Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Monday, November 19, 2018 12:47:25 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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With winter weather now here, I've been taking the opportunity to clean up my gear, and re-stocking and re-organizing my fly boxes. Here's how I break down my fly boxes for various seasons, hatches and options.

This slim plastic box is always in my vest. Contains various nymph and sub surface flies. Pink Squirrels anchor the box in sizes 16-12. Fox Red Squirrel works good in all conditions, silver is best in bright sunny skies and clear water. Whenever I see Water Cress in the creek, I'll tie on one of those orange or gray Scuds. Brook Trout in particular love to hang around Water Cress and eat these fresh water shrimp. Copper Johns, Bush Hogs and various other small bead head nymphs fill out the box.
UserPostedImage

This box contains my Crystal Woolly Buggers and small streamers. I carry it most of the year, especially whenever there's a stain on the water. My Buggers are in sizes 6-10 in black, olive and white. I like rubber legs and longer hackle tails on mine. There's also a few Rabbit Strip streamers, a Bluegill Belly Bean, a couple of Fricks Fix jig head flies, and a couple of soft hackle streamers. Buggers are the worlds most popular Trout fly and should be in every fly fishers box.
UserPostedImage

My terrestrial box also stays in my vest all year. Mostly Hippie Stompers, Beetle patterns, crickets, foam ants and other top water floaters. I like my Hippie Stompers in purple in size 12-14. The San Juan Worms have been in my box for years, but I rarely fish them. Generally if the water is dirty, I reach for bigger Buggers and streamers.
UserPostedImage

Whenever I fish bigger streams or rivers, or think I may have a shot at a larger Trout, I put my big streamer box in the vest. Contains articulated versions of Galloup's Silk Kitty, Trout Nugget, Fat Buggers, Brammers Death Grip, and a couple of Sculpin Head patterns. I really haven't had a lot of success with these patterns, as I typically spend most of my time on smaller streamers where they wouldn't be that effective. And they usually just scare most of the trout when they hit the water. But every now and then a big boy will swipe at one of these bigger flies, which really raises the heart rate.
UserPostedImage

Yeah, unfortunately this is no where near all of my Pink Squirrels. Just one of several overflow boxes. I've tied up hundreds of these things in the classic Bethke style - with a couple mods of my own. I like a bigger bead head and a fat bushy body. I usually opt out of using a wire wrap, as I find a dubbing loop contains the body material just as well. A drop of water based adhesive just behind the bead locks the chenille and thread from coming loose. Easily the most effective fly I've found for fishing the Driftless Area. Trout simply cannot resist it. Fox Squirrel and Silver colors are the most effective. Although I sometimes break out the darker colors when there isn't much daylight, or the water is stained.
UserPostedImage

My dry fly box goes in the vest when it warms up a bit in the spring and I start seeing rising fish on a regular basis. I carry a variety of generic Elk Hair Caddis, Adams, Hendrickson, and Blue Wing Olives. Mostly size 18-12, which are easier for me to see and tie on the tippet. I prefer the Parachute patterns with the colorful indicator material. I generally don't spend may days fishing strictly dries. My casting skills aren't the greatest and I generally prefer to nymph.
UserPostedImage

Around mid-summer when I start seeing hoppers jumping around in the grass, I break out the hopper box. Mostly Moorish Hopper variants in sizes 8-12, with size 10 in purple and green seeming to catch more Trout in the small streams I fish. I love hopper fishing. The strikes are immediate and vicious and lots of fun.
UserPostedImage

I became fascinated with soft hackle patterns last year and tied up a ton of small wet fly streamers in an array of colors, sizes and styles. Honestly, I haven't had much luck with these, but perhaps I haven't really given them enough of a chance. They look terrific in the water, pulsing with enticing movement when stripped. In most conditions where a streamer might be effective, I usually default to a Bugger. Next season, I plan to fish these more often.
UserPostedImage

My tiny dry fly box doesn't see much action either. I'm a terrible dry fly fisherman and I have a hard time seeing these tiny little bastards on the water from any distance. They also require much smaller tippet than I normally prefer to fish, so I'm more likely to tie on a larger dry fly than swap out leaders just to target a few rising fish. There's some overflow bead heads in there too just to fill out the box. By the way, these small plastic boxes are excellent and inexpensive. They take up very little space in your vest or shirt pocket.
UserPostedImage

A few years back I ran into an awesome Crane Fly hatch. For about a month, the Trout would simply clobber these ugly things. The last couple of years haven't been as good, but they still are effective in that period between late spring and before the hoppers start flying. These Crane Flies are ridiculously large with size 4-6 hooks and up to 3" or more in length, but even small Trout attack them with passion. They're easy and fun to cast, even in the wind. The more beat up they get, the better the Trout seem to like them.
UserPostedImage


So, I'm pretty much ready for the season opener in January. Already making plans and looking forward to the coming season.


-Bill

Edited by user Monday, November 19, 2018 12:49:43 AM(UTC)  | Reason: damned typos!

“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
thanks 1 user thanked William Schlafer for this useful post.
stan b on 11/22/2018(UTC)
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weiliwen  
#2 Posted : Monday, November 19, 2018 1:25:47 PM(UTC)
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Nice! Your fly boxes are far better organized than mine. I tend to pull every fly out of every box, and re-sort them, about every couple years, so maybe it's time to do that.

Saturday I got my Firehole Stones in the mail. That's their word for beads. They started carrying colored beads. I'm going to use the "Pink Floyd" color in place of the pink chenille on some modified Pink Squirrels. I will also use them in the middle of my scud patterns. I also got black, olive, dark olive, and bright red, in different sizes for 12-18 size flies.

Recently, I've been tying up some soft hackles and flymphs. A guy who posts on one of my Facebook feeds had a nice hare's ear flymph that I've tied enough times so it comes out looking the same as his, within reason (he's a great tyer). That will likely, with a midge dropper, be the first fly I cast into the stream on January 5.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
OTC_MN  
#3 Posted : Monday, November 19, 2018 6:01:10 PM(UTC)
OTC_MN
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I've started the same project. Starting with the boxes I'll likely use this winter, and I'll work on summer dries and terrestrials later on this winter.

I try to be a little bit organized in how I go about filling boxes from year to year. Every season I try a few new patterns. I'll tie a half dozen and make it a point to use them throughout the season to see if they're going make the starting lineup or not. Right now I'm going through and weeding those out to make room for some new potential patterns, and tying more of the ones I liked. That also means making room for last year's experiments that made the cut. So some patterns I use less than I did in the past get their space reduced, or get booted altogether. It's all very methodical. Or that's what I try to tell myself. Really, it's just a good excuse to tie flies and play with my toys.

This is the jig nymph box. As hard as I've fallen for the Euro style nymphing, this box is always with me and gets a lot of use. Lots of different patterns in here. Walts Worms, Iron Lotus and and Frenchies in several different colors, Surveyors, Red Darts, a few different Hare's Ear types, some stoneflies, and Pink Squirrels. Going to be adding a few new patterns to this box plus restocking some of the usual suspects.

Jig Box

The next box is my misc. nymph box. Lots of caddis larva and pupa patterns, stoneflies, midges, plus scuds, eggs, leeches, perdigons, and a smattering of other slutty flies like mops and squirmies.

Misc Nymphs

My mayfly box is another one that is always on me.

One side is an assortment of general attractor patterns like Tung Teasers, Copper Johns, Hare's Ears, PT, and Lightning Bugs, plus March Brown, PMD and Sulphur nymphs and emergers.

Misc mayflies

The other is basically all Beatis patterns of one sort or another. Beatis/Olives are just such an important bug on the streams I fish, both here and in places like the Black Hills. They cover so much of the season, and even when they're not hatching they're always around and in the drift. So I carry a ton of Beatis nymphs and emergers. So on this side of the box there are Jujubeatis, small PTs, split back beatis, Pat Dorsey's Mercury Beatis, Ed Engle's Bubble Back Emerger, lots of Barr's emergers, some soft hackle emergers, and a few other odds and ends like floating nymphs.

Beatis

One of my projects this winter is coming up with some different small Beatis patterns that are relatively easy to tie and durable. So I've been searching around for ideas, trying some existing patterns, plus working on a couple of my own where I've taken bits and pieces of some other patterns I like and started messing around with materials, hook choice and design in general. I'll be fishing some of these a lot this winter to see how they do.

This is a Big Bear Beatis I came across the pattern in a book on tailwater flies from Colorado. Tied on a size 20 TMC 200R, which is a hook I don't especially like in larger sizes. But makes a good small Beatis hook for this and the Mercury Beatis

Big Bear Beatis

I fly I have been messing with. Moose body tail, Hends Body Quill abdomen, black Z-lon wing case and legs, and a superfine thorax. Abdomen and wing case are coated with UV resin. This one is tied on a size 20 TMC 2488. I am really getting to like the Hends body quill. Some great colors, and when you coat it with UV resin, it's just about indestructible.

Body Quill Beatis

Another bug i'm working on. I wanted a simple to tie, durable Beatis I could fish behind a dry or on a dropper on a Euro rig that would sink, but didn't have a big bead head. Lead wire under the body added a lot of bulk I didn't want, especially on size 20s and 22s. Beatis are pretty delicate little bugs, and I wanted a slim profile. A wire body was kind of the obvious choice, but it took me a while to figure out how to get a wire body without adding a lot of bulk. Moose body tail, sculpin olive ultrawire thorax, black z-lon wing case and legs, Nature's Spirit Emergence Dubbing in BWO for the thorax, and UV resin over the wingcase. Tied on a size 20 Firehole...something or other. I forget. I'm pretty stoked about how these turned out.

Wire body beatis


Still have soft hackles, a couple dry fly boxes and hoppers/ants/beetles to get to sometime this winter. Plus I have exactly *one* yellow Humpy left in my box. My favorite small stream Brookie dry - but not exactly my favorite fly to tie. Have to get to it sometime this winter...

"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
thanks 1 user thanked OTC_MN for this useful post.
William Schlafer on 11/19/2018(UTC)
William Schlafer  
#4 Posted : Monday, November 19, 2018 7:42:51 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Originally Posted by: OTC_MN Go to Quoted Post
I'm pretty stoked about how these turned out.

Wire body beatis




I like that one! I tied up a Pat's Rubber Leg Stonefly that uses the UV resin to make the wing case. I really like the way that looks. I want to experiment making a nymph with a curved hook version like yours.

Thanks!


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
thanks 1 user thanked William Schlafer for this useful post.
OTC_MN on 11/19/2018(UTC)
OTC_MN  
#5 Posted : Tuesday, November 20, 2018 5:48:35 PM(UTC)
OTC_MN
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Originally Posted by: William Schlafer Go to Quoted Post


I like that one! I tied up a Pat's Rubber Leg Stonefly that uses the UV resin to make the wing case. I really like the way that looks. I want to experiment making a nymph with a curved hook version like yours.

Thanks!


-Bill


Thanks Bill.

Took me a little while to figure out how to get the body right. If I tied the wire along the shank back to the tail and wrapped forward, it got way too bulky, especially on a 20 or 22. Ended up tying in the tail, building up a little bit of taper with thread, then tying the wire in under where the thorax is, ending the tie-down just in front of where the back of the thorax will eventually be. Put a little drop of zap-a-gap on the thread body, then wound the wire back to the tail and broke it off there. Between the zap-a-gap and the resin down the back, the wire shouldn't pull down the shank at all, and the abdomen is nice and skinny.

I love Pat's Rubber Legs. Fish them as a point fly quite a bit if the water's a little dirty. Works even on streams where I don't think there are a whole lot of stoneflies. Lord knows what they think they are (small crayfish maybe?), but they just eat 'em.

There's a Daiichi hook (I think it's #1730) that is a great stonefly hook. Has a bent shank, and with a bead head it rides point up so you snag up a lot less. Tie all my Pat's on it, and some other stoneflies as well. Kind of a hard hook to find though...
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
William Schlafer  
#6 Posted : Thursday, November 22, 2018 5:24:01 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Or, maybe I'll just go the minimalist route:

UserPostedImage

Wink


These five flies account for 95% of all the Trout I've caught with a fly rod. Not really sure why I carry anything else.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
OTC_MN  
#7 Posted : Saturday, November 24, 2018 4:59:13 PM(UTC)
OTC_MN
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Originally Posted by: William Schlafer Go to Quoted Post
Or, maybe I'll just go the minimalist route:

UserPostedImage

Wink


These five flies account for 95% of all the Trout I've caught with a fly rod. Not really sure why I carry anything else.


-Bill


Hah. Yeah. If I had an once of sense, I'd fill a box with Parachute Adams in 14-20, X-Caddis in 12-18, Sexy Walt's in 10-16, and Hare's Ear's in 12-20, toss in a hopper or two and a couple olive buggers, and call it a day.

But where's the fun in that? LOL
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
madguy30  
#8 Posted : Saturday, November 24, 2018 9:01:51 PM(UTC)
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Nice work. Time well spent.

Those are all snazier than mine. I tie a bunch of ragged looking flies and pile them into a Plano or Flambeau box.
madguy30  
#9 Posted : Thursday, November 29, 2018 4:18:49 PM(UTC)
madguy30
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Originally Posted by: William Schlafer Go to Quoted Post
Or, maybe I'll just go the minimalist route:

UserPostedImage

Wink


These five flies account for 95% of all the Trout I've caught with a fly rod. Not really sure why I carry anything else.


-Bill


This is kind of where I'm at except I usually only use streamers for smallmouth or warm water stuff.

Replace the dry fly with a Griffith's gnat and even less materials my fly box is basically a few of 4 or 5 flies.

I oughta just ty straight tinsel and nothing else to a hook for northern since it's no different than what they're going for on a spinner.
weiliwen  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, December 12, 2018 5:17:59 PM(UTC)
weiliwen
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I got hold of some colored beads from Firehole Outdoors, and tied up a variation of the Pink Squirrel, in 12 and 14. One of them I tied with a synthetic dubbing (bottom left) but it doesn't fluff out as much as I'd like.

Pink Squirrel Variant
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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