The V-Rib Chironomid— If you do some searching on the internet you will find all kinds of chironomid pupa patterns. And, surely, they all will work. But, as always, simple is a good place to start for a fly tyer. You will find using V-Rib (also known as D-Rib) for a body material will make your fly tying quick and fun. Winding V-Rib around the hook shank is quick and easy and gives the body of the fly a nice segmented look.
So what exactly is V-Rib? It is a translucent plastic material that comes spooled or packaged in ziplock bags. The “V” in V-Rib stands for “Vinyl” while the “D” in D-Rib describes the D-shape, or half-circle shape, the material has if you were to look at its cross-section. V-Rib comes in a number of sizes and colors. Hareline carries 16 colors in four different sizes from midge up to large while Ultra makes 11 colors. In general, the V-Rib (D-Rib) sizes are recommended to be matched up with the following hook sizes:
V-Rib Size/Hook Size Midge / 16-20 Nymph / 12-16 Medium / 8-12 Large / 1-8
V-Rib Chironomid Recipe: (one of many variations) Hook: 1X short scud hook; size of choice (usually 12-18) Thread: 6/0 or smaller; color of choice Gills: white antron Head: Bead (optional) metal or glass; color of choice Underbody: thread or flashabou; color of choice Body: V-Rib; color of choice; Thorax/Collar: peacock (optional)
Tying and Materials Tip: V-Rib comes in many colors, most of them translucent. By varying the V-rib color, and also the color of the thread or flash under the V-rib, you have an almost unlimited variety of shades of chironomids that you can tie. But don’t go too crazy and buy all of the available V-rib colors; red, black, olive, and brown are the ones most commonly used for chironomids.
The body of the V-Rib chironomids are sometimes first wrapped with a flash material like flashabou, followed by the V-Rib. The resulting shine in the body helps to simulate the gas that builds up in the pupa as it slowly rises through the water column. Examples of this are shown in the following photo:
Chironomid Tactics and Strategies: In stillwaters you can fish chironomid patterns under an indicator or let them sink near the bottom and then patiently simulate the pupa slowly rising to the surface by using a slower than slow hand-twist retrieve. When fish appear to be feeding just sub-surface, club member Lane Hoffman likes to grease all of his leader except the last six inches or so, thus leaving the chironomid pupa pattern suspended just under the surface. And don’t forget to try midge pupa patterns in streams, too. Dead drifting them tied off the bend of a larger nymph can be deadly. When the trout are feeding near the surface of streams, fishing them in a dry-dropper combination can be lots of fun.
If you are fishing your chironomids at depths greater than the length of your rod, landing your fish will be made a lot easier by using a “slip strike indicator”. Here is a helpful short video from In The Riffle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2cbPXxvxRI Brian Chan and Phil Rowley, both noted stilllwater fishing gurus, have written extensively on chironomid strategies. Check out the following links for some great advice about fishing chironomids in lakes and ponds— Brian Chan: Chironomid Fly Fishing Strategies (11 minutes; condensed basics) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXSEyvkqORQ Phil Rowley: Advanced Chironomid Tactics Class (1 hour 25 minutes; excellent info; technical glitches and less than perfect audio in places) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj8kV2P9RvQ
Some different examples of V Rib Chironomid Patterns. They are easy to tie and very effective!
Euro Nymphing…you shouldn’t put it off any longer. It seems that the whole fly fishing world is going euro nymphing. It is not a matter of just getting on the bandwagon of the newest fad, because in fact, euro nymphing is not really all that new. You should at least consider going in open minded about trying this technique , although new to many of us, that has proven to be very effective since the 1980’s. (Some flyfishing historians will argue that european nymphing is simply another step in the evolution of high-stick nymphing techniques that have been going on for the past 150 years!)
When people heard that the highly competitive USA fly fishing team had added euro nymphing to its arsenal of methods, people began to sit up and notice. A little closer to home, when Josh Linn, the “Fly Czar” at The Royal Treatment Fly Shop, told me back in 2019 that he recently had a 20-fish day on the Metolius I really started paying attention! That is no easy feat on that river. And then Josh put emphasis on his endorsement of euro nymphing by adding that he landed two fish at once, also on the Metolius.
So, what is euro nymphing? In its simplest description, it is a way to fish subsurface flies without using a strike indicator or adding extra weight onto your line. It is a method of maintaining a tight connection with your fly, a method to dead drift your fly and to eliminate slack in your line, and a method to maintain control over the depth and speed of your drifting fly. Some people call this Czech nymphing, some call it European nymphing, and some call it tight-line nymphing. You can call it whatever you want.
There are a number of variations of euro nymphing styles (Polish, Czech, Spanish, French, etc), each employing both similarities and differences to the other methods. If you study them all and overthink too much, all of the information will soon put your brain on overload. Before you blow a fuse and get discouraged, it is important to educate yourself in the basics of this style with just enough information to get you started so you feel confident enough to try it out on the water. If you decide you like euro nymphing feel free to investigate it further.
Brad Jonasson Interview
Fellow CFF club member Brad Jonasson has really taken to euro nymphing, easily more so than anyone else that I personally know. In Texas Hold ‘Em poker language, you could say that Brad has gone “All In” regarding euro-nymphing. Brad agreed to answer a few questions designed to help folks that are unfamiliar with euro nymphing to decide whether or not to venture forward. Question: How long have you been euro nymphing? What made you decide to try this method? Brad: One day in June, 2018, while fly fishing on the Owyhee River with a small CFF group, Ron Bouchard appeared to outfish us all by euro nymphing. Question: What percent of your time nymph fishing do you now spend euro nymphing compared to standard indicator nymphing? Brad: I fish exclusively for trout, and since late 2018, I have focused solely on euro nymphing. Question: Did you have immediate success euro nymphing? Brad: At the outset, I enjoyed immediate, but modest, success, which inspired me to continue striving to improve, though the learning curve has been gradual. Right now I believe that I am an intermediate euro nympher, ready to move to an advanced level. Question: If I have never done any euro nymphing do I need to buy a new rod, reel, and line? Brad: Because euronymphing is a different animal, an inquisitive beginner should probably try some tightline nymphing with standard equipment (like a 9’ 5-wt rod) to see if he/she even likes it. Your current 4/5-weight reel will probably work fine. (For all of the reasons adequately spelled out in the literature, further pursuit of euro nymphing will eventually demand an investment in a 10-11’ rod built especially for that purpose.) Question: What else would I need to get started for my first time out euro nymphing? Brad: You would need a euro nymphing leader made of a hand-built mono leader that includes a twotoned sighter material (Rio), along with fluorocarbon tippets and a selection of tungsten beaded nymphs. Question: Where do you like to go to do your euro nymphing and what kind of water do you look for? Brad: Much of my fishing time is spent on the Deschutes which is ideal for euro nymphing. Look for riffles and runs where fish lay feeding because they are oxygenated and buggy. The Crooked River is also excellent if the water is not too low, although I caught a 20” rainbow at 70 cfs. Question: Do you tie your own euro nymph flies? Brad: If you are a fly tyer, euro nymphs are easy, and fun, to tie. You will need UV resin and a UV light for some of the patterns. You probably already have many of the necessary materials.Beginners – once you have learned the basic skills of fly tying, head to Youtube to create and tie your own euro nymphs. Question: Do you have any other tips for the beginning euro nympher? Brad: It is not just the acquisition of the equipment and flies that guarantees success, but an understanding and implementation of the “tight line” presentation and drag-free drift that is of greater importance. So study up with books and videos as I did. Question: Can you recommend any resources for the beginner euro nympher? Brad: I would recommend reading books (CFF library) and viewing videos (youtube) by George Daniel, Devin Olsen, and Lance Egan. Right now, to become an advanced euro nympher, I am digesting Troutbitten’s “Nine Essential Skills for Tight Line and Euro Nymphing”, the best treatise on advanced euro nymphing I have run across. ( This can be found at troutbitten.com)
Euro Nymphing Flies: The types of flies for euro-nymphing will differ from many of the nymph patterns that you are accustomed to using. They nearly all are heavily weighted for their size, usually employing tungsten beads to get them down to the desired depth. Along with the tungsten beads tyers often add wraps of lead wire for additional weight. You will notice that many of the euro-nymph flies are also sparsely tied and have a smooth and streamlined appearance. This aids in getting the flies down quickly to the fish zone. Many of our standard nymphs have a bushy or rough look to them, which causes them to drop more slowly due to added friction as they sink through the water column. Many patterns employ a bright hot spot near the head or tail, or both. The appearance of many of the flies can best be described as “attractor” patterns since they do not seem to closely resemble any life forms in the river. Suffice to say we using “impressionistic” flies and are not trying to closely “match the hatch” when tying up many of the euro-nymph patterns.
The number of different euro-nymphing patterns on the internet has certainly exploded. It is easy to come up with your own variations of existing patterns by changing colors and materials. Here are a number of patterns to get you started (Many thanks to Josh Linn for the fly tying recipes):
The Perdigon This fly was first developed by the Spanish competitive fly fishing team but really was made popular by the French team. Wraps of lead wire are often added behind the tungsten bead head. The tail is generally coq de leon. Using different materials, for wrapping the body accounts for the numerous variations of this fly. It generally is tied with a very smooth and streamlined look, and needs to be coated with UV resin or clear fingernail polish. It is interesting to note that the name Perdigon comes from the Spanish word “perdigones” which translates as “pellet” or “shot” as in bird shot. It is literally “a weighted pellet with a tail”.
Perdigon Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14,16 Bead: 3.3mm or 2.8mm slotted tungsten Lead: 3-5 wraps .015 Thread: Orange Veevus 10/0 Tail: Coq De Leon Body: krystal flash, mylar, floss, thread Hot Spot: Fl Orange Veevus 10/0 thread Wing Case: Black Loon Hard Head (or black nail polish) Finish: Coat the body with UV resin Perdigon Tying Tutorials There are many opinions about what a good perdigon should look like. You will notice that some are quite thin while others seem quite bulky. The materials can vary and the end results are seemingly endless. Here are some online tutorials to check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-tuKpwbrX0 (Tyer: Devin Olsen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LChpgNouQkg (easy segmented body technique) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXL42hqWJBw (tyer likes them thin!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmTs1NME8Uc (Tyer: George Daniel)
The Frenchie Most of the credit for this fly seems to go to Lance Egan, a member of the USA fly fishing team. He actually says his version is a variation of a previous pattern (perhaps borrowed from the French team, hence the name). It is sometimes described as a pheasant tail with a hot spot..
Frenchie Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14, 16 Bead: Copper or Gold slotted tungsten; 3.3mm or 2.8mm Lead: 3-4 wraps .015 Thread: Red or Orange Veevus Tail: Coq De Leon Body: Natural pheasant tail Rib: gold or copper wire Collar: shrimp pink ice dub Frenchie Tying Tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMnx_Hz-oG8 (Tyer: Lance Egan)
This is a dressed up euro nymph version of a fly called Walt’s Worm, which was created back in 1984 by Walt Young. Sexy Walt Recipe Hook: Jig hook #14 Bead: Silver slotted tungsten , 3.8mm Lead: 10 wraps .015 Thread: Orange Body: Hare’s Ear Dubbin Rib: Small mylar Sexy Walt Tying Tutorial: (Tyer: Josh Linn, Royal Treatment Flyfishing) https://www.royaltreatmentflyfishing.com/blogs/everything-fly-fishing/the-sexy-walt/
Euro Nymphing Leaders There seems to be an infinite number of euro nymphing leader formulas out there and it can be confusing if you overthink it. So to simplify things, here is a nice video from Josh Linn at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop with instructions on tying up a euro nymphing leader that he says is perfect for all aspects of Euro Nymphing…
The Clackamas Fly Fishers normally try to schedule a fish-a-long on the Crooked River in March or April. Of course this will depend on the usual things like weather and water level. But whenever it happens, this would be a great time to practice your euro nymphing skills. If you are lucky, Brad Jonasson will be there and he will be happy to share his knowledge with you. And as always, Dave Kilhefner is is a great instructor of all things related to fly fishing, including euro nymphing.
For many of us, the dropping temperatures and increasing rainfall are signals that it must be time for the return of winter steelhead to our local waters. Instead of traveling to the Deschutes for our steelhead “fix” we are able to stay closer to home and fish local waters like the Clackamas and Sandy rivers.
Years ago, when asked to give me the name of a go-to winter steelhead fly, two of my reliable sources of information, Josh Linn and Dave Kilhefner, both mentioned the fly with the promising name of “Metal Detector”. When searching for a grab by a fish that has “steel” as part of its name, it makes sense that you can hardly go wrong with a fly called the Metal Detector. Dave didn’t hesitate at all in endorsing this fly for winter steelhead by flat-out stating that the Metal Detector was his personal favorite pattern.
Northwest guide Marty Sheppard is credited with coming up with the local version of the Metal Detector series of flies. Marty and his wife Mia have been the owners since 2003 of Little Creek Outfitters, a guide service based in Maupin. They specialize in swinging flies with both two handed and single handed rods and regularly guide on the Deschutes, Grande Ronde, John Day, and Sandy rivers.
Marty, along with his friend Josh Linn, experimented with a variety of materials in hopes of coming up with a large profile fly that was also easier to cast than some of the flies on the market at the time. The key turned out to be using materials that don’t soak up a lot of water. This makes the Metal Detector flies lighter and thus easier to cast than many flies of equivalent size. And we all know that heavy flies and sink tips can turn a promising day of fishing into an unpleasant chore. Marty Sheppard’s fly was originally tied with bucktail but now is also tied with finn raccoon. Both materials are buoyant, absorb little water, and also don’t clump together when wet. Some tyers use craft fur, a synthetic, for the same reason, and it is fairly inexpensive. Polar chenille, while also absorbing little water, is included in the body to give a translucent glow from the inside out. The flies are finished off with a marabou collar which provides added movement in the water. Trailing stinger hooks are used to help ensure the greater chance of a hookup.
Metal Detectors are usually two-toned flies with favorite color combinations being black and blue, and red and orange. Black and blue is especially good on overcast days, dark conditions, or when the water is off color. The red and orange flies are preferred in bright sunlight or when the water is especially clear. A green version is good in the late winter and summer seasons when sculpins get active plus it’s also a great trout spey pattern.
Thread: 6/0; black or color of choice
Shank: shank of choice ( one-eyed OPST shank, or Waddington shank)
Weight: cone head, cyclops bead, dazl-eyes, or dumbbell eyes; optional: no weight. The purpose of the weight is not to sink the fly but help it turn over in wind, so don’t overdo it!
Tail: finn raccoon, bucktail, or craft fur; color of choice
Body: polar chenille; color of choice
Flash: EP brush wrapped on shank (or flash of choice anchored onto shank or wrapped in dubbing loop)
Collar: marabou wound on shank; color of choice
1. Tie on, or slide on, the weight (optional) of your choice onto shank.
2. Measure a length of stinger loop wire so that the rear of the stinger hook will reach back the desired distance from the head of the fly. It is important that the loop be big enough to allow the stinger hook to be changed out if it becomes dull. (Don’t use your good scissors to cut the wire!)
The total length of the fly is usually 3 to 3-1/2 inches.
*** Note: You can slide the stinger hook onto the wire now or add it later. If you add the hook now, be very careful because the hooks are very sharp and tend to grab onto such things as fingers or fly tying materials that get too close.
3. Attach the loop of stinger hook wire onto the shank by securing it with tight thread wraps and then coating the thread wraps lightly with super glue. Allow the super glue to soak in and set up.
4. Prepare a clump of tail material, and attach it securely onto the shank with thread wraps. The tail should extend to the rear of the stinger hook.
5. Tie in a length of polar chenille at the base of the tail.
6. Wind the polar chenille forward, stroking the fibers rearward with each wrap. Tie off the polar chenille about a 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch distance behind the weighted head.
7. Add some flash in front of the polar chenille using one of the following options:
Option A. Attach a piece of EP brush at the front of the polar chenille and make 1-2 wraps of the brush. Anchor it with thread wraps and remove the excess. (The EP brush has a core made of wire so don’t use your good scissors to cut it.)
Option B. Create a dubbing loop and insert some flash of choice into the loop and twist it closed. Make some wraps of the dubbing loop flash. Tie it off and remove the excess.
Option C. Add some flash of your choice by tying in some small clumps around the top, bottom and sides of the fly.
8. Attach a marabou feather by the tip in front of the flash. Wind it forward filling in the space behind the weight. Stroke the marabou fibers rearward with each wrap. You may find it helpful to wet the marabou to help you control it. Tie it off. Remove the excess marabou. Whip finish. Add head cement.
Below you will find a link for an an updated version of the Metal Detector from The Royal Treatment fly shop that you should check out:
It is interesting that many of the Metal Detectors found in fly shop bins will be tied on metal shanks, while Dave Kilhefner says that Marty actually ties most of his own on tubes because tubes are faster and easier to tie, which is important when you are a guide providing flies for your clients. Below are some of Marty’s favorites:
In his recent President’s Message, Dave Kilhefner reported that this month’s Fish-Along will focus on winter steelhead fishing and will be held January 22 at OxBow Park on the Sandy River. So now is the time to get ready by checking those fly boxes to make sure you have a full arsenal of winter steelhead patterns. Maybe the Metal Detector will become one of your go-to winter steelhead flies.
For the past few years our usual November Fish-A-Long venue has suffered from too little water, or too much water, and the event had to be canceled. This year our President Dave Kilhefner is optimistic that the conditions are shaping up nicely for an outing on Saturday, November 13th near Tillamook for Chum Salmon. The Kilchis River is our normal destination, although the Miami River also has a run of chums. If you have some extra time this month there are many more opportunities to catch chum salmon in Washington waters. Be sure to check out the Washington regulations if you plan to head up there.
Chum salmon are sometimes regarded as the “ugly stepsister” of all of the species of Pacific salmon. They can be chrome bright while still in the ocean but soon begin to develop characteristic markings as they prepare to enter freshwater. After entering rivers chum salmon are readily identifiable by their characteristic olive green coloration with purplish vertical striping and blotches along their sides.
Chum salmon are sometimes referred to as dog salmon, with research showing two possible origins for that name. One explanation is that name comes from the impressive mouthful of sharp teeth seen in the males as they approach spawning time.
A second explanation is that the reference to dog salmon comes from the habit of Native Americans feeding the flesh of the chum salmon to their dogs. Chums are not known for their aerial acrobatics but they fight like bulldogs and are not brought in easily, so don’t go light in selecting your gear. And because of the imposing teeth, it would be a good idea to carry a quality pair of pliers.
One fly that has been shown to be very effective for chum salmon is The Kilchis Killer. Noted Oregon fly fisherman, author, and fly tyer John Shewey is credited with coming up with the design for this fly. The name of the fly might be a bit of a misnomer, at least for the state of Oregon, as all fishing for chums is strictly catch and release. Just consider it a killer fly for attracting the chums. The fly is normally tied in chartreuse. As Club member Lane Hoffman says, in regard to chum salmon, “it’s no use if it ain’t chartreuse”, regardless of the specific fly pattern you tie on. However, many anglers report that if the chums aren’t responding to chartreuse flies it is time to switch to something that is hot pink.
The Kilchis Killer is a relatively easy fly to tie and should be no problem for tyers of all levels of experience.
Hook: Heavy wire, size 2-6 Tail: Krystal Flash (chartreuse or pink) Body: 1/2 Floss (chartreuse or pink), 1/2 Cactus Chenille (chartreuse or pink) Wing: Krystal Flash (chartreuse or pink) Collar: Hackle (Saddle or Schlappen; chartreuse or pink)
1. Lay down a base of thread wraps. (Now is the time to attach any weight, if desired.) 2. Add a tail of krystal flash. 3. Attach a piece of floss at the base of the tail. Wind the bobbin forward. 4. Wind the rear half of the body evenly with floss. Tie down the floss with thread at the midpoint of the hook shank. 5. Attach a piece of cactus chenille at the front of the floss. Wind the bobbin forward. 6. Wind the front half of the body with the cactus chenille. (Don’t crowd the front of the fly. Leave room for the wing, hackle, and thread head.) Anchor the cactus chenille with thread wraps. 7. Attach a clump of krystal flash in front of the cactus chenille, angling it back at about a 45 degree angle for the wing. 8. Attach a hackle feather at the base of the wing. 9. Wind the hackle forward, making each wrap just in front of the last one. Anchor the front of the hackle with thread wraps. 10. Form a head with thread wraps, whip finish, and add head cement.
Good luck fishing! This has historically been one of the club’s more popular trips. If the weather and river conditions cooperate, this is one Fish-A-Long where you really have a shot at catching a big fish!
Like all fly anglers, I am always on the lookout for new information to improve my chances of landing fish. I pay particular attention to those fellow flyfishers who I know have skills and experience that surpass my own. So years ago when our own Dave Kilhefner told me he had recently enjoyed a 100 fish trip on the Deschutes, he immediately had my attention. When I inquired about his secret fly or flies, he simply said… “egg patterns”. On that particular trip Dave had started out chasing steelhead but the steelheading proved to be unproductive. Turning to trout as a diversion he found he had an easy time taking advantage of the trout keying in on the eggs being scattered by the chinook salmon that are in the Deschutes at this time of the year. On the Deschutes I am usually trying to crack the code about what bug is hatching and what stage of the life cycle I should be using. So thank you, Dave, for opening my eyes to another possibility of what I should be carrying in my box of trout flies.
Here is a general recipe and one method of tying instructions for a Glo-Bug type of egg pattern:
GLO-BUG EGG PATTERN
RECIPE Hook: Tiemco 2457, Mustad C67S, Daiichi 1120, or equivalent; #6 – #14 Thread: 6-0 or stronger; color to match the color of the egg Body: Glo-Bug yarn or McFly Foam; color of choice (Note: Many people find the McFly Foam easier to work with. It tends to form a tighter, more dense egg.)
1. Lay down a base of thread at the front 1/3 of the hook.
2. Secure two or three clumps of GloBug yarn or McFly Foam on top of the hook shank with 4 firm wraps of thread. Keep the material on top of the hook shank. (The thickness and number of the clumps will depend on the size of the hook used. You will need to experiment to find the right amount of material.) To form a “blood dot” or “eye” in the egg, lay a narrow strip of yarn/foam of a contrasting color on top of the original clumps of yarn/foam.
3. Secure the clumps with 8 wraps right in front of the clumps. Then, while pulling up on the clumps, circle the base horizontally with three tight wraps of thread. Whip finish and apply head cement.
4. Pull up firmly on the yarn or foam and trim it all at once in a slight arc.
5. Work the yarn/foam around the hook to form a round egg. Trim as needed.
”The key to tying a good egg pattern is to tie a SMALL one. 95% of the ones I see are too big…For trout I like to copy a 6mm bead and have it be that size or a little smaller.”
Check out these links for some good videos with tips for tying Glo-Bug eggs:
EGGO WEIGHTED EGG PATTERN
An Eggo Fly is weighted egg pattern and makes a good anchor fly. Here is a general recipe along with tying instructions for an Eggo pattern:
RECIPE Hook: Tiemco 2457, Mustad C67S, Daiichi 1120, or equivalent; #6 or #8 Thread: 6-0; color of choice Eyes: Lead eyes Body: Chenille, Crystal Chenille, or Estaz; color of choice
1. Lay down a thread base where you will want to anchor the lead eyes.
2. Anchor the eyes with multiple figure-8 wraps of thread. Further secure the eyes with horizontal wraps below the eyes but above the hook shank. Apply super glue to the wraps.
3. Use thread to anchor a length of chenille right behind the eyes.
4. Use figure-8 wraps to form a round egg shape around the lead eyes, tying it off in front of the eyes. Whip finish. Apply head cement or super glue.
Here is a nice illustrated article from Dave Kilhefner showing the steps for tying the Eggo Fly.
Dave has produced another fine article titled “Egg Fly Fishing Secrets” that appeared in Flyfishing and Tying Journal. I would think this should be required reading for those flyfishers planning on fishing egg patterns, especially those club members heading to this month’s fish-a-long at Beavertail on the Deschutes.
It was good to receive Dave Kilhefner’s email about our upcoming fish-a-long on the Wilson and Trask Rivers for Sea Run Cutthroat Trout. According to some anglers, Sea Run Cutthroats (aka Blue Backs, Harvest Trout, Cutts, or Cutties) are arguably the best overlooked trout fly fishery in the state. So overlooked that even Dave K. says he has never targeted sea run cutthroats! (What a shock! I didn’t think there was a fish species in Oregon that had escaped being searched out by Dave.)
As their name implies, Sea Run Cutthroat trout divide their time between fresh and salt water. Unlike their relatives, the salmon and steelhead, they do not migrate far from their home rivers and return there in late summer, entering the estuaries in July and August, eventually working their way farther upstream. Cutties are aggressive predatory feeders and are known to be eager in going after artificial fly patterns.
I stopped in at The Royal Treatment fly shop looking for flies and sea run cutthroat information. Randy Stetzer, author of the book called “Flies: The Best One Thousand”, told me that you should keep moving if you are not finding fish. If the fish are there they are likely to be going after your fly. They like cover, so be fishing for them around logs, large rocks, root wads, cut banks, and shady areas. Josh Linn put me onto two fly patterns that seem to be on the go to list of many anglers: the Borden Special and the Reverse Spider.
Borden Special (developed in 1961 by Bob Borden, founder of HareLine Dubbin)
Recipe— Hook: TMC 3761 #4-10, or equivalent 1X long hook Thread: black 6/0, 8/0 Tail: yellow and pink hackle fibers Rib: small silver tinsel Body: hot pink rabbit or synthetic dubbing Wing: white arctic fox or other suitable white hair Collar: wraps of saddle hackle or schlappen; hot pink in front of yellow
Reverse Spider (more of a style of fly than one specific fly pattern)
Recipe— Hook: TMC 3761 #6-10 Thread: color of choice 6/0,8/0 Tail: feather fibers, or no tail at all Rib: silver tinsel Body: synthetic or natural dubbing; or chenille; color(s) of choice Hackle: Lady Amherst pheasant tippet, or mallard flank fibers, or rooster or saddle hackles; color of choice; tied in with the fibers in reverse style, facing forward over the hook eye
New club member Keaton Andreas is excited as he looks forward to his first fish-a-long. He forwarded some information to Dave Kilhefner about his experience in August with a guide on the Nestucca River fishing for sea run cutthroats. Keaton indicated that the fishing got better when he fished a reverse spider that was weighted, allowing his fly to get down to the fish. Try to track him down at the fish-a-long because he says he is going to tie up as many as he can and that he is willing to share them with others.
Here is Keaton’s recipe for the weighted reverse spider he used: Hackle: Chartreuse Lady Amherst Tippet Head: Black Nickel Tungsten Bead Body: Medium Light Olive Chenille Tail: Chartreuse Lady Amherst Tippet
For more details about fishing for Sea Run Cutthroat trout check out the following links that Jay Nicholas posted on the Oregon Flyfishing Blog:
CFF President Dave Kilhefner has announced that the July 24th fish-a-long will be at various Mt. Hood area lakes.
One of the more effective fly patterns you should have in your stilllwater arsenal is the Seal Bugger, a fly that was developed by Denny Rickards over 30 years ago. Denny is a noted stillwater fly fisherman on his home waters of Upper Klamath Lake in southern Oregon where he developed the Seal Bugger.
Denny thought that he could improve on the longtime favorite versatile fly that we know as the Wooly Bugger. By altering the materials and construction he came up with a fly that is famous for enticing trophy trout which is quite evident if you have ever watched any of his videos or presentations. The Seal Bugger looks much like a classic Wooly Bugger except Rickards’ version uses seal fur (or a substitute) dubbing instead of chenille for the body. Other differences include a reduction in the amount of marabou in the tail and also a reduction in the amount of hackle wraps on the body.
The Seal Bugger can be tied in many color variations. Denny’s own website lists 12 different combinations of tail, body, and hackle colors. Tied usually in sizes 8 and 10 and fished on intermediate sink lines the Seal Bugger is a must-have fly for your arsenal when you are heading out to stillwater fishing locations.
I once saw a list that Denny Rickards made of the flies that he would use if he was only allowed to fish with six flies for the rest of his life. The Seal Bugger was number one on the list!
Dave Kilhefner mentioned to me that Lane Hoffman had been tying seal buggers on euro nymph jig hooks and that they were “awesome”. In verifying that with Lane, he says that he has been tying them on jig hooks and “they have been very effective!”. So I would say that it would be interesting to experiment with wooly buggers compared to seal buggers, compared to jig hook seal buggers. Tie up some of each in your favorite colors and report back to the rest of us about which works best. They are probably fished best with intermediate sink lines, varying the depth and retrieve until you find the right combination.
SEAL BUGGER RECIPE (for both the Lane Hoffman and Denny Rickards versions) Hook: For Lane Hoffman’s version use a size 12 or 14 euro nymph jig hook with a 60 degree bend; (For Denny Rickard’s version use a Tiemco 5263, or Mustad 9672, or Daiichi 1720, size 8,10) Weight: For Lane’s version use a 7/64 or 1/8 inch black slotted tungsten bead; (for Denny’s version use 20 wraps .020 lead). Tail: marabou (fluffy fibers from the side of the marabou feather will give more movement); tied more sparse than wooly bugger; color of choice (Lane prefers olive); add 2 strands pearl flashabou or flash of choice; Body: Simi Seal, or equivalent (angora with ice dub); color of choice (Lane prefers olive) Hackle: 4 wraps saddle hackle; undersized compared to wooly bugger; color of choice (Lane prefers olive or orange) Rib: small copper wire
SEAL BUGGER TYING INSTRUCTIONS (for both the Lane Hoffman and Denny Rickards versions)
For Lane’s jigged version, place the slotted bead onto the hook and secure it with thread wraps.
For Denny’s standard seal bugger, wind 20 wraps of .020 lead wire around shank of hook. The wraps should start about one to two hook eye’s width behind the eye of the hook. Secure the lead with numerous thread wraps. *** Steps 3-12 are the same for both Lane’s jigged seal bugger and Denny Rickards standard seal bugger.
Tie in a marabou tail, making it a bit more sparse than for a wooly bugger.
Add one piece of pearl flashabou to each side of the tail.
Tie in a piece of copper wire for ribbing at the base of the tail. Leave it hanging out back of the fly.
Tie in the saddle hackle feather by the tip at the base of the tail. Leave it hanging out the back of the fly. ***(Prepare your dubbing material at this time.)
Form about a 5 inch dubbing loop at the base of the tail. Wind your bobbin to the front.
Load the dubbing loop sparsely with dubbing material and spin the loop tight. Wrap the loaded dubbing loop forward, forming the body of the fly. Anchor it with thread wraps at the front.
Wind the hackle forward, making four wraps of the hackle. Anchor the hackle at the front of the fly with wraps of thread.
Counterwrap the copper wire ribbing forward, taking care to move the wire back and forth to miss the hackle fibers. Anchor the wire with thread wraps at the front of the fly.
Whip finish and add head cement.
Pick out body hair fibers with a bodkin, brush, or velcro. Take care to not damage the hackle.
I see that Dave Kilhefner has organized a shad fishing (hopefully, a shad catching) Fish-A-Long for June 12th. That could truly be a memorable day in the history of Clackamas Fly Fishers Fish-A-Long outings in terms of numbers of fish caught.
Although Nick Wheeler is no longer at The Royal Treatment fly shop, he is still fondly remembered for the expertise he added to local anglers’ knowledge about flyfishing for shad. Nick spoke to our club on the topic and also was on hand to lead us during an evening of tying up shad flies. Despite the good natured banter he suffered from others in the fly shop, Nick’s enthusiasm for the previously overlooked shad was infectious.
Click here to read an article on Bill Schaadt and his shad fly that is being reprised from the Clackamas Fly Fishers blog from 2018. Much of the information in the article was gathered from an interview I did with Nick, as well as his evening presentation to the club.
Below you can find the Recipe and Tying Instructions for Nick Wheeler’s version of Bill Schaadt’s Shad Fly… RECIPE: Hook: Tiemco 3761 #6 ; or Fulling Mill F35085 #8; or similar Thread: anything hot orange; Nick Wheeler recommends Danville’s Fire Orange flat waxed 210 denier thread (covers well with fewer wraps); a second color of choice would be fluorescent green Tail: pearlescent krystal flash Body: silver mylar; size 12 or 10 Eyes: medium size silver bead chain Head: thread; tapered behind and front of the eyes Coating: head cement (or Sally Hansen’s or UV resin) INSTRUCTIONS: ~Lay down a thread base. ~Tie in a tail of about 10-12 strands of krystal flash; trim the tail strands fairly short, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. ~Tie in a strand of mylar at the base of the tail. Tie it down with the gold side facing up so that when you wrap it the silver side will be facing up. Move your bobbin forward. ~Spiral wrap the mylar forward to about the mid-point of the hook, overlapping each wrap onto the previous one so there are no gaps. Tie it off and remove the excess mylar. ~Use a few figure-8 wraps to tie in the bead chain eyes, at a distance about 1/3 of the hook length back from the hook eye. That should put the eyes at a position slightly more than halfway back from the eye to the mylar. See the drawing below. (Although not essential, anchoring the eyes in with a drop of super glue may be helpful because these flies can take a hammering during your multi-fish day of fishing! ) ~Continue wrapping the thread to form the head which will extend from the mylar to the eye of the hook. Taper the head both behind and forward of the bead chain eyes so that the head is thickest at the eyes and then tapers to the front and back. Because of the way you positioned the eyes in Step 5 the taper in front of the eyes will be slightly longer than the taper behind the eyes. Whip finish the head right behind the eye. ~For added durability give the finished fly two coats of head cement over the entire body and head (but not the tail!). ~The bead chain eyes are not centered on the head. The taper of the head in front of the eyes should be longer than the taper behind the eyes.
Well, it has been quite some time since the last Fly of the Month article has been posted on the club’s blog. Due to the COVID pandemic our regular club activities have definitely been disrupted. We have not had any of our monthly Fly Tying Nights but they will resume… someday. It has been suggested that we continue posting things of interest regarding Flies and Fly Tying, even though we cannot have our fly tying get-togethers yet. In case you haven’t noticed there is a major “happening” taking place on The Deschutes River as this is being written. The annual salmonfly hatch is in full swing and Josh Linn at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop recently hosted a Zoom presentation that he calls The Salmonfly Survival Guide. If you missed it you can click on this link to have a look. Josh includes a lot of information about presentations, gear, and flies patterns to help you be as successful as possible during the salmonfly hatch.
And that brings us to the MFFR. If you have ever fished the salmonfly hatch you undoubtedly have experimented with a number of different patterns. Everyone seems to have a go-to favorite. Josh has tweaked the popular Norm Woods Special into a fly in which he has a lot of confidence. A foam rubber body on the MFFR is the one alteration that Josh has added that results in improved flotation.
Here is one version of a manufactured Norm Woods Special with a dubbed body:
Below is Josh Linn’s MFFR, his foam body variation of a Norm Woods Special:
Here’s the MFFR recipe— Hook: TMC 200R size 4 Thread: 10/0 Orange Body: 2mm Orange Foam Hackle: Metz #2 Ginger Saddle Hackle Wing: Tan Calf Tail Head: Orange Thread Hackle: Metz #2 Brown Hackle Check out this link for Josh’s youtube tutorial showing all of the details for tying the MFFR. It is especially interesting to see how Josh colors the foam material, trims it, and then winds it onto the hook shank. Josh then trims the hackle to allow the fly to sit low in the water, much like the naturals. The Royal Treatment will have all of the materials you would need plus they have packaged up some MFFR kits that have enough materials to tie up about 25 MFFRs.
Josh says that the big bugs should be out on the Deschutes through the first week of June so there is still time to get out on the water to take advantage of the salmonfly hatch.
While on the Owyhee River last June I exchanged reports with another flyfisher. We agreed that the fishing had been challenging, but each had experienced some brown trout success on different streamer patterns we had each been using. I traded one of my Unbalanced Leeches (a Mitch Moyer pattern) for one of his Slumpbusters (a John Barr pattern) and both of us left happy with the exchange. My new acquaintance related that he had fished the Owyhee for many years and the Slumpbuster had always been a top producing pattern for him, so I felt good about adding this new fly to my arsenal.
At first, the name of the gentleman that came up with the Slumpbuster didn’t register with me, but it should have. John Barr is the same guy that came up with the widely popular fly called the Copper John, along with other well-known flies like the Vis-A-Dun, the Meat Whistle, and the Barr Emerger. He is a long-time signature tyer for Umpqua Feather Merchants and currently has twenty three of his patterns listed in the Umpqua catalogue. In 2011 Fly Tyer Magazine named John Barr a recipient of their Life Time Achievement Award for his contributions to fly tying. Our club library has a book, cleverly titled “Barr Flies”, where you can learn more about John Barr and his fly patterns. It has great step-by-step instructions, both for tying and how-to-fish his patterns, along with terrific photos by Charlie Craven, another well-known fly tyer.
A fisheries biologist once told John Barr that when brown trout get to be about 16 or 17 inches long their diet shifts from mainly insects to include baitfish (meaning any fish they can swallow). Of course they continue to feed on nymphs and adult insects but, when given the opportunity, large trout will prefer going after a big meal they can get while expending less time and energy. And at the same time fishermen are going to have a greater chance of catching large trout when fishing streamer patterns that mimic baitfish.
John Barr with a nice brown that took a black Slumpbuster that was dead drifted.
Barr designed the Slumpbuster to have a baitfish profile. It doesn’t have as much glitz or flash as some other streamer patterns. (However, you could always come up with your own variation by adding flash, legs, brighter colors, etc). But Barr’s theory is that streamers that have a lot of flash will often get follows or passes from fish that turn away at the last moment or eventually seem to lose interest, as if they sense that something is not quite right.
As far as streamers go, the Slumpbuster is relatively easy to tie and is quite durable. It has a type of uni-body construction with the tail, wing, and collar all tied from the same material, a narrow zonker strip of pine squirrel hide and fur. Barr found that when wet, a Slumpbuster tied with squirrel strips, had a perfect baitfish profile that he preferred over flies tied with the more commonly used rabbit zonker strips.
Depending on the water you are fishing, the Slumpbuster could be fished on a floating line, sink-tip, intermediate sink, or full sinking lines. As always, the type of retrieve should be varied until you find what is working. Sometimes long and slow strips will work, and other times short and fast, or erratic strips may be the answer. Barr says he likes to fish two Slumpbusters at a time, with a smaller one tied off the bend of a larger one with 18 inches of tippet. (With each fly weighted at the front, that combination must be a challenge to cast!?)
If you have ever felt like your fishing success was in a slump, perhaps you should try a Slumpbuster! Join us for our next Fly Tying Night on Wednesday, March 25th at the Royal Treatment Fly Shop in West Linn. We’ll be tying up some Slumpbusters in a couple of colors. Bring your vise and tools if you have them, or we can loan you some. The fun will start at 6:00 pm and will go to about 7:30. Hope to see you there!