Tuesday, October 18, 2016

WSJ - Fly Fishing Renegades Are Cleaning Up—With Kitchen Mops

This just in, art imitates life..........

In a tradition-bound sport, where purists lure fish with tiny ersatz insects crafted of feathers and fur, the mop fly doesn’t look much like a bug. In an affront to tradition, it instead looks exactly like what it is: a fuzzy strand cut from a cheap mop and tied to a hook. Mr. Egan uses fluorescent greenish yellow.

The above is an excerpt from an article published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, again opening up the proverbial can of worms on what constitutes a fly and what doesn't. Read it here: LINK I encourage you to read the comments, too.

Mop Fly (Mop 'N Glo)

Who knows if the trout take these flies because they appear to be a food form, or if they just grab them as they drift by out of instinct to see if they are edible?  What I do know is that once they do take this fly, it is harder for the trout to expel it once they realize it is a fake because the material is made up of tiny, compacted loops of fiber that get caught by the trout's short, thorn-like teeth.  This often gives the angler extra time to feel the take and set the hook.  How do I know this?   I've been with folks that fish these flies and have seen how the trout's teeth catch the material when they remove the fly.    Does that make it less of a fly? No more than it makes the LaFontaine sparkle caddis with its fine antron fiber bubble less of a fly. In either case, the fly still has to be fished properly to get a trout to take it, and that's the point, isn't it?

In my opinion, this is just another example of a fly tyer being creative. It's not for everyone, as we all have our own perspective on what constitutes fly fishing, and that's good, it keeps things interesting.    

So what's my own take on this fly?  You won't find it in my fly box.  Not because I think it is beneath me to fish, but because I prefer to fish flies that I tie and that to me are more imitative of trout foods. Would I fish it if I forgot my fly boxes one day and it was the only fly available?  Sure, why not? Besides it would give my friends another thing to bust my chops about. 

And  finally, if you want to tie a version of this fly, here's Tim Flagler tying the Mop 'N Glo.

Sharpen your hooks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

More On the Puff Daddy

I thought I'd share a few more tidbits on the Puff Daddy; the cdc fly pattern we did the recent tying video on with Tightline Productions.  I'm told that the original was meant to roughly imitate a mayfly emerger/dry/cripple in or on the water surface. It is purposely tied so that it doesn't matter what side the fly lands on.  The fly works great not only for mayfly hatches, but also caddis, midges and as a general imitation when you can't figure out what the hell the fish are taking.  All you need to do is change the body color, cdc color and size to imitate whatever it is the trout want for a meal.

In the video, the cdc is wound as you would a hackle to get the desired effect.   This works well, but sometimes I like a more "puffy" version, and to that end the best way to get that effect is to use a cdc puff feather.  The problem with the cdc puff feather is that they do not have stems, so the fibers need to be tied in so they envelop the hook shank to get the same effect as winding a hackle.  Here's how I do that:        

After dubbing and wrapping the body, take a cdc puff and separate it roughly in half so you don't have too many fibers, and lay one of the halves over the head with the tip going back over the body.  Make a couple of loose wraps over the fibers just in front of the body, and then using your fingers, work the fibers around the hook shank.  Once you have them evenly spaced, tighten your thread wraps and make a few more turns to bind the fibers in place. 

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Next, closely clip the butts off  and then finish off the head with a few wraps to cover the clipped butts, and then make a 3 or 4 turn whip finish.

Use your thumb nail to break the fibers off at the bend of the hook as shown below.  If you are not sure how to do this, refer to the video. 

When I was in Montana, there were times when the fish wanted a spent caddis, and although the original version of the Puff Daddy worked on these fish, I thought I'd tweak the fly a little by adding spent wings of zelon as shown below before adding the cdc.  It worked, too.  I crushed fish the next couple of days on this pattern when the trout were on caddis. 

Tie some up.  The Puff Daddy is another simple trout fly pattern that I think will stand the test of time.

Sharpen your hooks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tying the Klinkhamer - Hans van Klinken

Who better than to show us how to tie his now famous Klinkhamer dry fly than Hans van Klinken?

I know a lot of anglers that love fishing this fly and have made it their "go-to" pattern when all else fails.   It's fairly easy to tie, and can be tied with a variety of materials for the body and wing post. The one key ingredient is the hook and it's unique shape that leaves the abdomen below the water surface, and the thorax in the film below the hackle and wing - a peacock herl thorax, which is a well-known, very effective fly material.  Lots of flies are "invented" every year, and only a very few stand the test of time and gain a world-wide following.

Sharpen your hooks.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

US Youth Fly Fishing Team Wins Silver in World Championship

The 2016 World Youth Fly Fishing Championship was held on August 8-14 in Northwestern Spain and Team USA took overall second place.  The competing US team members were Douglas Freemann, Mason Sims, Hunter Enloe, Cam Chioffi, Jack Arnot and Ryley Batewell.  The French Team took Gold, and the Bronze went to the Czech Republic Team. Eight international teams competed this year.  Our friend Doug placed sixth in the individual standings, which was the highest for the team.    

Click here for the full results: US Youth 2016 Fly Fishing Championship Results  

2016 US Youth Team and Coaches - Doug front and center

 The Teams and coaches.

As you can see below the types of rivers they fished varied greatly. Doug said that a high percentage of their fishing was done with dry flies, and most often by covering the entire beat, as he said he saw only a few rises throughout the competition.  The trout were willing though, and good drift over a fish would bring them up to the top. As you can see in the last photo, some of the beats were weed and algae filled, yet Doug said they held plenty of fish. 

Click on photos to enlarge
It's kind of ironic that when Doug and I first started fishing together, he fished nymphs exclusively, while I often switched to dries when an opportunity presented itself.  He caught plenty of fish and sometimes politely questioned why I would fish dries when nymphs were working so well.  He has continued to fish mostly nymphs in the subsequent years. And then he goes to Spain and winds up fishing mostly dries to take US Team individual top honors!  We had a good laugh at that, and in the end, I think he did so well because all of that nymphing taught him to read water and know where trout like to hold and feed.   He has a great instinct for knowing where the fish are.

Congratulations to the US Team, and especially to Doug.

Sharpen your hooks.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tying the Puff Daddy

A couple of years ago Doug Freemann showed me this fly after having been introduced to it by the guys he competes with on the US Youth Fly Fishing Team.  It's another one of those simple but very effective flies that can be used to imitate just about any fly just by changing the color of the body and/or the hackle.  This past summer I gave it a good workout in Montana having tied it with a pale yellow body and dun cdc hackle for the PMDs, and it fished very well.  I also did well with a tan bodied, natural cdc hackled version in the evenings to imitate the tan caddis that hatch on the Madison River.       

The video shows a Blue-winged Olive imitation, and with the level of clarity that Tim gets, you can see how the cdc feather is covered with tiny barbs that catch air and also provide plenty of surface tension to keep it afloat.  I recommend that you use your thumb nail to shorten the cdc fibers rather than using your scissors so you get a very "buggy" looking profile.  Tie some up in sizes #18-24 for the fall hatches of Olives.  You'll be glad you did.

Sharpen your hooks.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Madison River - The Rest of the Trip

I know this has been a long time in coming, but its been that kind of summer this year - lots going on and very little time spent on the water.  The weather has been fairly warm and with so little rain in these parts the last two months, the rivers are very low and reaching temperatures too high for trout fishing just about every day.  So not only has there been little time to fish, but even when I have had time, conditions are such that I don't.  And fishing is what inspires me to write; so I'm in a writing drought.

We finished up our trip to Montana on the Madison River, and as expected, we wished we had more time to fish it.  The river was at a good level and clear, and the weather was great.   The first day we started out fishing, but I quickly switched to dries as I spotted fish rising along the quieter edges of the fast water I was fishing.  There were some caddis in the air, so I put on a caribou caddis and started taking fish on top.  In that fast water, the fish don't have much time to decide if a fly is real or not, so a good drift over a steady riser usually resulted in a take.  With the clear water, you could see the fish come up under the fly and as they opened up to take the fly, it was all I could do not to strike too soon.

After spending the day fishing the riffles and pocket water above Reynolds Pass bridge, we went back to the cabin for a bite to eat before heading down river to water that in the past has been productive dry fly water in the evening.  When we got there we noticed the wind had picked up, rather than calming as it usually does in the evening here.  There were quite a few bugs in the air, and they too must have been put off by the wind, as most of them stayed up off the water and then disappeared as the light dwindled and the wind blew harder.  There were some bugs making it to the water, and when they did land, they were quickly gobbled up by trout.

There were some caddis, but they were out numbered by Epeorus spinners.  We took a couple of fish on the spinners by waiting for lulls in the wind and then making quick casts to where we saw the occasional rises.   Matt managed to get his first Madison River fish, a nice rainbow, by being patient and making short, compact casts to a fish working near the bank.  It was a tough evening after a good day and by the time we got off the water the wind was kicking up dust and whistling through our rod guides.                 

The next morning Matt and Paul drove down to the Henry's Fork to fish the wide, meandering currents that flow through the Harriman Ranch in Idaho.  Chris and I decided to stay on the Madison and first thing in the morning we hit the fast water above the Slide Inn.  We fished brown Serendipitys and Pheasant Tail nymphs and did well as long as we got our flies right down on the bottom where the fish hold.  In that fast, heavy water you hook a lot of fish when you find the right combination of fly and split shot on your leader, and you also loose a bunch as the fish are strong and know how to use the current to their advantage.  You don't wade this section of the river, not even just off the bank, its too dangerous and fortunately you don't have to - all of the fish are taken within ten feet of the bank or less, often only a foot or two off the edge.  

When the sun moved overhead, we called it quits and headed up the road to the Campfire Lodge to get some breakfast. While there we checked out the fly shop and I came across these cranefly larva flies.  These flies were tied on stainless steel hooks and are big and heavy, and not something I would fish in fresh water.  The guy there said they do work when fished in the fast water; but why not tie them on a hook that will corrode if a fish breaks off and the fly stays in its jaw?  I got a shoulder shrug for an answer.      

After that we fished a few different stretches of water and took a bunch more fish on dries before heading back to the cabin.  I had expected to fish nymphs, but even with the bright sun, caddis and Epeorus mayflies hatched sporadically bringing fish to the surface.  I took most of my fish on what I call a spent Puff Daddy, which is my variation on a dry fly that Doug showed me a couple of years ago.

It would be nice if I could tell you finished off the trip that evening with a bang, but it was more like a dud.  After the four of us had an early dinner at the Grizzly, we headed up river to fish.  The air was still, but very chilly, and no bugs showed at all.  We fished our dries over likely holding water and did take a couple of fish, but that was it.  Not that we were disappointed, we were tired and had a hell of a good week.  My son did well and now is already excited for our trip next year.  He's been tying flies almost every night, texting me or calling with questions, and his skills are improving rapidly.  Looks like he caught the bug like the rest of us.

Sharpen your hooks.