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Fly Tying Video: Simple Sparkle Minnow

Fly Tying Video: Simple Sparkle Minnow

This video is mostly designed to show a cool material taken from the craft world, King Cole Chunky Tinsel yarn, and to show the technique used to twist up this material sufficiently to create a one-step bushy body. This is a good all-around baitfish pattern for a variety of fish.

Weekly Fly Tying Vid: Jig-Style Pink Amex Czech Nymph

Weekly Fly Tying Vid: Jig-Style Pink Amex Czech Nymph

The pink AMEX is one of the most popular nymph patterns in winter and early spring on the Missouri River, and a good bet on any tailwater stream. It suggests both eggs and dead/dying scuds, and as such is a good “junk bug” attractor pattern on tailwaters.

While normally tied on a scud hook, I prefer to tie larger versions (#12-14) on jig hooks with tungsten beads, to cut down on hangups.

It’s also worth checking out the “Rainbow Czech,” which is generally similar except with the dubbing colors reversed and a full scud-style shellback. Both patterns bear some similarity to the Pink Squirrel nymph popular in the Driftless region of the upper Midwest.

Full recipe at Walter’s blog at https://fishstories.ycflyfishing.com/

Early Snowpack Update

Early Snowpack Update

It’s never too early to start paying attention to how much snow’s in the mountains. The amount of snow we get from late October through early May and how this snow melts from April through June govern how much water we have in our rivers during the mid-June through September prime season. I post regular updates through the winter. Things WILL change drastically over the course of the winter. Last year we were looking at a very low snowpack until late January, with daytime highs in the 50s and some nights above freezing even in January, and then had some of the coldest and wettest weather in memory in February and early March. That said, here’s what we’re looking at so far.

The tables below show snowpack (the left-hand column of numbers) and total precipitation (the right-hand column) for Montana and Wyoming. Drainages within our operations area are in boldface, with the most-important drainages also set off with asterisk.

 

MONTANA
  KOOTENAI RIVER BASIN .........................  8 of  8      67        53 
  FLATHEAD RIVER BASIN ......................... 12 of 16      94        77 
  UPPER CLARK FORK RIVER BASIN ................. 13 of 15     100        80 
  BITTERROOT RIVER BASIN .......................  7 of  7      74        65 
  LOWER CLARK FORK RIVER BASIN .................  8 of  8      50        64 
  JEFFERSON RIVER BASIN ........................ 19 of 19      98        76 
  MADISON RIVER BASIN .......................... 11 of 11      83        67 ****************** (Madison River from YNP to Three Forks)
  GALLATIN RIVER BASIN .........................  7 of  7     108        98 
  MISSOURI HEADWATERS .......................... 31 of 31      96        78 
  HEADWATERS MISSOURI MAINSTEM .................  5 of  5     124        99 
  SMITH, JUDITH, AND MUSSELSHELL RIVER BASINS ..  9 of 10     139       100 
  SUN, TETON AND MARIAS RIVER BASINS ...........  5 of  6     186       100 
  MISSOURI MAINSTEM RIVER BASIN ................ 19 of 21     154       103 
  ST. MARY AND MILK RIVER BASINS ...............  3 of  3      98        81 
  UPPER YELLOWSTONE RIVER BASIN ................ 23 of 24     107        90 ****************** (Yellowstone from Gardiner to Billings, more or less, including the Boulder)
  WIND RIVER BASIN (WYOMING) ................... 11 of 13     103        68 
  SHOSHONE RIVER BASIN (WYOMING) ...............  5 of  6      97        83 
  BIGHORN RIVER BASIN (WYOMING) ................ 15 of 16     125       101 
  TONGUE RIVER BASIN (WYOMING) .................  6 of  7     136       108 
  POWDER RIVER BASIN (WYOMING) .................  6 of  7     176       133 
  LOWER YELLOWSTONE RIVER BASIN ................ 30 of 35     121        94 

WYOMING
  SNAKE RIVER .................................. 20 of 20      74        59 
  MADISON-GALLATIN .............................  5 of  5      74        54 ****************** (Madison Basin in YNP, the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers)
  YELLOWSTONE .................................. 14 of 14     102        81 ****************** (Upper Yellowstone River in Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, including the Lamar and Gardner)
  WIND RIVER ................................... 10 of 12     103        71 
  BIGHORN BASIN ................................ 10 of 11     149       115 
  SHOSHONE RIVER ...............................  5 of  6      97        83 
  POWDER RIVER .................................  6 of  7     176       133 
  TONGUE RIVER .................................  6 of  7     136       108 
  BELLE FOURCHE ................................  2 of  2     179       113 
  CHEYENNE RIVER BASIN .........................  2 of  2     161        95 
  UPPER N. PLATTE .............................. 16 of 19     103        81 
  SWEETWATER ...................................  3 of  3      69        54 
  LOWER N. PLATTE ..............................  4 of  4     193       111 
  LARAMIE RIVER ................................  7 of  7     140       103 
  S. PLATTE ....................................  2 of  3     140       109 
  LITTLE SNAKE RIVER ...........................  8 of  8     134        78 
  UPPER GREEN RIVER ............................ 13 of 14      75        60 
  LOWER GREEN RIVER ............................  7 of 11     103        81 
  UPPER BEAR RIVER .............................  8 of 10      91        64

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Generally speaking, the above means we’ve got a good start to the snowpack in the northern and eastern parts of our operations area, basically meaning the Yellowstone River and its tributaries, and things aren’t as good further to the south and west. The Madison Basin in YNP in particular has some catching up to do. The long-range NOAA outlooks through climatological winter (through February) suggest we’re looking at a warmer-than-normal winter (bad) but also a wetter than normal winter (good). So all in all, we’re hopeful that we’ll have a near-normal snowpack by late spring just about everywhere again this winter, as we’ve had throughout our operations area in 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2018-19. This run of sustained decent water is a nice change from the yo-yo years we had from 2001 through 2015-2016.

2019 Breakout Fly (and Video): May-Midge

2019 Breakout Fly (and Video): May-Midge

We tied the May-Midge as something of an experiment prior to last season, intending it to combine attributes of midge patterns like the Griffith’s Gnat while maintaining the overall silhouette of tiny, sparse mayflies. Our goal with this fly was to come up with something that would fool the spooky, lazily-rising fish we often see in the morning in flat water in late summer and early fall. These fish seldom eat any one thing in particular, but are feeding on a mixture of midges and the duns of three or four species of mayflies, as well as the occasional odd ant, mayfly spinner, and other “schmutz.” The May-Midge proved extremely effective in this role this season, particularly in the Lamar Drainage, where it turned out several very large fish on lower Slough Creek that were turned off by larger and/or more heavily-dressed flies.

Note: This fly is intended for use in slow water, particularly big eddy lines or places with many complicated micro-currents. It should not be used in choppy water, as it won’t float well in chop.

 

2019 Breakout Fly: Copper Matt (Video Too!)

2019 Breakout Fly: Copper Matt (Video Too!)

While caddis hatches on the Yellowstone River were sort of “meh” in 2019, the nymph fishing during caddis season was quite good. Usually we fished our nymphs as droppers, sometimes deep under bobbers. Either way, my most-productive caddis/attractor nymph was an old tie by Matt Minch, the Copper Matt. Essentially a version of his Bead, Hare, and Copper with a peacock herl head and heavier wire ribing, Parks’ Fly Shop has been stocking the Copper Matt in larger sizes for at least ten years, to modest sales at best. This year I happened to tie a few in smaller sizes in my box, probably due to guiding on the lower Madison during heavy caddis hatches and having strong success with them earlier in the season. The smaller size (#16) seemed to be the ticket. The fish loved this one this year. Let’s hope they do next year. My new fly tying vid for the pattern is embedded below.