The Art of Wading

The Art of WadingBill Krise – Bozeman, MT

Many of us fish from stream banks and wade in when necessary as we move along the bends in search of that perfect spot.  At its core, wading begins as a means of getting from point A to point B when obstacles are present.  But this necessity is, for many, an experience in its own right.  For some, it is the heart and soul of the fly fishing experience entirely.

I myself enjoy wading because at times it gives me the sense that I am truly a part of the environment around me.  What better way to connect with nature than to be fully immersed in it!  Having trekked through streams in the Eastern and Western United States, Alaska, and Asia, I have come to realize just how integral wading is to the sport (and art!) of fly fishing.  But for all its majesty, it is not without its risks.

Everyone cautions, “Wade safely,” but this advice is measured differently by each of us depending on our own individual skills and abilities.  Younger anglers have a tendency to wade into streams without much hesitation.  Some even wade in barefooted!  For others, older anglers in particular, it is prudent to be more discerning.

WadersMany things can happen when wading.  There are large rocks to step over, tree limbs to avoid, stones rolling underfoot, and perhaps even a precarious combination of silt or mud on the river bottom.  Having been spread-eagled over a large rock myself, and even taking a spill in the Firehole on smooth gravel, I have had my share of falls.  I now find it useful to bring along a “wading staff” for extra support in tricky locations.  Even when a slip is preventable, it is always on the horizon of possibility.

In difficult conditions like these, the first (and most important) rule of thumb is to be sure of your footing as you step.  And if you see a foothold in the distance, be sure not to take too long a step, as this can throw off your balance.  For such a seemingly simple task, there is a bit of art and science to wading – and a lot at stake.   So be careful to understand what type of river bottom you are walking on.  Most problems are just a slip away, and one little “whoops” while stumbling around can get you pretty wet!

But for all that could go wrong, remember that wading is the lifeblood of the fly fishing experience.  It is often necessary for finding the perfect fishing pool or that sense of majesty that comes from fishing on “untouched” waters.  This post is not a wading smear campaign in any way.  Instead, it simply offers a bit of precautionary advice that might make your next wading adventure all the richer.  After all, nothing feels better than standing, immersed, in the middle of a natural paradise, rod in hand, searching for that big one.  So get out there and catch the wild river spirit.


The hook is the backbone of the fly and can often make the difference between catching and losing a fish.  Because of this, we take great care in selecting hooks for our many different patterns, using specific specialty hooks to enhance the effectiveness of each fly type (i.e. subsurface flies or emergers). In particular, we are proud to use Mustad Signature hooks for the majority of our patterns.  Time and again, the Mustad brand has demonstrated the level of consistency and craftsmanship that we also strive for at Wild River Flies.

Mustad Signature HooksFor larger nymphs, larvae and stimulator dry flies, we use the Mustad Signature (MS) “Curved Nymph Hook” (C53S).  The MS “Grub Hook” (C67S) also serves well for larvae and for smaller curved variations of our standard nymphs (such as the Pheasant Tail or Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear).  Universal patterns such as these can be tied on all manner of nymph hooks (whether standard length, 3X length, or curved hooks).

By using different hook styles one is able to create varied looks with the same fly pattern and increase their versatility to the angler.  One additional way that we provide a stronger fly without sacrificing the pattern integrity is by using “larger” variations of short-style hooks.  Our short curved shank flies, for instance, are tied on MS C67S hooks which are a 3X length short hook, creating a heavier hook per fly size than longer shank hooks.

In general, lighter hooks (light wire) are used when tying patterns such as floating nymphs, emerging insects, or dry flies unless the specific patterns are heavily tackled, which is common in the Western U.S. or for certain patterns such as many of our hackled flies.  Nymphs, emerging crippled flies, and several soft hackle flies – which are designed to be fished just under the surface, or in the surface film – are also typically tied on light wire hooks (C49S).  There are also some patterns where the hook weight is determined by variations within the standard pattern itself.  Our deep sparkle caddis flies, for instance, are tied on a heavy hook while our emerging sparkle caddis flies are tied on a light wire hook.

Pheasant Tail Nymph (Flashback)

Pheasant Tail Nymph (Flashback)

For our sinking varieties (our sinking nymphs, for example), we use non-lead wire, bead heads, or combination of the two.  Some patterns (our emerging flies, for instance) are never weighted.

At this point, you may be overwhelmed by all of the variables there are to consider when selecting the correct hook.  Fortunately for you, we know our stuff and have done the dirty work for you.  So whether you are a fly fishing veteran or still in the early learning stages, rest assured that our flies are crafted with care and expertise for the very best fly fishing experience.

For more information on the Wild River Flies fly-tying methods, you can stay up to date on our informational posts by joining our mailing list (located in the sidebar).  For any specific questions you may have, you are always welcome to contact us directly through the “Contact Us” page or via email at


Wild River Flies – A New Beginning

AnglerWild River Flies began a few years ago as a job-creating initiative for impoverished, rural families.  Receiving in-depth training from our Montana fly-tying expert, these low-income workers were given the opportunity to develop their talents and become expert artisans in their own right.  We now have an impressive team of experienced fly-tyers who have mastered the hundreds of patterns and variations that we are proud to offer at Wild River Flies.  As a company, it is our mission to produce affordable flies of the highest quality that are consistent both aesthetically and in terms of performance in the water.

We believe that tying quality flies begins, first and foremost, with the use of sharp, well-tempered and finished hooks.  With this principle in mind, we are proud to use Mustad Signature hooks for the majority of our fly patterns as well as select Dai Riki hook styles as needed.  When it comes to the tying process itself, we take “hand-crafted” to a whole new level.  We blend most of our own dubbing mixes to match the patterns we tie, and we always use quality dry fly hackle rather than taking our “feathers” from someone’s hair (though perhaps that fad is ending anyway!)

Prince NymphIt is a daunting task to select fly patterns from the thousands that are available, but we have been strategic in choosing from among the very best and most popular patterns.  As a result, we offer flies that can be used all over the world and in many different conditions.  Whatever your environment may be, we are here to help you catch fish with greater frequency and without fear of losing the “big one” to a substandard fly.

As our small company grows, we will continue to broaden our selection, striving in particular to incorporate local patterns into our inventory from different regions around the world.  But even now, our broad selection will not disappoint.  And be sure to keep an eye out for sales and specialty patterns, which will become available as soon as we finish our field-testing (the best part!).

So thank you for visiting Wild River Flies, and please consider giving the “new kids” a chance to demonstrate the care and quality that we put into each and every fly.  We take pride in our product and are confident that you will be satisfied.  So now it’s time to go find the big one and catch the Wild River spirit!