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The Duskystripe Shiner

Have you ever noticed the number of large trout, both Browns and Rainbows, that are caught on the White River System using a Gold/Black Rapala? On Phil Lilleyís site , the Ozark Angler, there was a ten pound Brown caught by Michael Coss on September 16, 2003 using this very lure. The Baxter Bulletin Newspaper of Mountain Home usually has pictures of two or three nice trout each week caught on the same thing. The reputation of the Gold/Black Rapala is well known among spin fisherman. No telling how many unrecorded trout are caught on this color combination. Every boat dock and tackle store on the White River System carries a good supply of this lure. Gold/Black Countdowns or Floating Minnows are stocked in all sizes because it is the favorite of all the spin fisherman.

Why donít fly fisherman have the same amount of success using a gold/black minnow imitation? The answer is simple. Fly fisherman rarely use a minnow imitation for trout other than a Sculpin pattern. Fly fisherman have little faith in large flies when fishing for trout. Fly fisherman prefer not to fish heavy generation cycles when such a pattern works the best. Fly fisherman prefer to fish fast shallow water instead of meandering deep pools. Fly fisherman love to wade fish but frown upon boat fishing. Fly fisherman have favorite flies that have produced on other trout fishing adventures and usually stay within this small group of flies until they find one that works. As far as I know, there is not a well known gold/black trout pattern. Fly fisherman and spin fisherman alike do not know what minnows actually live in the streams they fish. Spin fisherman lucked out in this situation, their small group of favorite lures included a Gold/Black minnow imitation.

Why does a Gold/Black Minnow imitation work so well? Thatís simple, too. The most dominant and abundant minnow within the upland regions of the White River System is the Duskystripe Shiner. This species of shiner is only found within the White River System. It is a headwater minnow of streams and small rivers. It is a schooling minnow and is often found in mixed schools that include the Southern Redbelly Dace, Ozark Minnow, Central Stoneroller, Hornyhead Chub, Telescope Shiner, and Striped Shiner. Several of these species are gold and black in appearance also. The Duskystripe Shiner prefers moving, cold to cool, clear water over bedrock to gravel bottoms. It prefers insects, both aquatic and terrestrial, for its diet. All of these attributes puts this shiner in the same locale as our trout.

What is the appearance of the Duskystripe Shiner? It has a white belly, a broad dark dusky-black stripe running the length of its side, an iridescent gold stripe above this, and a light olive back with a broad olive-brown stripe down the middle. No wonder a Gold/Black Rapala works so well. It grows up to about five inches in length and is a surface to mid-water feeder. For you fly fisherman that would like to fish a Duskystripe, the following recipe and tying instructions should be more than adequate for your success.

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Foxís Anatomically Correct Minnow Patterns,
The Duskystripe Shiner

Maximum Size: 4.8 Shape: Compressed

Suggested Hook & Size: Mustad 33909 #1/0 - #14

Thread: Iron Gray, 8/0 Uni-thread

Tail: Black Hanked Lite-Brite, glued to make a broad lateral stripe

Tail Fin: Clear

Body: Black Bodi-Braid

Eye & Insert: Gold, Spirit River, Real Eye with Priz Gold 3-D Molded insert

Lower Side: Pearl Green Hanked Lite-Brite

Upper Side: Gold Glissín Glow with a narrow stripe of Dark Gold Glissín Glow over then Hare's Ear Hanked Lite-Brite over that.

Snout Color or Change Thread: Olive Dun, 8/0 Uni-Thread

Belly or Stomach: Pearl Green Hanked Lite-Brite

Dorsum or Back: Chartreuse Hanked Lite-Brite with Peacock Hanked Lite-Brite for a broad midline stripe down the middle of the dorsum

Head Color: Olive Cheek & Chin Color: Pearl Green

Pectoral Fins: Clear Anal Fin: Clear

Pelvic Fin: Clear Dorsal Fin: Clear

Colored Markers: None

Tying Notes: Only the Black lateral stripe is a glued stripe, the others are not. I like to put in a couple wraps of fine red pearl chenille just behind the eyes for gills on my patterns. My favorite hook and eye sizes are a #2 hook matched with a 1/4-inch eyes, #4 hook with 7/32-inch eyes,  and #6 hook with 3/16-inch eyes.

Fishing Tactics and Methods:

Low-Water Tactics: When fishing low-water, fish this pattern in the faster shoals and raceways. Cast the pattern into the shallows along the edges and let the line-drag carry it out into the river. Instead of just quartering the stream, when using a floating line cast further upriver at a 90 degree angle or more until you feel the minnow barely bumping the bottom. Most strikes occur just as the shiner enters the current and at the end of the swing as the pattern is turning its head upstream. The strikes that occur just as the shiner enters the current are the hardest to detect. Because the shiner is moving downstream with the current and there is a bow in the fly line, the strike feels more like a gentle tightening of the line instead of a hard jerk. Hereís a tip. Place a small indicator on the leader about 6-inches from the end of the fly line. Even though the indicator may be pulled underwater the water by the Duskystripe imitation, the indicator can be seen well enough to detect the soft downstream strikes. Floating line fly fisherman might consider adding a couple different sizes of Rioís sinking leader to their vest pockets. They can be changed quickly and are great for getting the shiner to the bottom. Sinking line fly fisherman will have little trouble with finding the bottom. With sinking line I suggest quartering the stream only.

High-Water Tactics: In high-water, I would suggest a sinking line or Rioís fastest sinking leader (7.9 in/sec). Pocket water is the best bet for catching a large trout. Cast in toward the bank but not past the low-water bank line. Casting into the gravel that has been covered by a heavy generation cycle is usually fruitless. Aquatic insects, minnows, sculpins and other food items are not in this newly submerged gravel so trout rarely lie on it. Only during constant heavy generation cycle (Spring and late Winter) is the bank area worth fishing. Let the pattern sink close to but not on the bottom. Strip two or three times quickly then let the pattern sink again, then repeat. On generation cycles of two full or more units on, drift with the current. Generation cycles of less than two full units, anchoring above good rough pocket water and quartering (or more than quartering) the stream is very productive. large numbers of trout move to these areas to escape the current.

Fly Fishing Tip: If you are casting a sculpin pattern and it is not bumping the bottom occasionally, you have two choices to better your fishing. One, add weight in some manner (sinking leader or line and/or split shot) to get the sculpin to the bottom. Two, replace the sculpin with a minnow pattern that does not live on the bottom of the river; the Duskystripe Shiner.

Duskystripe Shiner are a great choice of patterns after a hard general rain. Cast them into the muddy shore line water and strip them out quickly then pause. Expect a violent strike during the pause.

It's All Fly Fishin',

Fox Statler 

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