TroutHunter is happy to announce that our very own Guide Pat Gaffney is offering up some of his flies for purchase. Pat is both a well-rounded guide and angler. Check it out and you won't be disappointed in supporting Pat’s hardworking fishy lifestyle…
Most everyone I have encountered was introduced to fishing and hunting from a close familial relative, and it is inevitable that teacher and student developed a special bond through their outdoor experiences. I can vividly recall childhood days fishing on the Salmon River in CT with my late uncle Tim and my cousins. My Uncle recognized my interest in fishing at an early age and generously spent his time and knowledge nurturing my enthusiasm for the outdoors. He would turn over rocks and show me "trout food,” even at the expense of getting pinched by Hellgrammites. Then he would explain to me how to "read the water” and understand the particulars of trout holding and feeding in moving water. By watching him fish I began to appreciate how fish used rocks and other structure to break the current and to ambush unsuspecting prey.
My early experiences in trout fishing involved an ultralight spinning rod and a tight-lined minnow. Then I graduated to a small rapala on the ultralight rod, and can still remember an amazing day of fishing I had with a cousin fishing that rapala. I soon moved on to fly fishing, and have not gone back to the spinning rod since. Not because I have anything against spin fishing, I simply prefer fly fishing. In large part, my preference is due to the flies. I love to tie flies. And I love to have fish eat flies that I have tied. To me, it is the most fun part of the game.
My uncle gave me my first fly tying kit for Christmas when I was 10 years old. It was from L.L. Bean and came with a color fly fishing catalog. As a self-taught tier I spent countless hours trying to make my flies look like those in the catalog. Soon I mastered patterns such as the wooly bugger and was casting, stripping, and catching fish on the very same Salmon River in CT, in ponds on the local golf course (after-hours) and in the local condo-complex. I fished in area fishing derbies in stocked ponds….casting and stripping….and catching. My cousin introduced me to Great Lakes tributaries, and while others caught more fish with egg patterns, there I was casting, stripping….and catching. I then began saltwater fishing, having access to a friend’s boat moored in the mouth of the Thames River in CT. Along the way my fly tying skills were developing, and I was soon tying and fishing my own imitations for stripers, bluefish, and false albacore. Casting, stripping…..and catching.
So it should come as no surprise that I enjoy tying, casting and stripping streamers for trout now that I am a full time fishing guide. The aggressive manner in which a big trout attacks a streamer helps me get my saltwater fix right here in Yellowstone country. I will cast and strip for hours to feel one grab by a big fish. Landing that fish of course has its place too, but really it is all about the initial take. The instant the line comes tight and that fish knows it is hooked. An apex predator attacking what it thinks is prey. For me, that tug just does not get old.
Over the course of the past six seasons guiding anglers for TroutHunter I have tied a good number of flies. These flies vary in types and sizes, but I have always maintained my childhood fondness for streamers. And while most of my fishing has now become vicarious through my clients, seeing joy on their faces is satisfaction enough for me. Winter has always been a time to re-stock my fly boxes, and as I begin filling the holes in my streamer box, I have decided to open my guide box to all of you. I have put together a streamer selection for sale consisting of a small sample of proven winners. While I have compiled some inventory, these flies will largely be tied to order on a first come, first served basis, therefore please allow me a reasonable time for delivery.
1. The box canyon double bunny. Gamakatsu size 1 jig hook, tungsten cone, two-tone rabbit strip body, and lifelike rainbow flash all combine to make this streamer ‘the one.’ This fly made an appearance in the ‘guide flies’ section of Northwest Fly Fishing magazine, and more importantly has caught many big fish for my clients. The fly has an action similar to that of a wounded, juvenile rainbow, which on the Henry’s Fork means FOOD to extremely large, predatory trout.
2. My go-to leech. Size 10. This is a knock-off of a John Barr fly which he calls the Bouface. I upgraded the hook and went to a black tungsten bead. The realism provided by the pine squirrel, and the jigging action of the tungsten bead are what make this fly a winner. This past October John "Mr. 30” Tague used this pattern to entice an eat from the largest trout that I have had in my net on a guide trip to date—a 30” x 17” monster that came along the side of my skiff and had me thinking of Roy Scheider’s famous line in JAWS, "I think you’re gonna need a bigger boat…”
3. String Sculpin. Gamakatsu octopus Size 4. On some guide trips one of the clients is an avid fly fisher, and the other angler is just sort of along for the ride. However, clients flat-out expect fish, no matter the skill level of the angler. The challenge for me as the guide is getting people into fish that are not interested in understanding the concept of drag or mending or how a reach cast can help obtain a drag free drift. It is for these clients that this fly has been typically reserved. I generally fish it about 3.5’ below a strike indicator, occasionally adding weight to the leader as necessary. The design and materials incorporated in this fly allow for the fly to have natural movement in the water and for fish to literally hook themselves. I generally tie the fly about 3-4” long, sparse and thin, but with a bulky head and overstated pectoral fins to accurately imitate most sculpin. The zonker strip tied over the wrapped squirrel together offer a color contrast similar to that of the natural, and the trimmed head pushes water much like the large head of a sculpin. The stinger-style hook adds weight to the back end of the fly, which contributes significantly to the fly’s action in the water. While an active retrieve of this fly with fast strips will draw strikes, it is even more deadly when fished under an indicator and allowed to bounce along near the bottom.
4. The B.F.E. Size 2 gamakatsu B10S. In 2007, when I first began guiding for TroutHunter, it was Brad ‘The Predator’ Miller who showed me the ropes on the lower Henry’s Fork. On the ride home from one of our excursions Brad dubbed the prototype fly I had given him to try out as "the B.F.E.” The Best-Fly-Ever soon became a staple in both of our guide boxes and is still responsible for a great number of fish caught each season. The lead eyes and two-tone marabou collar and tail give this fly an unreal amount of movement in the water. The red lead eyes provide a target for attacking predators, give the fly a tantalizing jigging action and keep the hook riding point up to avoid snags.
5. The Gaff. Size 1 and size 2 gamakatsu B10S. This is not your grandad’s Sandy Mite. This is a fly that drives fish nuts because it moves like nothing that exists in the natural world. It’s big. It’s yellow. It’s articulated. It’s heavy. The sheer size of this pattern brings out the ‘fight or flight’ mentality of big, predatory fish. I believe that a large fish that is not feeding will often ignore small flies because it does not deem them to be a threat. The size of this fly forces even the largest predators to react to the fly being in their area.
I remember a day I had fishing an early version of this fly in 2007 as if it happened yesterday. I caught a couple large brown trout fishing behind Brad Miller on a river in YNP. The rarity of that feat in and of itself speaks to the effectiveness of the fly and continues to make that day memorable to me.
6. The mandolin minnow (aka white bling). Size 2 gamakatsu B10S. This is a baitfish pattern through and through. Marabou/flash tail with a spun blinged-out body together with a fish skull head. Like the articulated Gaff, this fly is fun to fish because it is bright and visible even in deep water, allowing the angler to watch most strikes as they take place. This fly can be easily adapted to suite a variety of conditions using a Sharpie marker to add color or contrast as needed. I recently caught many a big trout on this fly while fishing with Travis Rydberg on a top-secret ninja stealth mission that provided memories that will carry me through the next 5 months of winter.
For a limited time only--basically as long as my supplies and hands can last--I will be offering this selection for sale. The cost is $42 plus shipping for the six patterns outlined above. All of my flies are, of course, tied using only top quality hooks and materials right here in the spud state in the good ole goddamn U.S. of A.
Please feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to order or for more information, or if you are interested in having me tie a custom order for your next fly fishing expedition. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________