“Wet Flies and Soft Hackles” at Legends new dates: March 13-15

It was my bad, folks, as the original date conflicted with the state hockey tournament. New dates for the Wet Flies and Soft Hackles weekend at Legends BNB on the Farmington are March 13-15. I’ll be there on Saturday March 14 to lead a day-long tying class and wet fly seminar. You get to stay at an amazing lodge on the banks of the Farmington and, weather permitting, get out and do a little fishing. Please note, you cannot book through me — you need to contact Legends directly. Last year’s event was a blast — hope to see you there!

CultonWetFlyLegendsPoster

CultonWetFlyLegendsPoster

The Best Of North Country Spiders in list form and photos

Last winter I posted a very popular series, the Best Of North Country Spiders, a list of thirteen of my favorite ancient and traditional Yorkshire soft hackles. What was missing was a single reference list of the bunch. And now, the remedy: the list, a photo of each pattern, and a link to the original post with my comments and tying instructions.

Best of North Country Spiders. “With the soft-hackled fly, the trout throws caution to the wind…” — Syl Nemes

Winter Brown

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Greensleeves

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Black Magic

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Sandy Moorgame

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Snipe and Purple

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Partridge and Orange

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Poult Bloa

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Yorkshire Greenwell

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Smoke Fly

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Grey Partridge (Grey Watchet)

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Snipe Bloa

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Orange Partridge

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Waterhen Bloa

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There you have them. Fish these patterns with confidence: North American trout have no idea that they’re not in an English chalk stream 200 years ago. As always, if you have trying or fishing questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Week: The wrong fly presented correctly is better than the right fly presented incorrectly

I know, it’s a bit of a mouthful. But it’s so true. And it’s played out multiple times in my last two trout outings. “The Wrong Fly Presented Correctly…” strategy is part of my new presentation, The Little Things 3.0, and I wanted to share it with you so you can catch more fish on your next trip.

Situation A: I’m fishing a snotty dump-in at the head of long pool with several feet of depth. I see small (size 16) caddis and tiny BWOs and what looks like a smaller (size 16) sulphur in the air, and a few swirls of rising trout. Problem: I’ve only got my streamer pack with me; the only wet flies I have are big size 10 white fly soft hackles from a summer smallie trip — not even close to what’s hatching. Nonetheless, I rigged up a makeshift wet fly team of two on 8-lb fluoro. Not ideal on a number of fronts — the fly is way too big, it’s the wrong color, the leader system is clunky at best. And yet, I was making it easy for the buyer to buy — and sometimes that’s all you need to do to make a sale.

This handsome brown proves that it’s rarely a bad idea to feed the fish something that looks alive and good to eat (even if it’s the wrong size and color and species) — as long as you feed it to them the same way they’re taking their food. 

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Situation B: Long, languid water, hardly classic wet fly structure or speed. You’d think dry fly all the way on this mark. The trout are smutting on tiny BWOs, producing gentle rise rings, the kind you see with midges or Tricos or — tiny BWOs. I’ve been fishing streamers, so I’ve got an 8-weight WF line — a really bad choice for this kind of water. I do have some smaller BWO wet fly patterns this time, and so two of them go on the team of three. But I like to give the fish a choice, just in case. So I tied on a size 12 Squirrel and Ginger top dropper. This fly is 10 sizes larger than what the trout are feeding on. But I’m fishing in the film, using a mended swing and dead drift to bring the team of flies to hungry mouths, just like the naturals. You can see where this is going…

Bingo! Wrong fly, right presentation, big brown. Go forth and do likewise. Oh, yes — the same rule holds true for stripers.

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Housy Report 10/8/19: BWOs and Truttasaurus

I fished the four marks within the Housatonic River TMA today, late morning to early afternoon, and while the action was spotty I was able to score my biggest brown of the season on a Squirrel and Ginger.

I began the day dedicated to the streamer cause, but after 45 minutes I’d only had one bump. Since there were tiny BWOs (size 18-22) and caddis (size 16) in the air, I switched over to a three-fly wet fly team. That produced one stocker rainbow. The third mark was a blank, so I returned to where I’d seen some fish rising earlier. Not really classic wet fly water but the trout were clearly on small stuff (as evidenced by the sipping rise rings) and emergers of some sort (the tell of splashy rises). I missed two before connecting with a 20″ holdover brown.

The take was gentle but unmistakable, as was the fish’s size once it realized it was hooked. Love the comfort factor of fishing with Maxima 4-pound — ain’t no trout in this river going to break that.

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It’s hard to take a beauty shot mid stream when you’re flying solo, so this is the best I could do. Still, you get some sense of this truttasaurus‘ length, and check out the ginormous tail. The mouth of my net is 17″ — this one did not slide in easy. We like that problem! Wet flies fished in the film, delivered to active feeders, continue to be a highly productive big fish method. 

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River conditions: 450cfs and rising, light stain, some leaves and pine needles, 58 degrees. And crowded for a Tuesday in October! Thanks to everyone who greeted me by name today, and as always, if you’re on the river and you see me please say hello.

 

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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Best of North Country Spiders: Orange Partridge

What’s the difference between a Partridge and Orange and an Orange Partridge? Not much. And everything. Sure, the gold rib provides segmentation and a hint of flash. But for me, it’s the brown speckled hackle that gives the Orange Partridge an entirely different energy. They liked this pattern for olives on the streams of Yorkshire; I’m seeing caddis all the way. Tell you what: let the trout decide what it is. And hold on tight.

Orange Partridge

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-16
Silk: Orange
Rib: Fine gold wire
Hackle: Brown speckled feather from a partridge’s back
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Tying Notes: Another straightforward tie. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Poult Bloa

Pale Wateries, indeed. The Poult Bloa has Light Cahills and Sulphurs written all over it. When it comes to matching those hatches with North Country style spiders, I have been using my home-brew Partridge and Light Cahill and one of Leisenring’s favorites, the Light Snipe and Yellow. Clearly, the Poult Bloa needs to move into the rotation. This fly would work both as part of a swung team, or as a dropper off a dry.

Poult Bloa North Country Spider

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-18
Body: Straw silk
Hackle: Feather from the inside of a grouse wing
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Tying Notes: No straw-colored silk? Not to worry. UNI makes a very nice Light Cahill thread. Absent an English grouse wing, you could use any number of lighter colored hen hackles. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.