Delektable Spanker Nymph Fly Tying Vid

Delektable Spanker Nymph Fly Tying Vid

Delektable Spanker Nymph: Introduction

Dan Delekta’s Lil Spanker and Big Spanker are red hot “guide flies” in southwest Montana. In essence, the Delektable Spanker Nymph series consists of Pheasant Tail and Lightning Bug variations tied with long flash legs and CDC collars. This particular color variant tied jig-style was my top-producing nymph on guided trips on the Yellowstone and Stillwater Rivers from the middle of August through about September 20 during the 2020 season. To learn more about Dan Delekta’s flies, visit this page and peruse his catalog.

I am now accepting bookings for the 2021 season. In fact I am already about 1/3 booked during the month of July, so if you’re looking to book a guided trip, it makes sense to get on the phone soon.


Delektable Spanker Nymph: Recipe

Hook: 60-degree barbless standard jig, #12-18.

Bead: Slotted tungsten, here gold.

Thread: 8/0 To match or slightly contrast with body, here 8/0 light brown.

Tail: Speckled game bird or hackle, here medium pardo cod-de-leon.

Abdomen: Pheasant Tail fibers, Flashabou, or tinsel. Here holographic gold Flashabou.

Rib: Copper wire, here brown in Brassies size.

Wing Case: Tinsel, here medium opal Mirage.

Thorax: Peacock herl or flashy dubbing, here brown stone SLF dub.

Legs: Krystal Flash or Midge Krystal Flash, here tan Midge Krystal Flash.

Collar: CDC, here brown.

Boulder River Fishing Trips Rundown

Boulder River Fishing Trips Rundown

We run both float and wade Boulder River fishing trips. Here’s a brief introduction.

Float Fishing the Boulder River

Rather than reinventing the wheel, I’ll point you towards this writeup I just did for Parks’ Fly Shop (for whom I also guide) about float-fishing the Boulder. Everything I wrote there applies if you book Boulder River fishing trips through my business, too.

Here’s some eye candy from a June “runoff window” float from the 2019 season that isn’t part of that writeup. Read on past the pics for info on walk-wade Boulder River fishing trips.

float angler hooked up to a trout on the boulder river

angler with boulder river brown troutWade Fishing the Boulder River

After it gets too low to float in late July, both the Boulder River and its main forks the East and West Boulder offer excellent opportunities for small-stream guided fishing trips through August. Unlike most small waters in the area, both the mainstem and the forks feature a fair amount of state land in their lower reaches. While some locals wade fish these waters, most travelers blow on by to wade fish Yellowstone Park, the Gallatin, or the Madison. This is a mistake. The Boulder and forks are a lot of fun in mid-late summer and offer great hopper fishing.

These are not big fish fisheries. While we see a very occasional 20-inch trout when wade-fishing the Boulder, most fish on the mainstem will run 10-16 inches and most fish on the forks will run 8-14. The focus is instead on solitude and numbers of fishing. We usually see a bunch on these waters, and they’re usually fat and healthy.

All accesses on the Boulder and its Forks on state land are large enough for 1-2 anglers for about a half-day guided trip. For this reason, we’ll almost never wade-fish one area. Instead, we’ll fish the mainstem in the morning, then either higher on the mainstem or one one of the forks after lunch, when the smaller, shadier water in these areas offer better fishing. Most areas on the Boulder and forks are fast-flowing and have slick bottoms, making them unsuited to beginner anglers as well as those with poor mobility, though some sections of the mainstem are good choices for beginners.

Hopper-dropper fishing is the bread and butter technique when wade-fishing the Boulder. By the time the river’s too low to float, medium and small hoppers like my Bob Hopper are best, trailed with a small Prince or slender beadhead mayfly nymph. Occasional hatches also occur, with Tan Caddis, PMD, and later in August the first BWO the most likely suspects. Hatches are most likely on the upper mainstem, while hopper fishing is good everywhere.

Enough chit-chat. Here are some pictures. Interested in booking a wade trip? Give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

east boulder river brown trout
East Boulder brown trout. See the foam patch behind him? That’s where he was holding.
image of east boulder river
East Boulder River

boulder river brown trout

Pink Lightning Bug Fly Tying Video

Pink Lightning Bug Fly Tying Video

Pink Lightning Bug Introduction

Pink Lightning Bug nymphs are among the top winter flies in the region, especially on the Missouri River where they’re effective from now through mid-May. Suggestive of eggs and scuds, and to a lesser extent mayflies and midges, spin up a few Pink Lightning Bugs to try in your home waters this winter. Trail one of these behind a larger pink fly such as the Amex Jig I posted previously.

Pink Lightning Bug Recipe

Hook: Standard scud, #16-18. #18 is usually best.

Bead: 3/32″ to 5/64″ nickel, in either brass or tungsten.

Thread: 8/0 hot pink or fluorescent fire orange.

Tail: Shell pink Antron yarn. Use 2/3 of the the bundle of fibers on #16 and half on #18. The tail should be rather full.

Abdomen: Holographic pink Flashabou doubled around the thread when it’s tied in.

Rib: Small to extra-small red Ultra Wire.

Wing Case: Medium pearl tinsel.

Thorax: Ball of pink dubbing slightly darker than the body and tail, dubbed loose for movement.

Weekly Fly Tying Video: Pennant Dun Mayfly-Style Attractor

Weekly Fly Tying Video: Pennant Dun Mayfly-Style Attractor

I developed the Pennant Dun in early fall 2020 as a tiny, delicate, yet buoyant and visible mayfly-style attractor dry. Its effectiveness largely derives from its unusual wing and hackle design, which allows for a large wing on a small fly.

While I’m still working on other versions of the basic pattern that are more imitative, as well as using the wing/hackle method on larger attractor-style patterns (a variation of Mike Mercer’s Missing Link using this wing style is in the works, for example), the copper and purple versions of this pattern were good attractors on the Yellowstone River on early fall mornings, when there were a few midges and mayflies hatching, but no real specific hatches.


Hook: #14-20 standard emerger hook, here #18.

Thread: 8/0, here purple. Note that the thread will show through the body material, so sometimes it’s good to change thread colors after tying the body, depending on the effect you wish to produce. On the copper version of this fly, I use rusty brown thread under the tail and body, but fire orange for the hackle, wing, and head. I want the hot orange head, but it makes the body too orange if I use it for the whole fly.

Body: Veevus Body Quill, here claret.

Hackle: 1x oversized dun-grizzly, dun badger, or light dun.

Wing: Silver MFC Widow’s Web, trimmed into a pennant shape.

Three Features of Good Mayfly Dry Flies

Three Features of Good Mayfly Dry Flies

The other day I was thinking about common features of virtually all the mayfly dry fly patterns I use to imitate emergers, cripples, and duns, and realized all of them share at least two out of three characteristics, and many feature all three. Here are these features:

1. I exclusively tie/fish patterns suggestive of “impaired” insects.

Trout have evolved to eat bugs that aren’t going to fly away. For this reason, they prefer to eat cripples, emergers, stillborn insects, and drowned duns when possible. Your traditional Catskill-style dry flies that float on the foam on a glass of beer look cool, but they don’t look like they’re struggling. On the other hand, many popular patterns already imitate impaired insects. The classic Sparkle Dun suggests both emergers and cripples, while parachute dries look a lot like drowned duns, for example.

How do you make a pattern look impaired? Thankfully, there are some easy tricks. In fact, two of the three techniques below are easier than techniques for tying unimpaired insects.

  1. Use trailing shuck material for a tail. See the Purple Hazy Cripple above for an example. On this pattern, the tail is either golden brown Widow’s Web or brown Sparkle Emerger Yarn.
  2. Trim the hackle underneath the hook so the pattern rides low in the film, or use parachute hackle. It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the cripple has about 40% of the hackle under the hook trimmed almost to the shank.
  3. Use  the “cripple-style” wing. See above.

2. All of the mayfly patterns I use have slender bodies with slight segmentation and a faintly glossy appearance.

If you look at a real mayfly of virtually any species, they have very slender bodies with prominent segmentation and a somewhat “slick” appearance. To match this appearance on all but the smallest mayflies, here are the three best methods for creating bodies that look like this:

  1. Use turkey biots, either with the fuzzy edge of the biot “out” or in. On the Soda Fountain Parachute dry above, they’re tied facing out. Alternately, use a rooster or peacock quill to create a similar body.
  2. Use spandex (as on the Hazy Cripple above) or Hareline’s Micro Tubing (exremely fine surgical or bead-stringing plastic tubing that has been colored).
  3. Use tying thread ribbed with Krystal Flash and then coated with head cement, super glue, or UV resin, as on the red Missing Link below. This is a great choice for patterns featuring crossover appeal to midges and mayfly spinners as well as emerger/cripple/dun mayflies. Photo courtesy Umpqua Feather Merchants.

3. The vast majority of the mayfly patterns I use utilize hydrophobic synthetic yarn (poly yarn) for their wings.

Fly Tying Video: TJ Hooker Fly Pattern – Stonefly Nymph and Sculpin Combo

Fly Tying Video: TJ Hooker Fly Pattern – Stonefly Nymph and Sculpin Combo

TJ Hooker Fly Pattern

The TJ Hooker fly is similar in some respects to the Zirdle Bug in that it’s a combination streamer and stonefly nymph. When it’s fished dead-drift, it looks like a stonefly, while when it’s twitched or dragged (or even mended) it looks like a small sculpin. This combination is ideal when float-fishing or Euro-nymphing on foot, because it allows multiple types of presentation in one cast. The version given here is heavy and mostly intended for Euro-nymphing in the fall (hence the orange bead, suggestive of eggs), but it’s also effective during the summer when tied with standard beads or no bead at all. Don’t hesitate to fish small ones as droppers under large hoppers!

TJ Hooker Fly Video

TJ Hooker Fly Recipe

Hook: #6-16 2xl barbed 60-degree jig hook, here a Kumoto KJ2322 #12. Note that this hook is rather oversized and a #12 looks like a #10 in similar hooks from Daiichi and probably most other brands. Feel free to substitute a 90-degree jig hook for use with brass beads, or even a standard 2xl nymph hook.

Bead: Here a 5/32″ orange slotted tungsten “jig” bead. Standard versions of the fly use gold or black beads. For lighter rigging, use a brass bead or none at all.

Weight: .010 to .025 lead or lead-free wire, optional.

Thread #1: Brown 6/0. Match the chenille color roughly when changing colors.

Tail: Marabou or chickabou. Here bar-dyed MFC Buggerbou in tan/brown is used. Feel free to change colors as desired.

Body: Chenille, here #0 Cascade Crest New Age Chenille in “Henry’s Lake.” Feel free to use your preferred color.

Legs: 2-3 strands MFC Sexi-Floss tied Girdle Bug-style. Here size small copper brown legs are used. Feel free to substitute.

Thread #2: Fl. fire orange 6/0 to create a hotspot. Standard versions of the pattern omit this.

Collar: A couple turns of Brownstone SLF dubbing to distinguish versions of this pattern with extra weight from those that don’t in my fly box. This step is purely optional.

Fly Tying Video: Baby Sculpin Jig-Style Streamer

Fly Tying Video: Baby Sculpin Jig-Style Streamer

The Baby Sculpin is a continuing evolution of a video I posted a while back in which I used Meyer’s Mini Leech as a starting point to create a small sculpin pattern. This is the “production” version for 2020, tied with a tungsten bead on a jig hook to reduce hangups. Small dead-drifted sculpins are excellent patterns for larger browns, both on summer float trips and in the fall when the browns are sitting in deep runs preparing for the spawn. Fish this one under an indicator from a drift boat or when fishing long, deep runs on foot, or Euro-style in pocket water.


Hook: 2xl jig nymph, #8-12. Alternately, use a scud hook if you don’t need the fly to ride hook-up.

Bead: Slotted tungsten to match hook size and to match or contrast overall body color. Here, black nickel 5/32-inch. If tying on a scud hook, use a standard brass or tungsten bead.

Weight (Optional): .015 lead or lead-free wire, just a few turns to hold the bead in place.

Thread #1 (Jig Versions Only): Clear monofilament tying thread. Use Thread #2 for the entire fly if tying on a scud hook.

Body Bump: Australian possum or other coarse nymph dubbing. Good colors are olive, brown, black, antique gold, and rust. Here, olive. Omit on scud hook versions.

Legs: 3-5 small Sexi-Floss or similar barred spandex legs. Choose a sculpin-esque color from tan to olive. Here, amber.

Belly/Flash: Pearl-gold Ice Wing Fiber or similar. Angel Hair can substitute.

Thread #2: To match overall body color. Here, olive-dun Uni 8/0.

Wing: Pine squirrel strip. Good colors are gold, tan, brown, olive, and black.

Collar (Optional) and Head: Same dubbing as “body bump,” tied using a dubbing loop.

Tying Note: If you’re tying this on a scud hook, tie in the legs as shown here, then tie in flash above and below the hook to shield the leg tie-in point and to hide the hook shank. Then tie the wing above the hook so it hangs free as on a Mayer’s Mini Leech. Then dub the head as standard. This version is much faster to tie but more snag-prone. As such, I usually use it as a dropper nymph in #12 hanging from a huge dry fly such as a Chubby Chernobyl, rather than fishing it deep.



Summer Streamflow and Fishing Forecast and Runoff Update – Mid-June (Final) Update

Summer Streamflow and Fishing Forecast and Runoff Update – Mid-June (Final) Update


Montana lifted its nonresident quarantine order on June 1. While it has been slow, I’ve been working a bit this month and things do pick up in July, though this is still going to be a down year for me, as for every other outfitter in the region. Speaking for probably every guide in Montana, I hope you consider booking some trips if your health and funds allow. While our water conditions are going to be a bit more challenging than 2017-2019 due to an early runoff, I expect low crowds on the rivers will more than make up for this.

Spring runoff is now tailing off everywhere, though most waters are still too high. Over the next week this will begin to change, and by the end of June my entire area of operations will be in shape for the summer or only a couple days out. We’re do for cool weather this week, and this will play a big role in dropping the Yellowstone, Boulder, and Stillwater Rivers into play a bit earlier than anticipated.

Here’s the short version:

  • The spring runoff is still heavy on most freestone rivers across the northern part of Yellowstone Park and points north. It is basically over in the central and western parts of Yellowstone Park as well as west and northwest of the park. The Madison Basin in particular is now down to something like 30% of its normal snowpack for the date, meaning it’s game on over there.
  • Runoff came early and except for a couple short “runoff breaks,” was quite intense. Now that we’re past peak runoff, the cool spell coming this week will likely drop larger, low-elevation rivers out of the spring runoff to fishable levels for the season, though flows will still be high until about July 4.
  • Winter snowpack was quite high in most area drainage basins, but the early and heavy runoff has melted this snow fast. We now have below-normal snowpack everywhere, drastically below normal in the Madison Basin. This means we’re looking at below normal streamflows for July-September.
  • Area fisheries that are still in spring runoff will drop into play between June 20 and July 4. After that, everything except perhaps the rough lower Yellowstone east of Livingston will be ready to go.
  • Closures related to low water and high water temperatures are certain on the lower Madison River below Ennis Lake and on the Jefferson River. They are unlikely elsewhere. The Firehole River downstream of the Old Faithful closure zone is ALWAYS too warm to fish after about July 1, and this year will be no exception. Why this water isn’t simply closed from July 4 until Labor Day, I have no idea.
  • Other areas that are unlikely to fish well after noon from mid-July until Labor Day are the Gardner River downstream from Boiling River (a hot spring), as well as on the Gibbon and Madison Rivers in YNP. The lower Gallatin River downstream of Gallatin Gateway also falls into this category.
  • It is possible that low flows combined with heat waves in late July and early August will result in poor fishing conditions after 2-3PM on portions of the Yellowstone River outside YNP, especially points east of Livingston. This will be tied to day-to-day weather. A week of 90+ degree highs and sunshine will mean we need to start at 6AM and quit at 2PM, or fish the Yellowstone in the morning and go elsewhere after lunch. I do not anticipate any mandatory “Hoot Owl” restrictions on the Yellowstone.

Current Conditions

Runoff is over in west-facing drainages both inside and outside YNP, and it’s fading fast everywhere. After June 20, I expect all rough-water areas to be at least marginally fishable for the remainder of the season. The current cool spell, which will transition to downright “cold” for a few days this week, is going to do wonders for the late June fishing on the Firehole River and also slow the last surge of runoff elsewhere. The next ten days will see me shift my fishing/guiding attention from the Gibbon River in YNP and private lakes and the Lower Madison outside the park to the Gardner River in YNP and the Boulder and Yellowstone Rivers outside the park.

Coronavirus and Guiding in 2020 – Reopening the Big Sky

Two big changes to the reopening plan I cover in my previous post are important for visiting anglers:

  1. Montana moved to Phase II of its coronavirus reopening plan on June 1. Tourism and therefore guided fishing are now permitted without any sort of quarantine.
  2. All entrances to Yellowstone Park are now open. All roads except the Tower Junction to Canyon road segment are now open. Tower to Canyon is closed through 2021 or 2022 for reconstruction.

The above changes mean that subject to common sense, social distancing requirements, and assuming no mass surges in coronavirus which shut things down again, the fishing and guiding seasons are now underway. Things aren’t “normal,” but at least they exist…

Due to expected low crowds this season combined with good streamflows for feeding and spawning purposes from 2017-2019, I anticipate good fishing this season with the possible exceptions of late afternoon from mid-July through mid-August.

Anticipated Dates Rivers Will Drop from Runoff and Expected Best Fishing Periods

This is the meat and potatoes for most readers.

Firehole River

The Firehole is out of runoff and fishing well now. It will fish great during the current cool spell before rapidly getting too warm during the last week of June. Expect it to be hitting 75+ degrees daily by July 1, and therefore too warm to fish ethically from that point until the first cool spell in early September. The small-fish water above the Old Faithful closure is always cool enough all summer, but it’s basically just a pretty brook trout creek up there.

Gibbon River

The Gibbon is out of runoff. The canyon has fished well since the beginning of June and is now probably seeing its best fishing of the season. The meadows are just dropping into shape. Expect the fishing to fall off to a morning-only option after July 1, due to warm water.

Madison River Inside YNP

The Madison is out of runoff and seeing some PMD, caddis, and Salmonfly hatches. Like the Firehole and Gibbon that feed it, it will be too warm in the afternoons by about July 1 and be too warm until late August. The “runner” holes can fish well in the mornings in late August following cold nights, while the rest of the river gets going again after about September 5.

Madison River “Between the Lakes”

Clear and probably crowded. Certainly out of runoff. This stretch stays cool enough to fish fine all the way until next year’s spring runoff, though there are better sections in the summer.

Lower Madison River (Below Ennis Lake)

Out of runoff. A great choice until things warm up in late June. After July 4 now sees mandatory 2PM closures every year on this stretch of river, which this year will be warranted as this river gets real warm in July and August.

Lakes in Yellowstone Park

Small hike-in lakes are now fishable. Most years see the best fishing of the season right now, but the cold spell starting today might see late June being a better bet. They stay good options into the middle of July. Yellowstone Lake is likewise fishing, but it will slow down particularly for lake trout by the end of June.

Gardner River

The Gardner Below Boiling River is now in shape and fishing well for fit, experienced anglers. Rainstorms may bring it up to an unfishable level again, but that’s a short-term weather phenomenon. Runoff will never bring it back up again. The fishing will get easier if not necessarily better through the remainder of June and be best until about July 10, after which afternoons will be too warm for this stretch until mid-September.

The Gardner from Osprey Falls to Boiling River is similar in structure to the Gardner below Boiling River (a hot spring), but much colder. The larger pools here are already fishing, but the fishing will get much better as the water warms and be strongest in July and the first half of August. The fishing remains strong particularly for larger fish (but not numbers) until early October.

Above Osprey Falls, the Gardner is a brook trout fishery (with a few small rainbows mixed in near the falls). It will be ready between July 1 and July 4 depending on the section. The tributary creeks drain more lakes and lower elevations. They are probably low enough already but will warm to a good temperature around June 25 and fish best before mid-August.

Madison River (Quake Lake to Ennis Lake):

High, but dropping and clearing fast. Definitely fishable with nymphs already, and Salmonflies will pop soon.

Jefferson River

Only good for about a week after it leaves runoff and again after September 1 or so. This year it will leave runoff around June 20. The good fishing window will be short this year, because we’re forecast to have a late-June hot spell that will warm this low-elevation river fast and almost certainly result in closures by mid-late July.

Boulder River

The Boulder had a very brief “runoff window” last week before coming up again. It will drop into fishable shape for the season by June 20 and be gangbusters after that, almost certainly better than the Yellowstone on balance until July 1, and still a good option thereafter. It will remain high enough to float until July 15-20 this year, but is a good wade-fishing destination thereafter.

Yellowstone River (Grand Canyon)

Ready to go with big nymphs and streamers, but will get much easier to fish and navigate the steep banks around June 20-25. The Salmonfly hatch will start about then and last in spotty fashion for three weeks. Note that my previous guidance on accessing this water in 2020 was incorrect. The Tower Falls access is closed due to roadwork this year. This means you can fish under the NE Entrance Road Bridge with all the spin-fishers (which is usually as poor as it sounds), hike the grueling Specimen Ridge to “Sulphur Beds” trail, or hike the even-more-grueling Seven Mile Hole trail. Tower Falls is slated to be accessible in 2021 and I know exactly where I intend to be guiding for the first 2-3 weeks after the Grand Canyon is even remotely fishable that year…

Stillwater River

Above the Rosebud should drop into shape around June 25 and be best for the first month or so, getting pretty low thereafter. Below the Rosebud, will come in around July 1 and be best in late July and August. The Stillwater should be very good this year due to reduced traffic, though the difference won’t be as pronounced as on the Boulder and Yellowstone, since more traffic here is local anyway. The Stillwater may get too low to float around August 25 this season if it doesn’t rain a fair amount in August and September.

Yellowstone River (Black Canyon and Gardiner to Pine Creek)

This includes both the walk-wade Black Canyon inside Yellowstone Park, which runs from the Lamar to the park boundary at Gardiner (and really for 2-3 miles or so below Gardner, since drift boats do not put in until a rough access at the 2mm or a better one at the 3mm), the “upper Yellowstone” float section from near Gardiner to Carbella, and most of Paradise Valley down almost to Livingston.

The float water from Gardiner to Yankee Jim and from Carbella to Mallard’s Rest will drop into marginal shape around June 20 and be fishable but challenging (especially for novices) until July 1, getting easier thereafter. The Salmonfly hatch will begin around June 25. With a fast warmup predicted, I expect the hatch to move quickly upstream and be past Gardiner into YNP by July 1.

The Black Canyon will also be marginal around June 20 but will be very physically difficult to fish until July 1. After that, expect easier if not automatically better fishing, as well as the Salmonflies. The “big bugs” will be heaviest here during the middle 10 days of July, tapering off around the 15th near Gardiner and around the 25th near Hellroaring Creek.

Yankee Jim Canyon will drop into safe floatable shape around July 10 this year.

Except for short-term heat waves in late July and August, fishing will remain good on this section through fall, though the deeper, faster sections are better once the water drops below about 3000cfs. During heat waves, we may want to get on the water at 6-7AM and off by 3:00, especially in Paradise Valley.

I do expect the best fishing on this water will take place in July rather than August this season. Last year early August was better. This year the fish will be spookier due to the faster decline in water levels this season.

Lamar River, Slough Creek, and Soda Butte Creek

This water will all come into shape around July 4, with the best fishing in the latter half of July and first ten days of August. Thereafter, expect spookier and spookier fish requiring smaller and smaller flies, as always. Pressure should be reduced this year, but it will still be high relative to everything else.

Most Small Streams

A few small streams in the Yellowstone, Gardner, and Madison drainages that drain from lakes and/or hot spring basins are already fishable, depending on the creek, but most small streams will truly drop into shape around July 10 and be best in August, as they always are.

Yellowstone River (Pine Creek to Laurel)

The rougher, bigger portion of the Yellowstone from Pine Creek down through Livingston and on east to Columbus and beyond is too high and rough for at least a week and often two weeks after most of the Yellowstone upstream. I expect it will drop into shape by July 10 this year. From Pine Creek to Mayor’s Landing in Livingston is pretty consistent from when it gets low enough right through the fall provided water temperatures remain below 70 degrees and above 47 or so. East of Mayor’s Landing is much more a “big fish hunting”
game. It is good but hard for the first ten days or two weeks after it clears, then less consistent but easier through August. By Labor Day things really depend on sticking a pig on a streamer or good hatches.

Pressure will be reduced on this stretch, particularly east of Livingston where there is more guide than local traffic, but this stretch of the Yellowstone is hard no matter what. It might just be less hard this year.

Water temps may be a problem on this stretch of the Yellowstone in late July and August, particularly east of Livingston. If water temps are breaking 70 degrees, plan to fish 6AM to 2PM rather than in the afternoons and evenings. It may get to the point where I don’t guide this water, if we really get stuck in a heat wave.


There’s going to be good fishing this year, particularly in July and provided temps remain cool in August. We’re on year-four of decent to great water levels in most area basuns, which means we should see a large average size to the fish as well as some real monsters. This combines with low overall tourist traffic to mean the fish won’t be as picky as usual (read: they will be dumber than normal).

The Madison Basin will not be as good as the Yellowstone basin, due to lower flows.

If your finances and health make a trip feasible, I suggest coming, and I’d love to be your guide if you do…

Fly Tying Vid – Delektable Bug Stonefly

Fly Tying Vid – Delektable Bug Stonefly

The Delektable Bug by Dan Delekta of Beartooth Fly Fishing is a large, aggressive stonefly nymph pattern with “a lot going on.” This version has the chenille body and abundant legs of a Pat’s Rubber Legs (aka Girdle Bug aka Turd), but also a marabou tail and a collar hackle. It has risen to become my best or second-best style of stonefly nymph over the past couple seasons, now certainly eclipsing the basic Pat’s. This variant is tied on a jig hook and has a couple small material additions in an experiment to cross over to appealing to fish who like my OTHER favorite stonefly lately, the Bomb Series nymphs, in this case the brown Stone Bomb. Otherwise it’s identical except in color to the basic Bug.

The basic Bug is the least-complicated version of a whole family of Delektable stonefly nymphs including the Braided Stone, the Hurless, the Mega Prince, the Mr. Rubber Legs, and the Stoner. Most are available in standard or flashback variants. These other variants add, subtract, or change a few materials, but otherwise use a similar tying process. For example the Mega Prince has a peacock herl body instead of chenille and adds biot wings, while the Hurless simply has a body of ostrich herl.

In most respects I use “Delektables” of one breed or another in the same situations where I would use other rubberleg stoneflies. I find the chenille-bodied version given here generally more effective when the water is high and/or off-color, as well as for ornery fall-run brown trout, while during the summer when the water is lower and clearer I prefer the similar Mega Prince or Mr. Rubberlegs.

The 2020 Delektable Flies catalog can be viewed here if you’d like to the stock color combinations and tying procedures:

Note that I have no business relationship with Delektable or Beartooth. I just use some of the flies.

NOTE ON FISHING DATES MENTIONED IN THIS VIDEO: The streamflow predictions for the Boulder have changed and it is now forecast to remain above 2000cfs through at least June 17, alas. I now expect it to drop into shape around June 20, 2020.


Note that the following recipe is a “generic” recipe for the pattern. For specifics on the variant given here, watch the video. Note that the pattern given in the video is actually an experiment, not a standard color variant. The video is intended to introduce the style of fly, not a specific recipe.

Hook: 3xl curved shank nymph such as a Dai-Riki #185

Bead: Brass or tungsten to match hook size.

Thread: To match or contrast body chenille.

Antennae: Silicone legs.

Head: Ball of Ice Dub over thread wraps securing the antennae.

Weight: .010 to .035 lead or lead-free wire, depending on hook size.

Tail #1: Marabou or chickabou tied short or clipped short.

Tails #2: Same as antennae.

Body: Speckled crystal chenille such as Nature’s Spirit New Age Chenille.

Legs: Same as antennae.

Hackle: Full, webby saddle or hen hackle to match the body color.

Fly Tying Vid: Clouser Swimming Nymph

Fly Tying Vid: Clouser Swimming Nymph

This variation of the Clouser Swimming Nymph includes bead chain eyes to make it ride upside-down. This is an excellent stillwater pattern in both cold water (trout) and warmwater (bass, crappie, and panfish) settings. It is especially evocative of damselfly nymphs, though it possesses crossover appeal as a leech, small crayfish, or large mayfly.  You can fish it deep on a sink-tip or twitched shallow over the weed-tops on a floating line.

Hook: Dai-Riki #285 or other curved-shank 3xl nymph hook, #8-14, particularly #12.

Weight: A few turns of .010 to .25 lead or lead-free wire at the center of the hook shank.

Thread: 8/0 to match the fly body color. Here, olive-dun. Other good color variants are black, rust, and tan.

Eyes: Black or gold bead-chain. Adjust eye size to change the sink rate.

Tail: Olive-dyed grizzly chickabou or standard marabou.

Rib: Copper wire, color to match or contrast body. Here, brassie copper Ultra-Wire is used.

Abdomen: Olive Hare’s Ear Dubbing, thin.

Wing Case: Several strands of peacock herl.

Thorax: Same as abdomen, full.

Legs: Olive-dyed or natural brown India Hen back or similar buggy, webby feather, tied in vee-style.