Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tubing & Bunny Sedge Pupa

     Readers who’ve followed the last few posts (as well as older posts) featuring variants of the Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa might be wondering why I tie so many versions of the same insect, a caddisfly for that matter. And the simple answer might be that I can’t leave well-enough alone. And to that I might add that I believe spotted sedge to be the most important trout stream insect in the West, so deserving of more than just ‘well-enough’. There’s always something that works better. Or something that works better meeting the same hatch but on a different river, or in different light. I live beside a river where spotted sedge is the major hatch of summer, & fish over it nearly every day during the emergence season. Some evenings the sedge are coming off so thick you have to keep your mouth closed to keep from breathing them in, & the bodies of spent egg-layers so thick on the eddy seams they form mats. The imitation is competing against a bazillion naturals for attention. It’s a situation that inspires turns at the vice, again & again. So, ladies & gentlemen, yet another version of the Bunny Sedge Pupa. I tie these to meet spotted sedge, & the olive version fishes for grannom sedge as well; but the design, with some color variation, might be applied to a lot of caddis species, East & West.

Tubing & Bunny Sedge Pupa

Hook: #14 Daiichi 1150 (#10-#12 will cover great gray spotted sedge)

Thread: Camel or brown

Abdomen: Hareline standard tubing – light olive/with underbody of silver tinsel, or brown/underbody of gold tinsel

Thorax: Two turns of chestnut-brown hare’s mask dubbing – mix in a bit of black rabbit

Hackle: Brahma hen (brown partridge or grouse can be substituted)

Head: Chestnut-brown hare’s mask on a dubbing loop of the tying thread, or twist-dubbed, ahead of the hackle - & finish ~           

Fly fish NE Washington with Steven Bird: http:ucflyfishing.blogspot.com  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa 

     Widespread, abundant, & with a long emergence season, spotted sedge (Hydropsyche) are the most important insect hatch of the West. And though it is true that spotted sedge are often the vexing culprits masking summer mayfly hatches, more often than not it is the main fare, or, at least, represents a good part of the stream trout’s daily fare, June through August.

Spotted sedge adults are generally a #16, with the emerging pupa a #14. Egg-laying flights are coincident with emergence; & my own experience leads me to believe that trout prefer the pupa stage to the adult, until the latter part of the season when emergence diminishes, yet a lot of adults have accumulated, then the balance tips, though not entirely in favor of the winged adults, as trout will usually take a swinging & rising pupa right up until the last whisper of the hatch season.  

There is no be-all-end-all pattern to meet spotted sedge with, at least that I have found, so it is good to carry several versions of the pupa, as trout will exhibit regional preferences, & even daily preferences on the same water. The all-rabbit pattern featured in my last post is the basic design of the Bunny Sedge series, & using that basic tie, you can incorporate a variety of abdomen materials to simulate spotted sedge, & I’ll be featuring some of those in the next few posts. As for now, there is no arguing the effectiveness of pheasant tail or hare’s mask, & the two old standbys combine to create a fine spotted sedge pupa which might come in handy on waters like Washington’s Yakima River where pupae exhibit decidedly brownish colorations over the abdomen, which pheasant tail simulates very well.

Pheasant Tail & Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Hook: #14 Daiichi 1150

Thread: Camel

Rib: Copper wire reverse wound over the abdomen

Abdomen: Cock ringneck pheasant tail swords

Thorax: Dyed-brown hare’s mask with a bit of black dubbing added – 2 turns

Hackle: Brahma hen (may substitute brown partridge or grouse)

Head: Dyed-brown hare’s mask with guard hairs, wound in a dubbing loop of the tying thread (actually a continuation of the thorax in front of the hackle) –  & finish.        

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: ucflyfishing.blogspot.com

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Spotted Sedge - Tan
    The first time I met a spotted sedge emergence on the upper Columbia, as a young flyfisher, on a late June evening, I was overwhelmed with the enormity of it, the emerging sedge like rain on the big water of the American Reach; the backs & tails of feeding trout showing with unnerving regularity up & down the seams & eddy lines. I went straight to a dryfly, an elk-winged caddis type, the only thing I carried to imitate adult sedge, at the time. A bunch of casts & a couple of swirling snubs forced me into a fly-choice dilemma. I was more of a minimalist in those days, without much to choose from in my flybox. I clipped off the dry & opted for one of the mainstays, a soft-hackle Hare’s Ear Nymph tied with roughed grouse hackle. The sun shines on a happy fool; & the little nymph turned the trick swung down the feed lanes. Proving again: it is hard to beat the effectiveness & utility of hare’s mask as a dubbing material; & also the importance of carrying & fishing flies that simulate the emerging stage of an insect.

Spotted Sedge - Brown

 The simple version I tied as a kid is still a decent one for fishing over spotted sedge. But I’ve found it true of all abundant & long-lasting hatches: that the trout’s preference to a pattern meant for that insect will vary from location to location, & one might encounter a daily preference on the same water, in the same location. I’m sure there are a lot of nuanced reasons for this that might be explained if trout could talk to us, though I’m fairly certain light is one factor. Whatever the reason, there is no be-all-end-all, so I carry a variety of patterns to simulate emerging spotted sedge pupae, & versions tied with hare’s mask are still a reliable mainstay.
Spotted Sedge - Olive

In the Pacific Northwest, spotted sedge (Hydropsyche) follow grannom sedge, juxtaposing with grannom hatches toward the end of June, & emerging into August in my region, where they are more abundant than grannom, which many anglers mistake them for, as the adults are nearly identical & the same imitations work for both. But unlike the case-building grannom which generally emerges from fairly shallow water, the spotted sedge is a ‘naked’ caddis, the larvae building houses of silk attached to stones on the stream bottom, & emerging from deeper water & drifting longer than grannom, making an abundance of emerging pupae vulnerable & available to trout. On my homewater, grannom provides sporadic hatches over about a month-long period; while spotted sedge come off in numbers enough to get fish up & feeding pretty much every day during a better than two-month emergence season. Spotted sedge are extremely prolific in the Columbia drainage, & probably one of the most important hatches to anglers fishing the larger rivers of the region. Pupae uniformly share a reddish-brown coloration about the thorax & head, with very dark brown to black wing holsters, & reddish-brown the predominant abdomen coloration, yet also shades of cream & tan, & many individuals exhibiting an olive tinge or outright olive coloration over the abdomen, as in grannom. With such a variety displayed within a population, abdomen color is not critical (though there is a decided preference for one over another, it seems, some evenings). Tied with an olive abdomen, the same pattern will fish for both spotted sedge & grannom, as well as a number of similar caddis species. The olive variant is one of my favorites for meeting spotted sedge, as it is a color occurring in some of the naturals, though not the dominant coloration, so it stands out some, which I like to think is an advantage.

I’ve already posted several versions of patterns I use for spotted sedge, yet as they are such an important hatch, I’ll make a series of posts following this one, featuring some of the patterns that work for me.

Bunny Spotted Sedge Pupa

Hook:  #14 Daiichi 1150        

Thread: Camel

Rib: Copper wire, wound over the abdomen

Abdomen: I tie three variants: light-tan, mahogany-brown or dirty-olive hare’s mask, usually taken from the cheek of a natural mask, or rabbit

Thorax: Two turns of dark-brown (mix in a bit of black) hare’s mask with guard hairs in

Hackle: Brahma hen (brown partridge or grouse can be substituted)

Head: Reddish-brown (chestnut/mahogany/dark ginger) hare’s mask with guard hairs, about four turns in a dubbing loop of the tying thread – actually a continuation of the thorax ahead of the hackle – & finish.

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: http://ucflyfishing.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bunny Grannom Pupa

Bunny Grannom Pupa tied by Steven Bird  

     On many streams grannom caddis (Brachycentrus) are the first reliable hatch of the season. On some, this insect might be the most productive hatch of the year. In NE Washington state, grannom usually start to appear toward the end of April, lasting well into June, the strongest emergence around the end of May. Of the several species of caddis providing important hatches in my neighborhood, grannom spurs the best dryfly
action, & that possibly due to their habit of migrating to & emerging from shallow water, where the pupae emerge swiftly, forcing trout to fill the void with the more prolific adult egg-layers, which are coincident. Nonetheless, trout prefer the wingless pupae, & will eat them readily when theopportunity arises; & in my own experience the emerging pupa is the most productive stage of grannom to imitate & fish. Nymphs will generally be #12-#14. And the pattern given here, tied in #10-#18 will cover a lot of caddis species besides grannom, East & West. I use this same pattern, in the same size, to cover spotted sedge, a more prolific & longer-lasting species than grannom on my homewater. Tied in a #10 this one will cover great gray spotted sedge, & also the lake-dwelling traveling sedge. I think this version represents a fundamental soft-hackle sedge pattern that will turn the trick as well as any I’ve tried.

Bunny Grannom Pupa

Hook: #12-#14 Daiichi 1150 caddis style

Thread: Camel or brown

Rib: Round silver tinsel – I use size D metallic rod wrapping thread, five turns over the abdomen

Abdomen: Olive rabbit dubbing – add a pinch of chartreuse to brighten it

Thorax: Light-brown hare’s mask – 2 turns ahead of the abdomen

Hackle: Brahma hen (you can substitute brown partridge or grouse)

Head: Light-brown hare's mask with guard hairs in - about four turns in a dubbing loop of the tying thread - & finish.

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: http://ucflyfishing.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Little Sculpin

Little Sculpin tied by Steven Bird

Sculpin (Cottidae) inhabit virtually every trout stream in North America. There are numerous species, though all are similar & easily identified by the proportionately large head & pectoral fins. Sculpin come in shades of olive or brown with darker mottling or bars on the body & speckled on the fins & head. Some species may grow to about six inches long, though most will be shorter than four inches, & there are many species measuring only two inches at maturity. The smaller models seem to be the most plentiful in the streams I fish, & the Little Sculpin pattern featured here is meant to cover those.  It is an easy choice when I want to swing a streamer on unfamiliar water, as it simulates a major food form that larger trout are used to preying on &, for that reason, I’ve found it a good choice on hard-fished water.

Little Sculpin

Colorations vary, the pattern given here is a generic version, but colors can be adjusted to suit specific waters.

Hook: #8-#10 TMC 200R or TMC 2312

Thread: Olive, brown or black

Tailing: In order tied in: small pinch of light tan marabou; small pinch of brown marabou; one olive & one brown partridge hackle, wound as a collar, then pulled back over the tailing & tied down

Rib: Copper wire

Body: Dyed brown or dark olive hare’s mask with guard hairs, wound in a dubbing loop

Hackle: Partridge, one olive & one brown – wind on the entire feather for as much collar as possible

Head: Body dubbing, full, on dubbing loop – & finish

 Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: http://ucflyfishing.blogspot.com       

Friday, January 24, 2014

Turkey Biot BWO

Biot BWO tied by Steven Bird
     I was both humbled & amused by Scott Sadil’s article in the Jan-Feb issue of California Fly Fisher magazine, featuring the Bird’s Bunny BWO, a soft-hackle pattern I tie for meeting Blue Winged Olives. Scott ties a perfect example of the Bunny. And, more important to the subject than fairly nailing my profile (glad he left it where he did), he makes a point of mentioning that there is no be-all-end-all pattern for meeting the spectrum of BWO hatches. No one sure thing. And it is helpful to anglers fishing over BWO's that Scott said that, as it is certainly true in my own experience. No matter where you fish, there are likely to occur at least a couple species of small mayflies referred to as Blue Winged Olive, & in a fairly broad range of sizes, from #14 to #24, & a variety of colorations. So, for that reason, it’s good to carry at least several versions & sizes representing BWO. The Bird’s Bunny, in a #16 or #18, is fairly reliable on my homewater & other places, yet not everywhere, nor in every situation that I’ve fished it. And, even on the same water, fishing over the same BWO species, I have noted a daily preference in what trout want – one day it’s the light colored pattern, & the next day it’s the dark one – even in the same (usually low) light conditions. Why? I don’t know, really. And also intriguing is that the trout will all be of one mind on the subject of preference, what they are going to like on a day. That is the way of trout, & whatever their reason, it’s a good idea to carry a variety of patterns to meet whatever is trending, or at least a dark & a light version in #18.  Here’s a version tied with turkey biot that is showing some promise. I like quill bodies, & really like the ease & result achieved with turkey biot:

Biot BWO

Hook: #14-#18 Daiichi 1150 (I like this hook for its up-eye, & because the wide gape puts more iron to big fish, while the short shank results in a smaller sized imitation than standard wetfly hooks. I tie a #20 on a #18. And remember: nymphs will be one size larger than the adults you are seeing, if it’s the nymph & not the drowned adult you are simulating.)

Thread: Gray or olive

Tail: Light honey-dun hen hackle fibers – four fibers, about the same length as the body

Abdomen: Olive turkey biot wound as a quill body – wind a thread underbody & apply a coat of thick head cement to the thread before winding the biot – I like Loon Hard Head for this

Thorax: A short thorax of light-medium gray rabbit or muskrat dubbing

Hackle: Light honey-dun hen – & finish~

Flyfish the upper Columbia - NE Washington with Steven Bird: http://ucflyfishing.blogspot.com  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Resolutions & Brown Hare’s Mask & Plover

Brown Hare's Mask & Plover tied by Steven Bird 

     Since the advent of this new year I’ve been considering some resolutions for 2014. Not many, the list is short. Actually, quite a bit shorter than it was at the beginning of the month directly following the hangover resulting from the New Year’s Eve celebration at Happy Jack’s Tavern. Nonetheless, I’m feeling squared away at this point, & those things remaining on the list of resolutions might represent the nuggets left in the pan after the overburden is washed away. Here they are:

1)    Fish the Brown Hare’s Mask & Plover more often. (Sure, the hackles are rare & difficult to obtain, I have a wing & a portion of hide given to me by Bert Brehm & those hackles are begging to be fished. Well, most of them. Maybe half of them.) 
2)    Write better.
3)    Learn people better.
4)    Wear clean clothes & look decent.
5)    Let go.
6)    Dance better.
7)    Take better care of teeth.
8)    Take better photos.
9)    Stay glad.

Of course I’m reserving the right to change my mind on any of it. Flexibility is a virtue, after all.

Brown Hare’s Mask & Plover

Hook: #12-#16 (flies in the photo are tied on #16 Daiichi 1150)

Thread: Yellow

Rib: Gold wire

Body: Dyed brown hare’s mask

Hackle: Golden Plover (English grouse or sharptail grouse are fair substitutes) 

 Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: http://ucflyfishing.blogspot.com