Monday, February 23, 2015

February in the Adirondacks

The streams are all iced over and under several feet of snow but that doesn't mean that we don't get out to enjoy the beauty of the mountains in winter.  Here are some pictures from a recent outing into the Adirondack back-country after some fresh snow.

The sun beginning to break through

A frozen Adirondack bog

Massive Adirondack White Pine

The frozen Jessup River

A river side hemlock

Sun and clouds over Mason Lake

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Euro nymphing IV. Some favorite dropper flies

Downy Woodpeaker at the feeder
It's another snowy windy day here in New England.  I think it's going to be a while before the streams are clear enough to fish this winter.  The birds are enjoying the feeder despite the winds.

In this final post on European nymphing I will show you some of my favorite flies to fish as a dropper above the anchor fly.  I usually tie a triple surgeons knot in the tippet and hang the dropper off the tag end with the anchor about 18" below it.  With the dropper you can use a wide variety of flies from weighted nymphs to wet flies.  I usually try to "match" the hatch and will often use a soft hackle fly as the dropper.  Sometimes the anchor and the dropper will be flies from two different centuries!

Most often I will fish a soft hackle version of a bead head pheasant tail.  My Scottish friends refer to it as an Endrick's spider with a tungsten bead for some weight.  You really can't go wrong with fishing this fly as a dropper and I will fish it from early in the season through the sulfur hatch (hint, hint).  I will also fish a black version of this fly when the early stoneflies are making an appearance.  I will use a black gunmetal bead, black pheasant tail, some peacock ice dub for the thorax and dark India hen back for the hackle.  I find the best size is about a size 16 for both the natural and black versions.

Bead head phesant tail soft hackle (Endrick's spider)
TMC 3761 hook (#16)
Copper tungsten bead
UTC 70DN brown thread
4 pheasant tail fibers (tail and body)
small copper wire (rib)
peacock herl (thorax)
Partridge hackle

Another great fly when the sulfur hatch is on is a brown version of Rich Strolis' super simple.

Super Simple (brown)
TMC 3761 or European hook ( #16-#18)
UTC 140DN Fire orange thread
Coq de Leon fibers (tail)
Brown Squirrel SLF
small copper wire rib

By late summer/early fall and smaller flies are coming into the picture I usually fish a smaller dropper. Rich Strolis' DDT in brown and olive is another favorite when the small olives are predominating.  Over on the right is a link to a video of Rich tying this fly.  This fly will take a lot of fish in late summer and fall.

Strolis DDT
TMC 2487 hook (#18; #20)
fire orange UTC 70 DN thread
copper tungsten bead
brown/olive Zelon fibers (tail)
tan or olive superfine dubbing
Zelon fibers with one piece of midge krystal flash pulled over (wing case)
Zelon and midge flash split and splayed (wings)

These are some of my favorite droppers for the Euro rig but as I mentioned you can use any number of weighted nymphs or wet flies as the dropper.  So go ahead and experiment and have some fun out there!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Euro Nymphing - III. Anchor flies

Here are my top two anchor flies, hands down!  The super simple and Egan's frenchie are simple and quick to tie so I don't mind losing them, which you will if your flies are where they should be.  If I had to fish two anchors all season and nothing else, it wouldn't take long to decide.

The Super Simple is another Rich Strolis pattern.  From spring to late summer this is fly catches fish. This fly looks a lot like the standard hare's ear nymph but with an hot orange hot spot and more flash. You can fish this fly in sizes 16 to 10, but my favorite is a size 12.  You can use a European competition hook but a TMC 3761 works well too.  After weighting the hook with 0.030 non-lead wire and snugging it up against the bead, use the heavy thread to build a nice tapered body.  Tie in the tail fibers and put one wrap of thread behind the tail fibers to splay them out.  Tie in the wire, split the thread and dub the split thread.  Re-spin the thread and dubbing to form a loose, rough body.  Wrap the wire forward, tie off and build up the orange hot-spot behind the bead and whip finish.

Strolis Super simple #12
#12 TMC 3761 with 3.5mm tungsten bead
half a dozen wraps of 0.030 non-lead wire
UTC 140 hot orange thread
Coq de Leon tail fibers 
medium copper wire 
gray Haretron dubbing

While the Super Simple shines from spring to late summer, the Frenchie comes into it's own when the cold winds of fall start to blow. This fly is a quick tie and I usually have half a dozen on hand.  I remember one stormy October day on the Housatonic river where the browns where all over the Frenchie while all but ignoring the various droppers I was using.  This is another fly I fish in large sizes (#10).  This fly is weighted with non-lead wrap as illustrated in the previous post for the Rock Candy.

Egan's frenchie
#10 TMC 2487
4.5mm Copper tungsten bead
UTC 140 brown thread; UTC 70 hot pink thread (hot spot)
6 brown pheasant tail fibers (tail and body)
small copper wire rib
Hot pink UV ice dub (hot spot)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Euro nymphing - Part II. Anchor flies

a snowy day here in New England but the junco's have found some shelter

Today's topic is the foundation of the Euro rig that I fish, the anchor fly.  The anchor fly is the heavily weighted fly that gets the whole rig down in a hurry.  There are two ways I weight these flies and some variations you can do with them depending on shape of the body of the fly you are building.  I use either non-lead wire or non-lead wrap.

The golden stone fly nymph I like to use is Rich Strolis' shimmerstone.  Rich has a nice video on his website and vimeo channel.  Since this is a more involved fly to tie I would recommend watching the video.  For this fly I use 0.030 wire and then shape the wire flat with some flat-nosed pliers.  This gives the fly a flat, wide profile reminiscent of a stone fly nymph body.  Once the wire is shaped, 140 DN thread is used to build up the base of the fly.

Once the wire is covered with thread and you have a nice base you can proceed with tying the rest of the fly.  I use Waspi Span flex for the antennae and the tails and golden stone v-rib to build up the body and a small slip of brown flashy back over the top provides the shimmering brownish back of the fly.

The thorax is build up with golden stone haretron dubbing which is dubbed with a split thread technique which another reason why the 140DN is helpful on this fly.  Following a couple wraps of dubbed
thread, hen back is used for the legs and the flashy back is pulled over and tied in.  This process is repeated 3 times to finish off the fly.

Materials list for the Strolis Shimmerstone
TMC 2302 #8 hook
UTC 140DN yellow thread
4.5mm tungsten bead (gold or copper)
Waspi Spanflex - gold
V-rib in golden stone
Brown Flashy back
Haretron Golden stone fly dubbing
India hen back - natural

Another way to weight the anchor fly is used in tying the Strolis Rock Candy.  Here wire wrap is used to give a more tapered and streamlined body.

Non- lead wrap underbody

Strolis Rock Candy Materials list :
TMC 2487 _#10 hook
3.8mm black tungsten bead 
UTC 140DN Chartreuse thread
Sybia green body glass (from performance flies)
black SLF squirrel dubbing color (split thread technique)
Chartreuse thread hot spot

Next up I will show you two other anchor nymphs I've been using this past season.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Euro nymphing - Part 1.

It's the season for tying around here since the cold and snow has kept me off the streams.  I thought a couple of posts on European style nymphing would be of interest so I will be showing you some of the flies and setup I have been using.  I refer to this style of nymphing as "European" rather than the more descriptive terms of Czech , Spanish, or French.  Not being one to get caught up in proper names, European is probably a better term for the hybrid technique I use anyway.  This past year I've caught more, and larger trout using this basically simple technique, which is new to me since I really enjoy fishing dry flies.

European nymphing for me is really no more that "tight line" nymphing that enables me to easily feel, see, and react to a fish taking the fly.  The basic leader setup I use is shown in the diagram below. Sometimes I use a tippet ring, but if I need to rebuild the leader and tippet section on the stream, I will use a triple surgeon's knot and tie the dropper off the tag end.  I like to use a bicolor section of fluorescent mono as a "sighter" which helps me  see where the leader is and follow its movement through the drift.

My basic leader setup
 This technique uses weighted flies to get them down to the fish quickly. Being a minimalist to the core, I really like the fact that I can catch fish year round on the same basic set of flies that fit neatly into a slim fly box. I typically fish a two fly rig with a heavily weighted "anchor" fly as the point fly and a smaller nymph as the dropper which is representative of whatever nymphs are in the water at that particular time of the year.  Over the next couple posts I will show you how I weight the anchor flies and provide recipes and tips for fishing some of my favorites from the box below.   I also want to acknowledge Rich Strolis of Catching Shadows who who sent me a set of his top flies that helped me see the actual flies and improve my ability to effectively tie of them.  Rich has some very informative tying videos up at his vimeo channel that are linked in the fly box over to the right of the blog.

Everything in one neat little box 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A little snow

It's a snowy day here in central CT.  It's hard to tell just how much snow is on the ground due to the windy conditions but it doesn't look like it is measuring up to the "storm of the century" hype the news has been drumming up over the past couple days. In any case, my workplace was closed so I am enjoying a day at home.

Not much on the fishing front lately with the colder weather we've had but I have been busy finishing up some furled leaders, putting the jig away, and cleaning up my tying bench.  My tying area is a combination of my work bench for various home projects and fly tying and it's gotten out of hand of late.  I bought some small drawers from the local Walmart and used the peg board to hang dubbing packages where I can easily get to them. All the hooks and beads are in Kraft Lockables trays (upper left) and hung also on the pegboard to create a little more useable bench space.  So now I can get back to tying again!  In a few days I will highlight a few of the Euro nymphs I've been using this past year for those interested in this style of nymphing so stay tuned.

With the snow flying, I enjoy watching the juncos, cardinals, tufted titmice, downy woodpeckers, flickers, finches, and nuthatches coming to the feeder.  Days like these seems to draw them to the feeder.  Hope my friends in the northeast are staying warm today!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Furled leaders for small streams

It's been too cold for any fishing around here lately, so I've been doing some tying and furling some leaders for small streams.  Here is my favorite setup for a small stream leader that works well with the shorter rod I use for fishing small streams.  I use Uni 6/0 thread in either gray or olive.  The leader is a 40/40/20 design with 40% butt section, 40% taper, and 20% tippet.  The leaders are finished with a shorb loop and a tippet ring for attaching the tippet.

The 5/8" dowels are set in my (pictured below) at the following lengths with the indicated number of wraps.

First leg: 13" (6.5wraps); 25.5" (4.5wraps); 48" (2.5wraps)
Second leg: 19" (6.5wraps); 36" (4.5wraps); 48" (2.5wraps)

Jig, a couple leaders in grey and olive, and Steve Zondag's book

Tip - a small knit-picker makes forming the shorb loop a lot easier and I've found that working the knit picker into the last loop of the leader and then grabbing the tippet ring with the hook allows for slipping the loop over the ring to make the leader to tippet ring loop to loop connection A LOT EASIER.  Happy furling!