"Do you need a 50-fish day dredging the depths with three jig-head nymphs drifting under an indicator? Or will half a dozen trout rising to dry flies prove equally fulfilling? - John Shewey, Editor In Chief of Fly Fishing Magazine, September/October 2016 edition
It seems that there is some "conventional wisdom" being cast upon the waters that dry fly fishing, outside of #28,#30 and #32 midge fishing, is at some kind of low spot during September here in New England. This is a half baked idea that doesn't stand up to even casual scrutiny. For starters let's look at what UPCOUNTRY FLY SHOP, (Farmington experts) suggest for a late summer, early fall dry fly selection:Tan Caddis 16-18, Light Cahills 12-14, White Flies (good on the Housy too) - 12-14, Ants #20 and Blue Wing Olives 20-24.
These are not midges. These are the flies that hatch throughout New England (fewer white flies, very many BWO's) and give September the reputation of being, next to June, as the BEST dry fly month of the year. And let's not forget the terrestrials because September is the best month for them. Grasshoppers, crickets and ants rule the month. Take a walk up the railroad tracks to the Upper Trestle Pool any day during September. You will see hundreds of grasshoppers in that short walk fleeing your approach. In June you could sit on your back deck in the evening and the landscape would be fairly quiet. Now it's September and you will hear a million crickets. I've had my best ant action in September when ant colonies split up, sproat wings and end up landing in trout streams.Terrestrials mean surface action!! It happens in September!!
The Blue Wing Olive is the MAJOR hatch of the Autumn and the Millers is a great place to see wonderful surface action to these insects. My best dry fly day was in early October on the EB and it was to the BWO. The Millers still has Cahills in September and that is a size 14 fly. The Pumpkin Caddis drifts in WAVES over the Millers in late September and it is best represented by a size 12 or 14 imitation. I still see Cream Cahills on the Swift in September. Never a populated hatch it continues from late May into September and the trout like them. I remember casting size 14-16 Light Cahills on warm September days years ago on the Squannacook when it seemed that every trout in the river was rising to SOME fly that my limited entomology failed to recognize. The Cahill matched what the trout wanted. They were not after midges.
In short, carry midges because you may need them but don't start dredging the depths because you think that dry flies with "meat on them" are through for the year.
COMPARADUNS - It's my favorite dry fly pattern and I have now tied most of my standard dries(including BWO's) this way for 30 years while giving up on the standard hackle patterns. Why's that? It's because it puts the body (the most important part) down in the film while hackle patterns really do not. And most rising trout are going after the insect caught in the surface film and not the dainty little sailboat floating downstream. Look at the comparadun photo above and you will see a small ball of dubbing in front of the deer hair. It's used to anchor that hair in place. I'm still surprised how many of these flies don't incorporate it. What about the Parachute?? I love to tie them because they look so nice and the body is in the film BUT caparaduns are easier to tie and are more durable. Dubbing and deer hair and that's it. What about the small sizes? Ultra fine deer hair works to about #18 then go to poly yarn or even better CDC. Kill the tail, use a curved light wire scud hook and you REALLY have a great emerger pattern.
Another BWO pattern that I like in #18 and #20 is nothing more the a wispy tail, olive dubbing and two turns of green dyed grizzly hackle (shown above). The green dye comes out a nice shade of dark olive on a grizzly hackle and it's mottled too. It's a dun or a spinner. I have to do something with all those hackle capes!!!
The Swift - up and down goes the flow. We need a stable flow for successful spawning of brookies and by stable I mean 50 cfs. That's perfect. To get that we need RAIN to jump the Connecticut River to lower the Swift. In the meantime keep fishing this river!