Stuff I Use: Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker

If you’re tying big bugs like the Zoo Cougar or the Countermeasure — any larger pattern with a deer hair fan collar or spun head — the Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker is a godsend. It’s got an extra wide mouth for those pencil-plus sized clumps; no more struggling to get the hair into the opening. And with four flat-side grips, the base is easy to handle. This is one of those tools that makes you wonder how ever managed without it. While you’re at it, check out this great primer from Kelly Galloup on spinning and setting deer hair.

The Renzetti R-Evolution Magnum Hair Stacker. Support your local fly shop by buying one there.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Farmington River mini report 9/13/19: Low. Slow. (But Go.)

Gadzooks! I had not fished the Farmington since mid-July. Today’s remedy was a bounce around, state-of-the-river fact finding mission. I visited five marks from Burlington up to New Hartford, and although the water was low, it was plenty cold. So rest assured: the fish are healthy if not happy. I was dedicated to the nymphing cause today, and despite my best efforts I blanked. (Although one run I visited was on lockdown, and — surprise — the anglers there were getting into fish.) The last run had some active feeders, but I ran out of time and space and couldn’t switch over to wets. Observed: tiny BWOs, small un-IDed creamy mayflies, and some size 16-18 light-colored caddis.

Flood-like conditions in the permanent TMA after Thursday’s rain (he said sarcastically).

Screen Shot 2019-09-13 at 6.34.32 PM

It was fairly crowded for a weekday in September in very low flows, and as these conditions require what I call “real estate fishing” — location, location, location — you would be wise to have a backup plan in case your favorite run is occupied. As always, please say hi if you see me — it’s always a pleasure meeting a currentseams follower, and you never know when you might be gifted with some flies.

Today’s instant winner freebie was Pat Torrey’s Tiny BWO soft hackle. Dust it up with some Frog’s Fanny, fish it like a dry, and let the trout do the rest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

The Pitfalls of Buying Fur and Feather Online

You’d think I would have learned by now. But no. I still make stupid mistakes when it comes to buying fly tying materials online. Latest failure: ordering a Hareline Premo Deer Hair strip sight unseen.

Wrong. The hair is short, stiff, and coarse, totally unsuited for my needs. If I’d seen this item in a shop I would have quickly rejected it. Oh sure, I’ll find a use for it some day, but for now it only serves as a reminder to never buy large fur patches sight unseen unless you have a reliable description and a trusted source.

This is not to say that Hareline products are lousy: I have dozens and dozens of great Hareline items in my bins, and the replacement deer hair patch I found — which is spectacular — is from Hareline.

Two deer hair patches from Hareline. The one on the left is gorgeous — beautiful, long hair fibers. The one on the right is garbage. When it comes to buying fur, saddles, feathers, and skins online, sight unseen, caveat emptor.

Deerhair

Housy Smallmouth Report: And so it begins

A quick zip-in, zip-out smallie mission the other night to get reacquainted with an old friend. Or is that old friends, with an emphasis on the plural? Regardless of whether the subject is the river (242cfs, 76 degrees, clear) or the smallmouth (many of them, mostly in the 8″-12″ class with a couple at a foot-plus), a splendid time was had. Fished from 7:30-9pm, down Kent way. The bass liked the Gurgler, TeQueely, and of course the Countermeasure. Best action was from 8pm-8:30pm — as night fell, the bigger fish action tapered off and the smaller guys came out to sip bugs in earnest.

I test drove a new line on my 5-weight 10′ Hardy Marksman2 — or should I say a new weight line. It’s same line I’ve been using for several seasons, the Scientific Anglers Mastery Anadro. I like its long WF taper for mending. I had been using the 7 weight (225 grains) but wasn’t thrilled with it on that rod for throwing bigger flies longer distances. So I upped it to the 8-weight (260 grains). Casting was easier, but it made the rod feel a little noodly. I’ll give it another shot, but perhaps I need to rethink in terms of a bigger rod. More on this as it develops.

Why I went fishing. A pretty fair Housy smallie that crushed a grey and chartreuse Gurgler a few strips after it splashed down. After a nice aerial display by the bass (that bastard judge from East Germany only scored it a 5.4) we had this Kodak — er, GoPro — moment.

July18HousySmallie

Farmington River Report 6/19/19: Spectacular hatches, wet, and dry fly action

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it does: another off-the-charts evening session on the Farmington.

Cast three wet fly team. Hookup. Repeat. It was that kind of night. 

WetFlyTrout

I fished below the Permanent TMA from 6pm-9pm. When I arrived there were a few bugs (sulphurs sz 16, tiny creamy midges, caddis sz 16-18, and the first Isos I’ve seen) and even fewer rises, but that did not discourage me. Conditions were perfect, a magnificent collision of warm, humid air, cloud cover and water height. I tied up the same three fly wet team as yesterday: a Squirrel and Ginger top dropper, Magic Fly middle dropper, and Leisenring’s Pale Watery Dun Wingless on point. First cast, BANG, and it was virtually non-stop action for the next hour. Pow! Smack! It was an aquatic reenactment of a Batman episode. Such splashy, strong takes — these trout were obviously feeding with a vengeance.  Now, if you’ve taken my wet fly class or done a private lesson and the action has been — ahem — slow — you’ve heard me say that when the fish are feeding on emergers and you’re dialed into what they’re eating and how they’re eating it, wet flies can be the most lethal method. This was one of those times. A double-digit outing on wet flies alone.

How good is the Magic Fly? Twice last night I drifted it within a few inches of a natural. Both times the trout chose my fly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA~

The dry fly session now seems almost anticlimactic, mostly of my own doing. While the river was boiling around me, I was trying to entice some fish feeding in frog water from a disadvantageous position. (I was doing this on purpose as a personal challenge.)  Suffice to say the usual pattern unfolded: a lull between 7:00-7:30, building activity to 8:00pm, then at 8:30 the trout and bugs go bonkers. Every once in a while I’d treat myself to a fish feeding in the faster water. Magic Flies size 16 and Light Cahills size 14 served me well. Finally, just about when I could no longer see the fly, I made a couple lucky mends and got one of those impossible fish to take.

And so we ended on a high note.

Best fish of the night, a high teens wild hen. She clobbered the middle dropper, the Magic Fly, AKA Pale Watery wingless wet. I’ve made a big deal about fishing the Magic Fly as a dry, but do not underestimate its power as a traditional subsurface wet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

What’s the best shrimp fly pattern? You could go with the philosophy of, “There ain’t no best,” and you’d get no argument from me. Or you could weigh in with the General Practitioner — and you wouldn’t be wrong.

General Practitioner = G.P. = Impressionistic shrimpy goodness.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
~

Trey Combs writes in Steelhead Fly Fishing that the original prawn was tied by Colonel Esmond Drury in 1953. The General Practitioner then got really famous as a west coast winter steelhead pattern. Today there are all manner of versions and colors; this one is a variant developed by Ken Abrames as published in A Perfect Fish.

Ken introduced me to the pattern many years ago. He handed me a black G.P., and with a knowing confidence, told me to fish it as part of a three fly team. Sadly, I’ve long since lost that fly, but I still have one of Ken’s olive G.P.s. tucked away in the never-to-be fished-again archives. When tied just so, G.P.s are magical creations that bask in their impressionistic glory. Picture this fly near the surface on a greased line swing or a dead drift, easily visible to a striped bass even in the mucky outflow of a salt marsh. Wait to feel the weight of the fish — and then hang on. Stripers love shrimp, and when they are keyed on this bait, feeding on station, they will often ignore all other offerings and stripped presentations.

R.L.S. Black General Practitioner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hook: Atlantic salmon 2-8
Antennae: Black and blue bucktail, mixed
Head: Black golden pheasant neck feather
Eyes: Golden pheasant tippet
Body: Gold flat tinsel
Ribbing: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Natural black
Carapace: Metallic black turkey feather
Back: Same
Tail: Same
~
A view from below. You can imagine all those hackle fibers gently quivering in the current and whispering to a striper, “I’m alive…”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

~

Tying Notes: Ken called for an Eagle Claw 253, but I like the badass black of Atlantic salmon hooks. No gots turkey feathers? Me either, so I used dyed black pheasant rump. The majority of the black G.P.s I’ve seen use far too much bucktail; remember, you’re tying the antennae of a grass shrimp (the steelhead pattern calls for 10 bucktail hairs; I used 20) not an opaque jig. To form the eyes, cut a V-shape in the tippet and then lacquer with head cement. The “eye stalks” will narrow from the head cement. You don’t have to use the tinsels; gold braid works just as well. The body and top feathers are somewhat of a pain; tie in the carapace at the tail, then tie and wind the tinsel and hackle to the mid-point of the shank, tie in the back (like a little roof), continue forward with the tinsel and hackle, then tie in the tail feather, again like a little roof. Make a spiffy head and go fish.