Scud – 12/20/2019

Scud 12/20/2019 Photo Album

Back in the 90’s an orange scud was one of my most productive flies on the South Platte River in Deckers and Cheesman Canyon. From late April through May, I presented an orange scud along with a San Juan worm or beadhead pheasant tail, and the scud was often the top producer. My trips to that area dwindled after the Heyman Fire in 2002, and my usage of a scud faded in a similar fashion. Over the intervening years I occasionally experimented with an orange scud, and the freshwater shrimp produced a few fish. It was never a first choice, however, and consequently it occupied a position on my line infrequently.

Pleased

I recently read some articles that suggested a scud is a very productive fly during the cold weather months on tailwaters, and I decided to assess my supply and diversify to some different colors. My counting exercise determined that I carried eight orange, three gray and zero olive scuds in my storage compartments. I decided to tie five olive, five gray and three orange to increase my holdings to respectable levels.

Side View

During the 90’s I tied orange scuds with no shell back as recommended by Roger Hill in his Fly Fishing the South Platte RiverĀ book. For this replenishment exercise, however, I decided to include a shell back, and I viewed several videos on YouTube to refresh my memory on tying steps. I settled on Charlie Craven’s approach, however, I did not possess the Swiss straw material that he used for the shell back, and this forced me to improvise. Another video used a translucent product called thin skin, and it displayed a pattern of random black spots. I pulled an old Ziploc storage bag from a kitchen drawer and determined that it was approximately the desired thickness. I dabbed a square section in the corner of the bag with a black permanent marker and then cut the square from the bag. Voila! I now had a handcrafted shell back material for my scuds.

Scuds and Materials

In addition to the substitute shell back material I skipped the weighting step, but I otherwise followed Craven’s approach and produced the targeted number of scuds for 2020 and beyond. I hope to knot these ever-present crustaceans to my line more frequently in 2020.

Salad Spinner – 12/17/2019

Salad Spinner 12/17/2019 Photo Album

The salad spinner was designed by my friend, Danny Ryan, and he demonstrated its effectiveness on a fishing trip to the South Platte River in 2015. This eye opener prompted me to tie a batch, and my post of 12/12/2015 provides the tying steps and some background information on the fly.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 2457, Size 20 or Equivalent
BeadSilver sized to hook
ThreadBlack 8/0
TailBrown pheasant body feather
AbdomenBlack 8/0
WingWhite antron yarn
ThoraxPeacock herl

Between 2015 and now I tested the salad spinner on numerous occasions, and it yielded enough success to secure a permanent place in my fly box, I counted twenty-one in my various storage boxes, and this prompted me to tie an additional four to increase my inventory to twenty-five for the upcoming season. I refurbished two that were unraveling and created two from bare hooks.

I Love the Red Rib

I should probably fish midge larva and pupa more frequently, and if I modify my behavior to do so, the salad spinner will be a likely beneficiary of more time on my line.

The Key Materials

Soft Hackle Emerger – 12/16/2019

Soft Hackle Emerger 12/16/2019 Photo Album

During the winter of 2012 I began tying the Craven soft hackle emerger, and my initial post on this fly along with a materials list is available for your perusal at 01/19/2012. An update on the status of the soft hackle emerger in my stable of blue winged olive imitations is available on my post of 01/20/2019. In summary, the wet fly version without a bead has served as a viable option during baetis hatches, particularly on windy days, when the adults get blown off the water in rapid fire fashion. The soft hackle emerger fished in the film or just below the surface seems to fool trout that are keying on emergers and cripples in adverse mayfly emergence situations.

Looking Down

My supply of beaded size twenties remained adequate at thirty-six, so I concentrated my tying efforts on the wet fly style without a bead. I counted seventeen size 20’s, nine size 22’s, and fourteen size 24’s, when I surveyed my various storage containers. I positioned myself at my vice and produced three additional 20’s, one 22 and one 24 to increase my quantities to amounts divisible by five. Why? I have no idea, but I needed to practice building soft hackle emergers.

Closing In on Five New Flies

Sparkle Wing RS2 – 12/15/2019

Sparkle Wing RS2 12/15/2019 Photo Album

I added the sparkle wing RS2 to my repertoire during the winter of 2017, and I used it with less than glowing results during the 2018 season. Last winter I replenished my supply and began the season with twenty, but when I counted my stock recently, I discovered that my inventory shrank to eleven. Clearly I utilized the sparkle wing version fairly often during 2019, and thus the decline in quantity.

Sparkle Wing

I added sparkle wing RS2s to my arsenal, after I noticed many anglers on Instagram testifying to their effectiveness. I am not totally sold that they are preferable to the classic version; however, I acknowledge that they possess significantly more flash, and perhaps during emergence situations are superior fish attractors. My post of 01/17/2019 provides a bit more information regarding my shift to the sparkle wing. The tying steps follow those of the classic RS2. For a materials table refer to my 01/21/2011 post, but replace the tail with fluoro fiber and utilize white antron fibers for the wing instead of the fluff from a pheasant body feather.

The Cluster

I churned out nine new sparkle wing RS2’s and restored my beginning inventory for 2020 to twenty. Hopefully the deployment of classic and sparkle wing RS2’s will continue to deliver hungry trout to my net in the new year.

Three Materials

RS2 – 12/14/2019

RS2 12/14/2019 Photo Album

Imitation is a form of flattery, and if this adage is true, Rim Chung’s RS2 has earned its share of adulation. I, myself, recently began tying sparkle wing RS2’s, but I noted various modifications of the classic fly on web pages, books and magazines. In spite of the array of spin offs and impostors, I remain partially loyal to the classic RS2 tied with all natural materials. For a materials table check out my post of 01/21/2011. A more current update of my views on RS2 variations is available in my 01/15/2019 post.

A Functional RS2

Although the sparkle wing RS2 advanced to a more prominent role in my baetis nymph arsenal, I continued to carry a significant number of classic RS2’s in my fly storage boxes. The natural muskrat fur, and the fluff from the base of a pheasant body feather breath and generate the impression of a living organism, and I continue to experience a high degree of success with the original pattern.

Focused on a Clump of Five

My annual count of RS2’s in my various storage compartments revealed that I carried an inventory of forty. Since I began deploying the sparkle wing RS2 in many situations that previously suggested the classic RS2, I reduced my goal quantity to forty-five, and I cranked out five new imitations. I will be curious to learn whether the the flashy sparkle wing or earthy classic lead the way during 2020.

Nine in Total

Iron Sally – 12/10/2019

Iron Sally 12/10/2019 Photo Album

My love affair with the iron sally began in 2013, but for a solid introduction read my post of 02/04/2014. This entry chronicles my early association and provides a link to an early success story on the Arkansas River. If you take the time to read 12/14/2018, you will understand the rapid advancement of this fly on my nymph ” must have” list. As I prepare this entry on 12/10/2019, I can report that the legend of the iron sally with Dave Weller continues to grow.

Flash and Folded Wing

Of course, it serves as an excellent representation of yellow sally and golden stonefly nymphs during July and August, when those insects are prevalent on western streams. However, I also discovered that trout relish the gold hued nymphs throughout the season. Apparently stonefly nymphs get knocked loose from their rocky homes frequently and subsequently drift into the mouths of hungry trout. During the fall of 2019 I knotted the iron sally to my line in many situations, where I previously utilized a hares ear nymph, and I was pleased with the results. The wire abdomen adds weight to the fly, and this enables me to achieve deeper drifts in fast water and pocket water situations. During 2019 I experimented with using heavier lead flies such as the iron sally and 20 incher to gain more depth in dry/dropper situations, and I concluded that bouncing close to the bottom of the stream is a benefit in many scenarios. I suspect that I missed out on some solid fishing in previous seasons by ignoring the important fly fishing practice of adjusting weight for stream conditions.

Symmetrical From the Bottom

The iron sally occupies a position near the top of my preferred nymph rankings, and it consequently receives increased time on my line each year. The only drawback to this fly is the additional amount of time required to tie it compared to a hares ear nymph. During my recent tying efforts, I tried a modification suggested by Hopper Juan Ramirez on his YouTube video. Instead of tying in 8-10 strands of black crystal flash and then using it for the back of the abdominal area, I substituted a strip of flashback black. I delayed tying in the black crystal flash, until I reached the thorax construction stage. This change reduced tying time moderately, but managing the small legs and the folded wing case continue to be the major time consumers. I am considering some alternatives for the wing case for future seasons, so stay tuned.

Even Closer

I counted my iron sally nymphs and determined that I maintained a stock of twenty-six size 12’s and five size 14’s. I am increasingly interested in testing the effectiveness of the smaller size version, so I tied five 14’s to boost that inventory to ten, and then I added four size 12’s to even up that quantity at thirty. I guarantee that the iron sally will continue to excel in the coming year.

A New Batch of Size 12’s and 14’s

Emerald Caddis Pupa – 12/09/2019

Emerald Caddis Pupa 12/09/2019 Photo Album

The story behind my adoption of the emerald caddis pupa is contained in my post of 01/01/2012. The same post also contains a materials table, and construction of this fly follows the steps outlined by Gary LaFontaine in his classic book; Caddisflies.

Zoomed

Unlike the go2 sparkle pupa, the emerald caddis pupa’s effectiveness seems to span the entire season. I attribute much of its performance to the emerald color of the body, and on rare occasions, when I was able to corral an adult caddis on the stream, I observed the matching color at the tip of the abdomen. Caddis seem to be universally prevalent on western rivers and streams, and I suspect the resident trout are familiar with the emerald color and recognize it as a tasty source of protein.

Up Close

When I approach a stream, I generally select a hares ear nymph or salvation nymph among my first offerings, and this probably handicaps the emerald caddis pupa. I resort to it, when the preferred choices fail to deliver, so I utilize it in more demanding conditions. In spite of this hindrance to success, the emerald pupa delivers results on a fairly consistent basis. Perhaps I should elevate it on my subsurface fly ranking.

Flies and Materials

When I took stock of my caddis pupa, I noted that the emerald version was depleted to thirty-one, so I approached my vice and churned out nine additional models to increase my inventory to forty. I am certain that the emerald caddis will once again attract a fair number of trout to my net in 2020.

Go2 Sparkle Pupa – 12/08/2019

Go2 Sparkle Pupa 12/08/2019 Photo Album

The material table for this fly can be viewed on my 01/10/2012 post for the bright green caddis pupa. Simply substitute chartreuse midge diamond braid for the listed materials for the abdomen. My post on 01/11/2017 describes the genesis of the Go2 sparkle pupa; a hybrid of two flies developed by other tiers.

Chartreuse Midge Braid

The Go2 sparkle pupa has now displaced the bright green caddis pupa as my preferred imitation during early season caddis emergences. The chartreuse midge diamond braid stands out and attracts the attention of trout, particularly during grannom activity. More time on my line translated to the loss of flies, so I created five new versions to increase my supply to thirty for the upcoming season. Hopefully early season caddis action will demand that I knot some of these flies to my line in 2020.

Take 2

Prince Nymph – 12/06/2019

Prince Nymph 12/06/2019 Photo Album

A material table for the prince nymph is available on my 12/03/2011 post on this blog. The prince nymph enjoyed a resurgence in my fly box during the past two seasons, and a main reason is the success it delivered during green drake hatches. Apparently a size 12 peacock imitation is a close approximation of the nymph stage of the large western green drake mayflies. Check out my South Boulder Creek 08/15/2019 post for an example of prince nymph productivity in advance of a green drake hatch.

As Good as It Gets

The other prime situation that creates prince nymph success is the egg laying stage of a grannom hatch. A size 14 prince tied on a curved scud hook historically delivered superior results on the Arkansas River and other western streams during the April and May caddis event. My post of 11/17/2018 does a nice job of describing these prince nymph applications, and it also describes some improvements that I introduced to my tying technique. Mounting the white horns with the points of the biots extending beyond the eye of the hook and then bending back to lock them down has dramatically improved the durability of my prince nymphs, particularly the larger sizes.

Horns

The new found effectiveness of the size twelve prince nymph resulted in some depletion of my inventory, so I tied four new models to elevate my count to ten. In addition I manufactured four size 14’s and refurbished a pair of size 16’s. I am confident that my supply will be adequate for the 2020 fly fishing season.

Completed Batch

20 Incher – 11/22/2019

20 Incher 11/22/2019 Photo Album

Ever since a guided fly fishing trip with Royal Gorge Anglers on the Arkansas River I carried a supply of 20 inchers in my fly fleece wallet. During 2019, however, I knotted one to my line more frequently than during previous seasons, and I was pleased with the results. Increased usage, however, also depleted my supply more than usual, so I approached my vise and produced an additional quantity of ten to increase my inventory to twenty-five.

Fine 20 Incher

If my readers are interested in tying this large attractor stonefly imitation, please refer to my post of 01/06/2019. This blog entry from earlier in 2019 displays a materials list, and several YouTube videos do a nice job of teaching the fly tying steps. During several recent fall outings I positioned the 20 incher as the top nymph on dry/dropper and deep nymphing systems with the intent of obtaining a deeper drift, and the ploy seemed to pay dividends. I was particularly impressed with the 20 incher’s effectiveness on South Boulder Creek on 10/26/2019.

Close Look at a Clump

I seem to gravitate to this large weighted fly in the early and late season, but I hope to give it more time on my line during the summer time frame. A large dark drifting stonefly assuredly represents a significant bite of protein, that trout cannot ignore, and stoneflies get knocked loose during all seasons of the year. I love the appearance of this fly, and the application of epoxy on the wing case really makes this fly stand out. The 2020 pre-runoff season cannot come soon enough.

10 New 20 Inchers