Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hot off the bench...

I have had success recently on size #6 and #8 attractor patterns - namely the Chubby - and I have had them on my mind lately. Dry flies have never been a strong point in my tying but I would like that to change.

Here are my first attempts at tying the Stimulator:

Feel free to comment regarding improvements or suggestions.


P.S. Thanks to Hopper Juan for the stellar tutorial!

P.P.S. Don't Google Image "Stimulator!" 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Little Blackfoot...

I have had to drive from Missoula to Helena and back this last Monday and today for some professional licensure tests. Despite the tests leaving me with the feeling that I should have chosen a different career path the traveling was nice.

Monday was a hurry-up-and-drive day so I just was able to look briefly at the water as I drove. Today I left early and stopped for an hour downstream of Avon. I nymphed for half the time and I swung  a monster white Muddy Buddy (mostly so I could see it) for the other half. [I have never fished a streamer before in moving water so I hope I was doing it correctly :P] I struck out on this particular stent.

I went into Helena, started my test, finished early and headed back across MacDonald Pass just in time to encounter a massive downpour of rain mixed with hail. By the time I reached a relatively easy access point (again, downstream of Avon) the rain had stopped and I rigged back up. My leader needed some work so I just switched it out and tied on an attractor dry.

I quickly began to get molested by mosquitos. Holy crap they were bad.

With my MFC Stimi Chew Toy in size #12 tied on I hit the water for the 30 minutes I had to spare before needing to head home. In slower water near a grassy bank, I received 4 strikes. The strikes seemed to be from fish too small or a fish just attacking because it was pissed. No hook ups after 5 strikes/rises/etc. Struck out!

Little Blackfoot on June 29, 2011... SKUNKED (for the 1.5 hours I tried).


Cutties and the Chubby...

Between life-changing exams I had a day off. I promised myself I would not study and that I needed some "me" time to think, reflect, chill out and fish. My amazing wife is so supportive and she rocks. Thanks a ton for the day to myself, Babe!

I headed West of Missoula for some high, but clear, freestone water. I have been watching stream flows and the last few days the flows have been dropping. I wanted some fish!!!

I spent the day being pretty stubborn though. True, I wanted some fish but I wanted them on the Chubby!!! I am in love with the Chubby! What an amazing fly!!!

The water was actually on its way back up today but the message didn't get to the fish. They were cooperative.

While I didn't manage anything of monstrous proportions today I did work out some kinks in my presentation, or lack thereof. I had approximately 15 solid takes on the Chubby and I only missed 3 of them. I did have a number of "rise-refusals" but they were from what appeared to be smaller fish - big eyes but small stomach.

My largest fish of the day - that I landed - was right at the 16" mark. It was a pretty neat cast plus I saw him come up from the bottom, follow the fly for a split second then slam it with a vengeance.

The other big fish of the day came unpinned at my feet while my hand was getting wet to grab him. Another stellar take with the fish coming up from the bottom... this time he had his mind made up from the get-go. I imagine he was a solid 16" if not a tad bigger. He was a lot more red on the belly, too.

It was a great day of relaxation and laying low. It was neat to go at my own pace but I do enjoy sharing the smiles and fist-bumps after a solid CPR Cutthroat.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alpine Goodness and the Asthmatic...

Saturday Mike and I headed up to some alpine lakes in search of elusive trouts. The first set of lakes had a notice posted at the trail head saying that the lakes were still frozen. Strike One. We then headed a little bit south (and maybe lower in altitude). We got to the trail head and it looked much better than a few weeks before when Mike plowed through 3+ feet of snow in his wading gear. We started up the trail headed for the lake ~3 miles up and I wussed out maybe a mile in. Strike Two. I am NOT used to this high-ish altitude hiking with wading gear on stuff. A BIG thanks to Mike for being patient with the slowpoke.

We got to the lake and began making our way around it. The fish was tough!!! I picked up a stellar Westslope specimen in the early part of the adventure. This fish has virtually NO spots until right at the tail. It was gnarly and gorgeous at the same time! Base Hit!

The catching was minimal until about 3ish. On the way back around the lake we picked up another fish or two. It was not what we expected to encounter based on previous experience. At least it beast a stick in the eye. The company was awesome and the scenery was immaculate!

Mike caught me zoning off due to the view. Thanks for "photoshopping" out the seventeen chins!!!

We then hung around the outlet talking with a Forest Service Contractor and I saw some risers so I excused myself while Mike did some recon. We spent the rest of our time around the outlet. Mike brought to hand the prettiest and largest fish of the day. This cuttie had a kype, some serious chompers, all decked out to get his freak on and he was pushing 17" if not a solid 17".

Mike has some good camera skills, too boot! Always a pleasure Trout Tripper!!!


Friday, June 24, 2011

Things that go bump in the night....

I had a dream a lot like this last night. Only, instead of Legos it was with midgets with Trout Tripper's face.

I need to fish/tie/pass my exams. This crazy dream/sleepless night crap needs to stop!!!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Should I sell all my rods....

... and get a Scott or two?

This video makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. [insert tearing up here]

My favorite part of it all was the good looking Shman. I think it would be hard to be married to her though 'cause I am sure she is a much better angler, rod builder and tyer than me. I am sure she cleans her boyfriends/husbands clock on the water.

This makes me want to get a Scott rod TODAY!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Product Review: Kershaw Skeeter II Tying Scissors

It's hard to pass up a purchase when the product bears your family name!

When walking through a local sporting good store here in Missoula, I stumbled across these scissors hung amongst other tying shears that bear the names Tiemco, Anvil, Dr. Slick and Montana Fly Company. Naturally, my eye was drawn to the shears that had my last name on them. I had no idea that Kershaw Knives made fly tying scissors!

My family has always had Kershaw Knives products. My dad carried a Kershaw everyday. Since I was 16, I have had Kershaw knives off and on. While my habit to carry a pocket knife ebbs and flows, my loyalty with manufacturer never wavers. I couldn't leave this store with out these scissors that bear a name that excels in quality.

Since purchasing them, I have used these scissors in a wide spectrum of fly tying uses. They have cut various material from foam to antron to deer hair to elk hair to opossum fur to squirrel tail to sexi-floss to thread to feather quills. They are wonderful at cutting wire with the tips... PSYCHE! Never, never do that with tying scissors!

  • Comfortable finger holes
  • Super fine tips
  • Serrated edges with non-serrated accuracy
  • Sharp enough to circumsize a gnat
  • Reasonably priced at ~14 bones
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • They are Kershaw
  • Not the most comfortable in my hand while tying (I have yet to find a pair that feels invisible)
  • Fixed tension - not adjustable
  • So sharp I almost pierced an organ when I fumbled them out of the package
I am very happy with these scissors!!!

Happy tying!


P.S. I am in no way stating that I am qualified to do a product review. I also do not claim the authority, clout or skills to have this review negatively or positively impact your retail purchases. I openly admit that I do not have financial benefits, nor do I receive discounted products, from Kershaw Knives - dadgummit!!!

P.P.S. If someone is willing to donate a pair of Montana Fly Company or Dr. Slick adjustable scissors to challenge these stellar scissors I champion the cause and would graciously accept the challenge.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Reflecting on the Move to Montana...

I have been thinking about the move to Montana a lot lately. In doing so, I stumbled across this stellar video about Jenny Grossenbacher after reading her and her husband's book Fly Fishing Montana: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters:

Despite the stress of licensing examinations and getting my butt handed to me every time I go fishing, I am very excited to be here in Missoula, Montana!

Wish me luck on my exams on Monday and Wednesday!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Epic PMD Fail...

Yellowstone National Park has some good looking water - understatement of the year! The weather was less than stellar between Wednesday afternoon and Friday evening. We had everything from upper 60's to mid 20's with partly cloudy skies to thundershowers to full on snow.

The water was clear everywhere in the Park. It was super high but clear. Most of the creeks and all of the rivers looked fishable - fishable with some caution for wading. The Firehole looked to be the exception. It looked perfect for flow and clarity.

After the family reunion festivities my wife was super kind and allowed me to fish while she watched the kiddo, napped, read and walked around with him in the hiking pack. I am married to the best lady in all the world!

First stop was the Gibbon River above the falls in the Gibbon Meadows section. A lot of water looked excellent but access was sketchy with flooded plains, thick mud and geothermal fragility. We tried a nice section near a picnic area.

I took a goose egg at this stop... we will call it working out the kinks.

Next stop was further down the Gibbon on the way to Madison Junction. I stopped at some nice curvy bends that looked promising. As was mentioned previously, I found copious amounts of these guys:

So, I tried nymphing one with a PTN behind it through some sections like this in all paces of water:

With nothing to show for my nymphing, I changed gears and put on a Chubby to see if anything was looking up. I had one take but missed the hookset.

The kid was getting hungry so we stopped to pic-a-nic [in Yogi voice] at Madison Junction. After everyone's tummy's were full and the kiddos eyes were sleepy we moved on to the Firehole. Our first stop was some picnic area north of Fountain Flat Drive. There were anglers every 30 yards working water like this:

I started with a Chubby-dropper setup to see if I would move some fish along the banks and different runs. I missed a hookset on my Barr Emerger PMD #16. I started to notice some more mayfly activity when the wind wasn't hellacious. I changed to a Hi-Vis PMD Dun with an emerger pattern Roger showed me. I got a take on the PMD dun but missed the fish. After about 30 minutes of trying more drifts in every direction along both banks the kiddo got fussy and we moved on down the road.

Once the kiddo fell asleep for good, we headed to Fountain Flat Drive and stopped before Ojo Caliente in an open section of water (anglers ~100 yards up and downstream of me though). As I trucked it down to the water the rises were anything but subtle and they were plentiful. I continued with the previous setup but got frustrated with my Hi-Vis Dun. I changed to a hot pink Parachute PMD that I tied and it failed miserabley by floating on it's side the whole time. My final rig was a PMD Sparkle Dun trailed by Rog's PMD Emerger. I had a hard time seeing the emerger so I could have very well missed some takes. I choked on a couple of strikes on the Sparkle Dun.

I continued to fish in the huge wind with consistent risers all around me and I continued to strike out. I took off the emerger since nothing was rising to it - that I knew of - and just fished the Sparkle Dun. Of the two pinned fish that I had on the Sparkle Dun, this brown came to hand and I lost one in a similar size:

I didn't get skunked in the park but I certainly learned a few things! Here are a few new found pearls that will haunt me from the Firehole River:

  1. After fishing bass bugs and Thingamabobber nymph rigs most, if not all, of my fly fishing experience, # 16 PMDs are hard to see!
  2. 30 MPH gusts are hard to fish in with dry flies
  3. Chubby Chernobyls are a strobe light compared to #16 Spakle Duns
  4. The drag free drift up and across is not my strong pint
  5. The drag free drift down and across is not my strong point
  6. Dry fly fishing is not my strong point
  7. Matching the hatch is hard!
I am definitely humbled by this experience!!!


P.S. Enough said!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bison On The Road...

They weren't kidding!

The wife, kiddo and I spent 4 days in Yellowstone at a family reunion. I had never been there before so I was grateful to spend a majority of the time being a tourist instead of an angler. Of course, my angler tendencies came out when we got near water.

Yellowstone River looking downstream at Fishing Bridge:

Just like in A River Runs Through It this bug landed on me and I REALLY wanted to string up a Bunyan Bug:

Looking downstream at LeHardy Rapids on Yellowstone River:

Upstream at LeHardy:

I turned over some rocks at LeHardy to show the kids why I tie my own flies. This was a chunky stonefly nymph. He had some neighbors but they moved much faster than he did (I can relate :P ):

Yellowstone River at Sulphur Cauldron:

My amazing wife and kiddo:

My attempt at fishing in the Park will follow.


P.S. I love the diversity of bumper stickers in Montana/Wyoming:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yes, Please!!!

I want some of this action!!! The following is an excellent video of some Pteronarcys gluttony!

Video originally featured on

The Motive by Evan Phillippe


Sunday, June 12, 2011


Mike and I hit up a couple three lakes yesterday. We had heard good things about one of them and we gave it a shot first. After a couple hours of fishing the water column up and down and sideways, we headed off to some other lakes. We struck out on a number of accounts for the next two lakes. One was almost as dirty as the Clark Fork is now and the other was big water with tons of debris in the water. Mike had some hits but nothing came to hand. I had a few questionable "snags." That was it. No fish! I am pretty sure it is one of two factors: I am a bad omen to my fishing partners OR something funky in the universe was off. Mike is a damn good angler (see here for proof) and I can hold my own most of the time so I am not really sure what was up.

The first Montana skunk... kind of depressing but I had to get the goose egg out of the way.


P.S. Off to Yellowstone - hope the water gives up some fish!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dry Flies On My Mind...

Since I botched all those takes on my Chubby Chernobyl I have had dry flies on the front of my brain. It seems that it haunts me - the coulda-woulda-shouldas of the day.

A good, new friend was at a nearby river and saw some PMDs hatching. I have heard that PMDs are a pretty fun hatch to fish. I have been hunting the interwebs for PMD patterns.

My fly tying has been in a funk lately, too. My whole brain actually. My licensure exams are at the end of the month and I am pretty worked up about them. They are breeding a wicked case of perfectionism. All my flies lack perfection and it is irritating.

The interwebs are an excellent tools for learning new skills to try and implement into your tying style. With enough practice they can become a habit in your tying arsenal.

Here is a great video of a parachute pattern. It can be adapted to anything I suppose.... baetis, PMD, generic Adams, and so on. Enjoy!

Tying a Sulphur Parachute Fly from Tightline Productions on Vimeo.

Happy tying and tight lines

Thinking about a new vise...

The very first vise I tied on was a Regal. If I recall correctly it was the traditional jaw Medallion. I remember it being very easy to work, strong and versatile. My first fly on that vise was a #16 pheasant tail nymph.

I currently tie on a Renzetti Traveler. It is a great vise. It also holds an entire spectrum of hooks. However, I am finding one function of the vise becoming fairly annoying to me - adjusting the jaw opening.

In the last few months I have been a somewhat bipolar tyer - one fly here and completely different fly there. I have been tying a #2/0 bass bug then changing to a #8 Possie Bugger then to a #20 Mercury Black Beauty. Adjusting the jaw opening has just been a bit of thorn in the side as I transition from pattern to pattern.

I realize a new vise won't solve ALL my "problems." Especially if I go with the vise I have been eyeing lately - the Regal Medallion - stainless steel (SS) jaw.

As part of settling into our home in Missoula, I have taken a small amount of time to hit up each of the fly shops in town. I had heard that one, by a large measure, had the best selection of tying materials. So, naturally I went there first :)

The dudes at The Missoulian Angler are fantastic. They are friendly, down-to-earth, and accommodating. When I walked in the door I noticed the line of Regal vises they had on display. For those of you that know me, I usually don't hesitate to ask for exactly what I want. So, I did!

I arranged with the guys there to borrow the demo Regal vise with stainless jaws. With a little conversation about dates and a handshake I had the vise to borrow for a few days. True champs at The Missoulian Angler!

First thing I did was clamp it to the dining room table. It was stout as could be. I probably could have moved the table by lifting on the post.

I don't like clamps though. If I were to dive into this vise I would get a pedestal base. Regal has anvils for pedestals. Another beef with the Renzetti is the lightweight base. I make due though.

I didn't tie a wide range of sizes with the vise. I was mostly focused on the bigger hook sizes. Of course, the SS jaws only support hooks #2 through #32. I know it will hold the smaller hook sizes well. But how will it hold the "bigger" hooks?

I tied a few #4 Vanilla Buggers and was amazed how the well the jaws did. They did allow the hook to move a bit (it was not the long shank hook bending). I was kinda bummed that the hook slipped a bit. I recall the traditional jaws having a groove for larger hooks. I was sad to see that the SS jaws lacked that feature (is this a problem with SS?).

Overall I am very pleased with the vise. I think it is a vise that I would upgrade to.