Skills

The Quest For Cree

  • By: Thomas Whiting
Cree   

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The cree cape is a vibrant tweed, splashed with tints of red, white and black. Finding the origin of the term “cree” is nearly as difficult as finding a quality cree. Apparently, the truncated word was, at times, applied to creel. Creel (or crele), a label given to a rare Old English game fowl, is a bicolor hackle with white and red bars. Today we call the creel color a ginger grizzly. Evidently, through time the cree became a tricolor, a creel with black bars. Cree is a coloration, rather than a breed of bird. A simple description has worked in fly-tying: A cree is a tricolored hackle, with red and black on a white ground.

Sensational Swimflies

  • By: Stanton Klein
Den Fmt    

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As a fly guy, one thing has always stood out to me—what freshwater fly fishers consider to be a large fly in comparison to gear guys who are setting big-fish records by throwing eight- to 12-inch swimbaits. It’s common knowledge that predatory fishes, given the opportunity, eat the biggest thing they can get their maws around. Why, I wondered, don’t more fly fishers take advantage of the big-fly/big-fish equation?

Feeding Slack on Fast Water

  • By: David Hughes
  • Photography by: David Hughes
Dsc Fmt 

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We all know that downstream presentations and feeding slack are necessary when fishing dry flies over snotty trout, those fish poking their noses out to sip small mayflies, caddis or midges on the smooth flats of such heavily-pestered waters as the Missouri in Montana, the Hiwassee in Tennessee, the Delaware in New York or Pennsylvania, and on and on, almost everywhere. If you fish such situations with upstream casts you show your line and leader to trout before they ever have a chance to examine your fly. You know what they do then. That’s why you take your position at an angle upstream from them, and make your casts downstream to them, laying excess slack line on the water and feeding it into the drift as needed to keep the fly floating freely, ahead of the spooky line and leader.

Turkey Flat Quills

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Olive Quill Dun Fmt    

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If i have a signature fly it would be constructed with a quill body, mainly because that material best represents the bodies of adult aquatic insects—a shiny, waxy appearance that dubbed-body flies can’t recreate. In addition, when wound around a hook the quill presents the segmentation of a natural. Not only that, quill-body flies float like little corks because the inside of the quill is filled with a pith-like substance. For those reasons, a quill-body fly is my choice when fishing dries on all types of water.

I have written often about using stripped and dyed Chinese rooster neck hackle to tie these flies. But now I have discovered a much better material called white turkey flats. Chinese rooster hackle limits us to tying small flies, say from size 22 through size 18. And that’s fine if that’s all you fish. However, stripped and dyed white turkey flats allow us to tie quill-body flies as large as size 14 and 12 with just one quill. You will still be able to tie the tiny flies with the quill tip and use the remainder of the quill for the larger flies. The stripping and dying process is the same as with Chinese rooster neck hackles.

Wet Fly Ways

  • By: David Hughes
  • Photography by: David Hughes
  • and Greg Thomas
Davy Wotton   

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I wrote a book titled wet flies, and generally consider myself competent to fish them. Recently, however, I fished with Davy Wotton on the White River, near Cotter, Arkansas, and received a set of lessons that gave the effectiveness of wets a quantum leap for me. I was invited to present a workshop for the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, in Mountain Home, and did two smart things: accepted the invitation; and instantly booked a day to fish with Wotton.

I’d met him, discussed writing with him, studied his videos, but had never fished with him, and had not got around to incorporating his concepts whole into my own fishing. When I finally got that chance, I was astounded at the breadth and depth of his knowledge about fly-fishing. I also hung well behind him on the river, so that no contrasts could be drawn between his artistry and my ineptitude when we got fly rods in our hands.

Translucent Saltwater Streamer

  • By: A. K. Best
Translucent Saltwater Streamer

I preach that less is more when it comes to tying saltwater streamers. My theory on this comes from doing a lot of snorkeling in Caribbean waters. One year my wife and I were snorkeling in a small bay on St. Thomas Island, looking for the beautiful colored fish that live near that area’s lava rocks. Alas, there were none there. Instead, there were thousands of three- to four-inch baitfish huddled near the rocks. We turned our view toward the center of the bay and saw literally hundreds of tarpon waiting for their meal. The tarpon obviously drove the nearly invisible baitfish to perceived safety near the rocks. The first thing we noticed about the baitfish were their eyes, then a very thin, dark dorsal stripe and a nearly translucent body that only flashed when they turned away from us. So I’ve been tying my striped bass and tarpon flies to match what we saw.

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.