Just spent 6 glorious days in Ketchum Idaho trout fishing the Big Wood River. The river was low, around 235 CFS and gin clear.
I arrived in the evening, went straight to Lost River Outfitters, bought an out-of-state license and asked the helpful staff what the hot fly was.
I don’t usually fish a dropper fly on the Big Wood because I love it as a dry fly fishery, however, I hadn’t fished here in a long time and bought of few of the dropper flies.
I walked the 50 steps from my parents’ time share and casted a number 12 elk hair caddis into the Big Wood. That’s right, I completely ignored the fly advice and stuck with what I know works, or thought I did.
After 25 casts I finally got a nice rainbow to rise and take a look at the caddis. He flashed at it, smacked it with his tail…a refusal.
I noticed a small hatch of something grayish coming off the water. I realized it was some kind of baetis fly so I took the proffered advice and tied on a small parachute adams. Things changed quickly. I got more rises and even managed to hook one or two nice rainbows. But one or two rainbows? I was used to catching far more in the 2 hours I’d fished.
I was reluctant to try the dropper, I’d just come from fishing Steelhead on the Rogue river with a nymph setup. I wanted to dry fly fish dammit.
Oh well, the next day I tied on the zebra dropper about 10 inches from the bigger, purple haze fly, (a purple parachute adams) and immediately I went from fishing to catching.
The nice thing about the zebra’s is they don’t sink too far down, in fact they’re just under the surface and pretty close to the dry fly. So, when a fish hit the dropper I could see them rise, which is what I love about dry fly fishing. I was loath to use the dropper for fear of not seeing the take on the surface. I was pleasantly surprised.
By the fourth day on the Big Wood I was consistently catching 30 to 50 fish a day. Most weren’t much bigger than 8 inches but many were over 12 and a few were in the high teens.
On the 6th day, however the rain started coming down. I have never dry fly fished in a rain storm and was unsure of the outcome. In short the dropper fly saved the day.
Since there were no hatches I put on a number 10 stimulator as my dry fly and continued with the black zebra as the dropper. I caught more fish in a shorter amount of time than any previous day. Every single fish was caught on the dropper.
Unfortunately the rain continued all night and didn’t stop or even let up the next day. Within a few hours of daybreak the Big Wood River was chocolate-brown and rising steadily. My fishing was over. It was okay though, I’d gotten 5 really excellent fishing days, I can’t complain.