Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maybe It's Right......

Is there a wrong way? Is there a wrong color? Perhaps this is a question asked many times by anglers and fly tyers. I for one will not give a definitive answer mainly because I don't have one. I like to tie in a style where I generalize. Some will say "stick to the pattern as originated" I won't. Mister when you tie keep it sparse, count the number of turns of hackle, be consistent or your fly will be the fish or by the fishers?

Above are a few olive and partridge spiders that I first tied several years ago for a trip to Shenandoah. They were extremely effective on the brook trout there and have also taken there fair share of brook trout every where when fished.

An olive body, tied with a brown hen hackle. This one has a turn or two of dry fly hackle to allow it to hang on the surface.

Here is another olive body tied with pheasant hackle. While to two patterns above have a sparse look this one has a fuller look. The hackle is wound three to four turns.

This fly is tied with a purple body, and pheasant hackle. The thorax is peacock. Both the peacock and hackle are tied full.

This fly also tied with a purple body. It features a partridge wing, tied sparse, with a mole thorax which is tied full.

I've showed you a few examples of wet flies tied in various ways. Are these better or worse than the concept of tying like they should be? I can't say with certainty, but what I will say is tie them as you like and let the trout decide......the fly above has been a killer on my last two outings. I guess they like dark bodies and dark hackle with a touch of peacock...

Monday, February 19, 2018

Red Dots And Blue Halos...Wow What A Split

Guess what, I saw my first winter stonefly of 2018 on my last outing. He was spotted on a piece of steel, and he was fully aware of my presence. As I focused the camera on him he took off, luckily for me he stopped briefly and gave me the shot.

These few days of February have been kind weather wise. I'm delighted when the temperatures are above 32, for it keeps the ice out of the guides, and may even turn the fish onto eating. The stream was flowing a bit fast, but was shelf ice free. The banks were clear and in spots very soft. The fish were in a lockjaw frame of mind giving only a single hookup in the hour or so of fishing. So when things are slow I like to wander and see what's beyond the next bend, perhaps I should have stayed put.....

As you can see it looks real good, maybe for April, but swift water and few pockets were not going to get it done.

As I moved down to and area that was new to me I saw some incredible sights, one of which was this growth of ferns. The colors were so vibrant, green like spring. Beyond the ferns I could here the water crashing down, and it was loud.

Walking to the edge I could see the stream wildly crashing down. It was a beautiful sight, moss covered rocks, hemlocks, and polished stone. I sat here for awhile taking in the beauty, and figuring how I was going to proceed....caution, caution, and more caution.

I'm proud to say I made it down safely. The pool before me looked good because of the fact that there was a soft spot in the currents that just may hold a fish. As I moved to get a footing to make a cast I stepped onto a bunch of woody debris that had collected near the edge. The wood gave way and I found myself with one leg on the rock and the other in the water. I was stretched to the limit, I mean painfully stretched. I tried to get myself right and after a few tries I was able to bring my rock leg down to meet mt other leg. Leaning back for a few minutes I was able to get stable, and the pain was subsiding. As I looked in front of me I could see that the area ahead was much more angler friendly. Now since I had gone through some hell I said may as well make that cast...I did and I....

Made contact with this beautiful creature. Brilliant colors with lots of red dots and blue halos. I guess the soft hackle looked like a swimming stone fly. I hobbled out and thankfully some pain killers and rest I'm now A-OK.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sometimes A Small Stream Can Give Up A Big Fish

Mid February, the whole of brook trout forest takes on the look of steel, gray, dark and cold. It was such a day that I ventured to a familiar stream, a stream that has some spectacular brook trout. The last time I fished this stream it was on the wild side, it was struggling to keep its water within its banks. Ice chunks were almost every where which made for a very difficult outing. This day the stream was swollen from recent heavy rains. My thought was to drift a bead head nymph, one with some color and flash and try to entice a strike. A good hour and a half and all I was gifted was a bump.

I even used Pete's "TROUT1" method which is "when the water is high fish close to the banks" and....

that's how I came upon this jewel.

I have learned to accept days as such, slow and not much happening. It is days like this that I try something different. I went to a stretch of stream that I have not fished in years. Below a set of falls I found some water that in the past has been productive from time to time.

The first run below the falls I drifted the nymph and it took a strong hit. The fish was on and as it came close I saw it was a silver gray fall fish. Not a bad start.

I fished for some time without a single strike. Nearing the end of my day I cast the fly to this pocket. The line stopped and suddenly the stream erupted. The fish leaped and ran, then he leaped and ran again. The strength of the fish was not like I was used to from fish in this stream. I had all I could do to keep control and I hoped the fly held. Finally I gained the upper hand and glided the fish into calmer water.

The trout lay in the water with it's eyes looking wildly at me, the fly barely holding. The rainbow was in prefect shape, strong and well conditioned to fast water....a small stream steelhead?

As I lifted the fish from the water I could not believe it's power. I noticed a pronounced kype and thought it looked like the steelhead I had caught in the salmon river in NY. I placed him back into the stream, fly had already fell out. It did not take but a second and it was a memory.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Grand Kids Run"

When my grand kids were young we took them to a little stream for a day hike. They were thrilled to just walk in the water pick up stones and find lots of squirmy critters as well as a host of crayfish. The woods were full of birds and the never ending scolding squirrels. We came to a section of stream that needed some help with the flow direction. So my two engineers rolled up their sleeves and got to work. They moved some stones from the far bank and they placed them along with sticks and branches to enhance the flow enabling the water to move to an undercut bank. Construction completed we had lunch and talked about what we did and how it benefited the trout. The name given this area would be "Grand Kids Run"

Over the years nature had changed the run...I had fished it each time I visited the stream and over the years had on and off success.

"Grand Kids Run" this is how it was when I fished it one winter day.

This was the brown that was holding in the run that day.

I did a post about this outing and fellow blogger Ralph Long of "Ralph's Fly Box" read it and drew a beautiful likeness of that brown. The drawing was gifted to me and is truly appreciated.

The drawing of "Grand Kids Run" has been framed and hangs where I look up and see each time I'm at my desk. Thanks Ralph...your quite a talent.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Where Have All The Winter Stones Gone, A Long Time....

Winter stoneflies, those little black critters that cover the stream banks on some of the coldest day of winter. These flies that have been about as mentioned in a couple of blogs as being prolific this winter. As for me I have not seen even one. I have put some time into my winter outings, and have seen some trout rising but they were feeding on those flies that one can't see, "midges". So again I tried to find my first winter stone on this outing.

The "starling and purple" has worked for me in the past as a good winter stone imitation, so I selected it, and gave it ample water time to "get it done"

No winter stones here, only winter wood. Beautiful though.

Here is a trout holding spot if ever there was one. I know from experience they hold here and they feed on winter stones. Ten drifts with the starling and nothing...then another ten drifts with the bomber and the same result.

I fished pretty much the whole stream, perhaps three hours and nothing. I did not see even one winter stone. Was I frustrated? No way, these kind of days happen in the winter. This is usually where I stop fishing this stream. There is a small brook that comes into the stream and it is here that I've had success in the past. I cast the starling and purple along the soft seam, it drifted just under the surface. It had moved only a few inches when a trout moved on the fly, but did not take.

A half dozen more casts and "bam" hit and hook. A highly spirited brown took the fly. He pulled and ran to every place he the end he gave it up and glided into my hand. My three hour plus day was a success. A handsome wild brown sipped my winter stone...P.S. I still have not seen a winter stone.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Woodchuck Caddis

The woodchuck caddis....with groundhog day in the books and so much attention paid to this lovable rodent I chose to splash some attention his way also, be it a week plus from his day, better late than never. I'm not really sure who was the creator of this fly but it sure looks like a bit of Fran Betters influence in the fly.

The materials are woodchuck, dubbing, I used orange opossum, and brown and grizzly hackle.

As you can see it has a great caddis shape.

And it has super floating ability.

I tie them with a "hot spot" at the tail end of the fly. This one uses hot orange thread. I also use a yellow thread spot.

And yes they do work. I was able to bring a few to the surface on my last outing.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


I'm a bit behind in my blog post of my small stream outings. Looking over my scribbled notes it may be at least three. Well this is some catch up. This is a stream I have wrote about several times, it's called "Hemlock"....a tributary to another stream that is as beautiful a place as one could ask for. The day I paid my visit which was in mid January was a sunny breezy day with temps in the low forties, for me that's almost ideal for this time of year. The stream was flowing nicely and it was so clear almost to the point you could see tiny bits of decayed leaves floating down.

"Hemlock" is a freestone stream that can show some pretty waterfalls and impressive plunges all of which hold some beautiful trout at other times of the year. On this day the fish were found in those smooth glides in the center and end of the pools.

One such pool. It was here where I took my first fish of the day.

This guy still held his fall colors. The feature I found impressive was his hooked snout. This fellow I'd like to meet again this October.

There are some places I should not venture in, this is one. An incline with some very big boulders covered with slippery moss. It's beautiful to look at but very sore on parts of the body.

Do you love hemlocks? I do and so do the brook trout.

This wild jewel agrees with the statement above.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

To Thorax Or Not To Thorax

That little bump just behind the wings and legs the area called the thorax. Some flies use this to enhance the body of the fly to make for a more realistic appearance to the fly. Some of the materials used for the thorax are hares mask, and natural squirrel as well as many more natural and synthetic blends. For me it's pretty much one of the three pictured above.

Now I can't say whether or not it will make a whole lot of difference to the trout but to my eye I have a definite preference for a thorax. In some of the spider's tied below you can see some with and some without a thorax.

Hares mask thorax.

Dyed natural squirrel thorax.

Natural fox squirrel thorax.

Spider with no thorax.

These next two spiders, sulphurs both...the first is tied with out a thorax and the second one is with a thorax.

Now many of these spider pattern can be tied with a heavily dubbed thorax, or as I like them tied on the sparse side.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

What A Diference 2640 Feet Can Make

Yikes...look at that ice. That's how I reacted to what I saw as I glanced at a stream I had planned to fish. It had been several days of moderating temperatures both day and night and my thought was the ice that had many of these streams locked in would now be free flowing. Well I did try to fish a few open spots, dropping a nymph in the pockets but after many attempts I concluded this was not going to work. I know this stream travels a bit further and I chose to check it out further downstream. Into my Honda and I drove a half mile downstream and found a place to park. As I approached the stream I could see what appeared to be an ice free run.

Upstream, a very cold valley, just locking in that cold air.

A half mile downstream, night and day. I still had the nymph on and started fishing this likely run. It did not take long before I felt a hit. Several more casts and a hookup. As I reached for the brookie he bid me "nice knowing you" and gave me back the nymph and off he went. I continued working and got several more responses most of these coming as I lifted the fly near the surface. I know I would have taken another fish or two until the third stone on the left took my fly. The lights went on and I said these fish are looking up. I tied on a dry fly and I had one beautiful outing on the "dry".

A "wild one"...these brookies were not slamming the dry fly like they would in May instead they were sort of slurping it in.

Every little seam where there was water flowing in pretty much held a fish.

I had a nice brookie take the fly on the opposite side of the fallen log...I'll remember what not to do next time we meet.

My last brookie of the day..just as beautiful as any...then again they are all beautiful.

Beat up, and all out of proportion but working just fine.