Farmington River Report 12/13/16: Subsurface spectacular

Going to be mighty chilly later this week, so I thought I’d get my licks in today. Good call. I fished within the permanent TMA from 9am-1pm, and found very cooperative fish in two of the three runs I fished — not to mention precious solitude. Here are the day’s notes:

Nymphing was incredibly productive for me. Those of you who are currentseams regulars know that I am a huge fan of indicator nymphing, especially in winter. However, in this low (100cfs and falling) and cold (34 degrees) water, I’ve gone away from the indicator to a basic short-line approach. The trout are beginning to stack up in their winter lies, and since the water is so shallow, those lies are very accessible via the long rod. I still like the indicator for covering water and for fishing faster, deeper runs, but in these conditions I’m doing better with the short-line approach. Still using the drop-shot rig, only I’ve added a yellow sighter.

Most of today’s trout were foot-long wild fish like this beauty. I did manage a well-fed rainbow and a mid-teens brown. 

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I fished two flies today: a size 16 2x short Frenchy variant on point and a size 16 March Brown wingless wet dropper. The trout were just about evenly split on both. But it’s interesting to note that my first half-dozen fish came on the top dropper. This came in advance of another strong morning W/S caddis hatch. It could have been that the trout were keying on emergers 1-2 feet off the bottom, or simply that they were looking up. Regardless, droppers continue to be the fastest way to find out what the fish want.

A fascinating mix of strike styles today. Some were oh-so-subtle pauses in the vertical line, others were sharp tugs. Good stuff.

Don’t let the exquisite red spots and delicate parr marks mislead you: this fish fought like a badass. I’d like to rumble with him again in a couple years.

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Finally, support your local fly shop. UpCountry Sportfishing is a good friend of currentseams, and they have a tremendous selection of just about anything you’d need for fly fishing or tying. Make sure Santa knows where to find that new rod, reel, vise, or whatever it is you don’t have — or need more of.

14 comments on “Farmington River Report 12/13/16: Subsurface spectacular

  1. David Machowski says:

    I love the drop shot method. Use with and indicator also like Kelly Galloup. I’ve been on 5x, are you going lighter. ?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi David,

      I’ve been tying the top dropper with 4# Maxima Ultragreen. The rest of the rig has been 5x. Yesterday was low and clear and bright and sunny and the trout told me they were paying a lot of attention to the flies. 🙂

  2. salvatore tartaglione says:

    The midge fishing is great!!! Get back on top!!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    • Steve Culton says:

      Thanks, Sal. If you saw my post last week, I did a bang-up job just below the surface on wets. But you’re right, there’s nothing like taking fish on top on tiny stuff in December. Love those delicate rise rings.

  3. Gary S says:

    Coiled yellow Sighter ?

  4. Jason P says:

    How high up above the anchor fly is the dropper? I’ve just started getting into this method and the Umpqua leader I bought has it 33″ above the anchor. That seems really high to me, way off the bottom and in shallow water it’s basically on the surface.

  5. Alan Petrucci says:

    I agree with you on your thoughts on the wild brown…..as well as Upcountry.

  6. Pete Simoni says:

    That is a great day of fishing and catching in the middle of December!!

  7. Steve M. says:

    Pretty slick system for covering the water column. How does this compare with the “tight line” Euronymph method? Seems one can use a standard flyrod and line with this system.

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Steve,

      The drop-shot nymph rig I use doesn’t really cover the water column — it covers the space from just off the bottom and then about a foot or so above that. Both of those are good places to find trout, or cover areas where a trout might be looking for food. Drop shot works with or without an indicator. The biggest difference between drop shot and general Euro is that one uses weighted flies to sink the rig, the other uses a weight (shot) to sink the flies. I really like the idea of a fly being just off the bottom. I know the method I was using Tuesday as “short-line nymphing.” It’s also how I fish my team of three wets when I want to dead drift deep close in. The line is kept tight and you have to find the equilibrium where the shot is just on the bottom and the butt/sighter is perpendicular to the surface. Any variances, set the hook. And of course I use drop shot under my yarn indicators. I have a 10′ five weight Hardy and a Cortland 444 DT line that I use for dries, streamers, wets, and nymphs. It’s the indian, not the arrow.

      By the way, I have never Euro-nymphed. 🙂

      Hope that helps.

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