Fly Fishing Traditions

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Friday, December 4, 2009

My Fly Boxes - Box #3 Dries & Emergers

Most of the fall and winter fishing on my home river, the Lower Yuba River, consists of drifting nymphs under indicators, tight lining nymphs and eggs through the undulations of the salmon redds and swinging fies for resident trout and the occasional steelhead. But once in awhile as we're floating down the river in my drift boat, BWO, Baetis, or even a few caddis will have the fish up in the water column and feeding on top. When this happening you try to switch tactics and set up a dryline and throw dries, emergers and maybe soft hackles.

When this happens, I reach for flies in my Box #3, "Drys & Emergers." I also use this box year round because there are dry flies in it to match March Brown's, PMD's, BWO's, Baetis & Caddis. I usually fish with a 6 weight Sage Z-axis and I can get away with casting dries with it in a pinch. If I'm expecting dry fly action I'll bring along my 2 piece 5 weight Sage XP and have it strung up and ready to go.

This box has a little bit of everything in it, not a box that will necessarily match the hatch perfectly but probably will get it done. That's if I can change from casting lead and multiple flies to throwing a presentation cast with slack without much preparation.

Last summer I was fishing the Lower Sacramento River with Blake Larsen and fishing guide and friend Mike Hibbard. We had been fishing and casting his indicator rigg all day and pretty much had it down. With a good amount of shot, a 10 ft leader to the shot and 3 flies spaced 18" apart we had been casting with open loops all day. We came to a pod of nice sized trout feeding on yellow sally's on the surface. We switched up and I couldn't throw a decent presentation cast if my life depended on it. We quickly put the fish down and that was it. Mike just laughed at us and called us rookies, or something like that. It goes to show that it can't hurt to practice on your lawn once in a while to keep your dry fly stroke in shape. You may need it any time of the year.

So, this all leads up to my Fly Box number 3. It is a C&F box with a "flip leaf" in the middle just like Boxes 1 & 2. This box started when I stopped by Rene Harrop's shop "Trouthunter" which is on the banks of the Henry Fork in Island Park, Idaho. Rene Harrop has developed many patterns tied with CDC. I picked up a bunch of his caddis patterns and bought this box to put them in. I have had good luck with flies tied with CDC, there is something about them that trout like. I then filled the box up with other dries and emergers.

Leaf #1 - Emergers and Cripples

On the 1st main leaf I have a mix of emergers and dries. I've got about 75 flies on this leaf.Some of the patterns are;

    Quigley's Flasher Cripple PMD

  • Quigley's marabou cripples "BWO" *Yuba Must Have*

  • Spotlight Emerger, Olive and Brown for March Brown's & PMD's

  • Harrops's Last Chance Cripple March Brown *Yuba Must Have*

  • Elk Hair Caddis, Black 16's

  • Elk Hair Caddis, olive 16's

  • Yellow Sally's 14's *Truckee River Must Have*

  • Harrop's CDC Biot emerger, PMD *Yuba Must Have*

  • X - caddis, olive

Other Notables of this Leaf;

Mercer's Poxy Back Emergers PMD, Quigley's Cripples PMD, Elk Hair Caddis, Grey 16's, Royal Wulff''s, 18's

Leaf #2, Mish Mash

On the opposite leaf I have a mish mash of flies collected from all over the Northwest, but I have some good local favorites. The flies on this leaf that I go to the most are more flies by Hogan Brown. Go figure! I've got about 50 flies on the leaf With some big holes.

  • Hogan's Sipper, BWO, 16's, 18's. *Yuba must have!*

  • Hogan's Sipper, PMD, 16's, 18's *Yuba must have*

  • March Brown Parachutes, 14's *Yuba Must Have*

  • Adams, parachutes, 16's, 18's *Yuba Must Have*

Other Notables on this leaf:

PMD Cripples, Very sparsely tied, X -caddis, brown, 14's, PMD Cripple's sparsely ties with a orange ball at the post, Marabou Cripple, Olive 16's, 18's, Parachute, Black with red and white post 18's, BWO emerger 16, PMD parachute with sparkle hackle

Flip Leaf #1 - Harrop's CDC flies

This is the leaf that has all Rene Harrop's CDC flies. The flies on this leaf are mainly caddis and cover olive, tan and brown caddis. There are a handful of CDC flies that would match the PMD's and March Brown's on the Yuba. I haven't had the chance to really put these flies to the test on the Yuba, but I believe they will produce. I've got about 80 CDC flies on this leaf.

  • Harrop's CDC Caddis in olive, tan, & brown, 14's

  • Lafontaine Caddis Pupa, Light Olive, tan

  • Harrop's CDC Fertile Caddis

  • Harrops Epoxy Back PMD cripple tied similar to a Quigley's

  • Harrops CDC parachute BWO, Light Olive

Flip Leaf #2 - Cripples

I am a proponent of using cripple patterns with wary and fussy trout. This leaf is my where I look to in that situation. I've got about 80 flies on this leaf.

Noteables on this leaf,

Mercer's Poxy Back Cripple PMD, Grey Marabou Cripple with Darker Brown deer hair post, Chocolate Brown marabou Cripple with tan deer hair post, PMD biot cripple with CDC collar and post, Calibaetis biot cripple with grey CDC collar and post, Quigley's Cripple PMD, 14, 16, 18, Green Drake Cripple, Brown Drake cripple, Spotlight Caddis tan, Spotlight Caddis Olive, Harrop's CDC caddis dry olive

This box has about 280 flies in it. So, 280 flies times $1.50 a piece equals about $420 bucks in flies plus another $40 bucks for the flybox which means I have about $460 unvested in it. Another valuable asset.

Other Go To Flies

There are other go to flies that are missing in this box. These are some flies that I need to either tie or go shopping for.

Parachute Hare's Ear, 14 & 16 - This is good for March Browns, Pink Lady's - For the yellow sallies or other small yellow bodied stones, Chartruse Humpies - Believe it or not these can produce when March Brown's are hatching, Yellow and Orange Stimulators, Black Stimulators - For Skwala's, Cutter's E/C Caddis - Tan, Matthew's Sparkle Baetis -18

I guess I've still got some organizing to do.


As a note you can purchase House of Harrop Flies from

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Fly Boxes - Box # 2 - Soft Hackles & More Nymphs


Fly Box #2 - Soft Hackles and Micro Nymphs

My fly box number 2 is another C&F box with the "flip leaf" in the middle. This is my other "go to" box. My box # 1 and #2 are always in reach, whether I'm in my boat or hiking and wading with my "Fish Pond Guide Pack" This box is labeled "Soft Hackles and Micro Nymphs". This box is the evolution of my 1st box. This is the kid in the candy store box where you have to have that fly that the guides recommend or the new pattern by Hogan Brown. I just added a box rather than tear apart my 1st box. So this has me typically pulling out both boxes and looking to both of them to decide how I want to rigg up or make changes.

Leaf #1 - Small Nymphs

On the 1st main leaf I've got more nymphs. These are mainly 18's. There are about about 110 nymphs on this leaf. Let's look at the flies stashed here.

  • Hogan's S&M Nymphs, Olive, Brown

  • Serendipitys - Red

  • Sloan's Mighty May in Black, Olive

  • Sloan's Mighty Mite

  • Glass bead nymph - black, 18's, 20's

  • Mercers Poxyback May - Olive

Leaf #2 - Prince Nymphs/Misc. Nymphs

On the opposite main leaf I've got prince nymphs. There are so many different prince nymphs out there that can be productive, thus this leaf. There are about 70 flies on this leaf.

  • Prince Nymphs

  • King Princes

  • Queen Princes

  • Amber Wing Princes

  • Prince of Darkness

  • Hogan's Spring Time Caddis 14's and 18's

  • A big hole, What the heck was in that spot?

Flip Leaf #1 - PT's and Hogan's - Looks like I've got to replace some of Hogan's patterns on this leaf. There is about 60 flies on this leaf. I've got to fill this one up.

  • Hogan's Red Headed Stepchild, 16's & 18's

  • Hogan's S&M Nymphs, 16's

  • Flashback Pheasant Tails - 16's

  • Quasimoto PT's - 16's

  • Hogan's Yuba Pupa- Only 2 left

  • Hogan's Swing Caddis - Only 1 left

  • Some Olive Caddis nymph/soft hackles

Flip Leaf #2- Soft Hackles

On this leaf I've got soft hackles, most of which I've tied. There are about 100 flies on this leaf.

  • Partridge and Yellow

  • Floss Red Yuba Soft Hackles

  • Partridge & Peacock Soft Hackles, great for the Mother's Day Caddis

  • Pheasant Tail Soft Hackles

  • Hare's Ear Soft hackles - March Brown

  • Soft Hackles I've got in Montana that have a copper wire body and a flash back. Sort of a Soft hackle PT. I wish I new the name of this one.

  • Misc. Soft Hackles & Wets

I also wish I knew how to take better resolution pictures of the boxes, but you get an idea how they are organized. I'll have to have my friend and fishing buddy Blake help me with this.

So let's see I've got about 340 flies in this box. 340 time $1.50 each equals $510 plus $40 bucks for the box. So I've got about $550 bucks invested in this box.

I would suggest that you check out the following websites and check out their fly selections; - A great source for flies to use in Northern CA. Signature Tiers, Hogan Brown, Bob Quigley, Ken Morrish, Tim Fox. I use a lot of their flies

Of Course, Nevada City Anglers carries a lot of the flies, You can check them out at these websites. If Tony doesn't have what you want you can probably have him order them for you.

Next up, Fly Box #3 - Misc. Dries

Til' next time, Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


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Monday, November 23, 2009

My Fly Boxes & My Box #1


I decided to organize my fly boxes this weekend. This is something I have to do from time to time. With as many flies that I seem to accumulate it just becomes an unorganized mess and when you really need a fly that you have in mind, it sort of goes like, "Where the heck is that Hogan's S&M?" This is also what you do when you should have gone fishing but can't.

For my fall and winter fishing I mostly use flies from 6 boxes. They are 80% nymphs and eggs. My main "Go To" fly boxes are 3 small C&F Boxes, that have the "flip page" in the middle. These boxes are small enough that you can put them in a shirt pocket, wader pocket or stash them easily in a pack like the "Fishpond Guide Pack". These boxes are "NOT" waterproof so you need to open them up and dry them out after fishing.

Box # 4 is another, "Go To" box, and is also a C&F box that has compartments on one side that I put Eggs, San Juan Worms, things that just don't store well in a slotted sleeve. The other side of this box has slotted sleeves where I keep larger prince, bird's nests, PT's etc. nymphs.

Box number 5 is a back up box with additional larger nymphs and rubberlegs. This is a water proof C&F box that has two leafs. This is my larger nymph and steelhead nymph box. I keep it around and available but I won't usually carry it around much. It stays in my boat bag most of the time, but it's always there and ready if I need it.

Box #6 is a small Orvis M4, compartment box. I will use this small box for my "Troutbeads". This is a new thing for me. I just put this box together this weekend. I have a larger box for beads that I keep in my boat bag, but this small one will be nice if I'm out and wading. These "Troutbeads" are mainly 6mm and 8mm glass beads in an assortment of colors. The trout beads can be the ticket when the egg bite is on and the egg bite gets a little fussy. I will carry an assortment of different colors and sizes of troutbeads along with hooks and toothpicks. The bead is threaded on the tippet and the hook is then tied on with a clinch knot. The bead is then slid to within about 3/4" +/- of the egg and a toothpick is inserted in the hole of the bead. Cut the toothpick off a little long and use your foreceps to seat the toothpick flush. Good to go. Almost every guide in Northern California. Oregon, Washington, BC and Alaska that fishes the egg bite uses "Troutbeads".

My Box #1

I'll give you an insight on the flies I carry in my C&F Four Leaf Box #1. I have this first small box labeled "Eggs/Fox Pupas/Nymphs" on the outside. This was the 1st of these boxes that I purchased and it has remained pretty much organized as it was when I first loaded it up. Sure, things get shifted around a bit but it hasn't really changed much. As I added more flies, different patterns and sizes, I would add another box.

Leaf #1 - Eggs

On the first leaf, I've got an assortment of eggs in different shades. The eggs that get used the most though are the "Pettis Eggs". I usually have 4 colors in this pattern. The nice thing about leaving your boxes laid out pretty much the same way is that when you find a pattern you really like and use a bunch of them, there's a big hole in your box. You can then tie or buy the flies to replace your favorites. In other words, this reinforces which flies are your "go to" flies, the ones you have the most confidence in, they're the ones that are always missing or hopefully eaten by trout. I've got some sucker spawn in here and I see I've only got the pink ones left. I use the yellow ones called "Oregon Cheese" the most and I don't have one left. So I'd better make a note of this. I've got about 80 eggs on this leaf.

Leaf #2 - Micro Mayflies

On the opposite leaf I've got pretty much all micro nymphs from size 20 down to a few 16's, but the flies here are mostly 18's and 20's. This started out being a Lower Sacramento River box so most of these flies had become favorites while fishing there. This leaf is entirely micro mayflies. I've got about 120 micro mayflies on this leaf. Some of the flies on this leaf are;

  • Mercer's Micro Mays in brown and olive

  • Mercer's Glass Bead micro may in brown and olive

  • Mercer's poxy back baetis

  • Mercer's poxy back pmd

  • Burks HBI's (for PMD's)

  • Hogan's Military Mays in Brown and Olive

  • Hogan's S&M Nymphs in Brown, Olive and Black

  • Skip's Nymph (for PMD's)

  • Pheasant tails nymphs 18's & 20's

  • Drifting Flashback PT

Flip Leaf #1 - Caddis Pupas

On the one side of the flip page I have mostly Fox's Poopahs. I usually carry the Fox Poopahs in different sizes and colors. This side has about 80 caddis poopahs. I love fishing the summer caddis on the Lower Sacramento with the flies from this leaf.

  • Fox Poopah's tan, olive and insect green

  • Beadhead Fox Poopah's in tan and olive

  • Fox's Spring Time Poopah in insect green (to match the Mother's Day Caddis)

  • Lightning Bugs - pearl and silver

Flip Leaf #2 - Emergers & Soft hackles

On the opposite flip side I've got an assortment of emergers and soft hackles. There are about 70 flies on this leaf. Some of my "go to" emerger and soft hackle patterns on this leaf are;

  • March Brown soft hackles

  • March Brown flymphs

  • Mother Day Caddis soft hackles

  • Lafontaine caddis pupas, tan and olive

  • A sort of Fox's Pupa emerger, heck if I know what it's called, in Olive

  • Morrish's Dirty Bird, hares ear

So let's see, in this one little ol' flybox which is about 3 1/2" wide, 5 inches tall and 1 1/4" thick I've got about 350 flies. That's about $525 worth of flies in a $40 dollar fly box. So that's about a $565 investment. I'll have to start asking my buddies for spare change when I'm taking them down the river.

This box is my oldest working box in progress. Not to mention a lot of good times accumulating experiences and the flies. I'll make a note to keep good track of this one, I'd hate to lose it.

Also, I've got to fill up that spot that's missing the micro spawn.

I'll check out the other boxes and let you have a peak in them later.

Go see Tony at Nevada City Anglers, he can show you the C&F boxes and he's got bins full of flies.

Make a Tradition.


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