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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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Year of the Spider

I believe, and I teach my students, that we can and should always read and learn. When one turns off their brains, they might as well give up and die. This is really the main reason I take the time to write for this blog. I am hoping to inform you and stimulate you to learn more.

Your brain has a huge capacity and we use only 10% of ours. I have been fly fishing off and on since I was 12 (> 50 years). I love to read about the sport and there is always something more to learn.

In his book "Larger Trout for the Western Fly Fisherman" Charles E. Brooks (1921-1986) says "The best flies were those which look the same from EVERY angle." I personally believe he was spot on. Mr. Brooks however fished Yellowstone and used large flies like Montana Stonefly Nymph, Black (Pheasant Tail) Caddis,  Black Crawler, Skunk Hair Caddis, and the Wooly Worm. These were tied
on larger (6-12) hooks as they should have been because the naturals are larger. To date, the Best Nymph I Have Ever Used has been by far the Black Crawler. If I had to do it all over again though, I would tie this particular pattern with a thinner body and on a smaller hook.

If you really take a close look at the "Spider" soft hackle, it actually mimics the caddis larva before it hatches. And they do look the same from "every angle". Which means these are mostly size 14-18 in their natural form, so tie them fairly small. The bodies should be thin and have a sparse hackle and no shuck (tail). They are a quick and easy fly to tie on vice. Note the two March Brown Spiders pictured here. They are distinctly different, but equally effective. Both are tied on #14-18 hooks.

By the way, the adult is also pictured here. Looks like a small Brown Drake to me. In Canada though, they are called "Flavs". The cutthroat eat them up.

"W. C. Stewart wrote The Practical Angler; W. H. Aldham A Quaint Treatise on Flees and the Art of Artyfichall Flee Making in 1876; T. E. Pritt Yorkshire Trout Flies in 1886 (which was re-titled North-Country Flies in a later edition). All these books featured extensive writings on soft hackled flies. But in 1857 the greatest influence on using these patterns in England occurred. W. C. Stewart was a renowned fly fisherman from the Scottish Border area and it was Stewart that put 'spider' patterns in the fly box of all the north of England fly fishers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries". Actually, these patterns are not too commonly found in fly shops here, but outside the US they are sometimes the ONLY flies fly fishers use. The current going name is the "Stewart Spider", but online, you may see multiple other imitations and names as well.

Why the "Year of the Spider"? Unknowingly I have always fished my nymphs as described in:

I have told many a fly fishing student that "the fish are biting on the swing" as emergers. And if you read the above short essay, you will see the technique I have virtually (and unknowingly) always used. The other technique that is very effective is to simply let the fly "hang" downstream for a few seconds and see what hits. Don't hit the fish hard though or you will pull the fly out of it's mouth. Well this year, while I still have time, I am going to fish mostly SPIDERS. And I am going to fish them the way they should be fished.

Hard takes, tight lines, huge trout and happy "Spider" fishing to all.


Tags: A "Perfect" Fly
     Black Crawler
     Montana Sparrow
     Montana Stonefly Nymph
     Skunk Hair Caddis
     "Skunk" Wolly Bugger
     Stonefly Nymph
     Spider Fly History
     Spider Fly Tied
     Spring High Water Winner
     Spring Perfection
     YSF Black Caddis
     YSF Salmon Slayer

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