Monthly Archives: November 2021

Beadhead Hares Ear Nymph – 11/30/2021

Beadhead Hares Ear Nymph 11/30/2021 Photo Album

in my post of 10/25/2020 I noted that I used far fewer hares ear nymphs during the 2020 season compared to prior years. As I prepare this report on November 30, 2021, I can report that my hares ear nymph supply shrank by thirty-four flies during the past season. Clearly, it was used often and subsequently resulted in the loss of many flies. I recommend that you read the 10/25/2020 report, as it contains links to a materials table and my storied history with this fly.

Beadhead Hares Ear Nymph

As I stated many times, the beadhead hares ear nymph is perhaps my most productive fly. I find it particularly effective in the early season from March until run off in the Rocky Mountains. In my opinion the effectiveness stems from its overall, scraggly look. I make a concerted effort to include guard hairs in my dubbing loop to create the spikey image that I believe trout prefer. In addition, this fly can imitate mayfly nymphs, caddis pupa, and a yellow sally nymph. That lineup covers a large portion of the trout diet in my part of the country.

Still Life

The hares ear nymph runs neck and neck with the salvation nymph as my most productive imitation on a hook. Over the last several years I have noticed that the hares ear dominates in the early season and late fall, while the salvation shines in the post snow melt time frame through September. Both flies, however, are worth time on the line all season long, and I often begin my outing with a hares ear and salvation combination.

I completed my hares ear production, as I spun out thirty-four newly minted versions to bring my inventory back to one hundred. I made another five for a friend, and I cannot wait to toss these earth-toned nymphs in the local streams, because that means fishing season is back.

User Friendly Green Drake – 11/20/2021

User Friendly Green Drake 11/20/2021 Photo Album

I continued my count of green drake flies in my fly boxes and storage containers, and I determined that I could use additional user friendly green drakes to replenish my supply. For additional background information on the user friendly green drake please click on my post of 02/12/2021. This report contains a link to additional information, and if you search on line on user friendly, you can find a YouTube video of Andrew Grillos, the creator of this pattern, demonstrating the tying steps.

Opposite Side

During 2021 I had some sporadic success with the user friendly version of the western green drake; however, the parachute green drake and comparadun green drake continued to outperform the newest imitation in my fly box. I tend to test the user friendly, when I grow weary of drying and applying floatant to the parachute and comparadun. The user friendly contains a strip of foam as a covering over the length of the fly, and this translates to more buoyancy.

Four Legless User Friendlies

With an apology to Andrew Grillos, I made a few modifications to his pattern for the four that I tied recently. Several sessions this summer taught me that a moose mane tail was popular with the stream feeders, so I replaced the microfibbet tail of the official pattern with moose mane. In an attempt for more authenticity, I eliminated the rubber legs and tied the four new versions without legs. I retained the foam back for buoyancy and cut the hackle off flush with the thorax, another significant characteristic of the original user friendly. I am anxious to give these new user friendly green drakes a spin in 2022.

Eagle River – 11/15/2021

Time: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Between Avon and Edwards

Eagle River 11/15/2021 Photo Album

My cumulative fish count was stalled at 1,093 for 2021, when colder temperatures moved into the state. I spent the weekend of November 5 – 7 at Rendezvous Ranch near Fraser, CO, and although I hiked along the Fraser River several times during mild weather, I was prohibited from fly fishing. In fact, my fly rods and equipment remained tucked in the garage back in Denver during the entire weekend.

After a short period of cooler temperatures another four day stretch of mild weather stalled over the state, and I decided to take advantage with a fly fishing trip on Monday, November 15. Unfortunately the warmer temperatures were accompanied by high winds along the Front Range, so I ruled out two favorites; South Boulder Creek and the Big Thompson River. I scanned the weather forecast for the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon and the Arkansas River near Salida, and I was encouraged by what I found. I was nearly committed to Eleven Mile Canyon, when I decided to review the flows and weather on the Eagle River. I was pleased to discover that the high temperature in Avon, CO was 61 degrees and the flows were seasonally low at 81 CFS. Historically late season visits to the Eagle yielded some interesting casting to blue winged olives, so I settled on the trip to Avon on Monday, November 15. Would I be able to reach my even goal of 1,100 trout for the year? Stay tuned.

I arrived at a wide pullout along the highway near Avon by 10:30AM, and I was perched along the bank of the river ready to cast by 11:00AM. The temperature, as I prepared to fish, was 50 degrees, and I wore my Under Armour long sleeved undershirt, my North Face down coat and a rain shell. I considered wearing my brimmed hat with ear flaps, but I quickly decided it was overkill, since I assumed the air temperature would rise to the low sixties. I also gave some thought to toe warmers, but again I rejected the idea. In the latter case I regretted foregoing the aid of foot warmers, as my toes and feet eventually morphed into stumps.

Top of the Pool

I began my day twenty-five yards downstream from a huge pool, and I rigged my line with a New Zealand strike indicator, split shot, Pat’s rubber legs, and an ultra zug bug. This combination failed to draw interest, so I swapped the ultra zug bug for a sparkle wing RS2; however, the new lineup failed to excite the trout of the Eagle River. During the first thirty minutes I progressed up the river to the midsection of the huge pool that was my planned destination. I covered both sides of the entering center run with the nymphs, but again the trout ignored my offerings.

As this lack of action transpired, I began to observe quite a few feeding fish. Most of the early risers were along the opposite shoreline feeding in a long shelf pool. Targeting them required a long forty-five foot cast across a strong run, so initially I focused my attention on the area on my side of the river. Within a short amount of time rises commenced within easier range of my position, and I decided to convert to a dry fly approach. I removed the strike indicator, split shot and both nymphs and knotted a size 22 CDC blue winged olive to my line.

First Catch Was a Cutthroat

I began casting to the rising fish on my side of the center current, and after quite a bit of futility, a nine inch cutthroat trout sipped the tiny olive mayfly imitation. This initial success was accompanied by a pair of momentary hookups and numerous fruitless drifts. The low position of the sun created a discouraging glare on the water, and I resorted to lifting the rod tip, when I estimated that a rise approximated the location of my fly. I am not a fan of this sort of fly fishing, but it was the best option available to me.

Eventually I decided to adopt a double dry technique, and I added a size 16 light gray deer hair caddis to the front position with a CDC BWO in the trailing spot. This made tracking the flies moderately easier, although glare and the swirling surface continued to wreak havoc on my ability to follow the flies. After quite a bit of fruitless casting to fairly regular rises, I managed to connect with a twelve inch rainbow that grabbed the size 24 CDC blue winged olive. Surely I was now on track to land more trout.

Decent Rainbow

By this point in time the wind kicked up, and my feet burned and warned me that they were entering stump status. I decided to forego lunch, while the river remained alive with rising fish. The caddis and CDC olive combination produced a couple more temporary hookups, but even the takes I managed to generate seemed very reluctant. Was I even imitating their natural food source? I never saw a natural blue winged olive, so perhaps an adult midge was more to their liking, but I had no evidence upon which to base my fly choice.

Pretty Colors

By 1:15PM the number of rising fish dwindled and the frequency of rises diminished from regular to sporadic feeding. The wind became a significant negative factor, and I decided to replace the leading caddis with a more visible size 14 hippie stomper. My ability to track the front fly improved significantly, but the trout were ignoring both offerings. I scanned the water along the opposite bank and observed some fairly long fish nosing the surface with their fins exposed. How could I approach these tantalizing feeders?

By now the two fishermen that claimed the bottom end of the pool had departed, so I decided to cross below the pool and then wade along the edge of the opposite bank to obtain a favorable downstream position below the feeders across from my present position. It took some time to make the crossing on feet that behaved more like fence posts, but eventually I was positioned below the spot, where I observed feeders from the south shoreline.

Head of the Pool

While I paused to observe, three fish rose, but the regular rhythmic feeding that grabbed my attention was absent. I fired quite a few casts to the area, but my north side gambit never generated the slightest interest. I finally surrendered to the weather and the fish and the river, and I progressed upstream to a point, where I could safely cross back to the side bordered by the bike path.

By now the wind was gusting at frequent intervals, and the river was nearly devoid of rising fish. I decided to return to the car and call it quits after landing two fish. I was unable to land seven fish to reach my goal of 1,100 for the year, but I cannot pin the blame on a lack of feeding fish. Instead I attributed my inability to land more fish to angler ineffectiveness. Will I have another chance? My window of opportunity is shrinking, but I will continue to look for mild days, before winter permanently descends on the Rocky Mountains.

Fish Landed: 2

Parachute Green Drake – 11/14/2021

Parachute Green Drake 11/14/2021 Photo Album

This is an update on my relationship with the parachute green drake. For links to a materials table and background information on this fly click on this link to my post of 02/09/2021.

2021 proved to be a better than average year in my annual quest to interact with green drake hatches in the west. 2020 remains perhaps my peak experience with western green drakes; however, 2021 was solid as well. I experimented with the western green drake on small high mountain creeks more often during the past season, and I was quite pleased with the results. In several instances I knotted the large mayfly to my line even without observing any naturals, and the fish responded very favorably.

The Other Side

During several hot green drake outings on South Boulder Creek, I discovered that the local trout demonstrated a pronounced preference for the parachute style with a moose mane tail. During the winter of 2021 I adopted the practice of tying amber microfibbet tails with the assumption that they were stiffer and aided in supporting the large dry fly on the surface. During an outing on South Boulder Creek I plucked a moose mane version from my box and enjoyed fast action. Eventually the trout teeth cut the hackle, and it unraveled, and I replaced it with a microfibbet version.

Two Flies Completed on Monday

I continued to catch fish, but the catch rate slowed measurably, and I switched back to another moose mane version. After this unscientific study of trout preferences, I returned to my tying vise and cranked out additional moose mane parachute green drakes, and in a subsequent visit to South Boulder Creek they proved their worth. Until I am convinced otherwise, I am adopting moose mane tails as my preferred tailing material.

A second modification came out of these real time studies in green drake fly selectivity. I migrated to using white turkey flat wings in recent years after reading A. K. Best’s book. The folded turkey flat wing was lighter than alternatives, and I valued this for flotation purposes. It was also easier to maintain a nice narrow tapered body due to the absence of significant bulk. As I tied my moose mane versions during the summer, I reverted to a gray poly yarn wing, and this adaptation made the fly easier to track, and I also believe it adds bulk to the wing that more closely mimics the large fluttering illusion of a green drake attempting to become airborne. I am not as convinced that this change is as critical as the tail choice, but the improved visibility sold me on adopting the poly wing.

Clump of 15

I manufactured fifteen new parachute green drakes over the recent weeks, and all of them possess moose mane tails and gray poly wings with the bottom two-thirds of the wing shaded with a black permanent marker. I am already anxiously anticipating a hot western green drake season in 2022.