Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tying Mercer's Missing Link Caddis

I've been fishing the Missing Link Caddis for several years now, and it has won a spot in my mostly sparse fly boxes - I carry hatch matching patterns specific to where I am fishing and the time of year, and I carry a few general patterns such as this one.  The more I use it, the more I like it, because it produces well.  And after losing a bet to Doug this past winter, I tied him a bunch of these on comp hooks, and he loves the fly, too, because it works (and because it looks cool).  It looks like it is hard to tie, but it really isn't, the trick is to tie up 6 or more at a time so you can develop a rhythm and feel for how to handle each of the materials. The other key to this fly, and most other patterns that incorporate body hair, is to use the best quality hair available.  Thanks to Tim Flagler for another great job with the video production!


Hook: TMC100 #14
Thread: 6/0 Olive Danville
Body: Tying thread
Rib: Pearl Krystal Flash
Thorax: Peacock flash dubbing
Spent Wings: Midge grey zelon
Upright wing: Bleached elk body hair
Hackle: Light cree

I tied it here in olive, but you can also use tan, black, yellow or even red thread.  For hackle, the original was tied with dun hackle.  I should also mention that this pattern is also used successfully during mayfly hatches - just tie it in appropriate colors and sizes to match the natural. 

For some background on this pattern straight from the designer, click on this link from our friends at FrankenFly: Mike Mercer on the creation of the Missing Link 

Tie some up; they work...and they do look cool.

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Tale of Two Nights

I just got home from fishing the South Branch tonight and thought I would share how tonight's experience differed from last night on the same river.  Last night when we got to the river, there were already sulphurs on the water and a few fish rising.  That was around 6:30 PM, and by 7:30, there were large and small sulphurs hatching, cinnamon caddis, and a few sulphur spinners.  Fish were rising steadily throughout the pool.  A well placed sulphur imitation took fish , although with the low water, getting a drag-free drift was a challenge and I had plenty of refusals in between hook-ups.  By 8:00 PM last night, it was bedlam, with trout rising everywhere and sulphur duns and spinners in the air and on the water in huge numbers.  The water was literally boiling with rising fish; it was hard to know where to cast and we caught plenty of fish.

Fast forward to tonight.  I met a few friends on the river about 7:00 PM, and the only bugs we saw were midges and small caddis.  About 7:30 I looked up and just off the new, green tree canopy I could see quite a few rusty spinners, some with egg sacs and some without.  Fish rose occasionally but nothing steady.  I took a couple of those fish on sulphur soft hackle emegers fished in the film, but it was slim pickings.  As 8:00 rolled around a few sulphur duns were in the air and very few on the water.  The spinners were now flying low just over the water.  As dusk neared those spinners began to fall on the water and fish rose, but nothing like the night before....until it got dark.  Then fish rose everywhere and of course, I could not see a thing and called it a day.  I did mange to catch a few more fish on rusty spinners before it got dark, but it was nothing like last night.  I guess that's what keeps us coming back. 

Both nights were fun, the weather could not have been better, and it was great to be on the water with friends.  

Sharpen your hooks.       

Friday, May 22, 2015

Shannon's Fly Shop Survey - Tomorrow May 23 - Receive a $25 Gift Certificate

Jim Holland of Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon, NJ just sent me the following:

This Saturday May 23 TOMORROW, a marketing survey company,70KFT will be conducting a fly fishing survey at Shannon's as part of a national program. Any customer who participates will receive a $25.00 Gift Certificate from Shannon's in exchange for filling out a ten minute survey with a 70KFT representative. All participation is strictly voluntary!

Here's a link to the shop for more information: Shannon's Fly Shop

If you are around the area tomorrow, stop by the shop and check it out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tying a Sulphur Usual Variant - CDC

Here's a timely sulphur usual pattern tied by Tim Flagler, where he employs CDC for the body of the fly instead of dubbing.  The CDC body gives the fly buoyancy and it will also retain its color when wet, which is a plus.  Often dyed hair dubbed bodies will darken considerably when they get wet, loosing the typical primrose color that matches the natural.

The sulphurs, or pale evenings duns, are just starting to hatch in good numbers here in New Jersey, and you will likely be seeing them by the weekend up in the Catskills and Upper Delaware system.    

Time some up and sharpen your hooks!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Time to Fish Now That School is Over.......For Now

My son Matt graduated from Raritan Valley Community College yesterday with two degrees - computer science and computer programming.  He also was awarded an academic achievement award for having the highest GPA in in his major.  I couldn't be more proud, and even better, he's ready to get back into fly fishing with me after a few years hiatus.  I just got him some new waders and boots, because as you can see, he has grown a few inches since we last fished together, which was when he was in high school. 

Matt already has a good job, and he is planning on returning to college in the fall at night to advance his degrees.  Now all three of my children are college graduates!   We had one heck of a party for him yesterday here at the homestead.

Sharpen your hooks.....we got some rain, so things are looking up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beaverkill River Rainbow

Since I have been too busy to write, here's a shot of a nice rainbow Doug caught in the Beaverkill River this past weekend fishing nymphs in the fast water sections.  These fish are wild and they seem to be fairly numerous in recent years in the lower Beaverkill.  

I'll share more on this past weekend's fishing when I get some breathing room in my schedule.

Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Beaverkill River Report

Last evening I fished the Beaverkill River between Cooks Falls and Horton and the number of bugs hatching was nothing short of epic.   The air was alive as thousands of grannom caddis hatched and migrated upstream along with Hendrickson duns and spinners, Blue quill duns and spinners, Blue-winged olives, and midges.  A glance into the clear flowing water revealed all of the empty nymphal shucks of these newly hatched insects in the drift.  It was awesome to be in the midst of.
The weather was also unusual for this time of year in the Catskills.  The air was 86 degrees F at 6 o'clock, and with all of the hardwood trees having only mouse-ear sized leaves, it was quite a contrast - summer time heat without any shade.  The water was a refreshing 65 degrees F and very clear.  It would have seemed the perfect evening for dry fly fishing, and it was, except the trout must have been doing most of their feeding below the surface on the easy prey of the struggling nymphs and pupa ascending the water column to hatch.
A few trout did rise along the opposite bank, but only for brief periods before disappearing back down among the rocks.  I was fishing the lower end of a long, flat pool, and once a spotted a rising a fish, I would carefully wade into casting position.  By the time was ready to drop a fly in the fishes feeding lane, it would have stopped rising.  But given the situation and knowing the fish would again start to rise shortly, I would wait it out and sure enough it would start rising again.   I saw only two fish rising, and with each I had to do the aforementioned dance before catching them both on caddis imitations.
It was a wonderful evening to be on the river, and although I expected to see many more rising fish with all those bugs coming off, I had a great time.  Half of me was immersed in a cool, clear river that was teaming with life, and my other half was soaking up the sights and sounds that can only be found among a free-flowing mountain stream on a warm spring evening.
Time for me to go fishing; the boys already have a good two hours on the water morning and I have some "catching" up to do.  I almost forgot to mention, I've got Douglas and two of his friends from the US Youth Fly Fishing Team staying here at the cabin.  They got here just before dark last night and still managed to catch a few from the fast water below the house.  I'll have more on their ventures in a later post.
Sharpen your hooks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

#24 Generic Spinner

Our friend from across the pond, Andy Baird, is bringing the small fly challenge to us again. Check out this wonderful little size 24 Generic Spinner he recently posted on his blog, Small Fly Funk. How small is that?  The hook shank is less than 1/4 inch long.

Click on the link above, and there's also a neat step-by-step of Andy tying a size 20 quill body dun. The lack of bulk combined with natural symmetry give his flies a very natural aesthetic few tyers can match when tying such diminutive patterns.  Great work, Andy.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Getting It Done - Hook Up to Net

The fight......

Setting up......


Final approach......



Not shown - the release.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Crystal Clear

This afternoon I met Doug in the Poconos so we could fish a river that's been on his wish list for a while. Earlier in the day he had spent a few hours fishing another creek further south, and he did quite well catching a couple of dozen fish on nymphs.  The weather was great with alternating bright sun and clouds and pleasantly warm air temperatures.  A light breeze blew early on, and as the day turned toward dusk, it picked up some and gave us a little bit of a challenge since we were both fishing 3 weight rods.  The river was a little low and about as clear as I have ever seen it.  Water temperature was ideal at 56 degrees F, at least that what the science tells us.  Too bad most of the trout didn't think so, and that's the science that really matters.

We had hoped to find hatching hendricksons, blue quills and caddis, and trout rising to them freely. What we found was waves of caddis coming off, a few hendricksons and blue quills, and even fewer rising fish,  There were a few rises, and I did manage to take a fish on a caribou caddis, but the rest of the fish we caught were fooled by nymphs.

Here's Doug fighting a rainbow he hooked in a nice run next to the bank you see in the background.

And then there's your writer, standing knee deep in a nice run, where I took a small rainbow on a sparkle emerger.  Lots of caddis were hatching in this fast water, and surprisingly we didn't see a single rise. That water was clear from my vantage point - the blue must be a reflection of the sky.   

Although the catching didn't live up to our expectations - we always expect the fishing to be good on days like today - the fishing was great.  We did some catching up and talked about our upcoming trip to the Catskills next weekend.  Doug has only fished up there in the fall months, and although we caught fish on those trips, the fishing was so-so with very low water conditions. Right now conditions are good up there on most rivers, and the bugs are just starting to get going, so again we are optimistic and excited about the trip, and there will be some serious fly tying going on at night this week by all of us.

And finally, here's an upstream shot I took today of this beautiful stream as it winds its way toward the Delaware River some 5-6 miles downstream.              


And this just in........that's us admiring the one fish I took on a dry just after I removed it from Doug's net.  See how big it is?  It fills the frame totally, doesn't it?  

Sharpen your hooks, and just say, "Yeah, nice fish."