Think Like a Trout, Act Like a Bug.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


For aquatic insects that emerge in the surface film the partly shed cuticle (shuck) becomes an important consideration in fly design. As the adult works its way out of the cuticle the trailing shuck takes on a semitransparent, translucent look. When viewed from below, sunlight reflects and refracts off the thin shed cuticle and associated air bubbles, giving the trailing shuck a slightly glittery appearance. 

When tying emerger patterns the best way to imitate the trailing shuck is to tie in a tail of sparkly material. A few of strands of Krystal Flash or Antron yarn will usually do the trick. But remember to keep the tail sparse - it's easy to over do it.

Shed cuticles from Midge pupae (Chironomidae) viewed from above.

Shed cuticles from Midge pupae (Chironomidae) viewed from below. Note the air bubbles within each shuck.

Shed BWO cuticle (Baetis) viewed from below.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Choosing the Right Fly Color

One thing to consider when tying nymph patterns is that many aquatic bugs will tend to match the predominant color of the substrate they inhabit. The nymphs of any one species can vary in color from stream to stream, and in some cases from one section of a stream to another - but usually within a range of colors that are characteristic for that species. Green Drake (Drunella) nymphs for example can range from mottled brown to olive-green. If most of the rocks are mottled shades of brown, the nymphs will tend towards the brown end of the spectrum. If the stream bottom is covered in a layer of dark algae, or darker colored rocks are more common, shades of olive or olive-brown will dominate. Something to consider next time you are choosing a fly color.

Camouflage is key when trying to avoid being eaten (Drunella grandis nymph)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Resolute Lake Presentation

I will be doing a presentation on Resolute Lake at tomorrow night's Northern Lights Fly Fishers/Trout Unlimited meeting in Edmonton. Resolute Lake is a tiny, remote Alberta lake that few people have been to, or fished. If you are interested in adventure and mystery, come on out and enjoy the show.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Swimming with the Fish

Late in the season most trout in streams and rivers tend to move to the deeper holes to while away the winter months. They will still feed opportunistically and will take a well placed nymph on occasion, but for the most part conserving energy is the name of the game. On the warmer late autumn days they may move to riffles adjacent to the deep water to feed on emerging Baetis mayflies (blue winged olives). Drifting a nymph down the riffle and into the transition to slightly deeper water will certainly result in a few takes. 

This video was shot right on that transition on a day when Baetis mayflies were emerging. With the camera positioned right behind a rock where the riffle spills into the hole, you can see how close some of the fish were holding to the transition zone. Here, a foot or so of broken water was all they needed to feel safe

The season has drawn to a close on  most east slope streams here in Alberta but this is something to keep in mind for next fall.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Going, Going...

The open water season is winding down - the signs are all there...

An over-night skiff of snow
Winter's teeth closing in on the edge of a shaded run
And cutthroats congregating in deep winter holes
For the die-hard fly angler there are still a few Baetis mayflies hatching in the "heat" of the afternoon. These trickling hatches are sometimes enough to bring fish to the surface, but it is the tiny, drifting Baetis nymphs that will attract the most attention.