An adventure upriver…

Brian and I decided to start a small business…Little did we know what a wild ride it would take us on. 

Our most recent adventure was traveling upriver 2 hours, to the tiny town of Kooskia, Idaho (/ˈkuːskiː/ KOO-skee).

Now Kooskia doesn’t have very much there, but nestled along the main road, across from the grocery, is a nondescript building.  This building, unbeknownst to probably most anyone traveling through, houses Nature’s Spirit.  One of the premier distributors for fly tying material in the world.

In the weeks leading up to this trip, we worked up a game plan for our first two classes we would be teaching- Intro to Fly Tying and Intermediate Fly Tying, and our first commercial order of flies.  Then we made the list-the list of materials we needed to get started. 

The list consisted of your basics- thread, hooks, peacock herl, dubbing and the like.

I clicked “Send”… and off it went to the Natures Spirit crew to start pulling.

That Saturday, we took a drive.

Now we can’t just drive by the pull off for Peck, without stopping to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Red Shed.  So we went and scoped out the new paint job at the Shed, and spent some much needed time visiting with Poppy, Linda and Daisy.  If you ever find yourself traveling along the Clearwater River in Idaho, be sure to take a quick turn to the Red Shed.  You won’t be disappointed.

We meandered our way further upriver, until we crossed the bridge into Kooskia.   

Thomas, the owner of Natures Spirit, and fellow Norvise Ambassador, greeted us.  I was in absolute awe.   It was like a kid in a candy store… I had flash backs to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… only this wasn’t a movie, and it was fly tying material.  Rows and rows of storage containers and shelving full of every type of fly tying material you could imagine.  The shop cat Allister even made an appearance to see what we were up to.  That is one lucky shop cat.

After perusing the room with all the finished materials, Thomas gave us the grand tour. 

The hide room was probably the most impressive, with the dye room not far behind.

Thomas took the time to show us on the hides, where the different types of hair come from, and how they process them.   In the dye room, there were totes full of raw feathers waiting to take on our favorite colors. 

It’s easy to overlook how our materials get to us on the shelves at stores.  The amount of work that goes in to prepping it, dying it, sorting and packaging it, is more than I ever imagined. 

Once we had the materials we ordered, and a few extra (of course!)- it was time to head out. 

Our next stop was for a celebratory drink at the local tap room, beer:30 in Kamiah.  If you are traveling along US 12, this is a great little watering hole.  

Gear Review: the monoMASTER

I’d like to think that part of fly fishing is caring for our resources. 

Most fly fishers I know, would wholeheartedly agree with that.

How many times have you been on the river, and come across spent mono/fishing line balled up in the rocks? Or in a bush? Or you switch out your leader and have no good place to store it until you can dispose of it properly?

Enter the monoMASTER.

A few years back when we were fishing the Henrys Fork, I went into one of the local shops in Last Chance and found this little gem.  I immediately put it to work.    
The concept is simple.   
One of those “why didn’t I think of that?!” moments honestly.

When you find spent mono/fishing line or have cut a hunk of it off your setup and need to dispose of it, you simply feed the end of it into the monoMASTER and then turn the post on the bottom of it.

As you turn the post on the bottom, the mono/fishing line begins to wind around the inner cylinder of the monoMASTER .

Let me tell you, it can hold a TON of mono!  I’ve used it now for a couple seasons.  When it is full (or when you just want to clear it out), you simply take the bottom of it off, run scissors or a knife carefully up through the track on the inside.  This turns that looooong piece of leader or tippet, into small one inch sections that come off easily.  This also prevents wildlife at the trash site from getting tangled up in it when it is disposed of in the trash. 
Such a simple design, and yet it fills a very real need in my river gear. 

  When I contacted Bert Vosters from the Netherlands via the monoMASTER website, he let me know that the 2020 run will also include a more eco-friendly packaging, as opposed to the big plastic blister packaging previously- to keep inline with the eco-friendly character of the product itself.  (along with giving me permission to share from their website 🙂

Find the monoMASTER on social media and the web: 
Finding a retailer in the States can be a bit difficult.  I would encourage you to first check with your local small business.  If they don’t carry it, you can find some online by searching for monoMASTER.  Many places are sold out, but you can find them if you look hard enough. 

The Purge-Prepping for your Winter Fly Tying Session

Well for the most part fishing season is over and tying season is here. One of the thing that I do, and you might find it is helpful as well, is I pull all of my fly boxes out and start the purge process before I start doing my winter fly tying.

Everyone is different in how they organize their fly boxes. Some organize by bug, some by location, time of year and some by fly types. I have some fly boxes in each category.

But I still don’t like to carry more that I have to, so I purge my boxes at the end of each year.

It seems to me that all of the water’s I fish get more and more pressure each year, and the fish get more and more finicky each year. A fly that has worked the last two seasons doesn’t even get a look now.  Some still catch fish season after season after season.  
So I go thru my fly boxes with the following in mind…

Did the fly produce last season, this season?   
Did I give it a fair try?   
Did one color work and another color not work? 
Did one size work and others not? 

I consider these and other things when deciding if this fly keeps a spot in my fly box.

Also I like to keep a few rows in my fly box for “New” or “Experimental” flies.

I hope this gives you some ideas, and helps you to keep your boxes trim and productive.

The Longest Main Street in America…

        Island Park… The Harriman… the Railroad Ranch…Last Chance… Macks’ Inn… pick a name, and it will get you to the longest main street in America.  For 33 miles, the city of Island Park beckons folks from all walk of life, for its recreational opportunities-ATVs, hiking, exploring, and well -fishing.   With a main line to West Yellowstone and Yellowstone National Park, its no wonder it is such a popular little berg. 
        This was our 3rd annual migration to the tiny town of Island Park.  This year we decided to haul the camper down.  Originally planning on staying on BLM land, until an unexpected spot opened at Henry’s Lake State Park.  Electric hookups? Water hookups? Shower houses? Yes please!   With the trailer, it takes us about 10 hours to get there—as we crested Raynold’s pass and the Lake came into view, a furry critter with a very low center of gravity, took off across the road in front of us. I looked at Brian and asked “was that what I think it was?”.  Sure enough, the first wildlife we ran into this trip, was a badger.   You just never know what you will run into down here.  My hope was that the badger would be the worst of the wildlife we would see on this trip.  I have no desire to run into any grizzly bears while fishing. No thank you.

        We had the week somewhat planned out, with a day or two to explore some new waters, but would mostly be fishing the Railroad Ranch.  To get the week started, we made our ritualistic stop into West Yellowstone to visit the shops and get some tying supplies for the coming winter season.  Blue Ribbon Flies is our favorite in West. The amount of materials is just outstanding, and the company you get to visit with while there, is unmatched!

        The first night of fishing found us in the same spot we left off last year.  It’s a spot we have come to love.  The caddis hatches in this particular spot are nothing short of amazing.     This night was no different than what we have come to hope for.   A year ago, we finished the trip up in this spot.   Brian had ended the night, and the trip, by hooking a solid Ranch fish.   After a long battle, the fish ended up straightening the hook—but not before it made some acrobatic jumps.  I’ve no doubt that fish was the subject of dreams throughout the past year, as the one that “got away.”  Fast forward to 2019 and our first night fishing the ranch.  Once the winds finally died down, the caddis appeared.  I had been catching a number of smaller fish on a fly pattern Bill Jollymore had shared with us the prior year. I hollered to Brian to let him know what I was having success on.  He switched out flies, and headed for the rock on the far side that seems to hold the bigger fish.   He caught sight of a riser that definitely had some more size to it than the others.  A few casts in, and it was game on.  This time, the hook did not straighten out.     Brian was rewarded on night #1 with this beauty. 

        Each year, we try to explore some new waters, both on the Ranch section and beyond.  One day, we headed down to a part on the lower area of the Fall River. It was a beautiful setting, and we hooked some small rainbows and brookies, but nothing much to write home about.  Next time we get a Park pass, we want to head further upriver and explore the SE corner of the park a bit. 

      We did fish the Ranch most of the week, but we took one day and fished the Coffee Pot area downriver of Mack’s Inn.  To get to the river, you walk maybe a half mile through some very bear-y woods… and then down a large wall, with a stairway built down into it.  At rivers edge, you can head up—and fish the canyon water.  Below the last drop of water, it slows a bit and provides a perfect area to swing wet flies. 

        We first went upriver and did a bit of euro nymphing in the deep pocket water.  I hooked a good one here last year, that came unbuttoned.  I hoped I would again.  And I did—and I made a rookie mistake!  I was fishing a new rod for the first time, and completely overlooked setting the drag in my haste to get to the river.  I probably would have been fine carefully playing him in…but no—I adjusted my drag, even though I knew better!  And poof! There he went.  I have now hooked two nice fish in that spot and both have escaped my capture.  I guess that just makes it a reason to go back again next year!

Brian has really taken to swinging wet flies the last year or two.  I have just never given it an honest try.  The water below the canyon area was perfect for swinging flies and was full of small rainbows that were especially eager.  Brian walked me through single hand spey casting in this run, and as I worked through it, the small rainbows were a nice confidence booster to a new style of fishing for me.  It was a blast!  Towards the end of the run, was a massive boulder in the middle of the river, with what looked to be a bunch of lumber lodged up against it.  Brian helped me position myself in a way that I could swing a fly just in front of the lumber—as we just knew there would be a nicer fish in the area.  I saw the fish rise, and got into position.  He took on the very first swing!  As much as I love seeing a fish take a dry fly, there is definitely something to be said about the feel of one taking a swung wet fly.

       One morning, we decided to walk into PMD Bay on the Ranch section.  We got there and there were already some folks along the bank.  We kept our distance so as to not disturb them, as they were targeting some bank sippers.   We were hoping to catch the spinner fall.  The conditions were perfect, according to the literature we had read.   Shortly after we arrived, we noticed the bugs. There were at least 4 different types of mayflies, and a couple types of caddis!  How on earth do you determine the type and stage of fly the fish are keying in on!  You just keep trying!  Most of the risers were far out in the river, and it has some really good depth here.  One thing you learn very quickly on the Ranch, is you better practice your casting.  It seemed in this spot, they were just out of reach.  But not for a lack of trying.   We made note of some of the spinner flies we saw, and decided we’d go back to camp and tie a few up to mimic them.  


       That evening, we setup the Norvise’s on the trailer dinette and busted out the supplies—there was fly tying material and tools everywhere!   We grabbed the materials we thought would mimic the spinner we saw and created a couple to bring with us later in the week. 

       Fast forward to two mornings later-we headed back out to PMD bay.  The bugs were all there again, as were the fish (and the other people upriver from us).  This time we walked in from Wood Rd and it was a much nicer walk.    The fish were rising again, out in the deep water just out of reach.  I finally made one really decent cast to a rising fish.   The drift was just perfect, and the fish must have thought so too!  We both had fish take our flies we created to mimic the spinners observed just two days prior.

        This was one of those moments I will never forget as a fly fisher and fly tyer.  We went out and observed the bugs that were on the water.  Went back to our cabin on wheels and created. And then went back to the same location and successfully fooled the fish.  Everything came together and it was magical!

        The second to last day, we found ourselves at the top of the Ranch for the afternoon.   The weather back at camp was less than desirable, but we decided to take a chance and head down US 20 to the Ranch just to see what it was like down that way.   As we pulled into the parking lot, the wind was getting worse, and there was most definitely a storm rolling in.  We passed by a group of anglers walking out as we were walking in—they must have thought we were nuts.   As we got to the river, it started lightning.  I’ll fish in a lot of weather, but not that.  We set the rods down a good distance away and took cover near the bush line.  As the storm rolled over, it would lighten up, then start back up.  Next thing we know, we are getting hit by balls of slush coming down from the sky.  The whole river was one big splash puddle with balls of hail breaking the surface!  It eventually calmed down a bit, and we were left with the most amazing site.  A rainbow—but not just any rainbow.  The rainbow came down onto the river, between us and the far shore.  It is hard to tell in the picture, but it is there.   This is the first time I’ve seen the end of a rainbow, and it couldn’t have been in a more perfect spot.

        Our final night drew us back to our favorite section of the Ranch.   We have made it a tradition to end our trip in this spot each year.  The sunset is phenomenal, and the fishing is pretty damn good too.  Typically a good number of risers (mostly smaller fish), but every now and then there is a slightly larger one mixed in, and sometimes a really nice one (as Brian found out on Night No. 1).  This evening, there were a duo of men fishing on the far side of the bank from us for the first part of the evening.  One was younger, and the other much older.  As the older gentleman carefully moved from one spot to the next, it made me wonder if this spot was special to him, in the way that it was to us—as it seemed as though he fished it with a great reverence.  I wondered how many days and evenings he had spent in this spot, long before we discovered it. As the sun was setting on our last night, I cast to a riser I saw on the far side of a rock.  She graciously took my fly and took off.  She wasn’t near as big as the one Brian hooked near there, but she was a beauty. She was taking drag and was just pure fun to play (and try to keep out of the weeds!).  I landed her and all was right in the world for that moment.   She was my nicest Ranch fish to date, and a fine way to end our annual trip.

      We headed back to the rig, as we listened to our theme song… “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.”  Until next year…

The Trip of a Lifetime

I would like to start this off with just a little background information. I grew up back east in Michigan and Kentucky and when I was a boy, I read all of my Dad’s Outdoor Life and Field and Stream magazines like most all other kids who have an interest in the outdoors did. I remember reading about all of these great folks fishing the Henry’s Fork and college educated trout that called this river home.
After Britt and I moved here to Idaho, I got her into fly fishing and shortly thereafter she was invited by a group of Women that she met on Facebook to spend a long weekend fishing the Henry’s Fork with them (see prior blog post ). She went and had a great time.
Fast forward to the fall of 2016. We were on our annual trip to the North Fork of the Clearwater and we hatched the plan to make a 2-week trip to the Henry’s Fork the next fall. Britt contacted one of the ladies she met on her previous trip, that had a cabin at Macks Inn.  Dates were set to meet and fish with Holly and some friends of hers, that make an annual trip to the cabin in September. Britt also contacted a friend of ours, Rick Welle that winters near Lewiston, and  guides for Madison River Outfitters in West Yellowstone during the fishing season. We booked a float trip with him during the time we would be down there.
As everyone knows- half the fun of a trip is in the planning—and planning we did. We went back and forth with Holly and Rick on what we needed to bring, flies to tie, what to expect, etc.  We spent all winter tying up flies for the trip in September.
Well, the weather in Idaho in September can be interesting according to Mike Lawson, in his book titled the “Fly-Fishing Guide to the Henry’s Fork” So we knew there was a really good chance the weather might not be great at some point in our trip, but I sure didn’t expect that we would have to take the southern route to get there! The passes in Montana were partly to mostly shitty with a bunch of wet heavy snow the night before we were set to leave. We decided to take the southern route down to Boise and across southern Idaho and back up to Macks Inn. After a 12-hour drive with few stops other than to refill the gas tank and for Britt to take some pictures at the Craters of the Moon, we were backing our camper in at Holly’s cabin in Macks Inn, just as the sun faded.
The next morning, Holly had to get back home and go to work for the week. She had to be back up to the cabin the next weekend when her friends from Texas and Florida would be flying in. So Britt and I got the camper setup completed, while Holly got her things packed up.  We went fishing for a few hours at a spot not far from the cabin, before Holly headed out.  A few fish were caught–nothing spectacular, but it did not matter — we were here and had 13 more days to fish.
I will not bore you with a blow by blow of everyday that we were there but will give you some of the highlights.
We woke up and dressed out to meet Rick at Madison River Outfitters in West Yellowstone.  We stepped out of the camper and we were met with about 5 inches of wet heavy snow and more falling. I should mention here that it was to be a float trip on the Madison River with Rick. When we got to the shop, Rick asked if we were sure we wanted to float today. His clients the day before quit after an hour of fishing and the next day’s clients had already cancelled.  After the three of us talked, we decided not to float but to wade fish instead.
The weather did not disappoint! It went in waves- rain, snow, sleet and cold wind with the rare 5 minutes of sunshine for the whole day. I will say we fished hard for about 9 hours and Rick true to his reputation as the “Godfather of the Madison” put us into fish every place we went that day. 
We got an afternoon with a bit of wind and overcast to fish the Ranch for the first time. I could not wait to test myself against these PhD educated trout. The blue wing olives were coming off the water like we had never seen before, the wed mats were literally covered with them. Both Britt and I hooked up to several trout no monsters but none the less it was a great feeling to catch these fish.
On another morning, we got up and headed to a spot on the Firehole River we had scoped out a few days prior. It was a great day. We had the stretch of river to ourselves with only a lone bison that came through, and two ravens that joined us for lunch. We were swinging wet flies as a small hatch was coming off, as the steam from the geo thermals made it look eerie. We caught so many fish that we lost count. After lunch we went to the Firehole proper, up where there were a ton of bison and thermal features. We were supposed to hook up with Holly and the other folks, but man-oh-man, I have never seen so many people in one place at one time-both tourist and fisher alike. The parking areas were completely full, and all kinds of people were walking around gawking at the few hundred bison wandering around the field.  We decided to find another spot that wasn’t quite so crowded, but still had that “Firehole” feel to it—thermals and bison and tourists, and a few fisher folk. 
One day on the Madison River, we were swinging wet flies for the lake run trout. Britt lost a really nice fish and just a few minutes later I had a take and felt the fish for a few seconds, and then it was gone. I thought he must have broken me off so I reeled in, but to my surprise, my fly was still there-but it was demolished-the hackle was gone and the hook shank was bent. All I could do was tie on another fly and wonder how big and nasty that fish must have been to have bent that hook shank. We weren’t using tiny flies by any means-mostly size 6 soft hackles on 3 wt. tippet.
On another occasion, we went to a spot that lent its self perfectly to nymphing, which is not something Britt and I have done very much.  Rick had given us some much appreciated pointers on how to setup a nymph rig and how to fish it, so we gave it a go and had a great and productive time to include the biggest Whitefish I have ever caught.
Once Dunraven Pass in Yellowstone National Park was reopened after the week prior’s snowfall, we decided to run over to the Lamar Valley and see if we could catch some Yellowstone Cutthroats. The Lamar Valley was very different than the rest of Yellowstone that we had been fishing it was more volcanic and when we saw the river it was a whitefish green. The Lamar River was blown out but Soda Butte was fishable so we gave it a try it and wondered if we would connect as it  was a watered down milky green as well.  It was deep holes with very shallow riffles and deep hole cut thru gravel bars. Both of us managed to catch a nice Yellowstone    Cutthroat before we ran into other folks fishing such a beautiful place.
We fished the Ranch one last time before it was time to come home.  We walked into the Mailbox spot, but we were greeted with very few rising trout and not much bug activity.  We decided to walk back to the rig and go to the other spot we had fished earlier in the week with good luck. Fishing was tougher this time but once we figured out that they were eating the mahoganies and not the Blue Wing Olives, the fishing picked up. Sight casting to rising fish was such a treat and a real skill test!  These ones were bigger that the others we had caught. The sun had finally set on our two week trip, and as we approached the parking lot, a lone vehicle was at the take out—and they were blaring Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road… a fitting end to our two week trip of a lifetime.
It really was an awesome trip and one that I cannot wait to take again.
Until next time Tight lines and screaming reels

Trip of a Lifetime—4 years ago–and procrastinating journal entries..

Wow…so I keep a journal of all of our fishing adventures (or misadventures at times)… four years ago I went to the Henry’s Fork for a “ladies trip” and life got so busy afterwards, that I never got a chance to “pen it out”. It is so fun going through looking at the pictures to refresh my memory…and writing about it. What an amazing trip and an amazing place! This September I will finally be returning to that part of the world with Brian Davenport in tow—I can’t wait till he see’s it down there! He won’t want to come home!! It’s been almost four years since that trip, and I haven’t gotten to see the ladies as much as I would like–due to distance and being in BF Idaho—but I will meet up with one of them this Fall and cannot wait! Two FULL weeks of vacation to fish our hearts out!
So here I am…world’s worst procrastinator when it comes to writing things down… 

4 years ago, I went on an amazing trip of a lifetime with a bunch of ladies that I had never met before!  I had met Michelle online through an Idaho fishing Facebook page.   A group of ladies was getting together for a long weekend on the Henry’s Fork—and I was invited.  Brian gave me the go ahead—even though this is a place he has always wanted to go—but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.   For a minimal price, we would share a cabin and Shelly (who worked for Adipose at the time, would get drift boats situated so we could float the river).   So I  decided to leave out from work on Thursday at noon.  Thinking I would “overnight” camp in my rig in Montana.   This is the first time I have ever “road tripped” by myself—it was so hard driving up the Lochsa and not fishing.
It was so hard driving up the Lochsa—and not getting to fish it—arrrghh! But I had a bigger goal in mind.  I was hoping to coyote out and get up early and make the rest of the drive to West Yellowstone in the AM to meet Emily.   So…. Campgrounds in Montana are friggen expensive… so I just kept driving…and driving… finally it was dark and I was extremely tired and decided I just wasn’t going to make it all the way to West Yellowstone that night.  I ended up getting a room in a Motel 6 somewhere in Montana. 
I got up super early the next morning to finish the drive.  I still had many miles to go—and I was to meet Emily at Bud Lily’s super early, so that we could fish in Yellowstone National Park some, before we met up with the other ladies.    I finally arrived in West Yellowstone—and got my fishing license.  Kerry was taking us out to a place and fishing with us for a bit.   When you go through the West Entrance…it is just up the road a ways.   It was literally 32* out—I didn’t know it was going to be that friggen cold—but we tough it out for fishing.   That morning, there was a fog all around— for my first “taste” of Yellowstone—it sure was creepy.   I kept expecting to see a bear emerge from the fog…but we never did see one.  Kerry gave me some pointers on how to nymph fish (arrgggh—I’m used to dry flies and cutthroat!!).   I ended up hooking one (just a lil one) but damint it was my first fish in Yellowstone NP! And I was ecstatic!

Kerry had to leave (probably to go guide someone) so Emily and I moved farther into the park.  We stopped at a place suggested by Kerry- the backdrop was amazing!  There is something really special about YNP.  It is so pristine (well, other than the gobs of people)—and so much wildlife!  

We saw some elk grazing alongside the road.   We fished this spot and damnit if I didn’t think I hooked into a huge brown.  I finally got it in…turned out it was a huge whitey!!!  Which was a first for me—so that was pretty cool too!  

We decided to head back to the place we had fished that morning… but we missed the turn off and ended up outside the park.  When we tried to turn around and get back in, we weren’t able to due to a terrible head on collision.  

Trace?  is that you???  Traffic was backed up a ways–we thought it was due to wildlife “gawking” turns out it was a pretty bad accident….
Thankfully, Emily knew another spot north of there that we could fish.  We drove along the highway, and she pulled into a turn off alongside the Gallatin River.   It was very brushy so I was concerned about bear…and was really hoping we didn’t run into one.  We fished this for awhile—it was a nice small sized section, and I caught a beautiful cutthroat! 

Finally, it was time to head towards Island Park and locate the cabin that we had rented.  After a phone call or two to Aileen—we finally got the address and made our way there.  This is where I got to meet all of the ladies.  Most of them were familiar with each other and had fished together before, at some point.  I was probably the only “newbie”.  They were all such great women, and solid fly fishers.  It was great to be in their company.

“Home” for the weekend

Now this is where the timeline starts to get shaky—as I remember what we did—just not exactly the order…since it was  4 years ago…
I believe the next morning, we stopped at Trout Hunter to meet up with all of the drift boats and get any last minute supplies.   Our first stop of the day was the Harriman Ranch.   I imagine the folks that were already fishing there, thought holy hell what the heck are all these women doing here!  We spread out and got to fishing.  If memory serves correct, the only one that hooked into one was Heidi.   I had a bump on a Black Betty fly… but that was it.  The gentleman that was down from me hooked one—and he was nice enough to share the knowledge that once you wade out—to be sure and look behind you, as they “fill in” and start feeding between you and the shore sometimes.  We also saw some Pelicans—which was just neat.  It was a really windy rainy day though—I look forward to fishing it in some nicer weather.

Photo credit to Michelle Babcock (if memory serves correct)

From there, we headed towards Warm River, as we were doing the Warm River to Ashton Float.  We stopped at this one spot that had a ton of huge football shaped fish!  You could wade or fish there, but it was really neat seeing them.

Photo by Aileen Lane

Photo credit to JB McCollum
So fishing from a drift boat is completely different than anything I have ever done before!!  I got to ride in Ginger, with Shelly on the oars, and Heidi.   They were both great, knowing that I had never fished from a drift boat before.  The float was pretty uneventful as far as fish go—at least in our boat.  Emily brought a huge brown to hand.  It was gigantic!  At the very end of the float, by the Bridge before the take out…we finally had our moment!  We were both hooked up on a couple of nice rainbows!   It was so exciting!

Photo credit to JB McCollum
Photo credit to JB McCollum

The next day, some of the crew was going to put in and float the Box Canyon section, but there wasn’t enough boats for everyone.  Holly offered to take me someplace else, that we could catch fish… so I said what the heck—I’m game.     Holly took me to just below the Island Park dam.  I never would have thought that one could wade out there, but she assured me that it was okay—some deep spots, but if you were careful, it was okay.  Nymphing was the choice at that location.  She hooked and landed a really good one…and I hooked a small one and got him to net.   Then I hooked one that was most likely a personal best—I’m not sure how big he was, because he came off before we could net him.   I have a date with that fish when we return in September 😉

That night, I believe is the night Ms. Patti made gin and tonics for everyone—whew!  I don’t drink often (especially back then) and after a couple of them, well, we were all pretty much crawling up stairs to our bunks.

The next morning, a group of us went down below the dam again to fish for a bit, before we all had to head home.  I ended up leaving pretty soon, as I had a looong drive back to Lewiston.   We said our goodbyes and off I went.  I did stop at the Grubstake and pick up a few things before heading out of town.
On the way home, I just had to stop a few places along the Lochsa and try my hand at “nymphing”.  I stopped at two places and caught cutthroats and a whitey at both… I also learned that some bushes that I curse during the summer months, have a massive load of blackberries on them in the fall!

It was such a quick trip, and such a long ways to go—but it was one that I will never forget—even though 4 years now,  the timelines are a little fuzzy—but the memories will never leave!

Top 3 Innovations in 20 Years-Fly Tying

I recently saw an article on Facebook from the Billings Gazette by Bob Krumm called “Fly Tyers name greatest innovations in craft”. In this article he spoke with some “Contemporary” fly Tier’s at the Western Rocky Mountain Council of the International Federation of Fly Fishers Expo, which included folks such as Frank Johnson, Bob Jacklin, Al & Gretchen Beatty, Lee Sieckmann, John Newberry, John Kimura and Jim Ferguson.

The question Mr. Krumm posed to the tiers was “What do you consider the three greatest innovations in fly tying in your lifetime?”
Here is a link to the article so that you can see their answers.
I am not even close to the level of this group of people, but I have been fly tying for a little over 20 years and this article got me to thinking about what I thought was in my opinion, the top three innovations. Here are my thoughts and why I think they are the 3 greatest innovations.


My first thought on the greatest innovation is thread. It has come a long way in the last 20 years it is thinner but yet stronger and a lot more colors.

My 2nd thought is materials. Metz was the big name when I started and the hackles were good but the ones out today are longer, stiffer hackles and again more colors. There are also a lot more choices for dubbing, and synthetics are by far more available.

Picture by 

And finally the 3rd and quite possible the greatest innovation, is the Internet.  When I first started to tie flies you could get a book with patterns, or one with how to tie a fly and if you looked real hard you could find a few video cassette’s that were good at showing how it was done.  Now if you want to learn to tie a fly you can find all kinds of instructions on the Internet– be it a particular pattern or just a new technique.

And there you have it my two cents on the three greatest innovations in fly tying in the last twenty years.

What do you think is the greatest innovation we would love to hear what you think so let us know?
Until next time tight lines and Screaming drags.
Brian D.

Fly Tiers the Unsung Heroes of Fly Fishing Shows

There are a lot that go into putting on a fly fishing show.  The venue, the vendors, the programs, the workshops and the fly tiers and more.  All are very important to the success of the show. The big names and the programs and workshops are what draws the crowds, and everyone want to see the great new products that the vendors have.
            But there is a group of folks that are, in my opinion, the heart of any fly fishing show– the demonstration fly tiers. Don’t get me wrong- every one of these groups are very important to a good show. You have to have the Programs and Workshops to draw in the crowds- these are usually folks that are local heroes or folks that are paid for their time (“star” of the show”/etc.), or vendors that are already there with a booth.  Many are local, but some come from a ways away to sell their wares.  The vendors pay for booth space and/or donate to the clubs in exchange for their space. 
            Then there are the demonstration fly tiers. Britt has been in charge of getting tiers and organizing that portion of the show here in Lewiston for three years now.  The first time she organized the tiers, we were amazed that these folks come all the way to a show and did their demo tying without compensation!  That’s right– these folks travel to different shows and are not paid for doing it. We have had folks come from Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Canada and Utah to tie here in Lewiston. Some do sell their flies, some sell DVD’s or some other items to help offset the cost but these folks are not paid travel expenses or lodging or for their time, so why in the hell do they do it?
            These folks drive from their homes, stay for two days to tie flies for two to four hours or more, with their own materials and don’t get any pay for it (and often donate their flies to interested show-goers!).  So why do they do it?  The answer is simple- for the love of what they do and the chance to teach someone about fly tying, or to get someone interested in this part of the sport of fly fishing.
            These folks, I say folks because it is not just men, there are some damn fine women tiers. They take time away from their day jobs, travel for hours to get to a show just so they can set up their vice and tie flies- hoping that there will be lots of people come thru and sit down in front of them and ask “What are you tying” or “That looks good , how do you do that”. Believe it or not that, is the reward these folks are looking for- just someone to sit down in front of them and ask questions, someone to show interest in what they are doing.
            This year Britt and I were invited to tie at the Western Rocky Mountain Council of the International Fly Fishing Federation show in Coeur d’Alene. We packed up our vices and materials and went up on Saturday to tie. Britt and I have tied at a couple of shows this year really just getting started in the Demo tying. We saw some of our fly tying friends there, and had a great time!  That is one other thing I have learned about this group of folks “the demo fly tiers”- they are like a big family.
It was a good show! I had a few people sit down to watch, but Britt was in 7th heaven when a young man of about 15 and his mother sat down and started asking questions about what she was tying and how to do this and that at the tying bench. After the show, as we were driving home, she looked at me and said “I finally get it! It was amazing to have someone sit down that was egger to learn about the sport and what we do!” I see us going to a lot more shows as demo tiers in our future.
            So the next time you attend a fly fishing show and your walking around and you see the folks at the tables tying up flies, take a few minutes to sit down and ask questions.  That is why these folks are there, and believe me you won’t be bothering them! That’s what they came to the show to do, is to tie flies and share what they are doing. If you do you might be rewarded with a fly or two of your very own–you never know.
Till next time tight lines and screaming drags,
Brian D.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Well so far this year, man what a start to the year.
Brittany has been busy with being president for the fly fishing club. All sorts of things happening there. Me getting healed up from surgery for a broken wrist.
We bought a new house. Boy is it ever perfect for us, a 2 car garage turned into a family room our fly tying room, a big shop in the back yard we love it.
Brittany and I are both learning to Spey cast so we will be ready for the next steelhead run can’t wait to feel the first tug.
We attended the Ellensburg IFFF show with our friend Tom and Jennifer, we got to see a lot of our friend at the show and the four of us had a great time it was an absolute blast. Can’t wait to do it again.
We have been out fishing only a few times so far once to Lake Winchester for a club outing it snowed in the morning but we did catch a few fish, we used a drift boat in the morning and float tubes in the afternoon. Britt and I took turns on the sticks. Doesn’t look like we will get near the trips we had last year but got to go for quality not quantity.

Made a trip to the St. Joe tough fishing during the run off but we did catch a few fish each, Britt hooked in to a nice little 12 inch Cutthroat and had a big old Bull Trout take a swipe at it.  Was a great day trip.

We sold our camper and got a new tent to get us thru until we get a new camper probably in the next year or two.

Took a long weekend trip to the North Fork of the Clearwater / Kelly Creek that turned out to be a different kind of weekend not what I would call great, water was high and cold did catch a few fish some nice ones but managed to lock my keys in the truck while we were there so Brittany can now cross busting out a window of a rig off of her bucket list.
Thing is if you are out in the middle of nowhere often enough you will lock your keys in the rig sooner or later it’s just the way it is. If you have never had it happen count yourself lucky so far but trust me it will.

And if you follow Britt on Facebook you know she has won a lot of stuff on there, me not so, well I Would like to thank High Mountain Angler Magazine and Otter net company I was contacted that I have won their giveaway and my silver creek net is on its way from Otter Nets can’t wait to land some big old trout with it.
And then to top off I was just promoted to Detention Supervisor. Its going to be an interesting summer for sure. Don’t know how much fishing we will get in, not enough, never get enough time fishing. But we will make the best of what time we do get. I promise you that.
Until next time, and it won’t be such a long time in between.
Bent rods and Screaming Drags

Long time no post

Folks we are truly sorry it’s been since November since we last posted. 

But it has been a very busy winter. It started off with me ( Brian) having surgery to fix a broken wrist, I fished on it broken all summer. 
Then our landlord told us we had to move so she could move in, so the hunt was on and we found and bought our own house. 
Also my dear wife was made Kelly creeck flycasters very first woman president and we have been busy working on the North Idaho Fly Fishing Expo that will take place in March. 
As for fishing Britt did make it out 3 times to try her hand at steelhead fishing after a lesson from our friend Craig. She had to no takes but was out there, while I stood by on the bank arm in a cast.
 Just wanted to give everyone a quick update, sorry no pics working off of my phone.
 So we are still around more to come soon we promise. Until next time we meet bent rods and screaming drags