Tag Archives: Huck Perdigons

Forks of the Kern Report – June 23-28, 2022

It’s difficult to do a trophy shot alone when the KRRs are big

Sidebar: Treat yourself to the professionally done video by Micah Conrad, who I taught how to fly fish on this trip here.

Relevant Stats for the 6 days:

CFS: blown out muddy, 350 when we got there to off colored 225 perfect when we left

Solunar:

  • 6/23 – 13%, poor
  • 6/24 – 13%, poor
  • 6/25 – 26%, fair
  • 6/26 – 59%, average
  • 6/27 – 82%, excellent

Water temp: 57 in the mornings rising all the way to 72 in the late afternoons

Air temp: low 50s to mid 60s at night all the way to 90 at the trailhead on the last day

The Upper Kern River – Beautiful

I have this 25-year love affair with the Forks of the Kern River.  If you have read me before you know I have said that for years.  I feel like I know the 10 mile stretch of the river above the confluence like the back of my hand.  But, I did have some firsts on this trip:

  • The Forks been closed because of the fire for 2 long years.  That made this trip special
  • I didn’t fish that long or that hard.  I guided two sets of young people: two beginners and a first timer. I find guiding / teaching beginners so much more fun than fishing myself.  Because of that I hiked out up the mountain from the huck site to the trailhead twice during this trip.  I have never guided two separated sets on the same trip. That means I went down to the huck site and up to the trailhead 3 separate times in 5 days.  In those two hike out days I had over 35,000 steps… pretty good for an old guy.
  • This is the first time I have had the luxury of 5 nights down there.  When it was time to hike out I said, “I could easily stay another 5 nights.”
  • I have never seen the Upper Kern blown-out before.  A freak storm hit the area the day before I hiked in.  When I hiked in, the river rose from 250 CFS to 350 CFS in 8 hours and muddied up.  It was blown out.
  • My buddy Marty hiked in with me….carrying a portable cooler with ice so we could have proper cocktails for a couple days.  Margaritas at the Huck site have to be a first!
Hey, there’s me in a selfie with the new GTW sign we installed a year ago

Wednesday, June 22

My plan from the beginning was to hike in 2 days early so I could have the time to prepare for the first two folks I was guiding on Saturday.  that meant driving in on Wednesday and camping at lower peppermint campground before hiking in early on Thursday.  Although the Huck site survived the fire it took a beating.  All the wood logs we used to stage food and toys and sit on incinerated.  And 2 years of growth after the fire needed to be trimmed back to make it not only easier for beginners to cast and comfortable to swim, etc.  But, to provide an end to end view of the river from up at the camp site.  I knew the fire pit needed to be cleaned out and rebuilt.  I also wanted to figure out the fishing before they came.  And lastly going in early allowed me to hike back out empty to meet them and fill up my pack again with fresh food (and beer!) to hike back down to the huck site.  I firmly believe as good food as possible really enhances the backpacking experience.  And a beer or a little JD helps too.

After talking to my buddy Marty Jansen who I have been on a number of adventures with… chronicled on this site… we planned to meet at lower peppermint campground around 6pm.  Well, the gods were with me that day because I blew through LA barely having to brake.  I made it to Kernville so quickly I had time to drop off a six pack as a gift to Guy Jeans of the Kern River Fly shop and to find some food.  But, another 1st for me: it was raining like hell.  In a drought year that is pretty darn good for the area… but in late June?  So strange.  It was raining so hard it occurred to me that it might screw up a river that was in perfect shape when I left 5 hours earlier.

The waterfalls at Lower Peppermint Creek

I drove on another hour to Lower Peppermint campground and did something I have always wanted to do, never had the time, and have heard much about.  I grabbed a rod and started fishing peppermint creek up stream.  I did well on a size 16 stimulator that Steve Schalla tied for me.  I had heard there were a set of waterfalls up stream, but I didn’t realize how close to the campground they were.  Here I had been camping in lower peppermint for years, but always as a temporary stop to the forks.  I never stayed long enough to enjoy the awesomeness of it.  my bad.  I only fished for an hour, caught and released 5 small wild trout and stared in awe at a set of waterfalls.  I hiked the 10 mins or so back to camp to find Marty: “I figured you were fishing”.  😊

Marty Jansen: notice he’s hiking in a cooler… with ice. As far as i know, Marty is the first person to serve margaritas at the Huck site.

Thursday, June 23

Marty and I got a decent start in the morning, drove the 20 mins to the trailhead and started hiking in.  Since we already worked on the trailhead a year earlier it was not a shock to see the effects of the fire.  What was a pleasant surprise is how the rain cleared out the haze.  It was crystal clear skies with puffy white clouds like in Montana.   Well, we made it to the Little Kern River crossing pretty quickly.  And then the reality.  The little kern river was blown out.  it was running way high for that time of year and muddy.  In fact the lack of clarity in the water made the crossing a little tenuous only because I couldn’t see where I was stepping and I was wearing sandals to cross.  My heart sunk.  I was guiding 2 beginners in a couple days and the river might be blown out.   There was still hope that the main fork of the kern was still clear but it was obvious when we got a peek at it a quarter mile later on the trail that it was blown out.  so, I said to myself it’s got 2 days to back down and clear up or else there is going to be a lot of casting and very little catching.  I knew the solunar thing was against us too.

Blown Out: Notice the brown color of the water and the level up to the willows on the banks upstream

We got to the huck site and it was clear to me how much work needed to be done.  there was a lot of growth since I checked the huck site out a year ago.  I set up camp and attacked the fire place first.  The structure was still in tact but I had to remove cubic feet of soot, rocks and sand to get it back into a safe effective shape then build a grilling platform.  After that I turned to making firewood.

Marty’s plan was to hang a night with me and then backpack up to his favorite place: Kern Flats, which is about 11 miles up river from the trailhead. then he’d come back on Monday and hang until he hiked out.  So, I took a break, marked the water level and we fished for a couple hours or so.  We caught fish.  But, as expected because of the high murky water it was slow. 

Vicki (see below) took this shot of me.

After fishing I attacked the riverside willows with lopers.  It was brutally difficult work.  I also attacked a few tree branches with a backpacking saw that I hiked in.  I was exhausted but when “happy hour” rolled around I quickly noticed that, although I made two good places for an overhand cast, I had a lot more work to do to clear enough view to be able to watch rises from the site.

I hiked in a couple beers and lamb chops so it was a good night.

you cannot beat that view on the forks trail on a clear day

Friday, June 24

Like always I woke up with the sun around 5:30AM.  The river looked to be clearing.  That was encouraging.  I made coffee and wandered down to the river.  I looked at my mark on the river and the river was down 8”… sigh of relief.  The river was falling.  After coffee I worked on the view with cutting sheers and lopers.  Then I made more firewood.  Exhausting work.  but, I got so much done I set out to fish with Marty.  This time for 3 or 4 hours and we did ok.  We caught fish, but, I knew the river was still not in good enough shape for beginners.  But all the signs were that the river was slowly getting back into shape right on time for the folks I was guiding the next day.  Vicki and Alyssa are young gals that give me hope for the next generation.  The list of outdoor adventures and places they have been at such a young age is impressive.  Both had fly fished a few times…even from a drift boat guided in montana.  their exuberance for outdoor adventure was spirit lifting for me. Late afternoon I txted Vicki and Alyssa who had a hotel in Kernville for the night.  The plan for the next morning was for me to hike out and make it to the trailhead by 8:30am to meet them.

That is a the huck-bow warrior, perdigon style in this guy’s face

Saturday, June 25

I got out right on time at 6:30AM.  I said my goodbyes to marty (knowing he’d be back on Monday), gave him access to the huck hoppers and perdigons I tied for the trip) and I was off.  I was hiking an almost empty backpack so the pace was quick.  And it was early morning so my senses were on alert.  It was not 20 minutes before I ran into my first fresh bear scat right on the trail.  it was fairly close to “bend camp” (my second choice if I can’t get the Huck site.  It’s elevated right on a bend in the river ~ 3 miles from the trailhead) and as I walked by it there were 4 guys in that camp.  I shouted about them having a visitor last night.  “We know.” they said laughing.  I ran into more bear scat about a mile from the little kern river that looked to be from the night before.  Most likely the same bear. 

I made it to the little Kern Crossing in 45 minutes and was up the hill an hour from then.  right around 8:15AM which gave me time to arrange all the fresh food and beer I was taking down.  Vicki and Alyssa showed up (in a Prius I may add which tells you how good a shape the dirt road to the trailhead is) right on time.  I got firm handshakes from them which is an instant indicator of them being firmly planted in the working world which I didn’t know at the time.  By 8:45 we started hiking down and it was already getting hot.  Our pace was fine.  I did a lot of talking including asking the question (I stole from my daughter, Camille): “How is team morale?” To which Vicki always answered, “Team Morale is good.”

Vicki took this shot of me releasing one of the KRRs she fooled. She had this amazing waterproof enclosure and lens for her iphone.

At the Little Kern Crossing these two navigated easily and nicely without my help.  You can always tell how well a fly fisher is going to be by their “river legs”.  And these two were quite agile.  With 2.2 miles to go to the Huck site, though, it was getting hot.  I’m a hot weather guy having grown up in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles so I have to pay special attention because most people hate hiking in the heat.  Our pace slowed because of the heat so I kept the conversation going while hiking to take their minds off the suffering.  When we got to the Huck site the plan was to set up camp, eat and relax before we headed out to fish.  That plan worked because when these two were ready they were re-energized.  We had a good portion of day light left in the day.  the plan was to head down river for this half day of fishing then fish up river over the mountain on the next full day we had.  I had them both start in the huck site overhand casting.  Then I taught them how to roll cast…. Which they both took to immediately.  The only issue was that we didn’t get any takes.  We always get takes at the Huck Site.  Hmmm….

That’s Alyssa with one of the many KRRs she fooled

So we ventured off down river.  these two were casting well and getting good drifts.  But, we weren’t getting any takes.  So I kept lengthening the leaders…  which is a sign they were getting better and better at casting on really tough rig: a huge huck hopper dropped by 4 feet or longer with perdigons.  Finally we started catching.  What a relief for me.  between the river still not in good shape and the warming of the water in the latter part of the day it was just slow.  We hiked a mile and a half or so back to the huck site and I got happy hour going while those to relaxed and waited for heads…. During the witching hour, 7:30 to 8:30pm at this time of year, there just weren’t a lot of rises…. Hmmm.  “Tomorrow will be a new day,” I said to myself.  And I was right.

I hiked in 3 enormous high quality steaks prior that day, which I complimented with a doctored up version of fettucine Alfredo… we pigged out…well, I did… we didn’t even come close to finishing it.  “Not to worry.  Steak and eggs in the morning!” 

That’s Vicki in action: pretty much fearless because the submerged rock she is standing on is deep on all sides

Sunday, June 26

I woke up with the sun around 5:30AM and immediately checked the river.  down another 6”!  and good water clarity!  Yes!  I just knew then it would be a good fishing day.  Myplan was to hike those two upriver over the mountain and fish upstream all day long.  And they were excited about it.  So that is exactly what we did.  As we crested the mountain I decided to not do my normal plan of scampering down 300 feet like goats and fishing the cliffs.  I took them straight to my dry fly patch with a great run above it.  And we caught fish!  Fishing the Upper Kern is very physical…very physical.  You cannot be successful without climbing up and down river banks and getting scratches and cuts and aches and pains. And that is what these gals were doing.   

I love this pic for a couple reasons. 1st, the view. 2nd, check out that roll cast from Alyssa

When guiding/teaching fly fishing I always cover my 7 components of fly fishing with emphasis on the very first and most important component: “reading the water”.  In my not so humble opinion, it really doesn’t matter where you cast or how good your drift is if your cast doesn’t land or drift to where the fish are.    Well, these two… well into their 2nd day were now reading the water really well.  As we approached each new “hole” I’d ask the question, “What do you see?”  and sure enough I’d get back things like, “Well, there is a run with a seam between it and the eddy”.  Or “There are two runs with a tail-out at the end.” 

all smiles from Vicki

My favorite moment of the day was fishing “the island”.  It’s ~2 miles upriver from the huck site.  It’s not usually accessible or fished.  And that is because there is good water before and after and it requires a scramble down to what is typically a tough river cross.  But, I fished it a couple days before and caught a bunch of fish.  Plus, the water was low enough and these two were agile enough for a cross.  Alyssa decided to take the bottom so I put her in place at the end of the island which had runs on both side of her with a tail-out 60 feet down river.  But, she had to cast downriver on both sides of her which is a tough set.  “What do you see?” I said.  I can’t remember exactly what her answer was but it was spot on.  Then I said something like, “let out a ton of line and don’t be afraid to let that thing drift all the way down.  Many times trout will hang in the tailout in a run like this with two food sources converging.” And with that Viki and I walked 50 feet up the island in a deep run that is always productive.  I think I was changing out Vicki’s rig to a longer dropper because I heard the shout and Alyssa was on.  So, I ran down, netted and we did the 7th component: the trophy shot.  Back to Vicki… and Alyssa was on again.  I’m pretty sure Vicki nailed one there too after I finally got done running back and forth from Alyssa to get her all rigged up.  Very pleased.

a Alyssa with a healthy male

Those two got a lot of takes that day considering their experience, the conditions, and the fact they were fishing in one of the most technical fly fishing rivers in CA.  my guess is about 20 takes each that day.  My land ratio at the forks is about 50%.  And I know my way around a trout stream.  My guess is these two landed about 1/3rd of every fish that they got a take on.  Pretty darn good.  It was then that Alyssa said something I will remember for a long time: “I used to like fly fishing.  Now I love it.”  I was like a proud father.

Vicki with another good one

So good that if I didn’t hint we should do the long hike back those two would have fished until well after dark and we’d be stuck with a 3 mile hike back to camp in total darkness.  I believe we made it to camp around 6:30.  Enough time for happy hour and watching heads through the witching hour.  But no real significant rises again.  Very strange.  What makes it more strange is that timhuckaby.com readers JT and Stu were in the picnic table aka rattlesnake sight and they told us it was nuts during the witching hour just down from them.  That is only ¼ mile away.  So strange the hatch can be prolific in one spot and just ¼ mile away nothing.  Isn’t that just fly fishing?

Now, after two days of hiking and guiding these two I was “done”.  After dinner, I literally passed out in my backpacking chair watching the river.  If vicki didn’t wake me up I might have slept in that chair all night.

I love this shot. Vicki roll casting off the island with Alyssa below

Monday, June 27

The plan was to hike out with Vicki and Alyssa as early as possible.  Instead of hiking out empty I offloaded some of stuff from their packs.  We didn’t get too late a start but, it ended up being about an hour too late.  In the hike up the mountain we didn’t have a breeze, were exposed to the sun and it was hot.  Halfway up I asked, “How is team morale?”  and Allyssa shot back something like, “below average”.  That made me smile. 

that is a huck-bow warrior hanging out of this guy’s face

In the week prior I told Micah (the next guy I was to guide) that I’d meet him at the site around 9am.  We were over an hour late for that.  Not a problem.  I said goodbyes to Vicki and Alyssa and met an excited Micah. 

Treat yourself to the professionally done video by Micah Conrad, who I taught how to fly fish on this trip here.

I filled my now empty pack with 6 beers and more fresh food (little did I know that Micah had venison steaks in his pack!) and we headed down. 

That’s me and Micah on the Hike out

I’m already way beyond my self-inflicted word count limit here, but the way Micah and I found each other is a great story I have told many many times.  Micah was… and I emphasize was a conventional gear trout fisherman who’s love of the river is infectious.  He reached out to me on timhuckaby.com about flies using “fly and a bubble”.  So he bought some flies off the site and we went back and forth on the tactics of fly and a bubble.  Well, I didn’t think anything of it until he emailed me a week or so after his experience on the JDB trail with a link to a youtube video where he calls me out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GOhJa5Qjy4 .  anyways, his success and pure joy was so intoxicating I sent the link to the video to my son, the fly fishing guide in Montana.  And my son Mark said, “Dad, you gotta’ teach that kid how to fly fish.”  So, a few communications later we worked it out to meet on this trip.  I was pushing it close to my international flight the next day.  But, teaching this kid how to throw a fly was more important.

Micah’s joy of fly fishing and the wilderness is intoxicating

So, back down the mountain we went.  And it was hot.  I was fine but I believe micah’s pack was a little heavy so he slowed towards the last mile.  As we staggered into the Huck site there was Marty as planned. 

After a little rest and food at the Huck site we did the same routine of fly casting teaching and practice at the sight.  Marty had killed in front of rattlesnake creek a few days prior.  But, it’s a brutal bushwhack in there.  But, Micah said he was up for it so off we went.  And sure enough that is the area I gave the most blood trying to get into on the trip.  I put a size 8 huck hopper on him.  Micah was not ready for casting a dry dropper yet.  His first few casts were nasty… probably because he was excited.  So, I settled him down and he got into the timing of the overhand cast.  He put one upstream about 30 feet and it drifted perfectly…as if God shined down on him slowly next to this huge boulder in about 10 feet of water.  It was like it happened in slow motion.  One of, if not the biggest kern river rainbows I have ever seen in that river shamoo’d slowly like the west slope cutthroats of northwestern montana and pulled down that huck hopper.  I screamed, “Go!” and he did… unfortunately I had not worked on line control in any depth with Micah yet and he just couldn’t get tight quick enough.  But, I was screaming “Woo!” and he was screaming “Woo! And we were high fiving and I was so excited I fell in the river.  It wasn’t 5 minutes later that micah set properly and landed a nice one.  More yelling and screaming and high fiving in joy.  A first timer… on the Upper Kern.  It was magical.  The rest of the day went like that.  Micah, since he has so much trout experience with conventional trout fishing took to fly fishing like a natural.  He had a lot of takes.  And landed some nice fish.  Of course I have now ruined him financially as he will buy a ton of fly fishing gear.

Again no rises in the witching hour while I prepared happy hour and dinner.  So no catching in the huck site in over 3 days.  Very strange.  In the morning we broke camp as early as possible.  I did the ceremonial last cast (which is always about 10 casts) with a size 18 BWO.  After a number of good drifts I said to myself, “huh.”  And reeled my fly in.  Sure enough a little KRR caught himself while I reeled it in.  As I let him go, I said, “huh….fly fishing…”

That next morning I scrambled to pack up as quickly as possible, but it was 5 nights and my stuff was strewn everywhere.  Add to that I never found the time to find a place for the new cache of stuff I left down there and that took time.  Well, when micah and I made it to the trailhead it had already crested 90 degrees and even I had some misery hiking up that hill for the 3rd and final time in 6 days.   

Yep, that’s a huck hopper hanging out of this one’s face. but, this is a brown trout. i’m starting to see them more and more….which is concerning. i didn’t have the heart to kill this one, though.

Huck Flies Tied Perdigon Style – Ridiculously Good Success

A 2 Week Perdigon Test through the Eastern Sierras in CA, Montana and Utah.

look closely for the huck green caddis perdigon hanging out the side of the mouth of this pure strained bonneville cutthroat

During the winter of 2021 I talked to long time friend and Guide Mike Hillygus of the Stillwater River and Clark Fork River Outpost lodges in Montana.  Mike mentioned he had bought a ton of perdigon flies for the upcoming season.  I asked him, “Isn’t that the fly that all the world champion fly fishers use for euro-nymping?”.  I said it with disdain because there is no way in hell I’m ever going to euro-nymph the rivers of montana.  More on that later.

His answer completely changed the way I approach fly fishing: “Yea, but at the end of last season we started hanging them below indicators and in dry/dropper set ups.  And we killed.”  That got my attention so I went on a 3-week research and interview process to find out everything I could about the Perdigon; its history and why it is used.  After my research, I speculated that if I tied the 3 nymphs I sell of the site (Huck Green Caddis, Huck Midge, Huck-bow Warrior) perdigon style that they would do better in fast, deep water conditions.  So I went on a 4 week tying binge.  Then I sent out the prototypes of them to expert level fisherman to test them in real conditions.  At the same time I went on my own 2 week testing adventure through the eastern Sierras in CA, Montana and Utah.  The results were ridiculous.  I had a number of 40+ days in that 2 weeks fishing them solely in a dry dropper set up.  Realize this is fishing in March in brutally cold conditions and I was still killing.  In reality perdigon styled flies provide all the effectiveness of raking the river by Euro Nymphing, but, unlike in euro-nymphing, you still get to cast…and cast beyond the ~20 foot limitations of euro nymphing.

the clark fork river has lots of these

This email from my buddy Ronnie in Colorado summed it up well:

“Howdy Tim!  Great day on the Arkansas yesterday!  Big aggressive browns love the Perdigon’s!  I was using a golden stone at first and decided to switch to the Huck green caddis perdigon to try it out.  Plenty of big fish on that one..I was trailing a red midge as an attractor but only caught on the lead fly; the perdigon you tied for me.”

-Ronnie Swafford, CO

The West Slope Cutthroat fooled by a Huck-bow Warrior Perdigon (Go Padres!)

Background

Let me be totally honest. I am not a fan of fly fishing competitions.   Fly fishing is not like golf where you have a tightly coupled objective to get the ball in the hole with as few shots as possible.  I respect that people love fly fishing competitions.  And I have met plenty of competition fly fishers both here in the states and internationally.  and that is ok.  It’s just not me.  Not because of the competition, but, because “most fish caught” forces you into tight lined nymphing.  I love to cast.  I love to cover the water and I love to move.  If you take casting away it’s just not fly fishing to me.  Fly fishing includes quite a bit of scientific knowledge for success, some athletic skill to cast, set and fight, and lets face it: a little bit of luck.  When I heard that until recently the only flies used in fly fishing competitions were skwirmy worms and mop flies by euro nymphing or tenkara I sighed.  Lobbing a 22 feet leader on a ten foot fixed “rod” over and over to the same spot is wildly effective.  You rake the river.  It’s just not me.  I liken it to an electric mountain bike.  Sure, you can get to the top of the mountain quicker with a motor….by why would you?   But, there is something to be said about the Spanish team winning 3 straight world fly fishing championships on what that call a “Perdigon” fly.  And then the French came in and won two in a row with their version of the perdigon fly.  Strictly translated Perdigon means pebble in Spanish.  Loosely translated it means “sinks like a rock.”.

If you look closely you can see the huck-bow warrior right in the top center of the nose on this brown-zilla

The Science behind the Perdigon

Perdigons are super heavy and sleek in profile so they get down quickly in fast moving current.  What they gain in an aerodynamic quick ride to the bottom, they give up in realism.  Perdigons don’t look like anything in nature.  They are nymphs without the buggy look and feel to them.  Any resistance that might keep the fly from getting down quickly is covered in epoxy.

The Huck Green Caddis Perdigon

Like the international fly-fishing competitors, I tie them on competition style wide gap barbless jig hooks with a slotted tungsten bead.  The benefits, and consequently my (and your) success is directly related to:

  1. Rides Hook Up

The slot in the tungsten bead is to allow the bead to slip around the bend in the jig hook.  Then I stuff the slot end with lead, not only making it heavier, but it forces the bead into a keel position making the perdigon ride hook up and level.  Perdigons ride hook up and level and and can bounce along the bottom without snagging it. Riding hook up means you are not scraping and dulling your hook point.

notice the angle of the jig hook and the slotted tungsten bead

  1. A Better Hook Set

Because the Perdigon rides hook up you get a better set in the fish’s mouth. Typically this means getting the fly set in the top center of the mouth (frequently called “the nose”) or in corner of the mouth. These spots in the mouth hold hooks much better.  Normally I range around a 50-50 hook to land ratio.  With Perdigons I was getting closer to landing 19 or 20 hook sets.  Honestly I fight fish much differently barbless.  I really play them, having to exhaust them to get them to hand.  That is bad for the fish.  With Perdigons I had much more confidence in fighting them to my hand as quickly as possible so I could let them go as quickly as possible. With Perdigons I felt like I had much better control when turning the fish’s head and direction head while fighting.

to make the perdigons sink even more rapidly i stuff lead up into the gap in the slot

  1. Better Feel of the Flies

When bumping along the bottom I felt like I could discern the difference between a strike and bumping the bottom.  You know that old rule, “set on everything.”?  Well, I didn’t feel like I had to. It gave me a better feel of if/when the flies were hitting the bottom, which in turn gave me feedback on where in the water column I was.

  1. Slotted Beads

As mentioned, when a slotted tungsten bead is used on a jig hook, the center of gravity changes. This helps to angle the hook in a position where the Perdigon rides hook up.

  1. Fighting Fish

When you hook a fish with a jig hook and slotted tungsten bead, the fly line,  leader and tippet rides almost parallel to where the bend of the hook is.  This reduces the leverage that the fish has providing a much more solid hook set in the fish’s face.  With Perdigons, you will find the fly pops out a lot less.

  1. Movement

The term “jigging” comes from conventional fishing and it wildly effective.  With the slotted tungsten bead as “the keel”, the fly imparts a particular movement in the water that is unique to traditional fly fishing.  Additionally, the angled eye of the jig hook gives the fly a very undulating movement when stripped back. It that “up-and-down” movement which can give the look of an injured or confused baitfish or bug.

I just love the way the suns shines through this big brown’s tail.

Results

Montana

I hit Missoula first where I was met by my buddy Mike Hillygus.  We drove 60 miles north to his lodge on the lower clark fork near St. Regis, MT.  We fished for 3 days in bitter cold and did pretty darn well.  I couldn’t get a fish to rise for the life of me, but man those perdigons did well for both Mike and Me.

I moved south towards my son in Bozeman and fished Silver Bow Creek near Butte.  I absolutely killed on the huck midges tied perdigon style.  I had a 40+ fish day and caught a 20” brown just 10 minutes into fishing.

The next day my son Mark and his buddy Burnsie rowed me down the lower Madison.  It was bitter cold; windy and snowing.  A day you’d expect to get skunked.  But, we were still catching fish on the Perdigons.

That is a Huck Midge Perdigon stuck perfectly on the nose of this rainbow

Eastern Sierras of California

I was home for 32 hours before I loaded up Huck Truck II and headed north to the eastern sierras to join up on an annual fishing trip centered out of Bishop, CA with 30 guys at a cheap ass motel.  I drove straight to the wild trout section of the lower owens river and had a nice brown to hand on the 2nd cast…on a huck-bow warrior tied perdigon style.  Hmmm..  So, I did well and consequently had a decision to make for the next 2 full days of fishing.  I had intel from a buddy of mine in the DFG that the Owens River Gorge was fishing well and that it had some big fish in it.  So, I talked a couple buddies into joining me for a very physical day. If you have not fished the gorge it is not for the faint of heart.  You have to hike into a canyon and there is no river trail.  It’s a brutally rugged canyon.  Coupled with that I had not fished there in years and I mistook my intended trail (middle gorge) for central gorge.  The central gorge “trail” is used by the rock climbers to get down to the sheer granite walls quickly.  Meaning straight down.  As we hiked/climbed the trail down I couldn’t imagine hiking/climbing it back up at the end of the day.  As it was we chose not to.  We fished all the way to the middle gorge trail and hiked that out.  Then hiked the miles on the road back to our cars.  We caught fish but, it wasn’t crazy.  I caught plenty of fish on the perdigons to make it fun.  I did a water temp check and it was 41 degrees.  That is a bit chilly for the fish to be active.  It’s a beautiful place and even though we were exhausted burning a gazillion calories it was a beautiful great day in the canyon.

what type of idiot climbs up and down this boulder cliff to go fly fishing?

I speculated that the water in the lower section of the gorge would be warmer the next day because the weather was due to be warmer and it would see a lot more sun before hitting the power station above pleasant valley reservoir.  So, that was my plan.  I was going to park at the power plant and fish my way up river.  That is something I had not done in over a decade.  At the start I had 5 of my buddies with me.  I caught a nice brown on my first cast with a huck green caddis perdigon hung under a small huck hopper.  Hmmm…   Within 30 minutes all my buddies bailed for the wild section of the owens.  Without waders it is impossible to fish that section.  It’s also super rugged.  And none of them wore their waders.  I was wearing my simms G3 guide wading pants and loving it.  The other reason they bailed: You cannot fish that section from the bank.  It is totally overgrown by willows on both sides.  Like willows that are so thick you cannot see through them.  Since it is a small river (which would be called a creek in Montana) that meant it was a technical river to fish requiring tight loops and long casts directly up stream.  It also meant you had to fish in the river; there is no bank with the willows walling up on both sides.

another good looking brown with a huck perdigon stuck in the top of it’s mouth which makes the fight and landing so much easier.

Well, I was killing.  Honestly, I had not had a day on any stretch of the owens like that in years.  I was landing fish in every section I threw at.  Big fish too. I rarely count but, it’s was so nuts I started counting.  When I hit 20 by 11am I stopped counting.  Here’s where it started getting a bit dicey.  Down in that canyon it was hot.  I had a liter of water and it was quickly disappearing.  I was also battling a bout of diverticulitis.  If you don’t know that old guy disease, it’s painful.  It’s the only thing that has ever hospitalized me.  Well, I feel like the pain involved in bending over and releasing what was now around 40 fish by 1pm was sucking the life out of me.  I was tired.  It was only 1pm.  That is not like me.  So, with my water running low I said to myself, “I’ll just actively start looking for a way to get out of this river, walk back to my truck, take a break and end it in the wild trout section with my buddies.”  Another mile travelled upriver. it was after 2pm and I was a mess.  I did not see a single place where I could get out of the river to hike back.  And I was still killing.  In fact, the fish were getting bigger.  But, I was abnormally weak.  I took a fall in the river simply because I didn’t have the strength to step up on a large rock.  That is when the reality hit me.  I had pushed the safety thing too far.  I have some history in endurance sports having run multiple marathons and I could tell I was “bonking” (in scientific terms that is called hypoglycemia).  I had my Garmin satellite communication device with me so it’s not like I was going to die of exposure.  And I was not in a panic.  But, I was a mess and needed to figure out how to end it.  Not kidding I saw a foot wide gap in the willows.  I knew it would be a struggle with a fly rod, but, I had no other options available to me.  Well, I wiggled my way out of 30 feet thick of willows….to find another 30 feet of head high heavy brush.  That was a bush whack in itself.  When I finally got to the clear, the reality hit me.  I totally forgot that not only is there no river trail, the only way back was climbing miles of scree; 5’ by 5’ granite boulders.  Well, let’s just say that hike….errr climb back took hours.  I staggered back to my truck, drank 40 ounces of Gatorade zero quickly and sat lifeless for 45 minutes composing myself.  By the time I got back to my motel it was 530pm and I was still a mess.  That’s when the shivers hit me.  I could not get warm.  This is another symptom of bonking and why you always see runners wearing space blankets after a race.  I had to get in the bed to get warm.  2 hours later I finally warmed up.  But, I couldn’t eat.  I missed out on the ending party with the guys and didn’t get out of bed until 14 hours had passed.  Another safety lesson learned.  I did fish the Huck Green Caddis Nymph Perdigon under a size 12 huck hopper all day and killed all day.  I bet I landed close to 60 trout; all browns.  And my hook to land ratio was over 95%.

Beaver, Utah

From Bishop I did the 7 hour drive to Beaver Utah to meet up with Ed and Jim from the SDFF club.  I had never fished the Beaver Utah area and was inspired by a club presentation given by Cody Prentice of lost river angler.  From where I live in Carlsbad, CA it takes just as long to drive to Beaver, UT than it does to drive to Mammoth (eastern sierras).  I have been looking for an alternative to mammoth that is drivable and fishable in the same day for a long time because the eastern sierras (mammoth) gets so much pressure.  I had two and a half days to fish in the beaver area.

As difficult as it is to not focus on how good looking the author is… try to focus on that red slash of the bonneville cutthroat and the huck green caddis perdigon hanging out of it’s face

I got to Beaver mid day where Ed and Jim were waiting for me.  Ed led us down to a stretch of the Beaver below the dam.  When I first looked at the “river” I had to admit I was not encouraged.  It was skinny and froggy.  But, as soon as I started hiking everything changed.  Their seemed to be fish in every place that trout should hold.  I was killing again.  This time I was fishing the midge perdigon I tied.  I actually had a double in this session that was pretty epic.  I had a huge brown hit my huck hopper hard and didn’t realize at first I had a small rainbow on my midge perdigon at the same time.  We only fished a couple three hours, before the day light ended but, I was shocked at how prolific that river was.  Hmmm.

Go Padres

The next day we had a full day.  First Ed led us to a stretch of the Sevier River he had fished many times prior.  He caught bunch of trout right below where we parked as I was still gearing up.  I knew this was going to be special.  And it was.  I killed.  I was fishing the Huck-bow Warrior Perdigon this time (below a huck hopper).  I got very few to rise, but I bet I landed 40 in that section of river.  We fished about 3-4 hours to a bridge where it became private.  We reconned to eat a little.  I was shocked to hear Ed say we were going to a different place because I did so well I was ready to do that stretch all over again.  Of interest was the high water line.  We seemed to catch the Sevier in March perfectly before the Spring Runnoff.  The river was easily crossable in multiple spots.  But, that high water line was at least 20 feet higher than the level we were fishing.  It must really get blown out raging in spring.  I’m curious as to just when you can fish that river effectively.  My guess is mid march to mid may.  Then august to November.  Which would be a really similar pattern to the Kern or the Kings.

Wild fish do crazy acrobatics when hooked.  but, the barbless competition style jig hook just stays in.

So we moved to a tributary creek that Ed new of.  It was tiny.  But, it had holdable water.  And sure enough we all started catching fish immediately.  The first fish I caught I looked at and said, “It’s a cutty!”.  Then I realized it was not just any cutty.  It was a Bonneville Cutthroat.   Soon a local pulled his pickup off the road and was watching us.  I waved and eventually went up and talked to him.  He was an old timer that was very pleased we were catching fish.  He did confirm that the fish we were catching were 98% pure strained Bonneville Cutthroats.  And then he told me that the local DFG guy stocked tiger trout into that creek.  I didn’t believe him.  “Why in the world would someone spoil and creek with pure strained, indigenous, wild fish?”  Well, I caught 15 or 20 bonnevilles in the short time we had on the creek before the day ended.  This time I used the huck-bow warrior perdigons.

The perspective is tough here but, that is a big fish going longer than 1/4 of my 9 foot rod

My last day was another full day of fishing.  Ed led us to another stretch of the Sevier that Cody from Lost River Angler pointed to on a map for us.  I was excited about it.  Here is an edited (siri generated spelling errors fixed) version of the email update to Cody that I dictated the next morning driving home.  It sums it up quite nicely:

“Well like I told my 25-year-old in Bozeman last night I didn’t think the fishing could get better but it did   I had to land over 50 fish yesterday maybe close to 60 and some real large quality ones too.  I even caught a 14” tiger trout. 

We fished upriver on the Sevier where are you showed us on the map.  We only finished like 11 AM to 1:30 PM and I swear I was getting a take on every cast I only casted at water where you couldn’t see the bottom basically 2 1/2 feet or deeper and there seem to be a fish in every one of those pockets.  I pulled 10 fish out of one of those pools.  In a handful of those pools I had multiple fish that I landed.  some quality fish too.  I caught a brown over 20 inches.  I’m not a counter but this new perdigon style of nymphs that I’m tying on the traditional flies that I’ve always tied and sold off timhuckaby.com are just killing and because of the competition style wide gap hook. Even barbless my land to hook ratio is almost 100%. In that session I also caught three on top on a size 12 huck  hopper.  I was fishing dry dropper.  My dropper was about 3 feet from the dry.   I know I landed close to 40 in that session on the Sevier.

Then we moved over to the creek tributary from the day before. we parked in the same place that we did the day before but me and Jim walked down and put in where we finished the prior day and fished up river in water we had not seen yet.  

I shortened up the dropper I’m pretty much fished the exact same way.  and the fish were in the exact same places even though it’s much smaller water. I was hooking more fish on top in that session; landing them on my dry fly, a huck hopper tan size 12.  My Perdigons were killing on the same Huck green Caddis Perdigon that imitates a green rock worm. Size 16   oh yeah i finished 3X entire time.”

That’s a tiger trout with a Huck Midge Perdigon hanging off his nose

Summary

Well there it is.  3 states, 11 fishing days, 13 stretches of river / creeks, and over 350 trout caught and released thanks to the Perdigon style of fly tying.  And with this article let me announce that you can buy those Perdigon flies off this site here.

Yea, the Bonneville Cutties fall for Huck Hoppers too