Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lots of Bugs, Fish and More Bugs

I've been back fishing the last week or so, albeit like a one-armed paper hanger, but with the all the bugs on the water and the fish rising to them its got to be good for the healing process. (I got crushed by some guy texting and driving on Route 84 in CT 6 weeks ago.)   I can use my left hand to hold the line and tie knots, and that gets it done as long as I don't have to lift or bend the elbow too far.  Fished the last 3 of 4 evenings, and a couple were great, and one challenging, all of them well worth the time and effort.  Here's a nice 14-15" rainbow that took a Light Cahill just after dark the other night.

The dry fly fishing has been great lately here in the Northeast, with excellent river conditions and tons of hatching insects to bring the trout to the surface.  Last evening we saw several species of mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies in the air and on the water.  There were Sulphur duns and spinners from size #16 down to #20, many of the females struggling to carry their oversized egg-sacs as they flew over the river.  Isonychia dun and spinners #8-10, Light Cahills #12-14, Pink Cahills #14, Blue-winged Olive spinners #16-20, Rusty spinners #12-16, Little dark grannoms #16-18, Apple caddis #16, Cinnamon/speckled caddis #14-16, Golden stoneflies #6-8, Yellow Sallies #12, and a bunch of other assorted small caddis, midges, and craneflies.  After we got done fishing, Vinnie and I were covered with these insects as they congregated in front of my car lights and on our clothes.  Here's a Light Cahill spinner on my pant leg:

Where we were fishing, the trout seemed to prefer the small dark caddis that were hatching.  I spoke to others folks that said they did well on small sulphurs - duns and spinners - on the stretches they fished.  It all depends on where you are as to what the fish may be keyed in on.  The trick is to carry a basic arsenal of patterns that both cover most of the primary hatches, and that you have confidence in.   Across the board, we all did best using 6X tippet in fairly long leaders - I was using a 12-13 foot leader.

As I said, last night, the fish were on the small dark caddis, and took most of our fish on my Caribou Caddis - tan-gray body.  After I caught a number of fish, I decided to experiment and did manage a few on a Light Cahill, and one on a sulphur emerger.  Vinnie and Tim got their fish on caddis.  Here's the well-chewed Caribou Caddis I used last night - this one has a Zelon trailing shuck.

The other evening a bunch of us fished above Califon, covering a lot of water as we spread out, and the results were mixed. It did rain on and off throughout the evening, and that may have effected the outcomes.  Some of us got fish on caddis, others on sulphurs, Jim got his on a #18 Parachute Adams, and I got one on caddis and the others on a Light Cahill.  I think that night, like most, it was more a question of getting the right drift with a fly you had confidence in.  I had seen a number of Light Cahills disappear from the surface where I was, so that's what I fished with confidence.

We didn't make a video this weekend, as we had lots of family obligations during the days, but we'll be back next week........maybe with a Sulphur thorax style pattern.  

Get out there and enjoy the great dry fishing to be had, and sharpen those hooks when they need it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Amazing, the Caribou Caddis Works!!

Here's a short video Tim Flagler made last evening while fishing the Caribou Caddis.  This is one pattern that I never go fishing for trout without.  It's produced fish when nothing else seems to, from Northern California to Maine, and many rivers in between.   

Tie some up and fish them, they work quite well.  If you are not a fly tyer, Shannon's Fly Shop in Califon sells them in three different colors.

Nice job, Tim.  Thanks.

We got a couple of nice Caribou Caddis write-ups today on Orvis' Blog, and on Midcurrent.  Thanks Phil and Marshall.

Orvis News - Caribou Caddis

Midcurrent - Caribou Caddis

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tying the Caribou Caddis

Here's my favorite standard caddis adult imitation. I use it anywhere I might have used an elk hair caddis in the past, and for me, it works very well under most conditions. An elk hair caddis is primarily for use in riffles and runs, and although it may work from time to time on flat water, it isn't the best choice. This pattern has worked well for me in every water type trout habituate, even lakes. The caribou hair wing provides an excellent profile, while also being supple and very buoyant. The only floatant you will need is Frog's Fanny after a fish or two, to dry it out.

Hook: #10 - 18 Std Dry Fly
Thread: 6/0 Olive Danville (use what you like)
Abdomen: Haretron - Here I use light olive brown.  I also tie them in olive/green, tan, cream and gray.
Underwing: Clear zelon
Wing: Natural caribou body hair
Thorax: Hare's ear - touch-dubbed

Tie some up and fish them with confidence.

And sharpen your hooks!   

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bamboo, Grobert's Cripple, Beer and Hatching Bugs

A friend of mine, who rarely fishes but loves the equipment, just bought a J.D. Wagner 276AQ 4/5wt bamboo fly rod and gave it to me to Tuesday evening to baptize.  The rod is a wonderfully crafted piece that casts as well as it looks.  It's a 7'6" two-piece Quad - four-sided - that with a 4-weight line, is relatively fast for a grass rod.  The finish alone is a work of art - it has been flamed to a rich dark amber color and the hardware is beautiful.

Just after I got to the river Wednesday evening, Ben P. pulled up alongside of me as I was getting ready, and offered me a beer before we set out.  Below is the Wagner showing up Ben's Hardy graphite rod (no slouch in the carbon rod dept at all), along with our pre-game libation - I declined the cancer sticks.

Shortly thereafter, I stepped into the river, which was somewhat high and still turbid, thanks to the previous day's heavy rains.  The weather though was perfect - low 70's, clear and windless.  It was still early, and few bugs were about, and even fewer rising trout.  Ben pointed out a riser to me that came up just off a shrub on the opposite bank, and after a few casts to it with no results, Ben moved up stream out of sight, and I went down to a long, slow curving run that always holds plenty of fish.

As the sun began to make its way down to the horizon, the bug activity increased with the fading light.  Across the river a few fish began to work on the surface, and before long, a well-placed cast with a sulphur cripple on the end of my 12ft leader tapered to 6X, brought this rainbow up from the depths.  After a brief tussle I brought it to net and quickly shot the photo below before releasing it.  The rod was christened.

That was it from this run, so I moved up to the deep riffle about 100 yards upstream, where I saw a number of fish taking flies from the choppy surface.  After watching the activity for a bit, it seemed that the trout were primarily taking the size 12 Light Cahills that were coming off in good numbers amongst the dozen of so other species of bugs on the water and in the air.  

I switched flies to one of my extended body, snowshoe rabbit foot, Light Cahill emergers and soon was into a fish.  The trout were decent sized, and with the high water the Wagner was bent into a wide horseshoe shape much of the fight.  The rod handled well both in casting and fighting fish. 

Just as the sun dropped below the tree line, I hooked a rainbow whose take belied his size - my fly disappeared in a rain drop sized blip - and the rod was truly tested.   The fish took line, jumped, and took line again.  I'd gain a few yards, and off it would go, arching the rod like a dark rainbow in the fading light.  Then it would jump - a long, curving shadow in the darkness. This went on for about ten minutes before it tired enough for me to slip the net under it and get a quick photo of its wide flanks and 20 inch or so length.  After reviving it for a few minutes, it slid from my hand into the cool water.  I called it a night, despite the continued sound of fish feeding on the plethora of insects that lay on the water and dropped from the night sky.      

So now my task is to get Dave out on the water to enjoy his Wagner 276AQ as much as I did.

Let's go Davey.  I'll supply the flies and whatever else you might need, and even sharpen your hook once in while.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tying Grobert's Sulphur Emerger/Cripple

Here it is.  As usual, Tim Flagler captures the tying process with unparalleled clarity.  Although I am present during the entire taping process, it still amazes at how he takes the images of a couple of flies being tied, and edits them into a compact, clear instructional video.  I'm rarely satisfied when we get done taping, as I always think there were things I could have done better, and then I see the finished video and see it shows the steps just as I had hoped.

Thread: 3/0 yellow and 6/0 olive danville (naturally)
Shuck: Mayfly brown Zelon
Abdomen: Yellow 3/0 danville
Rib: 6/0 brown thread touch-dubbed with clipped brown Australian opossum
Thorax: Yellow natural fur dubbing - here I use rabbit
Wing: Caribou hair

This fly came into being about 20 years ago while fishing the Missouri River in Montana - it's essentially a giant spring creek below Holter dam, and the trout can get pretty fussy when the PMDs  have been hatching for a few weeks.  By then, the fish have seen every imitation the local fly shops carry, and when you find big guy sipping away in side eddy you need to show him something he hasn't seen before that looks too good to pass up.  If you seine the surface film when the flies are hatching in good numbers, you'll find a surprising number of stillborn or half-hatched cripples that make an easy meal for the trout.  This fly comes in handy at those times, and since then has saved the day for me on many rivers and streams throughout the country when the Usual fly gets ignored.

 Sharepn those hooks!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's Sulphur Season!

Hi folks, sorry for the interruption the last couple of weeks.  Had to heal from the accident - I know I posted about it, but removed them on the advice of my advisor.  Feeling much better, thanks, still have a way to go, but at least I can fish and tie.

Anyway, got out the other day and the sulphurs, both big and small - E. invaria and dorothea - were on the water and the trout had their noses up to them.  With the warm weekend here, the hatch should just get better, so get out if you can and enjoy it. 

We just completed a video with Tightline Productions on how to tie my sulphur emerger/cripple, which works wonders when the trout get fussy, especially on spring creek type waters.  We'll post it as soon as Tim has done his magic editing to it.  Here's a photo of the culprit.  I know it looks like a tough tie, but it is not really, and it works great. We had an article on this fly and other caribou hair dries in Flyfishermen magazine a few years back, and of course, it is in my book - Fly Fishing New Jersey Trout Streams.

Thread: 3/0 yellow and 6/0 olive danville (naturally)
Shuck: Mayfly brown Zelon
Abdomen: Yellow 3/0 danville
Rib: 60 brown thread touch-dubbed with clipped brown Australian opossum
Thorax: Yellow natural fur dubbing - here I use rabbit
Wing: Caribou hair

Remember, with the sulphurs, you can fish the "hatch" all day, starting with the nymph.  The nymphs are very active before they hatch, and a well fished pheasant tail nymph, or soft-hackle emerger, during the day into late afternoon should take their share of fish feeding on the naturals.  If you watch the water column, you will see trout flashing and feeding below the surface on the nymphs.  Toss your imitation above these actively feeding fish and drift it through the middle of the water column.  If the fish don't take the drifting fly, you can try to induce a take by lifting the fly slowly when it gets to the target area.

Once you see trout feeding at or just below the surface, tie on an emerger pattern and fish it in the film targeting the bulges and rings the feeding fish make.  Once the trout switch to the adults - look for noses breaking the surface - tie on your favorite dry and go to town.  As dusk arrives and your dun starts getting refusals, switch to a spinner, and you should take fish right into darkness.

Texting and driving is worse than baitfishing! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tying the Rusty Spinner - Two Tales

Today we are going all out to show you how to tie the venerable Rusty Spinner. In the first video, I tie it with a natural fur body, and snowshoe rabbit foot hair for the wings. It floats well without the use of floatant and the trout seem to like it just fine. In the second video, Tim Flagler ties it using all synthetics and finshes it off with floatant. It also floats well, and again, the trout seem to like it.

Is one better, or more effective, than the other? That's anyone's guess, or opinion - I'm thinking it depends on the individual angler and how they perceive the fly. If they have confidence in one style more than the other, then that is the "better" pattern for them.

Here's something that could be loads of fun to try out if you're into testing flies. Tie two identical tippets to the end of your leader, and then tie each of the two pattern styles to each of the tippets. Fish them both to a rising trout and see which one it prefers. Let us know how it works out.................

Either way, sharpen your hooks!