Saturday, February 22, 2014

Stone flies in the snow

Today, we had a bit of a thaw in CT.  By mid afternoon the temperature was approaching 55F, a reading we haven't seen in a long while.  I thought this afternoon might be my best opportunities to find a few brook trout willing to chasing down a dry fly. I decided to leave the snowshoes in the car even though there was still a fair amount of snow on the ground.  I started off with the pinkie and had a few tugs but nothing to hand.

A sunny, warm mid winter afternoon in New England, priceless!

As the afternoon warmed, I put on an Adam's parachute and had one small brook trout swipe at the dry but I could not coax it to come back.  While fishing the pinkie, I did have one brook trout swipe at it as I was lifting from a deep run.  I put a peacock caddis dry on and sent it on it's way and managed two small brookies right off.  As the afternoon continued to warm, stone flies were evident in the air and in the snow.

February's first fish on a dry

I continued to fish the dry most of the afternoon but I did not entice any more trout to take the dry fly.  I ended up fishing the pinkie and had a couple brief hookups.

It was a beautiful sunny warm day to be out and take pictures and do a little dry fly fishing.  By the time I got back to the car, my feet were pretty wet but the sun was warm on the back.  I can't think of a better way to spend a mid winter afternoon.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gear Review - TFO BVK wt and Ichthus 3/4 reel

TFO BVK 8'6" with Risen Fly's Ichthus 3/4 gunmetal reel

Here is a review my current 4wt rig that I use for fishing dries and wet flies (TFO BVK 8'6" wt/Ichthus 3/4 large arbor reel).  After fishing this rig for most of last summer and this past fall, I am in a better position to judge the performance and quality of both the rod and reel.

I've owned several TFO rods and I've been very happy with the quality of these rods and their modest price point.  My primary dry/wet fly rod for larger rivers had been a TFO professional 9' 5wt and I wanted to move to a lighter 4wt.  I opted to go for the TFO BVK 8'6" 4wt which weighs in a 2.7oz.  Next, I needed to find a light reel that would balance well with the BVK and I wanted to go with a large arbor reel to eliminate all the line kinking I was experiencing with the conventional arbor reel I had on the 5wt.  I settled on the Ichthus 3/4 wt from Risen Fly which is also a light large arbor reel (3"dia/4.06oz).

TFO BVK 8'6" 4wt
I really like the lightness of this rod, especially if you fish for an afternoon into the evening, as I often do.  This is a fast action rod and I wasn't sure if it would fit my casting stroke but I haven't noticed any adjustments that were needed when casting.  I was really surprised how powerful the rod was given I was moving down in line wt.  The rod casts the large dries and dry/dropper rigs I often fish as easily as the 5wt with a lot less fatigue.  I wasn't sure what I would be sacrificing by moving to a slightly shorter rod. The rod handles good size trout easily, and while I haven't tangled with any 20" trout yet, it did a fantastic job on the 16-18" hefty browns the Farmington River is known for. The finish and components on the rod are very nice, the reel seat locks up very well and I love the dark green blank.  The rod came in the typical TFO rod sock.  I just wish they included a rod tube with this rod but this was easily rectified with an aftermarket rod tube.

The BVK's are more expensive than other rods in the TFO lineup but the performance justifies the price tag and I am very happy with this rod.  It nicely fits the type of fishing I had in mind for this rod and I would recommend it to anyone looking for solid performance from a 4wt without spending a ton of cash.

Risen Fly's Ichthus 3/4 reel 
This is the first reel I've purchase from Risen Fly.  The specs on the reel looked like it would balance very well with the BVK rod in terms of wt with the added plus of a large arbor design.  I like the smooth gun metal finish, the silent retrieve, and a very subtle outgoing click.  The large drag adjustment is easily to operate and I've had no issues with the performance, quality, or durability of this reel.  When paired up with the BVK it balances extremely well.  A reel bag was included. 

Like TFO, Risen Fly has managed to produce a high quality reel at a modest price point and I would recommend this reel as well.  If you are interested in this reel or other products from Risen fly, follow the link to the right and use the Fishing Small Streams coupon code to receive a 10% discount. 

Drag adjustment knob on the backslide of the Ichthus reel

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A tiger in the snow?

I stopped by a small stream in the early afternoon.  The cold nights recently had frozen over the slower stretches. Where there was  moving water, it was running on the top of the ice.  I was hoping that the warm afternoon sun would bring a few stone flies out but there really wasn't any open water in the slower stretches. The woods were quite beautiful in the bright sun so I figured it was a day for picture taking.

Squirrel tracks in the snow

Given the conditions, I had two spots in mind that might have open water and yet be deep enough to provide some refuge. At the first stop, I managed to coax something to pick up the pinkie but it popped out of it's mouth and I couldn't stir up any more interest.  The final stop, I tried the pinkie again and had two fish pick it up and move around the pool but again the slightest pressure pulled the fly free.  Lately, it seems the fish are just picking up the pinkie at one of the ends and not really taking the whole fly.  As a last attempt, I tied on an Edson Tiger and a brook trout came off the bottom and followed the fly.  I held it in the current for a moment and it closed in on the fly. When I saw the fish turn, I raised the rod and had a solid hookup.  The next challenge was to safely get down the steep snow covered bank without sliding down and onto the shelf ice and into the water. Mission accomplished and the brook trout was quickly back into the icy water.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fiberglass rods

Fiberglass rods have seen a resurgence of late and models from the 1970's are valued by collectors and those who enjoy their slower action.  The slower action is an advantage to those who fish small streams and enjoy using double taper lines.

I've been asked several times what rod I use to fish small streams and have recommended the Cabelas custom glass rod.  I use the 5'9" 3wt with a 3wt DT line on it.  This rod will also handle a DT 4wt as well.  I've come to find out that Cabelas changed their custom glass rods a year after I got mine.  From everything I've heard, the new ones are quite a bit stiffer and not as smooth as the older ones, so if you are looking for one try to find one of the older rods on ebay.  I've included a couple pictures to make it easier to identify these rods.  The one I have is the 50th anniversary edition made in 2011. It's a shame Cabelas changed the rod, they really had a sweet little gem of a small stream rod.

My small stream outfit - Cabela's Custom Glass rod and Orvis Battenkill I

Close up of the green blank - this is the one you want if you can find one
Recently, I found my very first decent fly rod tucked away in the basement.  It was the first fly rod I spent some decent money on, a Shakespeare Wonderglass Kwik Taper (7'6" 6wt).  Back then I had on old Martin reel on it. I've decided it would make a nice winter project to refinish it.  I've got an old Pflueger 1494 that will match nicely with this old rod.  I really like how this rod's rich translucent finish is looking after some sanding and a couple coats of varnish.  I will post something when the project is complete.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Some new small stream flies - the Adams?

New small stream flies, the Adams?  Really?  

It's true the Adams is one of those classic flies that most of us would never be without.  The fact is that while I have fished the classic Catskill style Adams many times over the years, it really wasn't one of my "go to" flies.  Last winter, I came across Fran Better's version of the parachute Adams and I decided to tie a few.  The past year, this fly has convinced me to considering using it more often.  In the winter months a size 16 or 18 will nicely serves for a stone fly pattern and then in the late summer la size 12 or 14 works well for the isonychias.  In fact, there isn't a season that I've not caught fish on this variation. 

With the ground hog tail, this version floats really well and it makes a nice dry for a dry dropper rig. The upright white parachute post makes the fly easy to see and track.  

Tying parachutes can be a challenge but Rich Strolis has an excellent tutorial.  If tying a parachute gives you fits, I suggest you watch it.  I've found it very helpful.

  Better's Adams parachute (#18)
Grey thread
Ground hog guard fibers (tail)
Muskrat dubbing
white poly parachute post
3 to 4 turns of brown and grizzly hackle

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A little scouting

This morning Alan, Kirk, and I met up to do a little scouting.  I was hoping the that warmer temperatures predicted would open things up a bit.  The first stream we visited was still ice bound due to the hemlock and hard wood forest the stream runs through.  Although it did look encouraging, at least in our imaginations !

The stream running over a small ledge, is there a pool at the bottom?

Alan and I stopped at another stream and fished a bit without too much interest.  I did have a small brook trout grab the pinkie a couple times but did not get the hook in it's mouth.  I stopped by a deep hole and there was a little open water in the middle and I saw a nice sized fish on station.  It did take the pinkie twice, but I wasn't able to set the hook.  I tried a small black bugger along the ice ledge and it came back again for a third time but again I could not set the hook.  Actually, I'm not sure I could have landed it and released it safely with the amount of shelf ice along the stream bank.

I stopped at a third stream on the way home.  It also looked very inviting.  The ice made fishing it very tough but I will back again in the spring to really check it out.  As I was leaving I noticed a small osprey perched in a tree above the stream looking for some dinner.

Another good looking stream for a warmer day