The Price Of Gold

AN encounter with two young boys while walking my dog:

Hey, look at that dog! Mister can we pet your dog?

– Sure. She’s young so she might be a bit hyper at first and jump a little but she’ll be ok.

She won’t bite?

-No, she’s friendly.

What kind is she?

-She’s a retriever, a Golden Retriever.

How old?

-Just six months…still a puppy.

I have a Lab, a black one….called Bruiser.

-Labs are great dogs. Kind of like a retriever in temperament.

What’s your dog’s name?


Hi Abby…thanks for letting us pet her.

_No problem.

Hey Mister you know why they call them a “Golden” retriever?

-No why?

Cause they’re worth the “Price of Gold” ! (smiling with hand outreached in front of his face rubbing his thumb together with his finger tips).

-Hey, I like that. I’ll remember that. See ya.


Here are some riverside photos from past weekend:




rainbow on dry



skwala stonefly and crude impression




same trout












Simple Trout Flies


Some simple, durable, quick ties (size 18 flies) that often get the attention of trout on rivers nearby and afar. Tied on a hook that dangles: trailing shuck; some weight (wire) on body to hopefully tug it below the surface (saliva on shuck and body helps); exaggerated thorax dubbed; wing of polypro or deer hair, sometimes hackle used to keep top half (head) floating and most importantly visible. A white or black wing allows you to see the small fly in most light conditions. If I can see a small fly then I feel I can get it on the nose of a feeding fish, and then I at least have a chance. If I can’t see and follow the drift then I might as well be blindfolded! Deer hair and hackle is often less visible but can be seen if you can get close to a trout. The pattern can be fished as a dry/ emerger (mayfly hatch). I simply change body and thorax color and size depending on the season/hatch. The wing can be tied or clipped real sparse (less wing) for flat water, or CDC used. No fly works in all situations but some flies work in a lot of them.











master fly tyer (abby) taking a break

Into the Great Wide Open

“There’s an idea of the Plains as the middle of nowhere, something to be contemptuous of. But it’s really a heroic place”.

Ian Frazier


I spent a couple of afternoons sight fishing with dry flies out in the great wide open. Several nice trout were spotted and a few tricked in very shallow water. Both took me into my backing as all they could do was run far away. There was no depth to the side channel I was fishing so they couldn’t sound.

There is no place to hide out in the “wide open”. You can spot fish when the sun is out and of course they can spot you. You’ve got to go slow, stay low, keep your distance, use the angle of the sun to your advantage and keep your casts just above the water (side arm). Approaching feeders from behind is usually the best when possible but sometimes you just don’t have that option.

Pale Morning Duns (PMD’s) were the main hatch. There were also Yellow Sallies and a few Drakes and Caddis flies. Trout were caught on size 16 and 18 PMD’s.

Challenging angling in a very beautiful place.


very little snow on the peaks, rare for late june


side channel

side channel



fly of choice

clear trout








a rare calm moment on the plains



the drive home

Sweating the Small Stuff Under a Big Sky


“The Littlest Birds Sing the Prettiest Songs”

-The Be Good Tanyas

When I moved to the West to fish its many trout streams I was anticipating the big fly hatches: Salmon flies; Golden Stones; Green and Brown Drakes; etc. I soon realised the emergence of these exciting big bugs is often brief and unpredictable. What was reliable, however, and brought trout to the surface day-after-day all season long and then some, was the small stuff. It was the littlest bugs. That’s what I consistently caught my best fish on. Quickly my fly boxes started being filled with tied Midges, Olives, PMD’s, Tricos; small Caddis flies; and little Beetles. Just about all of the trout featured in this blog have been caught on small stuff (small dry flies).

BOAT craig becks camera 2013


Then one day I came across a book that clearly described what I was experiencing on the rivers in my region: Small Fly Adventures in the West, Angling for Larger Trout by Neale Streeks. Neale, a seasoned and observant Missouri river guide, wrote about why smaller flies are often more effective at catching more and larger trout. As I turned the pages I kept saying, “Yes, yes…yes”. What he authored matched what I encountered every time I slipped into my waders.

brwn t

brown trout on pmd dry

If you fly fish tailwater rivers, spring creeks, and other rich (alkaline) flows with dry flies you owe it to yourself to find a copy of this out-of-print book. It will make you a better angler and you’ll end up enjoying sweating all the small stuff!



same brown trout

Here are some photos from a recent outing. All the trout featured were caught on small flies (PMD’s).

midge dog 2

a little midge after my breakfast burrito

bow and hand

trout boot




Sight fishing Easter Weekend

After a winter of fishing blind with a two handed rod it was a real pleasure to sight fish with a light 4wt rod and dry flies this past weekend. I spent two days walking and wading the Missouri river in Montana. I tossed midges all weekend and on a couple of occasions a small beetle. Most fish were on emergers (bulging the surface). A few could be found eating dries, especially when the wind died down in the flat water sections of the river. Some bulging fish could even be enticed to eat on top; however, many would not. A lot of the midges were clustering in the mid afternoon so cluster fly patterns worked fairly well. A few Blue Winged Olives were out but not many. This hatch should be developing soon which will make the dry fly angling easier. All of the fish below were caught on dries. I spent my time fishing flat, shallow sections; slow wading ankle deep water. Some great fish landed; many more missed. Some humbling moments. Trout fishing doesn’t get much more challenging or better. If you love dry fly fishing you owe it to yourself to one day visit this river.


misty late day leaving the river

bbrown angle

brown trout on dry fly, beetle


beetle fly, chewed


craig, scene


arm tiltfish

rainbow trout on dry fly

fly shop

craig fly shop


shallow side channel


rainbow on dry fly

goose eggs

easter eggs on river island (goose eggs)


rainbow trout on dry fly

wagon wheel

craig, montana


caught on dry fly


horse shoe pit at local fly shop

side chanmiss

side channel

bbrown 2

another pic of brown trout


Dry flies


I’m pulled to rivers that have hatches. I start the early season fishing midges, then olives, then the pale morning duns of summer, sometimes tricos, then back to olives in the fall and end the season as I began it, with midges. A full circle. Depending on the year, grasshopper imitations play a role mid to late summer and into the fall.  I also sight fish from summer onward with other terrestrial patterns such as beetles and crickets when there is no hatch. Since I fish mainly small dry flies I try to keep my patterns simple and visible. If I can see my fly, I can fish well. Polypropylene wings are buoyant and flies tied in this material in white, black, or even orange show up well in varying light conditions. This material is also more durable than CDC, and I can resurrect it faster once slimed. This is important as a lot of the water I fish is rich, out of the main flow (flat) and has some surface scum. I also tie wings with fine deer hair generally cripple style (forward) and a lot of my small patterns incorporate a turn or two of hackle frequently clipped underneath so the fly rides low. When it comes to terrestrials I like foam as it always floats and is easy to tie with. Black is a great colour as it is noticeable to trout in bright or low light; it contrasts well. I use standard hooks but also like a Klinkhammer (emerger) bend. Of course when tying I pay attention to size, shape, colour and how the fly will sit in the water (attitude).




      vg black wing