Beulah Platinum 9’6″ 6wt: no problems protecting 5x tippet
A couple springs back, I was fortunate enough to float the famed Grey Reef section of the North Platte River. My buddy Jin had some guide trips lined up and invited me to serve as a “guinea pig” while he worked out the fly selection for his upcoming clients. Armed with an indicator, split shot, and Jin’s methodical sequencing of bugs (annelids, leeches, scuds, and midges), the seven-hour float ended up being a dizzying blur of 16-22” fish. While part of the credit belongs to the quality of the fishery, a lion’s share of the day’s success can be attributed to the irrefutable fishiness of a “pro’s pro” kind of guide.
The sad fact is, I don’t remember a single detail about any of fish we landed. I remember laughing a ton, losing a bag of chips to the wind, but most of all, staring doggedly at an orange Ping-Pong ball while floating past what was presumably beautiful country. That is what I dislike about indicator nymphing. I understand why it has become so popular–it flat out produces–but I can never shake the feeling that the quantity of fish comes at the expense of the quality of my overall experience. At this stage in my fishing life, I’m looking for fishing to be something more than “chucking and ducking” and “ripping lips.”
That is why you will never find me fishing with indicators…well, except for right now. From late-April until early-July, I become obsessed with stillwaters and my preferred method is hanging chironomid pupae under a bobber. There is one man to blame for this sickness: Brian Yamauchi. For those in the dark, all you need to know is Brian is that guy–when others are averaging 3-5 fish per hour, he’s the guy catching fish nonstop. And, on those days when others are struggling, Yamauchi is still the guy catching fish nonstop. He was once ambushed by a Fish & Game warden while fishing an “artificials only” lake; after observing his catch-rate from afar, the warden was convinced Brian must have been using some kind of bait. Skills.
Six years ago, Brian took me under his wing and shared his deadly techniques for early summer stillwaters. I’m still well below Yamauchi status, but occasionally luck into a decent fish all the same. While a number of Yamauchi’s photos, flies, and techniques are featured in Takahashi and Hubka’s book, Modern Midges, these are what I’ve found to be the three most important take-aways:
1. Yamauchi’s Chironomid Pupa: the only flies Brian fishes. He may experiment with size (either #14 or #16) or color (either brown or olive), but if he is fishing stillwaters, you can bet these flies are at the end of his line. I may mix in an occasional scud or leech, but I’d never show up at a lake without them. Tie them or buy them and thank Brian later.
2. 5x fluorocarbon tippet: essential for a stealthy presentation. As long as you have a rod with a forgiving tip and solid backbone, 5x is plenty strong to land trophy fish. Also, be sure to attach your flies with a non-slip mono loop knot so they achieve that natural “hang.”
3. Keep things shallow: Brian sets his flies 3 to 7 feet below his indicator. This runs counter to a lot of other stillwater experts, but I follow his rule religiously and have never been let down. I’m sure that later in the summer (mid-July to September) there’s a need to run flies deeper, but by then, the lakes’ mosquitoes are intolerable and I’ve moved on to throwing dries on freestones anyway.
Brian Yamauchi: crushing while others (namely, me) struggle