Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB
Fly Fishing The Millers - With over 30 years of fly fishing this river I will claim more knowledge and fish caught than anyone. There are over 40 miles of river and I will take you to the best sections and if you want to sections that never see another angler. Don't be fooled by those who say the Millers is a Spring and Fall river. I'll show you how to have great Summer action. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe this river. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go to catch trout. After a trip you will too!! Solitude and trout IS the EB. The Swift - 20 trout days are not uncommon on this river if you know what to do and use. I'll show the way and you catch the trout. RATES - Full Day (6 hours) = $150.00 for one, $225 for two (lunch included). Half Day (three hours) $90.00 for one, $155.00 for two. Beginners Class - 3 hours ffor $90.00, all use of rods lines, reels included.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I Hate Indicators

Ok, I don't really hate indicators, I just don't like them very much. Here's a story that may explain things clearly. Backcast to 1987. It's an early May morning on the Deerfield River and our TU Chapter is out there posting signs on our newest conquest - the new C&R section from Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground. It was late in the morning when we began to wrap things up by Pelham Brook when I noticed a wading angler with a spinning rod making his way down into the new C&R section. His rig consisted of a spinning rod and a bobber. I asked him about his bait and he said he didn't use bait. "I use flies" he said. He then reeled in and showed me the ugliest Montana Nymph that I ever saw. "I've caught four so far" he said as he headed back upstream.
That was it - a nymph suspended under a bobber!!! I began to think of the Deerfield being lined with spin fisherman casting flies with bobbers or worse, flyfisherman giving up the long rod and casting flies with bobbers. Instead I lived long enough to see fly fishers casting bobbers with their flyrods.

Now, if that's how you were taught or that's what you want to do then go for it but fly fishing WITHOUT AN INDICATOR will increase your chances to catch trout under all subsurface conditions. Indicators made the first step in subsurface fly fishing easier for a lot of new people but it keeps them at that level. It becomes a crutch. Fishing without an indicator opens more possibilities.

A year ago last Spring I was at my barbers waiting my turn when I picked up a Field & Stream. There's only one reason to read this magazine and that is because the Fishing Column is written by John Merwin, a past Editor of Flyfisherman Magazine and the creator of what would be finally called Fly Rod & Reel Magazine. The photo that accompanied the article showed a trash can full of strike indicators. The article was a full blown rant against those critters. I'm not alone!!

The next time you're on the river take off the indicator and follow your line and leader, adjusting your depth through line mending as you go. It works now as it has worked for a century.

Ken

18 comments:

Kate said...

I use indicators although I wish I didn't need the crutch. Sometimes I'm successful without one, but usually only in slow water. In fast moving broken water or pocketwater, things are happening so fast that I am helpless without an indicator. In this type of water, what are you looking for? I can't see the leader and the end of the fly line is bouncing all over the place in the natural drift of the water.

Thanks-Greg

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Gregg,

Most of my dead drift nymph fishing is done with a very short line and this includes fishing broken water. At a short distance I can see when the line hesitates. In a sense it's like the Czech nymphing technique that's become popular although I use a tapered leader and usually cast one fly. The Swift River is a great place to practice without an indicator especially in the riffle sections below route 9. I took six there this morning doing what I mentioned.

Ken

Anonymous said...

I've heard of "greasing" a leader to keep the fly at a certain level in the water. Could that greased leader be an indicator?

Tim

Anonymous said...

Ken,
If you could only read one flyfishing mag, what would it be? BTW, your blog is awesome!

Thanks-Cliff

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Tim,

The greased line is an indicator best used with smaller flies in slower water.

Cliff,
Fly Rod&Reel is my magazine of choice. I first subscribed when it was called only Rod&Reel Magazine.

Adrians Blog said...

I spent the day on a quiet and less populated stretch of the Swift with a good friend of mine, between the two of us we managed to catch a fair amount of brookies, browns, and bows. We didn't use an indicator much as we were high sticking and or Czech nymphing. I was again pleasantly reminded that trout can often be caught in the skinniest and strangest spots, twice this afternoon as we were working our way back to the car. Interesting that ken brought indicators up as we were talking about their uses today on the way back into Boston. As for indicators I'll use them most often when I make long casts when I am drifting my flies over a distant lie.

Adrian

Bob O said...

Ken, I was introduced to bobber indicators a couple of winters ago as a way to nymph in the cold and keep your hands dry. It is effective. Lately I've moved to using a foot long piece of yellow amnesia tied halfway down my leader. I put a perfection loop in the lower end and tie my tippet into that. It's very effective fishing upstream (and up and across) in faster water. The visual of the hesitating amnesia works well for a blind guy like me. I use one fly, light tippet, and usually a very little weight to get it into the zone. It's great for faster water and skinny water since the fly is not as influenced by the surface speed of a bobber. Not so good for slow depths or distance. It works well on the bubbler run at the Swift, or at the pipe, for example. On the other hand, I remember when I was a kid being taught to spin fish bait with no sinker or bobber, and to watch for movement of the line on the surface to indicate the take. That strategy became my modus operandi till fly fishing fully took over. Looks like we're coming full circle.

Andrew said...

I do use indicators, but I learned short line nymphing which I use indicator free when really using a short line.

I do think that long casting nymphs with huge western mends and an indicator allows one to "nymph" the center channels of some of these bigger rivers.

On a different note, I went to the tressel pool and perhaps the first turn of the "Kempfield" section on Sat. Beautiful area, but the water was pumping. I went up to the fast water above the pool and below the tracks to the first bend. There is quite a bit of bushwacking involved, but looked like good water. I'll have to try it again when you can put your feet in! :) The brooks looked interesting too. Thanks for the tip on the spot!

Andrew

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Bob O,

Good point on using "amnesia". It will not effect the drift of the fly and it's better than lopping a "rig" which floating indicators really are.

Andrew,

The Millers is roaring along at 1000cfs as I write this. It fishes best if it's flowing at 500cfs or less. Hopefully we can have some days like that in November.

Anonymous said...

OK Ken, you have me curious as to what your opinion will be.

I rarely use an "indicator" as you are discussing, but often drop a nymph off a dry fly, effectively making the dry my indicator. Would you also take issue with this?

Joseph

Anonymous said...

LOL...
Ken commented on my post on Gerry's blog about using an elk hair caddis with a dropper as an acceptable use of an indicator. The strike indicator is ok if it has a hook in it...

-Eric

Anonymous said...

Inidicators are great becuase they allow for the detection of even the most subtle take. Why not fish one? I don't see anything but increased success when nymphing this way. Also, it is difficult to short line when fishing deeper runs.

Kate said...

Ken, couple quick questions. When you say short line, how short are your casts? 10 feet? Second, how long is your nymphing leader? I'm thinking if it's too long, by the time your fly line hesitates, the fish has already spit the nymph.

Thanks, Greg

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Greg,

My nymph fishing is always a short line technique. On the Swift my leaders are between 7.5 to 9.5 feet long. Many times I have more leader extended beyong the rod tip then fly line. Over the years I have found that working close and casting to likely spots produces more fish. This means an upstream drift to begin with and then a downstream finish. I used to be a slave to the dogma of the last 40 years but have found that the technique of Gordon and LaBranche is really the way to go. Their "wet fly" fishing was really dry fly fishing with a subsurface offering. It is so great to catch a trout that way!

Thanks for the good question!!

Ken

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous,

I don't fish indicators because I CATCH MORE FISH without them, period. Indicators limit your presentation as far as depth goes. I catch a lot of trout just watching the SLIGHT HESITATION of the line/leader. What good is an indicator in skinny water? If it works for you then go with it but believe me when I say that 40 years of success was no mistake! Anyway, it's flyfishing and it's fun regardless of how we do it. Just try it without the bobber. It's a skill thing!!

Adrians Blog said...

Since we are on the topic of indicators and nymphing, has anyone tried the SAGE 99 series of nymph rods yet? I plan on getting something that is longer than my 9ft 5wt that would be my go to rod for czech nymphing/swinging wets and streamers. Any suggestions/reviews would be great!Have a great weekend everyone. Cant wait till Veterans day so I can get out and fish!

Adrian

Kate said...

Thanks Ken for your tips the other day. Yesterday I followed your directions and had one of my best days of fishing ever and caught my largest trout on a fly in 10 years of fly-fishing. I hooked a kype-jawed rainbow, the type of fish I've only seen in magazines. Spent some years living in Montana and my best fish comes from good old MA!
Greg

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Greg,

PERFECT!!!!!!!

Ken