Monthly Archives: January 2022

Hippie Stomper – 01/30/2022

Hippie Stomper 01/30/2022 Photo Album

I cannot find enough superlatives to describe this valued weapon in my fly fishing arsenal, so I will just say, “Wow”. Check out my post from a year ago, for an update and click on this link to my post of 11/18/2018 for a materials table. The story of my introduction to the hippie stomper can be found in my 01/13/2018 post.

My success over the past year surpassed even my highest expectations, and I am a confirmed believer in the hippie stomper. The stomper delivers results year round, and I use it solo and as part of a dry/dropper and double dry rig. It is small enough to minimize the impact on the water, yet buoyant enough to support two size fourteen beadhead nymphs. In a double dry fly configurationĀ  I position it first and trail a smaller dry, and it enables me to track the smaller fly quite well. I recommend using a short dropper of six to twelve inches, should you wish to experiment with the double dry approach.

From the Side

What does a hippie stomper imitate? It is hard to know; however, I believe it is first and foremost a terrestrial. However, it could easily be taken for a stonefly or a green drake. During the western green drake season I often knot a hippie stomper with a peacock body to my line along with a nymph dropper or another dry fly during the hours that precede a hatch. I believe that the peacock hippie stomper is close enough to a green drake adult to draw attention or looks prior to the actual hatch. This technique enables me to hedge my bets, as I test for what the trout are tuned into.

A Clump of Stompers

As I generally forget the tying steps from year to year, I have settled on the fly tying video from Andrew Grillos to refresh my memory. Andrew is the creator of the hippie stomper, and it represents his signature fly and one of the most popular in the Umpqua Feather Merchants’ catalog. Simply Google Andrew Grillos to find the video.

A Different Angle

As you might imagine, heavy usage produced significant shrinkage, so I tied twelve new models with peacock dubbed bodies and five with olive ice dub bodies. The olive body flies are the first to go on my line during green drake season. I cannot recommend a fly more highly than the hippie stomper.

2021 Top Ten – 01/28/2022

After a challenging 2020, I looked forward to a kinder and gentler 2021, and I believe my hopes were fulfilled. You can check out the statistical summary of 2021 by clicking on the analytics tab or here. My son built this for me as a Christmas gift. Once you arrive at the top of the analytics page, click on the 2021 bar on the right side, and the analytics information will filter to only 2021. During the just completed year I enjoyed 79 fishing outings that entailed 315 hours of fly fishing. I set a new record in terms of fish caught per hour at 3.5 and managed to land 1,095 fish. 2021 was another year that included Covid fears, and I limited my fishing entirely to the state of Colorado. A low snow pack ushered in post run off fishing in early June, but the drought and low flows in freestones forced me to seek high elevation and tailwaters earlier than normal. In spite of this adversity and my advancing age, I managed to appreciate another superb year of fly fishing in 2021. Here are my top ten outings ranked in reverse order.

Mt. Sopris Looms

10. Roaring Fork River – 07/09/2021 – During 2021 I scheduled five days of guided fishing with Cutthroat Anglers through my friend Dave Gaboury. This day on the Roaring Fork River was the last of them. By this early date in July, the DOW had already announced closures on the middle section of the Colorado River, and this forced our guide to transport us to the Roaring Fork River below Basalt, CO for a float trip. Projected high temperatures in the eighties caused us to launch early, and we reached our pullout in the early afternoon as well. Our guide, Reed, periodically took water temperatures, and Dave G. and I enjoyed a magical day on a river that I seldom fished. I landed thirteen quality fish, and all displayed above average size. Several exciting moments were burned into my memory on this drift down the fabled Roaring Fork River.

Big Chunk of Food

9. Clear Creek – 08/16/2021 – If size were the only criteria for choosing a top ten stream, Clear Creek would probably never make the cut. But if other elements of consideration include scenic surroundings and spectacularly colored wild fish, then Clear Creek can make the list at number nine, as it did in 2021. I landed 31 cutthroat trout in 6.5 hours of fishing, and each landed fish was an absolute jewel. On this particular outing I discovered the enduring effectiveness of the sunk ant pattern that I tied for the first time in 2021, and that was another gratifying factor.

8. North Fork of the White River – 09/16/2021 – This was the last of four spectacular days during the second week of September in the Flattops, and I found it very difficult to rank them. On this day I landed 36 trout in 4.5 hours of fishing, and although the quantity trailed the previous two days, the average size of the fish was excellent, and I fished for fewer hours. Vivid brook trout, cutbows, and rainbows spent time in my net, and I relished every moment.

What a View!

7. Lake Creek – 09/01/2021 – I love this small high country stream, and I was thrilled to discover that it remained relatively unscathed by fires and drought, when I visited it on 09/01/2021. I hiked a good distance and persisted through rain, but 34 wild brown trout of above average size in a small stream setting made the effort worthwhile.

6. South Boulder Creek – 08/13/2021 – My post on this day begins as follows, “Early August, western green drakes, and South Boulder Creek go together like pretzels and beer.” I love pretzels, so this says a lot. My parachute green drake clicked with the hungry creek residents, and I tallied 42 gorgeous trout in 5.5 hours of fly fishing. I experienced additional fabulous days on South Boulder Creek, but this was clearly the best.

Parachute Green Drake

5. Rio Grande River – 06/28/2021 – I spent three days drifting the Rio Grande River at the end of June, and all were first rate experiences. This makes it very difficult to differentiate and rank them. 06/282021 was the first day, so perhaps it is burdened by my unfamiliarity and a tendency to place more emphasis on the more recent occurrences. At any rate, it was easily among my top five days of 2021. How can a 33 fish day not be a top contender? Most of the trout were browns in the 13 -14 inch range with a handful of beasts that extended 15 – 18 inches in the mix. What a day!

4. North Fork of the White River – 09/15/2021 – This day in September was my most productive of the year. I landed 52 trout, and each one was an absolute palette of stunning colors. Brook trout, rainbow trout, cutbow trout, and cutthroat trout spent time in my net. These wild trout were pound for pound some of the hardest fighting trout of the year, and I relished every minute of my time on the North Fork.

Typical Scene

3. Rio Grande River – 06/29/2021 – Day 2 of guided float fishing on the Rio Grande was another winner. I landed fewer fish than on day 1, but the average size was greater, and I fished to a variety of hatches that included pale morning duns, caddis and gray drakes. We put in above Creede and fished to a take out near Creede; and, therefore, the river was narrower and more intimate. The landed fish were on average larger than what I experienced on day 1, and the purple haze was the most productive fly.

2. Rio Grande River – 06/30/2021 – I landed fewer trout on my final day of guided float fishing on the Rio Grande River than I did on days 1 and 2, but we fished for fewer hours in order to allow for an early departure for our drive back to Eagle, CO. In spite of the lower quantity of fish I rated day 3 as my number two outing of the year for several reasons. 24 fish in six hours remains a very respectable catch rate. More significantly we floated a lower section of the Rio Grande River beginning at South Fork, and this area was characterized by wide riffle sections over cobble bottoms, which translated to the fish being more disbursed than was the case in the upper sections. Our guide, Brandon, consulted with local guides and purchased a batch of gray drake cripples, and these imitations really attracted interest. We had a blast casting dries to bubble lines, moderate riffles and deep pockets among bank side structures. These factors resulted in constant action and my second most favorite outing of the 2021 year.

Love This Shot

  1. South Fork of the White River – 09/14/2021 – How could another fishing outing top one of the three fabulous days that I experienced on the Rio Grande River in southcentral Colorado at the end of June? In my humble opinion, my day on the South Fork of the White River accomplished this feat. Historically the South Fork has been a temperamental drainage for this avid fly fisherman. I have had decent days on this high elevation river during the last ten years, and even a few number ones, but these ventures were sprinkled among respectable but not outstanding outings. My day on 09/14/2021 coalesced into a magical time in a remote location. I landed 51 trout, and the predominant size was 12 to 14 inches. These were extremely hot fish that battled me up and down the river. Toss in three rainbows that stretched the tape to the sixteen to the seventeen inch range, and you have the makings of the number one day of the year. The setting was stunning, and I never encountered another angler during my entire stint on the river. The factor that elevates my South Fork day to number one; in addition to the setting, quantity and size of fish is the fact that I accomplished it on my own without the assistance of a guide.

Sunk Ant – 01/21/2022

Sunk Ant 01/21/2022 Photo Album

If you visit my post of 12/21/2020, you will discover that I added sunken ants to my arsenal of trout chasing flies during the winter of 2020-21. The aforementioned post contains a materials table and points the reader to an online video by Kelly Galloup that provides the tying steps for his sunk ant. The brief report also explains why I adopted sunken ants, and they now represent a significant weapon in my search for wild trout.

Size 16 Sunk Ant

I made five size 16 and five size 14 ants last winter, and after I counted my remaining supply, I decided to increment my inventory by another five of each size. During the 2021 season I enjoyed continued success with my sunken ants. They seem to be particularly productive on small high mountain streams, and this seems logical, since trees and bushes tend to be closer to the water, and this in turn suggests a high probability of the ever present ants tumbling into the creek. I recall days on Clear Creek, South Boulder Creek and Lake Creek where the sunk ant was popular with the local stream residents.

5 14’s and 5 16’s

My goal for 2022 is to utilize the sunk ant even more, and in doing so I plan to test it in larger rivers and in all seasons. Ants seem to exist in spring, summer and fall; so why should they not catch fish in all three seasons? I plan to find out.

Crystal Stone – 01/18/2022

Crystal Stone 01/18/2022 Photo Album

I love the look of this fly, and I created it myself. Given the millions of flies out there, there may be another similar version, but I am taking credit for this small black stonefly imitation. For the story behind how it came into existence browse my post of 03/06/2021. This brief narrative contains a materials table and step by step tying instructions, if you feel the urge to produce a few.

Left Side View

I must admit that my intentions surpassed my actions with this fly. I did knot it to my line a few times, and I believe it delivered a fish or two; however, I would like to deploy it more frequently in 2022 to better assess its effectiveness.

Necessary Materials

Since last year it was purely experimental, I only tied five. Given my optimism for its productivity assuming more usage, I generated another ten for the upcoming season. I sincerely plan to give it a solid test run this year.

Arkansas Rubber Legs – 01/16/2022

Arkansas Rubber Legs – 01/16/2022 Photo Album

I last tied the Arkansas rubber leg nymph in 2013, and you can check out the post that I made at that time by clicking on 01/17/2013. This report also describes how I became acquainted with this stonefly imitation.

In the intervening years I lost sight of the Arkansas rubber legs, until last spring, when I pulled one out of my fleece wallet and knotted it to my line on a trip to the Arkansas River on 03/09/2021. The large weighted fly with rubber legs accounted for two nice brown trout, and I made a mental note to check my supply and resurrect its presence in my fly supply.

Angled Left Side

Apparently stoneflies go through a molting process in February and March, and the trout view the light-colored and soft-bodied insects as delicacies. This explains my surprising success on my early March trip. I am not certain why I abandoned the rubber legs for such a long time.

There are numerous videos for tying Pat’s rubber legs nymphs, and any will work fine for manufacturing a bunch for your fly box. Simply substitute an orange/yellow/light green chenille and also use rubber legs with a similar olive and yellow sheen. I particularly like the tying video by Tim Flagler at tightlinevideo. In this demonstration Tim shows how to form the antennae, tail and legs by using UV resin, and I feel this really simplifies the task of making the legs and weaving the chenille through the dangling appendages.

Three New Rubber Legs With Materials

When I counted my inventory of Arkansas rubber legs, I discovered that I had nine in my possession. I sat down at my vise and produced an additional three with conehead beads plus one that is weighted with wire but does not feature a bead. It will not be long before the stoneflies on the Arkansas River molt, and hopefully my Arkansas rubber legs will allow me to fool a few.

Prince Nymph – 01/15/2022

Prince Nymph 01/15/2022 Photo Album

The prince nymph is an old classic that remains an essential offering in my collection of nymphs. The peacock body, brown goose biot tail, and white goose biot horns are proven fish attractors. For more information of the prince nymph and my tying modifications click on this link to my 11/21/2020 post.

Angled and Closer

I counted my inventory of various sizes of prince nymphs recently and determined that I needed to tie only three to boost my supply to my goal levels. Within one day I achieved my target with three size 12 weighted prince nymphs. The prince nymph is a versatile fly that imitates stoneflies, green drake nymphs and egg laying caddis. There is some overlap with the 20 incher, but I utilize the prince in smaller sizes, when I attempt to mimic green drake nymphs and egg laying female caddis.

Three Additions

I am certain that I am prepared with prince nymphs for the 2022 season.

20 Incher – 01/13/2022

20 Incher 01/13/2022 Photo Album

The 20 incher was a popular subsurface fly on my line during the 2021 season. It is a classic stonefly nymph imitation designed by a Colorado fly tyer. For additional information on the 20 incher check out my 11/24/2020 post on this blog.

Left Side

There is a lot to like about this fly. Peacock is a dependable attractor, and I like the brown goose biot tail and the silver tinsel ribbing in contrast to the iridescent peacock herl. I utilized hares mask dubbing for the thorax and topped it off with a turkey quill section for the wing case. Other than the ribbing this fly is entirely comprised of natural materials, and that is a rarity in this day and age of synthetics.

20 Incher Clump

During the past season I defaulted to the 20 incher on numerous occasions, when I felt my flies were not drifting deep enough. and the dependable nymph produced quite frequently. I augmented my supply of 20 inchers by six, and I am satisfied that I possess enough to get me through another season. Bring on the stonefly eaters in 2022.

Iron Sally – 01/09/2022

Iron Sally 01/09/2022 Photo Album

Read my post of 11/16/2020 for links to a materials table and an explanation of my introduction to this fantastic fly. I believe that the iron sally is one of the prettiest flies that I tie, but more importantly it is very effective at duping western trout.

A Fine Iron Sally

I reviewed the 11/16/2020 post before I composed this report, and this caused me to recall that I began substituting Tyvek material for turkey quill for the wing case. Guess what? I tied a new batch of six before I read that, and I reverted to turkey quill sections. The folded wing case is snugged in between wraps of thread and dubbing, so the durability of the material is not a major concern, but I hope to return to Tyvek, when I replenish my supply next winter.

Three 12’s and Three 14’s

I carry size 12’s and 14’s, and when I counted my inventory, I decided to manufacture six additional flies to increase my stock to desired levels. This fly has become a mainstay in my nymph collection, and I find it particularly effective on the Arkansas River. I would not want to be without iron sallies during 2022.

Soft Hackle Emerger – 01/08/2022

Soft Hackle Emerger 01/08/2022 Photo Album

My history with the Craven soft hackle emerger is documented via several links on my post of 12/16/2019. I discovered this pattern in a fly tying book by Charlie Craven, and it has since become a mainstay among my blue winged olive offerings. For awhile I tied them with beads to create sink, but I have recently relied on them for their original intended use as a wet fly just beneath the surface or an emerger in the surface film. For this reason I began tying them without a bead. I have quite a few beaded versions in my fly boxes should a deeper drift be required.

Nice Clarity

I counted my soft hackle emergers in size 22 and 24 and determined that five additional flies of each version were required. I produced these in a short amount of time, and I am now satisfied with my soft hackle emerger supply. The most difficult aspect of this fly is finding hen hackles for the tiny sizes. I have now tied enough of these flies, that I have improved my ability to fold a hackle. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Tiny Wet Flies

Sparkle Wing RS2 – 01/04/2022

Sparkle Wing RS2 01/04/2022 Photo Album

The sparkle wing RS2 is a close cousin of the classic RS2. Simply replace the tail with fluoro fiber strands and replace the wing with antron yarn, and you transform the classic RS2 into a flashier modern version that utilizes some synthetic materials. Read my 12/15/2019 post to obtain links to a materials table and additional information regarding the fly’s effectiveness.


As I progress through each new year of fly fishing, the sparkle wing RS2 seems to gain favor with me, and consequently it is allocated more time on my line. The natural outgrowth of this circumstance is the loss of more flies.

Materials and Flies

I counted my supply and determined that I needed to tie ten new sparkle wings to replace flies that I lost during the 2021 season. I accomplished this mission in several sessions at the fly tying vise, and I am now prepared with classic and sparkle wing RS2’s for baetis hatches in the forthcoming year.