FlyFishing Weekend Clinics on the Ram River
After 21 years of fishing the North Ram River and over 30 years fishing the Ram River and other tributaries, we have decided to share! Come for a great weekend of fishing and flyfishing information with some of the most enthusiastic, hardcore fishermen Alberta has to offer. "The Plan" for the clinic is posted below for your information. $300 per person per day with meals and lodging or $200 per day for clinic and meals.
en My dad me fishing when I was four…. He always took me when he went out….Ive been Fly Fishing and Fly Tying for over 30 years. I have built a few custom fly rods.I also have fished the Walleye and Master Angler Tournaments’ in Alberta.I have a few of my own fly patterns; some have been in magazines, and Fly Tying Encyclopedia for Canadian Fly Tyers.I’m also a very active scuba diver, when I am diving locally, I make a point of watching the aquatic insect life, this helps me to understand them, when manipulating them with my fly rod, and helps in tying realistic fly’s that will work.
My dad me fishing when I was four…. He always took me when he went out….
Ive been Fly Fishing and Fly Tying for over 30 years. I have built a few custom fly rods.
I also have fished the Walleye and Master Angler Tournaments’ in Alberta.
I have a few of my own fly patterns; some have been in magazines, and Fly Tying Encyclopedia for Canadian Fly Tyers.
I’m also a very active scuba diver, when I am diving locally, I make a point of watching the aquatic insect life, this helps me to understand them, when manipulating them with my fly rod, and helps in tying realistic fly’s that will work.
Where they live, how they move.
Fish Species I have caught on a fly rod, the various trout types, including lake trout, Walleye, Northern Pike, Perch, Suckers, lake white fish, white fish in the rivers, Large Mouth Bass. All fish within our waters can be taken on a fly rod, once you master the fly rod, you will in most cases out fish the worm dunkers…
Student name and into.
Student skill set, how long you been fly fishing?, casting?
What does the student want to gain from the course?
Note student equipment, preparedness. Try to do the day before.
Quick Equipment Review:
1) Rod length & weight all round 6 wt 9 – 9’6 rod,
Rod back bone,
Buy decent rods
How to hold the rod, rod and line when fishing of stripping the line.
2) Fly line selection,
Double taper, single taper, shooting head, Wait forward taper.
Best color for floating line, my opinion, White or light green is best.
How Trout see, ‘’Cone Vision” depth vs. distance
Fish have the lateral line, very sensitive.
There are three types of fly line, ‘’Floating’’ ‘’Sink Tip’’ and ‘‘Sinking’’ medium, and fast sink.
3) Fly leaders,
Balance leader length and lb test to fly size
7’ foot to 9 foot normal.
Leaders are tapered, best with no knots
Mention quick change loop method to end of fly line
Strike indicators, nymphing, White board demo. ( Trick use dry fly as strike indicator)
4) Tying Flies on:
Double clinch knot
Single clinch knot
Blood Knot used to join lines of a different size, mostly for leaders.
11 O’clock to 2 O’clock, white board demo
Paint the roof,
Twist body slow, watch your line while learning
Stiff wrist, no flexing, over very slight
Load the line before cast
Why false cast,
Repeating drift over fish
Mention, the double haul, comes with practice.
Show in fast current
Show ‘’S’’ mend
Why use the roll cast, bush, tight shore line,
Over hanging trees, cut in bank
How to, stress line at elbow, demo
How to add distance to the roll cast
Good on windy days
Students to cast, practice, help students:
Reading The Water: (Polarized sunglasses a necessity)
Mention staying off gravel, out of site, watch the water first
Let the fish tell you how they want to be caught
Watch how they are feeding, this gives you clues to what they are feeding on.
A quiet rise, accompanied with brief sipping, small surface bubble, indicates the fly is trapped in the surface film, with in a inch of surface, has to drift to dry its wings before it can fly off, the trout are tuned into this, know they have time to sip the fly, not in a hurry, this usually indicates May Fly’s, the fish know from experience, they have time.
High Speed Flash, is caused from the Trout in this case, hurling itself at its meal, no animal in nature expends more energy than it needs to to eat. This indicates a larger fly, and one that moves quickly, such as a sedge, or caddis fly. The fish knows it can depart quickly.
Whirl or bulge at the surface. The Trout has intercepted a rising nymph, this whirl cannot form unless the trout took the insect close to surface. Indicates nymph rising, a hatch starting.
Fishing half roll on bottom, spotting trout moving along the creek river bed, half rolling, indicates, they are feeding on insects clinging, or living on bottom. Shrimp, caddis fly larva, stone fly nymphs. This is a good time to use the strike indicator method for nymphing.
Porposing, the trout comes to surface, acts dolphin like, this indicates a blanket midge hatch, the trout is inhaling several midges at once. Tougher to catch.
Explosive splash, jump, in most cases indicates trout feeding on local feeder minnows, such as 3 or 5 spined stickle back minnows, rainbow shiners, black nose dace minnows, or another young trout.
Trout moving at high speed, they are chasing minnows.
No apparent feeding on or near surface, go to Nymph techniques,
Streamer fly’s, bucktails, Dry fly terrestrials can draw in fish.. dry attractor patterns, realistic imitations.
Where Trout Ly:
Any place they can rest out of the current, such as large boulders,
Current seams, where the creek may have a deeper section drop off
Under, around logs
Under cut – washed out banks
Deep pools with back eddies
In pools fed by rapids..
The larger trout bully their way into the best places… always remember that.
They always face the current, keep that in mind on back Eddie pools,
Trout Vision wariness’:
Trout, like all fish, have a highly sensitive lateral line; they feel movement very well, in most cases before they see predators, or their prey. Some fish species rely on their lateral line more that site. Such as Walleye, who do most of their feeding in low light conditions.
So walking along the creeks and rivers, on gravel, sends a warning to the fish your coming. Try to avoid this as much as possible. Stay back, watch and read the water first before you start fishing, in a lot of cases, if the fish are feeding, you will be able to narrow down what they are feeding on by observation.
The trout by design have cone shaped vision. (Demo on marker board)
The deeper the water, the farther out their cone reaches.
In the case of stream, or river fishing, you will notice the fish drifts backwards and up, inspecting the insect, then taking it, when all things look right.
The then move forward and down, back to where they were holding.
So it is imperative, that you can place your fly on the water in front of the trout’s feeding lane, it must be far enough ahead, and a perfect presentation, so as to not spook the fish.
A poorly placed fly, which is usually splashed down, will scare the fish off.
When placing your fly in the trout’s feeding lane, you must also consider the current moving through, judging that, you may have to drop a ‘’S’’ mend right as the fly hits the water, so the fly itself has the time to drift cleanly over the trout.
While the fly is drifting over the trout, the stream is tugging on your ‘’S’’ mended line. This is not as hard as it sounds; it is an art, and a feeling of great achievement when you accomplish this.
During the drift, you can throw a 2nd line mend to extend the drift. It all comes with practice.
This is what makes fly fishing fun.
A quick review, this is where you preplan, your fishing starts with a proper balance Rod, reel, fly line, leader, length, pound test rating.
Normal is 7 feet, once you become comfortable, 9-foot leaders are next, they go up to 15’
One of the main reasons of the leader is also to keep your fly line out of the trout’s view.
Another important point. Don’t false cast over where you want to present the fly, in a lot of cases, the sudden movement will put the trout down.
Again, and disturbance on the bank will alarm the trout and put them down.
Don’t cast over them, on your last false cast, you extend your flys distance then,
Cast upstream, ahead of the trout, with the planned drift.
Use a white floating line, if you don’t have ‘’white colored’’ floating line, longer leaders can be used as your skill level develops. This isn’t a super hard rule, but one that’s in your favor.
Your fly presentation has to mimic a real fly, the slower the water, drift, the better it has to be, the trout has more time to inspect the fly on the drift.
Try not to splash down on the water, insects in most cases, don’t do that.
One exception are insects that are considered terrestrials. These are insects that do not live in or on the water, but end up there by accident, maybe jumped in, blown in by wind. Examples are grass hoppers, beetles. We will get more into that.
Its normally better, if your wading and fishing as you go, to work upstream, moving down stream, will cause debris to lift off bottom and float down to the fish, letting them know that a bad dude is on the way.
Work at not having any drag on your fly when drifting over the trout, this is not natural, and will spook them.
As Fly Fisherman, we only need to be concerned with 5 Basic insect groups, and the Non insect group:
Keep in mind, most of the hatches go off during low light hours, early morning, later in the day.. or cloudy days.
Terrestrials-, which are grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, (beetles are also aquatic) worms, ants, baby ducks, even mice. Terrestrials end up in the Trout’s food chain by mistake. Blown into the water, jumped or fell in, swimming in the case of mice. Many years ago, I caught a large bull trout; it had 4 baby muskrats in it.
Midge’s- also known to the fly fisher as Chironomid’s. They are a food source 365 days of the year, in the various stages. Mainly the, ‘’Larva’’ ‘’Pupa’’ and the adult stage. Midges live in the bottom debris, muck, and rocks.
During larva stage, very small worm like fly pattern is used. 3 to 10 millimeters, come in a wide range of colors.
Size 12 to 22 patterns used.
During the Pupa stage, there are a lot of patterns used as emerging flys, drifting. They have developed, and so are thicker, Stockier, move up and down the water column. They have developed a trapped gas inside the skin, giving them a flashy appearance. This trapped gas is how they move up to surface to ‘’Emerge’
Emerging takes some time, so the trout have plenty of time to sip them.
Adult stage, tough fishing, you must be right in their feeding lane, and or anticipate their next proposing action when they come up to inhale a midge cluster. Sizes 12 to 28 dry patterns of various colors are used.
Stone Fly’s; come in a range of sizes and colors. They have a 1 to 3 year life cycle. They cling to the bottom, move around the rocks. If dislodged are poor swimmers, the crawl to shore and climb out onto the bank, logs etc. Here is where they emerge into the Adult stage.
Nymph Stage: Look in the faster, small rapids, riffled rocky areas for them. They require the turbid water flowing past their bodies to draw oxygen from.
Best fished with weight patterns along the bottom, using a strike indicator here works well. Using a Dry stone fly for the strike indicator instead of the manufactured indicators, is a old fly fishing trick.
Adult Stage: They return to the water, often on surface to deposit their eggs, turning the Trout on. Drifting Dry stonefly / Salmon fly patterns are fun, they are large fly’s, easy to see. Large fly’s, up to almost 3’’ long slender.
Fishing the Stone Fly’s: They are large, fun fly’s to fish, fly patterns range from size 10 to size 4. Easier to see the dry fly’s in the fast moving current.
Caddis Fly’s, Also know as Sedges: As Fly Fishers, concentrate on the Larva, pupa and adult stages. They are very abundant, live in all types of waters, flowing, rivers, creeks and lakes.
Larva stage: They build homes out of small pebbles and or live in pieces of hollow grass. They crawl around – cling to bottom. They have 6 jointed legs that protrude out of their homes for crawling around. They are soft bodied and worm like. Some of the species emerge form their homes to crawl around. Trout will pick them off bottom, pull them of rocks, homes and all.
Pupae Stage: They have developed into this stage while living in their homes on the bottom. Once they emerge, they swim drift along bottom for a short time, then pump gasses, in between their new adult bodies and their pupal husk.. Popping to the surface like a cork. Some adult’s fly out of the water immediately, some buzz around on surface momentarily before their wings are ready for flight.
This turns the Trout into a feeding frenzy… the Trout know the caddis fly’s will leave quickly, so the Trout’s feeding pattern is usually demonstrated with explosions at surface or blowing out of the water…
Adult Stage: They look like moths, when at rest, have a tent like appearance; their wings fold over their backs forming a inverted ‘’V’’ shape. They have long antennae, usually stay hidden during day light hours, and become very active in the evening. The Caddis females return to the water, depositing their eggs on or below surface.
Fishing the Caddis fly’s, is accomplished by drifting the larva or Pupae patterns, you can add a darting motion to the pupae patterns.
The dry adult patterns, are fishing drifting, twitching, skipping….. they range in sizes 2
#28 up to size # 6
Mayfly’s or Drakes; They are found in all streams, and clean lakes. There are over 600 species of them. They range from 3mm up to 40mm.
Fly Fishers key in on the nymph and Adult stages.
When fishing the nymph stage, keep in mind, the faster the water, the nymph will be triangular and flat in shape, know as a clinger.
In slower moving of lake water, they tend to be burrowers, and are more rounded in shape. Besides crawling on bottom, they are swimmers.
When its time to emerge, some crawl up and onto shore, to hatch, some under water, most at surface.
A good fly fishing tip, when looking at the nymphs, collecting in the stream, notice the wind pad area, if its dark and swollen looking, the hatch is about to start or very close to it.
The Adult has 2 main stages important to fly fishing, the Dun, which is just hatched, drifting on the water to dry its wings, before flight. They look like little sailboats. Their winds are darker, pale during this stage. The emergence turns the Trout on, this is an exciting time for fly fishers.
2nd stage is called Spinners. The Mayfly after hatching, has spent a few hours to a day or two, developing into this stage, they hatch out once more, and turn into a glossier colored body and clear wings. This is the time you see clouds of them buzzing over water. They are matting. As usual, females are hard on the males, the males die right away after matting and fall onto the stream. Important to the Fly fisher, is the spent clear wings as they drift.
Most females fly across the surface, dipping their a abdomens into the water depositing their eggs. Some sit there a few minutes, then fly off and repeat the process, until they two become spinners.
There are some females that will crawl beneath the surface to deposit their eggs, once done they die and drift off. Wet fly’s excel here. Fish the wet fly’s on a dead drift with the occasion twitch.
When Selecting Dry Fly’s, Size is the most important, as the fly’s silhouette comes into view of the Trout’s window. Followed by the right color and shape, example, are the Trout keying in on spinners or Duns.
Any time your dead drifting fly’s, they must be natural, no drag, the presentation must be the same as a natural.
Minnows: Alberta has a few minnows, such as Sculpins, Black Nose Dace, Rainbow Shiners, Emerald shiners, Stickle back minnows and so on. There are quite a few, they are imitated with a variety of patterns, I can show you. When your fishing minnow patterns, you are normally trying to simulate the minnow’s movements with the fly rod, so that means, stripping the fly, darting etc.
Shrimp: They are found in all waters, Slow moving, mostly lakes… They are fished the same as nymphs, can add a very slight twitch to the fly rod. They come in various colors, when the females are caring eggs, they have orange egg sacks, the fish seem to pay more attention then.
Leeches: They are found every where, in rivers, the water needs to be deeper, slow moving, they are easy to imitate and work well. Leeches when they swim have a wavy up and down motion, so when your buying or tying your own fly’s, Add a little fly tying lead weight at the head of your fly, this, makes simulating the leech much easier, the weight at the head of the fly will bob when done right with your fly rod.
Frogs: They are also fair game, Big Browns and Bull Trout wont pass up a frog of the tadpoles. I don’t fish them much, mostly in lakes, along shore lines, Northern Pike wont pass them up, Pike on a Fly Rod are explosive.
Mice, Shrews: Like frogs, are fair game, won’t be turned down to a larger trout, Large Mouth Bass, Northern Pike. I have had a blast fishing them. They are larger fly’s, a bit harder to cast. Fun to fish, usually along banks, and shorelines. They are tied with Deer and Moose hair, the hair is hollow, and aids in flotation.
Snails; Not a popular fly with the fly fishers, however, there are times when the Trout become very selective, and a good snail pattern can mean the difference in a busy days of fishing to a slow day. I have caught Trout full of snails, there are some commercial patterns not many, they come in smaller sizes up to a size #8.
Instructor’s School Equipment Check List:
Rods 6 wt ( Back up)
Floating line & reels (Back up)
Photos of insects
Marker board and stand, markers, eraser
Demo flies, new and used.
Bug kits, nets to catch insects, preserved bugs
Hatch Chart Handout
List of recommended reading.
My Fly vest, waders, shoes, sleeping back, overnight pack
Polarized fishing glasses
Bug spray, Hat Rain coat
1) The Trout and the Fly Brian Clark and John Goddard
2) Fly Fishing Strategy Doug Swisher Carl Richards
3) Commonsense Fly Fishing Ray Ovington
4) Naturals Gary A. Borger
5) Western Streamside Guide Dave Hughes
Lake Fly Fishing
6) Hatch Guide for lakes Jim Schollmeyer
7) The Gilly Alfred G. Davy
8) Fly Fishing the Trout Lakes Jack Shaw
9) Float Tube Fly Fishing Deke Meyer
10) The Phenological Fly Bob Scammel