Saturday, January 23, 2016

Small stream flies - the fantastic four

With the latest Nor'easter covering most of the east coast it was a good day to do a little tying.  Today I was restocking the small stream box.  When it comes right down to it, I love fishing dries on small streams.  I fish nymphs and soft hackles but I just like fishing dries even when conditions dictate that there would be a better choice.  I am also a minimalist so I don't carry more than is needed and it when it comes to small stream dries, there are basically 4 flies that account for most of the wild brook and brown trout that I catch.  So here they are...

The Fantastic Four
Royal Wulff:  I tie this with woodchuck guard hairs for the tail and use a Mustad 9671 hook.  I like the longer hook since it gives extra room for a nice body and plenty of hackle to keep it afloat.  I will fish this fly in the spring through fall but I've caught fish through out the year on this fly.

Ausable Bomber:  This is another small stream fly that I wouldn't be without.  It's a Fran Better's fly but for some reason it's not that well known.  It uses the 9671 hook, a white calf tail wing, woodchuck guard hairs for a tail and brown and grizzly hackle palmered over a body of rusty orange possum dubbing.  I have no idea what fish think it is but it works any time of year.  I fish this one in #14 and #16 in the colder months.  With the woodchuck and heavy hackle this fly floats well and is an excellent dry for a dry dropper rig.

Elk hair caddis: There is nothing special about this fly.  I don't fish it as much as the other three but in the winter months when small stoneflies are coming off I will fish a #16 or #18 with dark brown body

Parachute Adams: I like tying these with a woodchuck tail and muskrat dubbing.  I fish this fly in #16 and #18 in the colder months.  If the larger Wulffs and Bombers don't draw any interest I will put one of these on.  I tend to fish these more in the later fall and winter when small flies are a better choice.

35 comments:

  1. Terrific foursome! As a newbie, I'm learning that less might be better.

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    1. Bill/Tully - you only need what you actually use. I would suspect most fly fisherman have confidence and significant experience with small fraction of the flies in their box.

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  2. That is a great collection of go to flies right there. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

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    1. Thanks David - I would guess a sulfur parachute might be on your go to list, I just don't see them much on the small streams I fish.

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  3. You sure can't go wrong with those four choices. A good project for a winter's night and well done to boot. Come on spring!

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    1. Parachute Adams - thanks! They also some of my favorites to tie!

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    2. I agree it is fun to tie flies that you like tying. They always seem to come out good.

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  4. Good choices. I like them all especially the bomber.

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    1. Thanks - you can't go wrong with the Bomber.

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  5. I don't think you will need another fly for small streams.
    That "bomber" really work?

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  6. I always find it interesting that a good fly seems to be a good fly no matter where in the country you fish. I tie 3 out of the 4.

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    1. Howard - thanks. I bet I could guess the three! I definitely agree that these flies work everywhere especially where they don't get fished much.

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  7. Fine Choices Mark!! They all work very well as you know, especially that "Bomber".

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  8. Nicely done, Mark. A fine selection. I'd have picked the same four but, in my current Pennsylvania state of mind, would prefer the Stimulator over the slightly more bulky Bomber. Yeah, picky, picky.

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    1. Walt - thanks. The stimulator is certainly worthy of being included in anyone's "short" list. I guess everyone's top flies have one regional favorite in the mix. Mine is the Bomber.

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  9. Alan
    I can attest to three of these flies the Bomber, Caddis, and Adams which have worked for me on the Caney and Sipsey I fish here. Which of the four work best for you on the Farmington? As always great work at the bench; thanks for sharing

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    1. Bill - they all can fun on the Farmington in the summer.

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  10. Thanks for sharing, Mark. I use all of these as well. I tend to use the para adams during the spring on the low gradient streams of Rhode Island, and then switch over to bombers and royal wulffs in the summer on higher gradient streams. Do you use calf body or tail for the wing on the royal wulffs? I find calf tail is kind of a pain to deal with.

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    1. RI brook trout - I use the calf tail because I like the rougher look and I don't stack it but it can be difficult to work with.

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  11. I have used the Adams,Royal Wolff, and three colors of elk hair caddis for years and agree that that they are very productive. The bomber is going to be my new secret weapon. I have two freestone streams that I cannot wait to try it on. On small streams I would have confidence you would not need another dry.i am pretty sure south central pa. Trout have not seen a lot of bombers.great post thank you.

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    1. Brad - I bet the fish in central PA don't see many Bombers which is a very good reason to try them.

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    2. Brad, have you ever fished the Yellow Breeches creek? My customer in the area wants to take me there in the spring.

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  12. Great looking flies! I, too, love fishing dries/top water flies. I have only caught a handful of trout, and most of them have come on dry flies, hoppers to be exact. Exciting stuff!

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    1. Justin - thanks, I enjoy tying as much as fishing! There's nothing like seeing a fish take a fly off the surface.

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    2. Especially, one that you tied yourself! Preach!!

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  13. Yellow breeches is my home stream I live approximately 4 miles from the stream. I have fished it for over 50 years. It is a wonderful stream with many hatches. It fishes well all year but I would say April thru October are best. It is unique because it is freestone with strong limestone influence where the fly fishing area is. That's the area I would start at. If you get a chance to fish it I think it would be worth while. One huge hint bring caddis flies,both emerger and pupa green and tan

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  14. Brad - The weekend before last we were down your way visiting Messiah college. The Yellow Breeches runs right through the campus. If my youngest ends up going there I will have to give you a call. Shoot me an email if you get a chance (the address is in my profile)

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  15. E mail sent messiah college is wonderful college only about6 miles from my home. The college is about the half way point for the creek. It is 36 miles long and has many feeder streams along the way. The fly area is in the little town of boiling springs where it is feed by a major limestone aquifer.let me know what your son decides.

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  16. Thanks Everyone for the great comments, it's nice to see a post generate some good dialog!

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  17. Mark the caddis fly soft hackle that brk trout posted on his blog today would be a great fly for the yellow breeches in the spring.

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    1. Brad - I'm sure it would! I have a few sulfur soft hackles that might work too at the right time of year!

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  18. That is a fantastic selection of flies, almost identical to my go-to selection actually! I wish I could me as minimalistic as you... That being said I do have a core 5 dries that I use, and one go-to nymph. Goddard caddis, Elk Caddis, Royal Wulff, Bivisible (Which i imagine looks very similar to your selection of bomber to fish) and Joe's Hopper. It's crazy that your list is so similar to mine, I guess when a fly works, people gravitate to it. Go-to nymph is a BH hares ear nymph.

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