Tuesday Night Zoom! “Matching the Hatch with Wet Flies” May 5, 8pm

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Thanks to everyone for all the excellent Zoom topic suggestions. This one showed up (in various iterations) multiple times — and so by popular demand, you shall have it.

Wet Fly Questions Answered

I’ve been getting a lot of wet fly questions, and I thought I’d share my answers with the group. I’m excited that so many of you are interested in this ancient and traditional art. So here we go:

Q: What size and length rod are you using on the Farmington? A: My dedicated wet fly stick is a 10-foot 5-weight Hardy Marksman II. I don’t hate it, I don’t love it. It’s got a good backbone for helping manage bigger trout in snotty currents, but I wish it were a bit softer in the flex. What’s important is that it’s a 10-footer, which I find useful for mending. Note: I still take the 7’9″ Tonka Queen out for an occasional wet fly jaunt, albeit in moderate/slow currents. That cane pole is a dream for mending.

The Queen in action. This rod gives me an ultra-fine level of line control.

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Q: Do you use an indicator? A: My joke answer is “yes” — the splash of the take, the spray of water, and the jolt of the rod tip all indicate a strike. The real answer is no, not in the traditional sense. The vast majority of time, you need no visual aid to tell you the fish has taken the fly. An exception would be when you’re fishing upstream, drawing the line toward you as the rig moves downstream. I’m watching the tip of the line like a hawk for stalls, shudders, or stoppage that would indicate a delicate strike well below the surface.

Q: Do you use a floating line? A: Yes. (I’m a line control freak.)

Q: When you’re casting and mending, is it basically a dead drift, then the flies start swinging and rising? A: Kindof. Unless you introduce slack into the presentation, you’ll never really have a true dead drift. So even when I’m doing a quartering down or straight across cast and mend, the flies are moving downstream and across, albeit in a slower manner than they would with a traditional wet fly swing.

Q: You’ve said that in spring, you focus more on pool-type water, and faster water in the summer. I’m having trouble finding the right type and depth of water. Any advice? A: Generally speaking, the colder it is, the greater the chance that trout will be in deeper pool-type water. That doesn’t mean you won’t find trout in 1-foot deep riffles in December. The bottom line is: there is no substitute for experience on the water. Get out and explore. Keep a log. Where and when did you fish? Were you catching? Were others catching?  What was the weather like? What was the water height? You can see where this is going. And finally, a wee plug for myself: take a lesson. I hear this a lot from clients: “I’ve driven past this spot a hundred times and never thought to fish it.”

Q: I fished wet flies and only had one bump. What was I doing wrong? A: (This person was out on the Farmington this week.) You’ve got a lot of elements working against you. For starters, I don’t like to fish wets in the Permanent TMA in any flow over 500cfs (it’s been 750cfs and higher). 250cfs-400cfs is the wheelhouse. Hatch windows also have a lot to do with the wet fly bite. For example, right now (Hendrickson and caddis hatches) you want to be swinging anywhere from 11am to 3pm-ish. You’re trying to entice the trout that are taking the emergers. And this cold, wet weather isn’t helping, either.

When you hit the emergence just right, the results can be magical.

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Keep on swinging.

Booming and Zooming! Thanks, and up next…

Booming and Zooming. That’s what the test pilots called it when they broke the sound barrier while flying in a parabolic arc. We did our own version of B&Z last night: 50 attendees at the inaugural Currentseams Zoom — Wet Flies & Soft Hackles in case you missed it — and only one big boom! (thanks for your patience) that we sorted out. So: thanks to everyone who took the time to participate. I had fun. I hope you did, too. I know some of you arrived late and I didn’t see you in the entry queue. Mea culpa. And apologies. I appreciate your patience as I sort through this technology.

We’ll do another one of these, hopefully next week, date TBD. I like the 8pm EST start. I’m  hearing a lot of interest in a striper talk, so that’s probably where we’re headed. Figure the same format, a presentation then Q&A.

If you have not yet gotten on the official Currentseams Zoom email list — please send me an email — not a comment here — to swculton @ yahoo so I have a valid email url. I’ll get you on it lickety-split. Thanks again, and please stay safe and well.

Did somebody say stripers on Zoom?

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Farmington River Report 4/17/20: Hendricksons & spectacular wet fly action

“Do you always fish three wet flies at the same time?” I get this question a lot. “Almost always” is the answer. The “almost” comes from days like today when I had to remove the middle dropper because I was catching multiple trout on every cast.

I certainly didn’t expect it to be that kind of day.

Wind was an issue. Cold was another. The Hendrickson hatch I experienced was nothing extraordinary — I’d give it a four out of ten. But I hadn’t done a session dedicated to wets this year, and the start of the Hendrickson hatch seemed as good a time as any.

Spot A below the permanent TMA was a blank. Off to Spot B inside the permanent TMA, which was fully occupied. (If you haven’t been to river yet, you may be shocked by the number of anglers. Church Pool was as close to looking like the Riverton Opening Day Fishing Derby as I’ve ever seen it.) But then, as luck would have it, one of the anglers decided to leave, and I took his place in the lineup. Thank you, generous stranger, because I discovered a pod of ravenous trout that showed themselves the moment the hatch began.

Today’s lunch, fresh from a captured brown’s mouth. 

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So, for two hours, I bailed trout. The tally was surely in the multiple dozens. I know I had close to ten doubles, even after I took one fly out of the mix. Business was about 10% on the Squirrel and Ginger and the rest on the Dark Hendrickson Winged Wet, which, if you don’t tie, you should. (You can thank me later.)

Having so many active feeders was certainly a plus, but the guy above me was nymphing and I didn’t see him hook up. Ditto the guy below me, who, after I waved him up and he changed to wets, began catching in earnest. I’d say most of my fish came from placing my team over the positions of active feeders. The trout did the rest.

This is great time of year to be swinging wet flies. Hit a prolific hatch (like the Hendrickson) just right, and you’ll be giggling in your waders, too.

Hackled March Brown Tying Video

The Hackled March Brown is one of my favorite big fish wet flies. Long time readers may recall the first time I wrote about it — you can read that piece here. I don’t have much to add, other than this has become a supremely reliable pattern for me when the Isonychia are flying. (Next time you’re fishing sulphurs, and you hear a rise that sounds like someone threw a bowling ball into the river, betcha your lunch money it was a trout eating an Iso.) The Hackled March Brown is almost always my point fly on a three fly team. Fish it this summer and you’ll see why I recommend you tie it on a 2x strong hook.

 

“Wet Flies & Soft Hackles” class March 14: Special Offer!

Sal, the owner of Legends on the Farmington, has authorized me to make the following special offer to currentseams readers: you can now attend my Wet Flies & Soft Hackles class for one day only, Saturday, March 14, dinner included, for just $99!

If you want to catch more fish, you should be tying and fishing wet flies like the Squirrel and Ginger.

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What: “Wet Flies and Soft Hackles” is a tying and how-to fishing class. We’ll do plenty of tying (bring your vise, tools, and threads and I’ll supply the rest of the soft-hackled magic) and we’ll have a little classroom presentation/discussion here and there.

When: Saturday, March 14. Starts around 9am. Goes all day, then we enjoy a delicious dinner prepared by Sal.

Where: Legends on the Farmington, a gorgeous lodge on the banks of the river.

How: You cannot sign up/resgister through me or my website. Please contact Sal at legendsbnb@hotmail.com or visit their site at legendsbnb.com.

This class will sell out, so make haste. See you there!

The Leisenring Spider

The Sports Illustrated Book of Wet-Fly Fishing came in the mail last week. I’ve wanted to track down a copy for years, and finally got round to it. It’s written by Leisenring’s disciple Vern Hidy, and it lists tying instructions for three patterns, one of which is Leisenring’s Spider.

They (very literally) don’t make ’em like this anymore. A little dog-eared but just as relevant today as it was in 1961.

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You don’t hear much about Leisenring’s Spider today. (I first encountered it in a Wingless Wets piece written by Mark Libertone almost 15 years ago.) It’s not listed in his book, which is strange considering it’s got fish magnet written all over it. Leisenring used his version of a dubbing loop to form the body, and I suspect buggier and nastier is better than perfect. A so-simple soft-hackle to help you clean up during the next caddis hatch. Hang on!

The Leisenring Spider

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Hook: Wet or dry fly 12-16 (this is a Partridge SUD2)
Silk: Primrose yellow
Hackle: Brown partridge
Body: Hare’s ear spun on thread
Rib: Fine gold wire