Mega Beetle – 01/30/2012

Mega Beetle 01/30/2012 Photo Album

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 100, standard dry fly hook, size 12 or desired size
ThreadBlack 6/0
UnderbodyPeacock mylar chenille or synthetic peacock dubbing
BodyBlack 2mm foam cut to oval shape
LegsSmall black rubber legs
IndicatorSmall piece of 2mm foam, color to suit for visibility
Parachute hackleGrizzly neck hackle

 

I made two new flies from Charlie Craven’s book, so I decided to flip through my fly tying book by Scott Sanchez that I purchased at the Fly Fishing Show several years ago. The mega beetle caught my eye as a nice foam body fly to add to my arsenal. I fish with Chernobyl ants quite a bit, and the mega beetle appears to be a truncated Chernobyl ant. This fly may prove to be a good option in instances when fish refuse the Chernobyl ant with its smaller size and a shape more closely approximating natural beetles.

A Completed Mega Beetle

I tied three mega beetles on Sunday and then added two more on Monday. The trickiest part of this fly is winding the parachute hackle around the strike indicator on top of the beetle. I learned with practice that it doesn’t pay to be delicate with this operation, and the fly benefits from lots of tugging of the hackle and prying up the indicator. I’m sure beetles without hackle would work just as well, but I’m the type that always follows directions.

Top with Parachute Around Indicator

Vail Ski Resort – 01/28/2012

Vail Ski Resort 01/28/2012 Photo Album

Jane was able to get out of work at noon on Friday so she and I packed the car and got off to an early start on our third ski weekend at our rental condo in Dillon, CO. We avoided traffic and got to the condo by 3:30PM. We made plans to meet our friends, Fred and Douggie Young, at 6:30PM. Since we had some time to spare before dinner we did some shopping at the Columbia Sportswear outlet and then went to the Natural Grocers store and picked up assorted items that we can’t find at the local King Soopers.

We called the Youngs, and Douggie informed us that we were all meeting at Hacienda Real in Frisco. We arrived at practically the same time as the Youngs and snagged a table for eight. The place was rather crowded so we were quite amazed that we were able to do this. In short order the Young’s friends Pat and Paul and Debbie and Harold arrived and joined us. Pat and Paul live in Colorado Springs, and Paul was a fraternity brother of Fred’s. We were surprised to discover that Pat’s mother lives in Allentown, Pa. We made plans to meet the Youngs and Pat and Paul on Saturday morning at the top of Lionshead at 10AM.

On Saturday morning we gathered our skiing gear and made the drive to Vail. The roads were bare and traffic was practically non-existent. We parked at Lionshead and waited in a long line, but arrived at Eagles Nest at precisely 10AM. The foursome was there waiting having just exited the chair lift. The others had arrived at 8:30 and had registered quite a few runs near Eagles Nest already.

We skied together for the remainder of the day with the highlight being two runs in the back bowls. Fred, Paul and I did a run down Ricky’s Ridge in Sundown Bowl and then Fred and I were joined by Jane for a run down Wow in the same bowl. By the end of the day my hands and toes were quite chilled so Jane and I returned to Lionshead ahead of the others.

Fred Ready to Kick It In

Saturday evening we had a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant in Frisco and then drove south to Breckenridge and checked out the snow sculpture contest. It was quite frigid as we walked the sidewalks of Breckenridge and photographed our favorite snow art.

Jane Blends with Snow Figure

Pennsylvania Visit – 01/26/2012

Pennsylvania Visit 01/26/2012 Photo Album

As has happened for the previous three years, my friend Bill Hicks invited me to join him to attend a Bucknell basketball game and use one of his season tickets. Bucknell is doing quite well this year, so I chose the January 25 date against American University. I use these visits as an opportunity to visit my brother Jim and sister-in-law Diane and my sister Marcia.

I departed at 10:40AM on Tuesday from DIA on Southwest Airlines and arrived in Philadelphia on time at around 4:20PM. Because I carried my bag on, I was able to pick up my Chrysler Town and Country minivan and left the parking lot by 5:45PM. It was very mild for Philadelphia with a high temperature around 54 degrees, and I witnessed a gorgeous scarlet sunset in the western sky as I made my way toward Lititz, Pa. to stay with brother Jim for the night.

I entered the wrong lane at the turnpike plaza and had to pull to the shoulder and walk back to get a ticket and avoid paying the highest fee for going from New Jersey to Ohio. I made record time and arrived at Jim’s house by 6:30PM. Diane was out to a birthday dinner with friends, so Jim and I had a delicious dinner at the Country Cupboard. The baked lima beans and cranberry relish were Pennsylvania Dutch treats.

On Wednesday morning Jim and I had breakfast at the Tomato Pie Cafe in Lititz and then took a drive north to the Middle Creek State Wildlife Area. We took a short hike and snapped some pictures by one of the many lakes in the area. Next we did a big circle around the wildlife area and returned to the Hammer Creek and stopped at a covered bridge and took some more photos. The clear streams and mild weather made me wish I’d taken my fishing gear along.

Dave by Hammer Creek Covered Bridge

Next we covered some more country roads and stopped briefly at a Mennonite school house to take another picture. Finally we crossed Lititz Run and parked at the special regulation area and once again inspected the stream. Jim needed to be available by noon for his school bus driving gig, so I packed up my things and drove to Harrisburg to the Pennsylvania Automobile Association offices of Bill Hicks. Bill’s office is right next to the Susquehanna River in a pretty location. Bill and I departed from his parking lot and stopped  at a casual restaurant for some lunch before driving north on route 15 to Lewisburg, Pa.

Bucknell Starters Run Offense vs American

Our first stop at Bucknell was the site of our old KDR fraternity house which is now a vacant lot seeded with new grass. Next we drove up the hill behind TKE to the newly constructed KDR. The new facility is a vast improvement over the old house with a striking view of the new campus extension and the Susquehanna River. We left KDR and found a parking space in downtown Lewisburg and browsed the Barnes and Noble Bucknell book store. With a hour or so on our hands prior to meeting Ken Hafer and his guests at the Hotel Lewisburg, we stopped at the Smiling Chameleon and enjoyed a craft beer. The Lancaster milk stout I ordered was quite tasty.

At 5:15PM we joined the Hafer party at the Lewisburg Hotel and had an enjoyable dinner while catching up with Ken and his business ventures. After dinner we hustled to the Sojka Fieldhouse and sat down in time for the tip off. Bucknell managed to overtake American at the end of the first half, then expanded the lead to as much as 15 during the first ten minutes of half two. American scrambled and fouled and began making three point shots to close to  within four late in the game, but Bucknell began making free throws and held on for a 66-61 win. After the game Bill and I returned to his home near Hershey, Pa.

On Thursday morning I awoke to light rain and drizzle, but no freezing rain as had been feared. I had breakfast with Bill, visited with his cat Dexter, and copied a couple music CD’s to add to my collection. I departed at around 9:30 for Landis Store and arrived at sister Marcia’s house at around 10:30. Marcia and I chatted for a bit and then headed out the door to her favorite natural foods store, Echo Hill. Marcia is only working two days a week, and she has taken up making her own granola mixtures. I bought some raspberry trail mix, and we proceeded to Fleetwood where we ate lunch at a nice little lunch spot on Main Street.

After returning to Marcia’s house, we chatted a bit more, and I jumped back in the rental car and departed for the Philadelphia Airport by 3PM. I arrived at the airport in plenty of time and my return flight was on time and brought me home by 9PM.

 

Mugly Caddis – 01/22/2012

Mugly Caddis 01/22/2012 Photo Album

I’m quite excited about the latest batch of flies I tied today, Sunday, January 22. I spotted the fly and tying directions in Charlie Craven’s book, Charlie’s Fly Box, and today I generated six size 16 mugly caddis with olive brown bodies. These flies are purposely designed to be shaggy and unruly, and I love flies that fit that description. I’ve often caught numerous fish on a bedraggled fly, and it seems the more the fly deteriorates, the more the fish respond. The mugly caddis is analogous to buying faded jeans as it is created to look used.

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 100, size 16
ThreadBrown 6/0
AbdomenOlive brown dubbing
UnderwingTan or natural snowshoe rabbit foot
WingFine coastal deer hair
ThoraxOlive brown dubbing

Olive Body Mugly Caddis

In order to tie this fly I purchased two tan snowshoe rabbit feet. I’ve never tied a fly with this material, and I’m excited to see how it works. It certainly seems to bring a lot of air pockets to the underwing. In addition to offering a life like appearance, the mugly caddis is fairly easy to tie with only three materials involved.

Underside

 

Snowshoe Rabbit Underwing

Vail Ski Resort – 01/21/2012

Vail Ski Resort 01/21/2012 Photo Album

Jane and I took off Friday evening for our drive to Dillon and the condo we are renting on weekends for the 2012 ski season. We planned to arrive at the condo around 7:30 and eat a light dinner. Dan and friends Devon, Brady and Kara were driving up later and crashing at the condo for Friday night and then skiing at Vail on Saturday.

Unfortunately we hit heavy bumper to bumper traffic between Georgetown and the Eisenhower Tunnel so didn’t arrive until 8:00PM. We grabbed a quick dinner at Chipotle in Silverthorne, and the rest of the crew arrived at around 10:30.

Saturday morning brought virtually no new snow, but we all decided to drive to Vail for the day. I had skied Vail the previous Friday with John Broadbent, so I was curious to see how the conditions had changed. After we parked and walked through Vail Village to the lift area, we discovered Dan waiting for the girls even though they had left the condo 45 minutes before us. They parked at the free parking in East Vail and took the shuttle bus. We agreed to meet as a group at Two Elks Lodge at 12:30 as the younger members of our group wanted to ski the recently opened back bowls and Blue Sky Basin.

The conditions had improved somewhat from the previous week, but remained very thin on the trails that did not benefit from snowmaking. Jane and I remained on the front side of Vail for the morning and worked our way to Two Elks by noon and snagged a large table. Within ten minutes Dan and the rest of the gang arrived and we all relaxed and had lunch together.

A Big Smile from Jane

After lunch Jane and I took a run down China Bowl and planned to return to the top on the Teacup lift. However, as we approached Teacup lift we noticed that the lift line to Blue Sky Basin was very short so we hopped on  and enjoyed a run on Cloud Nine. After one run in Blue Sky we returned on the Teacup Express and then worked our way to the Lionshead Gondola. By this time it had begun snowing fairly heavily so we appreciated the shelter of the gondola. Our final run was on Born Free, and when we reached the base, we decided to call it a day. Jane  contacted Dan, and they were on their way down as well so we waited for them. We offered them a ride to the free parking lot, but a shuttle bus arrived as we neared the parking garage, so they jumped on the bus.

Kara and Brady

We invited Karen and David Gaige to join us for Saturday evening, so when we returned to the condo we contacted them, and they arrived by around 4:30PM along with the kids. Brady’s parents, Dougie and Fred, were also at their condo in Dillon waiting for the forecasted snowstorm, so we called them and invited them over and had a great impromptu spaghetti feast at the condo. Everyone pitched in with food preparation and clean up. Karen and David stayed with us on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning we had a great breadfast, and Karen and Dave departed for snowshoeing while Jane and I cleaned up the condo, packed and loaded the car. We left Frisco after returning the key by 10AM and returned to Denver before noon.

Craven Soft Hackle Emerger – 01/19/2012

I finished tying all the flies on the list I generated in November, so now the fun part has arrived. I decided to make some new flies I’d never tied before, and last night I browsed through my Charlie’s Fly Box book by Charlie Craven and selected two new patterns to tie; Craven’s soft hackle emerger and a mugly caddis.

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 100 Size 18
ThreadGray 6/0
TailWhite fluoro fiber
AbdomenMuskrat
WingWhite fluoro fiber
HackleBlue dun hen hackle
ThoraxMuskrat

 

The soft hackle emerger appeals to me as a potential alternative to the RS2 that I frequently fish when blue wing olives are in the air. The white tail and wing made from fluoro fiber looks like a true fish attractor.  On Tuesday I made the lunch time drive to Old Arvada and purchased 5 minute epoxy to appropriately finish the jujubaetis flies, bought white fluoro fiber for the soft hackle emerger, and finished my shopping with two tan colored snowshoe rabbit feet for the mugly caddis.

Craven Soft Hackle Emerger

On Wednesday and Thursday I sat down at my vice and produced ten soft hackle emergers. The first five were tied per the directions in the book, and I was quite pleased with the results even though I struggled to fold the hackles. I added five on Thursday night tied on a size 18 scud hook with a small silver bead. I’m anxious to try both types as replacements for the RS2.

Beadhead Soft Hackle Emerger

Jujubaetis – 01/15/2010

At the end of October Dave Gaboury and I drove to the fairgrounds parking lot in Eagle, CO and gathered our rods and headed down the bank to fish the Eagle River across from where Brush Creek enters. The river was fairly low and Dave and I were hoping to catch a few fish after a very slow morning on Brush Creek. The sky was quite overcast and air temperatures fell into the 40’s while we were fishing.

Jujubaetis with Epoxy

Jujubaetis

We immediately saw a fisherman across from us in the nice long run and riffle below the entrance of Brush Creek. He was landing a fish as we approached the river, and Dave G. called out and asked him what he was using. The friendly fisherman replied, “prince nymph and jujubaetis”. I had seen the jujubaetis pattern in my Charlie’s Fly Box book authored by Charlie Craven, so I resolved to tie this great looking fly. The fact that the gentleman across from us was catching fish on it only reinforced my desire.

Flashback on Top

 

As I prepared to tie flies for the upcoming season, I made a list of what I planned to tie, and from that list I created a bill of materials. On a Saturday Jane and I drove to Old Arvada and visited Charlie’s Fly Box, and the salesman there helped me obtain the materials necessary to tie jujubaetis nymphs. This weekend I pulled out my book and the purchased materials and made five of these great looking flies. Since tying the jujubaetis involves using two different colors of thread, I made the tail and abdomen on five flies with the white thread and set aside. Next I switched to black thread and tied on the remaining materials. I set these aside and as a last step I added a layer of clear nail polish. I hope to purchase some five minute epoxy and finish them off with the appropriate coating.

Underside with Legs Visible

Trico Spinner – 01/15/2012

Perhaps the first dry fly that I had any consistent success with was the trico spinner. Tricos hatch like clockwork during the summer on the Little Lehigh Creek in Allentown, Pa., and I spent many weekend mornings trying to hook gulping trout on this waterway within the city limits of Allentown. This proved to be a great education in stealthy approach, casting and following a tiny dry fly for a relatively novice fly fisherman like myself.

ComponentMaterial
HookTMC 100 Size 24
ThreadBlack
TailStiff blue dun hackle fibers
AbdomenBlack thread
WingCharcoal Sculpin wool or white poly yarn
ThoraxBlack dubbing

Trico Spinner

When I moved to Colorado I assumed that my pursuit of trout sipping trico spinners was behind me, but I was mistaken. There are numerous streams in Colorado that host fairly dense trico hatches. Some of the first ones I witnessed were on the South Platte River between Spinney and Eleven Mile Reservoirs. Eventually I encountered spinner falls on the South Platte River near Deckers and some particularly predictable and steady hatches in Eleven Mile Canyon. This past summer I caught a few nice fish on trico spinners on the Arkansas River below Salida.

Top View of Trico Spinner

Because of these occasional encounters with the trico, I depleted my supply and decided to replenish this during January. I consulted my friend, Jeff Shafer, who continues to live in the Lehigh Valley about the latest trends in trico spinner tying. Jeff told me he has had good recent success using charcoal sculpin wool for the wings. This material more closely matches the gray opaque natural trico wing when viewed from beneath the water. Jeff was kind enough to mail me several hanks of sculpin wool, and I used this material to produce seven trico spinners. I also tied five spinners using the white poly wing from my past. Bring on the tricos as I’m ready to offer my charcoal wing imitations this summer.

Charcoal Wing Spinner

Black Parachute Ant – 01/11/2012

Two years ago while attending the Fly Fishing Show in Denver in January I roamed along the outer wall where fly tiers were stationed. Here I discovered a tier from Pennsylvania named Tom Baltz, and he was displaying some parachute black ants with various colored wing posts. I inspected the ants and I was impressed with the narrow waist between the bumps in spite of attaching a wing post and parachute hackle to the middle of the fly.

Parachute Ant

I asked Tom if he would tie one for me and he did. I returned to my personal fly tying desk and produced some reasonable imitations. Two years passed by, and I couldn’t remember the detailed steps required to make parachute ants, so when I attended the Fly Fishing Show on January 6, I sought out Tom for another instructional session. I found him in a similar position, and he agreed to tie a parachute ant for me again. This time I borrowed a piece of paper and pen and recorded each step in a fair amount of detail.

Trout View

Black Parachute Ant

by Tom Baltz

Mt. Holly Springs

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 101 Size 18
ThreadBlack 6/0
Wing PostCalf body hair, poly yarn or Z-lon using color of choice for visibility
HackleSize 18 grizzly
BodyBlack ultrafine dubbing

 

Below are the steps used by Tom to make black parachute ants:

1. Pinch barb
2. Put hook in vice
3. Attach thread to midpoint or slightly in front
4. Stack hair or align wing post fibers
5. Point wing down and in front of near side of hook shank. Take two soft turns to trap,    tighten and roll to top, then bind down behind post.
6. Make a blunt cut of wing post material and cover stub with wraps.
7. Make two turns around base of wing post to stand up then lock with two turns behind.
8. Attach hackle stem in front of wing post. One soft wrap from behind to in front over top of hackle stem then pull hackle so minimum stem showing then one more wrap then 10 horizontal wraps around hackle and wing post.
9. Go to back end of the hook and create rear bump.
10. Go to the front of the hook and dub front bump.
11. Return thread right in front of wing post and use rotating hackle pliers and wind the hackle counterclockwise from top to bottom down wing post.
12. Tie off on waist with two wraps, snip hackle tip, then whip finish through hackle.
13. Coat the waist.

*Key is wrap parachute counterclockwise. This enables wrapping the thread through the parachute hackle fibers without trapping them.

Fisherman View

Beadhead Pheasant Tail Nymph – 01/11/2012

When I first moved to Colorado this fly was my dominant producer. I fished frequently in the South Platte River below Deckers, CO because of the proximity to my home and the great fishery that existed there prior to the Heyman Fire. Drifting a nymphing rig with a strike indicator, a split shot or two, a pink San Juan worm and a beadhead pheasant tail was money in the bank just about any time of year. However during the pale morning dun hatch time period of mid-June to mid-July, the pheasant tail nymph was unsurpassed.

ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457, Size 16
BeadGold to fit hook size
RibFine copper wire
TailPheasant tail fibers
AbdomenPheasant tail fibers
Wing FlashStrand of pearl flashabou
Wing CaseFlash back black
ThoraxPeacock Herl

 

Beadhead Pheasant Tail Nymph

I can remember days fishing with my friend Dave Gaboury where every upstream cast produced a hit on the beadhead pheasant tail before, during and after a PMD hatch. In one instance, a strong hatch commenced and when fish began to rise to the surface, I switched to a PMD dry fly while Dave G. continued with his nymph system. Dave G. totally outfished me with the nymphs compared to my dry fly.

Flashback Wing Case

Over time I’ve modifed the standard pheasant tail by adding a gold bead, tying on a curved scud hook, adding a strand of pearl flashabou to the wing case, and using peacock herl for the thorax instead of pheasant tail fibers. I needed 16 beadhead pheasant tails to replenish my inventory for 2012, and I can report that I am ready to go.