Three Great Early-Season Nymphs for Trout

What are the best nymphs for early-season trout? It’s hard to say. “Best,” after all, is not an absolute like the firmness of the earth or the sun rising in the east. But if you asked me make a choice, I’d tell you you could do a lot worse than these three proven nymph patterns — and the trout would agree.

Soft-Hackled Bead Head Pheasant Tail. Size it up, size it down, the pheasant tail remains a classic because it looks like so many things that trout like to eat. I love this version for its buggy peacock herl thorax and so-many-quivering-sexy-legs of a soft hackle. For recipe and tying video, click here.

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Frenchie Nymph Variant. The same fly as above — but different! We’ve traded the wiggly legs for a flashy hot spot. The result is a slimmer profile with different bite triggers that keeps this a high-confidence early-season nymph. What makes it variant? Unlike Lance Egan’s original, this has a brass bead, not tungsten, and it’s tied on a scud hook. (Since I don’t Euro-nymph, I rarely use tungsten beads in my nymphs.) For recipe and tying video, click here.

FrenchieVariant

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Rainbow Warrior Variant. Another Lance Egan creation, this version uses a brass bead instead of tungsten (see Frenchie, above) and omits the mylar wing case. The Rainbow Warrior takes the flashy attractor nymph to a whole new level.  Good stuff!

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Hook: TMC 2457 size 12-22
Bead: Silver, to size
Thread: Red 6/0 or 8/0
Tail: 5-6 pheasant tail fibers fibers
Body: UTC Pearl mylar, 3/64″
Thorax: Rainbow Sow Scud dubbing

Fly fishing guide trips on hold — resuming when?

As you’re probably aware, all fly fishing guide trips or lessons are on hold. I know that many of you reached out to me this winter to book a trip/lesson, and I asked you to touch base in early April. And here we are. It’s’ a bad situation for everyone.

First, it goes without saying that I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. If you’re managing to get out and go fishing, that’s even better. So, when can we resume normal relations?

I’ll be following the best practice guidelines put forth by those who know far more about pandemics than me. When they give us the green light, I’ll make a post here on currentseams. A reminder that my schedule will likely not change: weekends will out, so week days it shall have to be.

Thanks to all of you who continue to read and follow currentseams. Keeping with the guiding theme, here are a few memorable guide trips from the archives:

Greg hit it just right. We fished wet flies in mid-June from 3pm-7pm. With some strong caddis and sulphur hatches to goose the trout along, Greg had a banner day. It’s hard to beat wet flies pre- and during the hatch.

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July. Slow action. One of those warm, humid days that starts the Farmington River fog machine. The air over the water was cool and damp, and Mark and I were shivering in our shirtsleeves. I volunteered to fetch our jackets, and said to Mark as I left, “When I come back, I want to see your rod bent over.” This is the sight I was greeted by as I came back through the woods. All of my stories are true, and some of them actually happened. Like this one. 

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I love teaching, but I can’t control what Mother Nature is going to throw at us on any given day. So I was delighted to have her cooperate for this early May wet fly class. The trout were most agreeable, too. Ihor’s here with a gorgeous wild brown.

DCIM100GOPROG0034989.

 

 

A Modest Proposal: Catch Fewer Small Stripers This Year

It’s no secret that our precious striper stocks are stressed. New regs are going into effect (check your state for specifics) that every striper angler should know about. But this year, I’m creating my own reg.

It starts with a question: Do I really need to catch 50 small bass at the mouth of the Hous? Do I really need to catch 20 sixteen-inchers in June during the grass shrimp hatch, or on a flat on the Cape during a sand eel blitz? The answer is no.

I’m asking you to join me. When it becomes clear that it’s a small bass on just about every cast, I’m going to reel up and stop fishing. So yes, let’s still fish. Yes, let’s still have fun. But let’s also give the bass a break. Catching another dozen dinks won’t make you a hero. Walking away will.

Sure, they’re fun. But they’re also ridiculously easy to catch. These bass are the future of the fishery. So please consider giving them a break. And while you’re at it, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ASGA. This group is gaining traction, and is beginning to have a real, quantifiable effect on the state of the fishery. Thank you.

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Leisenring’s favorite soft-hackled nymphs, in list form with photos

Last month I published a short feature series on James Leisenring’s favorite soft-hackled nymphs. Leisenring first listed these patterns in his 1941 book, “The Art of Tying The Wet Fly.” Here’s a single reference list of the seven nymphs, a photo of each pattern, and a link to the original post with my comments and tying instructions.

Heed the sage advice of Big Jim: “Now, in nymph fishing your hook must be exceedingly sharp…more fish are lost because of dull, cheap hooks than all other causes combined…” — James Leisenring

Tups Nymph (nymph version)

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March Brown Nymph

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Half-Stone Nymph

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Dark Olive Nymph

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Pale Watery Nymph

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Pale Watery Nymph (light-colored dun version)

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July Dun Nymph

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Tie and fish these soft-hackled nymphs with confidence, just as James Leisenring did nearly one hundred years ago.

 

 

 

 

Striper Report 3/30/20: doubleheader skunking

Not satisfied with yesterday’s Farmington River streamer spanking, I ventured out last night with old friend Bob for some more piscatorial abuse. We fished the Hous from 9pm to nearly midnight. Our reward was…bupkiss. Well, not exactly. Bob managed one tap on his plug (spinning for Bob, fly for me). On the plus side, I reacquainted myself with my two-handed cannon — the rust factor was minimal, and it felt good to bomb out 90 foot casts with little effort. Oh! I also managed to wade through the deepest hole I’ve ever ventured into without breaching my waders. So I suppose dry and skunked beats soaked and skunked. We’ll go with that.

Not from last night. But I did fish a Rock Island flatwing (eaten below), a high confidence herring pattern I developed many years ago. You can read about the Rock Island flatwing here.

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Farmington River Report 3/30/20: Bump. But no WHUMP!

I thought this would be a great day for streamers with the river up (615cfs in the permanent TMA) and the substantial cloud cover. ‘Twas not. I fished four marks from noon-2:30pm, and could manage only two bumps in one of them. At least the river was not the mob scene I expected — I had three runs all to myself. So, the whump will have to wait for another day. Hatch monitors, take note: lots and lots and lots of tiny (size 22-26) BWOs on the water. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hello!

This was supposed to be a picture of a gator brown, but my quarry was most uncooperative. I’m still really surprised I didn’t get more action, at least from smaller trout. Today’s streamers were Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow (pictured below) and the Hi-Liter. This Sparkle Minnow is the size of a good shiner, one of my favorite baits from my spinning days.

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Small Stream Report: The natives aren’t restless

Thursday was small stream fishing day. March isn’t exactly the wheelhouse for a small stream — there’s no canopy, the water is typically up and cold, and the wild brookies haven’t moved out of their winter lies — but Cam and I went for no other reason than to enjoy the woods and pretend we were many miles from civilization.

As I suspected, the action was painfully slow. We rose and landed one char all day. Yet, what better way to feel alive than to be out on a thin blue line and be so warm you’ve got to start removing layers?

Given the conditions, we decided stealth was in order. Here’s Cam doing a little commando fishing. We started off with bushy size 14 dries; after those went unmolested, I added a tiny nymph dropper to my rig. Still no love, so tied on an ICU Sculpin for Cam to jig in some deeper plunges. That’s what he’s doing here. 

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We saw a decent number of bugs: omnipresent midges, and a few small (size 18) tan caddis. But the brookies remained hunkered down. Finally, as we were bushwhacking out, I invoked the “One More Cast” Rule. The slashing strike came out of nowhere. After a few more rises on a waking presentation, I decided a size 14 Stimulator was too big. On went a size 16 Humpy, and the next cast produced this fine buck.

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Thanks to the Gov for opening the season early!