky is tied with a much lighter (almost Sky Blue color although the package is marked as being Kingfisher Blue also) strand of Mini-barred Ostrich Herl and FL-Chartreuse Micro Ultra Chenille, which had the longest range pulling power of any of the fly patterns I fished on this day – 10 brook trout so fast I had trouble believing how effective it was. Here, again the Pearl Accent Mirage KF was used.

#3. The Orange/Orange Slinky - features Orange Mini-barred Ostrich Herl, FL-Orange Micro Ultra Chenille, and FL-Orange Krystal Flash for the flash material. Which was the slowest of the 4 Slinky patterns to fill its 10 fish limit, but still more than adequate to do the job.

#4. The Bloody/Black Slinky – which is tied with Red Krystal Flash, Black Ostrich Herl, and Black Ultra Micro Chenille, was the second fastest Slinky to fill its 10 fish limit. All the Slinky patterns were tied on #14 Umqua U555 Jig Streamer Hooks, and weighted with 1/8th inch, Tungsten Slotted Beads.

The Killer Bug/Scud Patterns: Consisted of 3 color and size variations. Most Sierra lakes and streams are too acidic to support scuds as there is not enough calcium in the water for them to be able to make their shells. However, Killer Bugs can be fished as general attractor patterns quite effectively, and this was my first test of the new patterns designed to do just that, with FL-Tags to enhance their attractor pattern qualities.

The #12, Gray, Mist Yarn model- / Fl-Blue Tag/ Fl-Orange Rib – 10 fish pretty fast.

The #14, Oyster Tan Yarn model- / FL-Pink Tag and Wire Rib – 10 fish very fast.

The #16, Bracken Yarn color (dark olive) model- / FL-Orange Tag and Rib – 10, faster than with the Orange Slinky pattern did. Here, The Fly Shop’s TFS 2305 Hooks were used.

Two Sheeps Creek Patterns Were Fished:

The #12, Gray Body & Hackle/ Gold Rib/ FL-Red Tag and Claret dyed teal wing Model was used after it became cloudy in the afternoon, and it worked quite well until the sun made repeated return appearances.

I finished out the day with the Peacock Sheeps Creek pattern, which has a natural dyed black peacock herl body, with a FL-Blue Tag, a chartreuse butt with a black starling hackle wound through it, a FL-Orange wire rib on the body and a yellow wood duck wing. This one was cut off from getting to its 10 fish limit as my take out point was reached before I had caught more than 7 fish, but it was doing very well up to that point.

Oct. 17th, 2018, Blue Oak Pond with John:

Conditions: The Pond was down some as expected in the fall but not too scummy. I didn’t take the water temperature as I forgot to bring my wading staff – we fished from the shore. The water’s color was tan/brown, with some wind and almost no working fish to be seen.

Tackle Notes: I fished a 3.9 meter long rod, 11.5 foot long Floating PVC 000 Wt. fly line, with a 7.5 FT. long tapered leader and 3 feet of 5X FC. tippet.

Fly Patterns Fished & Results: I fished only one pattern - The Green/Black/Gold Flash Slinky for the turbid color water conditions, catching 14 bluegill and 6 bass.

John fished with his Yamame first, and then with his 7 Wt. 11 foot long Switch Rod and an indicator, fishing a Trout Candy pattern first – a midge pupa pattern tied with red and black vinyl tubing for the body, and a red bead for the thorax, with a white bead to imitate the breathing gills, then a Two-Tailed Blue Herl Thing with the indicator, for a total of 4 bluegill and two bass. He got the Bass on the Blue Herl Thing , which would have gone nearly black in the brown colored water.

Conclusions: In the red/brown Turbid watercolor, the recommended lure colors are: Black / Chartreuse / and gold, which my fly pattern was chosen to have. And the difference in our catch results shows, I believe, the effectiveness of using the right Color Technology To Catch More Fish really and consistently works….Karl.
Last edited by Karl Klavon on Thu Jan 10, 2019 3:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Karl Klavon
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:01 am

Re: Testing The Master Angler Color Technology

Postby Karl Klavon » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:23 am

The Exception That Proves The Rule: There was one occasion when we all caught the same number of fish on John's pond. But on that outing, John and Mitchel had asked me what color of flies they should use? In reply, I asked them: "What color is the water we will be fishing?" "Green!" they enthusiastically replied."Use something with some red or orange on it", I replied.

Including red was for Mitchel's sake as I knew he was never without a few of his favorite fly pattern, Red Brassies, that John ties up for him. And John had questioned me about the FL-Orange Tags I was using on my Sheeps Creek fly patterns the day I caught 26 fish to his 5. Later, he told me that he had mail-ordered some Glo-Brite FL-Orange Floss to add the orange tags to his Sheeps Creek fly patterns. So, on that day we were all more or less following Rabideau's Color Techniology recommendations for the color of water we were fishing.

John and Mitchel fished the cove right down from where the car was parked, where the bluegill tend to concentrate on this particular pond. And it would be crowded there for two, so I fished completely around all the rest of the pond to relieve the congestion. It was a very slow morning, with each of us landing 5 bluegill. Mitchel fished Western - with a floating line, a hard indicator and a dropper, and he had the most action by far. But most of the fish that hit his Red Brassie were too small to get the hook in their mouths. John and I fished fixed-line rods, with floating lines and tapered leaders, and Sheeps Creek patterns with the FL-Orange Tags. What, you may ask, is a Tag? It 's a lot like a tail, but only one hook gape long in length.

So, I believe this outing demonstrated that Rabideau's Color Technology recommendations were the primary reason for the differential catch rates sighted in the stories listed above, over other factors such as angler skill, superior fishing knowledge, any ability to do better presentations, greater casting distance potential, and the like. So regardless of where you are in your fishing journey, using Rabideau's Color Technology will (I believe) help you to catch more fish than you can catch with out matching the color of the flies you are fishing to give the greatest contrast with the water color and backgrounds the fish will view your fly against....Karl.
Karl Klavon
Posts: 634
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2011 10:01 am

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