Archive for bc flyfishers

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:


“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.


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.


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…


Galloup’s Butch Caddis (courtesy of

…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.


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…


In like a lamb – a Preview on March Fly Fishing

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

March is a transition month for fishermen, particularly fly fishermen. It is a month when (traditionally) the snow melt starts in the Southern Tier, creeks and streams pick up that wonderful run-off green color, and on sunny days, a few bugs, mainly little black stoneflies, begin to flutter clumsily about.

March is just as well known as the fickle entrance to spring, when warm days, as we’ve recently been experiencing, tempt us into thinking old man winter is on the way out. Indeed, we can start the month warm and end up deep with snow. So it is said, March will come in like a lamb or lion and exit just the opposite. And while March 2017 came in very lamb-like, March to-date has been very lion-like with cold and even frigid temps, high winds, and snow squalls.


What March can look like. This picture was taken deep in Vestal’s Jones Park on 3/7/15.

We’ve had another relatively mild winter. December proved the coldest month and February has been downright balmy. Hopefully this weather pattern is not prelude to another dry summer and fall. Last year’s drought was extreme by most measures. As reported here, the weather pattern made for some great warmwater fishing but suicidal trout conditions. In any case, early March is a good time to look ahead on the year and give a head’s up on fly fishing events, activities, and preview early season fly fishing.

Events to watch or attend:

The Fly Fishing Show in Lancaster, PA – For those who missed the Somerset NJ show, the final “reasonably local” opportunity to attend will be the Lancaster, PA show which will be held Saturday, March 4th through Sunday, March 5th. Exhibitor booths will include non-stop casting demonstrations, seminars, fly-tying, a Women’s Fly Fishing Showcase, Fly Fishing Film Festival, book signings and the newest fly fishing tackle and gear. Fly Fishing Show admission is $15 for one day and $25 for both days. Children under age 5 are free as are Scouts under 16 in uniform. Active military with an ID are $10. Hours are: Sat. – 9 am-5:30 pm; Sun. – 9 am-4:30 pm.


Ithaca Fishing Day – The Leon Chandler chapter of TU will once again celebrate the arrival of spring with Ithaca Fishing Day. And this one will be the 25th! This is a great event for fly fishers of all ages and skill levels. The event will be held on Saturday, March 25th from 9 am to 4 pm.


The Twin Tiers Five Rivers (TT5R) Fly Fishing Academy – The TT5R Chapter of  IFFF is sponsoring its 10th Annual Fly Fishing Academy. This is a high-quality fly fishing course, open to Adults and to Youth 11 yrs old and over. The class will provide beginner fly fishers with the basic knowledge and skills to get started, and will help those familiar with the sport onto a fast track to improve. Classroom topics include fly fishing equipment and its use, fly types and their usage, knot tying, reading water, basic entomology, fishing dry flies, streamers, and nymphs, catching and releasing fish. Students will most importantly develop fly casting skills through three sessions throughout the day. Students can bring and learn on their own equipment, but are welcome to use the club’s equipment. More than 15 members and fly fishing experts staff the school, bringing over 200 years of fly fishing experience to help you learn and have fun. Kirk Klingensmith is the Lead Instructor for the Academy. Chas Elliott leads the fly casting staff and is an Internationally Certified Casting Instructor. Class fee is $85 for Adults (ages 16 and over) and $40 for Youth (ages 11-15, accompanied by a registered Adult). TT5R Members are also eligible for a $10 discount. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Prepaid registration is required by Fri., March 31st. Class size is limited, so please register early. Contacts : Steve Harris 607-377-4956,, or Kirk Klingensmith 607-346-7189,


Wader work – If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to go over all of your wading gear. Check boots for damage, replace missing studs, check laces for wear and get your felt bottoms replaced if they are worn. Check and repair your waders for leaks. And check your wading staff for functionality.

Fly rods – Go over all of your fly rods in the following steps: clean, inspect, repair. Start by cleaning with soap and water, paying particular attention to the crannies around the guides. A soft bristle toothbrush can help with deep cleaning. Once clean, a light coat of car wax improves the finish and helps protect your rod from accumulation of dirt. Don’t forget to clean the cork grip. Soap and a soft bristle brush, Softscrub, or eraser sponges do a great job of removing grit and grime.


The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works great on cleaning cork.

Next, inspect your rod for damage. Run pantyhose material through the guides to detect burrs. Inspect the wraps for wear or damage. Check the reel seat. Examine the blank for dings that could be stress concentration points. Once you are done inspecting, take action to correct any discrepancies.

Fly reels – Start by removing the fly line from the reel. Set that aside for further examination. Next, check the backing. Is the backing still fresh or is there evidence of mildew or wear? Backing is relatively cheap to replace and you’ll be glad you did if a big fish ever takes you there. Now, insect the reel for dirt and damage. Light cleaning with soap and water will remove most grime. In some cases using a Q-Tip will help clean the crevices. A light coat of oil on the reel spindle and handle helps. Check your fly reel maintenance instructions for specific maintenance on the drag system.

Fly lines – Take each fly line and coil it into a tub of warm soapy water. Allow it to soak and then run the line through a sponge or clean wet cloth to clean it. Once cleaned, lay it out in large loose coils to dry. Once your line is dry, dress the line with quality line dressing and let it dry. Once the dressed line is dry, wipe it down with another clean dry cloth and store the line in loose coils until ready to use again.

Inventory fly boxes and tie up – It pays to go through your fly boxes and take inventory BEFORE you get on the water. You can decide whether to buy or tie.

Fly fishing opportunities:

For most anglers, March means trout (where the season is open), landlocked salmon, and steelhead. Rainbow trout will run up the Finger Lakes tribs but these fish are on their way to spawn and are protected until Opening Day on April 1st. It’s important to keep regulations in mind at this time of year as they vary significantly by water, species, and allowed angling methods. There are a number of local creeks, for example, that are open all year under artificial lures (flies) / catch and release rules. Other creeks are closed until the traditional opening day. Some Catskill waters are open, such as the border waters on the West Branch of the Delaware. And the Finger lakes are always a possibility. One of the most popular destinations for early season anglers are the Great Lakes tribs such as the Salmon River, where steelhead and browns can be caught. Steelhead, in particular will be coming into the river to spawn in some cases and later in spring, will drop back after spawning. Water temperatures and flows play a big part in the fishing.

Early season flies also vary but egg patterns, nymphs, and streamers are best, depending on the waters being fished. March water temps are almost always very cold, so fish nymphs and egg patterns dead drift or streamers slow and deep.

Regardless of what kind of fishing you are doing, fly fishing in the early season can often times be hit or miss, but no matter what, it’s a great way to get a fly fishing tune-up for better fishing to come.

The week ahead in fly fishing: January 9, 2017

Posted in Fishing Conditions, Fishing Reports, Rod Building, Trout Fishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , on January 8, 2017 by stflyfisher

Happy New Year! Another year gone by – another year to come. It’s been a while since the last weekly fishing report so here’s the first of 2017. In general, fishing has slowed with the cold weather, but there is still some decent fly fishing to be had for the winter-hardened anglers out there. I’ll cover the areas with updates where fly fishing is possible. Small stillwaters such as ponds and the smaller creeks and streams and the warmwater rivers are pretty much out now due to the presence of ice.

Fly shop talk: A recent ad from Simms that found its way into my email carried the subject line: “2017 Resolution: Go Fishing.” As simple as it is, and an obvious lead-in to what new products Simms has in store for 2017 that will help you go fishing, anglers should read and heed and definitely carry this mantra forward in 2017. After all, nothing beats hitting the water for anglers wanting to improve their skills and as Harry Murray, famed smallmouth fly angler says, a day you don’t go fishing is a day you never will. Second to going fishing is to desk-top fish in some way, by reading a book, tying flies, working on gear, or even building a new fly rod. I’m convinced ANY type of fly fishing activity makes a better angler in the long run…


Any fly fishing activity can make for a better angler in the long run…

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

Great Lakes / Finger Lakes tributaries: The Douglaston Salmon Run is reporting that some steelhead are being caught but conditions are less than favorable at the moment with a lot of lake effect snow, very cold water, and marginally high flows for wading. The USGS gauge at Pineville is currently around 900 CFS. Whitakers Sport’s Store and Motel reports that the upper end of the river is producing some action for anglers able to brave the cold. Anglers fishing the Altmar to Pineville section of the river are hooking up with steelhead. One local angler reported landing one smaller size steelhead (5 lbs) and seeing a few others caught – generally the same size. The Finger Lakes tribs are also producing browns, rainbows and landlocked salmon for those willing to fight the cold.

Suggested Patterns:

  • Sucker spawn in white, cream, peach, blue. size 8
  • Estaz eggs in chart, pink, white, blue. size 10
  • Glo-Bugs in pink, chart, orange. size 8
  • Steelie omelet in chart, peach. size 8
  • Steelhead stone in red, purple, orange. size 6
  • Steelhead bugger in size 6.
  • Black / purple egg sucking leech in size 6.

Lakes: John Gaulke of Finger Lakes Angling Zone is reporting the Finger Lakes to be heading for a deep freeze that’s expected to last at least a week. But now’s a great time to plan for spring fishing. Following is his lake-by-lake report:

  • Cayuga Lake:  Shorefishing has been productive for landlocked salmon, brown trout, rainbows and lakers.  Both fly-and gear fishing is working.
  • Seneca Lake:  Last I’d heard, perch fishing was good here.  I’d expect a few salmon and trout to be around, as well as some pike for the boaters as well as anglers in good shore areas.
  • Keuka Lake:  Lake trout fishing is still very good here.  Also expect good perch/bass/pickerel and fair salmon/trout fishing.
  • Owasco Lake:  Lake trout and northern pike fishing should be good here.
  • Skaneateles Lake:  Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon and yellow perch fishing should be good here along with some bonus lake trout and smallmouth bass.


Fly fishing events: Here’s a summary of what’s in store for the week:

  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is auctioning their prized 100th Anniversary Cortland Fly Rod. Read more about this unique and valuable fly rod, here. The auction will be held at their next monthly chapter meeting, on Thursday, January 19th.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is holding its next monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, January 19 at 7:00 pm, with a fly tying demo at 6:30 pm. The presentation topic isFishing for Silvers in (rainy) Cordova, Alaska” with speaker and chapter member, Dan Leonard. Come out to watch another one of Dan’s entertaining videos of his fishing trip to Cordova, Alaska for silvers (Coho Salmon).  This trip took place in September of 2008 with Mark Heath from Chenango Forks and old friend and guide, Ed Trainer from British Columbia.  In September, Cordova has the most precipitation of the year at an average of 22 inches with an average of 21 rain days of the month.  The public is invited and there is no charge for the presentation.
  • The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF is also conducting a fly rod building class. The first class was held this past Saturday. While the class is closed to new registrants, the classes are open to the public to attend and watch. Here’s a link from last year’s very successful class. There are two sessions left – Saturday, January 14, 2017 @ 9:00 am and Saturday ,January 21, 2017 @ 12:30 pm. The class is being held at the Endicott Public Library in the downstairs meeting room.

Joe Swam, expert rod maker, teaches a student in the fine art of fly rod building at the BC Flyfishers second annual fly rod building class. Picture courtesy of the BC Flyfishers.

  • The Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Tompkins County Cooperative Extension 4-H Program will be offering an Introduction to Fly Tying workshop, featuring nine two-hour sessions with several different instructors teaching the basics of tying the dry fly, wet fly, nymph and streamer patterns that are the most effective in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes area. All classes will be from 6:00-8:00 pm on Saturdays, January 14 – March 11, 2017 at the Tompkins County Cooperative Extension Education Center, 615 Willow Avenue Ithaca, NY. In addition to the 9 weeks of instruction, tuition includes complete tying kits (vises, scissors and related tools); all tying materials (feathers, dubbing, hooks and related materials); as well as a comprehensive introductory text on fly tying. Fees are $140 for adults (19 and up), $110 for children (between the ages of 13 and 18) and $215 for a child and adult combination. There are a limited number of partial scholarships available for children between the ages of 13 and 18. A 50% tuition deposit must accompany your application. To register contact Athena Steinkraus at:
    Winter Fly Tying Workshop
    c/o Tompkins County CCE
    615 Willow Avenue
    Ithaca, NY 14850
    MORE INFO:  607-272-2292 (ext. 139)

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

According to WBNG’s Nathaniel Hopper, windy and cold conditions will prevail for all of us for the rest of the weekend, while some localized areas will see lake-effect snowfall. Strong northwest winds will be bringing snow off Lake Ontario, as we could see gusts up to 30mph. Wind chills in the negative teens to negative single digits cannot be ruled out. The best chance for snow looks to stay north and east of Binghamton, while a few waves of snow may wobble across Broome/Tioga County throughout the day. Some localized areas north and east of Binghamton may see more than 3″ of snowfall in more persistent bands, though 0 to 2″ is expected for a majority of the area as snow showers end late Sunday. Temperatures then dip into the single digits Sunday night, with some spots possibly seeing negative single digits. Temperatures then look to warm through the first of next week, winding up in the low-40s by mid-week, which is well above average. As things warm up, rain and a wintry mix will be more likely than snow. A cold front then looks to bulldoze through the Twin Tiers next weekend, dropping temperatures back to seasonable with a wintry mix possible as the front passes.





How to own a piece of fly fishing history

Posted in Gear, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , on September 10, 2016 by stflyfisher

“Ever since I started making fly rods, I wanted to make the finest rods available – not just good rods, but the absolute finest rods available. I truly believe that these are the finest graphite and fiberglass fly rods currently in production, and others are starting to agree. I have put all of my creative talents into designing and building these rods, and I think that my efforts are apparent not just in how they perform, but in how they make you feel. Much like holding a rare cane rod or a fine side by side shotgun, a McFarland fly rod possesses that same magic and resulting feel of wonder and amazement. It is just one of those things that you can’t quite explain; that unmistakable ambiance that surrounds only the very finest objects. When you have one in your hands there is no doubt that you are holding something special.”

Mike McFarland – Owner and Rod Designer, McFarland Rods

Fly fishers looking to own a bit of history, beauty, and excellence need not look any further for the opportunity than an upcoming auction to be held by the BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF. On the auction block is a custom fly rod specifically built to honor Cortland Line Company’s 100th anniversary in business. The BC Flyfishers chapter of IFFF was fortunate to receive fly rod #5 of 100 from the Cortland Line Company and will auction it off to some very lucky angler. The auction starts with the chapter’s September 22 general meeting


BC Flyfishers IFFF chapter President, Nick DiNunzio, receives the 100th Anniversary fly rod from Brooks Robinson of the Cortland Line Company.

The 100th Anniversary rod is the quintessential trout rod as you’d expect any fly rod representing a company that’s an innovator in fly lines to be. It measures out at the standard 9 foot in a 4 piece configuration and it’s rated for a 5 weight line – standard trout fare. Best of all, it’s completely handmade, including the graphite blank, by the McFarland Rod Company located in Bellwood, Pennsylvania.

Mike McFarland, McFarland Rod Company’s founder, likes to feature premium components on his handmade fly rods. The handles on all of his rods are turned from the finest quality cork and the guides are hand wrapped and expertly finished. In the case of the Cortland 100th Anniversary rod, the reel seat is a true nickel silver seat by REC. The wood is California buckeye burl with the Cortland logo engraved in it. While Cortland picked the reel seat, McFarland picked the rod wrap color, using gold to give the rod a bit of a nostalgic look…


The finishes on the 100th Anniversary Cortland Line Company fly rod really stand out…


Every rod is hand signed with the marking of the 100th anniversary and serialized…


Note the nickel silver winding check and hook keeper…


There are only 100 of these very special rods in the whole wide world…

McFarland designed the Cortland 100th Anniversary Fly Rod to embrace the old and new in fly fishing. While it’s built with modern-day graphite, it has a traditional fly rod feel in terms of its medium action. The rod blank was rolled using a unique composite of varying carbon fibers and features a special ferrule design that not only adds strength but also provides a seamless transition of power from butt to tip. Says McFarland; “The taper design of these rods combines a refined progressive taper and classic action with updated materials and resin system.  The result is an extremely smooth casting rod with great line feel and perfect performance with just a few feet of line out the tips as well as at longer distances.” Indeed, at its very heart, this is a trout rod that does its best work at casting distances in the 15′ to 50′ range. It will make a perfect dry fly rod but will also serve the trout angler well fishing nymphs, wet flies, and streamers.


Mike McFarland began building fly rods in 1991 as a hobby while he was in high school. He continued building rods while in college, selling them for “beer money” as he explained to me while I interviewed him over the phone. After college, Mike started to build the business and as anglers purchased and used his hand-built rods, word got around and the business grew.


McFarland’s work in graphite – beauty and performance…

He has made a name for himself in that he not only finishes rods, but also manufactures the blanks. In fact, the bigger part of his business is selling blanks to other rod makers. He produces blanks and finished rods in both fiberglass and graphite.


A McFarland “butterstick” that surely casts as smooth as glass…

So how would a small rod maker afford the high caliber equipment needed to produce top-notch blanks? The answer circles us back to the very fly rod that’s up for auction.

It turns out Cortland Line Company once purchased the Diamondback Rod Company, based in Vermont, but eventually ended up closing the factory and moving fly rod production offshore. In March 2015, Cortland Line Company President Randy Brown announced that they commissioned McFarland to design and build a special, limited edition fly rod to celebrate Cortland’s 100th anniversary. McFarland had struck up a deal with Cortland to build the 100th anniversary rods in exchange for the Diamondback Fly Rod Company’s rod building equipment, a savvy move and a win-win for Cortland, McFarland, and the very lucky angler who will one day grace the water with a rod as beautiful as the very trout it was designed to catch.