Category Archives: Terrestrials

Moodah Poodah – 05/14/2020

Moodah Poodah 05/14/2020 Photo Album

I possess quite a few foam dry flies, but I am always susceptible to adding a new pattern. Toward the back of one of my past issues of Southwest Fly Fishing, a fly that carried the unusual name of moodah poodah caught my attention. During this coronavirus and surgery recovery time I could not resist the temptation to construct a few of the foam attractors.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2487 Size 10-12
ThreadBlack 6/0
Hot SpotUV Hot Orange Ice Dub. I substituted orange poly.
BodyBlack Ice Dub
RibbingPearl flashabou
UnderwingBlack deer hair
HeadBlack 2MM Foam
LegsSpeckled Orange centipede legs.
PostOrange poly

The features that differentiated the moodah poodah from other foam flies in my boxes were the dangling Klinkhammer-style body, the size, and the shape. This foam fly struck me as a size that fit in between a hippie stomper and a Jake’s gulp beetle. It was large enough to float a single beadhead dropper, and the shape reminded me of a beetle, cicada and horsefly. Surely this fly covered enough bases to be a viable addition to my fly box.

Pumped to Try

I gathered my materials and churned out five reasonably accurate imitations of the moodah poodah that was displayed in the magazine article. I lacked UV hot orange ice dub for the hot spot, so I substituted orange poly and coated it with UV resin. The pattern specified black elk hair, but I utilized black deer hair instead. I also improvised for the legs by dabbing orange-red rubber appendages with a black magic marker to achieve the speckled effect. I was quite pleased with the final product, and I am anxious to give the moodah poodah a spin in western lakes and streams.

Standard Materials

Bionic Ant – 05/01/2020

Bionic Ant 05/01/2020 Photo Album

As I gathered the materials required to tie the ugly bug, I stumbled across three packs of black foam cylinders. I decided to abort my ugly bug project, and I became intrigued with the idea of using my long dormant supply of black foam cylinders to produce some oversized ants. I performed a search on YouTube, and I found several patterns that utilized black foam cylinders. The one that caught my attention was called a bionic ant created by Lance Egan. I decided to experiment with a few of these creations. The tying video can be found on YouTube, if you are interested in producing a few of these terrestrials.

Closer View

Unlike the Chernobyl ant and foam ants of that ilk, these ants could actually imitate naturals. I always assumed that Chernobyl ants and chubby Chernobyls were misnamed, and that they actually mimicked large beetles, hoppers and stoneflies. I extracted some size 14 standard dry fly hooks from my collection and manufactured five ants. I made one with an orange tipped foam cylinder, and the others contained a solid black barrel-shaped piece of foam. I followed the YouTube directions closely and added a white poly wing and black sili legs, and concluded the buggy creation with wraps of brown hackle. I was rather pleased with my output, and although the bionics are larger than most natural ants, they do replicate the distinctive shape of the real insects.

Ants Go Marching

I added a pair to my main fly box and then stashed the remaining three in my boat box, which I use for back up. The bionic ant provides another foam terrestrial that is smaller than a hippie stomper but larger than a Jake’s gulp beetle. I sense that this fly will see some line time during 2020.

Ugly Bug – 04/30/2020

Ugly Bug 04/30/2020 Photo Album

I continued my progression through new flies, that I scanned from my magazines and encountered yet another large foam terrestrial pattern. My fly boxes already contained fat Alberts, pool toys, Amy’s ants, Chernobyl ants, hopper Juan’s, Charlie boy hoppers, hippie stompers and Jake’s gulp beetles. Did I really need another foam terrestrial offering? This fly was portrayed as an ant imitation, even though the instructions prescribed a size 10 hook. How many natural ants are this large? In my mind this fly was another variation on the Chernobyl ant theme.

Hard to Tie

This would be my first tying effort since returning from the hospital after my surgery, so the idea of beginning with a large foam ant pattern appealed to me. I took the plunge and gathered the necessary materials for an ugly bug. The designer of the pattern is Hans van Klinken, and I am fond of his Klinkhammer series of emergers, and this also motivated me to give it a try.

Looks Rather Buggy

I made two ugly bugs, but I found them difficult to tie. The foam tended to spin around the hook shank, and the front section of the fly seemed bulky after folding back the black foam bottom layer and then adding a white foam indicator. Perhaps I did not have the exact materials specified, and this may have contributed to the bulkiness. For my second attempt I tied in the black bottom layer by a pointy tip and then folded it back over the top to provide a more secure mount and minimize spinning. This improved the fly to some degree, but in the end I decided that the fly was too similar to other patterns that have proven to be effective, and the ugly bug was not worth the additional frustration encountered. If I fish the ones that I made, and they perform at a high level, I will revise my thinking on the ugly bug.

Parachute Ant – 02/26/2020

Parachute Ant 02/26/2020 Photo Album

I would never want to be present on a stream or lake without a parachute ant in my fly box. I recall numerous occasions, when fish were rising to unidentifiable food sources, and I cycled through a dozen flies without a favorable response. As a last resort I plucked a black size 18 parachute ant from my box; and, boom, the extra selective fish confidently sipped my ant. Imagine how good it would be, if I did not save it for my fly of last resort. I do recall several instances on South Boulder Creek, when I used a black parachute ant as a searching pattern, and it produced in fine fashion. In these cases the water was smooth, and I was able to follow the fly easily.

Better Focus

For a materials table, background on my introduction to this fly, and step by step tying instructions please refer to my earlier post of 01/11/2012.  This fly will not disappoint you.

I counted my parachute ants stashed in my fly box and boat box and storage compartments and ascertained that I possessed adequate quantities for 2020. I, therefore, do not need to adjourn to my vice to manufacture additional flies, but when I do, I’ll have my 01/11/2012 post to refer to.

Jake’s Gulp Beetle – 01/20/2020

Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/20/2020 Photo Album

Jake’s gulp beetle has earned the status of indispensable mainstay in my fly box. For some reason I did not use it as frequently in 2019 as during the previous two seasons, but I would not want to be on a stream anywhere in the world without it. Beetles are prevalent in nearly every ecosystem, and trout are keenly aware of their presence.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457 or Equivalent
ThreadBlack 6/0
Overbody2MM Foam
AbdomenDubbing (I prefer peacock)
LegsBlack Silli Legs
Indicator Narrow strip of orange 2MM foam

If you read my original post on Jake’s gulp beetle, you can learn about my introduction to this productive pattern. This post also contains step by step tying instructions; however, I no longer use the slit method outlined in steps 7-9. Simply apply pressure when wrapping the thread between the rubber legs, and this action will create an indentation that mimics the separation between the head and body of a beetle.

Angled View

For some reason I did not utilize the Jake’s gulp beetle as frequently in 2019 as previous seasons. 2019 was a year of late run off and high flows throughout the late summer and fall months, and I suspect that the beetle excels during low clear water conditions, when the telltale plop registers with wary stream residents. Check out my post of 01/28/2019 for additional information regarding Jake’s gulp beetle, and how I deploy them.

A Batch of Five Finished

When I recently counted my supply of beetles, I determined that I had adequate quantities of size 10 and 12. Last winter I tied five size 14 imitations, so I decided to increase that size to ten and produced an additional five. These are available for situations, where the trout refuse the larger beetles.

Chubby Chernobyl – 01/17/2020

Chubby Chernobyl 01/17/2020 Photo Album

My last attempt to tie chubby Chernobyls was in March 2016, and I manufactured eight during my first attempt. I experimented with various body colors and foam colors, but my output lingered in my storage compartments largely unused until this past summer. My friend, Danny Ryan, is a huge proponent of the foam fly with obscenely large wings, and he was the impetus for my first foray into chubbyland.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 200R, size 8 or smaller
Thread3/0, color to match body
TailRainbow crystal flash
Body filler2 MM foam, any color
UnderbodyIce dubbing
Overbody2 MM foam
LegsRubber legs
WingsMcFlylon, white

Nice Side View

On July 15, 2019 I resorted to a chubby Chernobyl with a tan ice dub body, and I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on to a hot fly. Unfortunately I lost the two flies that I made in 2016 on that day and the following, and the Steamboat Springs fly shop did not carry any with a comparable body color. Of course this dose of unplanned success caught my attention, so I resolved to tie an ample quantity for the 2020 season.

A Batch of Finished Chubbys

During previous tests of the large awkward foam chubby, I struggled with the large poly wing getting saturated with water. I was discouraged by the limp wing and the extra weight from the water that  it absorbed. I learned; however, from a guide to coat the wing and body with a generous amount of floatant paste, and once I applied this lesson, the wet wing problem seemed to disappear. During my July day on the Yampa I was mesmerized by the seductive disappearance of the large wing, when a trout snatched one of the trailing nymphs. Of course, the sight of a large fish rising to crush the visible foam attractor produced an even greater shot of exhilaration.

Materials in This Shot

I settled into my fly tying space and produced ten chubby Chernobyls for the new season. Five were tied with an olive-brown ice dub body, two displayed a peacock ice dub underbody. two were yellow, and one was gray. Surely these flies will dwell on the end of my line more than the previous batch, and hopefully the trout will vote in favor of their availability.

Chernobyl Ant – 01/15/2020

Chernobyl Ant 01/15/2020 Photo Album

My arsenal of large foam flies has expanded significantly over the years, but I continue to stock adequate quantities of the old original black Chernobyl ant. For the story of my introduction to this fly review my post of 02/01/2011.  Most fly tying instructions on the internet utilize two layers of foam for the classic Chernobyl; however, I continue to favor one layer, so I can wrap pearl chenille around the hook shank, and this creates a nice iridescent underside akin to that which I observed on numerous natural beetles. I possess a number of alternative flies with multiple layers of foam for those occasions, when I desire more buoyancy to float multiple beadhead nymphs.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 5262, Size 8 or 10
ThreadBlack, 3/0
Body2 MM black foam
LegsBrown rubber legs
UnderbodyPearl chenille
Indicaor2 MM foam, yellow or color of choice

Premium Classic Chernobyl Ant

During 2019 I experienced surprising success with a chubby Chernobyl on the Yampa River, and you can read more about this day in my 07/15/2019 post. Prior to this day on the Yampa I relegated chubby Chernobyls to the back of my fly box and wrote them off as an overrated trendy fly. Catching multiple nice fish during high water conditions certainly changed my opinion and caused me to spin out quite a few chubbys this winter.

Three and Required Materials

Nevertheless, the classic black single layer Chernobyl ant remains a trustworthy fly that frequents my line on numerous occasions. One particularly productive outing, when trout displayed a notable preference for the large foam terrestrial was 09/27/2019, and these types of experiences reinforced my loyalty to the classic attractor. Small headwater streams with tight bankside vegetation continue to offer the scenarios where the Chernobyl ant shines. The simple fly is totally synthetic, and none of the materials absorb water, thus backcasts to dry the fly are unnecessary. Of course this is exactly the fly needed to dap and roll cast to wild trout in tight quarters, and my Chernobyl ants earn their keep in these situations.

Zoomed In

Because of my reduced usage and a historical overabundance, my fly boxes exhibited adequate quantities for the upcoming season. In spite of this condition I churned out three new size eight Chernobyl ants to maintain my skills. Practice makes perfect.

Pool Toy Hopper – 01/13/2020

Pool Toy Hopper 01/13/2020 Photo Album

The pool toy hopper is another fly designed by Andrew Grillos that has developed into one of my favorites. During peak summer fishing periods, when I adopt the dry/dropper approach; it is rare that a fat Albert, pool toy hopper or hippie stomper are not on my line. Two of these three flies are the product of Andrew Grillos’s ingenuity, and from my perspective he is the king of foam.

Ready to Hop

If you are interested in the story of how I was introduced to this fly, check out my post,  Grillos pool toy.  My more recent post of 01/22/2019 provides an update and a materials table. I have tried at least five foam grasshopper imitations, and I feel that the pool toy hopper provides the best profile, and the fish seem to agree especially during hopper season. I selected a tan pool toy from my fly box more frequently in 2019 than any previous year, and my count confirmed this, as my supply of tans was depleted to fourteen. With this knowledge in hand I approached my vice and produced an additional nine tan models and one yellow. I feel that I now possess sufficient quantities of pool toy hoppers to drive western trout crazy during the upcoming year.

Finished Batch

Fat Albert – 12/30/2019

Fat Albert 12/30/2019 Photo Album

Check out the story of my introduction to the fat Albert on my post of 03/27/2016. It was a momentous occasion and defined my relationship with the large buoyant hopper imitation. My post of 12/18/2016 describes my many positive experiences with the fat Albert during its initial season of deployment.

Angled View

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 5262 Size 6 or smaller
Thread3/0 yellow
Overbody2 MM foam, brown then yellow
AbdomenYellow floss
WingWhite McFlylon
LegsRubber legs of choice
Indicator2 MM yellow foam section

At the risk of being redundant, the fat Albert possesses three valuable fly fishing characteristics: buoyancy, visibility and durability. These qualities cause one to occupy the top position on my leader quite often. When I grow frustrated with my inability to track the leading fly in a dry/dropper arrangement due to difficult lighting or water turbulence, I confidently insert a size 6 or 8 fat Albert in my lineup, and it improves my catch rate. In addition to serving the role of strike indicator, the fat Albert also attracts its share of aggressive trout to the surface, and quite often these top water feeders are larger than average.

An Army

I paused to assess my supply of fat Alberts, and I determined that sixteen were scattered among my various fly storage compartments. I settled down at my vice to produce four additional versions with yellow bodies to bring my total to twenty, as I head into the 2020 fly fishing season. I am confident that the fat Albert will frequently command a spot on my line, and it will certainly reward me for my vote of confidence.

Parachute Hopper – 02/17/2019

Parachute Hopper 02/17/2019 Photo Album

Another erstwhile effective terrestrial fly relegated to dust collecting status over the last few years is the parachute hopper. In the 2000’s and early 2010’s this fly delivered some outstanding results particularly in the August and September time frame. I continue to believe that the parachute hopper imitation is the most realistic in the eyes of western trout. My parachute hopper post of 2013 provides additional background on my experience with this classic pattern that utilizes all natural materials.

Love the Legs on This Parachute Hopper

Although my utilization of the gray parachute hopper diminished, as I gained confidence in foam imitations, I decided to count my supply as part of my comprehensive winter preparation for the upcoming season. I continue to resort to the life-like hopper during the summer, when the large bulky foam versions prompt repeated refusals. I would not wish to be on the water without a few of the old reliables in my fly box.

Same View

In my opinion the triggering characteristic of the parachute hopper is the knotted pheasant tail legs. I purchase pheasant tail feathers with pre-knotted legs rather than endure the tedious exercise of pulling fragile fibers through a small loop. I was pleasantly surprised to learn, that I purchased a new feather; and therefore, I possessed a more than adequate supply of legs. As was the case with the parachute green drakes, I adopted the technique of tying off the hackle to the wing post, and did the same for the whip finish. This method avoids trapping hackle fibers under the thread and results in a nice uniform spread of hackle fibers around the wing post.

Hopper Materials and Hoppers

I discovered twenty-six parachute hoppers in my various containers, and I deemed this quantity adequate to cover my needs in 2019. Part of my process includes checking the canisters of damaged flies, and this exercise revealed six parahoppers in varying states of disrepair. The most common maladies were unraveling hackle and missing legs. I clamped these idle flies in my vise and converted them into viable imitations. Perhaps 2019 will be a renaissance for parachute hoppers.