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.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bead Heads Unmasked And Big Fish Eat Little Fish On The Swift Part 2


I'll never be as efficient or as stylish a caster as I'd like to be. I was fishing with a friend once and we got to talking about casting during a break. I said I always wanted to be a pretty caster (maybe trolling for a little compliment) He said "well, you're not, but you get the fly where you want it to go and that's what counts."John Gierach

In a blog post a few months ago I came out and said that I felt that bead heads flies were attractor flies, one step up from lures.

The logic behind the statement was that when a hendrickson or sulphur nymph comes drifting by a trout knows what it is by being very familiar with the insect. When a hendrickson beadhead or a sulphur beadhead comes plodding by the trout has NEVER seen anything like it in the natural world because of the shiny orb growing out of the insect's head. He will attack it and try to eat it but for other reasons why it will attack and eat a natural nymph or an unadorned pheasant tail. (that's why I like soft hackles - they are so natural.) My thesis is that trout go after the shiny orb instead of the body of the nymph. Could I prove it.?

So, I tied up, or rather glued up up some bead head nymphs sans bodies. Just a bead on the appropriate sized hook with epoxy to secure and hit the Swift. The short story was that I took 1 brown, 2 brookies and had some misses in about 15 minutes of fishing. I used a fly with no body beside the hook shank and caught fish BECAUSE of the shiny, unnatural orb, period.

This makes me question the gazillion bead head patterns with god knows how many different body material combinations that are out there. Does the body make any difference?? Maybe not. Maybe the bead head aficionados may want to give up beads for a month and see what the catch rate is. Depth can be achieved with a little micro shot too. In short, it may be the bead that catches the fish and not the "fly".


The Swift has been SLOW but it is a relief to fish without the hordes above or below RT 9. Two days in a row (Saturday and Sunday) me and my clients were the only ones at the PIPE. We caught bows and browns in addition to the brookies but not of any number or size. The very cool event was today when my client and I saw a 16 to 18 inch brown grab a 6 inch brookie at mid section down at Cady Lane and then take about 5 minutes to swallow it head first. After lunch we came back with marabou streamers which the brookies LOVED but the browns and the bows past up. I will have them ready next time.

It's raining hard at I write this (6:30 pm). We need the rain but watch the flows especially on the Millers and the EB (check the EB flow formula on my previous post in case the gauge is still down.

Ken

23 comments:

Falsecast said...

I showed up at the Swift at about 2 fished for 3 hours above rte 9 alone, a rare thing these days, in a total downpour :) For shear laziness I stripped one those "thin" buggers with a gold bead. I took 2 Browns/1 Bows from the Y pool and 2 Bows at the cable before bailing. Who knows, Ken, maybe they were just eating the bead! :)

Anonymous said...

Ken,

I read somewhere that single brass beads have been used to imitate stray trout eggs. Maybe the only time a bead actually represents something.

Jim H.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Any idea why there's so few trout in the Swift?

Tony

Anonymous said...

So, your point is ... fishing a bead head nymph isn't fly fishing, but a weighted nymph with shot is fly fishing? Who cares if there are 1000's of new patterns "invented" every year. It's good for the fly shops and fun for tiers. Do the trout care? No. Do the new pattern's out fish the traditional? No
After 45 years of flyfishing I discovered tight line nymphing. Is it as much fun as drys? No. But when nothing is happening and the water conditions are correct, its better than practicing my casting. I find the simple bead head patterns to be less frustrating to fish than a nymph under a string of shot, and I dislike indicators (bobbers). I do fish tandem bead heads and invariably find that fish will prefer one pattern over another, even though both have the same color bead, but a different color body.
Give me some assorted Pheasant tails (some with bead heads), Soft hackle streamers, Usuals, Ausable Bombers, Sparrows, Adams Parachutes and Griffiths Gnats and I am good to go for Trout, top to bottom.

Josh said...

Tony,

Probably not a huge factor, but a contributor, i've seen the same guy and his wife twice with 4-6 trout each on metal stringers at the pipe. The second time I saw him leaving and went home to see that he was indeed exceeding the limit by a fair amount. He had a few spinners with treble hooks attached together and I did catch a few that day after he left that were all torn up from being snagged.

The Y-Pool is loaded, thats about it. The lower swift has been great. The pipe needs a solid stocking after the regulation change.

Dave D. said...

Ken,

The fact that you were able to catch fish on just a beadhead is pretty humbling for me. It also makes me wonder if just the flash could be attracting them. Do you think that the flash from a hook alone could would work, and if this is the case would that mean that all flies are at some level attractors?

I'd be interested to know if trout prefer beadhead nymphs, solo beadheads or a bare hook. Perhaps fishing a dual or triple rig could answer these questions. I'd also like to know how the beadhead free nymphs fare compared to beadhead nymphs fished side by side. I would undertake these experiments myself but I am simply not good enough at nymph fishing. Yet.

I did land a nice brown on the Quinipoxet with a sparse bugger last night and I thank you for that recommendation.

-Dave

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous,
I never said that fishing a bead head was not fly fishing. I said that it was attractor fly fishing and that the BODY on the fly was not so important. You said "Do the trout care, No!" was your statement. Trout will zero in on the bead head regardless of the body material.
A "string of shot" (your words) is not what I do. One Mico shot 15 to 18 inches about the fly does it more me on streams like the Swift more me.

Dave D.
It's the flash and the jigging motion of a bead head that gets attention.

"Do you think that the flash alone from a bare hook would work"? I LOVE THIS QUESTION!! There is evidence from a 100 years ago that it would work. Conclusive? I don't know! It's what makes this sport what it is.

Andrew said...

To Josh's comment about seeing someone walk away with an illegal quantity of trout, has anyone ever reported actions to the Mass Environmental Police? I have read about several recent arrests MEP has made of saltwater fishermen. I have not called the MEP but curious if others have called them. And if they found this to be effective. Main question is if MEP could reasonably get to a location in time to catch the anglers red-handed.

http://www.mass.gov/eea/grants-and-tech-assistance/enforcement/environmental-police/contact-us-generic.html
Inland Enforcement Bureau

Massachusetts Environmental Police
Inland Enforcement Bureau Headquarters
183 Milk Street
Westboro, MA 01581

Phone
(508) 366-6537 or (508) 366-6420
Office hours: 9:00AM - 5:00PM MON-FRI

TROUT said...

Personally, I think bead heads are a logical evolution in the sport of fly fishing. At some point in history, a vast majority of anglers probably would have scoffed at using split shot.

Tying a weighted bead into the fly is simplifying and incorporating the split shot into the fly itself. One could argue that the bead head's color and reflection properties can determine whether or not it should be classified as an attractor fly. If the bead is a shiny gold or a bright copper, it could be an attractor. They also make matte beads in black, brown, or whatever color you can imagine. I use beads of all colors and finishes to tie my flies, and I don't think much about it. The only place it would seem to matter is if you're fishing in a "most natural fly" competition, and if we want to take it that far; I suppose we should all be carving our hooks out of bone. :)

That being said, I do favor fishing in the style of those who fished before me. I think that indicators and sighters start to make things too easy, and could breed a fish counting mentality.

marc tareila said...

Ken,

I think that when you make comments like "Dredging the bottom with some shiny, nondescript, graceless excuse for a fly suspended beneath a miniature lobster buoy sends me in the other direction!", it comes across as if you mean that fishing a bead head is not fly fishing..

I used to use micro shot but now I tend to use a weighted nymph instead, and rig an unweighted nymph to that. I've found that when using 7x, I don't like to pinch a micro shot to it because it weakens the tippet..

/marc

Parachute Adams said...

Ken, question if I may about fishing sub surface without an indicator. Should my fly line remain floating with the leader and fly drifting underneath? Ideally that is the way I would like it. Lately too much for my liking the fly line goes deep too making it hard to detect a hit. Thanks, Sam

Millers River Flyfisher said...

TROUT,

I think that bead heads are not a logical evolution but a step backwards to when many American flies were of a gaudy nature meant to attract trout with color schemes and not to represent an insect in it's natural form. Most of the 20th century of fly fishing in this country has dealt with representation and not with attraction.

Dull colored beads also do the same thing that bright beads do: impart a jigging motion (unnatural) to the fly that you don't find in a natural insect.

It's still fly fishing but...

MARC,
Thank you for digging out that quote from a few posts ago. I was hoping it would raise some hackles!

I don't think that fishing a bead is not fly fishing. I think of it as a coarse form of the sport/endeavor as compared to drifting a soft hackle in the current to imitate an emerging insect or when fishing a size 18 emerger to a rising trout. What would you rather do? My soft hackle technique works in heavy water too.

Before you go off on using shot with 7x please read my July 8, 2015 post on 7x AND read the comments attached. 7x for subsurface???????

Ken

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Sam,

Don't worry too much about that. To solve the problem fish a shorter line. Your line is being dragged under by conflicting/cross currents that play havoc with your line. Fish shorter and fish holding areas near you.

Ken

Parachute Adams said...

Thanks, Ken. The lower Swift still has trout in it, mostly browns lately which fight like crazy. Brookies putting on quite the aerial display hitting whatever is hatching, many coming clear out of the water to get what they want to eat. Rainbows don't seem to want to hit lately, though I think I had a good one on tonight briefly. Regards, Sam

lenny tamule said...

I think beadheads are almost hindering. Being the minimalist I am I tie all my flies as slim as I possibly can, and using a bead results in a fly that is a little thicker than normal. When finishing off a fly and tying a head, only a few turns are needed and I don't think that many people if any at all are tying heads remotely close to the size of the head. The head also reduces the amount of space on the hook to work with.

Tung putty allows you to tie the slimmest of flies and still get them down, all while being able to create as much weight as you desire. Its easily adjustable and it doesn't weaken your line at all.

Lenny

TROUT said...

I think split shot can impart a jigging motion just as well as a bead head. It depends on how you fish it.

For me, split shot can be a bit wasteful, as it's almost never reusable. At least with a bead head, I'm conserving my resources a bit better with the weight incorporated into the fly. I also tie nymphs without a bead and use wire to add weight. To each his own.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Lenny,

Thanks for the comment!

Sam,

It looks like a good summer for the lower Swift.


TROUT,

1.When BH's became popular in the 1980's they were referred to as "jigs" by some, something split shot never was.

2. "as it's almost never reusable". WHAT??? I reuse my tungsten shot all of the time. It's designed to be reused.

3. With shot you can adjust the weight to get the depth that you need without changing flies. The distance between the shot and the fly can be adjusted for the correct depth too.

4. Also, the shot rides lower in the water column than the fly which avoids the weed problems found in areas like the Swift's Gauge Run or Bondsville.

5. We both use wire.

Ken

TROUT said...

Ken,

You must use a better split shot than I have, because even "removable" split shot is almost impossible to get off the line in one piece for me. Anyone else have this issue? Anyhow, if you have split shot that's removable, AND doesn't drop down the tippet while casting(making a poor man's bead head), I'd give it a shot. Pun intended.

To be clear, I'm not saying I don't use split shot, because I do, but if I can get away with not using it with a bead head, I'm happy to do so. After all, sometimes when nymphing the difference between a good day and a decent day of fishing is just one split shot away.

I do agree that the shot dropping with the fly suspended higher in the column is good for presentation.

marc tareila said...

Ken,

I would definitely rather fish to a rising trout or imitate an emerging insect, but many times that isn't happening on the stream so I tend to use a weighted nymph instead in those times. I tie my own and always use a combination of tungsten beads and/or lead wraps around the hook shank for my weighted nymphs instead of split shot. I'm not saying there is a right or wrong way of doing this, its just that sometimes you come across as implying that there is your way, and then there is the inferior way, sounding a little 'elitist' in the process.. By the way I still wear a vest instead of a pack - I hope you don't look down on me for that - hahaha, only joking...

Anyway, thanks for the blog, I definitely enjoy reading it here on my breaks at work!

/marc

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Marc,

It's only an inferior way for me. Anyone can do as they want. Ditch the vest (haha)!

Trout,

1. I don't have a problem with slipping tungsten shot.

2. I agree with your last sentence.

Ken

BobT said...

Ken-Where can you get tungsten split shot? I've seen the tin stuff and that is the worst for getting off a leader...not reusable, the lead with the ears is good but illegal in many places now;
If you haven't tried tungsten putty you should, I usually put a small shot on the line #6 or smaller and adjust the weight with the putty; it is soft but hardens up pretty good when it gets cooled by water. You can micro adjust better than with split shot and it can be used around leader knots too. I like the Mojo Mud putty better than the loon but they both do the job.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

BobT,

I bought it at the Deerfield Fly Shop. Comes in assorted sizes and works fine.

Ken

The Eye on Harvard said...

I'm certainly no expert here, but re-using split shot is easy as long as you don't mangle it with your teeth to crimp it down. I use my hemostats to clamp cleanly and a small pocket knife (those itty bitty ones) on a lanyard to gently pry it open. If it slips throw a small overhand knot below it (they are just as strong as those "wind knots"). Be sure to check the tippet after a while as it abrades from bumping along the bottom.