Friday, July 31, 2015

Tying the Fur Ant

It's summertime and it is hot, even in the shade.  It may not be very comfortable for us, but for terrestrial insects, this time of the year is perfect.  They are crawling and hopping everywhere - in the trees, the shrubs, grass and fields, crops, and flowers.  And of one the most of abundant of them all is the ant.  We know this, and the trout know this, and on just about any given day ants fall or are blown onto trout streams throughout North America.  With this in mind, it seems that the trout get used to seeing them and feeding on them during the summer months, which is likely why this pattern and other ant imitations work so well not only between hatches but also often during hatches.  Tim Flagler says he often does better with an ant pattern (size #14) during Trico activity than he does with a Trico imitation.  


Hook: TMC 100 #20
Thread: 6/0 Black Danville
Body: Black and cinnamon brown Australian opossum - 3:1 ratio
Hackle: Dark dun

I like the tinge of brown in this dubbing mix for my own use, any black dubbing of your preference works fine.  Also tie some in all cinnamon with brown hackle, and a combination of the two colors with the brown being the abdomen and black for the head.  

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A "New" Hackle

Our friend Bill Shuck emailed the above photograph along with the following text: 

While stripping the usual desirable feathers from a male wood duck gifted by a local hunter last fall, I saved some of the upper coverts on a whim. The other day I finally got around to sorting all the feathers and decided to try tying a spider or two using the coverts to see how they looked in macro. Here’s one using light orange Pearsall’s that came out pretty well. Although the barbs do not have the defined linear markings of waterhen or Gambel’s quail, they are a nice grey dun with a lively appearance.

That's a great looking soft hackle; it came out much better than "pretty well".  Thanks for sharing, Bill.

Sharpen your hooks.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trico Parachute Variations

Last week we posted our video on how we tie a Trico Parachute, and a number of readers have asked about variations with respect to the wing.  You can substitute any number of materials for the wing post on this or any other parachute pattern such as poly fibers, antron, zelon, calf body hair, etc., in addition to what we used, EP Trigger Point Fibers.  I like the trigger point fibers because they present a low profile wing that is very visible.  I think it covers the angler for both the duns and the spinners in most situations.  Of course, some of that depends on the angler and his level of confidence in his pattern and how it needs to look to him. Some anglers can only fish a dun if that's what they think is on the water - anything not specifically looking like a dun pattern to them will not give them the confidence they need to fish it.

Here's a Trico parachute with a high wing profile, which will imitate the dun stage quite well.  The wing here is tied with midge grey micro zelon fibers. The hook is a #125 Dai Riki size 22. The abdomen is 6/0 Olive Danville, which better imitates the females of the species, which some anglers need to drill down to to feel confident in their fly selection.  I tie them in both olive and black for shits and giggles, but truthfully, I don't think the trout care in the least.  

Here's a Trico parachute tied with fluorescent orange CDC puffs for the wing, for the hard of sighting angler out there.  They can also be tied using natural or any other color CDC puff to suit your own sensibilities.  This one is tied on a TMC100 size 20.

Those are some options, go wild with your own ideas but not so much so that you loose sight of your objective.....imitating trout foods.

Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tying the Trico Parachute

Here's a highly visible Trico pattern we fish  in the early morning hours both here in the Northeast, and out West.  The one in the video is a size 20, but they can easily tied in sizes 22 and 24, it just takes a little practice.  The best way to tie the small ones is to tie a few on the size 20 to get the hang of it, and then go to the smaller ones.  I also tie these using the best tying thread out there - 6/0 Olive Danville - which imitates the light olive bodied females.  And how about that lighting?  Tim Flagler changed his lighting methods for these videos, and it sure does give them some added pop.   

Hook: TMC 100 sizes 20-24
Thread: 6/0 Black Danville
Post: EP Trigger Point Fibers - click to go to site.
Tails: Dun microfibbets
Abdomen: Tying thread
Thorax: Black Australian Opossum
Hackle: Light dun

I fish these, and all my dry flies, using a George Harvey slack leader using two foot sections for the body. With the transition piece and tippet, it's about 12 feet long.

Sharpen your hooks.....and clean your line, doing both makes a difference and will improve your game.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Slow Motion Lightning Over South Dakota at 2,000 fps

LINK:The Kids Should See This

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rained Out

Yesterday morning I left the house at dawn to pick up my son before heading out to the Lehigh Valley to hit the trico hatch.  About halfway to his house the sky opened up, lighting flashed, thunder crashed and traffic slowed.  By the time I pulled into the driveway some fifteen minutes later the rain had slowed to a sprinkle.  Matt loaded his gear into my trunk and we were on the way.  I tempered his optimism some, as I knew it was likely the creek would be off color from the downpour.  If I were alone, I would have turned around.  But this was time with my son and if nothing else I could show him one of my favorite spring creeks and let him see how summer rainstorms can change your plans in an instant.

When we pulled along side of the creek, it was higher than normal and very turbid, visibility was down to the end of your nose....maybe.  I showed him some of the spots I like to fish and told him how years ago a storm like this may have raised the level a little and made the water a little cloudy, but now with all the development surrounding the watershed the run-off was increased by the greater amount of impermeable surfaces - pavement and concrete along and storm water systems that direct water down into the valley and eventually the creek.   Before the development, the earth absorbed much more of the water, and what water did flow down the hillsides was slowed by wooded areas that retained the top soil that now washes into the creek and quickly discolors it.  Progress?

On the way back I showed him a bunch of spots I like to fish on the Musconetcong River, and we stopped for breakfast.  We didn't fish, but it was a good morning spent with my son talking fishing, flies, and how to fish the various spots I showed him along the way.

We plan to go back out in the very near future when the heat breaks.  Fortunately, although it isn't what it once was, the creek still harbors wild trout and decent hatches.   

Sharpen your hooks. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fishing the Iris Caddis

Many of you have emailed me asking about how and why we fish that magical summer evening pattern, the Iris Caddis.   

Late May through September is the  time of year when the Spotted Caddis (Hydropsyche sp.) becomes an essential trout food, most particularly in the two month period from late June through Early August. Here in North America, they are very abundant and they are present in just about every river where trout are found. And most importantly, trout love these little buggers. The past few weeks my most productive surface fly by far has been an emerger imitation - the Iris Caddis. The adult natural has a tan/grey body and wings that are ginger mottled with darker, so we tie them with a tan body with a grey tone.  They are typically a size #14-18; I mostly fish a size #14 on a standard shank length dry fly hook.

Understanding the behavior of this particular aquatic insect is essential to being successful when they are actively hatching. You don't need to be an entomologist or know any fancy language either, just some basic identifying information, and you are good to go.

How many times have you been on the river in the evening and witnessed trout aggressively rising yet there are no insects on the water surface? And yet at the same time, you see caddis fluttering about 6-10 inches above the water in clusters? These two questions are the answer to what you should fish - a caddis emerger. More specifically, a tan Iris Caddis dead-drifted right in the surface film - see prior post on tying the Iris Caddis. 

So what is happening? The caddis pupae swim up from the river bottom and while suspended in the meniscus preparing to hatch, they drift with the current and work to free themselves of their pupal shuck. Once they have separated their new skin from the old, they literally pop out into the air without spending even a nanosecond on the surface as an adult. That is why you only see the adults in the air, and that is why the emerger works so well - the pupa are very vulnerable while preparing to hatch, and the trout know it. The trout feed aggressively because they know they have only seconds once the pupae get to the surface before their meal becomes airborne.

Often, the following morning, the adults will return to lay their eggs in the softer water and eddies along fast runs and flowing pools.  An adult caddis pattern or spent caddis pattern will take the fish rising to them.

And finally, I do know a few anglers that fish this pattern subsurface as a nymph or wet fly, and do quite well.  One of these anglers, with whom I reluctantly fish with,  likes to remind me of this fact ad nauseam. : ) 

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Iris Caddis - Don't Leave Home Without Them

I've fished a bunch of evenings the last couple of weeks, and this fly has taken the majority of fish for me.  Just about every evening on trout streams from the Northeast to Northern California, caddis hatch and trout feed on them.  One of the primary caddis genera that hatches is the Hydropsyche, of which there are over a dozen species that hatch throughout the warmer months of the year.  This pattern, designed by the folks at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, MT, imitates the emergers very well.  So, tie some up, buy some, or have someone else tie some up for you, and fish them with confidence.

Just sayin'.

And sharpen your hooks.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Quiet Summer Evening On the Water

A couple of days ago my son Matt and I fished the South Branch late in the day.  He calls me most every day to see if we can fish, but lately it has been hit or miss with either night meetings, or the water temperatures are too high for the trout. It had rained the night before and that day the skies were mostly cloudy with moderate air temps, so we were in luck.  The water was 66 degrees F when we arrived, a little off color with a decent flow.  I didn't see another angler as I drove along to river to our meeting spot, so we had our pick of where we wanted to fish.   

After gearing up we carefully waded into the long pool as cardinals and other song birds watched and sang from the walnut trees scattered along the opposite bank of the river.  A few light colored caddis fluttered about along with some midges and the odd cranefly, and fish moved in the darker, deeper runs and pockets as they took insects in the water column and just below the surface; the flash of their flanks revealing their locations.  

We both tied on an Iris Caddis and spread out to give each other plenty of room.  We each settled into positions within casting distance of active fish, and planted our feet so as not to disturb the water any more than necessary. It was a wonderful night to be on the water; the air was calm and warm and enough fish rose to keep us both occupied.  And the fishing was good.  We caught only rainbows, although Matt had a nice brown working on and off near him most of the evening, but it was having none of what he offered.   Every fish came on the Iris Caddis. Here's my fly at the end of the night.  I love it when I tie on a fly and fish it the whole outing and it works like a charm.     

If you don't carry Iris Caddis in the summer months, you are likely missing out on some great fishing. This fly imitates the light colored caddis that emerge to some degree just about every single evening on trout streams across America.  Notice the bottom photo; the hook point is blunted, and when I checked it as darkness took over the light, I knew it was tie to hang this one up and quit for the night. If it were earlier in the day, I would have sharpened that puppy up and kept fishing it. We had another great night on the river, and hopefully this week the expected rains will give us some more summer nights like this one.

Sharpen your hooks.......unless it's time to retire the fly.  

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learning to Fly......

My daughter sent me this photo she took of Henley fishing with his dad last evening.  It was Henley's first time fishing, and at 18 months old, she said he wasn't about to let go of that rod for anything.

My mother said the same thing about one of her sons some 55+ years ago.......

Sharpen your hooks.