Farmington River Report 6/8/20: Our Lady of Blessed Magic Fly, or: spectacular sulphur wet and dry fly action

I fished last night from 5:45pm until 9:15pm, well past when I could no longer see my fly. I started out swinging and dead-drifting wets, sometimes prospecting, but mostly casting to active feeders. I had to work for my fish, but that was OK since some of them were larger wild browns. My rig was a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger top dropper, size 14 Partridge and Light Cahill middle dropper, and Light Cahill winged wet on point. All three patterns took fish. Hatch activity was a 7/10: caddis, sulphurs, Light Cahills, mobs of midges, and a few stray Isos. Around 7pm I switched out the winged Light Cahill for a size 14 Magic Fly after I saw a batch of larger sulphurs hatching. The fish opened their mouths in approval.

You can’t tell from the photo, but this is a high teens wild brown, taken on the Squirrel and Ginger. He was feeding in a narrow slot about a foot deep. The presentation was an oblique angle upstream cast, then dead drift. WHACK! (Editorial: I’m proud to say that on this website there are no photos of trout being thrust into camera lenses, angler arms fully extended. I know my readers are far too intelligent and sophisticated to put up with such shenanigans.)



All the while, I was vastly outfishing the anglers around me. I mention this not as a brag point, but rather as a teaching point. Properly presented wet flies have been, and will continue to be, the best way to fool trout during the early stages of a sulphur hatch. Every other angler was fishing dry, which can work, provided you’ve got the right pattern and presentation. But when trout are on sulphur emergers, I’ll go with a team of wets every time.

However, there comes a time during every hatch where the trout begin want the topwater fly rather than the subsurface wet. So at 7:30pm I switched to surface presentations, mostly the Magic Fly (dusted with silica powder), a few drifts with creamy-colored The Usual, and finishing off with Catskills Light Cahills. Classic spectacular dry fly action: I took trout after trout until darkness enveloped me. By then I was gloriously alone. Well, not really. Just me, the trout, and about a million bugs.

Life is good with a cane rod on a sunny June evening on the Farmy. I thought it both poetic and proper that my first surface Magic Fly trout this year was a chunky mid-teens wild brown.

8 comments on “Farmington River Report 6/8/20: Our Lady of Blessed Magic Fly, or: spectacular sulphur wet and dry fly action


    What is your go to wet fly??

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Richard. I can’t answer your question without asking you a few. What time of year is it? What’s hatching? What are the fish feeding on? How are they feeding? Am I fishing the fly wet or dry? You can see where this is going. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. I hope that helps.

  2. Brian Labowsky says:

    Congratulations on what sounds like a great outing. The only issue I have is I wasn’t there too.

  3. easte34 says:

    Bravo Steve,
    I can’t stand seeing the grip and grin pictures of all the big Farmington browns on social media every damn day.

    • Steve Culton says:

      It’s the modern way, and it sucks. If you look at books published even a few decades ago, no one is holding their fish that way. I sometimes wonder if those who practice such artificial inflation might be trying to compensate for other shortcomings…:-)

      • easte34 says:

        Haha…perhaps…but I can’t say I am not guilty of taking some pictures from time to time that aren’t in the best interest of the fish so I hold my judgment to certain degree.
        I wonder if any of them ever stop to think about how often the same fish get recycled through social media postings day after day and how that might affect the trout? Doubt it would be my guess.

      • Steve Culton says:

        For me, it’s simply the ridiculousness of thrusting the fish into the lens to try to make it look bigger. Whaddya think, we’re stupid?

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