Fall Baetis (Quill Body Baetis)
Most reports indicate that steelhead fishing has been less than stellar so far this winter. If things should suddenly turn around and the fishing picks up, hopefully you are stocked up with enough winter steelhead flies to carry you through the season. But as far as Fly Tying Nights go, we are moving on to trout for the next few months.
Our next scheduled Fly Tying Night comes a few weeks before the club’s scheduled Fish-A-Long on the Crooked River in March. If you look at the numbers of fish, this river is one of the most productive trout waters in Oregon. When reading the fishing report from the club’s trip last year to the Crooked River, one thing you will notice is that everyone caught fish! That is a testament to the recovery of trout numbers in the Crooked River after a disastrous die off in the winter of 2015-16 due to a low snow pack and low water flow. The numbers of redband trout per mile was estimated at 8,000 fish per mile by a ODFW survey as recently as 2013. In 2016 the numbers dipped down to 350 fish per mile, while an encouraging survey completed in June,2018 showed that the numbers have bounced back to an estimated 3,500 fish per mile in the 8 mile stretch below Bowman Dam.
If you stock up on zebra midges and blue wing olive patterns you are going to be well prepared for most days in the winter and spring on the Crooked River. I listened to a gentleman named Mike McCoy give a presentation where he talked about fishing the Crooked River. Mike is from Battle Ground, WA and, besides being an avid flyfisher, he owns a highly thought-of company called Snake Brand Guides which supplies guides and reel seats for fly rod builders. Mike’s go-to fly for the Crooked is called a Fall Baetis. In spite of the name “Fall” Baetis, the hatch of blue wing olives (baetis) that we come across on the Crooked hatch is strongest from late winter into early summer.
We will be tying up some quill body baetis flies following Mike McCoy’s recipe. The pattern has that characteristic segmented segmented body that looks so good on flies. The quills we will be using are stripped peacock quills, which have a flattened shape and a unique color shading that helps to produce the desired segmented body appearance. At our Fly Tying Night we will be discussing which parts of a peacock feather you can use for these flies and how to strip them, as well as sources of commercially prepared peacock quills. For those tyers that find using the quills a little frustrating there will be a chance to learn alternative ways to achieve a segmented look on the bodies of these small flies.
Join us at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn on Wednesday, February 27 for our next Fly Tying Night where we will be learning to work with peacock quills to tie up some quill body flies. They will be perfect for the club’s outing on the Crooked River but will also be effective on all waters where blue wing olives are present. (And that is everywhere!) We’ll be starting at 6:00 pm sharp. Hope to see you there!