The Mono Loop Queets River G.P.
The Olympic Peninsula’s Queets River is a glacial fed stream. It has the flow of the Sauk, but the gradient of the Skagit. …Perfect for swinging flies. The Queets lower river steelhead are only a day or so away from the salt. They tend to be large and yet very aggressive to the fly. Nice!
As more fly fisher than fly-tier, I found myself looking for a fly pattern that would imitate suspected steelhead saltwater food sources such as shrimp & prawns. I enjoy fishing this style of fly imitation because the natural can swim lively in the water, while producing a predominant silhouette in even the murkiest conditions. The best fly imitation I have found & well suited for the steelhead swing presentation is the Atlantic Salmon fly pattern, General Practioner. We just call him, the G.P.
A few years ago I began messing with the standard General Practioner to see if I could improve its fish catch-ability. I have always been fond of this fly pattern but it has several characteristics I didn‘t care for. They are:
The Mono Loop Queets River G.P. Tying Instructions
Northwest native Dennis Dickson is a Washington fisheries biologist who also has enjoyed the opportunity of being a steelhead flyfishing guide for over 20 years. He and his staff share their vast experience, teaching their highly popular flyfishing schools and bringing anglers from all over the world to enjoy the thrill of flyfishing steelhead. Dennis and his guides, fish many clients throughout the year and his website, Flyfishsteelhead.com is among the most widely read Internet weekly steelhead flyfishing reports in the state of Washington. Dennis also has personally written over 40 articles and stories about steelhead flyfishing. Flyfishing has been good to Dennis; The writing is his way of giving something back.
1998 Photo (Dennis Holding Steelhead)
1) Difficult & time consuming to tie. I have since gone away from the split tail. My single tail of squirrel tail does just fine. More extensive ties are not necessarily good fishing flies. Fortunately or unfortunately, the General Practioner is both an extensive tie but a good steelhead producer.
2) Even the most carefully tied G.P. sometimes doesn’t track well in the water. They may look the same in the box but some ties tend to tilt to the side as they swim. I want a fly that swims top up and belly down. If it will sink into position belly down, so much the better.
3) The deer hair fly doesn’t sink well. Even the best ties are fairly buoyant. Blame the deer hair tails for that one. The best looking pattern isn’t going to do much good if it doesn’t get near that really big steelhead. I want it to sink but not kill the action of the fly.
4) Spooky fish tend to nip the tail, instead of eating the whole fly. The big claw tails place the hook point well forward in the fly. Not so hot for the nippers.
The mono-loop G.P. was developed to present a fly that would sink well (thanks to the brass eyes) and sink belly down, so it tracks well as it swims in the swing. This fly pattern is simplified so you are not scared to lose a fly or two probing amongst the stones where the steelhead live.
The Mono-Loop G.P.
The Mono-loop design also places the hook back in the tail in a “stinger position” without disturbing the action of the fly. If Mr. Steelhead even nips at the fly, he is hooked. The last large steelhead we took on this pattern was hooked right in the snout. With a traditional hook, all you would have got was probably a pull.
I tie the pattern in several colors including jet black, but Pink/orange with gold eyes is probably my favorite.
Queets River native steelhead tend to be large and aggressive. Sometimes they will really yank you as they slam the fly, but other times all you get is a touch, as they simply swim over and pick it up. This is especially true in the cold water of winter. The Mono-loop G.P. catches both biters.
I think it is a good idea to tie the tippet to fly on with a loop knot. Free swinging is always better in my book. If the fly doesn’t track well in even the stiffest currents, I simply take it off, and tie on a fly that will. That probably doesn’t mean Jack to a steelhead, but as a professional guide, it does to me.
Best of fishing,
Dennis Dickson www.flyfishsteelhead.com
425 238 3537