Eye of the Guide


Satoshi Yamamoto - Oct 20, 2014

This fall's Baetis hatch at DePuy Spring Creek (www.depuyspringcreek.com) was indeed a "classroom of fly-fishing", filled with too many valuable lessons. I was catching up with trout feeding on these unusual Baetis and fly-patterns for them. Not quite perfect but I was getting somewhat comfortable about the whole situation. Then in one afternoon, they appeared in another different and unexpected color…

Not gray, is it?

Nor dark-olive for sure…….

These were also in the same sizes; mostly 24 plus 22 mixed up often, but they were definitely in a lighter color. They almost resembled Sulphur (Ephemerella Invaria; Yes I understand it's in a different family from Baetidae). Could it be another different species? Or did they look so due to the sunlight and other environmental factors? One thing I can tell you for sure is that trout stopped taking my flies which had been successful (that is, gray or gray-olive colored ones). I was stumbled again of course. Yet, with undaunted spirit to conquer the situation, I tied up the same patterns to suit this new coloration. I was back in business. I could get back some action with these new colors! This experience really tells me that trout can recognize "size, color, and shape" of what they are feeding. And then these are the "trifecta" of fly designing.

CDC Sparkle Dun – TB Body

  • Hook: Standard or Emerger #22 & #24
  • Thread: Veevus 16/0 cahill
  • Tail: Sparse amount of dark-dun Zelon
  • Abdomen: Turkey Biot – Callibaetis or PMD
  • Wing: White or dun CDC
  • Thorax: Superfine Dub – dull pink (Hendrickson pink)

Master Angler's Soft-Hackle

  • Hook: Emerger #22 & #24
  • Thread: Veevus 16/0 cahill
  • Abdomen: Turkey Biot – Callibaetis or PMD
  • Thorax: Superfine Dub – dull pink (Hendrickson pink)
  • Hackle: Dun hen cape

Yamamoto's Spent Dun SSS (Snow-Shoe-Shuck)

  • Hook: Straight-eye #22 & #24
  • Thread: Veevus 16/0 cahill
  • Tail: Dark-olive snowshoe rabbit feet
  • Abdomen: Turkey Biot – Callibaetis or PMD
  • Wing: Dark-dun Zelon (or alike)
  • Thorax: Superfine Dub – dull pink (Hendrickson pink)

Again, I am not sure if this is a different species that we haven't heard of. As soon as I hear something about this, I will report to the editor.

That said, how about this? I eventually started seeing this coloration too. This seemed more common to us regulars in terms of color = dark olive. Do I need to imitate its distinctive eyes on my fly?

Favorite "Techy" Spot Detail:

So Annie's Run is technical, insect hatch is confusing, and trout are very selective. This is the toughest condition one can ever get into! However, unfortunately my "noticeability and observation" found one particular super challenging spot on top of that condition.

There is a log sticking out from the west bank (covered by washed-away weeds for the season). This adds a very unique character to the section otherwise a wide and flat feature. Insects flew (either on surface or slightly below), following this micro current caused by the log. There seemed one or two trout hanging and rising (sipping) tight along the edge of the weeds. Judging from their rise-forms and -rings, they were facing the west bank rather than the upstream direction of main current. Fishing the flat smooth main current was already giving me a fit so how could I fish this little tight spot? I could have ignored them and focused on rising trout in main current. However, the attractive nuisance was that those trout by the log looked big!! And I confess that I tend to treat myself sadistically by putting myself into tough fishing situations. I worked on this spot a lot (actually almost every day). When I gave up or ended up spooking trout for the day, I would pivot and cast to the main current and I did catch some trout from main current. I talked about this situation to Buzz at Spring Creek Specialists Fly Shop (www.springcreekspecialists.com). When I took days-off from the creek (yes this is my job!!), Buzz worked on the spot and he told me about his success. Did I make it or even get close? I leave it up to your imagination as you would simulate yourselves "if you were in my spot".

A perfect "Baetis weather" = cold & overcast with occasional snow = helped me coax the "log sipper" into taking my fly!!

Trout is The Authority:

The last but not the least, this could perhaps be the conclusive statement of the whole discussion. I had learned duns' appearances, trout's selectivity on ascending nymphs, and effective fly patterns. However, in one particular afternoon, trout paid no attention to my dry-fly duns and ascending nymphs. I tied on an emerger pattern, which Buzz introduced to me, for a change and I started to get some actions. As always catching one is the true enjoyment but pumping stomach for investigation is my true curiosity. During that afternoon, trout were exclusively feeding on emergers………….

Yamamoto's Improved Pheasant Puff (PP2)

  • Hook: Straight-eye #22 & 24
  • Thread: Veevus 16/0 Gray or olive
  • Tail: Snowshoe rabbit feet – dark olive
  • Abdomen: Goose biot – gray olive
  • Wing : Dark dun CDC or natural gray pheasant feather
  • Thorax: Superfine dub – olive or Adams gray

Original Pheasant Puff is an improved tie of the old RS-II.

This "PP2" is constructed with a distinctive goose-biot abdomen plus a unique shuck like effect of snowshoe rabbit feet. Using dark wing in spite of poor visibility, as it's intended to imitate dark wing buds of Baetis. So it's suggested to trail under a visible dun pattern (such as CDC Sparkle Dun).

Nice rainbow caught in the "emerger" afternoon!

OK. I had been forgetting emergers up until this point, I had never thought about the term "trout selectivity" would imply this much! It was just like human habits. People would go to their usual fast-food catering (for trout, its Annie's Run) but order different menus on different days or depending on their moods (for trout, it can be duns, emergers, nymphs, or "combo" of two or three). When we are fly-fishing, it's trout that make the final judgment on our fly patterns and presentations. We are the ones that must adjust ourselves for what and when trout are feeding on. Once we swallow this concept, our noticeability and observation are our means to decipher and understand what the trout are doing. The more I fish Livingston's spring creeks, the more I learn and re-learn all of these. That's why spring creek is the classroom of fly-fishing.

Satoshi Yamamoto, http://leftyangler.blogspot.com, brought his passion for fly-fishing and fly-tying and became the first ever Japanese guide in Livingston, MT. He loves to float Mighty Yellowstone River and wander around Yellowstone Park waters. Perhaps he's only one guide in the area who can translate the complicated mood of spring creeks and trout there in a couple of different languages. Satoshi is an accomplished fly-tyer as well. His innovative patterns, that cover many trout waters, can be seen at http://leftytyer.blogspot.com


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