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 …A Big Salmon FlyPteronarcys californica

…an adult western salmon fly imitation using “homegrown” materials…

…the fly of the month page will resume this spring with some more organic ties of mine…

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…even a fter a bunch of casts and water time this “bug” holds onto its shape pretty well…

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…in June- July the hatch is” going off ” in several areas of the Rockies & Western states…

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                Pteronarcys californica  (Giant Salmonfly)…one of the most waited for hatches  for anglers in the Rockies & Western states, especially in summertime after everyone has  waited for the yearly run off  to do  its thing…my own experiece with this huge critter is from Colorado, fishing the Gunnison in June… this huge salmonfly also appears in many other western waters at various times of the year. It is a fun tie…its big and allows the use full size of some of my favorite “homegrown” materials…I also use some of the sinew I use in making my bamboo rods in this bug too, for the legs and part of the body…if you don’t have any of that available some swiss straw like used in tying scuds works perfect too…a nymph can be easily derived from this adult pattern by just finishing off the fly at the stage prior to attaching the wings…a great combo dropper rig can be made with this combo.

 

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  … Bigger drys like this are perfect for pitching with a switch or spey rod too…more distance for sure and better control too…

              This should give you some ideas to inspire some of your own for this hatch…I tied two versions here…one with a small shoulder hood over where the wing attaches to the body, (the one in the SBS) and one without(in some of the pictures) …The “Wapsi super stick” wax is a great help to shape the flank feathers, and maintain it’s ability to shed water  …I also put some “Hard as Hull” cement on the head after all is done for extra strength…

It is a pretty easy tie, taking maybe ten minutes or less, depending on the take, you may get up to two -three fish out of it…but after that its borrowed time…LOL…it floats well…and does stay just at the surface even after a long session…which I think is a great imitation of what the bug looks like after it has expired…its possible to spread out the wings a bit for even more realism, but this does make it a bit more difficult to cast. Its a pretty “big bug” compared to most patterns fished for trout. This creature is a full on smorgasbord for the residents of the rivers it hatches from…lots of protein making for some big fish!  I use a 5-6 wt 8-9ft  bamboo with a sharkskin myself…it is also a blast with my 11ft 7wt switch, can deliver 20+ yard casts pretty easy, and for a bug this bug thats pretty good… any med-fast 5-6wt  9-10 footer in graphite is also a great choice.

 

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…this one is pretty worn out after about 40 casts w/the switch, still some spunk left though……

 

I like to tie up a half dozen or so  and even prep them with a 24″ piece of #3 or 4 flourocarbon tippet material(3 with the switch and 4 with the 8-9 footers)…it makes the cinch knot with the antennae a lot easier on the streamside. I tie on the tippet while the bug is still in the vise…makes it a lot easier. I wrap them on a piece of the gray foam pipe insulation about 3 ” long and stash it in my pocket.

tie up a batch of these and get ready for some fun!

all the best…wm…

Below the picures  is the full SBS …here are some pics of the pattern in the vise, and on the stream … a few variations…

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                         …an invaluable book to not only a fly fishing guide, but anyone that wants to learn the specifics on various bugs we want to imitate…and some ideas as to what patterns are a good choice, a great starting point for an angler looking for options…

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               Even after being fished a while it still looks pretty good…its a pretty darn realistic tie for one that doe not really take that long to make up…I do treat my “big bugs” with ginks or similar to give me a little extra help for the floatation I want…this is a big fly…2&1/2″ long, it requires a slightly shorter tippet and leader to lay out straight…maybe 6′ leader and 2 foot of tippet…max.

                Truth is this pattern will get you about two-three real fish before it needs some body work…I will tie up a half dozen for a session( and hopefully have a few left over)…I also tie up some simple ones too…with a basic wing and dubbed body and a hackle for float…but I always find the more involved patterns do deliver the biggest fish…

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                   …the shadow it makes is pretty realistic for sunny days, pretty common when this hatch is happening…the shadow or the image presented by strong sunlight is actually what a fish sees from under the surface, not what we see from the surface overhead…something for sure worth considering, cloudy days are different that sunny for sure!
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…just had to try this out for laughs…

 

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        …up dual periscopes…This happened entirely by itself and not staged… The antennae are not really as vulnerable as you might think…but sure add some realism IMHO. I recently started using turkey fan barbs, and they are much more flexible and resistant to bending and breaking altogether. Antennae are a bit of a pain when it comes to tying on the tippet material…if Iam really motivated I tie on about 24″ of size 3 or 4 flouro tippet while the bug is still in the vise…I have trimmed off too many antennae by accident w/ my nippers…and in the vise it is easy to get a cinch knot on without pinching off an antennae or cutting one altogether…

here is a version w/o legs and a hackle …an easier tie…

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Gunnison Salmon Fly 1

size 2-6 nymph or salmon hook( I like Salmon hooks best for the bigger ties)

tan or amber dyed mallard flanks ( under body)

amber or brown synthetic sinew or swiss straw ( legs and body wraps)

wild turkey fan (main body and antennae)

natural mallard flanks (wings)

black mallard tail feather(optional shoulder )

amber or brown thread, super sticky Wapsi dubbing wax , some super glue good head cement …

I dyed the mallard flanks myself from a waterfowl harvest…I used some alcohol based dye I purchased from 3 Rivers supply…it works great and dries fast…the sinew can be had at Tandy leather or similar…(craft stores) Boar bristle (javelina)can also be used for antennae, but the turk fan barbs seems to last longer…The “super sticky” dubbing wax is what  use for the “slick down” on the wing feathers.

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 I like a pair of dyed flanks to reproduce some of the amber  from the natural underbelly & tail section color

 

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 I tie in on with about the hooks length sticking out…it will be part of the underbase later on for the wings…

 

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 tie on the sinew or swiss straw and whip off the head…

 

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 do a full body wrap, front to back…then come again to the eye and tie it off…

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 take some sections of sinew and tie half hitches about 3/4″ apart…

 

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 make three of them for your leg sections…

 

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 wax the tail slightly, and apply some super glue to the sinew wraps…

 

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 fold the sinew back all the way again and do some segments with thread to the rear and tie off…

 

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 I like to trim the leg tips a bit to a scallop shape…

 

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                         Tie the rear most leg section first…cross over the section twice from opposite direction to secure and bend leg back slightly…aplying a bit of tension can help the direction of the legs, and keep them where you want them. After trying this a bit it will be very obvious.

 

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 do the remaining legs the same way…with the front section forward a bit…

 

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 take about 1″ width of turk fan …

 

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 tie it on at the rear of the back leg, and trim off excess…

 

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                       pull it all forward and tie gently at the legs to imitate the body segments…trim off all but a few barbs we will use for some antennae , whip finish the head and apply some head cement…at this point if you are creative you can figure out a nymph of the salmon fly…basically  flip over the turkey fan,  and keep its length all the way back to the tip of the tail…maybe tie off a few segments too not too tight. Hard as Hull the top of the main body…and wax out the tail a bit…and you have a great nymph…a dropper of that and the dry adult is for sure a good possible rig…

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 pick out a pair of good sized mallard flanks…natural…when these get waxed down the color and sheen are a great imitation of the real deal.

 

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 wax them down real good to create this shape…this is somethig I learned tying up salmon flies with “tented” wings.

 

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                       tie them on individually with a slight turn to either side …here I also tied on a small section of waxed down mallard tail feather to complete the forward body section…coat well with some head cement, and seperate the antennae, then do a final whip on the head and apply some more cement…now tie up another one! for a little variation you can spread the wings a little for even more realism, or another pose…but this does make casting this “big bug” a bit more challenging…

                         Here is a pic taken last week by my friend on the Gunnisonthe real deal…this will help you improve on what I have going here I am sure!  these are huge bugs…a full on smorgasbord for the trout in those waters…he managed to get this one to land on his rod and pose for a pic before it buzzed off…

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 …this is a pretty big meal for a trout !…

 

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                    anyone that has kept up with me knows how much I enjoy using materials from the ranch or harvests for tying up my flies…the wild turkey& drake  mallard were also great meals on our table!

…fly of the month will resume around christmas time…

 

previous FOTM’s…

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wm pattern  #1 /erin go braugh

pws_bronze1

wm fly of the month #2…“pocket water sedge”

 

no.19a

the trilogy…fly of the month #3

 

all photos and text are property of Wandering Monk Fly Rod Co.tm
and can be only used with permission