Farmington River Report 4/27/22: I can’t wait for April to get here

Another unseasonably cold, windy afternoon on the river. I decided to check out the lower section below Collinsville, mostly out of Hendrickson curiosity. The water was higher than I’d like for wet fly (755cfs is still chugging; sub-500 would be best) but you don’t know if you don’t go. I began in a faster, snottier boulder-studded section; not surprisingly, it was a wet fly blank. I didn’t nymph it, which might have produced a different result.

Bug activity was, at first, minimal. Ubiquitous midges, then a mystery mayfly (see below), and then a few precious H-words. The mystery mayfly far outnumbered the Hendricksons, probably 10:1 or so. When the sun peeked out, the hatch ramped up. And when the clouds took over, the hatch stopped in its tracks. I managed a good half dozen trout on wets — this was in slower moving water — catching them blind and also by targeting active feeders. While few and far between, the active feeders all pounced on a well-placed wet fly. I fished the same team as Monday, a Squirrel and Ginger on top, followed by two tungsten beadhead Hendrickson soft hackles. I had an accident trying to land a trout by hand, and lost the middle dropper; when I re-tied, I exchanged the point fly for a tungsten SHBHPT.

I wasn’t satisfied with the surface activity, so I did a bit of nymphing. Normally I would use a traditional drop shot nymph rig, but this time I kept the three fly team and added a drop shot section to the point fly and one of my home-brew year indicators to the tapered butt. It worked just fine, and some of the takes were highly aggressive, almost bordering on frantic. After 2 1/2 hours, I’d had enough. I tried for one more trout on a swung wet, and, once successful, headed for the warmth of the car.

The mystery bug, about a size 14-16. Some kind of olive? Quill-something? Whatever it is, it far outnumbered Hendricksons. I don’t stress when I can’t ID a bug; if you try to match the general size, color, and profile with a wet fly or nymph, you’ll tend to do well. This is why it’s a smart idea to carry soft hackled Pheasant Tails in various sizes, beaded and unbeaded. That pattern looks like a lot of things in general, and almost always like something that’s alive and good to eat.

17 comments on “Farmington River Report 4/27/22: I can’t wait for April to get here

  1. Paul says:

    I’d guess Blue Quill (Paralep Adoptiva) ?

  2. Paul says:

    Hey Steve , nothing to do with the little bug up top but question for you on flatwings. If I can find hackles/capes suitable for them what colors should I get if I was going to only buy 2-3 ?

    I should have raided the Keough bins at the show but I didn’t know what I was looking for in the type of feather. What about those “flatwing” feathers from Hairline I think it is ?

    • Steve Culton says:

      I don’t know anything about Hareline “flatwing” feathers, so I can’t help you there. I know Keough sells saddles specifically for flatwings. I think your best bet would be to go through Joe Cordeiro ( I’m pretty sure he gets his stuff from Keough but he’ll do the vetting process for you which is important if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

      If I had to choose only three colors, they would be white, yellow, and blue. (The last two when combined make green). Good luck!

      • Paul says:

        Thanks Steve , I did get one cape from Joe but he only had one flavor to choose from and everything is sold out now. I guess some guy came in when the doors opened with a duffle bag and cleaned him out.

  3. darrelln09 says:

    Are you sure you aren’t seeing both male and female Hendricksons on the water? The males are a little smaller with a reddish abdomen and red head while the females are bigger with a tan/gray/pink abdomen and an olive head. At one time they were actually mistaken for different species until it was realized that one species couldn’t be entirely female or entirely male.

  4. Steve Culton says:

    I don’t know what it is. This isn’t some kind of trick quiz. 🙂

    I would like to know, but for me the most important part of this discussion is that the predominant hatch wasn’t Hendricksons — and that if you generally match the bug in the manner which the fish are feeding, you’ll tend to do well.

  5. gene brubnell says:

    As paraleps have three tails I’d guess it’s probably baetis vagans

  6. Tim Farrell says:

    Another very informative report. I hope to get out soon!

  7. Alton Blodgett says:

    Looks like a Red Quill (the male Hendrickson), ephemerella subvaria

  8. Bill says:

    Steve could the third tail be dormant? Look closely and you’ll see a small projection on the rear. Bill

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