Wednesday, January 22, 2014

How a fly comes into existance part 4: Fremont Scud

Here is the spawn of Herman Degala and Mike Tucker's respective brain children. There is no doubt that the Mike Tucker Scud is the best scud pattern ever developed. The problem is his pattern was only carried by the Hook Fly Shop that no longer exists. Well there are internet tutorials on how to tie the Mike Tucker scud, shouldn't that do the trick? NO NO NO NO. Issue number one: the ostrich Mike uses with very long and thick barbules does not exist, and the weave never looks as good as his. Mike has been lost to the great state of Washington, so now what shall I fill my box with...Herman's Scud is too damn expensive, so I had to do my best to create one. It has all the key features from each of their flies.


Hook: TMC 2302
Beard: lemon wood duck fibers
Legs: 2 light olive ostrich herls, 1 dark grey ostrich herl, light olive ice dub picked out
Shell Back: 1/8'' olive scudback, light purple xs lagartun wire, epoxy
fire orange hot spot

This scud made its name on a spring day in Fremont Canyon. I hooked a very very large fish that tail walked and broke the hook right off off the fly. I was devastated and didn't talk on the entire drive back to Colorado. I had no other choice but to name it after the Canyon that kicked my butt.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Congratulations to Shea Gunkel

My hero, Shea Gunkel is now the newest contract tier for Umpqua. I have no idea when the ink will be set, but expect his patterns in stores around 2015-2016. This guy has paid his dues, and deserves this as much as any other tier I have met. Lesson learned here, if you want something bad enough go get it, and if you fail do not quit trying.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 3: Protein Shake Mysis

Hook: Gamakatsu C12U size 16, smaller sizes tied on TMC 2488H
Eyes: small black rubber legs, or red micro tubing
Beard/feelers: white Senyo's Laser dub
Legs: white ostrich herl
Body: glow in the dark mylar or flashabou covered on top with thin layer of epoxy

This is the original version of the fly I came up with in 2010. Since then the hook eye has the two end pieces of flashabou cut at angles to look like the terminal flipper or fin on a real shrimp. I also tie more with red/orange eyes then black eyes. I was inspired to come up with my own mysis after fishing the few major mysis tailwaters and finding the large fish turn off of the Sand's epoxy mysis, Craven's mysis, and Tim Heng's Mysis. I needed one or two more patterns to mix it up. The first pattern I came up with I called the Garcia Blanco, and will not show that today. That pattern is an ultimate attractor and doesn't look that realistic as a mysis. The second pattern was a Mike Tucker scud tied in white. I thought I was on to something until Brent Boyd gave me a Mike Tucker mysis. After collecting many samples of shrimp and taking a look at their size, color, and movement, Shea Gunkel and I decided to try to make some realistic mysis patterns. Obviously the Mayer's Mysis, Will Sand's epoxy Mysis, Tim Heng's Mysis, Craven's Mysis, the HMG Mysis, Stalcup's Mysis and Murphy's Mysis all influenced my design.  Mayer's Mysis with his rubber feelers intrigued me but the flash back seemed too much; Craven's Mysis is still the most productive shrimp I have ever fished; and the HMG mysis is deadly realistic but lacks movement. So I decided to take certain attributes from each. Also when Mysis start to die they turn from clear to white, so a mixture of epoxy and white seemed to look like a mixture of the two. The Ostrich and the Laser dub create the movement, and the secret weapon of the fly (until Jon Kleis introduced it in his Kleis's mysis) is its "glow in the dark" nature. As we have seen trophy fish get more selective due to increased angling pressure on our Colorado tailwaters, fish feed heavier under the cover of night, and we now fish 24 hours a day. Shea Gunkel and Jon Kleis definitely helped me develop this pattern, as you can clearly see in its sister pattern the Kleis's mysis. I remember a day I took my girlfriend fishing at the Frying Pan flats. It was her second day fishing ever, and in three casts she had hooked three fish on the Protein Shake. Her rig had two other mysis on it. I have also seen pressured, lock-jawed fish cut over a foot and inhale it. Its just something a little different then you can pick up at Taylor Creek Fly Shop, Cutthroat Angler's, or Almont Anglers. Overall I would say its my most effective mysis behind Craven's mysis.

                               The first fish I caught on the protein shake mysis. Spring 2010

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 2: CGP midge

Captain Glitter Pants
Hook: red 18-22 of your choice
body:  holographic flashabou of your color choice
rib: stripped peacock herl
thread: black
head: black thread head covered with purple glitter nail polish
top coat: sally Hanson's, brushable Clear Cure, or whatever protects the rib and gives it a translucent finish

Larry Kingrey has the wonderful midge, Cap'N'hook. I was having a session tying them, when I started using different types and colors of flash for the body wrap. the holographic flash especially black and purple seemed to look really interesting. Well I fished those as well for a couple years until I was introduced to Joe Nicklo's Glitter midge. The Glitter midge has hooked many large fish for me on tailwaters, and I believe the key was in the glittery head. It's the same concept as a mercury bead, but a different look: the glitter mimics the air bubble and other pupae-adult body transformations. Of course I fished this version and it did well. But eventually I wanted to make a more realistic body. I have used stripped peacock herl on mercury black beauties and dry flies before, and when when it is wet, it really gives a realistic segmented body. It looks even better when coated with some sort of glossy finish. I must also thank Shea, for he and I were tying a ton of midges on red hooks, and his Mollie's Midge slays as much or more than the CGP. Putting ultra floss at the head like Garcia's rojo midge for an emerging insect works well too.

On Colorado tailwaters in the winter, a true 22 or 24 works the best, sometimes tied on a non-colored hook, but in spring, summer, and fall, nothing beats the red hook in an 18-22. I don't have one specific fish story about this fly, but everyone who has tied one up has done well with it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How a fly comes into existance part 1

I have talked to many up-and-coming tiers, experienced tiers, legendary tiers, and I like to ask them how did they come up with their patterns. Usually its a mixture of trying to match some bug or fish, taking an older pattern and tweaking it, or a collaborative effort between tiers.

While helping with Project Healing Waters on BVR, I asked John Barr if he had any new flies brewing? He said flies will just come to him, whether its driving or in the shower, or on the water. I was frustrated with his brief answer, hoping for some insight into the successful tying career of JB himself. If you are an up-and-coming tier read Barr flies!!! Specifically, look at the development of the Copper John. The CJ was crafted for a specific purpose, a first generation dropper off of a dry fly. The most modern CJ is more durable then the original, and a million of us tiers have made our own variations to fulfill our needs.

Every Pattern I have created has some Craven, Gunkel, Garcia, Tucker, Galloup, Ramirez, Kingrey, etc. in it. I have come up with maybe a half dozen productive patterns I consider my own. But every single one is only partly mine. I will showcase each of the patterns for a couple of purposes. Number 1, I want them documented so they can't be ripped off (which has happened before), and Number 2, I want them to be tested and fished. This series will include,

Captain Glitter Pants midge (CGP midge)

Protein Shake Mysis

Freemont Scud

"Picture Coming Soon"

Sexzilla Streamer

Santa's Skagit Sculpin

Change Up Baetis,

 s'Gulp'n tube Sculpin

I am not a talented tier, I am not even a fast tier, I do not produce a lot of flies. I tie as many flies in a year as Shea Gunkel ties in two weeks. I cannot tie more than a couple of a certain pattern before I get bored and start making variations, and most of the flies I come up with end up in a bin to be stripped and salvaged for future flies. The reality is I only tie when I can't go fishing, but have some free time, or panicking at 1 am to replace half a dozen of the "hot fly" for a float trip the next day.

I would love to share the story of each of my flies: including their inspiration, their collaborators, their development, as well as an on water story. And some of these flies have changed since I first posted them on Trout Pursuit. I would appreciate any feedback on these flies, how they fish, their design, etc.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Steelhead is...

Steelhead to me is Smithers. 

Steelhead are lists: firewood, two gatorades, subway, and a chocolate bar; Kilometer 23, 25, 38, 41; Monday Cullen Creek to Upper Ford, tuesday 41 to Wookie, wednesday the farm to woods. 

Steelhead is dreading cold lonely nights, and dark figures waist deep in cottonwoods, woods, ledges, By-Mac. 

Steelhead are tailing someone else’s 38’’ doe the day the fortune cookie told you would have a lucky and memorable day, it was. 

Steelhead is solitary

Steelhead are rushed self photographs. 

Steelhead is planning the destruction of a pack rat that stole your string leech in your sealed tent in the middle of the night. 

Steelhead are Hey Bear walks and bear tracks on every inch of mud, even the mud that clings to the car. 

Steelhead are logging trucks, steelhead are dead car batteries. 

Steelhead is being on the verge of tears about leaving the northwest a week before the trip is over. 

Steelhead is skipping the most important day of the year for your girlfriend in the sake of making a three week trip a month. 

Steelhead a month is still not enough. 

Steelhead is a wall tent, a raft, a 12 gauge and bear spray. 

Steelhead is the canadian tire auto database having your colorado cell number registered under someone else. 

Steelhead are cuts in your middle finger from holding running line, toes with permanent nerve damage. 

Steelhead are book tapes. 

Steelhead are crisp snap T’s, violent runs, lost sections of rods, 

Steelhead is an open denver at the BC eagle. 

Steelhead is being told to fish black and blue slow and deep and the very next day catching one fast and shallow on red and orange

Friday, April 12, 2013

THE OP (DAYS 4-8) Getting situated

On my way up from Portland I stopped at Walmart in Aberdeen and picked up some cool waterproof tube fly boxes and then entered the rain. At about 11 pm I arrived in Forks, WA home of twilight. I slept outside the grocery store in my car, and waited eagerly for sunrise. Nate McDonough from Nomadic Angler Blog and Brazda Fly Fishing Outfitters was kind enough to give me some advice on where to fish as I got my bearings. So after picking up my license, breakfast, lunch, and more Owner SSW hooks at the all inclusive Forks Outfitters, I proceeded to drive over to the Hoh River Rainforest. Forks Outfitters had steelhead murals and memorabilia everywhere, with an impressive 20lb mounted steelhead at the checkout counter. I get tired of people claiming sizes of fish by seeing them or catching them and not weighing or measuring them correctly. I have seen 7 lb fish be claimed as 12, 24 inch trout called dirty thirties. Measure your fish for god sakes if your gonna talk about them. Taking random stabs at fish size just discredits all the true giants that are weighed and measured correctly. I found the first run adjacent to one of the few "boat ramps"(glorified gravel bars) on the Upper Hoh.

I slowly worked my way down 200 yards of swing-able water. I hooked my first steelhead down the first gravel bar in the fishiest part of the run. Unfortunately, I didn't hook another fish in that run the rest of the trip. The fish played me exactly like the the one on the Sandy, 15 seconds and it was off. Little did I know I wouldn't touch a fish for 5 more days of fishing.

I really started to question why I was losing these fish, in the same fashion. After a few days of thinking I believe I wasn't really setting the hook after the fish took my loop from me. I just started playing them. In British Columbia all the Steelhead I landed took the fly mid swin, many times hooking themselves. All these coastal winter steelhead were taking at the very end of the swing or on the hang down. I told myself the next steelhead that took I was going to make sure to set the hook.

I fished one more run without a grab as I listened to my brother's hockey game on my headphones. If they happened to lose he would be flying up to join me for a week of steelheading. But they won, which was awesome too.

 On day 2 the Hoh River went from 3600 cfs to 9000 cfs. I was told to wait till it got down around 5000 till I should try to float due to the large hydraulics that can appear. So I spent the next few days scouting the swing unfriendly Sol Duc River, and fishing the edges of a blown out Hoh River.

 Gotta have some small flies too
On the shore of a secret Sol Duc Swing run, that I found by partly by accident and partly from a Doug Rose article giving too much information. In this day of satellite images on our cell phones, even little land marks can give away secret spots. Thanks Doug
Beautiful swing run dotted with submerged boulders, swung this run many times and never roused a fish