Thursday, December 31, 2020

A New Year Coming

"Olive Emerger"
Here we are on the last day of the year. 2020 has been a year to forget if that is possible. I think 2020 has tested us as human beings more then any year that I can remember. Well book closed....

2021 will be a year when all anglers will fish soft hackles...spiders will be in vogue. The purist will join the ho hum. The gentleman will return to the streams and rivers, quiet will be the word. Going forward we will be able to get out more or at least try. Skunk will take a back seat and simple coffee will fill everybody's cup. So with this I wish you a very happy and safe 2021....




Tuesday, December 29, 2020

That's a lot of water!!!!!

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day the rains came. The temperatures were warm to the number 50-60 degrees. The snow pack that exceeded 12" was gone and everything  found its way into the streams. The stream pictured is normally half the size as shown. Totally blown out and as discolored as I have ever seen it. With raging currents crashing against the boulders it's hard to imagine any fish would survive. Thoughts are that they would be swept down stream and deposited in less violent water. That might have been the case for stocker trout but not wild trout. The wild ones held their ground.


 The stream a couple of days later. High but tranquil. The clarity outstanding. Now the time for dry flies was on the back burner but that doesn't mean they weren't used. I found that the underwater type of flies better suited and they worked.

An example of the wild brook trout that held their own during the flood.

I have another stream I wish to check, perhaps today?


Saturday, December 26, 2020



Time, who created it, and when was it created. For what purpose was this medium of what is done and when to do it. I for one can't tell you that but I can give you a few thoughts on this thing called time. A minute a measurement of time, 60 seconds. It passes so quickly that we don't even realize it's gone. In that brief span of perhaps but a few eye blinks our whole world can change. Sounds dramatic and maybe a bit corny but it is ever so true. As young anglers we want to cover as much river as we can and do it in as little time as possible. "The next bend in the river" must be fished in quickly so as to fish the "next bend in the river" what gain? In the time that we are so quick to fish as much of the stream as possible we have missed so much. Not every day is the same nor are the minutes within that day. Once passed they will never return. It is often said that time is your enemy and may be applied to our everyday dealings with life. But stop and make this enemy your friend. 

As young people an hour of time is really no big thing, for there will be another coming right after. But as we age we realize that time is not the same as when we were young. An hour moves much faster. Time is also the great healer. A mere hour spent walking a stream on a beautiful day can do more to fill your next 24 hours with memories that will come back to you decades in the future.

Slow down friends. Enjoy every minute you have upon the waters. As the saying goes "time slips away" but in reality it "flies".....

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas 2020

 Merry Christmas to all the readers of Small Stream Reflections

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Winter Stream In Brook Trout Forest

Winter is here now and living with it has to be accepted. There are times when it can be downright nasty and unforgiving. There will be spells where it is relentless throwing every it can at us. This is why  most folks do not acquire a taste for the last season of the year. BUT.....there are times when winter outings can be wonderful. One such outing took place yesterday. We had a sizeable snow event last week and it left a lot of white fluffy snow on the ground along with a cap on most everything else.

As I walked through the woods to a spot where I could easily access the the stream I could not find a place within the forest that did not offer a beautiful sight. There were trees that were decorated in a natural topping of snow. Winter birds were about and actually stayed put for a few seconds to allow me to view them. The air was still, not really cold so I was able to enjoy what was around me.



I was armed with my "Tiny Ten" and a few flies. Among the soft hackles were a few nymphs. Just along the submerged log I had a brookie move to the surface for a soft hackle that I was about to lift out of the water. In winter fishing you take that little rise as an achievement of your day. That being said I continued to drift flies along that log. Eventually I had a brookie take. Although on only a short time I could see the beautiful color that little guy exhibited.

Busting through the brush was not as bad as it looks. The snow was soft and did not cling to my boots. One slight issue was the snow deposits that fell from the trees and found there way down my neck.

To this point I had not brought a single brookie to hand. Then along came this lovely spot. It is a place that is "classic" within "brook trout forest"...The fly was worked through the riffle and pool. On one drift the line moved and I set the hook. The trout headed for the bottom and cover that it knew was there. But the "Tiny Ten" held up and turned him to me.

A fine creature from the winter stream. He had looked like he recovered well form the spawn. Notice how long his fin is, that's where his strength comes from.

"Simple" is my friends....

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Some streamer stuff....

Mickey Finn Cove....located in the West branch Reservoir aka "Hogback"....This area is where I caught a spectacular brook trout one day. The sky sort of overcast, no wind and a few small mouth bass in the shallows. Hogback is known to hold some very respectable brown trout and that is what I was looking for that day. I tied on a Mickey Finn and worked that streamer in every way I knew how. Fast, short slow jerking near the surface and near the bottom. To the point on one of the retrieves I took a good hit. The fish fought hard taking me some time to get control. As the fish neared I could see it was a trout, not a brown but a brook. I fish this spot several times a year and I have yet to be disappointed.


The Mickey Finn bucktail. It has the colors needed to attract trout and salmon. Another story. While visiting a fly shop in Oquossoc Maine. The shop is located at the outlet of Rangeley lake. A young boy about 12 was fishing from a dock. He was using a Mickey Finn. There was a lot of yelling coming form the dock. When we went out to see what it was about we saw that boy with a salmon of 20".

This streamer pattern was found in an article about streamers used in the Adirondack's. I have never fished it, and I don't know why. Perhaps this winter.

A "simple minnow"...Jack Gartside influence all over this one. I learned so much from him in such a short time. I have never caught a trout on this fly , but plenty of bass and snapper blues.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Let it snow, we have soup and soft hackles...

It's snowing and blowing here in New England. A classic nor'easter my friends. Looking out the window on the deck I estimate a good 14"...with drifts that surpass that. There will be no fishing today and instead some soup and fly tying. There is a French word for a group of vegetables that one uses for a soup base. The name is hard to spell so please forgive me for omitting it. But as you can see there is a group of items that is the base for soup we Italians use, at least this Italian. Celery, onion and garlic with olive oil. Later other vegetables will be added along with some soup pasta and it will make for a fine soup that will be perfect for a day like this. I tied some soft hackle flies in the Valsesiana style. Now from what I have seen of these flies they are pretty much like Tenkara flies. Well here is my take on these centuries old flies.



Olive silk thread dubbed lightly with hares ear dubbing. The hackle used is grouse.

Purple silk thread dubbed with squirrel dubbing. A peacock herl collar and gray partridge hackle.

Orange silk thread dubbed with dark rabbit fur. The collar is also rabbit. The hackle is woodcock.



Monday, December 14, 2020

You truly can't judge a book, or what's in a fly bin....

"Simple Fly Fishing"....a title but it is far from simple. I ordered this book and thought from what I had heard about it that it would be right up my sidewalk. When I received it I opened it up and scanned a few pages I was less then thrilled. I guess my definition of "simple" is not the same as the folks that put this book together. The book is well done as far as the flies in it, the essays are interesting, one in particular  by Yvon Chouinard called "The Minestrone Hatch"  a wonderful little piece that actually encompasses a simple fly. Now don't get me wrong I'm not bad mouthing the book but it it far from simple.



This little fly is "simple" you see nature did not put a lot of bells and whistles on it. But when on the water it will raise hell with the local  fish population. Now is it necessary to embellish  it? The only reason to do that would be to catch a few anglers.


An Olive-Partridge soft hackle or spider. In the water this comes very close to the fine specimen that nature created a lot longer than "simple fly fishing" has been with man.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Winter woods and waters, I have now adjusted.....

Cold weather has been with us for a few weeks. We generally adapt and our bodies figure it out and adjust to it. On this morning I fished a stream that I'm familiar with and sort of felt at home. One issue was that I felt like I left my coat at home. Dressed for a thirty five degree day somehow didn't cut it and I felt a chill as I walked to the stream. The area was snow covered and several spots were icy and slippery. The stream itself had no ice in it  or built up along the side. I tossed out a soft hackle and surprisingly it brought a strike. I continued to fish that fly but could not get another strike. I figured out after awhile where the best chances were in the stream to find fish. I also switched flies to a soft hackle tied on a heavier hook which brought the fly down deeper in the water. That did the trick.

In colder waters an inch or two in depth can make the difference in you strike ratio.

This winter brookie was typical of the fish hooked today. Very healthy and quite feisty. I did try a couple of dry flies just to see the reaction and that was 'none'...take note of the brilliant clarity of the water.

Well after two hours my old bones could not deal with the cold. I walked back to the car and headed home. In the thirty minute drive home and the heat blasting I still was cold.

Hot soup and 'boiling hot' tea helped to defrost the insides, but the chill was with me for most of the night....I'm happy to say I now feel great.


Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Man does not live by bread alone.....

Although bread is a very important part of our diets and it is pretty much served at all three meals a day. Not all bread is created equal...the loaf of a crusty Italian bread fresh from a local bakery is pretty hard to match. Supermarkets are fine in a pinch, and sliced white bread is a good choice for grilled cheese, but they will never stand up to that local bakery's creation.



Fresh plum tomatoes are the cornerstone of this dish. Chopped in a food processor, placed in a pot with olive oil, onions and garlic. Then you add salt, pepper and oregano and allow it to cook for about a half hour.

Now you take a fresh rabbit. Perhaps you harvested it on a recent hunting trip, or you have an Italian friend who raises them. Your friends rabbits come minus the lead shot.

The rabbit is washed, seasoned with salt and pepper and fried lightly in olive oil. You don't really need to brown the rabbit or cook it through, just lightly brown. Then you take the rabbit and place into that beautiful sauce you just made. Bring the sauce to a boil and turn it down to a slow simmer. Allow it to simmer for at least an hour and a half. Cook some pasta and serve it.

Rabbit served with pasta and fresh Romano.

This is the way I like it. Served with lots of sauce and cheese and plenty of bread for dipping.


Saturday, December 5, 2020

A Fran Better's Inspiration part 2

Ausable Wulff Parachute circa 11-2014

In November of 2014 I did a post on a fly I tied. The inspiration for the fly was Fran Betters. The fly was based on Frans fly the Ausable Wulff. The difference was it was tied parachute style. Now you regulars know that I have the most problems tying a parachute fly. For some reason they never turn out proper. But a messy tied fly using a group of materials that Fran used in his Ausable series of flies seem to be the ticket for this all thumbs tyer when it comes to parachutes. So I put together some woodchuck hair for a tail dubbed the orange thread with rusty Australian  Opossum a post of yellow calftail and some grizzly and brown hackle and turned out the Ausable Wulff parachute. That was 6 years for part two.

Ausable Wulff Parachute circa 11-2020
A week or so ago I tied up my second Ausable parachute. The same materials were used with exception of the wing post. This time I used white calftail instead of yellow. A side note here. The hook used for these flies is the Mustad 9671...this was Frans choice for the Ausable Wulff series.

Fishing a lovely stream in Eastern Connecticut I tied on the Ausable parachute and had a super day In fact it was the only fly I used that day. Honest truth here that fly did not stay on the water for very long before there was a rise and a take.


Both brookies and browns loved the parachute.



Who knew a sloppy tied fly could generate such interest...who Fran Betters that's who. We are experiencing a nor'easter today and you know what I will be tying?

Friday, December 4, 2020

The winners are...

 Resman 549... the Hemlock Run streamer

Unknown #2...the Gray Ghost streamer

Anonymous #4 Kevin M...the soft hackle flies

Unknown # 3...Janis Milroy the book Thin Blue Lines

Congrats to the winners. Please contact me with your names and mailing addresses. Contact me at

All of you are wonderful and I appreciate your input into making SSR's what it is.


Thursday, December 3, 2020

A session with a north country spider....

A lovely small stream as it flows through a gentle piece of private land. It's odd in the fact that on one end it's public and the other end it's also public. The piece of private land I was not asked to leave and that made me feel good. There are some tangles here and there but it's mostly open. I did a post on a fly called the Partridge and Blue,  a spider pattern. One of the comments was from Alistair who hales from the UK. He said the fly is popular there and it used mostly in the spring and is fished over sandy bottoms. I gave this fly a workout here and was happy with it's performance. The stream had some riffles and pools, my interest was the pools for it is there where I thought I would find the bottom to the be where this fly would best work.



The Partridge and Blue when wet. As you can see it is quite buggy. The sparse mole dubbing has some very enticing movement in the water.

In the pool that starts at the large tree is where I started fishing. The fly drifted and I soon felt a take. A couple of casts later and I had a small brook trout at hand. I then cast into the slack water at the tailout of the pool. The fly actually came to rest on the bottom. In a moment the fly was taken. Mind you there was no movement by me or from the water, truly dead on the bottom.

This was the brown who picked up that fly, like a nymph and tore up that little pool. Yes that is the Tiny Ten...

The day gave up an equal amount of brookies and browns and the Partridge and Blue has a spot in my fly box.


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A time for saying thank you....

Small Stream Reflections started back in 2010 has grown into something I would never have predicted. It's developed into a group of anglers and outdoor people who for the most part love everything about small streams. It's a family of like minded folks. Since SSR's start until today the blog has totaled I million eight hundred thousand page views. You guys are terrific.

So this is the season of giving I'm going to be giving some to you. It's a thank you. All that is needed is a comment and your name will be entered into the drawing. Jeanette will pick out the names on Friday morning at 8AM...The winners will be notified here.


"Hemlocks Run" a streamer tied by me and named for a special place on the Farmington River.

The "Gray Ghost" the famous streamer created by Carrie Stevens. Tied by me true to the recipe .

The group of soft hackle flies that were featured in my past posts on soft hackle feathers.

"Thin Blue Lines"..... a copy for you..