Monday, March 28, 2011

Flies Not for Sale

Here's another Bighorn reminisce. In the slow tail-water like Bighorn, there are plenty of both earth & aquatic worm and we know trout love them. During the camp, one of the attendants showed me this two-tone worm pattern. I might have seen it somewhere online or catalogues of fly-shops but then again I really didn't care to tie myself as we all know San Juan Worm. I examined the fly for 12 seconds and I reproduced it right there. And I heard that this pattern is named "Cheeseburger".............well, yuck............. It was somewhat advanced tie of SJ Worm but I just felt it's evil. I actually saw huge earth worms everywhere along Bighorn and I am a free and versatile fisherman/tyer so I don't debate about ethical/moral issues of worm patterns and fishing with them. But this huge worm is nothing different from actual bait. I caught one 15-incher that was snagged on its pectoral fin and that was enough for me. I'd rather tie and sell this fly to bait & lure guys who would even use scents on it, maybe? I thought about mix of colors (pink, red, regular brown, light brown, dark brown....) but I simply felt it will be ridiculous and waste of my time. Instead I always keep a tiny SJ Worm in my box. Tied in size 20, this is the one I like to use spring creeks and stillwaters. And it should represent a tiny aquatic worm (not the huge earth one mentioned above). I will carry some of these to spring creeks here in Livingston either when guiding or fishing myself. Please just don't misunderstand me. It's one of the options which could be a day saver. Then again, it's not worth to show and price in my sales catalogue as anyone can tie it. I just tied Royal PMX for the first time. I've been hearing about this pattern but I didn't have time to put myself into tying it. As advertised, it is a great attractor pattern that represents stonefly, ant, other terrestrials, mayfly, and whatever you see and imagine. But......... I tied only 4 of them in size 14 and it took me a long time. I have right materials and they turned out OK but not for the commercial tying level........... Sri-Lankan or Pakistan tyers will do a better job and offer you in much cheaper price!!
Talking about "Royal" pattern, I simply recommend this Royal Wullf Cripple, which is posted for sale in my catalogue.

Check up your fly inventory for this coming season first. If there are some needs to fill your boxes, check out my sales blog and give me jingles. I'm your huckleberry.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bighorn - After Thoughts & Detour

I forgot to comment on how I did with Fish Pimp on my last post. I definitely love it!!!! During the course, other guys used Thingamabobber like I used to. Fish Pimp may not be as buoyant as Thingamabobber but it's still visible under the water and lets me know the take. Then again it does not make kinks as Thingamabobber does on my leader. Furthermore, I didn't lose any. I used only one during the week. If you have your own nymph rig with Thingamabobber and don't mind kinks on your leaders, it's OK. But if you are the one that cares kinks and wearing on your leaders and also the one that change rigging according to situation like me (dry-fly, nymph, soft-hackle, and streamer), Fish Pimp is greater than Thingamabobber.

There were nine attendants with different ages, characters, motivations, objectives, and fishing experience. Eric from Portland is a cool dude who lead the entertaining part of the team. I myself tend to be a quiet nature but Eric's machine-gun talk is a likable way. I even laughed while I was trying to sleep. My first impression on him was "is he BORAT?" Indeed he made all of us laugh as Borat does. On the very last evening of our stay, with some encouragement of Canadian whiskey, I finally said to him "I like you, do you like me?" in Borat's way. I'm sure Eric will be an entertaining and successful guide wherever he intends.

I was off duty from giving a ride for other students to Billings airport so I made a detour to Little Bighorn Battlefield. I don't have to explain what this place is about. I'm a great fan of American West history of 19th century. Last time I dropped by here was way back in 2002 on the way back from Colorado State University with an Animal Science meeting. It's really a spiritual place. This time I had more time and a better camera. Here's an outside wall of the visitor center.

There is a little museum inside. This is an Indian Warrior at this time.

And not to mention General George Armstrong Custer.

This was supposed to be Custer's Last Stand.......

Whatsoever, it's a vast country.

Very hard to capture its vastness by a camera.

A small river in the scene is called Little Bighorn River. Again it's a huge and empty country. I'd like to say if we close our eyes, we can imagine how the battle happened..........

There is a cemetery for horses also. Horses are noble creatures for me. In this case, I read about Comanche.

Park rangers told me that they built an Indian remembrance in 2o03. It was another cool memorial of the place.

Beautiful construction against the back of vast continent.

I seldom come this way from now on so it was quite an interesting detour.
This vast country and history soothed my feelings a bit. Now Japan is experiencing a tragedy and a disaster but there will be time when we all can stop and look back the history.
Someday soon Japan will be OK and lots of Japanese anglers will come to fish in Montana.
In that case I'm your huckleberry.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bighorn Fishing Camp

I just got my home in Livingston from Bighorn River. Guide training school run by Sweetwater Travel was really worth for the money in many ways (being a licensed guide is my own issue but I know what to do!).

First of all, our lodge, Cottonwood Camp, is really a cozy place to stay over a week. I have once stayed in a place in Fort Smith and it was so know entire region is so rusty already........ As a resident in Western Montana, I hate the sulfur-smelling & slick water and sticky dirt in eastern MT. But water at Cottonwood was actually pretty good in terms of cooking, brewing coffee, dish-washing, and taking a shower. If you come to fish Bighorn, I strongly suggest to stay at Cottonwood, period.
Second, programs provided us all the groceries and we cooked fine meals. It was a gorgeous version of my own fishing trips. I love to cook fresh meals!! I took a charge of breakfast; tossing some eggs and bacons and brewing coffee.
Third, training session was well-organized all through. There were 9 students and 3 instructors. We changed team members and sections.

There were good interactions between instructors and students and among all of us as days go by.

We were hit by fluffy and puffy hales. That scared us a bit and as we found them tiny snowballs, not an ice-cubes, we started to laugh.

The program included the jet boat training. Well, it was not simply my game as it meant for guiding in Alaska. I did enjoy handling a jet boat as an experience but I just felt like I was going down the hill with a bicycle when I was a 5- or 6-year-old boy. Instructors already knew my intention and objective for attending the school = being a guide in Southwest Montana = so the instructor of the day was easy on this subject and and he told me to get off the jet and fish some by myself while he trained other two students. It was quite a relief for me as I was afraid of accidents such as flipping over the boat or grounding it!! Anyway while I was alone fishing, I caught a little one and to express my joy and relief, I self-timered myself!!

Indeed I caught some more while by myself.

We played roles as a guide and a client under an instructor. We talked a lot about pointing spots, observing hatches, selecting flies, reading waters, rowing a drift boat and all other stuffs but after all catching some nice trout verified our discussions and I made it happen by catching Bighorn trophies. This is one of the finest rainbow among us.

And brown. Both were 18-inch-class and they gave some excitement and chaos to the oarsman of the day along with my description how big they were!! I really enjoyed to play a role of an accomplished fisherman!!

We packed sandwiches for lunch on the river. On the very last day, we grilled salmon at the bank of Bighorn. It was terrific but I did worry cow-poop on the ground!! (just kidding)
The last shot before the departure. I'm the skinny dude on the left side with an orange hat and bandanna.

My biggest objective was nothing but how to improve my rowing skills. I explained my situations to instructors and they gave me best times. I'm sure I can offer great drifts in Madison and Yellowstone Rivers for both American and Japanese anglers, whether it will be dry-fly, nymph, or streamer fishing. Also through the course, Bighorn will be my guiding river as well.

Over all, it was an all-packed experience as I shared camping and fishing with people in different ages and fly-fishing experiences.

I'd really like to see a couple of students and instructors along the river in Montana!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

To Bighorn

Very sad and unbelievable news from Japan......
Massisve earthquake hit one of major cities in northern Japan. 300 people got killed. Quake spread entire northern half of main island including my hometown. My family and hometown are usually disaster free but I get in touch with them before I hit the road tomorrow.

Tomorrow, 12th, I will be off to Bighorn over a week. It's a guide training school hosted by Sweetwater Travel Company. I'm not worried about catching fish but am highly motivated to kick off a brandnew season as a guide (hopefully!)

Especially in Bighorn at this time of the year, we might see some dry-fly actions with midges but we most likely using scuds. I've already got my own killer pattern, Royal Ray Charles.

My personal little objective is the new indicator. In that sense, fishing with scud will be a good time to experiment. I've been using Thingamabobber for the last couple of years and it's been working really well. But only one problem I face is that my leader gets kinked due to how it's applied on. See the photo below. To make a contrast, I took a pic with white bobber and black thread. It may not a big deal if one owns a "nymph only rig" or one being a strict "nympher". Yet even that kind of angler has to check the level of kink and wear of the leader. And would end up changing a butt section and whole leader/tippet more than often.

For this coming season, I decided to experiment with Fish Pimp Indicator. It's made by foam but it feels much stronger than any predecessors. Combination of foam and rubber tube makes this indicator easy and fast to attach like Thingamabobber. Furthermore, with this Fish Pimp, one can choose a temporal/quick indicator rig or a permanent nymph rig to fish all day all in one quick decision and movement. I bought large ones and small ones. Large ones are obviously used for extreme nymph fishing, say, in Madison. Small ones will be useful when I have to nymph-fish with my little 4-wt and would serve as a micro indicator when casting tiny dry-flies in a distance and sight-nymphing.

As a soon-to-be professional guide, I will do my best so I can talk about any gears other than just catching fish.
I just heard there's wireless internet (tower, signal, whatever I don't know!!) available in a rusty town of Fort Smith!!?? I'll bring my laptop. But no Verizon coverage........that's funny......
Probably I'll be a bit too tired to do on-the-road posts every evening but I would try.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Coq de Leon - Hen Cape & Wings

I have just purchased another beautiful soft-hackle material. I visited a fly shop in Bozeman for some supplies. I found what I needed then this product caught my eyes. It's a WHITING Coq de Leon hen cape (& wings). The moment I examined it out of the bag, my fly-tying imagination and knowledge intertwined. Then I asked myself "where is the money?", "do you really need it?" as parents persuade their kids crying for wanting things at any stores. Well, my soft-hackle addiction won. I had to get it. I was right as there are too many uses to mention from this pelt. I'd like to say this is somewhere between Hungarian partridge and grouse skins and also considering the availability of small feathers, it can be substituted for starling feathers. Another reason I decided to buy was because once I took it out of the bag, I couldn't put it back as it had been....... just kidding.

Color is what's called "mottled" = mix of black, brown, gray, white. I was actually looking for a badger cape for Doug's Home Invader in natural color. But this CdL turned out to be more interesting to make a mottled effects of sculpin.

Then I researched more uses online. I was glad to see that there's always some tyers who see and think as I do. I copied this lovely cross-dresser. Tail is tied with large wing feathers in Matuka style and the rest is tied with longer hackles in a wet-fly style.

Here's its conehead version. Tied in smaller size, it reminds me of a small Slum Buster, which is one of my always go-to & secret flies at Paradise valley spring creeks. I'm sure I'll use it whenever I get there next time.

Now, here are soft-hackle or wet-fly ideas tied with CdL. First I used a wing feather for Mr. Nick's Soft Hackle - Caddis. It came out simply a darker version.

I felt I had to develop my own design. Mottled color and soft-hackle were needed to be together. I mixed up a combination of attractor nymph (beadhead), soft-hackle, and match-the-hatch. Tied in 14 or 16, I came out with a variation of PMD nymph.
But right after I made a drawing for this design, I saw an exactly the same (or maybe just close) pattern from Orvis catalogue. So I can't claim it as original.............. Anyway it's good enough.

So I then tied without a beadhead. And it came out more lovely than the beadhead version at least for me!! This must imitate PMD nymph, emerger, and anything somewhere between in any water level and will be fished as a dry-fly, soft-hackle to swing, and nymph in some depth. And I believe this can be better, at least as good as, than PMD Foam Nymph.

All of these flies will be soon in my fly sales catalogue. I'm thinking of their names for now.