I can’t believe another year has passed already! As I reminisce, here are some accomplishments and favorite memories from 2021 on RiverKeeper Flies.

Flat Tire on Grey's River | www.johnkreft.com

You might recall I keep track of the flies I tie. This year, the grand total is approaching 2,200 with a couple more days to go until the new year. The total includes flies I use, give away, and tie for my customer orders. I’d like to give a special “thank you” to my customers who purchased my flies. I hope they created wonderful memories for you.

One of the biggest changes of the year was updating my website in February. RiverKeeper Flies had the same look for 7 years before I updated the home page and backend of the site. It took many hours of learning to create what you see today. I hope you continue to enjoy the weekly content and utilize past posts to refresh or learn about many fly fishing and fly tying aspects to improve your fly fishing. Make liberal use of the SEARCH button on the Menu bar. Want to know something about the leader I use? Just type in the word “leader” and you’ll have a variety of posts.

RK Flies Home Page | www.johnkreft.com

And speaking of my website, here are a few statistics about RiverKeeper Flies for 2021:

  • Page views – 198,722 (average of 16,500 per month)
  • Number of sessions – 111,741 (average of 9,300 per month)

The top three pages for last year were:

My most viewed posts were:

Early in the year, I taught several fly tying classes on Zoom. It took a while to learn the technology involved to connect my cameras to the computer. Since I was in front of the camera, I decided to make fly tying videos for my RiverKeeper Flies YouTube channel. In fact, I added instruction for 13 flies. In several videos, I tie several of the same fly to demonstrate different techniques and discuss materials to help you tie better flies. I hope you were able to learn from my experience.

An example is the X Caddis fly. In addition to tying the fly, I discuss a couple of ways to mount the deer hair wing and how I select deer hair for different styles of flies. I incorporated the information found in a post titled Selecting the Proper Deer Hair to Tie Sparkle Dun and X Caddis Flies.

Besides flies, I learned a little about video production software and created videos from the Henry’s Fork and Madison rivers about our fishing experience during our fly fishing road trips. Here are the links:

I cut back on my fly tying during the summer months as we travelled in our RAM Promaster. We are so thankful to spend time in the summer and fall months to travel in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming in search of fish.

Judging from some of the comments I received, many of you fish vicariously through these posts as they bring back fond memories of your own trips. Others utilize the information provided to plan their own adventures.

Brown and Green Drake fishing on the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River was a new experience for us as we timed our arrival perfectly for the Brown and Green Drake hatches.

Fishing the Brown Drake hatch was a first for us and we luckily stumbled to the perfect spot.

The fish we found ranged from 14 to 20 plus inches. Most were 19 – 21. And the shoulders on these fish were incredible! They are so thick; these images don’t really do them justice.

I measured this one on my net and promptly got out my tape after safely releasing the fish. It was between 23 and 24 inches!

Henry's Fork Rainbow - John | www.johnkreft.com

Close-up of a Brown and Green Drakes

We’ve gotten used to the fishing pressure of the Madison River below Quake Lake. Fishing the Henry’s Fork in June was a new experience for us. It’s not a secret place!

Henry's Fork Crowd | www.johnkreft.com

It was a memorable experience for us fishing these large mayfly hatches. We must have figured it out as a local fly fisher stopped by a couple of times because we were catching fish.

Here is an excerpt of the post of one memorable Rainbow trout:

“I was casting during a strong wind and waded out to a run I hoped to catch some fish. I did land a fish or two and moved others to my fly.

As I headed back to shore, I placed a few casts in likely holding lies. While doing this, I heard a large splash close to me. I thought, “what was that?” I looked just below where I was standing and to my astonishment, here was a trout less than two feet away. Aren’t trout wary of anglers? Not this one!

What should I do? You’re right, see if I could catch it.

I lifted my rod with only the leader emerging from the tip, but the wind was blowing so hard, the fly landed 7 or 8 feet away. What else could I do?

Yup, grab the leader and dab it in the water. That’s exactly what I did and in fact, the fish rose to my fly. I set the hook with leader in hand and let go to see if the fish was still attached while I tried to take the slack out of my line.

The fish ran, taking line from my reel.

But I ended up landing the fish! Not the best fish image, but I managed to take a quick snap before this fat 18 inch Rainbow Trout slipped out of my hand.

I’ll remember this fish for some time!”

Henry's Fork | www.johnkreft.com

Healthy Henry’s Fork Rainbow Trout taken with a Green Drake imitation.

Rainbow at Last Chance | www.johnkreft.com

Smoke and warm water temperatures really impacted our fly fishing last summer. And we weren’t alone. Rivers in many states implemented “hoot owl” hours for the first time. It restricts fishing for afternoon and evening hours when water temperatures are their highest with the intent to reduce stressing fish when hooked.

We ended up moving around to different rivers not only to find cooler water, but to escape heavy smoke in the Madison River valley where we chose to spend some of our time.

That’s how we ended up in Wyoming and exploring waters like the Grey and Green rivers. We drove through beautiful areas and I’m sure you’ll see us returning to some of them in 2022.

Lower Grey's River | www.johnkreft.com

I’ll end with a few favorite images from 2021.

Sunset at $3 Bridge | www.johnkreft.com
$3 Bridge on Madison River
Karen Landing Madison Brown | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River
Madison River Rainbow Closeup | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Rainbow
Metolius Rainbow Fall Colors | www.johnkreft.com
Metolius River Rainbow
Bison Mom and Baby | www.johnkreft.com
Yellowstone National Park
Grey's River Cutthroat Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Grey’s River Cutthroat
Bitterroot Cutthroat Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Bitterroot Cutthroat
Madison River Brown Trout | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River Brown Trout

Thanks for supporting RiverKeeper Flies!

Karen with Bitterroot Rainbow | www.johnkreft.com
Bitterroot River
John's Madison River Brown | www.johnkreft.com
Madison River

Enjoy…go fish, stay safe!

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6 Comments

  1. This is a great post, John.
    Thank you!
    FYI:
    1. Steel belted tires will prevent many flat tires when you travel town and country.
    2. How small fish (fingerlings, fry, and juveniles) do you catch using dry flies before you hook a good-sized fish? I’m surprised that you and your partner don’t fish nymphs, soft hackles or streamers more soften.
    Subsurface patterns will catch a lot of larger good fish when the hatches haven’t started yet.
    3. When tying soft hackled wets, put a double collar on. The undercollar should be a wrap of CDC with the second collar just ahead of the CDC wrap, the standard soft hackle. These could be grouse, hen hackles, and partridge feathers et cetera.
    4. Now you have a fly that is a killer fly.
    Happy fishing to you and your partner! 🙂

  2. I enjoy reading your email updates and viewing your website. It’s been one of a couple of factors that has motivated me to strike a little bit better work-life balance (super important during Covid)…and spend considerably more of my free time on some of the rivers I love to fish. More so than ever before, I’ve become a patient sight fisherman…and had some rewarding catches…as well as snapped off tippet. Thanks for sharing insights, ideas, flies, fabulous photography and the zen of fly fishing.

  3. Great post reviewing your year together. Amazing that during this COVID times you and Karen were determined to keep going safely. Looking forward to 2022 example of how to do it.

  4. I just took up fly fishing a couple of years ago, and discovered your site earlier this year. It has been my go to for info on flies and almost everything else that has to do with fly fishing. I especially enjoy your local knowledge of Central Oregon and my favorite river, The Metolius. Thank you for informative blogs and beautiful photos. I’ll be ordering some flies from you soon. Have a great 2022!

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