It’s making all the headlines at the moment within the angling world. It has had its own articles in Total Flyfisher, Trout Fisherman and Flyfishing and Flytying alongside rave reviews from countless flytyers on social media. Let’s talk about FNF’s (Frozen North Flyfishing) innovative materials….jelly fritz, daphnia fritz and chewing gum chenille!
The products are the brainchild of Kevin Porteous, a multi-capped Scottish Angler, who has been fly fishing for almost 30 years, regularly featuring on the competition scene across the UK. Kevin’s experience in angling, editorial contributions, material development and testing, has allowed him to create unique products with the support of a highly experienced team. After the release of the FNF jelly fritz, Kevin and his team have went on to develop and test other new and innovative synthetic fly tying materials, which have had a dramatic impact on the Stillwater scene over the past year.
So what makes FNF Jelly better than normal fritz?
No better way than to have it straight from the horse’s mouth. As Kevin puts it “You hear people say Fritz is Fritz, well frankly, it’s not. They’re all different, they’ve all got their own signature whether it’s the dyes they use, whether it’s the core, the type of material, it’s boosted, unboosted, the thickness, the thinness, the movement, they all have their own signature.”
What makes the new jelly so advanced?
According to Kevin, “The fibre is clearer, thinner, new jelly fibres are half as thick as the original jelly and it lies even better on the core, making it easier to use when tying. All these advances provide a material that moves better in the water. Eg, as soon as it hits the water, the fibres open, when you move it, it closes up, when you stop, they open again. It’s the movement that attracts the fish. Because the fibre is thinner, it has been made brighter, and the fibre below can flush out through the fibre on top. Thinner fibre also allows light to fluoresce through it. This allows it to produce far brighter and attractive patterns.
Fish are renowned for being fussy and rejecting if anything hard enters their mouths and people can miss a lot of takes as a result. Producing a softer jelly pattern should increase the amount of hook-ups.”
So what is Daphnia Fritz and how is it different?
This is another one of FNF’s unique products which allows the tyer to create a completely different type of blob or egg fly pattern than anglers (and fish!) are used to. The idea is that it represents a cloud of daphnia in the water.
FNF describe it as “completely translucent fibre bonded to a micro core for easy tying”. It almost feels like a dubbing/fritz mix! The densely packed, curly fibres also allow an abnormally slow sink rate, meaning that it can be fished relatively static if needs be and therefore holding in the “killzone” for longer. That’s not to say they don’t absorb water, but even when they do, they still don’t sink rapidly.
What is chewing gum chenille?
This one is a bit more difficult to describe. Depending on the colour, it looks more like a soft rubbery worm, with small, lumpy, rubber micro fibres along the length of the core. The main selling points are movement and buoyancy.
FNF describe it as “ideal for bodies and chewing gum worms”. They describe it as “buoyant, so when tied into flies, it will slow down their sink rate”. Again, it seems that one of FNF’s key strategies for product development, is holding flies within the “killzone”.
IN THE VICE
As always, I appreciate there are a few sceptics, when it comes to product reviews. But I genuinely mean it when I say I was impressed by the quality of the materials and that they genuinely offered something different or unique that other brands didn’t have.
A common bugbear for me is that fritz fibres come away from the core too easily, making it difficult to tie a good, meaty fly. With the FNF Jelly and the Daphnia Fritz, it was pretty much the opposite problem. It was almost a challenge to strip the fibres away from the core in order to catch it onto the hook!
The jelly fritz did exactly as it said on the tin. It came in 15mm and 10mm, so allowed the angler to go smaller, if necessary. It was very easy to tie on dry or wet, stroking the fibres back as you turn. Wet? I hear you ask. Yes wet! Had tied a few dry, which gave a full bushier appearance, but I had heard of people tying wet. Some dialogue with different anglers across social media, recommended a quick soak in some water and stroking the fibres back, which gives a far better application and gives you an idea what the fly will look like as you are tying it. I will admit that it did look good as I was tying it on, but as a traditionalist, I think I will continue to wet the fibres with finger and thumb as I am wrapping the fritz around the hook.
The Daphnia Fritz was much more of a task. Given how dense and compact it is, it could very quickly fill up a hook. My key tip here is source a wide gaped hook, as it is quite easy to mask the hook point which is one of the same tips FNF give out. In this case, I used the size 10 and 12 NS172 Curved Gammarus Hooks from Ahrex hooks (www.ahrexhooks.com). The hooks were perfect for the job. Do check them out if you are going to use this material. Another good tip is to use a piece of Velcro to stroke back the fibres as you tie. This will help you get a good shape to your pattern.
It may be the most expensive of the materials but just to warn you that a few small wraps will fill a hook so it represents very good value for money and will go a long way.
The Chewing Gum chenille was also a bit of a handle. The biggest task was trying to figure out what to tie. On the recommendations of many we tied a beaded worm, to be fished under an indicator. It can be wrapped as a body too. However in doing so, you restrict the main selling point of this product which is movement. The material does curl a lot but the good thing is no two flies are identical. It will open out, it will stretch, but it always, it returns to its natural state.
IN THE FIELD
We tested all patterns as singles, in a team of 2 blobs, and with a team of nymphs or buzzers. To get things straight, I only fished these on the surface. Taking into account, the time of the year, conditions, temperatures etc, it’s difficult to ignore the good natural feeding which is already occurring on the surface of the water. But nevertheless, 3 of us trialled them on a few fisheries with some interesting results…
It’s not how you fish, it’s how you wiggle your worm!
Starting with the chewing gum worm, we fished this as a single under strike indicator tied as a worm imitation on a hook. I had thought of 2 approaches for this, fish static, as you would with a real worm and small jerks to create movement, or just simply retrieve. The uptake was slow when fished static, not a touch. Once I implemented some sort of retrieve, the fish came to life. While they did not take it, they curiously followed to the bank. Much to my frustration, it was not enough for them to just snatch at it. It could have been the length of the worm, or perhaps the conditions and/or my retrieve.
The thing that struck me was the movement of the worm, which was very realistic, opening up and curling at different points in the retrieve, I have no doubt in my mind that this would normally be very effective, because as soon as it hits the water, it shows the same characteristics as a real worm.
Chatting with Kevin, I should maybe have barred the worm with a marker pen. I don’t doubt that this would have increased the chances of a take, but I think movement is the key in this material and I would be curious to use this movement in another type of fly pattern and see how it works on a fast retrieve, in order to provoke an aggressive take. I haven’t given up on it just yet as i have heard some great stories about it!
Fritz and Pieces
We were very impressed with this fritz. Each blob fly made a complete transformation as soon as it hit the water. They did exactly what was expected. When wet, they developed a nice soft and attractive sheen, the colours calmly mixed (if there was more than one colour) and the movement was great, with fibres expanding and contracting with every retrieve. If I was a fish, I would probably have had a go myself!
The setup which worked best was when they were fished as a team. The blobs did their job and they took quite a lot of fish, but as an attractor, they were absolutely unreal. Again, I would watch through my Cassette Polarised lenses as one or 2 fish would charge after it then just as I paused, they would fire on past and make an attempt at grabbing a nymph or a buzzer. It definitely wasn’t a fluke and was probably the fish equivalent of being a mugger, following someone home and taking everything they had on offer!
When I changed to my normal fritz blobs, the uptake was more sporadic and the follows did decrease, so I am confident that there was something unique within the jelly fritz.
The Greatest Fritz!
Now pay attention to the sub heading. I genuinely mean this. Whilst the chenille and the jelly fritz had their own unique properties, the daphnia fritz had something that I don’t think I can explain other than it consistently catches fish! I had read recently that fish flesh or mellow yellow were the best to try. It was amongst some of the best advice that I had taken on board.
As expected the daphnia fritz did it’s thing as soon as it hit the surface. It became translucent as it took on some water and as I said before, if I was a fish, I am sure I would have a go. They say the fly always attracts the angler and not the fish!
Casting into open water worked fine, and did take fish but targeting slow sipping fish was the way forward. I had lost count of the amount of times that I painfully watched as those very fussy surface feeders swam over my leader and beside my cdc imitation or my buzzers. Well this levelled the playing field. Fish could not resist and would aggressively bow wave towards it, or charge it. As soon as you feel the line go tight, strike quickly as one of the drawbacks is fish just inhaled it! In the tests, fish were still inhaling on a slow figure of eight retrieve which resulted in me cutting the line.
It fished well as a team, but actually took more of the fish. The tests were also showing that the paler colours tended to get more of a reaction from fish than the bold, fluorescent did. I would guess those colours would be more effective in winter.
Over the whole period of testing, the daphnia fritz, outfished the jelly fritz by providing almost three times the amount of fish! Let that sink into your killzone.
We got a bit cocky towards the end of the testing with the daphnia fritz and Willy came up with a wacky popper pattern, which provided great entertainment and sport as the fish not only attacked it, but tore it limb from limb (RIP Willy’s popper).
I have to give a special mention to customer service. The turnaround time was rapid, no more than a day. This is good, based on our UK postal service (sorry if there are any offended postmen, I acknowledge it’s a tough job!). Aside from that, knowledge was rapidly on hand as top class as Kevin was, he was always on hand providing advice and ideas. This was also a nice touch, despite how busy he may have been, and how stupid the questions were.
Would i recommend this product? In a word…yes! The testing actually had us taking three times the fish we were taking on anything else when using Daphnia Fritz. As a result, I need more of it. Add it to your box. It will bring you fish!
Don’t forget the jelly either. The vast selection of colours gave me an addiction which involved mixing the colours and letting them blend. They do attract fish more than normal fritz and if you are still in doubt…..Let me recast your mind to what Kevin said previously, “You hear people say Fritz is Fritz, well frankly, it’s not. They’re all different!”