Doc's Cork: your cure for the stonefly hatch
Doc Thompson, tier, guide, writer, conservationist, and owner of High Country Anglers in New Mexico, has been stalking wild trout in Northern New Mexico’s many gems for 20 years. Since the fishing in the region is good nearly all year-round, and Doc ties all the flies his clients use, he needs flies to meet his three criteria: 1) catch trout , 2) tie easily, 3) last a long time
What led you to first making Doc’s Cork?
I’d not tied any pattern with foam before, but liked what I saw in other patterns. Borrowing an idea from the Super B Caddis, I decided to play around with foam in my stonefly pattern. I kept the elk hair upper around with foam in my stonefly pattern. I kept the elk hair upper wing, but used foam for the body and under wing. And The Cork was born. It’s so buoyant. And that’s crucial in the choppy, small pocket water I fish with clients. There are tricky microcurrents and turbulence. The foam body floats like a cork in fast water, raging pocket water, heavy riffles, and over plunge pools. I use elk hair to imitate the wings. Originally, I tied it with natural elk hair, but switched to bleached elk hair to increase visibility. The foam stays afloat and drifts very well in broken water. It’s the only adult stonefly pattern in my fly boxes and my primary stand-by dry. It brings big wild browns from unknown depths. My clients love it, plus it is easy to tie.
And if the fly gets sucked down into a plunge pool or what have you, it resurfaces ready for action. No need to dry it off and reshape, re-dress, or replace it because it’s soaked. It’s durable, too. It can get hammered by trout and it holds up. It’s especially great when used with a dropper off the back. It floats so well, I can run a tung head dropper off it and it still sits up. You just don’t get that benefit without foam.
Did you have success with it?
Oh yeah. We have a lot golden stones and other stones here, so it works especially well when the hatch is on. Anyplace you’d fish a stonefly the Cork works great. The biggest benefit is that you can fish it so much longer, keep it on the water, and fish heavier, choppier water than you can without foam. So you catch more fish because you’re fishing more, rather than always dressing or drying off your fly. The longer you can keep a fly floating and get a decent drift, the better off you are. I had luck with it right off with wild browns and the native cuts around here. And in a bind, I’ve found I can trim it down and fish it as a nymph.
So it works for different kinds of trout?
Yeah. We catch anything from the wild browns found in the mountain pocket water of the Red and Cimarron rivers, to the native Rio Grande cutthroats of the classic meadow waters of Rio Costilla, and the region’s cutbows. It’s effective for any trout.
Is there a particular way to fish it you found more productive over others?
Well, I have great luck just fishing it upstream on the small streams out here. Your typical tight-to-the-bank fishing, under the overhangs. But you could get great use out of it from a drift boat on a big river. You could have that thing out there drifting nicely all day long. And it would produce. Any manner in which you’d fish a stonefly tied of natural material you can fish this. And you can have it on the water longer. Again, that heavy or choppy water that beats up and sinks other big dries doesn’t bother the Cork at all. Another great thing is that when your casting is off, if you bang the Cork against a rock, it doesn’t get beat up. And it gets itself out of the streamside grass much easier than other flies, which happens to the best of us. If you want a big dry stonefly pattern that produces, is easy to tie, lasts a long time, and keeps you fishing more and dressing and drying flies less, this is the one to go to.
-By Eric Rickstad, editor-in-chief, The Orvis News.
Doc Thompson is an Orvis-Endorsed Guide who works from Taos, New Mexico. Doc’s other patterns, available from Orvis.com/flies, include the T Hopper, Super Caddis, Doc’s PC (Peaking Caddis), and Ikocaddis. Doc can be reached at 505-376-9220, or at www.flyfishnewmexico.com.