Monday, May 31, 2010

The JJ is Special

An angler's confidence in a fly is an interesting thing. Call me crazy, but it almost seems as if those positive vibes are transferred down the line and to the fly, giving it an effectiveness that it doesn't posses at the hands of a pessimistic angler.

I've had some favorites over the years, flies that inspired great confidence on the water. Back in the day it was a brown bugger. Then it was the stimulator. This winter it was a partridge and pink soft hackle. I've got a lot of love for the Chernobyl family come summer. But at the present time, the JJ Special is a fly that I have a great deal of confidence in.

The fly represents nothing exactly, but many things loosely. I believe it's a very effective crayfish imitation. I'm sure it's taken as a stonefly nymph at times. It certainly has some baitfish qualities to it. It's an easy tie and the standard recipe turns out a tasty product, but when tied in various colors and sizes the fly can represent certain trout (and bass) delicacies even more effectively. A black, or black/yellow JJ is a solid variation, as is an olive JJ. In its various incarnations, the JJ has now overtaken half of my bugger barn.

The fly is absolutely deadly on the drift, on the swing or stripped. Most of my confidence in this fly comes from dead drifting it in tandem with a smaller nymph. But then many a good fish has fallen for the JJ at the tail end of a drift when it swings and rises in the current, its rubber legs and marabou undulating invitingly. And there have been many memorable days spent pounding river banks with a JJ, stripping it feverishly through the lies of big, streamer eating browns.

I've caught rainbows, cutts, browns and smallmouth on a JJ. It has hooked me up in some dire looking situations, where visibility was under a foot. In gin clear water the fly can be a bit gaudy, but still plenty effective. It may be at its best somewhere in between these conditions, when the water has a touch of green to it and visibility is in the 3- to 4-foot range. It's generally at home in big water, but I've had success with it on smaller streams, particularly if browns are part of the equation.

I'm gushing a bit, I know, but the JJ really has been good to me. Case in point: over the past two days I caught about a dozen fish with it on the Madison River below Beartrap Canyon, including both my largest brown and rainbow to date on this stretch of river.

For whatever reason this fly has instilled a little extra confidence to my fishing, and there's something to be said for that.


  1. your abdolutly right!!! Its nice to see someone else hitting on the confidence subject... you should read my post called, Under Cover Hopper

  2. Big - You definitely hit on the subject in the Under Cover Hopper post...way to fool the fool. Yeah, I think that there's certainly something to the confidence factor. Over the past 6 months or so, that's something that I've kind of tapped into. Obviously it's only part of the equation when it comes to success on the water, but I'm convinced that it plays a significant role.

  3. Love that shot! Enjoy reading your blog

  4. Will, you nailed it. As many of us know, intangibles such as confidence are the key to most of life's endeavors. The beauty of optimism and confidence is that you can pass it on to other people as well. As you hand that JJ Special to someone with such confidence, you may be spreading straight to them. In this case, you turned me onto a fly I've never used and I can certainly say I your presentation here makes me excited to give it a try. I hope I can send the 'vibes' down my line. Thanks!!!

  5. TDawg,
    Thanks! I've got to give props to my buddy Matt Ruuhela for taking that photo.

    No doubt about it, positive thinking goes a long way in life, as in fishing. I hope the JJ works wonders for you... depending on where you're fishing at in AZ, I'd probably try it in some slightly smaller sizes (6 or 8).