Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Those "Spots" and a Hot Caddis

As anglers we have those special places on the waters we fish. Big river guys have them and small stream guys have them. It is the small stream places which have a more intimate feeling about them and seem to hold on to those that fish them. One such stream that I fish often has such a spot that brings me back to it time and again. There is an old wooden foot bridge that is suspect but I have yet to hear of anybody going through it. Above and below are gorgeous pools that are a joy to fish. These pools are not the most productive on this stream and I can't explain why. But when here I will stay for a longer time then I do most places along a stream. I tell myself that's it's the beauty of the spot that keeps me here. Maybe so but I think it's because of the possibility of catching a trout here that has eluded me for a long time.


The "hot spot hard caddis"...this fly gets attention. It's simple, hot orange thread, hares mask dubbing and a semi stiff brown hackle.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

I am an Optimist...But.

As I sat in my chair this morning looking at the rain falling I got a feeling of something really good going on. I am not a knowledgeable  person when it come to the complexities involved with climate change. There are many more qualified people out there who can give you better answers to what it's all about. I as an angler for 65 years can tell you is that something is happening to our area. I have noticed in the last 15 years a decline in rainfall. Some years have been drastic declines resulting in severe drought conditions. A few of the streams I fished were but mere rock gardens with hardly a flow noticed. In other years the streams flows were diminished, and in years in between the rainfall was adequate. Now as everyone knows it is this up and down that is a big problem. Folks can relate to the fact that your blood pressure is better stable than high and low and so on. I think water levels in our streams are facing the same issue.

As I have said several times that the big problems facing our world such as climate change will be more then a uphill battle, when we can't even clean up our own roadways and trails"just walk along one" you'll know what I mean. I'm sorry for the preaching but that's what happens when I get up early and watch nature performing outside my window.


This stream is fine now, and with a steady rainfall weekly it should be able to sustain it's life.

Look at the size of this wild brook trout. It's barely the size of my finger and yet shows the signs of maturity. If the small stream above stays healthy this little jewel may spawn this fall....

Friday, April 23, 2021

From out of the past, a great fly remembered.

On our trips to Rangeley Maine each fall we would drive through Vermont. Just outside of St. Johnsbury  is a little fly shop. Each year I would stop in and just talk to the owner and buy something. It was never nothing major but perhaps a fly box, some tippet and always some flies. I tried to focus on local favorites that were tied by local tyers. I still have many of those flies and will dig around and find them for a later post. This one time I picked up a wet fly that had some striking colors involved in it's construction. I asked about it and the owner told me that it was popular with locals. He said that the Canadians that have been passing through all but cleaned them out. They said the fly was a killer for perch. Well I bought a couple and left for Rangeley. I did not fish the fly for awhile but one day I decided to give it a go, you know it was a killer. 

After all that time I never knew what the fly was called. Investigation time, and the internet told me it was called  the "Professor"..a wet fly created in Scotland in the 1800's, by James Wilson. How is it a fly that has been around for over a century never came to me in some form.


The "Professor"  the top fly is tied as a streamer, and the bottom fly a traditional wet fly. The tail is red saddle hackle, the body is yellow floss, I think the one I bought in Vermont had a yarn body. The rib is flat gold tinsel, the collar is brown hen hackle and the wing is natural mallard. The fly is a brook trout magnet.

Here are two wet fly versions tied on different hooks. I think this fly would look great tied on those Mustad wet fly hooks.

How about some fried dough for breakfast, maybe some jam or butter on top or perhaps be creative.

Have a spectacular weekend.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021


What I like about brook trout, well there is lots of things I like about them but in particular is their ability to adapt. Over the centuries they have endured cruelty most times from ignorance that would render other species lost. Small streams in particular have suffered the most. For some reason there are those who see a small stream as no big deal. They dam it, graze cows through it and draw water from it for so many reasons. Forgive me for the rant, I just get off sometimes on the craziness surrounding brook trout habitat.

Getting back to the ability of the wild brook trout to adapt I encountered it first hand the other day. A lovely stream was flowing in super condition. The water levels were at optimal depth. I was going to have a spectacular day on the stream. Well as I fished the pools and riffles I found my offerings ignored. Not even a bump. I fished dries wets and soft hackles with the same results. I don't fret such happenings instead I try something else. This day I chose to try and find the brookies in somewhat more turbulent water. I tied on a streamer and tossed it into the rapid broken water you see above. On the second cast as I was retrieving the streamer I got a response. As the fly was near the surface a brookie slapped it.


I again drifted the streamer down the rough shoot and as it was on the surface a brookie rose to it. Marabou when semi-dry will float and as it gets wet it will slip below the surface. The brookies were taking it both ways. I was retrieving the fly and it was near the second rock when a fish took the streamer. It was a hard strike and a nice battle.

The result when at hand was incredible.

I continued to fish and I continued to take brookies in rough water. What may have been happening was the brookies were moving upstream. They are notorious wanderers and I happened to catch them at the right time.

Look at the condition of this hen. She will have a big role in the fall and I hope she succeeds.


Monday, April 19, 2021

"Hard" And "Soft" Caddis

 The caddis fly is a staple on trout streams. it's sort of like bread and butter at the dinner table. The caddis can be fished in many ways from the nymph to the emerger to the adult. In any one form it can be deadly. Here are a couple of versions of the caddis that I like to fish. It's more like one version which is the emerger but fished at different depths in the water. The first fly is tied with a body of hares mask. The hackle used is a a dry fly rooster. What I use is these India rooster capes. These birds are smaller than domestic capes and the hackle is semi stiff.

The first fly is what I call the "Hard Caddis"   it is tied with the rooster cape and is fished just below the surface. Technically it's still a wet fly but the dry fly hackles causes it to do some different things in the water. It will break the surface and appear to be a struggling adult. Very effective.


This is a partridge feather. It is taken from the back of the bird and offers a brown color. It is tied on the fly the same as the rooster hackle. Being a much softer hackle the fly works in slightly deeper water. It's pulsating hackles will draw strikes.

The "Soft Caddis"

By the way the feathers on those India rooster capes make great wings for small streamer flies.


Saturday, April 17, 2021


There are times when I think back to times when fishing was one of my most important quests in life. One of the reasons being was the notion I was going to catch a big trout in a famed river on a fly that i created. When you think about it most of us have or had the same thoughts. Many of you have probably accomplished this and many of you still have that desire to accomplish the same. For me that quest was lost or just dropped from my mind and the thought really vanished. To put a time when this happened I can't say, but for me I'm glad it happened.

The quiet solitude of a small stream has played a big part in my life. It has become more important in these last years. The availability of famed waters are close and I could be fishing one of many within a couple of hours drive. The small stream gives me precious quiet time and is a mere twenty minute drive. I can't say if a change is in your future but I hope you'll at least give the small stream a try.


Caught on a fly of my own making, not the "big" brown of my early dreams but one that has much more meaning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Yellow Flowers and Orange Flies

Very early in my days of hunting I took up my shotgun and walked the woods and fields with endless energy and anticipation. Many of the upland birds I was in search of took me to some pretty nice areas. The places I wandered were either state owned or leased and access was never an issue. Most times I was able to find those upland birds but the harvesting of them was not always a success. One of the side bars of hunting was my ability to find some beautiful streams. At the time I was not the fly angler I am today but the memory of these streams stayed with me. Over the last eighteen months I have visited several of these streams of my younger days. And this is a stream I fished recently. 

It is hard for me to tell if the stream is in good shape because I can't compare it, not having fished it. But it looks to be in awesome condition. I started here and found that it was an easy stream to fish, quite open and fairly comfortable to walk. I was armed with a couple of flies that I wanted to try and hoped they worked as well as they did in my mind when I was tying them.


It did not take long. Several casts and that orange fly got the attention of this brookie.

A "Trout Lilly" was the resting place for the orange fly. The thread is Veevus hot orange. It was given to me by a  follower of SSR's The thread is great. That thread body along with a few wraps of hackle is all that is required to bring several brookies to hand.

This brookie actually surprised me. It was the largest of the day. I am going to try to get an underwater shot of just how the hackle moves in the currents, it's remarkable.

"Orecchiette" with broccoli and salmon.

Monday, April 12, 2021


Water pure and cold flowing unobstructed. Life sustaining to every living being. Why is called a commodity? It just seems a trivial name to call something so valuable to life. I value water and respect what it does for my life and how it provides sustainability to all life. Over the years I can't think of something so valuable to all as water is, yet is is probably the most degraded of all of our natural resources. Can something so valuable be respected? Yes. Most times water is taken for granted, it's there...maybe so but for how long.



The wild brook trout relies on cold clean water for survival. His habitat dwindles more each year. We must keep watch on the jewel for what happens to him will eventually happen to us.

He is truly the "canary in the coal mine"...


Saturday, April 10, 2021

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

My little baby, the Tiny Ten was given some rough treatment on a recent outing. The rod was dropped into the stream in the process of landing a brook trout. Here's the story. While fishing this stream I was blessed with several nice brookies. The fish were taking the orange soft hackle, which is actually a dry fly. It is a tenkara fly that I can never remember it's name. As it turned out it was the only fly I used.

Well in the process of bringing a brookie to hand I managed to drop the rod in the water not so bad right. Well the rod got filled with tiny sand grains, which I found out later was a "big" problem. But it did not stop my fishing because I didn't know about it until I got back to the car and tried to collapse the rod. It did not move, the sections were sounding gritty. More on that later.


In almost every little pocket there was a brookie. You had one shot to hook them and quite a few I missed.

 This one came from that pocket in the last photo, I think you can see it.

Pretty simple...hook, thread, and 3-4 turns of hackle.


Here I was upstream in the fast water. I worked my way down to where I could drift the fly at the head of the pool. As I lifted the fly towards the surface the fish hit. He made a run upstream towards me. As he got close he somehow managed to get between my legs. I had two choices, one was to fall on my ass into the stream, the other was to attempt to grab the fish. I chose the second option. As I tried to hold the fish by the hook in his lip that's when the rod fell in the water. After some fancy leg work I managed to grab the rod and low and behold the brookie was still on.

Here he is. Pretty fish. Well when I got home the TT got taken apart section by section. Each was rinsed in cold water and allow to dry. I'm happy to say it's perfect.



Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Exploration and Some Maple Syrup.....

Always wanted to but never did. This is a blue line that has been in the back of my mind for years. I first came upon it when I saw a fellow camping out of his truck near it. When questioned about it he replied I don't really fish. Well I have decided to try it out this spring. It looks to be one of those streams with a problem with access. The banks are rocky and with my always sore knee I'll have to be careful. Once in the stream I should have no issues with movement.

This is one of the great things about small streams, it offers you a mystery of sorts, will there be fish or not. Are they going to be trout or something else. It offers plenty of room to cast unlike many small blue lines. The Tiny Ten would be perfect here. It also has plenty of hemlocks and pine which I think are a key to the stream holding brook trout.


It is pretty wide open here, a simple Partridge and Orange should work. Perhaps a Bomber?

The "Maple Syrup"...a creation of Alvin Theriault of Staceyville is about as simple a fly as there is. Two materials. It is the nymph of the Hexagenia. I fish it as a nymph and a wet fly.

I tie it with a tail of yellow hackle but Alvin uses yellow calftail. I often wondered if yellow marabou would also work.

The other maple syrup. This jug from CT's Lamothe's Sugar House. Did you know that Connecticut is 10th in the US as far as maple syrup production goes. A little state that is quite sweet.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Those Memories....

Memories stay with us for various reasons. Memories can be happy, and sad. They can be vivid or vague. When memories are called upon most times they come back in full living color. Memories as a small stream angler I have found that those that really stand out are the ones that I have recorded in photos. I keep a journal of some of my wanderings but I'll admit I'm not faithful to it. My mind is a journal that keeps my records much better then my written journal. I know that most anglers keep journals and probably are faithful to keeping them proper.

For me though it's the photos. I can look at the picture of a stream and from that the whole outing comes back to me so clear that I can feel the water at my feet. Like the stream above. It small and really not full of fish. It is beautiful in it's flow and colors along it. Fishing it is not going to yield that "monster" but a simple rise will make your morning.


And when a wild brown actually takes your offering that will bring a grin to your face that will stay with you all day.

As a nondescript fly, a bunch of deer hair and thread. When that fly skates across a riffle and is slashed at by a wild brown it suddenly becomes not so nondescript....hold on to your memories any way you can.


Saturday, April 3, 2021

Tool's, Grouse, Valsasina, and Voelkers Pond

When i started tying flies one of the most troublesome thing I had was finding the tools I needed to work my craft. I mean I searched through catalogs, fly shops, fly fishing shows. I was on various forums that offered me many choices. I must say it was hard to digest and i purchased many tools that were never needed and the ones that were needed were not the best. The three tools shown here are the absolute basic for fly tying. They are a good pair of tweezers, a whip finisher and and a pair of good scissors. The three instruments I use on every fly I tie. Now these were purchased over twenty years ago from a fly shop in New Hampshire. That fly shop was Hunters Angling Supplies. They are not the top of the line tools but they have served me very well and continue to serve me.


Grouse hackle, man are these feathers awesome. Light and dark bands of a subtle brown. Nicely shaped and no broken fibers. The color is perfect for the various flies that hatch along our stream and rivers.

The perfect tool to wrap those fine grouse feathers in the hackle plier. There are many types out there and range in price from pocket change to bring two Mastercards. But this little clip plier has worked for me, it's all I use.

Two Valsasina flies. They are tied with grouse hackle and silk thread.

I don't know if  John Voelker would have used Valsassina flies on Frenchman's but I tend to say he would. It's that simplicity thing which I believe he enjoyed in many ways.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

April 1st, we have turned the corner....

April is here and I can now put the shovel away. I was out  the other day and found some willing fish in a stream I had not fished in a few years. I decieded to check it out when an email I got from a reader of SSR's in Oregon. He's a CT. transplant and he mentioned this stream so i checked it out and I fished it. The stream was introduced to me when I was quite young. We would go there and have a family cookout. Well the area has changed but the same willing brookies are there.

I started fishing a yellow partridge and found the brookies to be very receptive to it. I pretty much stayed with that fly for the time I was there changing only once to a yellow woodcock. The latter fly was not taken as well as the first choice. Selective brookies?


The brookies were of this size but were nicely colored. The fins on this one are spectacular.

Yes my friends those are trout lillies poking through the forest litter. In a week there will be those beautiful flowers brightening the grounds.

Oh I did use a streamer in some of the deeper runs. I managed to catch this boy. He's in fantastic condition with a few nasty scrapes along his flanks.

The "Shushan Postmaster"....a classic north east pattern.