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.
This selection was born on a rainy day in New Zealand when back-to-back cyclones over the north island kept us indoors for a day. Jonathan and Sean sat down and decided to put their minds to building the “NZ Essentials” box to properly equip the Kiwi-bound angler with what they’ll need to have a sporting chance on both the north and south islands. If you’re headed to New Zealand with this selection in hand, rest assured that you’ll arrive with a tidy selection of flies that are tried and true, tested over many years on wary kiwi trout. This comprehensive selection comes neatly organized in a waterproof box, especially with New Zealand angling in mind, to cover those deep wading situations, and the occasional rainy day.
The selection is composed of the following Dries:
Woomfah – Olive
Woomfah – Black
Five x Five
And the following Nymphs:
Flashback Pheasant Tail UV
Big T Caddis
Prince of UV
These flies are all tied to handle large trout, to last, and to be effective in NZ waters. All flies are tied on stout Tiemco hooks and are available in sizes that can be difficult to find in the US for the large kiwi mayfly imitations, up to size 10. They are tied in the right colors for these waters and have all been tested thoroughly for several years. Simply put, they work on kiwi trout. Most NZ guides we have fished with and come to know have a strong selection of Category 3 flies in their boxes. And, to be honest, this selection is a sneaky one to have in your pocket across the Rockies here in the US when looking for something a “little different” to show the fish.
The Dry Flies
In Big Sky Country, we have salmonflies. The glory hatch that produces days that anglers never forget. It is the hatch that everyone wants to experience at least once in their lives. In New Zealand, that hatch is the cicada hatch. The forests literally scream with the deafening buzz of cicadas in the heart of the summer, and the trout are on the lookout for these plump morsels that fall from the trees and grasses into the rivers. We have cicadas in the US, but not typically to the extent that they are found Down Under. Category 3’s Woomfah in black and olive is a must have for any visiting angler and makes an excellent cicada imitation, it’s easy to see, casts well, always lands upright, and the kiwi trout love to gobble it up.
Another common fly in kiwi country is the blowfly. This is a bug that’s unique to NZ and imitations are also hard to come by in the US. The blowfly looks like a large common housefly that has a striking iridescent blue body. This is another bug that is useful as a searching pattern when the trout aren’t looking for something so large as a cicada. A good blowfly imitation is a must when visiting NZ, and Category 3’s Blowfly is an exemplary one.
The Five x Five and the Moondance are two patterns that work well for both caddis and moths, both insects that are frequently found on New Zealand’s trout streams. The Tricky Situation is an excellent mayfly imitation tied in the parachute style with a dark body and a hook that won’t bend out on a large trout. This one belongs in any angler’s fly box.
In relatively low density bug situations both in NZ and the US, trout rely heavily on terrestrials, not the least of which are ants. The Trailer Trash is a great, low riding ant that uses a red abdomen to serve as a trigger. This is a great play for a selective trout that is holding under swirling foam lines and being fussy. It’s best to fish this behind a larger dry for visibility, as this fly sits flush in smooth currents and will often get pulled under, just like a natural ant, when drifted through swirling eddies.
Category 3 nymphs are all tied with tungsten beads, ensuring the quickest delivery to the right depth possible for the chosen pattern, whether fished with a dry as a dropper, in tandem with another nymph, or Jedi style, alone on a naked leader. Remember, nearly all the nymphing done in NZ is also sight fishing! The nymphs are tied on stout, curved shank hooks, the kind that simply do not bend out on heavy trout. These nymphs are tied with a chunky profile that makes large trout look at them, and are suggestive enough of New Zealand’s mayflies and Caddis flies to help convince hungry trout to move out of their way to eat them. Kiwi guides favor a dark bead over a shiny one in most cases, but I have yet to meet one that doesn’t have a place for a bit of bling from time to time. Cat 3’s nymph selection reflects this.
General mayfly profiles are covered with the Hoover, one of the most used nymphs in the lineup. The All Black, named for not only its dark profile but also the national Rugby team, is another solid mayfly choice. Also present in the mayfly selection are the Flashback Pheasant Tail UV for low light days and the Pole Position for days when the color red is a necessity to trigger strikes.
Caddis larvae are covered by the Cheeky Fella and the Big T Caddis with the best trigger colors covered. The Prince of UV covers the caddis pupa profile, and serves as a good fly with which to run long drifts with through those large pools with swirling currents, where perfect dead drift presentations are difficult to achieve.
Finally, no nymph selection would be complete without some stonefly nymphs present. The 101 is a slender-bodied imitation that is built to sink and move trout that might not move for something smaller. I have experienced on more than a few occasions going through the lineup to no avail on a trout that is sparsely feeding only to have him turn and swim 3 feet out of his way to chomp a presented 101. It is also a good fly to use when throwing a long drift into a highly likely spot when you can’t quite see your target but are almost certain a trout is holding in the lie. This is a fly you can believe in and occupies a permanent spot in this box. It is included in two sizes.
A winter brown trout…..caught just a few hours ago on a stonefly.
I bought my new fishing license and headed out of West Yellowstone. It was cloudy, warm, a little snowy and not too windy. I wadered up at the house and drove around the lake. Slipping into the Madison downstream of Hebgen Lake, there were midges rolling across the river. My rod was rigged, having left it the last time I fished dry flies at $3 Bridge. While watching for a head, I re-tied my knots, applied some floatant and cracked a beer. I drank the entire thing waiting for a nose to peak out. Should’ve brought another one.
After fishing blind for a half hour, I switched out to a stonefly, shop vac and a bobber. Wandering upstream I found a couple nice browns hanging near the bank. That was all I wanted. I was done. Great Day.