Idaho Fly Fishers Blog

Big Y Fly Company

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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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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

2017 Kootenai River Photos

Enjoy. Hard takes and tight lines. PS - Snow fell last night just above us. 

Motley Crew. 2 bad hair. 2 no hair. 
Dan R. concentrating

The "Koot" between smoke days

Looks like a golfing foursome

SC boys entering MT from ID
Nice 15 1/2" cutbow

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Did You Expect?

You may find it more difficult to wade and get in and out of a drift boat as you mature.

Hard takes and tight lines.

Tags:  BUCKET LIST ( ... of Fly Fishing)
     Bull River - Montana * * * * * * *
     Bull River Montana Means HOGS
     Clark Fork River - Idaho / Montana
     Coeur d'Alene - Idaho's Year Round Fishery

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Old People

Idaho Fly Fishers Association Annual Meeting #2 - 2017

I have been remiss in posting due to the amount of work I have recently had to do back on the farm in Idaho. I apologize and hopefully this fall will be different. Speaking of which it has gotten much colder just in the last 5 days here. Temps have fallen from daytime highs of near 90 to the mid-60's. Nights have hit 37. Unfortunately still NO rain! The northwest has seen it's longest drought in over 50 years this summer. The freestone rivers are dry. The fish ?????

To the subject at hand, we just returned yesterday from IDFFA meeting #2 in Libby, MT. Some good fish close to 20", but also a lot of "squealers". At least 2 cutbows and many rainbows with occasional whitey were caught. We had 10 participants at this gathering: Yellow Stonefly, Hopper, Cajun, Crow's Nest, Chappe, Fargo, nMilo, Trucker, Bear and "Falls From Boats". We did have a really good time and camaraderie superb! Everyone had a blast.

By the way, this session was on the Kootenai River from the Koocanusa / Libby dam down to the Idaho state line at Leonia. Unfortunately no group photos this time, but we do have individuals and scenery shots for your pleasure. More will follow also my take on this year's northwestern drought.

Hard takes, screaming reels, sore arms and great fish to all.

Tags: Fish On
     Fly Fishing Dream
     Fly Fishing's Ten Commandments
     Great Idaho Fly Fishing Day
     Life and Aging
     Life Is Really Short!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Idaho Fly Fishers Association Annual Meeting - 2017

Man, I can't say enough for the IDFFA Meeting I from which we just returned in Fernie, BC. The fishing was absolutely phenomenal!!! You can easily see from the attached photos that we did have a BLAST!

A bit smoky from the Montana fires but you could not smell. The combined group fished the Michele, Elk and Wigwam rivers.

This southeast portion of British Columbia is "Protected Waters". What the Canadians designate as Class II. This means they limit the number of fishers each day and charge an extra per Diem permit charge, over and above the BC fishing license, which is really a tax. It is only $21 Can/day this year, but can add up. License is $58 for 8 days.

Don't get me wrong, "Protected Waters" are good, for it does protect the indigenous fish population. Here it is single hook, barbless, catch-n-release.

Really effective flies on the Elk and Michele were black ants, purple haze, adams, red BH copper johns, an occasional hopper and other miscellaneous. Dries did seem to work the best. I personally did not fish the Wigwam, but my understanding is that large streamers and golden stones were the ticket.

Bull Moose somewhere
Anyway, we had a great time and I believe, everyone enjoyed the trip enormously. Go to the IDFFA trip page for info on the last 2017 trip and upcoming 2018 trips. The trips are open to all Idaho Fly Fishers Association Members. There is NO fee. All we want is your participation. Please send a short bio when you apply. We really do want more members. It is a GREAT time!

Hard takes, tight lines, come and join us. We'd love to have you as a member.

Tags:   Coeur d'Alene (North Fork)
     Cutthroat Byway  
     Elk River - Fernie, BC, Canada
     Flathead River System - Montana
     Get Ready to Rumble - Fernie, BC, Canada

Monday, August 7, 2017

Lake Trout

Did you guys see this? 57 pound state record Utah lake trout caught by Idaho (fly) fisherman but this one NOT on a fly rod.

See original article:
     By Shelbie Harris
     July 23, 2017 12:09 PM

So is this a Mackinaw or a Lake Trout or a Bull? HE LET HER GO!

Idaho fly fishing is the BEST! Come and join us.

Hard takes, tight lines and screaming reels.

Tags: Before the Fishing Begins in North Idaho
Hemingway's Idaho
Idaho Grizzly ???
Moyie River Bridge
"Postcard, ID"
The Few, The Proud, The Idahoans
Why Idaho?
You gotta admit.....

Thursday, July 27, 2017

2017 PA Chapter

Idaho Fly Fishers Charter Member Paul (Hopper) (Pennsylvania) has begun his own club chapter and the new members had their first Big Horn River trip this month. Sorry new names and handles not yet available. Here are some trip photos Paul said I could share.

Looks like they all had a great time!

 And it also looks as if they caught some really GOOD fish!
Come and fly fish Idaho soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hoot Owl

All Idaho fly fishers know that warm, low water is a killer of trout. Actually all fish species adversely react to unnatural habitat conditions. Well, as most of you know, last winter in the west there was great snowfall and boy it was COLD. I know the global warming advocates just loved this. 

We have had a very quick snow melt and high temps and now very warm water. There is a significant drought east ot the divide. Anything above 70 degrees can be lethal to trout if caught and the fight takes too long. Warm water means less oxygen to pass through the gills. So in the west, we now have many waters with "hoot owl restrictions".

Why "hoot" owl? Well it really isn't a "hoot" but a barred owl. Actually barred owls aren't even that common in the west. I really don't know where "hoot" came from other than the fact they "hoot" when you hear them at night. They are nocturnal feeders and that is what we want trout to be when the conditions are the way they are right now.

"Hoot owl restrictions" have been placed on many western Montana rivers. A list can be found at the Montana Fish & Wildlife site. What this does is restrict fishing during the hottest time of the day so survivability of the trout is high if caught. You can fish after 2 pm, but I wouldn't recommend doing so and these restrictions are a good thing. Save a trout for the future generations. This is also why we catch and release and fish barbless.

You can still find cold water. I am taking by kid brother to the Kootenai just below the Libby Dam in September. Any tailwater fishery is usually quite cold and safe to fish all day. Also, the higher elevation streams like the upper St. Joe are still okay. Slower moving and low lying streams though are not good to fish in summer. Soon the days will shorten and cool and these restrictions will be lifted.. Be patient. We all will soon be tromping through snow again to get to the fish.

Tags (Try these when water is warm):
          Kelly Creek, ID
          Kootenai River
          Missouri River  
          St. Joe River
          Bull River, MT

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Stacked 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 does. 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 were actually tied by hand without the use of a vise. After you try this come and fly fish Idaho soon.

Described here is the stacked hackle.

I like 2 grizzly hackles tied in.

Wrap around wings several times,
moving upwards as you go.

Now swing wings forward and secure again.

Add more dubbing if desired.

Finished stacked hackle fly.
Hard takes, bent rods and great fly tying. Come and become and Idaho fly fisher.

  • Fishing Collectables
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  • Fly Fishing Product Reviews    

  • Monday, July 17, 2017


    Why I have not written a post regarding Fishpond products is beyond me. In Travel Rods 2014, I did write a paragraph regarding one of their products which I have now owned for quite a while.

    fly fish Idaho; flies fishing; fly fishing; fly fishing equipment; fishing flies; fishing gear; trout flies; salmon flies; fly fishing Idaho; flies for sale; Idaho fly fishing; flyfishing flies; fishing flys
    Fishpond Rod Tote
    "..... I have gone almost exclusively to 4-piece fly rods for the purpose of travel. In a Fishpond travel case I can get three 4-piece rods up to 9 1/2 feet, multiple reels, a rain jacket, leaders and 2 pair of sunglasses and it fits into just about any airplane overhead. Beats getting a rod broken by a baggage handler (the airline will NOT replace for cost) or lost before you reach your destination. I even have a 7-piece 9 foot travel rod with great action which I occasionally throw into my Fishpond as well."

    fly fish Idaho; flies fishing; fly fishing; fly fishing equipment; fishing flies; fishing gear; trout flies; salmon flies; fly fishing Idaho; flies for sale; Idaho fly fishing; flyfishing flies; fishing flys
    Fishpond Duffle w/ Bottom Dry Storage
    Well this Christmas, my lovely wife purchased me a Fishpond gear bag. I must admit, I would have preferred a more muted color, but it is quite functional. My original Fishpond travel rod tote was recommended by an IDFFA and fly fishing friend from Pennsylvania. He was right and it is the best tote I have ever seen for 4 piece rods, reels, etc. I have now had mine 3 years and it is quite durable. It is beginning to fray a little on the handles and corners, but once repaired and it has functionally passed away, I will replace with another.

    I did own a much larger gear bag again with dry storage for wet boots and waders in the bottom such as this, but the bag weighed 35 pounds without any gear. This one from Fishpond is very lightweight (1.9 pounds) and functional. If not overly stuffed, it might also fit in an airplane overhead as does my rod tote. They are perfect for travel. This one also has a fold out mat on which to sit to change your wet gear when exiting your favorite river. Keeps your gear clean, so all one does when returning home is to lay your stuff out to dry.

    fly fish Idaho; flies fishing; fly fishing; fly fishing equipment; fishing flies; fishing gear; trout flies; salmon flies; fly fishing Idaho; flies for sale; Idaho fly fishing; flyfishing flies; fishing flysFishpond has a lot of really cool gear. Check them out at Fishpond Their stuff is a little pricy, but seem durable enough. Once you have all of the basics, ask for a Fishpond piece for each birthday, anniversary and Christmas. You'll have all you need in no time.

    Hard takes, tight lines, sore arms, screaming reels and all the fly fishing gear of which you could ever dream. Let's go Idaho fly fishing!

    fly fish Idaho; flies fishing; fly fishing; fly fishing equipment; fishing flies; fishing gear; trout flies; salmon flies; fly fishing Idaho; flies for sale; Idaho fly fishing; flyfishing flies; fishing flys
    Tags: Big Y Flies
         Chest Packs v. Fishing Vests
         Float Tube Chronicles
         Float Tube Fins
         Fly Line Basics
         Fly Reel Basics
         Fly Rods and Gear
         Fly Rod Basics
    Furled Leaders by Zen

    Friday, July 7, 2017

    Idaho Fly Fishing Doberman

    An old Doberman starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a grizzly bear heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch. The old Doberman thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep shit now!”

    Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching bear. 
    Just as the bear is about to ponce, the old Doberman exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious bear! I wonder, if there are any more around?”

    Hearing this, the young bear halts his attack in mid-stride, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. 
    "Whew!," says the bear, "That was close! That old Doberman nearly had me!”

    Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the bear. So, off he goes.
    The squirrel soon catches up with the bear, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself. The young bear is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!”

    Now, the old Doberman sees the bear coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?" But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old Doberman says……..

    "Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another bear!”

    Moral of this story:
    1-Don't mess with the old dogs... Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!

    2-Bull shit and brilliance only come with age and experience.

    Now pretend the Doberman loves to Idaho fly fish. We ask the squirrel to find Mr. Bear and say, "If you take the Doberman a trout, you can easily eat him while he is distracted eating the trout." So the bear easily catches a trout and off he went. Long and short, off he goes with his freshly caught trout and soon is eaten by the pissed off Doberman. Why? The Doberman believed in "catch n' release" and the griz killed the trout by not using a barbless fly.

    Hard takes to you all.

    Tags:  Little Ones
         Save Belize's Fishing Grounds and Marine Life
         Tailwaters are the Ticket
         Three "C's" of Idaho Fly Fishing
         Wolf Madness