Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Fool's Fly?? Part 2: Streamers Gone Wild

Here's another design I was working on for the past two months, hoping they might work in Livingston. But then again, there's always story behind. It's simply fun for me to play with materials at my bench.

Last April these beast whacked my streamers.

Here's the crushed Double Bunny with the barbell eye. Now it's hung in my wall as a memory.

Another streamer that worked well was Sculpzilla in white and black.

Also, I have heard that, in Yellowstone River, historically 30-inch & 10-lb browns have been caught on live bait and minnows by bait-fishermen. They even use minnows up to 12-inch.

Hmmmmmm................what fly-fishermen can do? What kind of streamers are available? Plus the success of Double Bunny and Sculpzilla that are some of the biggest silhouette in the market now........

I came up with a 6-inch long combo of Double Bunny and Sculpzilla!! As always I tested in a salad bowl in my kitchen. It does swim well. But who wants to cast this kind of ugly-biggie? Now it's hung in my wall. But then again who knows? I might pack this in my box.

This humongous streamer idea simply drives fly-ties go crazy along with great fun and experiments. During the winter, I received lots of catalogues from fly-shops. While browsing, some synthetic materials and bait-fish patterns for saltwater caught my eyes and that started to tick my idea and thought about large streamer patters. Synthetic materials, especially fibers, are cheap and come with consistent quality. For tying streamers, they create large feature very easily and quickly. My choice was EP fiber.

I came up with a design that can be tied in all lengths and all kinds of colors in one's mind. And that seem to work for what I will be up to in Livingston. Here are two of those.
7-inch long!!
Same tie but much smaller for another occasion in my mind.

I just don't go to details for now as I want keep them as entertainment, experiments, and April Fool's joke. I'll find more soon.
I have just started packing stuffs to boxes, bags, and into my truck.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April Fool's Fly?? - Part 1: Real Sculpin??

My Livingston trip is coming in a week. I have shaped up my body (for strong wading) and fishing (casting and my own flies) at Yakima River as I have posted for past 8 weeks. Now I have just started packing things and some shopping for trip foods (sandwich stuffs and cans of tuna and sardines just to name a few........).

Followings are my recent designs that I am more than half serious about and will use during the trip myself. But also there are always stories behind each fly ever developed. I have one. I thought it's interesting to post as humor and art. Though I'm serious and emphasize my idea, I can say "April Fool!!" if I don't catch any trout!

Last week, my last outing to Yakima River, I picked up a big-fat-dead body of sculpin at the shallow area. It was almost 5-inch long. It looked slightly injured. It could have been attacked by bigger fish. I didn't take a picture or two due to the respect of the dead. Well, I did take pics for dead salmon the other day. What a hypocrite I am..... That dead salmon was respectable and admirable even dead. Anyways, the dead sculpin really looked like this.

I see why the classic Muddler Minnow or Kelly Galloup's Zoo Cougar are always best as sculpin imitation. Here's my tie.

Almost all no tail, just a skinny tapered body, and then broad head and long pectoral fins. Also, eyes are top of their head rather than sides. I was wondering for a few days to see if I can imitate. I came up something that might be too realistic. Yet fun and easy to tie and potentially practical because I weighed the fly so the hook point goes upward for less snagging while fishing the bottom.

And the white belly.

And here's the side view. I accomplished to keep the silhouette very flat.

I have a little positive feeling that this design of mine might work at certain spots that I'll be fishing. More than a joke level. I'll find more.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Yakima - Last Day for Spring

Yesterday was the last day to complete my "once-a-week" outing plan to Yakima River. First of all, I am glad that I've gone through and am feeling achievement regardless of fishing results. I was visiting on my days-off from work. There were days that I wanted to sleep in but I didn't. I observed some changes at the river. I tried to fish different sections of the river and changed my tactics every week. For past two months everything in my life was planned and done, centering my fishing plan. That's good!!

Enough introduction, how was yesterday then? Yesterday was the best condition to go outside at this time of the year. Warm sunny day with mild winds. Seven weeks of information and some experience behind me, I guessed water level right! It was even a bit lower than last week. I drove up above town of Ellensburg where I first fished on February 1st (time has passed so quick!!). I wanted to do some wading into middle of the river to fish with streamers at deep troughs. I was actually expecting a cloudy day with no winds or rain, maybe just a little, for a typical streamer day. But I knew that was asking too much!

I went back to the same spot as in Feb-1 post. I again did some nymphing as I went up and back. But didn't have any actions this time. I had a lunch sitting between Yakima River and I-90. I noticed caddis already popped out on my hat. I think it's small spotted tan caddis (Hydropsyche). I could have swung some soft-hackles.

Better shot in the afternoon. I actually saw gulping rises as the sun was fading away. It seemed typical caddis rises I have seen at Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park.

In the afternoon, still warm and bright, I went back to the same spot as last week. With another long walk and wading, I fished with nymphs and same tactics again at the same deep pool. It worked again! This time it was a 15-incher.

Again on a Rubber Leg.

I made last effort along Canyon streatch as I head down to my home. I didn't even catch a pike-minnow on streamers. So this one was the last trout I caught in Yakima for this spring.

Well, I didn't catch anything bigger than 16-inch. Was I satisfied with what I've experienced? Was it worth for my efforts and costs? I am going to summerize below.

About Yakima
  • I have nothing negative to say about the river and fishery.
  • Yakima is such a big piece of water so fish population per mile would be less than those rivers in Montana or mountain streames in Naches.
  • Would be done better by floating since it's running mostly along with Interstate 90 and lots of private property.


  • Wild trout are always good regardless of their sizes.
  • I could have caught bigger and heavier trout in lakes or Rocky Ford here in eastern WA but those are stocked triploids.


  • I didn't use a guide. All I had was info from Worley Bugger and mostly about access points.
  • Individual spots, tactics, and flies were based on my observation and experience.

Objectives accomplished

  • Get out of the boring winter time.
  • Casting for better. And I noticed my casting was improved by Micro Practice Rod.
  • My fly selection and water-reading were good. At least enough not to get "skunked".
  • Shaped up my body for wading.

Misc. experience

  • Ellensburg has some good places to eat for lunch while fishing.
  • As any other popular rivers, avoiding crowds always play some roles. And I think I did well by making lots of observation and driving.

With all said above, I am getting ready for my spring trip to Livingston in less than two weeks. Indeed all of these 8-day outings were committed by that in my mind underneath.

Two things I wanted to but couldn't
  • Test and catch with a big streamer pattern I recently designed.
  • Test the drag performance and line retlieving with my Lamson Guru when big trout were hooked.
I will be checking my gears to pack into my truck and oraganizing my flies and boxes.

Also, I will go back to Yakima in the fall after irrigation is done. I might even fish for smallmouth before the runoff starts right here at the Lower Yakima Valley.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yakima - 7th day

It has been a mix of warm, sunny, and cold here in eastern Washington. Yesterday was one of those. Very sunny but some cold winds. It's not bad all nor unpredictable but a bit confusing at least to me.

One of my objectives, 18-inch or larger trout, has not been accomplished yet. I was into a bit of serious mode. I admit I have been enjoying my lunch exploration other than fishing, which is a fun thing to do in new towns and areas. This time, I bought a sandwiches in the morning and packed it to the river.
Water level was low. Even a few inches lower than last week. Again, I saw lots of midges hatching all day but didn't see actual surface rises at all even at slower portions of the river. Very confusing. My guess is water temperature may not be comfortable enough for trout to be active though it's nice for human beings to go outside. I went back to nymph rigging. I went through most of all patterns I've got. I noticed a tiny nymph was crawling on my wader. I guess it's a baetis nymph.

I went through all the good looking runs and pools of the streatch. I changed flies aggressively. But I didn't get any bites or even snags in the morning. Before I moved to the other section, I tried one of the deepes hole where I couldn't fish effectively early in the morning. I tied on a black x brown Rubber Leg. This is one of my killer flies in Madison River especially for brown. I wasn't sure if rainbow and cutthroat like it but it is one of those "last resort' flies I depend on.

I didn't take a picture of the spot but it was a bit tricky to cast. 14-incher came out!!

I bet she liked it!!

I prospected some more at the same hole with the same setup. My Thingamabobber sank again and I set the hook. It ran and went deep rather than coming up the surface and leaping soon. I actually said "this is bigger!!". But.......... as I stripped the line I felt something strange. Well..... notice where my trailer nymph (#20 Zebra Midge in red) was foul-hooked......

This immediately reminded me of this cartoon from Jack Ohman's funniest book "an incovenient trout" (I actually left a review at Amazon).

Well, it seems I am still far away from bigger trout in Yakima. And I have only one more day left. I will keep the same attitude again. Though burgers and britos are all good but I reassured how sandwiches taste good while sitting in the river.

My another objective is to catch with and prove my new fly that I have just designed. Indeed at the very end of the day, I had one mysterious bite that snapped my humangous fly (yes, it's a streamer). I don't post that stroy and my new flies for now as it doesn't seem a right timing.

I'll do my best and find out more! Bottomline; I'll be enjoying!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yakima - Swinging Soft-Hackles & Falling In (almost!!)

Yesterday ended up a warm and quiet day but there were some signs of weatehr changes again. Well-planned and prepared, I was about to leave my house at 8:00am. But I noticed a slow leak on my GM so I had to run into a tire shop in my town. Yet, not a bad start.

Water level went down and weather had been nice so I was expecting more insect hatches and trout rises than last week. And I could cover waters effectively by fishing down-stream with streamers last week, so I was going to swing soft-hackles to fish among hatches.

Insect hatch was pretty much the same as last few visits but........ this time, I didn't see any single rises at all. This really confused me. Last week why did trout come out to the surface when water was higher and colder than yesterday? Well, yet I saw midges and skwalla would be anywhere so I went with soft-hackles.

This little guy has been effective anywhere for midge situation.

There were some little "knocks" (not taps or tugs) on my line. Probably the smallest trout ever caught on swings. In fact I have several streamer patterns bigger than this!!

Then, an accident, more like an incident, happenned right after this tiny one.
I had been wading on rock bottom, up to middle of my thighs or so. Compared to Madison River, this water flow is much easier to wade. And I have been with Simms boots. I didn't overlook at all but maybe enjoying too much and was careless. The rock I stepped on was slippery and I was leaning backward. I thought "I finally did!!" For that nano-second, I was already half-laughing myself. I squatted some into the water but got back the grip. Then I started to count when the chill would come through my shirts to my skin and think about mess in the wader.......
It didn't come. It seemed I was wet up to my navel level so a bottom third portion of my vest was wet. My camera is water-proof and dryfly floatants were kept in upper pockets. But several fly boxes got some sprashes, not totally wet. I could go on but I wasn't comfortable to keep my boxes and unused flies wet because we all know that would cause rusts on hooks. I decided to walk back to my truck. Fortunately the sun and windshield were making the cab hot and dry. I picked up several gadgets and flies quickly to my jacket (1/3 wet also but not cotton like the vest).

Back to fishing. I still didn't see any surface activities at all. And swinging soft-hackles is always simply euquipped. This is not exactly the one I used (I have lots of flies that I haven't taken pictures) but the same/similar pattern tied in red silk thread.

I caught a bit larger one!

I went to town of Ellensburg and dropped by Worley Bugger. Steve pointed me to another streatch I hadn't tried. It does look good! So I ended up more observing and making strategies for next visits rather than actively fishing.

Came home dry and happily sored, I suddenly felt how lucky I was and thought about "what if that happenned in Madison?"

But also, if I was fishing Madison, there must have been more fish where I spotted and fished......maybe.

I have two more Wednesday left. I have to look for 18-incher or bigger and also test my streamer patterns. Positive thiking! I'll find more!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Soft Hackle Streamer - New Ties

It seems like Milan or Paris Collection for 2010-2011 Fall & Winter, I mean, it's way too early to talk about fall fishing before even spring is coming. But from my great success and fun with soft-hackle streamers in Madison River last fall, I've been looking for more colors and more combinations of colors. I really think this fly's combinations of colors and head materials are only limited by our imagination. Yet actually tying is very simple.

Last fall, black and white were very succesful. So I tied both colors at once as "Integration".

I recently obtained a mrabou bag in sculpin olive. This is really a juicy color. I combined with brown or rootbeer marabou and finished with grizzly head. I think this is a total combo of sculpin colors. Furthermore, this time I tied with a short shank and strong salt-water hook.

Talking about marabou and large streamer silhouette, one of my favorites is Kelly Galloup's "Heifer Groomer".

This fly's articulation method gave me some idea. I have just made a Soft-hackle streamer articulated as a 4-inch long sculpin. Some of you might say too skinny in the middle?? Not at all because whole design is meant to be skinny and fluffy in the water.

These will be used at Madison in the fall for sure but I carry these soft-hackle streamers in sevral colors all the time. I might find out in April in Livingston or even tomorrow in Yakima.

Soft-hackle streamers can be swung and stripped with a floating line and also be effective with jerk-strip retrieves with sinking line

Tomorrow is Yakima-Wednesday!! I have another streamer patterns that I have just developed in various sizes and colors. Along with them and my lunch selection, I'll find out more!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Yakima in March

My winter Yakima project has passed the turning point as the month changed. I'll find out what March will bring. Including yesterday, I can take off every Wednesday. Last one will be reserved for getting ready, packing things, and loading gears for the April trip to Livingston, so I have 3 more visits left. How did I do yesterday?

It was warm and sunny with rare clouds and winds. As I drove up the Canyon, I noticed the water level was high. As I parked and got closer to the river, it was about a foot higher than February. I concerned that the dam release started, which would limit my access and change my plans. But according to Worley Bugger, it was a temporal situation due to rain shower in the area and all the tributaries were sending some amount of waters to Yakima. It was not a dark chocolate run-off water. There are enough visibility left.

Again, I thought insect hatches and surface activities were messed up. Besides that, I wanted to go with streamers right off the bat for some reasons. 1. practice for my April trip, 2. several patterns I wanted to test, 3. with warm temperature yet high water, I thought most trout would set closer to the banks, 4 prospect big fish!, and 5. cover the streatch effectively that I can't do with drag free presentaion of dry flies and nymphs because of features of the banks. I rigged up my 6wt with Kelly Galloup's style.

But.......midges were hatching fine again like last week...... Also this time, I saw actual rises. There might have been some skwala stones around because I saw and heard some big gulping rising sounds. I wanted to have some fun and excites with dry flies, at least I should have tried to "match the hatch", and that's one of my reasons and objectives of this winter project. But the streatch I like to fish is with deep under-cut banks, high in my back with trees and bushes. This is why I finally chose to fish downstream by using all the information and situation around me. Maybe I should have and indeed I wanted to try soft-hackles among hatches (= my speciality and obcession). But I had more reasons to go with streames as above.

I have lots of patterns. One of my favorite is Doug's Home Invader. I learned directly from him.

With his tie in olive-tan, a nice healthy rainbow came out!!

Nice 16-incher. Did you like it? Not the biggest of the river or a proud catch but I was relieved to get out of "skunk" of last week for sure....

By 1:00pm, I could cover the entire streatch, just about a mile with some hard walks, effectively without snagging trees behind me that I can never do with dead-drift dry flies and nymphs.

Yesterday for lunch, I dropped by a grocery store in town for something in deli corner. Maybe sandwiches, I wasn't sure. I saw "baked" chicken which sounded less greasier than "fried" right next to it. It did taste good but it wasn't as less greasy as I expected or as it looked. At least I was proud of myself that I managed the instant cravings for pizza (that every human being has)right there at the counter.

After a quick grab, I drove up to Thorp access point. But water was dangerously high for me to wade in. Higher than 4 weeks ago, my first visit around here!! Oh, boy it seems to me only 4 days ago!! Actual fishing days-wise, indeed it was only 4 days ago. i changed my plan and headed back to the same streatch in the Canyon. I have learned other spots and streatches but due to the water level, the same streatch sounded a safer bet for my own safety and catching-expectation.

I was tying on Home Invader again (my tie in white, smaller than the pic above). I hooked something. Not so big but from its flash and fighting, I thought I finally hooked a whitefish. I have caught whitefish more than enough at Madison River so I don't want to see or touch them. But not seeing them for a while makes me wonder where the heck they were......
Well, it was not a whitie. I couldn't identify. The skin/scale is not as coarse as whitie and its mouth is like trout's without teeth. I have just asked Steve at Worley Bugger for identification. He told me this is the "pike minnow", often called "squaw fish", which is native and a predator.

He also told me there's a bounty program for catching and killing these along Columbia River. Oh yeah, I have read a little article in a magazine too. Pike minnow is hated for munching on juvenile salmon and steelhead. How about bass, sturgeon, walleye, carp, etc in the river system around here?? And these salmonoids feed on their own fries.....whatever.....

OK, sounds like I have to play a bit with water level for next visits. I have found several streatches I like to fish and several fly patterns that work. And I am developing my tactics.

I just want to see one big 18-inch or bigger wild rainbow and/or native westslope before I hit the road to Montana.......