Friday, May 27, 2011

Switching to simple flies: The "One Feather Fly"

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?

Directions for the One Feather Fly

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to follow water-flow information on your favorite rivers

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.

If you'd like to find out how your river is doing, just go to
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. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Waterproof Store offers readers 10% discount

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 code rg419. 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 !!

Happy shopping.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A good online source for leakproof, clear-plastic zip bags

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.

A couple of years ago I found  relatively inexpensive and heavy-duty leak proof zip lock bags at a Web site called

I bought a multi-pack selection of four Aloksak bags (direct link: 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.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I thought my flyfishing camera was broken, and why 3 megapixels is enough

The Souhegan River on Friday

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.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A tip for collecting your tying trash

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.