Monday, August 18, 2014

Olive flymph redesign

Handful of olive flymphs
Just got back from traveling last week so I just wanted to relax a little and tie a few simple wet flies.  So I sat down with some Pearsall's primrose yellow silk, some TMC 100 #18 hooks, muskrat fur, and some light dun hen hackle and in no time I had a handful of olive flymphs waiting for my next encounter with fish sipping olives.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The dry dropper

The cardinal flowers are in bloom
Lately, fishing has been slow.  I did go out a couple times last week but had minimal returns for the effort, hooking a handfull  nymphing various spots on the Farmington river but for some reason most of them managed to release themselves!

So with the cooler dry weather yesterday, I had hopes for a better day.  There really wasn't much going on early afternoon.  Again the nymphing was unproductive so about mid afternoon I decided to head upriver to some pocket water and fish a stimulator with bead head pheasant tail soft hackle tied off the back.  It was a ton of fun watching a couple big rainbows and a nice brown crush the stimulator in the riffles or come up and nail the pheasant tail and drag the stimulator under with authority.  I really like fishing this type of rig because the fish are attracted to the larger fly and even if they aren't interested in it, the dropper is just sitting there begging to be eaten. I've watched fish follow the stimulator for a little and then turn on the dropper at the last minute.

A hefty Farmington rainbow that turned on the pheasant tail dropper
The afternoon was made even more pleasant when a pair ospreys began calling to each other high in a tall pine tree.  One would cruise down the river and then return to the other.  I couldn't tell if it was an adult returning to young or a mate but it was fun to watch and listen to.  It's too bad I only had my small waterproof camera with me.  It does a decent job close up but the osprey in flight was too high to get a decent shot so I just enjoyed watching them rather than fiddling with the camera..

As the afternoon shadows began to lengthen, I headed to a spot that I thought I had a good chance to find some rising fish.  Sure enough, as the temperature dropped the fish started rising to something small.  There were a lot of olives on the water so I decided to give the olive flymphs I recently tied a trial run. I picked up two solid fish that crushed the flymph as it was drifting in the film and then when straight to the bottom and played tug of war.  I got both within a leader length but never got a look at either before the hook pulled out.  After I lost the second fish, I took a look at the fly and sure enough the hook was bent open.  I guess the mustad R50 dry fly hook I tied these on wasn't beefy enough so I will tie some more on some TMC-100 hooks which are a little sturdier.  With a little more modification, I think I'll have a decent fly when small olives are on the menu.

#18 olive flymph
Right about dark the fish were rising more steadily to sulfurs or more likely sulfur spinners.  I managed to land a couple browns in the fading light on a sulfur comparadun.  When I broke a third fish off, I called it night as it was too dark to see well enough to tie on another fly.  It was good to get out and catch some on dries.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Some wet flies to try

Just a quick tying post.  I recently read Dave Hughes article is Flyfishing and Tying Journal entitled "Evening rise and the wet fly".  Being a fan of wets, I decided to tie a few and try them out.  I was particularly interested in Hughes' approach to using the March Brown flymph when fish are taking rusty spinners since it can be challenging to fish small rusty spinners in low light.

Here are the march brown (rusty spinners) and winged hare's ear (caddis) that Hughes describes.  I used brown squirrel dubbing on the march brown to give it a more rust colored body.  The bodies on these flies are dubbed with a dubbing loop to provide for a rough body and to allow the thread and dubbing to work together when wet to give the desired color.

March Brown Flymph #16 Mustad  R50
3 pheasant tail fiber for the tail
Cardinal Pearsall silk
brown squirrel dubbing (combination of the thread and dubbing to give a rusty color)
Brown hen hackle

Hare's ear winged wet #16 Mustad R70
pheasant tail fiber for the tail
Cardinal Pearsall silk
hare's ear dubbing
hen pheasant tail slips for the wing

For small olives, here's an olive flymph

Olive flymph #18 Mustad R50
medium dun hackle fibers for tail
Primrose yellow Pearsall silk
muskrat fur dubbing
medium dun hen hackle

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mid summer in the Adirondacks

A crystal clear Adirondack Mt brook
Just back from a weekend in the Adirondacks Mts of New York State.  I spent a couple hours Saturday afternoon exploring another mountain brook.  The water was low as you can tell by all the exposed rocks but the water was still quite cool and crystal clear.  Brook trout were found in almost every plunge pool.  The brook trout were all over the Ausable bomber and Royal Wulff.

Brook trout were lined up along the ledge along the riffle

One of the many beautiful brook trout that inhabit this stream
I found a brook trout hiding in this tiny refuge between some large boulders

The largest a prettiest trout of the afternoon, God paints in rich colors!

I am thankful to have beautiful, peaceful places like this to hike and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


Summertime is certainly here.  The wildflowers in the meadows are blooming like crazy and the days are long, hot, and humid.  I ventured out to a small stream on Sunday afternoon hoping to find some decent flows from some shower activity we had the week before but water levels were disappointingly low.  I tossed a dry in some of the deeper spots but there only interest from some of the smaller brookies so I called quits and headed home.

Yesterday afternoon I headed up to the Farmington river after work.  Flows in the Farmington have been up from their usual late July levels.  My guess is that the local water authority is draining some excess capacity from the reservoir that feeds the upper river.  Good flows of cold water are hard to find around here this time of year.  My plan was to euro nymph a spot that I haven't fished in a while and then move up river later to see if I could find some sort of hatch and maybe a spinner fall at dark.

In the first spot I managed a nice rainbow on a bead head pheasant tail soft hackle which I was using as a dropper.  This fly has been working very well for me this year on the Euro rig.  I had a lousy hook set on another fish, and long distance released another big rainbow on the PT.

Around 5:30 I moved up river.  After driving by the spot I had in mind I didn't see anyone fishing so I parked and walked in but found another angler there who graciously shared the run with me.  He fished the head of the riffle and I worked the tail.  I picked up a brown on the PT and stung another fish nymphing.  By then there were a number of fish sporadically taking dries.  There was a mix of olives and isonychias coming in alternating waves.

Another brown that took the pheasant tail
I fished an isonychia comparadun and had a few fish flow it or turn on it but no solid takers so I switched to a #18 olive comparadun and took a well colored brown.  I fished the olive for a while but had no more interest.

By then the isonychia were coming off in good numbers so I switched back to the iso comparadun and took half dozen or so rainbows and browns on the iso right up until dark.  I can't think of a better way to fish than tossing big dries late in the day to eager fish.  From what I could see the other gentlemen who was sharing the run with me did quite well also with olives and isonychias.

A Farmington River brown with my Ichthus 3/4 reel from Risen fly on the TFO BVK 8'6" 4wt
As the light began to fade there wasn't much activity.  I saw a few big sulfurs and I did mange one more nice brown on a #16 sulfur comparadun before everything calmed down just before dark.  I didn't see a spinner fall or a decent hatch at dark but between the two of us we caught quite a few trout on dries that made for another good evening of fishing and a new acquaintance.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Another Farmy Friday

A new one to me, purple loosestrife?
Another good afternoon on the Farmington River yesterday.  I started around 1 PM Euro nymphing in a nice deep run where the river funnels down into a narrow channel.  About half way down the run I tied into something big.  After a number of strong runs, I was able to get the fish out of the heavy current and got a good look at a huge rainbow.  I managed get her in the net but she barely fit in.  As I was getting ready to take a picture she easily flopped out of the net and was on her way.  When I got home I measured the bag of the net and figure she was a conservative 20" long and very wide.  Guess I may need to look into a net with a bigger bag!  I landed another brown further down the run and a couple of small salmon.  All the fish took the #12 super simple anchor.

About 3 PM I headed upriver to another location and nymphed there and picked up some smaller (wild?) browns. One took the #12 super simple and two on a small DDT that I was using as a dropper.  For kicks I put on a #12 Stimulator and sent it along the bank, as the fly passed over a deeper slot I saw a big dark brown come off the bottom and follow it for about 6ft and then nose it and turn away.  I waited a little, and tried again.  Again the fish followed it, this time a little further out into the current as it began to swing at the end of the drift but again nudged it but didn't take it.  The brown had turned twice on the Stimulator and I didn't want to drift it over him again so I waited a bit and took a look at my fly box to consider my next move.  I figured something a little smaller but still big and maybe not as bright as the yellow Stimulator might be the best approach.  That's when my eyes turned to the Ausable bomber.  I figured the size 14 bomber was just about right.  On the first drift the brown came up again, followed the bomber for a little and then took it.  I over-reacted and end up snapping the fly off the 5x tippet like it was attached with spider silk.  While I was certainly disappointed in not hooking the fish, you have to count your victories in this game and I was pleased my strategy and patience had paid off even though I didn't seal the deal.

Ran across this guy in my travels

A couple of pretty browns that took the nypmhs

About 5 PM I headed to another section that I have done well nymphing previously and came up empty. Encouraged by the previous experience with the Stimulator, I gave it a few drifts and picked up another brown that nailed it as I twitched and skated it in a seam behind a boulder.  

One of the browns that took the Stimulator late in the day

I finished the afternoon in a different location waiting to see what would happen around dark. As I waited for the end of the day, I put the Stimulator on again and fished it through some pocket water.  I had a couple brief hookups and landed one nice brown.  As the daylight began to fade quite a few tan caddis were around and the fish were starting to get active.  I took one fish fishing a wingless wet fly and then finished with a tan elk hair caddis. Another gentlemen, who I have meet here before, and I did pretty well fishing caddis dries til dark.  As we were leaving the river, we finally had an opportunity to introduce ourselves.  I love meeting folks on the river and shaking hands in the dark seemed a fitting way to end another lovely afternoon on the Farmington.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Adirondacks - Part II

Last week I also explored another stream that I discovered last fall.  This brook is less than 2 miles from brook described in the previous post (Adirondacks - Part I) but runs through an adjacent valley leading eventually into the same larger river system.  Even though these two streams run very close to one another the geology and water chemistry of these two streams are very different from one another as you can see from some of the pictures that follow.  I will let the pictures speak for me...

The stream has several pools that are quite deep and yet you can easily see the bottom as can be seen in the picture below.  For reference, the deepest part of this pool (dead center) is over 3' deep.  In addition to the clarity of the water, the rocks and gravel in this stream have an orange color to them.  I think both of these factors have an effect on the coloration of the trout that inhabit this stream.

One of many deep, clear, pools

 The coloration of the brook trout reside in this stream are much lighter across the back and flanks with a hint of orange in the tail fin relative to the tannin stained stream close by.  While most of the fish were small, they made up for their size in strength and beauty.

The section I was fishing had a pretty steep gradient and there was a strong current but even here there are places for fish to hide.  I threw the Royal Wulff under the overhanging boulder pictured below and out from the shadow came another gorgeous brook trout.  I had fun trying to pry it loose from his lair without sending him down over the next plunge.

Here you can see the orange color of the granite this stream runs over

The color of the stream bed is reflected in the tail of this brook trout
One the last cast of the afternoon, I managed to find one of the larger residents.  After a quick picture I called it a night with plans to come back and explore some more water upstream.

A lovely stream running through a Hemlock forest

A few days later, I revisited this lovely stream.  Some strong thunderstorms had moved through the area the day before and the water level was up quite a bit.  It was hard to find some quite water where the fish could hold and I could get a fly to them but I did find a few places.

Another deep plunge, streamers might have been a better option this day

The view looking downstream. Plunge after plunge stepping down the mountain

I have to visit this stream again when the water levels are down a bit more
On the way home, I crossed the head waters of the of the stream described in Part I.  This upstream section can get quite low in the summer but the new push of water made this section come alive so I decided to fish the Wulff in a nice run and saw a fish slash at the fly in a seam between to riffles.  The second drift sealed the deal and brought the best fish of the day to hand but it didn't want to hang around for a quick picture.  The rest of the stream was pretty dead so I called it a day and headed home.