Friday, June 6, 2014

Slaymaker's "Little Brook Trout"

I am sure plenty of Flyfishers enjoy the thrill of backpacking into the high country and fishing the alpine lakes during the summer. Breath taking views and pristine lakes with often very willing Trout are your reward for slinging a 45 lb Pack on and Hoofing it in many miles from your Car.
 Been enjoying such adventures since the mid 70's and always a great time is had. While often the fishing is rather easy. there has always been times where you had better stay focused and on top of your game if you expect to connect with Trout.

Brook Trout have always been a favorite because they are very willing to grab your fly & are scrappy fighters. However I am certain most of the Brookies we catch in the Sierra back country lakes are the smaller 4 to 9 inch variety. It makes logical sense, there are far more of the "Dinks" in a giving lake, then their older & larger brethren. And most Anglers go to the high lakes with only a floating line and a fly box of smaller nymphs & dries ~ we're targeting the Dinks more so then most of us imagine.

I had fished the exact same way for years = work the shoreline or the inlets & outlets with small nymphs and dryflies, catching plenty of Dink Brookies.. I was fine with this as it was enjoyable & the scenery is the greatest.. occasionally I'd hook and land larger specimens -10 to 14 inches. but had the idea that these were few & far in between. But then i started a new practice : I'd work a promising stretch of Shoreline with a Nymph (my favorite over dryflies) and if all I caught was Dinks, i would walk back down the shore and switch to a #10 or #12 BH Wooly Bugger, then work the same stretch of shoreline.. and often i would start landing larger Brook Trout... This was a  pleasant experience and an Eye opener as well, not high numbers of larger Brookies, but a handful that would run 10 to possible 14-15 inches. fun fun fun indeed.

 I took to research about the Brook Trout and found some interesting facts about them. First off they are not really Trout, but are Char, which is a branch of the Salmonoid family and includes Lake Trout, Artic Char, Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Sunapees, Bluebacks, etc... Char are easily identified by having light spots on a dark background; Trout have dark spots on a light background.. Char also live longer then most Trout species: Lake Trout have been found that are 100 years old. Brook Trout can live an average of 8 to 12 years, but are known to live to 24 years of age. Char also can become highly cannibalistic, eating their smaller cousins is no big deal to a larger Char.  And finally Char do not need running water to spawn. they are able to spawn in lake gravels if the gravels are of the right size and have a nice current that washes and aerates the gravels. in short : no inlet or outlet creek ~ no problem for Char.

Back in the 1980's the National Parks in the Sierra Nevada ceased with Aerial Plantings of the back country lakes. This resulted in some lakes going sterile of Trout, as being pothole lakes without inlet or outlet streams , the Rainbows & Goldens could not reproduce. the plus side was that for a number of years after the end of plantings a number of these lakes had small populations of larger Trout that you could target- until they died off & the lakes became void of Trout.
The alpine lakes with Brook Trout populations did better, if there was no streams to spawn in, but there was gravels of the right size, the Brook Trout could reproduce. so the dinks remained for the average Flyfisher to have fun with after their long hike in. in laymen's terms, the Brookies had no problem dealing with no longer having the next generation delivered from the air- they could reproduce on their own.

a Personal favorite pattern to carry with me to the alpine lakes to target the larger Brook Trout is Sam Slaymaker's "Little Brook Trout" .. it is a simple Bucktail pattern that imitates Brook Trout fry pretty good.  It is a easy & straight forward pattern for a Tyer to assembly...


Hook :
  Daiichi 2340, TMC 300, Mustad L87-3665A.. sizes #6 thru #10

Thread : Black 6/0 , Ultra 140 or Danville Flymaster

Tail :  Green Bucktail, with a shorter section of Red Floss on top.

Rib :  Oval Silver Tinsel, sized to hook

Body :  Cream either Dubbed (i prefer Hareline Dubbing "Cream") or Uni Yarn, Cream.
                keep the body somewhat thin.

Throat : Orange hackle Fibers, tyed snug to the body and half the body length.

Wing :   from bottom to top : White Bucktail, Orange Bucktail, Green Bucktail, Badger hair.
               each section is a small amount,
                slightly extend the length of each section from the previous.
                I often substitute Brown Bucktail dyed Tan for the Badger.

Cheeks :  Jungle Cock

Head :  nicely tapered towards the hook eye, coated with a nice Gloss head cement ,
                I use Hard As Hull.


The rig I prefer for fishing the Little Brook Trout in the Alpine Lakes is as follows :  a 4 or 5 wt. 9 ft Rod. the line is a type 2 or 3 Full sink, preferably a Uniform sink. leaders are of Flourocarbon and test at 8 Lbs. and a maximum length of 4 feet.
The larger Brook Trout are not as active in the daytime as the dinks are, so we need to go to where they rest and hold up in the daytime. This would be the deeper sections of the lakes , along the talus slopes.. in and amoungst the boulders and slabs that have fallen down into the lake. the shadows and small nooks amoungst the boulders and slabs are where the bigger Brooks will hold up.
It is a simple matter of positioning yourself to blast a cast out into the Lake and then carefully keeping a straight line contact with the fly as the sinking lines drags it down into the depths- this is accomplished by simply keeping the tip of rod down in the water. keep the line in your line hand as it sinks. any twitch or hesitation should be met with a hard strip strike, many times the Brooks will rise up towards the Streamer as it is sinking down towards them.
Once the sinking line has reached the bottom, you can retrieve the fly in a series of short fast strips, or a slower retrieve. try one method first and if it isn't working, Change your game.. figure on sacrificing some flies to boulders and slabs,and also to the larger Brook Trout that will ambush your streamer and barrel right back into their rocky nook.. it's part of the fun and price one pays to land the largest Brookie of their trip..

Besides alpine lakes, the Little Brook Trout will work in any roadside lake that has had Brook Trout introduced into them ; Rock Creek Lake, above Toms' Place; Twin Lakes, in Mammoth Lakes are two of a number of roadside lakes that the Little Brook Trout  will produce in...

Well You most likely will not catch high numbers of Trout on the "L.B.T." , You will most certainly hook some of your Largest Trout on it.....

Thursday, December 12, 2013


One of the fastest growing areas of Flyfishing in Southern California over the past 13 years has to be Surf Flyfishing. There are plenty of good reasons for this growth : year around fishery, only requires 4-5 hours, Close to Home, chance of catching something large is very good & particularly this year (2013) not effected by a below average snowfall. Simply stated it's a lot of fun.

 I've been flyfishing the surf since the Mid 1980's and must say the early years were a slow learning curve because there where very few other Anglers doing it. My only sources of information where the few and far between articles by Nick Currcione in the various general fishing magazines.. i would greedily gobble up any information i could find.. and the rare occasion of meeting another Flyfisher in the surf then was a good day indeed as we compared notes and hopefully helped out one another..
This changed towards the mid 1990's as more anglers began realizing that the Surf was at their feet and available year around.. besides the fact that getting good at casting in the Surf equated being better on that once a year Trip to Montana or Alaska. the Integrated shooting head lines where most welcomed and made getting started easier for newbies in the Surf. Fly patterns evolved along as well.. instead of using Bonefish patterns or over sized colorful wooly worms, Original patterns designed specifically for the Southern California Surf began appearing and really producing in the Surf..
 I had  come up with a few patterns of my own and while they would produce the almost always agreeable Surf perch, the other species available, notably the elusive Corbina would often prove impossible.. So I kept at it, experimenting, trying new materials and adjusting them... Finally in late 2003 I came up with the RAZZLER........

HOOK :   Gamakatsu SS15, or any standard Saltwater hook, sizes #2 ~ #8

  Flo. Fire orange 140 Ultra thread or Fire Orange 6/0 Danville

Black Dazl eyes, sized to hook

  Tan over Hot orange Calf tail, slim amounts of each. two strands of UV Tan Krystal Flash
             Along each side of tail, Tail's length is equal to Hook shank.
Rear Half - Lagartun Mini Flat Braid, Hot Orange, Coated with Clear Cure Goo or similar .
              Front Half - Crustacean Tan Estaz
WING : Hareline Extra Select Craft Fur, Tan


While it might seem to be overly involved to tye, if You approach it as a "production Line" assembly, I assure you it will flow smoother..:
Step 1:  Tye in the Dazl eyes at a point just above the Hook point, secure they with Thread and then Super glue them.
Step 2:  tye in the Tail so it extends slight down the hook bend. tye in the Flat Braid and advancing the thread to just in front of the eyes, wrap the Flat braid forward and figure eight it around the eyes. tye off the flat braid right in front of the eyes and after cutting off the tying thread. coat the flat braid in the CCG and hit it with the blue Light to cure it.
Step 3: Tye in the Estaz and wrap it tightly forward towards the hook eye. tye off the Estaz and then add the Craft Fur wing.. tye off a small head and coat that with CCG (Clear Cure Goo) as well..

The Razzler is now complete. I always tye up at least a half a dozen at one time, using the Assembly line production method I can kick out the half dozen in a short time and be ready to go...

I liked the way the Pattern came out, so i tyed up a few more and brought them to the shop i worked at the time, Malibu Fish-N-Tackle and showed them the shop's owner Wayne Caywood. Wayne liked the look of the pattern and stated that "It would razzle the fish, it's a real RAZZLER".. so now it had a catchy name, time to start fishing it.
I was smart in realizing that I was not able to hit the beaches as much as I wished to , so I tyed up sizable amounts and gave samples to a number of locals who fished the beaches often . I knew they'd put the Razzler thru it's moves and quickly figure out of it was a Hit or miss.. of course it caught the almost always hungry Surf perch, but my concern was for the Elusive Corbina.. and soon enough reports came in that the willy "Surf Ghost" indeed found the fly to their liking.. additional outings of my own confirmed the effectiveness on Corbina, along with Halibut and in larger sizes, Leopard and Smoothhound Sharks. I was pleased that the Razzler was proving itself effective..
 Then more reports came in from Santa Barbara to San Diego about the effectiveness of the Razzler. Jerrold P. Shelton, in California Flyfisher, wrote often of the Razzler's effectiveness in the Surf along numerous So Cal beaches. I received numerous emails and PMs on the various Flyfishing Boards from Anglers who reported that the Razzler produced well for them. I felt really good that a pattern i came up with was producing so well for other Anglers.. During the "Corbina Time" from Mid May thru Mid August, when Corbina are in the surf in sizable numbers, the Razzler proved to be very effective on them..

Turns out the Razzler also works well for Bonefish. by merely switching the Dazl eyes for Black bead chain Eyes and thinning out the tail and wing , The Razzler produced Bonefish at Christmas Island, the Bahamas, the Yucatan and Florida- this was most interesting.
Gary Bulla told me that in larger sizes (#1/0) the Razzler worked great for Pargo and Cabrilla in the Sea of Cortez.. I caught Largemouth bass on the Razzler and eventually Carp. I even heard of Steelhead and most recently Sea Trout in Europe have shown their liking for the Razzler... and all I wanted was a successful Surf pattern for the Local beaches... I think I achieved that desire and then some...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carey Special

Thought not known to many newcomers , the Carey Special is a Northwest pattern used in lakes for at least 80 years. It was very popular years ago and has lost some of it's popularity due to the growth of Midge and Chironomid fishing in lakes these past 30 years. This doesn't mean the Carey Special is no longer effective, it just means that a great many of  today's Stillwater Flyfishers seem to favor smaller patterns (which is most unfortunate for them).
From what i have read, the Carey Special was originated to imitate the Traveling Sedge Pupa of the Interior lakes of British Columbia. after October Caddis, Traveling Sedges are some of the largest caddis species found in North America. While this may be the truth, most anglers fish the Carey Special as a Dragonfly Nymph imitation. It is in the roll of a Dragon Fly nymph imitation that the Carey really performs.. Even thought it is at best suggestive of a Dragon Fly Nymph, the Carey will work as well, if not better then more exact imitations.
  When i first learned of the Carey Special, i found it mentioned in numerous books in the mid to late 70's. All the various Authors claimed it was very effective in Lakes. As the Lakes of the Eastern Sierra and High Sierra were waters I fished often, it made sense that i should tye and fish the Carey.  So i tyed up some and carried them with me. I found that they worked well in the various lakes I fished.
 Articles I read over the years confirmed the effectiveness of the Carey Special. I even read that it was useful for Bluegill and bass.. so I fished them for the various Sunfish and did find it effective for them as well.


  any 2xl or 3xl long nymph hook, sizes #6 thru #12

  wraps of lead wire  towards the hook eye, the amount is decided by you .

  Black on the original, but nowadays i match or contrast the color with the body

  Ringneck Rump Feather Fibers. this is optional, i often never use one, but you can

Various colors of Chenille, Peacock herl, various dubbings. the sky's the limit on what you
             can use for the Body. In chenille Olive, brown, black are common choices. in Dubbing I like
             Antron dubbing or Nature Spirit's "Emergence Dubbing".

Ringneck Pheasant Rump Feathers.. size the hackle so the fibers are about 1 /3/4 hook
                   shank length. you can go longer , but not much shorter. I try to get in 4 wraps of the
                   Hackle. However i have seen examples where at least two feathers were used and
                   the resulting collar was very thick. I prefer to keep it less full because you'll get
                   better action from the individual fibers.

The Carey Special is very easy to tye well and should prove little trouble for most tyers. It is also a very effective pattern and has always performed well... good enough reason to add some to your Flybox...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trio of Dryflies

I figure that most Fly Tyers, if they've been tying for a number of years, probably have developed some patterns of their own.  This makes perfect sense as you are out on the water fishing flies you've tyed and slowly over time you tweak and twist the pattern to fit your needs and fishing experience. The Hare's Ear Nymphs I fish today are not like the mass produced ones , yet my variations remain Hare's ears nymphs. The overall effect is the same, thought the details are different. The Patterns you carry and fish will evolve overtime as you adjust and fine tune them to your fishing needs. Eventually some of these will evolve into new patterns of their own, or at the very least, a Variation on the Original. many of my own patterns are variations of the original, others become their own pattern by major changes in materials... The end result is they are all effective in my Fishing needs...
Here are 3 Dry Fly patterns I have developed over the years, they are not earth shaking or highly original, mostly variations on the original theme.. But all 3 have caught  and continue to catch Trout for me , thus they stay in my dryfly boxes and are fixed to the tippet with confidence.


Hook :
Standard Dry Fly hook, #14 thru #18
Thread : Black 70 Ultra Thread
Body : Peacock herl, rather plump
Wing : Yellow Coastal Deerhair, tyed down wing
Hackle : Brown dyed Grizzly, tyed as a collar

The Little Pete came about as a desire to use the yellow dyed Coastal Deerhair for a Downwing. The Yellow is bright enough and would prove easy to see as it drifted along. The Peacock body was an easy choice, as Peacock has proven highly effective on various Patterns. The Brown Dyed Grizzly was chosen as it has a more "buggy" quality then straight brown hackle would.. 
The Pattern was first tyed as it is used today, no variation or changes since day one. The only change was giving it a name, because until a Backpacking trip over Bishop Pass and down to the Middle Fork of the Kings river back in the early 1990's , this Dry fly had no name. We camped in Little Pete Meadows along the River for 2 days and during that time I put the fly thru plenty of moves and it preformed admirably on the resident Goldens and Rainbows in that stretch of the river. I decided that this effective little dryfly needed a name and "Little Pete" seemed fitting.
The Little Pete passes for various caddis , some terrestrials and just looks buggy and worth an investigation by the Trout. I fish it thru out the Seasons..


                                                           SIERRA LIME DOT

                                                     Hook : Standard Dry Fly, #12 thru #20
                                                  Thread :  Fl. Green 70 Ultra Thread
                                                      Tail :  Lady Amherst Tippet fibers, dyed Highlander Green
                                          Aft Hackle :  Grizzly, 2-3 turns, one hook size smaller..
                                                     Body : Fl. Green Floss
                                           Fore Hackle : Grizzly, 3-4 turns

The Sierra Lime Dot is simply a color variation on that Sierra Nevada classic, the Sierra Bright Dot. I changed the color theme to Bright Green. The results were well received by the Trout. the "Lime Dot" is taken for a Green Stonefly, various Caddis species and as a general Search pattern it performs quite well.
 As is sometimes the case, I cannot leave well enough alone. With the success of the Sierra Lime Dot , I decided to produce it's sister pattern :

                                                                  the Sierra Lemon Dot
the Dressing is about the same as the "Lime Dot" , except for the following changes;
                                               Thread :  Fl. Yellow 70 Ultra Thread
                                                    Tail :  Lady Amherst Tippet Fibers, dyed Fl. Yellow
                                                   Body :  Fl. Yellow Floss

These two Fore & Aft Dryflies fish well in freestone Streams and Rivers. the three point contact of the tail the Aft Hackle and the Fore Hackle help support and ride the pattern up off the surface, it is seen from below as a insect attempting to take flight , this often causes fast reactions from Trout. Both Variations are fished thru out the Summer months and constantly prove their worth.


                                                           KRYSTAL ANT                                     
                                                      Hook : Standard Dryfly, #14 thru #22
                                                  Thread :  70 Black Ultra Thread , some of the 12/0 & even 16/0
                                                                    threads available as well for the really small versions.
                                                 Abdomen :  Black Superfine dubbing , built up to an Oval.
                                                    Hackle :  Black , 3 -4 wraps. trimmed top and bottom.
                                                      Wings :  Pearl Krystal flash, 3 to 5 strands each side, tyed in a
                                                                     "V" when viewed from the top.
                                                                     no longer then to the bend of the hook.
                                             Thorax/Head : same as Abdomen, thought smaller in size
                                                   Variations : you can tye it all in Cinnamon/Rusty brown .
                                                                        Try Thorax/Head in Rusty Brown while the rest
                                                                          stays black.

Another Ant pattern among dozens and dozens of ant patterns, yes but this accomplished a few things for me that has made it about the only Ant pattern I use anymore. Most importantly is the Krystal Flash wings, these allow me to see the Ant riding flush in the surface film. I can see the glint of sunlight reflecting from a good distance, and this equals more hook ups for me. Another nice trick is that with the dubbed body, eventually this fly will start to sink.. and I will continue to fish it just under the surface film.
Bear in Mind that Terrestrial Insects do not stay floating on the surface for long after they fall in the water, they drown quick enough and are sucked under the surface. the Trout will still take them and often the Larger Trout switch to taking the drowned Ants or other Terrestrials over the floating versions. I have probably caught more Trout on this pattern after it has slipped just under the surface then when it was fresh and riding nicely in the Surface film.  The nice thing is I can still see it under the surface with the Krystal Flash wings..
 I fish the Krystal Ant from the first sighting of Ants in the Spring until it gets too cold in  November.; the Trout are often very willing to take an Ant pattern. This is also a Great Pattern for Bluegill and other Sunfish.


 These are just three of a number of Dryfly patterns I have developed over the past 30 plus years. They remain in my Dry Fly Boxes because they produce often enough that I have confidence in them when I am upon the Water.. I think that is often all that is required of a fly ; that it will produce for you during the course of your Fishing Year...