Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/15/2018

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/15/2018 Photo Album

Yesterday I finished tying my twentieth Jake’s gulp beetle, and this action advanced my supply to thirty-five. My 10/22/2015 post provides a nice description of my introduction to this fly as well as excellent step by step tying directions. I no longer create notches as outlined in steps 10 and 11, and the effectiveness of the fly does not seem to be compromised.

P1070013.JPG

A Beginning

What can I say about this fly? Since my introduction on the Elk River in British Columbia, it secured a position as one of my most productive dry flies. If a large terrestrial such as a fat Albert or Chernobyl ant generates a plethora of refusals, the next fly out of my box is a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. In 2015 I tied size 10’s and versions with red and purple bodies, but experience taught me that an ample supply of size 12’s with a Ligas peacock dubbed body are more than adequate. On rare occasions during 2017 even the size 12 beetle proved to be too large for Colorado trout, and my next step down was a parachute black ant. Quite often this proved to be the answer, but I am also quite bullish on the hippy stomper, and I will assuredly insert that in my terrestrial downsizing progression.

P1140002.JPG

Twenty Completed Beetles

South Boulder Creek trout seem to relish Jake’s gulp beetle more than trout in any other Front Range stream. 09/19/2017 was an example of trout repeatedly crushing the foam beetle for several hours. 09/21/2017 was a similar experience, although early refusals caused me to switch to an ant. The improved visibility of Jake’s gulp beetle caused me to give it a second chance, and the move rewarded me with a span of hot action. A superb day on South Boulder Creek on 10/17/2017 reminded me that change is a constant in fly fishing. For some reason Jake’s gulp beetle was not in favor; however, a size 18 black parachute ant set the world on fire.

P1140003.JPG

Necessary Tying Materials

Overall Jake’s gulp beetle continued to attract significant interest from western trout, and I continue to view it as one of my top five dry flies. It is very buoyant and highly visible and catches fish. That combination earns high praise from this fly fisherman.

Hippy Stomper – 01/13/2018

Hippy Stomper 01/13/2018 Photo Album

My introduction to the hippy stomper fly occurred, when I purchased one as part of a five fly terrestrial splurge at the fly shop in Viroqua, WI in the Driftless Area. It contained a silver body with a white under wing, and at the time I was not aware that it was more of an attractor than a terrestrial. I never tested the novel foam pattern in the Driftless Region, and it rested in my fly box for most of the summer. Meanwhile I found a red body version, when I snagged my fly on a tree branch along South Boulder Creek or Boulder Creek. This also resided in my fly box for most of the summer without seeing any time on my tippet.

PB270009.JPG

Bright Red Underside on This Fly

During a fishing trip to South Boulder Creek on 09/19/2017 the fish rejected my usually effective Jake’s gulp beetle, and for some reason I tied the store bought silver hippy stomper to my line. Much to my amazement the flashy attractor immediately delivered four spunky wild trout to my net. This experience impressed me and established the hippy stomper as a potential option in my foam attractor arsenal.

PC310012.JPG

First Ever Hippy Stomper

I resorted to the red hippy stomper on a 11/22/2017 venture with my son on South Boulder Creek, and it once again surprised me with some modest effectiveness near the end of our day. My growing faith in the size 12 foam fly with odd appendages caused me to deploy the red version on the North Fork of the St. Vrain Creek on 11/27/2017, and it once again opened my eyes, when it yielded two trout. I was essentially utilizing it as a medium sized indicator, so attracting two fish was a pleasant bonus. On a 11/16/2017 visit to Boulder Creek within the city of Boulder, the silver hippy stomper provided another glimpse of its potential, when it attracted a wild brown trout to my fly.

P1070010.JPG

Cork Perch

Why am I highlighting all these fishing outings when the hippy stomper accounted for a few fish? The attentive reader will note that most of the days when the hippy stomper shined were late in the season, when trout rarely seek their meals on the surface. Aggressive surface rises to the hippy stomper in late November certainly gained my attention, and I look forward to testing it when trout are focused on a diet of terrestrials and stoneflies during warmer temperatures.

Another aspect of the hippy stomper that excites me is its size. I tie them on a standard size 12 hook using 1mm and .5mm foam strips. The size of the hippy stomper strikes a nice midpoint between a size 10 Chernobyl ant and and a size 12 Jake’s gulp beetle. The hippy stomper and beetle are both size 12, but the thin foam and more slender profile of the hippy stomper allow it to accommodate a soft landing and thus a smaller impact when casting. I often encounter refusals to the Chernobyl ant, and this initiates a series of downsizing fly changes until I discover a terrestrial that is acceptable to the native trout. The hippy stomper option provides another step in the downsizing process between a Jake’s gulp beetle and a size 18 parachute ant.

P1030005.JPG

Three Colors

I was sold on the allure of the hippy stomper, so I searched online for tying instructions and found several YouTube videos that demonstrated the tying steps. I purchased some 1mm and .5mm sheets of various colors of foam, and I replicated the process demonstrated in the videos. After several productive days I loaded my fly box with twenty-five hippy stompers displaying various color combinations. I reproduced ten red and five silver models, and then I strayed from the proven and tied five with Ligas peacock dubbed bodies and five with peacock ice dub bodies. These bodies complemented a medium olive foam under layer. The peacock body is my most productive style of beetle, so I am anxious to determine if the same will be true in the hippy stomper genre.

P1070008.JPG

Hippy Stomper Invasion

 

Klinkhammer Blue Winged Olive – 01/09/2018

Klinkhammer Blue Winged Olive 01/09/2018 Photo Album

A Craven soft hackle emerger with no bead offers one possible solution to trout favoring emergers during blue winged olive hatches in windy conditions. I was not willing to concentrate my bets on this one tactic; however, so I searched the internet for some alternative emerger patterns. I recalled reading articles about a Klinkhammer style of fly that is effective, when fish selectively concentrate on emegers just below the surface or in the surface film.

PC290003.JPG

Hopefully a Fish Magnet

It did not take long before I stumbled across a Klinkhammer blue winged olive pattern. I studiously viewed a YouTube video that provided the detailed steps to create a Klinkhammer pattern, and then I quickly searched for the requisite materials in my drawers and cabinets. Below is a materials table for tying a Klinkhammer blue winged olive.

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457 or Equivalent Size 20
Thread8/0 light olive
Tail or ShuckWhite or light gray CDC fibers
AbdomenTwo strands of medium olive super hair and one strand of black super hair
Wing PostWhite McFlylon
Parachute HackleDun dry fly hackle
ThoraxBlue winged olive color super fine dubbing

I am very pleased with the appearance of these ten new flies that are stashed in my stockpile of blue winged olive imitations. The Klinkhammer style is designed in a way that enables the wing post and parachute hackle to float in the film, while the curved abdomen and trailing shuck dangle downward. I am particularly fond of the appearance of the super hair abdomen. It combines a very slender profile with the ribbed look created by the alternating olive and black strands of super hair. Bring on the wind and baetis hatches in 2018.

PC290002.JPG

Klinkhammers Plus Associated Materials

 

Craven Soft Hackle Emerger – 01/09/2018

Craven Soft Hackle Emerger 01/09/2018 Photo Album

I experienced frustration on three memorable days during 2017 during relatively dense blue winged olive hatches. The last such episode occurred on 11/01/2017 on the Eagle River. During this incident I experimented with a size 20 Craven soft hackle emerger trailing behind a Jake’s gulp beetle. The beetle was deployed to enable visibility, and I applied floatant to the small soft hackle emerger. The approach was not an overwhelming success, but I did manage to induce two trout to eat the trailing wet fly, as I fished it in the surface film. At the time I vowed to tie more soft hackle emergers without beadheads, in case I needed to employ the same presentation in the future.

PC180012.JPG

Love Fluoro Fiber

10/26/2017 on the Frying Pan River and 04/19/2017 on the South Platte River presented similar frustration. The common thread to all these incidents was wind. I suspect that the strong wind lifted adults from the river surface faster than the fish could react, so they adapted by snatching emergers from the film or just below the surface of the water.

PC190002.JPG

Close Up

During December I adhered to my promise, and I tied several batches of Craven soft hackle emergers. I added six beadhead size 20’s to my collection along with four size 20 and ten size 22 with no bead. I am optimistic that the models with no bead will enable me to land more fish during blue winged olive hatches that coincide with blustery conditions. Check out my post of 01/19/2012 for a material table. Tying instructions are available in Charlie Craven’s book Charlie’s Flybox. If the reader searches on soft hackle emerger in the upper right corner search box, he or she will discover three additional posts that describe the evolution of this fly in my fly fishing arsenal.

 

2017 Top Fifteen – 01/02/2018

In a year that included 106 fishing trips and 1,300 fish in my net, how is it possible to select a top ten list? It was very difficult, so I deviated from past practice and designated my fifteen favorite posts during the past year. It will be extremely difficult to best 2017 in both quality and quantity of fish in future years.

15. Piney River – 07/25/2017 – I became accustomed to outstanding days on small Piney River, and this day in late July was no exception. Tuesday included a vigorous hike and spectacular scenery accompanied by a variety of cold water trout. The fish were mostly small, but they more than compensated with vivid color.

14. Arkansas River – 07/26/2017 – Fifteen trout landed including several tough fighters in the thirteen to fourteen inch range yielded an enjoyable day. Confident takes of a Harrop hair wing green drake pushed this day into the top fifteen.

P7260074.JPG

A Harrop Deer Hair Green Drake

13. South Platte River – 04/13/2017 – Landing ten quality trout in a highly pressured section of the South Platte River tailwater in Eleven Mile Canyon was a gratifying achievement. A dense blue winged olive hatch developed in the afternoon, and I fooled sizable trout with very long downstream drifts of a size 18 CDC blue winged olive.

12. South Boulder Creek – 10/17/2017 – A forty plus fish day in the peak of the season is grounds for rejoicing, but to accomplish the feat in the middle of October when insect activity is diminished and trout metabolism is reduced due to colder temperatures or spawning desires, is cause for celebration. The fish responded to an ant, beetle and deer hair caddis.

PA170031.JPG

Zoomed a Bit Closer

11. Frying Pan River – 08/31/2017 – The size of the fish was average, but the number of fish landed was superb, and the fish responded repeatedly to my green drake imitations. A strong green drake hatch is indicative of a marvelous day, and 08/31/2017 was typical.

10. Cache la Poudre River – 07/21/2017 – 2017 included numerous outstanding visits to the Cache la Poudre River west of Ft. Collins. On this day in July the trout responded to my dry/dropper offering with red hot action.

P7210006.JPG

A Predator

9. South Platte River – 09/23/2017 – A twenty fish day in September is always welcome, but spending a day with my son in a gorgeous remote setting after he completed his return move from Pittsburgh elevated this day into the top ten.

P9230003.JPG

Dan Works the Left Bank

8. South Boulder Creek – 09/19/2017 – Tuesday was probably my best ever day on South Boulder Creek from a numbers perspective. The fish were hungry and responded to my fly choices throughout the day. The lingering effectiveness of green drakes on the small local tailwater was a nice discovery.

P9190012.JPG

Picturesque South Boulder Creek

7. Marvine Creek – 09/13/2017 – The scenery was superb, the solitude was perfect, and I lost myself in the simple challenge of catching gullible mountain trout. It is always fun to discover a new quality stream and experience success.

6. South Boulder Creek – 08/08/2017 –  I experienced numerous wonderful days on South Boulder Creek in 2017, but this Tuesday in August may have been the best. I cycled through three styles of green drake imitations, and finally settled on a winner, and it delivered a high level of success. Catching trout on western green drakes is one of my favorite pastimes.

P8080004.JPG

Quality Pockets Ahead

5. North Fork of the White River – 09/14/2017 – The scenery was spectacular, and I relished the solitude that I crave. The world consisted of me and my thoughts, as I focused on how to land wild Flattops trout. Quantity and size made this a top five outing for 2017.

4. Yampa River – 06/29/2017 – Large visible fish were packed tightly in a short stretch of the river, and I managed to land double digit numbers of the educated tailwater stream dwellers.

P6290043.JPG

The Main Yampa Tailwater

3. Yampa River – 06/22/2017 – An insane day of action transpired as the run off levels receded in the town of Steamboat Springs. My catch included five trout in the fifteen to twenty inch size range, and mayflies popped off the water for several hours in the afternoon.

2. Eagle River – 07/03/2017 – Another magnificent day developed while the flows fell but remained relatively high. Five trout were landed in the fifteen to eighteen inch range, and I witnessed a yellow sally hatch that was more dense than anything seen previously.

P7030105.JPG

Large Gap in My Grip

1.Bow River – 08/25/2017 – I enjoyed a seventeen fish day on the mythical Bow River south of Calgary, AB. The day would have been wonderful at lower catch levels, but in addition I landed two rainbows that measured in the twenty inch range. The weather was outstanding, my guide was terrific, and the fish cooperated at relatively low and challenging river levels.

vlcsnap-2017-08-27-21h40m19s813.png

Number Two Not As Fat

 

RS2 – 12/29/2017

RS2 12/29/2017 Photo Album

The RS2 has been a staple of my fly boxes since I moved to Colorado in 1990. I became aware of it, when I purchased and read Fly Fishing the South Platte River by Roger Hill, and he gave the fly designed by Rim Chung many glowing recommendations. Up until this winter I nearly adhered entirely to the classic pattern. The only exception was a substitution of brown pheasant feather fibers for the tail instead of muskrat guard hairs. I landed many fish in the intervening twenty-seven years on this fly, but during the last couple seasons I encountered situations where I should have been attracting more attention from trout during the periods prior to strong blue winged olive hatches.

PC150003.JPG

Muskrat Guard Hairs Are Obvious

I made a mental note to research some alternatives prior to tying a new supply, and I fulfilled my vow several weeks ago. I searched the internet and quickly stumbled across a close cousin of the RS2 called the sparkle RS2. I liked the idea of maintaining the basic concept with the addition of some extra flash, so I produced three conventional RS2 nymphs and ten sparkle versions. For the sparkle RS2’s I substituted white fluoro fibers for the tail and a clump of white antron fibers for the emerging wing. The only material that remained from the original pattern was the muskrat dubbing. I am quite excited to try these enhanced RS2’s, as I believe the extra flash of the fluoro fiber and antron will cause the small baetis nymph imitation to stand out more during the time period prior to an emergence. I also experimented with a black crystal flash rib on five of the sparkle RS2’s, and I like the ribbed look that this addition created. I learned the crystal flash ribbing concept from the ultra zug bug pattern by Scott Sanchez.

PC160004.JPG

Traditional and Sparkle RS2's

The thirteen new RS2’s brought my total inventory to sixty, as we enter the 2018 season. Hopefully this supply will be adequate for spring, summer and fall blue winged olive hatch periods in 2018.

PC160006.JPG

Crystal Flash Version

Iron Sally – 12/18/2017

Iron Sally 12/18/2017 Photo Album

If you are interested in learning how I was introduced to this fly, check out my 02/09/2017 post. It includes links to older posts and also describes how the iron sally produced one of my best days of 2016 on the Yampa River.

PC110028.JPG

Fish Candy

As I stated in my last post, I should probably attach an iron sally to my line more frequently. I believe that I gave it more line time in 2017 than in previous years, and I enjoyed some success. The day that stands out the most is 07/03/2017 on the Eagle River. In fact during that special day I observed a yellow sally hatch that surpassed any others during my many years of fly fishing. Whenever I encountered a yellow sally emergence in the past, they seemed to pop off the water sporadically and over a three to four hour period in the afternoon. On July 3 they appeared in blizzard quantities, but I spotted very few rising fish. I continued fishing a hares ear and iron sally through the dense 2.5 hour stonefly emergence, and I was rewarded with eleven fish, and they displayed a strong appetite for the flashy gold nymph.

PC110030.JPG

Completed Batch of Eleven

When I tallied my supply of iron sallies, I discovered thirty in my various storage compartments. My impressive although infrequent success with this fly prompted me to produce an additional ten to bring my season beginning inventory to forty. With this significant quantity in my coffers, I expect to select the bright attractor nymph more frequently in 2018.

Pheasant Tail Nymph – 12/17/2017

Pheasant Tail Nymph 12/17/2017 Photo Album

When I first moved to Colorado in 1990 and throughout the 90’s, the beadhead pheasant tail nymph was my number one producing nymph pattern. You can check out the materials list and read more about my early success with the pheasant tail in my 01/11/2012 post. Over time, however, it got displaced by the salvation nymph, as the flashy nymph seems to be as effective during the pale morning dun period, but also produces exceptionally well during other time frames when an attractor nymph is in demand.

PC060009.JPG

Nice One

I continue to carry a decent supply of pheasant tails in my fleece wallet, however, since I encounter situations where the smaller and darker nymph is relished by western trout. Although not a western stream, my day on Camp Creek in Wisconsin provides a glimpse of the results that a pheasant tail generates on occasion. Judging from the number of references to the pheasant tail in social media and in magazine articles, I am certain that it maintains a strong following, and this can only be attributed to a high level of effectiveness.

PC070015.JPG

23 Refurbished

Historically I never entered a new season without at least eighty of these simple nymphs in inventory; however, my heightened reliance on the salvation enabled me to reduce my beginning inventory. I counted fifty-seven in my various fly bins, and I deemed that quantity to be adequate. Despite this determination I emptied my canisters of damaged and unraveling flies, and uncovered twenty-three pheasant tail nymphs that accumulated over the past seven years. The pheasant tail fibers tend to be somewhat fragile despite counter wrapping with copper wire, and I suspect that most of the crippled flies were victims of trout teeth. I spent a day or two refurbishing all twenty-three flies, and I am now confident that I am more than prepared for 2018 with eighty imitations in my possession.

 

Emerald Caddis Pupa – 12/16/2017

Emerald Caddis Pupa 12/16/2017 Photo Album

My post of 01/01/2012 provides a nice background story to how I became acquainted with the emerald caddis pupa, and it also provides a materials table. I continue to admire this fly and its fish attracting capability. Unlike the bright green caddis pupa or go2 sparkle pupa, the emerald version seems to entice fish throughout the season, not just during the heavy grannom period. For this reason I give it more opportunities on the end of my line. During the early season before snow melt and then again in the fall, I elect to pair the emerald pupa with a beadhead hares ear nymph, and it often results in a sagging net.

PC050008.JPG

New One on Display

I am convinced that the emerald green color is an outstanding fish attractor. I have seen caddis larva with body colors that approximate the emerald green, so that might explain some of its effectiveness. I also caught several recently hatched adults and noticed the emerald green color on the tip of the abdomen on otherwise charcoal gray bodies. My logic dictates that trout are conditioned to seeing this color on tasty morsels, and they are readily drawn to my pupa imitation.

PC050005.JPG

Three Refurbished and Five New

I counted twenty-eight in my various storage containers, so I situated myself at my tying station and cranked out seven more to bring my total to thirty-five. This quantity is in line with my starting inventory for previous seasons, and I look forward to swinging and drifting the emerald caddis pupa again in 2018.

 

Bright Green Caddis Pupa – 12/11/2017

Bright Green Caddis Pupa 12/11/2017 Photo Album

The bright green caddis pupa has been a solid occupant of my fly box since my early days of fly fishing in Pennsylvania and New York. My 01/10/2012 post provides some background information on my introduction to this fly as well as a materials table. The 12/16/2014 post expands on the eastern story and then extends the history to my move to Colorado. I invite you to check them out.

PC040003.JPG

Macro View

Fast forward to 2017, and I continue to select the bright green caddis during my frequent fishing trips in Colorado and beyond. Over the last two seasons I modified the bright green caddis pupa abdomen by utilizing chartreuse diamond braid instead of a blend of bright green craft yarn and olive sparkle yarn. I like the additional flash provided by the diamond braid. I renamed this fly the go2 sparkle pupa. Old habits die hard; however, and I am reluctant to totally abandon the dubbed body version. I suspect there are situations where the shiny green body might alarm the trout, and they may display a preference for the more subtle bright green dubbed imitation.

PC040004.JPG

Displayed on Deer Hair Stubs

My inventory of bright green caddis pupa yielded a total of 41 in my various storage compartments, so I produced four additional flies to increase my stash to 45 for the 2018 season. For some reason I failed to encounter significant caddis activity during the spring in recent years, and consequently the bright green emergent pupa was not in high demand. I hope to change that during the coming season.