This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Chuck Stranahan’s Golden Stone.

Chuck's Golden Stone |
Tied by Rick Lester

We stopped at Chuck Stranahan’s Flies & Guides to see what we could find. The Golden Stone is one of the flies he pulled out for me to post. He stated it was a variant of Randall Kaufmann’s Stimulator.

Here is a quote from Chuck’s website explaining why the fly is effective:

This fly is designed to ride with the abdomen stuck in the water, while the sparse wing and oversized hackle give the silhouette of beating wings, It is deadly wherever Goldens are found.

Update 10/24/2019 – I received a Comment below about the back of the fly body. Here is a new image to show additional detail.

Stranahan's Golden Stone Top View |

I was impressed at the quality of flies I found in his bins. Either he ties them or has a group of local fly tyers tying his flies. This sign caught my eye and really summarizes it well.

Chuck Stranahan's Flies Sign |

We ended up having a nice conversation with Chuck. He has been in Hamilton, MT a long time and I asked him to pick out a few flies that I might use for some of my Throw Back Thursday Flies.

Chuck bought an existing shop 32 years ago named the Frustrated Fisherman. He changed the name to Riverbend, but had problems with other types of businesses using the same name. In addition, he would go to trade shows under the Riverbend name and told people his name. People would drive through Hamilton specifically looking for him, but couldn’t find a shop with his name in the title. That’s when he decided to change the name of his shop to – Chuck Stranahan’s Flies & Guides.

He stated his fly shop is the longest running shop under continuous management west of the Continental Divide in Montana, a fact he’s proud of. Other fly shops might have been around longer, but have been sold several times. His shop has been in four different locations, but has stayed in it’s current location for the last 10 or 12 years.

Chuck Stranahan's Flies & Guides |

Here is a portion of Chuck’s bio from his WEBSITE:

He began fly tying at eight, and was tying flies commercially at age twelve. He fly-tied his way through college as an Orvis commercial fly tyer and through a ten-year career in education, before opening a full-time fly shop in 1979.

He learned the fly tying craft from masters such as Cal Bird, Polly Rosborough, Darwin Atkins, and Andre Puyans. His style blends their techniques with his own innovations. His fly patterns are becoming standards throughout the West, and are featured in books by Jack Dennis, Gary LaFontaine, Greg Thomas, John Holt, and Randall Kaufmann.

He learned flycasting and fly rod design and manufacture from some of the masters who shaped the sport, beginning as a college student in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club ponds. Over the years he fished with many of these same mentors, honing his own skills as an angler.

Chuck Stranahan |
Chuck Stranahan

If you are planning to fish the Bitterroot River around Hamilton, MT, I highly recommend stopping by the shop and checking out his quality flies. I hope you’ll be as impressed as I am!

Enjoy…go fish!

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    1. Thanks for asking. That darkened back and sides are important for this fly. There are other aspects of the body that are hard to grasp from a photograph.
      I tie in a full clump of elk hair at the wing position, then spiral the thread back to the bend of the hook, creating a series of segments as you would see on an extended body drake. Strap it down real good at that point. Trim about half the remaining tail out. You don’t want a shaving brush back there!
      Then, tie in a piece of acrylic yarn the right color, and spiral the thread forward to the tie-off position.
      Then, SATURATE the hair/yarn underbody with cement before twisting the yarn hard to create segments and drive out air space before wrapping forward over the wet cement. Tie off, and flatten the body with flat-jawed pliers.
      Then hit the sides and top with a brown Marks-a-Lot felt marker.
      The result is a fly body that is sturdy, floats surprisingly well when partially submerged, and bears the shape-color of the natural. It catches fish and is fun to tie. I can supply further notes or materials if you’d like. Just get in touch.
      Hope this helps,
      – Chuck

      1. Boy, I’m missing a lot in the pic. Would you take a pic from the back of the fly? I’m not sure how hard that is to do!

        1. Hi Joe

          It took me a few days, but I added a close-up view of the body which hopefully will help answer your question. I encourage you to contact Chuck directly for more information about tying the fly. He seemed willing to help in any way he could.


  1. I met Chuck in 1984 at a fly shop in Los Altos, CA. My wife and I had recently settled into our first apartment in Redwood City and for my birthday that year she gave me a fly tying vise and signed me up for Chuck’s fly tying classes. I recall Chuck sharing his recipe for tying an October Caddis Pupa, and explaining how to fish it. No surprise, the body of the fly was a blend of colors: orange and light caddis green. And I caught my first trout from the upper Sacramento River fishing the fly exactly as Chuck had said to: raise the fly at the end of the drift. Fond memories. Grateful to have had such a generous, talented and knowledgeable teacher. Thanks for the posts, John.

    1. John,
      What a treat to read your report! That Orange Caddis nymph has been sticking fish here in the Bitterroot for years since I left California. Thanks for the kind words; you never know where the seed lands, once sown, but every now and then I hear of the joy that something I’ve offered has given to somebody far beyond my reach. That’s a real gratifying thing for me.
      – Chuck

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