The Book Mailer

Montana Missives – Feb. 1974

Montana Missives is a stream of letters containing tales of Trout by Gary and Ken Parkany published by the Connecticut Fly Fisherman Association.

February 1974

Matching the Grannom Hatch

There will be an emergence from the Jeremy’s of the Grannom, probably in late May (Brachycentrus Fuliginosus). In any overcast or rainy day the insects will emerge in the daylight hours (only ducks and I never miss a rainy day on the water), and even on a sunny day the pupal imitation is deadly at dusk.

The fly is best fished across and down, in the classical manner. This is not an easy way to fish, because there is a knack and a feel to it. The method is well described in Tactics on Trout (Ray Ovington), in the appendix on fly presentation. Only work on the stream masters the maneuver.

Here is a pupal imitation, after two years of experimentation and changes, that I believe is the most effective pupal imitation we’ve tried yet. Note the differences between this one and the pattern construction presented in the article on the caddis. (Referring to the Perkins Pet described in Fly Fisherman Magazine, Aug/Sept 1972 edition).

The previously constructed fly catches fish, but if initial tests are an indication, this one is supremely deadly. Charles Haspell is a 70 year old retired resident of California. He liked one of the fly fishing articles and he wrote to me, and we’ve been writing ever since. He has been fly fishing for 60 years. From his letter he sounds amazing. For example, to further his ability to help he enrolled in a Junior College course in Aquatic Entomology (at 70 years of age!) He is one of a vanishing breed; one of those who used a wet fly when no other type of fly was popular in America.

Bob, a local friend, was going to California, and he brought a few of the new pattern to Charley for me. Charley used the samples to get a supply of the new flies tied, matching a local hatch which he collected and is now having classified. Bob went fishing with Charley on the upper Eel, a pretty well-fished river. They matched the emergence one evening, and just knocked the trout silly, while other good fly fishermen did poorly on the stream. I know now from another source that Charley is truly amazing. Bob, who I consider a top fly fisherman, caught 17 trout, but Charley caught over 30 that evening. He knows how to handle a wet fly.

With further tests, Charley writes that the new patterns over the old makes a difference of 10 trout in an evening, and he’s been out fishing everyone around there during the emergence periods with the old patterns.

Meanwhile, this spring in Montana, I have begun lessons in the subaqueous art of scuba diving. Twice already we have gone to the Jefferson River to dive, my instructor with me, and it’s a lot different from a swimming pool.

I’ve had a third person casting the new flies, and we’ve observed both them and the old pattern underwater (and the caster did pretty well in catching trout – not something we expected in the cold water). Two things bothered me about the old pattern’s construction — 1. The wing slats, of duck quill were stiff and unnatural and detracted from the clear outline of the body (I’ve watched the caddis pupa emerge in an aquarium); 2. Even with the overspun body of fur the artificial did not glisten like the natural, which carries a shining bubble of air.

So, upon further experimentation we’ve refined the old pattern, and now I think we have it. Here is the pattern tie for Brachycentrus, in case you might want to try on the Jeremy’s.