Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peacock for dry flies and nymphs

Every fly tier and most fly fishermen know about the supposed fish-attracting powers of peacock herl.  Off hand I can think of about a dozen flies that use this remarkable natural material.  Here are two examples: one dry and one wet.  Both of these patterns are pretty old; the Picket Pin originated in Montana around 1919 and the House and Lot first showed up in the late 1950's.

Picket Pin
H and L variant a.k.a. House and Lot
 featuring stripped peacock body and a peacock herl thorax

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fall in the Adirondacks

As the seasons change so do our fishing opportunities and tactics.  Fishing streamers slow and deep and weighted nymphs have produced the most action over the past couple of weeks.   I have enticed a few good trout on big dries, blue winged olives, and have witnessed trout selectively feeding on tiny size #22-#26 rusty spinners.  We have had more than our fair share of rainy weather and off-colored water this fall.  My most productive nymph has been a rubber legged prince tied with a silver bead head.  Fall is not the season for epic hatches or consistent dry fly action, but for many folks it's the greatest time to be on the water.  The crisp days, dramatic fall colors, hungry fish, and the impending snow seem to add extra intensity to every outing.

 Rubber leg prince nymphs ready for action
Tom Conway caught this one on a rubber legged prince
another one on a rubber leg

The Salmon are starting to show up in the Lake Champlain tributaries; I caught this nice fish on October 2nd using a grey matuka.

I am going to be offering special deals on flies via the Ruff Waters Fly Fishing Facebook page click on the like button to your right so you can take advantage.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Caddis Dry Fly

After field testing my new foam caddis dry fly I am very impressed with its durability and its ability to skitter up and across swift current.  My fly tying room is filled with creations that I will probably never tie again; they either aren't an improvement on a current fly I already offer to my customers or I haven't personally caught enough trout on them to feel confident putting then in my online shop.  This caddis exceeded my expectations, so I quickly tied a couple dozen to share with my friends and clients and to sell at the local fly shop.  Everyone that has used the fly has been satisfied and they like its ability to get tumbled by whitewater and then pop back up to the surface!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ausable Update


The River has been fishing fantastic.  I have been to busy fishing and tying Humpies and Bombers to update my Blog for the past few weeks.  During this warm weather be sure to hit the water early take a nice long lunch during the hottest time of day then fish until dark or after!  Remember to play and net the fish as fast as possible, handle them as little as you can and release them quickly.   If you haven't been fishing the river here are a few pictures of what you have been missing.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ausable River pocket water

I have been doing a lot of pocket water fishing lately it's been great.  I fished using a bead head prince and a caddis nymph as a dropper.  I tied the size 10 prince with a double wrap of non lead wire for extra weight it seemed to do the trick.  I am still trying to figure out the best way to take a photograph while holding the fish!

The first brown of the day

Rainbow caught using a silver bead head prince nymph
Tom Conway playing a 17' rainbow on a 6'6''  2-3wt. Steffen fiberglass rod

Monday, June 6, 2011

Fly fishing for lake trout in the Adirondacks

Getting ready to release 

Most fly fishing for lake trout is done on lakes and ponds in the spring and fall while the water is cool and the trout are feeding close to the surface on minnows.  Anglers appreciate the opportunity to fish for "lakers" at ice out, often casting streamers towards the remaining ice and stripping them slowly or trolling bucktails behind a lake clear wobbler.  As the water temperature rises, it is more important to understand the lake trout's habits and habitat.  Being carnivorous and a top predator, they follow baitfish, often holding in depth structure or steep ledges waiting to ambush their prey.  Fly fishing in deep lakes is a challenge; locating the likely lake trout habitat then presenting your "fly" at the appropriate depth and speed are not easy.  I have learned a few tricks that make it easier, like studying the lake or pond's contour map, noting average depth, deep spots, and any extreme drop off or ledge.  Another important piece of information that can be gained from a good map are feeder streams or springs that may supply cold water even during the warmest months of the summer.  The perfect spot would be a steep drop off near a cool feeder stream.  Now the trick is to get your fly to the appropriate depth.  I usually use a full sinking line with about a 10 ft leader; it isn't neccasary to use a tapered leader, just straight mono will do, putting a few small split shots about 16 inches from your fly.  This will speed its descent to your desired depth.  Sometimes I will use a Lake Clear Wobbler in place of the split shot to add weight, flash, and movement to my streamer.  If you decide not to use the wobbler, make sure you create extra movement by twitching and changing your trolling speed.  I prefer the slow erratic troll that can be created by paddling a canoe, guideboat, or rowboat to the constant speed created by an electric trolling engine.  It is very important to troll slowly enough to fish deep but not too slowly that you get hung up on the bottom.  Two of my favorite streamers for lake trout are the Black nose dace and the White zonker.

A nice Laker caught using a 9' 8wt rod and a Hardy St John reel
the 50 year old Hardy was screaming!

Unhappy Laker

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hendrickson Hatch on the Ausable

Hendrickson with egg sack

As the water levels continue to recede on the Ausable, the dry fly fishing is starting to pick up.  Yesterday evening I headed up river from Wilmington to do some fishing.  Brookie and I started off fishing in a pocket water section of the catch and release area; we pulled one rainbow out using heavy nymphs.  Then we decided to check out the insect activity further up along River Road.  Standing on a slow moving section of river, we enjoyed watching the many Hendrickson spinners and a few trout feeding.  We didn't even fish; we just observed the spectacle and tried to photograph a Hendrickson.  It wasn't easy to find one that wanted to sit still for a photo shoot.  This one sat on my finger just long enough for a few pictures before flying off.

Monday, May 23, 2011

European nymphing the Ausable River

This weekend Wilmington and the Ausable River were busy with participants in the Ausable River Two Fly competition.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time and it looked like it was another successful event for the organizers and fishermen.  One of the Guest speakers at the event was Aaron Jasper of Trout Predator Online, an accomplished European nymph fishermen who has spent years practicing this competition technique.  I have read about the leader rigging, tied "Czech" nymphs, and even tried the 10 and 11 foot rods that are typically used.  Aaron needed someone to show him the river and take him to productive pocket water and I wanted to see European nymphing in action, so we had a deal.  After spending the day with Aaron, I now have a practical understanding of how to incorporate some of the European nymphing methods into my everyday fishing.  The leader rigging we used was definitely not something I would want on every reel, but I plan on having at least one setup ready to fish.

This is more or less the leader setup we used

I enjoyed the close connection between nymph and fishermen, allowing detection of subtle strikes and a quick hook set.  I also liked the aggressive wading style needed to pick the pockets.  This style of fishing does not allow long casts; you really have to get up close and personal to your favorite holes.

Aaron demonstrating an aggressive wading style.
(I took the picture while sitting on a comfy rock)
Fish On!

Aaron with a nice brown

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fishing for Adirondack brook trout on a rainy day

I'm a very optimistic fisherman.  Before every outing I honestly believe I'm going to catch fish no matter what the conditions are.  Some days it's easy, other days it isn't, and some days you have to hit the ponds!  Considering the river conditions, this was a pond day.  Thankfully my 16 pound Hornbeck canoe is light enough to carry to any back country pond.  As the heavy rain soaked through my rain jacket the cold limited the dexterity in my fingers, making it seem like I was tying knots with wet hot dogs.  I wasn't having any luck, but my brother in his "vintage" Wenonah Kruger was catching fish.  I paddled over to see what he was using; as I neared his boat he hooked and landed another nice brookie.  He was using one of my bright yellow and silver Swinger Prince nymphs.  Since I wasn't having any luck with my black nosed dace, I put on a Swinger and immediately caught a trout.  I had never considered trolling this pattern like a streamer, but I should have because we both continued to catch brook trout until dark.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

High Water Dry Fly Fishing on the Ausable

The Ausable River has been running high and even more rain is falling.  After tiring of streamer fishing and nymphing.  I couldn't resist tossing a few dry flies to try tempting some hungry trout.  My dry fly choice to entice trout from deep holes and from the shelter of boulders is typically an attractor pattern.  A few of my favorite patterns are the Madame x parachute and the Ausable bomber.  They are both big, buggy and float well.

Small Brown with a big Madame X
Rainbow with a #10 Ausable Bomber 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ausable River Streamer Fishing


Yesterday, May 14, I guided a trip for the Ausable River Two Fly Shop.  It was a father and son duo from the Albany N.Y. area.  At 8am we began fishing under overcast skies; the weather progressively deteriorated throughout the day.  By 6pm we were pretty much soaked, but happy after catching some memorable trout.  Every fish we caught was fooled by a size 6 or 8 weighted streamer- mostly whitezonkers with one exception, a small rainbow Jacob caught on a Swinger prince nymph.

Tim with his first Brown of the day
Jacob with a Fat Rainbow!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Adirondack Brook Trout

Living so close to the famous West Branch of the Ausable River it is sometimes easy to loose track of the other fishing within a 15 minute drive of Wilmington.  Of course I fish the ponds at ice out and when the river is to high to fish.  But how about all of those small streams stretching down the mountains?  The truth is many of them offer the opportunity to catch the only true Adirondack trout the Brook trout.  Brook trout aren't known as a hard fish to fool almost any bunch of feathers tied to a hook will do the trick.  I remember my first time fishing for Brook trout in the High Peaks near Keene Valley hopping from boulder to boulder up the steep stream watching as the small pods of trout eagerly chased my bucktail streamer.  Only one or two casts in each pocket then the fish would disappear signaling the time to try the next pocket.  I don't remember catching a fish over 8 inches that day but it's impossible to forget the feeling of those fish tugging my line and how soft their skin felt in my hand compared to any other fish I had ever caught. Since that day I have had fewer great days of brook trout fishing then great days fishing for browns but every time I go hunting for brookies I get closer to the real reason I fly fish. 

Happy hunting!!
The Ausable Bomber has every characteristic of a great Brook trout dry fly unsinkable, buggy looking, durable and most importantly easy to tie!

thread: Hot orange
hook: 2x long dry fly
tail: Woodchuck 
body: Australian opossum dyed rusty orange
hackle: Brown and grizzly over entire body
wing: calf tail

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

West Branch of the Ausable River Hatch Chart

I wanted to post a hatch chart for the Ausable so I looked around online. This chart is the best one I could find. It is important to remember that any hatch chart is just an example of what to expect. I hope this helps anyone coming to my area to do some fly fishing. If you want a more precise hatch report give me a call or send me an email. I am on the water every chance I get.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cobia on the Ruff One

After a few days in the Smokies my brother and I headed to my folks house on Amelia Island Florida. It being my first time to my parents new home I was exited to see what they left the North Country for. After arriving my father and I solidified plans to fish for the next 2 days on the Gulf Coast with My Aunt and Her Husband. We would be launching the boat from Homosassa. We left early the next morning and soon after hit the water on the appropriately named boat the Ruff One.

We headed down the Homassasa River to the Gulf after about an hour cruise we located the structure Tom Chancey had marked on his GPS. It was a 4 foot pile of rocks in about 20 feet of water. This was not going to be a typical Ruff Waters outing we were not throwing flies we were using live bait and plugs. We hooked a few sharks that broke off one was a spinner shark that jumped 4 feet in the air spinning the whole time! Finally after an hour or so I hooked my first Cobia I was using a trout weight spinning rod and was in for a real fight. We managed to net the fish it measured 32 inches it weighed about 18 lbs. We fished for another hour at the rocks caught a small grouper and a blue fish then headed to a shrimp boat wreck. We put the boat in idle up current from the wreck and floated over. 5 cobia waited down current from the wreck using the sunken vessel to ambush bait fish. Tom Chancey hooked the first cobia he quickly landed the fish and released it giving me a chance to cast to the others wham the fight was on! This time I was using a heavier rod and easily landed the fish even though it was bigger then the last one. The opportunity to cast to these fish and watch them gang up on our bait was fantastic. Cobia are pure muscle and put up an excellent fight!

Fish On!

On our second day out we faced some choppy water and windy conditions. We headed for the same rocks we fished our first day out the fishing started out slowly as the seas got higher and higher. We decided to fish another half hour then head in before things got ugly. As we were getting ready to pull anchor and head out a nice cobia pounded my pin minnow and the fight was on this was my last and biggest fish of my Florida vacation (not bad).

My father and I

I will be building a Salt water fly rod for my next Cobia trip. Most of the research I have done says not to use anything lighter then a 12 wt. I guess I will be adding 12 0r 13 wt to my growing list of rod builds.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smoky Mountains North Carolina

Just as trout season opened in the Adirondacks and after a day of fishing in the cold Ausable, Saranac and Boquet rivers. I headed south to visit my parents in Florida with my brother. Our plan was to drive south to western North Carolina as fast as possible, fish for a few days and then continue south to Florida. The fishing on the Tuckasegee or the "Tuck" was very productive. We caught 10 nice trout within an hour of wading into the river. Of course the biggest ones managed to get away.

My Brother on the Tuck

Releasing a small Rainbow

On the second day the mission was to find some nice spots farther from the road with less fishermen. We found the perfect spot. I am not gonna print its name (I wouldn't want to offend any N.C. fly fishers). It was just the kind of fishing I love, tight, steep, pocket water loaded with trout! It was an incredible day on a perfect trout stream. We didn't catch a ton of fish, but catching trout on an Ausable Bomber dry in early April sure is a special treat. I wouldn't mind visiting again next Spring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Getting Ready

Despite the cold winter-like weather, most Adirondack fly fishermen are gearing up for trout season. Organizing fly boxes, checking line, patching waders, purchasing new gear, the list goes on and on. I have tied a full stock of flies for my personal use, as well as a couple hundred for Tom Conway at the Ausable River Two Fly Shop in Wilmington. I will be dropping them off at his shop around April 1st. If you are in the Wilmington area, be sure to stop in the shop. The season starts off slowly in the north country; it's not easy to find productive fishing unless you are very familiar with some of the early spring "honey holes."

Over the winter I managed to finish a few new rods for my guide service. The first one is a 4 piece 81/2 foot 4 wt. I used a Batson Rx 7+ blank; it's my favorite Batson product, but for some terrible reason they do not make the blank anymore. I used TiCr single foot guides, a reverse half wells cork grip and a lightweight uplocking reel seat with cork insert. The rod balances perfectly with a Hardy LRH fly reel, loaded with WF 4 wt line. I have only cast the rod in my yard. It feels very light in hand with med fast action and enough power to punch out a ton of line. I created a feather inlay using grizzly saddle hackle; I really like how it turned out. It looks like fish scales or snake skin. It is hard for me to look at the inlay without imagining the many dry flies I could have tied using the feathers.

I also got my hands on two fiberglass 7 foot 3wt blanks from Great Bay Rod Company. By the way, I really like this company; everything they sell is manufactured in the USA and the costumer service was very friendly and quick. I bought the Northeast series blank. It is a 4 piece blank with spigot ferules. They use S-Glass to roll the blank; it's faster and lighter then E-Glass. Great Bay sells a whole line of finished fiberglass rods designed for small stream fishing. I used TiCr single foot guides, TiCr tip top, Silk wrapping thread, a 6 inch cigar shaped cork grip, and a REC down locking cap and ring reel seat. After spending some time casting this rod, I was very happy with its medium speed and buttery-smooth feel. I tried it using both 3wt WF line and 4wt WF line. The rod is a true 3wt. After trying a few reels, I have decided that the perfect reel is an old Pflueger Progress 1774. I love the reel; it's sturdy and utilitarian, plus I think it looks cool especially on glass.

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Nymphs

I want to introduce some new nymph patterns that I have added to my online fly shop. The Swinger Princes started out as a wire prince pattern but I decided to tie it on a natural bend hook and use a blend of dubbing that I could brush out heavily to create life like movement in the water. This series of flies can be fished either dead drift with an indicator or on the swing like a traditional wet fly.

Swinger Prince

Golden Swinger Prince

On the West Branch of the Ausable here in the Adirondacks one of my favorite ways to fish the river is by "picking pockets". I pick a good stretch of pocket water then start to fish up stream tossing my nymph or nymphs into almost every pocket. I usually only make a few presentations in each pocket trying to reach as many pockets as possible then move up river to the next comfortable stance. In water with heavy current the trout do not have much time to examine your imitation as it tumbles past. This batch of new nymphs I added are flashy and meant to attract attention they are true attractor patterns.

Olive lightning bug

Hot orange lightning bug

Lightning Stone Fly