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This has become a nightly routine to sit down and tie several flies after dinner. It is quite enjoyable seeing these flies come to life. Even though they may not be perfect or even border-line good, I have never been more excited to go fish and see how they perform. At this rate, It will be well after Christmas before I return to Arizona and put these flies to water and the anticipation is already killing me…


After tying several wooly buggers, it was time to move on and start trying some dry flies. Several suggestions came down and I decided to keep it simple. The Griffiths Gnat is a extremely basic dry fly that is tied similarly to the wooly bugger. Sitting down today, I tied up 4 and by the fourth (bottom left) I felt like I actually knew what I was doing. If you look at the picture, you can see the hackle getting smaller and smaller as I realized I needed to use the smaller feathers. I enjoyed myself immensely and am looking forward to tying again soon and maybe using some of the elk hair.

Reports have drifted to my ears that the Salt River is a toxic hole that occasionally is stocked to please local Phoenix fisherman. In my opinion these rumors have always seemed a little harsh and I decided to always wait to pass judgment until I could form my own thoughts. After fishing today, I can appreciate what others have reported. The Salt River is not the finest river in the West. I was amazed by all the garbage and trash littered on the banks. People say that the River is “mobile spring break party” once the temperature heat up and the tubes hit the water, and I can see from the evidence that this is correct. I was disappointed to say the least. I saw several fish rising later in the day to a Blue Wing Olive hatch, but was unsuccessful in hooking a single fish for the few hours I was there. Not the best experience I have ever had.

There were several positive things that I did appreciate about the day. Number one, I did not have to wake up at 3:30 to drive two and a half hours to fish.  Number two, I did not freeze my hands off. Typically on the Rim or in Sedona at this time of year, you would have found me huddled in my truck at daylight attempting to tie a fly to tippet with frozen fingers. Number three, because the fishing was subpar, I was able to scout and look at several different areas that I could possibly fish in the future. Number four, I met a really friendly and pleasant fly fisherman on the river who was fishing with his girlfriend(?). Pete stopped by and gave me several different flies to try as well as a bag of elk hair to tie up some different flies in the future. We talked extensively about tying and he invited me to come to a Arizona Fly-casters meeting and tie with some different members. Always nice to meet good people.

Final Analysis on the Salt River… I hate getting skunked. I’m pretty upset with the River and with all the people who leave their garbage everywhere. I was not thrilled, but due to it’s relative closeness and a feeling that I must go back and redeem myself, I will definitely fish the Salt again.

With the holidays fast approaching and the temperatures dropping rapidly, I really wanted to fish the mountain streams one more time this year and give my Frankenstein wooly bugger a good try. Like any good coach, I gave my new fly plenty of game time throughout the day, hoping that I would see him rise to the occasion and put up big numbers for me. Apparently the trout were not as impressed with my tying skills as I was and Frankenstein will have to wait for another day. I was fortunate to pull in one decent size brown and several smaller rainbows on a parachute adams. (Note: In these small streams, I have seen bigger fish lurking, but “decent” to me is anything over 12-13 inches) I did hook onto one of those lunkers later on in the day. He slammed my dry fly as if he had not eaten in a week and ran a ways up the pool. Jumping several times, he showed me his glistening white and orange belly before spitting my hook. When the scene was over, I could do nothing but stand there with my mouth open as my mangled fly floated past me. He looked to be well over 17-18 inches and would have been quite a fish to reel in and hold. The day flew by and before I knew it the sun was already dropping behind the canyon walls.

From what I have read, the Mogollon Rim turns off for the winter except for the occasional warm up where some fishermen brave the snow and ice to tempt some hungry trout. There are several other streams and rivers closer to town that I would not mind checking out as the weather turns to winter. I’m looking forward to tying up my wooly buggers and learning and practicing some other flies to tie.

I have taken a step. One I hope I will not regret. Diligently I have been reading and pondering the pros and cons of tying my own flies. With the possible advent of a “fly fishing club” beginning at my school, I decided it was time to begin. I settled on a DynaKing Kingfisher vice which is quite simple but durable. Gathering the other necessary tools and supplies, I decided to begin by tying just one type of fly. The “Wooly Bugger” was the first victim on the operating table/vice . Broken thread and wild fibers lead to frustration, but in the end I finalized a bug that somewhat resembled my goal. He may not be perfect, but this little Frankenstein looks alright to me. The quality of his character will be tried tomorrow on an Arizona mountain stream.