There are times, especially on those small mountain lakes, when all is quiet and no visible sign of insect activity is apparent. You know the fish are there and that in the colorful fall season, they are intent on using every feeding opportunity prior to the lake surface freeze up. But the question is, what to try? I have found that a small fly, closely resembling a shrimp but with a fully palmered hackle rather than the usual shell back, is often the answer! At least the trout in a small mountain lake that we call Hidden Lake, located near the summit of the Connector Highway linking Westbank with Merritt, certainly will strike this palmered fly on a wet line without hesitation even though there is no surface activity of any kind. It is a good fly to have in your tackle box and for the want of a better name, I call it the Hidden Lake fly!
Select one of the thin, long saddle hackles from your grizzly cape and place it tip first along the hook shank with the larger end protruding past the hook bend and tie it down. A gold mylar ribbing is optional and if you want the fly to be ribbed, tie in a 3 to 4 inch strand of gold mylar now, also allowing it to protrude past the hook bend. Then take a piece of dark green chenille, or fix a dubbing loop with dark green seal hair and tie it to the hook shank so that you can wind the material forward to the hook eye and tie off. If you are using seal hair, create a cigar shaped body as you wind the dubbing loop forward. For ribbed flies, wind the mylar forward using about five turns to the hook eye in the opposite direction to that of the body material. The final step is to wind the saddle hackle in 5 or 6 turns, carefully forward to the hook eye and tie off, pushing the larger fibers near the hook eye in a backward direction as you complete your final half hitches. Because I use invisible mending thread for my tying thread, I can now wind the thread back and forth once, to the hook bend and back to the hook eye, in order to give the palmered hackle more strength for those vicious rainbow strikes. Of course, great care must be taken in this back wind of your tying thread not to distort the appearance of the hackle.
The finished fly resembles a shrimp except for the full bodied hackle rather than having a shell back appearance such as found in the Werner shrimp. However, at times it can be more effective than the conventional shrimp pattern, possibly because of the wavy action of the full palmered grizzly hackle. Fish this fly on a wet or sink tip line, with a slow but jerky retrieve. The rainbow trout in Hidden Lake seem to find it just right and therefore it is a fly that you should have in your tackle box!
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