Monthly Archives: May 2015

Nature at Work – New Waters

East Gallatin Breach 2009

East Gallatin Breach 2009

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT

The very first time I fished the East Gallatin River (2005) during a trip to Bozeman, I broke a fly rod on a large rainbow at the mouth of a very large oxbow. Although at the time I didn’t realize exactly where I was on the river, it turns out the oxbow marked about the half-way point in a 7.5 mile section I would routinely float in later years. It became a convenient landmark to rendezvous with fellow floaters on the long float. Once I started floating the entire length of this section (completely surrounded by private land), I became intimately familiar with the river at water level but oblivious to the surrounding scrub and farmland which was obscured by high banks, grass and willows. There was a spot probably 5 miles into the float where the river took a sharp 90 degree turn and created a very productive pool. Somewhere in the turn there was always the sound of flowing water entering the river. Since the Gallatin Valley is just loaded with spring creeks, I always thought that’s what we were hearing, a small spring creek entering the river. Those thoughts proved wrong when I made my first float in 2009. The spot was actually a breach in a very narrow (2-4 feet) isthmus created as the river made almost a 360 degree circle over the course of a quarter mile. You could now barely float through the breach which revealed about a two foot differential in river height but there remained sufficient flow in the big circle section. more…

The “Killer” Beetle

Side View

Side View

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria

In my previous post, I covered the creation of a Strike-Indicator-Fly (SIF). I began developing a beetle pattern as a modification of the SIF. That is the topic of this article.

It started innocently enough. I caught a couple of decent trout that I kept for dinner in mid-August. While cleaning the fish, I inspected the contents of the stomachs. To my surprise, both fish were stuffed with green beetles. Being the quick guy I am, I did the math and swiftly deduced that a fly looking like these beetles might catch a lot of trout.

I was already sorting through how to perfect the SIF. A couple small changes (using green deer hair, remove the tail, and adding legs) converted the SIF into the first generation beetle pattern. Now, it was time for the fun part – to test and see whether it worked.

Having remembered where I caught the trout, I returned to the same spot. Looking around I spotted a low hanging tree at the head of the pool. Ah, the likely source of beetles. So I cast upstream of the tree and let the fly float under it. Not really knowing what to expect, I was relaxed and completely unprepared for what happened. About a foot downstream of the tree, the water exploded. After nearly wetting my pants involuntarily, I instinctively raised the rod and set the hook. As it turned out, this was a savvy 17” brown. He headed straight for the logjam across the pool. Fortunately, I was able to turn her and landed the fish.

Whew, my heart was racing. I checked the tippet to discover two nicks. I cut back the leader and added a section of 3X tippet. That turned out to be an excellent strategic choice. The next two hours was non-stop action. I landed 17 trout! Like the first trout, many knew where the nearest snag was. I eventually cut the leader back and added a section of 2X tippet. No problem, the fish still took the fly with total abandon.

It turns out that where the fly sits in the film dramatically influences its effectiveness. Too low and there are significantly fewer takes. Too high and the fish have trouble getting the fly down. Just right and you get many effortless takes. I tried different thicknesses of foam for the over body, having no foam over body, and varying thicknesses of deer hair. This led to the final pattern described below.

All this design refinement is fine, but, if I were you, I would ask only one question “Does the darn thing work?” To that, I can give a single resounding answer, “Yes, almost like dynamite!”

The real proof of the flies came when I happened to arrive at the stream early the morning on the last day of the season. A person was just ducking under the first tree to go upstream. I called to him wanting to know where he wanted to fish so I would not disturb him. To my amazement, I found it was Ken, a person I had taught how to fly fish. We decided to fish together. He got a funny look on his face as I pulled out a beetle and tied it on. He queried, “That thing work?” I replied, “Here give one a try.” When we got to the first hole, I shared where I had seen a nice fish recently. He made one cast and nailed a 15” brown. Needless to say, he was convinced.

My Approach:

This fly can work throughout the season, but it excels from mid-August until the last day of September, the end of our trout season. It is especially effective on windy days. It makes sense, as beetles are just another type of terrestrial. Like hopper season, the beetle starts working best around August and works until the first couple of hard frosts. The fly seems to work best in hot weather just like hoppers. When there is a cold night, the fly produces more fish later in the day when it is warmer.

I like to use a two-fly set up just like a hopper and dropper. Two particularly productive droppers are an unweighted #10 girdle bug or a #14 hi-vis flying ant. Last year I had one of my most successful afternoons of fishing with the beetle/ant combo. It was particularly satisfying when I caught an 18 ½ inch brown on the beetle. Earlier in the season, I pulled a BWO out of its open mouth when I got too excited and tried setting the hook prematurely. With the beetle, setting the hook was a piece of cake. The fish often hit it so hard they set the hook!

Don’t be afraid to up your tippet to 3X or 2X. The fish never seem to mind and it gives you a better chance at turning fish before they reach a snag and when they do get into one you have a pretty good chance of pulling them out (this is equally true of trees!). The fly rides high in the film for quite a while. Slowly it gets harder to see as it sits deeper in the film. When this happens, squeeze as much water out as you can and coat the fly generously with your favorite floatant. I have been able to use one fly for several hours and 15 or more fish and still rejuvenate it using this method.

The “Killer” Beetle: Tying Materials

  Material Used Comments
Hook #10 Mustad 94840 Equivalent hooks: Daiichi 1170 or 1180, Tiemco 100
Thread Black UTC Ultra 280 Fish don’t seem to mind contrasting thread. It saves me time by not changing thread for each deer hair color (As long as the fish don’t care, which they don’t, I don’t care). If you are fashion conscious, feel free to match the thread and deer hair color.
Body spun deer hair Green or black
Over Body 2 mm foam Green or black
Hi-Vis Strip 2×2 mm foam strip yellow or red seem to improve visibility most
Legs for beetles only Fine, black flexible rubber leg material I usually use black, fine, round, rubber legs, but find that small or medium Sili-legs and the like work well too. Be adventurous, try different colors!

 

“Killer” Beetle Tying Steps  & Manuevers – based on tying a SIF as described in my previous post, Tying the SIF.

I like to tie this on a larger hook, but only use ½-2/3 of the hook shank. This provides a wider gap and stronger hook. It still floats well despite the extra hook weight.

dellario beetle 1a

Figure A

Figure B

Figure B

Step 1. Wrap the hook shank with thread from the eye until the thread is even with the hook point. Figure A. Tying a beetle is like tying the SIF. Skip installing a tail (Steps 1A-C) and follow steps 2-7 of the SIF method. That’s where we will pick it up. Figure B. Now the deer hair has been shaped and the tying thread is reattached near the eye of the hook. I usually do a whip finish to secure the reattached thread.

dellario beetle 2Step 2. Move your bobbin about ¼” back from the head of the deer hair and make 3-4 wraps through the deer hair. This creates the bed where the legs will be tied in. Place the first leg on the top of the fly and make a light wrap. Slowly tighten until the legs begin to form a V as they wedge between the deer hair sides. Adjust the legs to their final position on the side away from you, tighten the thread, and make 2-3 wraps. Add a drop of head cement in the middle of the V. Follow the same sequence with the second leg but place it on the side nearest you.

Step 3. Move the thread back to just in front of deer hair and make 2-3 turns. Now follow steps 8-10 for the SIF. At this point, the fly is nearly finished. Lift up the foam and wrap enough thread as far under the foam as you can get. You want the foam to sit up at a 45-degree angle, or more, to the hook shank. This helps the fly to skate when you twitch it. Finally whip finish or use multiple half hitches as you please.

Side View

Side View

Top View

Top View

Bottom View

Bottom View

 

 

 

 

 

You’re good to go!

Pocket Water and the ADK

sausner ausable-river-watershedGuest Blogger: Brandon Sausner

A few years back I read an article about fishing the Ausable River in the Adirondacks. It showed a huge pool with great looking water on both ends. The article mumbled about Fran Better and explosive top water fishing. The piece talked of powerful fish smashing flies, and falling victim to a late night Sulphur hatch and spinner fall. We packed the tents and rods and a reservation was made at Wilmington Notch camp ground for four days of just fly fishing. Only one problem, the article was sort of a huge liar and focused on a very small part of fishing the Ausable. We spent the first night and morning looking for smooth water and rising fish. We switched to a failed attempt at indicator nymphing and then quit for lunch. It turns out that the pool in the article was downstream from our camp and we had seen it but it was packed with anglers. And in that pool casting to rising trout in the evening was readily available, as long as you staked your claim to the prime water at around 5:30 and stayed until dark. The majority of the water in that area had nothing to do with majestic casting and drag free drifts. After hitting a few fly shops and talking to some of the campers that were fly fishing it turned out a bunch of them had also read the article and were also clamoring to fish “Shadow Rock pool” for rising trout. We were forced to crawl in to the woods to prey on greedy little brookies that could not resist foam ants. We needed a change of venue and in the dark woods the brookies fed all day obscured from the sun. Keep that in mind if you ever go to the Adirondacks to fly fish. more…