Farmington River Report 6/20/18: Going out with a wet fly bang

The last day of spring 2018 was a memorable one for me. The evening wet fly bite was spectacular (where one loses count of fish). I had a Farmington River hat trick (brown, brookie, rainbow). And I landed a porcine high teens rainbow (after it snapped the tip of my cane rod mid-battle).

But let’s focus on the positive. I fished below the permanent TMA from 5:30pm- 9pm. Water was a perfect height and still plenty cold. The bug activity was an 8 out of 10. I had much to work with: midges, a few small (size 18) caddis, lots of size 16 sulphurs and size 14 Light Cahills, and some mongo mayflies (10-12) that were perhaps March Browns or Isos. I fished a three fly team until 7:30pm: Snipe and Yellow size 14 on top, size 16 Magic Fly in the middle, and a winged Light Cahill size 12 on point. All three flies produced. The conditions were perfect for wet flies: bugs, birds working, and a multitude of sloppy, splashy rise forms that went on for hours. I spent most of my time targeting active fish, and often the take came on the first cast. I even caught one dangling my line in the current below me as I walked to the shore to put on my jacket.

Then, disaster. The hit came suddenly and with ferocity. It felt like a decent enough fish, but once I got it in close I could see it was a big rainbow in the upper teens. Fat, spirited, and uncompromising in its belligerence. I didn’t even feel the rod tip snap; suddenly, it seemed, it was just broken. I cursed my luck (as it was). Fortunately, I had brought a second rod stream side: I waded out, re-rigged, and was back at it.

I finished the session throwing dries: Magic Flies, Usuals, and Light Cahills. The trout liked all three. As the gloaming lost its struggle against darkness, I walked back to the truck, unsure how to process the conflicting sensations of delight and regret.

At this size and coloration, most certainly not from the factory. You can’t see it here, but the dorsal side of these fish is dramatically dark. They almost look like chrome steelhead when you’re bringing them in.



The culprit. The opening of my net is 17″; this little piggy exceeded that. So far, the best trout hit of the year. She took the Pale Watery wingless (Magic Fly), not the Cahill as I previously posted.


9 comments on “Farmington River Report 6/20/18: Going out with a wet fly bang

  1. Jim Cannon says:

    Terrific outing Steve, if you’re gonna break a tip that beats any alternative method I’ve tried

    • Steve Culton says:

      Yup. Much better than closing the truck hatch or hitting a branch or falling face-first into the river…not that I’VE ever done anything like that….

  2. Mike says:

    Nice night except for the rod break.
    Farmy is fishing well for sure.
    If you are on the river stop by our CVTU picnic for some grill grub.

  3. Greg says:

    Interesting. Same nite I tried all dries and although caught a few on sulphurs early in the evening then could not get a take till used a 16 brownish fly when caught one more. Never thought of using wets. I guess I leaned from your posting

    • Steve Culton says:

      Every day is different. But, generally: unless you see trout taking insects from the top of the water, chances are those splashy rises are trout taking emergers just below the surface — in which case it’s almost never a bad idea to match the hatch with a wet fly.

      In my experience, there comes a time in the summer evening rise on the Farmington when the subsurface wet fly becomes less effective….usually around 7pm or so. That’s when I switch to dries (or wets like the Magic Fly fished like a dry). YMMV.

  4. Steve says:

    My best day yet on the Farmington was swinging a trio of soft hackles on your leader setup, with a #16 Part/Green getting my best fish of the spring a 21″ Brown! Actually it was my best fish on a wetfly! Worked real good during a caddis hatch and no tangles too!

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