I seriously love this time of year on the White River.
Hot Summer Days, wading wet, big bugs up on top and hungry trout eating them, add a midge pupa or generic nymph underneath to fill in the downtime between the consistent risers. Its a fun time, no matter whether you are wading the low or fishing from a drift boat or White River jonboat. I tend to get all geeky and very intense over a serious mayfly hatch like our sulphur emergence, where you might spend a bunch of time working out the how to place one perfect cast to one good riser. But terrestrial fishing seems more laid-back, opportunistic, and you have to have a sense of humor over the sort of goofy eagerness with which some
I’ve chased this stuff from snakey creeks back home in Tasmania, stepping over one of the world top 3 most deadly snakes as you stalk the banks adds even more adrenaline to the process, over this side of the pond up in the hills behind Los Angeles with gang graffiti on the rocks, and spring creeks and flowing streams in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
And the White River is way better than the general perception as a dry fly destination. Our caddis and sulphur hatches can be as good as any of the big name streams out West, if the water is righ. Sure the best of the sulphurs was blow out by the flooding, but its an outdoor sport and we have to play by nature’s rules _ ask any dry fly fisher in the Rockies right now. But even when the water is cherry ripe, we are seeing some very good dry fly activity if you know where and how to look.
Since I’ve been here in Cotter, and chatting to y’all about dry fly options here, I really have been seeing a growing band of devotees, even among die hard nymphers, putting side the numbers game to go chase out some of the more esoteric dry fly opportunities _ some of their discoveries have taught me a thing or two. Never be afraid to question conventional wisdom, or ask an off-the-wall question in the fly shop. There will alway be a corner for the “weird” dry flies in this place as long as I’m still breathing.
NOTE: If your club is looking for a different White River program for your members, I’ve got a new Advanced Dry Fly Tactics program set up on Powerpoint. It covers White River specifics on hatches and flies, but a lot of the critical presentation and rigging tips are applicable anywhere you cast a dry fly. Call the shop on 870 435 6166 to get more details or find a date.
Back to the topic at hand, I tend to be pretty obsessive about our terrestrial selection, and we have an exciting section of our fly bins devoted to this sort of stuff. I spent a lot of time last year sifting through Hoppers, Ants and some very cool attractors to cover our terrestrial season which runs from mid-summer through fall depending on flows and temperatures.
Click through to see all the flies ( And we still have a handful of new patterns on the way). And stay tuned for some tips on how to fish these flies tomorrow:
FURIMSKY’S HOT LEGS HOPPER headlines Rainy’s terrestrial selection for 2011 and when our rep Eric Kraimer unveiled this one last year it was grins all around. Yep it was going to catch fly fishers all right but how would it work on the water? Monday I gave it a decent trial and yup it got eaten nicely, as you would expect with the great profile and sexy colored Wapsi TNT Legs, in deliberate roll over takes. But I will add this fly is pretty tough to see at range in tough water. It rides low, and sometimes takes a twitch to get to ride legs down, and its not going to support a bunch of weight on the droppers. But its going to be a strong pattern for slow water and the picky fish.
MCKNIGHT’S FATBOY: Subtlety in a foam attractor isn’t easy to build in but Doug McKnight’s Fatboy manages to achieve it. Again it offers a good profile grizzly rubber legs and the dun double wing is surprisingly easy to see in most light’s particularly if you are low to the water wading. We reckon its going to be a hoot at the dam..
CHARLIE BOY HOPPER: A freaking classic, the one by which all others are measured. The Charlie Boy doesn’t need a lot of words, don’t leave home without it, it’s special while hoppers are on the water..
RAINY’S HI-VIS GRAND HOPPER: A very popular hopper the Grand was this year given some serious improvement and a couple of new colors. The Grand Hopper is another low rider which can make it tricky to spot, particularly from looking down from a boat, rather than an acute angle while wading, so the new Hi-Viz version is way easier to see with the two bright foam “indicators” on the back. The new colors however might come as a shock to some, Flesh Pink and Hot Pink, two colors which received plenty of travel out west.
Funnily enough I’ve been fishing pink foam attractor dries this year too , first in my hands and then on a few guide trips before the flood. And your right, the fly fishers on those guide trips probably were just humoring their weird Down Under guide until it started getting monstered. They were immediately sworn to secrecy. So with this hopper the same rule I told these guys applies “Don’t think, just fish it”.
RAINY’S MARSHMALLOW HOPPER: In the fast riffles water, like Rim or Wildcat having a dry fly you can see is worth its weight in gold, which is why we do well with Parachute style hopper flies. But the bright post on the Marshmallow Hopper stands out like dog’s whatzits, pick between orange or white. This fly is also a neat cross-over between the modern foam body/rubber legs and the more natural traditional ties. The dubbed head and underbelly will bring those smarter fish up. We like this one for fast water, with or without a dropper rig.
GORILLA CHERNOBYL: I think I had one of these foam monsters in my box for a couple of years before I fished it hard one day last summer. And I only tied it on because we needed a big lump of foam to keep fishing the top for some quality but sporadic feeders, while picking up numbers with a couple of good sized Copper Johns down deep. Yep it was last ditch ahead of going back to an indimacator.
And eat it they did. No one was more surprised than the guide, though of course, we faked omnipotence, as a succession of browns, ‘bow and cutties, ate their way through it. There’s something about this big hunk of foam with the garish flashy underbelly that flat out works. And if you are fishing droppers deep on some flow, it works dang well as an indicator, heck it worked on my brown on Monday
We also added to the standard brown the black verision of this fly for later in the summer when big black bugs just seem to work very well.
STU’S BIONIC BUG: This is one mean looking fly, with a fat head, big googly eyes, and a hot pink indicator you will see for miles. Most people think of this spawn of the twisted mind of NZ fly designer Stu Tripney as a bass pattern. Oh no it was engineered for NZ browns and such is the predatory nature of the salmo trutta we thought it a good shot for the late season terrestrial eaters. We definately wouldn’t be afraid to pitch it for largemouth or smallies, but we can’t wait to send it out at Bull Shoals Dam either.