Picabo Angler

Pee-Ka-Boo is a Native American word meaning "Shining Waters."

Picabo Angler is a destination: A full-service fly shop & outfitter located on the banks of world-renowned Silver Creek

July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015:


Fishing remains consistent and predictable on the Double R Ranch. Each morning the Trico hatch occurs at various, ever changing stretches of the field water and sometimes on The Pond. We are also frequently blessed with a hatch of Tiny Blue Winged Olives. Consequently, your Stream Keeper generally leads off with an olive bodied dry fly when the trout start rising before they form the pods that are indicative of a true Trico hatch. After the Trico hatch there has been good fishing along the banks for “sippers” which will take a Rusty Spinner or similar morsel. We have also experienced a Callibaetis hatch when the afternoon wind holds off for a couple of hours.


Next time you see trout “sipping” along the bank after a hatch, or if you are embarked on an evening “cigar float,” think about tying on a good sized Rusty Spinner. By that I mean a spinner pattern with a rusty brown, mahogany or dark brown body. It will open up a whole new world for you.

We all fish spinner patterns to trout rising in connection with hatches of certain mayflies; the Brown Drake, the Trico, the Callibaetis and the Baetis family readily come to mind. For some reason most fly fishers do not fish a spinner pattern after a hatch of Pale Morning Duns, Green Drakes, Mahogany Duns and the like, probably because a bona fide “spinner fall” does not regularly occur. With minor exceptions, mayfly spinners are fair weather friends that appear during the most comfortable conditions of temperature and wind. Less than optimal weather conditions can prevent or limit the mayfly’s ability to molt into the final stage of the life cycle. Most anglers switch to ants, beetles, hoppers and subsurface flies. But, when most hatches wane you will be greeted by a period wherein trout will be gently taking “something” up against the bank, particularly in the more open stretches of Silver Creek if the wind is not blowing very hard. In these circumstances the larger trout are susceptible to the Rusty Spinner. Competent guides know this and count on the exciting fishing to bring them a good tip, repeat trips and referrals.

On an evening float an exact match of the body color of the spinner present on the water doesn’t much matter because you are silhouette fishing; that is, the spinner pattern is outlined by the fading light much as the “natural” spinner and appear dark. However, a closer match may be more important during the late morning or afternoon. In their landmark Selective Trout, Swisher and Richards tell us that no fewer than 13 of the mayfly species they designate as “super hatches” can have their later stages imitated by a Rusty Spinner. Out West those hatches include PMDs, BWOs, Callibaetis, March Browns, Brown Drakes, and Green Drakes, just to name a few, most of which are found on Silver Creek. Consequently, a Silver Creek angler’s success rate can be enhanced by using a Rusty Spinner pattern at appropriate times.

One of the earliest known fly patterns tied for use as a Rusty Spinner is the classic “Lunn’s Particular” created by William J. Lunn, whose position as an English River Keeper stretched from 1887 through 1931. In its design it is not a modern “spinner” as it has upright outstretched feather wings and a hackle collar, in the popular fashion of its time. Nevertheless, it was intended to address the mayfly realities on famed English chalk streams, remains an effective impressionistic pattern today, and has inspired many a modern spinner imitation.   

Most of us are familiar with the wide range of modern spinner patterns with wings constructed from a variety of materials including white hackle tips, poly yarn, CDC, clipped hackle collar tc. Noted Island Park tier Rene Harrop has devised a number of effective patterns over the years including his Rusty CDC Biot Paraspinner, his Rusty CDC Hackled Biot Spinner and his Rusty CDC Biot Spinner, all of which I commend to the reader. Your Stream Keeper’s favorite pattern is a Hackle Stacker tied with a slim rusty thread body and grizzly hackle. Give any of these patterns a try next time you encounter bank sippers after a hatch. I find that the most effective presentation is to hug the bank in one’s float tube and make gentle downstream drop casts upstream of sipping trout.

Doug Andres

Stream Keeper