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Monday, January 30, 2017

Lemire's Thompson River Caddis: "The Closer" by Adrian Cortes

(The waker of the month for February 2016 is kindly brought to you by my good friend Adrian Cortes.  This will give my readers a much needed break from my monthly foam creations.  Thanks to Adrian for this fine article and photos - enjoy!)

Lemire's Thompson River Caddis: "The Closer"   by Adrian Cortes

15 minutes ago, your surface fly landed softly nearing the front edge of the tailout in a classic glide.  The moment you waded in on this particular pool, it felt electric.  You reached this tailout with a fly unmolested so far; doubt creeps in whispering you should switch to a wet fly.

A retort, "well, I will probably finish the tailout in the next 10 casts...I'll stick with the dry fly". However, the focus has already wandered to the next pool as the fly tracks close to the dangle...and that's when it happens.  A large push of water disturbs the surface, its energy creating a bulge that makes your fly bobble yet the hook continues its course to the shallows.

Fast forward to 15 minutes later after a few repeat casts and maybe a fly change or two.  That fish never came back.  You've tried resting the fish, shortening your line, twitching the're at the point of contemplating that wet fly box again.  Before you tie on the wet fly, may I make a suggestion?  Amidst the layers of hair, foam, and sparkle dominating your surface box is a somewhat diminutive pattern named the Thompson River Caddis.

This is an actual Thompson River Caddis tied by Harry Lemire. He tied it in hand for Marty Sheppard. In his generosity, Marty gifted this collectible to me. That gesture has been an important part of my steelheading and life in general.
In 1986, Harry Lemire (1932-2012) developed the Thompson River Caddis intending to target summer-run steelhead as a low-riding, waking fly.  Harry fished it with a floating line while dressing the leader and fly with floatant.  It soon became one of his favourites, vying for the number 1 spot against the Grease Liner.
 *pg 95, Contemporary Fly Patterns of British Columbia.
It was a tough day fishing until this nice BC summer doe slurped the gifted TRC tied by John Lauer.You can see that the light wire hook took its toll from the hard fighting wild fish.
Let's go back to that steelhead that lunged at your dry fly.  It hasn't come back to any of your other attempts.  There's a decision to be made.  If I may oblige, and there is no one following behind you on the run, tie on the Thompson River Caddis.  The pattern's low profile, surface imprint, and uncanny ability to pique the interest in a shy steelhead is worth a swing.  

While larger patterns such as foam wakers or deer hair flies may elicit that initial aggressive attack, the Thompson River Caddis closes the deal for a confident steelhead response.  It lulls the steelhead to think "oh, I can eat that".  Let the water rest and cast the TRC without any pulsating...just that predictable swing.

There you are, you've decided to give the dry fly one more dance.  The TRC tied securely on your tippet.  Either Mr. Lemire’s preference for floatant or your choice of a riffle hitch will keep the pattern on top.

Things get quiet and you ignore the ouzel bobbing on the exposed boulder below you.  Line gets picked up with a familiar fly rod.  The cast sails out effortlessly, placing the fly in the window before the current catches the leader and line.  Nearing the zone where you thought the fish lay, you mumble "don't set the hook...don't set the hook".  As if on cue, albeit prematurely from where you expected, materializes a significant head-and-tail rise.  The Thompson River Caddis disappears in a swirl.  Standing like a statue, waiting for the line to tighten, and the reel to start clicking feels like a minute has passed. In real time, it takes 3 seconds before the reel starts screaming.  The rest is anti-climatic.

A smile for the camera, as this steelhead seems joyful to have eaten a Thompson River Caddis river (Interestingly, the same fly tied by John Lauer that took the BC fish above)
From my experience, if there is one pattern that will move a summer/fall run steelhead to eat, it is Lemire’s Thompson River Caddis.  It is no wonder why the fly became a favourite of his.

If you are a tyer, here is the recipe and I suggest "less is more":

Hook: size 4 to 8 Partridge Wilson salmon dry fly or 3 to 7, Alec Jackson
Body: Insect green, black, gray, golden yellow or orange dubbing
Rib: black, tying thread
Hackle: moose body hair spun to form head and hackle
Wing: Two green phase ring-necked pheasant back feathers, one shorter than the other

The above TRC took 3 nice steelhead within 15 minutes on a run that I have a trying time getting fish to commit on other dries. After the third steelhead, a large buck, the hook gave up the ghost. Be prepared to have back up TRCs on hand. You give up a little durability when you tie on light wire hooks to keep the sparse pattern on top.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Waker Of The Month For January 2017 - Baby Blue

Yet another color blend with with my favorite waker.  I bought some baby blue glob rite floss at my local fly shop and sought to find a way to highlight the material in my pattern.   The result includes an orange gloBrite butt, pink cactus chenille thorax, black cow elk wings, black foam shellback/lip, and royal blue Krystal flash.

Just to show that just about every color blend will catch a fish if kept on the line long enough a couple examples are noted below.

Desert steel bends the gap open on this baby blue. 

My first surface steelhead of 2016 munched on a sz 6 baby blue.