Wednesday, September 7, 2011

That's Dirrrrty

As fly anglers we're all about the bugs. Early in your fly fishing career you're confused by the bugs. Then you become obsessed by the bugs. And finally, you find bug wisdom. Latin doesn't really matter, size and color are enough.

Our guide for the week, Shane Reynolds, is a hardcore trout bum. No permanent address. He guides. Prior to Alaska he was a guide in Colorado, mostly on the Gunnison and nearby rivers, and after Alaska he's heading down to Chile for the winter.

Shane was a great guide. Not only could he manage the boat, find fish, help with technique and wield a net with confidence when the trout of a lifetime was on the line, but he was a good guy with which to spend long days on the water.

Personality matches are critical with a guide. Get a guide who is a dullard or has only one personality channel and you're doomed. But a guy like Shane knew when to bring out the ripping sarcasm, when to encourage, and when to back off though he backed off rarely. Shane was always on.

Shane called all flies "bugs" even though we rarely cast actual bugs flies. Flesh flies and eggs were the name of the game in these waters. While on the water, we were treated to a bunch of Shaneisms but the one that I found most appropriate to the game was "Now that's Dirrrty". You have to purr that last word. The phrase was used to reference a particularly gnarly looking flesh fly that he was convinced was a true fish magnet.

The original Dirrrty Bug
There were basic flesh flies that were comprised of a single hook, a strip of rabbit's fur and some webby hackle. But Shane's specialty were articulated flesh flies. Tied on two hooks, with the first hook's point clipped off to comply with single hook regs, this fly was tied in below a bead attractor and then dead drifted below a fifteen foot leader with a ton of weight on it. Ticking the bottom this fly brought most of my fish to hand. I was hooked on fishing the flesh.

Not Dirrrty

Massive Dirrrtyness

Wednesday was a slow day of fishing all around. I think I had one fish. The other guys did better but we clearly hooked far fewer than previous days and only had a few to the boat. I think this was the day that Tony missed two very large fish. Bad luck all around. We talked to the other guys and gals at the lodge and everyone seemed to have a slow day as well but Shane seemed to take it personally.

The next morning he hopped on the boat with a bunch of fly tying materials in his hand. He felt that some on-the-river innovation was needed and while we were drifting he tied up the fly below. Ugly as hell. Definitely Dirrrty. And it produced. First a Sockeye. Then a Rainbow. Then a couple more fish before it was lost in the jaws of a large Sockeye that got away.

Custom Dirrrty
Mini Sockeye. Fish magnet. Drifted. Swung. Stripped.
Lost it to a big Sockeye.
Shane can tie a good bug. A Dirrrty Bug.

Speaking of bugs.

UPDATE: Make sure you watch this at 720PHD to see the full swarm.