Monday, August 6, 2018

Lively Legz??

This weeks blog post is going to focus on Lively Legz. What are Lively Legz? If you haven’t heard of this product yet, I hope to give you a good background on the company, the product, and how to use their products with you fly tying.  If you are not a fly tyer and purchase your flies don’t fear, Lively Legz, or “The Lively Legz Guys” as I most commonly call them, offer quite a large selection of flies through their webpage.  I found that the guys who operate the company are not like many in the business. To be honest, they are just down to earth great people. From many late night messages I have found that they work extremely hard to deliver their products. It could be one thirty in the morning and I send them a fly I just came up with and would get a reply like, " Looks good Mike, I'm Packaging tomorrows orders to ship out." They also volunteer for many fly fishing events, run benefit patterns to support causes, and all sorts of things to give back.

When I first saw this product posted I instantly knew these would kill trout, when added to my nymph patterns. I did a little digging and found that the company was from my home state of Pennsylvania, and ironically less than an hour away from my house. I instantly hit them up and ordered a couple packs.  I believe I had to be one of the first 5 orders they ever had.  I will admit that at first there is a decent learning curve associated with tying these legs onto the hook.  These minor issues are things like keeping the Legz straight, not catching the Legz while whip finishing, and a few other things are troublesome at first but are easily overcame. I lay a layer of thread on the hook to prevent them from sliding on the hook. I also leave a little edge distance from the legs when tying them in. This will help keep the legs looking nice and not becoming crooked.
After I placed my first order, I took my rough looking first batch of Lively Legz nymphs out to one of my local streams to test. I had tied a few pheasant tails and hares ears. I wanted to see if the extra time to add in the Legz was worth it. After a few casts I could see that the trout would take these nymphs pretty well. So now it was time for the true testing to commence. When I tied up the Lively Legz nymphs, I also tied up standard variations in the same size and such as a control. I would tie on a Lively Legz nymph, and the standard pattern in a tandem rig and fish both to see what fly the fish would take.  To keep the test true,  I would swap the location of each nymph after a few casts as I worked the stream. I repeated these tests on a few other streams over the next month or so to get a nice range of data. After this month or so of testing the Lively Legz were taken at a ratio of 3:1 over standard nymphs of the same pattern. No matter what position I had the Lively Legz fly, three out of four times the trout were taking the Lively Legz fly over the standard. So this let me know that the extra time was worth it. I know there are still a lot of variables to consider, but the evidence was there to support that Lively Legz did achieve more takes. I have not got to do this same test versus soft hackle nymphs, or "crazy leg" style nymphs, but am hoping to dig into that this winter.
Lively Legz are offered in a varity of sizes and colors. The sizes are micro, x-small, small ,medium, and large. These will cover hook sizes from 18 to 4. I like to use 2-XL nymph hooks when tying with Lively Legz. I find that the proportions end up looking perfect. If using standard nymph hooks or wide gap competition nymph hooks, I just bump up a size to get a little extra shank length, to keep my proportions looking good. This is all just personal preference and not mandatory, but I figured I would mention what I like to use.  As for colors the guys at Lively Legz have brought together a decent selction to choose from, and offer both natural and attractor color types.  These colors include brown, purple flake, black, rust, light olive, attractor green, olive, burnt orange, and hot pink. I find myself tying mainly with the more natural colors. If you are just starting out and trying to decide what Legz to buy, I suggest you pick up a pack of rust, yellow, and purple flake in size x-small. I have literally tied thousands of Lively Legz flies, and of these I find myself using those colors the most. It wouldn't hurt to pick up a pack or two of the medium sizes as well. I would suggest picking up 2xl nymph hooks in size 6-12 also to begin with. The X-Small size is probably the most versatile IMO. They may appear a little big on a 16, or a little small on a 12, but they are not too bad. They offer sort of a middle of the road aspect.
 I was fortunate enough to get to test out the new Lively Legz Micro size this year. I along with many others were asking for a true size 16-18 Lively Legz material offering since the company first came out. After speaking with Mike at Lively Legz it wasn't as simple as I thought it would to do. The company had to invest quite a bit of money into the new molding and tooling to create this size of Legz. The issue they were running into was that a true "scaled down" version would just not be user friendly. So to deliver what their customers were asking for, and keep the ease of tying at mind, the tabs on the micros were kept the same size as the x-small sizes. I was anxious to receive my test package of micros, and when they came in I put them to the test right away. I put them on size 18 hooks, and tie up some "Lively Legz Little Black Stone Flies". They were not any more difficult to tie on than the x-small, but really made a size 18 Lively Legz nymph achievable. In my opinion they crushed it with this offering.

One thing you may notice about my Lively Legz  nymphs is that I don’t use the third set of legs. I’ve seen many flies tied with them and for some reason I just don’t like the length of hook you need to make the proportions look right. This is just a personal preference of mine but even on my stoneflies I only like to use the first (2) legs.

Another question I am commonly asked is "How do Lively Legz compare to rubber leg style flies, or soft hackles?" I often break this question down as follows:
Lively Legz: Adds greatly to the realistic profile of the nymph, but little to no movement"
Crazy Legs: Does not add much to the realistic profile, but adds more movement
Soft hackle: Least amount of profile, but most amount of movement

Each style of fly has its own place in your box. Even the owners of Lively Legz will tell you that these flies are not the "end all" of flies. I think that you should have a few of these in any nymph box though for sure.

In closing this article I’d like to give Lively Legz a big thank you. I feel I would not be where I am at today without their product. I’ve literally tied thousands of these flies so if you, the reader, ever has any issues feel free to shoot me a message. The guys at Lively Legz are also there to help you with their product as well. They are also coming up with new patterns, and put any product that they offer through a gauntlet of testing. I think that if you would give Lively Legz a shot you would be pleasantly surprised at just how well they do.

Here is a the Recipe for the fly pictured above. This is my Lively Legz Grey Squirrel Nymph
HOOK: size 14 2xl nymph hook
THREAD: 140 Denier Danville Dark Brown
BEAD: Risen Fly 2.8mm Tungsten Bead Copper or Nymph Head Evolution size small- Black
LEGS: Lively Legz Purple Flake X-Small
RIBBING: Oval French Tinsel- Gold
TAIL: Pheasant Tail Fibers Dark Brown
BODY: Grey Squirrel body fury
WINGCASE: Pheasant Tail Fibers Dark Brown
THORAX: Grey Squirrel dubbing

Tight Lines!