Chi Wulff Story

Sometimes amazing things happen.

Several years ago, the team was getting ready for a day’s float on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.  We had a couple of relatives up fishing with us, so the day didn’t start out as promising as it could have.  We made the best of it, launched the drifter and headed south.

Summer fishing on the Flathead is pretty easy: just tie something big on and the fish will eat it.  Decent sized trout were feeding well on grasshoppers and stimulators.  That was until somebody started fishing The Fly.

The Fly was a regular Royal Wulff, about a size 14.  There was nothing particularly special about this fly; it seemed just like all the others.  It was only when we started fishing it did we notice how different it really was.

The Fly caught fish.  Just a few at first, but more and more frequently the further we floated.  Murmurs of approval drifted from all of us, as the fish ravenously attacked the fly.  Soon, we began to notice that action on other patterns had slowed down dramatically.  Naturally, another Royal Wulff was tied on, thinking that it would catch fish just as well as The Fly.

Dumbfounded, we incredulously watched as the second Royal Wulff floated unmolested, as its twin was getting beaten to a pulp.  The murmurs of approval had by this point turned to worried whispers of wonder.  What exactly was happening?

The float continued, and The Fly was still working amazingly well.  By this point, most the peacock herl was gone, and the tail was looking rather thin.  The other fisherman had gotten a Dave’s Hopper to work, until his fly line had crossed with that of The Fly.  After that, the grasshopper didn’t raise even a single strike.

By the time we were almost done with our trip, having another fly in the water was pointless, as the fish were interested in nothing but the battered and bloodied Royal Wulff.  It was about this point when we decided The Fly needed a name.  Several less than inspired ideas were bandied about, when somebody suggested the name Chi Wulff.  (The name was suggested in remembrance of what a client had said to Mark the day before).  And so the name stuck: Chi Wulff.

The longer The Fly was in the water, the more fish it caught.  And the bigger the fish became.  While not a dramatic sudden increase; looking back over the past four hours, the fish were getting decidedly larger.  Then came a moment of complete and total panic.  The Chi Wulff hooked a fish so large that losing the fly became a distinct possibility.

We were shocked and frightened at the thought of losing the Chi Wulff.  As the rod holder fought the leviathan, the other three of us were jumping about, waving our arms and screaming at the top of our lungs: “Save the Chi! Save the Chi!”  Such behavior drew some inquiring glances from a group of pleasure boaters passing us.  They seemed to be paddling awfully fast as they went by.  I suppose we were quite a sight, especially to someone who didn’t know about the Chi Wulff.

The fish had been hooked mere moments away from the takeout.  As we held our collective breath, the fish was fought and mercifully brought to the net.  The Chi Wulff had been saved!  All of the peacock and red floss was gone, the tail was down to two measly strands of moose hair, the wings were crimped and loose, and the hackle was all but gone.  But even in its current state it was able to catch fish.  A moment of silence settled over the boat as we realized that we had just witnessed something amazing.

We aren’t exactly sure how many fish the Chi Wulff caught that day.  Frankly, we didn’t want to know.  In all our combined years of being on the water, the team had never seen anything quite like it.  But we will continue to search for a day like it, and a fly that will rise above all the others.

The Chi Wulff is now in a secure place, where its awesome power may someday be unleashed again.

Jake, Bozeman, April 2009