Light Gray Comparadun 04/22/2018 Photo Album
The light gray comparadun was the first fly that sparked my love affair with the no hackle series designed by Caucci and Nastasi. If interested, you can read about my evolution from classic Catskill dry fly to comparadun proponent on my 02/21/2014 post.
Macro of a Pair of Size 16 Comparaduns
My 12/27/2015 update outlined the emergence of the cinnamon comparadun as a second favored comparadun option. Both flies performed especially well during pale morning dun hatches, but over the last two years I determined that the cinnamon version was somewhat more effective especially on certain river systems such as the Frying Pan River. Despite this slippage in ranking in my comparadun repertoire I continued to encounter situations, where the gray version was preferred by western trout. A solid example of this circumstance is available in my 06/23/2017 post that covered my day on the Yampa River. Experiences like this prompt me to continue tying light gray comparaduns in sizes 14 – 18.
Total Output of Light Gray
I took stock of my light gray inventory and determined that I needed to increment my supply of size 18, 16, and 14. I recently completed this small tying effort with two size 18, six size16, and one size 14. I believe I am adequately prepared for pale morning dun hatches of all colors and all sizes. I cannot wait.
Cinnamon Comparadun 04/14/2018 Photo Album
If the reader is interested in understanding my evolution to comparaduns, then consider reading my post of Comparaduns – 02/21/2014. I just reexamined it myself, and I enjoyed refreshing my memory on this subject. For a great description of my adoption of the cinnamon comparadun as a must have fly, my posts of 02/01/2015 and 12/23/2015 are very informative. The 12/23/2015 text also highlights several key tying steps that produce quality imitations of natural mayflies. I will not attempt to reinvent the wheel in this post.
A New Size 14 Cinnamon Comparadun on a Recovered Hook
During my trips to the Frying Pan River in 2017 I never encountered significant pale morning dun activity, and consequently the cinnamon comparadun was not a factor in my fishing success on that waterway. On June 23 on the Yampa River it played a key role that resulted in several fish, and it fooled a few fish on the Eagle River on 07/03/2017. During September and October the cinnamon comparadun demonstrated its fish attracting qualities on several occasions on South Boulder Creek, when I was surprised by late season mid-afternoon hatches.
Three Size 16's With Needed Materials
Damaged and Misfit Dry Flies to Be Recovered
As part of my winter fly tying process I focused on sorting through my many canisters of old unraveling and damaged flies. In the case of comparaduns I retrieved at least twenty-five bedraggled models, and I stripped them down to the bare hook. These hooks served as my supply to replenish comparaduns, and I recovered so many that a decent quantity of 18’s, 16’s and 14’s remain on the magnet that rests beneath my vise.
I tallied 33 size 18 cinnamon comparaduns in my storage boxes and concluded that additional quantities were not required. Size 18 matches 90% of the pale morning dun hatches that greet me in the west; however, occasionally a size 16 is in demand. I only counted seven size 16’s, so I manufactured an additional three to bring my total to ten. I hope to encounter more pale morning dun activity in 2018, and if my wish is fulfilled, I have adequate stocks of cinnamon imitations.
Harrop Hair Wing Green Drake 04/13/2018 Photo Album
A third key component of my western green drake arsenal is the Harrop hair wing green drake. The story of my introduction to and history with this fly is chronicled in my 12/29/2015 post. I invite you to check it out.
Nice Hairwing GD
During the past summer my finest day of green drake action using the Harrop style dry fly occurred on the Arkansas River at Hayden Meadows on 07/26/2017. This was the second summer that I encountered the gray drake hatch on the upper river below Leadville, and once again I had a blast. When I found the appropriate water and placed the high floating drake imitation in the sweet spot, the trout moved several feet to crush the heavily hackled deer wing fake.
A Pair Completed
Unfortunately I also experienced times when the trout rejected or ignored the bushy floater, and fortunately in these instances I had the parachute and comparadun styles to fall back on. Nevertheless I would not want to be on a stream during green and gray drake season without some Harrop versions in my fly box.
Five Newly Minted Hair Wings
I counted seven size twelves in my inventory, and I deemed that quantity to be adequate for my upcoming needs. In size fourteen on the other hand I tabulated six, so I incremented my supply by four to attain a total of ten. Hopefully this will provide adequate coverage for those periods when the trout tune into the hackled hair wing facsimile of a western green drake.
Green Drake Comparadun 04/13/2018 Photo Album
My previous post of 04/12/2018 on the parachute green drake contains links to reports on my history with flies that imitate the large western mayfly. It also included links to my recorded logs on several fun outings during 2017, when I encountered green drake hatches that provoked excellent surface action. During these memorable days on the streams, the parachute green drake and green drake comparadun were very effective. In my opinion the size 14 version is a more convincing imitation than size 12 a high percentage of the time. My 01/11/2016 post on the green drake comparadun details a few nuances, that I applied to my ties over the last two years. I feel certain that these small features are a critical part of my success with green drake comparaduns.
Nice Angled View
Five Flies Plus Materials
I took stock of my green drake comparaduns recently, and I determined that my boxes contained two size twelves and seven size fourteens. I overwhelmingly use size fourteens in the comparadun style, so I occupied my stool at the vise and produced five new models to bring my inventory to twelve. I am already anxiously looking ahead to more productive interactions with green drakes during the summer of 2018.
Parachute Green Drake 04/12/2018 Photo Album
I began tying this fly in 2012 after some frustrating visits to the Frying Pan River. You can check out my 09/11/2012 post for a materials table, and I continued to adhere to this recipe in recent years. Another informative read can be found in my 02/13/2015 post, and here I cover all the various styles, sizes and body colors that I incorporate into my western green drake ties. Beware, as your head may spin. My 01/10/2016 log entry includes an explanation of a critical improvement, that I adopted when producing my parachute green drakes. If you are entering the green drake tying business, make sure you review that technique improvement.
A Nice Size 14 Version
I declared 2017 the year of the green drake. During 2016 I made a concerted effort to seek out green drake hatches in Colorado, and although I did experience a few successful days, I was disappointed in my results. In 2018 I set no such goals, and I stumbled into more green drake hatches than ever before. I met them on the Cache la Poudre, the Arkansas River, South Boulder Creek and the Frying Pan River. Some of the most memorable days were 7/26/2017 on the Arkansas, 8/8/2017 on South Boulder Creek, and 8/31/2017 on the Frying Pan River. The trout in South Boulder Creek continued to recognize the large mayflies as late as 9/19/2017. On most of these days the parachute style dry fly was a significant contributor to my success.
Two Refurbished and Three New
The links in the initial paragraph connect you with my excessive analysis regarding size, style and body color for imitating these large fish attracting mayflies, but I concluded during my 2017 wanderings, that size 14 was preferred over size 12 across most streams and during a large proportion of the season. When I counted my supply of ribbed parachutes, I discovered that I possessed six size 12’s and five size 14’s. Given my preference for size 14’s, I sat down at my tying station and cranked out an additional five to raise my total to ten. Hopefully this will satisfy my requirements during the upcoming 2018 green drake season.
Stimulators 04/03/2018 Photo Album
My post of 03/01/2017 does a nice job of bringing the readers of this blog up to date with my views on stimulators. Over the last three years I settled on three body colors for the bulk of my stimulator searching efforts. Gray and green are nice general earthy colors, that seem to perform year round on western streams. Stimulators with yellow bodies excel during the phase of the season when golden stoneflies and yellow sallies are prevalent. This suggests to me that the yellow version is a solid imitation of the abundant dapping and egg laying stonefly varieties.
From the Side
Size 14 seems to be the best all purpose size for my prospecting needs. I suspect that it represents both caddis flies and stoneflies of intermediate size. In the case of yellow stoneflies I carry both size 14’s and 12’s, because golden stoneflies are larger than yellow sallies. This prepares me for scenarios, when one stonefly predominates.
I counted all my stimulators and determined that my boxes contained adequate quantities of yellow in the desired sizes of 12 and 14. I deployed gray the most, and the inventory revealed, that I possessed nine, so I gathered the requisite materials and produced an additional six. Seven olive versions occupied my boxes, and I decided to tie three more to increment my total stock to ten. Prior to tying the stimulators I sifted through the damaged and unraveling flies in my various cylinders, and I collected quite a pile on my tying counter. These flies provided more than enough hooks to complete my stimulator construction efforts for 2018.
Misfit Flies to Be Converted into Stimulators
Pool Toy Hopper 03/04/2018 Photo Album
A pool toy or a fat Albert? I struggle with this question quite often. During 2017 I opted for the fat Albert early in the season and late, but leaned on the pool toy during the July and August time period. The comparison may not be valid, since I tend to tie fat Alberts with yellow bodies and pool toys with tan bodies. Also I construct fat Alberts on size 8 hooks, and my pool toys are built primarily on size 10 hooks. I point these differences out to suggest that other variables besides type of fly may factor into the effectiveness of these two large foam hopper imitations.
Fine Looking Hopper
2017 was the second year that I fished a fat Albert extensively, and I was quite pleased with the results. In situations where I yearn for a large buoyant visible fly to support a pair of beadhead nymphs, the fat Albert is my preferred choice. The size 8 high floating attractor with dangling sexilegs is easy to track, and when combined with a beadhead hares ear nymph and salvation nymph provides hours of productive prospecting.
Ready to Tempt Trout
Despite my recent preference for a fat Albert I am not inclined to abandon the pool toy. In situations where I attempt to match the grasshopper hatch, the pool toy is very effective. For this reason the pool toy occupies my line frequently during the months of July, August and the first half of September. My 1/31/2013 post chronicles my introduction to the pool toy and describes some of the questions that I confronted during my first attempts to replicate the Andrew Grillos pattern. My 02/11/2017 post describes the intrusion of the fat Albert as an alternative surface indicator fly in a dry/dropper configuration.
A Pair with Different Color Legs
I counted thirteen tan pool toys in my various fly bins, so I manned my tying bench and manufactured an additional seven to bring my total to twenty. Eight yellow versions occupied space as well, and I decided to increment that total to ten by tying two more. I feel that I possess an adequate supply of foam grasshopper patterns to entertain the trout population in 2018.
Fat Albert 02/25/2018 Photo Album
Although the fat Albert is a decent fish attractor in its own right, it earns significant time on my line purely due to its visibility, buoyancy and durability. I particularly love the fat Albert as my lead surface fly, when I deploy a three fly dry/dropper arrangement. It is unsurpassed as a highly visible indicator fly that floats above the surface even with two size 14 beadhead nymphs dangling below. The yellow color combined with a white wing and its large size make the fat Albert easy to follow in riffles and difficult light situations. Often it is simply an indicator with a hook point, as I search the stream with a productive nymph combination.
There are incidents, however, where the fat Albert attracts the attention of opportunistic fish. One such memorable situation occurred, while I fished in Penns Creek on 6/1/2016. In this instance a brown trout crushed a yellow fat Albert likely mistaking it for a golden stonefly. I frequently deploy the yellow fat Albert during high run off conditions, as I edge fish, and I recall numerous instances where a large bank dweller ignored the dangling nymphs and pounced on the juicy foam attractor. Of course during hopper season in August and September, the fat Albert performs as a serviceable grasshopper imitation as well.
Eight New Fat Alberts
My 3/27/2016 post documents my introduction to the fat Albert, and a 12/18/2016 post chronicles the fat Albert’s effectiveness during 2016, its first full season of use. I counted twelve yellow fat Albert’s in my fly boxes, so I busied myself with the task of tying an additional eight to bring my 2018 starting total to twenty. Yellow has been my most productive color, although I must admit that I have not experimented extensively with the green and orange body versions, that I tied among the initial batch. I plan to visit Pennsylvania this year for my college reunion, and you can be certain that I will pack an adequate supply to test on wily central Pennsylvania brown trout in case large golden stoneflies are present. Twenty should be sufficient to lead my nymphs through pockets, runs and riffles during the 2018 fly fishing season.
Chernobyl Ant 02/25/2018 Photo Album
My post of 02/12/2017 sums up the status of the Chernobyl ant in my fly boxes. It remains an important weapon, but it ceded some of its importance to the fat Albert and Jake’s gulp beetle. In addition I enjoyed moderate success with a slightly smaller and lighter hippy stomper in the late fall of 2017, so this rising fish deceiver may displace even more line time from the Chernobyl ant.
My introduction to the Chernobyl ant extends back to my first trips to the Green River in Utah, and if interested, you can read about my early contact with the large foam ant in my post of 02/01/2011. In the initial days of tying the Chernobyl ant I experienced frustration with the single layer of foam spinning around the hook shank. This generally occurred after landing two or three fish. My 02/13/2014 post describes a significant modification to my tying methodology that eliminated the spinning shortcoming.
Three Brand New Chernobyls
As the fat Albert and Jake’s gulp beetle pilfered line time from the Chernobyl ant, my need to restock my supply shrank as well. I counted an adequate supply of size eights, but I determined that additional size tens were required. It is difficult to totally abandon a fly that factored so prominently in past success. I backed off on the hares ear nymph several years ago, but it returned to the number one productive fly in my box, just as I sensed its effectiveness was fading. It is far too early to write off the Chernobyl ant, since it owns a solid history of success.
Parachute Black Ant 02/22/2018 Photo Album
Historically I resort to an ant pattern when a gust of wind initiates a flurry of surface rises, or a feeding fish rejects several of my fly offerings but continues to feed. In the latter case it is very gratifying to dupe a reluctant feeder with a small black ant riding low in the film. Both of these scenarios are described nicely in my 02/03/2016 parachute ant post, and this was the last time I tied a batch of ants.
During the past summer I experienced several days on South Boulder Creek, when a parachute black ant became a very effective searching dry fly. The most prominent example is 10/17/2017. In this instance the trouts’ posture toward beetles was very tentative; however, they sipped my black ant with utter confidence. On a visit to South Boulder Creek on 09/21/2018 the black ant provided a preview of its later season effectiveness, as it yielded the first four trout of the day.
Nice Narrow Waist
Naturally the increased deployment of parachute ants resulted in a higher rate of depletion due to break offs, snags, and unraveling flies. My elevated level of confidence in the ant pattern suggested, that I would opt to knot it on my line with increased frequency, so I counted my holdings. I learned that my various storage boxes contained sixteen parachute black ants that complied with my exacting standards, so I decided to augment the supply by fourteen to thirty. I searched for and found my 01/11/2012 post, where I created a materials table and documented the excellent tying steps demonstrated by Tom Baltz at the Fly Fishing Show. I modified these instructions for one change. I now tie off the hackle and whip finish against the wing post rather than around the hook shank. This method traps far fewer hackle fibers. I also suggest using a finer thread such as 8/0 to avoid excessive build up in the waist area.
Eleven Refurbished Ants
I searched through all my damaged fly containers and uncovered eleven that were unraveling or poorly tied. Over the years I came to believe that a narrow waist between two well defined bumps is a triggering characteristic when casting an ant. I stripped quite a few ants from the hook that did meet my higher standards. The fourteen flies that I tied originated from unraveling flies, or flies that I deemed unacceptable for my exacting ant specifications.