Saturday, March 17, 2018

"Smile Friends, Smlie"

"Top "O" The Morning" folks. St. Patrick's Day 2018. Sitting down to a slice or two of Irish soda bread, with several cups of "Green" Mountain coffee, and dreaming of a great supper of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots. I love this day, it's a happy day, one that has always been festive since the days of my childhood. I can remember my mom singing "oh the Clancy" a tune that has stuck in my head for all these years. I found out this morning that the first St. Patrick's Day parade was held in Boston, who would have ever thought that "big smile" I say to all, today we are all Irish, Happy St. Patrick's Day... lift your glasses and cups and enjoy.

In this day of GPS, cell phones and the like, it seems as if the day of the paper map is going the way of the dinosaur. Exception, not with me. I still use the old fashioned paper map to find out where I'm going, and where I've been. The DeLorme Atlas like the one above is always in my car. I at times will map out directions to those "thin blue lines"... I have several DeLorme atlases in different states with CT. and Maine seeing the most use with Massachusetts closing in.

How many of you still use maps like this?

A "blue line" found with the aid of a map, and it's the little blue lines that feed this stream that will be on the list to check further.

Smile, spring is but a few days away.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Betters And Gartside

The longer I fish the more I come to rely on certain flies to get the job done. Looking back over the years most of my successful patterns have had in their material list a few materials that have made them so great. The materials also have been favorites of two very special fly tyers. Fran Betters and Jack Gartside two gentleman who created so many successful flies, flies that have a following world wide.

A favorite material of Fran Betters was the Australian opossum and which he dyed rusty orange. Quite a few of his patterns used this material as dubbing. Jack Gartside had a love of the ringneck pheasant. These feathers were used in so many of his patterns. So I took these materials and worked them together to make some "fish appeal" flies. The photo above shows the marabou of a hen pheasant. Most tyers bypass this insanely fish taker feather and choose to use only other feathers in the skin. Using these pheasant marabou feathers I create wings in several patterns...they work.

Now Mr. Betters dyed his possum rust orange, some of the hair came out "real" orange, and some not so. The not so has some nice features and when dubbed on a fly it creates a nice difference in the body.

This pattern uses an orange dubbed body. It does not incorporate a wing, only a soft hackle collar.

This pattern uses an orange dubbed body, with a light colored marabou wing. It features a soft hackle color of bleached starling.

This pattern features Jack's and Fran's materials in one fly. The body is a darker colored possum body, a dark colored marabou wing, and a pheasant feather for a collar.

You can see some of the materials, different ones at that here. One constant was the fact that Fran's favorite color thread was used.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Changes, Some Good And Some Good.

This is a stream I visited last month. It was a time when we were in a spring like thaw and it was so welcomed after the deep freeze we had in late December and much of January. The stream I am very familiar with having enjoyed it for many years. It also suffered like most streams with drought like conditions for a few summers. Last year it fished some what on the off side which was to be expected. As of the new year I tried this stream in January, big mistake. The stream was ice bound, I could only drop a fly in the water in only a few places. It was cold that day and I should have stayed home an enjoyed my coffee and read a book.

On this day I had no idea what to expect as far as catching a fish. The first few pools I fished gave up nothing. It was not until I came upon this one that my day really brightened. The second or third drift that I saw the line stop, tension and suddenly I felt the fish.

Soon at hand was this stunning brook trout. A side note, that pool was where I caught my first fish of the year several years ago on a cold windy New Year's Day.

This pool with it's mound of wood at it's back is a place that should hold a fish. That statement is true but for some else and not for me. Over the years I have lost a lot of flies in here but have not taken a fish....until this day. I drifted my fly towards the back near the wood pile on the left. I felt the hit, it was a substantial hit. I set the hook and the fight was on. I won't go into the details of it but I will show you the result below.

This wild creature is big for this stream. He was very strong and may have been living here for some time. I was thrilled and fortunate he liked my offering.

With a mouth like that I give fair warning to any small brookies "stay away".

This stream yielded several more brookies. I fished it upstream and found some profound changes from the heavy ice. Come May I'll get the real picture.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Stewart's "Black Spider"

The "Black Spider"...why have I waited so long to feature this "classic"...well wait no more. This fly was created by W.C. Stewart and published in his book "The Practical Angler" in the year 1857. Now here is a fly that defines the word "minimal". It consists of but two materials, thread and hackle. Stewart felt that a simple fly, properly presented would catch fish. He felt so strongly that he pretty much used one fly for all of his fishing.

Stewart along a few others of his time knew that the sparse subtle movement within the various currents of the river would be the trigger needed for a trout to strike the fly. There are many insects the black spider can represent, but it represents many more that it doesn't. It's the movement, size and shape that makes it so deadly.

Stewart's "Black Spider"
The fly consists of a brown thread body, and hackle from a Starling. The trick is to wind the starling feather from the back of the hook forward to the eye, about 3 turns, without breaking the feather. I can't recall finding this pattern in fly shop bins...maybe that's a good thing.

Orange Butt "Kebari"
I truly enjoy tying "Tenkara" flies. Their simplistic look, and the reversed hackle just hits me in a fine way. It also takes it's share of fish.

Now for some breakfast.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Catch Up, Again #2

This is another venture into wild brook trout territory, one that was made on the 24th of February. It was a day like early April with clear skies, and a sun that brought temperatures into the light fleece range. Talk about comfort, t-shirt, a mid weight flannel and a fleece jacket. The stream was in it's sparkling glory with flows that made for comfortable wading and fly movement. It also brought a few midges to the surface as well as a few dimples on the slick runs. My these days are to be cherished deeply, for since that outing we in Connecticut have had some drastic changes...more on that in a later post.

I was fishing a small marabou wet fly in the pockets, just like the one in the first photo. It is there that I managed to get this fellow to take. The fly is a size 10, with thread body and marabou from a hen pheasant. Great fly.

Now here is a place to find a fish or two. Have I ever told you that I like fishing riffled waters?

In the little seams in the riffles your find moving and feeding brookies, so a fly moved through those areas will usually bring a strike.

Another bit of experimenting. A Mickey Finn tied on a Partridge low water salmon hook, #10. I have also done a Black Ghost tied on the same hook.

What a gnarly piece of stream bank, looks more like a wood pile than a trout stream. Currents swirl in funny ways in places like this. Note make a couple of extra patterns, for your sure to leave one in the pile.

Sunshine in the form of a wild brookie. I hope that these photos brighten up your day.

A wet fly from a previous post. It's tied on an unusual hook, one I found while shopping at a Fly Fishing, Fly Tying museum. The hook is a Mustad 94843...more later.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

It's Simple Friends, Yeah Right

I really need to get a handle on this desk. I say I'm going to get organized and then an idea comes to mind and the organization plan gets sidelined. See that bodkin and threader on the desk, that's the work of Mike Kattner over at "Cane and Silk" he makes these tools from pieces of bamboo. A little elegance to the simplicity of my flies.

Fly patterns, I mean fly pattern names. They can be confusing to some or more like insanity to me. A couple of patterns I'm focused on here will confuse that I'm certain of. But what the hell....

The "February Red"...simple indeed. Red Pearsall's silk some light dubbing at the thorax, and a couple of turns of a grouse feather. Now can the "February Red" be fished in March?

Here's a mind blower..the "March Brown"...some partridge feathers for a tail, dark dubbing for the body, a gold tinsel rib, and a brown partridge hackle. Can this fly be fished in May and June?

Here's another turn, a "March Brown" also...more partridge tail, hare's ear dubbing, gold tinsel rib and a couple of turns of brown partridge.

A little side by side. "March Brown" and "March Brown"

Yes another "March Brown"...coq-de-leon tail, olive dubbing with a gold tinsel rib, a dark bit of squirrel dubbing for the thorax, and light partridge hackle. Now these patterns are all March Brown flymphs and from my experience they fish well in all months of the year. As for the February Red the jury is still out.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Some Catch-Up...#1

March is living up to the phrase "in like a lion" in Connecticut we are experiencing a "nor'easter"...the winds are swirling and the rain is falling sideways. We will pull through as we have before and the sun will shine and hopefully the trout will rise in their swollen streams.

Connecticut's trout streams have closed. February 28th was the last day to fish many of them. The streams that remain open are Class 1 WTMA's and certain other rivers such as the Farmington and Salmon, but have special regulations that apply...check your anglers guide. So for the last ten days I have fished a number of streams some of which I have not fished in a year. The weather has been awesome with warm temps. The streams have been graced with ample flows and the wild trout have been active. The photo above was taken on the 20th of February, looks like the end of March. It was beautiful that day.

The brookies that inhabit that stream are vivid, their spots are so pronounced. They also have no objection with eating from the surface.

One of the things I like to do when fishing is turning over rocks within the stream. Most times it gives me an idea what is available for the trout to eat. This will not alway's change what I'm fishing with but it is a guide if things don't work with what I'm using. This stone had the usual nymphs, typical black or brown in color. Also there a various crawling little green worms, green caddis perhaps. But as you can see they are quite small, so when a "bomber" is presented the thought is "wow that's a big meal"

She is a beautiful lady
On this particular outing both a black soft-hackle an woodchuck caddis worked.

This simple spider covers much of what the fish feed on. This fly is a 14, but a 16 or 18 would probably have been thread, black thorax, and a turn or two of black hen hackle....How about a black thread body and some black ice dub?

This lovely little freestone stream has a name but I'll just refer to it a stream 2/20....