Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Soft~Hackle Journal August 2019

Red Drake ~ CJ Emerson photo
         Naming a Drake

The mayfly in the photo on the left is a  Drunella grandis ingens, commonly known as Green Drake. And no, it’s not green. You have undoubtedly noticed that the recently emerged dun is decidedly mahogany in color. There are several specie variants of Drunella grandis & they aren’t all green, which has been the source of some confusion among anglers & angling writers, including myself, who are guilty of misidentifying it. Contributing greatly to misidentification is its popular common name, Green Drake, which, taken literally, inspires visiting anglers to arrive onstream with the wrong color flies. (Western Green Drake, the actual green one, is Drunella grandis grandis). The mahogany subspecies does have a more precise & useable common name, Great Red Spinner, a name that has been around for a long time, yet somehow escapes popular usage within the insect’s range, possibly because it is a mouthful, somewhat archaic & not entirely descriptive, as this mayfly is mahogany red in all phases, including the nymph.

Enter my friend Scott Sadil who is curious & would like to positively identify the important bug.  Scott is the author of several books, his most recent, Goodnews River, a collection of  (very good) short stories. Scott writes the fly tying column for California Fly Fisher & has recently taken on the job as Angling Editor for Gray’s Sporting Journal, who, in my opinion, are lucky to have him because not only is he an excellent writer but also a gifted angler, adventurer & back country camper.  Scott is the real deal. He wants to settle misnomers concerning the mayfly, so he calls in a couple of experts: Rick Hafele, who is both an angler & an actual entomologist, & Dave Hughes. Rick & Dave are lifelong buddies & have co-authored a number of books on angling/entomology, including one of the first fly fishing books I ever owned, Western Hatches, which has not outlived its usefulness. Serendipitous circumstance & things going full circle, the authors are coming to fish with me.

The guys arrive, tents are pitched, & we’re bullshitting around getting acquainted.

Rick, the scientist, has brought along bug-gathering equipment & a microscope. Also a family-sized bag of snack chips made from ground crickets. He’s the only one snacking on them. I try one. Not bad. But I can’t get past the idea of eating bugs so leave it at just one.  Rick is an author as well, having published a list of books on aquatic entomology & angling entomology, several of these co-authored with his friend, Dave Hughes. He is easy-going, light & engaging. We share a love of the blues & I learn Rick is the drummer in a blues band. 

Rick Hafele setting up.

Dave Hughes is a humorous & pleasantly enigmatic gentleman. Also, I find out, a mystic of sorts. Dave hasn’t been here a day & he looks me in the eye & pronounces that he is “a messenger sent from God” to (of all things) destroy my life. “Destroy your life,” he says. He doesn’t smile when he says it. The pronouncement gives me pause.  I wonder why God would send Dave to do this life-destroying deed because I think I’m doing well enough on my own, the self-destruction clipping along at a fair pace. Not knowing how to respond I remain silent. He seems like such a nice guy…

Then, the next day, on the river, we’re gathered on the bank waiting for a hatch to get going along a segment of good water & a ski-boat arrives & starts jamming around in circles in front of us, creating a ruckus of wakes cutting donuts over our water. One of the guys on the boat deploys a drone equipped with a camera & the thing is flying around filming the crazy boat action. I am visibly irritated & Dave sees it. He says: “Wouldn’t it be nice if that drone suddenly crashed into those trees over there?” And he points to a stand of firs on the other side of the river, & the moment he points the drone veers from its circular course & smashes into those trees exactly where he’s pointing, as if directed. And that’s the end of the boat problem.

The drone incident gives me concern regarding Dave & his abilities. I think about what he said yesterday. The messenger from God thing.

Rick Hafele operates the net for Scott Sadil.

The outrageousness seems lost on Hafele & Sadil who share a nerdish curiosity that allows the outlandish to be taken in stride, regarded as simply normal in a world they accept as outrageous by nature. Besides, it’s time to fish, & the fishing is good.

It becomes evident that all three of these guys are canny, accomplished anglers with enough ass to back up their play. Sadil, I already know, is an intense fish-hound who is better left to his own plans unless you can stand the pace. The tall, lanky Hafele is a methodical getter who wastes no movement. Arms close to his sides, his upper body bent slightly forward, Hafele is the very definition of a heron. Hughes is energetic & totally in-the-game, yet jaded, with nothing to prove. He is a natural storyteller & given the opportunity he’s happy to put the rod down & just shoot the shit. He likes stories – telling them & listening to them.

The fishing is good & we all catch some nice trout. Scott brought some excellent single malt & we have fun with the Scotch while sitting around the table on the porch, late evenings after fishing & supper. Rick & Dave had gathered the drake samples needed for identification. I elect that we need to come up with a useful common name to differentiate our bug from the Green Drake. We toss names around. Mahogany Drake?... We decide not, as it might be confused with the Mahogany Dun, another, smaller, mayfly species. Rick points out that our common names for drakes are mostly primary colors – Green Drake; Brown Drake; Yellow Drake; Black Drake; Gray Drake – so, finally, we all agree on Red Drake as the new handle for this mahogany-colored cousin of Green Drake. As a nod to the old Great Red Spinner, Dave suggests Great Red Drake as the full name, & we all agree that’s okay too.

In the end, all said & done, I come to realize that Dave’s prophecy to destroy my life is actually true, though not to be taken literally or as a negative. In a subtle way, life as I knew it before the visit of these three friends, some old perceptions long held as truths, not the least my wrong identification of the drake, are destroyed. Dave, by his fine example & well-placed suggestions, served to dispel some obfuscating myths I’ve been holding concerning the angling life, the writing life. Life isn’t the same now, every day new, each moment destroyed, each moment new, just as it's always been & as it should be, & that’s okay. I get it, Dave. Thanks.            

Scott, Dave, & Rick examining the local trout menu.

Drake eating redband.
Scott Sadil with a Speyed redband taken on a swung wee spider.
Dave Hughes swinging a run on the North Columbia.

                                               The Reel News

Must see: The Elder Brothers send a warning from the heart of the world.

Strange fruit of colonization.

Things bumping.

Long overdo. Recreational power-dredging has caused a lot of damage where I live.

Considering the Singularity & the book that nobody read.

Indeed there are native rainbow trout haunting the headwaters of those vast concrete washways coursing through Los Angeles. In my teens I was a regular on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. As it was then, I’d consider it one of the best small streams I’ve ever fished. Bright leaves of trout in the shaded, sage scented canyons. Unfortunately, fifty years on, continued lax stewardship, vandalism, & out-of-control recreational gold dredging have severely degraded that stream. Currently within the new San Gabriel National Monument, the East Fork is getting some needed attention & a stewardship plan. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.     

Sunset River

                            American Masters of the Wetfly ~ Rick Hafele

Ever wonder what kind of flies an entomologist might fish with? Does close, professional association with bugs lend special insights to fly design that our angling ancestors might have missed? Rick Hafele was kind enough to let me photograph some of the spiders from his box, & I was a little surprised (though shouldn't have been) to find that he relies on a fairly traditional assortment of proven workhorse baits, well-constructed.  

Yellow Pearsall's; partridge hackle; hare's mask thorax ~ Rick Hafele

Olive thread; brown hen; copper rib; pheasant tail; pine squirrel thorax ~ Rick Hafele
Claret thread; greenwell hackle; gold rib; hare's mask ~ Rick Hafele
Dark olive thread; black hen; wire rib; gray muskrat ~ Rick Hafele
Olive thread; bronze-black hen hackle; peacock herl; yellow dub ~ Rick Hafele

Olive thread; partridge hackle; twisted olive midge flash; pine squirrel thorax ~ Rick Hafele

'Anthropocene Memories' ~ watercolor & ink ~ Doris Loiseau ~ featured in the latest issue of Swing The Fly, along with my poem of the same title, & my (humble) two cents: 'Five Essential Spiders'

                         Swing The Fly

The latest issue of Swing The Fly magazine is out, & it is fat. If you are into Spey, soft-hackles, traditional salmon/steelhead/trout flies, swinging flies, stories, poetry, art, then you will want to subscribe to Swing The Fly. Best angling magazine out there today. And: it is portable & requires no wiring! Looks good & is usable on the back of the john, next to your favorite armchair, posted on the nightstand, or carried in your pack!

                                                At the Tying Bench

Soft Sinixt ~ tan UNI 8/0; ruffed grouse hackle; pine squirrel dubbing

Ginger May ~ tan UNI 8/0; honey dun hen hackle; wood duck flank tail whisks; gold wire rib; amber-gold SST dubbing; amber-gold SST thorax
Ishi ~ yellow UNI 8/0; ruffed grouse hackle; copper rib; blended hare's mask mixed with a bit of Hareline UV Pink Shrimp Dubbing
Sparrow Variant ~ brown UNI 8/0; pheasant crest feather & turkey swords tailing; ruffed grouse body feather butt hackle; hare's mask body; brown pheasant rump rear collar; partridge front collar; head of pheasant flue taken from the base of a rump feather
Red Drake ~ rust-brown UNI 8/0; wing-black kip; wing flare-yellow kip; trailing shuck-dark moose & Whitlock Squirrel blend; rib-yellow 'C' rod wrapping thread; body-mahogany SST dubbing; hackle-grizzly dyed rust-brown

Midsummer Sedge ~ tan UNI 8/0; honey dun brahma hen hackle; olive Pearsall's with hare's mask thorax; shroud-pinch of Hareline UV Pink Shrimp Dub

                                                         The Tailout

I don’t know what happened but this site no longer allows me to access the comment box. I can’t post or reply to comments you might leave. I’m reading them & apologize, I’m not ignoring those who comment. I greatly appreciate knowing anybody is reading & moved to take the time to comment. Frikkin thing. There’s no tech help for it that I can find. Can’t talk to a live person at Blogger, operated by Google. So, until I can get it squared away, I can’t comment, but feel free. If anybody really needs to contact me about something, email me: 

The Ol' Messenger, pointing.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Soft~Hackle Journal July 2019

William 'Bill' Shuck
                      Bill Shuck ~ In Loving Memory

     There is a sad, empty space in our game today with the recent passing of a great man, angler & fly tier, Bill Shuck.

I met Bill at the Flymph Forum where he was a highly respected & honored member. We became friends & correspondents, Bill assuming the role of a kind & insightful mentor. He was a brilliant man with an inquiring mind & we discussed many of our shared interests, including politics, architecture, literature, life, & of course angling & fly tying. Serious health issues toward the end of his life kept Bill from being able to do much physical activity, however that didn't stop his active mind. An English & Literature teacher, Bill was a man of letters, so in the last days of his life spent his time corresponding with & entertaining his many compatriots.

During the span of time I knew him, Bill sent me quite a few photos of his flies & also writings, some of which are now published in this month's issue as a memorial to him & his work. An acolyte of Jim Leisenring & Pete Hidy, fishing the same water as Leisenring, Bill Shuck was considered by many, including myself, as one of the American masters of the flymph style. You will note the influence of Leisenring & Hidy reflected in Bill's style. I joked with him that he did Leisenring better than Leisenring &, ever humble, of course he denied it. Bill was a supportive reader & contributor to SHJ, & this edition is dedicated solely to his memory. He will be missed immensely.

Just Emerged PMD ~ Bill Shuck
                                                                             Bill's Flies

Looking at Bill’s flies we see something at once familiar, ‘classic’, one might say, while at the same time we see they are fresh, reflecting an evolved re-shuffling of classic elements resonant to the core of our flyfishing brains. We might ask ourselves: “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?”

There are some who might define Bill Shuck as a ‘neoclassicist’, & I would agree that is fair, in the most positive sense, yet mainly to describe the appearance of his flies. As a soft-hackler, I see Bill Shuck’s level of craft as a bar to aspire to. As an angler/guide fortunate to spend a lot of time peering into water, as well as a variety of other folk’s fly boxes, Bill’s flies reveal to me that his time on the water was well-spent – I see regional influences, function & form coalesced to graceful syncopation. These are not fanciful, but informed designs, well done. Bill had an angler's eye for a killing bait. Plain & simple, these are soft-hackle flies meant to be fished. The flies of Bill Shuck are what effective soft-hackle wetflies look like.

March Brown ~ Bill Shuck

Grey Tenkara Kibari ~ Bill Shuck

Allsumer Spider ~ Bill Shuck

Easter March Brown Splymph ~ Bill Shuck

Cow Dung ~` Bill Shuck

   Bill Shuck on Leisenring's 
             Cow Dung

"Looking through various listings of patterns tabulated by fly fishing writers over the years, “Cow Dung” appears frequently, appearing in the literature at least as far back as 1836 in Alfred Ronald’s “Fly Fishers Entomology”. The insect it is intended to mimic is a true fly (order Diptera), which have a single pair of wings that originate behind the legs and lie flat and crossed when the insect is at rest. Despite this, all the images I have seen of dressings show the same profile as that traditionally used for winged mayflies, with only the concession of having the wing slanted back at a severe angle.

Also, various dressings call for body color ranging from lemon to green, with materials varying from worsted (crewel) wool to peacock herl. This seeming discrepancy can be explained by the fact that while the male dung fly common in Britain is a yellowish orange, the female is a dull olive. There are also differences about the material to be used for the wing, with at least one specifying dark mallard wing slips. I attribute this to the fact that the wings of the dung fly are a color best mimicked by slips from the secondary wing feathers of the landrail, a bird that is today universally protected. (Until the starling was declared endangered in Britain and placed on the protected list, Veniard used to sell starling wings dyed brown as a credible sub for the landrail; even those are in short supply these days.)

I have relied pretty much on Jim Leisenring’s version of the pattern as put forth in “The Art of Tying the Wet Fly” :

Cow Dung

Hook: #12, #13 (I used a Mustad 94840, Size #12)

Thread: Orange silk

Hackle: Ginger similar to body color

Body: Yellow crewel wool, seal fur, or mohair mixed with a little brown fur to … give the whole a dirty orange tinge (I used a blend of 85% yellow wool, 10% medium orange seal, and 5% medium brown Aussie possum)

Wings: Landrail (slips) slightly longer than body sloping back close over body with glossy side out (I used Veniard dyed brown starling as sub)

Saddle Tip Done Buzz ~ Bill Shuck

Literal Blue Dun ~ Bill Shuck

 Bill Shuck ~ Baby Sunfly

"An English clergyman, Rev. Edward Powell, fished streams in the Shropshire region in the Welsh borderlands of England on a regular basis during the 1920’s – 1950’s. He is credited by author Christopher Knowles in his book (Orange Otter, Medlar Press, Ellesmere, England 2006) and others with developing as many as 26 fly patterns that were especially killing on these waters. He named one of these the “Baby Sunfly” since it was a smaller, slightly modified version of a D. Lewis pattern called “Sunfly”. It was strictly a generic pattern, as Powell was convinced that fish mostly just wanted black and brown flies. The original dry fly pattern was (more or less) as follows:   

Hook: Sizes 12 – 18
Thread: Brown or black
Tail: Black or coch-y-bondhu cock hackle barbs
Body: Dubbed rabbit face, from triangle of nose & eyes, very dark, tied full
Rib: Brown thread, 3 turns
Hackle: Black or coch-y-bondhu cock hackle, as many turns as possible

It is interesting to note that the fur used for the body of the fly was the quite dark underfur found on the face of the English rabbit, not the better-known-to-fly-tiers English hare -- a different critter. It is necessary to trim away the grey/tan outer portion of the fur to get at the dark, bluish black underfur.

Answering the challenge of a fellow member on the Flymph Forum site, I’ve attempted to tie this pattern as a soft hackle wet fly. I’ve tied it on a vintage Herter’s 423 TDE hook, Size #14 using Pearsall’s Gossamer #17 brown thread. The tails whisks were taken from an iridescent black feather found at the back of a coch-y-bondhu hen saddle and the collar is a combination of that same black feather and a black and “red” feather from further up the saddle. Since I do not have an English rabbit mask, the body is a blend is a blend of hare’s poll and black wool spun in #17 Gossamer on a Clark block."

Allgrouse ~ Bill Shuck
Comparadun ~ Bill Shuck

Sculpin Muddler ~ Bill Shuck

May We ~ Bill Shuck

Deleatidium ~ Bill Shuck

Leisenring Pale Watery Dun ~ Bill Shuck

Songbird Sulfur ~ Bill Shuck

White Fly Spider ~ Bill Shuck

So long Bill. It’s been good to know you. You gave a lot. Your great work & humanity will not be forgotten. We stand on your shoulders now, & aspire to someday stand with you in that perfect stream ~         

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Soft~Hackle Journal June 2019

Salmon Mountain ~ Sheila Cano

     Where I live & fish, June is a month of striking juxtapositions & portent. A month of transitions. While daytime temperatures may approach the high nineties, we still see snow on the surrounding mountains. The fitful spritzes of early Spring low-water hatches & ant falls give way to the high-water spate & bounteous hatches of mid-June – Spotted Sedge, March Brown, PMD, Olive Stonefly, among others.

The Sheila Cano collage covering this month’s issue of SHJ is also an interesting juxtaposition that might be interpreted as portentous, so I include it for your consideration. Interpret it as you will. Sheila Cano is a friend & member of a writer’s group I belong to, she is a visual artist, writer, art educator and program staff member at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in Burnaby, BC.  She attended Simon Fraser University, and graduated from Emily Carr College of Art (now ECUAD) in 1979. Sheila has done free-lance media production and illustrations for government and non-profit organizations, and her short story writing has been published by Cat Oars and Sage Press. Her art work includes drawing, painting, photography and collage/mixed media. Sheila is a back country camper who enjoys hiking, camping and fishing in beautiful BC. Her work is available for sale & anybody interested in the original or a print of Salmon Mountain, contact me at


                 Muff The Cast?

     We are all guilty of having troubled the water. We’ve all done this: Staying low, not letting our shadow touch the water, careful not to rattle the stones underfoot, we slink into position for the cast, let it go – and our fly falls two feet short of where we meant to put it – bummer – so what do we do?

The trout are edgy. On heavily fished water, having seen a fanciful assortment of imitation insects and, probably a good many of them hook-stung, they are hyper-wary, their lateral lines functioning as bare-wired bullshit meters so sensitive they can detect even the most innocuous ghost of a presence, and that sure to put them down.

What we do in this often-repeated situation could make the difference between a successful hook-up and a dry run – and make a real difference in our overall success.

Guiding for river trout, the most common mistake I see anglers make in this seemingly innocuous situation is: without thinking, immediately pulling the line off the water and replacing the cast. Maybe even replacing it several times until it seems right to the caster.

Here’s the problem with that:  

The first time the line hit the water, any fish in the vicinity were alerted. They may not have been spooked enough to quit feeding, but a potential danger was noted. The line being pulled (or ripped) from the water registers a second alert, this time possibly causing a fish to pause in seeking food and maybe move away. The replaced cast, a third disturbance, may blow the deal altogether. Too much funny stuff going on and trout hunker down with mouths closed, or bolt.

Let’s go back to the initial cast fallen two feet short of the desired target. Now, even though short of where we want it, that fly may have fallen into a trout’s feeding lane. Just because it didn’t fall where we chose, doesn’t mean there’s not a fish there. Best thing I’ve found to do is: Inhale. Suck up the muffed cast and resist the urge to pick up the line and replace it. Exhale. We fish out the cast until line, leader and fly have drifted well out of the sweet zone.

And here’s something that’s likely to happen: We hook a fish on what we thought was a muffed cast. Happens all the time.

Fish live in constant danger and are ever attuned to it. If an irritating disturbance isn’t too intrusive or repetitive, they will momentarily get over it, and fishing the cast out gives them time to do that. The second disturbance, the line being pulled from the water, is eliminated, as the line and fly have been allowed to drift well away from the fish’s window before lifted.

Here, we pause. Ours is a natural-paced (slower than the operating speed of the average Californian) and thoughtful game. Even though we muffed the first cast, that deep slot looks good and odds are there’s a nice fish holding there. Have a drink of water, maybe eat an apple. Now is a good time to observe for a moment, in no hurry to replace the cast. Resting the spot between casts increases the chance of getting a grab. 

The above should be regarded as a rule-of-thumb. In most circumstances it’s a good idea to fish out the muffed cast. Of course the level of stealth a given piece of water requires will vary according to environmental factors including: water clarity, depth, surface turbulence and light conditions, among other factors that might contribute to mask the presentation. Consider these and fish accordingly. But remember, in any case: fish like a patient heron, not an over-caffeinated flamingo.   

Watercolor & Ink ~ Jan Cottrell

                                              American Masters

     Wanting to bring more fly tiers into the mix at SHJ, I thought to begin an ‘American Masters’ series, starting this month with some designs from a fine Colorado tyer, Eric Biggerstaff.  Most of us who are students of the wingless wetfly style are familiar with the Welsh, Scottish, & English Yorkshire spiders & wetflies that are foundational to our tradition. The earliest European fly fishers into the New England & Mid-Atlantic States were, for the most part, from Britain, & they brought the traditional flies with them to the New World, where they found streams & insects not unlike those they’d left, but many different, as well as different trout. With time, in the creative crucible of the American wilderness, the earliest designs morphed in response to American conditions, fish, insects, & also the application of native tying materials, & new patterns arose, some of them entirely indigenous. Eventually, the British school grew a distinctly American branch – this exemplified, I think, in the designs of James Leisenring & Pete Hidy – continuing to grow in our time with quite a few talented, creative, contemporary American designer/anglers like Eric, who graciously shares some of his work & design insights with us.           

                                               Eric Biggerstaff

    “My personal journey into fly tying started a few years ago when my wife and oldest son took up fly fishing. I had purchased them an introductory class from our local fly shop and before long my son was big into tying so he began to needle me about taking it up. I had done some fly fishing in my younger days as a Boy Scout but had dropped it as I was more interested in technical rock climbing and photography, it wasn’t until a few years ago my love for the sport and the art of fly tying took hold.

I was immediately attracted to fly tying as it is an artistic endeavor. For more than 30 years I have been a serious large format fine art photographer and printer working mainly in the West Coast landscape tradition of Ansel Adams. My involvement in photography was an outgrowth of my love for the great American wildernesses, so when I was reintroduced to fly fishing it became yet another way for me to experience beautiful, wild places.

My introduction to soft hackle tying really began in a class taught by Eric Way of Gunpowder Tackle here in Colorado. I spent a weekend with Eric learning to tie traditional English spider and wet fly patterns, and during the course I became enamored by the elegant beauty these patterns possess. The fly dressings resonated with me for the same reason Japanese photography and art do, the work is distilled down to the bare minimum in terms of materials and composition which in turn creates a strong, visually elegant work of art.

When I am working at my tying desk, I try to bring lessons learned from photography into my fly tying. I am mindful of the importance size, shape and color are too any fly pattern. Along with those I play with composition, balance, proportion and contrast.

Composition is simply deciding on the overall dressing; what size, shape, materials, color(s) and design will be used and why. Which materials and how much of each will determine the overall profile of the fly. I normally lay materials out on my desk prior to starting a new pattern to give me an idea what the materials look like together.

Balance and proportion are concerned with the amount of material used and where on the hook that material is placed (in photography balance relates to where the primary subject is placed in the image and how it relates to background subjects while proportion would be what is and is not included in the image). This again impacts the profile of the fly and how it moves in the water.

Contrast is more about tonal relationships, both in photography and fly tying. Think of artistic contrast as the range of tones between the lightest and darkest. In black and white photography, contrast is used by the artist to direct the viewer’s eye towards those area’s most important in the image.  In fly tying I use contrast to help the fish see my fly against the confusing and tangled background of the stream bed.

I like to play with tones, darker (negative) materials are offset by lighter (positive) materials. One tone plays off another. Colors of course change as the fly sinks into the water, the deeper it sinks, the more the colors change. The color red moves towards grey within a few feet of the surface while blue doesn’t begin to change until around ten feet in depth, so using colors that change at different rates can create contrast on the fly.

Another way to create contrast is using materials with different textures next to each other. An example would be to create a body using moose mane and a thorax using ice dub, different textures set next to one another. Flash, wire and tinsel are all ways to help increase the contrast, these along with the body and hackle materials impact how quickly a fish may see and key in on a fly floating along in the stream or lake.

Studies indicate contrast is used by predatory fish to define a prey item. Scientist have learned most ocean based fish only see in black and white (and shades of grey) while fresh water fish see in colors thus a fish relies on contrast as much as color (or movement) to help it determine what to check out as food. When I am playing with a dressing I want to try out on my local water, I focus as much attention to the contrast I build into the dressing as I do for the color and movement.

One of the great things about tying soft hackle patterns is having freedom to be very creative. Most are not imitative designs (perhaps the English spider dressings are closest), they tend to fall in the impressionistic area of fly design. Because of this the tier is free to use her/his imagination. My tying theory is simply based on lessons learned in other disciplines that seem to help me when I am at the desk creating. Hopefully, you may take an idea or two then apply them to your own efforts. They are just tools in the tool box to be used as needed.”


Black Spider ~ Eric Biggerstaff

Simple Black Spider
Hook: Partridge K2BY (or any favorite hook for spiders) #12-#18
Thread: Pearsall Black Silk
Body: Black Silk
Rib: UTC Gold Wire – Small
Hackle: Black Francolin Flank

French Connection ~ Eric Biggerstaff

French Connection
Hook: Daiichi 1760 #10-#14
Thread: UTC 70 Brown
Tail: French Partridge Cinnamon Colored Tail Feather
Rib #1: UTC Amber Wire - Small
Rib #2: Uni Copper Mylar Tinsel (This is set on top of the body with the wire counter wrapped)
Body: Fox Squirrel
First Hackle: Cinnamon Colored Feather from Under Tail
Second Hackle: Blue and White Flank Feather
(if you cannot find a French Partridge, Chukar is a substitute)

Root Beer Float ~ Eric Biggerstaff

Root Beer Float 
Hook: Partridge K2BY #12 - #16 (any grub style hook)
Thread: UTC 70 Rusty Brown
Body: Root Beer Crystal Flash
Rib: Brown UTC Wire - Small
Hackle: English Red Grouse Neck

Blue & White ~ Eric Biggerstaff

Blue and White
Hook: Partridge K2BY #12-#16 (any grub style hook)
Thread: Pearsall's Brown Silk
Body: Thread
Rib: Amber / Copper UTC Wire - Small
Thorax: Peacock Herl
1st Hackle: Asian Kingfisher
2nd Hackle: Bob White Quail

                                                   The Reel News

Life after warming. 

Questioning stereotypes. 

Will going backwards improve our lives?

Bob Margulis speying a trout at the Columbia/Kootenay confluence.

         A Simple Dubbing Cruik

      Some years ago I ran up against the need for a dubbing loop spinner. Unlike Leisenring, I was unable to master rolling fur body chenilles on the thigh of my pants. A dubbing block seemed overkill (though results are very nice), & the fairly costly dubbing loop twister machines available for sale seemed overly engineered contraptions. So, necessity being the mother of invention & true simplicity always a goal, I came up with the gadget pictured on the left, which I’ve found indispensable for twisting dubbing & composite loops. Easy to make: cut a 5 ½ inch section of clothes hanger wire; file the ends smooth; bend a crook into one end using needle-nose pliers. Leave an opening in the crook so the thread will pass through. Using a round file or rolled square of sandpaper, smooth the inside of the crook (the pliers may leave a burr). Done. Simply hook onto the loop & twirl counterclockwise between your thumb & fingers.

                                                           At the Vise

Woodcutter ~ hook: #4 - #8; thread: rust-brown UNI 8/0; tail: GPT; rib: gold or copper wire; body: olive hares mask mixed with a bit of Hareline UV Shrimp Pink Dub, & golden yellow antron as a color spot behind the hackle collar; palmer: brown saddle or shlappen; hackle collar: rust-brown or natural pheasant rump

Carpenter Ant ~ hook: #8; body: black UNI 3/0 -- build to shape with the tying thread & cover with cement; hackle: black or dark brown hen

Damselfly Nymph ~ hook: #8 - #12 TMC 200R; thread: olive UNI 8/0; tail: olive grizzly chickabou taken from the base of the hackle; rib: chartreuse wire; body: olive rabbit -- tie in a few strands of olive crystal flash at the thorax & fasten with the ribbing wire; hackle collar: olive grizzly hen; head: olive rabbit 

Pheasant Craw ~ hook: bass-worm style -- wrap the hook shank with lead or copper wire for weighting; thread: olive or brown UNI 6/0; claws: 2 clumps of rubber leg material; body: pheasant rump & body feathers -- wind as tight collars, one in front of the last until hook is covered -- start with longer rump hackle behind the claws & work to shorter hackle toward the hook eye to provide some taper -- mix in some blue flash

Salmonfly Nymph ~ hook: #4 - #6 TMC 200R; thread: black UNI 6/0; tails: 2 dark brown turkey or goose biots; abdomen: large black D lace; thorax: black dubbing; rear hackle collar: black hen spade placed at the rear of the thorax; front collar: black hen spade

Redband on Salmonfly Nymph


Special thanks & a tip ‘o the glass to Sheila Cano, Eric Biggerstaff, Jan Cottrell & those of you who have generously donated to keep this publication going. Ever at the fore of effective marketing, we’ve elected to run SHJ in the way of an honor vegetable stand. Whatever you drop into the can is immensely appreciated.   

Also, a big ‘ol wet & loving smooch on the lips to those who have written to comment that their game has actually improved with the fly patterns & info garnered from SHJ. That is our goal, & that makes this project most satisfying & worthwhile.      ~Steve