It is November 5th and winter’s bite is in the air. More snow last night, but any moisture is still welcomed by the high flowing trout streams, like Bighill Creek. All of the rain this early fall and now the snow will further enhance our water table and aquifers. Next spring and into the summer, this added water should be great for the resident trout. All of the local streams that I visited this fall are in good shape and are showing lots of flow.
This past week the ice has started to form on area streams. First, we had the anchor ice, but now the water temperature is warmer and surface ice has started to cover the slow-flowing areas on the creeks. The deeper pools and beaver dams are great wintering habitats for the resident trout population. Some of our willow and tree plants are locked into the thin layer of ice.
It is great to see how well our willows are growing on some of the old planting sites that we did. The beavers are now grazing on our plants, but this is just part of the normal natural process, the willows will not die from it. Small planted native willows take a number of years before they are conspicuous on the landscape. However, it is nice to watch them grow, over time.
A Variation of The Crisscross Nymph
Besides spending a lot of time punching keys, it is nice to settle back in my comfortable seat and tie a few trout flies. Especially when the snow flies and temperatures drop below minus ten and lower. These days, I find myself tying a lot of one particular nymph pattern and some variations of it. The fly pattern is called the “Crisscross Nymph” and it is fun to tie because I sure have been tying a lot of them lately.
An Olive Color Variation of the Crisscross nymph
The fly above is a dirty olive blend of dubbing on the abdomen of the fly pattern. I use a dyed mallard flank feather fibres for the tail, Indian hen for the legs, Pheasant secondary for the wing case. It all comes together on a size 14 – 2x nymph hook. I stick with the squirrel and mink dubbing blend for the thorax, same as in the crisscross pattern.
The purple hue of the Mylar is a perfect match for the silver wire that is wrapped in the opposite direction to the Mylar. Dirty olive is a perfect color for some nymphs and body dubbing for a few dry flies that I like to tie. I believe that the Irish call the color “Sooty olive”. It may be the same thing or close to it, in color. I mix grey yarn with some dark olive yarn, in my blend. There is also some polypropylene mixed in as well. The tying thread is an intricate part of the abdomen color, so keep this in mind, when you are deciding on a color. A very sparse dub is required to maintain a slender body shape on the nymph.
Variations have always been an important ingredient in the fly tying practice. This sometimes is a result of not having all of the right materials to tie a particular fly pattern. It is also a really good idea to have a good selection of color and choice of tying materials when you are really pleased with a particular nymph fly pattern and you would like to have a number of variations of that particular trout fly design.
A light color variation of the crisscross nymph
The nymph is a great imitation of a damselfly, mayfly and even a juvenile stonefly. It works well on the Bow River and other smaller area streams, but primarily, it is a still water trout fly for trout lakes.
This Mink and Squirrel dubbed body is a perfect color and texture for a small crisscross variant or variation. The Mylar and copper wire rib is the right mix for this color of a nymph.
The nymph shown above represents an important natural fur dubbing blend for this particular fly pattern. Utilizing a mix of squirrel and mink in the body material. The barred teal tail material is also a comfortable part of the recipe. Again, the Indian Hen saddle feathers make perfect legs for the pattern.
It is really nice to have a good stock of tying materials, collected over my many years of fly tying. Eventually, you find a use for just about everything that you have collected for fly tying. the stuff does take up a fair amount of space in a room, but I store all of my stock in large rubber containers.
Fly tying is a great winter hobby for me, but some will tie flies all year. After selling trout flies commercially, for many years, I can slow the pace and enjoy my tying, even more.
Peaceful Morning On The Creek
As the ice starts to form on Bighill Creek in the late days of October, deer enjoy the relatively quiet nearby traffic and peace of the early morning, with light snowfall. The deer are also enjoying the grazing on our relatively new willow plants, from past years of planting. The willows are growing slowly, but they will continue to do well in the moist soil of a stream bank. More growth will happen.