The Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet is a fairly easy tie that uses readily available materials. Best of all, it is a real fish catcher. I couldn’t possibly tell you how many trout I’ve taken on the Dark Hendrickson over the past few years. Match the size to the naturals on the river, pick out a rising trout, drift or swing the fly over its position, and hold on.
A sunny day in late March can be misleading. On Friday, any warmth generated by the sun was fleeting, captured and quickly dispatched by a chilly, gusting wind. The water was only 34 degrees, well below normal for this time of year, lightly stained, and running at 450cfs in the upper TMA. There’s still plenty of snow on the ground that has to melt and become part of the ocean; until that happens, expect cold water.
So, to the fishing. Well, it was what we in the trade call a slow day. Even the guys I spoke to who were fishing shiners were having a tough go of it. I jumped around the river, dedicated to the streamer cause, and the only trout I managed came by accident. I was messing around with the streamer, an articulated white and chartreuse bunny/bugger thing, to see how it looked in the water. Right in front of me, about ten feet away, and this brown rose from the depths and stomped it. Rather lucky than good, but we’ll take it.
Cased caddis everywhere in the last spot I fished. I’m still amazed that a little wormy thing can build a house out of sticks. Please appreciate this photo. My hands and forearms were still cold about a half hour after I took it.
An occupant. Sorry, little guy, for putting you out on the street.
“March Brown” is a name you see attached to a lot of different wet fly patterns. Some of them are caddis; others, mayflies. This spider is intended to represent the latter. I discovered it on page 116 of Sylvester Nemes’ Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies. It was originally published in 1936 in an English book, Trout Fishing From All Angles.
The Farmington River is not known for its March Browns; while we do experience that hatch, it’s not on the level of, say, Hendricksons or Sulphurs. But we do have a good showing of Isonychia, and I have taken to fishing the Hackled March Brown spider in the late summer to represent those substantial mayflies.
Last August, I was fishing a snotty run that was studded with boulders and pockets. There wasn’t much going on hatch-wise, and I had the Hackled March Brown spider as the point fly on my team of three wets. The hit was one of unrestrained violence and brutality, such that it ripped the line from my hands. The trout went immediately on the reel; I never saw it until I was able to coax it into the shallows. Over twenty inches long, it was my biggest trout of 2013.
Tying notes: A straightforward, simple fly to tie. The original calls for a body of “hare’s ear dyed red ant colour.” I have settled on “rust,” and the trout seem OK with it. You could make the body a little buggier than I have here, but I like this fly with a thin profile. There are a multitude of brown feathers on a standard partridge skin; they’re located along the back of the bird.
The Hackled March Brown Rogues’ Gallery:
The press release might read “Catch Farmington River guide and outdoor writer Steve Culton on this week’s Yankee Fisherman program on HAN Radio. Steve talks about all things wet fly fishing, covering topics from wet fly styles to presentation.”
Also appearing on the show is my friend Steve Zakur from CVTU. Thanks so much to host John Kovach and HAN Radio for having me on. As its title suggests, Yankee Fisherman focuses on the ample fishing opportunities found in the Connecticut area.
Here’s the link to the show: or http://www.hanradio.com/category/news/yankee-fisherman/
We’re really making the rounds here on currentseams. I have two more appearances scheduled for April; both of them are “Wet Flies 101.”
On Wednesday, April, 2, I will be at the Trout Unlimited Naugatuck Pomperaug Chapter meeting in Naugatuck, CT. The meeting starts at 7pm, and you can get directions at tunaugpomp.org.
On Tuesday, April 15, I will be at the Trout Unlimited Thames Valley Chapter meeting in Bozrah, CT. The meeting starts at 6:45pm, and you can get directions at thamesvalleytu.org.
I also did my first radio interview today for John Kovach’s Yankee Fisherman show on HAN radio. The subject was wet flies, and I’ll post a link to the show when they put it up.
A Farmington River mini-report for 3/11/14: a glorious dose of spring after a hellacious winter. Sunny, 50+ degrees, water running crystal clear and 35 degrees. The Upper TMA was packed for a weekday in early March. The trout seemed fairly cooperative; most anglers I spoke with who were nymphing got into fish, like currentseams follower John Jascot who landed this fine holdover brown:
I had my heart set on dredging up a big ‘ole brown on a streamer, but ’twas not to be. Hard to be sad about a skunking when you’re enjoying an El Rey Del Mundo Flor de Llaneza on a sunny Tuesday.
Many thanks to the Mianus Chapter of TU for hosting me last night. “Wet Flies 101” was the topic, and we had a roomful of enthusiastic, welcoming anglers. I’ve never presented in a mansion before — that was rather posh. No matter what venue I’m in, it’s always gratifying to be able to spread the wet fly gospel. Thank you again.
Nymphed the Farmington River today from 11:30am to 1pm. Water in the upper TMA was an average height, clear, and 34 degrees. It was a slow day for most of the anglers I spoke with. Saw very little evidence of hatch activity (save for a solitary charcoal grey midge). I managed a fine holdover brown, but even that was by accident; I was moving a few steps downstream to a new position when the indicator went under. And there he was on my size 18 BH soft-hackle pheasant tail.
Someone’s been eating this winter. I like the bead peeking out of the corner of the mouth, hook right where it’s supposed to be. Note the odd indentation on the upper flank, just below the dorsal. There was no sign of a wound, and the fish appeared to be healthy.
I headed upstream to try some different water, but had no takers on my cased caddis or PT. Of course, there was that double-hooked stick, but since those are out of season I had to let it go. Most regrettable.
Switched over to streamers in some deeper water with an integrated full sink head. The past couple winters I’ve been trying to fish streamers more than I usually do, and today I was trying out a prototype cone head white bunny flashy thing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, THUD! It was a good fish that ran deep, then suddenly decided not to play. I knew he wasn’t coming back, but I gave the pool a few more casts before duties elsewhere called. Off the water at 2:10pm.
But, Mr. Slob Trout, I know where you live. And I’m coming back tomorrow.
Most North-Country spiders are very simple ties. T.E. Pritt’s Greensleeves is no exception. You wrap some tying silk around the hook shank, wind on a soft woodcock shoulder feather, then whip finish. Greensleeves is a highly effective green caddis pattern; I usually tie it in a 14 or 16.
My keyboard has been getting a workout this winter. Lots of articles in the pipeline right now that will be appearing in 2014. Among them:
Matching the Hatch with Wet Flies (American Angler)
Downstream Wets in Small Brooks, Building a Wet Fly Team, Salmon fishing for Stripers (Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing guide)
Bugs Department and Farmington River Survivor Strain (The Drake)
A story/essay on a year-long striper adventure (FlyFish Journal)
Not to mention the regular, wonderful (it doesn’t suck, does it?) content featured here on Currentseams.
Anyone else bloody tired of winter? Stand by. Spring is coming.
Speaking of soon-to-be regular (I hope) content, I just completed my first successful tying test video last night. I’m hoping to do a bunch of these this year. Stay tuned for the first one, coming soon.