Fred Hannie’s flies are so realistic they won’t just make fish think they are real, they could fool you, too!
When you first see the flies tied by Fred G. Hannie, you won’t believe what you’re seeing. You’ll wonder how he keeps that shrimp that looks like he threaded on a hook from stinking up his fly box. They just look too real to be fake.
Then you wonder if they are carved out of foam, come out of a plastic mold, or are formed from epoxy.
But the Lake Charles, Louisiana tier uses common fly tying materials for most parts of his amazing flies. Believe it or not, the heads and bodies of his grasshoppers are deer hair wrapped with tying thread.
Fred uses a lot of monofilament fishing line too. He creates antennae and legs out of line, and even furls mono to make spider legs. He uses thread to provide some color, but most often the thread color just provides depth to the surface colors he applies with markers and paints.
These amazing wings are made from acetate sheets for some flies. But for others he soaks facial tissue in flexible head cement. He scratches the veins into the acetate sheets, and even pokes small holes into the wings from the underside to replicate the small bumps on dobsonfly wings.
The fishfly (a relative of the dobsonfly) pictured above shows that intricate wing detail. The one on top – that’s a real fishfly.
Here’s the most amazing thing about Fred’s flies: they are fishable! While these are works of art, worthy of being displayed behind glass, Fred builds these flies to be fished, and they are amazingly tough. He sells them on his Web page, with most costing $15 -40. Most are sold before they are finished, so you might have to special order if you want a specific fly.
“I want the best opportunity to catch highly pressured fish. If the fish are feeding on live insects and your impressionistic fly of that insect is having poor results an imitative pattern will often get results.” – Fred Hannie
This white shrimp almost looks wet! Fred’s facebook page has a photo of his white shrimp fly in a cup of water with several living white shrimp. It really is hard to tell them apart.
Fred will use photos of a bug to develop a fly, but he prefers to use the real thing. It helps him match both anatomical details and colors. Here’s a crayfish fly with the genuine article beside it.
Fred told me honeybees are his favorites. He appreciates the unique coloration that goes beyond simple yellow and black stripes. He finds challenge in making a honeybee tough enough to fish, while retaining the delicate appearance of the insect.
“When you look at one of my honeybees I hope it to be instantly recognizable for what it is. That is a great source of pride and why it is one of my favorite patterns.” – Fred Hannie
How about this paper wasp? Placed on a wasp nest, it looks like a dozen more could land beside it at any time.
Fred isn’t the only guy out there tying amazing realistic flies. He cites David Martin as a mentor and friend, and says David set the bar in realistic tying.
Here is a lionfish tied by David. Keep in mind that this amazing miniature lionfish replica is made entirely of deer hair and feather quills. Like Fred’s flies, there is no foam or epoxy anywhere in this fly. And it is a fly. Look closely and you can see the hook.
Want to know how Fred makes these unbelievable flies? You can see him as a guest or featured tier at five or six fly fishing or tying events each year. Most of the shows he attends are in the south, such as the Gulf Coast FFF Expo, but once a year he tries to make an event farther from home.
He also has a book that should be released this spring or summer. It will feature tying instructions for eight of his less complicated patterns. The expected title is Fly Tying with Monofilament.
Be sure to check out Fred’s Web page and Facebook page for more photos of his amazing creations.