Tag Archives: nymphing

Fly fishing the Colorado River at the Kemp-Breeze State Wildlife Park

It was 45 degrees with blue skies, white puffy clouds and a 25 mph wind blowing up the Colorado River near Parshall.  At noon it looked lovely out the windshield, but I immediately added a coat once outside. With no cars in the parking lot on the mid March day, I was ready to endure a little misery for the sake of fun. Moments later another car pulled up and the driver gave a “Hello” wave. We chatted briefly while booting up and rigging up our fly rods. Then I left the other fellow and headed to my favorite spot by the ranch bridge which has four deep holes divided on both sides of the bridge and river.  The south facing bank had a ribbon of exposed grass in the melting snow while the opposite side had ice and snow to the river’s edge.  Both provided an easy step into the water for wading.

I started below the bridge on the sunny side and used the wind to cast upstream. Comfortably numb, the first hour passed without a strike. Honking geese flew passed and a bald eagle sat on a tree limb just watching. I had rotated through the four holes and was standing on the icy edge in the shade when I saw the first subtle rise, another rise and then a more violent splash. An armada of adult midges quickly appeared floating and swirling on the surface. My brother-in-law a week earlier mentioned he liked to put the weighted nymph on the bottom of the leader and the upper fly on a loop. I figured why not and proceed to tie a bead head black zebra midge on the end of my 6x tippet and make a loop for the RS2. Gloves off, my cold fingers slowly completed the task while trout began to boil the surface. With the first cast a brown was hooked, leaped wildly in the air and disappeared with my nymph as a trophy. Damn, a bad knot.

Numb fingers picked out a replacement midge and fumbled through a new knot while watching the fish pummel the sub-surface. My frustration was followed by fear that I was going to miss this fishing opportunity. Finally I was ready to cast, landed a 14 inch rainbow immediately and promptly hooked my glove with the fly while releasing the fish. Does this happen to all anglers or just me? With gloves tucked neatly in the top of my chest waders, I caught and released a dozen fish in the next 45 minutes with wet fingers in the chilling wind. No longer comfortably numb, my feet and hands were just plain frozen.

P1010257Looking down river I noticed the other fellow had appeared and was catching a fish just below the bridge. With one more cast producing one more trout; I was done and walked across the bridge. Although fighting another fish, he shouted up, “You were really hammering them. Anything big?”

“No, all under 16 inches,” I replied.

“I don’t how much longer I can take this,” he said while releasing the rainbow.

I laughed and walked to my car. Misery loves company.

G2 Series Rod

One For The Quiver: Scott G2 884-4

Today I would like to talk about something that is near and dear to my heart. Winter fishing! My favorite time of the year as an angler is the upcoming winter months. These are the times when most Utahans trade the fly rods for ski’s or a board. This leaves the trout waters of Utah a little less crowded.

The name of the game totally changes in the wintertime however. This is the time of year where tiny flies and light tippets are the name of the game.  It is pretty much the norm to throw bugs ranging from size 22-28 with tippet in the 6 or 7x range here in Utah from now until springtime.

This is the time of year that I find myself fishing one of my favorite rods in my quiver. I am talking about the Scott G2 884-4.  This is one of my go to rods during this time of year because of its slower action.  In the winter I have found that most casts need to be highly accurate at shorter distances.  By my definition shorter casts are in the ballpark of 15 to 30 feet, definitely distance where a fast action rod just won’t cut it. The more moderate action of the G2 allows the angler to feel the rod load precisely in that area thus making that cast to those picky rising fish much easier.

The nice thing about the G2 is that power is not compromised on this rod whatsoever. Sure I feel that this particular rod excels when fishing smaller dries however the 884 G2 can do it all from big dries to light nymphing and swinging soft hackles.  The greatest thing about this rod is when you catch a fish you know it. I for one can tell each headshake and movement of the fish when playing them. The light and soft tip of the rod also leaves me to know that my tippet will be just fine in the heat of the moment when the fish is on.

What rounds this rod out to be one of my favorites in my quiver is what I would like to call the “Scott Touch”.  The first thing that I feel sets Scott Rods apart from most other manufacturers is the unsanded and unfinished blank. Some may not like this aspect of the rod because the status quo for rods these days has become wild colors like Lava Red for example, however I find the minimalist design and finish to be quite refreshing. One look can tell you that this rod was made by rod builders with a true passion for the sport that I feel is capped off by the hand signed rod description that you find on each G2 series rod.

Don’t take my word for it though. Come on down to the shop and give one of these rods a cast or two or you can check them out by clicking HERE.

Deep Wading

High-Water Fishing Tips for the Wading Angler

Spring run-off in the west and heavy rain storms in the east cause rivers to rise quickly and often without warning, raising the cubic-feet-per-second by many times, on occasion resulting in water levels reaching that particular river’s flood stage, which is when a river is commonly considered “blown-out.” While many anglers consider fishing high water to be hopeless, in actuality this situation can grant you the opportunity to catch fish you might never have a crack at otherwise. Before reading the following tips, however, remember that fishing high water presents safety risks. Therefore, it’s a good idea to fish with a friend and to not only know your limits as a wader, but to understand how the high water will affect the river’s “wadeability.” For example, if you usually wade a certain spot up to your thighs in normal cfs (cubic feet per second) flows, don’t attempt to wade it in high flows, as the current there will likely be too forceful to safely stand in and cast from. The three tips below will help you turn the tables to your advantage during high water flows.

  1. Up the diameter of your leader and tippet. When the water is high and off-colored, there is no need to fish 5x or 6x fluorocarbon in most rivers. A general rule of thumb is to downsize by at least 2x. So if you usually fish 6x, try up-sizing to 4x, or even 2x fluorocarbon if the river is dingy (some anglers I know use 12 pound test and higher, which you can often get away with). When the water isn’t clear, the trout can’t see your line well, so you should take advantage and use a heavier pound test, which will help you fight a fish out of a blown out river’s stronger than normal currents.
  2. Target the banks and secondary currents. When the water is up, the main current is often too strong for the trout to lie in. As a result, they tend to push toward the banks, where the flow isn’t as strong and the water isn’t as deep. Here, they can comfortably face upstream or circulate through the current and pick off food items. Trout often seek refuge in eddies as well, which is another spot to try. In large rivers, try targeting back channels or river braids when the water is up. You’ll be amazed at how many fish will stack in what looks to be just a small riffle along the flooded bank. If the eddy is suitable, you may even see trout facing downstream in the current, waiting for the eddy current to wash food up to them from below. If this is the case, you want to get a high-stick drift in the current, so your flies will be sucked down by the eddy and circulated back upstream.
  3. Give them the Good Stuff. When the water rises, the proverbial trout buffet opens for business. All kinds of goodies are washed into the water for the trout to eat, not to mention the various hatches that a rise in water will sometimes set off. High water is a classic time to fish a big, nasty-looking streamer (such as a double bunny or sculpzilla), but it is also time to fish heavily weighted nymphs (such as stoneflies and prince nymphs), as well as San Juan worms in a wide array of colors—just think of all the worms and grubs the high water dislodges from the banks and river bottom. For nymphing, be sure to put on a lot of split shot (so much that your cast may look kind of clumsy even) and move your indicator high up on your leader to adjust for the high water. Then try to find an eddy or a smaller offshoot of the main current and fish away. When you see that indicator twitch, give a firm hook-set to the downstream side, then hold tight…big trout are notorious for eating when the water is high and off-color.

 

I Suck At Dry Flies

I suck at tying and fishing dry flies. If you want a nymph, I can fix you up. Soft hackle? No problem. But if it is a dry fly, you can forget it.

Dry flies are congruent, poised, and angelic. Nymphs and soft hackles are chaotic, archaic, and wild. Perhaps this speaks volumes about me.

A dry fly is pretty much predictable. It floats, with a few exceptions can only be fished one way, and represents the end game. Maybe that is why I have never been much of a dry fly angler. It requires a level of grace that I dream of but never quite achieve. Its movement across the water, barely dimpling the surface film, is a ballet of sorts. Nymphs/ soft hackles are always working under the surface. You can only guess what is going on, and the predictability of its meanderings down the river is purely conjecture. You can dead drift it, swing it, strip it, but in the end you have only limit control and you have to watch your line very carefully because anything could happen at any time.

Dry flies dance to Mozart, George Winston. Nymphs and soft hackles dance to Coletrane, Muddy Waters, and The Allman Brothers. And while I am making this comparison, it should be noted that streamers dance to anything that would be found in a mosh pit, college frat house, or sleazy strip joint.

I do not like streamer fishing. Perhaps it is just a little more aggressive than my style will permit.  These flies, monstrous looking piles of fur and flash with hooks just come across as menacing.  The unhidden splash they make as they find the water only to by yanked back to the rod tip.  To be certain, if you want big fish, or if you want to cover a lot of water, streamers are the way to go.  But for me…it’s just not my style.  If I wanted to fish like that I would hang up my fly rod and throw jerk baits with a spinning rod.

I have fished Dries, and on some occasions I have fished them exclusively with much success, yet the whole time I felt like a kid in a new suit for Easter.  I just never can seem to settle into the comfortable rhythm or pace of the dance.  I have friends who, when fishing with a dry fly, look as if they were part of a painting by Michelangelo.  I watch them and think to myself…”There can be no other way for this man to fish…he has reached perfection.”

I guess at the end of the day, I am a nymph/ soft hackle guy who hopes someday to have the grace to be a dry fly guy.

But then don’t we all?

Grace is a pursuit that we may touch, but will never fully achieve. It is the point where all the poor mechanics and technique are put aside. Grace is a gift. One we don’t deserve in our fallen state. But with a little help, we may find ourselves granted its music. And then we not only dance, we fly…..

Double Whammy Cream

Fly Tying Tutorial : The Double Whammy

A Double Whammy has solved some of the toughest hatches.

Our friends in England have been fishing soft hackles since the late middle ages (medieval times) as some suggest they date back to the 1400’s or even earlier. The soft hackle was a little late in coming to the United States, the mid 1970’s to be exact, at least that’s when it was popularized, and like all new flies it was likely the “hot” fly for awhile. Fast forward to the present and you might get a response like this; “soft hackles, are you kidding??? Do they really work??? Everything’s wrong with the technique, I’ll stick with indicator nymphing”. Ok I’ll admit this may have been my own response several years ago. However, I have now realized that soft hackles are my friend and have solved the toughest hatches.

A few years ago the Double Whammy was born on the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park. It was a miserable cold, snowy, gusty early June day, Blue Wing Olives were coming off in droves and I could not get a single fish to rise to my sparkle dun. I tried dead drifting nymphs to no avail, dead drifting emerger patterns in the surface film was hopeless as well. I was about ready to call it quits and was reeling in my emerger and “wham” a nice trout hit the fly. Suddenly the light came on….soft hackles … I looked in my box and hidden in the dark recesses was a single #18 PMD soft hackle. I tied it on and fooled a couple of fish before it broke off on an aggressive strike. That night I tied up several BWO # 20 Double Whammy’s, and enjoyed epic fishing the next day. The Double Whammy wasn’t officially named until a few months ago when I was fishing one of my favorite spots on the Middle Provo River. A Blue Wing Olive hatch erupted and what looked like a lifeless hole before, was alive with porpoising fish, some real hogs in the mix. Tried a dry…of course no takes (I’ll always try dries first). Next, tied on a Double Whammy and sweet success once again, and some of the bigger browns where pushing a respectable 18-19″. Early on, I broke off a fish on the swing; it happens when fishing soft hackles. Later I netted a nice brown, and while removing the Double Whammy I noticed a BWO in its mouth and thought to myself “no wonder they eat this fly it looks just like the natural, but wait. …that’s an artificial, hey, it’s my Double Whammy the one that broke off earlier”. I caught the same trout twice, same fly, (a Double Whammy so to speak), awesome. The fly is now officially named.

Here’s a little secret, tie the Double Whammy in white #20 and you’ll catch fish during one the toughest hatches I’ve ever experienced, the dreaded white drake hatch. The hatch is nicknamed the “white curse” and for good reason, many an angler has been humbled by that hatch. White drakes hatch similar to caddis; in that they explode off the surface, trout have little time to take the duns so in most cases they don’t even bother, however a white #20 Double Whammy is absolutely deadly when swung in front of feeding fish. Soft hackle technique is quite simple, cast down and across the current, mending to achieve a dead drift allowing time for your fly to sink slightly below the surface. Towards the end of the drift a belly will form in your fly line and pull your fly broadside across the current. This is most likely when you’ll get aggressive strikes so be ready. Keep a shock loop of fly line in your hand and let go when the fish strikes. It won’t prevent break offs on the strike, but will greatly reduce them. Also, use 4X tippet minimum, go with 3X on larger flies. A softer action rod is also beneficial in bringing more fish to the net and losing fewer flies. Once you get good at it, you can cast to individual fish, and can actually see the strike, much like dry fly fishing.

Double Whammy BWO recipe:

Hook: TMC 100#20
Tail: Brown or Golden Straw Brahma hen
Body: Olive Antron fibers tightly wrapped, (not dubbed) you want the body not much thicker than the hook shank
Thorax: Killer Caddis glass bead Light olive midge size
Wing: Golden Straw Brahma hen

The Magpie Nymph

The Magpie Nymph Fly Tying Tutorial

I enjoyed a lot of success as a kid one summer with a traditionally tied mosquito dry fly, but then one day it stopped working, just like that.  Ah, such is trout fishing!  Further observation revealed that the fish had switched to sub-surface feeding, so I was forced into fishing nymphs.  I caught a few fish with a hare’s ear, but thought that I could have achieved more success with a nymph that featured the same color scheme as the mosquito dry, since the trout were already keyed into that.  Therefore, I designed a nymph that was comprised of white and black, like the dry.  I used to call it the Grizzly Nymph, which delineates the color scheme of the popular barred rock feathers, as well as the colors of the traditional dry mosquito dressing.  More recently I refer to it as the Magpie Nymph, since these birds offer good wing case material.  The design is actually the same as any other nymph pattern, aside from color.  Consequently, I think the eye-catching color contrast is what makes the pattern successful.  Since a standard nymph pattern does not look much like a mosquito larvae, I did not want to call it a mosquito nymph.  I’ve been fishing with this fly since the 80’s.  Subsequently, the pattern is so simple and effective that I’ve often wondered why it had not been popularized much earlier.

Dressing guidelines:
Hook: your favorite nymph hook
Bead: (optional) white, black, or silver bead.
Thread: Black with white bead, or vice versa; 6/0 or 8/0.
Abdomen: white and black ultra wire, wrapped together; or one strand each of black and white dubbing.
Ribbing (optional): silver wire or tinsel
Thorax: white and black dubbing mixture; maintain either mostly white or mostly black in the mixture, or, like the abdomen, twist a white and a black dubbing strand separately, then wrap them together.  If black & white are blended 50% each, the outcome tends to be more gray in appearance than grizzly.
Wing case: white & black barred feather section; or latex or other synthetic material speckled with a permanent marker.
Hackle/legs: (optional) grizzly hen, or another black & white barred feather such as guinea, starling or partridge.
Author’s note: I have also found it useful to focus individual patterns with either the white or the black.  For example, a predominantly black pattern should be highlighted by white streaks, or vice versa.  Along these lines, a mostly black wing case should be contrasted against a white thread head.

 

Clinch

How It All Started

On the Clinch River in East Tennessee, west of interstate 75 as it bridges the water at breakneck speed is a mass of T.V.A. power lines that keep the City of Knoxville and points beyond supplied with electricity. The water beneath these lines is deep and clear, full of large rocks and twisted deadfall.

Wading isn’t an option in this stretch of the river, but the bank is often cluttered with corn cans that linger until high water flushes them further down stream. If you want to work the river from the bridge to the power lines a water craft of some sort is mandatory.

The Clinch isn’t a world class span of water, but it does hold a respectable population of browns, rainbows, and recently they added brooks to the foray. The size of the fish caught is usually in the mid sized variety though an occasional leviathan is spotted. This river in all its normalcy is special to me because it was in this place that I discovered my love of fly fishing.

It was the summer of my 40th birthday. Up to that point in my life I had been a basic bank fishing worm dunker. The most exotic angling I ever ventured to do was cast a Jitterbug or Hoola Popper to pond bass.

The overall vision of river fishing in my mind was sitting on the bank pitching chicken liver for catfish.

My best friend had been fly fishing for a while and despite his persistent urging that I give it a try, I remained resistant. It seemed like to much work to catch a tiny fish, and frankly it just looked to hard to be fun. His consistent assurance that I would love it was respectfully dodged till my birthday.

With some money I had been given as a gift, I bit the bullet and purchased some gear. The rod was a nine foot five/six weight Phlueger combo with double taper line that I got for thirty five bucks at Wal-Mart. This seemed to me like a total waste of money, but I guessed that I could put a spinning reel on it and bluegill fish.

When I got home I called my buddy and set the fishing trip for the following Saturday. He told me to pick up some flies, we set the time, and my fate was sealed.

Selecting flies for my first trip was the equivalent of trying to translate the Magna Carta into Mandarin. The Friday before my trip, I went to a fly shop on the west end of town. It was a small place tucked at the very back of an old strip mall. Several trucks were parked out front, I pulled in along side them and peered through the mosaic of stickers adorning the window.

Gathering my nerve, I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by and old black lab who bumped me with his graying muzzle. I rubbed his head and walked on in, trying to look like I knew what I was doing. I am quite sure that I looked as lost and out of place as a Nascar fan at a performance of Swan Lake.

“Can I help you?”, the guy behind the counter asked. He was polite enough, but his voice held a hint of indifference which implied either I had walked into the wrong store, or I was as lost as a ball in high weeds. It didn’t take him very long to get me figured out.

“I’m heading up to the Clinch. What are they hitting?” Let me just state now for the record that if you go into a fly shop and ask that question, you might as well have a red flag dangling over your head. I am sure the guy behind the counter could see the donkey ears and buck teeth protruding from my face.

“Pheasant Tail”

He may as well have said Pig Ears.

“Do you have any?” Oh, this was getting bad. By now the donkey tail had emerged from my back and a Hee-Haw was welling up in my throat.

“Over there in the flies.”

“What size?”

“Twenty.”

I looked around and found the tray that said Bead Head Pheasant Tail size twenty. It was the only slot that was nearly empty. Just a small was of very small hoods with tiny gold beads.

At this point I was sure that this guy was playing me. I could hardly see the eye of the hook let alone try to fish with this thing.

Embarrassed, I picked up a few, put them in a cup, paid my money, and walked out with my donkey ears drooping and my fly swatting tail tucked meekly between my legs.

The lab looked up at me sympathetically from his spot by the t-shirt rack. I felt like he had seen this all happen many times before.

I am an information junkie. When I get interested in something, I devour as much as I can to learn about the intricacies of whatever the subject might be. I had spent several days scowering the internet on everything i could about fly fishing. I watched videos of Joan Wulff and Lefty Kreh as they showed the basic mechanics of the cast. I would sit at my desk with a thick highlighter and practice ten and two, ten and two.

So, returning from the debacle at the fly shop, I strung up my rod and went outside to practice. The one thing I remember is hearing that awful crack each time I came forward with my cast. My research had informed me that unless I carried a suitcase of flies to the river with me, I needed to fix that issue. I slowed down my ten and two and finally reached the point that I could lay down a solid ten feet of line in front of me without issue. By nightfall I felt okay with my cast much in the same way a teenage boy feels okay around a girl that he knows is way out of his league. He likes it, he enjoys it, but in the back of his mind he knows that once she sees through his charm to the large zit on the end of his nose, the whole gig is up.

I guess in retrospect, it was a blessing that we were fishing from a boat. I had fished area lakes in a boat many times so I kinda know the score. This also meant that I didn’t have to buy waders, but I had seen enough about fly fishing to know that I had to have a vest to hold my gear. Downstairs, in a bag of old yard sale stuff, I found a cheap khaki hunting vest that would have looked good on Marlin Perkins or Jack Hannah, but me? Not so much. Of course I had nothing to put in it but a plastic cup of Pheasant Tails and a three pack of leaders. Minimalism at its finest.

Saturday morning. The big day had arrived. I was up and gone before daybreak. The boat ramp that was our rendezvous point was about forty minutes away from the house and as I drove I tried to run through what I had read. I was actually getting nervous! Not about the fishing part of it, I had been catching fish my whole life. I was nervous about how I was catching them. I hate being labeled a greenhorn.

Its funny how odd things linger in your memory. The first thing I noticed when I reached the boat ramp and stepped out of my ride is how much colder it was right at the river, and I thought to myself that the water would have to warm up a bunch before the fish would feed. Shows you how much I knew.

Neither my buddy nor I are small boys. Our collective weight would bring top dollar at a cattle auction, so when he showed up with our watercraft I began to get worried. The “boat” was a hard plastic kayak kinda thing that was small and light enough for him to load in the back of his truck, and when we shoved off and headed upstream it did not escape my attention that we were mere inches from taking on water, yet remarkably it moved our middle aged spreads across the surface quite well.

We rowed upstream for several minutes through a thin wisp of fog that hovered inches above the water. Occasionally I would see a ring of a fish on the surface but other than their interruption the river was smooth as glass. I was amazed at how quiet everything became as we headed toward my date with destiny.

When we stopped rowing and set the boat free, I cast and fixed my gaze on the orange stick on foam indicator. I really didn’t know what to expect; then it happened. I have no real recollection of the hookset, or the fight, all I remember is that the indicator went under and then I was holding a 12″ brown. I was amazed at how smooth and cold it was, and how this was the prettiest fish I had ever seen.

“Meet your mistress.”, my buddy said with a twinkle in his eye.

Another boat, a real honest to God boat with room and a trolling motor came downstream to us. I knew the two guys from highschool and after a few pleasantries it was suggested that I get in with them so I could stand up and cast. That is when things started to get interesting.

I made an ungraceful but successful transition from the tiny craft that required my friend and I sit and cast to a large boat in which I could stand.  This made things much easier.

I was placed in the center of the craft and after some good natured ribbing targeted at my buddy and the realization of just how rediculous we must have looked going down river in something that looked more like a bath toy than something two grown men would ride.  The trolling motor was engaged and we headed back upstream and my new guide gave me some ground rules; Don’t get your feet tangled in the fly line, make sure that when you land a fish, you don’t lean over the side of the boat to far, and when you are casting make sure you say “casting!”.  This last one was of particular importance with three grown men in the boart and it did not escape my notice later on in the morning that when I said “casting!”, they froze and kinda leaned away from me.

We had a brief conversation about how the day had gone so far, what fly I was using, what I had been up to since high school.  Looking back on it now, I am sure that he made a quick inspection of my gear and no doubt rolled his eyes.  I mean this guy has one of just about every Hardy rod known to man and here is this 40 year old greenhorn standing in his boat with a yardsale hunting vest, a Wal-Mart rod and reel combo, and this bright greenish yellow double taper fly line.  I am sure I looked smoooooooooth.

These guys were laying out forty or fifty feet of line with ease and I would frail about like I was one step away from turning a cartwheel and might occasionaly get twenty feet of line out of the rod tip.  These guys were also catching fish.  A lot of fish.  I on the other hand was slowly being induced into a hypnotic state by the orange indicator that bobbed along unhindered in the current.  I watched helplessly as hookset after hookset occured on either side of me.  I was amazed.  All three of us were using pretty much the same fly but thus far the results had been desidedly different.

I don’t know if there is any information out there to support the impact of high tension power lines and their effect on the feeding activity of aquatic life forms, but as bad as I was at this fly fishing stuff, I can only attribute what happened next to the genius of Thomas Edison and Ben Franklin.  As we crossed under the power lines, the indicator I was staring at, the indicator which had indicated nothing but my ineptitude for hours…moved.  It wasn’t aggressive, it just slowly and steadily began sinking deeper and deeper in the water.  I had hung up on rocks and tree limbs all day and was down to just two or three flies in my plastic cup so I gave a quick tug to try and pull it free.

Then, from the bottom of the Clinch River, under the shadows of the power lines, not ten feet off the side of the boat, something pulled back!  A wave of nausea washed over me as I felt the strong pull of something that was fighting for its life.

“FISH ON!”, I cried.

“My God, I’d say so!” came the reply.

My rod was bent midway and whatever it was, was big and had swam under the boat.  I began shaking and honestly could not feel my legs.

The fight seemed to go on forever and when the net was dispatched a huge rainbow trout was brought on board.  The biggest fish of the day for all of us.

I would love to say that after a gratuitous grip and grin photo op, I gently placed this football with fins back in the water and watched as it settled into its natural place.  But I didn’t.  I kept it.  Not so much for the meal that it would soon provide, but for my ability to show it to my wife.

“Oh my gosh! That is a trout?”, she would say a few hours later.

She had the same misconception about these cold water gems as I did.

As I dressed out the fish that evening and prepared it for the oven, I caught myself planning my next trip.

Those power lines may not hold any valid effect on the fishing, but for me it is a magic place.  A place where passion was born…three feet under a little orange indicator.

 

 

rob4

Quija Nymphing

Last year, I took a friend who had never floated in a drift boat to float the A-section of the Green River.  It was mid-week, which meant that there were very few Floaties on the river.

I had placed my friend the pole position in the front of the boat in order to ensure he would have the best chance at an epic day.  My son was happily perched at the rear, with me on the oars. For anyone aspiring to boat ownership, this is where you end up most of the time; trading your fly-rod for graphite sticks of a much larger diameter.  The sun was intense and the water was high, but the incessant wind was noticeably absent.  The only action on the surface belonged to the fiberglass monsters flogging the water with strips of nylon.  After serving up almost every dry-fly on the menu; the usual suspects like cicadas, hoppers, and crickets, I started visually poaching for ideas by watching the guides in other boats.  I really wanted my friend, who is a capable angler, to catch something, anything.  If someone tells you they haven’t been skunked on the water, they are either lying or selling something, or both.  Most of the guides had their clients nymphing,  DEEP.  A couple of them were throwing rigs fished with weights which looked more at home at Gold’s Gym than on a river.  That being said, their sports were catching fish. My friend didn’t want to nymph fish and instead opted to throw a streamer.  I understood, as it is a lot more fun to cast and strip than to lob barbells.  As effective as nymph fishing is, and I do it all the time, it is a bit like using a Ouija Board, or having sex with a condom; you are never really sure you are communicating with the other side until something dramatic happens.

After a few hours without so much as a sniff, I began to feel the pressure.  I set my son up with a nymph rig hoping to change our luck. He is a novice fly-fisher who, prior to this trip had only thrown dry flies. Within two casts, the drought was over. He proved to be surprisingly adept at hooking the anchor line.  After three repeat performances, he asked for a beetle pattern and a sandwich.

Again, I turned my attention to the other boats, specifically the ones routinely catching fish.  Ethics aside, I made a mental note to throw a pair of binoculars in the boat for the next trip. The closest boat was racking up double hook-ups faster than a fish increases in size when it is “unintentionally released”. I noticed that the anglers consistently catching fish were set up with a two fly rig with the weights tied below the flies, sometimes called dredge or bounce nymphing rig.  Not sure how I feel about this set up. I can’t help but assume that the angler in the front of the boat was bonking fish on the head with his weights while the angler in the back was snagging them.  At the time, my friend decided to stick with the streamer, which eventually yielded some results, not epic results, but results nonetheless. Speaking of results, the guides who set up their clients with the dredge rig were definitely achieving them, which for them is their living.  Far be it for me to deprive a person from earning a living. Ethical questions are rarely black and white, so it appears we have another issue upon which to float, and wade, into the gray.