Sunday, July 21, 2013

UC Hairwing Drakes

UC Green Drake - tied by Steven Bird

UC Green Drake Cripple - tied by Steven Bird

UC Black Quill - tied by Steven Bird
UC Redband taken on a Black Quill
     Though all the western drakes occur in my homewater, the upper (U.S.) Columbia, black quills dominate, with green drakes a distant second. No matter, as trout here take them (the naturals) opportunistically without particular preference. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Good imitations are a must, & over the past ten years I’ve seen the big dries evolve in a decided direction toward what I would term a fairly unique ‘UC style’.

Form follows function. The fish, & the water type in which the fish live, will determine the form. The heavy, conflicted currents of the massive American Reach require a reliable floater, while the trout require a fairly accurate imitation. When all is said & done, the Wulff style (I suppose that could be interpreted as the western hairwing style) gets the nod. Which is nice, as it affords the opportunity to fish classically beautiful dryflies. UC tiers have taken the old style a step further, with a careful eye toward precise imitation, mixing hair colors to create realistic wings of buck tail, calf tail, elk & deer hair -- & that mixing of colors a hallmark of the UC style. 

UC Black Quill

Hook: #10-#12 TMC 200R

Thread: Yellow

Tailing: Black deer hair 
Rib: Strand from a yellow poly rope, or twisted yellow floss, or something yellow that won’t fade when wet

Body: March brown dubbing

Wings: Natural black buck tail or calf tail, tied upright, divided, & trimmed to shape

Hackle: One mahogany-brown & one grizzly dyed yellow, a size smaller -- & finish.

UC Green Drake

Hook: #8-#10 TMC 200R

Tail: Black deer hair 

Rib: Yellow poly or twisted floss

Body: Medium olive dubbing

Wing: Buck tail or calf tail: stack a pinch of black, a pinch of dyed blue dun, a tiny pinch of green or yellow, a generous pinch of natural light gray or white-ish bucktail – pull upright, divide & trim to shape

Hackle: One brown & one grizzly dyed yellow -- & finish

During short evening hatch periods you don't want to waste precious time tying on fresh flies. So to ensure ultimate floatation, I pre-soak my dries in Loon Hydrostop at the bench, then before fishing I dress the fly with Loon Lochsa floatant.  Great stuff, non-toxic & doesn’t bleed an oil slick. After catching a fish, I give the fly a shot of Loon Fly Spritz 2, make a few false casts, & I'm back at it with my fly floating nicely. 

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird:

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Dragonfly Nymph Variant - A Big-Fish Fly For Summer

Dragonfly Nymph tied by Steven bird
     There is no questioning the effectiveness of the olive & brown Wooly Bugger for dredging lakes; & no question in my mind the reason is: the pattern works well to simulate the larger dragonfly nymphs present in virtually all lakes & slack-water sections of rivers & streams. And as dragonfly nymphs take two to three years to mature, larger size models are always available to fish.

Not being one content to leave well-enough alone, I couldn’t resist modifying the basic olive & brown Bugger seeking a bit more realism through nuance of detail & coloration, attempting to match the dragonfly nymphs present in a local lake. The version presented here is my current favorite & has worked well for me in a variety of waters. This one may be taken as a sculpin as well as a dragonfly nymph, & it has proven a good smallmouth bass fly. Spring & fall, when fishing trout in lakes, I’ll fish this pattern on a full-sinking line cast to the shoreline or weedbeds & retrieved with short strips & pauses. In summer, when the water warms & trout move deeper, I troll* this pattern with a fast-sink line, or mono tipped with a fast-sink head, or a length of lead-core if I need to get really deep.

*Common in the West mostly when anglers get bored & resort to dragging the fly with their kick boats – yet in New England, where I grew up, trolling with flies & fly tackle was, & still is, a favorite method for fishing trout & landlocked salmon. Many of our classic streamer designs began their careers  as trolling flies. I love the way fish slam a trolled or mooched fly, & I often fish a dragonfly nymph imitation that way, without shame or reservation.

Dragonfly Nymph

Hook: #4 - #8 TMC 200R

Thread: Olive, brown or black

Tailing: Should be the same length as the hook shank. Begin tying in the tailing materials with the tying thread even with the hook point. Stacking, in this order: Tie in 2 strands of olive pearl flashabou; a quarter-inch section of olive-dyed mallard flank; select an almost marabou grizzly hen dyed olive & tie in flat (like a flatwing); select a brownish, almost marabou ringneck pheasant rump feather & tie in flat; 2 strands of olive flashabou; & another pinch of olive-dyed mallard flank as a topping.

Rib: Heavy, olive wire reverse-wound over the palmered body.

Body: Dark olive chenille palmered with brown shlappen or saddle hackle.

Hackle: One turn of dyed-olive grizzly hen, then three turns of brown, speckled game hen or Welsummer hen.

Head: Olive/green dubbing. (I save scraps in all shades of green & blend them for use on this pattern.)  

Dragonfly Nymph tied by Steven bird
Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird: