Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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About Me

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Discussing fishing flies, trout flies, salmon flies, fly fishing gear and equipment, Idaho and Montana fishing rivers, NW rivers, fly tying and fly fishing trips. Over 50 years experience in fly fishing, best flies, fly tying, fly fishing techniques, fish stories, directions to rivers and lakes and great fly fishing tall tales with special communications from area guides.

Blog Usage and Invitation to Join




Here is the scoop. We will also be going on some shorter side trips this summer as well. They will be posted here. If you live in Montana, Idaho or Washington state, you may want to contact IdahoAngler@live.com for details. You'll meet some really great fellow fishers!
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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Winter Doldrums

Clark Fork River-Heron, MT
This malady normally begins  for most of us after the Super Bowl but, depending on the weather where you live, it can begin much earlier for fly fishers. Winter weather can make us long for the long, slow drifts and dramatic takes of summer easily by the time Christmas roles around. Idaho fly fishing however can be had in the winter, but usually patience and stripping large wooly buggers through deep, fast runs is our only options for success. Oh yea, I left out freezing your "a_ _" off in your 5+mm neoprene waders is part of the wintertime fun of Idaho fly fishing as well. My attitude is, if you cannot afford going to Belize for bonefish, just sit around, tie flies and tune up the gear for spring.

Alaska River Fishing
The other things that keep me going are an occasional jaunt to my nearby downhill runs at Schweitzer Mountain and enjoying the breathtaking winter scenery. Left is a recent photo my sister-in-law took from her home overlooking the Clark Fork River in Heron, MT which is only 4 miles from the northern Idaho state line. 

The last thing that helps me through the doldrums is being able to communicate with my fly fishing friends in the Idaho Fly Fishers Association . Today's technology, which I still don't know how to work, helps me do this. 

Photos below simply show differences between US and Italian entertainment media. What is wrong with this picture? Which one most resembles a sleek brown trout and which a very large, largemouth bass? Enjoy,

Italian Talk Show Host

American Talk Show Host

Hard takes, tight lines.

Montana Sparrow
Tags: The Rivers of Idaho
          Montana's Flathead River System

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


Check out my new Idaho Fly Fishers' personalized license plate.


The Perfect "Pile" Cast
Hard takes and tight lines forever.
Tags:  Adams Male
           A "Perfect" Fly
           BH Zebra Nymph

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Montana Grand Slam

The Montana Grand Slam- Brought to you by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Central Montana is a trout water haven. This post will breifly discuss the opportunities for Idaho (Montana) fly fishing in the central Montana area just east of the continental divide. For those of you who are not familiar with this area, the following rivers are all within a stones throw of eachother:
Jefferson + Madison = Missouri
The Dearborn
The Jefferson
The Gallatin
The Madison
The Missouri
The Yellowstone

The following are west of the continental divide, but again within very close proximity to the others listed above:
The Bitterroot
The Blackfoot
The Clark Fork
The Flathead
The Kootenai
The Rock Creek

Gallatin just before the Missouri
Some of these have been the subject of prior blog posts, but to get a complete listing visit our QuickView Blog Post page. All are premier trout rivers and should be visited by all avid fly fishers. I will attempt to map out for you trips which will not hurt you pocket books and will allow for fishing on multiple rivers with each pass. The central Montana Grand Slam discussed here, in my opinion, consists of fishing the Jefferson, Gallatin, Madison and Missouri. The headwaters of the Missouri actually begin just north of Three Forks, MT where the Jefferson and the Madison come together with the Gallatin merging in only about a quarter mile below this. The best fishing on the Missouri however is below the Canyon Ferry dam and is a GREAT tailwater fishery. In my opinion, fall provides the best consistent fishing. Spring is good, but the waters can be quite swollen due to the snow melt. Summer fishing is generally slow due to the warmer waters but can still be good below the dam.

Jefferson River whitefish
Getting there, well there are numerous guides for the Three Forks area located in Bozeman, Mt. But for my taste, I would fly into Helena, rent a car and drive to them all. Helena has an airport which is mostly served by Delta out of Salt Lake City. If you are going to drive, go east on I-90 to I-15 from the west. Driving from the south, definitely take I-15. If you are coming from the east go I-90 to Three Forks, fish the first three, then take Highway 287 up to I-15 at Helena. All are actually very easy to access.

Missouri River scenery
Accommodations can, along with guide services, be located in Bozeman, Three Forks, Helena and even Great Falls. The Gallatin is tough to wade, so you'll need a boat. The Jefferson and Madison have accesses all along the way, so you can decide for yourself. The Missouri below the dam has limited wading access but can be done. You would however be better off with a guide in a drift boat or renting a pontoon.

Enough about these for now. There will be more to come so tune in. Happy Idaho fly fishing and don't forget about our neighbors to the east.

Missouri River Float
Tags: Big Horn River - Montana
          Big Wood River - Idaho
          Bull River - Montana

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Dead Drift - Tight Line Lift

Dead Drift – Tight Line Lift is a simple technique, which most fly fishers do instinctually, but can be improved, to help increase their hook-ups. Described here by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog, this nymphing technique is guaranteed to increase your catch. If you are an Idaho Fly Fishing nympher, try this and reap the rewards. I actually refined the Tight Line Lift on one of my many trips to the White and Norfork rivers in northern Arkansas when I lived in Missouri. There, this is the most effective technique for catching trout.


Remember, when nyphing, always use plenty of weight to get your fly down and a leader length at least 1½  longer than the depth at which you want to fish. Your strike indicator can help with the depth. This should put you at or near the bottom which is where the fish are and you want your nymph to be. You should always begin with a “dead” drift (no movement of your fly), by mending upstream so your fly will look to float naturally. Mend as often as you need to until you have used up all of your slack line. SEE DIAGRAM RIGHT.
Once you fly reaches the end of the drift, your line will naturally tighten. When this begins to happen, your line will swing downstream and your fly will begin a swing toward the surface in an arc. Allow the line to stay tight and swing directly below you. SEE DIAGRAM LEFT. 

Now your fly is just below the surface and directly downstream. Let it hang there for at least 10 seconds. Now the lift--simply lift your rod tip a few inches. This brings the fly closer to the surface and the trout thinks it is emerging. Now allow the rod tip to drop back down for a few seconds more. Now lift again. If you are a purist, rather than lifting the rod, you can slowly strip a few inches and accomplish the same thing. I would encourage you though to avoid the temptation to recast every time your fly reaches the end of a drift and instead try a lift. You will be surprised how many times you will get a strike. SEE DIAGRAM TO THE RIGHT. I do this several times at the end of each drift. 

PS-I have also found that even if I get a nibble, I can frequently leave the fly in place and lift again drawing another hit. I believe this is because the fish frequently hits “short” and does not get stung by the hook, so they are frequently ready to try again. 

Good luck. If you have questions or comments, please post a comment or email me directly.
          Moyie River - Idaho
          Kootenai River - Idaho

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Netting a Fish

The proper way to net a fish is to some extent an art.

Pointers about netting:
1. Always keep the tip of your rod up when fighting a fish so that if necessary, you can always drop the tip of the rod to give a fish some running room if necessary.
2. Attempt to get the fish into as shallow water as possible.
3. Keep the fish's head up and bring it toward you until it lays on its side. "Swim" the fish into the net.
4. Always net a fish head first. Never try to net a fish from the tail. They will feel the net coming and just jump out of the way and you could lose the fish.
5. Have the drag set, so that if necessary, the fish can make runs if it wants.
6. Hold the net in your "non-dominant" hand, which is the most sensitive, and have your rod in your "dominant" hand.
7. Use a light net that is easy to handle with one hand.

The nets I like to use have telescoping handles and a tape measure attached to the bottom of the net. Make sure the tape measure is "up". The tape begins with "0" in the center. Gradients lines go out on both sides of "0" in inches. So if the fish is lying in the bottom, the mouth is on "12" and the tail tip is on "14", the fish is "26" inches long. Easy to measure and easy to release without handling the fish. This also makes it easy to photograph your fish so your buddies will know it was really a "26" incher. They actually might believe you.

Hard takes, tight lines, screaming reels and many fish to the net.


Tags:  Pike on a Fly
     Scuba Trout Fishing
     Slow Dries? Try Clipping!
     Sticky Ferrules
     Wade Fishing
     Year of the Spider
     "YSF Stinger" Perfected

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans Day 2018

Today, I could not be more proud of our country and our veterans. Vets provide us with so many opportunities that many feel are "entitlements". We are not entitled by birth to ANYTHING. Our veterans earn our rights and opportunities for us and these should not be squandered. Thank you all for all the freedoms we enjoy today. May this country be strong forever. We should not and will not take any grief from anyone.

Come and fly fish Idaho soon.


Tags: Clark Fork River - Idaho / Montana
     Coeur d'Alene - Idaho's Year Round Fishery
Coeur d'Alene (North Fork)
     Cutthroat Byway
     Flathead River System - Montana
     Get Ready to Rumble - Fernie, BC, Canada

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Little Ones

You know, Idaho fly fishing is not only about the big ones caught and missed. When you have fly fished as long as I you begin to appreciate the beauty in all fish. Little ones eventually, assuming conditions are good, grow in to big ones. All trout (fish) are beautiful. Carefully release them all for future generations. Remember the "Three "C's" of Idaho Fly Fishing".

Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly FishingAren't even the little guys cool?

Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly Fishing

Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly Fishing
Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly Fishing

Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly Fishing
Fly fish Idaho and you'll experience tight lines and bent rods even from the little guys. 
Fly Fish Idaho: Flyfishing Flies; Fishing Flys; Flies Fishing: Fly Fishing; Fly Fishing Equipment; Fishing Flies; Fishing Gear; Trout Flies; Salmon Flies; Fly Fishing Idaho; Flies for Sale; Idaho Fly Fishing                                                                           

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Ride The Bull (River That Is)

The Bull River, Montana

The Bull River is a real jewel! High in a beautiful mountain valley above and between the Kootenai and Clark Fork rivers lays a mountain lake of indescribable grandeur. Situated in the Cabinet Mountain Range in Lincoln County Montana is Bull Lake. Spring fed and without a dam and naturally flowing into the Kootenai River, you would naturally think it is the headwaters for the Bull River. Well it is not. The river is actually a very deep, meandering naturally spring fed waterway arising in the mountains just west of Bull Lake. I do not know the exact depth, but locals say it is in excess of forty feet in points despite the fact the average width is only about fifty feet and it sports many shallow riffles.
Bull Cutty caught on a Brown Drake 6/14/2011

The Bull flows for about twenty-five mile due south and ends in the Clark Fork River at the junction of highways 56 & 200 and the Bull River Kootenai National Forest Campground. This is a beautiful stretch of river, but I must caution the last four to six miles is steep and treacherous. This lower section is not really floatable unless you are and expert kayaker. From where the lower section begins at highway 200 and almost up to the lake, there are several access points. Pitch is very gradual after milepost 6 and it is easy to row. Fishing in the spring is in this middle section can be incredible! There are some huge browns and nice cutthroat as well.
I own a twelve foot, two person raft in which I love to use in this river. My wife rows and I fish. Who could ask for a better arrangement? By the way, I bought my raft from Kootenai Valley Inflatables for a lot less than other outfitters and the quality is excellent. Anyway, back to the float. I recommend putting in at the canoe access about milepost 11.5 and float to the eight mile bridge. DO NOT USE THE MORE NORTHERN ACCESS I PREVIOUSLY SUGGESTED AT MILEPOST IN MY POST "BULL RIVER HOGS". IT IS NOT SAFE AT ONE POINT JUST PAST THE MILEPOST 12.5 HIGHWAY 56 BRIDGE. As much meandering as the river does, I would guess the actual float I like is about 5-6 miles and takes a good 4-5 hours to float from the canoe access. The flow is mostly slow here, but it makes for good, easy fly fishing. The take out at the 8 mile bridge is very easy and I can easily reload my raft directly onto my trailer.

The Brown Drake hatch is unbelievable in the spring. Insects are huge (size 6-10) and the trout are ravenous. The Bull is predominately known for its huge brown trout, but I have personally seen large schools of bull trout weighing on the average five pounds and perhaps more. I have also caught some really nice cutthroat trout in the 16-20 inch range and an occasional nice rainbow. The fishing seems to slow down in the summer with less prolific hatches, but fish can be had. If you see one other boat while you fish there, I would be very surprised. Out-of-the way and a little hard to find, this is really a great spring fly fishing river. Find highway 56 going north off scenic highway 200 along the Clark Fork River just 10 miles east from where it crosses into Idaho. The Bull parallels highway 56. If you can find no other person with whom to fish, call or email me. I will definitely go with you. 
Don’t forget, in the US bull trout are endangered and must be released as soon as caught. You cannot deliberately fish for a bull trout either, but if you do accidently catch one measure quickly, photograph and release quickly. Do not miss fishing this river if you are ever in western Montana in the spring. Now check out our most recent post "Bull River Hogs" for suggested fishing access points and flies. 
Tags: Idaho Fly Fishers Association
          Idaho Fly Fishers.com
         Idaho Angler.com