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It Just Makes You Giggle...


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The Yellowstone in front of the house hasn't been fishing all that well lately. I go down about two or three evenings a week to check it out, mostly in the side channel, because the main river is getting pounded unmercifully. Parks Reece, the local fly fisherman/artist/satirist, has a print entitled "Yellowstone Summer", which shows a trout looking up at about a hundred flies. I can figure that any time I look out a window, there's about a 50/50 chance there will be a boat or raft drifting by. But they don't go down the side channel any longer now that it's getting lower, and any fish there should be a little less sophisticated, or at least not so worried about ducking drifting nymphs.

But the trout (and even the whitefish) in the side channel have been scattered, and some evenings I might catch only one or two.

Yesterday evening I stood in front of the three rods hanging from the hooks in the garage, trying to decide which to take. One is a 4 weight with a dry fly already tied on. I haven't seen any consistently rising fish in the side channel recently, so I rejected it. One is a 7 weight with a streamer. The evening was sunny, so I didn't figure the streamer would work until nearly dark. I had an hour before it got that dark. So my default choice was the 5 weight with a pair of nymphs. This time the nymphs were a size 12 gold bead hare's ear, a venerable nymph that still works perfectly well even though it's not much in vogue these days, and a size 16 black and grizzly soft hackle. I'd been using green bodied soft hackles, usually one of my favorite flies, with little success, so I figured I'd try something just a little different.

I got set up right where the riffle drops off into deeper water at what is now an abrupt edge of the bar over which the riffle flows. First drift...Thingamabobber jerks hard sideways, I come back on the fish, and a 12 inch rainbow instantly clears the water by three feet. Two more jumps and a charge between my legs that's so fast I don't get caught up on the slack until the fish has wrapped itself around my left leg. I'm giggling like a fool.

Two casts later, another take. This one instantly charges me on the hook set, and I don't even feel it until it turns at my feet and zips downstream, taking out the slack I was trying to strip, the extra slack, and about 20 feet of line off the reel. Then it jumps four feet high, hits the water and somehow, like one of those Olympic gymnasts on floor exercises, jumps again another three feet. Now I'm laughing out loud. When the rainbows are this hot it's truly a blast. This one is bigger, too, a good 16 inches.

The third fish comes from the same place, two or three drifts later. It doesn't jump, but just like the other one its first move is a charge directly at me, and then a hard run downstream, where it then just churns the surface for a bit before coming undone.

The fourth fish takes the soft hackle on the swing at the end of the drift, hard enough for me to easily feel the jerk instead of relying on the indicator. It acts differently, with several surging runs and then a lot of surface rolling. It's a brown, and a good 20 inch fish, the biggest brown I've caught on the river so far this summer.

I get several more takes, catch one more rainbow of 15 inches or so, but then go through a short spell of what looks and briefly feels like takes but I come up empty. I finally think to check the flies, since I'd gotten them hung on the rocky bottom a few times, and sure enough the hook is broken off on the hare's ear. Oh well, it's getting darker anyway, and if the fish are this active they should maybe take a streamer. So I put one on, and sure enough catch three more rainbows, including a beautiful 18 incher. And then it's too dark to see. I'm no longer laughing out loud, but there's a smile plastered to my face as I start back for the house.

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a venerable nymph that still works perfectly well even though it's not much in vogue these days,

That is the way I like to fish too. The old baits work just as well now as they did then. I like it when people ask "What is that you're using?" And I'll tell them. "Where did you get that?" You can't get them anymore! There has been a big shift in the retail plug market. River style plugs are all but gone. It is all lake style now. The only holdovers are ones like Jitterbugs because they work so well on lakes too.

As for your trip...I had one like that, that I reported here a couple of springs ago. Only I wasn't getting mine in. I would get to fight them for about a minute, maybe, more like about 30 seconds most likely, and they would be gone. But I guess I was at peace with my self and just laughed it off. Strange ain't it?

Chief Grey Bear

Living is dangerous to your health

Owner Ozark Fishing Expeditions

Co-Owner, Chief Executive Product Development Team Jerm Werm

Executive Pro Staff Team Agnew

Executive Pro Staff Paul Dallas Productions

Executive Pro Staff Team Heddon, River Division

Chief Primary Consultant Missouri Smallmouth Alliance

Executive Vice President Ronnie Moore Outdoors

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Yeah, the small to fairly large ones that get off don't bother me a bit, I've "let them go" in my mind before the next cast. On the big ones I feel some regret that I didn't get to touch them and see exactly how big they were and maybe take a picture, but I soon forget them. Once in a while I'll hook and lose a truly exceptional fish and moan about it for a while, though.

I've found it interesting that, in fishing the same little area consistently for weeks on end as I can here at the house, the fish's locations and activity levels are so different from day to day. This was the first time I've actually found fish right at the foot of the riffle. And the first time they've really been so actively taking nymphs. And the first day the better fish were taking. I'll go down and fish it again this evening and we'll see what happens.

I'm totally with you on old lures, and especially old river lures. My two homemade smallie lures are based upon old lures that are now either unavailable or tough to find, the Shannon Twin Spinner and the Midge-oreno. My go-to topwater is just a modernized, fancy version of the Zara Spook. And I've got antique lures hanging on my wall that I absolutely know would catch fish well if I wished to throw them and take the chance of losing them. I can't really figure out why the Hare's Ear has kinda gone out of style, because you simply won't find a better imitation of a typical mayfly nymph, and mayfly nymphs are everywhere you lift up a rock in trout streams (and bass streams, for that matter).

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I can't really figure out why the Hare's Ear has kinda gone out of style, because you simply won't find a better imitation of a typical mayfly nymph, and mayfly nymphs are everywhere you lift up a rock in trout streams (and bass streams, for that matter).

Agreed Al, You would be hard pressed to find the hares ear, pt nymph or simple soft hackles in a new fly fishers box these days. It seems the fly fishing industry is always touting the newest materials, synthetics, weights, and gear that tend to make many entering the sport feel they must "have" the most expensive tackle, either to keep up with the "Jones'" or they will not be successful on the stream. Being the frugal fly fisherman I am, I learned longed ago this fly fishing thing is not rocket science.

Glass Has Class

"from the laid back lane in the Arkansas Ozarks"

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Pheasant tails, hare's ear soft hackles, and princes make up the majority of my catches, including big fish. There are a reason those patterns are "classics."

WARNING!! Comments to be interpreted at own risk.

Time spent fishing is never wasted.

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Agreed Al, You would be hard pressed to find the hares ear, pt nymph or simple soft hackles in a new fly fishers box these days.

Going fishing without any Hare's Ears or Pheasant Tails...Who could do such a thing?

For trout fishing I have a Hare's Ear or Pheasant Tail tied on something like 80% of the time.From Missouri to Colorado to Montana they just plain work. My fly box is half full of them. I think fly fishing can be a much more simple affair than many people make it out to be.

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Almost all antique lures would work, BUT some modern lures incorporate what made the old ones work and improve on it. Hawaiian Wigglers worked, but I'd rather have a War Eagle Screamin Eagle.

I tote GRHE and Prince Nymphs and use em a lot.

What happened to sow bugs and trout crack? Nobody will admit to using those anymore.

Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future. On Instagram @hamneedstofish

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Just got off the river this evening. Nothing like it was the other evening. Found a few fish well below the riffle in medium slow current, mainly hitting on the swing. I was using the same nymphs as before, although I also tried a Copper John. Had seven fish hooked, caught two whitefish and two rainbows. Then I went out on the main river when it was almost full dark and fished a big eddy with streamers, and hooked two fish, lost both of them.

Ham, you're right, lots of old lures have definitely been improved upon, but there are some that just cannot be made better. I've satisfied myself that the old Shannon Twin Spin simply has all the ingredients from the bucktail to the size of blades and length of arms. I've tried making variations of it with different materials and different configurations and none of them seem to work as well.

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Almost all antique lures would work, BUT some modern lures incorporate what made the old ones work and improve on it. Hawaiian Wigglers worked, but I'd rather have a War Eagle Screamin Eagle.

The HW still works. But, on the other hand, I guess some people need all the help they can get.

The fish aren't any smarter, just the manufactures and the salesmen.

Chief Grey Bear

Living is dangerous to your health

Owner Ozark Fishing Expeditions

Co-Owner, Chief Executive Product Development Team Jerm Werm

Executive Pro Staff Team Agnew

Executive Pro Staff Paul Dallas Productions

Executive Pro Staff Team Heddon, River Division

Chief Primary Consultant Missouri Smallmouth Alliance

Executive Vice President Ronnie Moore Outdoors

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What happened to sow bugs and trout crack? Nobody will admit to using those anymore.

Almost every thing I use could be considered a sow bug. I carry five patterns of sowbugs, one mayfly, and one egg. Add a couple of Leonard's hybernators, fishindoug's trout assassin, Jeff Tiff's fox squirrel, and that is my entire fly box.

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