I am a creature of habit, fly fishermen who came up through the late sixties through the 20th Century and into this new age are like that I think. I’ve been very aware of changes going on around me for 20 years but I saw no need to hop aboard the band wagon because what I do seems to work just fine. However, you can only live in the past for so long before the risk that you really are missing the boat becomes an overwhelming thought.
Flies for Salmon & Trout; that’s what I’m talking about here. I grew up dreaming about catching these species in the traditional ways, drifting and swinging feather wing streamers and fancy salmon flies to waiting game fish was my goal. I’ve managed to live the dream pretty well, I’ve caught trout and salmon all over the country using my traditional ties but this year, this year was different. A friend sent me a box which contained some of the most amazing flies I had ever seen. Tube flies and Intruder styles tied on shanks. To those who have been onboard with these pattern types for years this may sound strange but I never saw the need for much more than a Skykomish Sunrise for catching fish. Granted, standard salmon and trout patterns on a salmon hook will work pretty well but……. I tied the first AK. Assassin tube fly to my leader and promptly caught 4 really beautiful wild rainbow trout on a total of 6 casts. That, that makes an impression on even the most dyed in the wool – I don’t need that stuff, people in the world maybe. It changed me for sure.
Within a couple months I was busy learning the ropes on how to build articulated Sculpin flies and as soon as I started throwing them into these rivers and creeks they were producing some really beautiful fish. The post here in the blog titled ’Surprising Catches While Trout Fishing’ demonstrates very clearly that King Salmon will grab a Sculpin when you aren’t even targeting them. Trout, well they love these things and pike will come running for a simple Whitlock Sculpin tossed near the shore.
It didn’t stop with the Sculpins’, I began tying on shanks made from some vintage Mustad salmon irons of which I have a good supply. On these shanks I have learned to tie Intruder style flies or as I think of them ’round’ flies. I like this style, I like it for more than appearance, the concept of the short shank trailer or stinger hook keeps fish on until you land or net them. (most fish) I have a huge amount of fly tying materials and a long Alaska winter ahead of me so I will have enough articulated Sculpin and intruder flies for you if you don’t tie.
Without further yacking I’ll stick some pictures of flies that have worked along with notes. I’ll be making a post filled with pictures of fish caught very soon also.
Some of the First Generation Sculpin ties;
Click on image to enlarge / back arrow to return to blog
All of those flies have been used and most were handed out for others to try. I believe every fly caught fish and as promised I’ll do a fish picture entry soon. I will need to get a little more particular with my photographs so you can see the designs clearly but at this time I’m posting what I have. Many of you viewing this will no doubt be better at making these than I am but here we go…..
As soon as I started this type fly I decided that I didn’t like the look of the lead dumbbell eyes. I answered that in several ways, using foil bodies and copper ribs seems to work to sink them, as well as other methods. I quickly figured out that since you use dubbing balls or other materials to provide support for the long flowing hackles and feelers, I can stash a few wraps of lead wire under them. This provides a good sink rate and leaves you with something that resembles a salmon or steelhead fly.
I’ll show these as they came from the vise but some have been used by the time I took photos.
Some of the first, having lead eyes;
Rendition of the AK. Assassin
The hidden weight being perfected and combined into a ‘Food Color’ pattern.
In attractor flies purple and black as well as blue & black have been good for me here.
The attractor colors are great for trout / steelhead trout from mid June through July. By that time next year I’ll be very well stocked if you need any flies. Interesting fact; thus far I have not lost any of this type fly and only one Sculpin. The Sculpin was lost tragically when a really big trout took it into and under a submerged tree. The fish tied himself off and when I went in after the fish it bolted and snapped the 10 pound leader knot………………….
Watch for a fish post as well as some shots of happy customers.