Alaska State Fair Hosting Fly Tying Competition


There is still time to get flies entered into the 2017 Alaska State Fair fly tying competition. Entries must be delivered to the fairgrounds, Irwin Exhibits building, between 11am-7pm on Friday, August 11 or Saturday, August 12.  Continue reading “Alaska State Fair Hosting Fly Tying Competition”


Something Green: Barr’s Slumpbuster

A simple, proven pattern for big trout.

IMG_3971Before king salmon start dropping eggs this summer and after the inevitable fall flood flushes their rotting carcasses into the Susitna River, trout will be on the hunt for baitfish. Baitfish are any fish they can swallow, like a salmon fry or sculpin. I usually fish fry patterns near schools holding in the slow current and pools, but I’ll fish a sculpin pattern anywhere in the river system – swung, dead-drifted, and stripped.

One of my favorite sculpin patterns is John Barr’s Slumpbuster. It’s simple, easy to tie, and is a proven fish catcher. The original olive Slumpbuster calls for a peacock (green) sparkle braid body. I choose to tie the body with white sparkle braid or Lagartun French Mini Flat Braid, to better represent the sculpin’s white underbelly.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my friends. Continue reading “Something Green: Barr’s Slumpbuster”

Twenty-Incher: Is it the One?

In search of a nymph pattern that stacks up to my go-to fly.

Twenty-Incher. Photo: Ben Rowell

We all have one. It’s the fly we always tie on first thing in the morning. It’s the one fly that when not working, we think nothing else will. It’s the one fly we use when stepping into new water. Simply put, it’s our go-to fly.

Kory Murdoch introduced me to my go-to fly four years ago. It works so well I tie at least four dozen during the winter, knowing that if I’m fishing the right spot (snags), I’ll easily lose six in an afternoon. In fact, I have a fly box dedicated to this one fly pattern. My go-to fly is…  Continue reading “Twenty-Incher: Is it the One?”

Bunny Egg-Sucking Leech

fullsizeoutput_a87Earlier in the week I posted a step-by-step for the Tarantula Egg-Sucking Leech (ESL) where I mentioned that there are a numerous variations on the ESL. Here we have one of those variations – the Bunny ESL. The Bunny ESL is tied with rabbit strips, lead eyes, and chenille. Similar to the Tarantula ESL, the Bunny ESL is deadly in the early spring or late fall. Dead drifted or swing the fly across the current when targeting trout and strip the fly when targeting salmon.  Continue reading “Bunny Egg-Sucking Leech”

Tarantula Egg-Sucking Leech

img_3740Standing ankle deep in one of my favorite late-fall fishing holes, I stared into a mess of a fly box – similar to how one stares at a nearly empty kitchen cupboard looking for a late night snack. On short trips to the river, I carry just one fly box with a variety of flies – mostly trout flies but a few salmon patterns thrown in just in case. Freshly tied flies at the beginning of the season are now flat, matted, and missing a few of their original elements. I’ve fished five different flies without a single strike and was about to call it a day.

One fly stood out among a sea of black, olive, and brown rabbit strips – a white egg-sucking leech (ESL). It’s been sitting in the box all year and is in mint condition. ESL’s are not my go-to fly, but they are known to catch any and all species. I tied it on hoping a trout or grayling will be fooled into thinking it looks like a chunk of flesh drifting in the current.  Continue reading “Tarantula Egg-Sucking Leech”