Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Praise of the Golden Stone...

Few items in any trout's diet is as big and meaty as a stonefly. Most of the attention, however, is given to the undisputed heavyweight...the Salmonfly (Pteronarcys californica). This insect is huge with nymphs and adults commonly over 2 inches long. The large black nymphs represent an important food source, and almost every angler's fly box has an imitation or two.

Yet as common and important as the salmonfly is, there is also another stonefly around that is truly important to anglers...the Golden Stonefly. What we refer to as Golden Stoneflies, are actually comprised of two different species. The largest of these is Hesperoperla pacifica while there is another smaller species Calineuria californica. Most fisherman are acutely aware of the golden stone hatch each year. These large insects flutter around the river like b-52 bombers, and the trout can really key in on them. Not as many anglers, however, use the nymph imitations of a golden stone, choosing instead to go with the large black nymphs of the salmonfly. What they don't realize is that golden stone nymphs are significantly more abundant and widespread in many freestone rivers. Don't believe me? Well, then start turning over rocks in the river and count stonefly nymphs. I predict that you will find more golden stones to salmonflies by a ratio of at least 6:1.

With this in mind, I set out this summer to try and capitalize on this knowledge. I have tried many stonefly nymph patterns, but I have come up with one that I have found to be consistently more effective than most. I call it the "Black & Tan" and it is an easy fly to tie. I attribute it's effectiveness to the the black/tan color and matching hackle and to the inherent action of a soft-hackle fly. Tie up a couple and try them...and then let me know what you think.

Tail and Antennae: Brown Biots
Body: Black/Tan Variegated Chenille w/Gold Wire
Thorax: Black/Tan Chenille
Soft Hackle: Matching black/tan feather from flank of Ruffed Grouse wrapped in wide wraps over chenille thorax.

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