Farmington River Report 6/1/17: Heavy water experiments

The rains that came through last night boosted the flows in the permanent TMA to over 500cfs. But I wasn’t going to pass up my first good opportunity in weeks to fish the Farmington.

I was dismayed to see four cars in the lot, then delighted when I walked through the woods and there was no one in the main pool. So I waded in and had at it. Nymphing was the method, 54 was the water temp, caddis was the hero hatch, and the weather was New England crazy. I fished in brilliant sunshine, mixed clouds, dead calm, gusty wind, and a couple of steady downpours — all from 11:15am to 2:30pm. While I had to work for them, I got into a double-digit number of trout. Here are some particulars.

Things started slowly. My fish came in bunches, leading me to believe that their feeding activity was matching the hatch cycle. Some dry fly guys told me later that they had the same experience.

I found all my fish in the hot water, mostly at the heads of pools. If it was raging and boiling, it was good. No luck along the softer edges, which surprised me in this many cfs. Shows you what I know.

Intriguing markings and dramatic dots on this one.

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The rigging was drop shot with two BB shot, two fly system. Fished three patterns: a size 14 Squirrel and Ginger nymph on point, and a size 18 Starling and Herl or a size 14 Hare and Copper on the dropper.  All caught fish.

I did some indicator nymphing (and caught fish), but the rest of the time I went with the short line/tight line approach. I felt the indicator was moving along too quickly in the heavier flows, and the wind was affecting its drift as well. That being said, the indicator did me proud when I had to reach some far-off currents I couldn’t wade close to.

Almost all my tight line hooksets today were tactile; that is, I felt the strike before I saw the sighter lag behind vertical. Still trying to dial in to the straight line presentation and strike detection thing. More experiments necessary. (Dang.)

Fish don’t lie. They’ll always tell you when you get it right.

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The Squirrel and Ginger Bead-Head Nymph

After catching a bajillion trout on my Squirrel and Ginger fur-hackled wet, I wondered how the fly might transition into a nymph. So last summer, I took to the bench and fiddled with the basic pattern a bit. Add some copper wire to the flash to re-enforce it. Make the wing just on the top of the fly, or make it a full collar. Use the working thread to create a hot spot, if that’s your pleasure. And top it off with a black tungsten bead. I’ve been catching on it ever since.

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Hook: 2x short, 2x strong scud size 12-16
Thread: Uni Fire Orange 6/0
Body: Ginger Angora goat
Rib: Green Krystal Flash under extra small copper wire
Hackle: Red fox squirrel
Hot Spot: Working thread
Head: Black tungsten bead

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Tying notes: I don’t use a dubbing loop on the body, but I do chop up the Angora goat with scissors before applying it to the thread with Loon Swax hi-tack wax. Likewise, no dubbing loop on the hackle. I tie the hackle in several different ways: as a full collar, pictured here, giving the nymph more of a weighted wet fly look; as a much sparser, shorter collar; and as a sparse wing. All of them work. I can’t tell you that you’ll catch more fish with the hot spot, but I can tell you that it certainly does no harm. Play around with different hot spot colors (fluoro red, chartreuse) to your heart’s content, and let us know what the fish think.

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The Bead Head Squirrel and Ginger Nymph Rogues’ Gallery:

Farmington River, 9/4/14:

Big Rainbow 9-14