Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fly Fishing Show Lancaster, PA

The last of the Fly Fishing Shows will be held this weekend in Lancaster, PA, on Saturday and Sunday March 1 and 2.  We'll be there with the usual cast of characters tying flies, answering questions, harassing fellow tiers, and generally having a good time.   This show is not as big as the Somerset show, but its a lot of fun and we always enjoy seeing the folks from PA.  This year, I'm not scheduled to do any seminars as in the past, but we will be the featured fly tier, demonstrating how to tie extended body mayflies, on the big screen.   My extended body March Brown will be one of the flies demonstrated.   Click here for more information on the show: LINK 
This pattern really isn't that difficult to tie, it just takes a little more patience than a standard Catskill pattern.  When we fish this pattern, the bottom of the hackle gets clipped so it sits on the water just like the natural.  It looks very real at the end of your leader, and I have often had birds fly along and pick it up off the water surface when fishing it. 
Come on out and see us, and be sure to stop by and say hello.

Lastly, let's wish Douglas, and his friends Bryson and Rob, good luck this weekend.  They will be in Cabins, WV, competing in the first comp of the year with about 40 other anglers.  Go get 'em, boys! 
Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Strip and Dye Peacock Quills

Here's another fine video produced by Tightline Productions. In it, Tim Flagler, shows us how he strips peacock quills and dyes/colors them, using a couple of household supplies, waterproof markers and some common sense. 

Sharpen your hooks!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Breaking From Tradition - Douglas the Ghillie

On Saturday I met Doug at a Lehigh Valley limestone creek in an effort to shake off my cabin fever.  The weather was as good as one could expect after the deep freeze of the last few weeks - bright sun, air temperatures in the mid-fifties, and the occasional wisp of a breeze to redden the cheeks.  The ground was blanketed in knee deep, wet snow, that was melting slowly enough to have little effect on the little creek, which was clear and flowing at a perfect late winter rate.
The plan was for me to fish with one of Doug's competition set-ups, and for him to provide instruction; or as they say in Scotland, "attend the angler".   He set me up with a 10FT 2WT rod that had a 20 foot leader on it.  A "sighter" of approximately 24 inches was located about 2/3 of the way down the leader, which was half fluorescent red, and half chartreuse.  The point fly was a silver bead head Walt's Worm, and the dropper, about 20 inches above the point, was a smaller quill fly like the one shown below.  Both flies were tied by Doug on jig style competition hooks - I thought I was going to have a stroke when I picked up the rod!    Nevertheless, I survived the shock of handling such a modern day set up with such "flies".       
We walked down to the creek, and Douglas put me in a nice, fishy looking run, that was sure to hold fish.  After describing how he would fish the run, how I should hold the rod and manipulate the line, I began to fish.  Doug stayed by my side coaching me and offering encouragement.   It took a while to get used to the set up, but fishing it was not unlike the way I have always nymphed - rod high, line tight but not taught, with the flies bouncing along the bottom at the same speed as the current (if you are doing it right).  The primary difference from how I have always nymphed was the set-up of the line, leader, tippet and the flies I was fishing.  With the rod being so very long and light, and because I had only a very short length of fly line extending beyond the rod tip, it was necessary to concentrate more to control the leader and drift, because I didn't have the weight of the fly line to counteract the nuances of current and the occasional breeze.  Like many other techniques employed when fly fishing, this one required a good degree of finesse, which made it very enjoyable.

Here's Doug retying my leader after I managed to give it a tangle.  

Mr. Positive!  We moved up stream and sure enough I began taking fish.    They were beautiful wild browns, nothing too big, but full of spunk and a treat for the eyes after looking at all that white stuff for so many weeks on end. 
Here's a typical brown that Doug caught a couple of pools above me after we separated......just before he went off on his own, he said something to the effect, "You've got the hang of it, I'm going to catch a few now, too."  Check out the red edges on the tail of this fish, just about as pretty as they get.   
We ended the day having done quite well.  I took 5 fish and "dropped" two.  Doug caught a bunch as well.  As a guide, he was terrific; patient, knowledgeable, and above all, great company as always.  I think we'll do this again, and I'll fish again using the techniques I learned this day to better understand another facet of this wonderful sport that Doug loves so much. But you can bet I'll mostly continue to fish the way I always have, not because it's better, but because it's in my blood.  I learned to fly fish in a different era than Douglas, and I think that's the best part of fishing with him - he has a very different perspective yet we share a passion for the sport that transcends experience.      
The day was a success in every sense of the word.  I look forward to the next time we get on the water, Douglas.  I think there's a little Scottish in your blood, my friend. 
Sharpen your hooks.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham

You may have noticed that we are sort of out of sorts lately, mostly due to our lack of time on the water.  I haven't gone this long without wetting a line in decades, thanks to polar vortexes, the accompanying snow and ice, and the fact that I'm just not as hardy as I once was.  I am a grandfather, after all.  I have been tying plenty of flies though, and working on other projects, so there really are no complaints; it's just that we're missing that balance that comes from standing in a river taking in the sights and sounds, casting a line, and connecting with what to me is reality. 
Here's the South Branch on Saturday morning locked in snow and ice, but just as peaceful as ever.
I have had the good fortune of fishing vicariously through Douglas' adventures.  He's been getting out every weekend and doing quite well with his nymphing techniques, sending me photos of browns, rainbows and the occasional brookie, that have succumbed to his presentations and quill flies.  Not to mention what he calls a Jiggy Sexy Walt's Worm.......we'll show you this one in a future post, and maybe even make a tying video of this "killer" pattern.    
Here's a nice wild brown Douglas caught on a PA limestone spring creek on a recent frosty trip.
That's about all I have for today, I just needed to pop something up here, so you all would know I haven't dropped of the face of the earth.
And, no Sam I Am, I do not like green eggs and ham.  Not in a house, not with a mouse.  Not in a box, nor with a fox..........
I just want to go fishing.
Sharpen your hooks.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tying the Ausable Wulff

Fran Betters created the high floating Ausable Wulff for the boulder strewn, swift, broken water of the West Branch of the Ausable River in NY's Adirondack mountains in 1964.  Over the years this fly has become a favored pattern for trout anglers throughout North America.  The fly's ubiquitous appearance makes it a great searching pattern, and depending on the size, it can also be fished over hatches of dark mayflies.  I've seen it tied, and fished with success, in sizes #8 right down to a #20; when tying it in smaller sizes the wings are often omitted. Here Tim Flagler, shows how he ties the Ausable Wulff.
Also this week, Tim is Tom Rosenbauer's weekly podcast guest, talking about all things fly tying.  You can listen to it here: LINK

And the stuff he says about me? None of it is true.

Sharpen your hooks!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Shannon's Sunday Morning Fly Tying Class

This Sunday morning at 9:30am, our friend Bill Ninke, will be teaching the free fly tying classes at Shannon's Fly and Tackle Shop in Califon, NJ.  He will be instructing how to tie three flies designed by well-known Montana guide, Andy Carlson.  It should be a fun, informative class. 
Purple Haze               Quigley Cripple Variant           Bitterroot Stonefly

The Flies and Techniques of Andy Carlson - Taught by Bill Ninke

Bill has fished with Andy, the legendary guide and commercial fly tyer from Hamilton MT, for 28 years. During this time, Andy has shared many of his patterns and tying techniques. In this class Bill will cover Andy’s three most famous and productive patterns emphasizing some of Andy’s and his own speed tying techniques. This will be Bill’s first class at Shannon’s but he has taught for over 30 years for Central Jersey TU and is considered that Chapter’s most innovative tyer.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tying the BWO Quill Nymph

Today we have the pleasure of showing you how to tie one of Doug Freemann's favorite nymphs, the BWO Quill Nymph.  I've been on the stream with him many times when this pattern out fished every other pattern he fished that day by a wide margin.  He fishes this pattern in tandem with another nymph right down on the bottom, getting them in front of the trout's nose, and they take them like candy more often than not.

As most of you may know by now, Doug is a member of the US Youth Fly Fishing Team, and is continually practicing his craft.  In fact, he fished this past weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, ignoring the freezing temperatures and catching fish on both days.   Here's a nice wild brown he took on Saturday.

As for myself, I stayed home; it's just too warm for me to fish this time of the year...... 
Sharpen your hooks.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fly Fishing Jersey Style

At this year's Fly Fishing Show in Somerset, NJ, I met 10 year old Will, who has been following this blog, and those of some of our friends.  Will has even started his own blog, and has caught the fly tying/fly fishing bug big time.  Inspired by our tying videos, he has even made one himself, which you can view on his blog: Fly Fishing Jersey Style.     
His latest fly is this Rabbit Nymph.
Good work, Will.  We look forward to seeing more of your flies and fishing activities on your blog, and in the spring, some fishing reports about the fish you catch on your flies.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Fishing Report From A Reader

We are due for a fishing report, and since I haven't been able to get on the water recently, here's a  report that I received this week from a reader, who fished the Musconetcong River last weekend.
I read your report of February 1 and thought I’d share some good fishing news among this inexorable winter onslaught. This time of year usually has me daydreaming of that first warm blast we sometimes get around Valentine’s Day. You know the one - It usually only lasts a few days, but the sunshine and water temps are enough to get the early brown stones active and gives us that opportunity to get on the water. This past Saturday morning was (although brief) one of those days – seemingly out-of-nowhere we had sunshine and temps in the 40’s. Nothing hatching, but the water was running a nice level and was a surprising 39.5 degrees at 1:00. Normally I would have had a little more discipline and tended to chores and other non-fishing activities, but having just taken delivery of a new 3 weight (Sage Circa) on Friday, I was a just a little more motivated to hit the river for an hour or so.

I fished the lower end of the Musky below Rt 31 for about 2 hours. I was very pleasantly surprised with 7 fish fought and landed 5. Four fat, healthy rainbows 14- 16”and a 13” brown. The rod is very soft (that’s what attracted me to it) and I think the first two fish simply let go of the fly as I actively “set the hook” on the others and they were all landed. I fished a beadheaded Ptail softhackle with a baetis nymph dropper. Every fish hit the Ptail on point. Dead drifted on the bottom, 5X tippet. The bank ice extended out about 2 – 3 feet and instead of tapering down to a sharp, melted edge, slower areas had a blunt 3 – 5” thick face which looked like it was likely seriously locked up earlier and giant slabs had broken off leaving the substantial shelf. No fish along the ice, all hook-ups were down the middle.

A nice surprise to break-in the new rod and help get me out of this winter funk. At least for a few hours. I’m still daydreaming about that stone hatch that should be right around the corner.
Thanks, Anthony, glad you had a good day -great for February! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Henley Goes Home

You can see it in his eyes...."When are we going fishing, Grandpa?"

As soon as you are ready, buddy.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tying a Damselfly Fly

By now most of you have likely seen the video, "Damsels in Distress", that Simon Perkins shot of brown trout feeding on adult damselflies.  We posted it a few days ago after seeing it elsewhere, and it has gone viral in fly fishing circles the past few days.  It's an awesome video of the stuff most of us can only dream of seeing in our lifetime; large trout feeding aggressively on damselflies flying just above the water surface.  Orvis then asked Tim Flagler if he would produce a fly tying video showing how to tie an adult damselfly to compliment the video.  And so he did, with me tying a tried and true pattern that I have tied for clients for about 20+ years, and with which they tell me has worked well for them not only in the US, but also in Argentina and New Zealand.

Hook: Dai Riki #305 size 10
Thread: 3.0 Light olive Danville monochord
Extension: Olive deer body hair
Thorax: Peacock herl
Wing case: Dark green antron
Hackle: Coq-de-Leon

I used to use grizzly hackle for this fly, and you still can. But I have found that the Coq- de-Leon works better since it has long, stiff fibers and the stems on the feathers are very thin and strong, so it wraps very well, as you can see in the video.

I have only been lucky enough to encounter trout feeding on adult damselflies a couple of times, and only on waters in Yellowstone Park.  There I used this pattern tied with black thread, a blue deer hair body extension, and black antron for the wing case.  And it worked well.

Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winer Musings

Winter has had a firm grip on the landscape the last few weeks and although today is fairly mild - mid-40's - it isn't going to let go without a fight.  I drove along the South Branch today and the local wild trout stream, and they are both locked up pretty well with ice.  Even in the faster water stretches, the ice reached out far from the banks, with only the center flowing freely through narrow gaps in the ice.  The river looks beautiful cloaked in ice and snow; I like to think of it as in hibernation, a well deserved rest after a year of hydraulic and temperature extremes.  Come spring, it will blossom with insects just as the landscape around it turns green and flowers with color. 
For now, we will keep our faith and look forward to another year on the water as the days grow longer and sun continues to climb higher in the sky with each passing day.  There is plenty to be done in anticipation - tying flies, reading new books, writing, and dreaming of hatches and rising fish and good times to be spent on the water with friends.
And in the meantime, don't forget to take in the winter sunsets.
Sharpen your hooks.