Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Super Soft, Soft-Hackle

The hen pheasant. I think it's the most versatile soft=hackle material out there. Just look at the amount of excellent usable feathers. There are so many sizes, and color variations and they can be applied to create almost any insect out there. Another good point to bring into this is the fact that the cost of this hen pheasant skin is cheap in comparison to other bird materials. It's value is tops in my book. The photo above shows a section of the pheasant skin near the rump. The thread spool is near the feathers that are very soft, marabou like. They have a slight barring to them and when wrapped on a hook make for life like movement in the water.

A pheasant marabou feather. I have tied several flies using this feather and have been successful especially in the last few weeks.

The pheasant and orange soft-hackle. Along with the super soft marabou feather I also slightly dub the body.

The partridge and olive, with a slight dubbed body. This fly has been working very well.

Monday, October 29, 2018

"It's In Our Soul"

I am not going to spend to much time in trying to find the right words to try to explain my feelings when it comes to a place like this, or to tell you of the beauty that surrounds this place all year, but this time of year has to be it's finest. Brook Trout Forest is more then a place, it's a way of life that incorporates us into the natural world. It's in our soul.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Why do streamers work so well in Red Brook?

Having read my posts on fishing Red Brook over the years many of you may have wondered why I almost always fish some type of streamer pattern, and very seldom fish any other pattern that will take brook trout in almost every place they are found. Brook trout when hatched in the stream do what most brookies do. They search out the stream for food. Their diets are most anything they can find that they can get in their mouth. The big part of the diet is the small insects, nymphs, worms. As these fish grow some will notice the abundance of small fish that most streams have swimming about. They soon realize that they can get a full belly faster by eating one or two of these small fish then they can eating insects. Red Brook is unique in that it flows into a salt water bay. That bay is a full blown buffet, the variety of food is almost endless. The tattoo is inscribed onto the "salter" that small fish are the thing, the never feel hungry protein source.

On my last visit to Red Brook I saw an incredible sight. In the pool in the first photo which is tide water, I saw these young herring fry. There were hundreds schooling up in preparation for their movement out to sea.

This brook trout which obviously is primed for the the spawn was taken just upstream from the pool with the herring in it. He took the streamer fly with out reservation.

This simple fly shows a likeness to the herring fry. I never fished the fly in the brook but have fished it in the bay. Success was good, and will be much better in the months to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Foliage above and below, Thanks Mr. Betters

The fall foliage here in Connecticut has been a bit late. I estimate it to be about a week or so behind. There are some single trees that are just gorgeous but the fully dressed views are a few days away. The streams continue to be almost peak, and for this time of year they are exceptional. Clarity is awesome and there are times when you can see a trout strike a fly.

The stream here is about as clear as it can get. Leaves can be seen all along the bottom as well as floating in the current. Casting dry flies can be problematic in that they tend to snag the floating leaves, this is called the "leaf hatch". In the photo I cast a dry fly and let it drift. As it passed the branch I saw movement from the side of the stream. A second later one of the colored leaves made a run for the fly. It turned out to be a brookie.

One of the most beautiful leaves I'll catch this October.

The fly I used, it has several fall colors. It also has a lot of Fran Betters influence it it.

So with that fly, along with the natural leaf camo I was able to catch a few that day. Have a great day folks.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Marabou, Grouse, And......

The use of marabou in the construction of streamer flies dates back to the early 1920's. It was A.W. Ballou of Litchfield Maine who created the "Ballou Special" I know many feel that the "Woolly Bugger" was the first fly to feature marabou and the reason may be that the woolly bugger is so famous because of its effectiveness and ease of tying. I love using marabou in many of my flies from streamers to caddis, and a few soft-hackles. You can see the three marabou streamers in the above picture that feature this "alive" feather. The two on each end are "McKay Specials", and the one in the middle is a Mickey Finn.

The McKay Special was created by Kevin McKay of Maine. The fly is a simple fly to construct and uses inexpensive readily available materials. The body can be tied using Uni stretch or Uni yarn, with a silver tinsel rib. Each fly has a red throat and tail and white marabou wing. The fly is deadly.

The "Famous Grouse"...I think that may be Scotch whiskey, not a soft-hackle. But this Grouse flymph gets the job done.

Common guys...who doesn't like PB&J. How many of these sandwiches are eaten as a fisherman's lunch all over the U.S. and you can choose what peanut butter or jelly-jam-preserves you like but the bread must be good ole sliced, soft white bread....what do you say?

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The "Family Secret"......

Several months ago a good friend and fishing companion left this earth to fish heavenly streams. "Pete" aka "TROUT1" was a fly fisherman beyond compare. His knowledge was so vast that I think he never realized he had. A guy that was willing to share this knowledge with anybody. He also had more stories and most of them required a follow up, I think that was by design. He was a master at fishing soft-hackle flies, his favorite was the soft-hackle pheasant tail. Back in October of 2015 Pete and I fished a beautiful stream together. It's a stream he gave the name "Family Secret"...that day we fished various flies but the soft-hackles won out. I did a post on that outing, and I'll get it to you. "Small Stream Fishing" 10-20-15.....

Yesterday I fished the "Family Secret", with a good feeling. I selected the same runs and pools Pete and I fished that day in October of 2015.

The flies used then were not used by me yesterday. I had a streamer tied on that I used on my last outing to the Cape. Pete must have been OK with the selection for the brook trout responded quite well.

The "Family Secret" was running with more water then that day Pete and I did back in 2015.

These fish were not shy at hitting a streamer. Their color seemed a bit dark.

This run is slightly downstream from a place where Pete was fishing. I cast the streamer and worked it through some deep holes along the bank. In one of those holes I connected with a solid fish.

An outstanding trout anywhere, and a true trophy here in the "Family Secret"

This is the place Pete fished that day in October 2015. I did not fish it but instead looked upon it and said...I would but I don't have Pheasant-tail soft-hackle....

Here is Pete fishing that spot back in October the way Pete hooked an awesome fish that day just a few yards from where he was kneeling.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Brook Trout Streams Of Coastal Massachusetts

To spend time where life enters the sea revitalizes both the body and soul. Jeanette and I just spent that time at such a place. The streams of coastal Cape Cod at this time of year are the alive. Not only are the "salters" taking up new sections of the streams but the new life that was spawned last Spring are making their way to the sea. The air was crisp, a slight breeze moved the trees about. The sun shined and the brook flowed. Along the stream there were shadows and in these shadows were the iconic wild brook trout that take to the sea.

Lyman Reserve...Red Brook a welcome sight, like that of an old friend. We walked and fished here many times and still we feel like it is a first.

Where were we going to find our first willing fish. This time of year that could be anywhere along the entire reserve. I found the first brook trout to be quite small, perhaps 2-3 inches. He hit the fly as I was pulling it from the water to recast. I love seeing fish this size in a stream, I think you know why.

The next trout was a bit larger and dressed in fall attire. I have caught brook trout all over New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and none of them could compare with the power and tenacity of these salter brook trout. Tough ass New Englanders.

Not your typical freestone stream is it?

Quiet and cold waters. Streamers fished at various speeds. A slight bump, and then the pool

I saw it's large back come up from the bottom to grab the fly. Once to steel struck the fish hit the bottom and raced for any tangle it could find. The fish was so strong that I said to Jeanette I will never land this fish. I kept looking at it's body twisting and running. I had to turn this battle in my favor, and I did. As the fish came to me Jeanette handed me the net. With the fish safely in it I glanced down and saw an incredible creation of nature. The brook trout was a female and heavy with spawn. A quick photo and revival and off she went.

Well that was the first part of this wonderful trip. Part two soon.

Monday, October 15, 2018

One Fish

Did you ever have a day where frustration was the headliner? Where almost everything you decided on was not the best decision? A day where a heavy rain would be a blessing. Oh my...yesterday was such a day. Please keep in mind this frustrating day only encompassed my time on the stream, the rest of my day was quite lovely. I arrived at the stream and was soon walking along it's banks. Looking at the first photo you can see an assortment of foliage, quite thick I will say. It was somewhere in that foliage that some strange sounds were being heard from. I can at most times identify what I hear but these sounds are still a mystery. That little incident put me on edge somewhat. Now to add to this I realized I left a fly box at home. Not a big issue because it only contained a few flies that I had tied and wanted to try.

Walking along and fishing I felt like I had no fly tied on my tippet, the reason I thought that was I had not received a single hit. The fish were not being nice at all. I changed flies multiple times with the same result. Now let me tell you I had already fished for 3 hours with only a meager 2 fish takes and not a single fish to hand.

Look at that beautiful run. Now hear about the hell I endured trying to get to it. Looking at the far side of the stream it looks pretty easy, but I was on the near side. It was thick with blow downs, the soft mud was up to my knees. The footing when I was not knee deep was like walking on ice. To say I was frustrated is an understatement...but. Have I ever mentioned to you how much I love Fran Betters? Well it was his influence in the fly I was fishing that made my day.

It was that fly that so pissed off this fine wild jewel that he went for it three times, one of those times it stuck him and I actually was able to bring him to hand. As it turned out it was to be my only fish of the outing. It was worth the frustration.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Soft-Hackles And Spiders

Soft-hackles or spiders, what to fish and where to fish them. A small stream requires different tactics then larger bodies of water, with different tactics comes a choice between flies that we select to enable us to get the job done. In the stream pictured above a small sparsely tied spider pattern is almost useless in drawing a trout to strike. In a section as this a soft-hackle with some fullness to it would be a much better choice.

This soft-hackle is what I would use in a stream as pictured above. The fly has a tail, thread body and a pheasant feather tied with several turns, perhaps even using the whole feather. The fly would be noticed in the faster moving current.

This piece of water would be where a sparse spider pattern would excel. The spider would drift slowly in the mild current and would be seen easily by feeding fish. In this pool I have taken many brook trout over the years. I have cast spiders and watched them drift. At the end of the drift the fly settles to where it's almost at the bottom. Brookies would look at the fly and would attack it once it's twitched.

This spider pattern is perfect for fishing in places I described above. The fly is the same as the first one. Tail, thread body and a pheasant feather for the hackle. The difference is the feather is wound sparse, perhaps only two turns. These flies offer the best of both in fishing various places on a small stream.