I’m crazy about CDC, and it’s kind of a weird material to be enamored with since it comes from a duck’s ass and all. But I love it for lots of applications, most importantly, realistic wings that hold a dry fly right in the film where fish are most likely to take a swipe at it. This pattern from “The Feather Bender” is a great traditional-style green drake from across the pond that will surely take fish on the rivers of western Montana. Lots of green drake patterns these days are flashy and loud, and I get the sentiment of the tyer: A big mayfly is the prefect chance to show off a little. But the reality is these bugs are often in the ugly slow water, where silt-bottoms allow their nymphs to get chunky and hatch. The bugs aren’t so much flashy as they are bland. But fish love them, and I have a feeling some of these would do nicely in your box this season. It’s a chance to use some of that lovely CDC you’ve got, and your custom dubbing blend you know you want to bust out.
Who doesn’t love woolly buggers? If you consider all the variations of this fly, it has to account for more fish caught than any other. It works on all species, and is such a simple tie that beginners can get started catching fish on their own flies fast. The classic olive, black, and traditional colors all work well. But my favorite for swinging and stripping is white, and none better than a krystal bugger. I like white streamers because you can see them in the water, and then see the fish chase them. Lovely. A big white fly will move a lot of fish, but I’ve found the smaller krystal bugger will catch a lot of fish big and small. Why will trout eat a smaller white fly? Well, it catches the eye, for one, fish bellies are white, and dead minnows are white too. Lots of theories, but you’ll have to interview a trout to get the real reason. But in order to talk to a trout, you’re going to want to tie some of these up for the box.
Tying season is well upon us these days, with the most recent blast of arctic air creating enough ice to throw the fishing off for a bit until it settles in. That floating near-ice stuff is the worst, and it always guarantees the air temp is well below your guides freezing up point. So, inside with the vise we go. While a lot of my stonefly nymph selection these days is covered by the old rubberlegs, I still like to get fancy on a few stonefly nymphs and in the right situation the slimmer, more detailed flies are going to get it done. This offering from Weston Thier over at Montana Troutfitters in Bozeman is a lot of fun. A great variation on a golden stone to try while the rivers freeze up.
CDC is best known for it’s dry fly applications, where it works great at keeping tiny flies afloat. But CDC collars add a whole lotta movement to nymphs, and King’s CDC Soft Hackle is just the kind of pattern that uses it wisely. Sparse dollar, simple ribbing, and you’ll find fish in lots of waters. This is a great winter fly pattern, fished down deep with a wooly bugger or a san juan worm, or just under the surface like a midge. It’s a great fly to tie up for winter and fish a variety of ways. Get some small hooks out and put a few in your box and you’ll find fish when your fingers are freezing. Tie the collar sparse, or tie it in thick and let the fish chew it off. It will work either way.
I love when a fly pattern keeps it simple and simply works. If you’re a fan of Sanyo’s laser dub (or wooly sparkle dub) and want to work it into more of your patterns without the pattern itself having to be a big bulky thing, give this smaller sculpin a try. It will improve your skills with wool, and you’ll end up with some great little streamers that are perfect for those times when you just want something easy casting and fishy as all get out. Great pattern by fly tier Michael Jensen that works in our sculpin-rich Montana rivers.
While the Blackfoot might be empty right now with cold flows and lots of rain, it could be one of those risky bets that pay off big if you hit it right. But no matter if you’re headed there today or just pulling out the vise for the beginning of the long tying season, a caddis dropper is always a good bet in your rig up there and all over western Montana. The Bird of Prey caddis is a great one, combining my favorite material, peacock herl, with buggy soft hackle and a heavy bead to get that rig down deep. I love this bug during the October caddis lead-up, and use it in smaller sizes and varying colors during the season quite often. It’s definitely worth having a few in your box, and as always a tight lines tutorial will have you spinning them up in no time.
When it comes to October Caddis, you can do it quick and easy and spin up some big orange stimulators or elk hair caddis, or you can go another route. And here is that route. Loon Outdoors has been putting out some very unique fly tutorials that feature lots of modern materials, advanced techniques and unique takes on fly tying. Good stuff, and this one looks like a fly that would kill in the waters of western Montana throughout the fall. I love patterns that utilize materials with UV properties, and a caddis pattern that you can skitter is always going to elicit powerful bites. If you’ve got the itch to get tech at the vise, this is a great pattern to get your skills on point. Give it a shot and check out the rest of the Loon Outdoors tying videos for more inspiration on using their unique tying products.