Thanks Russell Library and nymphing tip of the day

Many thanks to the Russell Library for hosting me last night. We had a small but enthusiastic crowd for “The Little Things,” and if you were part of the group, thanks for coming out. Here’s a segment from the chapter on nymphing — three little things to help you catch more fish the next time you’re out on the water.

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Small stream report: (heavy sigh)

Though it may be far from the ocean, the life cycle of a woodland brook is filled with waves and troughs. Sadly, the stream I fished yesterday is in a bit of a trough.

Everything should have been in the favor of multiple dozens of pricked fish: ample water since last summer, a moderate winter, canopy coming in, and a cloudy day. I think I stuck a piddly half dozen. Fished a dry/dropper system and some micro streamers, so I had the water column pretty well covered. Many of the runs and pockets where I could always count on a player or two (or more) were curiously devoid of fish. I did my “Anyone Home?” stomp (where I tramp carelessly through the water in hopes of spooking fish so I can determine their presence) in several runs and rousted…nothing.

OK, so it was cold and there was very little hatch activity. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing outing, and this former gem has been trending downward for over a decade now. Glutton for punishment that I am, I’ll revisit it later this month.

Sea of green. I’ve decided that the smell of skunk around your house is annoying. But in the woods, it is welcome and proper and lets you know that everything is as it should be.

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“The Little Things” and fly tying demo Wednesday May, 1 Russell Library, Middletown

I’ll be presenting one of my most popular fly fishing programs, “The Little Things,” at the Russell Library in Middletown, CT, Wednesday May 1 from 6pm-8pm. I’ll kick things off with a short fly tying demo, then we’ll go straight into the program, and finish with Q&A. This presentation is all about seemingly insignificant things that can make a huge difference in your fishing success. Everyone is welcome — hope to see you there! Here’s a link to the Russell Library website.

Want to catch more fish? Want to catch bigger fish? This is a good place to start.

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River Flows: It’s all too much

It’s the modern paradigm in the northeast: water flows are seemingly either off-the-charts high or bone-dry low. Normally, at this time of year I’d be writing to you about the tremendous wet fly bite on the Hendrickson hatch. The Hendricksons may indeed by hatching on the lower Farmington River, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any near-surface action in these flows. 800cfs is about the tipping point for surface action on the lower river — it’s been over 1K for the entire time you’d expect to start seeing Hendrickson action, and yesterday’s deluge will keep us out of wet fly range into May.

George Harrison was right.

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It’s not much better in the Permanent TMA, which is flowing at almost 2K this morning. Sure, the Still will fall, but it’s been a challenging spring for anglers. And you can forget the Hous for now. That river has been a high water nightmare since last summer.

Don’t get me wrong: I prefer too high over too low, and you can catch fish in higher flows if you know where and how. All I’m asking of Mother Nature is a little moderation. Please?

Stripers Ripped My Flesh

Oh yeah, we’ve got some serious striper thumb going. (Bonus points if you knew the Zappa reference in the title.) The Bass-O-Matic is on. No real size to them — my larger ones were in the 20-22 inch class — but they’re eager and spirited and you’ll feel like an instant expert. The new two-hander continues to be a learning experience. I’m not close to being dialed in (the right line will help significantly with that) but it felt good to be casting a 100 foot line and seeing the backing through the remaining line on the reel. Fished a Soft-Hackled Flatwing, a Crazy Menhaden hybrid, and then for giggles a deer hair-headed beast so I could watch the hysterical antics of bass chasing on the surface. You know, I almost forgot that it was pouring.

Get in line and catch a few.

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Striper report: Everyone Knows It’s Windy

Yeah. Hard times for fly casters yesterday with a sustained 15 knot southwest blow in our faces (and an especially unfavorable quarter for lefties) with some stronger gusts mixed in. I debuted my new custom two-hander, but I don’t have the right lines for it yet and it wasn’t the synergy I know I’ll eventually enjoy. Still, some small bass were brought to hand, and they felt like giants in a ripping moon tide.

A Soft Hackled Flatwing in RLS Easterly colors (grey dun and fluorescent yellow) caught the eyes of several feisty schoolies. The colors really popped in yesterday’s conditions.

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Time to tie up some Soft-Hackled Flatwings

So simple, so elegant, so effective. The Soft-Hackled Flatwing borrows from many sources, all of them wonderful and good. I love this fly for early season school bass, and it makes a fine generic baitfish year-round. Just tailor the color and length to the bait you’re matching et voila! And remember: eyes on flies catch anglers. Not stripers.

Impressionism rules the day. If you’re interested in learning more about soft hackles for stripers, read “Soft Hackles for Striped Bass” from the Nov/Dec 2015 issue of American Angler.

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Here’s the basic template:

Hook: Eagle Claw 253 1/0
Thread: 6/0
Platform: 30 bucktail hairs
Tail: Flatwing saddle to match platform color, under 2-4 strands flashabou
Body: Braid
Wing: 30-45 bucktail hairs, under 10-20 hairs contrasting color, under 2-4 strands Krystal Flash or flashabou
Collar: Blood quill marabou, tied in at tip, 3-4 turns; 1 turn mallard flank (optional)