This selection of winged wets will be part of my “Wet Flies 101” presentation. It includes barred feather, quill, and jungle cock wings; English and American patterns; match-the-hatch and attractors like the Bergman-style flies from the color plates of Trout.
This is a classic American wet fly, named for Dan Cahill. Ray Bergman wrote in Trout, “If it was necessary to confine my assortment of flies to only two or three, this would be one of them. Basically, it is an Eastern pattern, particularly effective in the Catskill waters and similar Eastern mountain streams.”
High praise indeed. I’ve been fishing this fly with great success for years. So when creamy mayflies are coming off on the Farmington — or any river for that matter — the Light Cahill winged wet is usually the first fly I’ll tie on. There’s something about wood duck that states “buggy” and “alive” in no uncertain terms. I usually fish at least two of them on a dropper rig, and look to target specific rising fish. Trout will hit the fly on the dead drift (mend your rig like you would a dry) and at the drift’s end. Just let the flies sit there – and hold on. Some of the most violent takes I’ve ever experienced while trout fishing have come on this fly.
Hook: 2x strong or 1x fine, size 10-20
Thread: Tan 8/0
Hackle: Light ginger or cream hen
Tail: Fibers to match hackle
Rib: Fine gold oval tinsel (optional)
Body: Hareline Dubbin #1 Light Cahill, or light fox
Wing: Wood duck
Tying notes: Sometimes I tie this fly with a tail of wood duck or partridge, or substitute partridge for the hackle. Sometimes I’ll add a gold rib. While all these iterations work, the fly pictured here on a 2x strong hook is the one I fish the most. I like to keep the body sleek and tapered, so no dubbing loop. It’s a pretty straightforward tie, and you can crank out a bunch in a short time. I’ve seen some versions of this fly where the hackle is clipped off the top half of the fly, but I leave it on. I tie the wing in last.
Fished the Lower TMA last evening from 6pm-8pm. I haven’t fished the lower river at close to a 1,000cfs in a while, and I was curious to see how some of my favorite spots fared in the higher water.
It was still crazy humid, but the water was warm enough (67 degrees within a foot of the surface –don’t worry, it’s colder along the bottom) to defeat any notion of those classic Farmington River fog banks. Visibility was good, although there was still a light stain. My plan was to fish wets with an emphasis on Light Cahills (three fly rig from top dropper to point: Squirrel & Ginger, Partridge and Cahill, Light Cahill winged wet), but the hatch never materialized. I only saw two lonely creamy duns, a few stray caddis, and the omnipresent swarming midges. That last crew made me happy I had a cigar.
Catch-and-release works. Some sporting bird of prey tried to drill a hole in Mr. Brown’s head, then had the decency to let him go.
Fished a long deep run for about 45 minutes, waiting for a hatch that never happened. So I hiked upstream about 500 yards, and fished a series of rapids, walking, wading, and swinging the flies close to shore. Took the bird-wounded brown above in that maelstrom, along with a JV Atlantic Salmon.
Finished up in a deep pocketed run where I took a leaping brown on my second cast. Signs of good things to come? Sadly, not. One more courtesy tap, and that was it.