Eye of the Guide


Tom Travis - Jan 13, 2014

Sysadmin Note
Part 19 can be found here

September and October are two of my favorite times to fish the wondrous water of Yellowstone National Park and I always have the same problem on day-off from guiding anglers. Where should I fish today? Should I travel to the Lewis River, is it too early for the big brown in the Lewis Channel, are the large brown beginning to run in the Lower Gardner, do I run down and fish the Madison for the brown trout moving up out of Hebgan Lakes or do travel to the Firehole to fish the Black Caddis and Baetis Hatch? As you can see it can be a tough decision however as much as I love to chase the big trout I also love to dry fly fish and as the days grow cooler I know the summer is ending along with the major hatches.

Also as I grow older I find that I really like to fish large dry flies and that usually send me down the road to fish Soda Butte Creek in the Northeast corner of the Park and I can also spend time on the Lamar River or Slough Creek as all of these water offer hatches of large fall drakes. A trip to Soda Butte is a mere 110 miles from my house in Livingston Montana and in the fall with the shorter days and cooler nights I don't have rush off at dawn to get there, I can take my time and arrive around 10 AM.

I understand that some might think of trip of that distance a major undertaking but here in Montana it means a nice drive of around two hours. The speed limits in the park are strictly enforced and speeding will get you a hefty ticket!

Now, you might wonder what are the insects that entices me to this area, well there is still excellent fishing with Hoppers, Crickets and Ants and yes there will most likely be some small Baetis on most days however it is the Gray Drakes, Green Drakes that draw me to these waters. Depending on the day the hatch will begin between 11 AM and 12 Noon.

As I am there to fish dry flies that mean that I rig up with a dry drake imitation and a suitable nymph imitation but as soon as the duns begin to appear I switch to my favorite dry imitations which are either a dry flymph or a dry soft hackle. Over the past few years I have been tying a certain number of my flymphs and soft hackles on dry fly hooks and have used suitable material on the bodies to ensure that these imitations float regardless of the fact that I am using soft hackles for the collars.

At first I used them as a trailer behind a regular dry imitation but I soon discovered that the dry flymphs and soft hackles float very well and are easy to see on the water. Therefore, I often fish the soft hackle or flymph imitations as a single fly and this is also a time of the year when I enjoy using my Tenkara Rod. However, if the wind become obnoxious I will switch to a five or six weight rod of eight and half foot in length and the single best piece of advice that offer to the angler is to be observant and aware of what is going on in relation to the insects and the feeding trout and be guided by your observations!

Now the idea of fishing soft hackle as dry flies is far from new, the late Sylvester Nemes often fished his creations on the surface of the water as did the late W. C. Stewart in 1857 as did James Chetham in 1681. Now as far as I am aware the flymphs of James Leisenring are generally fished beneath the surface of the water however I have found them to be highly effective when fished on the surface film as a dry fly.

The following are a couple of my favorite dry soft hackles and a couple of my favorite dry flymph patterns.

Gray Drake (Dry) Soft Hackle

Green Drake (Dry) Soft Hackle

Gray Drake (Dry) Flymph

Green Drake (Dry) Flymph

Fishing Notes

When I am fishing these patterns as dry flies I grease the leader and tippet but I use no floatant on the flies, after taking a trout I wash and dry the imitation and then I dust the imitation with Frog Fanny which totally dries the imitation and then it's ready to fish again. Standard false casting will keep the imitation dry between trout as long as you are targeting individual trout and not trying for a twenty foot drift. Remember to grease that leader as a sinking leader will draw the imitation under the surface and the method that I employ calls for the imitation to be on the surface of the water.

Tied with materials which will allow the imitation to float on the surface film you still get the movements of the soft hackle fibers in the surface film this action imitates the struggle of the insect to emerge and it is this action that I believe makes these patterns so successful.

I use patterns of this type during many different mayfly hatches and it has been effective when other imitations have failed. Now I still use many other patterns, just remember no pattern is a cure-all! 

Enjoy & Good Fishin'

Sysadmin Note
Part 21 can be found here


Comment on this article

Archive of the Eye of the guide

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ]

FlyAnglersOnline.com © Notice