Czech Nymphing is really taking off here in the United States and the use of specialty hooks to tie Czech specific flies has skyrocketed as well.  Knapek hooks are probably the most recognized Czech hook on the market here in the States but supplies can be limited and the demand is pretty great. 

In Europe, Knapek hooks are popular but second in choise to another brand called Skalka.  Skalka Original Barbless Hooks are hand made in the Czech Republic by Mr. Miroslav Skalka since 1985 and these hooks are tested by the best Czech fly fishers. These top quality hooks are difficult to find as they are the preffered hook of the Czech fly fishing team.  The distribution here in the States is pretty limited but when you find them, they are well worth the money!!  Skalka hooks feature fine wire, perfect bend and sticky sharp long needle point and each hook is carefully tested by the manufacturer.

The Skalka Czech/Grub hook is one of the finest hooks we have used with a long, sticky needle point, this hook will hold on to fish like crazy.  The wide gap will accomodate beads well and the hook point stays sharp!!  skalka 2x long nymph hook

The Skalka 2X long Wet/Nymph hook is another hook that sets itself apart from the other Czech specific hooks on the market as the longer hook shank allows the use of tungsten beads without cramping the fly on the hook shank, making it look short and stubby.  This is a great hook for micro nymph patterns for French Nymphing that is super sharp and will hold on to fish. 

Once you use these hooks, you will see and feel the difference that a true hand-made Czech hook makes!!


Probably one of the most fascinating things is to see a trout rise and take an insect off of the surface.  The most frustrating thing is casting to where the ring was, matching the hatch perfect and coming up empty.  Hopefully the following explanations of trout rise forms will help on you next fishing outings. 

There are several different ways that trout feed.  One way is considered to be a Simple Rise which generally occurs during a good hatch and the trout are pretty sure of the type of food floating downstream.  These rises are usually quick and sometimes violent with very little hesitation by the trout.  He will leave his holding area, rise to the surface and either take or refuse the fly, and will always return to his holding area.

Another type of rise is the Compound Rise.  This is similar to the Simple Rise, but it involves a much longer drift from the holding area and longer inspection of the food.  This is caused when the trout has some doubt about the edibility of the food floating by.  The trout will almost always stay with the food, drifting just under the surface at the same rate continuously inspecting the food while deciding whether to take or refuse.  This is why it is important to have a drag-free drift.  Any unusual movement that does not look natural or goes against the current will result in a refusal 90% of the time.  If you notice the trout turn sideways in the current, this is the beginning of a more thorough inspection because there is still to much doubt.  A puddle cast can be very effective in getting the long drag-free drift required in this situation.  At some point or another the trout will make the final decision to take the fly or refuse and move back to his holding area. 

The third type of rise is the Complex Rise which occurs when there is extreme doubt in the trout mind about the food type drifting overhead.  As with the compound rise the trout will begin drifting downstream or across stream with the fly giving it a thorough inspection.  If there is excessive drag on the fly or the trout believes it is an inedible object, the trout will immediately refuse and return to the holding area.  If the drift is good, and the trout is still interested but very doubtful, he will allow the fly to begin floating away from him.  It is now time for a decision.  If he refuses, he will return to his holding area.  However, if he does decide to take, the trout will turn facing downstream in a very fast motion and begin his pursuit.  Once you see a trout displaying this pursuit, he will never refuse it.

Hopefully this will help you understand that when a trout rises, he is generally not sitting under the ring he left waiting for his next morsel of food.  When you make a cast, make sure you land the fly far enough above that last rise form or your cast may fall short of where the fish is holding or you may land directly on top of the fish and spook him.  

One of the most important things is the drag free float when you are fishing over finicky fish.  If you cannot achieve the drift you need from where you are fishing, try moving upstream and fish back down to where the trout is holding.

THE BLUE-WINGED OLIVE (BWO) is not a single species, but a group of them in the genus Baetis. There are many mayflies out there with olive bodies and gray or dun-colored wings, the key during a BWO hatch is to get the size right.  These tiny mayflies rule the rivers half the year, the half most people don’t fish. Hatches can begin as early as late September and continue until April, with the best activity in February and early March. I’ve never been out fishing in the winter when we didn’t have a few blue-winged olives every afternoon.

The Baetis nymphs are active swimmers and live in almost all types of running water, but slow to moderate runs hold the largest populations. Beatis nymphs have a habit of purposefully drifting short distances (behavioral drift) in the current when they feel overcrowded to find a new home; sunrise and sunset are the prime times for this activity. Thus nymph imitations can be productive even when there is no hatch in progress.  Morning and evening are great times to rig up double Baetis patterns on a nymph rig and make sure to let it swing at the end of the drift.  This will trigger a lot of strikes that sometime can be pretty violent.     

During a Beatis hatch, it’s important to collect an insect and look at its underside before you choose a fly pattern to match it. The belly will always be a different color–usually lighter and more olive–than the back. It’s the belly, not the back, that trout see when they take a floating insect. Again, it is important during this hatch to get the size of your imitation right. If you just glance at a small insect like this, and choose a pattern based on that glance, your pattern will almost always be a size, or even two sizes, too large. Set your collected natural right next to the imitation you’ve chosen for it, and be sure that they are the same size.

There is really not a single pattern that will cover a Baetis hatch.  I now realize it’s important to carry an emerger pattern, two or three dun patterns, and a spinner pattern–all tied in a narrow range of sizes. Trout might take one for a while, and suddenly turn off until you try another.

The most frequently asked questions in a fly shop is  “What flies should I have?”. This time of year it takes longer to answer this common question. Fall is one of the most exciting times of the year to go fly fishing. But it can also be one of the most challenging. Water flows are low and clear and the fish can be spooky.  But there is more going on in the fall than at any other time of the year. The river can be a “buffet” with many different offerings on the table. Mid summer hatches of Pale Morning  Duns, Red Quills, Green Drakes, and Caddis flies can still be prevalent. Morning hatches of  Trico Mayflies become a regular occurence with the Spinner Fall coming  later in the day as the days get shorter.  The reappearance of the Blue Wing Olives, especially on overcast days is a not so welcome sign that winter is just around the corner. Midge hatches that were lost  in higher water will once again become a prominent food source continuing throughout the coming winter. A few terrestrials such as hoppers, ants, and beetles may still he around but most rivers here in Colorado excluding the lower elevation streams have had their first frost so terrestrial fishing is tapering off right now.  Brown trout, Brook Trout and Whitefishwill all begin spawning soon so they are on the feed right now looking for anything to satisfy their constant hunger. Fall is the dry fly anglers paradise as the amount and variety of aquatic insects on the surface  combined with low, clear water creat ea perfect environment for trout to “risk it all ” to pluck a struggling morsel from the water’s surface.

Fall Patterns

          Patterns for fall fishing cover the broadest range of Aquatic Insects and Terrestrials. Aquatic patterns available to the trout can be a combination of Midges, Mayflies, Caddis Flies, Terrestrial, Stoneflies, Minnows, Eggs and Aquatic earthworms.  The best fishing is usually on those first overcast, nasty, days of the fall when a variety of Mayflies including Blue Wing Olives, Tiny Psuedocoleons BWO’s and Trico’s are abundant. Here is a list of recommended flies for a fantastic fall:


  • Eggs: Nuclear egg, Flash Tail Egg
  • Scuds: Olive, Orange as well as Dorsey’s UV Scud
  • Baetis Nymphs: RandySmith’s Baetis Nymph, Barr’s BWO Emerger, Sparkle Wing RS2, Mercury Baetis, Pheasant Tails ,JuJu Baetis, Mercer’s Tungsten Micro Mayfly, Black Copper Johns, Soft Hackle Pheasant Tails.
  •  Midge Larvae and Pupae: Dorsey’s Mercury Black Beauty, Dye’s Pearl Jam in Pearl, Red, Green. Dorsey’s        Mercury Midge, Dorsey’s Top Secret Midge, Dorsey’s Medallion Midge, Dorsey’s Blood Midge, Rainbow Warriors, Barr’s Pure Midge Larva in red, WD-40, Chocolate Johnny Flash, JuJube Midge, Brassies, Dorsey’s  Mercury Midge and Parrott’s Chironoflash
  • PMD Nymphs:  Pheasant Tails, Dorsey’s Mercury PMD Nymph, Barr’s PMD Emerger, Mitchell’s Split Case PMD, JuJu PMD Nymph and Bead Head Trigger Nymph.
  • Cased and free-living caddis: Dorsey’s Mercury Caddis,   Barr’s uncased Caddis, Barr’s Net Building Caddis, Barr’s Graphic Caddis.
  • Trico’s: Engle’s Drowned Trico – Black and Chartreuse, Barr’s Trico Emerger

Dry Flies:

  • BWO’s: Matthew’s  Sparkle Dun, Cannon’s Snowshoe Dun BWO, Parachute Adams, Dry Emerger Baetis, Cripples,      Sprout’s BWO Emerger, Barr’s Visa Dun BWO and A.K.‘s Olive Dun Quill.
  • Trico’s: Cannon’s Snowshoe Trico Dun, CDC Trico Dun, CDC   Trico Spinner and Barr’s Visa Dun Trico.
  • PMD’s: Cannon’s Snowshoe PMD Dun, Matthew’s Sparkle Dun PMD, Sprout’s PMD, Schmidt’s Dry Emerger PMD.
  • Caddis Flies: Peacock Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis Brown, Tan Grey, Slow Water Caddis.
  • Midges: Cannon’s Snowshoe Midge Emerger, Griffith’s Gnat, Matt’s Midge, Trailing Shuck Midge, Cannon’s Snowshoe     Midge Cluster. 

Attractors, Hoppers, Ants, Beetles:

  • Amy’s Ant, Dave’s Hopper, Pilatzke’s Beetles, Parachute Ant.  


  • Heng’s Autumn Splendor, Barr’s Slump Buster, Conehead Black Wolley Bugger, Sparkle Bugger, Clouser Minnows.

Fall is a great time to get out, enjoy some great fishing and beautiful scenery as the leaves begin to change.  Winter will be upon us before we know it so get out on the water and create some really great fishing memories for 2010!!!

Don’t forget to take the Blue Quill Angler Quiz to win free gear.  Correct answers will be automatically registered for a drawing at the end of October to win a FREE RIO Gold Fly line of your choice.

New for Simms this fall are some exciting new products that we all use and love.  Simms decided to pursue this Lodge Line to further the branding of the Simms name and offer us, the consumers some really cool products that we can use on the river, at the camp site or in the office.

Included in this line-up are super cool Simms/Wheatley Fly Boxes that come in Simms Orange or a Derek DeYoung Trout Print.  These are real Wheatley boxes with slit foam in the top and bottom of the box for added durability that will also protect your flies. Simms also introduced a Molded Foam Fly Box series that are lightweight, float if dropped in the river and will accept the C&F Designs inserts so you can interchange your flies for different rivers.  One of the coolest Molded Foam boxes in the line-up is the Patch Box that will attach to any Simms vest, pack or waders that has a Velcro patch. You can then attach a Simms Super Fly Patch to the outside of the box to dry your flies before re-inserting them back into the box. 

Also in the Lodge Line line-up are the new Simms humidor that come in Simms Camo and DeYoung Brown trout prints.  This is a handy little item for the angler who like to enjoy a cigar on the river as they will stay nice and moist until you are ready to light up.  Let’s not forget the new Simms Cigar Cutter to trim the end of the stogie and the Simms Windproof Butane lighter to get things going.  With all that fun going on, let add a little fuel to the fire with the Simms Flask offered in a rubberized black finish or a DeYoung trout print to take that tasty beverage along for the end of a great day on the river or a little nip in the middle of the day when the going gets tough. 

We all like to fish early and late and Simms has got us covered when we need a little light on the subject.  The new Simms LED light offered in trout or tarpon, this little item will definitely brighten up your early morning or late evening adventure.  When not on the river, have a little fun in the house or at a party shining this on the wall as this little LED will project a Simms fish or Simms tarpon on the wall.  Now that’s a party in itself!!!

We all love cold hard cash but carrying it in style is another thing.  Some cram it in a front pocket, others use a cool trout print money clip while most use that awful leather wallet from a major department store.  Simms to the rescue in this department with the new G3 Guide Wallet.  Made out of old waders and trimmed with leather, you can now carry that dollar bill in style, your library card or whatever you like to carry in a wallet.

For you early risers that cannot get the day started without that super dark cup of joe, Simms has a mug for you.  The Early Riser Mug will hold up to 450ml of straight “joe” or a little concoction of Bailey’s and “joe” to ease that pounding headache from the night before.

Last but not least, we all need a good bottle opener for the garage, boat, camper or right next to the fridge in the house.  There is nothing more frustrating that fumbling through the drawer trying to find a bottle opener and ending up banging it on the counter and leaving a nice chip in the granite that is a real bitch to repair.  Simms has a solution called the Workbench Bottle Opener that mounts to just about any surface with two screws and will open thousands of those tasty beverages we all love.

This new line from Simms is pretty exciting and we are sure that most anglers can find a use for at least one of the products if not two or three.

The Sage 4200 series reel is one of the greatest value in the high-end reel market thanks to an abundance of features for worry-free performance. These reels are made from fully machined anodized 6061 T6 aluminium, tumble polished and inspected by hand to ensure incredible durability and strength but also corrosion resistance. To reduce casting fatigue, a new lightweight design was engineered but not at the expense of strength and durability. The Sage 4200 series reels range from a 3/4 weight to a 9/10 weight with appropriately sized ergonomic handles and drag range specific to each reel size. Prices range from $289 for the 4230, $299 for the 4250, $309 for the 4280, and $319 for the 4210. Extra spools are available for each reel size.

“This series of reels took a great deal of advanced engineering in order to include every detail yet still be priced reasonably for our consumer,” says Kurt Van Wyck, Director of R&D. “The real value and technology story here is based around the unique Floating Tripod Drag system.”

The Floating Tripod Drag is one of the more unique configurations of Sage’s Sealed Carbon System drag technologies, and stands by itself in the field. The Floating Tripod consists of a carbon disk riding on a stainless steel rotor supported by a triangle of three smaller carbon disks. Like the three legs of a stool, the system is perfectly balanced and incredibly low weight, providing smooth resistance through its full range of settings. A numbered one-revolution drag knob offers the benefit of quick and precise drag adjustments. As with every reel from Sage, the Floating Tripod is sealed and impervious to outside elements such as sand, grit and salt, requiring no maintenance beyond simple rinsing.

A great reel at a great price!!!

Sage VXP aka the lighter XP

Posted: August 14, 2010 by bluequillangler in Fly Fishing Gear Reviews
Tags: , , ,

We had a chance the other day to cast the new Sage VXP rods that will be available early September and WOW were we surprised.  The old XP family from Sage that we all loved and hated to see dropped from the line-up is back with a facelift.  The new VXP is light in hand and is a little more responsive than the original XP.  The hoop diameter has been decreased to drop weight and the lay-up of the graphite gives the caster more feel yet is still quick enough to punch into a nasty wind or cast double nymph rigs with indicator and split shot with ease.   The tip is fast like the old XP which will allow the angler to set the hook yet is suple enough to protect light tippets when dry fly fishing. 

We casted the 5 weight with a RIO Gold line and the 6 weight with a RIO Grand and both lines worked exceptionally well on the respective rods.  You can feel the rod load and then unleash a fury of power with incredible line speed with very little effort.  If you thought the XP could not get any better, well leave it to Sage to figure out how to do just that!!

At $495 to $525 the VXP will for sure be a winner for the old school XP lovers as well as the anglers who never experienced the XP.  We feel Sage has hit a home run with this one and we are sure that you will feel the same when you cast one.  We welcome the offspring of the XP back to the line-up!!!!