Fly Tying

Cold-Weather Trout

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Oregon's Deschutes

The standard advice for trout fishing in nippy winter weather is TO rig with a sinking line and a big streamer (to coax idle fish into action), or with a pair of weighted nymphs (to roll along the bottom and right into open mouths). Both formulas have their appropriate places, when temperatures fall and also when water levels rise. But rigging takes second seat, in winter, to something far more important: Reading water to find the trout. If you cast those sunk streamers and tumbling nymphs in water that holds few fish, or just as often no fish at all, you’ll have system failure, even if you do everything else precisely right.

(Another) Brown Stone Nymph

  • By: A. K. Best
Brown Stone Nymph

One of my favorite go-to nymph patterns is a Brown Stonefly Nymph. I usually turn to it when there is no hatch and I can’t find success with a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear or the tried-and-true PT Nymph. This Brown Stonefly Nymph and others like it are killer patterns in large streams with rapid current creases and rolling water. Drop it anywhere you think a trout might lurk, as near to bottom as you can, and you’re liable to hook a nice trout. By nice, I mean something above 14 inches. Brown trout, especially, seem to relish this mouthful of protein, but rainbows and cutthroats take it, too.

Bass Royal Wulff

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Bass Royal Wulff

My son-in-law called a few years ago, wanting to go bass fishing. I told him about a few bass ponds near Boulder, Colorado and we decided to meet that afternoon. Imagine two identical boxes: one full of bass bugs, the other with big dry flies I use in Labrador. Neither box was labeled. I grabbed the Labrador box by mistake. Imagine my surprise after I strung up my rod and opened the box. Nothing but size 2 Royal Wulffs and some huge caddis imitations. The big Royal Wulffs worked so well on two- to three-pound bass that I had to give some to my son-in-law. A lucky mistake.

Fishing Soft-Hackles

  • By: Dave Hughes
  • Photography by: Dave Hughes
Sylvester Nemes on the Yellowstone River

I first met sylvester nemes through his 1975 book, The Soft-Hackled Fly. It was a small book, tightly focused on its single subject: wet flies tied with bodies of silk thread, sparse hackles, rarely anything extra. Sylvester’s prose reflected his subject perfectly. It was spare, compact and didn’t stray from its subject. Which is to say, the book was beautifully written. Best to me: It was—and is, because it’s still in print under the title The Soft-Hackled Fly and Tiny Soft Hackles—one of those rare books that enthused me to immediately sit down at the vise, tie a bunch of the flies described, and rush from there to a stream to fish them.

The flies, and the methods described, worked. Sometimes they worked wonders. One of my favorite days with them came on a gloomy fall float of Utah’s Green River, downstream from Flaming Gorge Dam. Few trout rose all day. My friends and I tried pestering them to attention with weighted nymphs tumbled along the bottom, which turned out to be ineffective—and because it produced few trout, was also very little fun.

Sylvester Nemes 1922-2011

  • By: David Hughes
Sylvester Nemes

Sylvester Nemes passed away at home, in Bozeman, Montana on February 3, 2011. Best known for his classic 1975 book The Soft-Hackled Fly, he also wrote seven other fly-fishing titles.

He was born on April 2, 1922 in Erie, Pennsylvania. He grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and fished Pennsylvania trout streams. His fly-tying mentor was his barber. When he spotted several simple partridge-hackled dressings in bamboo rod-maker Paul Young’s fly shop, he was forever hooked.

Dick Talleur 1932-2011

  • By: David Klausmeyer
  • Photography by: Tim Savard
Dick Talleur

There are a lot of good fly tiers in the world, but there are very few great ones.

A good tier makes flies that catch fish, but a great tier is an ambassador for the craft. He is a patient teacher and is eager to help novices learn how to tie flies. He willingly shares hard-earned knowledge and expertise with more advanced tiers so they can learn the finer points and create better patterns. A good tier develops new flies that are named for him; a great tier shows a beginner how to make a simple Hare’s Ear Nymph in one sitting so he can enjoy the thrill of catching a fish with a fly that he made.

Travel Fly-Tying Vises

  • By: Buzz Bryson
  • Photography by: Aaron Goodis
Travel Vises

There are two primary considerations for any fly-tying vise: It must hold the hook snugly, and it must allow you to tie a fly easily, i.e., the vise can’t get in the way. The only practical reason to buy a travel vise is that it is smaller—lighter and more compact—than your primary vise, while maintaining an acceptable level of function. It’s that simple.

The Magic of the Adams

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
The Magic of the Adams

Why an article about the Adams? Because I recently rediscovered the Adams as a lifesaver during what could otherwise have been a very frustrating day.

A few weeks ago, my friends Mike Clark and John Gierach invited me to fish some trout ponds not far from Boulder, Colorado that had been stocked with some rainbow/steelhead hybrids several years ago. We’ve fished these ponds several times over the past few years and knew the trout were large, very strong, extremely fast and would eagerly rise to midges. It was mid-April, so we assumed that midges would be the order of the day. I packed fly boxes loaded with midge adult, emerger and larva patterns in all the colors that had been successful in the past.

The Feathered Wizardry of Dr. Tom

  • By: Darrel Martin
  • Photography by: Darrel Martin
Dr. Tom Whiting

Tom Whiting was born and spent much of his childhood in Denver, Colorado. The Whiting clan admits that Dr. Tom must be some strange agrarian throwback. From youth he was fascinated by fowls, and their variety. When Tom was about 10 years old, a lucky break: His family moved to the suburbs, where he raised a few chickens, peddled eggs in the neighborhood and worked on a game-bird farm. Although he spent hours dreaming up breeding programs, there were no plans to become a feather merchant; when it was time to go to college he delved into music, political science and literature at Colorado State University. One day his older brother asked him what he really wanted to do. Tom replied that he often thought about quail. Avian science was the answer. After getting a bachelor’s degree in avian science at Colorado State and completing genetics internships with two poultry producers, he knew he wanted more.

Brown Stone Nymph

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Brown Stone Nymph Fly

When there is no hatch coming off the water, none is predicted, there hasn’t been one in days and I have the chance to do a little fishing, my favorite go-to fly is the Brown Stone Nymph. I always look for a stretch of water that is boulder-strewn with fast-running water between the rocks. It’s usually the place where some big brown trout are hanging out near the bottom just waiting for a fat, juicy mouthful. The thought process here is: “They have to eat, don’t they?”