This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Chuck Stranahan’s Brindle Chute.

Brindle Chute |
Tied by Rick Lester

We stopped at Chuck Stranahan’s Flies & Guides during our last trip to Montana. Our reason for being there was to participate in Cast One for Hope, a celebration and major fundraiser of Casting for Recovery. The Brindle Chute was one of the flies Chuck picked out as a “hallmark” fly when I asked him for some flies to share on my RiverKeeper Flies website.

The full name of the Brindle Chute is Brindle Hackle Multi Colored Body Parachute. He believes that flies should have descriptive names. I think I like the shortened version!

Chuck describes the Brindle Chute on his website as follows:

“A multicolored mix of dubbing and hackle that mimics light patterns trout see on the water. Use for many similar-colored hatches. Or, fish it as a searching pattern – it produces when nothing else works.”

I read where Chuck developed the Brindle Chute to imitate the Hecuba mayfly on his home waters of the Bitterroot, but I first saw a Hecuba while fishing the Clark Fork River. The common name is Great Blue-Winged Red Quill and it’s similar to the Green Drake. In fact, I successfully used a size 12 Green Drake imitation when I fished the Clark Fork River. Only after returning home did I learn about Hecuba mayflies.

Chuck talked quite a bit about UV reflective materials and the importance of using them in your flies. He said that calf tail used for the fly post is UV reflective.

As I mentioned in earlier TBT posts, I was impressed at the quality of flies I found in his bins. Most of the flies are tied by a group of local fly tyers.

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 its 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. A couple years ago I was in MT fishing with my best friend. We through our travels found ourselves stopping to resupply at the grocery store near Chucks shop. We went in to pick up some local flies and chat about the local waters. We already had a destination we were headed to just wanted to see if there was a recommended fly to use. The young shop hand on duty said this is the only one you need, the brindle chute. We each bought 5 and 7 days later we were both down to our last one. One or two may have been lost to fish or brush but most just got used up because of all the fish we were landing with them. We did not have the pleasure of meeting Chuck but maybe on our next trip.

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