Friday, January 30, 2015

The Farmington

Last year late August as well as most of September were pretty dry. The small streams took a beating with the low water. I was fortunate to have a wonderful alternative to fishing the small streams, and that alternative was the Farmington River. This tail water had beautiful flows of cool water all through the hot dry spell. The Farmington is probably best known for it's big browns and hefty rainbows. The river can be somewhat problematic to the angler who is trying to take one of those big fish. But this angler had some very good days fishing the small areas of this river. The wild trout population is doing fine and all through the months of September and October I was blessed with many fine wild browns and brookies.

The trout were taken on a variety of flies everything from dries to streamers. The better times of the day were between 10am and 2pm. Below are some photos of the wonderful wild bounty in this fine river.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


With all the cold snowy weather as of late one can get some relief by tying flies. I have been tying featherwing streamers for the last several days and would like to share one with you. I got the inspiration for the streamer from a photo I saw while viewing Run-a-Round Ranch blog. Theresa had several photos of a "sundog" posted. From that photo I selected some materials that would give the impression of a "sundog". I hope you enjoy.


Monday, January 26, 2015

A Cold Winters Day

My last outing took place a week ago Wednesday. I really did want to go but knew the better thing to do would be to stay home. The temps the night before had dipped to around 10 and the daylight did not move them much higher. So I fixed a thermos full of tea and put the wool on and headed for the stream. As I walked to the stream I could feel the cold biting through. The ragg wool gloves were not much of a buffer to the wind. I persisted and walked on, fishing every possible trout holding pool available. There were no takers, still I walked and climbed and cast when I could. By now it had been several hours and the realization set in that this was not going to be a fish catching day. Today was a small stream reflecting day.

I reached the farthest point of the stream. Here I stopped and cracked open the thermos of tea. The steam coming from the cup told me I was about to feel my insides return to normal. As I drank the hot beverage I took note of the place where I placed my rod. It was lying on a moss covered stone. Along side of the handle I saw a feather. Picking it up I admired its color and the almost perfect shape it was in. I tried to determine where it came from and thought what bird had left it.

After drinking several cups of tea and thinking about the feather I gathered it up and placed in my fly box. Walking back to the car I thought to myself. I fished this day and though I caught nothing I still had a fruitful day, a rewarding day and a time to reflect on what it is to fish a small stream on a very cold winters day.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Soft Hackle Dry Fly...water tested.

Winter has set in and as I type this it's snowing to beat the band. The flakes look to be the size of a baseball. For the last week it has been cold, almost to cold to fish. I ventured out twice last week once with good fortune and once with not such good fortune. Those stories will come later, for now it's fly tying. Restocking fly boxes and tying some featherwing streamers has kept me busy. I have also looking a various forums and sites for ideas and inspirations. I stumbled onto one that talked about soft hackle dry flies, now that's something I had to check into further. I searched a little more and found an English tyer who ties these flies. Once I had a plan on how to put these together I gave them a shot.

These are pretty easy to tie and they do look quite "insectly". Not a lot of materials are needed. Dry fly hooks, thread, Coq de Leon, feathers for the tail, brown rooster hackle, or any color hackle you prefer, and partridge hackle.

The stiff rooster hackle keeps the fly afloat and the soft partridge hackles move in the current showing the fish this bug is alive. I have not field tested these flies yet but I will do so the very first chance I can.

Wet tested
I tested the float of these flies in my sink. They floated well with the soft hackles moving life like. I think some floatant just on the cock hackle very sparingly will work perfect.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"The Fly Fishing" Show 2015

Last Friday I attended the Fly Fishing Show in Marlborough Massachusetts. I had attended this show before many years ago and was anxious to see how it had changed. I had a few things on my shopping list which I did find as well as a few others. I found this Grouse back, and I quickly snapped it up. The natural design of the feathers will be perfect, not for soft hackles but for streamer shoulders. I also found some wonderful soft hackle/wet fly hooks. These are hand made English hooks and the come in some odd sizes which are not found in shops. Size 13's. A nice color was found in Pearsall's silk. I think it will make for some lighter body colors.

Along with many vendors offering lots of "stuff", the nice part of that is you get to see it and touch it before purchase. Many tackle companies were there with everything fly fishing. I had the chance to cast a TFO 5ft half weight rod. I almost went home with it. The best part of the show for me was meeting many people, authors, fly tyers, and book sellers.

Here are a couple of gentlemen I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to for quite some time. The gent on the left is Ted Patlen. He is a fly tyer, fly fisher and an absolute fly fishing historian. A walking encyclopedia. Ted's comments and input can be found on various sites and forums. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you Ted.

The fellow on the right is Bob Mead. Bob is a wonderful fly tyer as well as a friend to the late Fran Betters. Bob and I talked for some time about Fran and I was given much new information about Fran. Bob it was a pleasure meeting and talking with you.

I stopped for a spell and talked "Tenkara" with Dan. He was in the midst of tying a few flies which I watched him complete. The flies were simplicity to the highest. He was generous to give me two of his flies which I will test. Thanks Dan.

For those who follow this blog you know my love for the streamer fly. When I got wind of a new book about to be published on the subject I was to say the least excited. And when I read that the author of the book was going to be at the show and the possibility of meeting said author all but sealed the deal to go.

Sharon Wright the author of "Tying Heritage Featherwing Streamers" is one special lady and fly tyer. I spoke with Sharon at length about the book and her love of tying these beautiful flies. A master at her craft she joins a group of Maine women who have taken the tradition of streamer flies and tying to the new century. The book was signed and I have not read it through, but it is well done with with many beautiful color photos. There is a feature where she takes apart a Carrie Stevens streamer to show just how Carrie tied her treasures. Thanks Sharon for the book and for your words at the show.

Monday, January 19, 2015


"Nyack" or "Ray Bergman Yellow Label" Streamer Hooks
The other day I received a package in the mail. The envelope contained quite a few streamer hooks. A brief note stated they were hooks from Ray Bergman's fly shop in Nyack N.Y. Being unfamiliar with the type of hook I sent out a request to the "Streamer List" and received an answer from Chris Del Plato. His best answer was that the hooks were either "Nyack" or "Ray Bergman" brand and were an English made hook. Further research by me found a photo and description of "Nyack" hooks on Darren's "Streamers 365" site. The photo clearly shows the same hook as the one pictured in the first photo of this post.

So I took one of Bergmans hooks and tied a streamer. I named the streamer "Nanuet". The name was chosen from the town where the package was sent from along with the name of the sender. I'd like to contact the sender named Christopher and send him the streamer. So if he would be so kind to send me an email I'd appreciate it.


Hook, Nyack Streamer...Butt, Peacock...Body, Orange Yarn...Rib, Flat Silver Tinsel...Throat, Orange Hackle followed by Black Hackle...Wing, Two Orange Saddle Hackles, then Two Silver Badger Saddle Hackles...Shoulder, Golden Pheasant dyed Red...Cheeks, Jungle Cock.

Thanks for the hooks Christopher.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Yes I do still fish.

It has been real cold around these parts. Not that we can't handle it but how about a little moderation thrown in just to make it fair. Monday was a day I chose to fish and although it was bright and very sunny the temps did not get out of the high teens, and as a topping there was a lovely wind. Upon reaching the stream which was a winter wonderland all that I saw were little animal tracks. The quiet was indeed deafening. There was only going to be one fly fished this day and that fly was "pinkie". All up and down the stream I fished in every break, places where a brook trout would hold. All that responded to my quest was a slow follow to the fly, and that happened but one time.

Several hours later, with ice caked to my leader and tip top I was finally able to hook a fish. As it closed in on me I could see it was a chub, and a good sized one. It was getting to that time when the cold had penetrated my last layer of clothing. A few more casts at a deep hole and off to the car I would be.

I was on one of these last casts that I hooked a trout. The fish gave me a battle and as I reached for him I could see it was a brightly colored rainbow. I never got a photo for this 'bow was a battler and spit the hook. Funny how a couple of seconds with some weight on your line can turn the heat on....nice feeling. By the way I saw something I thought a little odd. In a cluster of brush I observed several Robins. Maybe they know something I don't.

Fresh out of the apizza...Italian style.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"February Red Soft Hackle"

North Country Spiders, or should I say North Country Flies. The latter was the name given this group of wet flies in an article published in Fly Tyer magazine back in 2007. It was this article that got me interested in these thin whispy life like simple patterns. In the time that has passed I have learned the difference between "spiders" and "soft hackle wet flies". In this post I will tell you of what I have learned about the "spiders".

The North Country Spiders date back to the 1800's. They were the preferred flies for trout in the north of England. They are simple patterns of silk thread bodies and soft hackles from various common birds. They are the type of fly that fits in with the title of this blog "simplicity". There are many wonderful books out there on theses flies, I have but two of them. Wet Flies, by Dave Hughs, and The Soft Hackle Fly Addict by Sylvester Nemes. There are a couple more books on my to get list and I hope to locate a good copy of them soon.

Well to get on with it the fly featured is from Hughes book and it's called "February Red Soft Hackle" It is a North Country Spider by definition, but called a soft hackle, which is an American term. It calls for a red silk body, the silk being Pearsalls Gossamer Silk, and hares mask dubbing for a thorax and a grouse feather. Simple easy, and effective.

I tied up several of these February Red flies. One of them I used plain Danville red thread. and the others using Pearsalls silk. This fly is tied with silk. You can see the wonderful rib on the body formed buy the silk. Also silk provides a translucency when wet, something cotton thread doesn't.

Here are two flies. The top is tied with silk and the bottom with cotton thread.

This is a "spider" tied with olive silk and hares mask dubbing, with grouse hackle.

A frontal view of the fly. In a future post I'll give you my take on why you should fish these flies.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The "Bends"

There are places found on small streams that are always worth exploring. Most anglers know about them and may fish them from time to time. These areas can have very subtle flows that seem to glide into the bank, while others sort of rip through a turn. Some seem to be a collection of natural junk like trees, branches and in Autumn countless leaves. These special places are bends in the stream. I for one will never pass on such places and will drift a fly through several times, and then again.

The soft turn of the stream pictured above is a place where a bomber floated will almost always bring a strike. While it may look placid there is a nice current bringing food and oxygen. Its undercut bank and shade provide the needed cover for trout.

The bend here has a log laying length wise with a good current. This bend would fish well with a wet fly, and a dry. Drifting a bomber or stimulator through and the allowing it to be swept under and pulled to the surface will gather attention.

This is my favorite type of bend. I will stay and fish here even if it seems to be void of fish. The smooth-semi fast current along with the woody debris has got to hold a fish, and in most cases more than one.

This bend has given up some very nice trout over the years. There are many holding areas as well as feeding zones. The trout will take the fly almost any where, and some of the biggest ones were taken right along the rocks on the far bank.

Trout like this inhabit those bends. So the next time out on a small stream don't pass up the "bends"

Friday, January 9, 2015

Magic, and trying to understand.

I want to introduce you to a book that I just finished. It tries to put into words the reasons why grown men have a strong attraction to a small stream and the miniature brook trout that inhabit them. The book is well written and a easy read. While it does focus on many of the tiny blue lines in Appalachia it also touches in on the stream of Maine, Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania.

I know I have tried to bring forth my love of these streams and wild brook trout to the readers of this blog, I feel this book does the same. Pick up a copy of "Downstream", I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

There is magic in such places. Below is some of that magic plucked out of it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Winter Reflections

Winter is upon us here in Connecticut. I woke up this morning and the temp on the deck was 8 degrees and to go along with that 8 degrees was a wind that is an attention getter. I did however make an attempt to catch a few winter brookies yesterday. The temperatures were to be in the 20's, but I think it never made it. The skies were gray and it snowed. As I walked along the stream I was amazed at how frozen it was. There were places where it was completely cover over. The slower runs where I was able to drift a fly I had no response. I knew my chances were not good, but the beauty and the hope kept me working up the stream.

I was at the point of packing it in. My fly line had at least 1/4 inch of ice on it and it now longer would cast. It was at this time that I sat down n a stump and opened up the thermos and enjoyed a hot cup of tea, and another hot cup of tea along with a lemon biscotti. As I sat there feeling my insides beginning to reap the benefits of the tea I realized this may be my last outing. The next week or so is offering cold temps to hang on and with that more icing on the streams.

So with that I'll be at the bench tying up a few flies, perhaps reading, and attending a fly fishing show. Stay warm folks.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Saturday 1-3-15

Saturday dawned a cold one, a continuance of low temps that started before New Years day. The weather was to go down hill in the form of snow leaving me a small window of time to fish. I had a late start and when I arrived the clouds were thickening. I was geared up in short time and was drifting a fly from the 2 weight promptly. Winter streams possess that clarity that is almost as if it were not there. A simple placement of your hand into it and you'll know it is indeed water.

Shelf ice had built up along the edges and in some places it was heavy. Water flowing over rocks and wood jams produced many beautiful ice sculptures known only to nature. I wear waist high waders and although I do not wade the stream they are needed to cross the stream at times. With such ice caution was paramount.

In the time I fished the need to change flies was not necessary. The pinkie, and the bomber were all that were needed. I worked the slower pools and runs hoping to find some one willing to dine. I was indeed fortunate to have a few whack the pinkie just as it drifted under the shelf ice. But whack it was all I got and a couple of hours produced not a fish to hand.

Winters beauty. Incredible ice jams.

It was at the tail of this pool that a nice brookie chased the pinkie. He did this several times, chasing and not taking. When the fly was allowed to drift he paid no attention to it, pull it back and the fish would chase. I tied on a bomber and drifted it through the pool...nothing, pull it back and a strike. This happened until I gave up and moved on.

I started to move down stream as the first few flakes of snow fell. I reached this pool at a bend in the stream. I sent the bomber in to find a fish. I worked that pool well and no response. The snow seemed to be slowing down, so I tied pinkie back on and we went back to work. On the third cast the line tightened and I set the hook. A few moments I had to hand a winter jewel.

A quick photo and release and off he went. I knew that was going to be my only fish of the outing, for I was going to leave before the snow picked up in intensity. I got back to the car and it was snowing to beat the band. I did not take the time to get out of my waders deciding to drive home in them. As it turned out it was a good decision because the snow became quite slippery. Slow and easy I made it home soup anyone?