Category Archives: Backcountrybugs

Here Comes the Ice Cream Truck!

When I was a kid, it was a bell, it was a child’s call to arms. These days it is bad digital music through a megaphone often precluded by a child’s voice saying “Hello!?”. A process that further complicated the simple world of the ice cream man. I do not wonder why hordes of kids carrying pitchforks are not chasing these big white box trucks around. They have gone too far trying to make the truck acceptable and cool. What ever happened to good ol’ bright colors? Unusual, bright color combinations that just attracted children. Blue ice cream and hot pink sprinkles!? Yes please! There is something otherworldly about the colors, as they are not commonly edible. Why do kids love them? The answer is ultra simple. Curiosity.


It is common in science to conclude that animals have minds equivalent to young humans. They can accomplish seemingly complex tasks in the wild, but when it comes to processing new information or training, animals seem to have trouble. We can teach them to speak sign language, yet it does not give us much insight into the way they think. We can only observe. Maybe observing a young child’s behavior when it comes to food can give us insight into highly educated fish. Which takes me right back to ice cream.

When I was young, chasing after the ice cream truck was a habit. If my parents did give me money, it might have been a dollar. Enough to get an ice cream cone, probably bubble gum. Yes, I wanted something more than bubble gum ice cream, the coveted “Rocket Pop”. It was $2.50 if I remember correctly. Never had enough to buy one. Something about it called to me and I can’t quite pinpoint why. It just looked like unending bliss, or maybe I would fly to the moon after eating one. Who knows?

Nothing has changed over the years. I was digging through my materials one day, looking for some that were rarely used. I saw it. A hot pink northern bucktail. Not something I would normally buy, but this one was perfect. I proceeded to tie some muskie flies. For some reason, I combined it with chartreuse and my brain exploded. Working with the hair took too long and I needed a quick and easy go-to pattern for the times when I’m in a hurry to go fishing (always). I bought up a handful of materials and began to tie. What I came up with was an articulating and suspending, not really fishy looking fly. It was the colors that looked delicious. The “Rocket Pop”.


I know, it doesn’t look like a fish, but it was never meant to. It was meant to tap into the brain of a child, to make things that looked delicious and unreal. It was the idea that maybe children also have the same primitive instinct and curiosity as a predatory fish. The same fish that spends his entire life hunting prey, knowing exactly which fish to eat. One with senses about as sharp as his teeth. One quick in his reflexes and right in his choices. One with a weakness, the ice cream truck.



Lesson #20: Be a kid. You never know when it might come in handy.

The San Juan Devil

There isn’t much that can be said about the San Juan River in northwestern New Mexico. It is big and easy to fish. Once you understand the how, then you can begin to concentrate on what. I mean, there are only so many different thread midges one can have before you just start getting downright bored. To give you a heads up, everyone is going to tell you to fish a cream thread midge and a chocolate emerger from sizes 20-26 (and even smaller). To be honest, this is a good example of people trying to outsmart a half-witted fish. I made it a goal this year to begin picking off large tailwater fish with patterns in sizes of 16-20 based solely upon triggers. Despite what the world says, you can do this. Here is one such pattern…

Introducing the San Juan Devil! It’s a bloodworm pattern really. Typically red thread and red stretch tube or D-rib on a red hook. *Yawn* How bout…

Hook: Tiemco 206 BL #16-20

Thread: UTC 70 Denier Red

Body wrap: Red Stripped Peacock Hurl

Wire: SM red

Step 1: It is very important that you start your thread close to the eye of the hook and short. any lump in this fly is really obvious.

step 1

Step 2: Tie in the wire. Start precisely where your last thread wrap is. Make sure your wire ends near the eye, the head of the fly is the only place where there is a little room for error.

step 2

Step 3: Wrap thread back and keep it in the rear position. This is the part where you strip some peacock hurl (Plumule?). Just pinch between your thumb and forefinger and pull. Sometimes it will break in the process, but they are long enough to do it again in a lower position. Tie it in at the rear of the fly and wrap the thread forward. Do not do the typical three wraps and tie forward, this will create an unforgiving lump in the rear of the fly.

prep 2

step 3

Step 4: Wrap peacock forward and tie it in. Using hackle pliers will more than likely break the peacock (Note: I am dodging the term quill). Use your fingers with a light touch. It takes a while to get the feel, but the end product is better. If you start with a couple wraps a bit loose (yet still tight to the hook), the rest will go easy.

step 4

Step 5: First, I see now that I wrapped the peacock over the wire… So, that is going to bunch up a bit. Anyway, wrap the wire forward in the same direction. Trust me here, this works a lot better than counter-ribbing in this situation. I have found that it breaks less this way… Finish your wire on the opposing side you started it on and build the head as high as the wire. You can whip finish here, cover it with epoxy or do whatever you want at this point. It is done. I only whip finish, no head cement. I like to keep it as slim and dull as possible.

step 5




The Innerworkings…

I have been thinking lately that my little and slightly unknown page is in need for a bit of an overhaul. In the next few weeks you will see a bit more on the site. I am going to begin by adding a couple features.  “Fishnerdproof” and “Backcountrybugs” will be the first two additions. The next phase will be videos. The first step is YouTube, if I get good at it, I will then move to Vimeo. I was thinking one field test and one bug per month here, nothing too crazy.

Fishnerdproof will comprise of items that I actually use in the field and certain tests on certain items to ascertain the most functional products on the market. I am not asking for freebies, if they end up on my doorstep, you can guarantee your item will be torn, broken, smashed, shredded, or otherwise destroyed in the harsh New Mexico environment (AKA Fishnerd Testing Facility). All this stuff will be tested in real world situations and beyond that, in the same way my gear is tested. These “Reviews” will not happen often, but when they do, I’ll try to make them fun!IMGP0390

Backcountrybugs will be a tutorial place of sorts where I will demonstrate patterns that work, rather than untested flies (salmon flies are an exception to the rule). I might even talk about tips and new techniques to use when you sit behind a vise. I’ll also be covering “Outside-the-box” ways to use normal or old material. I may even have a guest type thing going on when I tie with other people. Who knows… Basically, it will be a tying resource. IMGP0396

The page will remain the same. I will write. That is all. Recently, I have become tired of seeing a lot of what I am seeing in the Fly Fishing world. It is not a popularity contest out there. It is not about egomaniacs. It is about the art, the inner-workings of the mind, the philosophy of the river, the peace of the chaotic outdoors, and so many more reasons. It is why we have something to write about all of the time. It isn’t a sales gimmick or a status symbol. It is fun, it is a passion, it is a love, and a way of life for many. A way of life that is sometimes a struggle.

I hope you enjoy the added features for 2013!

Posts to come next month…

Fishing with Sanders and tying with friends

Ice-out lake fishing

Early season hiking

The PT post

I know you guys have been waiting for a lot of this already, I have been a bit wrapped up with learning this new life.