What are you tying for stillwater this winter?


Active Member
Steve, Until recently I would have agreed with you and Allison but after a few fantastic days on local lakes this fall I am starting to be a believer. On one trip in my pram it was just too windy to row and tend a rod so I had to anchor up. Using some 'Mids that Mike Etiger gave me I cast downwind, laid my rod down and put my feet up on the locker to rest awhile. About 20 seconds later I had a huge fish on that I broke off, caught one about 19'' and then broke off the next one. At that point I changed to a 3X tippit and caught several more in the 16-22'' range. Great action for over an hour and once I moved the boat to another location it started over with the first fish being about 23''.

On another lake I had similar success the following week. These are big 'Mids tied on #8-#10 hooks, not those little mouse nuts sized things tied on micro hooks.

A few years back Roper, Jesse James, Bline Skwirl and myself were fishing Sidley Lake in the spring. Normally hot for damsels that time of year we were all struggling and probably didn't catch more than a dozen fish between us. A guy from Oregon was taking out when we did and I asked him if fishing was slow for him too. He had been at the west end of the lake fishing alone and I never paid any attention to him. He said he had caught about 57 fish down there-all on chironomids. He kicked our butts. The lesson I learned from him was that I may not want to fish that way but if it is the only game in town at times I better learn it.

When you get over this way we will go to a lake that we will probably have to ourselves and we can anchor up and practice on big fish until you get the hang of it. It is little different than the bluegill fishing I did with my grandfather in 1946. An expensive fly rod replaces the cane pole, chironomid patterns instead of red worms dug from the pig pen and a tiny foam float in place of the Carlisyle balsa wood floats we used back then. Other than that it is just a jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other end.


Jim Wallace

Smells like low tide.
The lesson I learned from him was that I may not want to fish that way but if it is the only game in town at times I better learn it.
Other than that it is just a jerk on one end of the line waiting for a jerk on the other end.
Yeah, I feel the same way....I just gotta learn it! I'll prolly still be a jerk, though. "Damn! Snapped off another one!":p
OH NO, Ive's gone over to the "dark side". :eek:

I have heard the same thing from many people now. I guess I'll just have to try it. I have all the stuff, floating line with miles of leader, brightly colored bobbers, and the metal & thread worms. It will most likely take a scenario similar to yours where it's the only thing working.
Zonkers, minkies, and buggers for my trip to Jurassic lake in Patagonia. Was advised to bring 200+ flies. Sized 2-8, mostly 4-6. Plus another 50 scuds and probably 50 assorted nymphs and dries. Black, purple, red, white, yellow, and combo colors.
My spring was a little hectic this year so I only got water time in October and November. I have a box full of chironomids I tied last winter that saw very little play time because I typically do more streamer stripping in the fall.

When I finally got out this fall I had good success with a Sheep Creek Special, a fly that is new to me but has been a staple on inland lakes and reservoirs since people started fly fishing the western reservoirs. I believe it’s named after Sheep Creek Reservoir, NV. I first encountered it at Frontier Anglers in Dillon for fishing Clark Canyon Reservoir. Very simple pattern, I can crank out a dozen in no time. I tie mine on size 10-14 2xl nymph hooks with a body of fine ultra-chenille in the same dark olive color I use for the Olive Willy. Two turns of brown or orange hackle at the butt and a wing of duck flank. This pattern works fine stripped around weeds or hung under a bobber. I think the secret is the contrast of white duck flank over the olive body. Cutthroat especially like it but got some nice ‘bows as well.

Another new-to-me pattern I’ve been testing out is from Denny Rickards. I watched him tie it at a show this past March in Spokane. It has the goofy name Stillwater Bug (real descriptive:clown:) but has all the right ingredients and stuck some nice fish for me. Marabou tail and two additional ‘bou wings with a thorax of ice dub (olive, orange, or peacock) and a soft hackle collar. If you buy into Denny’s ideas about impressionistic, suggestive patterns, this one has it all. It was especially good stripped fast in the shallows.

Finally, I’ve been “experimenting” with putting proven patterns on tiny (1/124th oz.) jig heads. Results have been very good so far. They sink quick and fish well under a bobber or worked off a floating line bouncing the bottom.

My best purchase of the year was a Cortland “Ice Blue” intermediate line. New old stock $25. I only bought a 6wt and now after fishing it I want it on my 4 and 5wt setups as well. Cortland sold this line before the clear camo (I’m not a fan of the camo). True intermediate lines are not clear. On my trip to Henry’s Lake temps were below freezing every morning and I no problems with coiling.
Just tied some Burk's Damsels with my own modifications that make them bullet proof, better hooking and looking.

I'm tying up some killer Callibaetis cripples that I'd about give my left big toe to have had at Lenice last year.

Chironomid box is already full. Leech box is WELL stocked. Some adult damsels and I'll be ready.

Just need time to fish!!!!
I've been neglecting to adequately replenish my boxes over the last couple years, so just started tying again for one of my "semi-new year's resolutions". First couple patterns were black bunnies and caddis nymphs. A good start . . . next will be more bunnies and some damsels. . . could use more dragon nymphs and boatmen, but I think I need to get my skill/confidence back up to speed first!
This year , I`m going to be tying all my trout flies before trout season opens , and then switch to tying my steelhead flies . Pretty much the opposite of what I`ve done most of my life .

For the lakes , I`ll tie chironomids from size 8 to size 20 , with the majority 12`s and 14`s . Bloodworms . Lotsa bloodworms . Here in BC , we can use two rods if we`re the only person in the boat . When I fish two rods , one will always have a bloodworm on it . Pheasant tails and an ostrich herl nymph I really like for the callibaetis mayflies found in the lakes around here . Leeches . Many , many leeches . Most of these will be tied with dubbing brushes in red , olive , brown , black , and maroon. Many will be micro leeches . Tom Thumbs , Lady McConnell`s , and Mikaluck Sedges for dries . Caddis pupa patterns will mostly be Brian Chan`s Stillwater Caddis Pupa . And to round out the boxes , I`ll tie marabou damsel nymphs .

And this year , I swear to Gawd , I`m going to try to keep them all organized .
Now thats got to be more than a coincidence! A friend and fellow HiLaker presented me with a Stayner Ducktail at HiLakers meeting the other week that he claimed had been the most productive fly of his entire season.

I've been outed!

I can't claim credit for anything more than the coincidence, however. I saw a picture of the Stayner's Ducktail in a thread on the Hi-Lakers forum by someone who said he had a good day with them and I thought it looked like a fun fly to tie. My next outing was on a miserably cold, rainy day at a small lowland lake full of coastal cutts. I tied on a Stayner Ducktail and proceeded to catch 2 dozen fish with the same fly in the space of about 2-3 hrs; my hands were too cold to change flies. By the end of the day the duck flank wing was about chewed off, but the fish didn't seem to care. A week later on a lake with rainbows that were being a lot pickier, the Ducktail was the only fly that picked up any fish.

So, yeah, I've tied a bunch of them for next year...

Here's a pic
I've been working on a bastardized wiggling damsel nymph, tying them in the usual colors with standard materials. Also working on some hex-wigglers, got the idea from you-tube.
Not sure how the "wigglers" will work, I need to check the action in the tub before I waste much more time.

Also re-stocking the hex adults for Merrill.