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The Fly Box

Posted by on Feb 15 2009 | Great Flies

The wild wings of fall swept cross the valley floor, lifting yellow and orange cottonwood leaves high in the Montana sky. Spinning around and around they softly landed in the sparkling Madison turning October into golden magic.

Bill and I had stopped out driftboat at our favorite spot, the Evening Hole. Sitting in the boat looking out across the water I felt like and old rock and roll star getting ready to play the blues in a distant smoky bar.

My fly box was full of large streamers I use for special occasions. I pulled out my favorite fly, the articulated Bad Boy. It’s a streamer with neon yellow rubber legs and feathers of half a chicken. I carefully tied it to my heavy 1X tippit and I was ready to fish.

Bill wanted to fish upstream so I worked my way downstream, looking for a good casting position. I pulled out enough line to reach the hole’s secret sweet spot.

I laid out a long cast across and upstream. I always throw a large upstream mend to let the fly sink quickly without line tension. As it starts to swing I give the fly lots of erratic action by pumping the rod or twitching the line.

I cast three more times always moving a step or two downstream to fish new water on each cast. On the fifth cast the green line stopped suddenly. A huge yellow brown trout leaped into the October sky, twisting and turning as it fell back into the Madison River.

The great trout made several powerful runs and I slowly worked my way across large slick river stones toward the shallow water along the bank.

Bill had the net ready and the big trout made one more long run. With rod held hige I reeled in the monster brown and Bill quickly slid the net under it.

The trout’s head had a large hooked jaw and iridescent colors that glowed like midnight neoon. The brown measured twent five inches, a nice fish on any river.

We photographed and released him back into the Madison riffles. Smiling, we continued our journey down the river. At the last deep run Bill caught a beautiful eighteen inc rainbow, a great way to end another day on the Madison.

That evening after a great dinner I looked at my streamer collection. There many empty spots that needed to be filled.

I sat at my fly tying bench and started to gather up materials to renew my Bad Boy collection. These flies take a lot of materials and time to make, but the results are magnificent. I opened several drawers looking for pearl and root beer Lite Brite.

In the back of one drawer I found an old familiar wood box. I blew off the dust and gently opened it. There were several dozen battered flies that were chewed up and worthless for fishing. Why would anybody keep such old worn out flies?

I picked up one of the bedraggled flies. It was a gray hackle peacock that I had made over fifty years ago. As I held it up to the light I could see my father and me riding through a twisted aged pines in the Little Belt Mountains. We followed a trail through a stand of aspens to see the Tenderfoot, a stream of dreams.

We tied up the horses and had a quick lunch. I opended a saddlebag and found my father’s multi piece bamboo fly rod. I put it together and strung the lfy line.

Dad found the fly box in another saddlebag and opened it. He looked at the flies and pointed to the gray hackle peacock. I swiftly tied it on my leader.

I looked at the sparkling Tenderfoot and noticed a large stone with a quiet pool full of bubbles. I false cast several times, working out the line. The fly dropped next to the boulder.

It floated several feet and Bam! A trout came flying into the mountain air! After several fast runs I slid it into some tall grass.

When I picked up the trout I saw the bright orange slashes under its throat. I held it up in the sun for Dad to see. It was a fine fourteen inch cutthroat.

For the next hour Dad sat under a shady aspen and watched me catch a few more trout. I knew he was smiling.

All too soon we put the rod away and continued our journey through the Little Belts.

Bright headlights safely guided us back home. It was a great gray hackle peacock day.

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Copyright © Bern Sundell 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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