Fishing & Tying the Rusty Spinner

Fishing & Tying The Rusty Spinner

We are on the Bighorn River in Montana this week and one of our go-to flies is a size 16 rusty spinner. This is a bighorn21pattern that we have many of in our fly boxes from home in Pennsylvania, and in our western boxes. When you think about it, rusty spinners should have a prominent place in every fly box. This spinner, tied in various sizes and shades represents numerous mayflies found on rivers and streams, both east and west, in this country and in others.

bighorn213The mayflies that come first to mind that have a rusty-like spinner for the final stage of life are Quill Gordon, Hendrickson, March Brown, Blue Winged Olive, Slate Drake, PMD, and Brown Drake. There is some variation in the size and shade of “rusty” in each of these mayflies but they all fall into the general grouping of rusty, red-brown or mahogany spinners.

Some days are hot and breezy and the hopper fishing can be lots of fun, but there are calm warm days this week and that brings out the PMDs (Pale Morning Duns) and PMD spinners. Today we caught fish on three different shades of rusty and three different hook sizes. Our guide, Clint Krumm, agreed that it is a “go-to” fly for him on the river. Here it represents the pseudocloeon (pseudos), the PMD, and mahogany mayflies. Even when the flies are not hatching and spinners are not on the water, the fish are used to seeing the flies and will often take a spinner when it is offered.

The weather today was overcast because of forest fire smoke in the west and glare on the water was bad making the slender spinner profile hard to find. Our solution was to tie on a larger size 14 poly wing spinner with a size 16 hen wing spinner as a dropper. The light reflected off the poly wing making it easy to locate and sometimes the fish would take the larger spinner and other times the smaller. When the smaller spinner was chosen, the larger fly acted as a strike indicator, but whenever I saw a fish rise close to the larger spinner I set the hook and most of the time it resulted in a hook-up. We often use the same technique when fishing small hard-to-see flies at home – a bigger fly that can be easily seen and a small fly as a dropper.  bighorn212

Our favorite rods are 9 foot, 5-weights for dries and 6-weight for nymph fishing. Leaders are about 9 feet long and usually 5X leaders. We have Sage Sonics with us and these rods have been lots of fun to fish, very responsive and accurate, and in a $550 price range, they are one of the best values in a mid priced multi-purpose fly rod.

In this article for Fly Fisherman, renowned author, fly tier and angler, Renee Harrop, talks about the rusty spinner imitating at least 13 mayfly hatches. Renee is a legend on western rivers like the Henry's Fork and no one knows bugs and the river better. It's a fascinating read.

While Lunn's Particular (referenced in the link above) may be a proven fly, we often use a simple poly fluff spinner tied with a little red brown dubbing and a micro-fibett tail. Tim Flagler ties a variation of this simple pattern in his video. If you Google the rusty spinner you'll find many variations. It's a pattern that can be simply tied.....or not. Either way it's a very effective fly, easily tied, easily fished, and is almost always the right choice. You can find rusty and red brown spinners, micro-fibetts and white or light dun poly fluff wing material in our online store.


 We will have a Bighorn Report next week with photos from the two weeks. We have had perfect weather, good water, and good fishing. We love the Bighorn River Lodge! Here are a few shots until next week.

 image0image1 bighorn214bighorn215bighorn216  bighorn217bighorn219 birhorn218

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Spain Availability, Alaska Review, & Hemingway


September 13-21, 2021

SpainLast chance to jump on the plane and enjoy a week of beautiful fall fishing in the Pyrenees. We have a couple rooms available. Borders are open and visitors are arriving. Come join us.




We had a very good week of silver salmon fishing in Alaska at Reel Action Camp on the Kanektok River. Every salmon that comes into the system has to swim past Reel Action and anglers have a front row seat at fishing for all of the salmon species and the resident trout, dollies, char and grayling.  1346 ALASKA 2021 BC BECK IMAGE

Our trip was timed for silver salmon, which are incredible fish on a fly rod, and as a bonus we had pinks and chum salmon still in the river. It’s definitely the place to be for hot fish fresh in from the Bering Sea!

See some of our photos from the week here.


Traveling The World with Hemingway

I must admit that I've never been a “fan” of Heminway's work, but I do love the idea of living life like he did and nobody captures that life better than author Curt DeBerg, a Hemingway look-alike himself! July 21, marked exactly the 122nd birthday of Hemingway and DeBerg spent the day signing copies of his new book, Traveling the World with Hemingway, a beautiful coffee table book on the life and times of Ernest Hemingway.

In page after page of stunning photos, the reader follows in Hemingway's footsteps, seeing what he saw and excited him, from his boyhood woods and waters of Michigan to the horrific WW1 trenches to the Spanish bullfight arenas and beyond. Hemingway lived a short, furious life, creating an extraordinary literary legacy of novels and short stories that endure and are still avidly read around the world.

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and the sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.” Ernest Hemingway, Esquire, 1934.

walt collinsI discovered Hemingway's book on the Wild River Press blog, and couldn't stop reading about it and now I have the book. Whether it's in the look-alike contest held in Key West every year , his quest for tarpon, war stories, or other parts of Hemingway's life, the book takes you back to a time that we all long for in one way or another.

hemingwayThis is a book for those long quiet winter nights....which are coming quickly. Check it out.



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Guiding Special & Hopper Dropper

Late Summer Guiding Special

You might remember reading Jim’s Fishing Report from two weeks ago and if you do, you know that we have had an exceptional summer of good fishing with lots of rain and moderate air temperatures. The water temperatures have been perfect all year, something we don’t normally have. Just yesterday I received a text from one of our anglers and he says, “My friend Jim and I had a great day, we caught lots of fish with the first one being a 24” rainbow on a hopper dropper. Soon after a 22” rainbow on a cricket. It was a very good day with beautiful water. Thank you.”

SpencerOnishi1That kind of fishing is unheard of around here in most Augusts! And it looks like it’s going to continue right through fall. For the next month, (August 26-September 26), we’re celebrating with $100 off our guiding fee for one or two anglers. It’s a great deal, includes guiding on private water, lunch, and any equipment that you might need. Details here and $100 off the price! Contact us with questions or to book. 570-925-2392 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Hopper Dropper

If you're like most fishermen, you wait all year for hopper season and although it's a much bigger event in the west, let's not downplay the importance of hopper fishing here in the east.

After the Sulphurs, the Light Cahills, the Slate Drakes, now we get to the hoppers. And it's fun to slap a PD or Segment hopper down on the water and see......what happens. If we're lucky, and we often are, the response will be immediate and if you're anticipating it, you will often catch the prize of the day!

I don't know of anyone that doesn't like the top water action of hopper fishing but let's face it, most of the feeding that a trout does is underneath. It's just the way it is. So, the easy solution is to use a hopper dropper combo. A  Hopper Dropper 1239hopper dry fly with a dropper nymph. One fly floats and one sinks. Leave the 6X that you used a week ago on the #18 sulphur spinners in your pocket. Tie that hopper on a 4X leader so the cast turns over easily and depending on the depth of the water, add 14-24 inches of 4X tippet with a simple clinch knot to the bend of the hopper remembering that the longer the dropper tippet, the slower your cast should be to keep everything out of trouble.

Our favorite summertime nymphs for this kind of fishing are bead head pheasant tails, hare's ear, inch worms, and a small peridon nymph, all in sizes 16-20. Experiment to make sure the hopper can support the nymphs. If you find the hopper sinks go to a lighter nymph, but all of these nymphs will be fine. In deeper water you can add a second dropper to the rig but be warned that if you don't stop long enough on the back cast, the flies will tangle. Check out these nymphs in our store.

Summer is all about terrestrials, especially as we get into late summer and early fall. Hoppers, crickets, inch worms, ants, beetles, and so on. These flies are a nice change in the routine and fun to fish right up until the first heavy frost.

Rob Parkins with RIO, brings it all to live in this short video.


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Wooly Bugged, House of the Rising Tide, & Report from Alaska

Wooly Bugged

A friend of ours, who you'll see in some of the videos, introduced us to the Wooly Bugged Youtube channel. Mike Evanko does the videos and if you're curious about places in Pennsylvania that are off the beaten path, Mike knows them. He lives in the state and is passionate about fly fishing and the outdoors.

There are so many places in our state that are typical of the places featured in Mike's videos and this year our local streams have water and lots of beautiful wild trout. In this blog, we are featuring Rainwater Bump. The streams are not identified, thank goodness they couldn't tolerate much fishing pressure, but he gives us hints on how to find streams like them on our own. If you'd like to see more videos as they become available, please subscribe to the Wooly Bugged channel.

There isn't a lot of talking in Mike's videos, but the sound of the water and the scenery and the fish are more than enough. Sometimes less is more, don't you think? Thank you Mike and good luck with Wooly Bugged.

 House of the Rising Tide  sage1

Around here it's all about trout fishing, especially this year with the extended season Mother Nature has granted us, but not too far to our north and east, the talk is all about stripers. From NJ to Maine it's the bass that brings the fishermen to the coast.     sage risingtide

There's something about being on the water at first light, any water really, but there's a special “pull” on the flats and coastline along New England. House of the Rising Tide story by Jesse Robbins, photos by Joe Klementovich on board with New England striper guide Zak Robinson will make you want to pack up the car and head for Maine. I know it does me.

Thank you guys and thank you Sage for bringing us a great story!

Report from Alaska

Hi. We are having a very good week at Reel Action camp on the Kanektok River in Alaska. Weather is typical for here, some rain and some sun everyday. Mornings are cool and down jackets, raincoats, and gloves come out for the boat rides. The silver salmon run is in full swing and there are still a few fresh chum and pinks around and rainbows, char and grayling for guests who go upriver to the preserve. Down around camp it is mostly fresh silver salmon and they all know how to fight, run and jump. It is an exciting week to be on the river. There are lots of stories and tired arms at the dinner table each night!   -Cathy & Barry

image0  image1  image3  image4



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Brooke's Blog, Jim's Report, & Tying the Griffiths Gnat

Brooke's Blog

Hi Everyone, it's Brooke. As I prepare the blog for this week Barry and Cathy are on their way to Reel Action Camp in Alaska for a week of silver salmon and trout fishing.
The word is that the silver season is in full swing, fishing is good, so I'm sure they are in for a good week.

It's hard for me to image one river, in this case the Kanektok, getting a silver salmon run (I guess it's called escapement) of 50,000, up to 200,000 chum salmon, 100,000 pink salmon, 200,000 sockeyes and up to 8,000 king salmon. All in one river! And then there are rainbows, char, and graying. It must be an incredible sight!  mapkanektok

I found a map of the area on the Reel Action website. They are next to the village of Quinhagak in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.

Here in Pennsylvania we are having a beautiful summer with lots of rain and cool comfortable temperatures. This morning was 57 degrees and fishing is very good. Here's a fishing report from our head guide, Jim Kukorlo.

Jim's Report

What a difference a year makes! Summer of 2020 was hot and dry. Mother Nature is unpredictable and this year she has blessed us with rain and water conditions unlike most summers.
Water conditions here on Fishing Creek are perfect for late summer fly fishing. Water temperatures vary from the high 50's to the low 60's with water flow of 250 CFS up to 500 CFS.
Tom with brown 0740In the early mornings we are see fish rising to left over spinners from the night before but most of the action is on nymphs such as the pheasant tail (my favorite is a size 18 bead head), mop flies, ug bugs or yellow brown stoneflies, squirmy wormies, zebra midges and Perdigon nymphs to name a few that seem to be catching the most trout.
Early afternoon is a perfect time for late summer terrestrial action. Cathy's Beetle, hopper patterns, ants, and cracklebacks (similar to a Griffith’s Gnat) are keeping the dry fly guys happy and having fun.
Late evening can produce some good dry fly action on Sulphurs and Light Cahills. The hottest action is right before dark so be sure to bring a flash light and hang out not to miss the action.  You can check out most of these patterns in our store.
This stream report is the results from the last 4 straight days that I've been fishing. In fact the fishing has been so good that fellow guide, Tom Harris, is catching trout two at a time. Twice in one day. Oh yeah big fish are hungry too.  Toms Double
August is shaping up to offer more superb fishing as we received more rain yesterday afternoon that chased us off the water. Weather conditions for the coming week call for cool mornings with afternoon temperatures in the low 80's. It really doesn't get any better this this!

Guide, Jim Kukorlo


Tying the Griffith Gnat

When it comes to fishing small summer flies, the Griffith's Gnat, is probably the best known of what is commonly called Midges. Whether it imitates one insect or a clump, we don't know, but the fish love this little fly.

Thank you Tim and MidCurrent.


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Alaska, Bighorn, & Midge Fishing

Here at Home

This has been an incredibly good year here at home. (You're probably getting tired of me saying that!) But with the exception of about a week of low water, our stream really has been good all season. We've had plenty of water, seldom too much, usually just about right, good hatches and good fishing. And it continues to be so. If the rain keeps up, we could fish right through summer and into fall. Last night Barry and I fished until after dark and had a late evening hatch of Light Cahills and lots of fish up feeding. At the end of July, it is pretty amazing. Here are a few shots from this week.

Jake 0961  Nicole 0898  Sarah 0888


Alaska, Here We Come

We're off to Alaska in a couple days for a week at Reel Action Camp on the Kanektok River, located a mile from tide water with the Bering Sea. The lodge provides guests a front row seat to the freshest chrome bright fly fishing in Alaska. We are there for silver salmon and rainbows, but there's always a few other species around – pinks, chum, grayling, and char.  KANEKTOK AK 2016286

The camp is outfitted with 2-handed rods and reels for anyone who wants to catch silvers this way and it's a wonderful opportunity to get comfortable with a spey rod. It's a fun week which always concludes with tired, sore arms, achy muscles, big fish stories and great memories.


Next up is the Bighorn

It feels good to be on the road again, as Willie would say. We're home for a week and we leave for two weeks on the Bighorn River in Montana. While much of Montana is in a sad predicament with fish kills, warm water, and forest fires, there are pockets of good fishing here and there. That doesn't mean that the situation is less severe, it is very very bad, and we pray for our friends in those popular areas that are affected by these conditions and hope that it rectifies itself soon.

BIGHORN 2016 0589The word is that we will be okay on the Bighorn because it's a tail water fishery. The water is coming out cold, clear, and low – which is good for the 'Horn at this time of year.



Midge Fishing with a Sighter Fly
In this RIO Fly Fishing Tip, Chris Walker shows how to use a larger, visible “sighter” type dry fly when fishing tiny dries. This will give you a great visual of the area to look in for your microscopic dry fly. Chris is using this technique for winter fishing, but it works in the summer when fish are feeding on midges just as well. Enjoy. Thanks Chris for bring us this tip.




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Montana Fishing Restrictions, Spain Openings, & Bristol Bay

Montana Fishing Restrictions

If you're planning a fishing trip to Montana, please be aware that many rivers are under Hoot Owl fishing restrictions or full closure due to the heat and warm water. For more information, please visit


Spain this Fall

SPAIN 2018 1368We have a couple rooms available on our E. Pyrenees trip to Spain, Sept. 14-22. This is a trip for anglers and non-anglers with lots of good fishing and good sightseeing for non fishing companions. From tail waters to high mountain streams, fall is a beautiful time of year to be in Spain. Excellent food, wine, and fishing. 866SPAIN 2017We fly in and out of Barcelona and it's easy to extend your trip to see the city or to visit other parts of Spain. Please email us to request a brochure or more information.



Record Breaking Year for Alaska Salmon

The fight to save this amazing fishery could be over in a couple weeks if President Biden will come through on his pledge to save Bristol Bay. Please let the president and EPA know that we want the salmon and the Bristol Bay region protected...forever.

From Businesses for Bristol Bay:

It’s been another truly spectacular season in Bristol Bay with more than 62 million wild salmon returning to Bristol Bay - just shy of breaking 2018’s record run of 62.95 million salmon. The season isn’t over yet, so we could see a new record set in Bristol Bay in the next few days (if not hours!).
This year’s record-breaking season is a reminder of what’s at stake in Bristol Bay and what could be lost if the Pebble Mine is developed. That’s why we and others in the coalition working to protect Bristol Bay are ramping up our call on the Biden administration’s EPA to establish long-term protections for Bristol Bay and finish the job that the Obama administration started in 2014.
Last week, our partners at Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay released a series of adscalling on the EPA to take action and United Tribes of Bristol Bay sent a formal invitation to EPA Administrator Michael Regan to visit Bristol Bay and experience it firsthand.
Help us support Bristol Bay’s hard-working fishermen as they wrap up this record-breaking season by:
•Posting Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay’s video on your social media platforms.
•Encouraging your followers and customers to send a letter to the EPA.
•Sharing our "Finish the Job" social media graphics. Contact us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you’d like help creating graphics tailored to your specific brand and audience.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be offering additional ways for you and your customers to be involved as we call on President Biden to fulfill his pledge on August 8, 2020 to protect Bristol Bay.



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Cathy's ESN, Hopper Invasion, & 2022 Trips

Cathy's ESN – How it's Going

ESN 0793You may have read in an earlier blog that I decided this spring to get better at euro nymph fishing. Our guides were all doing it, exchanging stories, and it was clear that they liked it. I wanted to be part of that new energy, to take part in the conversations, be part of the group, so I got Tom & Jim, two of our guides, to help set up an outfit. It included the Sage ESN rod, an ESN reel, and on the reel I had 20 lb. Amnesia followed with 42” of 20 lb. Chameleon to 42” of 12 chameleon, then a RIO 2-tone indicator tippet to a barrel swivel and fluoro from there to the fly, or flies. And off I went.

In the blog I wrote how I struggled with reading the depth even with the 2-tone indicator tippet. I was used to feeling the flies and split shot bounce along the bottom and watching the strike indicator and this required a whole new level of learning to read the drift. When we were in Slovenia a couple years back we spent a week casting mono and fishing this way but we were closer to the fish and the water was clear and not as deep. Here in the spring I just couldn't get a read. I caught a few fish but I “picked” a lot more because I was late in striking. Sometimes I would feel a wiggle and know that I was late again so I would cheat and add a yarn indicator and then the catching improved, but I wanted to do it the right way. I felt like I was cheating on an exam.

Then I tried giving up on so much of the mono and went with the RIO Technical Euro Nymph Shorty and the casting immediately got easier. I thought I was on the right track but by now the water was warming and hatches were starting. I knew I couldn't fish a dry fly on this set-up so it took second place on the rod rack and I got out my Trout LL and enjoyed dry fly fishing. That didn't last long. We have had a very wet spring and for every couple of days of good dry fly fishing, we get high water for a few days, so it wasn't long before the ESN came off the rack again.

It's almost unheard of but we've got high water as I write this in the middle of July and I have to say that after many hours of euro nymphing under my belt, I can see how effective it is when bouncing nymphs off the bottom and I amESN 0807 getting better at reading the 2-tone leader and have to say that I like the indicator tippet. The other thing that I really like though is the tippet ring and we are now using them on all of our rods. It makes managing the tippet so much easier and protects the leader. We're using tippet rings in all of our classes and I think that it helps a new angler in understanding tippet and leaders.

I think if you are on the right water the ESN rod and set-up is deadly. When the water is low and clear it's all delicate sight fishing and just about anyone would prefer that to watching the leader. The ESN rod has earned it's spot on our rod rack next to the Trout LL and I'll let the water conditions dictate which one to fish. As I said before, there is definitely a learning curve, but as you start to get comfortable with it you can sure see the advantage of this style of fishing.


Hopper Invasion

hoppercaptureA friend and client sent us the following article. It seems that the west is not only dealing with drought and wild fires, but with a grasshopper invasion as well. It's hard to believe that there can be this many hoppers and it doesn't sound like a good thing, but we have to hope that we find them in mass on the Bighorn when we get there in a few weeks. It could be some amazing fishing!

 2022 Trips

Every week our 2022 schedule looks a little more solid. Here's what we've got so far:


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Room at Turneffe, Alaska Airlines, & Nymph Sale

1 Room at Turneffe Flats

TurneffeOne room for one or two persons has just become available with us at Turneffe Flats Lodge, Belize, October 16-23, 2021. Bonefish, permit, snook, tarpon, and diving. Great destination for a non-fishing partner. Check out the itinerary and then grab it before it's gone!  TurneffeFlatsfishingadventureBelizevacationdestinationBelizeresort


Do You Fly Alaska Airlines?

We are all entering a new world of travel as we start to move around the globe again. Things will be different and I think we all expect that, but in the case of Alaska Airlines, this passenger's experience should be a warning to all of us not to take for granted that the personal attention we would have received pre-Covid is going to be there in the new norm. Shame on Alaska Airlines!

Thank you Boarding Area and Shelli for bringing this to our attention.

 Copper John Nymphs

Tung Copper 0694We still have a pretty good inventory of Copper Johns on sale. It's a great time to stock up! Here's the repeat from a couple weeks ago:

Normally $2.25 each, on sale for $18.00 a dozen. Each dozen will have 4/12, 4/14, 4/16 as long as supplies last. This fly is a great point fly when fishing two nymphs in the spring. Great on euro rigs too. It will get down deep quickly. And, we'll even include a couple extra to offset the postage. Go to store.


High Cotton

We're in High Cotton, as the old saying goes. Just when we thought the long, hot, crazy days of summer were here and fishing was done for awhile, we got a good amount of rain. Actually, it's still raining and the stream is looking great! We were getting concerned with water levels and temperatures and now we've been gifted with a fishing extension. We're looking at a string of cooler weather and good water so if you can get away for a day or two, we have the water, the fish, and the guides!  Click here to see some photos from these past 2 weeks



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Tungsten Copper Nymph Sale, Keep Fish Wet & Stream Report

Tungsten Copper Nymph Sale Selection

Tung Copper 0694We have to make room for some new flies so we are putting the Tungsten Copper Nymphs on sale. Like the Copper John but with a special order black tungsten bead head. Normally $2.25 each, on sale for $18.00 a dozen. Each dozen will have 4/12, 4/14, 4/16 as long as supplies last. This fly is a great point fly when fishing two nymphs in the spring. Great on euro rigs too. It will get down deep quickly. And, we'll even include a couple extra to offset the postage. Go to store. This is a great buy!



Keep Fish Wet is a great resource for information and learning more about fish in general, but specifically as it relatesKEEPFISH WET LOGO STACK RGB to summer, warm air and warmer water temperatures – which are now upon us. At this time of year, it's important to know what's happening to the immediate environment of the fish that we're going after.

keepfishwetIf you haven't looked around the Keep Fish Wet website, please do so. It's not a finger pointing, you're doing it wrong site. It's there to help us better understand fish and to help us be better stewards of the sport we fight so hard to protect and preserve. It's got good, solid, interesting information for us. Start with taking a look at this short article and go from there.


Fishing Creek Report

Locally the rain that we got a week ago is long gone and we are knee-deep in summer conditions. When we get rain, usually in the form of a thunderstorm, fishing picks up for a couple days but then water levels drop quickly and temperatures rise. Early mornings are the best time to fish and can be quite pleasant on the water but by noon it's done for the day. After an amazing spring season, we now put our sights on fall. Here are a few photos from a couple weeks ago.

Grant Richard  Brown 0679  Bruce Hanley  Sam 9826  Hank Ingram 2021  John Radcliffe  Spencer Onishi

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