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.
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/
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.
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.
One of the moves everybody who guides for PFS except Richard is making is towards heavyweight flies that can be fished without additional weight. Most of these flies are tied jig-style, rather they’re derived from previous Euro-nymph designs or adaptations of standard patterns. We like these flies whether we’re fishing them as droppers beneath big dries, Euro-nymphing, or fishing with indicators. Regardless of technique, the advantages of flies that plummet to the bottom yet don’t hang up too bad are clear: a fast sink rate gets the flies to the fish, leaving off additional weight is more efficient (both in casting and in rigging) and also puts you in direct contact with your flies (or direct between indicator/hopper and fly, if not Euronymphing), so strike detection and drift control are easier than with lighter flies aided by shot.
It’s consistently difficult to find good large (#6 through #10) stonefly nymphs that fit this bill. Sure, there’s always a Girdle Bug (Pat’s Rubber Legs), but in large sizes these typically ride hook down. I tie some Girdle Bugs upside-down, but it’s hard to find jig nymph hooks in the sizes we need, which are generally big and at least 2x long shank. Another problem is that Girdle Bugs are also the most popular nymphs around these days, probably, so the fish are seeing too many of them. So a stonefly that both looks a bit different, a bit snazzier, than the Pat’s, but doesn’t hang up as much and still checks the same boxes has been a sort of Holy Grail the past couple years.
That’s where the Stone Bomb and Twenty Bomb come in. We started fishing these patterns back in 2018, but fished them a lot harder in 2019, in a lot more places. Simply put, they knocked it out of the park on guided trips on the Madison, Yellowstone, Stillwater, and especially the Gardner and the Boulder. On the latter two rivers, these flies were godsends because of the tendency for normal-orientation flies to hang up, the abundant stonefly populations, and the need for flies to get down quick in small pieces of deep, turbulent holding water.
The Stone Bomb is a brown nymph that fills the same niche as the classic brown Girdle Bug, but has quite a bit more going on. Here’s a side view. The top view is comparable to that of the Twenty Bomb below. We found the Stone Bomb to be most effective before the Salmonfly hatch and again in the fall, when chasing fall-run browns.
The Twenty Bomb looks somewhat like the Nocturnal or Midnight Stone, and is also an excellent attractor in the same vein as the Mega Prince or Twenty Incher. The latter pattern is obviously the source for the Twenty Bomb, hence the name. My clients and I caught fish on this one through most of the season, on many sizes. In June we ran #8s under indicators on high water Boulder River floats (the Boulder has the shortest runoff season of any of our freestone rivers, FYI). In July, it was #6-8 early on on walk trips on the Yellowstone and Gardner, suggesting big stoneflies, while later in July #10s under giant hoppers worked well on the Yellowstone. In October, it was back to the #6-8 flies on the Gardner for fall-run browns. Believe it or not, I went three trips using Euro-nymphing techniques without losing or tearing up one of the flies too badly to fish it, which on the Gardner with its abundant boulders is miraculous.
We’re looking forward to fishing these even harder next year, and will be stocking them in a wider size range at least in our guide boxes.