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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Klinkhammers Plus Associated Materials

 

Light Gray Comparadun – 04/04/2017

Light Gray Comparadun 04/04/2017 Photo Album

Success with the light gray comparadun predates the cinnamon version. Check out my 12/27/2015 post for more information regarding my infatuation with this fly and my migration to the cinnamon comparadun. Despite a recent shift toward the cinnamon variety, I continue to encounter situations where the light gray no hackle dry fly is preferred by Rocky Mountain trout. Scenarios that dictate light gray also seem to coincide with a requirement for the larger size 16.

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Love the Background Texture

My inventory of gray comparaduns revealed that I was quite well stocked in size 16, and seventeen size 18’s remained in my fly bins. In order to round off the size 18 count, I tied three additional no hackles. I remain optimistic that I will encounter more pale morning dun hatch matching situations in 2017, and I feel adequately prepared with multiple body colors and sizes.

Cinnamon Comparadun – 04/04/2017

Cinnamon Comparadun 04/04/2017 Photo Album

My post of 12/23/2015 summarizes my history with this fly, and another summer of experience solidified it as a necessary component of my fly fishing arsenal. For some reason I did not encounter as many pale morning dun hatches as was the case in previous years, but a day on the Yampa River on June 23 justified my devotion to size 18 cinnamon comparaduns.

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Delicate

When I counted my carry over supply of cinnamon pale morning dun imitations, I discovered that I retained an adequate supply of size 18’s; however, I only possessed three of the size 16 variety. Size 18 seems to be the prevalent size on the streams that I frequent, but I decided to produce an additional seven in the larger size to avoid getting caught short in case I meet a brood of larger mayflies.

 

 

Parachute Green Drake – 03/11/2017

Parachute Green Drake 03/11/2017 Photo Album

The parachute green drake is a staple among the corner of my fly box that contains green drake imitations. Trout can be quite discerning during a western green drake hatch; therefore, I stock two different sizes and three styles during the period when I am most likely to encounter the large western mayfly. A previous post documented the Harrop hair wing style, and the comparadun green drake is highly effective on certain streams as well. When I counted my green drakes, I ascertained that five parachute green drakes remained from 2016 in size 14.

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Near Perfection

During the past five years I learned that a parachute pattern is often preferred when trout shy away from the bushier hair wing version. It projects a silhouette that is more robust than a comparadun but not as bulky as a hair wing. I may be wrong about this, but I also sense that the size 14 2XL matches naturals more frequently than size 12. The size 12 version of the western green drake seems to fool trout early in the season, but it is ignored during later hatches on the Frying Pan River and South Boulder Creek.

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Perched on Calf Body Hair

During 2016 my best action on a size 14 parachute green drake occurred on the Frying Pan River on July 26. My friend John and I were about to quit for the day, but then we agreed to make one more last ditch effort during the late afternoon. John was the first to discover that the Frying Pan trout were tuned into the green drake, so I borrowed from his knowledge and knotted a size 14 parachute green drake to my line. The move paid huge dividends, as I landed six additional trout over the remaining 1.5 hours on the river.

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Hopefully Irresistible

Periods like this linger in my memory, and therefore, I tied five additional size 14’s to increment my total to ten. Hopefully my fly fishing travels will intersect with numerous green drake hatches during 2017, and the parachute green drake will be a favorite of western trout.

Harrop Hair Wing Green Drake – 03/01/2017

Harrop Hair Wing Green Drake 03/01/2017 Photo Album

As I entered the month of March and anxiously anticipated warmer weather conducive to fishing local streams in relative comfort, I continued to make steady progress toward my goal of building my supply of flies to adequate levels for the 2017 season. Mayflies and caddis remained as the last categories to be reviewed and augmented as necessary.

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Nice Profile

During 2016 I set a goal to converge with as many green drake hatches as possible. This proved to be an objective that eluded my grasp to some extent. I can recall four incidents when the green drake made its presence a factor, but these instances simply fueled my desire for more. I was surprised to encounter a gray drake hatch in the Hayden Meadows area of the Arkansas River, and the Harrop green drake accounted for some landed fish during that enjoyable day of fishing. On 7/15/2016 I spent an afternoon on the Cache la Poudre near Rustic, CO, and green drakes made a welcome appearance. The Harrop green drake accounted for several fish, but I was also frustrated by refusals. It was close but not exactly what the fish were attuned to.

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From the Front

I can usually depend on some hot green drake fishing on the Conejos River, but other than a brief spinner fall, the anticipated hatch never materialized in July 2016. The Frying Pan River is normally an ironclad lock for superb green drake activity and successful hatch matching; however, unlike other years I visited early in the season and failed to make the trip in the August and September time frame. Historically these months produced some of my most intense green drake action. Nevertheless I did enjoy a hour of fast action late in the day on 7/26/2016, with my friend John also joining in the fun. On this occasion the parachute green drake fooled all the trout that nestled in my net.

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Dubbing Included

My last contact with green drakes occurred on 8/4/2017 on South Boulder Creek, but the Harrop hair wing version was not the preferred imitation. A size 14 comparadun with no rib represented the food of choice.

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Clustered Among Moose and Deer

As the reader absorbs the above account of my 2016 green drake encounters, he or she can discern the need for an array of imitation styles and sizes. I generally enter each season with three styles; parachutes, comparaduns and Harrop hair wing. In addition I attempt to stock my fly box with adequate quantities of each style in size 12 and 14. When I sorted and counted my green drake supply a few days ago, I determined that all the Harrop versions were size 12, so I approached my tying bench and produced eight additional size 14 facsimiles. I am quite eager to experiment further with the Harrop green drake in 2017.

 

Stimulators – 03/01/2017

Gray Stimulators 03/01/2017 Photo Album

Olive Stimulators 03/01/2017 Photo Album

My  02/21/2017 post on stimulators documented my fondness for the light yellow body color, however, other body shades attract Rocky Mountain trout throughout the year. Two additional hues that seem to be exceptionally productive in Colorado are gray and olive. When I counted my supply of these two mainstays of my fly box, I realized that my inventory was largely depleted. Given this discovery I sat down at my vise and cranked out fifteen gray and ten olive stimulators. Ten of the gray versions were size 16 and five were size 14. In the case of the olive variety I made entirely size 16.

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First Gray Stimulator, Size 16

Throughout my years of fly fishing gray has always stood out as a popular color for trout. The fabled Adams dry fly is the best example of gray effectiveness, and many authors claim to fish nothing but an Adams with excellent success. I am also extremely confident in a light gray caddis and a light gray comparadun. Regardless of the color of the naturals, these two flies seem to produce. Perhaps this explains why the gray stimulator is often my first choice when I approach a small stream with the intent of prospecting with a dry fly.

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Zoomed In

The bushy appearance of the stimulator enables it to float well in turbulent water, and it is easily visible in most lighting conditions, because it exhibits a high profile on the surface. I prefer foam as my top fly on a dry/dropper configuration, but a stimulator can generally support one size 14 beadhead or smaller dropper, and I often opt for a stimulator dry/dropper alignment in low clear stream conditions. The light stimulator allows a soft entry to a pool and thus reduces the risk of startling a potential skittish feeder.

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Zoomed

During an initial visit to the Hayden Meadows section of the Arkansas River I encountered a gray drake hatch. I assumed the large mayflies were green drakes, and I managed some success with a Harrop deer hair green drake; however, after rotating through other green drake imitations I settled on a size 14 gray stimulator, and it delivered five nice brown trout to my net. This example provides another solid reason to stock ample gray stimulators in my fly box.

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Cannot Wait to Knot on My Line

 

 

 

Yellow Stimulators – 02/21/2017

Yellow Stimulators 02/21/2017 Photo Album

Stimulators have become one of my favorite searching patterns over the past several seasons. Prior to last year I tied quite a few in an assortment of body colors; yellow, olive, peacock, black, tan and red. The heavily hackled attractors in size 16 and 14 performed admirably on the various Colorado streams, but the color that clearly distinguished itself as a necessity in my fly box was the light yellow version.

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Very Nice

My devotion to the yellow stimulator began on the Lake Fork of the Conejos River on July 18, 2016. I experienced a day of frustration on the main stem of the Conejos, and in an act of despair, I diverged on to the tiny Lake Fork tributary. Initially I was surprised by an abundance of refusals to a pool toy with a yellow body. I was encouraged by the sudden attention, but it took me a fly change or two to solve the riddle. I eventually opted for a size 16 stimulator with a light yellow body, and the fish rewarded me for my persistence. During my time on the main Conejos I observed quite a few yellow Sallies and small golden stoneflies, so the effectiveness of the small yellow stimulator was not entirely unexpected.

Not wishing to suffer another day of frustration on the Conejos River on July 19 prompted me to drive to Elk Creek, a tributary seventeen miles downstream from the Lake Fork. Guess what I discovered? Amid a fairly steady emergence of yellow sallies and golden stoneflies the size 14 yellow stimulator accounted for twenty trout, and quite a few were above average size for the small tributary.

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10 Size 16 Yellow Stimulators

On July 20 I accepted the challenge of the Conejos River once again despite high flows and memories of a day of futility on July 18. The sought after pale morning dun and green drake hatches never materialized, but guess what salvaged my day? A fairly heavy afternoon emergence of yellow Sallies and two sizes of golden stoneflies prompted me to once again resort to a size 14 yellow stimulator, and it proved to be a winning choice. The yellow attractor contributed eight fish to my count, and enabled me to enjoy a respectable day on the difficult main stem of the Conejos.

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Zoomed in for a Closer Inspection

When I reviewed my posts from July 2016, I entered a reminder on my fly tying to do list to produce an adequate quantity of new yellow stimulators, and in early February this became a reality. I refreshed my memory of the tying steps with an excellent YouTube video, and then I sat down at my tying bench and produced twenty yellow stimulators. Half were made on size 16 hooks and the other half were attached to a size 14. Golden stoneflies and yellow Sallies cannot come soon enough.

 

CDC Blue Winged Olive – 02/15/2017

CDC Blue Winged Olive 02/15/2017 Photo Album

There is no more essential fly required to sustain success throughout the season than a small blue winged olive imitation. These abundant mayflies hatch nearly year round, if one includes freestone and tailwater fisheries on one’s itinerary. Over the last ten years I settled on a CDC-wing BWO imitation, and it served me well. The CDC BWO is a tiny comparadun, however, I substitute medium dun CDC fibers for deer hair to form a wing. I tie exclusively size 22 and 24 flies, and deer hair contains too much bulk for these diminutive replicas of the baetis mayflies that populate Colorado streams. A slender profile is necessary to convince selective blue winged olive feeders to mistake my flies for naturals.

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Another One

A critical feature of the CDC BWO is the delicate split tails. I use dun microfibbets and strive to create two tail fibers that split at forty-five degree angles from each side of the hook shank. Historically I struggled to acheive this goal while maintaining the tail fibers on an even plain. Last year I searched online and found a brief instructional piece that solved my problem. When I attach the thread, I make a small bump at the rear of the hook shank, and then allow a three inch tag end of the thread to dangle. I tie two microfibbets to the top of the shank and make thread wraps back until I am 1/8 inch from the thread bump. Next I pull the tag end of the thread upward and split the tails and then pull forward and down until the near fiber approximates the position I desire. I switch hands and hold the tag thread with my right hand while I lock it down with a couple thread wraps with the bobbin in my left hand. I once again switch hands, and I continue wrapping thread back toward the bump with my right hand as I preen the fiber on the far side into the correct angle and position. I find that this technique yields nearly perfect split tails every time.

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Nice Close Up of the Feather

 

I counted nineteen size 24 olives in my combined fly bins, so I manufactured six additional imitations to bring my total to 25. Next I inventoried my size 22 supply and discovered 34, so I made an additional six to bring my total to 40. If I am lucky, these flies will see action in the not too distant future, as blue winged olive hatches often commence in the middle of March.

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Dun Microfibbets and CDC

 

Yellow Sally – 02/02/2016

Yellow Sally 02/02/2016 Photo Album

The yellow sally is a small stonefly that is fairly abundant on Colorado rivers and streams. Yellow sallies overlap with pale morning duns, green drakes and caddis on many freestone rivers; and the aforementioned insects tend to hatch in denser quantities. For this reason I opt for mayfly and caddis imitations more frequently than yellow sallies. It does seem, however, that the yellow sally hatch endures longer into the hot days of August, and it is during these times that I knot a small yellow down wing fly to  my line.

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Tilted

I have experimented with various versions of yellow sally imitations including A.K. Best’s design with a yellow quill body and a yellow hackle tip wing. A couple winters ago I also whipped out some prototypes without hackle that utilized snowshoe rabbit foot hair as an under wing. None of these deviations seemed to outperform the basic style that mimics the deer hair caddis in a yellow color, so I decided to produce more of the old reliable.

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16 Yellow Sallies and Materials

During late January I positioned myself at the vice and cranked out sixteen additional yellow sallies. Eight were size 16 and an additional eight were size 14. For four of the size 14 versions I used green thread and began the abdomen with a small amount of bright green dubbing. I have seen some larger yellow sallies with a light green hue in the late July time frame, so the size 14’s are intended to cover the likelihood of encountering light green sallies in the future.

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Close Up of Yellow Sallies