• Visit: Moldy Chum
  • Visit: The Horse's Mouth
  • Visit: Chi Wulff
  • Visit: Parks' Fly Shop
  • Sunday, April 30, 2006


    Bigger Aint Always Better
    some float, some don't

    -- Using little flies can save the day in Yellowstone fly fishing. Right now is the time to get the little ones sorted and packed for opening day.
    -- On these occasionally rainy days, when the 'honey-do's' are done, and the outside is just a bit wet to fiddle with; it's rewarding to tie up a bunch of flies and think about where to fish them on Yellowstone's opening day.

    -- Little flies are sizes 18-24, and either float or sink. I have a box of "little floaters," and one of "little sinkers." These are the little floaters. Some have wings, some don't; some have long hackle, some don't; some are black and others are colored.
    -- This is the 'go-to' box when it's hard to tell what the little bugs are that the trouts are eating. The streams on the west side of Yellowstone Park can produce many different flies at any given time. Fly fishing is considerably easier when you have these and the sun changes, or the rain starts, or a gentle riffle gives way to a shallow, warm pool. Of course, - there are hatches to fish to, - but there are always stray bugs too. All of these are standard patterns - tied small. Yellowstone rivers are boisterous and occasionally capricious. All are tied on very fine dry fly hooks; even the 'nymphs.' They are soaked in liquid flotant and when dry, (after a day or two,) use that frog stuff on them - they'll float. Preparation is a good thing.

    -- These little guys are the "little sinkers." Many of them are the same patterns as the others, they are tied on strong or extra strong nymph hooks. When there is no surface activity, and you have tried the standard subsurface offerings, these may work.
    -- Tradition, on the west side of Yellowstone park, mandates light in the light, and dark in the dark. The corollary is fuzzy in fast and smooth in slow. Tradition also suggests that there are always caddis available; so shades of green and O.D. predominate. Manyof these have a wire body over-wrapped with yarn or dubbing. Soak them the night before you go fishing. Dunk the whole box in a tub of water. It will keep the flies wet during your trip to the battleground. Most of the residents of Ennis and West Yellowstone fish these little flies in transition areas; around rocks, snags, and backwater eddy's. Seldom is weight used, and seldom do they fail to catch a fish.
    -- One of the little sinkers that has found a local following on the Firehole River is the Prince nymph, (in all its variations and sizes.) A couple of changes that local fly fishers incorporate are: light thread for the head, extra long biots for the wings, and both mallard and wood duck for the hackle, (tied sparse.) It's hard to find forged heavy nymph hooks in sizes below 18, so use metalic tinsel instead of the mylar.
    -- Remember to have a dozen of these to fish in the rocks and snags of the Firehole River below Midway Geyser Basin. The Goose Lake meadow stretch also has places to get hung up.

    Look here for additional information:

  • Madison River Outfitters

  • Bud Lily's

  • Blue Ribbon Flies

  • Arrick's Fly Shop

  • Bob Jacklin's Fly Shop

  • Eagle's Store

  • The Grouch

  • George's Shop
  • Friday, April 28, 2006


    Catch & Keep Non-Natives,
    Barbless Rules Inacted.

    <-- NPS Map

    The new areas are:
    ". . aimed at enhancing the involvement of the angling community in the park’s effort to conserve native species by reducing competition, predation, and hybridization by non-natives introduced to park waters decades ago,” said Dr. Todd Koel, the park’s lead fisheries biologist.

    Regulations are available here:

    The whole press release is posted here:

    We've included it here too:
    Yellowstone National Park News Release
    CONTACT: Nash or Vallie
    (307) 344-2010 or 344-2012
    April 19 , 2006

    Yellowstone National Park Changes Fishing RegulationsTo Enhance Protection Of Native Species
    Anglers need to be aware of new fishing regulations that take effect this year in Yellowstone National Park.
    The new, easier to understand regulations are designed to enhance protection of native species while protecting the park’s world-class angling opportunities. Anglers expressed broad support for the changes when proposed during a lengthy public comment period last year.
    For the first time, anglers will be required to use barbless hooks when fishing in Yellowstone waters. This change is designed to reduce injury to all fish species.
    There will be just two different fish management areas to simplify size and possession limits of native and non-native fish.
    In the Native Trout Conservation Area, anglers must catch and release all native species, but can keep up to five non-native fish of any size per day. All lake trout in Yellowstone Lake must be killed. There is no possession limit on lake trout caught in Heart Lake.
    In the Wild Trout Enhancement Area, anglers will again be required to catch and release all native species. Within this area, brown and rainbow trout are also fully protected by catch and release regulations. Anglers may keep up to 5 brook or lake trout per day in this area. There are some exceptions to these rules in Lewis and Shoshone Lakes and associated streams above the Lewis River and Lewis Falls areas.
    “These changes are aimed at enhancing the involvement of the angling community in the park’s effort to conserve native species by reducing competition, predation, and hybridization by non-natives introduced to park waters decades ago,” said Dr. Todd Koel, the park’s lead fisheries biologist. “We’re asking anglers to assist us in our conservation efforts by harvesting non-native fishes from streams and lakes where they coexist with our native cutthroat trout and Arctic grayling. In these waters there is no question that the introduced, non-native species are continuing to do serious harm.”
    This year the season opens on Saturday, May 27, and runs through Sunday, November 5. Fishing permits are available at all ranger stations, visitor centers, and Yellowstone General Stores. Permits for those 16 and older are $15 for 3 days, $20 for 7 days, and $35 for an annual permit. Younger anglers must fish with an adult who holds a valid permit or obtain a free fishing permit. The fees generated from fishing permits stay in the park and go toward fisheries protection and management.
    Try this for relaxation:

    Thursday, April 27, 2006


    Fly Fishing At High Discharge Rates,
    Warming Proceeds.
    -- The Firehole River in Yellowstone Park is still responding to the nocturnal/diurnal swings in temperature and is running about 100 cfs above the 76-year average. Fly fishing should be excellent come opening day.

    -- The Madison River at West Yellowstone is running at or above the 76-year average and mirrors the Firehole River discharge at about 200 cfs higher - probably due to the input of the Gibbon River at National Park Meadows. The river segment in Yellowstone Park may be a bit colored by opening of fly fishing.

    -- The Hebgan Reservoir is at full pool, and the discharge rate is high for this time of. The dam keeper has increased flows to about 1,000 cfs, and intends to do so to keep the pool from overflow. By the time the Madison River reaches Cameron, Montana it is flowing at about 1,150 cfs. This is a good 200 - 300 cfs above the 76-year average. Fly fishing in the early float season along this portion should be interesting. There are a couple of places where you will need to duck - if you can get under the bridge at all.

    -- The USGS charts below are from the links in the sidebar. They are constantly updated on a near-real-time basis. If it doesn't warm up too quickly Fly fishing the opening day in Yellowstone should be better than average. If the warm-up is combined with significant rain, the rivers on the west side of Yellowstone could present problems for the Fly Fishing visitors.

    Firehole River

    Madison River

    W. Yellowstone

    Madison River


    -- Check the weather forecast (sidear & below,) and keep the big nymphs handy. Bright may just be the order of the day.


    Fishing Should Be Excellent

    baby geyser at biscuit basin
    Firehole River,
    Biscuit Basin,
    150' below foot bridge,
    Clear and High,
    New Geyser,
    Don't walk there.

    -- Biscuit Basin --The river is not at all cloudy. PMD's were seen in Biscuit Basin at 12:30 PM, April 26, 2006. Caddis were seen at 5:00 PM, April 27, 2006, (in a drizzle.) If the weather stays cool, (see weather forecast,) this will be an excellent place to start your Yellowstone season.

    -- The lower basin is drying out, and the river is clear. No bugs were observed, but the elk look healthy. By 1:30 PM the temperature was climbing to the mid 40's, without a cloud in the sky.
    -- The lower big bends, and the long riffle just above the 'Iron Bridge' will probably require some gentle walking in soft wet meadows, but so far the river looks like it will make the trek worth it.
    -- The sections around Midway Geyser Basin are surrounded by a bit wetter meadows, but caddis were seen late on Nez Perce creek. Pocket basin is very active this year - as is Fountain Ridge. Take your camera for more than just the fish.
    -- The gate is still closed on the 'Freight Road' but the water is clear and warming near the picnic area. Matty's grave had some flowers on it - thank you! The bison are all over the meadows on both sides of the road, and there is some green in the grasses. No bugs were seen in this segment.
    -- In the narrow sections of the canyon above the falls there were bugs in the air at 'Dipper Cliff,' and 'Elk Island.' We are going to watch these sections closely for the next two weeks to get a handle on the bright- and gray-day timings. We'll have a post just before opening on all the 'regular' spots, and a couple of hot spots as well.
    -- As good as it looks now, we're in for some warming and some rain.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    A Yellowstone Moment

    Fun For Fisherfolks
    New Geyser On Firehole

    <--stock photo

    Proud Papa

    See it steam

    -- Unless you just want to catch fish, it might be worth visiting Biscuit Basin on opening day, (less than a month to go.) A new geyser is erupting just 160 feet north of the footbridge in the basin, (downstream.) This is just one more reason to fish Yellowstone National Park.
    -- The baby geyser is less than a week old and had some trouble being born. There are several new vents in the area that were probably the false starts for the birth. The new vent is about 4 feet long and is just 12 feet from the river.
    -- This is right in the walking lane for fisherfolks. Take the time to pause and enjoy this new feature. Discharge, from this west bank geyser is flowing into the Firehole River, and that means that the footpath will have to be modified in this heavy traffic zone. There is no name for the infant yet. Naming will take place once the National Park Service decides that this little fellow is going to survive.

    Sunday, April 23, 2006


    Get Your Yellowstone Flies In Order Now For Opening Day

    The Woolly Worm: simple and effective when you aren't sure what's about to hatch. Take these in different colors for opening day in Yellowstone Park. Green, black or brown are popular, - we use a yellow one and do just fine.

    This is an old fly with an heritage that is richer than it's current popularity would suggest. You can buy the conventional ones from "THE ENGLISH FLY FISHING SHOP" Their on-line catalog is extensive, informative, and reasonable. The quote below is an example of their thoroughness.

    -- "Dressing a fly by winding the hackle the length of the body is mentioned in fly fishing books of the fifteenth century. It is called the palmer style of dressing. About the time Napoleon was fighting the British in France and Spain, palmer flies were being praised in books as the first fly to be used until a hatch was observed. The palmered hackle helps suggest to the trout that the fly is alive by its movement."

    -- "As the British Woolly Worm palmered fly dressing style crossed the Atlantic ocean and prospered in North American rivers its popularity back home nose dived. In the 1930's the West Yellowstone fly fisher Don Martinez started to use it for trout where where previously it had been a bass fly. In his book he suggested that it was used as an attractor lure fished deep and twitched to suggest movement and life. Since then many different variations have been tied. They have been fished as nymphs, streamers and wet flies. Fishermen have used them to imitate damsel fly nymphs, leeches, scuds, stoneflies, caterpillars and cased caddis nymphs."

    Marcella's Trout Fly: a regional favorite, older than most of it's fans. Start tying these now & don't get caught short when the big bugs arrive.

    Courtesy of Marcella Oswald.

    It's not too early to start tying flies for later in the season. One that has been forgotten on the national scene is still very much alive in Eastern Idaho, and South-Western Montana is "MARCELLA'S TROUT FLY." It is a precursor of the sofa pillow and other similar flies. It was originated by Marcella Oswald a good many years ago, (back then it was a favorite on the Trude Ranch.) We started fishing it in the 60's and it was well established then. We really enjoy using these indigenous favorites, and encourage others to do the same. Both of these flies are palmered, and very easy to tie. They are effective, productive, and use common materials. If they are no longer in fashion, it's not their fault. These two flies have been so successful and have been around for such a long time that there are many variations in the ingredients. The ones we use are listed below.

    Recipe for "Woolly Worm:"

    Tail: short orange acrylic yarn fibers, Body: yellow chenille, Hackle: grizzly hen - palmered from tal to head, Head: black thread. Hooks: sizes 2 - 12 standard heavy nymph, 6 - 10 2xl nymph. No special technique for fishing this attractor. Some folks grease it real heavy an let it bounce through riffles at a rapid pace with no weight.

    Recipe for "Marcella's Trout Fly:"

    Tail: fine deer or elk hair, Body: bright orange floss, (or wool,) Hackle: furnace cock palmered on body, furnace hen or cock at head, Wing: Moose is preferred, elk is O.K., Head black thread. Hooks: sizes 2 - 10 dry fly, 2-10 3xl dry fly. This and the sofa pillow variants, and the improved varieties can be fished just about any way that you like during the hatch. Just before and after the main swarm make sure to fish them in slow water near vegetation.

    West Yellowstone, Montana Forecast

    Saturday, April 22, 2006


    These Bugs Are Awesome
    Good for Pattern Development

    Pteronarcys dorsata
    Stonefly Nymph

    Not our

    Courtesy of
    Jason Neuswanger

    -- The best part of this time of year is the anticipation of fishing Yellowstone Park - less than a month to go. A friend suggested that we review a couple of sites as we awaited the new Yellowstone Park fishing season. An easy and rewarding task.

    Jason Neuswanger
    Ephemera simulans
    Mayfly Nymph
    -- The need to find good photography for fly pattern development is always on our mind. The discovery of excellent photography is a joy. The "TROUT NUT, "site ( http://www.troutnut.com/ ) is the best. You will find permanent links in the side bar, and at the bottom of the page. Unlike print publications that are dependent on budgets for 4-color prints, this site is loaded with great color photography. The photos are of bugs that trout eat - some familiar - some not!
    -- These are real specimen's taken in a small stream near the fish lab at Cornell University, (Ithaca , New York -SO?) Many of the species will be familiar to western fishermen, others will be new. With the current and accelerating trend in 'realistic' fly tying this is just the ticket. The photography is excellent, the information current, and the enthusiasm evident. Jason Neuswanger is a genuine trout nut.

    Courtesy of
    Jason Neuswanger


    Baetisca laurentina
    Male Dun

    -- This is a commercial site that is refreshingly subject centered. The advertisements seem almost secondary - how novel! There is a wealth of information here, but it is the photography and diversity that stand out. The site is a bit difficult to navigate, but it can be done with the 'previous' arrow on your browser. Open pages in a new window for archival purposes. There is a promised "new" site in the works and we hope it is easier to navigate.
    -- If you're interested in the world that the trout lives in, its food, and neighbors visit this site. If you just fish - too bad.

    -- The other site is a delightful, though tedious, place. It is for those of us that truly have become interested in the bugs as well as the fish. It is a taxonomic site for identifying mature flies. Go to: http://www.flyfishingentomology.com/index.html to find the best entomology site for fishermen. This site includes a handy 'adult mayfly identification' matrix with easy to use boxes to fill in. If you are stream side with a mayfly in hand and a computer in your waders, just fill in the blanks and you will know what you have caught. And, what the trout are eating. Try it out to see if your identification matches the answers. It better, or there is some more Latin that you'll have to learn.

    Friday, April 21, 2006


    GET 'EM

    Barbless Is In

    -- The lengthy comment period has finally come to an end & the decision is final; all Yellowstone National Park waters must be fished with barbless hooks. Fly fishing, gear fishing, and children's bait fishing, require barbless hooks.
    -- If nothing else this will bring an awareness to the fishing visitor about the status and condition of of Yellowstone Park's native fish. The regulations are supposed to enhance preservation and restoration efforts for many of the park's embattled species and waters.
    -- The current rules fail to mention the fishing coyotes from the thorofare or the fishing bears within Yellowstone. We assume that they will be exempted from the rules.
    -- Watch this space for complete details in the next day or two. Yellowstone National Park has provided a press release, and updated their web site. This is an appropriate time because Yellowstone opens today -- I think I'll go.
    -- SEE BELOW:


    Thursday, April 20, 2006


    Here's This Year's News Release:

    Yellowstone National Park News Release
    CONTACT: Nash or Vallie
    (307) 344-2010 or 344-2012
    April 18 , 2006

    Yellowstone Readies for Spring Visitors
    Spring in Yellowstone National Park is an excellent time to explore and enjoy the park's abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery.
    Roads into the park begin opening to automobiles on April 21, 2006. Weather permitting, starting Friday you’ll be able to enter from Gardiner or West Yellowstone, Montana, and drive to Norris, Madison, Canyon and Old Faithful.
    Two weeks later, on May 5, the road from Canyon to Lake and the East Entrance road over Sylvan Pass are expected to open. Due to construction, the East Entrance road will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with half hour delays.
    Access from Lake and Old Faithful to West Thumb, Grant Village and the South Entrance, and from Tower Junction to Tower Fall should open on Friday, May 12.
    The road over Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Highway outside the park's Northeast Entrance are scheduled to open on Friday, May 26, in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
    The road from the North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to the Northeast Entrance at Cooke City, Montana, is open all year to automobiles, weather permitting.
    There are limited facilities and services available in the park this time of year. Yellowstone's weather is unpredictable. Visitors need to be prepared for snow and ice and temporary road closures. The latest information on road conditions in the park is available 24-hours a day by calling (307) 344-2117.
    -www.nps.gov/yell –

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Before Yellowstone Opens

    some combinations just won't quit

    Looks Strange,
    Fishes Well.

    As Spring creeps into the high country we continue to fish the rivers and streams that are near to Yellowstone National Park. It's sometimes hard to tell when Winter ends and Spring begins. Probably if there are less days with snow than rain, it's Spring. It was Spring last week, and Winter this week.

    This is the fly that we are currently fishing, (along with some others,) and it is doing as good a job as it did all Winter. It's called the "Yellowstone Winter Grub," and is reminiscent of steelhead flies used around Salmon, & Chalis, Idaho in the early season. Later they will switch to leeches and buggers, we will switch to the "Yellowstone Duster," (about next week - depending on water color & flow.)

    Both Messrs Barnes & Brooks fished this fly, but seldom mentioned it. It has been in the fly boxes of locals for at least 30 years, and gets less attention than it deserves. It is heavy, needs no split shot, has internal action, and catches fish.

    Recipe for "Yellowstone Winter Grub:"
    Tail: fine magenta & brown deer hair, Butt: just a bit of yellow ostrich herl, Body: dark purple floss, Ribbing: heavy copper wire, Body Hackle: grizzly hen, or mallard, or wood duck, Beard: a few fibers of body hackle, or one wrap of body hackle - pulled down, Wing: light brown turkey tail tip, (not white!,) or chestnut turkey quill, Head: black. There are several variations for the wings, - tied low, tied medium high, (shown,) or even tied very low, (below the body on each side,) like some of the salmon flies of the old world. All work well. Hook Sizes: 2 - 10, heavy nymph, or salmon style. Fish the fly in classic steelhead fashion; controlled casts, loose swing for 1/2 the drift then tighten up and let the fly swing all the way to the bank. Most takes are at the very end of the swing. However, this time of year the action of the fly may induce early takes as well.

    Monday, April 17, 2006


    Eat Your Breakfast In The Dark:
    Get There For The Spinner Float.

    * Use good hackle for the tail,
    * Tie it Fat & Fuzzy,
    * Rough up the wings,
    * Rough up the hackle,

    * Float it low in the film,
    * Catch Fish.
    "The Yellowstone Morning Glory"

    Much has been made of the "spinner fall" over the years, but not much has been said about the 'spinner float.' It's that magic hour or, usually two, at the crack of dawn when the cripples, early hatchers, and late hatchers are all on the water at the same time.

    Most hatches are multi day events. Some, given appropriate weather, can last a week or two. Sometimes it seems that caddis hatch perpetually. What ever the case, early spring in Yellowstone Park, and earlier in the lowlands surrounding the park, provide an opportunity for early fishing at its finest & most productive.

    The trout is usually a gentleman in it's activity periods. But when there are groceries to be had he is an opportunist of the first water. The fish sees many different things, and in the early morning it is dimples and refractions that trigger strikes. This fly creates them both in abundance on foggy mornings early in the season in and around Yellowstone Park.

    This fly is easily 10 years old, but is found only in a few fly fishing boxes. People in West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Livingston, Gallatin Gateway, and Ennis usually have many for the early season. These are folks that are willing to get up and share the early morning with large fish gently sipping protein from the film.

    The recipe for the:
    Yellowstone Morning Glory:
    _ Tail: stiff bright white hackle fibers, a few more than normal - spread slightly, Egg Cluster: orange wool - tightly dubbed, Body: lavender & gray wool, loosely dubbed and picked out, Wings: speckled mallard or, wood duck - sparse but not thin, Hackle: soft but not floppy generic, (no not genetic,) grizzly - one size larger, Head: black or light yellow. Hook sizes: 8 - 18 standard dry fly.
    _ Don't use too much flotant, spread the wings around - or even tie it spinner style. Watch carefully because the take is gentle but positive. Long casts are not necessary in the early fog of the morning.

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    Yellowstone Fly Fishing In Jeopardy

    Don't Bite The Fish That Bites You


    The battle is still going on to contain the spread of the New Zealand Mud Snail. The information is available to stop the spread of this critter. Don't become blase. Be informed. These sites listed are good places to start your education.


    The Critters:

    The Science:

    In Yellowstone:

    What to do:

    These folks are doing something:

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Reel Old Friends In Yellowstone

  • _____________________


    Pfluger Medalist

    About 1938

    Acquired 1960

    Used Often

    Good Tool

    There must still be millions of these in use, (or usable,) today. Some are antiques. Fly fishing would be elsewhere today without this reel. They are great tools, sturdy, becoming collectible, and a joy to use. An American classic that has survived the rush toward "fancy" and resisted the push for planned obsolescence. With a little care and consideration these will last several lifetimes. Although the modern version has been made in various places offshore, the earlier ones have that distinctly American quality that shouts "use me, I can take it!" A fly reel for all seasons.

  • _____________________


    Hedon Imperial

    About 1948

    Acquired 1966

    Used Often

    Smooth, Reliable

    Not quite as popular, nor as simple, nor as inexpensive as the Pfluger, this was the upper middle class choice of the day. Fly fishermen brought this reel to Yellowstone early and often. It is still a very good tool, and will last quite some time if properly cared for. This one is smoother than the Pfluger and the 'click' is more subtle in sound and feel. The post war years in Yellowstone saw many of these antique fly reels in use.

  • _____________________


    Hardy Uniqua

    About 1930

    Acquired 1971

    Used Frequently

    A Joy To Use

    This was the prototype for fine inexpensive fly fishing reels well into the 1950's. Today it is a collectible antique and very seldom seen in Yellowstone. It is, still, more precisely built, and operates more smoothly than many fly reels built on CNC machinery. This was produced back when the British had the wherewithal and stamina to compete with the world in manufacturing.

  • _____________________

  • A Contemporary Friend

    G. Loomis Adventure #5

    About 1994

    Acquired 1995

    Used Occasionally

    Surprisingly Good Value

    This modern reel is becoming a friend. It was a gift and I was a bit taken aback because I have so many reels, and he knows it. The knowledgeable fisherman that gave it to me suggested that not all good things came in old packages. I was a bit skeptical, but since we fish together sometimes, it was politically correct to use it and preserve our friendship. The damn thing is surprising. It feels a bit like the Hedon, (above,) but is a bit lighter. The machine work is not delicate but it is proficient and accurate.

    Gary designs his rods for his body size and strength. They are a bit much for me. This reel, however, is an amazing accomplishment for the price. I just might buy one if I was after another trout reel.



    Go To Yellowstone

    Go Fly Fishing

    Take Your Ugly Stick

    Use A Spinning Rod

    SPF 15 or Better

    In Yellowstone Park there is a unique definition of "Fly Fishing." It means - fishing with a fly! It does not mean using a fly line, or a fly rod, or a fly reel, or a tippet.

    Take your bait casting or spinning rod to the park and you can "Fly Fish." If you put a bobber, (casting bubble?) on the end of the line and have a fly dangling from the end of it, you are "Fly Fishing." And you can fish anywhere in Yellowstone Park with a rig like this. Read your regulations, this rig is recommended.

    There is an interesting mind set at work here. Suppose that a person took a 15' surf rod, with a 3 pound spinning reel, and a spark plug tied to the end of the line, (no lead you know!), and flung it in the deep hole at the Firehole River swimming area. Would that person be "Fly Fishing" if there was a 3" streamer on the end of the leader attached to the spark plug? Absolutely!

    By the way, there are giant trout in that hole, along with a couple of underwater caves. The biggest trout that I have seen underwater was about 19" - 25" --- it's hard to be accurate underwater, in the dark, with your air running out and the snorkel leaking.

    So I took my fly box to a YNP Ranger and asked if I could use the flies in it for fishing in Yellowstone. He said they look fine. "Except for that one!" He pointed to a small fly that was made from a barred hen hackle tied in front of a soft plastic Crappie bait, with a pair of large goose biots at the bend of the size 6, 3xl sproat hook.

    I asked why that was illegal. He said it wasn't a fly because it had plastic on it. Don't let this information get to the folks in Florida, or elsewhere where many flies are part plastic, or epoxy, or have synthetic hair. They think that they are fly fishing. So too, do the people in Yellowstone Park that use synthetic, (plastic in many cases,) materials in their flies.

    It's time to demythologize and demystify the concept of fly fishing. It's also time for Yellowstone Park to get serious about defining flies and fly fishing. Especially if they are going to restrict access to a large amount of fishing water.

    It's quite enjoyable to wade into the Madison, or The Firehole and cast a bubble into the water in front of the ill-informed snobs with their $700 rods, and watch them scurry to kick me out of their water. I show them the regulations, give them the appropriate telephone number, offer to let them use my cell phone, and catch large fish with a rig that cost less than the vest that they are wearing.

    Put a large spruce fly at the end of five feet of six pound monofiliment. Two feet in front of the fly put a very large split shot, (not lead of course.) Tie this to the bottom of a 1-1/2" red and white bobber and cast it into the big plunge pool below Gibbon Falls with a 7' Shimano graphite rod and spinning reel. Aim right at the base of the water fall and let the bobber swing on a slack line for about fifteen feet. Close the bail and tighten the line to quicken the swing. Hang on! Fly fishing at it's best. Try it, you'll like it!


    It's not really a Spruce Fly, but it works as good as a Dark Spruce Fly in the fall, and better than a Light Spruce Fly in the Spring. It's quick to tie, durable, and well suited to Yellowstone waters.

    This fly is a medium sized streamer developed by a group of West Yellowstone fishermen who can't afford a BMW or a $700 fly rod but love to fly fish. This is the recipe:

    Tail: paired hen hackle - cut like a fish tail, Butt: yellow ostrich herl, Body: green floss, Rib: small copper wire, Beard: red hackle fibres, Wing: two yellow hen hackle tips partially covered by two barred hackle tips, Collar: grizzly hen hackle, Head: black thread. Sizes: 2 - 12, 3-5xl bronze sproat.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    Yellowstone Park Fishing Plan


    It's a big, big, park.
    Plan to fish
    the good water
    & some new water.

    This will inform your
    flies and yourself.

    It's quite some time before Yellowstone Park opens for fishing. We're going to fish less than 6 miles from home and there will be only us and the neighbors on the water. We'll park on the road, and walk 200 yards to the first place. We'll meet the neighbors there and joke about tourists and guides with their salavating jowls and ribald jokes. Yes good planning is also about anticipation. We've already decided where to go, so the anticipation grows.

    The late morning will be full of fish, and fish stories. We'll have lunch, (home-made pastrami sandwiches, Cole slaw, home-made potato chips, some gentle Australian red wine and a bit of shortbread, and good conversation,) then we'll go to the rapids below the big pool at "Mom's Hole," for the afternoon.

    "Mom's Hole" has no name, outside of local knowledge, and is as close to guarenteed as any fishing can be. It's as good as a trout farm, but without the crowds and kids. It's just like you see in the books, constriction to the head, pool with rocks and downed timber, gentle shoaling to riffles and a good bend below the tail. We could get rich just bringing visitors to this place - but then where would we have lunch on opening day?

    Our flies will be simple and effective, we'll watch for the evening hatch - it happens even in the rain - and we'll enjoy the day and be home for the crock pot beef stew and some robust California Cabernet.


    This will make the
    furious !


    This little bugger is a sure-fire fish getter in just about any color you choose to use. It's quick and easy, it floats like a cork, it's made from common materials, it can be tied in a variety of sizes. And it's a cinch to tie.

    For those of you, (myself included,) that like to tie at stream-side, this is the one! It can even be done without a vise and with only a bit of practice. The smaller sizes may need a bit more practice without a vise, but not much. Down to size 12 - 14 should not be too much trouble. If that is a problem, tie a bunch of the smaller ones at home and the bigger ones on the stream. It makes the Chablis crowd nuts.

    This fly is aptly named and is attributed to "Muggs" in West Yellowstone, Montana. He's a well known fisherman in those parts and is a bit crusty around the edges. He fishes mostly alone, and it's hard to pry any information out of him. If you catch him sitting on the bank sucking on a cigar - approach cautiously and ask reverently - he'll probably ask you to join him. He carries a flask of single malt in his vest, and some more in the truck. His rantings are worth listening to, if just for the Scotch.

    Ingredients for YELLOWSTONE CINCH: Tail: fine hair from a moose, (ears or inside the legs), Body: floss to match the bugs d'Jour, Wing: elk hair of appropriate size, Head: more floss, Sizes: 4 -18, standard or up to 2xl dry fly hook. Start by tying in the tail and wing together - flat along the body. Wrap the thread loosely to form the body. Tie in the floss, (olive, yellow, gray, green, black, brown, etc.,) in front of the wing root. Wrap the floss forward, then back to the tail, then back to the wing. Wrap the floss forward and backward on either side of the wing while spreading the wing perpendicular to the shank of the hook, (this is the easy part without a vise - just squeeze the wing and wrap.) When the body has the taper necessary, wrap forward and tie off with a finger whip. Some folks like to use black thread, others use thread the color of the floss. Muggs likes black, I use colors.

    Use plenty of flotant - grease if you prefer, and send it into the stream with a "plop." My kind of fly!

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Spring Fly For Yellowstone Trout

    This Fly Will Catch Fish!

    It was a late night in the loft in Ennis, Montana. We had fished Beartrap, and the Madison near the islands - way below Norris. The sky was broken clouds and their shadows came and went on the water.

    Some people call them 'Millers,' others call them moths. What ever they were, there was a scad-pile of them. A famous fishing guide said that he had the fly to match the hatch. We paused as he pawed through his kit and found two of them.

    "Yellowstone Coachman," he cried and bit off the midge that he had been fishing. He shared his second fly with me, and we returned to the battle. Splash it down, float it in like a gossamer ghost - or anything in between. Fish raced to gather it up. Once I watched three fish dash from under a rock to get to the fly. This was magic.

    We fished 'til almost dark and hooked every fish in that mile of the Madison - all 4,500 of them - or so it seemed! We drove back to Ennis, arm weary and bone tired. The road was dry, the sky was orange, the company was great. We stopped at the Town Pump for some fuel, and some other fuel.

    As we sat in the loft and discussed the day we had to learn more about the Yellowstone Coachman. Our guide explained that he had gotten it from an old fisherman in West Yellowstone, Montana. He took it just to be kind to the old duffer; put it in his kit and forgot about it. Last year on opening day in Yellowstone Park he saw some 'millers' on the water and remembered the fly. He put it on as a lark and caught a few fish. Ever since then he brings it out in the early spring when the 'millers' are on the water.

    This fly is a variant of the fan-wing coachman, The tail is longer and the hackle is softer and larger.

    Ingredients for Yellowstone Coachman: Tail = 3 or 4 peacock sword fibers, Body = peacock herl wound in middle with bright orange floss, Wings = barred chucker. Hackle = grade 3, or stiff hen - one size larger than hook, Head = black thread. Hook Sizes = 6 -14 regular dry fly. Drench with flotant and fish low in the film, or even submerged. Cast gently - it can twirl and sing by your ear and this is hard on the leader and your knots, (and maybe your ear.)

    The last time I put a fly up, I got many emails about the set-up and questions about doing it. There is no secret, and the pictures are certainly not art. Look at the photo below for details. French wine seems to work best.

    Yellowstone Trout Love This Nymph

    The last 15 years has seen snobbery grow, and Grow, and GROW to the point that the dry fly has taken control of fly fishing. If you enjoy it keep doing it. If you want to catch more fish try this fly.

    This is a "Feather Duster" variant and has been dubbed the "Montana Duster." The original Feather Duster was perfected by long-time West Yellowstone resident Wally Eagle. He is a member of the family that founded the town. His original flies used the ostrich herl from feather dusters in the family store. The original fly is still excellent for taking large and finicky trout on a regular basis.

    This variant is spectacular in the spring, summer & fall. It appeared on the scene about three years ago in the arsenal of knowledgeable guides in Yellowstone Park, and on the streams surrounding the park. It's origin is shrouded in mystery and the originator is currently unknown. We found it on the web: http://hometown.aol.com/guyser1/myhomepage/index.html

    Look for this fly to appear in the catalogs and on the shelves of fly shops within the next two - three years. Get ahead of the curve and use it now.

    Proportions and tying instructions follow the original recipe.

    Ingredients for "MONTANA DUSTER": Tail = 3-4 partridge rump fibers, Body = black ostrich herl counter-wrapped with heavy copper wire, Wing Case = pheasant tail fibers (pulled forward and used as legs too), Thorax = yellow ostrich herl. Sizes: 4 - 8, or 2-1xl - 16-3xl.

    Saturday, April 08, 2006