Photo of the Month: Bycatch

Showing posts with label Fly Tying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fly Tying. Show all posts

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Winter Is For Fly Tying

During the cold months, when I'm not out fishing, I'm usually getting caught up on my tying for the year. That doesn't mean I won't tie throughout the season as well. Normally I have to tie at least weekly and sometimes more. If I'm fortunate, however, I can get far enough ahead now that I won't have to tie large quantities until next winter. That opens up more time for fishing and of course doing other important things.

I like to pursue my winter fly tying in an orderly fashion. Typically, I focus on the flies that I go through the most in a normal season. That means lots of midges for the tailwaters and the usual nymphs, dry flies, and terrestrials for the mountains. As a guide, I tie the vast majority of the flies I guide with. There are some exceptions though. While I really enjoy tying stimulator and parachute style flies, I will often buy a good supply of those in bulk because of how many I go through in a season. Nymphs and midges, on the other hand, are flies that I can produce quickly in bulk and make sense to tie my own. This is especially true because I tie some patterns that you cannot purchase commercially. 

And that is at the root of my fly tying. I like to experiment. Tweaking existing patterns and also coming up with my own flies is part of the excitement of the sport of fly fishing. It is said that there is nothing new under the sun. Thus, most of my supposed inventions are ones that someone else is tying somewhere else. In fact, most of my inventions were motivated by flies that I've already seen or been told about. However, when there are more and more anglers out on the water than ever before, sometimes the difference between a slow day and a good day is just a subtle variation on a standard pattern. The fish see the same "shop flies" over and over again every day on some rivers. Sometimes, those shop flies work great, but you have to think outside the proverbial box.

This last year in the Smokies, I had a late season epiphany that really changed the success we had one day on a brook trout stream. The common wisdom is to fish yellow well into the fall. That is because of the availability of a vast array of yellow bugs in the warm months, perhaps the most important of which are the little yellow stoneflies found so plentifully on our southern Appalachian streams. In other words, the conventional wisdom is there for a reason and usually yellow works. However, when you are on a fairly pressured stream, never mind that you're fishing for brook trout, there comes a point in the season when the fish start to get finicky. That's a good thing and just means that the vast majority of anglers are releasing their catch which is as it should be with these native jewels.

Anyway, back to my story, there we were on this brook trout stream and the fish are only half-heartedly inspecting our standard yellow dry flies. Going smaller in size got a bit more interest, but it was clear that the fish were onto the game at this late point in the season. So what did we do? Small, dark, and subtle. I didn't notice any dark bugs on the water, although in the Smokies anything is possible at almost any time of the year. What I did notice, though, was that the brook trout were no longer shy. Even with brook trout, showing them something they aren't used to seeing can be the ticket. 

On the tailwaters, that means carrying a large variety of color schemes on my midges. In particular, I carry a wide variety of colors with my Zebra Midges. It is no coincidence that my old article on fishing the Zebra Midge is one of the all time favorites on this blog. This is one of the most fish catching flies that I know of. I mostly use it on the tailwaters, but it also catches fish in the Smokies. There are so many possible combinations of bead color, wire color, and thread color, that I couldn't begin to list them all here. I will say that some of my favorites include black and silver, black and copper, olive and copper, and chocolate and copper. Most of my most successful midge patterns are darker, but sometimes lighter colors are the ticket.

Recently, I decided to share a quick video of tying the Zebra Midge over on YouTube. If you haven't already, check out my channel there. My goal is to share a lot more content via video in addition to the usual blog posts here. While you're there, make sure and subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers channel. There is another midge pattern that I have shared there that I probably fish even more than the Zebra Midge these days. It has accounted for more fish over the last few years than any other fly and also plenty of big fish. For those of you who are experienced fly tiers, these videos probably won't provide much new info, but I'm mostly trying to help out those who are just getting into fly tying. 

The recent explosion in popularity of fly fishing is bringing more and more people into the sport. Not everyone will decide to also take up fly tying, but the satisfaction it brings is well worth considering. Because our good friends at Little River Outfitters are not able to do tying classes right now because of COVID, I'm going to try and share tying videos more often over the next couple of months. If you have a specific pattern you would like to see (or other content), please let me know in the comments below OR send me an email.

Back to my fly tying, I'll work on midges and streamers for now. I have several tailwater guide trips lined up and those are the most likely to be needed over the next couple of months. As we get closer to spring in the mountains, I'll be tying quill gordon and blue quill imitations in anticipation of the first hatches of spring. I also need to replenish my little black caddis imitations. This is an overlooked hatch that can provide surprisingly good fishing.

Before late spring, I also need to replenish my terrestrial box. Mostly that means making sure I have plenty of green weenies and barbie bugs along with some beetles and ants. What I really need to do is get out all my fly boxes and start working on refilling them in an orderly fashion. This guarantees that I won't forget something important. One of the worst feelings is getting out on the stream only to discover you don't have the right pattern.

If you carry a tying kit with you, then you could quickly spin up a couple. That doesn't work very well when you're guiding unfortunately. To be fair, who carries a tying kit with them on regular fishing trips? I take one with me on big trips. I have many good memories of sitting at a picnic table in the evening in Yellowstone or Colorado and whipping up some bugs for the next day. Nowadays, I try to prevent this from being necessary by planning ahead though. If you haven't gotten into fly tying yet, consider giving it a try so you can be prepared as well. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Tying and Fishing David Knapp's PB&J Streamer [VIDEO]

The Motivation Behind the PB&J Streamer

Flies usually come about as the result of either a problem that needs solved or a wild night at the tying bench. Occasionally, both reasons are responsible. When it comes to tying streamers, I've experimented a lot at the vise over the years. I went through an articulated streamer phase. More recently, I've focused on jig style streamers. However, the first killer streamer I came up with was invented quite some time ago.

Over ten years ago, I got addicted to stripers for a couple of years. My good friend Trevor got me started on them and soon we were catching enough to keep us going back. This was back in my teaching days. I would teach all day, go striper fishing at night, sometimes until midnight or after, then make the long drive back home to get up and get to work by 7:00 am. I'm mostly past the staying out late every night stage, but the memories are good ones. 

Late in that first season of striper fishing, we encountered an interesting situation. Smaller threadfin shad were swept through the turbines of the dam at one of our favorite striper spots. The big stripers would set up shop downstream and we would find them sipping shad much like a big rainbow might sip a mayfly. When I say big stripers, I mean fish in the 15-30 pound range. While we have much larger stripers around, those were huge to us. I needed a fly that was weighted and looked like those dead and dying shad. The main purpose was a fly that could be used for sight fishing when these big stripers set up just under the surface to gorge on shad. Enter the PB&J streamer.

The Design Process for the PB&J Streamer

When I got home and set out to tie a great shad streamer, I remembered that my good friend Byron Begley of Little River Outfitters preferred tying shad with EP (Enrico Puglisi) fibers. His EP shad were and still are killer. The only problem is that they were tied weightless and I wanted something with weight that could quickly get down 1-3 feet under the surface without a sinking line to target those big stripers that were sipping shad. 

At that time, I tied very few streamers without some zonker strips. The natural movement of the rabbit fur is killer in any type of streamer. Thus, I combined the best of a couple of patterns. With Byron's EP shad providing the basis for the shape of the fly, I took the wing of a Zonker or similar style fly for extra movement and added dumbbell eyes like a Clouser. Instead of tying the eyes in on top like the Clouser, I found that this fly was easier to tie with the eyes on the bottom which eliminated threading the zonker strip over the hook point. Also, for whatever reason, I found that I was getting better hookups on stripers with the hook point riding down. Add a splash of color (the jelly in PB&J) as a trigger, and the PB&J streamer was born. 

Find the recipe for the PB&J HERE.

Tying the PB&J Streamer

Learn how to tie the PB&J streamer here with this video I put together. Let me know if you have any questions about tying this fly! 




Fishing the PB&J Streamer

This fly came together fairly quickly. Once I had the design down, it was a matter of learning if the fish would like it. That part turned out to be easy. The big stripers it was designed for loved the fly! In fact, I was soon catching more and larger stripers with this streamer. When sight fishing with this fly, I would use a basic 20 lb and 12 lb leader setup. You don't want to get much lighter than 12 lb test because the stripers will really put it to work hard. The key was to locate a feeding striper, then toss this fly 3-5 feet up current from the fish and let it dead drift down. More often than not, the fish would eat. 

Over time, this fly accounted for plenty of stripers along with a lot of random bycatch. I caught sauger, walleye, drum, white bass, largemouth bass, and of course trout on this fly. As I've become more and more interested in fly fishing the shad kill on area rivers, I've focused more and more on trout over the last few years. Ultimately, while I love catching stripers and other fish, trout are my target species of choice and what I keep coming back to again and again. As it turns out, this fly is deadly during the shad kill on trout tailwaters as well. 

You can fish this fly several different ways. One way is to fish it under a large indicator dead drift. You can also tie it on a short leader on a sinking line and strip the fly back to the boat. If you are stripping a PB&J during the shad kill, I recommend focusing on swimming the fly slower, not faster. Imitating the dead and dying shad, you should remember that the natural bait in the water is generally just drifting in the current or maybe twitching a little. Either way, it isn't moving fast through the water. Another good method is to cast upstream on a sinking line and let it just sink as you drift downstream. This technique is risky as you have a good likelihood of snagging bottom. It is usually a matter of if a fish eats before it snags. However, letting it run along the bottom at nearly a dead drift is often deadly. 

When fish are mostly focused high in the water column as often happens during the shad kill, try this streamer on a floating line with a 9 or 10 foot leader ending in 1x. The floating line keeps the fly from getting too deep and under the view of feeding trout. 


Variations on the PB&J Streamer

Over the years, several variations on the original PB&J have also been successful. First and foremost, you can try straying from the original white colors. This thing works in a lot of different color schemes to match various baitfish. Another variation that I really like is to use buck tail instead of EP fibers for the bottom. This gives a much more slender fly that matches various shiners and other baitfish well. Tie the buck tail in just like you would for a Clouser. 

Perhaps the most successful small variation on the original fly is to simply alter the weight. Use smaller dumbbell eyes and maybe tie the pattern itself a bit smaller, say #4 or even #6. This makes a perfect dropper for fishing behind your favorite floating shad. 

Finally, have fun with this fly! Let me know how it works for you and also what interesting variations you come up with. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Fly Tying Demo at Little River Outfitters

If you are in the area this weekend, I will be tying at Little River Outfitters on this Sunday (January 29, 2017) from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. If you have time, stop by and say hello. I'm planning on tying tailwater midge patterns and also some nymphs that should be good both on tailwaters and in the mountains. If there is time, I may do a few terrestrials as well. I'll be discussing fishing on the tailwaters and sharing some of my tips and stories for success. If anyone wants to talk fishing in the mountains, I may do that as well. If you have any particular patterns you would like to see, please let me know by responding here or emailing me with your request.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

New Big Fish of the Year

So far this year, I have seen numerous 20"+ fish come to the net on guided float and wade trips. Lots of happy smiling anglers have had their pictures taken with that fish of a lifetime or at least their fish of the year. The Double of the Year will probably not be surpassed, but the brown trout caught then has now been surpassed as guide trip fish of the year.

The story goes back a little while when my aunt contacted me about gifting her coworker with a guided float trip. We discussed the details and set up a trip for Sherian who used to fly fish a lot and has not had the time for the last few years. Eventually the day of the trip came around and Sherian and I had a great float down the river. She hooked two big rainbows and landed one of them along with all of the other usual fish between 10 and 17 inches. We finished the day discussions a possible return the following week. Thankfully I still had the following Wednesday free on the calendar and more plans were made.

Fast forward a week and she was back for another afternoon on the river. That morning, before heading out, inspiration struck, and a new pattern came out of the vise. I was wondering how it would fish. Turns out it was quite a fly. Fished tandem with a Zebra Midge, the better trout were showing a preference for the new pattern while the small to medium sized fish wanted the usual midge.

We were drifting the better sections looking for big trout. Lately the big fish have been coming higher up in the float, but when we didn't hit the jackpot early, we kept looking. Finally we were approaching a section where I've seen two big rainbows lately. I directed Sherian to cast to the left of the boat and set up her drift. Sure enough, right as the flies hit the drop-off at the back of the shoal the indicator shot under. When she set the hook I knew we had a good one.

I got the anchor down quickly while the boat was still in semi-shallow water. Then I grabbed the net and jumped overboard to make sure we got the fish in the net. Turns out the semi-shallow water was close to waist deep and shockingly refreshing for someone wearing sandals instead of waders. The effort was worth it though. When the big rainbow trout hit the net, my first estimate of 20" had to be revised upward. When the fish hit the tape, it was 23" almost on the nose and the largest fish caught on a guide trip this year so far. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing whether the angler or guide was happier, but the consensus was definitely that we were all thrilled with such a great fish.


Having an angler in the front of the boat who could cast with great accuracy certainly helped nail this trout, but I've had even first time anglers break 20" this year on float trips. This has truly been a year to remember and it looks like that will continue for the foreseeable future.

The good news for everyone else? There are still two months left in the year and as well as the fishing has been, there is still time to get your guided float trip lined up. I have some openings throughout November and December so contact me to get your spot on the boat guaranteed before it is too late. Who knows, you may even get the new largest "Big Fish of the Year."

Oh, and that new fly? I'm going to have to come up with a name for it now...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Giveaway Winners

First of all, thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Christmas giveaways. It was fun coming up with some creative items, and I would especially like to thank Jayson Alexander for contributing his artwork to the giveaway. If you need someone to do some graphic design work for you, or want to commission a great piece of art, contact Jayson for more info via email at jaysonalexander4@gmail.com. In addition, if you are interested in a canvass print of the photograph I'm giving away, let me know via email and we'll discuss the particulars.

Finally, what you have all waited for. First, the winner of giveaway one featuring this fine work of art.


Using the random number generator and ranking everyone based on the order I received your emails, the winner is.....Will Neblett! Congratulations Will and Merry Christmas from the Trout Zone.

Second, the winner of giveaway number two featuring an 11x14 canvass print of a beautiful southern Appalachian brook trout.


Again, using a random number generator following the procedure outlined above, the winner is....Don Tummons! Congratulations Don and Merry Christmas from the Trout Zone.

Finally, the last giveaway was something that any fly fisher can always use. In fact, you probably can never have too many....flies. That's right, the lucky winner of this giveaway gets two dozen of my favorite subsurface patterns for fishing in the Park.


Using a random number generator again, the lucky winner for this giveaway is....Travis Williams! Congratulations Travis and Merry Christmas from the Trout Zone.

That wraps up the Christmas 2015 giveaways. I want to thank everyone who entered as well as those who helped spread the word. Coming up in early 2016 will be some more great giveaways that I know you will not want to miss. In fact, the best will only be available to those who are subscribers to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter. Subscribe below to make sure you do not miss out.

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas 2015 Giveaway Three

First, thank you so much for reading my blog and supporting the Trout Zone. These giveaways are just a small way to say thank you for taking your time to stop by.

The third and final Christmas 2015 giveaway is something that will benefit each and every fly fisherman except for the dry fly purists out there. If you are in that latter category then I apologize, but you will not enjoy this one. Up for grabs are two dozen of my favorite subsurface flies for fishing in the Smokies. All were hand tied by yours truly. Included in the mix are the flies that caught the largest and the second largest trout landed by people on guided trips with me this year. You might be surprised by which ones they are.

When I say subsurface flies, it includes traditional nymphs, soft hackles, midges, caddis pupa, and wooly buggers. There are even some terrestrials thrown into the mix. Whoever wins this will be winning some of my favorite flies for fishing in the Smokies, but there are also some flies that will serve you well on the tailwaters or even out west. In fact, one of the flies I included saved the day once for me on the Big Thompson River in Colorado. Also, you will discover that while I'm not a particularly good fly tyer, these flies will catch lots of fish. Need advice on fishing these flies once you win? Then shoot me an email or book a guided fly fishing trip.


The winner for all of these contests (contest one and contest two) will be drawn on Christmas Eve and announced here on the Trout Zone at that time. Winners will also be contacted via email.

To enter, please send an email to TheTroutZoneContests@gmail.com and use "Giveaway Three" as the email subject line. Simply tell me in the email where you plan on fishing these flies. A winner will be drawn by a random number generator on Christmas Eve day. Shipping included to continental US.

Looking for more great giveaways? There will be one YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS coming up in another week or two but this giveaway is only for subscribers to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter. Not signed up? Then use the handy sign up form below. You will not receive any spam from me, only a newsletter on occasion that features fishing reports, how-to, photo essays from fly fishing trips, and the occasional giveaway or special just for subscribers.

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required

Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas 2015 Giveaway Number One

This year, I decided to get into the holiday spirit and do a Christmas giveaway. Then I considered that maybe more than one giveaway would be nice. With that in mind, here is the first item in this year's Christmas giveaway. Up for grabs is the beautiful piece shown below, a lithograph titled "Pop" and specially numbered. Instructions on how to enter can be found below.

Local artist Jayson Alexander generously agreed to donate a print from his most recent project. He is an artist who fly fishes and incorporates this sport we love into much of his work.

Jayson said this about the following piece: "The print is a 15x22 lithograph titled “Pop” print 1/10, so there are only 10 in existence with no chance of other originals being made identically through the lithographic process."



If you don't want to wait to find out if you win, or if you don't win but still want one of these fantastic prints, you can contact Jayson directly via email at jaysonalexander4@gmail.com or call/text (865) 705-3702 for pricing and to order. You can also check out his Facebook artist page.

The winner for all of these contests will be drawn on Christmas Eve and announced here on the Trout Zone at that time. Winners will also be contacted via email.

To enter, please send an email to TheTroutZoneContests@gmail.com and use "Giveaway One" as the email subject line. Simply tell me in the email why you would like this unique work of art and where you plan to display it at. A winner will be drawn by a random number generator on Christmas Eve day. Shipping included to continental US.

Be sure to share this with all of your friends as well! Coming up will be more great items so make sure you enter into each drawing.



Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fly Tying Related to Golf?

Back in January, I wrote a short article about the link between fly tying searches on Google and cabin fever. Alert Trout Zone reader Alex contacted me with another interesting graph shortly after the article was published that demonstrated a connection between fly tying and golf. His thinking was that golf was another sport that required good weather. Thus, golfers were also probably starting to get cabin fever pretty bad.

You can see in the graph below that the correlation is pretty strong. As a side note, it is also interesting to me that in both graphs, overall search numbers decreased with time. I'm going to hypothesize that the decrease is a reflection of Google's decrease in search engine market share but of course I don't know that for a fact. Just in case you can't see very well, the red line represents the number of searches for "golf florida," while the blue line represents the number of searches for "fly tying." Pretty interesting huh?


People are definitely getting some cabin fever. With frigid cold weather looming here in Tennessee, I probably won't be getting out as much for at least a week or so, but maybe I'll get out there and suffer in the cold for the sake of catching a few fish.

Also check out today's post, Xboundary: Wild Alaska is Threatened by Canadian Mines.

Subscribe to the Trout Zone Anglers Newsletter!

* indicates required

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fly Tying Google Searches Are Linked To Cabin Fever

Fly tying seems to be peaking in interest right now, and I have good solid data to back me up on that. While perusing the Internet late this evening, I stumbled onto this interesting page called Google Trends that allows you to see what people have been searching for.

Intrigued, I started checking out trends on some fly fishing related topics. One of the more troubling results was that, as a whole, searches on the topic of fly fishing have been declining for almost 10 years. That likely signals a larger decline in people interested in fly fishing which is bad news for the industry.

After getting a couple of obvious searches out of the way, I decided to type "fly tying" into the search box and see what happened. The graph looked suspicious and sure enough, upon investigation I confirmed that each peak in search activity corresponded neatly to the January/February time frame.


Notice that we are recently headed for our seasonal peak in fly tying interest. If this graph does anything, it makes me realize that I'm not the only one stuck at home with cabin fever. For the past 2 weeks I keep telling myself that I'll go fishing sometime soon. Every day I seem to find an excuse to avoid it.

I thought that the weather was going to finally break this week. Originally it looked like highs would be well into the mid and upper 40s which would allow for some decent fishing over in the Smokies. Unfortunately the reality turned out to be a little colder, enough so that we had a coating of ice on everything outside this morning. Freezing fog or drizzle or something like that according to the weather people.

So, instead of fishing, I'm sitting at home and tying flies. Just the fact that I had the time on my hands to research this topic tells me that I need to get out on the water and soon. Next week...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Musky Time

Around here in Tennessee, some of us fly flingers have taken to fishing for musky on occasion in the colder months.  When the weather is warm, it is hard to pry ourselves away from the trout and smallmouth fishing.  However, as soon as it gets cold enough to have the freestone trout lethargic, we gravitate towards either chasing trout in tailwaters or trying some new stuff.  Well, it is about time to start trying some of that new stuff for this year.

I've tied a few monstrosities that I hope will look delicious to a musky.  There are a lot of patterns out there that people have invented just for these critters, some of which are so giant that I think my arm would fall off if I had to toss it all day.  Still, when you see a huge shadow materialize behind the fly, it is hard to not think that you need some larger flies.

Normally I throw stuff that would be small to medium sized compared to what a lot of musky guys are throwing.  My most recent ties are a little larger than some stuff I normally tie but still nowhere close to being as large as what a lot of people like to throw.  I'm just hoping to see some fish.  Catching them will be a bonus on this first trip of the year but before winter is too far gone, I hope to find some monsters!


Monday, May 05, 2014

Tying an Easy Yellow Sally

This is the first of what I hope will be quite a few video projects showing patterns that I tie.  Some are my own while most are existing patterns or my adaption of existing patterns.  For the first one I chose to demonstrate one of the easiest Yellow Sally patterns I know of.  This time of year sees the first hatches starting in the Smokies and as the summer goes on, this little insect will be important on many waters across the country.  Try it out, but even better, once you've tried it start experimenting.  There are some great variations that can be done with this simple pattern.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Early Panfish

That time of year has snuck up on us again.  To chase trout or panfish...what a dilemma.  Trout, well they always win if I have the time and money.  Let's face it, that is probably why most of us fly fish.  Those panfish are hard to beat though.  I can be fishing for bluegill, crappie, and bass a mere 2-3 minutes from the house, probably closer if I would ask some more people about fishing their ponds.  Early spring can be tough.  The best fishing is directly correlated with water temperature as well as the general temperature trend.  Bluegill and crappie will bite even if the water is unusually cold if you slow down your presentation sufficiently, and that's what I did recently.

When I arrived at the small lake, my friend was already there ahead of me and was in the process of hauling in a bluegill.  "What's working?"

"That bead head pattern we tied the other night," he replied.

"The Simi Seal Leech?" I asked.

"Yeah, that one!"

I probably could have figured that out, mostly because that is pretty much all I fish for bluegill these days.  Crappie are a different story and get a special little white pattern that closely resembles a Clouser/Gotcha hybrid.  Since he was already pestering the bluegill, I decided to try for crappie.  After a rather quick assessment using the special crappie fly, I decided that bluegill would be the target of the day and switched over to the Leech.....and proceeded to slay them.  Seriously, I was catching fish on every cast for a while.  I finally quit because it was cold and windy, and honestly I just got bored catching so many fish.



That's bluegill fishin' for ya.  In another few weeks I'll get the float tube out and take it for a spin, or perhaps talk someone into helping me paddle my canoe around a nearby lake.  The same lake where I caught a 10 inch bluegill a couple of years back I might add.  For now, however, I'll be happy driving a couple of miles and catching bluegill and crappie (which can also be incredibly amazing).

Back to my fishing trip though, the funny thing is that the fish didn't know I quit fishing. That's right.  I tossed my fly about 5 feet back out on the water so the line would not get dirty while I reeled it up.  Wouldn't you know, as the line came tight, there was a crappie just dancing on the end of the line.  Not a bad way to finish up the short excursion!


Monday, February 03, 2014

There She Goes

If you enjoy fishing tailwaters, I hope you made it to the Caney or are swinging by today.  Just like that, we get a good rain and everything is blowing out.  I'm guessing the generators come on tomorrow but we might, if we are extremely lucky, get one more day out of the recent lack of precipitation.  Here is a streamflow chart for the Collins River, a tributary of the upper Caney Fork at Great Falls Reservoir.


Spikes like that are not what any of us want to see, but I'm sure it is probably better to be getting all this cold water now.  The fish will appreciate it by late summer and so will the fishermen.  Great Falls lake is showing forecast releases somewhere north of 10,000 cfs.  I'm sure we can all guess what that will do to Center Hill dam and the Caney Fork tailwater.  It looks like two generators around the clock for a while again.

On a more positive note, the rain has cleared out the Smokies streams of ice.  The ice buildup should be a thing of the past unless we get some more extremely cold weather.  Now it is time to start thinking about the spring hatches.  Head over to the fishing report on my new guide site to see a fly I like tying for the Quill Gordon hatches.  For the Blue Quills and Quill Gordons, it is also hard to beat an appropriately sized Parachute Adams. I've had fish doing backflips (literal ones mind you) to eat that fly all day.  For a really picky fish, I'm a big fan of Comparaduns and Sparkle Duns.  Whatever pattern you decide to tie, just make sure you have plenty.  When the fishing is really on, you can never have too many flies.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Leeches

One of my all time favorite flies for a variety of situations is the Simi Seal Leech.  This simply fly can be modified to look more like a nymph or left buggy to serve as a great leech pattern.  And did I mention that it catches fish?

For years, this has been a late winter/early spring staple on the trout streams.  Tied sparsely and without brushing the long fibers out, it is a good generic stonefly nymph.  I fish it in double nymph rigs and have had days where it out-fishes more precise patterns like a bead head Pheasant Tail nymph.  Then there are the bluegill....

Ah, the bluegill.  I still have not found a good bluegill lake or pond here in Colorado, but trust me I'm starting to look.  Back home, early season bluegill were a great way to pass the time in between trips to trout waters.  Last year, I caught some big ones, including this one.


Yes, you guessed it, this brute and many others were all caught on the Simi Seal Leech.  It is my secret bluegill fly.  Of course, bluegill will often eat just about anything, but this pattern seems to be particularly successful.  Recently, I sent an order for a half dozen of my Ultra Wire Soft Hackles to Bill over at Fishing Through Life.  I tossed in an extra bead head Simi Seal Leech to aid him in his quest to catch 100 big bull bluegill this spring.  It worked great, so good in fact that I just sent him another dozen with some new color schemes.



The best thing about this pattern is that it is super fast to tie.  I find myself caring less and less about a fly looking good and more and more about effectiveness and ease of tying.  These flies just look buggy.  If you are interested in trying this fly for yourself, you can purchase the material straight from the originator, John Rohmer.  He has lots of other good materials that are also worth checking out.  Personally, I use Black Simi Seal dubbing the most followed closely by Crystal although there are a LOT of other colors to check out.  Try the dubbing on stonefly and other nymph patterns as well as for bodies on streamers.

I'm hoping to add some big stillwater trout to the list of fish I've caught on this pattern now that I live in Colorado.  The float tube is ready for spring and it will be time to hit the mountain lakes before we know it!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tying Feathers

Do you ever want to try and steal some feathers from a duck?  I've come close to considering this one a few times.  Just imagine what all these feathers would look like on a fly.  If we could harvest these without killing the duck, it would be a great renewable source.  Instead of buying a bag of feathers, each tier would simply keep a small flock of various birds...  I'm sure someone would consider this cruelty to animals, but if I was this duck, I think this solution would be much preferred over getting shot...


Monday, March 04, 2013

Tie On

My tying activity has taken a decided turn in the busy direction.  Last week I finished an order of Ultra Wire soft hackles for my blogging friend Bill over at the Fishing Through Life blog.  By the end of the week I was starting to really crank out Parachute Adams for my upcoming trip to Tennessee.  Yesterday I reached my goal and feel like I have enough now in sizes #12-#18.  Of course, as a fisherman, I never feel truly ready so I may tie a few more for good measure.



Other flies that came out of the vise yesterday were my bead head Ice Dub caddis pupa, my variation on an RS2 that is killer in the Smokies in early spring, and some bead head Pheasant Tail nymphs.  I even managed tie tie a couple little #24 Krystal Flash Midges that were the secret to my recent Pueblo tailwater success.  There were probably some other patterns that I'm forgetting but progress is being made!!!  Tonight, with any luck, I will tie up some more nymphs and perhaps a few streamers.  The weather is looking marginal at best for my trip so I'll have to have heavy nymph and streamer patterns around in case the water levels are up too high.  Slowly the box is filling up, and of course I already have more flies than I know what to do with.  One way or another I'll get by and hopefully have a few flies left over to use on the trout out here in Colorado.  Still, until I leave for Tennessee, I will tie on in all my spare time!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Killer Soft Hackle

Its not often that I feel this generous, so enjoy it while it lasts.  This is a fly that I don't show off a lot and often go out of my way to avoid showing people.  However, it seriously should be in everyone's box if you fish for trout!  I've caught trout on this pattern in freestones and tailwaters.  It works best as a dropper under a dry fly although you can fish it in a single or double nymph rig as well.  The fly is the Ultra Wire Soft Hackle.  Yeah, I haven't come up with a cool name for it and perhaps someone else ties it and already has a name for it.  While it is similar to other patterns (copper and partridge anyone?), I haven't seen too many people tying and fishing this pattern.

I can tell you that under the right circumstances, this is as good a dropper as you will find anywhere.  Naturally it works best only at certain times.  It is not a miracle fly but excels during both caddis hatches and also when mayfly emergers are on the water.

Tie some up and fish them this spring and see what you think.



Hook: TMC 2487 #14
Thread: Tan 8/0
Body: Copper Ultra Wire (or other color to match the prevalent hatch)
Head: SMALL amount of Hare's Mask dubbing or other buggy dubbing
Hackle: 2 turns of partridge or favorite soft hackle feather.


You can tie these things in a HURRY and, did I say, they flat out fish!!!?!!!