I first saw these two patterns on Adrian's fly page on Hans Weilenmann's site. Adrian and I communicated by email (Adrian lives in Romania) and sometime in June he mailed to me these two samples. I must appologize to Adrian for being so tardy in getting these patterns posted.
The pattern instructions can be found by going to my Hoppers page. They are listed alphabetically under "A" so are at the top of the page. Photos are there too, and also below:
Earlier this week I received an email from my friend Chris, who had spent some time "out west" fishing the Henry's Fork of the Snake. He sent along the photo below of one trout that got away... sort of.
Chris reported that he was fishing a PMD spinner on a 5-weight and that getting this trout to the boat was an "enjoyable battle". Seems there was a bit more fight left in this one. Nice fish!
It just occurred to me: I'm curious as to what size spinner and tippet Chris was using... I'll email him and update this post when I get the answer.
Based on the exif file embedded in the jpeg (as it is in all jpegs) this shot was taken at about 1:30 on July 3rd. It amazes me that there is some blur in the trout's tail, as this was shot at a shutter speed of 1/1250th of a second.
I am getting very much behind on some of the stuff I want to post here on the blog, including pictures of a marathon trout fishing day last month and several fly photos. I also have some equipment I have been happily using for ten or more years, that I want to comment about.
Even with this backlog of ideas, I nevertheless decided this morning to post photos from yesterday.... mostly because I want my fishing buddy Paul to be able to show the bear pictures to his young granddaughters this morning.
Through my bleary eyes (it was near midnight when I got back from the day trip) I think the pictures came out as well as can be expected (the bear pictures, that is) because I really did not want to get any closer. In fact it was very comforting to have a few human bodies between me and the bear.
There is a Part II to the story. About an hour later and a couple of miles from the original bear siting, the same bear walked across the stream about 100 feet from where we were fishing. It was a little after 8pm. We fish here often. It is my guess that the same or different bears pass through all the time... and we just don't seem them.
IMAGES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
We traditionally start our fishing with a restaurant breakfast (with all the stuff we shouldn't be eating!) and a stop at North Country Angler to talk about water and fishing conditions. NCA is in North Conway, New Hampshire
We thought for sure these cumulus clouds would develop into rain clouds. Fortunately we had no rain until 8:30 pm on the drive home. These next three images are of remote areas of the Ellis River.
We didn't see many bugs in the air, but obviously they are around. This is a stonefly shuck on a rock at the edge of the stream.
Typical native brook trout. Only a few of the probably 100 that we caught were any bigger. Most were smaller... some only 4".
The dry fly of choice for me is a herl body pink-post parachute. Most often I tie it with a tail of hackle fibers but it works just as well without at tail. The pink is for me, not the fish. Size 12 is used wherever it works. I've never gone smaller than 16. These fish are opportunistic hunters most of the time.
Paul is a big Elk Hair Caddis fan. But to add some visibility he concocted a bunch of these pink post low riding caddis, first used by him on this trip. They worked nicely. We both use a lot of peacock herl in our flies. This caddis was tied with a herl body.
This was our dinner spot, eating sandwiches and snacks at one of the picnic tables. It is across from Bretton Woods ski area, and is where we first saw the bear. To be honest I felt a bit more comfortable seeing the bear here than an hour later when he crossed the river downstream from where we were fishing.
Yesterday, as we drove into one of our prime fishing spots along the Ellis River in New Hampshire I felt a little disappointed when I spied this new sign. On other hand, I found some comfort in it. The property had always been labeled "private property" though I knew fishing was allowed. Nevertheless, until I saw this sign yesterday I had always felt a little uneasy fishing there... even though "private property" does not necessarily man "no trespassing"...
Trusted Review is one of the many photography sites I have in my feed reader. Last week I received an update notice about its three-page review of six point-and-shoot waterproof cameras. The first page reviews two budget priced cameras; the second page reviews two mid-priced cameras; and the third page reviews two "premium" cameras.
My favorite is the Panasonic Lumix. Though the review says image quality is "so so", both the Lumix and the Sony (both reviewed as "premium" cameras) were nevertheless the best of the group with image quality scores of 8 of 10.
On the other hand, if you already have a good camera and just want something to stuff in your vest to take pictures of the "fish that didn't get away", perhaps one of the budget options would be worth considering.
If you are in the market for a waterproof camera to take fly fishing, here's the link:
Though my fishing trip (fortunately it was only going to be a half-day trip) ended as soon as I found out that I had forgotten my waders, I quickly developed a "Plan B". I always have a small waterproof camera in my vest, but I realized that I also had one of my "pretty decent" cameras in the glove box. It's not a dSLR, but a high-performance compact camera I would happy to be my sole camera on vacation.
So, not wanting to go home right away, I decided I would enjoy a couple of hours along the river taking photos. If I couldn't capture any fish, perhaps I could catch a "keeper" of a photo!
A beautiful building in Millers Falls. It was completely vacant.
I found myself spending more time looking at the old mills and bridges than ever before. At this point today's post might be a bit OT (off topic) as mill town architecture and fly fishing don't exactly fit together. But both deal with the life of the river.
Before the mills and dams, the Millers was filled with Atlantic salmon during their spawning runs. The salmon would swim upstream from the Atlantic Ocean into the Connecticut River, which travels north through Connecticut, bisecting Massachusetts and then becoming the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. Its flow starts in northern New Hampshire, in what are called the Connecticut Lakes. The Millers River and the Deerfield River are the two biggest tributaries in Massachusetts.
The history here along the Millers is old and the towns were once filled with the economy of the paper mills and tanneries. The water was polluted then, of course, just as it was in other areas of the country where raw waste was dumped into the river. The water is "clean" now, but PCBs still exist in the bottom sediment. Though the fish seem healthy, it is not wise to eat them as PCBs work their way up the food chain.
The three photos below were taken in Orange, MA.
I have caught every species of warm water fish imaginable below the dam to the left. The trout fishery is quite a bit downstream (and also far upstream) from here.
Viewing upstream toward the dam. (For those into photography, I took three identical photos at different exposures and combined them in photoshop to get this image, as I wanted a reasonable exposure of the dark buildings without overexposing the beautiful blue sky and puffy clouds.)
After my day of panfishing earlier this week (see the previous blog post) I decided today was the day to get out to the Millers River to find a few rainbows. As usual, I packed the car and then ran through my mental checklist, starting with my feet and working up my body. Here's how the routine checklist goes: boots, socks, waders, wader belt with wading stiff attached, fishing shirt, vest, raincoat, sunglasses, hat with flip-down focals. I also have a bag with an extra set of clothes.
I can't believe I mentally checked off "waders" and merrily drove off for the one hour trip to the river.
The only problem was that my waders were hanging in the garage where I'd left them to dry after the last trip. And there was no way I was going to wet-wade with nylon cargo pants and Teva sandals. My trip ended as soon as I arrived.
So, am I the only idiot out there? I hope others have done this. Or, something similar.
I actually forgave myself fairly quickly because this sort of thing (for me) is bound to happen. It seems I do something like this every five years or so.
The last time it was my fishing reel. But my friend Paul always has extras of everything in his car (he drove) and he came to the rescue with a reel and spool of the exact line weight to match my rod.
The time before that I left my boots at home. That was maybe 10 years ago. But that trip was saved by a pair of sneakers in the back of my van.
Tomorrow is Fathers Day. Perhaps it will be easy for me to get to the river. The van is packed (I didn't take anything out of it) and my waders are in a pile by the front door with my keys on top of them... but I think I will put them in the van as soon as I hit the "publish" button on this post, just to be safe.
I spent Thursday morning fishing one of my favorite ponds for sunfish and bass. Though it is usually during the last two weeks of June that I get in my first day of float-tubing for panfish, this year nevertheless felt a bit weird.
That's because by now I typically have logged in multiple days of trout fishing on at least two of my favorite trout rivers. High water is periodically a problem on rivers and streams, and this year was no exception. Not only does high water make wading difficult, but it interferes with the stocking program.
It also seemed that whenever I had time to fish, there were threats of thunderstorms (not my favorite thing), torrential rains, or tornado warnings. (You may have heard about the record-breaking tornadoes we had in Massachusetts, in May.)
Then, when the fishing looked good I had family commitments and then a long weekend at a college reunion (I'm not complaining about the family commitments and the reunion... they were far more important than fishing!).
The bottom line: I haven't been out much this year. So, fishing today made me feel that I've missed a big part of the season. Well.... that's life.
Below are a few images:
This is the first bluegill of the year. A real 8.5" beauty.
Above is my first sunfish of the year. A real beauty 8.5 inches long. I measured every large and every small fish I caught, which I do from time to time to get a sense of the fishery. I caught about 50 sunfish though I only found them in bunches along two 30-foot sections of the shoreline. The circumference of the pond is about one mile. Anyway, the smallest was 8" and the largest (pictured below) was 9.5". This is typical. If I didn't know any better I would say sunfish are born 8" long! I wish I knew the biology of this. Where are the small fish? I can only speculate that the large ones are more aggressive, or that the small ones are taught to wait in line (LOL). Perhaps it is because I use big flies, the one used today being 1.5" long on a size 8 hook.
Held in water, you can see how nicely soft hackles like mallard and marabou display themselves. I used three of these. The first two remain in submerged logs.
I also catch the occasional bass. Just two today. Now, if I were willing to fish with spinning gear and shiners I would have a ton of big bass to show you! But I will leave that kind of fishing to others.
My dad found this Grey Ghost from LL Bean in his stuff the other day. He doesn't know where it came from. He doesn't (nor did he) fish, so its a quandary. But I love the old packaging and can't remember the last time I saw a streamer packaged this way.
It seems that all the shops I visit now have the little wooden bins all set out in a grid. On the other hand, I don't buy flies, so maybe in some shops (even LL Bean?) they still come packaged up like this.
Over the years I have switched more and more to simple flies. It gives me a thrill to catch fish on a fly that is made with just one or a few simple and easy-to-find materials. To be sure, if I felt that such flies compromised my fishing success I would not use them. But I am convinced that most of the time the fly chosen makes very little difference. As long as it is presented effectively (eg. action, depth, speed) by the flyfisher, I believe that most of the time the fly chosen is perhaps only 10% of the success equation. I say "most of the time"; there are of course times when the fish are very selective and fly selection is correspondingly more important. Such selectivity is experienced when "fishing the hatch".
But most of the time I would say that the fisherman's skill is 80% of the formula, the equipment is 10% and the fly is the final 10%. The fly is just part of the "tool kit". It is up to the fisherman to know how to present the fly and "work it".
This is why over the years I have worked to reduce the number of flies I carry (though I always have a few "experimentals" along). Instead I am concentrating on a smaller selection of flies. By doing this I have become more confident in the flies I am fishing.
A couple of the the subsurface flies I have concentrated on in recent years are the Conehead Combo (clickable for recipe and pictures) which I now carry only in olive and only in two sizes, and the Hare and Herl Bugger (clickable for recipe and pictures) which I carry weighted with 10 wraps of lead and in only one hook size.
There are two other simple subsurface flies that I have enjoyed fishing that I have not yet reported on. The first one is tied with just one feather. The second pattern requires two feathers.
I plan to follow up this post first with step-by-step instructions and photos for the "One Feather Fly". But until I do, pictured below are the simple materials required: 5/32" beadhead, sizes 8 Tiemco 1xl hook, and one rump feather from a ring neck pheasant.
If you had to tie a fly with only these materials, what would it look like?
Here in southern New England we have been deluged with rain over the past week. At times like this I find it important to study water flow information from the federal government's Web site before heading out. Below, for example, is the current status of the Millers River in Erving, MA. I fished it last Friday (May 13) when it was below my self-imposed threshhold of 500 cfs (cubic feet per second). As you can see, today, a week later things are quite different, with water flow at about 1,500 cfs. That's unfishable.
rt= real time data. You will get on your monitor a page that looks like the image below. It's fun to see what other parts of the country are doing. New England is wet (blue and black dots), and across the south things look below normal (red dots).
(Note: The image below is a screenshot and is not active. It is not click-able.)
Once you get this page up on your computer using the link above, just click on your state to get to your state-specific page. You'll be able to negotiate your way from there. Each dot is a different river location.
After my post earlier this week about the leakproof bags I bought from The Waterproof Store a while back, I received an email from Mike in their customer service department offering a 10% discount to readers who order using the coderg419. Probably "rg" refers to Rock Gear, as The Waterproof Store is a division of Rock Gear, Inc.
At any rate the coupon code can be used at any time (and as often as you want) up through August 31, 2011. Check out their Web site. They have much more than just leakproof zip lock bags.
Again, I have no financial connection... other than that I, too, can get the 10% discount !!
I always have a water-resistant camera with me when fishing, to record the day or perhaps even get a good picture or two. However, most people leave their cell phones and cameras in the car to avoid getting them wet. That's a good idea. But there are times when it would be nice to have these devices with you.
I bought a multi-pack selection of four Aloksak bags (direct link: http://www.thewaterproofstore.com/aloksakmulti.html) for under $12, the largest of which is 12" x 12". The store has quite a few other nice products as well. I have no connection with the company.
The image below shows my old Panasonic ultrazoom camera, a small Canon not-waterproof point and shoot camera, and my old and still-in-use cell phone. The fourth bag in the kit has gone missing *LOL*.
I bought a few more multi-packs last December. They make great gifts for your fishing buddies, or perhaps stocking stuffers for outdoorsmen/women in your family.
On Friday I took my first outing of the season. (Yes, I did catch trout: two rather blah looking stocked rainbows, about 9 and 12 inches.)
But before starting out I had to get my gear together, never an easy task when it's your first time fishing in 6 or 7 months. Fortunately I keep (nearly) all of my gear in one huge duffel bag. Nevertheless I dumped everything and spread it out on a bed.
Like many others I am sure, the next step in getting organized is to go through a mental checklist of everything needed for a day on the water. I always start with my feet and work my way up my body. Boot, yes. Socks, yes. Long underwear, yes. Neoprene waders, yes. Wading belt (with staff attached), yes.... etc. When I get the vest, I look in each pocket to be sure everything is there. These pockets are filled with the same stuff for each outing whether it be for smallmouth bass or trout, so I have a high likelihood of having everything I need. The only exception is my old 3.2 megapixel Pentax digital water resistant camera... it needs two fresh AA batteries from time to time.
Well, I took two AA's out of my desk drawer. I knew they were new, as I had just bought a 20-pack at Staples. But, when I plunked the batteries correctly into the camera and I turned it on, nothing happened. My heart sank. I opened the battery compartment and reinserted the batteries in exactly the same manner. Thankfully, this time it lit up and made a couple of "I'm ready" beeps.
I realized how old this camera is when I went into the menu to input the correct date and time, and saw the date choices starting with the year 2003! And of course a 1.5" screen and "only" 3.2 megapixels also suggests its old age (for a digital camera).
About megapixels: Almost always 3 MEGAPIXELS IS ENOUGH.
Let me explain. Ninety-nine percent of all point and shoot cameras have a sensor about 4.5mm x 6mm in size. The sensor is the digital equivalent of film. It collects the light that enters the camera body through the lens. The light is channeled onto a honeycomb of pixels (except pixels are generally square and not hexagonal) that cover the surface of the sensor, and from there software uses the information collected in each pixel to create the image. This camera has a grid of pixels that measure 2048x1536 pixels = 3,145,728 pixels = 3.2 million pixels = 3.2 megapixels.
So, how many pixels do you need? Well, the marketing departments of the camera companies seem to think that answer is about 12-16 megapixels. But that's too many. Here' why.
For viewing images on your high def television (1920 x 1080 pixels) or 24" computer monitor (mine has a resolution of 1800 x 1200), 2 megapixels is enough. Just multiply those numbers and you will find that the area is about 2 million pixels. If your original image has more than that, it has to be downsized to fit. With a 12mp image, for example, software will squish 6 pixels into 1 pixel (in other words 12mp squeezed into 2).
Here's another example. The pictures on this blog must fit into a box that measures 650 x 650 pixels. That is approximately 4/10th of 1mp! Again, any image bigger than that has to be downsized.
But what about prints? Anywhere between 200 and 300 dots per inch looks great. At 200 dots per inch an image of 2048 x 1536 will make an excellent 10" x7.5" print. The image below was made into a 9" x 12" print and submitted into my photo club's monthly competition. The print was sharp and full of color. The judge liked especially the orange reflection in the water. The fact that it scored a reasonable but not great 26 out of a possible 30 points had nothing to do with the camera.
Many experts believe that optimal for these small sensors is 6mp. Why not more? Because as you cram in more pixels they each must get smaller. And this makes collecting light more difficult. Technological advances have helped, but the result of cramming in so many pixels is that taking pictures in low light conditions becomes difficult and the result is grainy looking images. The image quality on many older cameras with fewer megapixels is better than the image quality on many newer cameras with more megapixels. Unfortunately, the older cameras lack many of the cool features we find on the newest models; such as, image stabilization, 3" monitors, better handling, GPS, high def video, and speedy performance.
On the other hand, if you make prints bigger than 12"x9" then more pixels will help.
Rather than discarding an empty tissue box, try using it as a scrap receptacle. The tissue boxes with the clear plastic covering the hole works great. It is easy to push in your trash, and the plastic essentially traps little feathers tips and butts and fluff from escaping.
This old tissue box has been on the side of my desk for years. When (if?) it gets full I'll just replace it with another.
I got an email from a friend letting me know that the bobbin I was questioning in a post earlier this month is an S&M Bobbin. Now that he mentioned it, I remember that there were letters engraved on one of the bobbin ears. The engraving actually isn't all that noticable, unless you get the ight just right (see below.)
The bobbin I showed in the earlier post (and shown below with the wood handle) is a recent "upgrade" of the original. The original was created by Walt Stockman and Charlie Malley who were owners of S&M Fly Shop in Connecticut.
The shop was sold to John Marona in the early 1990s and he closed the shop about 2005. Based on some forum posts from 2008, it seems that John then continued to sell old stock on ebay for a few more years after closing the shop.
I can't recall where I bought my "original"; perhaps from Ed Gallop at Flytyersworld.com. It cost about $5 around 2006 or 2007.
I think you either hate or love the old product, with its steel tube and big ears. I have read that this is the favored bobbin of A.K. Best.
For me, I will only use the original design for my heavy thread (such as Danville 3/0) as I keep breaking finer thread. The pressure of the metal ears against the thread spool is hard to adjust, and most of the time they create too much pressure agains the thread spool.
The "upgrade" model costs about $16 and has a wood handle and ceramic inserts on both ends of the steel tube. If you are interested, I saw it on the stoneriveroutfitters.com Web site. I find tubes with ceramic inserts difficult to thread.
I saw on the bearlodgeangler.com Website an even newer model! It said "new for 2009", and was built with a ceramic tube, and is priced at about $18. I don't have one of these, but would expect (for me) that the extra $2 is worth it for the full ceramic tube. But I won't be buying it, as I have a lifetime supply of bobbins. (On the other hand, I continued to buy feathers even after buying my first lifetime supply *LOL*)
It is my understanding that these upgraded models with their fancy wood handles are made by Wasatch. I read somewhere that Wasatch bought the rights to manufacture the bobbins.
In the prior two posts I wrote about getting going on fly tying after two years, with a simple clipped-hackle woolly called the Henry's Lake Special. I read about it in Gary Soucie's Woolly Wisdom and also found the pattern in Terry Hellekson's Fishing Flies.
Very simple: brown biots for tail, herl body, and clipped palmered brown hackle. I was actually all set to substitute black biots and grizzly hackle, and wrote about this in the first post, but changed my mind at the last minute.
So... after work on Friday I finally sat down and got started. Here's a look at my first tied fly in two years. Pretty easy, but that's my kind of fly!
Insert hook and cover with thread.
Ten wraps of lead wire. I used .20mm to match the shank diameter.
Tie in two brown biots for tail.
Four herls tied in (spellcheck tells me there's no such word as herls). Hackle tied in by the butt end. Done
Wrap herl forward, once first behind the feather butt. Tie off.
Palmer hackle forward. Tie off.
Clumsily tie a small head using whip finish tool. No picture taken.
Give the little beast a haircut. (I'd never make it as a barber!)
After setting up the tools and materials to tie for the first time in two years (see previous post), it is now time to get re-acquainted with the tools and techniques of the trade.
I have several nice vises and the JVice is perhaps my favorite. Designed and built by Jay Smit in South Africa I acquired mine in 2004 and wrote a review of it on my Website. My vise is #43 and was the second one sent to America... pretty cool.
Jay is always tinkering and has come up with many unique accessories. Check out his Web site. In particular he had developed a new jaw design and gooseneck arm which he sent to me perhaps two years ago. I did the retrofit per his instructions, and found the time to tie a bit with the new jaws before my hiatus from the tying table began.
Admiring the jaws today, they look like they'll be able to handle all the freshwater hooks I'm likely to tie with. As I recall, I liked the gooseneck arm because it made it easy to get my left hand behind the hook to hold materials. This is a rotary vise which I much prefer over standard designs.
After setting the vise on the table, I grabbed a couple of pairs of scissors from my tool box. One has straight tips and the other has curved tips. I have no recollection as to which I prefer or when I use one over the other. I will figure that out as I go along. These are Tiemco brand scissors, and therefore of reasonable quality.
My threads are pretty straight forward. Basically two dimensions of Danville: 6/0 and 3/0. I have flat-waxed too. I don't recall if 3/0 is something different from flat-waxed. My tying brain cells feel like they have a sock over them. I hope this all comes back to me.
I believe the black Danville thread I've got in the bobbin is 6/0. I can't remember what the bobbin brand is. I'm surprised that I don't remember, because I went out of my way to buy a couple of them. They are considered a classic, old design. But I think they were cheap. I think the brand disappeared for a while and then was re-introduced in recent years perhaps under a new manufacturer or distributor. The spool doesn't move too smoothly through this bobbin as I remember, and I used to break the thread often. If I start breaking thread again, I'll switch to one of the other bobbins in my kit with "ears". Can someone help me with the name of this brand of bobbin?
I did see in my tool box a bag of blue dental floss threaders. They work very nicely for threading bobbins, though I also remember sucking the end of the tube trying to get the thread through.
I grabbed my little whip finishing tool. I have a longer reaching one, too. They are very nice tools. I think they are something like Martinetti, or some other Italian name that starts with an "M". I never learned to whip finish with my fingers. Probably because it is so much fun to use the tool. I can't recall, however, how to use it. I am hoping that it comes back to me, and it probably will... unless I start thinking too hard about it. I have several brass half-hitch tools. I think I used them more for hackled flies and parachutes. Maybe the half-hitch tool will be better for the Henry's Lake Special. We'll soon see.
It was easy to find my hooks. They are kept in the original boxes inside bank check boxes. I have an entire box labeled R72. These are 2x wet fly hooks made by Mustad. I was pleased the see that this exact model is actually one of the listed hooks for the Henry's Lake Special as described in Terry Hellikson's Fish Flies.
Lead wire. That's another easy one. My lead wire spools are also in a bank check box, and I have a complete collection, starting at .10" and ending with .35". I almost always use 10 wraps of lead of a diameter to match the hook wire diameter.
I often finish my flies with a little nail polish on the head. It looks like I should buy some new bottles, or at least thin them out with _____ (heck, I don't recall what you thin nail polish with, but its the same stuff they make nail polish remover with, perhaps starting with the letter "a" or "e" ??)
The last tool I can think of is a set of magnifiers. I think mine are called Mag-eyes.