Fat Albert 02/03/2024 Photo Album
It is difficult to supplement my post of 01/23/2023 with relevant information. If you are interested in this fly click on the link to my previous year narrative. This fly receives quite a bit of usage as the surface fly that accompanies double nymphs in a dry/dropper configuration. In addition to serving as an extremely effective strike indicator, it attracts its share of eats along the way.
I counted my fat Alberts and determined that I needed six to replenish my supply for the 2024 season. I dumped my damaged fly canister, and four old fat Alberts with missing legs materialized. I refurbished the handicapped hoppers and tied three new versions, and this allowed me to gift one to my friend, Nate. I am now fairly certain that I have adequate fat Alberts to get me through the upcoming season.
Pool Toy Hopper 01/27/2024 Photo Album
I have very little to add beyond my post from a year ago, which can be viewed at 01/22/2023. I probably deploy the pool toy hopper more than any other large hopper or foam pattern. It is only surpassed by the smaller and, in my opinion, more versatile hippie stomper. Ironically both flies were designed by the master of foam, Andrew Grillos.
When I counted my inventory of pool toy hoppers, I discovered that I needed to increment my supply by nine, and I added one for my friend, Nate. I also maintain some plastic canisters with mangled and damaged flies that I placed out of service during the season, and I discovered six flies in this condition. I approached my vise and replaced the missing legs on the damaged flies and then produced four new versions; three for me and one for my friend. I am certain that this fly will spend quite a bit of time on my line throughout the season, and I am equally sure that legs will fall off, and a few will be donated to trees and aggressive fish. I am prepared for every eventuality in 2024.
Chernobyl Ant 01/23/2024 Photo Album
For an excellent recap of my experience with and usage of the classic Chernobyl ant please review my post of 01/23/2021. It also contains a link to a materials table, and it does an excellent job of explaining the circumstances that induce me to tie a Chernobyl ant to my line. I am unable to build upon that narrative here in any significant way.
My usage of the Chernobyl ant has declined in recent years, as chubby Chernobyls, fat Alberts and pool toy hoppers now command the prime position as a highly visible and very buoyant surface fly in a dry/dropper configuration. For this reason my loss of this fly is negligible, and consequently I determined that I had adequate supplies for another year. In order to remain in practice and to provide some for my young fishing friend, Nate, I tied two. They turned out great, so hopefully Nate will enjoy them as much as I do.
Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/16/2024 Photo Album
Check out my post of 01/17/2023 for more information and links related to Jake’s gulp beetle. This fly is quite easy to tie, and one of my historical posts provides step by step directions.
I deployed the foam beetle a few times during 2023, but I do not seem to revive its effectiveness similar to situations in past years. I suspect some of this shift resulted from my tendency to not use it, as I tend to default to the hippie stomper, stimulator or deer hair caddis before resorting to a foam beetle. This is perhaps a mistake on my part, so I will try to reverse this trend in 2024.
My supply was slightly depleted, so I tied an additional five with one going to my friend. The remaining four were split evenly between size 14 and size 12. I feel prepared for terrestrial plopping in the upcoming season.
Chubby Chernobyl 01/24/2023 Photo Album
Each year I resort to the chubby Chernobyl more frequently. My post of 02/12/2022 provides further background on my experience with this awkward looking fly. Links from that post can guide you to my introduction to gaining confidence in the chubby Chernobyl, but suffice it to say that large trout on the Yampa River favored a chubby with a tan ice dub body.
When I utilize a chubby in the surface position on a dry/dropper, and a fish grabs the trailing fly, I find the progressive submersion of the chubby wing to be quite seductive. I suppose that makes me weird, but I must confess to this predilection.
Clump of Five
After I counted my carry over supply from 2022, I determined that the chubbys needed replenishment, so I churned out an additional five for the upcoming season. I cannot wait to see the white wing disappear once again.
Fat Albert 01/23/2023 Photo Album
Refer to my recent post on the pool toy hopper for a comparison of the pool toy hopper and the fat Albert. They are very similar. Check out this link to my report from 2022 for additional links and narrative on the fat Albert.
Refurbished Fat Albert
I continue to deploy the fat Albert early in the season, when I desire a large and buoyant top fly on my dry/dropper set up, and it does the job quite well and even occasionally pounds up an eager fish. The fat Albert also sees heavy usage during the end of June and early July, when I edge fish the larger rivers, as the snow melt remains high, but the rivers are clear, and the fish are bunched along the banks seeking refuge from the fast current. Again the buoyancy is a major plus, and the large yellow bodied foam fly also imitates the golden stoneflies that are prevalent during this time period.
Teeth Marks Make Them More Effective
As was the case with the pool toy hopper, I found five flies in my damaged fly canister that were missing legs, so I simply added legs to restore my inventory to adequate levels for the upcoming season. These flies will see action within a few months.
Pool Toy Hopper 01/22/2023 Photo Album
The pool toy hopper is in all likelihood the foam fly that logs the most time on my leader other than the hippie stomper. If you search the web for foam hopper imitations, you will find hundreds of patterns. Imitating a grasshopper seems to be the fly tying equivalent of building a better mousetrap. It seems that every fly designer takes a crack at creating a better hopper. Are there better hopper patterns out there than the pool toy hopper? Probably, but this fly has served me quite well for many years now, so I remain loyal to it.
Very Clean Look
I also tie fat Alberts, and in all honesty the pool toy and fat Albert are very similar flies. For some reason I use the fat Albert in situations, where I am not primarily imitating a grasshopper, but instead I am using the surface fly as a strike indicator. I also tie fat Alberts with yellow bodies and pool toy hoppers with tan bodies. If I were to vary size and body color, perhaps these flies would perform in comparable fashion. Nevertheless, at my age and at this stage of my fly fishing career, I abide by the phrase, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.
Waiting for Rework
The pool toy hopper was created by one of my favorite designers, Andrew Grillos, and I regard him as one of the foremost architects of foam flies. I actually took a tying class with Andrew, and this may also influence my bias toward the pool toy. For additional background information and links to a materials table and directions to tying instructions, follow this link, 02/04/2022.
Eleven Refurbished and Two New
When I counted my pool toy hoppers, I discovered that I had quite a few damaged flies to refurbish. Nearly all of them were missing legs, so I simply tied on some thread and added legs to create eleven refurbished hoppers. I also tied a couple from scratch to remain in practice.
Jake’s Gulp Beetle 01/17/2023 Photo Album
For some reason my success with the beetle has waned in the last several years, and this circumstance may be attributable to my tendency to favor a hippie stomper over the beetle. If fish refuse the hippie stomper, my next succession in downsizing is the beetle. My post of 01/16/2021 provides quite a bit of background on the beetle and my application to fishing situations.
Angled for More Depth
When I counted my supply of beetles in sizes 10 – 14, I concluded that I was adequately stocked, but I uncovered five foam and deer hair beetles that were damaged and unraveling. I stripped these down the the bare hook and supplemented my backup supply with five refurbished flies. I suspect that I will once again find myself in a situation where the beetle delivers on its promise, and 2023 could be the year.
Batch of Five
Sunk Ant 01/03/2023 Photo Album
I set a goal last winter to use sunk ants even more than in the past, and I actually followed through on this pledge during the 2022 season. I experimented with them on some large rivers during higher flows, and they were not extremely productive. However, when I knotted one to my line in a dry/dropper arrangement and tossed it to likely trout holding spots on small mountain streams, there was no mistaking the love affair between trout and ants. The sunk ant performed in admirable fashion.
Zoomed on a Black Sunk Ant
As one would expect, I lost a few along the way, and increased usage translated to more lost flies. I counted my stock of carry over ants, and I decided to replenish my inventory with size 14 and size 16 black sunk ants. I followed the pattern demonstrated by Kelly Galloup in his excellent YouTube video, although I substituted a black plastic bead for the rear bump instead of winding thread forever. Even Kelly remarks on the mind numbing exercise of forming the rear bump with thread. The feature of this fly that I admire the most is the method that he demonstrates to form the legs. If you are interested in tying some of these, definitely check out his video. Also, if you are interested in learning more about my experience with the sunk ant check out my post of 01/22/2022.
Lots of Ants
Fat Albert 02/06/2022 Photo Album
In a previous post on the fat Albert or pool toy hopper a reader asked me what the difference was, and I was forced to acknowledge that they are very similar. Both contain three layers of foam and both possess rubber legs. The pool toy hopper displays more materials for the rear wing, but this is probably a minimal difference from the trout’s vantage point. I got stuck in the routine of tying mainly fat Alberts in size 6 with yellow bodies; whereas, I tie pool toy hoppers in size 8 with tan bodies. Who knows? If I tied smaller fat Alberts with tan bodies, I might discover that it produces during hopper season as well as a pool toy hopper.
My post of 02/04/2021 provides the key links to a materials table and anecdotes regarding my usage and introduction to the fat Albert. I tend to use this fly as an indicator in the early season prior to run off, and I also default to it quite often during the edge fishing time frame, when the rivers are blasting downstream at a rapid pace and leaving only the ten feet along the bank as a target area for casting. The large foam body is highly visible and very buoyant, and these attributes are conducive to its role as an indicator fly.
I tie mine primarily with a yellow underbody beneath a layer of yellow foam, and I am convinced that the fly gets consumed as a golden stonefly adult in addition to a hopper with a yellow body. This may explain its productivity during the early season and during late June and early July, as these time frames coincide with golden stonefly activity.
Fat Albert Cluster
For 2022 I refurbished two with missing legs and made an additional three from scratch to up my fat Albert inventory to a sufficient level for the upcoming season.