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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Go2 Sparkle Pupa – 12/08/2017

Go2 Sparkle Pupa 12/08/2017 Photo Album

Check out my 01/11/2017 post for the story behind the creation of this productive fly. It continued to excel during the early season of 2017, particularly during the prime grannom emergence period. I deployed the bright green emergent caddis pupa with a dubbed body as well during the previous season, but I now view the go2 sparkle pupa version as my prime choice.


A Completed Go2 Sparkle Pupa

I like to jig and swing this fly in April and early May to imitate the active grannom pupa on western streams. Quite often the fish are tuned into the image of an emerging or escaping pupa, and a lift or bad mend initiates a grab.


Necessary Materials

A count of my go2 sparkle pupa flies revealed a supply of twenty-five. I visited my vise and created five additional facsimiles to boost my total to thirty for the new season.

Ultra Zug Bug – 12/07/2017

Ultra Zug Bug 12/07/2017 Photo Album

My relationship with the ultra zug bug goes back to January 31, 2012 (materials list in this post), when I spotted some in my Scott Sanchez fly tying book called A New Generation of Trout Flies. I tied a few to test, and they never spent time on the end of my line until a trip to the Flattops in 2014. Check out my 12/07/2014 blog post, if you are interested in reading the story of how the ultra zug bug morphed from an experimental, never tested fly to my third highest producing nymph.


Hope the Trout Do More Than Admire

The ultra zug bug has now stood the test of time, and I select it from my box with confidence especially during the early spring and late fall seasons. I use it during times, when I previously opted for a prince nymph, and it performs on par if not better than the classic peacock body nymph.


A Completed Batch

Tying an ultra zug bug requires only three materials in addition to a hook and bead. The iridescent Ligas peacock number eight dubbing and the sparkling crystal hair rib make this fly stand out, and trout do not seem to miss it. A dry/dropper with a beadhead hares ear and ultra zug bug combination provided me with many fine days of successful fishing in Colorado and western streams.


Zoomed On Dubbing and Flies

A count of my supply of ultra zug bugs revealed that thirty-three resided in my fly boxes. I tied an additional seventeen to bring my total to fifty for the upcoming season. You can be sure that this simple fly will spend time on my line during 2018.

Hares Ear Nymph – 12/06/2017

Hares Ear Nymph 12/06/2017 Photo Album

During the 2016 season the beadhead hares ear nymph staged a major comeback. As detailed in my 12/11/2016 post, the salvation nymph surpassed the hares ear nymph during 2015 as my workhorse fly. That changed, however, in 2016; and I am able to report that the hares ear continued to fool western trout like no other imitation in my fly box during the 2017 season. The classic gray nymph continued to be the first nymph on my line, and it repeatedly rewarded my steadfast confidence.


A Pair of New Hares Ear Nymphs

I have little to add regarding the hares ear nymph other than additional rave reviews. You can check out my 11/05/2010 post for a materials list and a description of a few of my variations from the standard hares ear nymph steps and ingredients.


A Batch of Five Completed

I counted my supply of beadhead hares ear nymphs as I prepared for the winter tying season, and I discovered that I had 95 in my combined storage boxes. I refurbished twelve in late October, so that helps explain the high level for the late season count; however, I inexplicably lost fewer of these flies than one would expect given its frequent presence on my leader. I can only suggest two reasons for this unexpected phenomenon.

During the summer of 2017 I seemed to fish a single dry fly more often than any other year in recent memory. In fact I designated the past season the year of the green drake, as I encountered that highly desirable hatch quite often. In addition to green drakes I fished a single dry fly to yellow sallies, pale morning duns, blue winged olives, small gray stoneflies, and caddis of various sizes and colors. During the late summer and fall I opted for beetles and ants quite frequently, and the cumulative effect of fishing these surface offerings may have displaced dry/dropper time and consequently reduced the shrinkage of my precious nymphs.


Six Additional Hares Ear Nynphs

A second reason might be that my casting skills improved or at least my awareness of my surroundings increased, and therefore, I lost fewer flies to tree branches, rocks and over sized fish. This is certainly a possibility, but I am skeptical that this explains my extraordinarily large supply of leftover hares ear nymphs.



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.


Shiny Nymph

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.


Eleven Fresh Salvations

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.



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.