I have been fortunate to, along with two boon companions, spend the second week of July fishing Montana’s Gallatin and Madison Rivers. It was on these trips that I first encountered the nearly mythical Salmon Fly hatch. This event is a spectacle with huge creatures from the Carboniferous Era everywhere along, above, and, most importantly for an angler, on the water.
This year, however, we three amigos will make our trip to Montana in the third week of July and the salmon flies will likely be a memory by then. Hatch charts for the area say that a slightly smaller stonefly, the golden stone, follows the salmon fly hatch. I’d come to admire Cheech Pierce’s Chubby Chernobyl Salmon fly and thought that I might tie a similar fly in golden stone colors on a smaller hook.
That’s the origin story. Despite its Montana roots, I think the fly, or a very similar one, might have its uses here in the Midwest. A size 10 version tied a bit sparser and in perhaps more muted colors could make an excellent hopper imitation hereabouts. With its robust foam body and buoyant wing material, it’s sure to make a great top fly in any hopper/dropper combo. You can follow a link to a video that shows you how I tie the fly. In the video I explain the origin of the name and offer prejudiced opinions about our sport. I hope you enjoy it.
Eradicator is a foam caddis pattern that is part of a dry dropper rig and will float beadhead nymphs. It also serves as a strike indicator. This fly’s name pokes a little fun at pattern names that go to the extreme in describing how successful an angler might be when using such a fly. Names like Irresistible, Warden’s Worry, Mickey Finn, Slumpbuster, Shop Vac, Ray Charles, come to mind.
This pattern is as much Ed’s as it is mine. He has provided lots of input to the design. While out fishing one day, Ed asked me if I had any caddis patterns that could float a tungsten bead nymph. I came up with a foam and deer hair wing pattern and over the past few years, we have tweaked it some. Last year I had the opportunity to sit next to Mike Alwin and watch him tie up several Skip Wet flies that utilize a green Krystal Flash rib. Right there I decided the Eradicator needed to have this feature. The most recent change is the use of hot pink yarn as an indicator. It is much more visible for our older eyes than the orange foam I used previously.
Hey! Eradicator rhymes with indicator. Weird!
Hook – #14 Firehole 633 nymph hook (heavier hook so the fly lands upright)
Thread – Tan Danville 6/0
Body – Natural hares ear
Rib – Green Krystal Flash
Under Wing – Tan 2mm foam strip width of hook gap. Trim off rear corners.
Middle wing – Silver Congo Hair from Fly Tyers Dungeon (substitute EP trigger point?) – I trim this wing a little longer than the foam.
Over Wing – Deer hair – same length as the foam.
Indicator – Hot Pink Yarn
My favorite dry/dropper rig has been a #14 Eradicator dry with a #16 Shop Vac dropper. I like to tie 5x tippet off of a 4X leader and leave about 4” of 4X tag on my surgeon’s knot. The dry gets tied on the tag and the nymph on the 5X point. I use Shop Vacs tied with both tungsten and brass beads so I can choose my sink rates for various water depths. I use other beaded nymphs but the Shop Vac has been a real winner and is my go to nymph pattern.
If you want to know more about my inspiration for this fly name, you can check out this YouTube video from 1989. https://youtu.be/fbC5YQ_oJoA?si=rlCmgT3G7Mica1qA If you watch this video, I ask that you shout out the name every time you hook a fish with one.
If you’d like more information about tying this pattern just shoot me an email. My address is on this website under Contact Us
The Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear (GRHE) nymph has been a constant in my fly box for many years now. Before I get to that, did you know that I actually started tying trout flies before I started trout fishing? The first trout I ever hooked in the Driftless was on a GRHE. Did you notice that I said hooked and not caught? Not long after that I had a very memorable day fishing on the Missouri River near Craig, Montana with a very simple GRHE.
Now where was I? Oh, yeah: the GRHE has always been in my fly box. I always had a supply of them, tucked safely in the back corner never to see the light of day. They stayed there until a couple years ago when I was on a multi-day fishing trip down in the Driftless with a couple buddies. One day, Jason was having a better day catching than I was. That’s not allowed, so I caught up to him and asked what he was catching them on and he said the GRHE. I dug into my fly box, blew the dust off one of my GRHEs, tied it on and started to catch some fish.
The truth be told, I still do not fish this fly all that much. However, every time I do, I seem to consistently catch fish. Maybe this reminder will encourage me to use them more often.
I like to tie GRHEs on a size 16 1xl nymph hook with a gold tungsten bead. Most of the time I will add a flashback. I think it is a fly that is so versatile that you really cannot tie it wrong.
Do you think that maybe James Ogden and Frederic Halford really knew what they were talking about when they started tying and writing about the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear in England over 150 years ago?
If you have any questions about this fly pattern or any of the flies that I tie, please let me know.
Having recently retired I now have a little more time to reflect back on some of the things I have accomplished in my life. During this time of reflection I have come to the conclusion that the best ideas I ever had, I borrowed from someone else! That is how my favorite fly, the Purple Prince Charming came to be.
Several years ago Fly Tyer Magazine featured a fly pattern called the Prince Charming. I have always been a big fan of the standard Prince Nymph, so this fly caught my eye. As I recall, the original Prince Charming had a stubby marabou tail and an olive tinsel body. It had a wire rib, white goose biots for the wing and also quite a bold thorax with dubbing and several wraps of hackle. After studying the article and the step by step instructions, I tied some up and they looked okay, but I saw the potential for something better.
Since the fly was “just okay”, I borrowed that pattern and asked myself how to make this fly better. First thing to go was the marabou tail, which I replaced with Zelon. Next the abdomen, where the olive tinsel was out and replaced with purple stretchy floss. The wired ribbing and the white biot wings were fine by me. For the thorax, I did away with the dubbing and just made three full turns with standard dry fly hackle. That is how the Purple Prince Charming came About
In the past couple years, my Prince Charming family has grown and now includes Red, Olive, Hot Pink, Chartreuse and Copper. I will fish these flies from early spring through the fall. I encourage you to tie some up and give them a try.
This is a specialty fly. I wish I could tell you it works all the time. It simply doesn’t, however………
In the months from March to May, when the mornings are overcast, the blue wing olive mayflies are hatching, the fish are tail slapping the surface and you know they are taking emergers, then this is the fly you want. Don’t give up on your dry fly fishing just yet. This pattern will entice many of them to take an emerger and then grab your fly in the surface film. Tied in many colors and sizes I have chosen an early season dark BWO pattern in size 16 on a sprout hook. Matching the size of the fly is more important than dialing in the perfect color.
I use heavy or standard hooks size 16 to 20 with olive thread. The under body on larger flies can be thin sticky back foam for more buoyancy covered with dubbing, smaller flies use only olive dubbing. The tail is horse hair or natural turkey biot short fibers. The magic wing material comes from the foam sheets that line the inside of mail envelopes and are found in colors grey, white, and clear. A thicker foam works better in the riffles.
Tie a dubbing bump at the bend of the hook.
Splay the tail fibers over the bump, tie in and dub over the top. Add more dubbing to finish the body.
Cut a wing foam strip 1/8th inch by 2 inches and secure with a few figure 8’s, then cover with light dubbing.
Use one or more post turns to secure the open wing shape.
Dub a small black head and superglue the thread one inch to whip finish.
Cut the wings to shape.
This is my go-to fly pattern for BWO hatches. It outperforms all others.
Just over 100 years ago, Charles Adams and his son Lon were out fishing in northern Michigan. From what I have read, they were somewhat frustrated by not having the right flies to match a hatch. So they visited a local friend and fly tyer Leonard Halladay in Mayfield, Michigan. Mr. Halladay tried to come up with a pattern that would meet Mr. Adams’ needs and the Adams dry fly was created.
The traditional Adams is one of the few patterns that I cannot tie to my liking. I never seem to be able to get the upright wings tied in so they look right. I wonder if that’s why someone along the way created the Parachute Adams?
So let’s briefly talk about the Parachute Adams. I can tie this pattern pretty darn okay. Parachute-style flies are really not my favorite to tie, but I do tie them because they catch fish. Never one to accept “good enough” when it comes to my flies, I slogged (some would say stumbled) ahead in pursuit of a more perfect Adams. After years of exhaustive (and exhausting) research and experimentation at the bench and on the stream, my version of this classic is a mash-up of the original Adams, the Parachute Adams, the Adams Cripple from Blue Ribbon Flies and the Gray Haze Cripple from Walter Wiese at Yellowstone Country Fly Fishing that I call the Adams Special.
Hook: Size 16 or 18 dry fly hook
Tail: Mayfly Brown Zelon
Abdomen: Dun Bug Legs from Fly Tyers Dungeon
Wing: White Widows Web
Collar: Grizzly Rooster Hackle
For the abdomen on this pattern, I have settled on the dun-colored Bug Legs. I have not found this exact color from similar stretchy floss materials. The Bug Legs will not get darker when they get wet or covered in floatant. The poly wing is easy to see on the water just like a parachute post. The finished fly also maintains some of the same qualities of the traditional Adams. Give this pattern a try and see if it might not become your favorite Adams-style dry fly. Or you could decide to put your faith in one of the titans of fly tying who inspired my creation (Leonard Halladay, Craig Matthews or Walter Wiese) and use their version. I might sulk briefly, but I’ll get over it.