Fly Fishing Traditions

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays to All

Here's to wishing all a Happy Holiday
May your lines be tight
May your dream of that Big One come true
But most of all 
Seek the road that leads you to 
Good Friends, Health and Happiness


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Midges on the Lower Yuba

Harrops CDC Midge Emerger

FOR MANY ANGLERS, the mere mention of midges coming off makes them think why bother. The thought of trying to match those tiny flies, with 5x or 6x tippets, makes them say, I think I'll stay home by the fireplace. Right now on the Lower Yuba, its probably the midges and micro mayflies that are sustaining the trout and its what they're most likely feeding on.  Let's talk a bit about fishing with midge patterns on our local river.

What are Midges?

What the heck is is a midge anyway? Some of us anglers refer to any small bug or fly as a midge. The term is more accurately used to refer to several families of insects in the order Diptera, the two-winged flies. For us anglers, the midges that are most important to us and the trout we're after, are the chironomids, members of the family Chironomidae. As the name midge implies, most midges are quite small, best imitated with hook sizes 18 and smaller. That's tiny! Again we tell ourselves why bother.

Why might Midges be Important to us as Fly Fishers?

Because of their small size, midges must be present in large numbers to make them a viable food source for our Lower Yuba fish. They are present in our system in the slower runs and flats. On our Lower Yuba, now in mid to late December, the salmon run is over, there aren't the eggs tumbling down stream and the fish are fat and getting lazy. Eventually they need to eat again but what is available? One answer is Midges!.

In our specific case on the Lower Yuba River, the midges come into play tactically during the winter when other bug activity is on the decline or just plain old not happening. Trout can feed efficiently on these small food forms in cold winter conditions and when not much else is available. Midges can be targeted in the tailouts, runs, large pools or in backeddy currents. Midges will become less important later in the season as hatches of larger insects start up. On the Lower Yuba that would be the Blue Wing Olives and the Pale Morning Duns and eventually the Skwala Stonefly and March Browns. Until then it's midges and small mayflies on the plate.

Midge Patterns

On the Lower Yuba most anglers that are presenting midge patterns should focus on surface emerger and cripple patterns. Surface emergers are designed to imitate the adult midge just as it pulls free of the pupal shuck. Although it might sound obvious, the most important part of a surface emerger’s design is the correct amount of flotation to hold it in the surface film.

One of my most respected authors and fly fishers is Rene Harrop. I stop by his shop, the Trouthunter, every time I drive to or from Montana. René Harrop uses CDC in several of his midge emerger patterns. His patterns are very highly recommended by fishermen in Idaho and Montana. He gets a very different effect by varying amounts of this material and applying it in different ways. His CDC Midge Emerger uses a tiny tuft of CDC for flotation. This fly sits very low, and although it can be difficult to see and requires some attention to keep it floating in the film. The Harrop Biot Midge Emerger has a folded wing pad plus sparse outriggers of CDC, allowing it to float a bit higher. The Harrop Transitional Midge combines an ingenious looped wing of CDC with a grizzly hackle tip shuck. These patterns are similar, but each presents a slightly different view of an emerging midge to the fish. His patterns are available online through the Yellowstone Angler. Our local shop The Reel Angler may be able to get some of Harrop's patterns through Solitude Flies. Stop by and ask him.

Harrops Biot Midge Emerger

A key element of a surface emerger is to imitate the pupal shuck itself. As the hatching midge pulls free of the pupal shuck, the whole insect appears to elongate, and there is a slight hesitation just before the midge and shuck separate. This is the stage that the fish prey on most heavily, and imitating the trailing shuck is critical. Various materials can be used, a small grizzly hackle tip (as on the Harrop Transitional Midge) or olive/brown sparkle yarn or Zelon.

Tactics for Fishing Midges

There are two important periods to fish midge pupae;

(1) When the pupae are making there way to the top
(2) When they are suspended in the surface film

Early in the emergence it is best to present pupae patterns close to the bottom and allow them to rise with the current. One of the best ways to do this is a variation of the Leisenring Lift. To do this position yourself and about a forty-five degree angle above and to the side of feeding trout or a suspected feeding lane when searching. Cast far enough in front of the trout to allow the fly or flies to sink. Mend the line to allow the fly to drift drag free into the feeding lane. Lift the rod tip up slightly to allow the current to pull against the line and lift the pupa up and to the side as swings past the fish. This method can be used to approach sited fish rising or when searching.

As the hatch progresses and once the pupae rise to the surface they need to break their way through the surface film. The pupae can drift hanging against the bottom of the surface for minutes to more than an hour. It is during this period that the pupae are the most vulnerable to the trout. This is where the cripple imitations really come to play.

One problem you will encounter when fishing cripples is that they are almost impossible to see. One trick is to use a dry dropper setup. I have had success using a small parachute pattern with a visible post and then trailing a midge pupae no more than ten or twelve inches behind it. Another trick is to grease your tippet.

If you are fishing on a flat or very smooth glide try an emerger or a cripple with a pupa following behind it. Grease the tippet and the portion of the emerger or cripple that is supposed to be out of the water and then the tippet on the dropper to within an inch or so from the pupa pattern.

It is almost always best to present these dry/cripple/dropper rigs using downstream presentations. You want the flies to float downstream prior to your fly line.

How about under indicators?

What about sub surface deep nymphing presentations? Midge larvae are numerous enough to be a significant part of the drift of food in most tailwaters. Drifting a midge larva pattern is an excellent searching technique when there is no hatch, similar to fishing imitations of other common foods like small mayfly nymphs. Also, since chironomid pupae are mobile during pupation, the behavior and appearance of larvae and pupae are similar until emergence actually begins. For this reason, the dead drift techniques for both larva and pupa patterns are the same.

When fishing subsurface patterns it is best to fish them under indicator dead drifting. On the Lower Yuba the period that the midge becomes important is right after the salmon are done spawning and the egg bite is over. With that said I usually continue using a plastic "Troutbead" and follow it with a small mayfly nymph, size 16 or 18 and then trail a midge pupa in a size 18 or twenty. Looking for the elusive 20 on a 20. A twenty inch fish on an size 20 fly.

Harrops Transitional Midge Emerger

So when it gets tough out on the Lower Yuba in the winter season, think about trying some midge tactics. You can target the mid day when it is a bit warmer and just go play for a couple of hours. Who knows you may discover something new.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fishing The Lower Yuba, What a difference a week makes!

I fished the Lower Yuba today with a couple of buddies. It's the first really warmer day since our recent snowstorms here in Grass Valley. My driveway looks like a huge frozen slip and slide. The decision as to when to hit the river was based on letting the temperatures warm up a bit. We made it down, dumped the boat in the river and started fishing a little after 11:30.

It had warmed up considerably by then probably in the mid 40's. It was 28 at my house when I left. The sun was shining and not a cloud in the sky. The good thing is that the temps had warmed up, The bad is that the sun is up and mostly overhead so we lost some stealth. Fishing is often a series of trade offs. Today was a great example.

The river has been running at about 850 cfs, and gin clear, winter sustaining flows for the salmon spawning. The salmon spawning has tapered off to the point that we saw about 3 salmon in the course of floating about 2 1/2 miles and over many redd areas and they were really beat up. So the egg bite is done. That doesn't mean that a fish won't take an egg, but they are not hanging out in the buckets and the redd areas especially mid day. The fish we landed all took Troutbeads. They've moved into the runs, dropoffs and flats. .

 It's been my observation over the years that the fishing on the Lower Yuba can get a little tough after the egg bite tapers off. The fish go into a little funk for awhile. It's an adjustment period. Trying to figure what the next thing on the seasonal menu, what's the next meal going  to be?

What is the next best thing? Well typically this time of year on warmer days you see PMD's out and about, We did see a handful and one fish slurp a dun down. There will also be Baetis on the overcast or drizzly days. We saw a couple. There are also midges. In the late afternoon they started coming off. This is when we started to see a few more rises. So my guess is that right now the best choices are still a eggs as more of an opportunistic attractor, a rubber leg stone for the same reason, small mayfly nymphs, and you guessed it midge patterns.

On December 1st there were still salmon in the system, not a lot, but enough, the fish took Troutbeads, Pheasant Tail nymphs and Baetis nymphs with regularity. Ten days later where the heck did they go. We had a tough time finding them today. Quite a few ratatat takes, a few nice fish on and gone, and a number to the net. Back to the tough, work hard to pick up fish Lower Yuba.

This doesn't mean its time to take a break, it just means we have to work harder and try more things. There's also the Skwala Hatch coming, so start tying!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Switch Rods and MOW tips

Here's my friend Peter Burnes who caught this chunky rainbow on the Lower Yuba yesterday. He was using a switch rod and a MOW tip. I've often found myself choosing my 6 weight switch rod out of my arsenal of rods this fall. I'll attempt to explain why.

This has been a very good year for salmon on the Lower Yuba. By latest counts we're about at the 11,000 fish level. Of course this is nowhere near historical numbers but almost twice as many as last year. There are still small pods coming up river so this number will end up higher still. This has meant the fishing for resident rainbows and an occasional steelhead around where the salmon have been spawning has been pretty darn good. One of the characteristics of the type of structure that we have been concentrating on is water that is under 3 to 4 feet deep or areas where the depth drop-offs. Some of that water consists of buckets and rollers where salmon are spawning or have recently spawned.

When fishing these areas there are two problems.

(1) You don't want to wade out and tromp on, over or through the salmon redds and

(2) you don't want to snag salmon as you are fishing your egg patterns among them.

This is where the switch rod really pays off. You can station yourself on the edges in no water or shallow water where it is obvious that the salmon haven't been spawning and use spey casting techniques or just roll cast to your targeted areas. You can in most cases easily reach reach the area. Must easier that a single handed rod. Trust me on this. Sure you need to learn a few basic spey casts, but it opens new doors.

Lining the Rod - I've lined my switch rod with an Airflo Speydicator line which is an integrated line. This line casts like a dream and can easily handle weighted tips and mini tips and heads. I've been using a Rio MOW tip, "Light" weight, which is 10 feet long and has 5 feet of floating and 5 feet of T-8. This setup is perfect for fishing the areas talked about above, through and below the salmon stationed on on near the redds.

Why???- Less or No Snaging - The thing I've noticed is that I like to break my drifts into short 10 to 15 foot drifts, concentrating on the water that is just slightly up stream from where I'm positioned to just slightly downstream. I try not to let my flies swing downstream and through salmon stationed below me. This is where it is most likely to snag salmon. One of the benefits of using the MOW tip is it will get your flies right on the bottom and they will pass under salmon rather than over their backs. This greatly avoids snagging.

How To Rigg - It is important to rigg properly though. So lets go through how I rigg up.

(1) Line - The line I use is a Airflo Seydicator line. They are matched to your rod size. If you are fishing a 6 weight switch rod you match it with a 6 weight Speydicator. Simple.

(2) Mow Tip - I then select a Rio MOW tip. The tip selection depends on the depth and speed of the current you are fishing. I've found that on the Lower Yuba the "Light" Series, 5 foot float and 5 foot T-8 sink is just about right. How do you tell? The tip needs to touch once in a while, you will feel it. You need to experiment and come up with the right combination. I carry the Rio Mow tips in the "Light" series (a) 7 1/2 foot  float w/ 2 1/2 foot T-8 (b) 5 foot float and 5 foot T-8 and (c) 2 1/2 foot float and 7 1/2 foot T-8. This is really all you need.

(3) Build Your Leader

Step One. I build a short leader of  OX mono,  1x mono, 2x mono, to total about 3 to 4 feet. (Note: This also a good place to use old leaders that have been cut back.)

Step Two - I then add an 18" piece of 3x fluorcarbon.

Step Three - I rigg a Troutbead to this piece of 3x Fluorocarbon, keeping the Troutbead within 1/2" of the hook. This Troutbead wants to be about 14" to 16" behind the knot above.

Step Four - I add another piece of  tippet, 4x Fluorocarbon and add a nymph of choice. Typically a Pheasant Tail type or a Baetis nymph. This should be about 18" below the Troutbead. This is attached to the egg hook with a Clinch Knot.

Step Five- Add split shot above the Troutbead above the Surgeons knot. Use just enogh to get your flies down and rolling along the bottom but not hanging up. Experiment.


Beg, borrow or steal a switch rod and MOW Tips and give this a try. It may open your eyes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Opening Day above the Bridge

The long awaited opening of the Lower Yuba finally arrived on December 1st. I was especially excited because of the amount of salmon that have been in the system this year. It's been a banner year with more salmon in the lower river than we've seen in about 4 years. About 4 weeks ago the researchers that work for Fish and Wildlife stated that there were about 8500 salmon counted at the fish ladders at Daguerre Point Dam. They predicted that the final numbers would tally over 11,000. For the Yuba that's good news. The numbers of salmon spawning above the bridge were supposed to be much more than the previous years. All the reason to be excited to check the river out.

I hooked up with my old friend, Blake Larsen, who I have spent many days fishing with over the years, just not so much in the last year or so. We didn't really miss a beat. Just like old times. The thing I like about Blake is that it's always about getting out and enjoying the day no matter what ends up being in store. No fish, some fish or lots of fish it really doesn't matter. We're kindred spirits in that way. It doesn't mean we don't work hard to make it happen or give up on it it's just not a numbers thing. It sort of like skunked, a few, a number or pretty darn good is our reference system.

One thing led to another and by the time Blake and I hooked up, did our shuttle and got rigged it was almost noon. So not the ideal time to start, but for the most part everyone else that got there at daybreak was about done. We basically had the river to ourselves. This was great!

Our strategy was to concentrate on the sanctuary water, which was anything that had enough depth for the fish to feel safe. We rigged up two rods, one a 6 weight with a deep indicator setup and a 6 weight Switch rod.

The indicator setup was rigged with a 9' - 3x tapered leader, a Thinamabobber, at about 7 feet from the shot, 18" of 3x fluorocarbon to a "Troutbead" and then another 18" of 4x fluorocarbon to a modified Pheasant Tail that I've come up with. The Troutbeads were painted with Peach nail polish. I added one more section of 4x fluorocarbon to a size 18 midge pupa. We used this rig whenever the water was more than 5 feet deep. It worked as I'd hoped.

For all the shallower areas, the areas 4 foot deep or less we switched up to a tightlining rig.The switch rod was rigged with an Airflo integrated Speydicator line. I added a MOW tip. The MOW tip was a Light, 5 foot float with a 5 foot T-8 sink section. I added a short 5 for leader and then added 18" of 3x fluorocarbon to a Troutbead and then another 18" of 4x fluorocarbon to nymph. This rig also performed well.

The key is to keep changing up as the characteristics change. The deep indicator is funky in shallower water, The tighlining rig is not ideal in the real deep water. (Note: This is not true if you change the deep tighlining rig to one with a long leader without the MOW tip and use lots of weight).

As far as the river conditions, the river was running about 830 cfs, crystal clear with not a cloud in the sky. Light shirt and shorts type of weather. This doesn't bode well for midday fishing in shallow water I can tell you that, especially with full sun. The river has changed up a bit, a few more drop-offs and ledges, some areas shallowed up a bit, others more channelized. There are lots of buckets and rollers from all the salmon spawning. Way more than I've seen in years. Lots of good habitat.

As far as bugs, about all I saw was midges and lots of them in the flats and tailouts, I think I saw one PMD, not that I looked very hard as there were so few. We need some drizzle or rain to see if the Blue Wing Olives are around. What I was confident in is that the fish would eat eggs. There's just been too many salmon in the system and the trout are just conditioned to eat them.

So how'd we do, let's just say we had a great day.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Callibaetis Mayflies

If you are going to be fishing stillwaters, the number one mayfly that you need to be familiar with is the Callibaetis. They are the most important stillwater mayfly of all. There are some respected anglers here in Northern California that believe that there is no insect more important to the stillwater angler.

The damselflies provide exciting angling for large trout, and on many lakes midges are of major importance, but as a searching pattern you can't go wrong tying on a Callibaetis nymph.

Callibaetis are found in many types of stillwaters and especially in the waters where we search for trout. If you are fishing a lake that has a good supply of weeds, you will have probably find lots of Callibaetis.

The Callibaetis nymph is a stillwater bug that is available 365 days of the year and it predictably hatches throughout the entire fishing season. If you had to design a stillwater bug for stillwaters for fly fishers, the Callibaetis would be it. It acts predictably and trout key in on that predictability. All stillwater anglers should take time to understand the life cycle of the Callibaetis will benefit from the time spent with trout at the end of the line.

The Life Cycle of a Callibaetis Mayfly

The Callibaetis belongs to the Baetidae family of mayflies. The Baetidae family of mayflies are multi brooded. The nymphs mature exceedingly fast and several generations will emerge within a single season. Most other mayflies hatch only once in a brief annual flurry.
The Callibaetis is a prime example of a mayfly nymph with a perfectly proportioned body. The head is slightly narrower than its shoulders and the slender body tapers to three equal length tails that are about as long as the body. It has heart shaped gills that fringe each flank of the abdomen. The sweeping antennae twice as long as the head is wide. The only other stillwater nymph that might be confused with the Callibaetis is the Siphlonurus whose antennae are short and stubby by comparison.

The Callibaetis nymph is a chameleon. The nymphs can change color quickly to match their environment. Tie colors of this nymph to match the colors of the vegetation of their stillwater environment. You can tie the nymph in earth tone hues like natural or olive hares ear or use pheasant tail.

The nymphs have a semi-rigid exoskeleton that must be periodically molted. The typical Callibaetis might undergo a twenty or more such molts throughout the winter.

Early in spring the callibaetis began their hatching process. Gasses in their exoskeleton begin to fill their bodies. As this pressure builds, the exoskeleton starts to swell and the nymph becomes buoyant. As the exoskeleton stretches it radiates a shimmering glow. When this happens the nymphs starts crawling upwards. This can be a mass emergence with the nymphs crawling up the reeds, and other underwater structure towards the surface.

Often when these emerging nymphs lose their footing or try to swim, the buoyancy lifts them away from their structure and they desperately swim back down to the protective cover. This can happen over and over. This is prime feeding time for the trout. This happens every morning and all season all season long. The trout of stillwaters get accustomed to this daily rhythm. For the stillwater angler this is prime time.

How to Fish the Nymph Stage of the Hatch

It pays to get out on the water around nine am. You can use a floating or intermediate line. I prefer using a Cortland Camo Intermediate line. Rig up with a standard nine foot tapered and extend it with fluorocarbon tippet to 1 1/2 time the depth of water you intend to fish. We're talking the tippet section here, So in 6 feet of water that's 9 feet of tippet. That makes your total leader length 18 feet. In water that doesn't have good clarity you can cut that back to 12 or 14 feet total. You can start with 5x and if the fish aren't cooperating go smaller with 6x.. You then need to determine the depth and clarity of the water.

Tie on your callibaetis nymph imitation of choice of the appropriate size. Work your line out as best as you can with the extra long leader. It's OK if the tippet doesn't straighten out. Count down the nymph until you see it hit the weeds. You'll know it has got there when the vee shaped wake from the sinking leader stops. Mentally record the seconds it took to get the nymph to the weeds. Re-cast and count it down again. Try a very one very slow, very long strip until the stripping arm and hand are extended behind you. Trap the line against the cork with rod hand and let the nymph fall. Watch the vee of the tippet for the take. The long slow strip does a good job imitating the nymph being buoyed to the surface and the subsequent fall of your pheasant tail mimics the real nymph’s frantic return to cover.

Watch the tippet as it is your best indication of a take. You may not feel the take. Tighten up with any un-natural movement. A stop, a change of direction, a dimple. Using tippet as small as 6X tippet might seem too small but with a long leader it has tremendous stretch and will handle most trout, even hogs. Just make sure its fluorocarbon. The small diameter tippet allows your nymph to cut through the water.

Fishing the Emerger and Dun Stage of the Hatch

The Callibaetis nymphs start to hatch as the morning progresses. They hold just beneath the film with only the hump of the thorax breaking the surface film. Soon the thorax splits and the adult emerges. Its head and then its legs crawl out out of the exoskeleton. It will spread its legs out across the water and then draws the wings and abdomen out of the shuck. Once this is accomplished only the tail remains in the husk and then it finally pulls free . The dun then drifts across the waters surface as the wings harden.

The coloration of the Callibaetis changes as the season progress. In the spring the insect is dark sooty gray and as the hatches progress through the season, they get increasingly lighter hues. In the fall, as temperatures drop, the mayflies once again emerge in the darker colors. This is said to be natures way of absorbing more heat from the sun. The underneath side of a Callibaetis are always lighter than the top. The wings of the Callibaetis duns will have distinctively light colored veins that contrast with the relatively dark wings giving them a speckled effect. Their common name is the speckled dun.

When fishing and choosing which stage of the Callibaetis to match it is good to remember that as the nymphs drift up from the weeds and converge on the surface, the trout sometimes get selective to the emerger and cripples. Fish will often disregard the nymphs and duns and focus on the emergers. The emergers are hapless prey and the fish can take their time picking them off. They can't swim or fly.

Two "Go To" paterns to imitae the Callibaetis emergers are a Quigley's Cripple and a Bivisible Dun. You do not have to match the size of the emerging dun when fishing emerger patterns. A size twelve nymph can be fished with size 10 emerger. The trout aren't as selective at this stage.

Callibaetis Spinners

The Callibaetis duns will leave the water and fly to stream side vegetation. They will molt into sexually mature spinners. The spinner has translucent wings with only a trace of splotching on the leading edge. About mid morning the next day, or sometimes in the evening, droves of males rise from the stream side vegetation and form clouds of insects that fly high into the air and flutter back towards earth.

As they are rising and falling above the stream side vegetation the fall males are releasing pheromones that waft downwind and attract the females. The females flutter into the bobbing mass of males. The insects briefly copulate in flight and the males go off to die.

Just about the time the morning hatch is winding to a close, the spinners arrive to lay their eggs. The female Callibaetis whisk along the surface of the water and dap their abdomens into the film to release showers of fertile eggs. The eggs hatch almost immediately and the cycle begins anew.

For fly fishers, as soon as spinners start landing on your arm or the trout begin to refuse your emerger or cripple imitation, tie on a spinner imitation.

To imitate a Callibaetis spinner the best spinner patterns are barely there. Try a pattern like a CDC Biot Spinner. The CDC biot spinner works well because it uses sparkle organza and the fluted CDC feathers trap air like the real spinner wings.

Remember the "Multi-Brooded" aspect of the Callibaetis
Beacuse the Callibaetis is multi brooded. It emerges in the spring as a size twelve. About six weeks later, the progeny from the first hatch will emerge but they will be a size fourteen. Six weeks later the next brood will hatch and be a size sixteen and so on until the end of the season when Callibaetis in October are popping off in a minute size twenty.

Every six weeks or so will be a major emergence period, but enough bugs are out of sync that Callibaetis hatches can be counted on virtually every day of the season. The nymphs of the season’s last brood having all winter to grow, will emerge the following spring in a succulent size twelve to start the cycle once again.


So, you can almost never go wrong using a Rickards Callibaetis nymph as a searching pattern in any stillwater that you find anywhere. Tie nymphs in sizes from 14 to as small as size 20 in colors to match the vegetation in the lakes you are fishing. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fishing The Yellowstone - Mayors Landing to Pig Pen

A trophy Yellowstone Brown taken on the Mayors Landing to Pig Pen Float

The Waters Below Livingston

When selecting a section of the Yellowstone river to fish, and if you're thinking trophy trout heading to the river below Livingston is a good bet. The river below Livingston holds less trout per mile but makes it up in poundage. In early summer after the runoff you'll be casting streamers to the bank or above and below mid stream boulders, convergent flows where side channels and the main river come together. You'll dead drift streamers with nymph droppers along rip-rap banks and in big pools. Hoppers will come into play later on.

You will find Brown Trout, Rainbows, an occasional cutthroat and not so many whitefish on the water below Livingston.

The Yellowstone below the town of Livingstone takes on the characteristics if a major river. It is big, wide and can be somewhat brawling in the early summer. The river itself is characterized by, long runs with good bank water, riffles and tailouts, deep pools, huge eddies, and many braided side channels. There are some major wave rides, some big drops over in-stream boulders the size of a house, (although you can easily avoid them). I felt very comfortable in my Fishcraft raft, but would have been extremely uncomfortable in my low side Hyde drift boat. This section of the river is mainly class I and class II water if you scout the river properly. Class III in a couple of areas if you don't and make a mistake.

I am speaking from the experience of running about 12 miles of river from Mayors Landing in Livingston town to a take out called "Pig Farm". I was told it was named after an old farm that raised pigs at the site of the takeout and also that the run above the take out holds some of the largest trout in the river, earning the title "Pig Farm". I like the second story.

Fishing Techniques

I fished this section with my Mom and Dad when the river was running about 5500 cfs. and the visibility was about 5 to 6 ft. It was a bright day and you could clearly see the bottom in the 4 to 5 foot runs and the tailouts. We concentrated on the sanctuary water and holding areas. There are a banks that have rip-rapped banks to stabilize the banks. These banks have been stacked with angular boulders and are steep and deep. There are holding areas all along these banks. This creates a brown trout hotel. We had great success firing our flies to all the pockets all these banks. A fish would dart out of it's lie and slam a streamer and then when hooked dart back into the rocks. We hooked but then lost quite a few really large fish using this technique. We also landed quite a few.


We rigged up similar to the way we rigged for the "Bird Float" with streamers with droppers. We beefed up our tippet expecting larger fish.

Leader - 7 1/2 foot 2x tapered leader

Indicator - Large Thing-a-ma-bobber

Shot - 1 or 2 AB's 3 to 7 feet below the indicator.

1st Fly - 10 " of 3x fluorocarbon Streamer patterns, McCunes Sculpin, Rubber Legs with Marabou tail, Whitefish Minnow

2nd Fly - 20" of 4x fluorocarbon, beadhead PT's, beadhead yellow stones, beadhead lightning bugs, caddis nymphs/emergers

TechniquesI rigged up for bigger fish and we concentrated on techniques that would give us a chance to hook larger fish. We would alternate between streamer techniques and dead drifting techniques.

By rigging with a streamer and a trailing nymph we could fish using streamer techniques or dead drift the streamer/dropper in the runs and pools. We used streamer and dead drift indicator nymphing at the same time.

The deeper bank water with holding lies out of the current was targeted as we floated down the river. We would cast to these spots and actively strip the streamer out into the current, pick up and cast again to the next good looking spot. These are the money spots.

The alternative technique was to fire a cast into likely looking holding water at the bank, strip it out and if there was no takers, throe an upstream stack mend and dead drift the rigg along the bank 2 to 4 feet off the bank.

Both techniques were productive.

Mayors Landing to Pig Pen Photos

This is a photo of my "Fishcraft" raft. It is the perfect boat for exploring new rivers and is safe in almost any Class I to Class III water.

The river gets big below Livingston and the banks are lined with willows and

As you float below Livingston you will come to these bluffs with great pools and undercuts at the base. These offer great holding water and is where deep indicator nymphing is productive.

My Mom with a nice rainbow caught dead drifting along the rocky banks.

My mom, Geri, with a trophy, fish of a lifetime for most people, caught on a beadhead Lighting Bug which was trailing a McCunes Sculpin. We had been fishing the bank water and I was scouting the water ahead when I saw a side channel converging back to the main channel. There was a spit of gravel bank running to a point and where the waters converged it created a long vee with glassy slow current, The water was about 4 to 6 feet deep. I said to my mom who was in the front of the boat, "Hey, Mom, cast into that slack water on river left into that vee, that the type of water where fish like to hang out". She turned and put here rigg in and the next thing I knew I saw this huge fish come busting out of the water. My eyes about popped out of my head. As she kept tension on the fish I rowed back to the river right and found some slower water to attempt to land it. With a keystone cop atmosphere and the boat continuing downstream we managed somehow to coax the fish into the net. Geri's smile tells the rest.


So if your in the Bozeman/Livingston area and decide to give the Yellowstone a try, don't forget that there are options other than fishing the waters of Paradise Valley. Maybe do like we did and fish different sections of the river from below Gardner, in Paradise Valley, but don't forget below Livingston.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rickards Callibaetis Nymph

Denny Rickards' Callibeatis Nymph

I fished a lake near Island Park, Idaho this past weekend as a part of Phil Rowley's Stillwater School, I'll get into that in another post, and found callibeatis mayflies, swimming in the shallows as well as many shucks. There were callibeatis emergers struggling to escape their shucks. I went right into my box and picked a Rickard's Callibeatis nymph and went to work. The fish were on to the fly as soon as I found out where the were hanging out. Others were using a Pheasant Tail Nymph, but I'd say my nymph out fished the PT.

This pattern is a great "Go To" pattern to be used as a searching fly or to match the hatch. You need to have this fly in your stillwater box.

Rickard's Callibaetis Nymph Recipe

Hook: 2x - Tie sizes 12 through 14, Size 10 early in the season.

Tail: Wood Duck or Dyed Mallard

Rib: Copper Wire

Body: Hares Ear

Hackle: Grizzly. Use straight grizzly for the tan version. Use olive dyed grizzly for the olive version.

Rickards Callibaetis Nymph Notes:

  • It is recommended to tie this pattern in colors of tan, olive, black and rust/cinnamon.
  • This pattern is tied un-weighted as it is designed to be fishing up near the surface.
  • This fly is named the "Callibeatis Nymph" but it is a "Go To" fly when ever fish are working near the surface, feeding on midges or other bugs. It is an impressionistic fly. You can retrieve it or let it sit.
  • When selecting wood duck fibers for the tail don't tie them in so they curve to one side or the other. Make sure they are facing straight back.
  • This fly should be presented with a floating or intermediate line. Use short slow pulls. You want to keep this fly in the top foot of water, so adjust your retrieve accordingly.
  • When fishing any fly near the surface you need to remember to use a longer leader, 12 to 15 feet long, tapered down to 4x or 5x. You need the longer leader especially when using a floating line because the floating line makes surface disturbance when you cast, strip and then retrieve the fly. The determining factor is the clarity of the water.
  • This fly is typically fished in the in the top 2 feet and is seldom fished it deep.

Tying Instructions:

1. Place hook in vice and start thread wrap behind the eye of the hook. Cover the hook back to the hook bend.

2. Pinch off a a small bunch of wood duck fibers. You want this to be a sparse bunch. Make sure that when you tie in the tail that the fibers point straight back and don't bend to one side or the other. This provides more movement of the tail. Tie the tail in standard length about 1/2" to 3/4" long. Tie in the tail, bind it down.

3. When done, pull the fibers back towards the tail and bind down the remainder. This will be used for a back.

4. Tie in the copper rib at the tie in point at the tail. Use standard gauge wire, not too small.

5. Tie in the grizzly saddle hackle. For the olive version tie in an olive grizzly hackle.Tie the hackle in by its tip. You don't want this hackle to be palmered.

6. Tie in a dubbing loop that is about 5 inches long. For the olive Callibaetis Nymph use olive Hares Ear dubbing. Place the fur cross-wise into the dubbing loop. Hold the material with your hand to keep the material from spinning and then spin the dubbing loop tool while holding the material. Let go of the material and it will spin itself. Pick out the excess to create a consistent rope. You can add more material below to extend the length of the dubbing rope.

7. Once you have the correct amount of material in the rope continue spinning the dubbing loop tool until you have a tight dubbing rope.

8. Spin the loop tool a bit more and start placing wraps one in front of the other towards the eye of the hook. Wrap the rope forward and tie the rope off. Clip off the remaining rope.

9. Wrap the copper rib forward, spaced closely to create segmentation about 10 times or more on a 2x hook. Tie off the wire at the head of the fly.

10. Wrap the hackle forward with 3 turns only. Tie off the hackle at the head.

11. Pull the excess tail material over the top and over the eye of the hook to form a back. Turn you vise to check that the fibers are staying directly over the top of the fly and not over to one side or the other.

12. Whip finish the head. Trim the hackle fibers at an angle along the sides so the hackle fibers are facing mostly downwards. Apply head cement and you're done.

How to fish Rickards' Callibeatis Nymph

1. Use this fly when you see fish working on the surface. Remember that you need to fish this fly very slowly or with little or no movement at all.

2. Start with an intermediate line and use a slow hand twist retrieve, very slow.

3. You can also use a short slow pull with an emphasis on slow.

4. You can use this fly when sight fishing and if you see a rise ring, cast to the right or left of the ring and the start the short slow pull.

5. When using a floating line, grease your leader within 4 to 6 inches of the fly, using a longer leader of 12 to 15 feet and let it sit. Or you can let it sink a bit and retrieve it with a short slow pull or slow hand twist speed. Emphasis on slow.

6. You want this fly to look like a bug getting ready or is just emerging. The fish will not be looking for much movement.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Remembering Mom

My mom, Geri, has been battling cancer for about a year. From the moment she found out out about it, she had a positive, we can beat this, attitude. Sort of bring it on, we'll beat this. Well unfortunately it was a hard fought battle, but the fight took its toll. She passed away about a week ago. She passed with me holding her hand.

Many people have said that my mom and I are a lot alike. Its one of the best compliments I could ever get. She wasn't a hugs and kisses sort of mom, but it didn't matter the bond was there, we new she loved us. She was a tomboy who was as she said, "born in the wrong generation". A free spirit that struggled her whole life to be free. She's free now.

My mom was born on a Montana farm and married a cowboy/rancher, my dad Bob. She ended up being quite a horsewoman. and rode and worked with horses most of her life. Rode trails and blazed trails. She drove truck, paid the bills and kept my folks business afloat. All that and making lunches, dinners and washing clothes for the family. She did it all, tirelessly and uncomplaining. She loved the outdoors and became an enthusiastic fly fisher.

The highlight of her year became meeting up with Laura, Zack and I in Montana and floating the rivers fishing. We fished the Yellowstone, Madison, Big Hole and the Jefferson rivers over the years in the type of country she grew up in. She would always take the rear seat of the raft and let my dad be up front. She did this because she was the better fisherman. My dad, who is hard of hearing would be upfront, oblivious, while she would catch fish after fish from the back of the boat. I'd turn to net the fish and she'd say "I'll just let it go before dad sees that I caught it". She knew dad would get pissed if she was out fishing him, which see did most every time we'd get out. She had the knack. On the day she caught the  beautiful brown in the picture above, dad probably hooked up on 4 or 5 lunkers that he immediately broke off while attempting to horse them in. Mom just took her time and most always landed the big ones.

She loved the adventure of it. She's the one that inspired me to write, share my experiences, to become a fly fishing educator and most of all pursue my dreams. Do what I love to do. I'll miss her joking personality and good common sense. With that said I know she'll be with me in spirit as I row down the rivers wherever I life takes me.

Mom, you'll be missed, but never forgotten by me and everyone that you have touched.

With Love,


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Swamp Thing Progress

I've been working on the "Swamp Thing" recently getting it ready to chase stripers later in the month. I've ordered a new Lowrance HD - 7 Gen 2 fish finder and rigged it up. This model has 'GPS' and 'Chart Plotting' capabilities. Here's what it looks like mounted in place.

I've also installed the Lowrance Structure Scan module that gives me side scanning ability. It is an add on with a separate unit. It's mounted underneath the steering column. I had to run two cables to the back of the boat for the fish finder transducer and another for the Sidefinder. Here they are mounted on a transom plate.

I had to run two cables from the units to the stern for the sonar transducer and the Structure scan. They are two separate units that came with the fish finder and Structure Scan module. I mounted them on a transom plate on the stern.

I also mounted a Minn Kota 12 volt, 55 pound thrust bow mounted trolling motor at the bow. I manufactured a 1/4" aluminum plate at the bow to mount it. 

I also mount oar stands to be able to row the boat if and when I want to. Here's what one of them looks like.

So the boat is pretty much ready to go once I figure out how to operate the fish finder and structure scan anyway. Something to go and play around with. Hopefully soon.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fishing the Beartooth Mountains in Montana

I have been looking through photos of past fishing trips and I ran across some photos of a back packing trip that I orchestrated with some friends a few years back. I thought it would be fun to go back and reminiscence.

There is nothing like the site of Pilot and Index Peaks when you're on a road trip and are headed to the Beartooth Mountains in Montana. I have back packed for trout in these mountains for many years. Each summer is like a migration to the back country to get a fix on solitude and cutthroat trout. When you drive through Cooke City, Montana heading for the trailhead all of a sudden there they are, beckoning you for adventure. It seems that when you are hiking in the high country Pilot and Index are always there in the distance to give you an idea where you are.

We were headed into some of my favorite country. It is just across the northern state line of Wyoming and northeast of Yellowstone Park. Believe me this is a place, if you ever get the chance to go there, you will never forget. It is an area of high country lakes and streams with Brook and Cutthroat Trout. There are larger lakes that are connected with streams that are fed each summer from glaciers, with names like Grass Hopper Glacier, up above 11,000 ft in elevation. It is the country of the Beartooth Plateau, which is primarily in and out of the tree line at about 9000 feet in elevation. The lakes in this region were planted years ago and the spawning streams now make the lakes and streams in the area self supporting fisheries. There are large cutthroat trout in some of the lakes although they can be difficult to fool. It's best to get into the high country soon after the lakes thaw. Each year this can happen at a different time. Mid July is a good target date.

I had orchestrated this trip with some of my close friends. We hired the "Beartooth Plateau Outfitters" to drop camp us up at about 8,000 ft or so. We were planning on a trip of about 10 days in the back country. We would have the outfitters drop us off with all our back packs, food and fishing gear and then we would travel around up high on foot and when we were done hike back out to the trailhead. This is a great way to go. The outfitter charged us $75 a head for the day plus an extra $100 a day for two wranglers. So it cost us about $100 bucks a piece. This meant that we didn't have to hike 15 miles up 2000 feet of varied terrain with 70 to 80 pound backpacks on. It also saves about 1 1/2 days of hiking, which means you have more time to explore and fish. Sound like a good idea?

We met the outfitter at the trailhead early in the morning and got our gear packed onto pack horses and got comfortable on our trail horses. It takes awhile to get it all together, but we were headed into the back country after about an hour and a half.

With all our gear, the six of us and two wranglers the string of horses totaled about 10 horses. We expected a ride of about 5 - 6 hours. It actually took about 8. We were a little saddle sore by the time we got to our drop camp destination. The head wrangler used to work for my cousin, J.O. Hash, who used to have an outfitting business in Red Lodge, Montana. He had just started working for the Beartooth Outfitters. We headed up a side trail and I was thinking to myself that this route did not look familiar. I figured that the head wrangler knew a better route. It was about an hour later that he stopped us and we got the maps out and figured that sure enough, we should have zigged instead of zagged. We eventually got to a nice drainage, although about 3 hours later than expected, unloaded our gear set off on our own for another mile or two.

We hiked and then got up to a lake that was situated at about 8250 feet. It was time to drop our gear, set up camp and sort everything out and get ready for the rest of our journey. We made a nice camp near the inlet stream to the lake. We still had a hike with about a 1200 foot gain in elevation to look forward to. This would get us up to tree line on the Plateau where we wanted to spent most of our time.

"Well, Clay, do you think you know where we're supposed to go now?"
"I don't know, Mark, but why don't you just quit scratchin' your a_ _ and find some firewood!"

The lake where we set up our first camp was over-populated with brook trout. Mostly small ones. We had brought a backpack skillet, pancake mix and syrup so we harvested a bunch of the small brookies the next morning for breakfast. We typically catch and release the trout we catch. But the truth is that these lakes are so over-populated with brook trout that the Forest Service encourages and wants people to take fish and have them for breakfast. So we thought that for this one day we would help out. How long has it been since you had a fried trout drenched in corn meal, hot out of a frying pan with pancakes and syrup? Pass the syrup, please.

The mountains in the photo above give you an idea how varied the terrain in this part of the mountains can be. It stays like this until you get up to the Beartooth Plateau where it flattens out. When hiking up to the higher elevations it seems like sometimes you've made it up to the plateau and then the next thing you know you're headed 300 feet in elevation back down a draw and then have to climb back up the other side.

We finally made it to the tree line on our second day and this is the elevation where we planned on staying for most of our time. Once we reached the tree line, we hiked in a westerly direction for the next 7 days. We traveled at the same elevation more or less and camped at different lakes and streams most nights. By staying at tree line there is shelter from the winds and firewood for the campfire. The campfires are twig fires and made from dead fall that is scavenged from the area. You need to scout and find the best spots to set up camp that have (1) proximity to water (2) shelter from the wind, rain and snow (3) dead wood for the fire (4) most importantly trout.

This is a photo of my friends, from left to right. Dave Walsh, Aaron Utman, Mark Morgan, myself, Mike Ciafridoni, and Blake Larsen in front. This was a good, compatible bunch. You need to choose your backcountry friends carefully when you're in the back country for 7 to 10 days.

This is a view of the terrain when you reach the Beartooth Plateau. It is a rugged environment and it takes a concerted effort to get there in comfort and safety. But it is worth the time and effort spent. On another trip to the Beartooth Mountains with the infamous Stahl Brothers (I'll eventually get around to telling some stories about that bunch). We were camped in a draw that looked similar to this, it was late and we had a campfire going and were hanging out swapping stories and pulling on a bottle of scotch. The draw had rock out croppings on both sides of the draw. We saw four bright eyes starring at up from on top of the rocks. We got a flashlight out and turned it on and there were two Rocky Mountain Goats staring at us. They kept coming down right into our camp not 15 feet away and were licking the rocks near our camp. Turns out they were after the salt from where we'd relieved ourselves nearby. They kept us company all night.

Rocky Mountain Goats

We found a lake had a lot of cutthroat trout cruising the shoreline. We would find a hidden spot along shore and could watch them noodling around the shore looking for bugs. The first day all you had to do was throw a small attractor like a elk hair caddis, royal wulff, or an adams out there and the trout would take it. It didn't take too long until you had to start using emergers, spinners etc. to catch one. They got smart fast. When they started refusing dries you could throw in a sinking line with a rubberlegs and or a generic nymph and strip it back in from down deep and they would hit it hard. The cutthroats in this lake went from about 14" to 18" and I believe that one was caught that went about 20". That's about as big a high country trout gets.

The weather in this country can change rapidly and it is not unusual to get afternoon and evening thunderstorms and lightning. Most mornings are crystal clear. We always bring along a tarp or two and string them up as a shelter tied to trees, rock outcroppings and such in order to get out of the rain in the evenings when we are hanging around camp cooking meals and later enjoying a warm fire. A good camp features a good tarp shelter, a fire pit just outside of it and is located out of the wind. You'll need firewood, water, and a place to hang your food.

As an evening storm approaches we are all battened down. Tents set up, meals prepared and cleaned up, firewood gathered and a "wikiup" built in case it rains or snows. I have spent many a night huddled under a secure tarp with my friends, with a warm fire burning in front, passing a fine bottle of scotch around and telling stories of the day and past trips in these mountains and others like it. It is times like this that bring warm memories and a yearning for the wild country.

The experiences are out there waiting. You can make them happen, you will never be sorry.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Patterns - Blue Wing Olives "Baetis"

I've always wanted to put it all together, the bugs, the flies and the techniques to fish them. The Fly Fishing Traditions blog is sort of my Masters Thesis in Fly Fishing. Kinda, Sorta! For me it's a quest of learning about the entomology, the fly patterns to match the hatch and the necessary techniques to play the game effectively. Done in a everyday workman's or tradesman's type way and along the way having fun with it.

This blog entry, "Patterns - Blue Wing Olives Baetis" is my attempt to cover the fly patterns portion of the equation. I am hoping to follow this up with future blog entries to cover the bugs as the season progresses, Skwalas, PMD's etc. But as always life gets in the way so we'll see how it goes.

So, this is the follow up to the blog post “Bugs – The Baetis - Blue Wing Olives” with a selection of patterns that will cover the hatch. This of course is by no means the only patterns that are available for the BWO, Baetis hatch, but will give me and hopefully others a good idea how to set up a fly box to match it. Read some John Gierach stories about him and A.K. Best fishing the BWO hatch, one of his favorite hatches and you'll get a good insight too.

I have researched and provided some patterns and recipes with brief comments on when and how to fish the patterns.

I hope that you will find these patterns useful and when you're on the river when a BWO hatch comes off, you'll be prepared. I know I’d like to find some time to tie some of these patterns up myself. Maybe soon!

I did most of my research on the internet and at which is a great site. Check it out for specific tying techniques and steps for most of the patterns listed herein. A great tying instruction book is "Tying Dries" by Randall Kaufman. It's sort of my bible for tying.


Hogan Brown's Patterns

When I look into my flyboxes and I think about what fly to reach for and which one's that I have the most confidence in, I often choose one of Hogan' Brown's patterns. Hogan learned and perfected his craft right here on the Lower Yuba River. So when trying to match a Baetis, BWO, why wouldn't I not go for one of his following patterns? I usually go there first and there is a reason that I have confidence in them. They work. I haven't been able to locate tying instructions for most of his patterns but his flies are distributed through "Iydlewilde Flies" and are available at Nevada City Anglers, The Fly Shop and most other resources on line.

Hogan's S&M Nymph

Hook: TMC 3769 #16-18
Thread: Dark Brown 8/0
Weight: Copper Bead
Ribbing: Wapsi Olive Ultra Wire, SM
Abdomen: Olive Thread 8/0
Tail: Pheasant Tail Fibers
Wingcase: Dark Brown Goose Biot
Thorax: Dark Olive Antron
Legs: Olive Krystal Flash

Notes: I first started using the S&M Nymph when fishing the Lower Sacramento River and it has been a proven producer. When the Lower Sac goes into the small bug bite mode I usually have an S&M nymph or a Military May nymph rigged up. From what I have researched the S&M nymph is weighted by use of a Copper bead head but has additional sinking capabilities through the use of a thread body, streamline shape, and Ultra wire for the distinct segmentation. Hogan uses a Goose Biot for the wingcase which provides a distinct color contrast to the thorax which is typical with natural baetis nymphs having a darker hue on the top of the thorax. Krystal Flash is used for the legs which provides attraction and movement to the fly yet does not detract from it's sinkability. I've often used it as a dropper on the Lower Sac and Lower Yuba when I need to get the nymph down quickly. __________________________________

Hogan's Military May

Hogan's Military May has a more slender profile than the S&M nynph. It's a great idea to catch some baetis nymphs from your screen need when sampling, put them in a white jar lid and then stick your S&M nymph and Military May or Better Baetis nymph in and see which profile matches the natural best. You might be surprised.

Hogan's Better Baetis - I believe that this matches the smallest BWO the best.

Hogan's BWO Sipper

The Hogan's BWO Sipper has also been productive during the BWO hatches when the nymphs are emerging and when you have duns riding the surface.


Proven Dry Fly Patterns for the BWO, "Baetis"

Parachute Baetis

HOOK: 900BL, sizes 16-20
WING: Mallard flank, tied parachute style
TAIL: Two blue dun Micro Fibbets, split
BODY: Olive Haretron or Superfine
HACKLE: Natural or olive-dyed grizzly

When to Use - Use parachute style flies to ride low in the water and provide a realistic silhouette on runs and glides. Use this fly during hatches of blue-winged olive (Baetis) mayflies when you are matching the dun stage.

Variations - Vary the size and body color to match whatever is hatching. Body colors will range from olive, to brown-olive, to brown. As always a good idea catch a sample to match color.

How to Fish - Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations.
Size counts. During a hatch, try to snag a natural insect, then pick a parachute pattern that is the same size. As Rick Hafele says it's the most important trigger.


Sparkle Dun
Created by Craig Mathews and John Juracek

HOOK: TMC 100, sizes 16-20
THREAD: Yellow (Olive to match the BWO)
WING: Deer hair, dyed gray. When done tying, flare the wing so it forms an upright semi-circle over the fly.
TAIL: Tan Z-lon, not too thick, (Dun or Olive for the BWO)
BODY: Pale yellow Superfine ( Olive to match natural for the BWO)
Note: The photo below is to match a PMD, Match the colors of the BWO.

Uses - The sparkle dun imitates a hatching mayfly dun. Use this pattern during a hatch when the duns are on the water and trout are feeding on them. The Sparkle Dun is one of the most useful styles to learn to tie. It is not a difficult pattern to master, and it catches fish. Essentially, the fly is a Comparadun with a Z-lon tail that represents the shuck the dun has just emerged from. It's a clever and deadly variation. Craig Matthews should know!

Why does it work so well? Because a dun that has just emerged from the shuck has to dry its wings before it can fly off; thus, it will be on the water for the maximum amount of time. If you were a trout, which mayfly dun would you prefer: one that might fly away before you sip it down, or one that is guaranteed to still be there after you spend the energy to reach it?

Variations - A useful variation is the CDC Sparkle Dun, which uses CDC fibers for the wing. This latter variation is sometimes tied with a mallard flank wing in front of the CDC, but they say that the trout don’t care if the mallard flank is there or not.
This dressing imitates a hatching PMD. To imitate other mayfly duns, vary the size and color.

How to Fish - Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations.


ComparadunCreated by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi

HOOK: 900BL, size 12-16, (16 to 20 for BWO)
THREAD: Brown (Olive for the BWO)
WING: Mottled gray deer hair tied upright and flared
TAIL: Blue dun hackle fibers, split
BODY: Tan Superfine or to match dun color (Olive to match naturals for the BWO)

Uses - Comparaduns are useful, durable patterns that imitate the dun stage of mayflies. Use them during a hatch when duns are on the water and are being taken by trout. Comparaduns ride well and float without hackle, which is an advantage on slow, quiet stretches of water. The pattern is more durable than a No Hackle, but it's not as effective on spring creeks.

Variations - Other mayflies can be imitated by using hook sizes and body colors that match the natural insect.

How to Fish - Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations.


Thorax, OliveCheck out Randal Kaufmann's "Dry Flies" for tying instructions.

HOOK: TMC 100, sizes 14-20
WING: White hackle tips
TAIL: Dun hackle or Betts' Tailing Fibers
BODY: Superfine to match natural insect
HACKLE: Light dun. Clip the bottom so it rides flush in the surface film.

Uses - Thorax-style dry flies provide a realistic silhouette and were designed to be used on spring creeks and other slow, clear water situations. Use this pattern during hatches of small mayflies when the duns are on the water.

Variations - Vary the color and hook size to match other mayflies.

How to Fish - Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations. The fly is intended for slow, smooth flows; it will not float well in rough water.

CDC Baetis
Created by Dave Hill

HOOK: TMC 100, sizes 16-20
TAIL: Betts' Tailing Fibers
BODY: Olive Dazl-Tron
WING: CDC, natural dun color

Uses - Use to imitate blue-winged olive (Baetis) duns when there is a hatch in progress and trout are taking duns from the surface. Because this fly has no hackle, it is particularly effective on slow water, spring creeks, and other situations where trout are acting in a persnickity manner.

Variations - Blue-winged olives come in body colors that range from olive to brown. Choose a color that matches the insects available to trout when and where you are fishing.

How to Fish - Do NOT dress the fly with floatant! CDC flies should be fished au natural. When a fly no longer floats well, put it in a small container of powdered descicant, such as Dry Shake, and shake it up. This removes the moisture, and you're ready to cast again. Use standard dry fly presentations.


Proven Nymph Patterns

Pale Baetis NymphCreated by Jeff Morgan

HOOK: Dai Riki 310, size 20-22
THREAD: 8/0 rusty dun
TAIL: Three short widgeon flank feathers
ABDOMEN: Tying thread, perhaps counter-ribbed with iron gray 8/0 thread
THORAX: One or two wraps of pale olive dubbing
WINGCASE: Mottled oak Thinskin
LEGS: Pale olive Antron fibers, sparse

Uses -Imitates nymphs of blue-winged olives.

How to Fish - In rivers, the fly can be presented near the surface, but it is usually most productive when fished near the bottom on a dead drift with the indicator or tight line presentations. To achieve the right depth, you may need to put weight on the leader or use the fly on a dropper with a heavier fly on the point. While the fly works well as a searching nymph, it can also be productive during a hatch (more trout than you might suspect are taking nymphs off the bottom rather than duns off the top).


Hot Spot Pheasant Tail

HOOK: Mustad 9671, sizes 8-20
TAIL: Four pheasant tail fibers
RIB: Fine copper wire
BODY: Pheasant tail fibers wrapped on hook
THORAX: Orange or chartreuse Haretron or sparkle dubbing
WINGCASE: Pheasant tail fibers pulled over the thorax

Uses - The bright thorax may help fish focus on this variation of the traditional Pheasant Tail Nymph. "Hot spots" such as this bright thorax may not be as unnatural as they might appear.

Variations - Can be tied with or without a beadhead. Vary the size to match different insect species.

How to Fish - In rivers, the fly can be presented near the surface, but it is usually most productive when fished near the bottom on a dead drift with the indicator or tight line presentations.


Proven Emerger and Cripple Patterns

Baetis Cripple
Created by Bob Quigley

HOOK: 1X Fine wire, Standard shank, Turned-Down eye; e.g., TMC 100 or equivalent; sizes 16-20
TAIL: Pheasant tail fibers
ABDOMEN: Wrapped pheasant tail fibers
THORAX: Olive or brown Superfine dubbing
WING: Tan deer hair
HACKLE: Olive grizzly

Uses - "Cripple" patterns represent mayflies that are either just emerging or that got stuck in the shuck while emerging. In either case, the insect isn't going anywhere soon. Trout recognize this vulnerable condition and feed eagerly on cripples when they see them. When you're confronted with a blizzard hatch, where your fly is one small speck among hundreds or thousands of natural insects, a cripple pattern is a great way to induce trout to take your fake.
This dressing is in the "Quigley" style and represents a crippled blue-winged olive (Baetis) mayfly.

Variations -Blue-winged olives come in body colors that range from olive to brown. Choose a color that matches the insects available to trout when and where you are fishing.

How to Fish -Dress the front half of the fly (only) with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations

Baetis Marabou Cripple

Created by Bob Quigley

Hook: TMC 2302, #8-10
Thread: Olive 6/0
Tail: 3 Olive Emu Fibers
Wing: Yellow Dyed Deer Hair
Abdomen: Olive Marabou
Ribbing: Single Strand of Dark Green Floss
Thorax: Deer Hair
Hackle: Light Grey Hackle


Barrs Emerger

John Barr created this pattern in 1975 while fishing upon the Nelson's Spring Creek in Montana. Noticing that he was getting little interest in a PMD hatch with his dry patterns, he used a nymph and finally caught a trout. Upon pumping the stomach, John noticed that partially hatched nymphs with the shuck still attached were present on the back of the trout's tongue. John developed his emerger pattern based upon the appearance of these partially developed nymphs and created his "Barr's Emerger".

Hook: TMC 106TC #16-24
Thread: Olive 8/0
Abdomen: Brown/Olive Dubbing with Antron mixed
Tail: Brown Hackle Fibers
Thorax: PMD Superfine
Wingcase: Dun Hackle Fibers


CDC Bubble Emerger

HOOK: Dai Riki 135, sizes 18-22
TAIL: Pheasant tail fibers
ABDOMEN: Pheasant Tail fibers wrapped on hook
WING: Bubble of CDC. Use white for tricos or PMDs, dun for others
OVERWING: 1-3 strands of pearl Krystalflash
THORAX: Dubbing to match natural

Uses - Many blue-winged olive (Baetis) spinners dive or crawl underwater to lay their eggs. This fly imitates those spinners, and fishes well when you see lots of adults flying around but you can't get trout to take your dun imitations. A beautiful pattern, you'll these just for the pleasure of it. But don't forget to cast them!

Variations - Blue-winged olives vary slightly in color from olive to brown, depending on species, location, and time of year. Try to match the size and color of the natural insects, but remember that size is more important than color. If you want, you can add a pearl bead in the thorax.

How to Fish - Use indicator or tight line nymphing tactics.


Diving Baetis Spinner

HOOK: Dai Riki 310 or 305, size 16-22
TAILS: Dun Microfibetts
EGG SAC: Bright yellow dubbing
BODY: Olive-brown turkey biot or olive-brown dubbing
WING: Z-wing or tan Raffia, tied back and clipped to shape
HACKLE: One-and-half wraps of starling

Uses -Many blue-winged olive (Baetis) spinners dive or crawl underwater to lay their eggs. This fly imitates those spinners, and fishes well when you see lots of adults flying around but you can't get trout to take your dun imitations.A beautiful pattern, you'll these just for the pleasure of it. But don't forget to cast them!

Variations -Blue-winged olives vary slightly in color from olive to brown, depending on species, location, and time of year. Try to match the size and color of the natural insects, but remember that size is more important than color. If you want, you can add a pearl bead in the thorax.

How to Fish - Use indicator or tight line nymphing tactics.


Proven Spinner Pattern

CDC Biot Spinner

HOOK: 1X Fine wire, Standard shank, Turned-Down eye; e.g., TMC 100 or equivalent; sizes 16-20
UNDERWING: Light blue dun CDC, tied spread-eagled (spinner style)
OVERWING: Light blue dun Z-lon
TAIL: Light blue dun Betts' Tailing Fibers. Use 2-4 and split them.
ABDOMEN: Olive turkey biot
THORAX: Medium olive or olive-brown Superfine

Uses -Use to imitate mayfly spinners when the natural spinners are on the water and trout are taking them from the surface.

Variations -This dressing is for a blue-winged olive mayfly spinner. Other mayflies can be imitated by using hook sizes and body colors that match the natural insect.

How to Fish - Do NOT dress the fly with floatant! CDC flies should be fished au natural. When a fly no longer floats well, put it in a small container of powdered descicant, such as Dry Shake, and shake it up. This removes the moisture, and you're ready to cast again. Use standard dry fly presentations.

Hen Spinner, Blue QuillCreated by Mike Lawsen

HOOK: TMC 100, sizes 12-18
WING: Light blue dun hen hackle tips, tied spread-eagled
TAIL: Blue dun hackle fibers, split
BODY: Blue-dyed hackle feather stem
HACKLE: Blue dun, clipped top and bottom

Uses - When trout are sipping the spinner stage of mayflies, this can be an effective pattern. Tied in the right sizes, this dressing imitates the spinner stage of many blue-winged olives and most blue duns. The wings should lie flat on the water. Check out additional photos of this fly pattern at

Variations - The Rusty Spinner, which imitates the spinner stage of many blue-winged olive mayflies, is tied on size 14-18 hooks with a dubbed body of rust-brown Superfine. Vary the size and colors to match other mayfly spinners.

How to Fish - Dress the fly with floatant (be careful of the wings) and use standard dry fly presentations.