Hackle in hair- Noooo!

Hackle shortage because of a beauty crazy? Apparently so.
I first came across this story thanks to the Midcurrent
, and have since read about it a few other times.
Apparently girls are putting long saddle hackle into their hair!
Being a naive fly fishing guide and out of the fashion loop, I
figured this story was much to do about nothing; a movement
about a few trendy girls in the big cities- an LA thing. Well,
turns out I was wrong.

While substitute teaching last week at the local high
school, I noticed several girls with long, grizzly saddle hackles
stuck in their hair; hackle that would be perfect for tying
stimulators and hoppers for our local cutthroat trout. Ah, say
it ain’t so. After inquiring as to where the girls got the hackle
(and explained that they work better on dry flies), I learned
that the feathers are readily available at our local hair salons,
and apparently quite popular. If this “trend” has infiltrated
Wyoming, I hate to think what’s going on elsewhere! This new
demand is creating problems for us fly tiers. The beauty shops
are buying all the hackle supplies and driving the price sky
high. Via the Angling Trade article: “[Salon owner Joy]
Douglas literally drove to Whiting Farms one night to lock
down as much product as possible. She claims that Dr. Tom
Whiting doubled prices on her overnight when he realized the
quantities she was willing to buy. She has since had a major
problem getting feathers and is trying to source from anywhere
she can. Her main sources are Metz and Whiting.”

You might want to stock up on hackle while you can. Let’s
hope this “fashion movement” fades to oblivion fast!


givin’ the nymphs some movement

The fishing train kept on rolling this weekend with Sage and I
getting out on the water for a few hours on Saturday and
Sunday. Although the sun was shinning, the temperatures
stayed pretty cold (and the gusts of wind didn’t help any).
Despite this, the fishing was actually pretty good given the

Things started off slow on Saturday, but picked up mid
afternoon when some nice trout started feeding under the
surface. My dead-drifting nymphs went unnoticed, so I change
tactics and started giving my flies a little movement. (this
technique, whether with dries or nymphs, always seems to
work when fishing slow deep water as the fish usually are
keyed in on swimming/moving bugs.) The trout responded to
this and I manage to land quite a few fish. Sunday wasn’t as
productive and I came in earlier after putting up with relentless
cold winds. Still, a fish was caught so it wasn’t a total loss (and
it’s never a loss when you’re out on the water).

Looks like things might warm up a little this week here in
Jackson Hole. If so, I might sneak out tomorrow with my friend
Matt. Well, time to create the weekly cartoon..

a trout mystery

I knew I was in for trouble on Saturday when I hooked
(and lost) a nice fish on my first cast. Needless to say, that
was all she wrote. Today (Sunday), I got out again with my
friend Matt and dog, Sage. Matt started off just like I did
yesterday- had a nice fish chase his streamer and then
proceeded to get shutout for the rest of the afternoon. I
started off slow too, stripping streamers, but eventually
managed to take a nice fish on a nymph. The fish I caught
(seen below) is a bit of a mystery to me. Common sense tells
me it’s a cutthroat, but the very pronounced red strip and
white tipped fins make me think it might have been a cutbow
(native cutthroat don’t have white tipped fins). 

There is a population of rainbow trout in the Gros Ventre
river below Slide lake (I have also caught them above the
lake) and apparently years back, there were quite a few
rainbows in the Snake itself (stocked at one time). Every now
and then someone claims to catch one on the Snake and I
don’t doubt it. In hind sight, I wish we would have gotten a
good close up photo and spent a little more time examining it,
but it was best to get the trout back to the water quickly.
Regardless, the fish put up a great fight and was a welcome
sight to see on such a bleak, wintery day.

nate with trout

Blowin’ in the wind..

Every year it seems that the fishing begins to pick up on
the Snake river around Valentine’s Day. Sure, fish (primarily
whitefish) can and are caught earlier on nymphs, but mid
February seems to be when the cutthroat become more active.
This year is no exception.

Temperatures warmed this weekend and Sage and I set
out to see what the trout were up to. Our theories were
confirmed and trout were caught. Midges were all over the
banks and water, but the howling wind made dry fly fishing
tough. After a short battle, I decided to take a different
approach- streamers. The fish liked them and I liked fishing
them. Here’s a few photos from today’s outing.

swans on river

Cutthoat trout

trout hookup


Going through the fly boxes…

My mid-winter ritual has begun. Yesterday I started going
through my fly boxes. What once were full and organized have,
over the course of last season, turned into a motley crew of
hair, hook and feathers. Now, a size 16 PMD can be found
sharing a compartment with a hackle-less Royal Wulff, while a
chewed up Double Humpy conseals my last size 20 Blue Wing
Olive. Flies that were organized by size, type and use, now
intermingle freely.

Looking into the boxes is a bit like reading a fishing
timeline. I see a Parachute Adams with a midge dropper,
reminding me of the stellar fishing that occurred last spring in
the Flaming Gorge; the mangled PMD that took quite a few
cutthroat from a certain riffle on the Snake every summer
morning, and the big, mottled woolly bugger that was a last
ditch effort for stubborn browns in the Lewis channel. Flies like
these will be picked out and returned to there rightful place,
or more likely than not, retired to the trash.

Going through these boxes gives me reason to tie new
flies for the upcoming season and helps me see what patterns
are needed and what aren’t. Over the years, I’ve tried to
simply my fly selection. I’m now convince that all I really need
are a few different size Parachute Adams and a Double Humpy
or two (I just don’t have the courage to test this theory).
Despite this, I’ll tie a variety of flies just in case I find myself
in a bind. Below is my favorite fly box. It contains nothing
more than various Adams patterns, parachute Hare’s Ears,
Royal Wulffs, Trudes and Double Humpies. It’s the first box to
get refilled every winter….


Dog Sledding…

Not exactly fishing related, but thought you might enjoy a
photo or two from the recent dog sled race here in Jackson.
The International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race takes
the last week in January every year. Teams race throughout
the western part of Wyoming, traveling to a new town each
day and finish in Park City, UT. This year my parents came
out and experienced the race kickoff last Friday night. They
had a great time and even tried dog sledding themselves,
taking a guided tour with my friend Frank Teasley’s Jackson
Hole Iditarod.

start of the IPSSSDR

sled dog races by


Tomorrow, I’m headed down to Evanston and then on to
Park City for the end of the race. With forecasted
temperatures to get as low as minus 30, there is no doubt that
it is cold here in Jackson. Naturally, there isn’t much fishing to
speak of (at least for the next few days). Hope to get a fishing
related post up here soon. In the meantime,
hope everyone stays warm!