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Tail Gunner Flies

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Tail Gunner Flies
Idaho (part-2)
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Tail Gunner Flies
We have proven to ourselves that two flies on a cast will hook more Deschutes steelhead than fishing with only one fly.  The reasons are obvious.  There are twice as many flies to see and twice the chance that one of them will come to the fish in exactly the right place.  If two different patterns or two different sizes are used, there is twice the chance of having the right one.  The two most common ways of attaching the second fly to a leader is with a dropper. Our favorite dropper is made from the tag end of #15 Maxima Clear which is the section that is blood-knotted to the

#10 Maxima tippet.  We have also used the "in-line" method  where the tippet section is tied to the hook bend of a fly and then a second fly is attached to the other end. Both ways have been proven with steelhead on the beach, but both methods have their flaws.  Droppers tend to tangle on bad casting days.  Certain kinds of casts such as the single spey will tangle the dropper around the leader with regularity.  The in-line method will often make the upper fly roll on its side or make it ride upside down.  This appears to be caused when the knot attached to the bend works its way down low on the hook bend.  The tippet to the point fly provides lift from the currents and flips the fly over. We have gotten more strikes and solid hooks up with the dropper method and we always figured it was because the upper fly on the in-line method wasn't riding right.  However, the flies tangle less when casting while using the "in-line" method. Three years ago I found a solution. A loop of braided monofilament was attached to the hook and a fly was tied over the top of it.  This produced an in-line fly with an attachment that allowed the fly to remain hydrodynamically stable.  Tests and refinements have lead to the three fly series shown here.  The flies won't appear to be very innovative at first glance.  They shouldn't be.  Night Dancers, Green Butt Skunk and Purple Angels have landed hundreds of steelhead.  Each has a loop where the tail should be so you can attach your tippet.  You can attach your skinny, artsy flies to the end of your tippet and rest assured that you already have one proven winner in the water with it.  To our knowledge this is the first series of flies that have been produced specifically to be used as "second" flies.  They will of course fish as well as a "point" fly.  They can also be use as second and "third" flies where three flies are presented with each cast.  Each extra fly might increase your chances by 30%.

Tail Gunner, Black Beauty
This fly is pattered after the idea of Frank Amato's famous Night Dancer.  It provides a very dark silhouette that shows up against the water surface as the light fades in the evening.  The Black Beauty is dressed with long flowing webby hackle to add movement.  A mixture of silver Flashabou and pearl Krystal Flash privides contrast.

Item Description Size Price To Top
06576-04 Tail Gunner, Black Beauty 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner, Green Butt
The Green Butt Skunk is no doubt on of the most successful steelhead patterns of all time.  It has produced strikes in nearly every water color and light condition.  It only seems reasonable that it is also our favorite "dropper" fly pattern.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06577-04 Tail Gunner, Green Butt 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner, Purple Angel
White wing flies that are mostly purple with a bright colored butt are extremely popular east of the Cascade Mountains.
Item Description Size Price To Top
06578-04 Tail Gunner, Purple Angel 4 3 for $5.95 SALE ENDED

Tail Gunner Flies, Complete Set,
(9) flies in all, (3) each of Black Beauty, Green Butt, Purple Angel
Item Description Price To Top
0657SET Tail Gunner Flies, Complete Set, 9-flies in all, 3-each of Black Beauty, Green Butt, Purple Angel $17.85 SALE ENDED

IDAHO part two (part one).
by: J. Morgan Jones

If you followed my Idaho adventures from the last issue of the newsletter, then you will know what I mean when I say “it’s not about catching a lot of fish.” Nor is it about big fish, the scenery, the weather or any of that stuff.  After all of these years, I have decided that it’s really about keeping the car running! 
 Fortunately, I was able to make it the the Oregon’s Owyhee, then back to Idaho's South Fork of the Boise River with no further mechanical mishaps.

While visiting Dad, in Nampa, Idaho, I got in a day of fishing the Owyhee river, located on the eastern border of Oregon. This is a different river than what I am used to fishing here at home. The scenery is identical to what we see on the Deschutes river, typical high desert country. The size of the river and the water conditions are exactly like the Crooked River, off color (or cloudy) all of the time. Like most high desert rivers, there can be wind in the afternoons. As the canyon that contains the Owyhee is not as “tight” to the river as the Deschutes is, the wind is good deal easier to deal with, and as the river is quite a bit smaller, distance casts

aren’t really an issue.  The Owyhee really gives the impression of an easy river to read, though I think that is really not the case at all. If you were to fish the Owyhee like the Crooked river or even the Deschutes, you will usually do well for yourself. There are a good many insects here, and the fish will rise to them. Fishing in the riffles, tail outs and current seams will find fish, but understanding the fish you are after can really make a difference here. I caught 18” rainbows

and browns on size 20 bead heads, dead drifted near the bottom. But you should keep in mind that this a river that is full of large trout, and mostly browns at that. Larger trout, especially brown trout, are quite predatory and also territorial. And while large trout will eat insects, they really keep an eye out for larger meals. Trout fry, sculpins, leeches and the like are at the top of the list for these fish. Especially when the water temperatures drop before the onset of winter.  Mix all of this information together and add in a slowly flowing  body of water and you might find yourself thinking that these fish will feed just about anywhere (especially in the flats), so finding the “prime lies” in not nearly as crucial as in many larger freestone rivers . These larger trout in the Owyhee will reward the fly fisher who is willing to throw wooly buggers and streamer patterns. Mend downstream, strip erratically and be prepared! Trout do not “mouth” streamers that are in motion, they ATTACK THEM! Give streamer fishing a try for trout in your local rivers. Done correctly, it can be very productive. It sure works here!

Back to Idaho:  (car is still running!)
had mentioned to the folks at Outcast that I was going to be over in their part of the country and Jeremy (their sales manager) Sabus offered to take me down the South Fork of the Boise River while I was there. We linked up at the Outcast factory on Friday morning in Meridian, Idaho. They had sold their demo boats earlier, so there was nothing to do but grab a new one for the trip. We were going to be using one of their 13’ rafts (3 person) with a new fishing frame and

hard floor (turned out to be a very well made day trip boat!) I was able to tear Jeremy away from work for the day (product testing is an ongoing issue you know), though he would be missing the annual barbeque. I think they have it next to their private pond (which has 3-4 lb bass). He is usually in pretty good sprits, considering the tremendous amount of pressure that all of the Outcast people must be working under. Life is tough!  So off we go the the South Fork, about 80 miles south of Boise. We launched below

the dam in the Anderson Ranch section of the river. This is a very clear tailwater fishery, and the temperatures are normally quite cold. It is a classic freestone river that fishes very well at around 600 cfs. As soon as we launched, Jeremy spotted HEADS poking out of the water, so the first drift was about  28 seconds long. After acclimating these Idaho Rainbows to some well tied Oregon flies, we continued down the river. 

I wasn’t  really trying to catch any of these large trout, I was just showing them my flies. While I am sure they were impressed, these rising trout were able to ignore their instincts and leave my “show piece flies” alone. I have seen a lot of fish that just do not listen, but these fish are above that type of behavior. What a relief!

After switching to a more common fly, I was able to hook a nice rainbow of 20” (or close, anyway). There was some difficulty in trying to lift the fish out of the water while I was in the boat. Having neglected to bring a net (I guess that I really did not plan on catching anything) so we were unable to get a picture.After all, the car could have broken down again on the way, or who knows what) coupled with the fact that I was from out of state, the fish was less than cooperative at this point and I was unable to measure it exactly . Not a really big deal though, as most of us fly fishers who have been at this awhile have been blessed with the ability to accurately measure fish just by looking at them. Really! I have met many fishers who can give the exact weight just by feeling the initial “take” of the fly! It is a skill that one aquires later in life. Other than this one “maverick” fish all the rest of these very large Rainbows were cooperative. There were a few fish that swam over to take a closer look at my flies, though they were all polite enough to leave them drift unimpeded with the current. As a matter of fact, every fly fisher that we drifted past had noticed the exact same thing.... (I wonder if Jeremy really WAS upset?).

I did notice that there was a water level drop of about 6 inches and there was a weather front that had been over us all day. I know if these conditions were the same on the Deschutes, it would have been a slow day

I have fished this river before, and while Jeremy kept saying that it was a “rare” day, I did not think it was that special “ :-). In truth, this river usually fishes quite well, and 18” rainbows are the norm on many days. 

This is a fishery that is a real show piece in river management for Idaho Fish and Game. The South Fork gets a good deal of pressure in the better weather months (though it’s open all year) and it always has lots of large fish, the camp areas are clean and the water is clear. This is a river that is worth taking a look at if you are going to be in the area. Classic freestone, easy to read holding areas and large trout. Polite, too!

We know that big graphics like this one contribute to the document load time, but we just can't resist pictures of wild steelhead, their environment or the tackle we use to catch them.  This image has all three components.  There is a  wild Deschutes River steelhead caught 09/11/05. 
It is lying in the river with the angler's trusty Sage & LiteSpeed.   Photo by: Eric Gunter.


Oregon Fly Fishing Tattoo
I met this young gentleman at the boat ramp at Mack's Canyon.  He and five of his buddies were loading camping gear and fishing tackle in two drift boats. My anchored jet boat was nosed up onto the sand slightly upstream from the ramp. I was cleaning the access-road dust off of my boat while waiting for clients to arrive.  The drift-boaters quietly outfitted their boats and were careful not to intrude on my space.  I finally broke the ice by asking if I could take a picture of this man's tattoo.  We chatted about fly fishing stuff and quietly parted company.

Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt
Sand Sky Blue Willow Green
Lots of very practical features.

In nature, any time there is prey and predator, camouflage is typically involved.
Consider men and steelhead.

Man - typically stands upright and dresses to be seen by other humans; to stand out from the crowd.  This is one of reasons why high profilers often have poor luck with steelhead.  The most successful steelheaders work hard at not being seen
by steelhead or other steelhead anglers. 
Steelhead - take a close look at the steelhead in the photo. Notice how disguised the fish looks with its surroundings? The dark back, lighter sides,  spots and stripes blend with the water.

The shirt in this picture has been used hard for three seasons.

Even the shape has few distinguishing features. Steelhead are very hard to be see.

That's the story of camouflage. If you have fished for steelhead, salmon, trout, bass, or bonefish, you know how spooky they can be. After all, with birds of prey, fish of prey, and anglers praying for fish, it can be a war zone in the water. And that's why Aqua Design technical apparel can improve your odds. Developed from underwater photography - from the fish's perspective - Aqua Design will minimize detection by blending with the immediate environment for concealment.
We have field tested these shirts for three full seasons.  They are incredibly durable and easy to maintain.

Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sand
For open, sandy areas if you are flats fishing.  Blends very well with fall colors found along many desert rivers.  Excellent color for anglers fishing steelhead rivers east of the Cascade Mountains during the fall season.

Item Description Size Price To Top
AD-107-SA-M Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sand Medium $59.00

AD-107-SA-L Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sand Large $59.00

AD-107-SA-XL Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sand X-Large $59.00


Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sky Blue
For sunny and partly sunny skies especially while fishing bonefish and permit.  Excellent color while casting for deeper water species such as dorado and rooster fish.

Item Description Size Price To Top
AD-107-SB-M Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sky Blue Medium $59.00

AD-107-SB-L Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sky Blue Large $59.00

AD-107-SB-XL Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Sky Blue X-Large $59.00


Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Willow Green
For grassy, brushy, or forested areas.  A great pattern for spring and summer months along most streams and ponds.  A rain forest color.

Item Description Size Price To Top
AD-107-WG-M Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Willow Green Medium $59.00

AD-107-WG-L Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Willow Green Large $59.00

AD-107-WG-XL Aqua Design Expedition Technical Shirt, Willow Green X-Large $59.00


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Fish long & prosper,
Mark Bachmann, Patty Barnes