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Eastgate Anglers, LLC
548 County Rd. 2AB
Cody, WY 82414
307/587-3059 307/899-1175

Eastgate Anglers updates fly tying information quarterly or as needed.  

 

Bah Behr!

 

Beldar Conehead!

 

Black Copper John!

 

 

Red Copper John!

 

 

CDC Midge Emerger!

 

 

Soft Hackle Sow Bug!

 

 

Wine San Juan Worm!

 

 

January 27th

Most Flies are made to catch people!

This is the time of year when many people start tying flies for next years fishing season. What flies do I need to catch fish in Wyoming? Every year we are bombarded with literally hundreds of new flies that you must have in order to catch fish out west. In my experience 99.9% of flies are made to catch people. They may be nice looking patterns but how much do you really need. I love seeing new and innovative fly tying as much as the next guy but for many people all the choices just become confusing especially when you are trying to figure out new water.  I personally believe that presentation is far more important than the fly pattern in most situations.  I fish one or two attractor patterns, one or two dry flies, a couple of nymphs, a couple emergers, worms, a scud and a streamer. A grand total of about a dozen patterns have caught fish year in and year out for 15 years now in every stream or lake in and around the Cody area. With these flies or combinations of these flies I can cover almost every situation I come across. My clients can attest to the fact that they are highly effective and all are quite simple.  Most of the guys have taken these patterns home and found they work just as well at home as they do here.

First lets define what a good fly pattern really is.  I tend to go through a lot of flies. First,  I need to be able to casually tie at least a dozen to two dozen an hour. I'm just not in the position to spend 30 minutes per pattern. If a patterns has to many materials or steps it just doesn't make any sense to use it. Secondly, I like for the flies to be durable. I remember seeing an old video of Joe Brooks tying a crane fly larva. He had a baby food jar of glue with a small paint brush and after every step he added a little more glue. I had to laugh but I guarantee that sucker wasn't coming apart and that guy caught tons of big fish so I took his advice. Just a dab of super glue will do it. No one fish flies for me. Thirdly, They have to be cost effective. My main expense in tying flies are the hooks. I don't cut corners on hooks so the rest of the materials have to be cheap as well as effective. The price of flies has gone off the charts in the last couple years and honestly you just shouldn't need to pay $2.50 and up for flies.

How can you decide which dozen flies to use with all the choices out there? For me this goes back to presentation. I approach it by trying to have a selection of flies that can cover all the different depths I am trying to fish. The fish are feeding at certain levels in the water column and I need a selection of flies that can be fished from the surface all the way to the bottom. Simple!

1)Large attractor. The Bah Behr. This is a fly that floats like a cork and is capable of suspending a couple of nymphs. It has a wing you can see for miles. No floatant is needed to keep it on top. It can resemble anything from a hopper to a stone fly or dragon fly. I tie a large #8 and small version #12.

2)Terrestrials. Beetles and Ants. In many cases these work far better than a hopper. There is no change in materials from one to the other. The tie is just slightly different.

3) Parachute CDC Sparkle Dun. This pattern tied in different sizes and colors can imitate any mayfly or even sometimes a caddis in the west. It is more durable and floats better than the standard pattern.

4) LBB CDC Emerger. This fly can be fished in the film or as a nymph below another nymph. Works fantastic for BWO's, PMD's, and even as a midge.

5)CDC Midge Emerger. Killer for top water midge fishing in the spring and fall. Tied in #18 to #22 and in black, tan, and grey.

6)Soft Hackle Sow Bug. This is an old Bighorn pattern that is just a killer in this area. I've tied them from an #18 all the way to an #8

7) Zebra Midge. With or without a bead and from size #14 to #18 the number one midge pattern in my box.

8) Copper John. The only nymph you need!  This fly gets down like no other. I use red and black in size #10 to a size #18.

9) Wine San Juan Worm. I tie mine about 3/4'ers of an inch long with the head of the worm even with the eye of the hook so it doesn't tangle.

10)Walmart Wiggler. Killer on the freestones before the bugs start hatching in the spring and later in the fall when the bugs quit. Number one fly on the North Fork since 2004.

11)Olive UV Ice Scud. Size #14 through #18 Works great in the lakes as well as the rivers.

12) The Beldar Conehead. I tie this in a #4 extra long  and a #8 2 x. I use 35 wraps of .035 lead on the big one and 12 wraps of .035 lead on the small one. The extra weight is the key to this flies effectiveness.

So there you have it! Tied in different sizes and colors and fished in different combinations these patterns will catch fish anytime and anywhere in Wyoming year round. Fly fishing Wyoming is really not complicated at all. Honestly, I do carry plenty of other patterns simply because  it  provides a comfort zone just in case I run into a situation where the fish become very selective. Day in and day out though these are the most effective patterns for catching fish around here! Don't leave home without them!

Black Ant!

 

Black Beetle!

Parachute CDC Sparkle Dun!

 

CDC LBB Emerger!

 

UV Olive Ice Scud!

 

Walmart Wiggler!

 

Red and Black Zebra Midge!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 14th

Deciphering Fall and Winter Risers in Thermopolis

I've had quite a few people ask for favorite fly patterns for fish rising to BWO's and midges this fall. Thermopolis had some of the best dry fly fishing I've seen this year but on some days the fish can be very demanding. Some days there is a lot of casting going on but little catching. I have come across several patterns that work well for mayflies and midges. Honestly, they are simple patterns that I've been using for years. No secret flies. Some of us want to think that changing a fly will be the holy grail to success. Others like to think that it's the way you present to the fish it that counts. Turns out it is a combination of the two that is the real key to unlocking the puzzle.

The two things I take into consideration when trying to figure fish out are size and color of the fly and where the fish are taking the fly in the water column. I use 4 or 5 patterns of both mayflies and midges tied from a #16 down to a #22. These patterns are tied in three colors, dun, black, and tan, and each is tied to sit in slightly different places in the water column from the surface down to about 12 inches below the surface. This pretty much covers any of the bugs we see from fall to spring. Most days the fish won't be to picky on color especially if the water is moving pretty well. When the water is flat, slow and crystal clear and the fish are getting pressure things can get a little more specific.

The first thing I do to crack the code on tricky fish is to drop the tippet size down to 6X fluro. With 6X you won't have to wonder if the fish are seeing your tippet or if the tippet is to stiff to allow for a good presentation with very small flies. If you start hooking fish and breaking off you can go up in size and see if they will still take it but it is best to take tippet out of the equation from the start.

Hopefully you will be able to see what bugs are coming of in order to get an idea of where to start with fly color. If not, start with a dun colored mayfly pattern or a black midge. Honestly, just what ever you have confidence in. 9 times out of 10 I will start with a #16 dry fly with an emerger about a foot behind it. With the larger dry you should be able to see where your fly is. If you see any movement with in a foot of the dry I set the hook.

At this point a little presentation comes into play. ALWAYS cast to a specific fish. Blind casting will avail you not! With a million bugs on the water you must put your fly right in front of the fish to get it to take yours. ALWAYS try to put your fly no more than 2 feet in front of the fish. Long drifts usually don't work. If you try a long drift down to the fish your fly will probably drag right when it gets to the fish. I have caught fish dragging the fly at the end of the drift but fish caught by dumb luck aren't really helping you solve the puzzle. Your position is also important. If the water is faster you can usually get fish to take by getting behind the fish and casting up to them. Try not to line the fish with your fly line. If the water is flat, shallow, and clear or the fish are on the edges, casting slightly down and across can be a better presentation. This presents your fly to the fish before it sees your leader or anything else. If one presentation doesn't seem to be working try the other.  Another thing I found is making a longer accurate cast will help. Some fish will continue to rise fairly close to you but they know you are there and won't want to bite. In my experience fish  that are 35 to 40 feet out are usually a little less wary and will bite more readily. As a last resort I will add a little movement to the fly. Midges like to skitter across the water and if there is a breeze mayflies tend to blow around a bit. Also, stopping the dry fly and letting the emerger swing to the surface can be effective as well. A little movement can sometimes be a good thing.

Back to the flies. We'll assume that you are seeing surface activity. Almost always the fish are eating something in the first 12 inches of the water column. I break that 12 inches into 4 different zones. 6" to 12" inches deep, 1" to 6" deep, In the film, and on the surface. Flies that will fish a foot deep are flies like an unweighted zebra midge or an unweighted pheasant tail tied on heavy wire hooks. These type flies will sink but fairly slowly. Soft hackles ride at this level. Even just black, dun, or tan thread on a hook works for fish eating within a foot of the surface sometimes. Then there are flies that ride a couple inches below the surface. You can grease the pheasant tail or soft hackle or put just a smidgen of cdc on your thread colored hook so they will just barely sink.  We call these thread flies and there are limitless variations. To get a fly to ride in the film (half above and half below the surface) you just add some floatant or a little more flotation like some deer hair, hackle or a little more cdc. Cripples and various emerger patterns are designed to ride here. Then we have surface patterns. There are flies like a sparkle dun where the body of the fly is actually in the film. These are considered emergers by some. There are also fully hackled versions with stiff tails or flies like a Griffiths gnat that get the body of the fly out of the water. These tend to work better if your seeing heads coming out when the fish rise. This may sound like a lot of trouble to fish in the first foot of the water column but when fish are feeding like this these subtle changes can make all the difference in the world. If you are getting snubbed this is the kind of thinking that may change your luck.

One day this fall on a guided trip over in Thermopolis I had pre fished the river and thought I had broken the code with a neat little tan mayfly emerger I had come up with. Between it and a dry tan mayfly I caught fish almost all the way through the hatch. The next day I returned with clients. The hatch came off as expected. We caught fish but nothing like the day before and no matter what we tried it wasn't quite what they wanted. The tan mayflies were thick on the water. Millions of them with hundreds of fish eating in a frenzy. I happened to notice some minute tan midges amongst all the mayflies and when I got home that night and was racking my brain to get this figured out I decided to tie up a bunch of #24 tan cdc midges just for the heck of it. The next day when we returned the fish were up again and there was a blanket hatch of tan mayflies on the water. Heads, backs, and tails everywhere. We saw just a few of the little tan midges in the mix. We put on the little midge behind the dry and low and behold it was the ticket. Fishing became easy for a couple of hours. Why the fish keyed on a miniscule little midge instead of the big juicy mayflies is beyond me but that was what they wanted. In this case it was the fly that made the difference.

Anyway, I hope this helps you decipher some of the mystery next time you hit these kind of hatches. You will probably encounter fish feeding this way sporadically all winter with the hatches getting stronger in the spring as the water warms. Sometimes the fishing can be ridiculously easy. Other times it can be some of the best and most challenging dry fly fishing you can experience and trying to figure it out is the best part of the game. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
     
     
     

 

Let us know if we can help you further.  Email any questions or comments to info@eastgateanglers.com.

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