Stillwater fishing has become more and more popular out here in Colorado over the last decade. What was once merely a fun thing to do a few times a year during runoff while the rivers were too big and muddy to fish has become the focus of a select group of hardcore anglers who are willing to spend the time on the water to figure out what makes some of these behemoth still water fish tick. These fellas quietly roll into my shop in the spring and fall with cellphone pics of fish that are utterly jaw dropping and make me wonder why I spend so much time chasing 18 inch brown trout these days. Tim Drummond is just that sort of guy.
Growing up in Longmont, Colorado and son of cane rod builder Frank Drummond, Tim came by his addiction naturally, fishing most of the front range waters til it hurt before finally settling on spending his now seventh summer guiding anglers for North Park Anglers in Walden, Colorado, home of the Delaney Lakes. A series of impoundments harboring fish of sometimes mythical proportions, these lakes are veritable bug factories, with crayfish, leeches, scuds, callibaetis and damselflies as their main attractions. Leave it to a chemist like Tim to sift through all the available options on these trout’s menus and single out the lowly water boatman as one of his top patterns. Water boatmen, at first glance resemble some sort of water born beetle, with prominent legs and a blocky body and they are often a mystery to even seasoned still water guys. As it turns out, trout relish these little morsels and will tank up on them every chance they get.
Tim’s Boatman pattern is a genuinely simple affair that is tied entirely of synthetics and utilizes a gunmetal colored glass bead to add a bit of flash and weight as well as to help square off the face of these odd little critters. Water boatman are good swimmers when they want to be and lazy bottom bouncers when they don’t so Tim ties his fly lightly weighted to drift as much as possible. Using Thinskin over a pearl Lateral Scale Shellback to create a glow from within and beautiful black peacock Ice Dubbing to form the body, Tim finished his fly off with a pair or Flexi-Floss legs swept back along the body of the fly to imitate the prominent oar-like legs of the natural. This fly has everything it needs and nothing it doesn’t without being complicated or involved. While this pattern could be referred to as a “guide fly”, I hate that term. Guides are in the business of catching fish and I’ve never seen one who oversimplifies anything. Trust me, experts like Time have a reason for everything they tie to a hook and everything they do while fishing. I love that sort of thing!
I asked Tim his favorite method of fishing this pattern and he related to me that he typically uses an intermediate line paired with a 12 foot 3X leader with but a single boatman tethered to the tippet. Time says he sometimes fishes the boatman under an indicator, particularly if the infamous North Park wind is creating a bit of chop on the water. The boatman bounces and jigs under the indicator and Tim finds he can even get a bit of a “drift” in the current under the right conditions. Often forgoing the indicator and simply casting the fly out and retrieving with short, steady strips has paid off big for Tim with his largest Delaney trout to date coming on this pattern and a steady retrieve. My own experience has shown that a long strip retrieve can sometimes be deadly as well. I have always cast a boatman pattern out, hopefully in the direction of some sort of visible activity and made a single, very long, steady strip to swim the fly in a long arc and have often been rewarded with a charging trout inhaling the pattern, but you can be sure I’ll try Tim’s method the next time I find myself in North Park.