by Mark Littleton
I tie my own flies. Store bought flies look great, almost too perfect.
I think most of them are designed to sell flies, not to catch fish.
They are too heavily dressed. Most commercial flies are tied overseas
and the people who tie them have never seen a trout. I think the less
is more theory applies to flies. My flies tend to be very sparse and
rarely do they look "perfect" to humans. I am constantly inventing
"new" patterns. Almost all of my new patterns are just a variation on
some existing pattern using different materials or by adding or
subtracting parts of existing patterns.
When I go fishing I usually take along a nymph net made of some screen
door material attached to two handles. You hold this down vertically on
the bottom of the river while you kick around some rocks upstream. When
you pull the net up you will find a sample of the type of bugs that
live in the river. In a rich river like the Yakima, there will be a lot
of bugs. Those small black, brown and green slimy things are what the
fish are eating, and what you are trying to imitate. You don't have to
tie those perfect flies like you see at the fly shop; almost anyone can
tie something that looks like the nymphs in the net. If it is messy and
the right size and color, and you put it in front of a fish, the fish
will probably try to eat it.
One type of fly
I have become a believer in, is the soft hackle. I think that you can
make almost any nymph better by adding a soft hackle to it. Soft hackle
flies are an ancient invention and modern flyfishermen don't often use
them. My experience with them has been very satisfactory. I use them a
lot. You wont find many soft hackled flies available for sale, so you
pretty much have to tie your own. I think the undulating movement of
the soft hackle makes the fly look alive to the fish. A soft hackle is
tied with soft webby feathers, not the stiff feathers used for dry
flies. You can use any of a wide variety of feathers for soft hackles.
The most common soft hackle feather is the partridge. If you can find
the right size of feather for the fly you are tying, it is hard to go
wrong with partridge. These feathers tend to be variegated and range
from gray to brown (good bug colors).
month we have had some unbelievably good days fishing deep with
stonefly nymphs and a smaller dropper. We didn't catch lots of fish,
but the ones we caught were big. Nymph fishing with stoneflies and
smaller bead heads should continue to be good until the Skawala's,
March Browns and Blue Winged Olives start hatching later in March and