Monday, January 10, 2011

Bighorn river special II: LBF dry recipe

This is fly tying recipe #2 for those going with me to the Bighorn river in March.  And this is a super secret one too.  It was passed down to me from the chain cigar smoking, motor-mouthed, part-time guide Mick (sp?).  Two years ago we were fishing one particular spot where we had had some really good luck the year before.  We were throwing nymphs way out into the river and occasionally hooking some nice fish.

After a while another guy came up to us and started talking our ears off.  He was really nice and asked if we minded if he watched right up river for a spot where he knew some fish would be sipping on dries in the early afternoon.  We said sure, but you have to divulge all your river secrets to us.

He obliged.

And we went to school.

He taught us how fishing nymphs to the fish would slowly push them further and further out into the river.  As we waded further and further out, eventually he would tell us to walk back in because he saw some fish swim back behind us.

This river is a little different than most rivers I have fished.  The fish don't seem to care about anglers in the water.  They are not scared at all.  In fact so far on every trip there, at some point I have had a fish sitting one foot behind my leg resting out of the current.  And they would happily stay there until I walked away.  It's pretty stunning.

Mick basically acted as our guide all day long and would sporadically fish the pod he had come to fish.  He even let me fish his set up for a while when I lost my dry fishing his pod.  And before we all left the river to walk back to the parking lot together, he gave me a couple of the dries he used when the baetis were hatching.  They are insanely simple and surprisingly easy to see on the river.  The recipe is as follows.

Dry Fly Hooks sz 14-18
Black Hackle
Black Thread

Start out with the black thread on the hook, tied back to the bend.

Just like the emerger recipe I posted previously, next tie in a few hackle fibers,  I usually use 4-6 depending on the size of the hook.  Try to get them to fan out just a little.

Next build up the tapered body with just the black thread to about 2/3 of the way up the hook.  Once you are 2/3 up the hook, tie in an appropriately sized black dry fly hackle feather.  Sorry about the focus of this picture.

Wind the hackle feather around the body until you have a good amount of hackle, but don't over-do it.  Then tie off the loose end, make sure the body in front of the hackle looks appropriately fat, whip finish, and clip the unused hackle feather.  The final product should look something like this:

I remember when I saw this fly, my first question to Mick was "Can you see it on the water?"  He said "Yes."

He was right.  Especially in flat light, when there tends to be a bad glare on the water, this total black fly sticks out like a sore thumb.  When white parachutes disappear in the glare, this fly looks like a tiny black hole.  You will be amazed!

I also just had an idea about adding in some thin tippet material to give some segmentation to the lower body.  If I try this I'll add picture below and ask for comments.  I rarely see any segmentation on dries and never bothered to wonder why until now.  Answers????

I tried one with some 7x tippet for lower body segmentation.  What do you think?  I would say it's a waste of time because you can barely tell the difference, but it takes literally 3 extra seconds.


  1. Don't you dare threaten the sacristy of old tried and true dry flies.

    Segmented bodies...hmmpf

  2. Sorry, but I already did. Here comes the photo. I hope to give this fly a toss and catch some fish on it in a couple months.