Saturday, January 29, 2011

The ONLY flies you need

I'm kidding, these aren't the only flies you need. Maybe you only need one of them, maybe you need more. I'm not you, you aren't me. These are just my favorites.
Terrestrials: I learned early on that terrestrials are huge portion of a trouts diet and for a major portion of the year. You can fish this fly from June through November. Last year Sam and I landed some nice browns that were preping for spawn with this fly. It doesn't look like much, just some black foam and rubber legs, with yellow foam on top for visibility.
Hoppers: That first fly is my go-to terrestrial, but hoppers are good to. This one is real easy to tie, dub a body, lay some foam over it, tie in some legs and top it with a turkey feather. I will also fish some ants, but hoppers and the cricket-like fly above will do the job when fish are hiding in bunkers and looking up.
Black Caddis: I hit the black caddis hatch last year and it was really good, not great, but good. This year I'll know what I'm in for, and this fly will get abused.
Blue-winged olive: The most consistent hatches in the driftless ares the BWO's and the Hendricksons in the spring. This fly will work for both. This is the best BWO (and all around mayfly) pattern I have found. Mallard flank for a tail, dub a body and lay a clump of deer hair on top. I trim the butts of the deer hair long for a wing pad, it helps the fly float better. -This is a sweet pattern.
Midges: I'm a terrible midge fisherman, but it isn't because of my flies, its becasue of my presentation. This fly is really all you need, the griffith's gnat. If I can get this fly to float well, and I can see it, I usually will get fish during a midge hatch.

When the fish are feeding on the surface, the above flies should do the trick, the 98% of the time that they aren't looking up, go with these:

Streamers: Big flies=big fish. This is a mini-clouser tied with rabbit strips. One on top and one on bottom, tie in a bit of flash and hit the water.
scuds: Otherwise known as amphipods, these critters eat aquatic vegetation. A big rain event will flush them down river and they will get the attention of big fish.
Hare's ear nymph: You can fish all sorts of nymphs and do well, but this one is really all you need, I think.
Thread midges: Trial your nymph with one of these...Simple pattern, consistent results.

The one thing that my favorite flies have in common is that they are all really easy to tie and don't have a lot of materials. I like to sit down and crank them out in a hurry, they don't need to look pretty, just proportioned well.

What are your favorites? If you could have just one of the above, which would it be? What would you add to the list?

First trouting of 2011

I scratched the winter trout itch yesterday. As I headed over to MN, the temperature dropped from 30 degrees at my house to 23 on the stream. I kept my camera in my backpack where it apparently got too cold and wouldn't work. I snoeshoed a good 2 miles of stream and didn't even see a fish. Not the best outing the world, but good to be back on the streams. Next time I'll visit some more reliable water, take better care of my camera, and get ya'll some trout pics.

In the meantime its back to the ice.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Gierach Quotes

A nice feature of reading books on kindle or iphone is the ability to highlight and bookmark. Easy to go back and read some good stuff that short term memory loses. Some of my highlights from John Gierach's – Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders.

Not long ago I spent three-hundred dollars on a fly rod, but an extra seventy-five cents for a pound of coffee still rubs me the wrong way. Once established, priorities must be maintained.

It's an article of faith among fisherman that any body of healthy water holds some monsters, fish that no one ever catches but that are, nonetheless, there.

These are established personal favorites, not so much fly patterns as articles of faith generating much magic.

Remember, fairness is a human idea largely unknown to nature.

The occasional peaceful bender in a solitary fishing camp is therapeutic, and I won't apologize for it.

in that part of Wyoming where daily life goes on just a peg or two above sensory deprivation

The point he's making is valid, though: Isn't it interesting that the logic you apply to the opposition is abrupt and unforgiving, while the reasoning for your own position is fluid, creative and finds infinite subtleties?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Restocking the box

I'm in the process of restocking my fly boxes. I'm starting with winterish flies and working toward warmwater stuff. Thread midges (upper photo) and scuds (lower photo) were on the menu today. Not the most glamorous flies, but you'd better have them on spring creeks-any season, but especially winter. The white square is 1.25 X1.5 inches for scale.

Friday, January 14, 2011

7 and counting.

Between my neighbor and I, we are up to seven pike through the ice over the last couple of weekends. The action isn't exactly fast, but we are getting some fish and it has been a great way to get out of the house for a few hours. Almost all of them have been the same size, about two feet long, respectable.

Sam riding a downed tree. He likes to kick snow in the holes, little bugger.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Smuggler

Down here in the Driftless, slower rod tapers are becoming popular, especially in fiberglass or bamboo. I’ve been thinking about both of these materials for some time now. I’ve also been looking for a vintage glass rod to use for spin-casting. There is a river really close to my house that gets stocked with brown trout every year, but is completely choked with alders. It is impossible to get a fly on the water. But I’ve thought that an ultalight-spinning rod might be a nice way to catch a few fish and put dinner on the table.

I communicated this to someone I know who collects fiberglass rods, both spinning and fly. Yesterday he dropped something interesting off at my office. A rod likely made in the 1960’s for Ambercrombie and Fitch, called the “smuggler 3 in 1”.

This is a neat rod with the following features: Completely set up, it comes as an 8 foot fly rod, probably casts a 6 or 7 wt line. It is a noodle. But it comes with a second handle (as you can see in the photo). This reduces the rod down to 6’10” and it casts a 4 wt line ok. It is probably better with a 5wt line, but I don’t currently have one. This configuration can also be used as a spinning rod. But wait, there is more. Pull the last section of rod off and you have a 4’9’’ ultralight-spinning rod, perfect for a small alder choked trout stream.

I recieved the following from a very knowledgeable glass rod expert:

"I have not seen this outfit before. That is kind of cool. The reelseat on the spinning rod grip appears to be a Phillipson design. The rest of the rod looks much more like Silaflex. My guess is this rod was built for A&F by a small shop with parts they felt were the best available. From the components used, I think your rod is about 45-50 years old. Those ferrules were used in the early 60s, as were the reelseats. While it has a spinning rod reelseat, the tip section is set up as a fly rod. The 8 foot length indicates that it was originally designed as a fly rod too.

The primary value of this outfit is as a fishing rod (I don't think it will get much notice on eBay). Rods get in this condition because the owner loved fishing with it. A lot. The outfit is in fair, used condition, complete with the original rod bag and tube (in the background). The grips are dirty, gouged, and dented. The tip section is missing a guide. There are paint scuffs and label chips. Noble battle scars one and all. However, the ferrules look good, the majority of the wraps and guide look good, and the rod looks usable. I think you are best off cleaning it up and taking it to the water. The rod obviously has been there before.

Joint it up as a fly rod and try it with a 6 or 7 weight line. Then try it with some light spinning lures and light mono line. You may be surprised at how it casts and fishes."

Here is a link to the history of Silaflex rods:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekend on the Ice

I started the year out hitting the ice below the house pretty hard. I had some success and learned a few things.

Stats: Had total 10 tipups. 1 fish ran into a log-jam and got hung up. Two fish were actually pulled through the ice (~18-21 inch Pike). The rest got off as soon as I/we set the hook. Both fish that were pulled through the ice were by my neighbors. –We had a little party down there, sipping Tom and Jerry’s and staring at tipups.

I did some hiking upriver of the side channel and found a spring. It appears as though the spring is running directly into the side channel (which I now consider more of a slough). I was pretty exicted to find the spring because that means fresh water with some oxygen getting into the main portion of the side channel. –Also important for finding Pike in the spring when they are looking for weeds and warmer water to spawn in. Here are some photos:

Cmon, spin...
The spring, fresh water, life...
-cool tree formation
One of the primary reasons why floodplains are among the most productive and diverse ecosystems on the planet-organic matter deposited from overbank flooding.