Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Better Bugger, Charlies Millers Map,A Stream Update And The Farmington

"Fly fishers find it next to impossible to be at the water with a fly rod without taking just a few casts to see what happens"Jon Margolis and Jeff MacNelly

My friend Joe took one look and said "your woolly buggers look like insects". This may have been the best compliment I have received for a fly that I don't like to tie. My friend and fish hawk Brad says that he buys his buggers because he's sick of tying them. Love them or hate them buggers catch fish but I've found a style that seems to work better than that bulky, overdressed thing that has taken over the scene and it gives you a feeling of imitating a natural.

First, buggers are getting too large. Try cutting them down. Instead of size 6 or 8 try a size 10 or 12 on a nymph hook.

Second, eliminate the chenille body and go with a dubbed body or a peacock herl body. Keeping it slim is the key. Use thin wire ribbing when using peacock.

Put a bit of flash in the tail.

This fly works well with some weight or without weight in low water conditions (yes, the photos have beadheads: do what you have to do). I think that the large bulky buggers are more or a bait fish imitation. My small buggers cover the ground for large nymphs, hellgrammites, stoneflies and maybe baitfish.

They catch trout, period!

Charlie at the Evening Sun Fly Shop has come up with a good map of the Millers River. I worked with him for a year on this and it will work for you. It dove tailes well with my Millers Guide. Get it at Charlies. It's worth it!!!

The EB has been doing well, the Millers has been very good, the Ware has been getting it done in good form and the Swift depends who you've been taking to. Bad news changes into good news right after a stocking (duh). We know one thing: the Swift will be fishing better in May and even better in June and GREAT from July onward. Right now it's fun down on Cady Lane chasing brookies and the bows that are down there.

A Statistic On The Farmington - I've always said that the Farmington is the best fly fishing river in New England. Being a BIG tailwater certainly helps but this statistic warrants consideration. From the Guide to fishing the Farmington Riverin the 2008 edition it says the "Department of Environmental Protection stocks approximately 46,000 trout into 28 miles of river annually." WOW, that's a lot of trout!! Massachusetts stocks approximately 10,000 trout into the Millers which is close to the length of the Farmie. Ok, the Millers isn't a tailwater BUT you have to admit that the Farmington is loaded with fish. I have good catches when I'm there and I hear of very good days. Maybe (maybe,maybe ,maybe) there are toooooo many fish there.

Food for thought.



tincup said...

Been tying that way for years. In using the smaller nymph hooks replace the bead with a small amount of tin (lead replacement). For a third of the front of hook. Replace the tail of marabou with a rabbit strip pulled off the skin. And even replace the hackle feather with a rabbit loop brush made with thin wire and lots of rabbit hair, pulling it back as you wind it on the hook. But I guess you don't call it a wooly bugger then. It Just looks bugger. And yes always add flash.

Patrick Maloney said...

I completely agree that thinner profile buggers seem to work better. I'm relatively new to fly fishing and haven't yet started tying but I've been buying more and more flies online since I can find better flies that fit my needs. I'd like to support the local fly shops but they rarely have the "good" flies in stock. Not to brag (but completely to brag) I caught the largest trout of my life on a brown and black bugger last Sunday during a slight drizzle on the main branch of the westfield. It was easily 20 inches and around 4-5lbs.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Good to see that you are beyond the curve with recreating the bugger.


I'm trying to put together at group of flies that work on OUR rivers and these flies will be found nowhere else. Give me time!


BobT said...

They really do stock the *bleep* out of the Farmington. I used to be a regular in the 90's through early 2000's. I probably fished it more than any river during those years. It has a lot of fish put in but it did(and probably still does) have a huge poaching problem and holdovers definitely exist there-I went there with the intention of taking a holdover and yeah a bunch of stockies got in the way but I always thought I was doing the river a service by "educating" them. It has pretty good water and geology to be an excellent trout stream. Some of the best parts of it are aways away from stocking points and rarely spoken of in terms of fishing spots. I don't think the Millers could stack up in pure potential because of water flows and temps in the summer-can it be better than it is now, definitely. It should be a brown trout fishery with enhanced regulation for C&R as you have said many times Ken

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Bob T,

I agree!!

Quinneyfish said...

Ken. Scouted the ware and did not find too many entry points. Tried Soccer field and on other side on river RE the campground. Did not see many washable spots. Any help?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the patterns - and the blog. Tied some of these last night and took a number of trout out of the upper deerfield with them today. Really appreciate all the information you pass along!

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Hmm... I don't know of that soccer field but the Church Street bridge is one spot that has easy access and lots of water. Also upstream from the covered bridge in Gilbertville is another.


Thank You!!


Anonymous said...

I like the more slender buggers this time of year. They always seem to move more fish. Come October or so, the streamline buggers get replaced by the larger, bushier buggers. They always seem to move more fish.
Nice looking flies. I like the dubbed body! Think ill tie afew this afternoon and try them out this evening! Cheers.


Andrew said...

As you mentioned the Ware, just back from there now. There were three other cars parked at Church Street. I did not see anyone below when looking at the bridge. I decided to walk quite a bit upstream. Walked up about 3/4 mile (not as far as water treatment); far enough that there was no fresh path/footprints. River was high (over its bank) and a bit discolored.

Settled in to fish some riffles after not finding anyone in the deep pools below it. Funny thing--it would rain hard for 20+ minutes, then suddenly stop, and sky would brighten. Each time it started to get bright started to see splashy rises in the riffles. Looked like some gray caddis, but no like with dry caddis patterns.

Found success when I put on Brown/Green Deep Sparkle Pupa and fished quartered downstream. Caught four trout. All were healthy looking browns. Rain started and fishing turned off. Finally had to get out--pretty chilled. When I got back to Church Street I was the only car left.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


You got it done on a GOOD river and you were the only one left. Love that!!!
Thanks for the report!!


Falsecast said...

Hi Ken - That is a great bugger. I always think of the WB as either being more "bait fish"-like or more "buggy"-like. This one you can dead drift, great on these waters.

I fished the Housy yesterday and today for 6 hours each day and saw a total of 3 FF on the water and 1 group of kids having fun near a bridge. The Green Caddis hatch has been amazing. Caught about 15 fish, all chunky browns, including a pig that I lost that was foul hooked long enough to see it was a full 20 before the tippet broke, all on size 16 EHC dries. I went prepared to fish the Hendrickson's, but the caddis in the rain took the day because the rises were everywhere. Some high water and a bit sketchy wading, but coming down. That's my way of justifying the complete dunk I took at 8am. :) Once I was soaked the all day rain wasn't bad at all :)

Parachute Adams said...

It is great to read reports from fly fishermen on rivers other than the highly sought after and fished ones. There is a stretch on the Ware River to the east of Rt. 181 in Palmer that is in my future plans which looks good for both trout and smallmouth bass. A little high right now, but when it settles down I am there. Regards, Sam

Anonymous said...

Hello all I've been fishing smaller rabbit fur streamers and buggers in olive and black with some flash for a while now as my go to streamer. Ken I agree that the smaller slender profile of the bugger this way can cross it over into the nymph category. One of my favorite ways to fish it is dead drift quartered up stream then finish with a swing. I caught a few hefty rainbows this way last Tuesday on the Ware. I fished up stream from the covered bridge and I think the water was running a little high( first time on this river) but managed to take a few working the seams. One real hard fighter broke me off that seemed like a good fish. I can't wait to get into some dry fly action on this river and it's not far from the swift or millers so it is a good plan B or even plan A river! Had been on the fence about trying this river for a while thanks for the info on where to start.

Paul Fay

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I have to fish the Housy. It's been 12 years since my last cast on it. Do you fish Ma and CT also on this river?


The Ware is a gem. It's not one of the glamour rivers but a good, solid backyard river that has been getting it done this year.


That's been my technique too! Very effective.

JohnD said...

Is there a more prolific hendrickson hatch than on the Framington below the dam. That makes that river very special during that hatch, but also other hatches are good, but less numerous.I haven't had a chance to get there in about 3 years, but think about it often this time of year. I love the Millers, but it lacks significant hatches.

Don said...

That is a lot of fish per mile, but I do catch a good number of holdovers and wild fish there. That said, yesterday, I was catching stocked rainbows, one after the other...not complaining.

Here's an interesting comparison: some western tailwaters that I used to fish everyweek when I lived in CO have ~4-5,000 fish per mile. These are streams that have average flows of 100-250cfs.

If the Farmington stocks 48K fish over 28 miles, that's like 1,800ish fish per mile...then add in wild and holdover fish, and the fact that the Farmington is about twice the CFS of many western could argue that it's a reasonable number of fish. That said, I'd always rather be catching wild fish. Go to the Farmington, you get a mix...but you also have a good chance of getting way into double digits in a day of fishing. Very common out west...not that common on pure, wild streams out east.