Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finally, the Last Montana Pattern........and It's a Good One

That's right, we aren't fishing around here much, although it is possible with the cooler water temps.  It's just that I don't like bugging the trout when they are confined to only certain, deeper stream areas due to the low water conditions.

When we weren't fishing dries in Montana, which was often during the day, I went with a few good old standby nymph patterns.  The Serendipity (the original brown style with a claret head), LaFontaine's sparkle pupa, and the standard Pheasant Tail nymph.  The Pheasant Tail outfished them all, as it usually does on the Madison River in July.  It does a great job of imitating most of the smaller mayfly nymphs that inhabit the river, thus it works great when fished with confidence.

Here's a well-chewed one that took a bunch of fish one windy afternoon at the Slide.  I fished it straight upstream as I walked the bank, never casting it more than 5-6 feet off the bank.  Most of my casts were only a foot or two off the bank, and many of the fish I took I was sight fishing to.  For such a simple pattern, it really work wonders and it very durable as you can see.  I took over a dozen fish on this fly and could probably take another dozen or more before it came undone from those little razor blade teeth trout keep in their jaws....that is, if I didn't loose it first on the bottom or a tree branch.

Tie some up and fish them.  They are just as effective in the East as they are out West.  The entire fly is tied with pheasant tail fibers and fine copper wire.  I do use thread to tie it, but the original tied by Frank Sawyer used the copper wire to bind the feathers.  Both versions work well.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

More Caddis and Some Montana Moon Shine

You've seen my posts with my Caribou Caddis dry flies.  Here's the same fly with a snowshoe rabbit foot hair wing,  I used this fly one day on the Madison River, and despite high winds, caught fish on it right up until dark.  I fished it with 4X tippet, the leader totaled 13-14 foot in length.  Long leaders are required if you want to catch fish with consistency with dries when the rivers are so clear and at summer levels.  At times the wind made it tough, but with proper timing of your cast, you could get your fly where it needed to be with the long leader.  It took tons of patience and concentration, and at times the wind was so fierce, I would just grab my fly and wait a bit. 

Here's the well-chewed fly complete with the end of the tippet still attached, and as with the Caribou hair version, I use a trailing shuck of zelon, so it serves as both an emerger and an adult.

Montana moon shine over the Gallatin River:

Go get 'em, and sharpen those hooks!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Montana Morning Go-to Fly

Early morning was about the only time of day the air was calm, and so the caddis took advantage by laying their eggs.  I used one pattern, a simple egg-laying caddis with either a caribou hair, or snowshoe rabbit foot wing, to imitate the naturals.  The well-chewed pattern here is tied with snowshoe rabbit foot hair.

It's a simple fly to tie, using some of the techniques I use on my other flies.  As you can see from the above fly, after taking a number of good fish, it is durable and will continue to take fish........until I break it off on a back cast! The egg sac is imitated with caddis green zelon, and although the natural's egg sac is a darker green, I believe the exaggeration helps triggger strikes.

Hook: TMC 100 #16-18
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Egg Sac: Caddis green zelon
Body: Tan dubbing
Underwing: Clear zelon
Overwing: Snowshoe rabbit foot hair or caribou hair
Thorax:  Touch dubbed natrual hare's mask

Awesome fly for anywhere caddis are found.

A little Montana distraction.............................

Earth laughs with flowers. Emerson

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Little More on the Missing Link Caddis

Just returned from a few days in Boston - business and pleasure - a bunch of meetings and Karen and I celebrated our anniversery with my stepdaughter Julia, and also hung out with my daughter Megan and her friend Jon till the wee hours of the night.  Great time in a great city with my favorite people.

Anyway, I've been thinking I should give you all a heads up about this wonderful fly called the Missing Link Caddis.  Mike Mercer is the originator of this concoction and it's a winner.  I've used here this past season and, of course, in Montana.  It's easy to tie and covers a wide range of caddis behaviors in terms of the silhouette.  The spent zelon wings and the up-right elk hair wings combined with the thin sliver of a body provides an impression of several stages of caddis - at least that's what I think, you may have another view, either way keep a few in your  box and fish them.

So how do I tie this fly?  Sparsely, and a little different than the originator.  I like to keep it as simple as can decide for yourself as I'll provide the skinny here:

Hook: TMC 102Y #15-17
Thread: Olive
Abdomen: Olive thread
Rib: One strand krystal flash - coat with head cement to secure
Thorax: Tan dubbing
Spent wing: Rusty dun zelon divided by the thorax
Upright wing: Elk hair
Hackle: Medium dun.  Mercer wraps the hackle parachute style around the wing and the butts of the wing, standing the butts up over the hook eye.  It also pulls the wing more upright.  I wrap the hackle collar style where I tie in the elk hair and trim it on the bottom, and it works just fine without the craziness of trying to wrap it parachute style and tie it off.  I can do it, but why, when you can wrap it otherwise and save time and get on to the next one?

Have a ball, take your time, there's always tomorrow.               

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Montana - Flies that Worked

It was the probably the toughest visit I've had to the Madison River in all the years I have fished it.  Despite historically high numbers of trout, the hatches were unreliable and the weather less so.  There were plenty of bugs about, but for some reason they rarely hatched in concentrated numbers.  By evening, there would be tons of caddis fluttering about the cabin and bushes along the river, but they had hatched throughout the day.  In most years, the caddis would begin to hatch late in the afternoon and peak numbers would be coming off the last hour or two of light, sparking a trout feeding binge.  We also saw plenty of mayflies, but again, no concentrated hatches came off on any of the days we were there.  The best we had was evening spinner falls that did produce some great fishing as long as the wind wasn't blowing at gale force levels, which was rare.

That said, plenty of fish were caught, but most days I had to work for each and every one of them.  No complaints, that's just the way it was.  I learned a lot while fishing in difficult conditions and always had fun just being on the water in beautiful country.

On one of the calm evenings, the spinner fall was epic.  Here's a well-chewed, #16, foam spinner that I took many fish on before I had to change to a new one.  The wings are snowshoe rabbit foot.

On another evening, we decided to go over to the Gallatin River to fish the meadows in the YNP section.  Having fished this section many times in past years, I knew we would encounter pesky flies - they look like house flies, but they can bite like a horsefly.  We wore long-sleeved shirts and after covering any and all exposed skin with bug spray, we off to fish.  The flies were the worst I've ever seen them here, and we lasted about an hour before high-tailing it back to the car for relief.  The flies were thick and aggressive - they managed to get into our shirts and ears, and even up our noses!  Flies 1, fishermen 0.

After the bug fest, we headed down river and parked just above where the Taylor Fork enters the river.  Here there were no flies and the river was in perfect condition and the sky windless and clear.  I walked up river after spending some time near where Bruce and JB were fishing, and found fish rising in many of the pockets, runs and slicks to caddis.  I used two flies that evening to take many nice fish on top, some of them quite large and healthy.  A #15 Iris Caddis, and a #15 Missing Link Caddis.  The fish took them aggressively and they fought even harder.  It was a blast.

Here's the well-chewed Iris Caddis:

And here's the well-chewed, but not showing it, Missing Link Caddis: 
More flies that worked on our trip to come.  In the meantime, sharpen your hooks, and look outside - it's finally raining here!!!!   

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Few More Pics

Still  playing catch-up since returning from Montana, so I figured I'd post a few more pics quickly until I find enough time to write about some of the fishing, flies and experiences we had.

Here's a large bull elk resting in the shade next to the Gibbon River in the park.  This thing was huge as you can see from the size of his rack.  Too bad he was camera shy and refused to turn his head.

Late in the day on the Henry's Fork River, the sun decided to collaborate with the skies and put on a light show.  The fishing was good that evening, and this was a wonderful ending to a few good hours on the world's largest spring creek.

And finally, here's Karen fishing a nice riffle off a center island on the Madison River.  

Stories and other tid bits from our trip to come, first the honey-do list needs to be whittled down.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back From Paradise

Just returned from Montana to the wonderful heat and humidity of good old New Jersey.  If you're thinking I'd much rather be there than here, you would be very right.  Only a few years until I/we make the move permanently.

Karen and I had a great time out there, although the fishing and the weather were as fickle as ever.  Some days the fishing was great, others it stunk up the place.  We had bright sun everyday, but it's duration varied and was typically interupted by dark skies and precipitation.  We had wind, rain, showers, and one day hail that was so big it hurt like hell when it hit you, even with a hat and rainjacket.  Don't get me wrong, the weather may have been down at times, but we pretty much took it in stride and had a wonderful time.  Karen and I spent time in Bozeman and on the Madison River, as well as several days in Yellowstone Park, and in Idaho.  Lots of good food, fishing, hiking and hanging out with our friends Bruce, Megan and J.B.

Got to run, but here's a pic of a rainbow to get you started.  Much more to come.................

Live, for just existing is a waste of life...............and sharpen your damn hooks!