12 Days of Christmas – Day Six – Summer Dry Fly Selection

12 Days of Christmas – Day Six – Summer Dry Fly Selection


West Yellowstone is one of those unique places in the world which offers dry fly fishing for nearly seven months of the year. Most of us in the shop prefer to fish dries whenever possible in our daily lives as anglers to our fishing programs as guides. From the Henry’s Fork to the Madison, to the Northeast Corner to the Firehole River, we do our best to fish it dry. The flies in this package represent some of the fishiest patterns in the shop; it’s a smattering of caddis and mayflies and includes four of Joe Moore’s original fly patterns.

The contents of the package is below.

1 x BSA Small Heavy Duty Waterproof Fly Box – FREE!

2 x JoJo’s Comparabuzz Tan Sz. 16

2 x JoJo’s PMD Sz. 16

2 x Royal Wulff Cripple Sz. 16

2 x JoJo’s Riffle Riser PMD Cripple Sz. 16

2 x Cornfed Caddis Sz. 14

2 x Missing Link Caddis PMD Sz. 16 & 14

2 x Swisher’s Peacock PMX Sz. 12

2 x JoJo’s Rusty Spinner Sz. 16

2 x Missing Link Caddis Original Black Sz. 14

2 x CDC Para Spinner Rusty Sz. 16

Midge Clusters

The Griffith’s Gnat has been the most productive midge cluster ever invented.  I use it in sizes #12-20 on rivers throughout the West.  George Griffith tied this simple pattern, it’s durable and productive which are characteristics of all quality fly patterns.  Peacock and grizzly hackle….simple shit….thanks George for inventing this fly.

So, last Spring, before a trip to the Big Horn with several buddies, I sat down at the bench to tie these up.  After cranking out a half dozen, I looked at the fly and a thought occurred to me –  why not add a wing, for visibility?  Lots of folks have done this in the past using CDC or tying this fly with a post and hackle, but I never really thought it looked quite right.  Since I had just finished up tying a couple dozen BWO Comparaduns, the idea of using a comparadun wing (for you died in the woollies – a haystack wing) sounded cool.  So, I tried it and also added a sparkle tail as well…why not….right?  I also clipped the fly, top and bottom, to give it a cleaner look – much like the buzzball.  On over cast days, I use a black comparadun wing as this shows up nicely in silver water.

We fished this pattern on the Big Horn with a ton of success, but since the trout were taking damn near everything we floated to them, the test was not really a test.  The entire season went by and finally a chance to test out this pattern arrived while guiding on the Missouri River in late October.   Tim (pictured above) had never thrown a dry fly.  He wanted to up his game and was tired of chasing the bobber from ramp to ramp.  We launched at Wolf Creek bridge and floated down a short ways.  I dropped the hook and started in on the instruction – measuring distance, reach cast, slack line, feeding line and of course the concept of first drift/best drift as the best course of action for him to take.  Tim, being the scientist that he is, caught on fast.  Rising trout on the Missouri can be some of the most picky sonsabitches anywhere, especially by late Fall.  We set up fishing to our first pod of the day, above the Railroad Trussles, and had seven or eight nice fish taking midges and spent BWOs.   With just one fly and some 5x, Tim went to work and managed to catch his first trout on dry fly in about two minutes.  His first fish moved a foot and half off it’s line to eat the fly.  He hooked and jumped a few more, then we moved on.  Well done Tim.  We spent the rest of day fishing streamers in between pods of trout.  The only fly we used for the pods, was my new twist on George Griffith’s Gnat.   Just after Christmas, I sent this pattern, and several others to Montana Fly Company for submission.  With any luck, they will add this my collection of patterns at MFC.

My twist on the Griffith’s Gnat – the Gnat King Cripple…..this was named after several beers while floating the Big Horn.

The days of Felt “Souls” are doomed…..


Simms no longer makes these……a good thing in the long run.

Slip-sliding away………………

Felt, for most of us around the Madison and Yellowstone, is essential to safe wading and not busting your butt in the river. The upper 9 miles of the Missouri is pretty easy to wade without felt, but try getting out of the boat in the Canyon and you may get baptised by the trout gods. The new sticky rubber soles have yet to impress me.  Now if you put studs in those boots they will preform better.  I hate studs in my driftboat……..but I would hate it even more if there were no more hatches, no more trout and gone would be the days of casting big fluffy dry flies from the bow of my boat.

Felt it is now unsafe for the trout and insects which inhabit our streams in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming…….and every other trout stream in the WORLD.  Aquatic Nusiance Species (ANS) such as Didymo (an algae), aka rock snot, is by far the worst of these ANS.


Dydimo in NZ.

check out: http://www.stopans.org/ for more information.

Alaska has now banned felt, as of 2012, statewide.  There is a section in the SE portion of AK that is banning felt as of Jan 2011.  Get used to it.  New Zealand has already banned felt.  Is it coming to Montana?  I would bet my bird dog on it.

The traveling angler, who visits many streams in different parts of the world is the main problem, so they say. These ANS cling to felt and almost never die, even after mulitple scrubbings. Bleach won’t kill it.  The only thing that will is a prolong exposure to cold……I can see it now…….the ice chest infront of Headhunters Fly Shop will be full of felt boots each night…..and they call me a hippy?

Some guides and anglers in Montana have decided to buy multiple felt soled boots and only use one pair for each river.  What’s in the river already is not the probelm.  But, new ANS which haven’t been in our rivers to date, is the problem.

What will you decide? Well, do you want to continue to fish for trout?