Cover Coverage

  • By: Greg Thomas


Cover Coverage

René Harrop…on partridge spinners and the Callibaetis stillwater game.

Interview by Greg Thomas


René, the cover fly on our Autumn 2010 issue of course is your Callibaetis Spinner. How did this great pattern come about and was the (Railroad) Ranch section of the Henry’s Fork where you tested its worth?

Greg, most of our patterns originated with the Henry’s Fork as the proving grounds, but because Callibaetis are most often found on stillwaters we fished the partridge spinner quite often on Hebgen Lake and Island Park Reservoir, too.

The partridge spinner is an older pattern and the pattern on the cover is actually a modification of an earlier pattern when we used a dubbed body instead of the biot body.

What is it that you like best about the partridge spinner?

Reflecting on that fly, I think it should be pointed out how fine a job those gray shoulder feathers from a Hungarian partridge do in reflecting the actual wing of a Callibaetis spinner. It’s a great feeling when you tie a new fly and, thinking back many years ago now, I remember how pleased I was that the Hungarian partridge feathers could be incorporated in that pattern. We’ve used that partridge for so many years it solidifies the usefulness of that material in imitating Callibaetis spinners.

What are the keys to tying partridge spinner?

When tying Callibaetis spinners, the materials take care of a lot of the issues. We like a nice, gradual taper to the body and using a biot achieves that, plus it produces segmentation. I would emphasize the careful selection of individual Hungarian partridge feathers. Make sure to match the size of the feathers and the curvature of the stem. They need to cooperate. If one curves one way and one curves the other, you won’t have a nice, balanced wing profile and you won’t get the attractive result you want.

Do you have any feelings about the Callibaetis hatch in general?

When you pick the Callibaetis as a subject, it’s intriguing, especially when you are talking about Callibaetis on stillwaters where it most frequently occurs. It could be mentioned that the spinner is only one stage of the Callibaetis life-cycle and the partridge spinner is just one way of approaching the spinner stage? In fact, thee are many ways to represent the spinner and we have a paraspinner that’s really visible and more popular than the partridge spinner.

Regarding stillwaters, I’ve noticed over the years that a lot of stillwater anglers like to fish streams, too, but there seems to be a set of stream fishermen who denounce stillwaters and wouldn’t throw a line on a lake or reservoir if someone paid them to do so. Have you noticed that and, if so, do you think some anglers are really missing out on a great fishing opportunity that is as equally challenging as what we find on moving water?

This subject is close to me, Greg. And you can look at Henry’s Lake as an example. The size and number of trout, and the catches you can have on that lake, if you apply yourself, are amazing. And it requires a totally different skill set than is demanded by moving water. There’s the casting challenge with random rising and trying to predict where a fish is going to come up again. There’s the challenge of maintaining composure as those gulping fish change direction and then executing a cast the way you need to.…

It’s a great challenge and I would say that it’s a bigger challenge for me than fishing on the Henry’s Fork. I guess that’s why a lot of moving-water fishermen are intimidated by it and I’ve seen good river fishermen come apart, completely come apart, when they find themselves in the midst of that business.

Greg Thomas is Fly Rod & Reel’s managing editor. René Harrop lives in Last Chance, Idaho.