One of the first salmonfly hatches we will see, is just about 10 days away…..maybe a bit later depending on the temperatures of the Henry’s Fork. Life in the high country is behind every where else once again this spring. Yesterday there was about 2.5 feet of visibility from Warm River to Ashton, today is probably a different story. Pteronarys Californica stirs up the dryfly angler from within. As a tyer, I love tying these big flies. The Chubby Lady Big Bug is just a variation on the Chubby Lady . Adapting a pattern to fit another species, was simple – change the color of the thread, hackle,rubber legs, and foam and add an egg sack. I have never fished this fly, but they’ll eat it, no doubt.
Big trout, 20 plus inchers, will move in to feeding positions that they normally might not sit in, just to eat salmonflies. This kind of oppportuntiy is overwhelming for fly anglers. Once the hatch begins, there are spots that I check regularly which have produced big fish over the years. Slipping into these holes late in the day is much anticipated, even after rowing all day long. Most of the local fishermen have their favorite patterns and won’t fish anything else. Jacklins’s Gaint Salmon Fly is by far one of the deadliest true local patterns and I never go to the river without them. The Razorback is another solid pattern – casts well, floats all day. In my opinoin, fishing these big bugs single, is the only way. If you have traveled somewher to fish this hatch and your MO is catching trout on salmonflies, well then, fish it alone. Over the years I have dropped off an X-Caddis or a nymph of some kind while experimenting. Towards the end of the hatch, I will use the Big Bug for an indicator fly and then tie off a #16 Royal Wulff about 2 feet below, when fishing off the bank and in the trench. Once the hatch is in full swing, I prefer to fish a single fly. Especially from the boat. Single flies drifted on a fast river will yield better results. Picking up the big fly and putting it back in at the bank – with precision and accuracy- is just easier with one fly. Poking those flies into tight spots is a must on certain stretches of the Madison. With 2X Maxima on the end, one will rarely lose a fly when gettting “lose your fly” close to that willow lined bank where large browns live. I have witnessed a trout taking a natural that was resting on the upstream side of a willow branch. That same fish ate my fly about a minute later and was 22 inches, a brown.