The Ramblings of a Fly Fisherman

The Chernobyl Ant

As we all know, terrestrial patterns are moving in full swing this time of year. Today, I am featuring a fly that I have recently started to tie. I know you will all enjoy this fly due to the results that you will see on the rivers. Introducing the Chernobyl Ant. This is a foam pattern that floats well and can mimic a number of large terrestrial insects. There are many variations to this pattern, but the one that I tie really does a good job of outlining the segmented body that trout will often respond to. Feel free to experiment with color variations, but be mindful to create a lot of contrast so that the buggy outline can be easily seen from underneath the water’s surface.

The Chernobyl Ant

Gross Reservoir – 7/25/2010

Well, we had another successful trip to the Gross Reservoir inlet today. Fishing was slow for most, but I discovered that fishing a hopper pattern followed by a pheasant tail or hare’s ear nymph was exactly what the doctor ordered. Like before, adding the dropper at about 24 inches and fishing the faster water seemed to produce the best. Fish were smaller this time, ranging from 10 to 12 inches, but with a lighter rig and tippet, this was still a great way to spend the day.

Fly Fishing in Idaho

Fly fishing in Idaho was fantastic! We spent much of our time on the Cour d’Alene and St. Joe Rivers targeting bull and cutthroat trout… We were not disappointed. This time of year, the streams were running very clear making the approach challenging at first, however; we decided to focus our efforts on the riffles and faster water making larger patterns more effective. This also aided in hiding our presence in the water. In both locations, there was a  TON of casting room giving me the opportunity to work on more complex styles such as feathering and the double haul. Flies that seemed to produce well were hoppers and orange stimulators. I also occasionally trailed a pheasant tail which really did the trick during the warmer hours of the day.

Our guide, Adam, made a few great recommendations that could easily be applied to any stream or river.

1. When you are unsure of your pattern and the fish are showing obvious signs of feeding behavior, fish it in choppy or faster water as the trout will often strike without being too selective.

2. When casting, try to mend your line before it reaches the water’s surface. This will aid in a longer more consistent fly presentation.

3. Practice the double haul and get good at it! It will increase your range, accuracy and your spot availability. This could mean the difference between catching or just fishing.

Nice Cutthroat on the St. Joe River

My First Cutthroat

Starting to Tie!

Recently, I have been attempting to tie my own flies in an effort to improve my entomology skills and my experience within the sport of fly fishing. I have started with Charlie Craven’s book entitled Basic Fly Tying, Modern Techniques for Flies that Catch Fish. I feel that this particular book has a very good teaching process and the images that outline the walkthroughs are incredible. Charlie’s shop is located in Old Town Arvada and he is a great guy always willing to show you a few pointers.

So far, the experience has been a good one, and I look forward to improving this skill.

Here are a few of the patterns that I have been tying.

Deep Blue Poison Tung

Deep Blue Poison Emerger
Bead San Juan

Switch the Setup and NOT the Fly

There have been many occasions were I was fishing an area, seeing the trout, yet failing to hook up on anything significant. The first reaction by most of us is to change out flies and try again. We attempt to focus on matching the hatch or experimenting with various subsurface patterns, but we still ultimately come up short. In reality, the method of presentation is usually the problem, not the fly selection. Try the following few tactics before rifling through your fly box…

1. Add or remove weight to better match the flow rate of the stream. Remember, when nymphing, you will often want to get those patterns as close to the bottom as possible. The faster they reach that area, the more real-estate you will be able to cover per cast.

2. If running a dry-dropper, experiment with various dropper lengths. Sometimes switching a 14 inch dropper for a 18 inch can prove to be the ticket to falling perfectly within a feeding lane

3. Switch from mono line to fluorocarbon. I have found that areas that consist of clear, slow moving water will often produce better using fluorocarbon tippets due the fact that they are harder to see once submerged. It’s a pretty significant difference! Try looking at each type once placed in a glass of water… Which one disappears?

The Big Thompson – 7/5/2010

There were lots of activities going on at Estes Park this weekend. The fireworks were great, the weather was outstanding, and the fly fishing was on fire! I experimented with a few new locations starting at Sleepy Hollow and moving up stream from there about 2 miles, an area a bit farther away from Estes than I normally frequent. While the flow was a bit fast, the smaller pools and cutbanks were producing quite well. I was using brown stonefly patterns size 12 and a deep blue poison tung size 18. Add a little extra weight due to the flow level and don’t forget to start your drift in the faster water as the heaviest strikes will often occur just as the drift enters the slower areas.

Knot of the Month - The Nail Knot

This is the best knot to use when attaching a leader to the fly line, but as a deviation, I actually create a connector with a nail knot to a perfection loop and then use a loop to loop connection for RIO brand leaders.  They come with a loop connection already tied at the end.  Link To Video

Fly Fishing the Yampa

The Yampa River flows through Steamboat Springs. This area is known for housing some really large trout and providing reasonable access to the river at multiple locations. If you happen to be in this area and stop into the local fly fishing shop, you will be quickly handed some flies and directed away to one of the many street access points to the river downtown. While these areas can produce some nice fish, the traffic noise and the constant bombardment of drunken tubers make the experience frustrating at best. I talked to a few locals and was able to find several other access points farther south.  These alternate locations were quiet, remote, and the fishing was outstanding. The tailwaters of the Yampa near Stagecoach Reservoir and Sarvis Creek are perfect examples. The fish here are large and wary so be sure to lighten your tippets and drag. I met Spence there, a pseudo local very familiar with this section of the river, that made some fly and technique recommendations that certainly did the job. By the end of the day, I had caught 7 trout, the smallest of which was 15 inches. The patterns used here were yellow stonefly nymphs and white wing black emergers. Be sure to work the areas near overhanging brush and cutbanks as these were the most productive locations that I found.

Nice Rainbow caught at Sarvis Creek