Thursday, June 14, 2018

March Browns of June

     The spate has gone by & the home water is finally clearing & coming into shape. The native redbands, most of them thinking only of sex for the last two months, are now done with spawning & looking around for something to eat. With abiding synchronicity nature has timed the end of the spawning season to coincide with the onset of the year’s heaviest insect hatches.

As the spate diminishes, the bugs get going. If you watch it daily you see the progression. At first a spritzer of sedges. Some BWO’s on cloudy days. Nothing but a handful of tidlers up & going on them. It feels dead, but don’t be fooled, the clouded silt is a veil hiding the river’s secret doings while rising pregnant in its season. It is about to give birth. Daily, hatches of wee bugs increase until about the first or second week of June, when March Brown mayflies appear. March Browns are just the thing needed to put some fat back on haggard post-spawners, & these really get things going.

A gently swung softie will generally outfish a dryfly, where I fish. Here’s one that is turning the trick right now.

UC March Brown

Hook: #10 Mustad 3366-BR (equal to a standard #12), the fly dressed small on the hook, about #14

Thread: rust-brown UNI 8/0

Hackle: partridge

Tails: bronze gadwall flank

Rib: burnt-orange floss, twisted

Body: hares mask with a bit of Hareline UV Pink Shrimp Dub chopped in ~ & finish.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

High Water Mickey Finn

     Record spate coming down the upper Columbia this year. Up to 200% above average snowpack in some places on the higher mountains to the north & east – the Kootenays, the Cabinets. Still more to come. Water coming in from the Pend Oreille, carrying topsoil from the Flathead & Pend Oreille valleys, is dang near like chocolate milk. The river is flooded into the trees & there is a concerning amount of logs & debris coming down the American Reach-Columbia mainstem.

The nutrients carried in the spate will replenish the reach. Too bad they can’t make it past the dams to the sea where they are necessary in the chain of life. If we were to be made truly great again, then imagine the great wealth & job-creating project it might be to remove the dams, restore the fish, & get going providing the grid for sustainable, low-cost power. If it is really true that “Americans can do anything,” then why do we continue to support the world-destroying status quo? I’m afraid we’ve a long, long way to go toward greatness from where we are now.

The U.S. & Canada Columbia River Treaty is up for re-negotiation in Washington D.C. this week. At nearly the last minute, in a unilateral move, it has been decided that the Columbia River Tribes on both sides of the border, & all other fisheries stakeholders, will be left out of the talks. Apparently the only legit stakeholders are the power consortiums operating the dams.

Once in a while in a fisherman’s life he must fish.

And fish have to eat. No matter how high or dirty the water, no matter how inane & short-sighted the policies of men. There are places where the determined can hammer it out. The bugs haven’t really got going yet, so I’m swinging things large-ish in visible colorations. The old Mickey Finn is a good one. I love bucktails. Bucktail has great action & allows a large pattern that is easily cast, the material providing the illusion of mass without actual bulk. Everybody knows the dressing. I like UV treated bucktail for these. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tampering With the Royal Coachman

Playing with some patterns to swing in the high, off-color water. As a lure, there's no denying the killing attractiveness of the Royal Coachman. Of course, the old dressing begs tampering with. This one is dressed on a #4 TMC 200R hook, camel UNI 8/0 thread, golden pheasant crest tail, golden pheasant tippet wound as a collar, peacock herl body, red tinsel girdle, brown marabou rear collar, brown hen front collar, white goose Dee-style wing.   

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Flyfishing & Tying Journal Writing Contest

Flyfishing & Tying Journal is announcing the 2018 first annual Sheridan Anderson Memorial Short Story Contest, in honor of Sheridan Anderson, author of Curtis Creek Manifesto, one of the best selling fly fishing books of all time, & still possibly the best (& certainly the most humorous) primer available to aspiring fly fishers.

Contest Guidelines:
F&TJ invites entries of short fiction that deals significantly with fly fishing. Stories should not exceed 3,000 words, must be in English, typed, double-spaced, and submitted without the author’s name on the manuscript. Please include a separate cover sheet with your name, contact information, and a brief bio. Entrants may not submit more than one story. There is no entry fee. Manuscripts will not be returned.

Anyone is eligible to submit a story. The deadline for entry is July 21, 2018. Winners will be announced in the 2018 Winter issue of Flyfishing & Tying Journal.

The first place winner will receive a collection of flies from Fair Flies loaded into a Fly Fishing Collaborative leather wallet, a signed wood engraving by Paul Gentry, a copy of Everyman’s Library fishing anthologies, and publication in the Winter issue of Flyfishing & Tying Journal. Second and third place winners may also be considered for publication.

All entries should be sent by mail or email to F&TJ’s deputy editor, Henry Hughes: 

F&TJ is seeking fresh voices. If you are a new writer exploring the outdoor writing genre and ready to break into print, this is a worthwhile opportunity to go for it.

Contest entries will be judged by John Larison. John is a fly fisher and writing instructor at Oregon State University, novelist, Northwest field editor for Fly Fisherman magazine, and a senior contributor to The Drake.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Dissembling Life in the Anthropocene

Getting awful hard to keep up with these people. How does this benefit us?

I still write leadership, but it feels like spitting into the wind, & seems to be about as effective. How should we address world killing policies? If somebody has the answer, I'm in.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Blue Sinixt ~ For Trout Spey

Blue Sinixt for Trout Spey ~ Steven Bird

    Been working up some lures for swinging this Spring. Pre-spawn rainbows, like steelhead, react to certain color combinations & are incited to grab (fun when they do it). The classic Atlantic salmon design frame, which has contributed much to the sea trout & steelhead fly traditions, applies to create killing wetflies for inland trouting as well. Studying classic dressings reveals creative material applications that may be applied to defining Trout Spey designs. For tiers compelled to exercise fanciful imaginations, attractor wetflies offer a satisfying outlet.

For swinging:

Blue Sinixt  

Hook: #6 TMC 200R

Thread: black UNI 8/0

Hackle: church window body feather taken from a cock ringneck pheasant

Tailing: Hareline UV Shrimp dubbing fibers

Body: rear to front – tip, blue tinsel; butt, peacock herl; girdle, blue & silver tinsel; thorax, blue dubbing

Topping: golden pheasant tippet (I dye it with an orange marker), splayed ~

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hairless Muddler

   Designed to simulate sculpin, there’s no denying the effectiveness of Don Gapen’s original Muddler Minnow, a pattern that has spawned countless variations tied with heads of clipped deer hair or wool to create a fat-headed sculpin profile.  

Though quicker to tie, I’ve found wool-head versions not as killing as I’d like; & though there aren’t many fly-tying operations I don’t enjoy, I’m not that fond of spinning & clipping deer hair – mainly because it is time-consuming, hence frustrating when the Muddler snags the bottom & is broken off, or otherwise lost by any means (these work best fished with a sink-tip, tickling over the bottom).

Because it is such an important & wide-ranging trout food form, I’m always experimenting with new sculpin patterns & have had good results with several hackle-headed versions, employing multiple brahma hackles to effect the wide-headed profile. However, those versions use up a lot of brahma hackle in the process.

My recent fascination with the dabbler design frame has led me to realize how well it serves to create a sculpin profile, giving the illusion of mass without a lot of material build-up. The hackle version breathes & pulses; the hackle head providing a more realistic color blend with the rest of the fly than one might achieve from hair. Here’s the dressing for one I like:

Olive/Brown Muddler

Hook: #4-#6 TMC 200R

Thread: camel UNI 8/0

Hackle: front collar: olive guinea hen; rear collar: brahma hen

Tailing: brown over olive marabou, topped with a pinch of olive guinea hackle barbs

Rib: copper wire

Body: dark olive hare’s mask blended with a pinch of lighter olive antron & a pinch of chopped Hareline UV Shrimp dubbing for highlights – build the body heavier toward the front of the fly

Palmer: brown or brown-grizzly shlappen, 5 turns over the body (counting the initial collar) – wind a collar of 3 full turns of the hackle before palmering back to the hook bend

Wind the ribbing wire forward to cinch down the palmered hackle, tie off the wire in front of the palmer hackle collar (having left room to wind the 2 collars in front); wind the brahma hackle back to the palmer collar, 3 full turns, apply a turn of thread over the hackle tip & wind the tying thread forward over (through) to the front of the hackle (then trim away the hackle tip); & then do the same with the guinea hackle behind the hook eye.