This fly first started out as a #14 rusty spinner and I tied it for the Madison River. At Lyon Bridge, the mornings can be filled with spinning mayflies dancing in the air above the boat ramp. It is always a wonderful sight to see, that’s for sure. For me, fishing dry flies with anglers in my boat is something I try to do every single day. For years, I knotted on a #12 Rusty Parachute and that fly has caught more than it’s fair share of trout. I always liked the comparadun style of flies, but they don’t float all that well on rivers like the Madison. Adding a palmered hackle to the comparadun wing just seemed like a good idea. I am sure that I did not come up with this idea, but I can’t remember ever seeing the combination of it before. If you look at traditional Catskill patterns, like the Adams, a hackle wing has been used for an eternity. Most comparadun wings use CDC, deer hair or elk hair; I like to use window’s web and eliminate the stacking of hair. Thorax winged flies have also been around for years, but I never really liked the partridge clump or turkey flat; the widow’s web is much easier to see and tie with. Fast forward to 2017 and I tied this fly in a #10 for the Green Drakes on the Henry’s Fork. JoJo’s Green Drake works really well as a mayfly dun and a spinner. Green Drake mayflies sit high on the water, and my pattern simulates this quite well. We now have the following versions of this fly in the shop: Green Drake, Drake Mackerel (for the NE Corner of YNP), PMD, Rusty Spinner, Blue Winged Olive, Callibaetis (for Hebgen lake), and a Grey Drake Spinner for the massive spinner falls on the Henry’s Fork in late June and early July.
Back in 2004 I came up with this flying ant pattern while sitting at the vice in my house outside West Yellowstone. Back then, I lived on Denny Creek and my tying bench overlooked a meadow filled of three foot tall sage and high priced breeder bulls, and the southern end Gallatin Range in Yellowstone was the backdrop. The vista alone was inspiring, and at times I found myself not tying flies at all, but staring out the picture window loosing myself to ideas I can’t remember. Back then, I tied most of the flies in my boxes; tying in the morning before guide trips or in the evening to alter a fly from the day’s testing. This fly came out of those days living on Denny Creek.
Years ago, Gary La Fontaine tied the original buzzball on the Missouri River. Some say this fly looks like dead and decaying matter often seen floating in back eddies and that Gary tied the fly for midges shucks while hanging out at the Trout Shop in Craig. The hackle points touch the water in numerous places, making this fly buggy as all get out. I can’t really remember exactly when I came up with my version of the buzzball, but it was on the Missouri river in July during a caddis, probably around 2006 or so. My boat was on anchor in between the Trestles and we had fish eating caddis about 20 feet away. They wanted the buzzball but it was hard to see, the night before I had tied in a compara dun wing along with a trailing shuck so we tested the variation. It drifted through the pod and fish moved out of their lane to eat our buggy bug. A few springs later, our buddy Jake Chutz at Montana Fly Company coined the name “Comparabuzz” after the two of us spent a few days fishing midges on the Missouri. I tie this fly in several color combinations and have fished it all over North and South America with the great success. Our friend and fellow guide in Esquel, Martin Weaver, called me before my trip to Argentina cancelled (I am supposed to be down south right this very minute) to make sure I had tossed in a few dozen of these for him; this is one of his go to flies on Rio Tecka.
Originator: Joe Moore, BSA Co-owner
Hook: MFC Model 7000, TMC 100 or equivalent, #14, 16, or 18
Thread: Unit Thread 8/0 Black
Tail: Sparkle Emerger Yarn, Brown
Wing: Deer Hair or Widows Web, Light Tan
Hackle: Brown and Grizzly
Color combos – these all work well for midges, caddis and mayflies. Smaller stone flies as well.
We are doing a late winter, pre season sale on fly boxes here in the shop. If you’re looking for a smoking deal on a fantastic fly box, look no further. This is a buy one, get one free deal on select fly boxes only available online! Click here to view the boxes. There are some other great deals on fly boxes as well, so click around and check it. The Predator box from Tacky is available with free shipping, only available online!
The air was chilly and steam pushed out of my nose when I poked my head out of the sleeping bag. The last memory from the evening before was watching the fly tying scene in Dan Bailey’s fly shop from Rancho Deluxe on the canvas wall of our tent. Technology can be be a bitch, but projecting cult classics on the side of a wall tent forty miles from the pavement while chukar hunting is something to behold. Reaching down, I found my glasses lodged in my boots under the cot. They instantly fogged, the heat from the depths of my mummy bag had escaped. Our wood stove perished a few hours ago but the down filled bags kept us warm and the chilly air is not what woke me. I had to pee.
Slipping into my Crocs I walked outside for a few moments and took care of business. The sun was doing its best to peak down the canyon, but the walls were having none of it. After letting Stella out of her insulated kennel, we made our way back inside and she quickly crawled upon my cot and buried herself. Holden was deep in his bag, not to be seen and Willard, his three year old shorthair was balled up in blankets and semi dirty hunting garb beneath the his cot. Grabbing the axe I shaved off a few pieces of kindling and found a fist-full of dried out sage to start the fire. Peering into a rectangular metal box full of ash and burnt lodge pole I was reminded of just how important it was to unplug. The box was filled, lit and and as the fire began to crack I fanned the flames losing myself in the glow, warmth, crackle and flicker.
The day before, we were hiking in steep hill country full of stone buttresses, two mile vistas of creek bottoms dotted with juniper trees and stair stepping grasslands mixed with rocky reefs and pointing bird dogs. I had followed Stella out of sage brush flats and towards the rim. On more than one occasion, I watched a chukar, the masked bandits that they are, run the rocks and slip off the steep canyon walls at the rim top only to land 800 yards below me, flying like little fighter jets. An old friend once joked that chukar was an Afghanistan word for “rock runner”. Stella knew they were running circles around us hiding in the cliffs and rocky reefs. She pinned several birds and I was able to knock a few down, never shooting off the steep cliff walls. Years before, I had shot a flushing chukar and sent Huckleberry off the rim, down a rocky chute to the cheat grass some fifteen feet below me. Ten minutes later he appeared with a bird in tow, unscathed. I could have easy sent Huck to his death and vowed to never shoot another a bird off the rim. Chukar County is rough and desolate, wild as Claude Dallas and the Game Wardens who chased him down with sunsets that seem to last forever. This country is regarded as some of the most remote land in the lower forty-eight. We take extra precautions when traveling here; shovels, extra gas, tools, a mini floor jack, tow ropes, plenty of coffee, booze and cigarettes just in case things get dire. When it rains out here, you might spend an extra week, waiting for things dry out making the roads passable once again.
Stella had now made her way off the cot and was curled next to me basking in the warmth of the wood stove. Coffee and a smoke were in order; as luck would have it, we had a small kitchen a few feet to away. The stove heated our water and I pressed out some jet black fuel, mixed it with cream and honey and found my place next to Stella and the wood fired heater. The cast iron skillet, half full with bacon wrapped chukar balls filled with jalapeno peppers made its way back to the heat. Soon enough our little spot in the world smelled of coffee and pork fat, everything was right. Holden stirred and rolled his feet to the canvas floor. I handed him his coffee as he lit two smokes, handing one over. A rare cigarette for me, but coffee and a Camel is still hard to pass up in this setting. A few nights before we had erected a twelve by twelve wall tent equipped with a wood stove, pop-up kitchen with a three burner gas stove top, two cots and a bedside table deep in a place that will forever remain unnamed. We were in Chukar Camp, living out of Wally, as it was appropriately know by.
An hour and half later our boots were laced up and the light fog from the night before had lifted. We loaded the Germans in the Chevy and headed down the gravel road making our way towards to the top of the canyon. Sturgill played, one song after another, as we drank our coffee and bounced along without a word spoken. Sage brush and rolling hills of grass lie before us along with a walk through public land in one of the most pristine settings you could only imagine. Millions of years ago, this volcanic land had been shaped by heat and water, some 2000 miles below, Yellowstone’s hot spot had made its mark. We slung on our packs, grabbed our weapons and took off walking with two happy dogs to chase the red legged little devils. These are the days afield I look forward to the most. There’s no connectivity to the outside world, no light pollution in the sky from a near by city, just endless miles all around, unplugging to the beat of chukar camp one step at a time.
Editors note: We find ourselves not only fishing, but hunting, skiing, hiking and exploring the natural world. From time to time, we will write about our other exploits, we hope you enjoy it all. Many of you have met our bird dogs in the shop and often ask about them. They are not just tools of the trade, rather they are part of family and make us whole.