Top Ten flies for stillwater
By Jon Baiocchi
05/24/13 -- Stillwater fishing has progressed at a rapid pace in the last decade. Techniques, rods, lines, and even the players on the field have gone in different directions to hone their craft. It has almost become personal now, the way we want to present our offering to the fish in our own special style.
Stillwater anglers should have many individual skills in their approach to the fertile waters at hand. Think of these skills like tools in a carpenter’s belt, each tool with a specific purpose in mind. Indicators, sinking lines, floaters, drop lining, and the dry game all rely on one key element; flies.
I’ve compiled an essential list of flies that every Stillwater technician should not be without. These flies are for trout, some are old, and others are standards. Then there are the ones that cross the line and take it too far like my “Baiocchi” ties with a special twist. Welcome to the staircase of progression in stillwater fly tying.
1) The Sheep Creek Special
George Biggs of Jerome, Idaho developed this fly for Sheep Creek Reservoir in northern Nevada. It’s an all-rounder type of pattern that suggests it could be many different things. For Lake Davis and Frenchman’s Reservoir, it’s a must have. I tie my version on a heavy scud hook instead of the long shank; it has better hooking power with a more defined silhouette of a snail.
2) The Jay Fair Wiggle Tail
I love Jay’s simple approach to creating this fly, the marabou tail tied sparse with the right length makes this pattern come alive! This fly would not be complete unless it is tied with Jay’s proven materials; his colors glow and give the wiggle tail a three dimensional look. This fly has given me great success on many different lakes across the west.
3) The Swimming Rabbit Hair Leech
This fly does exactly what the name suggests; it moves and provides the perfect silhouette of a natural leech. Klamath Lake and Eagle Lake have abundant populations of leeches and this pattern has shined with flying colors in these waters. It offers more bang for your buck than a Wooly Bugger, and its durability is bombproof. Rust is my first choice of color, followed by black.
4) The Callibaetis nymph
This is a top producer when the mayflies of a lake are brewing up a hatch under partly cloudy skies. The old standard has been the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, a great fly on its own but I’ve been doing extremely well with my Z-Lon Callibaetis. Add a copper flashback and you’ll have even more fish attracting qualities. When it comes to this pattern, size, shape, and movement is more important than color.
5) The Damsel Nymph
The damselfly hatch in spring is one that many fly anglers have a special passion for. It offers them a chance to hook large trout just under the surface or stalk them off the bank. When tying these patterns keep them sparse with lots of moving parts. I like to fish two types; one leaded for deeper water before the hatch, and the other tied for shallow water that will “hover” in the strike zone. Keep in mind that damsels change color to match their surroundings. As the weeds change in color, so do the nymphs.
6) The Blood Midge
Much has been written about this famous chironomid. Its abundant hemoglobin lends it the red coloration that suggests its common name and enables it to live in the oxygen poor muddy substrate called the ‘death zone’. I can remember hatches at Lake Davis back in the day when your boat would be spotted red with the blood of these midges from the ride back at dusk. This simple blood midge tied on a heavy pupa hook with red thread, gold wire, a white bead, and coated in nail polish is all you need. It shines in both Indicator fishing and the traditional strip.
7) The Blood Midge Emerger
Many innovative tiers have their own special blood midge emerger, including myself. The key elements that make a winning model is one that keeps the butt of the fly in the water, and the head and wings above the surface where it is visible to the angler’s eye. My pattern incorporates a mohair shuck, a foam body, followed by a white foam post with a burnt orange hackle wrapped parachute style. Refusals are rare with this fly.
8) The Floating Snail
When snails are out dancing on the surface like buoys in the wind, trout line up for an easy high calorie meal. The use of foam in our flies has brought our fishing to a whole new level as they float like a cork, and wobble about. What’s killer about this fly is that it also doubles as a camouflage indicator for spooky trout.
9) The Parachute Midge Emerger
Scott Sanchez of Jackson Hole, WY developed this fly for fussy trout on the Snake River. Though it was never intended to be used as a specifically stillwater fly, its performance is unmatched. The way it sits in the film is identical to a real midge emerging into its new world of the wild blue yonder. The key ingredient is the ribbing of pearl crystal flash that shimmers and shines, attracting many trout from just below the surface.
10) The Scud
The freshwater shrimp populates most of our lakes in high desert areas stretching well up into Oregon. Scuds supply trout with a super high protein meal that makes them grow large and fast. Picking out the dubbing from under the body gives it a translucency that trout key in on. Effective colors are brown, olive, and gray. Trout will have no trouble seeing pregnant females; they’re bright orange!
Jon Baiocchi has been fly fishing and tying flies since 1972 and is a California licensed fly fishing guide, published author, educator, innovative tier, and public speaker giving fly fishing presentations to clubs and expos around the state. Jon operates Baiocchi’s Troutfitters guide service in Northeastern California where he has a reputation as a hard working guide who has been trained by some of fly fishing’s best known master anglers.
Fishing ReportsFather & son Sacramento River steelhead!
12/01/15 -- River conditions can make a huge difference for dedicated steelhead anglers. Long time river guide Jimmy Zanocco and his son Aaron of River Guide Service have been on the steelhead for two weeks now on the... Full Story
Sacramento River hosting nice stripers
12/01/15 -- Sacramento River Stripers have been present in good numbers in the river from Colusa to Redding this year and boating anglers like the Tripp’s of Thermalito have been catching a few trophy line-sides lately... Full Story
Lake Oroville bass fishing remains good
Northern California Winter Trout By Gary Heffley
12/01/15 -- There are some outstanding opportunities for targeting trout in Northern California during the winter months, anglers may just have to bundle up like those fellow crazies who don't think they're truly fishing for steelhead unless they... Full Story
Diverse Evolution of Steelhead Runs
12/01/15 -- Diversity among fish populations helps provide resilience in unpredictable or harsh environments. We have written about such diversity in many forms, such as outmigration timing of juvenile Chinook salmon... Full Story
PFMC looks at salmon management requests
Early closure of 2015 halibut season
Gear up for winter steelhead
11/27/15 -- Fresh schools of chrome-bright Chinook pushing 30 pounds were the name of the game on the Chetco River last week, and anglers were able to catch them by pulling plugs and deploying bobbers-and-bait rigs... Full Story
Groundfish – A look forward to 2016
NOAA shows concern for canary rockfish 11/26/15 -- Effective today at noon, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is prohibiting the use of midwater trawl gear in the Shorebased IFQ (Individual Fishing Quota) Program for the remainder of 2015, shoreward of... Full Story
A time of transition on Shasta waters
11/25/15 -- With the end of November just around the corner, the fall transition on Shasta County waters is now in full effect. Water temps are dropping with the cooler weather and recent precipitation, and the techniques and tactics for... Full Story
Cooler water, weather doesn’t stop bass
GGSA: ‘NO genetically altered salmon' 11/21/15 – The Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA) has announced it is disappointed in the federal Food and Drug Administration's approval of genetically altered salmon as being fit for human consumption... Full Story
OR delays Dungeness season coast-wide 11/20/15 -- The commercial Dungeness crab season along the Oregon coast normally opens Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a safe and high-quality product to consumers. Testing of crab in recent weeks showed elevated levels... Full Story
2017-18 groundfish mgmt. up for review
Upper Klamath River yields lots of steel
11/17/15 -- For the last couple weeks fishing for winter steelhead on the Upper Klamath River has been excellent. “Steelhead in the 1/2 to 7-pound class are active and biting on a variety of offerings,” according to Scott Caldwell, of SC Guide... Full Story
Breathing Under Water
11/16/15 -- Oxygen is the key to life. All vertebrate animals require oxygen to live, and most of us cannot survive beyond a few short minutes without a generous oxygen supply. As we wrote in a previous blog post, it is much harder... Full Story
11/14/15 -- Adjacent to both Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows, between the towns of Westwood and Greenville, is a seemingly forgotten piece of backcountry; Keddie Ridge – aka Ridge World – where ancient rocks... Full Story
NOAA Fisheries issues US 2014 Report 11/01/15 -- U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.5 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.4 billion in 2014, according to the new Fisheries of the United States report, which was released this past weekend. The continued... Full Story
Recreational Spiny Lobster season opens
Curing eggs for salmon fishing
09/27/15 -- Salmon fishing on the Sacramento River is going strong and anglers are catching salmon just about everywhere in the Sacramento River system. We really got off to a late start this year, but the tough fishing... Full Story
Let’s check out the Upper Sac
09/06/15 -- The Upper Sacramento River – The Upper Sac – begins at Lake Siskiyou’s Box Canyon Dam and continues ~37 miles downstream to Lake Shasta. It is a classic freestone river born from the Mt. Shasta and Mt. Eddy... Full Story
Finding Fish from Discarded DNA
06/22/15 -- To round out our series on environmental DNA (eDNA), in which we've described the basic concepts of this technique* in aquatic research, as well as its challenges and limitations**, here we highlight... Full Story
How to make Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel By Frank Galusha
05/04/15 -- OK, you went ocean fishing. If your fish is fresh or if you have processed, vacuum packed and frozen your catch properly, there are many ways to enhance your meals. Almost everything taken from the ocean is not... Full Story
Agencies halt commercial sardine fishing
F&GC adopts in-river sport fishing regs 04/23/15 -- The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the Central Valley and Klamath River basin salmon sport fishing regulations for the 2015 season on Friday, April 17. The changes include fall-run...Full Story
Fishing the Klamath below JC Boyle Dam
03/02/15 -- Year round trout action can be found on the Klamath River within the 20 or so miles of free flow within Oregon and California. While fishing below the flumes at the JC Boyle powerhouse, it can be difficult to know just when...Full Story
The Mystery of the Middle Fork, Part IV
11/10/14 -- This trip was to be the final chapter in the saga that began three years ago but is actually over 20 years in the making. As Bruce, Tuck and I journeyed back to the Middle Fork of the Feather River we made...Full Story
Climbing Terms for the Fisherman
German brown trout afternoon in Modoc
09/04/14 -- Catching a German Brown Trout from the creeks in Modoc County is a fine way to spend an afternoon. There are many creeks in this part of California that drain the Warner Mountains. Stream trout fishing in this region opens...Full Story
Throw the kitchen sink at them
08/20/14 -- Our wilderness areas are special, where Mother Nature is landlord and natural forces operate freely. Within the wilderness you will find no roads, shelters, picnic tables, toilets, or other conveniences. You enter at...Full Story
Humboldt Bay: Busy port, excellent fishery
Pulled into the pipes: Green Sturgeon
03/04/14 -- [Posted with permission of FISHBIO] Living in the Sacramento River can be a risky business for juvenile green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris). The young fish must swim through a gauntlet of water... Full Story
Not Just Any Fish
02/14/13 -- Trout have inhabited California waters from the Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains to the Pacific Ocean since prehistoric times. However, most of the trout caught by anglers are either hatchery raised fish...Full Story
Fishing with Phideaux
01/26/14 -- Meet Phideaux, a 110-pound neurotic chocolate Lab. His name is pronounced “Fido” but it is spelled “Phideaux” because he is a Cajun dog. Anyway, last summer Phideaux took his human (that’s me) on a trout hunt up into...Full Story
A primer on fishing Lake Shasta By Gary Heffley
01/01/12 -- Shasta Lake draws more visitors to Shasta County than any other single attraction. While it is often a challenge to fish, it is more likely to produce stringers of fat trout or spotted bass. Trout to four and five pounds are caught here routinely...Full Story
Lake Oroville; 'tis the season By Chuck Giles
01/11/12 – Lake Oroville is probably one of the best lakes for sheer numbers of Spotted Bass in Northern California. This is not just on a seasonal basis, but year round. To start, I have a list of baits that produce decent results... Full Story