Saturday, July 28, 2012

Afternoon of Farmington Firsts

Pete (TROUTI) and I meet up yesterday afternoon to deliver his birthday present (box of pheasant tail soft hackles) and to do a little fishing.  Pete introduced me to a spot I had not fished before.  We were fishing near a couple of downed trees and I spotted a fish taking something less than a foot away from a trailing branch.  I figured an ant might bring some interest and managed to get off decent cast but only managed to sting the trout.  I continued with the ant and landed what looked like a wild rainbow from the size and parr markings.  This is the second one I've caught this year and I believe Brk Trt has also caught a few this year in the Farmington.

wild ?

Pete and I switched places and we both landed a pair of browns at the same time.  At that point Pete needed to head home so I broke out the Euro nymphing rod and decided to get a little practice in.  After a while I started to get the hang of things and picked up a couple browns.  One was marked with a green elastomer behind the right eye which was probably a yearling stocked this spring (for more info on the survivor strain see...).

Pete needed to head home early, so I broke out the Euro nymphing rod and decided to get some practice.  After a little while I started to get the hang of leading the flies.  I managed a couple of wild browns on Rich Strolis' DDT and Rock Candy nymphs.  While nymphing off the edge of the one of the fallen tree I tied into a big brook trout.  This was the largest brook trout (about 15 inches and hefty) I've ever caught and it looked to be in excellent shape and really made my day.  With a brook trout this large, I have no idea if it was wild or stocked but I'll leave that for you to decide.  

Brook trout with a Rocky Candy stuck in it's jaw

I finished up the late afternoon swinging the bead head pheasant tail soft hackle and connected with 4 fish but only landing one very beautiful wild brown that had no interest in posing for a picture.  I stayed til dark but there wasn't much activity where I was.  I did connect with one fish on a spinner but after a pair line stripping runs managed to break the fly off of the 5X tippet.

First farmington hat trick this year,  first success Euro nyphming on the Farmington and a personal best brook trout.  A very nice afternoon indeed!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fishing the soft hackle pheasant tail

Pete (TROUTI) graciously agreed to write a guest post on how he fishes the soft hackle pheasant tail or Endrick's spider. I hope you find his post informative although I will add that there is an art to effectively fishing this fly that comes with experience, something that sets Pete apart in this regard.

I was asked to write a guest post by Mark, who dubbed me the Zen Master of the Pheasant Tail. While I don’t know if I am quite the Zen Master, I can tell you that the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail has become one of my “go to” flies, and I have caught many, many trout using this fly.

I first started fishing soft hackles flies after reading Sylvester Nemes book on soft hackles in the mid 1970's. Initially I preferred to fish the Partridge and Peacock soft hackle on some of the smaller local streams. 

About four to five years ago while fishing the Upper Connecticut River, in New Hampshire, I came across the Soft Hackled Pheasant Tail in a fly shop and purchased a few of them. When I returned home, I started to fish them with some success on the larger rivers in the state of CT, the Housatonic River and Farmington River.  I think that the Pheasant Tail represents a myriad of different insects to the trout and this is what makes it so deadly.

I prefer to fish the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail in size 14-18, with and without the bead head, depending on the time of year, depth of the water, and what is hatching. Early in the season I fish size 14 with a bead head to get down to where the fish are. As the season progresses I just adjust to the conditions on the water I am fishing. I use a 9 to 12 foot leader in 4x or 5x, once again depending on conditions of the river I am fishing.

Generally I use the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail as a searching pattern if nothing is hatching. I cast the fly quartering across and upstream, letting the fly just swing in the current, and as the fly gets to the end of the drift with no takes, I slowly retrieve the fly, using short 4-6 inch strips, or twitch the fly. Working the fly like this has proven to be deadly for me and when the trout takes  this fly they hammer it. There is no doubt when they take the fly. Another favorite trick of mine is to target trout that are sipping something under the surface. I try to work into a position above the fish and cast the fly a few feet above their feeding lane. Let the fly dead drift and often this results in a hook up. Another tactic is to blind cast up and across, letting the fly dead drift like a dry, make a mend or two, watching your leader. When the leader stops, set the hook and most of the time you are into a fish.

There are times when the trout will take the soft hackle, as it starts to rise up through the water column, at the end of the swing. Usually these takes are really solid and leave no doubt that you have a fish on. Just another reason I only use 4x and 5x leaders. I fish the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail in all types of water, slow, fast, moderate and pocket water.

I have taken trout in every river that I have fished the Soft Hackle Peasant Tail, including small wild trout streams during December and January. It has been my “go to” fly particularly in the Farmington River. Mark and I have fished with several other fishermen from a forum that we all belong to and each one of these fine fly fishermen can attest to effectiveness of the venerable Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Pete

Pete (aka) TROUTI, had a birthday last week, so as promised, I tied a small box of pheasant tail soft hackles for him.  The box includes beaded and unbeaded flies in #16 and #18.  I didn't invent this fly but was introduced to it by Pete who pointed them out when we fished upper Connecticut River in NH a few years ago.  It's a simple pattern, basically a standard bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a phesant tail body, copper wire rib, peacock herl thorax and a turn of partridge around the collar.  For the beaded version I use a copper bead.  Stayed tuned, Pete the Zen Master of fishing this fly has promised to write a guest post on how he fishes this deadly little killer.

Happy Birthday Pete !

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Spinners late save the day

Pete (TROUTI) and I fished the Farmington river  yesterday afternoon til well past dark.  We fished wets in some faster water and Pete did pretty well but I only managed a couple of bumps but nothing solid.  About 4PM we moved to another spot and I fished an iso comparadun in some faster water and had the first encouragement of the day when a nice brown came off the bottom and followed the fly downstream.  He struck it but it was starting to accelerate due to drag and he struck just a bit short.  I let the fly drag in the water while I moved downstream and hooked a pretty "bonus" brown while I was watching my steps rather than the fly.  I picked up another brown swinging a light cahill wet when I started seeing a few cahills coming off but nothing really rising.  Pete and I tried enticing a few sippers in early evening and I did manage to land one rainbow and lose another on a olive emerger.

As the Farmington Fog settled in (54F water and warm air) over the river, Pete needed to leave but I waited for a potential spinner fall.  I switched the glasses for a head lamp and put on a heavy sweater and warmer fleece pants and waited in the frigid water.  Wondering if things were ever going to get going a tried a Usual to a couple of sipping fish to no avail.  I switched to a rusty brown spinner while there was still enough light to tie it on.  In the dark you could see fish starting to rise more aggressively.  I tossed the rusty spinner out into the darkness and listened for activity in the direction of the fly, if I heard or saw anything I lifted the rod as if to ask "is anyone out there" and several times there was.  A fat rainbow and brown were brought to hand as well as a few that were "released" from a distance.  Staying late paid off again and made up for the slow start.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I obviously enjoy exploring and fishing small mountain brooks.  I quickly find myself being absorbed in exploring each micro pool and riffle as I work my way along.  This level of concentration quickly erases all other things from my conscious thought.  But another part of me needs to get a larger perspective, a more expansive view, the kind that comes after a long hike up a steep mountain.  This past weekend my oldest daughter, her childhood friend, and I decided to climb the local giant.  My daughter will be leaving for college in a few weeks and it was a great day to spend the morning together climbing.  Life is busy and full of changes and it is easy to feel like things are too chaotic and spinning out of control.  Mountain top views remind me that there is a sovereign God who rules over every detail of my life and nothing is out of His benevolent control.  So enjoy the view !

Panoramic view from fire tire on Snowy Mt looking east toward Indian Lake, NY and the Siamese Ponds Wilderness in the distance 07/08/2012

View from fire tower on Snowy Mt looking into West Canada Lake Wilderness

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some exploring

Last week I spent a little time exploring some other thin blue lines up in the Adirondack Mountains. Several looked intriguing from the topo maps so I wanted to visit and see if there were any brook trout present.  The first brook took me 3 attempts to finally locate including several miles on some rugged logging roads.   Unfortunately the low water levels did not leave this brook in very good shape and the only fish I could find were fathead minnows.  Of the three streams one did have some small brook trout in it and some promising looking water to investigate another time.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day 2012

Yesterday we Americans celebrated our 236th anniversary as an independent nation, what better way to celebrate Independence Day then to get out before sunrise and fish a small mountain brook.  With showers the night before, the air was heavy and as the sun began to burn through the early morning fog the sunlight and shine through the dense forest's covering.

The brook was low despite the spate the night before.  The brook trout tended to be concentrated in the deeper sections that had a nice flow through them and their coloring was darker probably due to the increased concentration of tanin in the water.  This spot below gave up three nice brook trout only one of which I was able to get to the hand.

 Right along the submerged log was a favorite spot

a local resident

I fished two flies this morning all of which got their share of attention, a Royal Wulff (red and chartreuse) and the Ausable bomber.  I also fished with the Cabella's custom glass 3wt again.  I really enjoy fishing this fun little rod in this type of water.  It was able to get the flies into tight spots like the one below and still able to guide the fish around stream bed obstacles and into the hand.

It was a great morning out in the fresh mountain air.  Here are more pictures from the morning...Enjoy

 Early morning sulfur

 Small white wildflower that covered the forest floor

Following a game trail along the mountain's side