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.

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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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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Fishing photos with a holiday flare:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and happy Idaho fly fishing!

          Great looking river from this angle(r) !!!
          Orvis "B" Wear
          Newest in Idaho Fly Fishing Thigh High Waders

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pearl Harbor - Dec. 7, 1941 - Page 2

Pearl Harbor - Page 2 is posted by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog today, Pearl Harbor Day. 71 years ago tomorrow, these photos were apparently taken by a GI in Honolulu on that fateful day. Supposedly they were found in an old foot locker in a "Brownie" camera. Amazing! The photographer is unknown or I would gladly give him/her the proper credit. Click on them and enlarge for effect. In the second photo, you can actually see a Japanese fighter plane as it attacks.

The figures vary significantly, but one source claims the US military deaths during WWII were 416,800. About 600,000 of our soldiers were wounded in action as well. These men and women fought for our freedom. We should never lose sight of their sacrifices under any circumstances--military or political. Socialism is not the way. Just look at what happened to the USSR and now to many European countries. They are being destroyed from within due to their socialistic "big governments".


Tags: Fly Line Basics
          Fly Reel Basics
          Fly Rod Basics
          Lanyard - Poor Man's *
          Rod Weights - 101

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cranefly Larvae

Adult Cranefly

Average Size Cranefly Larvae
Cranefly Larvae as photographed and tied by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Everyone who trout fishes Idaho or any of the lower 48 knows what the Cranefly looks like - a very large mosquito. Since the terrestrial variety gets into the water by being washed in by rainwater, it makes sense that the best times to fish cranefly larvae imitations would be following heavy rains. These are not acutally aquatic insects, they just love the water. Since the larvae get washed in from the banks at small drainage flows, it is best to fish this pattern near the banks and the rainwater drainage inlets.

As you can see, these larvae are quite large, so do not skimp on the size of your hook. I prefer a 4 or 6 persoanlly.
Place bead head onto hook.
Then wrap a bright color behind.

Begin another color behind head -
I like yellow or grey.

Add dubbing and taper back to
bend of the hook.

Now wrap tightly forward to
mimic ribs.

I like to finish off by coating
with epoxy. Leave tail uncoated so
it will flare a little when wet.

This is another of those very easy to tie patterns. I don't specifically look for this larvae in the water, but the next time it rains and it is hot and there is a lot ot murky run-off flowing into the water you are fishing and your San Juan worms are ineffective, try tying on one of these. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Hard takes and tight lines to all of you avid Idaho fly fishers. You are probably avid by default if you are reading this post this time of year. Of course wintertime is great for fly tying or you could bookmark this post for warmer days if you prefer.
Tags: Homemade Floatant * * * * *
          Hopper/Hopper - Tamdem Secrets
          Slow Dries? Try Clipping!
          Sticky Ferrules

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Snow is finally here!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

Hoping for tight lines and hard takes for everyone. Come join us on Schweitzer Mountain until the trout start biting next Spring. More fly fishing Idaho posts to come. Couldn't resist but just took these photos today. -YellowStoneFly

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Idaho Fly Fishing Buddy's Email

Thought you all might enjoy this Idaho Fly Fishing Buddy's Email recently received. I do have some very strange fly fishing friends. See the latest in Idaho thigh high (waders)? Check out other Fly Fishing Idaho Women.

"When you start thinking about death more than sex, you know you're getting old." -Nick Nolte

Did You Know This About Leather Dresses??

When a woman wears a leather dress, a man's heart beats quicker, his throat gets dry, he gets weak in the knees, and he thinks irrationally?
Ever wonder why? It's because she smells like New Truck! Eat you heart out Larry the Cable Guy.
Happy Idaho Fly Fishing and happy Thanksgiving. Tight lines and hard takes to you all.
Come and fly fish Idaho soon!


          Kootenai River Fly Fishing
          Try Moyie River Fly Fishing

Sunday, November 11, 2012

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 ABOVE.

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 ABOVE. 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

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pheasant Tail Nymph

The Pheasant Tail Nymph tied by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Originally designed by fly tier Frank Sawyer, MBE and described in his 1958 book Nymphs and the Trout, the pheasant tail nymph (PTN) is used to represents a wide range of aquatic insect larvae and can even be used to imitate fish fry. I find this fly sinks like a rock and in small sizes can be very effective in the fall and early winter. Try a swing at the end of a dead drift or even a small cross stream strip can be very effective in attracting strikes from feeding trout. I can remember one day on the Norfork River in Mountain Home, AR when a downstream cast and a twitch of the rod or two would bring a trout to the net almost every cast. Try it sometime.

Light brown thread the entire hook length.

Tie in 6 long pheasant tail feather barbs,
leaving a tail the length of your hook curve.

Wrap down 2/3rds length of the hook. Snip, then add
6 more barbs w/ rachis (thick) ends toward the eye.

Wrap thickly at the thorax, then secure so ends slant
toward the tail. Tie off, apply head cement if desired,
and position wings (free ends) as desired.

Now snip wings to desired length.
Wings are shown up here. Another popular position is
wings out and to the side.
This is a very effective Idaho fly fishing fly. Try it out and remember fish this fly however you want. You may discover a new, very effective technique. If you do email me YellowStonefly at this Idaho Fly Fishtes Blog and I will publish your thoughts here or simply join this blog (top right-hand column) and place your ideas yourself. Tight, shaking lines to you all and come fly fish Idaho soon.
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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Montana Trifecta

Jefferson River below Twin Bridges, MT

Beaverhead River at Twin Bridges
Montana Trifecta - Beaverhead, Big Hole and Jefferson Rivers. Posted by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. This is a beautiful area of Montana containing three different river of world-wide fame. First try the Beaverhead. Guides are readily available from Dillon, MT on I-15 or Butte, MT at the junction on I-15 & I-90. Beware that if you bring your own boat and you are from out of state, only certain sections are open on certain days. Check with local fly shops for float permits. WARNING: The water can be cloudy if you are fishing the lower stretch down near Twin Bridges due to field irrigation. 

Big Hole River at Twin Bridges
Then there is the famous Big Hole, where you should match the hatch early, but a San Juan and Salmon egg are very effective in the fall. This water is usually clear except during spring run off. While there try staying in Wisdom, MT for the glory of an old western town. Guides are available in Wisdom, Dillon and Butte. This is a great river to wade almost year round. The scenery is breathtaking. 

Next go down to the Jefferson at Twin Bridges, MT. The Beaverhead and Big Hole come together here and even when the water is murky, there can be some enormous browns and rainbows to be had on large colorful streamers. The fish are not numerous, but their size can easily make up for the lack of numbers. While in Twin Bridges, be sure and visit the RL Winston Rod Company and ask for a tour.

Jefferson River at
Big Hole/Beaverhead junction
About 25 miles below the bridges, the Jefferson meets the Gallitin and the Madison to form the headwaters of the Missouri and become what I call the Montana Grand Slam. So give them a whirl on you next visit to Montana. If you have a week or two you can do the Grand Slam and the Trifecta all in one trip.

Happy Idaho fly fishing and do visit our neighbor to the east--the Big Sky state of Montana.


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

Saturday, September 22, 2012


This Moyie rainbow (Mo-Bow) was caught yesterday by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. This beauty was caught above Meadow Creek where rainbow are not supposed to survive in the summer due to warm water temperatures. This 21" bow was caught above a very deep hole in about three feet of water using a sinking tan San Juan. She was feeding actively in 65 degree rapids. I admit, mostly I catch brookies in these waters in the summer, but bows can also grace us in northern Idaho in both spring and autumn on this river.

The Moyie flows south from BC where there is a dam allowing overflow water, thereby the warm summer water temps. Brookie survive well, but in the deeper holes I have personally seen enormous fish. Some would probably exceed 10 pounds. The fish counts are not high, but this girl provided about ten minutes of very exciting action. Always remember, release summer fish quickly after the fight to ensure their survival and try not to touch them. Their slim coating can be easily damaged, subjecting them to disease and demise.

Bussard Creek
Mostly a spring rafting river, the Moyie's large stoneflies can provide some great action in the spring. So, do not overlook this beautiful piece of Idaho. Rarely do I see Idaho fly fishers trying their skills here, but they really should.

Happy fishing and keep those flies in the water with a good drift. You will not be disappointed.


Tags: Moyie River - Idaho
          Big Horn River - Montana
          Kootenai River - Idaho / Montana

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Orvis "B" Wear

Orvis B-Wear is brought to you for your viewing enjoyment by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. Note the perfect accessories for these hip waders. If you look closely, you may also be able to see the fly this Idaho fly fisher has chosen to catch those big rainbow on this perfect trout lake. Just look at that beautiful water!

Orvis B-Wear --> NEW!
Really nice water!
 Happy Idaho fly fishing. Like our blog? Join our readers and leave your comments today.
          Parachute Wings (Made Easy)


Monday, September 10, 2012

Lanyard - Poor Man's / Economical / Functional

The Poor Man's Lanyard

I went to Cabelas the other day for I had lost my tippet lanyard, thereby stimulating this discussion; the Poor Man's Lanyard by YellowStoneFly at the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. A fly fisher's neck lanyard at Cabelas was $30, very pretty, and you could put a lot of things on it. It even had a mini-fly box hanging in the middle. So I thought for a minute about exactly what I needed one for and being the cheap guy that I am, I decided to try and make my own.

Square knot to connect ends.
If you go to your local tack or army surplus store, you can buy usually three 1/8th inch wide and 36 inches long leather pieces for a couple of bucks. Now granted, you only need one for your lanyard, but the other two make great shoe or boot laces. So take your leather strip and tie at the length you desire around your neck. Use a square knot in order to prevent slippage.

Large ball bearing swivel.
Now find a couple of large swivels for the fishing tools you most commonly use. (I like the ball bearing swivels for they are more sturdy and seem to last longer but are slightly more expensive). Add them and your tippet spools to your leather strip. Wallah, you now have a $3 lanyard which is just as functional as the one for $30 at Cabelas. You can easily add or subtract extras as you see fit for only about $1 per tool. Even if you want to add a mini-foam fly box, you could do so for only about $5.

Every Idaho fly fisher needs one of these. Use your ingenuity to make one as fancy as you like. 

Happy Idaho fly fishing and remember to always keep those fly lines tight and release what you can catch for the next generation of fly fishers.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

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.


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

Jefferson River N. of I-15 / S. of I-90