Big "Y" Flies

Big "Y" Flies
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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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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vertical Hackle

Somehow, we have failed to discuss the "hackle". Historically, research appears to show that fly tying began around the time of the Civil War in this country; I don't know about Europe, maybe one of our readers do. The feathers and dyes have changed and new techniques have been developed.

Anyway, there are three kinds dry fly hackles of which I am aware. All warrant some discussion and are frequently a matter of personal preference. The earliest type of dry fly hackle was made from, and still is mostly today, rooster saddle feathers. The first one described was the vertical hackle. For a period of about 75 years, this method was almost exclusive. Then, apparently in the early 1930's, the parachute hackle was designed. And believe it or not, this method may have been designed by a non-fly fishing woman. The most recent method is that of a stack hackle; fairly new and I don't know the exact dates.

My personal preference is the latter. I just like the way the fly floats when the hackle is stacked. . My second favorite is the parachute hackle followed by the vertical hackle. Regardless of your personal preference, enjoy your vise and your fly tying. Even the fly tying vise is a fairly new product design. If you have a chance to look at some 100 year old flies, you will be impressed at the skill in tying and the feather dyes. Incredible! A lot of these old flies were actually tied by hand without the use of a vise.

Described here is the vertical hackle.

Tie in your hackle at wing.
Feather barbs about the length of hook curve.

Wrap vertically behind wing 3-4 times,
then in front 2-3 times.

Tie off at eye.

Shown here on a Grey Wulff

Number of wraps described above,
but can be a matter of personal preference.

This is how they will ride on the water.


Really Nice Brown!
Tags:  Pheasant Tail Nymph
     Prince Nymph
     Purple Haze
     Royal Wulff

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fall Colors (Fall ID Fly Fishing)

Moyie River Canyons - October 2014
Thought I would share some recent float photos with you. The fly fishing in Idaho has been unusually good this year. It has been a slightly longer summer and dry. Hoppers have finally come back and hatches exceptionally good. Needless to say foam terrestrials like the YSF Stinger & YSF Nuclear Ant and smaller mayflies like the Adams, BWO and Purple Haze have been killers. Some really good fish also on large, particularly large olive streamers like the YSF Assam Dragon.

Clark Fork River - October 2014

Moyie River - October 2014

Grande Ronde River Steelhead  - October 2014

Spokane River Red Band Bow - October 2014

Clark Fork River - October 2014

Enjoy the photos, and beginning planning your next Idaho fly fishing trip for next year soon. Actually, I'm hoping to get in a few warm afternoons before the snows come so I can do a little more streamer fishing this season.

Enjoy Idaho Fly Fishing. Hard takes on your flies often.


Tags:YSF Assam
     YSF Black Caddis
     YSF Nuclear Ant
     YSF Salmon Slayer
     YSF Stinger

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bottoms Up !!!

Sort of a cool photo of fall Canadian Geese eating their Ellisport Bay Smorgasbord on Lake Pend Oreille, ID October 24, 2014.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Where are their heads?
Now this great photo was submitted by my daughter who lives near one of my favorite fly fishing rivers back east - the Nantahala River, NC.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Highlands, NC Fall

Hard takes, tight lines, bent rods and great hunting! 'Tis the season.


Tags: Does size really matter?
     Great looking river from this angle(r) !!!
     Hoppers - Really Big Hoppers!
     Orvis "B" Wear

Friday, October 24, 2014

Purple Haze

The Purple Haze is simply a mayfly of stated color. My Idaho fly fishing buddy FP (OK) calls these a "purple Adams", which is an appropriate description. In Idaho this can be a very effective summertime fly. Fishers tell me it can be very effective on rivers such as the St. Joe and Clark Fork with limited success on the Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai.

1 - Hook size #14. Two (2) grizzly hackles/black thread.

2 - Purple dubbing bring out hackle as shown
before eye (2/3rd down)

3 - Add wings. Here small foam strips.
Can use feathers/antron.

4 - Wrap hackle parachute style several times.

5 - Secure hackle. Add more purple to end.

6 - Tie off and fly complete.

7 - Purple Haze underside.

In the summer and early fall, try the Purple Haze as a trailer behind a really big attractor like the YSF Stinger (Foam Terrestrial). Simple attach with a 18"-24" piece of tippet (5-6X) and hold on. On particularly warm days in late Indian summer (October), both flies can be very effective.

Hard takes, tight lines, bent rods and good fly tying to all.

YellowStoneFly (YSF) aka:


Tags: Pheasant Tail Nymph
     Prince Nymph
     Royal Wulff
     San Juan Worm

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Philosophy and Idaho Fly Fishing (Part II)

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Great Site!
http://www.hookandbullet.com/Idaho Fly Fishers BlogIs it the Philosophy of Idaho Fly Fishing or Idaho Fly Fishing Philosophy? It really doesn't matter if you are a fly fisher. The thing that really matters is coming to Idaho and really enjoying this large (14th in size) states' natural beauty.

Now I have caught many fish in my lifetime. From eastern small stream trout to Florida largemouth to Canadian smallies to Idahoan cutthroat to Alaskan kings and humpies; boy have I caught some lunkers! Everyone loves to catch fish. Factually, many fishers will get very PO'd if they don't catch large fish in large numbers while on a $575 float in Fernie, BC. I say hog wash.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
I actually know of a gentleman, now deceased, who would tie his flies, then cut off the hook just in front of the bend. His thrill and excitement was simply being able to draw the strike. Catching and releasing fish is a purely secondary gain. If nothing else, I encourage everyone to at least crimp down the hook barbs so the fish can be released as quickly and harmlessly as possible so as to avoid injury. Save them for the future generations. As it stands, in the last 50 years, I can tell you first hand fish numbers and size ARE decreasing. Don't perpetuate the problem.

Idaho Fly Fishers BlogWhen you go fishing, go to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and camaraderie of your partner. Enjoy your float or wade, drink a beer, have a sandwich or two and sit back and just take in the smells and beauty. Now days, although not a professional guide, I will most frequently row while my raftmate fishes. I get a huge thrill from just putting him/her onto the fish. Again, we never keep them.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Coeur d'Alene Cutthroat
And I can tell you from personal experience, the guides feel the same. To simply have a 12 year old, who has never fly fished before, catch a nice trout on a 4-5 weight rod is a huge success in and of itself. So, the next time your guide provides you with a beautiful float but few fish, remember it is not for lack of trying. Tip him/her generously for they deserve it. Just think of all the effort put into preparing for this float or wade. That includes gathering flies, equipment, boat preparation and research into figuring out what is biting on what.

Selkirk Valley Back Country Horsemen
Selkirk Valley Back Country Horsemen Ride

Enough philosophy for now. Back to simply good Idaho fly fishing posts. Come back often and remember our wishes to you all: Hard takes, tight lines, bent rods, sore arms, huge fish and beautiful floats/wades forever.


Tags: Flathead River System - Montana
     Grande Ronde River - Idaho
     Kootenai River - Idaho / Montana     
     Missouri River - Montana
     Moyie River - Idaho

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Alaskan Humpy

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Philosophy and Idaho Fly Fishing (Part I)

Idaho Fly Fishers

Have you bought a bag of chips lately? Do you remember when you were a kid you would buy a bag of Ruffles (est. 1958 - Frito-Lays) and it WASN'T mostly filled with air. The company says the air is pumped into the bag keeps the chips "fresher". I say "BS". The air just makes the bags look like you are getting a lot for your money. It is all crap! Now one only gets a third of a bag of chips for 3 times the money paid in the 50's.
Idaho Fly Fishers Blog

One of the nicer things about having a blog, is that you can pretty much state whatever you want. If you want to say that your dog's mixed breed of border collie and Australian shepherd has been shown to be the most intelligent dogs on earth; then it is; unless someone disputes this in the blog's published comments--if you allow published comments. Or if you say you caught a 36" trout in that 6 foot stream in your back yard in Costa Rica yesterday, then it is fact until disproven or disputed. Here however at the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog we ALWAYS tell the  truth.

Idaho Fly Fishers BlogNow for philosophy--have you ever spent the evening sitting next to a drunk philosophy grad student in a local bar discussing the "what if's" of not killing the wolf so they can dominate the forests and keep the public away so we humans will not "imprint" those forest lands? Maybe the drunk Greek philosophy grads in 457 BC really came up with the idea of the I-phone so that Steve Jobs could invent it. I don't know, but the one thing I do know is life is very short, and it becomes shorter as one ages. Do you remember how long the days were when you were 12 and how short they are now? Just wait to 60.

High Mountain Ridge, Idaho - 10/2104

Idaho Fly Fishers BlogSunsets are great! Autumn is beautiful--so are winters, springs and summers. Just look around and really appreciate the beauty of life and the world. Look at the leaves turning; feel the fall coolness in the air. I really feel for "city slickers" who never get away from the masses in order to enjoy the countryside's natural beauty. They are DEPRIVED! Who are they to say the wolves do more good than harm when they have never seen any animal in the wild. So why should the "Delta smelt" be allowed to destroy the livelihoods and lives of the people of the drought stricken Central Valley in California. Hey, we are mostly catch and release Idaho fly fishers here but you can't let people starve for a very small fish. Look at the desert tortoise in Utah? How absurd? Just think, Harry Reed's son almost became a gazillionaire and almost got many innocent people killed in the process.
Idaho Fly Fishers Blog

Enough, Part II tomorrow featuring the real philosophy behind Idaho fly fishing. I am kind of lucky, because our readership to date does not lead to a lot of dissention regarding my posts. This really can be fun.


Tags:  BITE ME !!!
     Cool Places
     Cool Places II
     Cool Places III
Dog Goin' Fly Fishin'

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Moyie River Fall

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
15" Moyie Bow
Went to the Moyie River the other day with a friend for some fall Idaho Fly Fishing. And man, have we had a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L fall! Weather has been in the 60's and 70's with generally light breezes and lots of sunshine and minimal rain. 'Tis however a bit dry right now and the waters are low and clear. So fish are selective and a bit spooky.

The river is hard to float right now due to low water, but there are some accessible wading areas well away from the crowds. One of my favorite areas is on the lower Moyie below Meadow Creek and requires a good hike into. But the fishing can be quite good and boy is it quiet. I might suggest some bear deterrent though for there can be some very large wild animals here.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Mystery Moyie Fly Fisher

The Moyie just happens to be the north Idaho river on which ROW Adventures took their first one day whitewater rafting trip in 1982:

TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2014 - The Spokesman-Review

ROW revisits roots on Moyie River

ROW Adventures pioneered commercial whitewater rafting on the
Moyie River in 1982. (Rich Landers)

WATERSPORTS — Peter Grubb, co-founder of ROW Adventures, was reminiscing Sunday while guiding rafters on the Moyie River east of Bonners Ferry.

We pioneered commercial rafting on the Moyie in 1982 and this was the very first one-day trip ROW offered,” Grubb said, commenting on the photo with Mount Clifty in the background. ROW was known then as River Odysseys West.
Commercial whitewater rafting was so foreign to North Idaho at the time, the Panhandle National Forests didn't even require ROW to have a commercial outfitter permit until the 1990s.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Moyie River Canyons

This time of year I would go with a #14 or smaller Adams, PMD or Purple Haze, I did recently catch a 15 incher on a YSF Stinger and another nice one on a YSF Nuclear Ant. Once the weather turns colder and rain/snow begins a wooly bugger (olive or black) can be the ticket. The "Canyon", as the rafters say, is a great fishing hole, but very difficult to reach.

Come Idaho fly fish with us on the Moyie. Other local area attractions include the Wild Horse Merchantile & Saloon on highway 95 at milepost 530 and Round Prairie Creek, the Good Grief Bar (frequently closed for renovations--sometimes for a very long time), Fiest Creek Falls Resort, which has really great food/beer, and the Canadian border crossing.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Moyie can be slippery & cold
Hard takes and tight lines forever,


Tags: YSF Assam
     YSF Black Caddis
     YSF Nuclear Ant
     YSF Salmon Slayer
     YSF Stinger (Foam Terrestrial)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grande Ronde Steelhead

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Randy (Left) and friends on the Grande Ronde early October, 2014

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Grande Ronde Steelhead (Randy Dingman)
I must confess to being remiss as an Idaho Fly Fisher by not responsibly doing my job posting to the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog. It is sort of like going to a restaurant full of people when you know you have been exposed to Ebola. If this disease is really transmitted by "direct contact", who is going to be willing to take public transportation right now.

Okay, so much for the current news. I have recently received several emails from my friend and professional fly fishing guide and Idaho Fly Fishers Association member Randy Dingman. Randy guides for ROW Adventures and the Silver Bow Fly Shop in Spokane Valley, WA. Randy and I have fished together on the Coeur d'Alene and he sent to me recently information about his instructor tutorial as a spey fisher.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Another Steelhead
These are recent photos of steelhead caught early this October on the Grande Ronde River in central Idaho. Obviously really good fish caught by Randy and his friends on what all appear to be spey fly rods. These fish are quality fighters and, although I have never done so but would love to, I am sure a blast on a spey rod. Sorry Randy, busy with my day job right now and cannot go. Maybe early November when FP arrives from OK.

Idaho Fly Fishers Blog
Last One
Idaho fly fishing can be a little chilly in November, but doable. Heck, I was fly fishing on the Big Horn River in south central Montana in early September during a snow storm. Long johns, gloves and really good waders and boots can make anything possible this time of year. I suspect, very large streamers and weighted flies (perhaps sink tip lines) would be the ticket here. But if you look at the size of these fish, inclement weather should not be a deterrent. So dress warmly and get out there before ice fishing begins and catch some Idaho trout.

Hard takes, tight lines, huge fish, sore arms and shoulders forever.


YSF Nuclear Ant

YSF Nuclear Ant by YellowStoneFly of the Idaho Fly Fishers Blog.

Great fly for fall, but particularly good in early summer when you see those huge flying ants. Smaller than a Chernobyl ant and easier to tie.

Start with 2-3 mm dense black foam.

Cut into squares abut 1" long.

Cut in midline 1/2 of thickness almost the entire length (but not all the way).

Black thread wrap entire length and coat with glue for body adherence.

Attach body over glue with black thread wrap in the midline.

Two rubber legs on each side of body. Length your decision, but remember, ants do NOT have long legs.

 Attach 2 grizzly hackles to body in midline.

Then attach wing material. I personally like a small tuft of white Antron.
Then wrap hackle around Antron and secure at head.

Cut Antron wing to desired length. Like it about the length of the hackle fibers.
Add glue to head if desired. I would recommend a small amount of glue to secure foam to body, hackle to body and wing to body for sure.
Look pretty natural, don't they?
This is a great pattern for those larger trout. Size 6-10. These are a #10. Treat with floatant and hold on.
Hard takes, tight lines and huge trout forever. Try out this simple pattern for some explosive Idaho Fly Fishing.