Intruders for trout

Big trout are opportunistic throughout the year and like to eat larger prey such as little trout or baitfish, crayfish or whatever other terrestrial happens their way. They also attack large streamers and other attractors like spoons and spinners with abandon. Enter what is the best of both worlds, the intruder. Oftentimes if you swing intruders for summer and winter steelhead you will periodically catch nice trout. Most people shrug this off because steelheading is as singular as a crack habit but a scaled down or even regular sized intruder can also work quite well when specifically targeting larger trout.

A nice sea run on a egg sucking intruder

DSCF5128 - Copy

A nice cowichan brown on a slowly swung trout intruder


An intruder is a style of fly rather than a distinct pattern, designed for swinging and as such there are no rules about their styles, colours or materials, think of it like a wooly bugger, which has many iterations, not one. Designed initially to target the more aggressive fish at the cost of numbers, they are tied on a shank (or tube, hairpin, etc.) with a trailer hook, and feature a strong collar at the front and back to brace and flare a longer flowing hackle especially under current pressure, creating a large profile from minimal materials with minimal wind resistance and weight. The materials you use, the weight, the rigging of the trailer hook whether with tubing or some kind of wire or braid, or even a fly tied entirely on wire is limited by your imagination and not other people’s definitions. I prefer small brass eyes so my intruders aren’t actually very heavy, I find that they fish (hover broadside throughout the swing) much better than the tungsten or lead eyed versions many people use. But then again you don’t need skagits, tungsten or T- 14 either.

Rainbows, cutts, browns, and bulls all fall in the face of seductive ostrich


Some think of these “flies” as lures and not flies at all; however, I personally am not concerned with debating pointless ephemera while the resource is facing so many threats, fishers fighting with each other will only hasten the demise of the fish we all hold so dear.

Another cutthroat with a mouthful of intruder

DSCF5130 - Copy

Needless to say a switch or spey rod is the easiest way of casting and swinging these larger flies, but due to their design of maximum appearance with little actual bulk if you scale them down they fish well on a single hand rod too. I usually use my TCX 6119 or my Beulah 4/5 10’6 switch when fishing these flies, but can and do fish them on my 6 wt Mystic singlehand rod too. Like all streamer fishing, swinging, dead drifting into the swing, stripping cross, up or down stream all apply as tactics and work well, and though not used very much they will also work at the beach for sea runs.

It is easily asked, why bother using a time consuming fly like the intruder, as opposed to a big streamer and that’s a fair question, given the long history of using long shanked streamer patterns. I think that the clear answer is that those big streamer hooks in my experience do a lot of damage to smaller (and sometimes even bigger trout) whereas a size 4 or 6 octopus trailer hook usually minimizes it, so long as you keep the trailer line or wire short so that the hook is within tail of the fly. I know I’ve had a lot of bad hookups (tongue or throat hooked bleeders, eye hooked etc.) on the longer streamer hooks over the years, whereas the trailer hooks are almost invariably pinned in the same place due to their design. The other answer is that a trailer hook will usually hold a fish better than a long shanked streamer hook, as it doesn’t give them as much leverage, at least in my experience. Just like many steelheaders have gone from big spey hooks to tubes or trailers to minimize damage, I never want to tongue hook another big cutthroat in my life, it’s a move for the fish dig it?



To hell with black friday

Listening to all of the bullshit expressed about black friday, I have to say that some people need to get out more. When you buy something here in BC for a couple of dollars more, you are supporting people who have jobs here. Like your kids and grandkids and neighbours and your community. That is how the economy works. No matter where you are go support a local store, tackle or otherwise.

These three good local tackle stores on the island are worth your support and time if you are planning on buying something tackle or fly fishing related for christmas.

Robinson’s outdoor store- holding their own with Atmosphere, MEC and a whole bunch of others in the downtown Victoria area, an independent local outdoor store with a top notch fly shop run by Matt King.

Island Outfitters- Oriented to the gear fishing and hunting markets but still have a sizeable fly fishing section, and Nelson is very knowledgable about fly fishing on the island. Located in Victoria

Nile Creek Fly Shop-Awesome fly shop, try out lines and rods in the parking lot, often with an impromptu casting lesson, lots of knowledge, tons of experience, and gear you won’t find anywhere else. Courtney Ogilvie and his wife Val are very friendly and willing to help out. Located in Bowser (just past Qualicum beach)

The reality of Enbridge/fuck the fish

If you dislike this project as much as I do, here is at the very least a token gesture of support for people who are actually fighting this project     Enbridge is attempting to begin preemptory infastructure work on this project already even though it is not as of yet approved, and once again the native bands (whose water will be directly affected by a spill) are the only ones who are doing anything to try to stop it.

1) This pipeline will be built, if you think this wasn’t rubber stamped like 5 years ago then you should try the mushrooms growing in the field behind my house.

2) There will be a spill. Don’t agree? You are clearly a fucking tool.

3) Lots of mechanisms to prevent these projects have been removed, like our fishery legislation, and free trade agreements that allow freedom from prosecution when you destroy wild trout and salmon rivers lakes and creeks.

4) As every body of power that represents anyone but native groups are all gutless wonders, it is entirely up to the native power structure to shape the building of this pipeline in such a way as to minimize the damage it may cause.

5) This project will provide a good amount of short term jobs for what will largely be an Albertan work force.

6) Just because you live in a small northern BC town you are not entitled to have a resource job provided for you.

7) Fish are at the bottom of almost everyone’s list of priorities when it comes to this project.

8) All of the people making decisions that relate to safety, cost of cleanup, and environmental effects will most likely be long gone by the time a spill happens and thus are offsetting their present gains over our future loss should a spill ever happen.

9) Believing in climate change isn’t a fantasy, denying it’s existence is living in a fantasy world.

10) If you actually care about fish and wild creatures in far off places like this then you need to make a lot more effort and noise, stop fighting over nymphing with bobbers, and the length of your (cock) fly line, realize that the only reason there are still fish for you to squabble about was that enlightened people in the previous age of unrestrained land rape fought to preserve them, a lot harder than most of you do.

Colquitz creek

Much in the world of west coast anadromous fish is in a state of flux, and the future seems to be bleak, but in the midst of all this small urban creeks still survive. Under pretty much constant threat and surviving all the crap that ends up in storm sewer run off, various spills and neglect, the wild coho and cutthroat of this little creek rear and live near a busy ocean waterway that features large shipyards, hundreds of thousands of people and no sewage treatment, has seemingly yearly chemical and oil spills and die offs, the echo of past pollution and yet still return to spawn in the fall. Approximately 500 coho and a handful of sea run cutthroat have returned this year to Colquitz creek so far and I think that’s fucking awesome. These fish have passed through the volunteer run fish counting trap that sits within feet of a massive mall parking lot and is shaded by the silvercity tillicum movie theater. There are many creeks like this all over the west, sustained only by the volunteer efforts of many who care, not for their ego, nor for food, or for the opportunity to catch, just to see these fish exist as they were meant to. These streams enrich communities and bring a sense of purpose and connection in an otherwise cold urban environment. Please stop to consider what may be living just down the street in that bramble infested ravine in your own area, our culture may be seemingly locked into an insane race to the bottom when it comes to our environment, but it does not mean that all is lost.

update: 2013 saw over 1400 coho and a handful of sea run cutthroat go through the Colquitz creek counting fence between October and December.


Fish that aren’t sea run cutthroat






I’ve spent most of the fall fishing for species other than sea run cutthroat this year, and it has been a lot of fun. There is no better time to be out in the year, as even a slow day rewards you with excellent scenery. The fly fishing opportunities here in the fall are pretty much endless, and many people don’t even bother with trout and steelhead in the fall being as there is chum, coho, chinook, and trout in the island lakes a plenty. While the numbers of fish in our streams are not as numerous or as large as many others, there is nothing in my mind that compares to the fine streams of this island.

The reverse(d) spider

Mike Kinney’s classic and unusual looking pattern is a sea run cutthroat staple in the US but not as often seen up here in BC. Spider patterns have been around for a very long time and are simple and effective. This pattern tweaks the spider by having a wing tied facing outward from the eye rather than back along the body. It provides a lot of pulsing movement and a large profile especially stripped or swung in slower water, and indeed in the fall with lower water, especially around timber) you can’t go wrong with this excellent pattern. I have seen many versions of this pattern in every colour and size possible, and like all of the best patterns it allows and encourages endless variation (hence the ambiguous recipe). Although it isn’t often used outside of cutthroat fishing it will take coho, summer steelhead, resident trout and even bass, so chances are there is a fishery you can put it to use in.

Different versions straight from my fly box


It can be difficult to get the hang of the wing, and you can tie it a few different ways, but the easiest way I have seen is to use one feather for the whole fly. Tie the tail in, then the forward hackle and lastly the body.

1. Select a whole fairly long hackle feather (originally Amherst pheasant tippet, but can be mallard, teal, gadwall, or any barred longer hackle)

2. Tie in the short tail near the back of the hook using the tip of the feather, do not cut off the feather

3. Seperate the fibres. Lay the feather down along the shank towards the eye and cut off or strip the few fibres that would be along the body and tie down the stem up to the front portion of the hook(a little bit back from the eye).

4. Spin the feather to create the hackle and then use thread to direct all of the fibres forward, this should provide a balanced spread of fibres. (remove the furry underfur fibres first)

5. Run your thread back to the tail. Tie in the chenille body back to front, tie off thread, glue.

6. You are done. repeat endlessly with every colour of chenille ever invented.

7. Show to all your cutthroat friends

Hook: size 4-12 standard tiemco, mustad or other, sometime i will use a size 8 tiemco 200R which has a longer curved shank

Thread: any

Body: chenille or wool in the colour of your choice, black, red and yellow are commonly used

Hackle/collar: optional for bracing the wing, I just use small saddle hackles

Wing: I like a longer teal flank, however the original was tied I believe with amherst pheasant tippet, other good choices include mallard and gadwall.

if you need it to sink you can wrap the shank in lead wire or add a beadhead behind the reverse wing

my favorite version of this fly appears in the sidebar of the quiet pool blog (see my blogroll) on the right side scrolled down aways, every version I tie is inspired by that one.



I was going to write a pithy retort to all the politics I see dressed up in war and marched out like an cheap infomercial around this time of year and that the day off we have is just another party to so many, but in the end I just feel sad that so many people died, and countless more lives have been ripped apart or denied by the wars that have been fought in our country’s name. In the end November 11th is a day to put aside the petty politics of the day and just thank those who have paid in full and a reminder also to live up to what they paid so dearly for. Thank you

Lest we forget

The value of a species at the edge of exctinction

I ask you, you visitors from estonia and kenya who are obviously not spammers, does a species such as a steelhead, sea run cutthroat have a value when severely depressed, and by value I don’t mean dollars and cents, I mean are they worth saving? Do they have value when faced with direct extirpation due to human growth and the need for bitumen to ship to china to make such basic necessities as shitty shoe racks, and toast tongs.

Is the point of conservation to return everything to a “unfucked” state so we can destroy it again, or is it to create a way for humans and the species of their environs to survive and coalesce into a future worth living in, ie sustainability. The fallacy philosophy of endless human growth will eat the planet and it’s inhabitants alive and cause the implosion of the many things we hold dear. Approaching conservation with the common fatalist mindset is a mistake and must be stopped.

The end.

Thompson River Caddis

A truly great sea run cutthroat and summer steelhead fly from the vice of the late great Harry Lemire out of Washington, hitch it and wake it, greaseline it, or swing it wet, or strip it. I do know from experience that not only steelhead but sea run cutthroat and rainbow trout will take this pattern with relish, especially in the spring/early summer when caddis abound. While it’s best fished from April to the end of November, you can definitely swing it year round. Don’t hesitate to use it beyond the banks of it’s namesake river. Harry Lemire created many good patterns, check out the greaseliner, steelhead sculpin and the fall caddis, amongst others.



Hook: size 10 to 2 Tiemco 7999 black steelhead/salmon hook or similar

Body: insect or caddis green to olive dubbing of your choice, other colours are worth experimenting with too, including brown, black, ginger, orange and others.

Rib: originally black tying thread, optional small gold oval tinsel, or nothing

Underwing: Natural green phase ringneck flank

Wing/head: Moose tied muddler style and sparse

If you look closely you can see the wing in the mouth of this summer steelhead

DSCF5076 - Copy

and a cutthroat from the same run

DSCF5073 - Copy