We had a great time this past weekend at the Fly Fishing Show, the last one of the season, tying flies and catching up with many of our friends from Pennsylvania. Things were steady all day Saturday, and we tied lots of flies and rarely got to stray from our tying station during the day. The fly tying seminar I did on extended-body mayflies went well, with good crowd showing up to watch and ask questions. I was paired with Bob Popovics at the tying station on the exhibit floor, and we had great time talking shop and sharing our latest fly patterns. On Saturday evening, 25 of us descended on the local Irish restaurant for dinner and libations.
Sunday was fairly busy in the morning, but I think the weatherman scared a lot of folks away in the afternoon. The afternoon was bittersweet, with Joe Humphrey's doing his last casting seminar of his long and stellar career teaching fly fishing and doing the shows. At 89 young years old he is retiring and we will miss him and his wonderful personality, big smile, and his gift for teaching folks of any age and in every walk of life, the joys of fishing with a fly rod. We watched the entire demonstration and took it all in as though it was the first time. We will miss you, Joe.
While we were inside at the show doing our thing, Doug was down in West Virginia fishing in a Trout Legend competition both days. He did well, placing 15th in a field of 40, on rivers he had never fished before. He said it was very challenging, yet he managed to take fish in every session - nice going Doug.
Finally, I'm going to finish with this photo my grandson Henley doing what he does best.
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!
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.
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.
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..........
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.