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utyer

Back to my Roots

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In getting ready for my 52 year at fishing the Snake River, I am going to return to my roots. I mean I am going to fish with only the flies I was tying during my first two seasons on the Snake.

 

In 66, I had started a job in Jackson Hole without bringing any tackle at all. I had been away from fly fishing for about 8 years. Fortunately, I had a good mentor in my boss. After I sent home for a fly setup, he took me to the fly shop and showed me 12 patterns that would be the ones to start with. Since Wayne had spend at least 12 years fishing Yellowstone, and Jackson, I went with his picks. They worked well that first summer, and that fall I started teaching myself how to tie them.

 

My first 12 were these: Adams, Bivisables, Dark Caddis, Dun Caddis, Dark Cahill, Humpy, Ginger Quill, Gray Wulff, Quill Gordon, Royal Coachman, Spruce Fly, and Whitcraft. They were all dry flies, yes the Spruce fly was a dry fly in those days, and came in light and dark versions.

 

My plan for this trip to the North Fork, is to fish ONLY these flies. Some of them I haven't fished with or tied in 30 years so I have started to tie new ones.

 

Here then are some I have started with. As I get more finished, I will add them to the post.

 

As I finish this up, I would like to see some of the flies or patterns that YOU started out with.

 

The Dun Caddis had a chenille body, and was listed as a wet/dry fly. The way I would tie it now is the second photo.

 

post-12074-0-82551600-1560133102_thumb.jpg post-12074-0-08150000-1560133205_thumb.jpg

 

The Dark Caddis was a larger pattern and was used as a stonefly.

 

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The Humpy (AKA Goofus Bug) was my favorite pattern, and the hardest for me to learn, but I have used them a lot through the years.

 

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The Gray Wulff was another favorite, better than the Adams in the big fast water.

 

post-12074-0-10952700-1560133522_thumb.jpg

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Sorry Utyer. Not being "nostalgic" about anything, I can't even remember what the first flies I tied are. Something that was described in the tying kit I started with. But I can't even remember the brand of the kit.

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Answers: No, I am not Dan. The reason I can remember what the flies are is that I marked them all in my Wise Fisherman's Encyclopedia when I got back that summer. There were only a few that were not in the encyclopedia. My reason for doing this are not really nostalgic, I want to prove my long held belief, that the old patterns are just a good as the newer ones. About half of the patterns i started with I continued to use all along.

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I like em all. The humpy in those colors looks like an Adams on steroids.

 

Do you think the dun Caddis wet/dry would be called a Caddis emerger today?

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I want to prove my long held belief, that the old patterns are just a good as the newer ones.

It's my belief as well, and you should have no problem proving it, especially with the selection you've chosen. (I'm somewhat surprised to see no Renegade, though.)

 

I did a similar thing about 15 years ago, fishing no fly not in existence before 1950. I doubled the number of fish I caught from the year before when I was only fishing the "latest and greatest".

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I would say that as a wet fly, the Dun Caddis would be more of a minnow pattern, I often pull my dry caddis under and swing it at the top of a hole. Often picks up fish that way. The dun caddis would do the same. For me, a soft hackle (dubbed body,) would be a better caddis emerger pattern.

 

As for the lack of a Renegade, they were not listed in either the encyclopedia, or my first 2 other reference books. I might have fished them, but the Bivisible I know I fished. A few years later, I know I was tying and fishing lots of Renegades and other dry flies. It was not until July 7th 1975 that I started fishing nymphs. I know the date since I still have the receipt for my copy of The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph. In that same summer, I purchased The Soft-Hackled Fly I read that book on a rainy morning in Last Chance ID. That afternoon, I purchased a Partridge skin, and tied up a dozen or so soft-hackled flies. The next morning I was on the Firehole River and had great fun with them.

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When I was in Junior High School, in the early 1960's, I spent $14 (a lot of money for a kid at that time) on some fly tying materials from a mail order house. (I can't remember which one but it was either Hook and Hackle, Reed, or Rangely's). My friends all thought I was crazy. They thought that money could have been better spent on phonograph records, black pointed toe leather shoes, or hair grease, but I wanted to tie flies more than anything else. I first tried tying dry flies, but hey looked horrible. I found tying streamers was much easier and looked OK, so I tied those. As I improved, I tied other flies. Even now, at 68, my flies don't look all that great, but they do catch fish and I am happy with that.

Joe

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Second installment of flies from my first season:

 

The Bivisible: I tied these with and without a body.

 

post-12074-0-19321200-1560196002_thumb.jpg post-12074-0-00596900-1560196029_thumb.jpg

 

Back in my early years hackle came in just 2 sizes too big and bigger. It was very hard to find hackle smaller than a size 12 that was long enough to wrap more that 3 turns. Even using 2 hackles it was not easy to make good looking small flies.

 

Today that has changed mostly for the better. Whiting and others have developed great hackles Long with short barbs, and small tapers. Now one can tie a couple of flies with one hackle, and still have enough left to do a third, sometimes smaller. The Bivisible below was tied with the remains of the hackles from the first two. The down side to the breeding of these "super" hackles is the loss of the proper shaped tips that were used for winging some patterns. I know we can use hen hackle, but i moved on to synthetic poly wings.

 

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The Whitcraft: My encyclopedia shows this fly with a Blue and Yellow Macaw quill body. In Flies the pattern uses 2 brown and 1 yellow moose main hairs. Then the Noll Guide list the body as gray brown wool ribbed with a light quill. These are tied with Macaw quill bodies which I had a hard time finding in 66. The second one size 16 has a hackle that is much too big. Back then most of my flies had oversize hackles, and the fish didn't care one bit.

 

post-12074-0-25071200-1560196684_thumb.jpg post-12074-0-29027700-1560196698_thumb.jpg

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I fish half the flies mentioned all the time and consider them part of the basics that I only fish with. The other half I've never heard of. That's a good smattering of flies. I'm not much for innovation and change. I'm sure you will catch a lot of fish with them.

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A few more flies from my first "dozen"

 

I don't usually tie or use hackled dry flies, so my supply of materials for some patterns is limited. One thing I have very little use for is the classic old style feather wings. Not willing to stock, up on hen necks just for the feather wings, I substituted poly wing material.

 

A Dark Cahill:

 

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And a Spruce Fly. This is not the commonly used spruce moth, but a dry fly version of the Spruce Streamer.

 

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A Quill Gordonish fly

 

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And an old school Royal Coachman

 

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These are the last two of the dozen flies I started fishing with back when we had to weave our lines from horse hair, and clean off a willow sapling to cast them.

 

To sum up, I was lucky in having a mentor to guide my selection in my first season. I fished these and almost nothing else for the first 3 years or so.

 

The Adams:

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A Ginger Quill:

post-12074-0-23425500-1560627247_thumb.jpg

 

I have added all the first 10 flies here to make it easy for everyone to see them all in one post:

 

Bivisible: one with and one without a peacock body:

 

post-12074-0-76049900-1560627390_thumb.jpg post-12074-0-05860200-1560627378_thumb.jpg

 

A Dark Caddis, and a Dun Caddis: In larger sizes, these were also used as stoneflies

 

post-12074-0-69398500-1560627528_thumb.jpg post-12074-0-08920900-1560627556_thumb.jpg

 

A Dark Spruce, and a Quill Gordon

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Two humpies in my most used colors:

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Last but not least, a Royal Coachman and a Gray Wulff

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I enjoyed reading your post.

A few of your flies brought back 60's memories for me too. Nice work & pics.

I suppose many of us abandoned feather wings when we discovered poly wing material. It was so much quicker to tie wings with, and a lot more durable.

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Just a quick follow up on how the flies of my first season worked 50+ years later. We fished the North Fork of the Snake near Ashton Idaho. We had 6 days fishing different areas of the river.

 

For 3 days we hit very cooperative fish, and every single one of my original 12 flies above worked very well. On those 3 days I hooked up with over 100 fish, and a we found a place with plenty of Brook Trout (which don't seem to be to fussy.)

 

After testing out my 12, I then switched off to other patterns on the last day. We got into an egg laying flight of golden stones, and the fish were hitting on every cast. On some casts, I would get several hits on the same drift. After 5 hours, the three of us fishing counted up about 200 fish on, but many were not landed.

 

If you are not fishing the North (Henry's,) Fork of the Snake River, you should try it sometime. Many sections are good for floating, and there are many remote sections that are hard to reach are seldom fished.

 

The Rincon Cafe in Ashton is a great place to eat if you like Mexican food.

 

For an affordable place to camp (they also have 3 cabins to rent,) check out the Jolly Camper 2 miles south of Ashton.

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