Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Favorite Styles Of Fly Fishing

For this form of fishing (with a sunken fly) the rod is no longer a shooting machine but a receiving post, with super-sensitive antennae, capable of registering immediately the slightest reaction of the fish to the fly - Charles Ritz, A Fly Fisher's Life

First off, I hate weight!! Be it wire or beads (really hate beads) I try my best to avoid it. Granted, there are times when it is necessary especially in the cold, deep flows of early Spring when nothing is hatching. When fishing the EB or the Millers under these conditions the weight is built into the fly. When fishing the Swift it is almost NEVER built in but attached in the form of a micro shot a foot or more above the fly. Why is that? Most of my Swift fishing is done below Rt. 9 where the river is more fertile and produces more weed beds than above Rt. 9. Weighted flies will pick up weeds. When fishing a fly and shot combo it's the micro shot that will pick up weeds as the fly rides just above the weeds which is where you want it. When fishing the Swift I'm almost always fishing some kind of emerging pattern micro shot or not. If I see surface activity starting it's easy to ditch the shot and fish the fly higher in the water than yanking off the bead head for something more sensible.

Second, I don't like bottom dredging but know that it has it's time and place. This includes high sticking and/or Czech nymphing. I find both forms to be situational: a nice run that's within 10 feet of me requires the above approach but I wouldn't apply the same technique to most situations like I've seen over the past few years. Remember, you spent big bucks for that long, lightweight casting machine and I don't believe it was meant to be used like an ice fishing jigging rod!

Third, I live for the Dry Fly! In 2009 I fished the EB from Memorial Day through Labor Day without going subsurface once and did very well and it's been pretty much the same since then. The same goes for the Millers. In fact, I enjoy dry fly fishing on the EB and the Millers (and the Squannacook) more than on the Swift. Why is that? The Swift, especially below the Pipe, has rising trout all year long and I've done well with tiny flies but I know that I'm floating over MANY rising trout on every cast. Many will refuse my dry on every cast for one reason or another but then one takes it. One gets the feeling that its more of a game of chance or whether or not you got there before anyone else did to have the best position. On freestones you are not going to have the concentrations of fish like the Swift. It's going to be YOU vs.THE TROUT and you have to not screw up the cast or drift because some dumb brookie two feet below that wise old brown isn't going to save the day for you. It's a different game and I like it! My favorite dry fly stretch on the Swift is_________. Not lots of fish but enough to keep me occupied.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Trout That Didn't Stand A Chance And Happy Thanksgiving!

Every day I see the head of the largest trout I ever hooked, but did not land.-Theodore Gordon (1914)

Strange things happen. My client was drifting a size 20 micro egg through some skinny riffles when he hooked a train that tore off upstream and downstream. It was BIG but something was wrong. I could see from the fight and and placement of the line that the brute was foul hooked in the back but the amazing thing was that it was still on. How could a size 20 hook, embedded in the broad back of a trout, still be there.?

Here's the answer. Someone, fishing some kind of black coneheaded strip leech pattern, hooked the trout in the back and broke him off. Our fly got snagged in the conehead portion of the fly. So, If you were fishing the Swift below the gauge and using that fly the one that got away was over 20 inches and at least three pounds!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Make it a safe one and maybe I'll see you on the EB on Friday!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Skinny Water Setup For The Swift And Some December Dates.

"Elmer's most favored flies are uncomplicated and impressionistic: a few turns of thread or dubbing can often go a long way"
From Swift River, Ma. The Lost Valley's Tailwater by Christophe Perez in Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine, January/February 2014

I love this low flow on the Swift. It makes you hunt for the trout and stalking is the name of the game. A few posts back I mentioned how the shadow of a person walking along the bank fell on the "thin" water and sent the trout running for cover. The ripples from careless wading will do the same thing and so will your fly line hitting the water when fish are in less than five inches of water. That low water condition is all over the lower Swift (not the pipe or the tree pool of course) and I needed a system to be successful.

First, a 15ft salmon/steelhead leader tapered to 4x with an additional 5ft of 5x was looped to my 2wt Triangle Taper line. Here comes the fun part - This line was mounted to a 10ft 4 WEIGHT Grey's rod!!!!! It's the longest trout rod that I have. Would this rig work?? It worked like a dream. First, the full flex Grey cast that 20ft of leader without a problem. When I put 15 feet of fly line beyond the rod tip everything worked fine - my midge larvae pattern fell on the water like dust!!

Before you say that I'm doing a French/Spanish nymph thing notice that I'm not relying on bead heads to propel my line like they do. Any weighted fly would be dragged through the moss under these conditions. Actually I'm getting sick of bead heads and only fish them when I need to get DOWN. I like flies "in the drift"!

Brook trout were holding in water that barely covered their backs. Bows were holding below them with their backs exposed!! I didn't want to be within 25 ft of these fish and this setup made that possible. I took bows and brookies with a very simple larvae pattern: size 20 to 24 scud hook, brown thread from the bend to the thorax for the body, a few strands of midge flash for a wing stub and finishing with a black head of black thread. Wicked simple, wicked effective.

Soon I'll have some thoughts on rod and line weights. That will be fun.

November has actually been a nice month weather wise and the fishing has been good. We had some good days in December last year which ended when the Ice Age started in January. A 45 degree day in December is like a 45 degree day in April so book a date. Deposits are never required so if the weather turns bad we can cancel. As simple as that!


Friday, November 20, 2015

Fiberglass And Graphite: A Short History And A Good Morning On The Swift.

My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things-trout as well as eternal salvation-come by grace and grace comes by art and art does not come easy. NORMAN MACLEAN -A River Runs Through It

I met a young guy on the Swift last year who said that he was interested in buying one of those NEW fiberglass rods that are being offered. I mentioned how more companies seem to be getting BACK into the fiberglass business and he seemed puzzled. That's because he wasn't even born when graphite swept fiberglass aside over 40 years ago. It was a new material to him. Here's a brief history and a personal opinion.

Bamboo ruled the fishing rod business until just after World War ll. Bamboo came in all grades and sizes. Some were junk and some were treasures but they all had a certain limitation - 8 ft was the maximum length for a easy casting trout fly rod and that rod topped out with a 6 wt.(sometimes a 5 wt) fly line. The "odd" length of 7 1/2 ft was an American invention to make the lightest long rod possible. It stopped there.

Then came fiberglass and the mass producers of bamboo rods were doomed. Fiberglass was cheap, very strong and lighter than bamboo in most cases. Now, some fiberglass rods were also junk but some companies really ran with this material and made very good rods. Fenwick was one of them. Up until the late 1960's glass rod makers used metal ferrules just like the bamboo boys. Then Fenwick invented the SLIP ON ferrule (feralite) and that was a real game changer. In my opinion it was the most significant improvement in the manufacturing of rods EVER!!! Less weight and no dead spots!! But fiberglass still had it's design limits. increased length = increased weight was the main one. The best fiberglass rods for fly fishing for trout topped out at 7 1/2 ft.

My first quality fly rod was a 7 ft Fenwick FF70 for a 5 wt line. I caught a ton of trout with it under ALL conditions and actually thought that I may never need another rod (HAHA). Then came GRAPHITE!

There are certain times in ones life where one experiences something that is far greater than anything experienced before. My first cast of a graphite rod did that. It was 8 1/2 ft 5 wt that was the same weight as the above mentioned Fenwick. IT WAS SOOO LIGHT!! It loaded like a dream and shot line like a cannon. An added feature of that rod length was that now I could cast above tall bank side grass and shrubs, an act not done successfully with a shorter rod. In short order we were introduced to 9 ft and 10 ft rods and 4 wts and 3 wts. That's when things got crazy and that's for another post.

How does fiberglass stack up to graphite? It doesn't and that's my humble opinion. Fiberglass rod makers still run up against the 8 ft barrier (even with rod design improvements) but will charge you more than 10 times what I paid for that Fenwick 40 years ago and that Fenwick still casts the same as newer models. I still occasionally take out that Fenwick for a few casts on the Swift but it's retired and replaced by better things.


A very good Friday morning on the Swift getting Brooks and Bows on size 20 to 24 larvae patterns in less than 5 inches of water. I'll write about it later.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Midge Heaven And More Conventional Wisdom Exposed And Lost Glasses

The Swift has been very productive especially down below Rt 9 and right now it's a given that you will have sipping trout below the pipe on any given day. This past summer I explained that the phenomenal surface active was the result of the hatchery discharge. This nutrient laden water adds to the insect life and midge species in particular. In fact, it is also reasonable to assume that the midge population might actually come from the hatchery itself and from the settling ponds in particular.

So, what do you use? Soft hackles of course in sizes 16 and 18! No gnarly bead heads unless you want to be picking moss off your fly on every other cast. Just drift these flies two or three inches below the surface in that shallow flow for success.

We fished micro eggs (18 and 20) with success and capped off a good day with an 18 to 20 inch 2 lb plus rainbow that inhaled a size 28 midge larvae. That leads us to the question: "It's Fall. How come you're not fishing streamers?" Answer: there's a hundred trout working the surface and probably double that feeding just a few inches below. They're feeding on small insects so that's what we are using. The Conventional Wisdom says that in the Fall trout want to stock up for the long winter ahead so you begin to hear stories about "put'n on the feed bag" and monster streamers. It just isn't true according to Tom Rosenbauer in his "Secrets of Fall Trout Fishing". Rosenbauer cites that biologists have found that trout feed less in the Fall then they do in May and June. As water temperatures drop the metabolism of trout drops meaning they will require LESS food. There may be a feeding spike in September as the heat of summer begins to wane but once the water drops below 50 degrees feeding decreases.

Trout are opportunists and will generally go for the food source that is most prevalent and the easiest to catch. Small flies on the Swift were the ticket yesterday. Would a streamer have worked? Remember,'bows have been inhaling 2 to 5 inch brookies all summer long so a streamer would of worked but maybe not as well as in June.

I like small flies anyway.

Eye glasses were found by the Pipe. See comments for getting them back.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Comparadun - My Favorite Dry Fly Pattern And Fish This Weekend

We can thank the Fran Betters for creating the basics for this style of tying and Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi getting it out to the masses. They created the Comparadun pattern, a hackle-less dry fly in the early 1970's that sent the traditional hackled Catskill style of flies on a downward slide in popularity and basically took over my fly boxes! It is the style of dry fly that I have used to catch 90% of the rising trout that I have caught. (hoppers, beetles and a few Wulff patterns are all of the hackled flies that I use and not that often)

One can go online and easily find the pattern and materials used but the main ingredient is the wing material. The fine hair from a deer mask is the most popular. I've heard that the hair from a Florida coastal deer is great but I've never used it. Shoeshoe Hare's foot fur also works although it doesn't give us the nice sharp profile that deer hair does. (that's why I can't stand the "Usual", a truly ugly fly)

Deer mask and snowshoe hare work great from sizes 12 through 18. CDC is a great wing material for this style in sizes 20 and under. Now, why does this pattern work? These wing materials know how to float and the allow the body of the fly (the most important part) to ride down in the surface and not be obscured by wraps of hackle. It's simplicity allows it to represent any mayfly from early season Hendricksons to late season BWO's in the dun stage.

This style works great for emerger patterns as demonstrated in Bob Wyatt's great book "What Trout Want: The Educated Trout And Other Myths".

Most of my Millers Trout over the decades that rose to one of my offerings rose to an olive comparadun in Sizes 14 through 18. Same for the EB. I tie the emerger patterns on small scud hooks without tailing material.

Note: when tying very small dry flies (28-32) keep your bodies SPARSE. Too much material means too much weight and water absorption plus too much material gives your flies that "squashed bug" look. Remember, size and profile are what counts. Thread or fine quill will do the job.

Google up "Comparadun" and view the hundreds of photos and videos. I don't post videos by others on this site. It's a boundary thing I guess but I will direct you to them.

This weekend - all systems are "GO". All the rivers are as good as they are going to get. Go for it!!!


P.S. Click the fly photos for a close up view.

Monday, November 9, 2015

2015: Rating The Three Rivers

It's time to rate the three rivers: the EB, the Millers and the Swift as we do every year. Ok, the season isn't over yet but with the clocks being turned back our time on the water has been greatly reduced. It is a time to reflect at bit. Now, this is not a popularity contest nor does it pit one river against another. The best way to describe this exercise is to compare each river to what it has been historically. Did this season measure up to or exceed the previous seasons or was it an off year. I think I have enough years on the three to have fun with this. Here it is:

Third Place is the Swift: "What, are you crazy?? It's the F'n Swift you're talking about!!!". Yes, I can hear it now from the devotees but shake off the amnesia and think back to last Winter and Spring. Winter was always a productive time on this river but not 2015. The trout were GONE, period! Nor was the Spring with a steady 220 cfs flow that made it a playground for the bait boys. Then the State appeared to forget that the river existed and stocking was delayed or all we got was a handout while places like Jamaica Pond got photo opt stockings. Finally July and it's regulation changes came around and everything was nice but not nice enough to make up for the worst seasonal start that I've ever witnessed. It could of been better.

Second Place is the Millers: A great start for this river occurred last Spring as the flows stayed manageable and the trout were willing. And then Spring rolled into Summer that the Millers was still getting it done. Evenings were great and I was hoping that we would not be hit by a Summer flood that would blow the river out for a month. Instead the watershed got slammed by a brutal drought. Yes, I still had some surface action in late July and early August but by then I decided to give the place a break. It's fishing well now as the reports coming to me indicate. Overall it was a better year then most over the last five years. It was a good year on the Millers.

FIRST PLACE IS THE EB: This place just never stopped producing this season even when you take out the Fall stockings. Last May I predicted that the overload of brook trout stocked that month would croak by mid July but that wasn't the case. They rose to the fly right through August. Bows and browns stayed for the Summer too. It was not the epic year of 2009 but it wasn't far off. It was my favorite place to be in 2015.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Zebra Worm

On a December 10 2013 post I showed a new style of tying the time worn San Juan Worm. I got over two dozen comments about the style where instead of tying the chenille in the middle of the hook shank I tied it in at the head of the fly which avoided the ends folding over themselves which ANY worm would not do. The "worm" dangles in the current and attracts trout. It works.

Now lets look at playing with this puppy. All SJW's have one color. How about 2 or 3??

Here's the ZEBRA WORM!

Take a foot of ultra thin chenille (any color you want) and wrap it around a pencil in tight wraps.

Take a water proof SHARPIE (of contrasting color, mine is pink chenille with a brown sharpie) and mark up the chenille on opposite sides.

Pull the chenille off of the pencil and start tying!! There are too many color combinations to mention and we get to see what combinations work for our friends the trout. Tie it my way or the traditional way. I think it will work!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Charlie On The Squannie And A Weekend Update.

Here's a note from Charlie Shadan of the Evening Sun Fly Shop:

I fished the Squann. on Tues. 11/3/15.I caught my biggest rainbow of the year 16 1/2" and 2 browns also.The weather was magical and the experience was a "memory"!!!! There are sippers all along the river and stealth is important in approaching them.One cast is all you'll get if you make a mistake say goodbye to that fish.The water temp. is in the 40's and the fish are there for the pursuing--notice I did not say for the "taking"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Call me if you need more info on my day.Thank you for all that you do for me.

The key words are "sippers" and "stealth". I'll be joining Charlie next week to revisit my old stomping grounds. In the meantime you should visit this river if you haven't been there in a while and if you have never been there stop in at Evening Sun and get Charlies map of the river.

We are experiencing a true "Indian Summer" with temperatures in the 60's for the next week and no rain in the forecast till next Wednesday. All rivers are perfect including the Millers with the best action being at mid day. In fact, this kind of weather will bring out the BWO's on the Millers in swarms. The same may be true for the EB. BTW, last weeks 1400 flow scattered the pods of trout and now you really have to fish for them. I did have some success with a small marabou streamer in a size 12. White marabou below the shank, green above the shank and grey on the top. It looks like those two inch long emerald sided shiners that are all over that river.

And the Swift.....Check out the brookies above Rt.9. As many as last year and they seem bigger. We've always had brook trout in that river but the last 5 years have been amazing. One thing that I've noticed is that the brookies seem to be building their redds not in the middle of the stream but along the sides leaving safe passage for anglers or for anyone who wants to witness this event.

Go Fish!


Monday, November 2, 2015

Follow The Leader And A Squannacook Thank You

Two clients and I were moving in closer to casting range of a group of spawning brookies in the long flat below the gauge. Our steps were small with no ripples in the water. Just then a fly fisher came walking down the path to the Pipe. His shadow hit the water for a second and those brookies scattered. At a 46cfs flow that is all that it takes for trout to sound the alarm. These conditions have caused me to lengthen my leaders. My 9ft leaders became 12ft leaders and my 12 ft leaders have become 15ft leaders. They're still tipped with 5x for subsurface action which the trout don't seem to mind and the fly line (the real culprit when it comes to spooking trout) is far enough away to be of no concern. Now I'm working 20 ft plus leaders into the mix. Don't get brave and think that you have to build these from scratch because you don't. I bought a 9 ft 1x leader, cut off a foot of tippet to make it 8 ft. Then I attached 5ft of 3x, 4ft of 4x and then 3ft of 5x. I built in a 12 inch "sighter" of florescent yellow backing material into one of them but haven't bothered using it since they work well without them.

My next step will be to go buy some 16ft, 1x salmon leaders so I can take this game to its limit. This is a "Swift Rig" or pond rig as long as the wind isn't blowing.

The Swift has been fishing great and the Millers has just started to come down from last Wednesday's rain. The rains moved the EB trout out of their pods to the point where some very skilled fishermen got totally blanked this past weekend. Some questioned whether the river was actually stocked!! I referred them to this blog. Anyway, hit the EB this week and the Millers too because the flows will be good (sub 400 cfs on the Millers by Wednesday) and the weather great.

Charlie from Evening Sun gave me a call to tell me of the readers of this blog who have come in to tell him that the Squannie is receiving some good press instead of no press at all. He appreciates this uptick in interest. Also, I've been getting a very good amount of comments and emails about a lot of our rivers especially the Stillwater. KEEP IT COMING!!!!!!!

Charlie and I will be hitting the Squannacook or the EB this month if we can somehow find the time.

Keep fishing!!!