Fly Tying Vid – Pink Warrior Nymph

Fly Tying Vid – Pink Warrior Nymph

The Pink Warrior is a color variant of Lance Egan’s Rainbow Warrior that works well as an alternative fly to the Pink Lightning Bug on Montana’s Missouri River in “pink fly season,” late November through early May. Fish it as a dropper with something heavier and larger, for example the AMEX Czech Jig I posted several weeks ago.

Hook: 1x short, 1x strong scud hook, #16-18.

Bead: 3/32″ or 5/64″ nickel brass or tungsten.

Thread #1: Hot pink 8/0.

Tail: Pink-dyed mallard flank.

Abdomen: Pearl-pink Flashabou. Either double one strand around the tying thread or use two strands.

Wingcase: Ends of Flashabou.

Thread #2: Fluorescent fire orange 8/0.

Thorax: Blend of pale pink and hot pink acrylic with hot pink UV Ice Dub, or similar multi-tone pink dubbing.

Head: Fire orange thread.

Fly Tying Vid: Faux-Fur Slumpbuster Jig

Fly Tying Vid: Faux-Fur Slumpbuster Jig

The Slumpbuster is a well-known streamer pattern by John Barr. This version is tied on a jig hook using a new faux fur yarn available under many brand names. I have seen three: Sirdar Alpine, Lion Brand Go for Faux, and Niceec Fur Yarn, but there are probably others.

The main purpose of this video is to show the tying properties of the fur yarn. Three techniques are demonstrated: using the material like a Zonker strip, wrapping it as on a bunny leech, and clipping it from the “hide” for insertion in a dubbing loop.

Hook: Kumoto K2322, #6-10.

Bead: 3/16″ copper slotted tungsten.

Thread: 6/0 to match body. Here, light brown.

Body: Gold tinsel chenille (or dubbing, Diamond Braid, etc.).

Wing: Faux fur yarn tied like a Zonker strip, here Sirdar Alpine in tan with white tips.

Collar: Same material as wing, wrapped as a collar.

Head: Same as wing, clipped from core and spun in a dubbing loop.

Barring: Black Sharpie.

Fly Tying Vid: Brown Roach

Fly Tying Vid: Brown Roach

The Brown Roach is an old pattern from the Missouri Ozarks originally tied on a jighead. Here it’s on a jig hook with a tungsten bead, with a couple other slight tweaks. Sometimes derided as a “pellet fly,” this pattern works just fine on wild or holdover trout that either have never seen a pellet or have long since stopped eating them. I think it suggests a cased caddis or possibly a sowbug. The basic pattern is also good in other colors for various species. Try it in black, white, chartreuse, and yellow for stocked trout and panfish, or in other earth tones for wild and holdover trout.

Hook: Lightning Strike barbless jig, #12-16.

Bead: 5/32″ to 7/64″ matte brown tungsten jig bead.

Thread: 6/0 rusty brown.

Abdomen: Brown Australian possum inserted in a dubbing loop in “noodle” form.

Rib: Brown Flashabou or similar.

“Hackle:” Dark brown pine squirrel inserted crosswise in a dubbing loop, trimmed to length, spun, and wrapped forward.

Head: Tying thread.

Fly Tying Vid: Jigged Soft Hackle Caddis

Fly Tying Vid: Jigged Soft Hackle Caddis

New fly tying vid: Jigged Soft Hackle Caddis. Use this as an anchor fly in Euro-nymphing situations or when short-leash nymphing. I use the latter technique a lot on the Lower Madison River, which is very shallow and has heavy caddis concentrations. Tie this fly or something similar to your main leader, then rig an unweighted dropper to run about a foot above it. Use the smallest strike indicator you can and rig it only a couple feet above the jigged soft hackle. The heavy tungsten bead is the only weight in this system.

Hook: Umpqua C400BL, #14.

Bead: Black nickel tungsten, 1/8-inch.

Thread 1: Chartreuse 6/0 or 8/0.

Hackle: Speckled brown hen.

Thread 2: Gold-Olive MFC Midge Body or Veevus equivalent.

Thorax: Dark olive dubbing blend.

Head: Olive-brown Ice Dub.

Hotspot: Thread 1.

Fly Tying Vid: Simple Sparkle Minnow

Fly Tying Vid: 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.

Hook: Eagle Claw #630 size-4 (size 1/0 to 4 work).

Bead: 3/16″ copper brass bead.

Weight: .035 lead wire.

Thread: 3/0 brown.

Tail: Brown-grizzly and tan-brown barred marabou.

Flash: 3 strands of rusty brown Krystal Flash.

Body/Hackle: Single strand of King Cole Chunky Tinsel yarn, lopped, twisted, wrapped forward, and trimmed.

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

Weekly Fly Tying Video: 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

Hook: Lightning Strike Jig, #12-18, or #10-16 Umpqua C450BL (note: the Lightning Strikes tend to run a touch big).

Bead: Nickel slotted tungsten, 5/32″ to 3/32″

Thread: 6/0 or 8/0 fl. fire orange.

Rib: Black Hareline Midge or Micro tubing. Here a sub for the midge tubing called Crystal String is used.

Abdomen: Bighorn pink Wapsi sow-scud dubbing, or comparable dubbing blend.

Wing Case: Large or medium opal tinsel depending on fly size.

Thorax: Rainbow Wapsi sow-scud dubbing.

2019 Breakout Fly and Video: May-Midge Cripple

2019 Breakout Fly and Video: May-Midge Cripple

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.


Hook: #16-22 1x short, 1x fine emerger hook.

Thread #1 and Abdomen: Claret Veevus Body Quill (I called it wine in the video).

Tail/Shuck: Gray Sparkle Emerger Yarn or similar.

Thread #2: 8/0 or 10/0 wine.

Wing: White Widow’s Web or similar synthetic yarn.

Hackle: Grizzly saddle, tied sparse.

Thorax: UV Brown Ice Dub.

Other Colors: Light olive, black, copper, gray (use alternate abdomen material on gray, as there is no gray Body Quill). Change threads and dubbing to match desired fly color. Tail, wing, and hackle do not change.

Breakout Fly for 2019 and Tying Vid: Copper Matt Nymph

Breakout Fly for 2019 and Tying Vid: Copper Matt Nymph

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, I’ve been using the Copper Matt in larger sizes for at least ten years, to no better or different results than with the “BHC.” 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.

Boulder River Trip Report

Boulder River Trip Report

Fly fishing the Boulder River is not something most visitors to the Livingston/Bozeman/Gardiner area think to try. In fact, not many anglers even know the Boulder exists, since it’s east of Livingston, rather than west and south like the rest of the region’s float rivers. The best way visitors can experience fly fishing the Boulder River is to take a float. Guided float trips require the use of whitewater rafts, due to the “bouncy” nature of the river (it’s very steep and fast), its many namesake rocks as well as a few other obstructions like low-head dams and log jams, and the terrible accesses, which in a couple cases require sliding the boat down (or up) steep, rocky slopes into (or out of) the river.

Fish populations in the lower, floatable portion of the Boulder include rainbow trout averaging 10 to 16 inches, browns averaging 12 to 18 inches but reaching trophy size, and some monstrously large whitefish.image showing angler playing a fish on Boulder RiverFishing the Boulder when it’s between 1800cfs and 3000cfs means nymphing the perfect water: deep, slow, green runs. Basically the water that looks the best is the best. This is a mark of how little pressure this river has received so far this season. In two days of floating last week, we saw a total of three other boats, two guide rafts and one solo floater in a small boat. The pressure does increase a lot as the water drops, but it’s still a far cry from the popular Yellowstone or Madison.

From the moving raft, this is fast-paced nymph fishing, with casts flinging left and right, all while wearing a life jacket in case of a “Big Oops” on this rough river. When possible, it makes sense to pull the raft over into the few broad pools, then get out and wade fish the back sides of these riffle corners. While the fish disperse when the river drops from 1800 to 600cfs (after which it becomes far too low to float), for now they are concentrated in these obvious good areas.

author holding a fishOn June 26, Kody Marr from Parks’ Fly Shop and I floated the lower Boulder, from 8-Mile Bridge to the town of Big Timber just above the Yellowstone. Flows were around 2200cfs. Big, but well under the 3000cfs cutoff I consider safe to float. Visibility was excellent at six or more feet. Unlike the Yellowstone, the Boulder basically stays clear even during runoff. It’s high flows that make it unfishable, seldom the color.

It took us a while to get the fishing dialed, but after we did, it was game on. The fish wanted Golden Stonefly nymphs and small attractors like Princes about equally at first, but as we got down towards Big Timber, a caddis hatch began. There were a few risers here and there, but the dry fly fishing here gets a lot better when the river drops some more, so we stuck with nymphs. The Prince was apparently close enough to the caddis pupae, because the trout were crushing it.

The best fish we landed is pictured above. It ate a Bead, Hare, and Copper nymph. We lost some that were certainly bigger, including a brown that might have been over 20 inches that Kody lost just before the takeout.

angler tying on new fly on Boulder RiverOn the 27th, I guided a single angler on the Boulder, after the Yellowstone came up enough to make it a poor choice as we had planned. The Boulder rose too, to 2600cfs or thereabouts. While this made the fish shift almost exclusively to eating large stonefly/attractor nymphs (Stone Bombs and Mega Princes, both in #6), otherwise the fishing was great. Though she could not get out to wade the good corners due to a lack of wading shoes and poor balance, my angler still landed around 15 trout, including three browns over 15 inches, and lost easily twice that number that either shook the hook after a couple head-shakes due to a poor hookset or simply got downstream of the boat and pulled lose. A couple of these fish looked to beat the fish pictured below, the best she landed.

angler holding fishWhile it came up a bunch in the following days, as of this writing the Boulder is on the drop again and back under 3000cfs. I expect to guide on it at least three days a week from now through July, continuing to do so until it drops out of floatable shape sometime in the first week of August. I don’t have many open days in this period, but I do have a few. The Boulder makes a great alternative or add-on to the Yellowstone, particularly for experienced anglers eager for a change of pace. Interested?