Kelly Creek is Smokin'

Kelly Creek Drainage from Hoodoo Pass

Smokey vista from Hoodoo Pass

Back from my fall trip to Kelly Creek, Idaho. Once again it was great. Four days of blue skies and 65 degree temperatures. Of course, since it is October, the nights dropped into the low 20’s. The humidity was so low, that even along Moose Creek where I camp, there was almost no frost. Coming over from Superior, I stopped on the Idaho side of Hoodoo Pass to view the drainage. I knew that there would be smoke. Fires have been burning for two months. As you can see in the picture, the horizon showed the extent and range of the fires. I can’t imagine what it must be like fighting those blazes.

In recent years I’ve made my fall trip in September. So I was struck by several differences. The water was low. Without any rain for months there had been none of the usual spikes up in flow. So the discharge flow had steadily dropped from 1600 to 700 cfps. That is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.

Whether it was the low water, the cold nights, the time of the year, or maybe just me, the fishing was different also. Instead of the 25 – 30 fish per day I usually catch, this year it was 15 – 20. Still very good, when you remember the days are short. The water temperature was 40 degrees, so don’t try wet wading now! I didn’t start fishing until 11 am and quit by 4 pm.

The other difference was in which flies were effective. For the first time ever, I caught no flies on my Rusty Stim. That is usually my number one fly on Kelly. But this time, small and technical fishing caught the fish. My Biot Mahogany Dun in a #16 worked great, as did the Harrop’s Thorax Dun. Another good fly was a CDC emerger. I’ll tie one up for a step by step later. There was a spinner fall around 2:30 that I never did figure out, but it got fish up and feeding. Being fisherman friendly cutthroat, they took my flies pretty well even though I couldn’t match that hatch.

The scenery was incredible as always. The Kokanee spawn was nearly over. Some of the riverside trees were past their prime color, but the Aspen on the hill side were perfect. The crowds were gone (only three other rigs on the road each day). The food was great. I’ll have to post my favorite dinner sometime. As always, it was tough to pack up to come home. But isn’t that the way you want a fishing trip to be? If you are excited to leave, you picked the wrong place to go.

Hoodoo Colors

Wonderful Colors

My Rig on Hoodoo Pass

My Rig on Hoodoo Pass

Color on Hoodoo Pass

Color on Hoodoo Pass

Tamarack in Color

Tamarack in Color

pocket water

Pocket water

Cutthroat trout

Another great fish

Stars shine like diamonds in the night

Night Skies

Along the Road you can see the water

Roadside views

Dark Waters

Dark Waters



Kelly Creek water

Gin Clear Water

Afternoon Shadows

Short Days in October

Cold Mornings

Low of 23 degrees!

Beautiful Cutthroat troat

Beautiful Cutthroat at Kelly Creek

Fall Color

The hills in their prime color

Sunny Fall Days on Kelly Creek

Love those big pools!

An Easy Profile Plate for Fly Tying

Fly Tying Back Plate

Putting a back plate behind your vise will help your tying and ease the strain on your eyes.

Years ago I wanted a profile plate. Having a uniform color behind your fly makes it easy on the eyes to see errant barbules and fibers. And it hides the clutter of your tying desk.

I didn’t really like the commercial ones I saw. I’m just not a fan of having more things hanging on my vise. Plus they aren’t as flexible. So I scrounged through my scrap wood and found a piece of Cherry. It had served nicely as a sanding block and clamp pad. It was 6″ X 1 1/2″ X 3/4″. A well used piece, it had a few dings and dents and saw marks. But this was just for a test run. I made a single saw cut about an inch from the end at around 60 degrees. I touched it up with a little sand paper and stain.

To use it, just drop in a piece of mat board in your favorite color and it is set to go. I picked up a variety pack of colored papers. In front of the mat board, you can slip a sheet of colored paper to change your background. I use a neutral gray to photography my flies and step by step tutorials for this site. Many people like blue and green. I find white is too harsh and fatiguing for your eyes. You can see here how I tested a bunch of colors when I started this blog. It only takes a couple seconds if you have a pack of papers cut to the size you like.

My test piece worked so well that I’ve never gotten around to making the final model. After ten or more years, I am used to the nicks and marks. Just like it’s user, it isn’t perfect or beautiful.

Back Plate for Fly Tying

Tying Desk

Back Plate with Color Choises

Back Plate with Color Choises

Back Plate with Gray Card

Back Plate with Gray Card

Back Plate Side View

Back Plate Side View

Left Side View

left side view

Back Plate side view

Right Side View