Dumb fish don't care

Winters grip is weakening here in the Eagle River Valley

February's Big and Heavy report. 

Gilled BWO #18 has been my go to large or attractor fly followed by a couple of midges. I've been tying and fishing Tim Flaglers Corded Midge Link using yellow antron as well as white with great success. Water temps and flows are low and the fish are still held up in their winter lies, deep, mid pool and hard to fool with too much nonsense. Simple tricks like keeping split shot and other junk to a minimum and getting your flies down to the fish with weighted flies instead, can make all the difference this time of year. A 2.8 Tungsten bead has done the trick getting every thing down in the water most fish are hanging around.

Tie some up, call it what you want

#16 2487, 2.8 Black Tung Bead
Thread: Harvested from an old Ugg boot
Tail/Legs: Tijuana Wood Duck
Rib: One Moose Pube

Gills: Tied in Improved Galloup Style Link (it's a long winded video but the gill trick is worth it.) Twist a small wisp of Tan Ice Dub between yer thumb and fore finger and give it a nice one direction booger roll. Tie it in exactly 5 segments from start of the tail so the moose pube ribbing aids in holding the gills secure.

Pull the mess of gill booger back and install your favorite wing case material. I have been using strips of a very expensive rain jacket someone left in my boat. Some air brush work to mottle the material can increase hook ups by over 28%.

Trim the gills

Separate legs on the sides of the fly while dubbing the thorax. Using lightly dubbed thread to hold the legs back helps to not sever them with tightly wrapped small thread. That being said I keep on fishing flies as the delicates fall off. Just fish for dumb fish, dumb fish don't care about tails and legs and such. They probably give zero shits about gills as well.

2 clumps, split, is standard, 1 works just as well and 3 looks wicked cool brah.

Leave your legs long for fast water, cut them shorter when you are getting to the technical junk

This little bit has been leaving marks.

Spring is coming and the Vail Rod and Gun water on the Eagle continues to open up more and more every day now. Book a trip

El Negro Caddis

The summer Black Caddis hatch can be one of those love hate relationships similar to Trico's. Tiny and plentiful can be a pain in the ass and that is especially so when the water is gin clear and low. I find trying to fool the abused trout of late summer just subsurface with Black Caddis patterns can help. The shallow riffles are full of larva and pupa, often bright yellow-pink in color and like a sunken Trico spinner, I think the fish key in on naturals that are easier to grab and ignore the adults most of the time. 

Black Caddis Larva. Not black at all

#18 2488H

Starling softhackle Iris Caddis knock off

When the fella in the riffle confesses that Black Caddis larva and emergers are working, don't make the mistake of grabbing something black. As in many cases, the color of the subsurface naturals do not match the color of the adults we see buzzing around. PMD nymphs are a very dark burgandy, almost black just before they hatch in their adult colors of yellow-orange-pinks. The neon green Mothers Day Caddis larva is a dark dun color in flight and the Black Caddis larva is yellow- yellow orange or pink before they hatch, abundantly, all black.

#18-20 2488H, helps it sink a touch
Tan sparkle emergent yarn shuck, sparse
Small Amber wire rib
Ginger Variant dubbing from an ancient Antron Dubbing Blend dispenser, circa 1989
Dark Dun Poly wing tied in Iris Caddis style
Starling softhackle or the feathers I collect after chasing off the trained neighborhood Magpie
Dark Brown Hare Tron collar

Your standard #20 Peacock Caddis Dry Fly or a low riding dark colored CDC X2 Caddis works for the adult, but I tend to reserve them for the return flight in the evenings.

Fear not the tiny black bug of summer.

Book a Fall trip, its going to be a great one.

Cotton Hoodies Rule. Carry on 

Industry Appreciation Days

It has been two years since I have seen my favorite freestone boiled up with gorgeous muddy water. She looks healthy and alive and I am so thankful for the water this year. Since Mother Nature has decided to give generously to the river and sport we all love so much I thought I would too.

For any Industry Professional

When?  This offer is good as long as I am hacking at it. Limit one per week.

Who? You can't just be a fly fishing hashtag addict with twelve thousand friends. You need to have given some of yourself to fly fishing, not necessarily for pay. Blogger, shop bitch, manager, old guides, select younger bro's, wanna be's, anybody who has ever volunteered with Project Healing Waters and reliable shuttle drivers could qualify. 
Convince me you have given more to the river than you have taken and we go get bent.

Thanks to all of you who do it right.

Fish like Iron Man

Been flirting with the dry dropper rig as the water takes her time getting muddy. The streamer fishing has been great on the right days but Baetis has been the main snack. Fishing is still rated crazy good  for the time being, give me a call and get in on this special season.

This little tidbit has been a great anchor fly.

Hook: 2488H #16
Bead: 7/64 Black Tungsten, throw them in the dryer with a handful of sand to tarnish
Tail: Feral Barn Cat whiskers
Abdomen: 50 denier GSP dyed in coffee and CBD Oil, rib with small black wire harvested from one of your kids remote control cars that never worked.
Thorax: Crap Brown Jackalope/ River Otter blend
Wing Case: Strip of really old electrical tape
Legs: Earl Sycamore's mustache hairs, I kink them with tweezers.
To finish the bug proper like, I use Solarez UV that I stole off of Charlie Cravens tying desk during a demo. Shit is great.

Let me know if you try it. 


Every year I try and take some time and improve my teaching game. This year I am turning to a great American hero, Iron Man. That suit does everything, but it can be over loaded; like some of my clients. I've noticed that if Tony freakin Stark has all his power diverted to his jet boots, it is very hard to run auxiliary programs; so he needs to manage where he is concentrating his energy to be a hero. So I figure I am going to try and limit the system overloads this summer by thinking more like Iron Man. If a fella is using every available resource to just cast, asking him to watch where the flies are landing as well may just overload the system. There are between 4 and 8 programs that have to run efficiently for a guy to fish well from a boat. If one or two of those systems are drawing too much energy from the others, shit tends to blow up. I don't have some Marvel level bit of technology for you to strap to your hand so you can wave that incredibly heavy rod all day, but I can manage your level of intensity so we don't blow any circuits. Maybe make a hero out of a few of you.

Practice. I don't have a cool suit that does this for you. 


Dangles lead to Tangles. Two and three fly rigs are the norm in my world. That includes when we are in the boat.  There are times we need to stop waving that stick and get the bugs back to hand, but I have noticed some of you are reluctant to touch my flies. One version of the dangle is when a peep pulls all but 6 feet of fly line and the leader into the boat, leaving 2 or three heavy nymphs dangling in the water unattended. Bye bye bugs. Another popular dangle is when Mr Scaredycat grabs the leader but lets the goods wander around the boat getting into trouble until he is ready to cast again.
Don't be scared of your guides flies.
Dangles lead to tangles.

Making boats great again.

Boat shop is open!

Buff up "ol Betsy" while the water is up!

If you row a drifty in the rocky rivers of Colorado, you have Chine damage and maybe a leak. Get that tight before the water cleans up this spring.

G4 bottom removal and repair

Wax and Buff

Fiberglass repairs

While we can't paint your boat we can do a wrap job right here in Eagle county. We have some standard designs similar to the one pictured (substitute digi camo, steel, wood and more) for a very special price during run off. Custom design work is also available, its just more jingle. 

Thats a wrap.

Call or email me soon, limited availability.......

Crap is but a click away

I wasn't really surprised when I caught my son. I mean he is 11 years old, his body and mind are a wash with curiosity and he has seen me do it forever. But catching him messing with his squirmy for the first time kicked me directly into Dad mode.

"Where have you learned to do that?" I ask, terrified.

"I've been watching videos" admits Sam.

Reality had harshly grabbed me in the groin as I realized my boy was turning into a man way quicker than I had back in the day. Everything is easier now, the days of not so innocently finding the answers under a bed or in the back of a closet are a distant memory, crap is but a click away. A father must be on guard. Understanding basic genetics and heredity (plant corn get corn). I am prepared to have a boy who will compulsively pound on shit until both hands are bloody, so I must keep watch to make sure he is learning the right way. I don't want him to go blind or anything.

Thirty years ago the stimuli was in a thing called a VHS tape. You could also learn a lot from magazines and stuffy old men. My insatiable thirst to do it for hours led me on a search for guidance from true masters of the craft. I found myself stimulated in hot, cluttered lofts with dudes like George and Pete or with a group of older guys in Carl's basement. I was addicted, I needed more.
I wonder how much different my kid's journey in this click and learn society will be and who, or what. will be his greatest influence. I vividly remember watching a small hunchback with a bad toupee named Fran do shit that blew my mind and it changed me forever. I worry this video thing is too diluted with crap for a young person to know who to subscribe to when trying to learn the proper way.

Protect your kids! Teach them the right way.
Don't let them watch crappy fly tying videos.

Don't ever grow up buddy


Fishing is absolutely ape shit crazy good right now. Dry flies are a great option right now as the Midgezilla hatch is in full swing. Baetis nymphs are becoming a more consistent snack as well. Full blown bedlam is here and the weather and water conditions continue to feel like spring has sprung. Book a trip now

Carry on

Ugly Trout Flies

This fly, this dull and ugly attempt to mimic some sort of Midge-Caddis mutation is a tough one to sell. It is also hard to buy.

#16 Midgezilla
Pale Yellow or Cahill thread
4X Tippet Rib
Pale Yellow and Tan Rabbit Dubbing

For the next two months here on the Eagle, Colorado and Roaring Fork Rivers this bug, a size 16 or even larger, represents the most abundant goodie snack on the menu. There are so many "Midgezilla's" in the drift that our flies often return to hand covered in them.  But a really good imitation of this over sized Midge can be hard to find commercially. I get it; if I am buying flies for a shop, its a little too big for the Midge order and too small for the Caddis. It has zero bin appeal or enough bling to catch any fisherman who buys bugs and fly shops are in biz to sell, not collect flies.

If you tie, put this one on the list instead of a typical Zebra. If you are new to tying. this is a great pattern to get basics like dubbing, ribbing and thread control sharp. The natural is enormous and beyond plentiful so sometimes those fat lumpy creations you end up with when you are first starting out stand out in a crowd and get eaten.

The Stonefly on the right in the picture above has great bin appeal but the little Quill body Spider in the middle out fishes the Stone over and over. I love fishing and tying softhackles and wet flies. When tyed right, they are far from ugly but again they don't catch many fisherman. Traditional Spider patterns (like the one above) call for approx 18 barbs on the soft hackle wraps which makes for a sparse almost fragile looking bug. Trout love it but I think most of today's fisherman pass on it for a more heavily hackled fly and in my experience that is a mistake. Slim and sparse patterns simply work better.

I have 2 Winter Selection Boxes as well as a collection of individual flies for sale at the shop.
Each box contains 90 flies, including Jigs, Dries, Emergers, Tech Nymphs and Bead heads specifically for late winter use here in Colorado. Each box retails for $279 and comes in a new Umpqua Lt Midge box.