Salvation Nymph – 12/05/2017

Salvation Nymph 12/05/2017 Photo Album

Another season passed, and I have little to add regarding the salvation nymph. It remains a mainstay in my fly box and is generally one of the first nymphs that I deploy after a beadhead hares ear. I often use the dynamic duo in tandem, and this combination produces outstanding results. When I compare the two, I assign an edge to the hares ear, as I believe that it produces trout over the entire fly fishing season in Colorado. The salvation nymph also attracts fish in the spring and fall, but it truly distinguishes itself in the June through August time frame. This period coincides with pale morning dun emergence on western freestones and tailwaters, and I believe the salvation nymph is a close approximation of the PMD nymph.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Shiny Nymph” type=”image” alt=”PB060001.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

If you attempt to look up this fly on line, search using tungsten salvation nymph. I tie mine with a standard gold brass bead, but the heavier tungsten is an option if you seek a faster sink rate. You can find a materials table and step by step tying instructions in my 12/30/2011 post. 2011 was my first attempt to tie this fly, and I have made no significant modifications other than to substitute black peacock ice dub for peacock ice dub for the thorax. It would be interesting to experiment with some different color combinations, but this fly is so effective, that I never felt the inclination to dabble with variations. The 2011 post also describes how I was introduced to the salvation nymph, and the comments section includes some remarks from the originator of the fly, Devon Ence.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Eleven Fresh Salvations” type=”image” alt=”PB070005.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I counted my supply in November and ascertained that my combined storage boxes contained 94. I target a starting quantity of 100 for each season, so I produced six new flies to reach my quota. For some reason I did not lose as many flies to trees, rocks and logs during 2017 as was generally the case in previous seasons.



Iron Sally – 02/09/2017

Iron Sally 02/09/2017 Photo Album

You can check out my introduction to the iron sally on my posts of 01/20/2013 and 02/04/2014. This is a fly that I should probably knot on my line more frequently. It is intended to imitate the nymph stage of a yellow sally stonefly; however, it also works as a subsurface imitation of golden stoneflies. The iron sally nymph takes longer to tie than most of the nymphs that I stock in my fly box, and this historically translated to fewer flies in my beginning inventory. Because I detest tying flies during the season, when I prefer to be on a stream, I too often shy away from the iron sally in an effort to preserve my quantity on hand. Preserve for what?

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Shine” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2550.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

On 06/28/2017 I experienced my best day of fishing in 2016 on the Yampa River, and the iron sally was the star player. During the afternoon I spotted several yellow sallies, so I featured the iron sally as a dropper beneath a fat Albert foam top fly, and the Yampa River residents went crazy. Not only did the iron sally produce quantities of fish, but the size of the landed trout was abnormally large. The memory of this day induced me to get serious in 2017, and I whipped out fifteen new sparkling imitations to go with the thirteen carryovers from last year.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Iron Sally Jewels” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2562.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I will begin the 2017 season with twenty-eight, and I expect this larger quantity to buffer me against the higher demands of more time on my fishing line. A few days in my future that approach 06/28/2017 will make me a very happy fly fisherman.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”15 Iron Sallies Completed” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2561.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

Mercury Black Beauty – 02/03/2017

Mercury Black Beauty 02/03/2017 Photo Album

Historically I relied almost entirely on a size 20 zebra midge for my subsurface midge larva imitation, and it served me reasonably well. I should probably resort to subsurface midge flies more frequently. On the infrequent occasions when I knotted them to my line, they generally surprised me with their productivity.

During a trip to the South Platte River in 2015, my friend Danny Ryan impressed me with a midge larva/emerger imitation, that he designed and created, and as a result I produced some of them for 2016 and then replenished my supply for 2017. Danny asked me to low key his fly, so I will honor that commitment, and avoid further details in this post.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Zoom” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2543.JPG” image_size=”2048×2048″ ]

When I attended the Fly Fishing Show in Denver in January, I watched Pat Dorsey tie flies, and his main focus was midge imitations. He swore that the tiny midge facsimiles were tremendous producers all year round, but particularly in the winter when midges represent the main source of nutrients for trout. I was especially attracted to the mercury black beauty, and as a consequence I took a seat at my fly tying bench and generated an initial supply for 2017. I made ten size 18’s and ten size 20’s. I added a flashback strip of pearl flashabou to all the 18’s and half the 20’s.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”20 Completed” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2538.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I tried the size 18 flashback mercury black beauty on my initial fishing trip to the South Platte River on January 30, but it failed to interest the local trout. I have not given up on the new fly, however, since the cold icy conditions did not lend themselves to a fair trial.

Emerald Caddis Pupa – 01/22/2017

Emerald Caddis Pupa 01/22/2017 Photo Album

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Opposite Side” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2429.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

After a trip to Las Vegas and Death Valley I am back in winter fly inventory replenishment mode. My progress was also interrupted by the time consuming task of researching and purchasing a new car. Before I departed on our road trip, however, I produced five emerald caddis pupa to increase my inventory to thirty.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Raw Materials” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2427.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

The emerald caddis pupa continues to be a season long producer, and I have little to add to previous posts. My 1/1/2012 post provides a material list and a bit of background on how I became associated with this fly. My 11/19/2015 post chronicles the development of the sparkle caddis pupa pattern by Gary Lafontaine. If you do not have any of these flies in your box, do yourself and favor and tie some. They work.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Emerald Caddis Pupa on Gray Sparkle Yarn” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2431.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]


Go2 Sparkle Pupa – 01/11/2017

Go To Sparkle Pupa 01/11/2017 Photo Album

The go2 sparkle pupa is a hybrid fly that I contrived during the early 2016 season. The story begins with a bright green caddis pupa that is designed to imitate the pupa stage of the grannom hatch. My 01/10/2012 post on this blog outlines my early association with the bright green emergent caddis pupa. Additional background is available on the 12/16/2014 and 12/01/2015 posts. In more recent history I attended the Fly Fishing Show in Denver and observed Rick Takahashi, as he tied a go2 caddis, and while the steps were fresh in my mind, I produced ten for the next season.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Example” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2410.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I fished both these flies on a regular basis particularly in the early spring, when the caddis hatch in abundant quantities on the Arkansas River as well as other streams in Colorado. Up until the last year or two I preferred the bright green caddis pupa over the go2 caddis, and I enjoyed decent success. During 2015 and 2016, however, for some reason I fished the go2 caddis more frequently, and I was impressed with its performance. Unfortunately during a trip to the Arkansas River in April  I used my last go2 caddis, so I was forced to visit my tying bench during the season.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Macros View” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2423.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I believe the salient triggering characteristic of the go2 caddis is the shiny bright chartreuse diamond braid body, and a light bulb flashed in my brain as I began to construct new flies. Why not borrow the bright green diamond braid from the go2 caddis and incorporate it into the bright green caddis pupa? I immediately implemented this idea and produced five bright green caddis pupa that featured the diamond braid body as a substitute for the craft yarn, that I previously employed. On a trip to the Arkansas River on 5/4/2016 the fish responded with a convincing vote in favor of my hybrid version, and I made a mental note to tie more for 2017.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”20 Go To Sparkles” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2422.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

Over the past two weeks I tied twenty new hybrids, and I named them the go to sparkle pupa. I love the flash of the chartreuse bodies on these flies, and I am certain that they will add a new dimension to my early season caddis pupa fishing on Colorado streams.

Ultra Zug Bug – 01/03/2017

Ultra Zug Bug 01/03/2017 Photo Album

My relationship with the ultra zug bug began on January 31, 2012. I was searching for some new patterns to tie, and I stumbled on to the ultra zug bug in a Scott Sanchez fly tying book. Initially I viewed it as a faster simpler pattern to replace the prince nymph; however, in recent years I discovered that it is a productive fly throughout the season. You can browse my success stories in my posts of 12/07/2014 and 11/04/2015. Detailed tying steps are documented on the 11/04/2015 entry, and a material list is included in the January 31, 2012 post.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Head On” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2405.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I have little to add in early 2017 other than to affirm that the ultra zug bug continues to be a top producer among my arsenal. The peacock nymph seems to be particularly effective during the early season prior to run off, and then it gains popularity again in the fall. Do not assume that it will not catch fish during the summer months, however, because it will. I suspect I relegate it to the second team during this time period, as I opt more frequently for the hares ear nymph and salvation nymph.

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Perhaps I will utilize the ultra zug bug more frequently in 2017, since it is quite easy to tie. I counted my remaining zug bugs and determined that I possessed 32, so I visited my tying bench and cranked out an additional 18. 50 ultra zug bugs seems like a solid starting point for the new season, and I am now prepared to tempt trout with this sparkling nymph imitation.

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Soft Hackle Emerger – 12/31/2016

Soft Hackle Emerger 12/31/2016 Photo Album

The origin of my favorable relationship with the Craven soft hackle emerger is best described in my 01/19/2012 post, and a table presents the materials required. More recent posts of 12/29/2014 and 12/10/2015 describe the evolution of the Craven soft hackle emerger to its current state as my prime subsurface option before and during blue winged olive hatches.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Nice Soft Hackle” type=”image” alt=”PC200040.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

The 2016 season did not change much in the realm of baetis or blue winged olive fly choices. I continue to default to the soft hackle emerger more frequently than the RS2. I prefer the additional flash from the white fluoro fiber. On one early season trip to the Arkansas River I stopped at the Royal Gorge Angler, and Taylor Edrington convinced me to buy some other blue winged olive nymphs, because he believes that a thick thorax and wing pad is a triggering characteristic that induces trout to bite. The soft hackle emerger exhibits a thicker thorax, and when I tie the version with a bead, it certainly presents more bulk near the front of the fly.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”26 New Craven Soft Hackle Emergers” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2391.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I continue to believe that the soft hackle emerger without a bead is effective when adult blue winged olives are visible, since the nymphs and emergers are closer to the surface of the stream, and I desire a shallow drift in these circumstances. For this reason I tied three new versions without a bead and 23 beadhead models. This production brings my inventory of beadhead soft hackle emergers to 40, and my fly box contains 25 with no bead.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Trout Candy” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2393.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

I anxiously anticipate the arrival of blue winged olives in a few months, and I will be ready with an adequate supply of imitations.

RS2 – 12/24/2016

RS2 12/24/2016 Photo Album

My post of 01/21/2011 chronicles the origin of the RS2 and also supplies a material list. Over the last couple years I migrated away from the RS2 toward the Craven soft hackle emerger, but I continue to carry an adequate quantity of RS2’s in my streamer wallet, as I visit western rivers and streams.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Two New RS2’s” type=”image” alt=”PC170006.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I prefer to fish the RS2 deep using a strike indicator and split shot hours before an expected blue winged olive emergence, and I impart movement to the fly by jigging it or executing poor downstream mends. These actions create momentary acceleration of the fly, and this seems to induce a feeding reaction from trout. If I sense that the fish are tuned into emergers close to the surface, I generally switch to a Craven soft hackle emerger, and sometimes I also shift to a dry/dropper presentation, since I no longer need to probe the depths of the river.

I also believe that the RS2 is a serviceable imitation of small midge larva, and for that reason it is a good choice when mayflies and caddis are not prevalent. Any fly that covers numerous food sources is a productive offering in my opinion.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Total Output and Ingredients” type=”image” alt=”PC190004.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

When I surveyed my fly boxes, I counted 23 RS2’s. I established a goal of 50 to enter the 2017 season, so I settled into my stool at my fly tying bench and cranked out 27 new flies. Hopefully I will encounter some strong baetis hatches, and my RS2’s will continue to attract trout to my line.

Hares Ear Nymph – 12/11/2016

Hares Ear Nymph 12/11/2016 Photo Album

The hares ear nymph earned comeback fly of the year honors in 2016. Of course it never fell very far from the top, but I definitely favored the salvation nymph over the hares ear in 2015. I suspect the hares ear never stopped producing, and instead I elected to allow other flies to occupy my line more than usual. At any rate I enjoyed some fabulous days throughout the season with a size 16 beadhead hares ear nymph dangling from my line.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”A Killer Beadhead Hares Ear” type=”image” alt=”PC100024.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

If you read back through my hares ear nymph blog posts from 2010 and 2011, you will realize that this workhorse fly was my unquestionable number one up until the summer of 2015. I increased my beginning of the season quota from thirty to one hundred during this period. There were several seasons when I consumed my entire inventory, and this forced me to tie more during the season. When the weather is suitable for fishing, I detest sitting at my tying desk producing flies.

During the summer of 2015, however, I fell in love with the salvation nymph. The new favorite was akin to a new car with lots of flash, and the trout agreed with me. During numerous summer fishing trips, the fish attacked the salvation nymph like sharks attracted by the scent of blood. I nearly depleted my salvation nymph supply during 2015 and increased my beginning inventory to sixty.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”The Edge of the Pile” type=”image” alt=”PC110028.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

I began 2016 with a similar mindset, and I preferentially knotted the salvation nymph to my line to the detriment of the hares ear nymph. Fortunately in many instances I fished the hares ear and salvation in a two fly combination, and during these instances I discovered that the trout showed a distinct preference for the hares ear. This was significant, because during most cases I positioned the hares ear as the top fly. Historically the end fly of a two fly system produced more fish, because it displayed more movement compared to the top fly, which is constricted due to line tension above and below.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”From the Top” type=”image” alt=”PC100025.JPG” image_size=”2048×1536″ ]

Trout choosing the hares ear over the salvation during two fly presentations was a strong sign that the old standby was returning to most favored status, but the true clincher was two spectacular days of fishing on the South Platte River in May. I landed nearly 120 fish on May 12 and May 13, and 90% of these catches consumed the beadhead hares ear. These two days restored my confidence in the beadhead hares ear, and it returned to the top of my list. For the remainder of the season a beadhead hares ear was nearly always present on my line, and it rarely disappointed.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Excellent Clarity” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2308.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

The salvation nymph continued to produce fish, but its prime time was centered on mid-June through August; whereas, the hares ear attracted fish consistently throughout the season, and it was particularly effective in the late fall time period of October and November.

Unwilling to risk depletion of my valuable stock of hares ears, I tied seventy-two, and when added to my carry over supply of twenty-eight enables me to enter the 2017 season with one hundred in inventory. I cannot wait to observe the salvation vs. hares ear face off again in 2017.


Salvation Nymph – 11/29/2016

Salvation Nymph 11/29/2016 Photo Album

Perhaps some of my readers are wondering why I have been inactive for two weeks? The short answer is that the weather in Colorado finally shifted to temperatures more typical of late November. I was never a strong proponent of fishing in cold temperatures, and now in my mid-sixties, that is more a certainty rather than a preference. Given this aversion to cold aching fingers and the loss of feeling in my toes, I shifted my attention to fly tying.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Salvation Nymph” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2254.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

For the last two weeks I visited my comfortable fly tying bench on a daily basis, and I produced eighty-five size 16 salvation nymphs. With the addition of twenty carry overs from 2016, I now possess one hundred of these shimmering nymphs, and I can restock my fly bins with the knowledge that I likely have enough to get me through the 2017 season.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”From the Top” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2255.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

If you review the archives of my blog posts on the salvation nymph, you can read about my history with this favorite. In short it has gone from a recommended purchase at Conejos River Anglers to a mainstay in my fly box, and this explains the significant increase in inventory from sixty to one hundred. For some reason I tend to lose more salvation nymphs than any other fly, and many of these fly separations occur with trees, rocks, and branches and not fish. My only explanation is that I tend to fish it as the last fly on a dry/dropper or nymph configuration, so it tends to encounter foreign objects in advance of the flies positioned higher on my leader.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Belly” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2257.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

When I composed my salvation nymph blog post last fall, I was crowning it as the champion producer, as it seemed to dethrone the long time number one beadhead hares ear nymph. However, during the spring, summer and fall of 2016, the hares ear staged a frenzied comeback, and I now suspect that it regained the top position on my fly ranking. During a few outings in May I experienced unbelievable success using solely the hares ear, and the strong appetite of Colorado trout for the hares ear extended through the summer and fall seasons.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”Quite a Jumble” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2275.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

The salvation nymph seems to excel during the June through August time frame, and these months coincide with the pale morning dun hatch in most Colorado rivers and streams. I suspect that the hares ear imitates a myriad of subsurface food items including caddis emergers, stonefly nymphs, and various mayfly nymphs; and this may explain its ability to produce success throughout the many seasons. The salvation does exhibit more iridescence, and therefore, it can attract fish during the periods when pale morning duns are not prevalent, but overall I am inclined to knot a hares ear on my line more frequently.

Of course it is not unusual for me to fish both in a deadly combination, and many times when I offered them both, I was surprised to discover the top fly, the hares ear in the lip of my netted fish. Generally I believe that the last fly catches more fish because it demonstrates more movement, so attracting fish from the upper position is quite a statement of effectiveness.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”85 Salvation Nymphs and Ingredients” type=”image” alt=”IMG_2273.JPG” image_size=”1536×2048″ ]

The pile of sparkling salvation nymphs represents many hours of focused tying, and I am pleased to have this effort behind me. I will now shift my attention to beadhead hares ears, and I plan to produce another batch of one hundred. There may be another significant gap between posts on my blog.