Fran Better’s Haystack

This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Fran Better’s Haystack.

Haystack |

This is another fly I found while reading Mike Valla’s book entitled The Founding Flies – 43 American Masters, Their Patterns and Influences.

You might recognize this fly because it is very similar to the Sparkle Dun mayflies I tie and fish so much. But the Fran Better’s Haystack is the first of many iterations of this style of fly.

Betters created this fly during his senior year of high school in June 1949. He used Key deer for the wings and tail with a body or either muskrat or opossum dubbing.

Later, Betters used Woodchuck to replace the deer hair because it was more he couldn’t find Key deer any longer. He must have had lots of Woodchuck because he used it in the tails of another fly he created, the Ausable Wulff.

The progression of the fly continued when Al Caucci developed the Comparadun mayfly in the early 1960’s as a variant to the classic Haystack fly pattern. Caucci joined with Bob Nastasi and introduced the fly in 1972 in their first book Comparahatch.

Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone created another variation, using Zelon for the tail and named it the Sparkle Dun.

To find out more about Fran Betters, I highly recommend Valla’s book.

Enjoy…go fish!


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Parachute Flies

I was thinking the other day about the dry flies I use most of the time and the fact they don’t include parachute flies. Sure, I’ll use parachute flies on some rivers and perhaps tie on a Purple Haze in the evening at the spring creek I fish. And sometimes it works.

I gave away a few Purple Haze flies to a friend on the river and I began thinking about how important flies tied with hackles can be.

Purple Haze

Purple Haze |

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Galloup’s Compara Spinner

This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Galloup’s Compara Spinner.

Galloup's Compara Spinner |

I stayed at Galloup’s Slide Inn on the Madison River during our 2017 fly fishing road trip and I thought it appropriate to feature a few of Kelly’s flies for my Throw Back Thursday Fly feature. I spent some time with him at the shop taking photos of a few of his famous flies and hearing stories of them as well. Continue reading

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Quigley Victory Drake

This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Quigley Victory Drake.

Quigley Victory Drake |

I saw this fly for the first time a little over a week ago during our trip on the Upper Columbia River. If you haven’t seen the post, be sure to read my story of dry fly fishing with Green Drake mayflies is BIG water!

Check out the front view of this fly and you’ll understand why it has a “V” in it’s name.

Quigley Victory Drake Front View |

I don’t know the history of how Bob Quigley created or named the fly, but I liked it the moment my guide Rial tied it on my leader.

You’ll note the Quigley Victory Drake has a few similar materials and style of the Quigley Cripple and the Quigley Hackle Stacker.

Quigley Cripple | www.johnkreft.comQuigleys PMD Hackle Stacker |

When I get more time, I think I’ll have to tie a few of the Quigley Victory Drake for myself!

Enjoy…go fish!


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Effective East Lake Flies

I haven’t fished any lakes yet this year, but hopefully that will change this week. I think East Lake will be my fishing destination in a couple of days. I thought I’d use my own resources to refresh my memory for a few effective East Lake flies I need in my fly box. I created a separate fly box for East Lake called…you guessed it, East Lake Fly Box. In addition, I looked in the Lake Flies box to see if I missed anything.

I can’t wait to get back up there. It’s a very peaceful place when the wind isn’t blowing.

East Lake September |

If you are a regular RiverKeeper Flies reader, you might remember my post entitled Fishing East Lake a couple of years ago. I talked about the flies I needed there as well and which flies worked for us. Continue reading

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Mayfly Spinners

On one of my fly fishing trips to the river last week, I was waiting for the fish to begin rising and I was curious about what flies were in the drift and available to the fish. A good place to find out is on the edges of an eddy. So I walked downstream to an eddy I’ve checked before and guess what I found? Mayfly spinners!

Brown Mayfly Spinner |

I couldn’t believe the number and variety I found…Green Drakes, Brown Drakes, Pale Evening Duns (PEDs), Pale Morning Duns (PMDs), and a few others I don’t know the name of. Continue reading

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June Fly Box

Perhaps you saw last week’s post entitled Fishing the Lower Deschutes. I drifted the river twice last week. My fly box was full of Salmonfly and Golden Stonefly imitations. So I returned to my home river today and found many more PMD’s hatching and thought I better get my June fly box in order.

Where you fish will determine what should be in your fly box, but we are all after the same thing…

Metolius redside on drake |

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Spring Fly Fishing

I can’t lie. I’ve been a little frustrated lately with spring fly fishing. It always happens this time of year for me. Winter is over and I have expectations of going to the river and see a few mayflies hatching.

I love mayflies.

There is something elegant about that bug.

Cinygmula Mayfly |

I enjoy watching them float down the river and seeing a nose break the surface and eat the bug. Continue reading

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