Tuesday, November 20, 2012


     There are at least four species of Baetis in the West that we refer to as Blue Winged Olive or BWO, all similar in appearance & habit. Adults are #14 to #22, with the majority, generally, about a #18-#20. They are easily identified by the blue-gray (blue dun) wings. Nymphs are slightly larger than adults. Both adults & nymphs vary in coloration according to stream. Nymphs are often shades of olive-brown, but in some streams, gray or brown colorations with little or no hint of olive. These mayflies are widespread & plentiful, East & West, with some version of BWO producing fishable hatches on virtually every trout stream. On my homewater in NE Washington, BWO’s emerge during the cooler months of spring & fall, notably on overcast days & often in crappy weather, usually appearing mid-day through late afternoon. In the more temperate precincts of trout country, BWO’s may be encountered throughout the winter months as well. Once, in February, I met a BWO hatch that inspired good fishing on the lower Kings River in central California.

Here’s a version that works well for me on my homewater. The Bunny BWO is meant to simulate a mature nymph at the early stage of emergence. 

Bird’s Bunny BWO Emerger

Hook: #14-#18

Thread: Camel

Tailing: Three pheasant tail fibers

Rib: Fine wire wound over the abdomen

Abdomen: Mix 1/3 dark olive, 1/3 medium brown & 1/3 blue-gray rabbit, without guard hairs

Thorax: Natural, brownish hare’s ear with guard hairs in – mix in a pinch of the abdomen dubbing, about 1/3 is okay

Wingcase: A pinch of black rabbit dubbing without guard hairs – tie in over the middle of the pinch & fold back – use a little more than you need & tweeze to size – should extend slightly over the abdomen

Hackle: Faintly speckled hen or partridge of a light ginger or tan coloration

Head: A bit of thorax dubbing in front of the hackle – & finish

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Classic Wetflies for Autumn

Professor tied by Steven Bird

     Fall is my favorite time of year to swing attractor & simulator patterns on freestone streams. Sure, drab patterns simulating real feed are going to get bit, yet, trout do show an increased predilection for the garish in fall, those things pleasing to the fisher’s eye.

Certain color schemes are attractive to salmonids & many of these are well-known & rote. Some color preferences may be confined to a watershed, while others seem to have universal appeal. There’s good reason for the longevity of the Royal Coachman & Professor, as there is strong mojo contained within the color combinations of these two antique fly patterns. They are both responsible for the deaths of more trout than tongues can tell. The originals were tied with the hackle bearded beneath the hook shank, in the English style, but also tied in-the-round, hackle ahead of the wing, in what we used to call ‘western style’. 

The Professor originated in Scotland, created by Professor John Wilson in 1820. By the mid-1800’s it had migrated to New England where it became a hugely popular pattern for brook trout & landlocked salmon. My version is modified, the mallard flank wing omitted & mallard flank wound as hackle; I added a short thorax of sulphur-yellow dubbing; & brown pheasant rump instead of brown hen.    

Royal Coachman tied by Steven Bird

The Royal Coachman is a derivative of the ancient Coachman, modified in 1878 by John Haily, a professional fly dresser living in New York City, who wrapped red silk around the centers of a batch of Coachmen he was tying in an effort to keep the peacock bodies from fraying. L.C. Orvis named the fly; & it is one of few patterns featured in Mary Orvis Marbury’s, Favorite Flies & Their Histories (1892) that is still being fished today.  My version is modified: the wing, a white puff taken from the base of a mallard flank feather; red tinsel for the girdle; & pheasant rump hackle.  

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