Sunday, November 30, 2014

That time of year..........

A "tradition" calls. I'll see you all about mid-week.

Friday, November 28, 2014

A Solution

I had purchased some beads to use in tying soft hackle flies. The beads were both tungsten and the other were regular brass. The issue was they were both gold in color. As we know tungsten is much heavier than brass and will sink a fly rapidly and bounce it on the bottom. This effect is perfect in some instances but not very useful on those small streams where the water levels are not very deep.

Last week while fishing I opened the fly box and was attempting to select one of these soft hackles with the brass bead, well I could not determine which was which. Not Good.......... So I came up with a solution. I would tie the tungsten bead heads using a bright orange collar, and the brass bead heads using whatever tying thread color I would be using. I do have some new tungsten beads on order in black so further identification will be easier.

Tungsten Bead Heads

Brass Bead Heads

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Thanksgiving, this is my 68th and while somewhat different from the first one back in 1621 it is still my favorite holiday.

So lets be truly thankful for what was given us. Today will be a big prep day for the wonderful dinner in our future. Perhaps tomorrow before dinner I might have a hour or two to visit a small stream.

So I would like to say to all those who take the time to read "Small Stream Reflections" a very "Happy Thanksgiving"

Monday, November 24, 2014

A cold stream, and a welcomed thaw. 11-23-14

After last weeks very cold conditions here in New England we were offered a break. Sunday and Monday will show a moderating trend in temperatures with Sunday perhaps being the better of the two days. Knowing this thanks to the confidence I put in our local weather forecasters I headed for a nice little stream to get my first glimpse of three days worth of cold temps and what they will do to the stream.

I am always amazed at the beauty of ice and how it forms on rocks as it flows. The thick formations and those delicate crepe like formations that seem to glitter so brightly that they must be viewed with sun glasses.

I started fishing those small dry flies again, what the heck they worked so well my last time out. It did not take to long to realize that they would not do the same on this outing. The water had become much colder and the fish were staying close to the bottom.

Into the box I gazed and picked up a beadhead soft hackle. I tied it on and it did the trick. A sudden strike and a brookie to hand. Moving upstream and casting I soon felt the bottom. I tried to free the fly but it was lost. Then the light came on. I had tied some of the flies with tungsten beads, they drop to bottom quickly which was not needed in this stream. Some of the others were tied with regular beads. Being both the same color I had to try to figure out which was which. Well I did and after that the fishing was easier and lest costly in terms of loosing the fly.

In this smooth deep pool I cast the fly and watched it sink. I could almost feel it bounce on the rocks below. As the fly finished the drift I started to work it back. I retrieved with an up and down motion like you would a jig. Suddenly I felt the strike and then it was fish on.

I knew from the weight of the fish it was a good one. As the rod worked the fish closer I could see just how big he was. I laid my hand under the trout and lifted him up. He was beautiful. A quick photo and off he went. This was by far the largest brook trout I've ever taken from this stream.

These are the beadhead soft hackles. Can you tell which one is the tungsten bead? Can you tell which is the veteran of the outing?

Catching fish is the reason to be out here....or is it. While a brook trout to hand is wonderful there is "so much more to it" this small stream angling.

A friend along the way.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Small flies, Small streams......

I had the notion to fool around with some small dry flies, and see if I could be successful on a small stream. The flies are as simple as one could tie involving only 3 materials. These flies are tied on a size 20 hook, the smallest flies I've ever tied. Thread was the body material, a turn or two of peacock herl for a thorax and some grizzly hackle. The flies were treated with Gink and were ready to be fished.

Tuesday was a real cold day. The sun was about which would have warmed it up a bit but the wind took that away. I arrived around 10 AM and found the stream with a nice flow. The water was as clear as it can be, November waters tend to be sparkling. I sent the mini dry on its mission and soon a small brookie rose.

Here are the size 20's with a size 14 to show some perspective.

In most areas of the stream I had brookies rise.

My first trout of the day. And my first trout ever on a size 20 dry fly.

A brown was taken here but tossed the fly.

A few drifts later and this fine male brook trout took the 20.

I continued to fish until the ice in the guides caused me to call it a day. I like catching fish on small dry flies. Perhaps next up will be size 16 streamers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On Assignment

The thermometer on my deck reads 20 degrees. I,m getting dressed and will be out the door by 4:30. My destination will be a deer stand. The next several weeks will find me there from time to time. I will have lots of time to think and plan, and hopefully a deer will be harvested.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The "Smoky Mountain Fork Tail" Revisited.

I have received a few emails lately about a fly that I have had some success with. It's one of the flies I carry all of the time and will pull it out and fish it from time to time. The fly is known as the "Smoky Mountain Fork Tail". The pattern is a dry fly that has its following in the southern Appalachians. There is no known originator of the pattern, and is tied in many variations.

I first became aware of the "Fork Tail" from a poster I purchased years ago. The poster is called "Traditional Trout Flies of The Southern Appalachians". It's a full color poster with the patterns, their photos and recipes along with some of the history behind the fly. The "Fork Tail" became known to Ray Bergman back in the 1930's and gained national exposure.

Here is a little tutorial of how I tie this fly. The material list, Hook Mustad 9671 size 14...Tail goose biots...Body, I use opossum, but most any dry fly dubbing will work....Wing, goose biots...Hackle, Brown and grizzly, I use only brown.

Wrap a thread base to the rear and end it at about the hook point.

Select 4 goose biots.

Tie in 2 biots in a crossing pattern to form the tail. Trim butts and secure with thread.

Take dubbing and form a noodle and begin to wrap forward.

Tie in the other 2 biots crossing to form the wing.

Tie in a brown hackle and take several turns then secure and clip.

This is the finished fly. A top view and a profile. I tie this fly using olive and tan goose biots, but I have some yellow biots that I will soon experiment with. The dubbing I use is rust orange, and olive hares mask.

The Smoky Mountain Fork Tail. This southern trout fly works just fine on Connecticut trout as well.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Bum Foot, there's a good side to it.

Well life threw another curve ball at me that benched this angler for a spell. A week ago I had a scratch on my foot, no big thing right. I attempted to fix it and low and behold 7 days later I have a foot that's doubled in size coupled with a blue coloring that would make a small streams waters envious. To the point, I went to the doctor and was told don't try to treat everything yourself. Then I was given some prescriptions and directions and sent home to recover. No prolonged standing-walking for a week. Well we'll see. A couple of days now on the medicine and the foot has retreated some and feels better.

With this free time I have been able to rummage through the boxes and bags of materials and other items that have been purchased and seemingly forgotten about. One item I found was this nice leather Cortland streamer wallet. It's a bi-fold with heavy fleece lining. It has compartments on either side to hold leaders, or perhaps a license.

Then the find of the year. Two streamer saddles were spotted secured to a wall by a nail. I must have had these for some time. They are probably a purchase from a fly show because of the price on them.

This is one of the saddles. It's a beautiful golden badger, or furnace rooster saddle. The markings are great and the sheen to the feathers awesome.

The second saddle is this highlander green one. It to has a wonderful sheen to the feathers as well as a nice natural shape. The two of these should make for some nice streamers, which with my bum foot I have the time to tie them.

So from Connecticut, not on a small stream though, I'll get to it and continue my recovery.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Skunk, A Streamer, And...........

It's been awhile since my last post and I feel pretty good today so here it is. My last outing was Monday and the weather was still very nice, especially for November. They tell me it's going to get colder and some white stuff may coat the ground Friday or Saturday.

I reached the stream about 10 and found it to be almost perfect. With the sun working already for a few hours I knew the water temp had to be prime. I tied on a bomber and had the feeling it would be a great day on the dry. Two hours later all that was memorable was 1 rise to the dry, and 2 hookups on a wet fly that were very short lived. I fished many promising runs as well as those pools that hold some nice fish but they all came up empty.

So with dry and wet flies failing, I pulled out the meat flies, those pretty little streamers that can sometimes make an anglers day. Tied on a Mickey Finn and worked the water, 45 minutes later and several patterns and nothing. The time was getting on and I decided to work my way back to the car. I continued to fish streamers, but the thought in my mind was I am going to get skunked. Getting skunked is not a bad thing, we all experience it, besides it's not a skunk if you have a fish on and he gets it?

I came upon this pool, it looked interesting. It had a swift run that flowed into a deep pool, and it also had a very nice undercut bank, a perfect ambush point for a brook trout. I crossed the stream to enable me to mak a good cast and allow the streamer to work those sweet spots. Several casts and nothing. I changed the streamer and said I'm going to fish this fly Maine style. Maine style is a method I picked up while fishing Upperdam, Maine. The method is to cast the streamer upstream and then strip it back to you downstream as fast as you can. The method was a killer on the landlock salmon and brook trout. So I cast the streamer upstream and stripped as fast as I could. I repeated it several times and suddenly I saw the swirl and soon felt the solid take of a trout. The fish was strong and he worked the pool as well as the rod. I had turned the brookie to me and was ready to lift him when he said NO. The fish ran again but the rod eventually won out. As I laid my hand under his belly I could not believe how big he was. As I turned to snap a photo I noticed the fly had come out. Just as the camera snapped the brook trout was making his escape. The master of the pool laid in the water briefly and darted away.

A beautiful brook trout anywhere, but for a small stream a trophy with out question.

My little streamer box. Can you tell what streamer the brook trout took?

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Fran Betters Inspiration

Ausable Wulff, Parachute
Fran Betters of Wilmington, New York was a fly designer to the highest degree. His patterns are for fly anglers to do one thing, "catch fish". This is a variation of one of Frans best creations the "Ausable Wulff"

The pattern incorporates all of the materials used to tie the Ausable Wulff, only in a parachute version. I can tie pretty much all patterns, maybe not perfect but good enough. The parachute style fly has always been a problem for me and I never tie them. After getting some encouragement as well as a few good pointers I attempted to tie a few. Perhaps I should have tied the Adams in a parachute seeing how it's probably the number one fish taker, but instead I chose one of Frans patterns.

While not perfect, and if it were in the fly bins of a fly shop would most likely be passed over, I believe it will catch it share of fish.

Hook, Mustad 9671....Tail, woodchuck guard hairs....Body, rust orange Australian opossum....Wing post, yellow calf tail....Hackle, Grizzly and brown.

Thanks Fran.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Small Stream, 11-7-14

Yesterday I had a commitment to see through but at the last minute it was cancelled. Now I had some free time and a beautiful day, even though it was on the windy side and somewhat cool, I still had a few hours to visit a small stream.

The water level was somewhat on the low side, but still sufficient to keep the resident brook trout population happy. The char were in the business of creating future populations and signs of this were evident all along the stream. The little fellows were actively rising to dry flies with some of the bigger guys just not interested.

Just to be able to walk along such a place on a fine November day is reward enough to satisfy this angler.

To be able to bring a brook trout to the surface and have the opportunity to photograph him is a plus.

I look forward to fishing this stream many more times over the coming months, and I hope to enjoy such a day as this.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

"Old Dam Brookie"

Over the years I've attended many fly fishing shows, and most were quite interesting. Then they seem to have taken a high end commercial feeling and I don't care to much for that so I no longer attend them. There was a show I did attend at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center some years past. The gathering was small and friendly and featured everything from flies to bamboo rods with books and art work. While looking I spotted a nice art print it featured a fly angler fishing a lovely pool below an old dam. The angler was into a nice fish, one could tell by the bend in his rod. The print was titled "Fishing Below The Old Dam" by Arthur Shilstone.

Monday found me angling about a lovely little stream. A bright sunny early November day which would bring about some delightful temps. I have fished this little gem a few time but have not ventured very far up. This day I would try it and see what it held. Fishing as I moved upstream I was given the pleasure of catching several feisty brook trout. These fish were not fussy, and took most all my offerings.

As I moved into new territory I spotted the remnants of a washed out dam. The pools and the little falls were such a pleasure to see. One of the pools was quite deep, and shadows of the breached dam walls made it nice and dark. Looking at the pool I knew there had to be a trout holding there. I positioned myself and sent the parachute looking for a taker. It did not take long for as soon as the fly hit the water I had a rise, but a miss. Several more casts produced nothing. I tied on a Elk hair caddis and on the second cast the fish rose again, the result was the same, a miss. I changed to a small Mickey Finn and worked the pool. The streamer was not hit but its red and yellow colors managed to show me the trout that held in the pool. He followed the streamer and I saw him, a beautiful colored brook trout.

I went into the box and pulled out a bomber and tied it on. Waiting a few moments to allow all to settle down, I then sent the bomber flying. The fly landed softly and was sent turning by the swirling waters. From the dark pool came the rise, the strike, the hookup. The fish was on and he used all of the pool to seek his release. The finish is what I hoped for. A quick photo and a fast release along with a thank you.

A small stream, a memory, and later some reflecting on what a beautiful day this was, at "Old Dam Brookie"