As promised I want to give adequate praise to a trout fly. For my none fly fishing friends, a trout fly is a hook generally wrapped with fur, feathers, and thread in such a way as to fool trout into thinking it is food so they will eat it, thus being caught by the fly fisherman. I probably own several hundred flies of my own creation. In my manic trout bum days I tied a lot and still have boxes of flies that have never seen water in 20 years. As I get older, seem to have less time, and definitely do not have a decent space to work, I don’t tie flies very often. As a result I have (sit down for this) started buying flies. Often it is by way of ‘paying’ for free advice when visiting fly shops. Well I have a story about such a time when I thought I was doing a favor for a helpful young man at Red’s Fly Shop in the Yakima Canyon. What resulted was being turned on to THE FLY for taking rainbows in the Yakima River during the fall more consistently than any other fly I’ve used.
I know the suspense is killing you (well it would be if you were a fly fisherman that fishes the Yak in the fall) so I won’t hold out on you. The fly is made by Idylwilde Flies and is an imitation of Baetis mayfly nymph. I imagine every trout stream in America has Baetis mayflies, also referred to as Blue-Winged Olives or BWO, for short. This one includes a bead head which is pretty much mandatory these days. Here is the little beauty:
I would describe the construction of this little gem but I’m guessing most who might read this won’t know what I’m talking about and those that do can pretty much tell by the picture. What I will say about its construction is that this fly is more delicate than I like and tends to fall apart way too soon. However, its fish attracting trait seriously out weights any other shortfall.
So this is how I came to ‘discover’ this rainbow magnet. It was September 2011 and I was at Red’s waiting to arrange a shuttle for my float when an energetic young lad asked if he could help. I don’t recall my response but since I was perusing the fly selections he pulled out a couple of these nymphs and said these are working quite well lately. I was so impressed with his eagerness to help and his sincerity I bought a couple. After arranging for my shuttle and leaving the spare key at the shop I headed to the launch ramp with much anticipation.
I was on the third day of a week long fishing trip and had floated the same stretch of river the day before with friends, Larry and Sue, and guided by Steve Joyce. Steve had put us on some really nice fish and one in particular had me returning to where we met and parted company. I was in the back of Steve’s drift boat and as we were cruising by a cute little eddy river right at the head of a riffle Steve said over his shoulder; “Throw one in there.” I had been considering doing just that but was worried we would run by too fast and the flies wouldn’t hang in their long enough to be effective. Well, my two nymph rig hadn’t hit the spot for more than two seconds when a large rainbow shot straight up trailing my leader from the corner of his mouth. As he hit the water again he shot directly at us with blinding speed. Needless to say there was no way I could recover line fast enough as he disappeared under the boat. When I finally got the line tight he was gone. I had that familiar heart dropping to the pit of my stomach, but I thought to my self, “I know where you live and I’ve got the rest of the week to work this spot.” So as I launched my pontoon the next day and I knew that fish lived a mile down stream.
My 5 weight was rigged with what has become my “go to” nymphing setup that Steve showed us the day before (3′ of heavy butt mono, 3′ of 3X fluorocarbon, 3′ of 4x fluoro to the first fly and ~18″ to the second fly). This day the first fly was a heavy Pat’s Stonefly nymph (word heavy is probably unnecessary) and on the point a size 16 “wonder fly”. Once launched I headed for the home of that big rainbow drifting past the eddy a bit and anchoring up well below. Wading back up and getting into position I made a cast to the head of the eddy right on the current seam; nothing. Second cast resulted in the a hard take that yanked the Thingamabobber under and set the hook into a strong fish that raced out into the current; this had to be the same fish. It seemed like an eternity before I was able to determine that this big ‘bow was on the tiny fly and 5X tippet. Anxiety increased even more when the first attempt to net this fish with my ridiculously undersized net was unsuccessful. The second attempt was successful with his head in the bottom of the net bag and tail sticking above the net frame. When the fight was over I was now standing downstream in front of my pontoon, so while keeping the fish’s head in the water I took my camera out of my waders, set it on the seat and got this picture.
I didn’t take the time to measure the fish preferring to get it back in the river, but it sure looks 18-20″ to me. That would be a perfect ending by itself, but on the very next cast to the same water I hooked and ultimately lost an identical rainbow. And this was just the start of a very nice fall day in the Yakima River canyon.