Archive for the Writing Category

A stick for Jeff…

Posted in Gear, Rod Building, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on June 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

My son brought the box in and its long triangular shape immediately gave it away. It was, of course, “the rod”. As I opened the box I thought about what this fly rod symbolized: a payback to my brother-in-law.

Packaged neatly inside the box was a long clear sleeve with four glossy deep green sticks, a bag of rod guides in pewter grey, and a third bag that contained a cork grip and a rosewood reel seat. I was immediately smitten with the materials at hand.

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My mind raced back in time to my first fly fishing experience. My brother-in-law, Jeff, took me fly fishing at my wife’s urging. I did not – could not have – realized the enormity of the event. That early morning the river was entombed in thick fog, the result of the warm early summer air over the very cold water of the tailwater. Jeff set me up with his new, expensive, Winston 3 weight, in nymphing mode – an indicator, 2 nymphs, and some weight, and instructed me how to fish the rig through a nice piece of riffle water. Then he headed downriver and vanished in the river fog.

You can probably guess what comes next – beginner angler’s luck – as if destined from the fly fishing gods. After a number of repeated lob casts, my indicator rocketed to the bottom and all it took was a lift of the rod and that wonderful butter brown flash. I landed the fish, much to the applaud of a couple of veteran anglers – a fat 18″ brown. But it was I who was truly hooked that day. So there it began, on the fabled West Branch of the Delaware River…

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Looking downstream just above the Gentleman’s Pool – where it all started…

Fast forward many years, miles of wading, and a lot of fly fishing. Jeff returned to the West Coast for work, and though our distance made fishing together a once a year thing at best, we have remained close fly fishing brothers. We’ve done a few trips together – the San Juan River, the Bighorn. We’ve fished local Southern Tier rivers on occasion as well. Jeff is an excellent fly fisher, especially skilled with the dry fly. And since that epic day fishing with him, I have benefited from his advice and guidance and have improved my game from that first “angler’s luck” experience.

And then came along the start of our local FFI chapter – the BC Flyfishers. Joe Swam, featured in posts here before, is a very experienced bamboo rod maker who volunteered to teach a rod building class for the chapter. I signed up as a way to expand my fly fishing experience, learn more about how fly rods are made, and build a fly rod of my own.

The class was a success for the BCFF chapter and a great experience for me. I learned first hand from a master rod maker and completed the class with a really nice 8 weight fly rod I could use on local warmwater rivers as well as the salt.

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My first fly rod served me well on the local warmwater rivers. Built with saltwater grade components, it now resides in Destin, Florida where it will live the rest of its life chasing saltwater trout, redfish, and jacks, among other saltie species.

Late in 2016, Jeff set up a guided trip to the Bighorn river in southeastern Montana. He typically spends a week on that river every year: I’ve only gone with him once but it was an incredible fishing experience and well worth a do-over. This would be a very special trip – one celebrating his 60th birthday – so unlike past years, I jumped at the chance to go.

With the birthday Bighorn trip in mind and the BC Flyfisher’s second annual rodbuilding clinic looming in 2017, I began to search for a fly rod I could build for Jeff as a 60th birthday present. I already had one rod under my belt – I could only get better with this rod, especially under the tutelage of Joe Swam.

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Master rod maker, Joe Swam, does practice wraps and demonstrates the effect color preserver has on wrap color. BCFF chapter member Dennis See looks on.

And so the process began – first with searching for the right rod blank / kit. Jeff’s preference in a fly rod is for moderate action – what used to be referred to as a “dry fly” action. I chose the TFO Finesse rod – an 8 foot 9″ blank of moderate action with a sweet zone made for casting at “presentation” distances. Next came choosing the thread wrap color. I wanted a wrap color that matched the rich rosewood reel seat, and a pewter gray metallic thread for accent wraps. The red wrap color I chose came out perfectly – but note to neophyte rod builders out there – even color preservative will always alter the original color of the thread. In my case, my prediction that the brighter red thread would darken to a red wine color was spot on. Finding a metallic thread that would match the pewter guides and reel seat hardware was another matter. My initial choice of a pewter color was off, and the good folks at flyrodbuildingkits.com suggested I used a gunmetal grey thread which ended up an exact match. I’ll note that they sent the replacement thread free of charge: great customer service. And finally, I had to decide on the finish I’d use for the wraps. On my first rod, I used McCloskey’s marine spar varnish, provided by Joe Swam. I was very pleased with how my wraps came out. For this build, I decided to try Epifanes marine spar varnish. Originating in Holland, a nation with a strong maritime tradition, the name Epifanes, a Greek variation of EPIPHANY, denotes an appearance, a manifestation, a resplendence, or a moment of insight. I was very impressed with the result, and felt a company headquartered in Holland can’t be all wrong when it comes to maritime weather-proof varnish.

Then came the building. The winter snow hit the Southern Tier hard this year – we narrowly beat out Syracuse as the snowiest NY city with over 135″.

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March, 2017 and a record 35″ of snow in 24 hours. In between shoveling, a rod was being made…

That made rod building a perfect winter activity, better in my opinion than working at the vise, though that too is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon with the white stuff flying cloaked in bitter cold…

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Jeff’s stick on the rod wrapper. Saranac Legacy IPA, deep winter snow, and a warm fire make for beautiful guide and ferrule wraps.

I took my time with the build – the goal to ship the rod in time for Jeff’s July birthday. Every weekend, the winter through, I added to what started as graphite, cork, and a forms of metal. Measure twice, cut once, was the theme. Along the way a Lamson Waterworks fly reel was ordered, backing, a Scientific Angler’s Mastery Trout fly line, rod sock and a powder coated aluminum tube.

The wraps looked good, secured with color preservative, but it was the varnish that gave the rod that final touch. Every building coat deepened the luster…

And then came the finishing touch – that last coat of Epifanes over the measuring wraps on either side of a rainbow trout decal…

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On either side of that rainbow trout decal, are 17″ and 20″ measuring wraps, soon to be broken by some Bighorn ‘bows on the dry fly…

Of course, glossy green graphite sticks, a rosewood reel seat, snake guides, wrapping thread, and the rich scent of spar varnish will never come close to the gift Jeff gave me – the gift of fly fishing. Even the feeling of satisfaction when a rod made with your own hands, carefully joined, and given that fly shop wiggle will never approach it. But perhaps building a fly rod is one of those things that continues the cycle of giving. Maybe that same rod will fall into the hands of another – a grandchild, a neighbor, or even a disabled veteran or cancer survivor. Lee Wulff once said, “The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you just caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” While Lee Wulff is credited for having started the catch and release initiative and greatly improved conservation efforts as a result, I’d argue that before the fish comes the creation of the fisherman and what better way to pay back or forward, than by building a fly rod and passing it on.

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Deep bends, Jeff…

Cast away at BCFF’s 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

The BC Fly Fishers (BCFF) will be holding its 3rd Annual Fly Casting Clinic on Saturday, June 17, from 9 am to 1 pm. The chapter includes casting instruction as a critical part of its teaching program, just like its parent organization, Fly Fishers International (FFI), known for its Casting Instructor Certification Program (CICP) – a highly esteemed credential for any angler.

The BCFF chapter conducted its first casting clinic in June of 2015. Well attended, the event took roots and a second casting clinic was held the following year.

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Fly casting outfits are shown here, ready for use in the BCFF’s first casting clinic.

This third clinic will be even better than the previous two and will include:

  • Beginner casting instruction (pick up and lay down, false casting)
  • Intermediate to advanced casting instruction (double hauling, wiggle cast, curve casting, roll casting)
  • Casting games including accuracy casting. The top three accuracy casters will get a prize.
  • Knot tying.
  • Video recording of your casting stroke for review and critique (please bring a memory stick for download or a phone or camcorder).
  • Two certified FFI casting instructors on hand along with several other very good casters to support casting practice.
  • Refreshments.
  • Catch & release fly fishing for bass and sunfish after the casting clinic (barbless hooks only).
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Joe Swam, chapter member and rod maker, teaches a young angler the roll cast.

This clinic is perfect for any angler – as a tune-up for casting as well as for someone who has yet to put a fly rod in their hands. It’s also a great event for youth. With Father’s Day just around the corner, what better way to spend a few hours than for a father and son or daughter (or family) to learn to cast?

What to prepare, what to bring?

  • Wear casual, relaxed clothing. A casting shirt that is open and free moving is ideal.
  • Sunglasses
  • Fly rod outfit – participants are encouraged to bring their own fly casting outfit but full fly casting setups are also available for use.
  • Clean and stretch your fly line, stretch your leader

The cost of the clinic is the same as last year: $20 for adults, $15 for youth and college students. Interested? Sign up using PayPal at BCFLYFISHERS or by check or cash to BC Flyfishers (mail to John Trainor, 144 West Hill Rd., Vestal, NY 13850).

Rain date for the event is Saturday, June 24. The location is the same as in the past two years: 144 West Hill Road, Vestal, NY. To get there, take Rt. 26 South, turn right in Vestal Center onto West Hill Road – just after Powersports X. It’s a long hill to the top – turn left onto a dirt driveway opposite a RED mailbox on right hand side of road labeled 144.

The week ahead in fly fishing: June 5, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on June 4, 2017 by stflyfisher

We are now wading into June, the month of Father’s Day, Flag Day, and the Summer Solstice. The mayflowers are adorning roadsides and stream banks alike with their white and purple, mayflies and caddis are now hatching with the regularity that anglers can count on, pastures are getting the first cutting of hay, and if you look closely enough, corn is starting to break out of the ground in places. And fly fishing is gently moving into it’s late spring / early summer phase.

Fly Shop Talk: Mike Hogue will be holding his 10th Annual Open House this coming Saturday, as detailed below in the “events” section of this post. Mike’s Open House is an excellent one and while writing about it, I was reminded that Badger Creek Fly Shop is truly a survivor in the ever-changing landscape of fly fishing retail. The Southern Tier certainly has had its history of fly shop casualties, including Timber Creek Sportsman, Cortland Line Factory Store, Gander Mountain (not sure where this retailer stands now), and probably some others I can’t think of at the moment. The small guys just don’t have the economy of scale that the big box retailers – like Bass Pro and Orvis – have, but what they may lack in scale they can certainly make up for in solid local fly fishing intel, customer service, and products that work for the Southern Tier.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: It’s time to close the reporting on the GL / FL tribs. Generally speaking, the spring runs are over / the steelhead have dropped back to the lakes. Fishing can still be good for all sorts of species that will run up and back in the tribs – smallmouth bass, brown trout, and carp, so these can be great waters to fish in solitude in the off season.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that lake trout action has been at or near peak form on Cayuga Lake.  He expects good pike fishing on Owasco Lake. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake run-down:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Fish are all over – shallow to deep. Salmon are scattered all over the lake including some over deep water.  Pickerel fishing is good to excellent.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here. Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Expect good to excellent smallmouth bass fishing here with rock bass, lake trout and perch in the mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be very slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing is the usual slow to good depending on the day. Bass action is top-notch as well with most fish spawning.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers have been in good shape for fishing. Hatches and bug activity has also been very good: 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that the Catskill rivers are in great shape for wading and floating. The upper West at Stilesville is currently 600 cfs and 53 degrees, starting out fairly warm due to the spill over the reservoir. Downriver at Hale Eddy the flow is 773 cfs and 51 degrees. The upper East is down a bit to 237 cfs and 51 degrees and below the Beaverkill at Fishs’ Eddy we have 873 cfs and 55 degrees. The main at Lordville is 1,890 cfs and 57 degrees. With all of the rivers in great shape we’ve been very lucky this spring with cool air temps which have really helped to keep the water temps down and fishable this late in the spring. It looks like next week is going to be a rainy one most days so we may have some higher water coming soon. On the West Branch we are still seeing a few March Browns and Grey Fox, Blue Winged Olives, Tan caddis and the 14-16 Sulphurs have been pretty good in the afternoons into the evening. The main and East are getting some good Sulphur activity as well and the drakes have been around for a week or so now so be on the lookout for spinners.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that it’s still bug soup on the rivers with lots of olives, sulphurs, cahills, march browns, gray fox, green drakes, and just about every caddis you can imagine. They have been finding fish eating earlier along wind protected banks and other quiet areas and expect to start seeing more march brown spinners and coffin flies over the next few days.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that river conditions are about perfect. There is good access for wade fishermen and drift boat anglers. The water temperatures are in the perfect range for our wild trout to be active and aggressive. There will be plenty of March Browns and Green Drakes around now. These are the big hatches right now and the fish have been feeding on them heavily. There are also huge hatches of Sulfurs and Blue Sedge right at dark. These insects have been covering the water at times. Over the last few nights there has been heavy spinner activity associated with the smaller sulfur species. These are best imitated by a #16 spinner. There are also patches of activity with the giant Coffinflies and March Brown Spinners but this activity has not yet become widespread. The flight of the giant spinners is due any day now. With the big bugs you should remember to have a 2x or 3x leader for the evening. The big patterns quickly spin and destroy the light leaders that many use for daytime fishing. The Beaverkill, Lower East Branch and Main Stem are still having the most diverse hatches. The Beaverkill is my top choice. This river has the bugs and over the last few days the action has been world class.

Hatching:

Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Green Drake – #8-2xl – Ephemera guttulata
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

 

Local creeks: Local creeks have been in prime condition with nice cool flows, but that’s about to end with the rain in the forecast. Generally speaking, fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are on, particularly on the warmer days. Stocking is tailing off, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings in the next week or two. Keep in mind that fishing after heavy rains can be very effective. Nymphing with large nymphs and worm patterns will imitate the food forms that are often washed into a creek with heavy rain events. And large streamers fished dead drift and on the swing can also take high water trout.

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Owego Creek’s flows will reverse course to high levels if the heavy rains hit as forecast this week.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers have remained hit or miss with regards to levels and flows for wading. Whereas the Susquehanna has been high to very high, the smaller rivers like the Tioughnioga, upper Chenango, and the Chemung have been fishable. It’s been hard to get a good read on spawning activity for smallmouth bass but by now they are most certainly on the beds. As with largemouth bass, some anglers target smallies on the beds. They can be spooky at times or very aggressive but personally, I don’t like to fish them at spawning time where they are on the beds. With the significant rain in the forecast, rivers will once again be high for the next few days. As rivers crest and recede, head upriver for the best fishing conditions.

Ponds: Ponds are in full gear for fly fishing. Largemouth bass are actively spawning now. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should remain effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there. It’s also time to try topwater, especially in the shallow areas and around structure in the morning and at dusk.

Fly Fishing Events / Activities:

The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI June Program will be holding a Casting Clinic and Practice, led by Chas Elliott, FFI Certified Casting Instructor, on June 5th. This meeting will be held outside on the lawn in back of the Big Flats Community Center, starting at 6:30 pm. There will be casting challenges and contests for those that want to take part, and Chas Elliott and several others will be available to help casters advance their casting form further. This is a great opportunity, whether you are a beginner or looking to improve your casting, this is a meeting you won’t want to miss. Visitors, as always, are welcome. In the case of inclement weather, we have planned an interesting program inside. The June meeting will conclude with election of Club Officers for the coming program year.

Badger Creek Fly Tying and Fly Shop will be holding its 10th Annual Open House on Saturday June 10th, from 9 am to 4 pm, at the fly shop located at 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY. Special guests will include John Shaner from Hardy / Fenwick North America, local fly angler and author Joe Cambridge, giving free fly tying demos, and Joe’s wife, Carol Farouk Cambridge, giving free fly casting lessons. Special guest fly tier Clayton Maybee will also be on hand. Free drinks and snacks will be provided and there will be a drawing for door prizes and a fly rod for those who attend. Bring a friend and register again for the door prize! For more info contact : Mike Hogue 607-347-4946, email: mike@eflytyer.com.

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The BC Flyfishers chapter of FFI will hold its last general meeting before the traditional summer break on Thursday June 22, 2017, at the Endicott Public Library, at 7:00 PM with an informal tying demonstration at 6:30 pm. Chapter member Bob Bruns, a dedicated warm water river rat, will talk about fly fishing our warm water rivers for smallmouth bass. His presentation, “Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass”, will cover how to fish for the “gentleman game fish of the warm water species” with detailed information on tackle, tactics, and methods that he has learned from small-mouth bass masters and has applied to his fishing of the local rivers over the last 20 years. Bob will characterize our area’s warm water rivers and profile the seasons of the small-mouth bass. His presentation will also cover the diverse “by catch” that comes to those who fish for bronze backs – a nice bonus to anyone who fly fishes “brown water”.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s weekend weather forecast is as follows:

Seems like the early part of the week will be another one that is water-logged. Clouds increase Sunday morning ahead of some showers and storms that look to affect us through the day. Some of these storms could be strong to severe, with gusty winds as the main threat at this time. Some small hail and heavy rainfall are also possible in any storm on Sunday. The storms Sunday will be caused by a slow-moving low-pressure system, which looks to keep the chance of showers in our forecast for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week. The chance of showers decreases Thursday after the low gets kicked out of the area, but the small chance for some pop-up showers or storms remains on Thursday. Friday dries out under a large pocket of high pressure, before the chance for showers returns for Saturday. Temperatures do look to return to near seasonable in the low-70s by the end of the week.

WBNG7Day

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 29, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on May 30, 2017 by stflyfisher

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional gateway to summer, is now past and gone. It’s the first three day weekend in the New Year for many anglers, and a chance to hit the water, for at least a few hours if not a day or two. Hopefully most anglers got out to enjoy our beautiful local waters and while doing so, remembered those who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy. After all, freedom isn’t free.

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Southern tier anglers are blessed with great fly fishing opportunities. On this Memorial Day, remember the price paid by those who served and died. It is because of their selflessness that we are able to enjoy the freedom to pursue happiness.

Here’s the week ahead report:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have been dropped again, now to the 300 CFS level. While there may still be some dropback steelhead in the lower river, the fishing is now pretty much all about smallmouth bass.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the river is now running at the summer base flow of 185cfs.  The majority of steelhead have dropped back to Lake Ontario but you may still find the occasional drop back in the lower end of the river. With the rise in water temperature the smallmouth bass fishing in the lower end of the river has been excellent with woolly buggers producing the best results.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that on the bigger lakes like Seneca and Cayuga, fishing is about 2 weeks behind “normal”.  Water temps are in the low 50s in the main lake areas with upper 40s not far below the surface.  Salmon and browns are still inshore and in casting range in a lot of areas.  It’s been a prime year for the nearshore trout/salmon fanatics! Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is very good to excellent with large fish (27″ range) common.  Salmon are scattered all over the lake along with brown trout;  I think we’ll see fair to good casting for them for a couple more weeks but it’s a bit more hit/miss.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done near the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Overall fishing here remains in peak form. Water temperatures are conducive to trout, salmon, bass and perch all being in the nearshore mix.  Lake level is high.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging continues to be slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Otisco Lake:  Tiger musky fishing here was very good last week.  Bass action should be top-notch as well.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting good fishing conditions. BLue winged olives have been producing well with rainy conditions as have March Browns and Grey Fox.  The #14-16 Sulphurs are going pretty good on the main and lower East and West.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that anglers are catching fish on March Browns both by finding fish eating them and using them as searching patterns.  The sulphurs have been an evening hatch and keeping us on the water late.  Caddis have still been the mainstay on the river with a lot of different species hatching.  There’s a healthy mix of bugs out there.  Nymphing has improved in the lower flows with small flies working best.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that water levels are perfect for all and the big insect hatches are underway. The overall fishing is good just about everywhere but there are a lot of options. The tailwater and freestone rivers are offering a vastly different fishing experience from one another. The tailwaters are decent but not the best choice at this time. They are the lowest water at this time which always makes the fishing a challenge. The early heavy hatches are waning and  the fish are getting pretty snotty about their feeding habits. These rivers are in need of a hatch change to perk things up again. The March Brown, Drake and Sulfur activity has not yet begun. The Freestone Rivers, Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Lower East and Main Stem have the bugs right now. March Browns are emerging slowly each day. There is a building hatch  of larger Sulfurs in the afternoon. Near dark the smaller sulfurs have been profuse. There are also lots of Caddis about and the fish are taking them whenever they actually get on the water. There are also spinners in the drift just about 24 hours a day at this time. The super Bugs like the Drakes and Big Stoneflies are a possibility on these rivers at any time now. Blind fishing large March Brown patterns in the fast water is highly recommended right now along with nymph fishing the riffles. This is the non hatch period approach. In many cases we will blind fish a riff and then go back over the same water with nymph rigs. Overall there is a definite pattern of the nymphing being better when it is bright and the dry fly fishing being better under overcast skies. During the 2 brief periods this week where the sun hit the water our guests killed it on nymph rigs. We had hookups one after another. Additionally this was widespread as all of our guides reported similar action over 6 or 7 entirely different river locations around the system. If you want to make a good day into a great day make sure to stay into dark. The sulfurs are blanketing the water at dark and the fish have been gorging. The other times of day it is a slow steady pick.

Hatching:
Sulphur – #16 – Ephemerella dorothea
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella rotunda
Light Cahill – #14 – Ephemerella invaria
Little BWO – #22 – 26- Pseudocloeon sp.
Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X- (a few still around the West Branch)
March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.Little, Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks are in prime condition with nice cool flows. Fishing has shifted to nymphing, wet flies, and dry flies. Hatches of caddis and mid-season mayflies are starting to really turn on, particularly as the weather warms. Stocking is tailing off now, but some streams and creeks will receive stockings into early June.

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2 year old stocked browns, like this one, can provide excellent action on light fly tackle.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are dropping nicely but the Susquehanna is still too high for safe wading (but is good for fishing from a boat). The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, Chemung, and Chenango are in good shape for wading and have decent water clarity. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds are warming, cattails are sprouting up, and aquatic weeds are growing. As water temps rise, largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases are already on beds. Bluegills and sunfish are doing the same. Fishing will only get better from here on in. There are many local ponds to fish – public and private. Fishing the edges of weeds with wooly buggers, big nymphs, and streamers should be effective. Some anglers will fish the nests – bass will typically hit most anything that invades – but there is a bit of an ethical question there.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s weekend weather forecast is as follows:

High pressure looks to build in tonight, eliminating the chance for rain, but some fog/mist in the early morning hours Tuesday will be possible. A nearly stationary low-pressure system will then set up in the Northern Great Lakes, sending shortwave troughs through our area Tuesday and Wednesday. With each of these shortwaves comes the chance for showers and thunderstorms, with any storm possibly being strong to severe.

High pressure finally kicks that stubborn low-pressure system out of the area on Thursday, meaning Thursday looks to be the most dry day of the week at this time.

A disorganized low-pressure system then slides in from Winnipeg toward the end of the week. It looks to interact with a 30knot mid-level atmospheric jet stream following a path clockwise around an upper-level high pressure system centered in South Carolina, it will drag mid-level moisture up from the Yucatan Peninsula and put the chance of showers back in the forecast for Friday and Saturday.

A large body of high pressure then becomes dominant Sunday and Monday. However, the chance for pop-up rain showers or storms stays with us mainly in the PM hours Sunday and Monday.

WBNG7Day (1)

 

 

 

The week ahead in fly fishing: May 15, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Smallmouth Bass Fishing, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on May 16, 2017 by stflyfisher

Mother’s Day is upon us. For the male anglers out there, this was not the weekend to hit the water, perhaps, at best, a few hours. For the female anglers, of course, it is just like Father’s Day – hang up the sign – “Gone Fishing” and the day is yours.

Fields are plowed and the hills are greening up. Turkey season is now half over, or half begun, depending on your view.  The rainbows are mostly done spawning, and bass – both smallmouth and largemouth – have begun their amorous ways.

Water remains the theme in the Southern Tier. There’s been a lot of it, as last reported. Creeks, streams, and rivers are showing the excess. Here’s the latest data:

KBGM2017plot

Fly shop talk: Many of us have at least one person to thank for being in the wonderful sport of fly fishing. in many cases it’s a family member or close friend. And when it is someone close, the bond formed from that sharing can enrich the lives of both the teacher and student. Once given, the gift of angling never really goes away. In my case, my brother-in-law, whom I barely knew at the time, passed on this great gift. he took me to the famed West Branch of the Delaware on a July morning and on my own, using his tackle, landed a bright butter yellow 18″ brown. Call it beginner’s luck – that fish hooked me more than I hooked (and released) him. I’ve thanked Jeff ever since and this year built him a fly rod as a 60th birthday present. And while I learned things building the rod, perhaps the best part of it is that like teaching angling, that rod will also keep giving; to grandchildren, and on down the line. So what about you? have you thanked the person who got you into fly fishing?

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River have dropped and the fishing reports have been pretty good.

pineville514

Water temps are in the upper 40’s to low 50’s. The DSR is reporting some nice-sized Atlantics, along with steelhead, browns, smallmouth bass, and even walleye being landed. The fishing remains mixed, as are the methods, but there are some nice fish coming into the river as well as some steelhead dropping back.

Whitakers Sports Store and Motel is reporting that the water level dropped again over the weekend and finally a stretch of mild conditions is expected for later in the week. We still have a few drop backs hanging around and the lower end of the river has been producing the best action. Areas such as the Town Pool, Longbridge/Staircase and Black Hole has produced the best action early in the morning and later in the day. Depending on the day anglers who fished the DSR have reported getting into a mix of drop backs, Atlantic Salmon or smallmouth bass. For those anglers who are fly fishing, swinging streamers with sinking leaders has been most productive.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that some stability with the weather is helping the Finger Lakes fishing.  Debris has settled out and water clarity has improved markedly.

  • Cayuga Lake:  Salmon and brown trout are distributed around the whole lake now for the most part.  Expect the same with browns and rainbows. Water temperatures are warming up and fish are moving out and deeper, though good numbers can be found in certain places shallow – but they are clearly scattering (which isn’t a bad thing). Lake trout jigging is good to very good.  Pickerel and perch are hitting well on the north end of the lake.
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing is fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging had been slow.  Expect fair to good pike action here.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is fair to good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good. I expect good pike and rainbow trout fishing here this year.  Work is currently being done on the launches at Emerson Park.  At least one ramp is open from what I heard but it is a mess up there.  The Marina at the south end would probably be a better place to launch.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass, salmon and lakers are in the mix. I expect top-notch mixed bag fishing here now.  Smallmouth and rockbass should be starting to move up in large numbers.

Catskill Rivers: Generally speaking, the Catskill Rivers are high and largely unwadable. Fishing from a drift boat is the best way to fish the river system. 

  • The West Branch Angler is reporting that all rivers are still very clear after a weekend of some off and on rain. There are still some pretty prolific Blue Quill hatches on the West Branch and the Hendricksons slowed down a little bit this weekend but should pick back up as the temps creep up.  There are lots of caddis around lately too with some pretty good numbers of Apple caddis throughout the system. The streamer fishing has remained pretty good lately with the high volume of water currently in the system.
  • The Delaware River Club is reporting that the hendricksons are hatching well and the fish have been eating them. The water levels continue to drop and more wading opportunities are opening up. March browns are moving up the system and hopefully the caddis become more active in the sunshine.
  • Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that the action right now is very good in most places. Anglers can expect to find action with Dry Flies, Nymphs and Streamers. The Dry Fly is steady and reliable and most days from 3:00 until dark the trout are feeding heavily. There are some funnel points in the river that are so full of fish that it has been crazy. Hendrickson Duns and Spinners are on the menu on the tailwaters while March Browns and Caddisflies are happening on the freestones. Sulfurs should also join the mix any day now. There are also lots of Caddis on the water at this time. There are still Apple Caddis along with many others in various sizes. As far as location goes, the fish are totally spread out due to the heavy influx of mayflies. We are getting streamer strikes in every water type at this time.
  • Hatching:
    Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
    Hendrickson – #16 – Ephemerella X
    Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
    March Brown – #10 -2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium
    Gray Fox – #12-2xl – Maccaffertium vicarium (Stenonema fuscum)
    Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
    Dark Grannom – #14 – 18 – Brachycentrus spp.
    Apple Green Caddis #16 – 20 – Light Brachycentrus sp.
    Tan Caddis #16 – 18 – Hydropsyche spp.
    Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.

Local creeks: Local creeks got another god plug of water but are dropping and clearing as of this report. Streamers will be the best bet as long as flows and water clarity are off, but certainly by later this week, fishing should be back to normal. The warmer weather could provide some solid dry fly action. Fishing with nymphs and wets will always be productive as well.

Warmwater Rivers: Warmwater rivers are still too high for wading but are OK for fishing from a boat. The smaller rivers, like the Tioughnioga, will be first to clear and drop. It’s been hard to judge the prespawn with water levels and temps so variable but this week’s warmer weather is sure to kick it into high gear. Smaller rivers with lower flows will be the best bet for now, unless fishing from a boat. Fish water adjacent to shallow bays, tributary mouths, eddies, and shoreline structure. When the pre-spawn bite is on, large streamers will work well – smallies are typically aggressive and feeding up for two reasons – 1) their metabolism is picking up as water temps rise, and 2) they need to store up for the rigors of spawning.

Ponds: Ponds continue to warm and the largemouth bass are actively staging for spawning and in some cases may actually be on beds. Fishing will begin to pick up with warmer weather and this week’s climb into the 80’s will certainly help energizing the fish. Panfish will also be active. While it’s not popper time just yet, cruising fish could be tempted with large dry flies or a terrestrial pattern.

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Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

The BC Flyfshers chapter FFI is featuring return speaker, Bruce Pencek for the May chapter meeting on Thursday, May 18 at the Endicott Public Library at 7:00 PM (informal tying demonstration at 6:30). The topic will be “American Tenkara Fishing”. Bruce Pencek returns from Virginia (via Hancock) to talk about American Tenkara – the translation of no-reel/fixed-line fly-fishing tackle and techniques from the mountain streams of Japan to the diverse waters and fish of North America. He will talk about selecting and rigging tenkara tackle and give his thoughts about how fixed-line rods have improved his success with western techniques – dry flies, Euro-style nymphing, even streamers – for trout, smallmouth, and carp. (With luck, he might have some illustrated tales about his fixed-line fishing in the Southern Tier in the days leading up to the talk.) He’ll provide some handouts with his recommendations for information sources and vendors. Before the talk, he’ll tie some of the flies he uses regularly.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

The low that gave us the showers and thunderstorms on Mother’s Day is spinning off the coast of Maine. This gave us some early clouds and showers. Skies will become partly cloudy, but it will be a cool and windy day. Winds diminish tonight and skies will be mostly clear. We’ll have partly cloudy skies on Tuesday with highs climbing into the 70s. We’ll be even warmer on Wednesday with highs in the 80s. With the warm, and slightly muggy weather, there could be a few scattered showers or thunderstorms. Showers and thunderstorms will be in the forecast for Thursday as a cold front comes through. Highs once again will be in the 80s. We’ll have partly cloudy skies with highs in the low 70s on Friday, with mostly sunny skies on Saturday. As a low moves in, we’ll have clouds and showers on Sunday and Monday with highs in the upper 60s to low 70s.

WBNG7Day

The week ahead in fly fishing: April 24, 2107

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Flies - Local Favorites, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , on April 25, 2017 by stflyfisher

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster of high water events. The Southern Tier has certainly received a lot of rain, and in combination with saturated ground from previous snow melt, local creeks, streams, and rivers have all been full to overflowing. According to NOAA data, Binghamton is at 16.74″ of precipitation versus a historical norm of roughly 10″ for this time of year. So yes, it’s been a wet one. And Binghamton claimed the “snowiest city” award this year with 135.2″ total, edging out Syracuse. All of that is good for the fishies, especially after last year’s severe drought.

Fly shop talk: I recently watched a video on David Magnum, a fly fishing guide from Destin, Florida. David is addicted to Tarpon – 120 days of his season are focused on fly fishing for these brutes. The video reminded me that often in life, the enemy of the best is the good. In other words, rather than fly fishing the seasons, maybe one should focus on one fish species? One of the guides narrating the video talks about guides who pursue what’s biting for their clients, versus “fisherman guides” who will go all out for the targeted species even at the risk of a fish-less day. David Magnum “…dedicates his life to it, to one species – tarpon – and for him being hungry, and always wanting more, that makes him a better guide, and I think if you do that for 20 years or however long, when that’s all you think about is that one certain species 24/7, I think you will become better…”

Think about your own fly fishing and watch this video. Is the better fisherman narrow and deep, or wide and shallow? And what do you want your angling legacy to be?

Here’s the fly fishing report for the week ahead:

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: Flows on the Salmon River are finally being dropped down to safe wadeable levels…

slmon river

The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting pretty good fishing, overall. Water temperatures are holding at in the mid to upper 40’s and with flows down wading is better. Anglers in the lower river are hooking up with egg patterns, beads, and nymphs. Some smallmouth bass are starting to show up as well. The fish are mainly dropbacks with a few bright fish in the mix.

Whitakers is also reporting good fishing with the majority of anglers getting into some fish. Drop backs are scattered throughout the river from top to bottom. The mid to upper section of the river is also holding spawning fish in and around the gravel areas. For those anglers who are fly fishing, swinging streamers with sinking leaders or egg patterns and nymphs under a strike indicator have been the most productive. Anglers are also reporting having good luck at some of the smaller local tributaries.

Suggested patterns:

  • Wiggle stone in blue, peacock, chart, pink. size 10
  • Steelhead stone in purple, red, orange. size 8
  • Rusher nymph in blue, purple, chart, red. size 10
  • Steelhead hammer in blue, black, red, chart. size 10
  • Steak-n-eggs in chart, pink, orange. size 10
  • Black flashback nymph in size 8.
  • Sucker spawn in cream, white, peach, blue. size 8
  • Glo-Bugs in chart, oregon cheese, steelhead orange, egg. size 10

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone reports that just as the lake is rising again after last week’s deluge and will wind up higher than it was before. It is already as high as it has been over the past two weeks.  There is some MASSIVE debris floating around. There are some monster logs floating around up north of Long Point. Expect tricky if not impossible launching at Taughannock. ALL LAKES ARE LIKELY HIGH NOW AND MAY BE VERY MUDDY IN AREAS. Skaneateles Lake is usually the least affected by heavy rainfall. Here’s John’s lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Lake trout jigging is good off of Long Point.  Salmon fishing was returning to top-notch form and then the rain came…
  • Seneca Lake:  Fishing should be fair to good for landlocked salmon and brown trout.  Lake trout jigging was very slow over the weekend of the 1st/2nd.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout and yellow perch fishing should be good here.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout fishing should be good here. Perch fishing is very good.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Yellow perch fishing is in full swing. Bonus bass and lakers are in the mix. Now’s the time for top notch rainbow trout (with some Landlocked salmon) on the fly or on jigs.

Catskill Rivers: The West Branch Angler is reporting that flows are still but dropping at a slow but steady rate.  The West Branch is still too high for safe wading. All of the rivers are very clear and the streamer fishing has been pretty good and consistent throughout the system.  We saw quite a few bugs yesterday on all rivers but the fish are still a bit slow to look up.  If fishing, you will see rising fish but many are rising one or two times and then are done.  So, you have to be ready for any opportunity and get the fly over the fish quickly within a minute or so.  With this weeks warming temps we are anticipating the dry fly fishing to become more consistent and we should start to see more bugs every day.

Ken Tutalo of Baxter House Fly Fishing Outfitters reports that this weekend saw an interesting mix of weather conditions on the upper Delaware. Saturday was a tough day, it was windy, cold and winter like. Sunday was a beautiful spring day, with sun, warm weather and light winds which made for a great day on the water. This time of year sun and overnight lows are very connected to water temperatures and trout activity. Although, Sunday seemed to provide ideal conditions for great early season dry fly activity, Saturday night’s cold temperatures (below freezing) prevented the river from really coming to life. Over the weekend steady rising fish were found, but the activity was brief. Both days saw decent bug activity that was mostly ignored by the fish. This was because of cold water temps and wind. The cold water makes the fish lethargic, they really don’t have to eat much when the water is under 45°. It is still early season in the Catskills. However, the system is ready to pop. We are seeing more bugs every day. Expect to see solid dry fly activity as soon as weather conditions stay sunny for a few days.

The Delaware River Club is that streamers are still catching fish and hendricksons, blue quills, and black caddis are about.  The early hatches can be a bit sporadic in the beginning as they grow so be patient out there looking for risers.

Hatching:
Hendrickson – #12 – 14 – Ephemerella subvaria
Blue Quill – #16 – Paraleptophlebia. adaptiva
Quill Gordon – #14 – Epeorus pluralis
Blue Wing Olives – #18 – Baetis sp.
Little Black Caddis – #18-20 – Chimarra sp.
Tiny Black Stonefly – #18 – Capniidae sp.
Early Brown and Black Stoneflies – #14 – 16 – Taeniopteryx spp.

Local creeks: Local creeks were looking very good before last weeks heavy rains but now are very full and somewhat murky.

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Looking upstream on the upper East Branch of Owego Creek…

Water is still cold but the warm sunny days are bringing the bugs out – small mayflies and even some caddis. Stocking continues. Keep streamers handy but also have a nice selection of nymphs, sets, and dries handy.

Ponds: Ponds are clear of ice and slowly starting to warm. Fishing will remain slow until we have a good string of warmer sunny days and nightly lows climb.

Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of upcoming events:

  • The Al Hazzard chapter of TU is holding its Annual River Clean-up on Saturday, April 29 from 9 am to noon at the Fireman’s Park in Deposit. It’s suggested to bring work gloves and boots. All volunteers can help themselves to coffee and donuts at 9 am and then hot dogs and hamburgers at noon. Bring your fishing gear and enjoy an afternoon of fly fishing after serving the river right!
  • The Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI will hold its May meeting on Monday, May 1st at 7 pm. Henry Ramsey will be presenting, “Matching and Fishing the Sulphur Hatch”. Henry will teach on how to fish the sulfur hatch and what flies to use. The various species of mayflies characterized by fly fishers as sulfurs are very prolific in our area and in Pennsylvania. They provide local anglers many opportunities to catch trout on the nymph, emerger, dry fly, and spinner patterns that duplicate those insects. This presentation will go into the various stages of these insects’ lives and the imitations Henry uses to fish them. Henry is our third co-author of the new Keystone Fly Fishing book. He is an extremely innovative and talented fly tier and speaker. He also co-authored Matching Major Eastern Hatches, which catalogs many of his favorite fly patterns. His tying work has been featured in several publications including the Art of Angling Journal; The Game Journal; Fly Fisherman; and the Mid Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. He is a contract fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants and is a member of the Daiichi Hook and Regal Vise Pro Staffs. If you want to catch more trout this year on sulfurs, you won’t want to miss this presentation. Prior to his presentation, Henry will be tying one or more of his patterns. Also at the May meeting the chapter will be holding its Musky Fly Raffle, raffling off the Flathead Sucker Musky Streamer shown in the Fly of the Month write-up in last month’s Newsletter. This is the actual fly that Joe Goodspeed tied at our March meeting. If you are a musky fisherman you will certainly want to have this fly in your box. Raffle tickets will go for $5 per ticket and will be sold during our May meeting.
  • Although still a few weeks away, the Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter of FFI is starting to plan their annual trip to the Cohocton River. This trip is usually quite productive, with fresh-stocked browns added just a few weeks prior to our outing. The trip is scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017 and is being coordinated by Matt Towner. If you are going please contact Matt at 607-542-0285 or mtowner23@gmail.com, as enough food needs to be purchased for all who attend. The trip will depart from Corning Wegmans @ 9:00 AM. We usually start fishing in Avoca near the King farm and lunch will be held at the picnic area there. Once we arrive, the group will usually disperse from there up or down river to everyone’s favorite fishing spots. A few places even hold native brook trout that always put up a good fight. There are usually quite a few caddis to be found on the surface in early May, so be sure to include those in the flies that you bring
  • The Eastern Waters Council of IFFF, parent organization of the BC Flyfishers and Twin Tiers Five Rivers chapter, is having a contest to bring in new members, called “Giving the Gift Of Membership”. The contest is to encourage current members to buy an IFFF membership as a gift to a fly fishing friend, fishing buddy, or family member. You will be entered in a raffle for a new Sage Rod and Reel. To enter the contest, call Kat Mulqueen (406-222-9369 X106) at IFFF headquarters, tell her you are from the BCFF chapter or TTFR chapter, Eastern Waters Council and that you want to participate in the Giving the Gift of Membership. You will need to provide the giftee name, address and email and pay for their membership. There is also a prize for the club that brings in the most new members. You will be helping your buddy, your Club and the IFFF, and you will be eligible to win an awesome new rod and reel! The contest ends May 1st.

The week ahead weather: WBNG’s week-ahead weather forecast is as follows:

Quiet weather and clear skies look to dominate the local weather until early Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, a low pressure system that’s working northward up the East Coast could push some moisture into our area with northeasterly winds, especially in the morning on Tuesday.

A separate low-pressure system then looks to stroll through the Great Lakes on Thursday, bringing with it a cold front that could bring some more rain showers and even a few thunderstorms across the Twin Tiers.

The same can also be said for Friday, except instead of a cold front drifting through our area, the warm front from a third low-pressure system could waft across our area, perhaps providing enough warmth, moisture, and instability for a few more showers and storms Friday and into Saturday.

WBNG7Day

 

BC Flyfishers “simply tie” with guide flies

Posted in Flies - Local Favorites, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on April 6, 2017 by stflyfisher

The BC Flyfishers (BCFF) chapter of IFFF just completed another innovative fly tying class. But unlike the previous two classes the chapter has offered, this one focused on very simple flies. Fly tying, after all, doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or arduous and time-consuming. And contrary to what some might think, the best flies are simple in design and less than perfectly imitative. These flies are often termed “guide flies”. Why, you may ask?

killer bugs

Frank Sawyer’s Killer Bug is an example of an extremely simple fly that was designed to catch greyling in English streams. The BCFF Guide Fly Tying class included a U.S. version of this fly, called the Utah Killer Bug.

In order to be effective, guides must be efficient. The rigs they tie for clients must work, and the flies used must catch fish for all clients, even for those with little to no fly fishing experience. While a guide can’t promise fish, repeated trips with poor results will mean less referrals and less income. As is said with any kind of business; no margin – no mission. So guide flies make for quick, inexpensive ties that catch fish. And the BC Flyfishers last tying class focused exclusively on these fly fishing marvels.

The Guide Flies fly tying class consisted of four weekly tying “chapters”, each taught by different tiers: John Trainor (BCFF board member and local angler), Tim Barrett (BCFF board member and NY State Guide), Joe Cambridge (Local angler and author), and Kevin Gilroy (Local angler and commercial tier). The classes ranged from a refresher on tying basics to tying simple nymphs, wets, streamers, and a few more involved dry flies. In addition to the lead fly tiers for each class, up to seven helpers – BCFF members with fly tying experience – were on hand to assist each participant with tying issues.

Week One, led by John Trainor, started with a refresher on tying basics that included starting the thread on the hook, pinch wraps, dubbing techniques, and whip finishing. Along with the basics was a primer on nymph guide flies. The featured fly for this class was the Frenchie. Derived from the Pheasant tail, The Frenchie is used in competition nymphing and is a great guide fly because it is fast to tie. It typically sports a hot spot and sometimes a collar, as shown below:

frenchie

“The Frenchie”

Other patterns tied in the class were Walt’s Worm (a classic), Ackourey’s Nymph (Joe Ackourey is a PA guide), and the Utah killer Bug.

utah killer bug

The Utah Killer Bug

Week Two, led by Tim Barrett, featured some proven patterns that are fast to tie and are used not only by guides, but in competition fly fishing as well. Some are modified versions of flies that have been simplified so many can be tied in an hour’s time. The featured fly was Tim Barrett’s favorite, Tim’s Simpupa. This fly originally is tied with a soft hackle collar but for simplicity’s sake, the hackle can be substituted with a coarsely dubbed collar or peacock herl,  as shown below.

simpupa

Tim’s Simpupa

Also included was another of Tim’s favorite fish-catcher’s – The Turd. The Turd imitates a variety of stoneflies or can be fished as an attractor. The pattern’s rubber legs seem to be a good trigger for fish.

turd

The Turd. Tim Barrett likes to tie in a hot spot collar below the bead and use differently colored or finished beads, his favorite being black. The chenille body color can also be varied.

Tim also demonstrated tying Tim’s Carpet Fly, Doppelganger, and Glass-O–Wine – all great nymph patterns.

Week Three, led by local fly fishing legend Joe Cambridge, focused on tying soft hackle flies and one streamer pattern. Cambridge started his class with soft hackles, a favorite fly type of his, and in his opinion, very underrated. Cambridge was first introduced to soft hackles by an uncle while fly fishing in the UK. Like most people who first see these sparsely tied flies, Cambridge dismissed their effectiveness but brought some back with him to the states at his uncle’s urging. He stashed the tin of flies in his vest but never touched them until he encountered a fish-less day on a Catskill river. As Joe tells it, fish were rising everywhere and refusing EVERYTHING he threw at them. He then thought of his uncle’s soft hackles and figured “what do I have to lose.” The trout jumped these sparsely tied flies with abandon and he was sold forevermore on their effectiveness.

Soft hackles are simple but can be a bit more challenging to tie. They are generally nothing more than silk thread, dubbing in some cases, and hackle. And they can be fished in a variety of ways.

Joe’s last fly was a streamer that he considers absolutely deadly on his home water – the Finger Lakes trbis. The Fatal Attraction, shown below, is actually a Don Blanton pattern that originates on the West Coast.

fatal attraction

In the last class, Week Four, the class was introduced to some very fishy dry flies, courtesy of Kevin Gilroy, a commercial fly tier. From the classic Red Quill to Kelly Galloup’s Butch Caddis…

slideinndotcom

Galloup’s Butch Caddis (courtesy of slideinn.com)

…all of the patterns tied belong in every serious angler’s fly box. One featured fly, the Sparkle Dun, is similar to the famous Comparadun. This fly has had its share of success and can be tied in several variations to simulate different types of bugs.

pmd-sparkledun-2

The Sparkle Dun

So there you have it: take four weekly sessions of learning to tie guide flies, add 4 top-notch fly tying teachers, instructional material and videos, pre-made tying kits for each of 16 fly patterns, and spend 16 hours at the vise practicing, and what does one get? 19 happy fly tiers with a new perspective on fly tying; good fish-catching flies can be cheap, fast and easy to tie, AND effective…

fly tying

Happy Guide Fly graduates…