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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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