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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

Lateral view of a Female Sweltsa borealis (Chloroperlidae) (Boreal Sallfly) Stonefly Adult from Harris Creek in Washington
I was not fishing, but happened to be at an unrelated social event on a hill above this tiny creek (which I never even saw) when this stonefly flew by me. I assume it came from there. Some key characteristics are tricky to follow, but process of elimination ultimately led me to Sweltsa borealis. It is reassuringly similar to this specimen posted by Bob Newell years ago. It is also so strikingly similar to this nymph from the same river system that I'm comfortable identifying that nymph from this adult. I was especially pleased with the closeup photo of four mites parasitizing this one.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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Upstate NY

Posts: 160
Catskilljon on Mar 26, 2014March 26th, 2014, 6:03 pm EDT
Here are some oldies that you don't see anymore. Originated by Hewitt to imitate butterflies he watched trout come completely out of the water for in big slow pools, they are hell to cast but the ultimate dry fly thrill to catch trout on. These are 2 inches or more in diameter. One of the reasons you don't see these anymore is the advent of "genetic" hackle. When chickens are bred for long densely fibered feathers, the stiff spade feathers go away. Me and a few guys are always on the lookout for "skater hackle" and once and awhile I come across some.

These are tied on #16 up eyed hooks [Mustad 94843's] similar to what Hewitt used which were Allcocks. 4X short-3X fine wire for floatability, his theory was that small trout didn't have the clamping force to crush the hackles and only "big" trout would be hooked.
I myself found this out firsthand at Junction Pool in Roscoe a few years ago. With the pool to myself and trout rising all around to a decent caddis fly hatch, I tied one of these on and for about an hour had the most exciting time as the 8-10 inch fish slashed at these flies. I hooked only one, but the thrill of the continuous splashy hits were really fun. These are meant to be stripped in much like how you would fish a streamer, to keep it "high and dry".

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Posts: 28
Tctrout on Mar 27, 2014March 27th, 2014, 2:37 am EDT
John, thanks as always for sharing some "oldies but goodies!" I can't even imagine casting these, as I'm sure your tippet would be pretty useless afterwards.

My Uncle John sends his regards, and is already talking about the Catskill Gathering for next September.

Hope all is well,

Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Mar 27, 2014March 27th, 2014, 8:06 am EDT
These are interesting. I have watched trout smash mating dragonflies in the early summer months. I bet these would work then. :)

There seem to be times when the small brooks are keyed into high riding flies. Seems odd considering all the discussion of Emergers and cripples etc. Skittered caddis, small dry yellow sallies and olive stones can really get their attention. Sometimes a day saver when little else seems to be happening.

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Mar 27, 2014March 27th, 2014, 8:46 am EDT
As always CJ ties lovely flies. These aren't skaters but traditional fully hackled variants tied from an Art Flick recipe.

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Hook - Mustad 98440 #10
Thread - Yellow 6/0 monocord
Tail - Microfibbets
Body - Stripped Coachman hackle
Hackle - One each Coachman Brown, Grizzly, and Ginger blended
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Mar 27, 2014March 27th, 2014, 7:51 pm EDT
As always, very nice flies there gentlemen. Wow, I like those skaters, they would be great for crane flies and phantom crane flies, just bounce them across the surface...

Matt, that's also a nice one. Seems like that could make a Red Quill/male Hendrickson pattern under the right circumstances.

Man, I gotta get my stuff out and start tying. We're still in the deep freeze here though, so it might still be a while before I'm throwing flies...

No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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