Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Tenkara Revisited

 "I fish knowing that every moment on a stream is a gift." - Unknown

It was about 15 years ago when I ran into a Swift River regular, an excellent flyfisher and fly tier, above the Pipe.  We shot the bull for a few minutes then the topic drifted over to Tenkara angling. "They hook fish but boy, do they have a hard time landing them".

Truer words have not been spoken. Tenkara, the way that it was developed in Japan, is an artform.  It was intended by Japanese anglers to fish for small trout and LL salmon in mountain streams. And it wasn't a catch and release situation.  These anglers ate these fish or sold them and their long limber rods could certainly handle the situation.

Fast forward to the present and we have tenkara anglers hooking  and, and many times, playing the trout to exhaustion. (if anglers play trout to death on the Swift with conventional tackle it will certainly happen with tenkara). The trout on our rivers are much larger  and harder to horse in.When I was guiding a tenkara angler who would hook into a 14 inch or better fish I would take position downstream with a net to end the battle quickly.  The solo angler can't do that.  Ending the battle quickly really counts on our freestone streams where higher temperatures could put that trout over the edge.

Don't hang up your tenkara rods but use them where they are meant to be used: hill country streams where the trout are 4 to maybe 10 inches long and you and catch and release quckly (if you want!)

Early Spring

Don't bet on it.  I remember the Winter of 2006/2007 where it was warm right into January but then iced up in February with huge ice dams up in the Bears Den  Only 60 days until April.

                                                                                          Bears Den Feb. 2007


P.S. Yes, Tenkara is a form of fly fishing!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Some Easy Tips

 "If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, your doing something wrong" - John Gierach

When I was guiding I didn't run into many euro nyphers, in fact I ran into only two.  They wanted to explore/fish spots on the Swift that they were not familiar with so we went down to Cady Lane, a place famous for slower currents and deeper runs.  Their heavy nymphs and long leaders couldn't get the job done under those conditions. Hang ups and weeds were the catch for the first hour.  I suggested (demanded) a change of weapons for the rest of the trip - standard length leaders and unweighted flies.  We caught fish!!

Watch any video on euronymphing and you will see the same scenerio: an almost steady bank to bank stream flow over a somewhat rocky bottom with enough stream velocity to keep the fly (flies) moving. Cady Lane, which holds LOTS of trout, doesn't have those features and neither do many trout streams. Tailwaters have those features and that's why euronymphing videos feature them. 

EASY TIP NUMBER #1 Save your euro rig for the Farmington and similar tailwaters.  (Note - the Swift is a tailwater with a lot of freestone features below the Duck Pond. 

EASY TIP NUMBER #2 I see lots of indicator fly fishers casting across the stream and then mending line to avoid the dreaded drag.  Try casting UPSTREAM.  Imagine yourself standing on a clock face on the number 6. Your indicator, or dry fly indicator, should land on the number 11, 12, or 1 and then begin a drag free float right past you. I've had trout take my fly 4 feet from my legs with this method and have had trout rise for my fly as it swept past me downstream. It's a great way to cover a lot of water.

We are only 2 months away from the first day of Spring!!!


Sunday, January 15, 2023

My Favorite BWO

 "Tailwaters are what Thomas McGuane called the great theme parks of American fly fishing with their more or less stable water temperatures and articially inflated populations of insects and fish. They are irresistible for all kinds of reasons, but all of those trout breed the peculiarly postmodern sense that anything short of a 20 fish day is a bust, so when things are slow there's the temptation to lie about numbers or to vaguely allow tht you are getting your share."  - John Gierach

Back in the "old days" the BWO was tied with hackle point wings, split hackle fiber tails and with the best blue dun hackle that you could find.  Yes, it worked but it hadn't evolved into the fly that we have today.  First, it represented the "Dun" stage of the insect which is the stage that is of the least interest to the trout. You may see a trout rising over and over but you will not see a steady parade of adult mayflies disappearing into the trout's mouth. What you see is a steady stream of EMERGERS, stuck in or just below the surface. This is the "easy pickings" stage that the trout want and the modern fly provides.

Hook - use any light wire curved caddis hook. I tie mostly size 14 through 26.

Tail - NO TAIL! The rear end of this fly is usually tied with nothing but thread in the appropriate color (olive in this case) and is designed to sink below the surface.

The Wing - It's not really a wing at this stage but it is ready to pop through the surface. You want a material that floats well and is very durable.  It will keep the fly on or near the surface and that material is the finest post yarn material you can find.  Post yarn beats CDC every day.

Thorax - I use some fine rabbit to build up the fly a bit and to add some contrast to the fly (I use natural rabbit)

Use this style of tying for all of your mayfly presentations.

Tie Some Flies!!


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Salmon in the Swift?

 "We do have to think about conservation now, although it is chilling to realize there are catch-and-release fishermen alive today who don't know how to clean and fry a fish" -John Gierach

Swift River Landlocked Salmon

It was the winter of 2018 when Quabbin overflowed in late October and sent God knows how many landlocks into the Swift River. Those brutes were still there the next summer and then the strangest thing happened - 6 to 8 inch salmon began to be caught in the Swift.

The question now is are they still there??  I've only received a dribble of reports this year (2022) and the jury is still out as to whether or not they were salmon or small browns.   Fill me in!!

The Unsinkable Soft Hackle

What happens when you combine partridge hackle (soft, flimsy and very sinkable) with very kinky high floating poly post wing material?  You get a fly that floats like a cork has very lively materials that suggest life.

Take a size 16 curved light wire hook and create a thread body from the thorax to the hook bend (2 layers of 8/0 will do.)

Take a small bundle of poly post material and tie it to the top of the hook at the thorax. Each end of that bundle should be about a 1/2 inch long. Pull the ends up tightly and then snip that material so that it flairs out as a wing.

Tie in 2 turns of partridge in front of the poly wing and you are done.

The Gierach quote at the top of this post is one of my favorites. Any other Gierach quote that values solitude over crowds does well for me. In fact, I am under the impression that most of the newbies to this sport really don't like to fish alone.  I guided one young man from Beantown who asked me if I ever had any concerns about meeting some strange charactors out in the wilds.I said no, but they should have some concerns about meeting me!

Three months until April


Thursday, January 5, 2023

Caddis Flies

 "The solution to any problem - work, love, money, whatever - is to go fishing and worse the problem, the longer the trip should be." - John Gierach

We now have over 100 years of fly fishing literature that dissects every aspect of our past time. From Theodore Gordon to Charlie Jenkins to Charles Fox to Ernest Schweibert (the list goes on and on) these flyfishers made some great advances for our sport BUT left some huge omissions and the largest is the lack of study of the Caddis Fly.

These 20th century writers were fixated by the Mayfly, especially the east coast writers who fished in and around the Catskills. They basically were dry fly anglers and May Flies provide anglers with long extended trips down the river while their wings dry. Caddis flies are a different story. They pop out of the surface and say "see ya later". No little flotilla of dainty mayflies here!!! It's a quick ride to the surface and many times with a trout in hot pursuit.

I catch far more trout on caddis imitations than the other offerings that I carry with my DMS Caddis leading the way.


Monday, January 2, 2023

Beating The Drum For The Lower Millers

I seem to do this every year around this time and that is to beat the drum for the Lower Millers. Thirty years ago I had Wendell Depot and The Bears Den practically to myself. Now they are popular destinations and that is a very good thing but the Lower Millers is pretty much the same lonesome place that it was back in the 1980's. This is where I caught my first Millers trout in 1985. It's a great place!!!

Where is it?? I consider the Bridge Street Pool as the start of it because from here downstream there is no real road access until you arrive at Millers Falls. The railroad is the only real access which means that you have about 5 miles of hoofing it to work the entire area. The above photos are of three GOOD pools that are within .6 miles of each other.

Bridge Street Pool -) third photo from the top) This is a great place and is usually the first place that I show people below Wendell Depot. Classic riffles that lead into DEEP holding water. If I had one place to fish on a May or June morning this would be the place.

Cable Pool - About a 1/4 mile below the Bridge Street Pool is the Cable Pool. The few fly fishers back in the 1980's knew what was meant by the word "Cable". This place was crisscrossed by cables with sliding gates for kayak training. The cables are long gone but the pool/run is still there and it is perfect water.

Morman Hollow Brook - Morman Hollow Brook flows into the Millers about .6 of a mile below the gauge at Bridge St and the pools in this spot are beautiful. The trout are there along with the largest smallies that the Millers has to offer.

BTW, Morman Hollow has a good population of native brookies which seem to survive even if the DFW dumps their farm raised phonies on top of them!!!

Take a break from the crowds and spend a few hours here. It's worth it!!


Thursday, December 29, 2022

My Tiny Rods And Goodbye 2022

  "I strongly suspect that much of what we believe about a particular fly rod has little basis in reality. If you're shopping for a fly rod I can think of no greater waste of your time than watching the plethora of "fly rod shoot-outs" that glut the channels of YouTube. Nothing irks me more than to listen to some dweeb prattle on about the performance pros and cons of two rods when he's obviously not a good enough caster to do either one justice". -  George V. Roberts, - Acquisitions Manager, Tail Magazine and Casting Instructor

A few years ago my friend Brad nudged me into buying a short rod, namely the CGR 5ft 9 inch by Cabela's. I hated it from the start. It had the action of a buggy whip and that's what killed it for me.  I played with the possibility of selling it but a strange quirk in my personality keeps me from letting go of any fly rod. So it went into the closet and stayed there for a few years.

Then I revisited this little blue line from my past and decided to give this rod a workout. Cabela's labeled this a 3wt but I rigged it with a Wulff Triangle 2wt and that did the trick. I was able to keep my back cast out of the trees by just roll casting. (Triangle tapers are roll casting machines) This rig may force the retirement of my Tenkara rods which are a pain in the ass on brush chocked streams. The shorter rod with the appropriate sized reel makes landing the trout easy compared to Tenkara.

I'm working on a 6 foot bamboo rod to play on the same streams. Can't wait until May.


This was not a good year on the fishing front.  Let's hope for less extreme weather in 2023.  A year or two without droughts and floods would be nice.

Happy New Year!