Red Baron Epoxy Minnow by Jason Akl
Fly patterns that are incorporating epoxy into their construction have exploded in popularity in the salt-water fly tying world in the last few years. These patterns can range anywhere from minnow mimics to any form of crustacean and even to copying squid. The uses of epoxy with flies are endless. More often epoxy is starting to make the transition from primarily being used in large saltwater flies to the smaller more subtle patterns used in freshwater fly-fishing.
The advantages that make epoxy patterns so popular for saltwater fly-fishing (i.e. aerodynamics/ cast-ability, toughness and realism) are now being sought after by freshwater fisherman. Making the transition with epoxy flies from the salt to our favorite river or lake patterns is easier than you think.
The pattern that I am going to be demonstrating in this article is an epoxy minnow pattern that I like to call the Red Barron. This type of epoxy fly pattern has been around for a long time, but it has been altered many times to suit each angler’s individual needs and desires. The Red Barron is my rendition of how a good minnow pattern should look when trying to imitate a young version of the Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus). This pattern can also be used effective in salt-water situations, simply by using a stainless steel hook in a larger size. Also, one should scale up the body proportions to suit the larger hook accordingly. Fishing this pattern is similar to using other streamers, which you many carry in your fly box. You can fish the Red Barron using the traditional streamer swing technique; where by most strikes will come at the end of the swing. This pattern can be brought almost to life by a swimming retrieve. A few timely placed short strips of line alternated with short delays to imitate a hurt minnow will only improve your odds of a big hit.
Before we get to the actual steps involved in tying the fly I want to go over a few principles about epoxy that will help in your understanding of epoxy’s use in general. First of all, epoxy is a 2-part adhesive; one part is a resin and one part is a hardener. When making fly bodies from epoxy you must make sure that you use equal amounts of these two components. Not sufficiently measuring out the resin or hardener will cause the epoxy to not cure properly, leaving your flies with a soft sticky outer body that will be good for nothing. Another important point about epoxy is that after you have measured out two equal quantities of resin and hardener you want to mix the batch of epoxy very well. While mixing the epoxy it will go through two transformations. First, the epoxy will get heavily clouded and slowly through the mixing process once again turn clear. You should keep mixing the epoxy until the entire batch has returned to a completely clear state. Remember; as soon as you start to mix the epoxy you have set forth a chemical reaction that will eventually harden the epoxy. You have a finite window of time to apply the mixture and position it on your fly. To increase the working time of your epoxy try mixing it on a sheet of tin foil, a pie tin also works nicely. Also the temperature of the room you are working in effects the curing rate of epoxy so try and stay between 70-80 degrees for best results. When you are mixing the epoxy make sure to do it with smooth strokes. If you push and pull the epoxy too fast you will add air bubbles into the mixture; which will have to be taken out later. To apply the epoxy to the prepared hook use a small sharp object (I use a bodkin) and just add a little at a time. If you try to place large amounts of epoxy on at the start of the fly it will make it hard to keep the epoxy where you want it to stay. After you have completed the fly place it on your rotary device. While the fly is turning, apply some heat (I use heat lamp) to facilitate the escape of any bubbles from the epoxy. You can also do this before applying the epoxy to the fly but be careful not to waste too much time or else your epoxy will start to harden before you have finished.
The Materials for the pattern are as Follows:
Hook: Mustad Size 4.
Tail: Red Marabou.
Underbody: Silver Tinsel.
Overbody: 5-Minute Epoxy (Red Sparkles Added)
Eyes: Stick on Holographic Eyes
Flash: Red Krystal Flash
Frame: 30-pound Monofilament Fishing Line
Red Barron Epoxy Minnow Step-by-Step Instructions