Posts Tagged ‘Trout Catcher


Fly Fishing: The Belly Up Scramble!

North American Trout (Apache Trout)

I must first say, I am not pontificating/advocating from some position (fragile, pourous, phoney) of C & R rightousness. I am offering a reminder on a few levels for the stillwater fly fisher (and for rivers as well I spose)…. do not over play your fish; do not use gear that is to weak to do the job. 

I have had my share of big fish hooked and played too long. I have used 3-4 wt. rods while fishing for 5#+ fish. I have gone with fragile tippets and small hooks. I have fished in oxygen depleted waters for big fish. In each instance, I enjoyed the fight or semblance of an exhausted fight. I brought the fish in and netted it up onto the apron for the obligatory photo or just to measure or to extricate the fly. Such moments of self-satisfaction and reverence for the fish.

That reverence is quickly challenged after you release the fish and sit there in your euphoric stupor. Gazing out at the horizon, a smirk on your face. Then as you look down at the rod, preparing to find another love affair, you notice that dreaded site…a glint of white. The belly of a fish…your fish.

Oh no! Oh my! A humorous and serious visual commences as the fly fisher attempts to move backwards or forwards with oars toward that bobbing fish in the film. Time is critical…time you maybe should have better used up front to revive the fish before release. You move close to the fish but seem to push it away with your approach and waves.

Eventually, you will reach the fish and attempt to position it near your tube, alongside your boat or between the pontoons. All of this takes time. You grasp the fish. It is still alive. Gills flaring over so slow as you right the fish and attempt to move it back and forth to hopefully assist in infusing oxygen across those gills.

Sometimes the fish will respond and descend downward to what you hope is recovery. Sometimes you don’t and you now have a trout for the freezer. Hmmm? You didn’t plan on that did you? No ice chest. No intent of killing and keeping a trout?

So, use a rod that will have the back bone to get that fish near and allow you to hoist it near your waiting hand to extricate the fly. Try to avoid hoisting an exhausted fish or most fish for that matter toward the sky. I know, I know…you will do it but just know that fish better have lots of spunk left and not take a beating up on your apron or go crashing out of your grasp against the oars or frame of a pontoon boat.

Although it hardly seems imminent right now, given the cold Spring/early Summer so far, but recognize when the lake is oxygen depleted. The lake will become stratified with minimal oxygen at certain levels (study thermocline/stratification/Brian Chan in search swittersb box, upper right).

Get the fish in and release it with the reverence you attest to…so that it will recover. Belly up trophy trout will bring your sense of pious purity to a screeching halt….  I know from personal experiences over the years. Here is a site at North American Trout that, photographically, shows what a tangled web we weave when we land a fish onto our apron. I don’t offer this up as a critical commentary, only when the conditions (fish exhaustion, water temps, oxygen levels) are hostile to the fish and you are doing this (pictures in post re Apache Trout), be aware. The visuals are perfect.  Handling Trout On the Apron. Also, one more qualifier…the fish pic above is not of a dying fish. It is a fish about to be netted or brought to the apron. That pose is similar to what you see after you release the fish. I am not given nor have composure to capture the real thing, so I am borrowing the shot to simulate the posture. 


Fly Tying: Caddis Pupalicious II

Ok, I have these OCD moments that fixate me upon some facet of tying. Over the years: peacock, ostrich, CDC, Ice Dub, craft store boas. Of late, deer hair collars for legs/antenna/wings on Caddis Pupa/Adult patterns. I first saw this over on Westfly when Jeff Morgan was twist dubbing deer hair. I have since become increasingly fascinated with the possibilities.

This is a simple, beginner’s pattern “guaranteed” to produce. Ok, I had to throw in that sort of thing. But, I instinctively do know this is a worthy pattern for rivers or lakes. Remember presentation is critical to any pattern: is this pattern being dredged in riffles, swung and lifted up through the water column, diving down to lay eggs? 

Regardless, here is how you tie it: The hook can range from a size 10 to 16, given the materials used; they take up space so a smallish hook in not practical. Here it is a size 12, 2xl shank, nymph hook. The thread  used was black 8/0. I wrapped a layer of lead onto the shank at the mid point, about 6 wraps and overlaid those wraps with thread, then head cement.

Then I created a dubbing loop and inserted strands of a synthetic dubbing material between the thread loop. The loop was spun into a dubbing noodle and then wrapped up the shank like a small rope. About two thirds of the way up the hook shank (the abdomen area), I stopped and tied off the dubbing noodle, removing the remainder.

The thorax/head area remained. I formed another dubbing loop and applied tacky wax. I took pieces of cut deer hair, black in color, and touched dubbed (Gary LaFontaine concept) them to the tacky thread loop. The dubbing crook is carefully spun and the deer hair is trapped between the tightening loop. One again a few wraps of the dubbing (deer hair this time) are wrapped in the thorax area. Tie off the extra upon reaching the head area and cut. Then form a thread head and finish. Mix up the body colors to match the various Caddis in your waters, the deer hair could be black, brown, or even natural. 


Fly Fishing: Fish Cone of View (Presentation Awareness)


This is one of the more intriguing parts of dry fly fishing and how to approach rising fish. The cone of view is not just relevant to how the fish sees the fly/insect, but also how that fish can see you, your rod and zipping line at times.  The deeper the fish is the bigger the cone of view to the surface and to the sides (consider your rod tip and upper body as potentially visible). This is why you will see fly fishers often depicted as crouching stream/lake side to avoid detection via their movements.  Truly, the beginner will learn over time as fish are spooked. Eventually, a holding/cruising fish will challenge you to slow down, reconsider your presentation and hold your breath.

Cone of View/Window @ TalkFlyFishing


Fly Fishing: Hemostat Triple Twist~Grab Tag & Pull

h/t to John Newbury from FB re this knot tying technique: The Hemostat Knot.  This might be particularly helpful when the finger tips are frozen, or for general use.

For the beginning fly tier, you would be well served to practice your tying techniques while tying a limited scope of patterns. The temptation is to tie every pattern in that book and more that come to mind. Tie this and tie that. If you were limited to just tying as a past time with no opportunity to fish your creations, then tie hither and yon, but otherwise I would stay toward basic nymphs, dries, emergers, streamers and flymphs/wets (or, the basic patterns for the species you chase….it could be a variety of streamers only for a predatory species). This way there is a practical benefit to your targeted tying.

Flymphs: this style of ‘wet’ fly is worth a study on your part and worth a lot of tying. Selection of hackle and style of body are the two key considerations. Sparse patterns for almost dry fly presentations have/had their place. But, buggier dubbing and softer hackling offer a great deal of animation and life. A flymph can fish from the bottom up to the top with the correct presentations: Leisenring Lift.

A couple presentation considerations: study spey (two hander) casts and research their applicability to a single hander. Jean Paul from Roughfisher mentioned this the other day and it true. Line handling with bigger flies or more staged presentations can be easier by moving line, dumping it and then rolling it out into a zone. Research this. Also, for the stream fishing angler chasing primarily trout there is a tendency toward only using a floating line and rarely a sink tip. I use five lines for stillwater but severely limit myself on rivers when chasing trout. (I carry multiple spey line heads). But, a readers comment about using sinking lines and manipulating the fly up through pools and rapids reminded me of watching an old timer fish streamers with a clear, intermediate line to fish streamers on a river (something I would normally only use on a lake). 


Fly Tying: Recap ~ Lil’ Grey Emerger

Some times a drought of thought or ideas (life, fishing, tying, blogging), calls for revisiting the past and reconnecting to the tried and true: I have high lighted this little gem before and I think it is a great beginner’s pattern, for the tier, especially for still waters. In the film and just subsurface it is very successful. Equally so working up from the depths. I know, I know..even out of a beginning fly tying class or from a book out of the shop, you can tie more complex patterns…yes, yes. But….

Review the simple tying steps, maintain the sparse profile, study the pics, rib it or not and believe.

The Lil’ Grey can be tied with different shades of Anron/Zelon (I wouldn’t use the kwinkle synthetics). These patterns were tied size 18. I tied size 14-18 to follow the seasonal mayfly progression of larger to smaller sizes. This makes a dandy in the surface Chrionomid emerger. Try it. Idon’t guarantee to much here, because that is the way of fly fishing. I headge a bit re this pattern. 

Lil’ Grey                              Lil Grey 2


Stillwater Damsel Pattern (Cope’s Damsel)

I have highlighted this wonderful lake pattern before. It is easy to tie and very productive in brown or olive green. I have tied it as I first encountered it (Jim Cope via NWFFO) , on a Tiemco 200R hook. A down eye hook could be used. It is a slender pattern, with the head/eyes barely thicker than the body.

The tail is pheasant tail fibers tied into and no longer than the length of the abdomen. A body (abdomen) of dubbed hare’s mask, kept very slender. A ribbing of Silver Krystal Flash is wound up through the dubbing toward the plastic dumbbell eyes. The wingcase was tied in first with the tips extending out over the eye. I plan this so that when the tips are pulled back over the top of the eyes/thorax, they extend only half way back to mid shank and no further. Keep the head slender and dub around the plastic eyes. Once the pheasant tail fibers are secured with thread wraps behind the eyes, cut the top pheasant tail fibers to form blunt ends. I have also tied this wing case as a combination of pheasant tail fibers for the legs and paint brush bristles for the wingcase.

Mix the colors between brown, tan, light to dark green. Swim it toward shore or at least parallel in shallower depths.


Fly Tying & Fishing Instruction

I was stuck in beautiful Eugene, Oregon and ended up in a Borders book store. There were, surprisingly, a scant dozen or so books of fishing. Surprising because Eugene sets amongst several excellent fishing venues within minutes of town.

I came upon a nice book by John Barr entitled Barr Flies. It is a glossy, large sized book with great visuals and a bit spendy. I liked the S-B-S tutorials on several nymph patterns and  I bought the book. I couldn’t fish, so I perused the Barr book and planned my tying to incorporate some of Barr’s patterns.

Another excellent book is Rick Hafele’s Nymph Fishing Rivers & Streams. Hafele provides a gazillion interesting facts about insects that trout eat and how to fish them.


Fly Tying: Biot Bodies (Smooth~Ridged)


This is my effort at a Pale Morning Dun, size 16. The tail is a few barbs from a grizzly hackle feather. The body (abdomen) is a yellow goose biot. There is a notch in every individual biot near the butt section. That notch is your guide to whether your body will be smooth (as I did here) or ridged. (Notch up = ridged body) (Notch down = smooth body).  The wing is a clump of CDC that I tied in and raised up into a vertical position with thread wraps around the base. I tied in one medium blue dun feather and wrapped it behind the CDC post and then wrapped the hackle forward, to the front.


Fly Tying: Snowshoe Hare Emerger

This is a simple, effective pattern for the beginning tier. It utilizes a simple scraggly, dubbed abdomen/thorax and a wing/clump of the Snowshoe Hare fur.

How To S-T-S Tutorial or Snowshoe Hare Emerger

Bob Wyatt Snowshoe Hare Emerger (Danica)

Danica Site Info


Fly Tying: Chunks and Dredgers

A ‘chunk’ on a hook. Heavily weighted hooks designed to dredge heavy currents alone or in tandem with another fly. Simple, scraggly dubbed Pupa patterns that you either better chuck/duck or sling out around you and not hit any one beside you.

The hook has a molded lead body on a large size 6 hook. This style hook from Jan Siman comes in smaller sizes also. Yes, you can get by with wrapping your own lead wire. The body was dubbed with a blend of rabbit/sparkle dubbing. The thorax was wrapped with a dubbing brush of deer hair. The hair was dyed in cinnamon, but I used a black permanent marker to darken the deer hair. A ‘chunk’ to dredge with. Not meant for quiet back waters; you’ll be hung up.

Greens, Tans, Black, Orange. Any number of colors work as the  fly tumbles the rapids, riffles and seams. Smaller versions will do well too.

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