Well I will keep this short and sweet for all of you in Northwest and Western Pennsylvania the Drakes are out. Locally the Brown Drake is out in full force on my local streams in numbers that are just as fun to see as they are to fish. So get out there maybe start your holiday weekend early and call off sick. Sorry boss I won’t be into day my arm is in a cast!
When I started getting into fly fishing I was introduced to two approaches that my Dad had know of and they were really simple dry fly fishing and wet fly fishing. For years those really were the two schools of thought. It is actually funny to think of the fact that at one point it was seen as unfair to fish upstream so the trout don’t see you coming and that wet flies were frowned upon much like some guys complain about the mop flies and worm flies of today. I was introduced to wet flies by one book that I later learned has become a bible of sorts to the wet fly fisherman especially the soft hackle crowd. That Book “The Art of Tying the Wet Fly” and my Dad’s stories helped send me on the path of a fly angler. The book was handed down to me by my father and it was giving to him by his Uncle Dick. My great uncle passed away well before I was born but his reputation according to my dad was that he was a heck of a fly fisherman. The stories of my great Uncle really got me excited to fish with hopes of one day being able to fly fish like he did in the stories. Well as a result that book handed to me became important even if I did not read through the old worn out book until years later I did use the pattern section from time to time as a kid. Still today if I want to catch fish and feel like a kid again I stick to swinging wet flies. I still remember the words my Dad echoed about the book that his uncle told him “Kid you will catch a lot more fish on wet flies than you will on dries!”.
Traditionally wet fly fishing is considered just casting a brace of 3 flies and let them swing down and across and yes that is likely one of the most common ways of fishing them but really they can be fished many ways. Here are a few.
Standard wet fly swing down and across: This works great in moderate depth and speed riffles. It also has an advantage of allowing you to cover a lot of water quickly and thoroughly.
Up stream: Also usually has a brace of 3 flies and you fish them up stream in front of you. Lead the flies much like you would in tight line nymphing but allow for some sag in the line and if that sag tightens or changes in any way set the hook!
Dead Drift: Much like you would do with dry flies but you need to pay more attention to the area around your flies and watch you line for a take. I feel this technique is the hardest to pull of but it has proved to be deadly at times and I have caught many of many quality size brown trout this way.
Wets as a Dry. Put your favorite dry fly floatant on and fish them to rising fish. It gives a great representation of a struggling or still born insect and when trout are really tough on your standard dries it can really be a great option to fool them.
Dry Dropper: Fish them this way just like you would with a nymph trailed behind a dry. I really like this tactic when lots of caddis are hatching. It will work during any hatch really and its a great way to pick up some extra fish. This is very similar to the dead drift method and I started using it personally when I was struggling to detect takes on the dead drift across stream.
There are some things in fly fishing that really take time to really get good at and lots of time on the water or tweaking flies to get what the trout want just right. Well sorry that is not the reason for this post. If you have fly fish there is a good chance you already have the flies that are the confidence flies in your box. The reason is simple they are different for everyone in most cases. The simple fact is they are your own personal favorite or lucky flies. How do they become those go to flies? Usually they are flies that just catch fish for you when nothing else seems to work. They are the flies you usually use first on new water.
I personally feel for just about everyone this is a list of 6 or less flies maybe a few more for some and less for others. Some of mine may have came about by fooling a big fish that proved tough to fool. Others were flies that I learned to tie early on and seemed to work so I stuck with them. Whatever the reason they are flies I always have a few of with me and some of them I have a lot in my box.
The rainbow trout in the upper picture was caught on a Loren William’s Sexy Waltz Worm (Loren’s Sexy Walts). It is a great little update on the standard Walt’s worm and it really for me has proved its place as one of my confidence flies. I don’t fish it all the time but it is a fly I turn to when fishing gets tough.
Some other would be the old tried and true Woolly Bugger and I would bet it makes a lot of guys list. When it comes to dries the elk hair caddis has always been a fly I turn to when I am targeting a random rising fish or just searching new water in the mood to fish dries.
The Frenchie or any good old pheasant tail nymph make the list as well. One thing with me is at different times of the year certain flies make the list as well based of hatch that happens at that time.
The real story here though is not what I use but that really everyone has their own list. It’s the flies that you feel good about using and honestly the real trick is that confidence you have in them makes you fish better. Half this game is mental and if you think I fly will catch fish chances are it will.
Every fly tier out that likely has a few tips and tricks they use to save time at the fly tying vise. This one is one I use just about every time I hit the vise with a pattern in mind. First off never tie just one of any pattern. I usually tie my flies of at least 6 or 12 at a time. When doing so before I hook ever makes it into the vise I prep my hooks for the pattern. With beaded or weighted flies I do that step first and line up the hooks I plan on tying. As you can see in the picture at the top of the post I have all my hooks loaded with a bead and ready for material.
Ok you got the hooks ready now what? Well I like to prep my other materials. This may be hackle sized out and picked for the flies you are tying or prepping other materials you may need. For this fly the Squirmy Worm It was pretty simple its only one material other than thread that I need so I cut the material to size and set out what I needed on my desk.
This should be enough to give you an idea of what can be done to speed up the tying process. This really is something any production tier is already doing but it is something every fly tier should be doing and its a great way to be more productive and get your boxes filled a bit quicker.
In the northeast we have been having a very wet spring and usually we would be putting out some hatch alerts and other post like that but honestly with the high water that has not been the best bet for fish catching. We love our hatches and sulphurs and march browns are in the air but that is not what we would recommend you up on to catch more fish right now. Yep high murky water means its time for san juans, Squirmies, and Vladi Worms. Don’t worry there will be plenty of time for throwing dries and that time will be soon. Get out there and hit the high water worm hatch and catch some fish. If you can’t beat the bait guys you might as well join them the plus side is you can leave your coffee can of worms at home. Even on small streams high water is a great time to target the big fish that are often hard to fool in low water situations.
Long before I ever thought of entering any competitions or even knew they existed I loved to fish midges. I many of the stocked streams I grew up fishing that were fished hard I quickly found out the fish seemed to down size their food. I always felt this was due to a few factors. The streams freestone streams that were not all that fertile. The fish that survived the heavy fishing pressure of early spring had seen it all and few guys seemed to through much smaller than a size 16. One place in particular that I cut my teeth on was our local reservoir. It has a good population of midges and at a young age when I was still keeping trout regularly to eat I noticed the fish were eating these bugs I could hardly see. Well the old guys called them gnats “The fish are not taking bait just jumping for them dam little gnats!” I heard that more than once as I arrived with the fly pole in hand during my highschool days. I learned over time to just nod my head and grin as I heard that report on the way to the water. Well as a fly shop bum I headed to ask around and search for a pattern that would cover this infamous gnat hatch. Image my surprise when I discovered the bin of small Griffith’s Gnats! I tied a few up and was ready to hit the water. Considering I still love this pattern today you can guess the success of the pattern sold me on it fast. I did not realize at the time that it was meant to imitate a midge cluster and I really did not care because I matched the the hatch and most evenings I was one of the only ones catching fish there.
Hackle: Grizzly,Barred Ginger, or Cree (Cree Shown) palmered style
I most often use them in size 18 but carrying a few other sizes is a good idea when trout are finicky. Grizzly is the most common hackle used I just like to change it up some to give the fish something just a little different. There is a reason this fly is a classic and found in every fly shop I know of it just works.
In the craze that has been European Nymphs there are a few flies that just bring this craze to mind on sight or mentioning there name. The Frenchie is one of those flies. It is a standard in most comp anglers box be it this style with just the thread collar or with the ice dub collar. The reason this fly has become so popular I think is that really its just a minor change to the already classic pheasant tail nymph that has been a staple in any nymph fishers box fop many years. Really I personally even have a hard time calling this fly anything new because of that fact. When I started using this fly 90% of anglers would look at you funny and say you are using what now its likely that in many cases on 10% of those same anglers do not know about this fly. This is all with good reason because this fly is easy to tie and catches fish. In Pennsylvania it has become an especially popular patter and I really thing that is because the color combination with the hot orange collar does a good job of matching the nymph for sulphers that are prevalent across the state. With all this said it is safe to say that “The Frenchie” has become a modern classic in the nymphing world. It is a fly that deserves a place in your box.
Tying this fly is pretty simple and strait forward and once you get the hang of it you can really get them done quickly and get to fishing them. The fact they are easy to tie is another reason many comp anglers fish them. You can change up the fly with different color collars I use it in pink, chartreuse, and orange most often. Many of you likely already fish some version of this fly and if you are not give it a shot and let us know if it catches fish for you.
We have been brain storming with new ways to get information out there to our followers. We figured our years of experience just on the stream and our time immersed in the competitive world we have a lot to share that we learned along that way. We decided to start doing some live sessions on facebook and eventually YouTube to help get the information and provide some interaction and answer our fans and customers questions. First up on the docket is this Wednesday at 8 pm Eastern Mark Hanes will take you through some of what we have learned about beads on flies over the years. We will go over brass, tungsten, and even glass. They all have a time and a place to cover situations you will find on the stream.
To make it even more worth your wild we will be picking one person that comments during the live stream to win 100 beads from the TroutLegend store.
Some flies just make purist cringe! This is likely one of them. In the world of flies that changed the game in the competition world this is one of them for sure, and with good reason it catches fish. That is not why we really love this fly. It also has a reputation for catching big trout. Fishing worms and night crawlers has been happening since some of the first fisherman started fishing. It took the fly world a lot longer to come up with a near perfect representation but Poland’s Vladi Trzebunia used it as one of his flies to change the competitive fly fishing world and take home some medals in record breaking fashion. The construction of this fly really adds to its effectiveness. It rides point up and for a heavy fly rarely gets snagged but still stays on the stream bottom and in the strike zone of fish. The main material also seems to always make people chuckle. The fact that its made out of pink condoms it totally is not something you can usually find on a fly shop shelf. Although in its height of popularity you could find the right condoms at some fly shops to tie it. The kicker is many called it pink latex!
Hook: Daiichi 1870 – Size 4
Thread: Pink UTC 140
Body: Crown Latex condom (1/4 of a condom)
Rib: 6 to 8lb Monofilament fishing line
Optional: We add flash to the back of some of them. The above version does not have that.
There are tons of sights that in fly fishing make an angler go wow. Along with that there is one thing just about every fly angler deal with when they see a box of well tied flies especially if its not their own. Fly Box envy strikes us all in the fly fishing and fly tying world. We all know the feeling when you get a peak at another anglers flies. We all at times want what we cant have.
I on the other had have to admire the beauty and the work that goes into getting a full box to its current filled state. We also if we fish know that condition is usually only for a short period of time. We all lose flies to trees, fish, or snags and that puts some gaps in the fly box over time.
Since this is the time of the year that most have filled there box and it is ready to go and catch fish with the flies I encourage you all you share a picture of your organized or not so organized full boxes with us. Here are a few from us and our Facebook page to get it started
Here are a few and thanks to those that let us share there boxes! Do you got a box you want to brag about? Share it with us if it is cool enough we will feature it on the Facebook page and who knows maybe even send you some TL gear.