For years Pearsall's Gossamer silk has been the standard silk for tying spider and soft hackle flies. When I first started using Pearsall's I was impressed with how easy it was to use. Reports of it being a "pain" to work with were not even close. It's translucency when used with various dubbing material could not be achieved with any other thread. A happy spider tyer I was. Then I was told that Pearsall's would no longer be making their silk threads and that sent the buyers and hoarders into full swing. Within a short time Pearsall's was no longer available. Oh sure it could be found but not in the color you wanted or for a price you could afford.
Then I found YLI silk. Wow was this thread nice. It's uniform color and feel were very nice. I could not find any issues with it with exception of the large spool it came on. Well I found recently YLI was a bit difficult to find especially in the color orange that I use. I don't know why the shortage, but I have a few thoughts on it and I won't get into that now. Just in time I found on line a silk thread named "Ephemera"...thank you.
Ephemera a first class thread for fly tying. My first impression of it was the smoothness of the silk. This stuff flows onto the hook like butter. It has a very deep color and it is quite strong.
I can't give you a description on how it work in the water, meaning if it holds it's color, how much it darkens and so on. I plan on giving it a work out on the stream soon. Here are two spiders one tied with Ephemera the other with YIL...you can see a difference.
A spider tied with sparse dubbing...the Little Winter Brown... So far so good.
It was a still morning as I approached a long slick pool. There was a heavy riffle leading into it, and it is that riffle that I hoped I'd find a willing trout. I worked my way to a point above the riffle and positioned myself to make my casts so as to be able to cover the complete riffle. I had made several casts and did not find any takers. So I worked my way towards the pool. Most times there will be at least one brookie within the confines of such a pool but on a day like this I guessed there might be several. The fly I had on was a large dry fly, lot's of deer hair, a substantial meal. The draw back would be in the noise that would be made when it was cast upon the quiet pool. Well what the heck, let it rip I said. The fly landed on the water and began a slow slow drift. At one point it seemed the line had gotten in front of the fly. Twitching the fly and tightening the line I got it corrected. The fly remained motionless for a few moments and suddenly the pool exploded. I have seen many a rise but not like this. The fish was on and it ran me into every tight spot in that pool. I did not know what I had on, the stream has both brookies and browns. After several runs including one right at me I finally saw the trout, it was a brookie.
As I lay my hand in the water and gently lifted him out of the water to take a photo he made a bolt to freedom. The fly held and I was able to capture him for a second chance. The photo taken , the fly removed and off into the dark pool he swam.
North Country Spiders have long been a favorite of mine both tying and fishing. My love of these simple wonders seems at times overdone when I write about them. I have found many variations of these flies in the years I have researched them and I believe those who tied them in a certain fashion had a reason for it. Many of these variations are over-tied. What I'm saying is that these North Country Spiders should be tied very sparse. My opinion is, and this comes from my experiences is that the sparsely tied flies are much more effective.
Over the next few posts I will be highlighting a few classics that feature game bird feathers in their construction. This first North Country Spider features the Partridge.
The "Partridge and Orange"...simple materials, silk thread body and a single partridge feather. A side note here. The YLI silk thread used on this fly was a replacement for the Pearsall's silk that was discontinued. Now for some reason the YLI is in extremely short supply.
The "classic"...the few turns of partridge make this fly "simply" deadly.
One of the most famous places on the Farmington river is Whittemore Pool. A lovely and very challenging piece of quiet water. It's said that if you are successful on catching one of the browns that reside in Whittemore you are capable of catching browns anywhere in the world.
Well this day we were on our way to fish the waters north of this famous pool. The waters I speak of are that of Hogback, or the West Branch Reservoir. The reservoir is a place I have fished for many years, in fact it was the only place I fished in the fall of the year. Some memorable trout have been taken in it's confines. Now I fish it in spring and several times in the summer. This 100' deep cold reservoir not only offers up trout, but is also a great warm water fishery. It has several species of bass as well as a variety of panfish.
So on this warm morning in August we headed down the trail to the lakes edge. This path nears a small stream that flows into the lake a favorite spot of mine.
The lake was a sheet of glass. A rise or two could be seen from time to time. There were several canoes and kayaks on the lake, gas motors are not allowed. The lake is quite clear and that can be a problem sometimes. I was not here for any special type of fish or for anything big. Just "fishin"... Only two flies were used, one a small bucktail the other a soft-hackle.
These guys were all over the soft-hackle.
These fanatical tail walkers kept me busy. While not monsters they were a workout for my CGR 3wt. These smallies also preferred the soft-hackle. It was odd in the way they liked the fly presented. I would make the cast and just allow the fly to sink naturally. Usually before it hit bottom the bass would take the fly.
I have to stop one day and eat here. Great history in this establishment.
At home later in the day it was time to clean up the odds and ends in the fridge. A mixed grill of kielbasa, hot dogs, steak and hot peppers.
Streamer flies have been with us for years. Some have said that native people centuries ago wrapped animal hair to hook fashioned pieces of bone to catch fish. The golden era of streamer flies took place in the 1920's through the 1970's it is at this time that the beautiful patterns began to show up in many tackle shops throughout the United States. Great fly tyers like Carrie Stevens, Herb Welch, Lew Oatman, Preston Jennings and many others started lashing feathers to long hooks and created flies that would take many species of fish.
Many of these flies were designed to be fished by trolling them from a boat or canoe. This method of fishing is still very popular today. The streamers used for trolling are long flies, many are tied on the long shank hooks, and others are tied in a tandem fashion, using two hooks bound together with wire. These long flies would be very difficult to cast with conventional fly rods.
A Carrie Stevens pattern the "Tomahawk"...tied on an old Mustad long hook. This fly is perfect for trolling.
The iconic streamer fly...The "Gray Ghost" created by Carrie Stevens. This fly can be trolled or cast by conventional fly rods.
This fly was created by me...The "Grizzly Green"...a fine casting or trolling fly.
I have known about something for most of my life but I really did not know about it in fact until several years ago. I knew of ground water and what it does to help our lives. The storage of water in underground lakes, for lack of a better word, is natures way of having an adequate supply of needed fresh water. A few years ago is when I really found out about just how valuable these underground water sources are to the survival of wild brook trout. It was at that time when I was asked to fish the streams of Sudbury Valley Trustees. These stream were located in the Memorial Forest which is now protected. The gracious gentleman from SVT's took me to the streams and we fished some really special water. He told me that not many people knew that these streams held fish let alone brook trout. Keep in mind these streams flow just a few miles of downtown Boston. I was told that the streams were fed by underground springs. These springs put cold water, to the point of 50-60 degrees all year long. I was told other things that I found interesting. He stated that brook trout would use these springs when they would surface and move along on top, then they would swim in underground sections also.
Here is a spring that flows into a stream I fish. If I push myself into the thorns I can see where it bubbles up from the ground. It flows a few feet into the stream. This spring flows all year long, sometimes the flow is heavier. I took a water temp where just up from where my rod is and it was 58 degrees. Now this is just one source of cold water that seeps into the stream. I'm sure there are others along the stream and several that filter in below the stream. Cold water is only one part of what's needed to sustain wild brook trout. There are many other needs that must be addressed in order to keep these native char well.
Sunday was a relief day from the previous weeks heat. The skies were gray and the air temp was below 70 something that has been rare in these parts. The weather was for rain and that came soon, as a matter of fact it started as I neared the stream. I'm getting ahead of myself a bit. The fly you see pictured was the fly I had planned on using that day. Story behind it. I had tied some Rangeley streamers the days before and I had several beautiful feathers from the Jungle Cock cape. They are gray to black with white tips. So I put together the simple spider pattern you see. Then while walking along the stream I noticed something that made me change my mind as to the fly I should use.
A light rain, a moving stream...perfect.
Goldenrod hanging in the water. The fly was changed to a Yellow Winged Bomber...
I wish I had more time to fish. But my efforts were rewarded by this magnificent wild creature. I was happy to go home with the thoughts of a wonderful couple of hours on a rainy morning.
Pristine..." not spoiled, corrupted, or polluted"...many times I have used this word to describe where I fish and what is in the waters where my fishing takes place. The rain drops as the lie on the leaves after a brief shower. The leaves, the rain drops and the stream that flows under them is a fine example of pristine. This short period of time when everything in the picture is unspoiled.
Debris, as nature defines it. Litter in the stream of branch and leaf piled up along a fallen log or perhaps many stream stones. Another example of pristine for it is not corrupted.
A wild brook trout. He swims the waters I fish. He is a pure example of pristine, for he his not found in polluted waters.
Which brings me here. My question is "how are we as a nation going to tackle the tough problems we face in this day in age, when we can not even get people to throw their trash in a proper place"...stop a moment and think about that...and the next time you see trash along a road, on near the waters you fish....
We have the pleasure of watching our favorite grand-dog Parker for a couple of weeks. He is a peach and looking for adventure every time he's outdoors. One day we decided to take a little hike to a lovey state forest. The land is pretty much vacant of people with exception of the first weeks of fishing season and during hunting season. The pond has a few canoe paddlers from time to time. Looking in the center of the photo, straight across to the other side is a small stream that flows into the pond. It's said it holds wild brookies. Something else said about that little stream is that some say there is an older guy who fishes it. Idle talk I say.
We took a hike back into the forest and Parker was on point. Walking with a dog it's amazing how many things they see and sometimes don't want to leave them alone. While hiking we met a gentleman coming out of a hemlock stand. He had a pack on and I asked him if he had been fishing. His reply was no. He said he had just cooked himself a couple of burgers. Seems he lost power from the tropical storm and decided to have lunch in the woods.
After our hour plus hike it was back to the canoe launch and some swim time. Parker say's that water is cold, but refused to come out.
About 1pm lunch was served. Franks and beans cooked in a cast iron pan with biscuits. And yes Parker had a hot dog, no beans though.
Look at that raging off color stream. My little brookie hide-a-way that was overwhelmed by the tropical storm we had last week. Give it a day or two and things will be back in order. Some parts of the state got heavy winds and a few places got tropical downpours. Rain is rain and we'll take what we can get. As to the winds at one point 700 thousand customers were without power. Full restoration won't be until Tuesday.
Goldenrod is now blooming and the fields and woodlands are showing it's brilliant yellow colors. In the tradition of "Trout Flies and Flowers" a fly with yellow would be a good choice at this time. There are some really good flies that feature yellow but the one I chose was the Mr. Rapidan.
The Mr. Rapidan hair wing dry fly...the Mr. Rapidan parachute is another good choice but mine were home in another fly box.
The fly was the right choice for the brookies responded to it quickly. A high floater and seen easily by angler and fish.
Take a good look at this male. A hooked snout that will be quite the feature come fall spawning time. Also look at his teeth.
Obstacles, not for wild brookies.
Mr. Rapidan and the brookies belly, a perfect match.
I have been tying some flies with the primary material being deer hair. These flies have been effective in the times I have called on them. This time of year they represent many types of bugs that are about, and especially on small streams. Just the other day while fishing my fly got snagged in a small bush along the stream. As I walked to retrieve it a rather large wasp landed on the fly. It was reluctant to give up the artificial but realized it was not what it appeared to be. Large grasshoppers, moths and other insects fall into the stream and hungry brook trout don't miss them.
Deer hair flies that I tie are usually on #12 hooks, but I have a couple of them in 10's and 14's....Deer hair comes in various colors but I use only a few.
The bodies are usually dubbed, with a fine wire rib. Tinsel bodies also work.
I ties some with rather large heads and wings.
Sparsely tied wings also are used. How many of you have tried deer hair flies? And how effective have they been for you?
As we roll into August we start to see changes. Some of the foliage is loosing that deep green color, a few oaks are dropping acorns and showing are the Cardinal flower and a favorite of mine the Joe Pye weed. The streams are at summer lows with few exceptions. I fished one of those exceptions last week. I like to come here at this time of year because I can find some lovely water to fish. The stream is a crap shoot as far as finding fish. In some years I find them close and in other years it's a walk. This time it was just about in the center. A few big boulders and slippery flat rocks but not enough to cause knee issues. My last outings have been dry fly events and this one was the same. The fish were very eager to rise to the fly but you have one shot for a hookup. They do not come back a second time.
The one constant in the streams I've fished this year is the large number of small brookies. Last years spawn and this springs hatch rate has been exceptional.
Here's a wild jewel that did not miss the fly.
These are the places I don't favor. They are beautiful, but slippery and have some deep holes. I will move cautiously along the banks and make my casts as best as I can.