Farmington River Report 7/14/20: A learning experience (for me, too)

I guided Michael yesterday from 2pm-6pm. Michael is new to fly fishing, so we had a lot to work on. We stayed within the Permanent TMA, where conditions were excellent:  280cfs flow and water plenty cold. Hatch and feeding activity was again low, although we did experience a 15-minute window where there was something going on underwater and the feed was on. We spent the first half of the lesson on indicator drop-shot nymphing. Once Michael got used to the nuances of the rig, he stuck four fish. Great job, Michael, on a day when the bite was slow. (A seasoned angler remarked to us as we were gearing down that the fishing “stunk today.”) We finished up swinging wets and managed a juvenile Atlantic Salmon. So, while I was disappointed in the activity, I was excited to watch Michael’s skills develop in a matter of hours.

Hey, this indicator nymphing thing really works! Our first fish was a rainbow that treated us to a couple of aerials. 

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After our session I headed upriver where the water was even colder. The evening rise was OK — 5/10 for feeding and hatch activity. What was a learning experience for me was my success presenting a team of three wet flies upstream to feeding fish. I caught four of the six trout I took on wets this way. All the takers were in faster water with a broken, curling surface, all were active feeders, and all took my Light Cahill winged wet or Partridge and Light Cahill flies. Most success I’ve ever had fishing that way. At 8pm I switched over to dries and caught trout well into dark.

This chunky rainbow was slashing at emergers about 30 feet above me. First cast, upstream presentation, dead drift, bang! Light Cahill winged wet. As you can see, this guy’s been caught before. What a handsome fish! Love the spots and coloration.

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James Leisenring’s favorite wet flies

I’m embarrassed to say that it took me 55 years to buy a copy of the American fly fishing classic The Art of Tying the Wet Fly.

But now, I have it. This week I tied up James Leisenring’s favorite dozen wet fly dressings for a client. Here are three of them, lovingly rendered against the yellowed pages of an old book many anglers have never read — but should.

Like so many effective patterns, these flies wouldn’t get a second look in a fly shop’s bins. There are no hot spots, bead heads, or new-fangled UV resins. But Leisenring — and his contemporaries — knew the power of natural materials and simplicity. I’m thinking the Old Blue Dun is going to get into my three-fly team Hendrickson rotation this spring.

Leisenring Wets