Swedish version

Dan Fallon's World of Fly fishing

Column nr.7 2004  



  Now that the unwashed hordes who sit at tidy desks sixty hours a week are gathering and flailing America’s beloved wild trout waters armed with carefully purchased deep diving nymphs and assorted dry flies. One can be certain many of our once or twice a year brother, sister fly fishers will encounter many instances when those nicely tied flies are completely useless in the face of either over educated roadside fish or fast water conditions which are now almost everywhere in North America. This fact is elemental and one need not be a detective to understand and become a more polished fly fisher with options, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930 closed this argument nicely,"Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius!"

  Only one riddle exists that if mastered or at least understood will give you the best odds of fooling any picky bored resident trout. Streamers and a host of different streamer feather clad flies work consistently if worked correctly. Before I get into my keys to using these often over looked alternate flies, many terrestrial replica type patterns depicting everything from frogs, snakes, butterflies, worms, lizards, grasshoppers, and others exist and are used by savvy fly fishers who are looking for an edge and a second plan if all else fails! Many serious fly fishers spend a great deal of time seeking out that special butt ugly red and black beetle looking thang that NEVER fails... Every region world wide has that special can’t fail pattern or two local guides cherish more than three days guiding Paris Hilton at a nude fly fishing resort?

  Magic bullet type flies do exist and I know of maybe 200 secret patterns I swore to never divulge period, the men and woman who created these never fails covet them like five thousand dollar bottles of Stags Leap Private Estate 1983. One of my personal most used emergency never fails is the Woolly Bugger. These popular streamers mimic eels, small bait fish or simply young fry moving quickly, they can be found almost everywhere and come in many sizes, colors. Though I have seen huge trout and bass hit the frog and snake look alikes, it does not appeal to my comfort level as these replicas seem to cross the line into bass fishing and leave the land of delicate feather fly fisher far behind. Grasshoppers (usually tied with feathers) can be deadly either by themselves or used as a top water floater with a tiny nymph tied to the hook and dropped three feet or more, a great searching pattern when one comes upon new waters. Beetles, spiders, bee’s, locusts, lady bugs, are also used by creative fly fishers looking for alternatives.

  Many flies called Marabou are effective as are the patterns created to look like baitfish and are constructed of feathers not plastic or metal or any other substance but natural feathers.

  Most of the feathered marabou, matuka, sculpin, type flies work so well because the feathers move and imitate breathing fish that look natural in the water when moved at medium to fast speeds. One of the keys to working these flies is to learn to simulate the moves of a natural bait fish, one must simply sit and watch how these little fish move and dart around. Jerking, fast darting moves work best with these flies, if they are worked too slowly fish can easily see they are fake and not hit them. In the real make a mistake and die world of young fry and bait fish, quick jerking movements are a means of avoiding being eaten...

  Many of the more popular streamer flies mentioned come in endless variations and color schemes ranging from dark brown, black, yellow, white, red. I will mention several of my own favorite patterns and the fly tier, if the subject interests you I highly recommend buying a copy of the Federation of Fly Fishers, "Fly Pattern Encyclopedia" written by Al & Gretchen Beatty, photographed by Jim Schollmeyer, published by Frank Amato Publications Portland Oregon, (503)-653-8108.

Federation of Fly Fishers, "Fly Pattern Encyclopedia" written by Al & Gretchen Beatty

  A fly named "Baby Sculpin" tied by Al Beatty is almost perfect with out too much gold or flash, a quite natural moving sculpin. Almost any fly tied by one of my favorite up and comers Jason Akl, this guy is gifted and dedicated! "Mad Tom Matuka" tied by Floyd Franke, an all business no frills fish catcher for sure. "Midnight Leech" tied by Chuck Collins, a real deal fish fooler for certain, just a taste of color a fine fly. "Blue Electric" tied by Kurt Zelazny, black marabu and blue flashabou, this fly works very well. "Royal Lady Woolly Bugger" tied by Ruth J. Zinck, love this fly with white palmered hackle, well tied and it catches trout for sure! "Woolly Pup" tied by Bud Heintz is deadly with bright red eyes, it will catch trout. One of my latest favorites "Streaker Sculpin" tied by Mark Hoeser looks like and swims like a baby trout. Three woman I know of are masters of fly tying by evidence of their unique patterns; Gale Doudy is one of the new masters with her "Black Gnat" and "Black Two Way" flies.

My dear friend Karen Graham ties a mean set of Eastern classics like the "Quill Gordon" and the "Hendrickson". Pudge Kleinkuff up in Alaska is a known expert tier of all brands of salmon flies . Who can ever forget Gretchen Beatty’s neon "Gunnison Trude" loud but never rude. If a few of these names are not ringing bells I advise buying either the book mentioned above or spending time on the internet because these fly tiers are all expert and worthy of appreciation. Of course my two friends Jay Fair and A.K. Best have been known to spend a little time at the feather covered table now and again as well as Cliff (100 Proof ) Sullivan... Let us bow our heads in reverence least we forget the most famous living fly tier of them all Fletcher Quill, hail to the chief!


  If you are having difficulty understanding the most effective way to present or work streamers in a variety of water situations, perhaps my philosophy may illuminate your learning curve. The ability of all streamers to successfully twitch and dart as if they are live small bait fish is the key to their success. If you focus on that one guiding principle and set up your leader, tippet according to the clarity, depth, speed, of the water and your casting distance and position. The following example of how I rig and work my favorite # 16 Wooly Bugger in medium to fast water is a good beginning for anyone new to working streamers.

  I usually first tie 6/9 foot leaders using never stronger then 3 pound strength when chasing small stream early season trout. My tippet is either #7 or #6 weight tippet with a strength rating of around 3 pounds. I like at least 4/5 feet of tippet and usually paint the streamer hooks black and also black out any shiny metal if they are tied by other people, solid black patterns work best. It seems when I have used this pattern with eyes the catch rate doubles? It might serve you well to learn to use the more invisable #7 weight tippit as it allows more hits because it is less visable, though the lighter tippits require you to be more careful and let fish play longer or risk breaking the lighter tippit.

  First and foremost in understanding how to work or present streamers has to begin with your approach to a stream or river. I have one simple habit to share that has served me well. Fly Fishers who move very slowly and stop and watch for long periods before getting near the waters edge are always more successful. If you practice observation from afar and wait until you see trout rising or moving or feeding? If you wait and become aware of the speed and kind of currents and boulders and under water structure, your chance of hooking a trout in the first or second cast will be far greater. Fly fishers must learn to move slowly, not cast shadows on the water, not crash through brush and knock leaves into water and disrupt the peace and quite, preserve the natural order! It is when you disturb the natural order, all resident trout hide and will not feed no matter if they are wild or hatchery, your day is finished.

  In my life on the water those who learn to move and throw delicate slow lines that gently fly and drop flies naturally always catch fish. The ability to throw streamers near river, stream edges and allow them to sink down almost to the bottom and then begin jerking and pausing their retrieval is quite effective. One must not feel they can’t experiment with all kinds of retrievals as long as an effort is made to stay well out of the way and change your target area every throw unless you have a hit or bump. The area around large rocks in a stream or river is a fine place to throw streamers, I usually throw at the rock up stream and try and scrape right near it, wily old trout hiding from the fast current can be fooled! It is the edges of most waters where the streamer works best because that is where the majority of educated resident fish spend almost all of their time. Learning to understand where resident trout live is the key to trout fly fishing and rule number one for streamer work, if you throw streamers into deep water you will catch fish as well, it is just more fun to fool the wily over educated types... 


  If your intention is to learn how to become more than a twice a year if your lucky fly fisher who feels contented with any action at all for his or her efforts, perhaps this next section may help you to understand what I think it takes in terms of commitment, dedication, technique mastery, general knowledge of this sport. One would be well served to think of fly fishing in all its forms and variations as a sport that insists that you enjoy endless learning about how fish behave and where they live and feed; how insects interact with the aquatic world, water currents, structure above and below the water line, interaction between all the species of birds and multitude of creatures that exist near running water, fly patterns, fly lines, different rods and reels, line/fly presentation techniques, safe and humane handling of fish that are released, and most important of all, how to move slowly and quietly before and during all fly fishing activity. If you have any free time left, learning how to tie flies will help you get to sleep at some point late at night if your lucky, welcome to the world of hardcore bug throwers my friend. Without question the only known method for becoming a complete fly fisher has to begin with learning how to move almost invisibly when on or near water either wading or walking on a stream, river edge.

The importance of becoming another aspect of the natural order, rather than a noisy disrupting, disturbing, presence is critical and must be learned. Learn to not talk at all if your fly fishing with a friend near by, walk on the balls of your feet rather than stumping and breaking twigs and making noise crashing through brush or walking on leaves. Every time you make these crashing sounds it alerts all resident fish you have arrived and its time to hide and stay out of sight. Your local library will have many good books on out door appreciation and woodsmen ship, joining a local fly fishing club is a great way to start.


© Phil Frank 2002

Illustrated By Phil Frank,
San Francisco Chronicle Cartoonist, creator of "Farley "


Fletcher has been fielding phone calls for more then two hours with his best buddy Timba on his lap, staff waits patiently to inform the back in the saddle master of Raven’s Haven Ms. Stone requests a final audience before departing. Quill descends the fly tower winding staircase and notices several of his Dali paintings have been moved? The door to the suite her blondness has occupied is ajar as Fletcher gently opens the French door, Sharon is seated in a chair in the middle of the room wearing a very short skin tight mini skirt and a Cheshire cat smile.

  "Close the door Quill and lets you and I have a little chat shall we, I know your just a tad twisted over my remodeling plans sweety. Maybe we can make peace before I’m exiled?"

  "You obviously have something in mind Sharon, can’t imagine what?"

  "Get your up tight hiny in here Mr. and let her blondness work the magic."

More than three hours go by as Timba waits patiently at the suite door, Sharon and Quill leave arm and arm as staff knowingly nods to each other in recognition a new mini diva will be wielding her grace and power at Raven’s Haven. The red secure phone flashes and all else stops while the Cowboy and his number one peace diplomat confab.

  "Fletcher you better sit down son, I just heard from the Justice Department Martha Stewards Judge will be recommending she be kept on ice out of the country on house arrest. She will be staying at several famous homes and has requested to first stay at Raven’s Haven with you for three months."

  "Man, Mr. President I did move into this sweet little castle for peace and quiet and it ain’t exactly been happening if you know what I mean. I will allow Martha to come hang if she can take my new girl friend Sharon Stone."

  "Dam, boy you do get the cake don’t you, you mean you and her have been..."

"Easy sir, looks like chaos will rule here in Northern Ireland for certain, I do need your help in letting some rare feathers found in the Forbidden City dig to come to the castle. Its quite possibly the most sought after find in years and I need those feathers to keep the coffers full."

"I will make the calls right away if you agree to bring Sharon and Martha to the Whitehouse before they leave the castle? One more news flash, your Irish peace fly trip will be postponed because of this space alien take over thing. Quill these aliens have been taking over many of our American celebrities; Madonna is really a flea like creature from the planet Zogg, David Letterman is actually a bug eating creature from Venus, Paris Hilton’s body was taken over by parasites from Neptune, Hillary Clinton is really a three faced creature from a planet where all the men play all day like kids, Al Sharpton is actually the leader of a highly intelligent race of green space bugs that live near the edge of the universe, Al Gore is a butterfly like being who changes colors when confronted. The alien supreme council tells us our entire upper military has been over taken by beings that live with their heads buried in sand. The worst news has been that our Supreme Court was taken over by aliens who come from a planet where they never do or say anything controversial, guess that’s how I pulled off the bogus Presidential Election hey Quill?"

  "This is very sobering news sir, how do I know your not an alien as well? More important what if I’m being rail- roaded into thinking the good old USA is really working for world peace and not another Haliburton type flim flam sham?"

  "Hold on their Pilgrim, Slick Brainy may have had a little kick back action on this energy deal- so what of it, like America is really paying attention to what we do? How the hell do you think we get away with murder Pilgrim?"

  "Now that you have opened up the subject sir, I have a couple of questions; Are Tom Fridge and his gang actual authentic American Human’s? What about that loud mouthed Congress broad always running her mouth about something or other, Barbra Boxster."

  "They are technically human though in the case of her highness Barby B., aleins have infiltrated about half of her addled brain, now Tommy and his boys we think are human, though on TV they do look kinda scary!"

  "Please tell me Gavin, lets all get married, Newsome is a red blooded American human?"

  "Bad news Quill, he and your old San Fran gal Mayor Dianne Fienstein are both from Wackala a planet catering to those who are adept at "Crazy Making". We have been watching those two for sometime, hell the only sane guy in the whole San Fran area has to be Phil Frank the cartoon guy."

  "Now that you mention it sir, I have been wondering what planit exactly the heads of the CIA, FBI and all other American Intelligence big wigs are from? One last question, that cat that went after my buddy the X Pres Phill, what was his name Finn Barr, Tim Scar, Flim Carr?"

  "Your right as rain Fletch our whole Intell top level ought to be guarding Britney Spears instead of pulling down all that easy green! Man, they really led me down the garden path on this Middle East deal. That Starr dude by the way, he was from planet "Nevergiveup" in the outer galaxie."

  "Looks like you might have plenty of free time to fly fish with me after November?"

  "It don’t look good son, don’t look good."

  "Before we close sir, please remember to make the calls on my rare feathers and keep me posted on Martha’s arrival."

  "You better give your President every little detail in regard to her Blondness son- that is surely a matter of national security!"

The End

(Will Quill and Sharon find nirvana? Has the Cowboy about run out of open range?)


Read about Fletcher Quill in earlier chapters:

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12 
13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23


Written by Dan Fallon © 2004
Illustrations by Phil Frank © 2003
Photos by Dan Fallon © 2004

For Dan Fallon's earlier and later columns; visit the table of contents


Read Dan Fallons biography and contact info



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