Bill Butts and a fish with spots not stripes …… Gabe Levin image
As a fly fishing guide, one expects to be more knowledgeable about the techniques for the day’s fishing than one’s clients. Such was not the case on Tuesday when I found myself rowing between two highly regarded fly fishing experts, Nick Curcione of California and Bill Butts of Missouri. Nick is a lifetime saltwater angler who is considered a guru of sinking line and shooting head technologies, and works closely with TFO, RIO, and many other reputable companies. Bill Butts is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgable anglers anywhere on the subject of fly fishing for temperate bass, and therefore is also well rehearsed in sinking lines and challenging predatory fish.
Nick Curcione setting sail with a big fly Gabe Levin on the struggle sticks _ Steve Dally image
After a couple hours of watching the best casts that have ever left my boat, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about the high velocity 2/0 barbed streamer hooks flying low over our heads, or the wind that was starting to gust upstream. I suppose I should not have let Nick cast over the boat in the wind with a heavy fly, but I was not about to tell this guy – who has probably forgotten more about fly fishing than I’ll ever know – to change his casting.
Immediately after the first hook on the 8″ lead headed articulated streamer buried into the back of Bill’s scalp, he reached back to feel the damage and impaled his thumb on the other hook _ effectively pinning his hand to the back of his head.
The next several minutes were a little serious, so sadly no photos were taken, but I did get to practice barb removal, luckily on a pretty tough dude like Bill who’s been in the situation before.
The ironic humor is that this is the first time a fisherman in my boat has been badly hooked, and these were the best anglers I’d ever worked with! Streamer fishing that day was tough, but we did come away with a good brown, and a memorable exchange of fishing stories, tips, and knowledge.
Read on for water conditions and flies to try
Steady flows of 16,000cfs to 19,000cfs are present a bit of a challenge to indicator fishermen, but it’s nothing a little split shot and fluorocarbon leader can’t accomplish. Present attractors like eggs and worms at least 8ft deep and follow them up with Whitetail Midges, Copper Johns, Flashbacks, and Pheasant Tails. For the angler committed to streamer fishing, fast sinking patterns like Home Invaders, Circus Peanuts, Krakkens, and Skull Head Double Deceivers are your best shot. Fish them near bank structure and over dropoffs early in the morning or late in the evening.
Steady two units makes this river deep and swift in most areas, but using plenty of weight and focusing on slower edges, current seams, and pools will allow your attractors, midges, nymphs, and scuds to reach the bottom. Heavily weighted streamers are also a great way to target aggressive, strong fish in the fast water.