Swift River

Swift River
The Millers - Experience the best brown trout fly fishing in Massachusetts. This river only gets better as the Summer rolls on with Autumn being prime time!! Day long trips or "Evening Rise" excursions are available. There are over forty miles of river and I will take you to the "best" sections. I have over twenty years of experience on my "home" river. The "EB of the Westfield" - Wild and beautiful is the only way to describe the EB. There's a lot of water here but I know where to go when I want to catch trout!! After a trip you will too whether it's surface or subsurface action that you like. If it's a wilderness experience that you're looking for then let me take you to the "EB". The Swift - Let's "de-mystify" this river. 20 trout days, year round, are not uncommon on this river. It's technique and fly selection that counts. I can introduce you to that experience. "Dry Fly 101 - Dry fly fishing is the "soul" of fly fishing. The "fly fishing schools" will "scan" this method but I teach the classic upstream approach in depth. In over forty years of fly fishing I have caught more trout on a dry fly than with all other methods. I teach this method on "a river" so you can carry it forward season after season. RATES Full Day (7am-1pm) $150 per per person, $225 for two (lunch included) Evening Rise -(5:30 till dusk) $90 per person, $155 for two Dry Fly 101 - $60 for 3 hours

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Making Over Another Lousy Fly - The San Juan Worm


Yes, this fly does catch trout although most don't want to admit that they actually use it. I have used it with success BUT I have a problem with the way that it is tied. It's tied by lashing the chenille at the mid point to the hook. Some add a bead at this point because we just have to add a bead to anything that doesn't float. In any event this tying method causes the chenille to kink and fold over on itself. Aquatic and earthworms don't fold over on themselves but just wiggle around as the current moves them.

After looking at countless pictures of standard tied SJW's I found a photo of a length of chenille tied to the hook at the end. This made sense even if the tier had a bead attached. I ditched the beads and tied some up. The chenille moved in the current in a very natural way and the Swift Bows approved. I guess I was looking for something to do because I tied a few with tiny glass/plastic beads for eyes. This was easy. Get some tiny beads (found in craft stores) and run a length of thick mono through both beads. Keep a tiny space between the two beads and then super glue them to the mono. After the glue dries trim the extra mono and then tie the "eyes" to the hook followed by the chenille. I like the way it looks. BTW, I always use micro chenille.

This is what happens when you are forced by Winter to spend early evenings thinking about fly fishing instead of actually doing it!! Actually it was fun!

Ken


27 comments:

Damien said...

I just bought 3 of these little things when I was down at Cabela's for shits and giggles. They are tied at the midpoint like you said. I've never tried these "flies" before but hey if they fish bite!!

Bob O said...

The SJW is one of the variety I use at the Swift. I am intrigued by your design. I wonder about short takes? l will try your approach. Mine are the beaded midpoint ties, which often are quite effective, especially in worm brown and also in pink. Yesterday at the Pipe my fishing was snowy and less than stellar. Zebra midge made my single connection and (boo) breakoff. Many other flies drifted, including the SJW. Thanks Ken.

Muggs said...

Ken, you SJW explanation makes sense to me. I'll give it a whirl tomorrow and let you know. Yesterday, I took a couple of decent fish on the standard mid-tie SJW (pink) half way between Rt9 and the Ypool. Also, had two fish on with a small white glo bug, but lost both before the net. Still haven't fished the Pipe Pool, but looking to go that direction one of these days.
Muggs

Brendan said...

I appreciate these fly tying discussions. Always nice to pick up something new to try at the bench. This variation looks like it should work pretty well, and on top of that, Ken, you have managed to make one of the easiest flies to tie even easier! Elegance through simplicity. For what it's worth, I've never agreed with the disdain shown for the SJW. Other patterns are just as simple to tie (many midge imitations are made of only thread and one other material) and while the SJW often serves as an attractor pattern, the fly was originally designed as an imitator and still plays that role well. I don't see how it's any less of a fly than a wooly bugger in that regard.

I've always done well with the standard SJW in a variety of colors (if one doesn't work, try another). Leaving the ends long on the standard tie can provide a bit more wiggle, but I've never been able to tell if the fish really favored it. I have typically skipped the bead and fished without weight or indicator on the leader (especially with ~50 cfs flow) and tried to naturally drift the fly to suspended fish. The trick is setting the hook quickly enough to catch 'em before they spit the fly out.

Dave said...

In past winters, the combination of a small red SJW up top and a 22 or smaller red midge tied 18 inches below can be a deadly combo. Most of my takes come on the midge but something about the combination definetly triggers more strikes as I have experimented with the flies solo on the same day. Give it a try!

Gerry said...

Ken, As always, good idea on the new and improved SJW. Just a reminder: anybody (Muggs) looking to fish the pipe, better get to it before the hook-and-cook crowd has their way with those nice rainbows beginning Day 1, 2014!

Anonymous said...

Ken or anyone,
If you don't use a strike indicator or shot and just drift a fly naturally in the current, what are you looking at to tell if you have a strike?
thanks,
cliff

DRYFLYGUY said...

Ken
I like the looks of your SJW. I have some SJW's in my fly box that I've bought as well as tied that I don't believe I've ever really used, seriously anyway.

I do like your ties better then the standard mid ties like the one I see & have tied. I'm going to tie some of yours over this coming snowy weekend..........Phil

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Brendan,

I mentioned the disdain for this fly because the disdain exists. I've met some who never fish this fly but I do when things get tough and that is that! The purpose of my post was to improve this fly which seems to have an ability to wake up trout that are not responding to standard patterns. Maybe the SJW deserves a spot in our fly box just like the WB!!

Gerry,

Let me say this: fly fishers catch FAR more trout during the Winter than the bait and hardware boys below RT 9. Those guys catch and keep trout later during the Spring stocking, sometimes beyond the limit. The bait/hardware boys will be found freezing their asses off in January with empty creels. Let's face it, they don't really fish that well.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Is bait ever legal at the Swift? I know that the you can keep a limit during half the year, but I thought bait was always banned. I have no intention on using bait, I was just wondering because some hardware guys have tried to convince me that worms were allowed in the past.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I forgot to post a name on that last comment.

Jim T.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Jim T.,

Here are the confusing regulations for the Swift:

Above RT 9 is C&R, fly fishing only, year round.

Below RT 9 is C&R, artificial lures only, from July 1 through December 31. From January 1 through June 30 anything goes.

Ken

Brendan said...

Cliff, when I'm drifting nymphs without weight or indicator, I'm usually just watching the fish swim over and eat the fly. In the slow, clear waters of the Swift, it's like dry fly fishing, except under the surface. In faster water, you can watch for a twitch or hesitation in the line or leader, but in most of the pools on the Swift the fish will hit a fly and spit it out without the leader or indicator moving a bit.

You can also fish nymphs on a tight line (Euro nymphing) and feel the strikes, but that's definitely getting beyond the realm of my expertise.

John Robinson said...

Try it with Chamois cloth. Cut to the same length as the traditional red chenille. My go-to fly on the Swift when the trout are finicky (which is usually). Never disappoints. Sometimes I tie in some sparkle braid up toward the hook eye and based on recent landings it seems to perform better.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

John,

You have the right idea. I will try that especially in a pearl color that looks like a tiny trout. Years ago when I worked at a trout hatchery trout would gang up to eat the reject fingerlings that would be released into "settling ponds" that were loaded with trout.

Ken

Muggs said...

Guys, No luck with SJWs today in the cold. I tried both looks - traditional and my hack version of Ken's prototype. Got some looks but not much interest. Took two fish, both on red hots (22). Pretty tough day all told, but I saw somebody having some fun with 8-10 fish. Would love to know what he was using.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have a specific hopper pattern that works on the swift? I was thinking of tying some, but I'm not sure what I should tie. What size, color, etc?

Jim

nhffo said...

For me, a #14 hooper with a tan-ish body has worked well. Also, an Elk Hair of the same size/color, or olive, has been effective. I sometimes even run a hopper-dropper this time of year, it's better than a strike indicator, and even gets takes in the riffles above the pipe.I caught a nice 'bow on a cranefly of all things last weekend with an egg dropper. It's amazing to me how selective the fish can be there, until they hit something really really random.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Jim,

Check out the flies that I have on the home page of my blog. Most are Swift River patterns and work all year. Tying instructions for most are mentioned on my blog during 2013. Hot spots, swift serendipities and the turkey top (mentioned just a month or so ago on this blog) work very well.

Ken

Anonymous said...

Ken, I think you should call flies like SJW's and "pellets" "guilty pleasure" flies. There are many flies that fall into that category - flies that you almost dont want folks to know you enjoy fishing. SJW's, for some a Vladi worm, egg fly, or other similar fly. But the catch is that they work, and in the end, are guilty pleasures found in the corners - or middles - of our fly boxes...

Will

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Will,

Maybe I should of named them goofy flies instead of lousy. I've met a few anglers who really hate the SJW and would never fish one. I like it's simplicity and the fact that educated swift bows still fall for it.

Ken

Eric said...

I broke out the spey rod and headed to the miller's to swing some flies on Saturday. Ended up getting 2 nice trout (Rainbow & brown) and lost another in a couple hours of fishing the lower C&R area.
-Eric

tbooth said...

Hi All,

Pin Heads and SJW's ruled the day on the Swift Friday. The Pin Head helped me catch the largest rainbow of my life under the tree and then 4 more with the SJW at the pipe. Speaking of the pipe, could we please increase the level of courtesy? Four men showed up after me and all took positions downstream with 100% courtesy shown. Thank You!! Then two gents showed up and parked themselves directly across from me…fishing the exact same water. Fly Fishermen in my eyes are a cut above bait casters and we should act that way. Maybe I’m an idealist.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Tbooth,

That's what happens at the PIPE!!! I was there Sunday around 2 pm after fishing my way downstream. It was crowded so I decided to leave but this gentleman moved over and let me fish for a while. Best thing to do is get there early before the crowds.

I've got a few more hours in this 2013 licence to use!!!

Ken

Anonymous said...

What sizes of San Juan Worms are good at the Swift?

Scott

tbooth said...

Hello,

I usually hit the swift at sun up and never have any issues with the early guys. It's always seems like 1-2 guys at 10:00 that seem to think they own the place. I just move on as I don't want to get into a "discussion". I was using a #16 SJW that I singe with a lighter to make it thin and dark pink.

flyfisher1000 said...

I like micro-tan chenille...sindged...then a red and black 6-0t, twisted 2 gether that forms the neck...size 16 dry hook...then a micro-shot 5 inches above...and stren 4# mist green mono as a tippet...