Going Down the Rabbit Hole

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

It is less than 30 days before the trip down under to OZ begins. My last Montana trout trip was well back in October of last year. Winter has been inevitably long here in SW Montana. A couple of saltwater trips to the Florida Gulf Coast reminded me that I still knew how to operate a fly rod, but I do long for some real trout. A new fly shop opened in Bozeman. That’s number eight if you count the two big sporting goods stores. Some California entrepreneur looking to cash in on the trout Mecca that is SW Montana. My fly tying has been pretty much nonstop all winter. First, I had to put together some saltwater boxes and that got me into several new materials and techniques. Of course, the trip to OZ required some serious tying to deal with the bizarre flies they seem to prefer down under. And, as I’ve done in previous years, I needed to tie up a gross of Montana flies as auction material for the annual Madison-Gallatin Trout Unlimited fundraising banquet. In new Tacky Fly Boxes donated by J. Stockard, the flies did their part in helping the MGTU raise over $45,000 at this year’s banquet.

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The Shrek Fly

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT

I am unaware of other trout flies named after animated movie characters (there’s probably a Mickey Mouse fly somewhere), but sometime in the last decade, Tasmanian angling writer and member of the Australian World Fly Fishing Team, Joe Riley, did just that. As I was researching fly patterns for our trip to Tasmania next year, the “Shrek” fly kept being mentioned over and over again. Once I found some good tying references for the fly, it was evident why Joe named the fly “Shrek”. It was typically big and green like the animated character in the Disney series. I am not sure when Joe Riley devised this fly, but it was clearly after the release of the movie (2001). Additionally, the name Shrek was loosely adapted from William Steig‘s 1990 fairy tale picture book Shrek! The name “Shrek” is derived from the Yiddish and German Schreck (Yiddish שרעק) meaning “fear” or “fright”. It is unknown whether Joe Riley originally intended the Shrek Fly to frighten the fish into taking the fly.

An Original Shrek
An Original Shrek

In reality, the Shrek is nothing more than a variation on traditional Woolly Buggers and is now being tied and fished in Tasmania in colors other than the original green. There are two distinguishing features of the original Shrek fly—a mylar body and a green hackle. However, many variations have emerged over the years to include using dyed green Badger hackle. The original also employed a bead head.

When I started tying some Shrek flies a few weeks ago, I had no idea how effective they might be. Designed for the Brown Trout in the rivers and lakes of Tasmania, I wondered whether or not the Shrek might be enticing to our Montana trout.

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Going Down Under

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Tasmanian Brown Trout
Tasmanian Brown Trout

I’ve never really had a bucket list for fishing, but if I did, Australia, specifically Tasmania would have been on it. So this next Spring (2017) the wife and I will be heading to Australia for several weeks which will include at least a week in Tasmania trout fishing and a couple of fishing days in the mountains of eastern Victoria. Although the trip will also include ample sampling of Australian wildlife, wineries, single malt distilleries and of course some exotic Australian cuisine, with good reason, Tasmania provides a fly fishing opportunity for trout that is unparalleled by any other. It is not the realm of monster trout, steelhead and salmon like Patagonia, Alaska or Kola. There are no exotic species like rooster fish, peacock bass or Taimen. But, unlike in the U.S. or other locations where you find introduced Brown Trout, the browns in Tasmania represent a pure strain of English brown trout from the River Itchen.

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