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Edition Six Editors Note Row Four Archives - FFI Magazine

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4 for Andros Island and most of the Bahamas, and a smaller size 6 or 8 for the Yucatan and Belize. On the rare occasion, a permit will pick it up. Now that’s icing on the cake!

Recipe
Hook: TIMECO 811S Sizes 4 through 8
Eyes: Silver doll eyes or bead chain for skinny water
Thread: Pink flat nylon
Tinsel: Flat variegated silver
Wing: Deer hair dyed tan, preferably a doe tail, or tan kip tail, or tan craft yarn (lots of choices that will work).
Legs: Sili legs in sand orange black flake

Tying Steps for Sili-Legs Bonefish Fly

Step 1: Secure the doll eyes at the thorax position on the hook.

Step 2: Secure flat tinsel using part for the tail. Take a dubbing needle and separate the tinsel apart into strands.

Step 3: Wind the tinsel forward to the eyes and figure eight around the eyes.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.

Step 5: Attach the Sili legs and finish the head.

Note: the heavier eyes can be substituted with bead chain eyes for fishing in skinny water.

Cathy Beck
Cathy Beck needs no introduction to the fly fishing community. For many years she co-owned Fishing Creek Outfitters, a retail and mail order fly fishing shop in Benton, PA. Today she operates an online fly shop at www.barryandcathybeck.com, and is a contract fly tier for Umpqua Feather Merchants. Cathy has written or co-authored a number of books which include Fly Waters Near & Far, Cathy Beck’s Fly Fishing Handbook, Seasons of the Bighorn, Fly Fishing the Flats, Outdoor Photographer’s Handbook, PA Fly Fishing Guide, and an instructional video, From First Cast to Double Haul. She was inducted into the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame in 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Hall of Fame.

The Convertible is another top-notch creation from the vise of Scott Sanchez. The pattern gained fame in the Jackson Hole One Fly Contest when Bob Slamal fished it to perfection, producing one of the highest one-day point totals ever recorded. By choosing the Convertible, he was able to match various insects and stages of hatches while many other anglers were limited to matching a specific insect or stage of a hatch. That kind of flexibility can assist you while matching summer and fall hatches this year. So, when you need multiple options and don’t want to pack a suitcase full of flies to the water with you, think Convertible and you should be ok.

The Convertible is constructed with specific materials that can be trimmed away when desired, to form completely different imitations—it can, literally, be fished throughout an entire day and modified as hatches change. In my opinion, it is one of the most inventive designs to ever come from a vise.

The Convertible starts out as a large attractor in the tradition of Guy Turck’s Tarantula or a foam-wing Chernobyl Ant. In this form it can imitate early morning stoneflies, such as Claassenia, and be used to prospect for opportunistic trout feeding early in the day. Later in the morning, the legs and foam wing can be trimmed away to produce a smaller Trude. This version of the Convertible resembles a grasshopper or can just be fished as a low-profile stonefly. When mayflies begin to emerge later in the day, the Trude wing can be trimmed away to form a Wulff. If surface action slows in the afternoon, the Wulff wing can be trimmed away, along with the hackle, to create a general attractor nymph. Split shot or a degreasing agent can be applied to the leader to sink the nymph version of the Convertible.

While spring, summer, and autumn are the obvious times to fish the Convertible, there can be decent action in winter as well. A #14 to #16 version can be used to imitate the tiny black winter stones that populate many trout streams, and then trimmed down to the Wulff pattern to match blue-winged olives. If surface action comes to an end in late afternoon, the nymph version can be used to fish riffles, seams, and bankside troughs.

It’s already June so the time for tying is now. Whip up a couple dozen Convertibles and see how they perform for you. When hatches change rapidly, and other anglers search for a correct match in their boxes, you’ll be happy to have this versatile pattern at your disposal.

CONVERTIBLE
HOOK: #8-#14 standard dry fly
THREAD: 8/0 rust brown Uni
TAIL: Elk mane, one shank length
BODY: Fine tan dubbing over the rear 1/2 of hook shank
RIB: Tying thread doubled
LEGS: Brown medium rubber legs 2 1/2 shank lengths
WINGS: White calf tail. The Trude wing is 1 1/2 shank lengths and the Wulff wing is one shank-length long.
HACKLE: Grizzly and brown, 1 1/2 hook gaps.

    1. Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.
    2. Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.
    3. Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.
    4. Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a “X.” Repeat this on the far side of hook.
    5. Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.
    6. Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.
    7. Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.
    8. Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Step 1: Cement the hook shank and wrap a thread base on the hook shank. Even the elk mane and tie it in at the hook bend for a tail one shank-length long.

Step 2: Make a dubbing loop to double your thread for the rib.

Step 3: Dub a quarter of the way up the hook shank.

Step 4: Tie in a rubber leg on the near side of the hook shank. Secure it in the middle of its length so that it flares into a "X." Repeat this on the far side of hook.

Step 5: Dub through the legs and then make about one or two wraps in front of the legs. You should now be 1/2 up the hook shank. Rib the body with the thread.

Step 6: Clean and even some calf tail. Just in front of the body, tie in a Trude wing that extends even with the end of the tail. Keep the legs out of the way by holding them down with a piece of copper wire.

Step 7: Use the butts of the Trude wing to form the Wulff wing. Wrap your thread in front of the wing to lift it up. Snip out the center third of the Wulff wing to reduce its profile. Trim the wings to a shank length and then post them. I often snip the ends of the Wulff wings to make them slightly uneven and make them look more natural. Taperizer scissors also work.

Step 8: Tie in a grizzly and brown hackle and make five to six wraps through the Wulff wing. Tie off the hackle, whip-finish, and cement.

Boots Allen
Boots Allen is a fly fishing guide and writer who lives with his wife and two kids in Victor, Idaho. His latest book is Finding Trout in All Conditions.

(Mike Martin)

One of the most unique rivers in the Pacific Northwest is Washington’s Klickitat, which flows off the glaciated face of an active volcano—Mount Adams—and winds through several magnificent canyons and plenty of scrub oak country before dumping into the Columbia River at Lyle.

Lyle rests east of Hood River and west of the mouth of Oregon’s more noted Deschutes River. The Klickitat draws steelhead out of the Columbia from June through November, a mix of native stock and the hatchery raised Skamania strain. While we’re not fans of hatchery fish, these steelhead will take you far into the backing if you hook them during highish water in June, and sometimes make you wonder if a 9 would not have been a better choice than a flimsy 7-weight.

These steelhead—wild and hatchery—range between eight and 12 pounds on average but 16-to 20-pounders are in the mix. These fish have to be strong—they ascend a narrow chute on the lower river and plenty of other significant drops before reaching prime spawning grounds. These obstacles mean only the strongest survive. Plenty of Klickitat River faithful think these steelhead are as hard-fighting as you’ll find anywhere.

Jack Mitchell, who owns Steelhead Ranch near the banks of the Klickitat, says, “We get some big, wild natives, but we got Skamania fish, too, and these are good ones—some of them you can’t even hold onto in June when the water is up.

“The hatchery fish come earlier as a rule. In June and July it’s maybe 70 percent hatchery and 30 percent wild,” Mitchell added, “but the bulk of the run is in August and September and by late season you’re only catching wild fish.”

Regarding reasonable expectations when fishing steelhead on the Klickitat . . . it’s like steelhead fishing everywhere. When conditions are ideal the fish will be grabby. When the river is off-color or marred by rains, small landslides and washouts, it might be tough to find one. But a proficient angler, who makes good casts during favorable water conditions ought to hook a fish a day or at least get a grab. On really good days, they might land and release three or four fish. So, think Dean River, Skeena, Clearwater, Ronde, Deschutes . . . this is high quality steelheading on some of the most beautiful water you can find anywhere in the world.

Early season and summer fishing on the Klick is all about water conditions. As mentioned, the river drains off of Mount Adams and carries a glacial color on hot days. You can catch fish in those conditions, especially in the morning hours after cool evening temperatures control the melt, but the river fishes most consistently from mid-September through November. That is prime time for water conditions and numbers of fish.

The Klickitat offers great swing water throughout, one appealing run after another, but the bobber game works here too. Swinging skaters here, however, may not be as productive as on other waters—during summer water clarity is an issue and during fall cold temps generally keep the fish’s snouts below the surface. But that’s not a hard rule.

“They don’t come up as easily here as on some other rivers, but when they do it can be amazing,” Mitchell said. “I’ve seen some crazy shit on this river, like sharks carving up the surface to get at the fly. But when it gets cold here, the only way you are going to get them is going subsurface.”

Steelhead are the big draw on the Klickitat, but king/chinook salmon also are present during late summer. These fish range between 20 and 40 pounds and can turn a pleasant summer morning into full chaos in about two seconds. Trying to hold one of those beasts on a six or seven-weight could feel like a near-death experience.

“Originally there were springers here, but there are only a few left,” Mitchell said. “But in late August to the end of September there are some bright fall chinook to be caught. When we get wind that they are around we will target them specifically, especially early in the morning in low light.”

If the combination of wild steelhead and bright kings gets you going, you can book days at Steelhead Ranch for 2021. Prime-time openings are available between September 15 and November 20 with a max occupancy of 8 anglers. Accommodations are “Bonanza-style” at a true western lodge located on a plateau above the river. Anglers can kick back and enjoy the views on this 40-acre complex before stringing up their rods and heading out for a day of steelhead bliss.

Steelhead Ranch is a 3.5 hour drive from Seattle and an hour and 40 minute drive from the Portland Airport (PDX). Visits to Steelhead Ranch include lodging, guiding, breakfast, lunch and dinner, equipment and flies.

For more information and to book this trip call Gil’s Fly Fishing International at 1-406-317-1062.

One look at the Sili-Legs bonefish fly and you might say, “That’s a hybrid Gotcha.” The basic Gotcha, which has been around for a long time, is a must-have pattern for bonefish. I like to think that the Sili-Legs is a new look at an old favorite and that Jim McVay, the originator of the Gotcha, would approve.

I created the Sili-Legs by accident when fishing out of Los Roques, Venezuela. Each night I was tying flies because, well, there’s not much to do after sundown on that little island. I came across a pack of sili-legs in a spotted pattern. I tried them on a standard Gotcha and liked the look. The following day confirmed that the bonefish liked that look, too. Silicone legs float, so when the fly is retrieved the legs lay back against the fly. With each pause the legs flare out, giving lifelike action.

I knew I was onto something and after Los Roques, I tried the Sili-Legs at a couple of lodges in the Bahamas and it brought a double-digit bonefish to the boat. In time we fished it in Belize and Mexico with more positive results. I was excited and was sharing the fly with friends and clients and it was well received by everyone . . . but most importantly the fish loved it wherever it was thrown.

Bonus: the fly is easy to tie. I like a size 4