Cold Winter Day

It’s been cold out lately. As I write today’s post early this morning, the thermometer reads 7 degrees. That’s right…single digits. For some reason, I haven’t made it out to the river lately. Too cold I guess. What should I do on a cold winter day? Tie flies!

Here is a picture of Whychus Creek, which flows behind my house. I told you it was cold!

Whychus Creek with Ice |

Yes, that’s ice building up along the creek shore and extending out towards the middle. Water flows over the ice, creating more and thicker ice. Like I said, it’s been cold! Continue reading

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The North Country Purple Partridge Soft Hackle

This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the North Country Purple Partridge soft hackle.

Purple Partridge |

I received a new book a few weeks ago, The North Country Fly: Yorkshire’s Soft Hackle Tradition by Robert L. Smith. It’s a terrific book. A friend had loaned me his copy about a year ago and I read most of the book. I liked it so well, I just purchased my own copy from The Rogue Anglers website.

I found the Purple Partridge soft hackle listed with John William Binns (1860 – 1907). So it’s an old fly pattern.

I’ve tied a lot of soft hackle flies, including my RiverKeeper Soft Hackle Cripple. I learned through the book a new “fly-dressing” technique. Many North Country flies were tied what I think is backward. At least how I learned to tie flies. The head is tied first, followed by the hackle, then finished with silk thread for the body.

I’ve been meaning to tie up a few different old soft hackle fly patterns and include them as Throw Back Thursday flies. There’s something about simple flies I find remarkable. How many years have passed since this fly was created and how many fish has it caught?

They work. Silk thread. Partridge wing. Peacock herl head. Simple, but beautiful.

You better tie some and fish them.

Enjoy…go fish!


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Simple Strategy for Fly Fishing Knots

I think it’s time again to talk about fly fishing knots. I don’t know why, but there seems to be a mystique about them. Fly fishers tend to make it more difficult than they need to. Perhaps it’s because of the variety of fly fishing knots available today. Whatever the case, my advice to you is just keep it simple. Here are my thoughts for a simple strategy for fly fishing knots.

Davy Knot |

Today’s post will discuss the knots I use, the importance of tying a secure knot, and my simple system to extend the use of a tapered leader. Continue reading

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The Bekeart Special

This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is the Bekeart Special.

Bekeart's Special |

It’s been awhile since I highlighted a steelhead fly. I found the Bekeart Special steelhead fly pattern in John Shewey’s book entitled Classic Steelhead Flies. If you haven’t had a chance to peruse this book, go to your local fly shop and see if they have it in stock. Otherwise, go to the link above and order it. You won’t be sorry.

Philip Bekeart was the son of Frank Bekeart who relocated to California from New York City to make his fortune in the California Gold Rush. Well, that didn’t work out too well, so Frank moved to San Francisco where he worked as a gunsmith. Philip bought the business from his father in 1890. He was well known for his target weapons and was a competitive shooter too.

Shewey offers more information about Bekeart’s gun prowess and the fact he was a well-known hunter and angler. Shewey references the book Trout Flies (1932) where the author, A. Courtney Williams stated the Bekeart Special was created by Bekeart. 

Shewey also makes a case that John Benn, one of the better known fly tyer’s at that time who lived in the Bay Area, may have created the fly and named it for Bekeart. Benn was known to be a prolific fly tyer and frequently named flies for people.

To find out the whole story, be sure to read it in Classic Steelhead Flies.

For more about John Benn, be sure to read my post – Benn’s Coachman.

Enjoy…go fish!


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My Fly Tying Desk

I’ve been back at my fly tying desk lately, tying flies for customers, adding fly pattern sheets to RiverKeeper Flies, and trying to find fishy-looking flies to fool fish.

A friend of mine asked about my fly tying desk and suggested it must be very well organized. After all, it’s where all the magic happens. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Fly Tying Desk 2017 |

My fly tying desk overflows at times. My wife has said more than once that when I pack up the vise and tools to teach a fly tying class or attend a demonstration fly tying event or Expo it’s the only time she can see wood on the table because the vise is absent! Continue reading

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2017 Fly Fisher’s Christmas List

It’s hard to believe Christmas is less than 5 weeks away! Face it, we’re into the holiday season.  This is the third year I’ve presented a few gift ideas for fly fishers and fly tyers. If you find something on the list you’d like to have, just pass this list onto your significant other so you can have a very Merry  Christmas! Here is the 2017 Fly Fisher’s Christmas List.

RiverKeeper Flies Note Cards

Note Card - Rainbow Trout 1 |

I’ll begin with fly fishing ideas and then list a few fly tyer ideas.

Please support your local fly shops, but if there isn’t one close, I’ve provided “hot links” to many of the product to ease your shopping. Continue reading

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Favorite Blue Wing Olive Imitations

I returned to the river yesterday looking for rising fish, which didn’t happen. What I found were a variety of bugs floating down the river without fish eating them. Most of them were blue wing olives (BWO), a small mayfly that can hatch almost any month of the year. That got me thinking about my fly box and the fact I needed to restock it with my favorite blue wing olive imitations.

BWO and Imitation |

I wrote a post entitled Blue Wing Olives a couple of years ago where I provided more information about the insects and imitations. I encourage you to give it another read. Continue reading

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Returning to the Fly Tying Bench

As I mentioned in last week’s Normal Fishing Season Ends post, someone flipped the switch on November 2 and the weather has dramatically changed. In fact, we’ve had a little snow recently. That tells me it’s COLD outside. In fact, it’s 26 degrees this morning as I finish this week’s post. So I’m returning to the fly tying bench.

I received an order for a few Beetle Bailey’s, which I finished, and because all the materials were on my fly tying desk, I decided to continue tying them and begin filling the provider box.

This is what 4 dozen Beetle Bailey flies looks like.

Dozens of Beetle Bailey Flies |

My wife doesn’t tie flies and I kid her occasionally that she should. Her response? “Why should I tie flies when you tie hundreds of flies each year?” I really can’t argue with that. Continue reading

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