Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Fly Fishing Show - Lancaster, PA

This coming weekend, March 2 & 3, the final fly fishing show of the season is being held at the Lancaster Convention Center, in downtown Lancaster.  I have a pretty full schedule there with presentations and shifts in the author's booth both days, and on Saturday at 3:00pm, I'll be the Featured Fly Tyer.  That's where they set you up in a room with a camera on your vise, and a microphone on your collar, and the tying action is shown on a big screen to hopefully a decent sized audience.  I'll be demonstrating a few relatively straightforward methods  I use to tie extended body dry flies using flank feathers, elk, and moose body hairs for the tail extension.

Last year, the first year in this location, we had a blast, and this year with word having got out, it should be even better.   Click the  LINK to the right under "Whereabouts" for the full disclosure relating to the event, and the times you can catch me away from my tying station behaving fairly civilized. 

Come on out and see the whole show, and stop by and say hello to me and the rest of the gang tying on "Murderers Row" - easily identified by shaving, grooming and fine dress being optional (showering and brushing of the ivories is not optional).  We will be sharing tying tricks and secrets, telling stories lies about big fish and awesome trips to find them, laughs, and generally harassing each other for no other reason than we can get away with it. 

Hope to see you at the show.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Early Black Stoneflies - Knee Deep Style

Our longtime friend and Maryland fishing guide, Micah Dammeyer, offers up a great pattern on his blog, Knee Deep Fly Fishing, for the early black stonefly adults.  Although Micah developed the pattern for the Big Gunpowder Falls River, this pattern will surely work anywhere on east coast trout streams. 
From Micah's Knee Deep post: The Stonefly emergence is one of the first chances to fish dry flies on Maryland's streams. The Gunpowder has great early black stoneflies and we've got a great pattern for you.

Micah offers a step by step tutorial on how he ties this fly here:  Early Black Stonefly
The deer hair body he adapted stole from my own pattern for this insect. This fly is often actively fished so it skitters along the surface, just as the naturals do; they use the surface tension to pull the egg sac off the end of their abdomen - the clipped deer hair creates a nice wake.  A dead-drift presentation may also take fish, as many are blown onto the water as they head for the bare stream-side vegetation.

And here's a Tightline Production video featuring Tim Flagler tying his Little Black Stonefly nymph, which imitates the subsurface version of the above dry:

Tie some of both patterns up, and get out and fish!
Micah and I will be tying alongside each other this weekend at the Lancaster, PA Fly Fishing Show.  Stop by and see us when you are there.     

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hatching Blue Quill Mayfly

Smokey Mountain fly fishers, R&R Flyfishing caught this Blue Quill nymph emerging in all its glory.  There's only one way to classify this one..........awesome!

Courtesy of Chi Wulff

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot Stove Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Nights

John Collins and Jim Holland of Shannons' Fly Shop in Califon, NJ will be hosting a new program they have developed for anglers and fly tyers to improve their tying skills and become more effective trout anglers when fishing the Northeastern major hatches. The classes also include the opportunity to return to the newly restored private waters of the Raritan Inn, and fish those hatches this spring. 

John is an accomplished angler and fly tyer, best known for having developed his "Electric" fly series of nymphs and subsurface patterns. Jim is also an accomplished angler and co-owner of Shannon's Shop, who fishes the South Branch of the Raritan River several times a week throughout the year. I fish with both of these guys, and there's no doubt these classes will be very informative and fun - I guarantee you will learn some great tying and fishing techniques, and have some laughs along the way.

The program will be held over three nights on February 25, March 4 and March 11, 2013 at the beautiful Raritan Inn, on the banks of the South Branch. Cost is $100.00 per session or $250.00 for all three and includes dinner. Call the shop for more information and to register - 1 (908) 832-5736
Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Very Simple Scud

I like to tie my scuds using a very simple method - because I use them a lot, and lose them a lot.  I make a dubbing loop at the bend of my hook, insert dubbing, and twist it into a chenille-like rope before wrapping it forward to the eye.  I then clip the back and sides as shown here, and its finished.  I also will add wire weight to the shank on some, before I dub the fly.  When wet, this fly is very translucent and impressionistic.       

I tie them in gray/olive, tan and pale orange.  I haven't tried pink, but may based on Mick Hall's experience - see previous post below.
There are all kinds of scud patterns, so tie the ones that appeal to you, and see what ones work best when you fish them - you may already know this. 
Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mick Hall on Scuds - A Perspective From Down Under

Here's an interesting piece on the Freshwater Scud/Shrimp by Mick Hall - more proof that this is one fly pattern no trout angler should be without.
The truth is Scuds are everywhere. Just look for the most suitable water, be it ponds, small tarns or lakes and most, if not all, rivers.  Scud are easy to make and you can adjust the colours to suit what you find in your favourite waters but don't forget the Hot Pink, as it just about works everywhere.
Read it here on Mick's blog:
Tie some up and fish them all year 'round.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More on the Regal Vise

A couple of folks wrote me yesterday asking about how I like the when tying with smaller hooks  So far, I've had no issues with the stainless steel jaws, which are designed to hold hooks from #2 down to #32.  The Regal Vise specification narrative says:  

The Stainless Steel Jaw is the smallest profile jaw in the Regal line of vise jaws. The jaw is manufactured from heat-treated stainless steel that allows for machining the small profile yet maintains the durability expected in a Regal Vise. This jaw is versatile and accommodates hook sizes from 32 to 2 making it the trout fisherman’s dream vise.
The standard jaws have a little larger profile and will hold hooks from #1/0 down to #22, according to the specification.
Here's a Dai Riki 060 #20 in the vise.  As you can see, no problem at all - the hook is seated far enough in the jaws that it isn't going to chip the edge, or shoot out onto the carpet.  And there's plenty of room to tie on it comfortably.    
And here's a Tiemco 200R #22.  No problem.......what's not to like?  If you are regularly tying small flies, Regal does make a Midge Jaw, which is designed for the serious small fly tier.
And here's the view out the living room window about midnight last night.
We only got about 6" fortunately, my daughter Megan, who lives in Charlestown/Boston got hammered though.  Here is her car this morning!  She's fine, has power and heat. 
Time to sit down at the Regal and tie some up!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Are You Married to Your Vise?

Before I get into this one, I'm going to start by pointing out the obvious; I have never had any advertising or marketing photos on this blog.  And that has been intentional.  I want this to be a place where folks can come and not have to wade through ads, banners, or any other marketing crap; because we get more than enough of it on an average day, and not just from the radio, TV, or magazines - everything you look at these days seems to have a logo or corporate name on it. So, that said, please forgive this blatant vise-kissing. 
Yes, I have left my HMH vise and ran off with a new squeeze - a Regal. 
For the past several years, Mike McAuliffe, a Regal Vise rep, has  approached me at every tying show and asked me, "Are you married to your vise?"  And I've always replied, "Yes, we've been together since 1982, and I can tie blindfolded on it."  And having known Mike for years, he usually would chide me a little and tell me what I'm missing.  No pressure, just confidence.
To make a long story short, I've had my HMH vise for 30 years now, and it is a great vise.  It's been all over the country with me, and it is still as solid as it was the day I bought it.  So, while waiting to go to the banquet at the Fly Tying Symposium last fall, I was talking with friend and Central PA guide, Eric Stroup,  and John Blackmerat of Regal Vise, and Eric asked me why I didn't tie on a Regal vise.  I said I was married to my HMH. They both laughed.  And then Eric said I really should try tying on a Regal.  John offered to lend me one, and I agreed to give it a ride.....
The next day when I showed up at my tying station, low and behold, there was a Regal Stainless Steel pedestal vise on my table, with a note asking me to try it out for the day. So I did, reluctantly.  My HMH sat to the side, moping; it didn't even move the entire day!  
At the end of the day, Mike came over to me and said take it home and use it for a while.  So I did.  And over the next couple of weeks I went back and forth using the Regal and my HMH vise, and slowly found myself using the Regal more and more.
It's now February, about two months since I first started using the Regal.  I now tie on it every day, and the reasons for the change are simple (literally and figuratively).    To insert a hook of any size, all you have to do is squeeze the lever; it opens the jaws, and then you release the lever when the hook is in the appropriate position, to close the jaws.  Then tie your fly.   When you're done with that fly, you squeeze the lever to release it, and then stick in another hook of any size - no adjustments, nothing, it's that simple.  With the "other" vise, there are adjustments to be made when switching hooks to get the proper jaw pressure to hold the hook, and you always had to make sure the jaws were were not turned to one side or the other.  With the Regal, the jaws are fixed in place.

The HMH still sits on my tying desk.  It has stopped the whining, and instead now brags to the Regal about how it taught me everything I know, how it had me through my best years, traveled with me, and even taught my kids many important lessons, ad nauseum.....

And the Regal ignores it.  After all, it is Regal - 

So there you have it.  Thanks for reading.        

Tie some up, and sharpen your hooks!  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

It's February - What to Tie and Fish?

We got a few requests asking about what we would recommend be tied and fished this coming month in the New Jersey/Eastern PA area. I have a few in mind, and I'll get to them in a minute.  For starters, since there are few hatches to match, when the weather permits, keep it simple and stick with patterns that you have confidence in.  Fish the flies you always seem to catch fish on - it really isn't the best time to experiment.  Its usually cold out, and the water colder, leaving fish and fisherman on the slower side.  Get your flies down to where the fish are so they don't have to move far to grab them, because most of the time the trout aren't going to waste energy chasing down your offering.

Most of our fishing is done with streamers or nymphs, although fishing dries is never out of the question if we see one or more fish taking from the surface.

One of my first choices is the Beadhead Bird's Nest. Fish this alone, or drop a scud, Chimarra caddis larva, RS2 or Pumpkinhead Midge behind it.

Here's the Chimarra caddis larva.  These small, bright yellow/orange caddis larva are very abundant and spend the month of February and early March drifting low in the water column as they move among the rocks feeding as soon after they will pupate and hatch in late April and May. 

And here's the Beadhead Pheasant Tail nymph, another beadhead to get the fly down to where the trout are. Again, the is a great pattern to fish alone, or drop a smaller fly behind it and cover two bases with each cast.
So there's a few suggestions for starters.  I would also recommend a black Hare's Ear nymph, tied thin, to imitate the Little-black Stoneflies that hatch in sizes #12-16. You can also use a Prince Nymph or Zug Bug for this insect. 
Other good choices for this time of the year an be found on Tightline Productions video channel.  There you'll find other patterns tied by myself, and others tied by Tim Flagler, who has posted some other great patterns that will work well now; the Zebra Midge, Wooley Bugger, Mercury Midge, and most recently the Rainbow Warrior nymph. 
All of the above flies are good choices for winter trout fishing.  Again, these are flies that produce well and have been proven over time.  You may want to add a few of your own choices to the mix to fill out the balance and provide added confidence. 
Sharpen your hooks.    

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The McCloud - A River Like No Other

Of all the rivers I've fished in my lifetime, the McCloud is the one that gives me goosebumps when I get lost in dreams of wading in its boulder strewn, trout filled, turquoise flow.  It winds through a deep gorge at the base of Mt. Shasta in the shadows of old growth Douglas Firs, Cedars and hardwoods; the diameter of the Douglas Fir trunks being measured in yards, and their tops so high they tickle the clouds.  When you stand in the river, you feel safe and hidden in another world  - the air is moist, and everywhere they can get a bite into the rocky terrain, grasses, rushes and ferns grow green and lush.  
Getting to river is not for the average angler or faint of heart.  Particularly, the Nature Conservancy section, which is truly a Garden of Eden.  You start near Lake McCloud, and drive up a narrow dirt logging road that winds up and around the perimeter of a steep mountain, and then down again to a sloped "parking area" above the the river.  Then its a two mile hike over and around rocks, dead falls, and spring seeps.  Where the trail is flat, you walk on a thick bed of dried pine needles.  The walk is really not that bad, you don't even notice it since you're so focused and fascinated by the beauty that surrounds you. 

But despite its beauty and isolation, the McCloud is not immune to the challenges of our human dominated world.  It needs our stewardship, and Keith Brauneis puts it all in perspective in his short film - Enough is Enough.  Here's the trailer, and below is a link to a brief interview he did with CalTrout and within that, a link to a larger version of the film.

LINK: You feel that river......