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  1. Photograph 1. A white belly matuka tied with a single reverse-tied wing and belly feather. The fly shown is about 2.25 inches (57 mm) long ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Video of tying a White Belly Matuka is posted on Youtube. A video of why the White Belly matuka was developed and how it is tied is posted on YouTube: youtu.be/nLCGD9ombPQ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Development of the White Belly Matuka The White-Belly Matuka was developed for fishing the upper Arkansas River in Colorado whose preyfish are mostly baby or fingerling brown trout. The classic Matuka pattern is redesigned for this role by adding a belly feather to fill in the body and increase the motility of the fly. In white belly design, the over-the-top wired-down wing feathers of the classic Matuka are given increased action by tying in one or two reversed-tied olive grizzly marabou feathers, that is, tied in with their quill end towards the rear of the hook. One or two reverse-tied white mini-marabou feather are also tied in under the hook adding a belly to the fly. These reverse tied feathers flow in the water giving the fly an animated look and allowing it to swim much like a prey fish. The Matuka tail is made to be more freely moving by using one or two soft-hackle dyed-olive grizzly-marabou feathers that can impart a swimming action when the fly is fished appropriately. While increasing the movey action of the fly, these changes also act to flesh out the classic matuka’s slender-minnow look into a fuller football shaped body more like that of a brown trout fingerling. Amber-colored barred silicone leg material maybe added to the sides of the fly to suggest lateral lines but also act to impart an additional source of movement. The final touch is adding parr marks on a baby brown trout design. Including parr marks on baby brown trout flies is important on the upper Arkansas River because it is managed as a wild-trout fishery and therefore has all age classes present. Parr marks are associated with young wild-trout because most stocked trout are older and have already lost them when put in a river or lake. Further, stocked trout are usually slimmer and paler in colored markings and more silvery overall, than a comparable wild-bred brown-trout which can be densely spotted and barred as well as brightly colored. While there are many baby brown trout designs out there most do not include parr marks—and are seemingly adapted from the look of a stocked brown-trout. In the White Belly matuka, the 7 to 9 major parr marks on the yellowish sides on wild trout fingerlings are represented by the dark-barring seen on the yellowish field of a golden-olive grizzly feather tied in along both sides of the fly. By Fall, fingerling trout, depending on nutrient availability, genetic factors and so forth, have grown to a several inches in length-- setting a target length of single hook fly pattern of around two inches including the tail or articulating a doubled pattern to make a 2.5 to 3 inch inch fly. Like others, I have found that on smaller rivers, like the Upper Arkansas, the trout often respond well to these smaller, often single hook streamers in the 2-3 inch range but, like frequently observed, there are no rules only generalizations in terms of what trout like. Fishing the White belly Matuka Of course, there are many ways for a trout to approach a fly and strike it. But in my experience there are two general approaches that trout use: the first one is to come up directly behind and attack from the rear of the fish --where all fish have a blind spot (for an example, see youtu.be/DD_p5oC7XpU). From the directly behind point of view, I think its the swimming motion of the fly is key in luring the trout to bite. The second way trout approach prey is a flank or broadside attack where my thinking is that flank shape coloration and markings are increasingly important to making the fish bite. The flank approach is mostly seen in attacking trout that are ambushing the preyfish from, say, an undercut bank, rolling up and over from, say, a river bottom lie, or in the case of the upper Arkansas River, waiting in soft water commonly found near the rip-rapped riverbanks that are commonly found along the river. In the rivers I fish, the flank approach and assault from a near-bank lie is the most common strike that I see. However, to cover both types of approaches you want to fish a motile fly made with the expected flank look over a range of retrieves from dead drift to active-erratic to swing until you find out what is triggering trout that day. In any case, the parr marks are distinctive flank markings on baby brown trout flies that often trigger strikes from the large cannibal trout in the upper Arkansas River. White-Belly Matuka Recipe-- Baby Brown Trout Variant General notes: 1. A rotary vice has an advantage when tying this fly. The rotary action makes it easy to flip the fly back and forth to view and properly place the wing and belly feather on the centerline of the top and bottom of the hook shank, respectively. The rotary action also allows the tier inspect the far side of the fly when the wing and body binding wire is spiraled forward to avoid both rolling the feathers around the fly and tying down too many feather barbs. 2. The white belly matuka is thought of as enhanced animation design-concept whose body form and length as well as coloration should be adapted to the local preyfish in your area. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Hook: Gamakatsu B10 in size 1 or 2: Or other wide gap, streamer length, stinger style hook. In any case, use a wide gap hook to assure the hook point is well clear of the fly body and belly feather(s). Weight: 6mm black Brass cone. The weight is needed to get the buoyant marabou to sink quickly for immediate retrieve. If needed, the weight of the conehead maybe supplemented by using a heavy backer bead Backer bead: a bead placed behind the cone to center the cone and when firmly tied in and glued with UV-setting adhesive to lock the assembly on the hook shank. Use a 3-4mm, round bead with a hole large enough to thread on the hook yet small enough to slip inside the countersunk conehead. in order of increasing additional added weight to fly, the bead can be 8/0 plastic or glass, 4mm brass, or 4mm tungsten. Zap-a-gap superglue can also be used in this application but when applied in thick layers can take a while to set. Thread: Nanosilk: 50D in olive color. The heavier thread is used so that it can be firmly pulled on when winding the chenille body to the cinch it tightly to the hook shank. The thread is tied in behind backer bead and used to build up the thread base there to lock cone and backer bead in place behind eye of the hook. Add enough UV-setting glue to fill end of cone and harden it there with your UV light. Then put a single layer thread base over the hook shank ending up at the rear of the hook shank so that the tail can be tied in. Tail: The tail is done in the classic Matuka style but uses one or two grizzly marabou dyed sculpin olive feathers-- that when stripped of the downy barbs and tied in at hook top of the hook bend so that the vane of the feather can extend out the rear of the fly far enough to double the length of the fly. For example, on a size two B10 hook, tie in the tail so that the overall length of fly pattern 2 – 2.5 inches (50-65mm). Ribbing wire: Small or brassie size (0.1 to 0.2mm) silver wire. Tied in at rear of hook shank just ahead of the tail Body: Petite Estatz pearl or medium Cactus chenille pearl (both are about the same diameter). The barbs of this type of chenille is thought to help hold the feathers in position as the wire is wrapped over them. The chenille is tied in at rear of hook shank and tightly spiraled forward to back of conehead. As you wind forward, every few turns pull on the chenille to assure that it is firmly wound to make it a tight body for the wing and belly feathers to attach to. When the chenille reaches the rear of the conehead firmly tie it off with several wraps of thread and cut off chenille tag end. Return the thread back to the rear of the hook shank while weaving the thread back and forth through the chenille to reduce the tie down of the chenille barbs. Rear bridge tuft: A small stack of sculpin-olive grizzly marabou barbs tied in on top of the hook bend to close gap between tail and wing. Only needed if the stripped grizzly marabou tail feathers are too short or sparse to close this gap by themselves. Lately, I have had a hard time finding feathers long enough to form the tail and wing with one feather. So I have taken to tying a tail feather and wing feather and, if needed, filling in the gap between them with a bridge tuft. Wing feather: Select a sculpin-olive or olive grizzly marabou feather that has a long enough strip of long barbs that it can span the entire chenille body. Strip this quill of downy barbs and the short barbs side of the feather and then tied in reverse at the rear of the hook shank-- that is with the quill heading out over the rear of the hook shank. If the wing feathers available are not thick enough, I may tie in a second prepared wing feather. But keep in mind that further overdressing the wings, belly and tail feathers can inhibit their swimming motion in water. Belly feather: White mini-marabou, sometimes called by the trademarked name, chickabou. Select a long-barbed feather that, after being stripped of the downy barbs, is wide enough to span the across the entire hook shank from the hook bend to the rear of the cone. Inspect the feather and strip off the side of the feather with the shorter barbs to make a half feather still on the quill. This half feather is tied in with thread under the hook shank at the hook bend and also-- reversed-- with the feather quill out to the rear. Now, return the thread to the front of the hook shank while weaving the thread back and forth through the chenille to reduce the tie down of the chenille barbs Spiral ribbing wire forward from hook bend to behind cone head. Make about 4 or 5 turns through both the wing and belly fibers tightening the wire after each turn to cinch down the feathers to the chenille body. Front bridge tuft: A small stack of sculpin-olive grizzly marabou barbs tied in on top of the hook bend to close gap between the conehead and wing. Again the tuft is added only if the stripped grizzly marabou tail feathers are too short or sparse to close this gap by themselves. Parr marks: The tip of a golden-olive dyed grizzly feather on each side of the hook shank. The feather shaft is centered along the hook shank and the tip of the feather extends out to near the hook bend. Note that the point where the feather is tied into the head of the fly must be near the diameter of the body or else the feather will flare out when tied in. Sidebars: Mobile elements tied in just behind conehead and extending to just past hook bend. Lateral line: 1) Amber colored silicone legging material with black barring; and, 2) Flank flash: I add in one strip of 1/32” holographic silver flashabou or mylar pearl tinsel to suggest the silvery flashes seen in the clips of the feeding forage fish shown in White Belly Matuka YouTube tying video. Collar: Dark olive ice dubbing spun on a waxed portion of the thread. The dubbed collar fills the gap between the rear of the cone and the chenille body. Whip finish just behind the rear of the cone and allow the thread to slide in under the cone and the collar dubbing. Optional Articulation: Tie the lead fly on a Gamakatsu B10 size 2-4 hook and the trailing fly on a MFC ring eye hook in size 4-6. Add skirts instead of tail on the lead fly. See general articulation procedures outlined in the Kelly Galloup videos: youtu.be/gQvQ6OwTCrg & youtu.be/PFJ5PhVLU48
  2. So this is the conclusion, or 2nd day to my trip to Dolores Colorado, which was absolutely amazing! This time of year gives so many opportunities to catch fish, and pretty much every time I go out to Dolores I have a great time, and am usually successful. This trip was no exception to that. I caught a ton of fish! And had a great time with my good buddy Jeff.
  3. One of the best days I have ever had fishing! It was unique fishing, and definitely something I want to go do again. Who knew this small creek would have fish in it, but there they were. And tons of them as well! The water was crystal clear, so I was also able to get more underwater footage, and quality underwater footage than I have ever been able to in the past. It seemed like every fish got to swim away on camera. So the moral of the story is, if you see a trickle of a creek, and think to yourself that its not worth exploring because it could not hold fish in it, maybe give it a 2nd thought. It might be one of the more unique experiences you have ever had fishing! So as always, with these small secretive creeks, I will not be able to tell you the actual location or creek name, however I can say that it is located somewhere in the south west tip of Colorado, located in the San Juan Forest which is in the lower stretch of the Rocky Mountains. Its beautiful here, and densely forested. Its also very remote and you will rarely see anyone while out exploring. But this means you should be careful! Always go with someone else, and bring a small first aid kit incase something does happen.
  4. Finally I am back fishing! After a months recovery from melanoma surgery, I am very happy to be back on the water! The animas is a free flowing river, and that means that the water flow fluctuates through the year depending on snow melt and the amount of rain. So during the end of winter, we tend to get a very low flowing river. The water doesn't flow much, and its hard to find deep holes. Luckily, through out the town of Durango, and even into the Ute (Native American) land, there are some deep spots that you can find fish holding. The fish are sluggish though during this time of year, so fishing a streamer is not the most recommended approach. Nymphing small baetis, caddis and midge patterns though works wonders though, and I was able to hook a few fish. So I am a bit rusty, and still sore from my surgery and not fishing for a while. So I lost quite a few fish during this trip. I was able to hook 3, but lost 2 of them. So I only netted one fish. Thats ok though, as It was great just being back on the river. The fish I did bring in though wasnt huge, but a very beautiful brown with lots of spots. Just gorgeous fish on the Animas.
  5. The Animas river is a technical river. Its tough even for seasoned fisherman to catch fish every trip. I have had my share of bad days on the river, and been skunked many times. However I caught lots of fish this trip, but they were all very small. They were pretty little fish, just really small. I was using a grasshopper pattern in the morning dropping to a nymph for most of the morning. Then switched to a slump buster streamer in the later afternoon. All of which were covered in moss at almost all casts. Just lots and lots of moss, all day long.
  6. The Gunnison River is a tailwater of the Blue Mesa Reservoir, and its really good fishing. Better known is the Black Canyon River section of the Gunnison which is further down stream, but it is still great fishing right near the dam. In fact, one of the trout I caught on my second day, was one of the prettiest rainbow's I've ever seen. Super colorful, just absolutely amazing! Also, there was something a bit surreal about this river. Being in the middle of a narrow canyon, with rocks on either side. There was an echo that made for some excellent noises when fighting fish. Every time they would jump, it sounded amplified. The fish were hitting streamer, but on the 2nd day, I started getting some fish on dry fly and nymphs. It was a really really good day. Please stay tuned next week for an absolutely amazing day fishing! I stayed at a camp ground overnight in a tent. The camp ground was called "Blue Mesa Escape" and I highly recommend staying there if you plan on camping around that area. If river fishing is not your thing, there is a large lake that have some record sized lake trout in them. Seriously, some are upwards of 50+ lbs! If you want to stay there, please make a reservation at the camp ground before showing up. They are booked up regularly because they are so nice and good prices.
  7. One of the last free-flowing rivers in the state of Colorado, the Animas River is a unique and rare treasure. With the newest and one of the best Gold Medal Water fly-fishing sections in Colorado, the Animas is a river that should be on your list of places to fish. When Juan Rivera passed through this corner of Colorado in 1765, he named the river El Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio, “The River of the Lost Souls in Hell.” To Rivera and his Spanish compatriots, the valley was remote, bleak, and had little to offer them in the way of riches. The Animas River is the major stream draining the high alpine terrain of the Needle Mountains. It heads in small meadows on the flanks of Cinnamon Mountain north of Silverton, then plunges through wild canyons as it carves a route between the Needle and West Needle Mountains. By the time it reaches Durango, the Animas has grown to a large river. Out of the mountains the Animas meanders through a shallow depression across broad plains. South of the New Mexico border at Farmington the Animas joins the San Juan River. Fortunately, public access to the Animas River within the city of Durango is plentiful with almost 7 miles of river from 32nd Street Bridge to the Rivera Bridge south of town. Two parcels of private land are found in this stretch, but they are well marked. Foot and bike trails parallel the river through much of town, providing abundant easy access. The Animas is big water. In Durango the river is almost 100 feet wide, filled with huge rocks and deep holes. The river offers extensive riffles, freestone conditions, and stretches of pocket water. The bottom consists of gravel and cobbles. The rocks are as slick as those in any river in the West, and anglers must always be very cautious when wading. Wet wading is popular in summer, but waders are called for in the early season and in the fall. A year or so back, the EPA spilled about 3 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the river. These chemicals included heavy metals like lead, arsenic, zink and iron. For a week the river turned bright orange and many thought the river was done for. However after cleanup, and time, the river has seemed to turn back to what it originally was. Fish show no signs of poisoning, and supposedly the river water is safe to drink. This trip started (and almost ended) very frustrating. I didnt see a single fish all day, and didn't even get one bite on the line. At the end of the day when I was further down stream, I fell in the water which pretty much made me quit fishing. As I walked back to the car, I decided to try one last spot. The spot where I hooked a big trout my last trip. I ended up hooking a very good sized brown trout, one of the largest Ive ever caught. It had to have been 24-25" at least. It was a beautiful fish, with hooked jaws. The rod I hooked that fish on was a 9' 6wt Sage Method, with a 3250 sage reel. I had a 7wt outbound short line with an intermediate sink tip, and I was fishing a size 10 cone head slump buster streamer in olive. Some of the above info about the animas was gotten from the Duranglers website with their permission.
  8. Hi Everyone, I am DAMN excited about tying my first two flys (flies ? Spelling)........ Anyhow here are the very first ones I have done and I would LOVE some critiques! The pattern is a Zebra Midge from a manual the Healing Waters folks loaned me. I also looked at a couple of you tube videos as well. I practiced attaching thread, half hitches, and whip finishes for hours and was confident enough to go on. I ONLY have an assortment pack from Hook And Hackle and some smaller hooks I got from SkipJack so I tried to match the hooks as closely as I could before having a mentor let me know what works here in Colorado. So here are the pics....be honest!!!! I can take it!!!! This was my first fly!!!! Keeping it for my God Children... This is it on my cutting mat..... Here was my second attempt....this was done on a Scud/Emerger Hook Size 18 SE7 from Wapsi..... Finally here is the room I cleared out to tie flys and building my rods....in the back of the room I have a cabinet that keeps my homemade rod wrapping Jig and supplies. Look forward to all your criticisms and advice! One thing I can say....PRACTICING is a great way to start out. I couldn't get down the whip finish from books but after watching some videos and cutting off TONS of thread (don't ask) I can do it fairly well now! Had the folks at Healing Waters told me to just jump in and tie I would have been VERY frustrated trying to finish these off. Practice, for me, made me feel very comfortable after doing all my thread wrapping.... Cheers, Mike
  9. Hello Everyone, I am brand new to the world of Fly Fishing and have just finished building my very first Fly Rod! The experience was truly a blessing and it has helped me in so many ways. I have nothing but praises for the volunteers at Project Healing Waters. Was it not for them I doubt I would even attempt fly fishing at all. I retired from the USAF 4 years ago and health issues have precluded me from getting back into fishing. I have fished for over 35 years but I had always thought that fly fishing was something too complex or expensive to even attempt. I suppose it is like any hobby/passion/addiction that once you get "hooked" you are in it for life! The entire rod building experience was very therapeutic for me and I met some incredible folks. One thing that I found was that when I was wrapping guides and attempting some basic creative touches is that I was essentially pain free. My brain was so engrossed in the details that I didn't have a care in the world. Several of the volunteers and all of the folks in our class recommended that I start learning how to tie my very own flies. They all stated that it was VERY relaxing and rewarding. My goal is to be able to tie my own flies, use the rod that I built, and actually begin to catch my first trout! My wife is 110% supportive of me in this. She was actually brought to tears seeing just how happy I was and my pain left me during my rod building. I started learning about fly tying about a week ago (while I was waiting for my epoxy to set on my rod) and started making a list of things I would need to begin. I had not found this community until late last night and figured this would be a great place to learn and share experiences. Thanks for allowing me to become a member here! Regards, Mike
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