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.

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.

(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.

N.Q. (Not Quite) Spinner

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Not Quite Spinner

It was a phase of mayfly hatch I hadn’t seen before nor heard of. That evening, I sat at my vise and tied some N. Q. Spinners and went back to the stream the next day. If you think I got lucky, you’re exactly right. The new fly was a killer.

Tiny Dubbed BWOs

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Tiny Dubbed BWOs

I prefer to use stripped-and-dyed rooster-neck hackle quills for all my mayfly imitations. Since the advent of Asian bird flu, however, strung Chinese rooster-neck hackle has not been easy to find. And our own domestic quill-body capes, although very good, are not always…

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?”

Early Brown Stone

  • By: A. K. Best
brownstone.jpg

This time of year, we often have remnant snow along the streambank, which makes you wonder if it’s really worth going trout fishing on what will probably be a rather dreary spring day. But the shack-nasties have been an affliction for days and you feel you must stand in frigid water and deal with ice in your guides…or spend the afternoon in a bar. I’ve done both. And dealing with ice in your guides is easier than feeling the residual pain after a few hours in your favorite pub.

Sand Flats Shrimp

  • By: A. K. Best
Bonefish.jpg

I received my 2010 Umpqua Feather Merchants flies and materials catalog a few days ago and went right to the listing of flies to see what’s new. In scanning the “Saltwater” section, I counted nearly 100 bonefish flies. Not many of them resembled the little shrimp I saw when I snorkeled the Bahama’s flats some years ago. Nearly all of these flies contained enough material from which to make two or three patterns and there was way too much flash in both the body and “wing.” In fact, some of the old favorite, sparsely tied flies were missing from the collection.

10-Minute Ties

  • By: A. K. Best
Green Drake Large.jpg

A. K. shares the goods on tying a killer green drake pattern.