Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas


Here's wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years. 


Friday, December 19, 2014

Tying The BH Dredge

The BH Dredge

The question was raised pertaining to the Dredge pattern, as to whether or not I tied this pattern as a bead-head, and if so, could I post a video of the BH pattern as well. I had never tied the Dredge as a BH, mainly due to it's effectiveness as it was. However, recognizing how a tungsten BH Dredge could have a definite place in a box, I have tried to provide my adaptation of the BH Dredge. Having not fished this pattern, I will really on my future experiences and the reports from those who fish it as to it's effectiveness.

The BH Dredge Recipe

Hook:  #12 Orvis Beadhead
Bead:  Black Tungsten
Underbody: #20 lead Wire
Tail:  Black Pheasant tail
Abdomen:  Peacock Herl
Shellback:  Black Pheasant Tail
Rib: Medium Black Ultra-Wire
Thorax: Black Ice-Dub / Black Ostrich Herl
Wingcase:  Black Pheasant Tail
Legs:  Black Pheasant Tail

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tying The Dredge

The Dredge

The Dredge is aptly named, since that is exactly what is was tied and is used for. 20+ years ago I needed a heavy dark nymph to drag tandem rigs to the bottom of the streams of the Mt St Helen's watershed. Hence the Dredge was born. It has since held a solid place in my box from that point forward. Hopefully it will do the same for you.

The Dredge Recipe

Hook:  #12 Orvis Beadhead
Underbody: #20 lead Wire
Tail:  Black Pheasant tail
Abdomen:  Peacock Herl
Shellback:  Black Pheasant Tail
Rib: Medium Black Ultra-Wire
Thorax: Black Ice-Dub / Black Ostrich Herl
Wingcase:  Black Pheasant Tail
Legs:  Black Pheasant Tail

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Valley Creek , Valley Forge Pennsylvania

Valley Creek, Pennsylvania

             Pulling my truck into the small gravel parking lot near the national park trail-head sign, I stepped out into a cool but sticky summer morning. Across the road the small fog bank settled in over where I knew the stream to be, and everything not covered by a canopy of trees appeared saturated with dew. I pulled on some lightweight hip-boots, rigged my rod and tied on a #16 tan caddis pattern which is always a starting fly for me on this particular water.  Walking the edge of the road to an access point near a small one-lane covered bridge I noticed a solitary person jog past along the road near the far side of the stream. In my mind however he didn’t exist, since even his footfalls on the blacktop were muted by the sound of the stream.  Turning my attention to the stream I eased up along the small gravel bar under the bridge, and with a couple of warm-up false casts dropped my fly at the head of the riffle which rounded a small curve upstream. The little tan fly contrasted nicely in the shadows under the bridge as I tracked its path back towards me along the near seam of the riffle. The fly made a lazy “S” turn as the slack pulled out of the tippet, when in a swirl of gold and brown it disappeared. A quick lift of the rod and the dance was on, which brought a lively wild brown trout to hand in short order. I admired the brightly colored 9” fish for a second, and then let it quickly disappear back into the perfect camouflage of the stream bottom.  Moving upstream around the bend I was rewarded again with a near carbon copy of the first fish, and then 2 more of their brethren at the next little plunge-pool. The morning was proving to be all that I had hoped for and more.

By the sounds of things one might envision me along a Central PA mountain stream, or along a Spring Creek somewhere in the West.  But, it was not so.  On this morning, I was fishing one of my favorite jewels of Southeastern PA, where not 10 minutes away, the madness of the Philadelphia morning commute was just picking up steam.  This morning I was on Valley Creek, within the Valley Forge National Park.

            Valley Creek originates from underground limestone springs just north of Philadelphia, in the Township of East Whiteland. The upper stretch is not nearly as productive as the lower portion that runs through the park, and much of its length is posted.  However, with some due-diligence a person can still do quite well along its entire length. The lower section below the I-76 PA Turnpike overpass, meanders its way through the park and is the most popular stretch of the stream.  Through Valley Forge National Park SR-252 follows along most of its length, and easy access is afforded. After the streams trip through the park it quickly empties into the Schuylkill River at the end of its 12 mile run.   The stream received a mixed blessing of High PCB levels in recent years due to age-old munitions leeching, the issue has been kept in check but did result in a “no kill” & “No stocking” regulation.  Since then, although the fish size has dropped off some, the wild brown trout fishery has taken off with a healthy population of 6” to 12” beautifully colored browns. The water averages approximately 10’-15’ in width throughout much of its course, and clear and canopied riffles make for skittish fish and some fairly technical fishing.  Not too technical in so far as the hatch or fly selection goes, but as with most wild streams it is very technical pertaining to the approach and casting technique. 

The stream can receive a bit of pressure during the weekends, which prompts me to fish it morning and evenings during weekdays whenever my work schedule allows. It’s during these times that I find the pressure to be reduced as would be expected.  I also find that a given pool will generally give up a single fish as a rule, and then you’ll need to rest the water for a few minutes, or simply move forward much like many other wild trout fisheries across the country. I choose to fish it slow and quietly move on after each fish, but I often choose to hit the water again on my way back down if the situation or time allows.

Working my way upstream, each pocket proved productive as long as I did my part correctly. I moved above the Knoxx Library foot bridge and was rewarded with a fat little 14” trout which was my best of the morning. And then, on the very next cast I hooked an even larger fish which broke me off in the riffles below. 

As for hatches, you will find a summer-long Tan Caddis hatch in #14-18, Blue-winged Olives #18-20, Sulfurs #16, and a handful of midge hatches ranging from #28 greys to a #22 cream. More often than not, I will fish light with a 7’-8’ slow action 3-4wt rod, a 5’ furled leader butt section looped to a double-taper line and 3-4 feet of 7x fluorocarbon.

Likewise, I tend to fish Valley with a Spartan box of 6 patterns.  Not that countless other patterns won’t work as well, but I tend to simplify on Valley and lean towards the personal patterns that I know will pull fish on this little water.  I come to fish Valley Creek in search of trout on a dry fly, so my box is adjusted in like fashion.

Penns Grannom
Hook- #16 Standard Dry
Thread- 8/0 Olive Dun
Abdomen- Olive Brown Spectrablend
Hackle- Golden badger
Wing- Ginger Elk

Valley Caddis

Hook:  #12-16 Standard Scud/Caddis 
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-thread
Rib:  Medium Orvis Olive Body Glass
Shellback:  Wild Turkey Tail Fibers
Abdomen:  Natural Haretron
Legs:  Lemon Wood Duck
Thorax:  Natural Haretron


Hook:  #16 Standard Dry
Thread:  Olive Dun 8/0 Uni-thread
Tail: 2 Moose body hairs
Abdomen: 2 Moose body hairs
Thorax:  Olive Orvis Spectrablend
Wing:  Dun CDC
Hackle:  Speckled Silver Badger

Sulfur LTD

Hook- #16 Standard Dry
Thread- Olive Dun, Tail- Pheasant Tail
Abdomen- Pheasant Tail in thread loop
Thorax- PMD Spectrablend
Hackle- Ginger Wing- Medium Dun

Griffiths Max

Hook- #14 Standard Dry
Hackle:  Brown
Thread- Olive Dun
Abdomen- Peacock Herl

Khaki Midge

Hook:  #20-#32 Caddis Emerger
Thread:  Rusty-Dun Uni-Thread
Abdomen:  Tying thread coated in Bug Bond
Thorax:  Orvis Spectrablend Dark Dun
Wing:  Dun CDC

As I stood tying on a new fly the sun hit the back of my neck, and I paused to look around.  The next hole upstream was bright with sun and would be my next target should I choose to step out of the shaded portion of the run I was on. I chose to call it quits having moved slow enough to avoid breaking a sweat throughout the morning, I would be able to change at the truck and be to work early enough for a cup of coffee. On my stroll back to the truck through the knee-high meadow I jumped a whitetail doe with 2 spotted fawns in tow.  They stood startled by my early presence, but chose to stay put and watch my passing in silence. Changed into work clothes, in no time at all I was merging onto the PA Turnpike along with all the rest of the poor souls moving towards their daily toils.  But unlike them I was smiling, with a perfect morning and a half dozen wild brown trout freshly minted in my memory. 

A Valley Creek Jewel

Aside from fishing, Valley Creek affords you wonderful access to the historic park of Valley Forge as well. Setting some time aside to tour the grounds and settlement is very much recommended. The countryside is gorgeous and the history is without compare.

Washingtons HQ

Valley Forge Station

It adds a little to the fishing experience as well, when one stops to think about standing along water minutes from George Washington’s headquarters, or on the foot bridge to the Knoxx Library.  My family served at Valley Forge. My Grandfather Johann Jacob Lang served with the 5th Pennsylvania, under Capt Christie. The history runs deep on this ground.

Valley Forge Monument

The sacrifices which played out for those individuals encamped there, helped to secure our opportunity to follow our love of fly fishing along those very same waters. I like to think that just maybe one of those colonial soldiers found a way to sneak down to the creek for a little dapping for native brookies. How could they not?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tying the RuffChuck

The RuffChuck

               The RuffChuck gets it's name from the materials in which it was tied. It is a true cross-over pattern, lending itself to trout and warm-water equally as well. Bottom-bounced or drifting under an indicator, this pattern produces.

RuffChuck Recipe

Hook: #6 Mustad C67S
Thread: 3/0 Red Uni-thread
Eye: Tungsten Dumbell
Tail: Ruffed Grouse Marabou
Body: Amber Ice-Dub
Wing: Woodchuck guard-hairs


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tying the Furnace Green

The Furnace Green

The Furnace Green is probably my favorite feather-winged pattern and an excellent year-long search pattern. An excellent trout pattern throughout the northeast waters, it's a must-have in my box.

Furnace Green recipe

Hook:  Daiichi 2720 Dick Talleur Streamer Hook
Thread:  8/0 Black Uni-thread
Body: Gold Mylar / Green Uni-Floss
Throat:  Red Bucktail
Underwing: Olive Bucktail / Natural Pheasant Tail
:Wing:  Furnace / Greenwell Hackle
Cheek:  Hen Pheasant Shoulder

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tying the Summer Caddis

Summer Caddis

The Summer Caddis was named as it copies a group of mid-summer caddis that hatch along many of Pennsylvania's waters. Once the summer heats up these larger lumbering caddis appear and are a daily staple for surface feeding. This pattern is a steady producer and one of my favorite prospecting patterns when no real surface activity is apparent. 

Summer Caddis Recipe

Hook:  #12 Standard Dry
Thread:  Brown Uni-thread
Abdomen:  Gold Turkey Biot
Wing:  2 Natural CDC Puffs
Thorax:  Peacock Herl
Hackle:  Golden Badger

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tying the LTD-X


The LTD-X (X meaning an unnamed 1-year prototype) has performed well beyond expectations over the past season. Tied and fished in this size and pattern only, this BWO has proven itself. A true dun vs the emergent characteristics of the LTD, it has filled a well-used niche in my box.

LTD-X Recipe

Hook:  #16 Standard Dry
Thread:  Olive Dun 8/0 Uni-thread
Tail: 2 Moose body hairs
Abdomen: 2 Moose body hairs
Thorax:  Olive Orvis Spectrablend
Wing:  Dun CDC
Hackle:  Speckled Silver Badger

Friday, November 21, 2014

Tying the Gordy

The Gordy

The Gordy was born in my vise about 4 years ago and was named at that time due to the Quill body used resembling the Quill Gordon. It is a proven performer on most all of the waters across Pennsylvania, as well as some of Virginia. This pattern excels under an indicator as an all-around search pattern.

 Gordy Recipe

Hook:  #18-#14 Standard Scud Hook
Thread:  8/0 Brown Uni-Thread
Bead:  Gold Tungsten
Abdomen: Peacock Quill coated with Bug Bond
Thorax: Dark Dun Orvis Spectrablend / Peacock Ice-Dub
Wingcase:  Dark Brown Turkey Biots

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tying the Blue-Winged Olive Thorax

Blue-Winged Olive Thorax

This version of the BWO Thorax has been my favorite and best producing for many years. It floats well, always lands on its feet and brings fish to the surface.

BWO Thorax Recipe

Hook:  #16- #18 Standard Dry
Thread: Olive Uni-thread
Tail: Medium Pardo CDL
Abdomen:  Olive Turkey Biot
Wing:  Dun Turkey Flat
Thorax: BWO Orvis Spectrablend
Hackle:  Speckled Silver Badger

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Tying the RuffChuck

The RuffChuck

(As Published in FlyTyer Magazine)

                             During an early spring tying session while still waiting on the warmer weather and lower water, I became intrigued by the small grey-brown rump marabou I spied on the new Ruffed Grouse skin I was holding. It was unlike any of the natural marabou I had come across over the years, and was shocked actually that I had failed to pay it any mind in the past? Especially since I tie quite a bit with Ruffed Grouse for a good number of soft-hackle patterns and pick through the skins regularly. The aspect of the marabou that I noticed most of all was how it transitioned into a subtle barring about 2/3rds into its length. This realization brought another natural material to mind in that instant….Woodchuck hair! Digging through my bench I was able to locate the half-patch of woodchuck hair that I had at the time and knew right away that I had a perfect marriage of materials. Held together they blended naturally, and gave a hint of a tail section with the barring. I was quick to the vise.
            My first thoughts were for a Clouser style pattern, but the materials were smaller than I would have wanted. However, tied on a smaller platform they would work for a Crazy Charlie or Gotcha Clouser style pattern for sure. Going to work, the resulting pattern was a blend of all three patterns. The RuffChuck utilizes the natural tailing qualities of marabou, along with the translucent sheen to woodchuck hair and it’s naturally barred tips. Even when tied small it still provides great natural action in the water without needing to impart movement with the rod. This part in particular lends itself perfectly to drifting with an indicator, allowing it to both be fished as a streamer or dead-drifted as a nymph. I have since studied the pattern for potential changes countless times, but always come back to the original.  Partially due to the fact that I enjoy the simplicity of the pattern, but first-and-foremost, because it has continued to catch fish now not only in three states, but in many varying waters as well.
            The pattern went into an Altoid tin which was held in secret in my vest for the entire past season. At times I would see water that I had not tested it in and would nevertheless be surprised again at the fish it brought to hand. Most surprising however was the fishing method that seemed to provide the best results. Originally tied as a bottom-bounding pattern, a trip to the Shenandoah Valley with Mossy Creek Outfitters changed all of that. After a day of success with their patterns, drifting wooly-buggers and streamers through some large slow-moving spring creek pools, I found myself alone on a secluded section. Tying on the RuffChuck it was suspended about 6’ below the indicator and cast to the head of the hole. Instantly it was hammered, and the second cast brought the same results! I brought in the fly, clipped it off, and smiled the rest of the trip.
            Upon returning to Pennsylvania waters, I was anxious to give the indicator drift a try on the limestone waters I frequent. It proved once again to not only do well in those deep plunge pools, but drifted shallower it did excellent in boulder fields and riffles as well. The result has been a new fly to my box. One that has crossed over from an initially intended bottom retrieved streamer, to a trout producing nymph with an unlikely lineage. 

RuffChuck Recipe

Hook: #8 Mustad C67S
Thread: 3/0 Red Uni-thread
Eye: 1/16oz Dumbell
Tail: Ruffed Grouse Marabou
Body: Amber Ice-Dub
Wing: Woodchuck guard-hairs

1.      Begin with the hook placed in standard fashion and in vise. Start your thread and wind back to the point on the shank just above the barb.

2.      Bring the thread forward to a location two eye-lengths behind the eye. Tie in the eyes on the top of the shank, anchoring with figure-8 wraps and a drop of head cement.

3.      Sweep one Ruffed Grouse marabou feather and tie in just above the barb of the hook, extended approximately 1 ½ the length of the hook.

4.     Spin the Ice-bub and build a tapered body forward to a point just in front of the eyes. Place a half-hitch and reposition the fly upside down in the vise. (Note: this step can be skipped if you are tying on a rotary vise.)

5.      Clean and stack a section of Woodchuck hair, trim butts evenly, and tie in to the front of the eyes matching the tips with the marabou.

6.      Build a tapered head, whip-finish and apply 2 coats of head cement.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tying the Khaki Midge

Khaki Midge

The Khaki Midge is the midge I encounter more often than any other in Central and Southern Pennsylvania. Tied in Size#20-#32, it can make or break your winter midge fishing. 

Khaki Midge Recipe

Hook:  #20-#32 Caddis Emerger
Thread:  Rusty-Dun Uni-Thread
Abdomen:  Tying thread coated in Bug Bond
Thorax:  Orvis Spectrablend Dark Dun
Wing:  Dun CDC

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tying the C2C Nymph

C2C Nymph

This pattern has been in my box for nearly 20 years. It was inspired by the Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear, yet holds its own as significantly different on the water.  Less “spikey” than its predecessor by using rabbit instead of Hares Ear and tied much more slim on a bent shank hook. This nymph has been the difference more times than I can count when avoiding fishless days on both coasts, hence the name C2C or “Coast-to-Coast” Nymph.

C2C Nymph Recipe

Hook: Scud #12-18
Thread:  Tan Uni-thread 6/0
Bead:  Gold bead
Tail:  Natural Pheasant Tail
Abdomen: Ginger Rabbit Dubbing
Rib: Fine Gold Wire
Thorax: Ginger Rabbit Dubbing
Wingcase: Wild Turkey tail fibers

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tying the M&M Nymph

The M&M Nymph

The M&M Nymph Is short for "My Moose Nymph". It was tied originally for the Yellow Breeches on mid-winter trips. I've held this pattern close-to-the-vest for a number of years, and its been a trip saver more often than not. Fished on an indicator and deep, this pattern does extremely well. I do fairly well with it throughout the year as a caddis larva also, but it truly shines in the winter.

The M&M Recipe

Hook:  #18 Beadhead
Bead: Gold Tungsten
Thread:  6/0 Black Uni-thread
Abdomen:  Moose body hair
Hackle:  Furnace Hen Hackle
Collar:  Black Ice-Dub

Looking Through Glass

The Christening, 1993 on the Little Naches River, Wa.

You could say, that I have an affinity for glass. It didn't start out that way, nor has it been through conscious thought really. But looking back, there has been one constant that has remained a part of my fly fishing as well as tying for many years. What began as an intriguing project, has since come to identify fly fishing for me in many ways. With the desire to build a fly rod, I walked into the Anglers Workshop in 1993 after a trip to the Upper Lewis River and it was there that the true focus of this article began.

It was my first project rod, built off of a Lamiglass Firecane, 7 foot, 3weight, 2-piece blank.  I found a full-wells grip that was slimmer and smaller than any other they had, and the accouterments to complete the build at a total of $150. Short of one item I failed to purchase...a hook keeper. Which would later nearly ruin things. It was wrapped by hand using a shoebox notched for a jig, and although the finish on my wraps were not was mine. I dressed it up with a Ross Colorado #0 and a Cortland 444 Peach Double-taper 3Wt line. The result?  Pure Nirvana!  I felt I had found my small stream trout rod. I had no idea how right I was.

Olympic Peninsula Natives

It was christened on the Little Naches River. Finding its way across the Olympic Peninsula to countless coastal feeder streams where to use that rod was the driving force on most of those trips. It caught my first Wild Steelhead on a dry fly, a 34" beauty of a fish. It landed my first 20"plus sea-run Cutthroat. For 5 years it beat its way through mountain streams and old-growth timber. And when it finally made its way back home to the East Coast with me it was showing its age. The 2nd eye on the base section was gone, and the cork had loosened from a poor glue-up on my part.

When it made it's first trip to the home-waters where my dad first took me trout fishing, it still looked fine at-a-glance. But things were not good. My Old Ross Colorado was dinged and beat up, so I replaced it with a Teton Tioga #2, and tried the new Cortland Sylk line. The rod was still limping long, but with every trip the loosening cork grew worse.

The Homecoming 

Shortly afterwards while fishing the Tulpehocken Creek in Central Pennsylvania the cork began to split due to the years of pulling double duty as a hook keeper . It was looking bad, and I was beginning to see a number of glass rods gaining popularity. But could I part with the little rod? Without being able to make up my mind, and not having the ability to confidently repair it myself, it was sadly relegated to the corner of my den, where it collected dust.

The final Trip (or so I thought)

Despite the failing cork, it still performed well

Several years later, while talking with a longtime friend on a fly tying forum, the topic of the rod came up. He made the charitable offer to rebuild/repair it if I was willing to buy the materials and ship it.  Taking him up on the offer, I got everything in order, with the hopes that he would at least be able to save the squeaking and cracked cork. However, in short order he was sending me reports, with a surprise to be found out upon receipt of the "new" rod. 

18 Years after it's Christening

Not only was it reworked, repaired and re-wrapped.....but he aptly named the little rod after my first book. Which in reality was perfect, since it was along through most of the pages.

Fast forward a few more years. The little rod is now better than when new, and still bringing fish to hand. At nearly 25 years old it is by far the most endearing piece of gear I own and one of the sweetest casting rods I've ever held.

I often think back when fishing it, and try to think of all the waters, fish and people it has brought into my fly fishing life up to this point. With hopes, one of my children will one day catch a trout on a dry fly with this little glass rod in hand...and hopefully realize the history being carried forward.

What makes a simple piece of glass so special