Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tying the Squirrels Nest Nymph

The Squirrels Nest Nymph

The Squirrels Nest Nymph is a prospecting nymph for all waters. Dead-drifted or beneath an indicator, this pattern repeatedly brings fish to hand. A fast pattern to tie, you'll be thankful, because you will be refilling this bin repeatedly throughout the season.

Squirrels Nest Recipe

Hook:  Standard Scud#12-18
Thread:  Olive Dun Uni-thread
Abdomen: Natural Grey Squirrel
Rib:  Fine Gold Wire
Wing:  Dark Brown Biot
Thorax: Peacock Ice-Dub
Bead:  Gold Tungsten

Friday, July 18, 2014

Poppers, Pads & Gills

A local Pond somewhere near Voorhees NJ

Tonight I had the pleasure of visiting a few local ponds that I knew nothing about. Located in the middle of rush-hour traffic and shopping plazas. These little gems were a pleasant surprise.  

My Starting point was wading along the weedy edge, casting a black deer hair popper.

My reward for my efforts was a few missed strikes, and this little bass that hit and fought bigger than he was. 

Switching to a Foam Butt Caddis, I eventually turned to one of my favorite pastimes. Hunting the lily pads for gills.

As usual, they couldn't resit the barred rubber legs of the FBC. 

My prize for the night? This fat copper-belly. It just doesn't get any better than poppers, pads and gills.

Walt hunting for the big boys. With a couple bass and a pike to his credit.

Many thanks to a generous friend who was willing to share a few local waters with this South Jersey transplant.  No better way to spend a mild summer night, than wading lily pads with a friend.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Wings of Streamers

My choice of Streamer hooks for local waters, is the  Daiichi 2370 Talleur 7XL in #10

                                  Streamers hold a special place at my bench. They are different in so many ways. The creating of streamer wings alone is a step in fly tying that leaves you with a finished product, even though no thread has even touched a hook yet. I enjoy tying streamers almost as much as I love fishing them. And that's saying a lot. SO whenever the itch comes around, I begin looking forward to doing nothing more than building streamer wings.

I begin by pairing up and staging my wing hackles. Here you see 3 different sets of wing & shoulder hackles. Careful consideration for opposing sides of the hackle and matching feathers is taken.

Next step is to prep the hackles for gluing. Making sure to match both side and size.

Matched sets glued with Sally Hansen's Hard-as-Nails. First marrying the primary hackles and allowing them to dry, then attaching the shoulders.

The finished products Left-to-right,: Furnace Green, Yella Dog & Long Creek 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tying the Valley Caddis (Video)

Valley Caddis

              The Valley Caddis Nymph is one of my personal favorites. Tied originally for Valley Creek in Valley Forge PA, it began as a whim at the vise and ended up one of my best producing nymphs on most every water. Sometimes you tie a pattern with the best of hopes and it just spends time getting wet and enjoying the stream. The Valley Caddis spends most of it's time drifting along and getting chewed on. Which is a good thing, as far as fly patterns go. Easy to tie and productive on the water.

Tying the 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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tying the Foam Butt Caddis (Video)

The Foam Butt Caddis

The FBC was originally tied as a cricket pattern for the summer months of central Pennsylvania.  It's a versatile pattern that fishes great as intended, and doubles as a warm water popper. It could be called Bluegill candy as well since they cannot ignore it when twitched, and can be irresistible to Brookies when fished along those shady undercut hemlock banks. Tied from #12 through #8, it’s an extremely effective pattern.


Hook: Standard Dry 2XL #10
Thread: Black 6/0 Uni-thread
Tail:  Black Foam
Abdomen: Black Foam
Hackle: Black Saddle
Legs:  Round Dun/Black Rubber
Head:  Black Foam
Wing:  Dark Dun Elk Hair

Friday, July 11, 2014

Full Circle

The End Result

For me as a fly tyer, fisherman and hunter, the gathering of materials that fall to my pursuits in the field plays a large part in my fly tying and material choices. Few things are more gratifying to me as an outdoorsman than to cleanly kill and properly care for game and fish. A lesson I was taught from a very young age was to know your target and the full repercussions of pulling the trigger, and to use every part of a game animal or fish you choose to kill. To waste something you kill is no different than poaching. But to use more than just the meat is a feather in your cap of knowledge that can only enhance your pursuits afield. This lesson has spawned not only great table fare for my home, but also in the forms of antler knife handles, bone and antler buttons, possibles bags made from tanned hides, fly tying tools and materials, etc.

From The Beginning

Past turkey seasons have been kind enough to bless my borderline competence using a turkey call with a number of fat gobbles. And each time, while preparing the meat for the table I take the time to hand-pluck as many usable feathers as I can. Many go to friends for their benches while others go in quarantine ziplock bags for safe storage in my garage. garage.

Out of quarantine

Quarantine bags identify or kill any critter that would be hitchhiking on my collection. And yes, there are times where I go to check the bags only to find nothing but dead bugs of some sort and bare quills.  I would much prefer losing a few feathers in a bag to losing a drawer of hackle. Once in the bags with no sign of critters for several months, I label them as safe and begin to draw from them for my tying bench. When prepping for the bench I pull only what I need currently.

Just washed

I was them thoroughly in scolding water and dawn dish soap, then set them to dry.

The Drying Rack

My dryer?  Well, that tends to be any warm place in direct sun I can find. Most often my bilco doors to the basement. I prefer direct sunlight to blow drying.

Now it's Hackle

Once dried completely and prepped, they now are no longer simply feathers. They now become hackle, for use on the tying bench in many of my favorite patterns.

The Copper Jake, in both Bead-head form and weighted

       One of which is the Copper Jake. Named after a Jake from whom the materials came from, it has become one of my most consistent nymph patterns. Bringing full circle the process of gathering hackle, from the first soft yelp of a hen which brings the answering gobble, to the feel of a fly-caught brown swimming from your hand.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Colors

             While at the bench, oftentimes we will get caught up in tying patterns that catch fisherman more often than fish. Either by tying in a popular style, or by tying with materials or colors that may look great in the vise, but are non-functional in the water. The latter is in my opinion, the most impacting attribute to a flies effectiveness. And the most often neglected attribute in tying.

Two Identical C2C Nymphs

            To demonstrate, I tied my C2C nymph which has proven itself over 20 years on both coasts. While it is a simple variation of the much copied Hares-ear Nymph, the C2C  is specifically tied slender with straight Hareline Ginger rabbit. No spikiness is intended with the C2C, so no hares-mask is used.

            At first glance you would think this nymph was intended for Golden Stone nymphs with it's gold rib and nearly gold colored dubbing. However, its real colors come through when wet. Since there is no glint or flash in the dubbing itself, or spiked thorax, the dubbing changes completely.

Same identical C2C Nymphs, with the one on the left wet.
                      The change is obvious once wet. The color turns to a cinnamon brown when in the light, but remains a charcoal color when submerged. So next time your putting together a new pattern or thinking of substituting a new material for a proven color, get it wet first. you just may be surprised.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crossing Bridges

Twin Bridges, Huntington Creek, PA          
                            Where trout live those of us who pursue them will inevitably cross bridges. They come with the package, in all shapes and sizes. Bridges have always held a special place in my heart. Maybe it's because even as a youth riding shotgun with my dad when traveling to a stream, more often then not the feeling of the truck slowing as we approached a bridge was the signal of the start of the days fishing. Or it may be  the feeling I always get when I  approach a footbridge, that somebody must have placed it "right there" for a reason. Or the big obvious covered bridges that carry with it  historic background. Yet they don't have to be historic symbols of our heritage to be important to a fisherman. They can range from beautiful covered bridges centuries old, to recently built access bridges on a popular water. Each one either holds a symbolic meaning, or a memory of the water it spanned.
Valley Creeks Knoxx Library Foot Bridge

Valley Creek Covered Bridge
      One of my favorite bridges is the Valley Forge Knoxx Library bridge over Valley Creek. A simple structure that stops me each time I cross it. Looking downstream, you can't help but wonder what history that small piece of water holds.

      Another Bridge over Valley creek is the covered bridge. A great example of how a  region can protect a piece of history against all efforts of nature and development.

Upper Letort Heritage Waters Foot bridge


        Heritage waters always offer a bridge of some sort. Most often because folks always want to leave behind something lasting and appreciated with donations. The fist two that come to mind are the Upper Letort Heritage water foot bridge, and the modern Little Lehigh Heritage water bridge.
Little Lehigh Heritage Waters Bridge
                                                                                                                               Both hold memories worth holding on to.  One was a long awaited pilgrimage.  The other for a visit to a fly shop that I had read about for years but never seen. On that visit a  fat 18" Palomino  took my Golden Retriever, placing its inevitable stamp on the trip.

  Then there are the bridges that take a back seat to the water itself. The ugliest of them all is the Benner Springs steel bridge. An ugly relic of something that needs to disappear, yet I have landed so many nice fish during some awesome hatches only to look up and see that old friend casting a shadow at dusk.
Benner Springs Bridge, Spring Creek State College

   One of the most insignificant bridges encountered is one that I came upon after a long trek upstream on a hot summer morning. It was both a welcome sight, and a meeting place with my friends as well. Sometimes its not just the bridge that matters.

Falling Spings Foot Bridge

    Yet admittedly, those big red covered bridges draw me in like no other. Whether in a painting or a real setting. They are trout streams, accompanied by history. I feel a bit of sadness whenever the news reports an old red girl burning down or being destroyed by flood waters.  They are the environment in which trout are found, and they go hand-in-hand with bugs in the air and rise-forms on the surface.

Loyalsock Covered Bridge, Forksville PA

So next time you stand on a bridge, leaning over the rail with your sunglasses on to check out water. Or stop for a break to wipe sweat and prop up your rod for a minute. Look around....take a picture, or take it all in just looking, and make sure you see everything.

JULY: Fly of The Month

Tying The Acorn

                   The Acorn is one of my favorite search patterns for pocket water, riffles and pretty much anything but slack or glassy water. Tied in #12-10 I have always felt that its taken in reflex wherever Drakes are prevalent. It floats extremely well and is very durable. Tied in #12 it has been fast becoming my March Brown pattern. However, I fish it most often in #10. A throwback to the Catskill Style patterns, this pattern has proven to me that they still catch fish quite well.

Acorn Recipe

Hook: #10-12 Mustad 94840

Thread: Rust 6/0 Uni-thread

Tail:  Moose Body Hair

Abdomen: Tying thread

Body Hackle:  #16 Silver Badger

Wing:  Furnace hackle Tips

Hackle: Brown

Thorax: Peacock Herl

Tie in thread and wrap back to the point even with the barb of the hook.
Tie in the moose body hair extended shank-length, then wrap down forward  firmly to the 1/3 point of the shank.
Tie in the badger hackle

Palmer the body hackle forward evenly and tie off.

Tie in your wings, divide evenly and secure with a small drop of head cement. Move the thread back to the abdomen

Tie in your hackle, followed by one peacock herl. Bring the thread forward to the position of the head.

Wrap an even Collar forward with the peacock herl.
Wrap the hackle forward, form a clean head and whip finish..

See You on the water!