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;
- 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.
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
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.