Friday, May 29, 2015

I just had to go to work late today

I had fully intended to put in a full day at work today.  But when I got up this morning, it was just too nice a day.  We'd had a couple of hot and humid days (for May, not if it were August) and I really get bummed out by heat and humidity.  But last night thunder boomers came through plus a little rain.  Some towns got 2" balls of hail.  That, of course, is really nothing to complain about when you see the flood devastation going on in Texas.

As the storm front passed through last night, cool air followed.  The AC was turned off and all the windows were opened.  The result: glorious 70F air this morning and a dew point below 60.  We live near wetlands, and everything smelled so nice and damp.  I could even smell the earth.  The irises popped open.  Our screen porch was delightful.  The birds were churping.  The coffee tasted great.  And I didn't have to be at work until 11a!

Ah, what a morning.

After I finished my coffee on the screen porch, I just couldn't find the gumption to get ready for work.  I decided another cup of strong coffee was in order and I sat down at my tying desk and tied up a few nymphs,while slurping on a cup of bold joe.  Then I tied a few more....  Then a few more.  I used the pattern I posted the other day here.  But today I went with a smaller hook (size 12 Mustad 72R 2xl), smaller bead and a smaller upland bird pelt.  I used a beautiful "Mearns quail hen" skin.

Mearns quail hen

The rump feathers are a pinkish tan color.  When tying in the feather tip ever so slightly, which I did in the sample shown in the vise below, there is generally enough feather "rope" to cover the shank with just one feather, finishing off with the fluffy stuff behind the beadhead.

Size 12 Mustad 72R hook.
Tied with one twisted feather and one glass bead.

A nice way to spend Friday morning.
And I still got to the office in time for my 11a meeting!

(No I'm not at Starbucks in Banff. The mug is a souvenir from a trip three years ago.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hungarian Partridge Nymph

During recent years many of my nymphs and buggers have been made entirely from one or two soft hackle feathers, usually marabou type feathers from Turkey, Quail and Partridge. They are made with a conehead or beadhead, and the fish gobble them up.

Here are a couple of links to other flies I have constructed with these feathers and for which I have previously provided step by step instructions:

Conehead Combo

One-feather Fly

The Hungarian Partridge Nymph

The Hungarian Partridge Nymph is made along the lines of the one-feather fly, except that I am using two feathers.  Partridge feathers are nicely sized for the hook I am tying with in the step by step pictures below, a Tiemco #5263 size 10.

The first feather serves as a tail and abdomen.  The second feather serves as a thorax and a bunch of legs, and is applied with a dubbing loop.

The best feathers for the tail and abdomen are the ones with long fibers that point toward the tip of feather.  When you tie the tip onto the shank, you capture a good percentage of the barbs. If you have an entire partridge skin, the best feathers for this will be flank feathers, and not feathers from the neck, saddle, or back.

Below are the two feathers that I used in constructing the fly below. See how the barbs are angled toward the tip?

Here are the tying steps I use:

Prepare the hook shank in the usual way.
Used here: Size 10 TMC 5263 
Beadhead dimension is 5/32 inch

Tie in one partridge feather.

Twist the feather to make a rope.
Wrap the rope about 2/3 up the shank to create an abdomen.
Tie down and snip off excess

You may wish to trim off some of the barbs.
However, it may fish even better if left long.

Create a dubbing loop

Insert second feather into dubbing loop.
Trim off the stem and right side of the feather with scissors.
Notice that the feather is positioned so the "fluffy" fibers
will be applied to the shank last, and will appear behind the bead.

This is what the trimmed off piece looks like.
Spin the dubbing loop. A few more spins and the fibers
positioned at the top will split away from each other.

After the dubbing loop has been wrapped around the shank
you'll have this nice mix of soft hackles and fluff.
Also, this will be a very durable fly.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A nice day on the Miller's River

We need some rain in New England.  That's really hard for me to say, since we had so much snow this winter.  But water levels in the rivers are falling fast.  The section of the Miller's that I fished yesterday was ideal for wading, but any lower than it's current 200 cfs and many of my favorite spots will no longer be holding fish.

In a normal year, the level would be nicely down from many thousands of cfs to a manageable 600-650.  In a normal year, my fishing on the Miller's would just be beginning.  As it is, the river has been fishable for about three weeks.

The flies I used were weighted, and I fished deep.  Things were shallow enough that I used a floating line.

As I walked upstream with the same beadhead I reported on in my last post, and fished it under a foam indicator, I picked up several rainbows in fast water and a handful of smallmouth bass.  I was very happy, even before I turned around and fished downstream back to the car.

For something different than the typical early season black and olive woolly bugger (or similar weighted big fluffy fly), I put on a weighted yellow streamer.

I fabricated this a few years ago and don't have a name for it... yet.
10 wraps of thin lead under silver tinsel and copper rib.
Underwing: long calf tail material. Overwing: mallard
Collar:  I have no idea...  Well, maybe hen neck hackle.

I am not much of a streamer fisherman.  To be honest, I fished it the way I would fish a bugger.  Sometimes I would strip and sometimes I would let it swing.

I caught my two biggest fish this way.  The first was a 14 inch "chub".  Technically, I think it is a Fallfish.  To tell you the truth, they are pretty ugly.  But they are indigenous (I think), wild, stream-born fish, and they consequently have my respect.  I've seen fisherman on some smaller streams throw them up on the bank to die, as they represent competition for food these fishermen would rather have the stocked trout eat.  I'm not a fan of this. But I don't get bent out of shape about it, either.

The chub hit the streamer when it finished its swing below me and just in front of a boulder.  A very likely spot for a fish to hang out!

Note the bait hook stuck in the chub's jaw.  It was easily removed.

The second largest fish was a 12-13" rainbow.  In this case the water was deep, so I placed the streamer "up and across" and gave it slack until it was "down and across", to give it time to sink. I kept the line mended.  Then I began to tighten the line causing the streamer to rise and swing up.  That's when the trout hit it.

Thank you yellow streamer for a job well-done. BTW, I think that is 3x tippet.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

First day out was a bust

Last Thursday seemed like the perfect day to start my 2015 trout fishing season. The water levels were perfect and the afternoon forecast was for gorgeous weather. It was definitely worth skipping out of the office early.

Path through a fine forest to access the Nissitissit River

No big deal, but I got skunked.  (The funny thing is that I mentioned this to a non-fishing colleague at work the next day and he seriously wondered how I was able to get rid of the smell so quickly. I forgot that "getting skunked" is a fisherman's figure of speech. Haha.)

Mayflies were all over the place but I caught no fish. Nor did I even see a fish. The water was still cold, at about 48F. Maybe that was the reason there was no (apparent) fish activity. Certainly, there was no surface activity other than mayflies coming off the water.

My never-fail riffle disappointed me on this occasion.

Perhaps (but I doubt it) my problem is that I fished the wrong flies.  I actually only fished a bunch of beadheads.  As I walked downstream I swung in the current what I thought would be irresistible beadheads.  I experimenting with sizes 12,10, and 8.  Walking back to my car upstream, I fished the same beadheads up-stream, nymphing-style, with a foam float indicator. I fished all the good looking spots and all the spots where I'd caught fish in the past... but with no results. Coming from one of my friends, "that's why they call it 'fishing' and not 'catching'!"

The above two images are the same fly.  Though I got skunked today,
I use a ton of these fuzzy beadheads.  This is a size 12 2xl, made from a single
quail rump feather.

Though I did not catch any fish, I did enjoy my new fly rod.  It's a 9 foot 4 weight built for me by one of my fishing buddies, Paul DiNolo.  If you've been a reader of my web site you'll recognize him as the author of several articles in the "Flies With a Story" section.   He started with a Shu Fly brand rod blank and added parts purchased from Jann's Netcraft. I've never had a 9 foot 4 weight before. In the past I've used a 9'5W for rivers and float tubing, and a 8'4W for streams. I now have a new option.