Posts Tagged ‘Fly Tying: Stoneflies


Little Winter Stones

I have written here before about having memorable Winter fishing in Central Oregon at Tetherow Crossing on the Deschutes R. one very cold day. I wasn’t prepared to identify or even have the right patterns to fish for the browns. There were smaller fluttering insects landing on the water followed by little wallops at the surface. I had no clue if the insects were coming off or landing and laying eggs. In those days I focused on the fish and were they visibly feeding. That was about it. I tied on the closest pattern I had, a black Elk Hair Caddis and caught fish.

Later, I described the where, when and what of it all and a Sisters, Oregon shop owner filled in the details. Little Winter Stoneflies. I have tied up some black Stimulators in the past, but frankly I am superstitiously fond of the all Black Elk Hair Caddis. You can explore other patterns, just be alert for the hatch. There does not have to be snow in the ground, although they be easier to see. Small (size 10-12, slender, Hare’s Ears or more exacting) black nymphs would round out your presentations. Remember how these Stoneflies emerge and how they return to lay eggs.

Black Elk Hair Caddis (SwittersB)


Fly Tying: Brian Marz’ & the Chubby Chernobyl

A S-B-S tutorial by Brian Marz for a Golden Stonefly pattern just in time. Note the unique color of the pinkish-tan calf tail that Norm Woods uses for his wing material. Norm Woods’ Chubby Chernobyl by Brian Marz  The pinkish-tan calf tail may not be readily available (an Oregon thing), so you will have to substitute a non-pinkish hued calf tail. An animated, buoyant, buggy looking critter just in time for Summer.

Norm Woods' Chubby Chernobyl Golden Stone (Brian Marz)


Fly Fishing: ‘Water Loading’ Heavy Nymphs & Sling

Stonefly Nymph Box (SwittersB)

Ah, May/June! Chasing the Salmon Fly and Golden Stone crawl outs and hatches. Fishing your nymphs on the bottom where they crawl toward shore or below the rapids, where they have been dislodged and been carried into slightly deeper water. It is a fun Western U.S. event and interesting to witness the actual emergence (crawling onto shore/emergence from the nymphal body).  

This action will carry on into July depending upon water temps. The California Stones (Salmon Fly) will end first and the Golden Stones will linger longer. It is a chuck it-sling it-stay tight to the fly-short line-drift affair. You can and probably should attach a second fly to the Stonefly (smaller nymph or a wet fly). Just remember, to avoid tangles, to think of your cast as a lob, open loop affair rather than trying to produce a standard cast with a tighter loop. Tangles and hooks into the back of the neck may result. Some will advocate throwing a longer line, and indeed sometimes you will have to chuck and duck and mend to get to a prime lie. But, I would advise the beginner to fish shorter and tighter to the fly with only  a mend or two at most.  Casting a heavy nymph by loading rod with water tension…


Fly Tying: Stonefly (Time To Tie Stone’s)

There are the simpler Stonefly patterns: Bitch Creek, Montana Stone, Brooks’ Stone (look up on Google Images). Some 20+ years ago the Kaufmann Bro’s of Tigard, Oregon presented the Kaufmann Stonefly. It is still here, and more often than not, it now has rubber legs. The original blended dark dubs can be substituted with tans and golds for Golden Stones, Brown Stones (large and small). Always heavily weighted to dredge the depths (remember most Stoneflies crawl toward shore to emerge onto land at the pre-emerge phase at some point). Research the time of Spring-Summer for various Stonefly emergences.   



Fly Tying: The Old Standby?

Not too many years ago, the beginning fly fisher was told they had to carry at least two nymphs in assorted sizes: the Pheasant Tail Nymph (PTN) and the Gold Ribbed Hares Ear (GRHE). Maybe I wrong, but the Hare’s Ear almost seems to have gone the way of the Muddler Minnow, Woolly Worm, Montana Stone or….. Well, maybe I am wrong. The Hare’s Ear Nymph is an excellent crawler/clinger nymph pattern. I suffer tying these because I almost seize up around rabbit. In fact, years ago, I regretfully eliminated the Hare’s Ear from my beginning tier’s lesson plan because I could not breath around the fur. It is the only fly tying material that seems to affect me so. Anyway, tie this pattern from size 8 to size 16, mostly in the natural Hare’s Mask. You can fool around with rubber legs and some flash at the tail, but it isn’t necessary. The Gold bead head can be omitted if desired. I have not had as much success with this pattern on stillwaters (not a good Hex or Callibaetis pattern for me). It is outstanding on rivers. You will notice in the attached link, the tier uses hackle barbs for the tail rather than the traditional Hare’s Mask guard hairs. That is quite acceptable. That way you don’t have to buy a Hare’s Mask and can buy the dubbing and sub hackle barbs for the tail.


Fly Tying: Wire Bodies for Density

Several years back, John Barr’s Copper John emerged upon the FF scene and gained immediate popularity because it worked and because, for its size, it quickly sunk. The copper wire body was adopted-adapted to many patterns. Consider wire wraps to suggest segmentation and to add additional weight to get a pattern down quickly and tumbling along. The wire body, metal bead and lead wraps beneath the dubbed thorax combine to get the stonefly pattern down quickly. A small chuck and duck pattern. Barb the hook streamside.

Note the Wire Abdomen on this Duplicated Commercial Tie

or, with this Wired Prince Nymph

Wired Prince Nymph (SwittersB)


Fly Fishing: Anchor Flies (Big & Light)

Sometimes the anchor fly is heavy for short line dredging of a fast running slot. However, this short piece in the Harford Examiner by Alain Barthelemy suggests, in shallower runs, a big but lighter fly is in order.

Stonefly by Greg Lowry of Boise, Idaho

Query both Greg Lowry (SwittersB) and Alain Barthelemy (net) re woven nymph techniques.



Fly Tying: Lil’ Black Stone (Improved?)

I borrowed upon the suggestions of Normand Frechette at flytyingoldandnew (see his comments from my previous post, yesterday) and I noticed a definite improvement. Now this time, I did use the most ultra fine wire ribbing I had and that did change the appearance and did reduce the segmentation contrast I was trying for. However, the tail was much improved, and the ribbing wound without displacing the tail. What you might be thinking well duh, you stopped using rope for ribbing. Actually, that is the small Wapsi wire ribbing (ultra small would have been better). I resorted to a finer ribbing because the pics made the ribbing look so thick. To the eye, the ribbing actually looks fine. That darn macro actually is a help and a hindrance for ‘impressionistic’ types (read less disciplined or is it more free spirited?) like moi. Fly needs to be slightly more robust. Nope, Hans will never snap my flies for Danica.



Lil' Black Stone Size 14 (SwittersB)



Fly Tying: Tail Warp from Ribbing

I set out to tie a size 14 Little Black Stone, or to experiment with a contrasting abdomen (lighter colored wire ribbing against a black 8/0 thread body) as well as a dubbed, spiky thorax over a weighted under layer non-lead wire. I tied a couple and what I found interesting (yet again) was that I did not see that I had butchered the tail in both instances as I commenced wrapping the fine wire ribbing.

Little Black Stone, Size 14 (torqued tails) SwittersB

In the first instance, the first wrap of ribbing was brought from underneath and over the top/away. The wire ribbing divided the tail (hackle fibers) and split them asunder. In the bottom fly, I wrapped away over the top, and you can see the tail fibers were pulled off the top and to the far side of the shank. This, in particular, is a common problem. Usually, it happens as the tail is tied in. I thought I had tied it in on top, using the pinch method. Now, as I am prone to say, both patterns tumbling through the currents probably will fish just fine. But, the ever helpful macro lens reveals much in one’s tying techniques. What I take away from this is to pay much more attention to that first wrap of ribbing. Also, something that is also apparent is the thread body is not wound flat. The thread is no doubt twisted tight and does not lie flat when wrapped. The black thread abdomen was but three layers. You can see the bumps and ridges of the thread body. The wire ribbing often follows these contours and can spread or bunch following the irregular body contours. So, start slow and double check the steps. Also, unwrap and reapply if mistakes are noted. I cannot bring myself to spring for those funky magnifying goggles.

Read comment by Normand Frechette @ Very help advise


Fly Fishing: Little Yellow Sallies (More To Learn)

As I enjoyed a few early evening hours on the McKenzie River last week, I noticed a few BWO’s, PMD’s, a few Caddis coming off as well as a larger, bright yellow fly that looked like a stonefly (not a mayfly). But would a stonefly be hatching in mid stream? Hmm? Well, let me express and share my ignorance once again.

I had believed all stonefly nymphs crawl out onto the shoreline rocks and vegetation to hatch. But, a little research reveals that not all stone flies follow that path. Some, like the Little Yellow Stoneflies in fact can sometimes emerge like other insects right out of the water and take flight, as I saw those bright, larger yellow flies doing. Actually, now that I think about it, I think I have seen the same thing with Little Black Winter Stone flies as well? Also, my first impulse would be to tie on a yellow Stimulator or similar dry pattern. But, another approach is sometimes advisable as written about at Fly Fishing Smoky Mountains:

Yellow Sally (Ran Dry Fly)

“As simple as it is in terms of matching either the nymph or the adult Yellow Sally,
many anglers still fish the hatch wrong. In fact, I think most of them do. When they
start seeing the adults flying, in the bushes or on the banks, they start fishing an
adult fly pattern. This shouldn’t be done until you actually spot trout eating the
adults. That means the egg laying adults. That is the only time an adult stonefly
gets on the water.”

“They hatch out of the water and they don’t go back on the water
until the females deposit their eggs or the males happen to die and fall on the water.
That is actually rare because they mate and die in the bushes and on the banks,
not over the water like mayflies in the air. So, while you fish an adult imitation, you
should be trying to imitate the egg laying females. The females may hatch and live
out of the water for a few days before they begin to deposit their eggs. So often,
anglers are casting a dry fly imitation of the adult when the trout are not looking for
them on the surface.

Of course, this is all contingent upon my observations of maybe a half dozen of these fluttering larger, yellow flies. They were not like any mayflies that I have ever seen that fly away in a fairly uniform manner…these creatures had the same gangly fluttering mannerisms as other adult stones I have observed over the years, but never as emerging out of the water before me. It is a pleasant part of fly fishing to solve these little questions and add them to your wisdom and to share them. So, more observations are needed to see if those were indeed Yellow Sallies or some other insect I had yet to observe. Part of the learning experience that keeps fly fishing enjoyable.

Oh, as I hiked out in a pleasant state of euphoria of once again being on the water and catching a few trout and feeling the rhythms of the rod, I looked up from the trail and…….eek!

Almost Skunked (SwittersB)

A moment of contemplation. A moment in which I asked myself, how exactly do skunks spray? How fast do skunks move? Do I run? Does the skunk run? I moved to the right and the skunk stayed squared and moved equal to my tentative moves. Yes, I was calm or stupid enough to snap a pic. But, can I just say as a slight waft of that familiar sent, one usually only smells along the highway, floated my way I was soooooo happy when the skunk turned and trotted away into the stream side vegetation……it was a whew moment…not a phew moment.

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