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Sources for Streamflow Data

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fishing Tips

Virtually all fly fishing guides and outfitters in Montana watch streamflow data and streamflow forecasts like hawks, especially during runoff season (that is to say: right now) and when summer thunderstorms are rolling around. This is no different than farmers watching the weather forecasts. Here are the important sites to allow YOU to check streamflows, both right now and expected flows for the days ahead.

Montana Streamflow Data: This site returns data from all USGS gauging stations in Montana. The site is organized by river drainage, then from upstream gauging stations to downstream stations. In my area, the Yellowstone Basin graphs from the Lamar River in Yellowstone Park down to the graph at Springdale are the graphs I use most often, with the Stillwater graph secondary. By far the most important graphs for general streamflow are the Corwin Springs and Livingston graphs on the Yellowstone, while the Lamar and Gardner graphs are important for telling me about sudden rises in water level (which are almost always accompanied by mud) due to storms.

Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service – Billings: Here’s the streamflow prediction site for eastern Montana. This site shows flow graphs noted in the previous link, but also shows predicted flows for the next few days for most gauging stations. The basic graph pictured below is most useful during the spring runoff season when we are trying to plan for future trips based on weather forecast. If you’re looking at a big predicted bump coming up, it’s best to get fishing beforehand, because that bump means mud.

This site also includes an option to view “Probability Information.” This is a longer-range forecast of predicted flows, but it isn’t updated very often and I often find it inaccurate. Here’s a sample graph of probability information:

Select the above graph by clicking the dropdown menu off the lower right corner of the graph, then selecting “Flow – Weekly Chance of Exceeding Levels.” This is most useful to anglers, as flow rather than gauge height determines fishability. Too much water and things are too rough, and probably muddy to boot.

May-Midge Cripple Fly Tying Video

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fly Tying Videos

We tied the May-Midge as something of an experiment prior to the 2019, intending it to combine attributes of midge patterns like the Griffith’s Gnat while maintaining the overall silhouette of tiny, sparse mayflies. Our goal with this fly was to come up with something that would fool the spooky, lazily-rising fish we often see in the morning in flat water in late summer and early fall. These fish seldom eat any one thing in particular, but are feeding on a mixture of midges and the duns of three or four species of mayflies, as well as the occasional odd ant, mayfly spinner, and other “schmutz.” The May-Midge proved extremely effective in this role this season, particularly in the Lamar Drainage, where it turned out several very large fish on lower Slough Creek that were turned off by larger and/or more heavily-dressed flies.

Note: This fly is intended for use in slow water, particularly big eddy lines or places with many complicated micro-currents. It should not be used in choppy water, as it won’t float well in chop.

Recipe

Hook: #16-22 1x short, 1x fine emerger hook.

Thread #1 and Abdomen: Claret Veevus Body Quill (I called it wine in the video).

Tail/Shuck: Gray Sparkle Emerger Yarn or similar.

Thread #2: 8/0 or 10/0 wine.

Wing: White Widow’s Web or similar synthetic yarn.

Hackle: Grizzly saddle, tied sparse.

Thorax: UV Brown Ice Dub.

Other Colors: Light olive, black, copper, gray (use alternate abdomen material on gray, as there is no gray Body Quill). Change threads and dubbing to match desired fly color. Tail, wing, and hackle do not change.

Fuzz Bastard Prince Nymph Fly Tying Video

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fly Tying Videos

I developed this nymph on and mostly for the Gibbon, but it’s a good choice anytime you’re looking for a changeup from a conventional Prince. Fish it either under a big bushy dry or in a bobber or Euro-nymphing rig.

Note that it was originally called a Hula Princess and this is the name given in the video. The pattern also works well tied in traditional Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, olive, tan, and other colors.

Hook: Any standard-length jig nymph hook, #12-18. Here, #16.

Bead: Gold slotted tungsten to match hook. Here 3/32″.

Thread: 8/0 black.

Shuck: Short tuft of crinkled ginger synthetic yarn.

Rib: Small to medium gold Ultra Wire, here Brassie.

Abdomen: 2-4 strands of peacock herl, depending on hook size and herl quality. Here 3 strands are used.

Wing: Tuft of cream or white crinkled synthetic yarn, clipped Serendipity-style.

“Hackle:” Brown dubbing blend of your choice, tied loop-style and if necessary trimmed to length. Here brown acrylic and pheasant tail Ice Dub are used, but squirrel, hare’s ear, or other nymph dubbings would also work.

Caddis Cripple Fly Tying Video

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fly Tying Videos

Caddis Cripple

New tying vid: Caddis Cripple

While this color is intended for use on the Firehole River, where it matches the crucial June and September White Miller or Nectopsyche caddis, a few color tweaks makes this pattern match any caddis you wish, and it also makes a good low-riding attractor dry for summer. Tie them in olive-brown for the upcoming Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch, imminent on the Yellowstone & Madison!

Recipe

Hook: Short shank dry, #12-20 (especially #14-16). Here, #16.

Thread: 8/0 to match or contrast overall color tones of the fly. Here, cream.

Body: Dubbing of your choice. Here, golden Arizona Synthetic Peacock. Keep the body sparse and rather scraggly.

Wing and Head: Widow’s Web or similar hydrophobic synthetic. Here, beige. Typical “realistic” colors are caddis tan and light tan. Typical “attractor” colors are white, polar bear, and beige.

Hackle: 4-5 turns of saddle hackle, trimmed under the hook. Here, barred light ginger.

Delektable Spanker Nymph Fly Tying Video

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fly Tying Videos

Delektable Spanker Nymph: Introduction

Dan Delekta’s Lil Spanker and Big Spanker are red hot “guide flies” in southwest Montana. In essence, the Delektable Spanker Nymph series consists of Pheasant Tail and Lightning Bug variations tied with long flash legs and CDC collars. This particular color variant tied jig-style was my top-producing nymph on guided trips on the Yellowstone and Stillwater Rivers from the middle of August through about September 20 during the 2020 season. To learn more about Dan Delekta’s flies, visit this page and peruse his catalog.

I am now accepting bookings for the 2021 season. In fact I am already about 1/3 booked during the month of July, so if you’re looking to book a guided trip, it makes sense to get on the phone soon.

Video

Delektable Spanker Nymph: Recipe

Hook: 60-degree barbless standard jig, #12-18.

Bead: Slotted tungsten, here gold.

Thread: 8/0 To match or slightly contrast with body, here 8/0 light brown.

Tail: Speckled game bird or hackle, here medium pardo cod-de-leon.

Abdomen: Pheasant Tail fibers, Flashabou, or tinsel. Here holographic gold Flashabou.

Rib: Copper wire, here brown in Brassies size.

Wing Case: Tinsel, here medium opal Mirage.

Thorax: Peacock herl or flashy dubbing, here brown stone SLF dub.

Legs: Krystal Flash or Midge Krystal Flash, here tan Midge Krystal Flash.

Collar: CDC, here brown.

Pink AMEX Czech Nymph Fly Tying Video

Posted on March 4th, 2021 in Fly Tying Videos

The pink AMEX Czech is one of the most popular nymph patterns in winter and early spring on the Missouri River, and a good bet on any tailwater stream. It suggests both eggs and dead/dying scuds, and as such is a good “junk bug” attractor pattern on tailwaters.

While normally tied on a scud hook, I prefer to tie larger versions (#12-14) on jig hooks with tungsten beads, to cut down on hangups. Pair these with some smaller fly, such as a Pink Lightning Bug.

In addition to the AMEX Czech, it’s also worth checking out the “Rainbow Czech,” which is generally similar except with the dubbing colors reversed and a full scud-style shellback. Both patterns bear some similarity to the Pink Squirrel nymph popular in the Driftless region of the upper Midwest.

Hook: Lightning Strike Jig, #12-18, or #10-16 Umpqua C450BL (note: the Lightning Strikes tend to run a touch big).

Bead: Nickel slotted tungsten, 5/32″ to 3/32″

Thread: 6/0 or 8/0 fl. fire orange.

Rib: Black Hareline Midge or Micro tubing. Here a sub for the midge tubing called Crystal String is used.

Abdomen: Bighorn pink Wapsi sow-scud dubbing, or comparable dubbing blend.

Wing Case: Large or medium opal tinsel depending on fly size.

Thorax: Rainbow Wapsi sow-scud dubbing.

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