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Monday, February 29, 2016

Guide Highlight - Colby Crossland

Channel your inner moustache

Every February Curtis and I make a trek to Utah's green river to celebrate our birthdays (he's a LOT older than me.)  These trips usually consist of waking up at 4:30, driving for about 4 hours to the river, fishing midges until we either get bored of catching fish or get frozen to the core, and then head back home.  Some years it's midge fishing bliss in moderate winter temperatures, while other years it's filled with snow wind and Curtis crying himself to sleep on the way home.  This year it was an especially great trip, not because the midge fishing was insane, or the temperatures were speedo
Colby with a meat eater
worthy.  It was great because we finally got to float the river with our buddy Colby Crossland.  It's kind of one of those things where you always talk about fishing, but life happens and stuff...  Well, we finally made it happen.

We have known Colby (who is now a d-list celebrity due to his moustache and swimsuit photo spreads in RV Weekly magazine) for a number of years just through the Utah fly fishing community, and for the past several years he has been making clients happy by helping them hook fish on the green river.  He guides for Spinner Fall Guide Service, who employs many of the top guides on the river and has a reputation for fishing dry flies a lot.

We kind of wanted to fish for a mixed bag of active fish (risers and meat eaters) so we decided to float the A scetion of the green river, which is located directly beneath the Flaming Gorge Dam.  Due to the nature of the constant cool water year round, it is a great trout habitat that allows you to see fish everywhere, almost like you are in an aquarium.  Right from the start of this trip we saw how intimate he was with all of the "micro drifts," "new rocks," and areas that held fish vs areas that didn't.  I could tell that Colby is a true ambassador of the river, and his hundreds of days floating the river showed.  Just like his overall easy going demeanor, he likes to guide in a way that is maybe unique in his own way.  Instead of just getting clients into fish, he'll teach them some of the intricacies of drifting a tiny dry fly right down feeder alley, or throwing a beefy streamer at a meat eater.  Curtis and I have fished the Green River quite a lot, but it's amazing what you can learn if you have an open mind, and someone who is willing to share fishy knowledge with you.

Cheech and Colby playing musical chairs
Colby knew that I had just gotten a drift boat, and he was even gracious enough to help me with some of the trickier parts of rowing the river.  A good guide should leave a client a better angler, not just a person who has caught 5 more fish in his life.  For the majority of this trip Curtis was searching for the subtle noses in the back eddies while I focused on plopping meat down in hopes of enticing the carnivores.  While we were flailing and doing our best to sink his fancy Stealthcraft, Colby made sure to always have his eyes open to the risers, while putting me in the best position to huck the meat.   The risers were deciding not to play very much, but we found some hungry fish that wanted to eat the meat - so we fed it to them.  Perhaps the most memorable "eat" of the trip was when we were anchored next to shore for a quick lunch and we spotted a mid sized rainbow "trying" to hide in the weeds.  I actually didn't see it until Colby and Curtis pointed it out.  I put a mini belly scratcher in front of it in the sand, and we watched it slowly swim over and toilet bowl flush it into it's mouth.  That was pretty rewarding, because he sucked it in like he was basically trying to digest it before he even ate it!
Little Fatty with a soft gut.  It ate the belly scratcher.

Here is Colby's profile page to Spinner Fall Guide Service.  If you are looking for a great guide on the Green River, give them a call!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

AP Emerger Variation

A Hybrid of a Hybrid fly

AP Emerger variation

When I was still fairly new to the sport, the annual outdoors expo was the highlight of my year because I could go wander around looking at flies, gear, etc...  I was going through a phase where I fished lakes 90% of the time, so I was always looking for the latest greatest stillwater pattern. I tied flies a lot, and at the time, they boxes were loaded with leeches, buggers, and other abominations that I called flies.  It was at this show where I saw Denny Rickards giving a presentation on his patterns and techniques for stillwater angling, and like he starts off so many times, he started by telling of a fly that was illegal in most states because it caught so many fish.  We all knew it was BS, and so did Denny.  I guess that was his way of getting people's attention by telling them that he had an effective fly.  Don't quote me on it, but I think the "illegal" fly changed between the seal bugger and the AP emerger depending on which show it was.  I never really bought in to the pitch wholeheartedly, but I'll guaran-damn-tee you that I tied some of those flies for my box! I was young and impressionable! 

AP Variant with a different tail and a hint of pink
Just like any fly pattern that I tie, I immediately began tweaking these flies to suit my needs.  The AP (stands for All Purpose) emerger is basically a larger sized soft hackle that had a wood duck, mallard, or partridge tail, a dubbed body with a wire rib through it, a peacock thorax, and a partridge soft hackle.  Larger sized soft hackles really should be in any stillwater angler's box and they can be fished as anything from a mayfly nymph to a leech.  The variation that I use now has a bit buggier dubbing than the original, and adds just a hint of flash in the body, thorax, and head.  I also really like fishing these in natural hare's ear color, but with hints of other colors.


**I listed Hareline grade 1 partridge in these recipes, but the grade 2 pelts will work too. If you want a slight upgrade on the partridge, get a Nature's Spirit Partridge Skin HERE.


Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (+)
Weight: Lead Free Wire - .020 (+)
Thread: Danville 140 - Purple (+)
Tail and Collar: Partridge - Natural (+)
Body: Nature's Spirit Snowshoe Rabbit Foot Dubbing - Hare's Ear (+)
Rib: Holographic Tinsel Medium - Purple (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub - Brown (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (+)
Weight: Lead Free Wire - .020 (+)
Thread: MFC 8/0 - Fl. Pink (+)
Tail and Collar: Partridge - Natural (+)
Body: Nature's Spirit Snowshoe Rabbit Foot Dubbing - Hare's Ear (+)
Rib: Holographic Tinsel Medium- Pink (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub - Brown (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (+)
Weight: Lead Free Wire - .020 (+)
Thread: MFC 8/0 - Chartreuse (+)
Tail and Collar: Partridge - Natural (+)
Body: Nature's Spirit Snowshoe Rabbit Foot Dubbing - Hare's Ear (+)
Rib: Holographic Tinsel Medium- Chartreuse (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub - Brown (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1710 #8 (+)
Weight: Lead Free Wire - .020 (+)
Thread: Danville 140 - Gray (+)
Tail and Collar: Partridge - Natural (+)
Body: Nature's Spirit Snowshoe Rabbit Foot Dubbing - Hare's Ear (+)
Rib: Veevus Pearl Tinsel Medium (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub - Brown (+)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Biot Midge Pupa

Add some spice to your pupa life

Biot Pupa

On a trip to one of our favorite cutthroat waters this summer we decided to see what would happen if we decided to match the hatch instead of throw the typical foam marshmallow-like flies that they are known to eat from time to time.  I tied the biot pupa on underneath a big foamer, and it got pretty ridiculous pretty quickly.  I was fishing the olive and copper biot pupa, and at one point in the day I landed 6 fish in 6 casts...  In your face Curtis.

This is a bug that we have been fishing for a few years now with great results, and It's a good way to kind of break up the standard Zebra Midge routine with a cool bug that catches plenty of fish.  This particular pattern in brown and blue does great on some of our more picky midge waters, and the color combinations are endless due to the wide array of colors that are available.  Check out our favorite color combos below the video.

~ Cheech



Hook: Daiichi 1120 #18 (+)
Bead: Tungsten 2mm - Copper (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 - Camel (+)
Body: Goose Biot - Brown (+)
Rib: UTC wire sm - Blue (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub: UV Brown (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1120 #18 (+)
Bead: Tungsten 2mm - Copper (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 - Olive (+)
Body: Goose Biot - Olive (+)
Rib: UTC wire sm - Copper (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub: Brown Olive (+)

Black/ Silver

Hook: Daiichi 1120 #18 (+)
Bead: Tungsten 2mm - Silver (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 - Black (+)
Body: Goose Biot - Black (+)
Rib: UTC wire sm - Silver (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub: UV Black (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1120 #18 (+)
Bead: Tungsten 2mm - Black nickel (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 - Black (+)
Body: Goose Biot - Muskrat gray (+)
Rib: UTC wire sm - Black (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub: Callibaetis (+)

Friday, February 19, 2016

Flügenblinger Bugger

Who doesn't need a little bling on their buggers?

Flügenblinger Bugger

I must admit, it's really been a few years since I've consistently fished any sort of standard bugger or leech pattern. I find myself opting for chironomids, baitfish or other more match-the-hatch style patterns when fishing lakes and reservoirs. However, a few weeks ago, I was going through some stillwater boxes and came across a style of leech/bugger combo pattern Cheech and I used to fish a lot. It incorporates Arizona Simi Seal into the body (as opposed to say a Chenille) but keeps the stand-by hackle aspect of a regular bugger and then you blend it all together to create an awesome full-bodied pattern that's the best of both worlds.

We are, after all, mostly trying to imitate leeches or other bigger insects such as damsels or dragon fly nymphs here, so having more lifelike movement, some translucency and a good natural-looking body taper is a good thing. Plus we throw in some extra bling on this one by means of some Kiley's Bugger Bling and some attractive Loon UV Clear Fly Finish (especially the Fluorescing kind) and it all comes together for a fun pattern to tie that also happens to catch fish.

And don't limit yourself to lakes either. This could be sized and colored differently to be fished for anything from bigger hex mayflies, drakes, stoneflies or October caddis. It's a good style of pattern for a lot of things, so check out the video below and tie some up!

Burnt Orange

Hook: Daiichi 1710, #10 (+)
Thread: UNI 6/0, Rusty Brown (+)
Under-Body (optional): .025 Lead Free Wire (+)
Tail: Whiting Super Bou, Dyed Brown (+)
Tail: Krystal Flash, Rootbeer  (+)
Body: Arizona Simi Seal, Canadian Brown (+)
Hackle: Whiting Bugger Pack, Grizzly Dyed Coachman Brown (+)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Copper, Brassie (+)
Shell: Kiley's Bugger Bling (+)
Collar: Whiting Coq De Leon Hen Saddle, Speckled Burnt Orange (+)

Other Tools, materials:
Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Thick (+)
Loon UV Fluorescing Clear Fly Finish (+)
Stonfo Combo Comb/Brush (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1710, #10 (+)
Thread: UNI 6/0, Black (+)
Under-Body (optional): .025 Lead Free Wire (+)
Tail: Whiting Super Bou, Black (+)
Tail: Krystal Flash, UV Pearl (+)
Body: Arizona Simi Seal, Black/Red (+)
Hackle: Whiting Bugger Pack, Black (+)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Wine, Brassie (+)
Shell: Kiley's Bugger Bling (+)
Collar: Whiting Coq De Leon Hen Saddle, Speckled Red (+)


Hook: Daiichi 1710, #10 (+)
Thread: MFC 6/0, Chartreuse (+)
Under-Body (optional): .025 Lead Free Wire (+)
Tail: Whiting Super Bou, Fl. Green Chartreuse (+)
Tail: Krystal Flash, UV Pearl (+)
Body: Arizona Simi Seal, Golden Peacock (+)
Hackle: Whiting Bugger Pack, Fl. Green Chartreuse (+)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Chartreuse, Small (+)
Shell: Kiley's Bugger Bling (+)
Collar: Whiting Coq De Leon Hen Saddle, Speckled Fl. Green Chartreuse (+)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Deep Dish Callibaetis 2.0

Dialed in and drake-compatible

A Drake-ish version of the Deep Dish
As I've written before here, here and here about the Deep Dish Callibaetis, it's one of my go-to still water patterns. Although not the most simple of ties out there, it's a fun pattern to whip up and looks cool to boot. And while originally intended to be just a wicked callibaetis nymph or emerger, this past year I ran into a couple of brown drake hatches that got me thinking about turning it into a brown drake nymph as well.

But here's where you need to put on your bug nerd hats and understand the leap between a Callibaetis and a Drake (Epherema Simulans). A Callibaetis nymph is classified as a swimmer, while a brown drake is a burrower. They're sized differently but overall coloration can be similar. Compare the two photos below. Both insects have lighter brown/tan contrasting colors on the body and wing case as well as fairly pronounced gills along the abdomen. And although both photos here show a lighter thorax area, both bugs can have varying degrees of darker brown, gray or tan as well.

Either way, the Deep Dish has now become a mash-up style pattern where I vary colors and sizes to imitate different mayflies. It works out in the end, just ask a fish or two if you don't believe me.

Emphemera Simulans (Brown Drake)

Callibaetis -- Courtesy of

In a river, where you'll find drakes more often than callibaetis usually, I'll nymph the drake version of the Deep Dish on either a euro rig or a dry dropper.

Material List

Hook: Daiichi 710, #14 (+)
Thread: Danville 70 Denier, Olive (+)
Under-Body: .015 Lead Free Wire (+)
Bead: Mayfly Nymph-Head, Swimmer & Burrower, Small, Brown (+)
Tail: Lemon Barred Wood Duck (+)
Abdomen: Pearl Tinsel, Medium (+)
Abdomen 2: Ostrich Herl, Scud Tan (+)
Abdomen Back: UNI Double Sided Mylar, Orange/Peacock #14 (+)
Ribbing: UTC Ultra Wire, Gold, Small (+)
Thorax: Hare'e Ice Dub, Tan (+)
Legs: Grizzly Micro Legs, Rootbeer (+)
Wing Case: Nymph Skin, Bronze/Tan - Clear (+)
Wing Case Stripe: UNI Double Sided Mylar, Orange/Peacock #16 (+)

NOTE: For a bigger bug like a Drake, go with a #10 or #12 hook and the medium sized Nymph-Head

Other Tools, materials:
Loon UV Fluorescing Clear Fly Finish (+)
Stonfo Combo Comb/Brush (+)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Chuck's Midge

A pupa for all seasons

I was introduced to this fly several years ago on a winter fishing excursion with Charlie Card on the Green River in Utah.  It was one of those days that were almost too cold to fish, but after an hour's drive I was determined to make the best out of it.  Charlie and I hit the water and kind of split up a bit to hit two different runs in the river, and my strategy was to start small and get smaller if I didn't get anything to eat.  I was about to tie on a #28 midge pupa when I decided to go upstream to see how Charlie was doing.  No surprise, but he was reeling in a nice fish that was just one of several that he had caught that morning.  When I asked about the special sauce, he said that he was fishing "green."  I made some adjustments later that day and ended up putting a few fish in the net on flies that I might have considered too big for January fishing.  One of the flies that Charlie showed me that day was a blinged out pupa with a double rib and tungsten bead.  I'm not even sure what he called it, but I have referred to it as "Chuck's Midge" since then, and I have fished it in many rivers and lakes with great success.  I typically fish it in a size 16, but a size 14 or 18 make fine bugs as well.




Hook: Daiichi 1120 #16 (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0 olive (+)
Bead: 2mm tungsten black nickel (+) (we used silver, but black nickel is more common)
Body: Veevus pearl tinsel - medium (+)
Rib1: UTC wire - small chartreuse (+)
Rib2: Coats and Clark sewing thread - brown (readily available at Wal Mart)
Thorax: Ice dub - olive brown (+)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sprout Midge - Dry Fly

Sometimes Simple is Best

Black Sprout Midge

I remember very clearly when I first started to fish midge dry flies.  It was kind of one of those areas that I considered waaaaay over my head, because it wasn't just dry fly fishing - it was trying to catch picky fish on what seemed like a tiny fluff of carpet on a tiny hook.  I had been fly fishing about a year, and I had a trusty Pflueger Trophy Tamer 6 wt and a matching reel that was equally awesome.  My friend Aaron and I were fishing the Green River in Utah, and the fish were really targeting small midges on top all day long.  This was my chance to jump in head first to the midge dry fly circus.  I had tied some small parachute flies that were copies of the flies that I had seen in bins in the local shops in Salt Lake, so I lashed them on with the smallest tippet that I had (4x) and hoped for the best.  They weren't the best ties in the world, but the fish absolutely ate them up, and that day went down as one of the most memorable days of fishing that I have had.  We probably caught ten or so fish each, but I may as well have caught 150.  After a gorge burger and a long drive back home, I found out that they were called the Sprout Midge - and that I had forgotten the trailing shuck on the back.  They worked so well that they have become a staple in my box - without the shuck, and they are easy enough to tie that you can crank out a bunch in no time.

~ Cheech


**Since the thread is a key part of this fly, feel free to use your favorite thread on this fly.  MFC 8/0, Danville 70, and Veevus 16/0 - 14/0 are all capable substitutes.


Hook: Daiichi 1130- #20 (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0- Black (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub- Black (+)
Post: Para Post Material - White (+)
Hackle:  Black or grizzly. See below


Hook: Daiichi 1130- #20 (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0- Olive (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub- Olive Brown (+)
Post: Para Post Material - White  (+)
Hackle:  Dun or grizzly. See below


Hook: Daiichi 1130- #20 (+)
Thread: Uni 8/0- Gray (+)
Thorax: Ice Dub- Callibaetis (+)
Post: Para Post Material - White (+)
Hackle:  Dun or Grizzly. See below

A note on the hackle...  Many different types of hackle can be used on this fly, and we chose to use a Whiting Cape in black.  This being said, the Hebert Miner Capes, High and Dry Capes, and Whiting Midge Saddles also work great for this fly.  Black, Grizzly, and Dun are my favorite colors for midges.  Also, you will find many useable hackles in the small sizes on both Bronze and Pro Grade hackles.  Curtis and I both have several of both grades and we are constantly blown away by the quality of these "lower" grade hackles.  Check out our selection of dry fly hackle HERE.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Quill Body Midge Pupa

Downsized buzzer style

A pile of Quill Body Pupae

There are likely only a few fly fishers who have not, at some point or another, had to fish a midge/chironomid/buzzer pattern. Many freshwater trout spend a good portion of their lives picking up these little (and sometimes pretty big) bugs for lunch. In stillwater (i.e. lake and reservoir) fishing circles, the ubiquitous buzzer or chironomid patterns are a staple of the fly box and come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. However, as I've looked over my boxes from the past few years, I realize my flies and corresponding insect samples from stillwater outings land a bit on the larger size, running anywhere from #14's up to #8's on average. This doesn't usually translate over to rivers and streams as well, plus the bigger flies tend to be loaded with more realistic features.

So, as I looked at my river midge boxes with zebra midges, thread midges, WD40's and a number of others, I realized I really needed to shrink some of my bigger more effective buzzer patterns to get some more realistic imitations of our smaller diptera specimens. 

The quill body midge pupa was one of the first ones to get really downsized. There's nothing inherently original about this pattern. I'm pretty sure this style pattern is taught in all elementary schools in the U.K., so it's a common one. I've just put it to use on hooks down to #22 in order to better imitate river midges.

Purdy Cutthroat who was eating small midges
I usually fish this pattern as a dropper from either a midge dry fly or emerger like the Bunny Midge or the Foamerger. The cutthroat shown here was taken on the quill body pupa in a #20 that was dropped from a bigger attractor pattern.

Also it's important to note that you might be faced with a situation where you're fishing to some obese trout eating these small bugs. If you want to beef up the hook, go with the Daiichi 1120 below instead of the lighter wire 1130.

Hook: Daiichi 1130 #18 - #22 (+)  For bigger fish, go with Daiichi 1120 #18 (+)
Thread: Danville 70 Denier Black (+)
Body: Stripped Peacock Quill, Natural (+)
Wing Buds: Goose Biots, Orange (+)
Coating: Loon Fluorescing UV Clear Fly Finish (+)