Now that the football season is over, it’s time to move on to something better…fishing.
My football season ended prematurely when the Minnesota Vikings lost to the 49ers, so the last couple weeks I’ve been working on some new flies to donate to the George Grant Chapter of Trout Unlimited for the annual fundraising banquet coming up on March 13.
I’ll be taking a break from that, however, for the annual Fly Fishing Film Tour, which will be on Saturday, February 8, at the Mother Lode Theater here in Butte. The show starts at 7 p.m., though lots of people come early to socialize with other fly anglers suffering from cabin fever.
As usual, the selection of films captures some of the variety of people, places and fish in our strange little world of fly-fishing.
Among the featured films is Down Under, a tour of fly-fishing in Australia, from trout in the cold waters of Tasmania, to giant trevally in the tropical waters of northern Australia.
Another film featuring the exotic is Cosmoledo, an isolated atoll in the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean, and another paradise for giant trevally.
It isn’t all travel, however. One film, Time, features fly-fishing filmmaker, Flip Pallot, along with Blane Chocklett and Bob Clouser, reminiscing about the late Lefty Kreh, and the impact Lefty had on their lives and their careers in fly-fishing. I’ll name-drop a little. In 2007, Blane Chocklett, who is based in Roanoke, Virginia, was my guide on a day of floating and fly-fishing for smallmouth bass on the New River in southwestern Virginia. Besides Chocklett’s skill in fishing and guiding, he has also been an innovator in designing flies and developing new products for fly-tying.
For a complete listing of the featured films, as well as trailers for the films, go to flyfilmtour.com.
The Butte Film Tour presentation is sponsored by The Stonefly fly shop here in Butte, and you can get more information or buy advance tickets at the store.
Getting back to the topic of tying flies, I’m reminded of a saying generally attributed to George Bernard Shaw, that England and the United States are two countries separated by a common language.
Those trout flies I’m learning are variations of soft-hackled flies. I’m a long time fan of soft-hackled wet flies, going back to books on tying and using soft-hackle flies by the late Syl Nemes. Dropping names again, I treasure chats I had with Sylvester around 20 years ago, and the chance to fish with him on the Madison River one day.
It’s generally agreed that soft-hackled wet flies were developed in England, so I pay attention when British fly-tiers come up with new soft-hackle patterns. I recently ran across a copy of an English fly-fishing magazine, FlyFishing and FlyTying.
In the November 2019 issue, a Welsh writer, George Barron, writes about some new patterns he has developed, using partridge hackle. There’s nothing new about that, although Barron specifies olive-dyed, gold-dyed, and sunburst gold-dyed partridge feathers. My partridge feathers are all natural Hungarian partridge, gray with some brownish overtones, souvenirs of lucky hunts in past years.
Then there are some different feathers, such as wood pigeon slips. I guess I could set up a blind in my backyard and sit there with a shotgun to harvest one of our local pigeons, though there might be some complications.
Then another pattern calls for “natural toppings.” That threw me for a loop. Chocolate sauce? Frozen strawberries? When I asked about it at our local fly shop it threw the proprietor for a loop, as well. An internet search, however, revealed the answer. A golden pheasant, cousin to our ringneck pheasant, has a sort of crest on its head. The crest feathers are mainly yellow-gold, with overtones of red, and English fly-tiers call them natural toppings.
So, what do we do when a fly pattern calls for unavailable exotic materials? We do it the old-fashioned way. We cheat. We improvise. Then we hope our Montana trout don’t subscribe to British fishing magazines.