www.ralphsflybox.com

www.ralphsflybox.com

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bass, Glass & Divers

Lilies Under Glass



In South Jersey one learns quick that you can't beat the heat.  And in August with no trout about, a fly fisherman must look to the Lilies.  It's been said "When in Rome, do as the Romans", but I think the Jersey fishermen were all in the Colosseum, since none were on the water at all. No problem in my mind, since I had the entire lake to myself and 3 hours of daylight remaining. Life was good.




It took me about 30 minutes to figure them out, with nothing showing interest in anything I threw until tying on a Mule Deer Diver.



Even the Gills were looking up for the Diver.



Few fish were found around the edges. Most all were holding in open water under the lilly pads, which left pockets of 1-3ft to drop your offering into. Throw in the algae of late summer and the evening was stalking an opening, slap your bug down, 2-3 twitches...and move on if no take.



Miss your mark and life became a world of a South Jersey pond vegetation and all that summer brings. But hit your mark and the takes were aggressive and the fish came to fight.



Most of the fish were in the 10-12" range with some larger Gills showing up to the foray throughout the evening.




But as is normally the case, with some persistence the larger fish were there for the taking. The night give up 3-4 nice heavy fish, with one that proved too much for my 7wt and the lily stalks. A smart fish, who won the day.  But those are the fish that bring us back.

Hope all are making the best of the summer heat and getting on some water.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tying the Grey Fox Variant

Grey Fox Variant



Art Flicks Grey Fox Variant is a classic pattern that has stood the test of time.  While Flick did not originate the Variant style, this particular variation is said to have been one of his most endearing patterns. Originally tied to fish the Green Drake hatch, I have found it to be an excellent search/attractor pattern on most any water. Give it a try. You may just be surprised at what an old classic can do.

Grey Fox Variant Recipe


Hook:  #12-10 Standard Dry
Thread:  Tan 8/0 Uni-thread
Tail:  Light Ginger
Abdomen:  Light Ginger Quill
Hackle:  Light Ginger/Dark Ginger/Grizzly



Poppers

Poppers



The 2nd Sketch of the night. 


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Slabs


SLABS

A little bit of sketch work

Its been a while since I sat down with the sketch pad. Always a nice way to relax and relive a catch from earlier in the season.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tying the APB Nymph

The APB Nymph



The APB nymph has been in my box for 4-5 seasons now, earning itself a firm lease on its ow bin. It carries the attributes of countless existing nymph patterns, and when put together has proven to be very effective as an indicator nymph. This is the darker sister to my C2C nymph, and is quite often a starting point for me when prospecting new water.


APB Recipe

Hook:  #16 Orvis Bead-head 
Bead:  Gold Tungsten
Tail:  Natural Pheasant Tail
Abdomen:  Brown Goose Biot
Wing-case:  Natural Pheasant Tail Coated with Bug Bond
Thorax:  Peacock Herl
Hackle:  Furnace Hen




Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tying Greenwells Glory

Greenwells Glory



Greenwells Glory is a classic that is both enjoyable to tie and a wonderful pocket water attractor pattern. Tied in #12-10 it is always in my box and always brings its share of fish to hand.


Greenwells Glory Recipe


Hook:  #12-10 Standard Dry
Thread:  8/0 Olive Dun Uni-thread
Tail:  Greenwell Hackle
Rib:  Fine Gold Wire
Abdomen: Olive Dun Tying Thread
Wing:  Light Dun Turkey Flat
Hackle:  Greenwell




Friday, August 21, 2015

Of Vise and Pen



Of Vise and Pen


                         The cast was ugly. Little did I know at 12 years of age that level line with a four foot section of six pound monofilament was not built for tight loops and rolling out casts like I had watched Curt  Gowdy do on American Sportsman. In my hands however, was a dream come true. A 7 foot Daiwa fiberglass fly rod, with an old beat up single action reel barely holding on to a worn out click-pawl drag. A week previously I had told my uncle I wanted to try fly fishing, and he offered up his old trout rod he had been applying as a small stream bait fishing rig. Along with the rod, was a small aluminum fly box which held a half dozen or so wet flies. I had wisely chosen a Parmachene Belle because it was obviously the coolest looking fly in the box. A thought process that made perfect sense to me at the time, and since I was starting out in oblivion there was nothing to prove me wrong.



The Parmachene Belle (Which I cannot Tie)



          So, there I was….flailing against all odds at sunrise on our local farm pond, trying to keep my line out of the Sumac behind me and praying the bluegills in front of me would not disappear before I could get my fly to them. But that cast ugly as it was, made it to the water within 4 feet of those fish. And I watched in amazement as the largest one in the group rose up to it as it sank slowly, and sucked it in. Thank GOD for bluegills!      
                
  That event was first on my mind when I began my book “Tomorrow’s Fish” more than 10 years ago. Originally I hoped to capture my years of fly fishing, the people who got me there along the way and the patterns I had created at the tying bench. Fly fishing had remained a solitude sport for me since I had no family or friends until adulthood that shared the desire. Not until I was an adult and decided to begin tying did I even know any folks who fly fished. My intent for that first book was to capture why I fly fished. Built off of my journal entries at the time, my hopes were to be able to pass a little bit of “Dad” down to my kids and share all of those solitary moments by attempting to place them there alongside me…with my essays. Now, 10 years later I am three books and an online monthly article spanning 4 of those years into the process. Yet my goal remains the same. To share my time on the water with my friends and family, as well as the readers who have been more than kind along the way. 
Fact is, I don’t hold an English or literary degree. Many who read my books may point that out as obvious, LOL. My writing is me. How I talk, how I think and how my pen simply puts things down. It could be the Pennsylvania Dutch that does it? Or pure stubbornness? Regardless, my focus in writing is to put you there with me. I can’t do it any other way.   Quite possibly the reason falls somewhere between my writing skills and where I am as a fly fisherman. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have fished both coasts and pursued some wonderful waters. I have an honest love for trout, their places and the hatches that surround them. Yet despite the trappings of modern day fly fishing and the lure of romancing trout, I have remained that 12 year old kid with the hand-me-down fiberglass rod.



In the beginning, there were bluegills


                 You can still find me laughing on a hook-up with a palm-sized bluegill, talking to myself as I play the fish. Yes…I’m “that” old kook in the hat you often wonder about. I take pictures of the little fish as well as the big ones and try hard to give piscatorial prose to even the humblest of fish and waters, which is something I hope to adequately share with readers. For most of us, in the beginning there were bluegills.




Enjoy them all
And while life may pull you in other directions, you cannot let the foundation of your fly fishing world crumble and fall. If the rise of a bluegill is no longer enough….something at the core is lost. The sight of a yellow water lily opening to the sunrise on a small pond hopefully catches your eye as do the laurels along a high mountain trout stream, and the dance of the rod brings a smile to your face regardless of the fish. My hopes are that for all, these things remain a constant throughout the years we walk this earth.



Eyes wide open
Life has a way of clouding things for us all. For me, the best therapy is a fly rod in hand. While I still fish mostly alone, early onset Parkinsons has thrown its hat in the ring. So I fish with friends now a bit more now than I did before. At the vise is where the struggle is the worst, but I intend to tie as long as my hands will let me. The vise has been a major part of my fly fishing life. I can’t imagine life without it. But with prayer, family and good meds, I am optimistic.


My Favorite Glass
Then again, maybe life slowing me down will allow me to see more? To focus on a pattern in the vise and how so many natural materials brought to a hook can become art, more than worrying about how many I can get done before the morning’s trip. It’s as if my life is finally coming in sync with my casting stroke. After 40 years I still love the feel of a glass rod above all, the feel of the rod loading and the unexpected power as the tip moves forward, hopefully free of life’s sumac behind me. It takes me home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tying the Mahogany Dun

Mahogany Dun 



The Mahogany Dun is a perfect match for the late august Slate Drakes of Pennsylvania. Tied as a near twin to the Quill Gordon, the body material is changed to more closely match the Slate Drake hatch. The Mahogany is a time-honored pattern that still brings fish to the surface year-after-year.




Slate Drake
(Courtesy "The Trout Zone")

Mahogany Dun Recipe

Hook:  #14 Standard Dry fly
Thread:  6/0 Dark Brown Uni-thread
Wing: Natural Mallard Flank
Tail:  Medium Pardo CDL
Abdomen: Furnace Hackle Quill
Hackle:  Golden Speckled Badger



Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tying the Little Yellow Sally Nymph

Little Yellow Sally Nymph




This version of the Little Yellow Sally nymph has become my preferred pattern over the course of many years. It is productive season after season and when the time comes that it is needed, it seldom fails to bring fish to the net. 

LYS Recipe


Hook:  #18 Curved Shank Nymph Hook
Bead:  Gold Tungsten
Thread: 6/0 Dark Brown
Tail: Yellow-Dyed Pheasant Tail
Abdomen: Yellow-Dyed Pheasant Tail
Rib: Fine Gold Wire
Thorax:  Olive Ice-Dub
Hackle:  Yellow-dyed Brahma
Wing-case:  Bug Bond



Friday, August 14, 2015

Tying the Puddle Jumper

Puddle Jumper



The Puddle Jumper is a killer warm-water pattern when fished along the edges and lily pad shallows. With the wet body materials and large foam head, It suspends just below the surface when paused on retrieve before starting a slow decent. That has been it's trigger on bass, big gills and  especially pickerel. Plop it down, give it a 3-count, then retrieve with 6" strips pausing for a second between strips. Then watch for the boil.


Puddle Jumper Recipe 


Hook: #4  Gamakatsu Stinger
Thread:  6/0 Black
Wire:  Medium Gold Ultra Wire
Tail:  Brown Micro Pine Squirrel Strips
Abdomen:  Sculpin Brown Cabelas Wooly Bugger Chenille
Legs:  Brown Centipede Legs
Head:  Black Razor Foam


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tying the Mohair Nymph

The Mohair Nymph



The Mohair Nymph is a Fall pattern in my box, but fishes well season long as the base pattern in a tandem rig. It's buggy attributes and the translucency from the Canadian Mohair lends to it's success both fished as-is, or with a trailing shuck picked out. This pattern never gets "too chewed" to work.


Mohair Nymph Recipe


Hook:  #12 Caddis Emerger
Thread:  Black 6/0
Bead:  Copper Tungsten
Weight:  10 wraps .015 lead wire
Body:  Brown Canadian Mohair
Wing-case:  Wild Turkey Tail
Biots:  White Goose


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Profiling a Pond with Glass

Johnson Profile 800



Recently, I was able to trade for a Johnson/Phillipson 8' 7wt Profile 800 glass rod in a search for  a glass bass rod, and tonight was the first chance to get it on the water,  Rigged with an LLBean Angler 2 and WF6 Orvis Warmwater line, it proved to be an awesome trade.


The first fish to christen the rod was a fat little Gill, and why would I expect anything otherwise.  The rod proved to be unbelievably accurate. Allowing me to drop my fly into the smallish pockets free of August algae.




The casting stroke was a perfect fit and exactly what I was hoping for, with plenty of backbone yet not too much. 



Late summer, small ponds, poppers & glass. 
A perfect combination with  bit of 1963 renaissance thrown in.



Monday, August 3, 2015

Putting a SPIN on Family


First Morning


      There are a few times each year that I put the fly rod away and grab the spinning gear. The largest of those is the family vacation on LBI, NJ.  Once there, the world turns to everybody gathering on the water whenever the tide is right, to toss cut bait into the surf. The goal is not aimed at measurable fish as-in Stripers, Blues, Fluke, etc. Instead, the goal is to get everybody present on a given year hooked into a fish. The most common being small sandsharks, skates and cow-nosed rays. 

First sunrise on the island


I was able to make the first sunrise and have a little bit of action in the solitude



5-to -10 pound skates were the catch of the day while watching the sun rise over the water.


Beneath July's Blue Moon







Not all the fish are small. Nor the fishermen.



And the fun lasts into the night.


You cannot put a price tag or gear type on the smiles that are had each year. The memories are better than any other. And where folks doubted they were fishermen.....they soon learn otherwise. And the old guys get to recall how it was they came to the rod and reel in the beginning.