Fishing Fly tying

Fly tying: The Renegade

Years ago, I navigated our old Toyota Landcruiser high into the mountains off the shoulders of Monarch Pass in southern Colorado. The gravel road was a nightmare, even for my seemingly indestructable beast of a vehicle, and I was forced to come a stop when I reached a snowbank even the Landcruiser couldn’t charge through.

I had reached the end of the road. I got out of the truck, put a supple 3-weight fly rod together and started walking along what might have passed for a trail. The Colorado gazetteer promised me that there was a trout stream ahead, and I was determined to find it. After a mile or so of walking along this rocky goat path through fir trees and over a series of bluffs and rocky points, a high-mountain meadow spread out before me, and I knew I’d reached a little slice of Heaven.

Within minutes, I was fishing. And, while the catching was pretty solid, it wasn’t the lights-out fishing I was expecting for a backcountry stream that few folks ever bothered to fish. The stream’s little cutthroats were willing, but they also displayed a healthy dose of wariness. I wandered the s-curves of the little creek, stepping through traps of willows and knee-deep holes in the marsh. I was casting and occasionally catching.

I was in the zone.

So, when I heard the voice behind me, I damn near jumped out of my skin.

“You should try a Renegade,” the voice said. Realizing he’d startled me, an older man who had walked up behind me apologized. “Sorry about that. Didn’t mean to scare you. But I’ve been hitting them with a Renegade. They can’t resist it.”

At the time, I had no idea what a Renegade was, and after catching my breath from the scare, I walked over to the gentleman and introduced myself. I asked him how he got in here—there were no other vehicles at the end of the road.

“Oh, I came in from the other side,” he said. “I guess it was about a week ago. Been camping and hiking. And fishing. These fish are a blast.”

They were, indeed, and after a brief conversation, my new friend handed me a couple of size 14 Renegades—little dry flies, but dry flies with a twist. As he explained to me, he’d often get a hit fishing the fly upstream and dry, but if he didn’t, he’d then let the fly swing below him. “If they don’t take it dry, they’ll take it on the swing. It’s a two-for-one.”

After a while, he wandered off to do some fishing of his own, and I tied one of my new flies to my tippet. Sure enough. He was right.

“They can’t resist it.”

— Chris Hunt

By Chris Hunt.