Test Fishing Idylwilde Flies, January 21, 2011

Chris Connaty at Idylwilde contacted me recently and asked if I could help test some of their signature fly patterns.  Chris is director of Product Development.  Wow.

Chris and I had been looking for an opportunity to get together, swap stories about fish, flies, the fly tying industry, and our zany ideas about the future of same.  Our phone conversations about mutual friends, fishing obsessions, quirks in flies and fly tying materials were great, but nothing like we could experience during a day on the river.

To prepare for the trip ( I do my homework), I drove to the coast, where I last remembered seeing my drift boat, and found it upside down in a Tillamook pasture.  A trip through my favorite car wash ‘cross the street from  Tillamook Sporting Goods and the boat was as good as new, with drain plugs, oars, and all that good stuff.

We met at the appointed hour and found our intended destination a little crowded, but hey, the fishing was obviously good, right?

Chris showed me one of the prototype steelhead flies he wanted himself, personally, to test, pictured above.

With finesse surpassed only by my own finely honed Spey casting skill, Chris proceeded to chuck the fly, pictured in-flight above, clocked at Mach 3.79, into a likely steelhead holding run.

Sure enough, he promptly hooked a bigie;  a freshly-delivered-from-the-ocean, chrome dipped, mercury and PCB-free, most fly-discriminating fish.

After a nail-biter of a fight, which included several Hardy screeching runs, Chris is shown above reaching to tail the monster.

The Steelhead, or whatever it was, looked something like this fish, except it was larger, more chromer, and considerably more imaginary.

Me? Chris put me in some great rapids to fish.  He even supplied me with a handful of Idylwilde’s finest #14 Adams Parachutes and one Hickman’s Mr Hankey, only charged me twenty bucks, and wished me luck.

Thanks Chris. And thanks for not blabbing about how I got drug by the boat down hill and across the rocks.  I’m gonna see if Simms will warranty the shredded knees. Hummmm. And  thanks for not mentioning the Burkheimer rod tip I smushed into a rock after you warned me of the impending disaster.  Kerry, I don’t understand what could have gone wrong, it just snapped off while I was casting and you wouldn’t really charge me for a new tip would you?

Short story: Chris and I had a great day.  No fish, 3 pulls, beautiful water, and time to let down and share ideas about fish conservation.  We spent way more time talking about our dreams for the future of our rivers and their steelhead and salmon than about flies, or fishing tackle, or even great winter steelhead we almost caught.

Jay Nicholas, January 26, 2011

Idylwilde Flies to love at first sound, February 26, 2011

What’s in a fly name?

I’ve discovered that some Idylwilde King salmon and steelhead flies have such cool names that I love ’em at the mere mention of same.  Silly, I know, but it’s just so.

It occurred to me recently that I am just plain awful at naming salmon and steelhead fly patterns.  This recognition slapped me squarely when I was shooting a series of fly tying videos with Chris Daughters down at the Caddis Fly.  These videos featured some of my finest Sea-run Cutthroat, King salmon, and steelhead flies, tied on traditional shank hooks and Pro Tube-Fly tubes.

What’s this fly called, Chris asked, like he always does. In my usual manner, I said, I dunno, how about __________? (Insert some ordinary, non awe-inspiring name here)

Here’s an example. I have a series of summer steelhead and sea-run cutthroat flies that I have been adapting, tying and tuning for decades, literally.  The flies are effective and elegant, in my humble opinion, but what do I call these beauties, this series of great fishing, retro-style flies?  Steelhead Simplicity.  Cutthroat Simplicity.   Boring.  Never thought much about fly names in the past, though.  Now I realize that much appeal and attention is generated by a really exciting name.  The fly has to be good too, but all factors being equal, a great fly with an attention-grabbing name will receive more notice next to a great fly with a ho-hum name.

Same goes for some of my king salmon flies. All are entirely, start to finish, original patterns. Like the fly I call Nicholas’ Chinook Clouser. This was developed after years of on-water testing and was not influenced in the slightest by Bob Clouser or any of the flies he has developed. My Chinook Clouser has an exact count of bucktail fibers and only 3 strands of Smolt Blue Krystal Flash with one strand of Chartreuse Krystal flash, uses 95 Denier Lagartun White X-strong thread, and is tied on a #2 Gamakatsu Big Game hook.

The proportions and composition of my King salmon Clouser prove that it is an original fly pattern and justify the Patent I have applied for recently. When issued, these flies will be marketed at 39.95 each and are well worth the years of R and D that were required to develop the pattern. I have contacted Idylwilde regarding the possibility of offering this fly through their fine establishment. To date, I have not heard back from them. I am not worried, though. The folks at Idylwilde are busy, I know, and when they find my email and take a look at this spectacularly original fly, they will find it well worth the $27.99 surcharge i have requested, per fly, for the privilege of being a middleman for this Chinook-catching creation.

At least I think this is so.

Idylwilde offers some great flies. This is true whether one happens to be fishing for trout, bass, saltwater species or, naturally, salmon and steelhead.  Being as I am both a humble and world-class fly tyer myself (insert laughter here) I buy a fair number of Idylwilde flies.  I buy the little parachutes when I’m going trout fishing; and the big salmon and steelhead Intruders at times.  Why would a fly tyer buy flies from Idyllwild?  Because I’m not quite up to the task of tying little bitty trout flies these days.  Or because I don’t always have quite the right materials to tie that giant steelhead Intruder. Or sometimes, I’ve just plain run out of time the night before I’m gonna go chase King salmon or steelhead.

Beyond the great fly patterns Idylwilde offers, I love the fly names that these crazy, fishing obsessed people at Idylwilde come up with.  A few of their flies have ordinary names, like Idyl’s Bunny Tube, and their steelhead egg selection is a little short on name-glamour, but all in all, they have cornered a lot of really cool, really bad, really hot names for their steelhead and salmon flies.

Soooooooo, I thought I would share some of my favorite Idylwilde fly names with you all.  As usual, my methods of selecting these names for the fly-name-hotness-hall-of-fame are irreplaceable, irredeemable, irrepeatable and irreversible.  On any other day, I might make a completely different list of hotness fly names.

For now, though, here are some of my favorite Idylwilde steelhead and salmon fly names.

The great flies pictured above are not Idylwilde flies, and do not have cool names, but as they are my craftsmanship, I love them dearly all the same.

Today’s favorite Idylwilde salmon and steelhead fly names, listed in alphanumeric orderification.

Favorite Idylwilde Steelhead-Salmon fly names

  • Brass Monkey, Silvey’s
  • Chrome Magnet, Hickman’s
  • Comeback, Morejohn’s
  • Duck Turd, Hartwick’s
  • Fish Taco, Hickman’s
  • Flash Taco Hickman’s
  • Party Boy, Hickman’s
  • Poacher, Silvey’s
  • Pool cleaner, Silvey’s
  • Pumpkin Pie, Morejohn’s
  • Sid Fishes, Hickman’s
  • Trailer Trash, Morrish’s

Favorite Idylwilde Salmon-Steelhead Tube Fly Names

  • Hoser, Hartwidk’s
  • Silveyator, Silvey’s
  • Spot On Prawn, Morejohn’s
  • Tail Light, Silvey’s
  • Tempest, Morejohn’s

Favorite Idylwilde Surface Steelhead & Salmon Fly Names

  • Dragon Gurgler, Quigley’s
  • Five O’clock Shadow, Price’s
  • Mr. Hankey, Hickman’s
  • Mini Hankey, Hickman’s
  • Shade Chaser, Karnopp’s
  • Titanic, Paulson’s

Hope you had fun with these names. Personally, I am creating a list of hot salmon and steelhead fly names, saving them for the future application of some formerly dull fly names I formerly used.  The unveiling will be awesome.


In the meanwhile, good health, good fishing, and much kindness in your days.

Jay Nicholas February 26, 2011