Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tying the Deer Hair Isonychia/Slate Drake Emerger

I have been tying and fishing this fly for many years, having first come across it while fishing the Catskill rivers some 30 years ago or so.  I don't remember who introduced it to me, but I do know it has been a productive from the very first time I fished it.  It's effective from late spring right through the fall, which coincides with the hatch cycle of the naturals - Isonychia bicolor.  Because the naturals are on the water over a period of months, the trout get used to their presence, making this a good searching pattern during non-hatch periods, too.


Hook: #12 Dai Riki #125
Thread: 6/0 Danville olive
Tail/shuck: Brown antron or zelon
Body: Rabbit mix of burgundy, gray and brown
Wing: Deer body/comparadun hair

Easy to tie, and effective.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cat's Yawn, Junk and Other Curiousities

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fly Fishing New Jersey Trout Streams - 2nd Printing

The second edition is now available.   I got home after being away for the week and was pleasantly surprised to find several copies of my "new and improved" book waiting for me, and a note that copies were being shipped to distributors and bookstores.

When my editor called me last month to tell me the first edition was sold out and we needed to talk about updating the book, I couldn't believe it.  When it was first published, I was told it would likely be years before the first printing would sell out, so this was a great news. 

I took the opportunity to change the cover of the book, and cleaned up the text and punctuation issues that were in the first printing.  The map for the Paulinskill River was also changed to reflect the removal of the "special regs" section from the east branch.  Sadly, that water has been permanently changed by "progress" and no longer holds the wild fish it once did.

The next trick is going to be getting my second book out by the end of the year.  That's the goal, but it isn't as easy as it may seem, so I'm not making any promises.  It's a broader book than this one, combining my approach to both the technical and mental aspects of fly fishing for trout after 45 years of passionate pursuit.

And yes, it covers the importance of sharpening your hooks. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Tying a Sulphur Usual

Here's another snowshoe rabbit foot wing pattern that is both easy to tie and very effective.  It is a variation on Fran Betters' venerable pattern, the Usual.  The great thing about this pattern is that by changing the color of the body and the size, you can imitate any mayfly dun you wish.  The pattern is durable and floats great - after you catch a fish or two, blot the fly dry and restore it with Frog's Fanny, and it will float like new.  There's nothing like a fly that's easy to tie and catches trout!

Hook: #16 Std. dry fly
Thread: 6/0 Danville yellow
Wing: Snowshoe rabbit foot hair
Tail: Woodduck flank fibers.  You can also use zelon or antron for a shuck, or snowhoe rabbit foot hair just as Fran did
Body: Yellow dyed rabbit fur

Sharpen your hooks!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Snowshoe Rabbit "Legs"

Andy Baird of Small Fly Funk, commented on our Extended Body Light Cahill, suggesting that we might add hackle to give the impression of legs on the fly.  With just about any dry fly, the addition of hackle is always an option, so feel free to add it and anything else that suits your tying/fishing style. 

I've never felt the snowshoe rabbit foot winged flies needed hackle, as they float just fine, and many of the outer wing fibers tend to be drawn down to the water.  This provides a hint of legs, or footprint.  Here's a photo took today after dropping one of these flies onto a glass of water showing the footprint the wing creates.  It's not the best photo, but you get the idea.

That's a keeper!  Be sure to check and sharpen those hooks.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tying the Extended Body Light Cahill

Back in the 70's, Catskill tying legend Harry Darbee, came out with his Two-Feathered mayfly pattern using a woodduck flank feather and a dry fly hackle, and ever since then I have experimented using the technique to create my own semi-realistic patterns. The use of the arching woodduck flank feather to imitate the tail and abdomen always looked so right to me for imitating mayfly adults.

This pattern combines the tailing technique Darbee used with one of my favorite materials, Snowshoe Rabbit Foot. It is incredibly durable, fairly easy to tie, and works very well. You can adapt the pattern by changing size and body color to imitate green drakes, brown drakes and other large mayfly patterns.  If you don't have natural woodduck flank, you can substitute mallard or teal flank with good results.   

I've been using this fly the last couple of weeks in the evenings, and some nights it has been all I need to tie on the end of my tippet.  After a fish or two, dry it out some with Amadou or some other absorbent material, then restore the fly with Frog's Fanny, and it will continue to float well without the use of paste or liquid floatants.  Hat's off to Tim Flagler for another great production.

Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Breath Away, Yet So Far

Yes, it is true, on any give day any number of us fly fishermen are full of **it.  It happens.  We get skunked and have all kinds of idiotic excuses as to why.  It is the nature of our predicament.  We are fishing, and fish do what they do, and we being "smarter" than them fishes, rationalize our failings.  The interesting thing is that we failed according to our own expectations - the fish don't give a rat's ass whether or not we caught them.   

And we do have excuses.  There weren't enough bugs on the water.....the weather put them down.....I didn't have the right fly (whatever the hell that is/was)......it was too windy......and so on.  The fish don't cooperate, and we blame it on them.

So is it possible that the trout just don't give a damn sometimes?   Maybe they need a rest, or take a break, or have their own agenda.  Can they have an agenda?  Do they think or feel, "Man am I tired." Why is it that we, the almighty fly fisherman, think that trout even think?  They don't.  And sometimes, we don't, and that's often the problem.

Trout have absolutely no clue what we think or care about.  All they know (and I use the term "know" loosely, since trout have no cognitive abilities) is that they are hungry, or not, and they want to survive at any cost.  They (the trout) may require rest, or down time, to recharge their batteries, and so they ignore every morsel that floats by them be it real or artificial.  Who knows, maybe they are sleeping after a rough night out.  

In the end, it is the fault of neither fish nor fisherman when the fish don't bite and we go home with an empty feeling that somehow we failed.  Of course, that is what keeps us coming back for more, because we did fail - we didn't catch anything.  So we "have" to go back and catch something next time. That, and the reality that we want to once again stand in a clear, cool stream as it flows around our legs and sings a song that only water can sing.  We can't resist the blanket that nature wraps around us, our senses and our mind, when we set foot in the watery world that defies our being.  Fish can live there, we cannot, is there anything else we do in our lives that has such contrast as to be of different worlds?  

Insects, and the fish that feed on them, live and thrive in a world where no fisherman could even so much as breath a single breathe.  The dynamics of water and of air, other worldly, yet so intertwined.  Are the differences of our existence, fish and man, so simple as to be the thin line that is the surface of water where it meets the air? 

It is, and it is not.

The line that truly separates us is somewhere in the dense gray matter that makes us tick. 

The fish, they truly do not give a damn.  If they can even do that.

So go fish, take it all in, and when you catch something, behold the life that lives where you cannot.