Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Coachman

Not to be confused with the classic Leadwing Coachman — this fly is decidedly in the red/orange end of the color wheel. I tend to view the Coachman as an attractor, but in the interest of full disclosure I don’t often fish quill winged wets. On the other hand, it’s hard to go wrong with a peacock herl body.

Coachman

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-13
Silk: Orange
Hackle: Bright red cockerel
Body: Bronze-colored peacock herl
Wings: Land rail, primary or secondary
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Tying Notes: You’re going to need to dip into your improvisation quiver for some of these materials. No cockerel in my feather bins, so I used a small feather from a red saddle. And land rail? Good luck. I substituted an orange-red dyed starling skin I picked up from Badger Creek a few shows ago. When I tie in a quill wing, I’ll hold it in place between my thumb and middle finger. Three taught wraps, then tighter wraps to finish. Like anything, it takes practice — I hadn’t tied a quill wing in about a year and I needed two tries to get this one right.

Farmington River Mini report 3/28/19: More anglers than trout

I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have nothing better to do on a weekday than fly fish on the Farmington River. Of course, I’m not a part of the solution. But never mind. Just a wee excursion today from 11:30am-2pm, and not all of it was fishing. Hit two spots on the lower river in 90 minutes, which at 800cfs and change was a little high for my liking. (Didn’t get a water temp.) Spot A was a blank, and I wasn’t surprised given the water height. Spot B was a surprising blank, what with a few bugs (midges, grey stones, small un-IDed mayfly) coming off and the water beginning to warm. I spent the last hour exploring a new area, trying to assess its fishiness, and then buying some clear midge rib at UpCountry.

I shall endeavor to get out more and produce a more useful report.

Today’s point fly and midge dropper at lower left.

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On the striped bass board for 2019

The best time to go fishing is when you can, and if the tides line up, so be it, north wind and rising barometer be damned. Just a quick sortie to three different spots on the same river. The first two were blanks. At the third, there was mischief afoot. On the dangle at the end of the swing, some quivering taps. A few minutes later, more of the same. Dinks? I thought so. But ten minutes later, when I connected, the fish felt decidedly undinkish. Okay, so a 20″ striper ain’t exactly one to put in the brag book. But when you only need one, and it’s your first of the year, it becomes the perfect fish.

Last night’s fly was a three-feather flatwing/bucktail hybrid of the Herr Blue, about 8″ long.

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Leisenring’s Favorite Twelve Wets: Blue Dun Hackle

First cousin to the Old Blue Dun, the Blue Dun Hackle trades buttonhole twist for gold tinsel and muskrat for mole fur. While the North Country spider influence is readily visible, you can see how Leisenring is taking these flies firmly into wingless wet territory with the spikey body and prominent ribbing. Imitator or attractor…or both? You decide, and let the trout kibbitz.

Blue Dun Hackle

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-14
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Light blue dun hen
Tail: 2-3 blue dun fibers optional
Rib: Very narrow flat gold tinsel
Body: Mole fur spun on primrose yellow silk, a little of the silk exposed at the tail
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Tying Notes: A mole skin is pretty cheap and will keep you in wet flies and nymphs for years. You want a natural colored fur (kind of a dark blue-grey dun), not a dyed skin. XS tinsel works. I did a better job on this fly of letting the yellow silk show through at the tail.

Wet Flies at Legends on the Farmington

What a swell time yesterday tying and teaching at Legends. Many thanks to Sal for hosting, and the same shout out to the group for making my job easy. This was an all day event, featuring wet fly theory/tactics/strategies in a classroom setting, and most of all, lots of tying. We managed to bang out a half dozen soft hackles, wingless wets, and winged wets. Always nice to have a full class — not to mention a full glass at the end of the day.

The late afternoon view from the great room at Legends. You can’t tell from the photo, but it was a perfect day for staying inside (windy and cold) and tying wet flies. I was digging the fireplace.

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Book Review: Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River

I’ve never fished the South Platte. I have no immediate plans to do so. But dammit, now I’ve read this book. And the gears are turning.

Such is the power of the second edition of Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River. Although Pat Dorsey is listed as the author, contributors to the book are many, and the list reads like a western U.S. fly angling who’s who: Landon Mayer. Greg Blessing. Just to name a few.

The book is neatly organized into three sections. Part 1 is The South Platte System, which divides the water into geographical sections. You get details like maps, access points, water descriptions, and seasonal strategies. The chapters are sprinkled with sidebars like “High Water Season,” “Etiquette,” and “Year-Round Strategies to Find Trout.” These are  informative and they don’t intrude on the reading experience. I’m impressed by the level of detail, and the intrepid reader receives enough comprehensive information to DIY the South Platte.

Next up is Important Hatches and Fly Patterns. It’s just what you’d expect: hatch charts, monthly descriptors, and — my favorite — fly patterns. As a fly tying geek I am always on the lookout for inspiration and intel, as well as the hot local pattern that will work the same wonders here in the eastern U.S. (Yeah. Pale Olive Midge Larva. I’ve got my eye on you.) It’s no surprise that as a tailwater, much of the focus is on midges. Last, we get Techniques and Strategies on how to attack the river. As with the entire book, this section is richly illustrated with photos of trout and breathtaking scenics.

Quibbles are few. As is the norm for many contemporary fly fishing books, wet flies and wet fly fishing are conspicuously absent. (I’d love to swing a team of three through some of the water illustrated in the book — or give trout rising to PMDs a look at The Magic Fly.) And the only featured mention of wet fly presentation (the Leisenring Lift) pertains to nymphing — and it gets the technique wrong (the angler does not physically raise the flies — the angler checks the rod and lets current and tension do the work.)

Nonetheless, Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River is highly recommended. Pat Dorsey should be commended on his skillful blending of situational river specifics and general trout knowledge. If you’re heading west to fish the South Platte, you’ll be glad you invested in a copy.

“…lush valleys, meandering meadow streams, and rose-colored, boulder-filled canyons.” Where do I sign up? Just south of Denver, Colorado, this world-class trout fishery comes to life in Pat Dorsey’s Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River. If you’ve never fished the river, this book is a must have, with new maps and updated river, access, and fishing information. Fly Fishing Guide to the South Platte River by Pat Dorsey, Stackpole Books, ISBN 978-0-8117-3818-7.

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Cape Cod Flyrodders award the Order of Fried Scallops with IPA Clusters

On the road again yesterday, this time to South Yarmouth for the Cape Cod Flyrodders meeting. A welcoming group with lots of friendly faces — and they also understand that a fed presenter is a happy presenter. So, thanks for your hospitality, your generosity, and for the great turnout. Bonus: we’re on a lots-of-good-questions roll here — I think Q&A might be my favorite part of presenting. Well done. See you next time!

This is true. Thanks to Bill for the pic.

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