"The fishing was good. It was the catching that was bad" A.K. Best
(Photo from Hatch Guide for New England Streams by Thomas Ames, Jr.)
Bill said it best yesterday on the Swift: "It's the slow time of year." It's the time of year where I start to organize, reorganize, create new flies and toss others out. It's also the time where I begin to think of Spring and the start of the REAL dry fly season. I said REAL because I'm not talking about tossing micro-flies or rubber legged space insects but fishing over that steady parade of MAYFLIES that start in April and then continue through the season. Just the hint that Hendricksons are hatching will make a dry fly man's legs go weak. Count the Sulphurs and the BWO's in that mix and you are hooked.
This year I'll highlight some of the important insects that I find on my favorite rivers with some personal notes.
Quill Gordon - It was early May last year on the EB when a fellow fly fisher looked up to the sky and said "look at all the hendricksons!!"The sky was certainly full of mayflies grouping up for their spinner stage but they were not hendricksons. They were Quill Gordons which are often mistaken for the other insect because their hatching times overlap. The QG is also a bit smaller and a bit darker than it's more famous cousin but the real way to tell them apart is the fact that the QG has only TWO TAILS while the hendrickson has three!
The Gordon also has a strange habit of NOT rising to the surface to shed it's nymph skin like most other mayflies but hatches on the bottom of the stream and swims to the surface with it's fully developed wings trailing behind them. This stage is imitated very well with soft hackles with an olive/brown body color especially if tied with gray hen hackle to match the wing color of the insect. Traditional wet flies like the lead wing coachman work too. Cast up and across the stream mending your line as it swings downstream. When the fly is below you raise the rod and then lower it quickly. That will bring the fly UP and followed by a drop to lower levels of the stream. Then it will rise again before the next cast. This is the Leisenring Lift and it mimics the hatching antics of the insect.
This bug loves riffles. Find the riffles and you will find Quill Gordons.
The newly hatched insect seems to take it's time getting off the water. This may be the result of having to dry off it's wings after it's swim to the surface or the fact that it's still early Spring and it's still fairly cool. In any event they are sitting ducks for any trout that wants them.
I use one fly to represent Gordons and hendricksons and that's a brownish olive comparadun with deer hair that colored gray. It may be sacrilege to some but I have no use for the classic Quill Gordon fly. It's pretty but....