Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Friday, March 27, 2020

The RS2 ~ A Tail Water Trout Favorite ~ 3/27/2020

~ Rim Chung ~

The RS2 pattern was developed nearly 40 years ago by Colorado angler and tier Rim Chung. The name of the fly is short for “Rim’s Semblance 2,” and it fishes well as either a midge or a mayfly emerger. The original version featured natural beaver fur dubbing and saddle hackle for the wing. Many more modern versions appeared as newer materials were available to tiers, while maintaining the profile of Chung’s original pattern. As with many great patterns that have stood the test of time, you can fish the RS2 in many different ways. It can fished on the surface, in the film, subsurface, or as a dropper off another emerger pattern. This multi functional fly kicks ass!  

My first introduction to the RS2 was from Abe Chavez who owned Abe’s Motel and Fly shop in 1992 on the San Juan River in New Mexico. Having lived in Breckenridge and Alma from 1991 to 1996, The Juan was only a mere 5 hours away through beautiful country like the San Luis Valley, with spectacular views of the Sangre De Cristo Mountain range, and over Wolf Creek Pass (headwaters of the San Juan River) down through Pagosa Springs, and in route to Navajo Dam – Where the motherlode of tail waters lives. I always brought a crew of dudes down there, all professional snowboarders who I had taught how to fly fish, and they had the fever! Abe loved it when we would visit his shop for flies and materials. It was our youth and enthusiasm that got him amped up and willing to share. He would pull us aside and show us his favorite flies, like the atomic worm (orange Annelid) which we caught most of our fish on. 

I only used the RS2 on The Juan back in those days after Abe shared it with us. It shined on those side channel surface feeders up near the cable below the dam. Being a native Northern Californian, I was taught at an early age how to tight line nymph by my father, and I craved pocket water in canyons lined with polished granite (think North Fork Feather, Upper Sac, The Truckee, and the West Branch Feather River). It’s all I wanted to do at the time, and small tiny dry flies were not the norm back then.  As fly anglers, we all go through phases in our lifetime of fly fishing. As you can tell from my Lower Yuba River reports from the last 10 years, the Skwala game and technical dry fly first presentations on the Lower Yuba River to wary trout, is hard to beat.

Fast forward to September of 2019 when I returned to Colorado some 22 years later, and went on a 10 day adventure with a longtime friend who had recently got addicted to fly fishing, Cat Toy - https://flyfishingwithcattoy.blogspot.com/ We ventured up to the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir, which she raved about for days before we left. I was pretty excited! Like any new fishery, it took me awhile to learn its rhythm. Cat was big on the RS2, so I tied one on she gave me and started to fish it once again on one of her most favorite home waters. That little speck of a gray and flash in the drift was well received by my intended quarry. Bent rods and fish in the net is the tell all.

Having had so much fun on that trip, I returned in December just before Christmas. It was a hell of lot colder, but nothing like Cat endured months later with subzero weather, and deep snow in the canyon of Yampa Land. In the short time since I had last saw her, she was now tying – as much as she could. Like REALLY into it. We sat down at the table the day before leaving for a trip to Stagecoach, and spun up some bugs. One of her ties of course, was the RS2. 

As tiers, we all have our own style and signature to the patterns we learn to tie. Cat’s RS2 was a little different. Most anglers fish the RS2 on the surface or in the film. This particular fly was tied on a heavy pupa hook. The TMC 2457 #18-22, and fished near the bottom with additional weight, using an indicator rig. Being winter, the takes were super subtle, and this presentation was best. Cat also used natural fibers like wood duck for the tail instead of microfibbets. She also has a version of the RS2 named “Cat Nip”, which I’m sworn to secrecy to. 

That covers the sub surface side of the multi functional RS2. The surface and in the film aspect of this fly does require different materials like a straight eye hook, the TMC 101 #16-22, and super fine dubbing spun tight as to not let the water soak in as easily. Using the natural floating properties of Cul de Canard (CDC) for the wing does wonders. There is something about CDC that the fish really like, maybe it’s the air bubbles that get trapped in the fibers resembling the natural emerging insect rising up into the meniscus. One thing with CDC though, after a lengthy battle with a trout, it is tough for your player to be ready to play the game again. Yes, using your desiccant helps, but I’d rather tie on a fresh fly. So, make sure you have multiple patterns of the same style and size for the hatch you are encountering. For the tails on your surface pattern, using microfibbets is the way to go because it is so identical to the natural, and maybe a detail the trout key in on. I learned from master tier Bud Heintz that using double sided microfibbets gave the fly more stability when floating on the surface, especially in choppy water. 

In the last couple of days I’ve been filling up my “small ball” box with all this “free time” I have at home now, both sub surface and floating styles of Rim’s fly. The RS2 is not as easy as one would think, unless you’re tying tiny stuff every day. The biggest problem to solve is the correct proportions. I was taught a long time ago to vary your ties to be regular, chunky, or sparse with the same pattern and hook size, because you never know which style will be the one the fish will want that day (or that hour of the day). If your RS2 does not look like something you saw on the internet from Joe Pro, fish it anyways. Cat proves that time and time again with her own way of tying the different patterns she has learned so far. The thread trick, using a short piece of extra thread to splay the tails is really cool (video link below). It is a valuable technique that will help you tie other small flies in the future. Make sure the piece of thread is of good length to be able to grasp with your hand easily, and I found it much simpler to split the tail if I twisted the piece of thread into a single rope. As for the dubbing noodle, keep it extremely sparse, and carefully build the body as you go. It’s really easy to put too much dubbing on, and have a fly that looks WAY out of proportion.

A big part of a successful fly in our modern day of fly fishing is using different materials the trout are not use to seeing, or a combination of newer materials. I proved that in Colorado from my last two trips using Hogan Brown’s S&M pattern with some very unusual material substitutions. Those Colorado trout had never seen anything like it before. They ate first, and asked questions later. For my sub surface RS2’s, I did something similar using a buggier florescent UV dubbing in black, dark brown, and gray for the body, and a whitish blue UV yarn for the wing. There are some time tested patterns that are commercially and readily available, and for whatever reason, they keep on producing. I swear though, on pressured waters it pays to think outside the box. If you haven’t sat down at the vice and started spinning dozens of bugs yet, well… `tis the season of self-quarantine and fly tying.

RS2 Videos & Websites:

This video, by Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, offers step-by-step directions for tying this pattern by Matt Grobert, who shows off several neat tricks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27KQ6pDnLFM

This is Rim Chung’s version, it’s longer but there are some valuable lessons to be learned from the creator, and the master himself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js1fwpZ0LVQ

Colorado angler Ferenc Horvath maintains a website devoted to the RS2, you can see it here: https://www.rs2fly.com/RS2/Welcome.html the site contains lots of great information, as well as a chart of good color combinations.

See you on the water…hopefully soon.

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