Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall Gill

Fall Gill

The often looked-down-upon and seldom praised Bluegill. Pound-for-pound one of the best fighting fish that can be caught on a fly rod.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Tying the Foam Butt Caddis

The Foam Butt Caddis

The Foam Butt Caddis has with me for as long as I can remember. It was originally tied as a cricket pattern for trout (in which it does well), and over the years gained popularity as bluegill candy. But when tied slightly larger and with a stinger style hook, it transitioned to a large gill /bass fly. This pattern each year picks up my largest gills and countless bass when twitched around lily pads, bank edges & even open water. It's durable and floats like a cork. 

FBC Recipe

Hook: #6 Gamakatsu Stinger
Thread:  Black 6/0
Body:  Thin Razor Foam (Cut 3/16" wide)
Hackle:  #10 Black Dry
Wing:  Ginger Elk



Few things are as exciting as bass on the surface with  fly rod.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Colors, Caddis & Gills

Colors, Caddis & Gills

With fall quickly approaching and a bright afternoon beckoning, the chance of some late season surface action was on my mind.

No wind, no algae and no surface activity to speak of. At first glance water that was normally full of activity towards late afternoon appeared dead. I decided to tie on a Ginger Foam Butt Caddis and go prospecting.

The #6 stinger-hooked FBC was the only fly I tied on the rest of the evening. 

Fall colors were quickly found on a night of hungry gills. This was the first and smallest of the evening. They hit hard, fought like champs and ran me through the weeds like old veterans of the bogs.

A clone of the 18-20 fish just like it that came to hand. Gills with shoulders, all on top and all on the same fly. A great night on the water, but I fear possibly the end to my surface warm-water action of 2015. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Biot Caddis Emerger

Biot Caddis Emerger (Green)

This pattern was shown to me in Western Washington more than 20 years ago, and has recently been collecting dust in my box. However, this fall it has made a resurgence, catching a good number of fish after multiple refusals with several patterns. A timeless style and a much duplicated pattern, it's simple to replicate and fill those empty bins. 

Biot Caddis Emerger Recipe

Hook:  #18 Orvis Curved Nymph
Bead:  Gold Tungsten
Thread:  Black 8/0
Abdomen: 2 Caddis Green Turkey Biot
Wing:  Wood Duck Flank
Thorax:  2 Peacock Herl

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fall Glass

Cabelas CGR 4/5 and Heddon 320

This weekend I was able to get the 7' 4/5wt CGR out for some fall fishing. This rod is quickly becoming a favorite. It throws a DT5 Cortland 555 as nice as any rod I've held in it's class. While requiring the timing of glass, this rod lacks noting in performance. 

Fishing near Benton on Fishing Creek the water was skinny but the fish were feeding. The low clear water and leaves on the water made for some tough fishing, but I was able to pick up 2 browns while losing a third and best fish of the day to shoddy net handling on my part. Fish came to a #16 Squirrels Nest and a #12 Valley Caddis.

Fish were dressed in their fall colors as well. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Remembering....The Whims of Autumn

Remembering....The Whims of Autumn

Autumn is a special time for me. Since I was old enough to recall, I was either planning to go hunting or fishing, or living through my Dad as a youngster as he came and went through the seasons.  It was the closest connection I had with him through most of my life, and it appears that fact remains so today. I wrote "The Whims of Autumn" about 10 years after his passing, and each year as the leaves change and temperatures begin to drop, these same words come to mind once more. If you have already read these lines in "The Telling of Waters" I apologize. But maybe it will bring up good memories on your end as well. 

Enjoy the season....

The Whims of Autumn

                  Wading out to where the water pressure found my hip, I stopped with rod held under my arm and surveyed the pool. I was in no hurry on this autumn morning, having lost the feeling to my fingertips in the chore of rigging due to the frosted air. A few moments to regain my fingers would be time well spent for sure. As I had begun to wade into the pool I disrupted the lives of a flight of Blue-winged teal, which now chortled quietly in the eddy formed on the far side of the pool along the high bank. While not content to remain along the tree roots in which they had been hiding amongst, they were never-the-less comfortable enough with my presence to not take full flight. Instead, they chose to paddle in the slack water, holding to their small flight while observing the waterborne intruder that I was. Six in all, they were beautiful birds, and the chortling they made were a welcome sound to my ears as it was not unlike the babbling of a streams flow over small rocks. Hopefully they would accompany me for the duration of my stay.
                  Off to my right and in the small field across the way came the baying of a beagle. Though they were well over 100yds away I could still see clearly the hunters walking either side of a small hedgerow in the fresh-cut corn field. A father and a son, with the father controlling the dog as the son paced him on the far side of the hedgerow. I could vaguely make out the form of the side-by-side held over the fathers shoulder with his right hand, as his left hand worked as if conducting a symphony among his two players, the dog and the boy. After watching the show for a few minutes I turned back to the stream and the task at hand. Stripping line off the reel for a cast I noticed how my fingers had warmed almost back to normal, and the cork in my right hand had a comfortable warmth about it that was hard to explain.  On the 3rd false cast, the teal had about used up their patience with me and took to flight using the tail-out of the pool as their runway. They headed downstream in their initial run, then banked hard coming around at near head level as they shot upstream like a jet pilot conducting a fly-by. The whistling of their wings bounced through the air long after they were out of sight as I stood still to see just how long I could still pick it up.
               The pool was not a large one, nor too deep really. It was only about 60ft in length, with a rock outcropping at the midway point off the far bank. That was my target on this fall morning. The rocks formed a slight peninsula of sorts, and in turn created a fairly deep slot about 15ft long which always held fish late in the year. My indicator rig landed just off of that point where intended and my eyes followed it down stream, watching for the slightest of twitches or any hesitation.  Not discouraged with a lack of fish on my first cast the rig was back upstream with a quick roll-cast in short order. It looked to be a repeat performance when the indicator made a slight hesitation upstream and I set the hook. A hefty fish bowed my rod as I lifted the tip high and played it against itself in the current. Slowly it came to the net, flashing its red-orange band of fall colors to the surface light as it stubbornly fought on. But as luck would have it on this fine morning the antagonist was the victor, and soon enough I was admiring a beautiful 16” rainbow as it slipped silently back into the stream.
            Rinsing my hands quickly in the stream, the sound of a small gauge shotgun broke the morning’s silence followed by a hearty laugh and the father congratulating the boy. I looked back out across the field to witness them both standing side by side holding up a cottontail as if it were a trophy stag as that little beagle danced around both of their legs, tail straight up and going back-and-forth. I smiled as I watched on; caught up in conflicting emotions as on one hand I was admiring something I could reflect on as a young boy as well, yet somehow feeling on the other hand like I was intruding on a very special moment for the 3 participants. The man turned the boy around and placed the rabbit in the back of his vest, then held his hand on the boys shoulder for a few moments before continuing on their hunt.
            Remembering back, there were so many fall mornings such as this that I too wore the shoes of that young boy, though they are long past now.  Yet even though time separates me from the memories, it is often the sound of a shotgun, the singing of a reel, or just the odd image of a brightly colored autumn leaf floating by on the current that places me right back at the start. The place where I can hear 2 car doors close at the parking area instead of just mine, his voice still carries in the morning air congratulating me as I hook up on a fish and his hand is once again felt on my shoulder as we admire game taken in the field together.  I see him both with his light blue fishing cap standing in hip boots, and with his side-by-side slung back over his shoulder watching on. At times I wonder at whether or not it’s because he was born on October 10th, or whether it’s because of all the things we shared between us during this time of year? Either way it matters not really, but the memories are always the strongest when carried on the whims of autumn.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tuning the Berkley 510

The Berkley 510

As particular as I am with reels, I thought I had found the perfect reel for my bass rod. However, the click drag and friction drag setup both had their issues in my opinion. Research and forum questions brought the same responses. Yes, it's right and left hand retrieve...sort of. And yes, the drag knobs on those reels tend to back off. There had to be a better way.....

So, with nothing to lose, I began tweaking the reel.  Here is how I found to turn the Berkley 510 into a straight single action, left-hand-retrieve reel. 

NOTE: This process works with all center ring reel designs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Brook Trout

Fall Brook Trout

A recent quick sketch 

Inspired by a photo I was sent.

Thanks Chuck!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Christening a P.H. Young Perfectionist

Christening new bamboo on home waters

With a new P.H. Young Perfectionist in hand for the past few months, I was able to hit the home waters on Fishing Creek near Benton PA. It was to be the first chance on good water to test the rod, having had an earlier go on the Tully, however the water did not cooperate.  it must have been karma I reckon, since what better place than home waters to christen a new rod anyway?

Even more fitting was the 1st fish on the new 7 1/2' 4wt coming to an LTD tied in BWO.  It was quite the exclamation point to a rod I had planned for many years, as I watched that little rainbow rise and sip in the little #16 fly.  The feeling of satisfaction felt as  the rod bowed in my hand was a moment I will carry forward.

 Lulbegrud Creek Fly Rods

I will pause and add that none of this would have been enjoyed without Dave Cottengim's craftsmanship at Lulbegrud Creek Fly Rods. The build on this rod is flawless, and it casts even better than it looks when coupled with a Cortland Classic 444 Peach DT4 line. It lays out dry flies 60 feet with ease and was able to manage an indicator/nymph rig up to #12 bead head as well, when I did my part. I couldn't ask more of the rod. 

Thanks Dave!

It was a great day on some picture perfect water.  Skinny water that required some due diligence on approach, but cool temps due to the recent storms made the fish active. Fish came to many flies. To include the LTD and EHC on the top, and the Valley Caddis, C2C  and Squirrels Nest nymphs subsurface.

Tying the Valley Caddis

The largest fish of the day, came to a #12 Valley Caddis. Once the fly did it's job the new rod handled this football of a fish nicely, with no need at all to put the fish on the reel. 

My thanks again to Chuck for being kind enough to leave rising fish to snap a quick pic. 

Did I say that I love this rod?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tying the Friday Streamer

The Friday

                          I began tying this streamer several years ago and it was aptly named after making its debut on the water an excellent one, which happened to be a Friday. Fishing the Tulpehocken near the Refrigerator Hole it brought fish after fish with aggressive strikes, and has since done very well across most of Pennsylvania when streamers are the soup du jour. It's a great bright day streamer, and when stripped across shallow riffles. 

Friday Recipe

Hook:  #6-4 Daiichi 2370 7X
Thread:  6/0 Black
Rib:  Fine Silver Tinsel
Body:  Blue Floss
Belly:  Red Bucktail
Back: Rootbeer Bucktail
Wing:  Grizzly Hen
Shoulder:  Ringneck Rump

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Gold Standard

The Gold Standard

The original Golden Retriever in the middle

The Golden Retriever pattern has a following that is hard to be denied. It's a time proven pattern that fishes well on almost every water I've fished. I can't say that about many flies. But why? What makes this pattern so effective? Is it the Gold/Peach Estaz? Or the trigger point of the red thread body? Is it the marabou tail? Or the gold bead? I have fished the pattern in root beer, white, pink and black color variations....but hands down, the original golden is king.

SO, in an effort to test the pattern a bit, this season I tied up 6 each of 3 versions of the GR. And used them interchangeably throughout this season. One version with gold dumbbell eyes, one with no bead, but heavily weighted with lead wire and the original. Yet all with the same materials in body/tail/hackle.

Once again the original came through. Almost identical flies with the same marabou tail action, and red/gold body. Yet the original with the bead head stood out dramatically. The others did not go fishless, however a number of times it was doing nothing until I switched back to the original.

I guess when something works, you don't waste too much time asking "why?". The combination of the Golden Retriever, though basically just another version of the wooly-bugger, just plain old works.

And every fall it seems to bring the largest fish of the year to hand.


The tying video can be found in my "video archive", or in the "most viewed" bar on the right.