www.ralphsflybox.com

www.ralphsflybox.com

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tying the Speck

The Speck


The Speck gets it's name from the speckled CDL hackle used, which provides a speckled or barred leg look to this pattern in the water. This pattern does well for me as a dropper below bassbugs or larger foam patterns for bluegill. It is also a great pattern for crappie when fished alone with a floating line & long leader and twitch-retrieved.



Speck Recipe

Hook:  #10 Standard 2xl Nymph Hook
Bead:  Gold Tungsten
Thread:  6/0 Black
Tail:  Black Marabou
Body:  Clear Body Glass over Gold Holographic Tinsel
Hackle:  Medium Pardo Coq-de-Leon (CDL)
Collar:  Black Ice-Dub



Sunday, June 26, 2016

SOMETIMES IT'S A GILL

SOMETIMES IT'S A GILL



With 90 degree weather called for on the day & no wind, tossing the tube in among the lilies early morning seemed like the logical choice.



These two have become very well-suited for each other.



The pads had exploded since my last visit to Glenloch, but the water was a bit off color and still recovering from some of the recent storms. 



Heading for the shallow end. 

While the fish were on with a little hunting, they were on the smallish size with 8-10 fish under a pound willing to chase a bug. Nothing to write home about, but fun nevertheless.



This guy impressed me however. 

One of the largest gills I've caught in NJ, taking a #2 Diver. 

It's always nice when a Gill stands out as the fish of the day. 



Don't forget to take it ALL in.








Thursday, June 23, 2016

Spinning Bassbugs

SPINNING BASSBUGS


Hair Bassbugs are by far my favorite method for pursuing warm-water haunts. However, they are time consuming to tie (at least for me) and I abuse a fly fishing lily pads and brush-filled edges. So I want a basic popper that's durable, easy to tie...and catches fish. Here is my favorite popper pattern and how I tie it.  Mind you, I am no expert in spinning hair & my technique will win no awards any time soon. But my purpose is to show you that it isn't as hard as it looks, and does not have to be fancy or complicated to catch fish. No special tools, no special glues or threads. Just your basic tools and materials. Don't let them intimidate you...grab some hair and start spinning.


Note

No Fly Tyers were harmed in the making of this video


Recipe
Hook:  #2 Gamakatsu Stinger
Thread:  6/0 Uni-thread
Tailing:  White Bucktail, neck Hackle Tip, Brown-barred Centipede Legs
Body:  Deer Body Hair


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pond Bass




When time is of the essence and a decision is needed "right now", a pond will seldom let you down.  And sometimes....it will treat you to a damned fine day on the water. 


Pointing the FJ towards the closest walk-around pond I could think of, it was mere minutes before I was bringing the Bridgestones to a stop in the gravel parking lot. Grabbing my warm-water bag that stays in the back of the truck all summer long, I tied on a #4 Foam Butt Caddis and began my short walk to the most algae free end of the pond.



WIth a full gear bag I was ready for anything, but realized it would likely come down to a single fly event. I assumed correctly. The 3rd cast brought a fat little pounder to hand.  A typical pond bass in the area. 



30 minutes later and more than a half-dozen of his clones lipped, my fly was missing a leg and beginning to spin like a whip finish tool.  

It was time to go. Nearly every opening I was able to land my fly in cleanly, gave up a chunky fish. A fact the CGR was more than willing to join in with. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

HAPPY FATHERS DAY

HAPPY FATHERS DAY


Eggs & Coffee
(An Excerpt from "Tomorrow's Fish")

            I walked down the hall and stood on the linoleum floor in the kitchen.  At 7yrs old I wore only pajama pants, and the spring air had the floor cold to my bare feet.  Having just woke up to get ready for school it seemed odd that my dad, who normally left before daylight each morning, was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and doing the newspaper  crossword puzzle. With one eye squinted closed against the bright over-head kitchen light and confused, I asked what he was still doing at home.  He looked at me with a smile just short of laughter and said, “My job got rained out today and I’m going fishing.  Wanna come along?” I couldn’t believe my ears! “But what about school”, I asked?  “I’ll leave a note for your mom that you’re with me”, was his reply.  I ran to the kitchen window and peered out into the grey morning.  You couldn’t see the rain right off.  But the puddles in the lane were showing a light sprinkle.  “When are we leaving”, I blurted!  He laughed and replied, “Let me finish this coffee while you get dressed.  Then we’re outta here.” In a blur I was gone.

            With the gear loaded behind the bench seat of the pickup, in short order we were on the road. It was just me and him, and life really didn’t get better than that for a 7yr old boy growing up in the country. Especially for a weekday when all my friends would be standing in the rain waiting for the bus to arrive, while I would be fishing.  We crossed over Jonestown Mountain and crossed over fishing creek. At Hickory Joe’s restaurant we turned left. Then in just a short piece we were there.  Today we would be fishing Forks, the location where Huntington Creek and Fishing creek merged. I had been there before on several trips, and knew the place.  But today would be different. Today I would be fishing on my own. We would both have a rod and would both wade separately.  That also meant I would be on my 1st solo run for doing all my own rigging and baiting. 

            When the truck stopped I bailed with a purpose.  And after a few minutes of hopping on one leg in an attempt to get my hip boots on without getting my socks wet, I was ready. The green rubber felt cold through my jeans, and the spring rain was pretty chilly through my baseball style wind breaker and hooded sweatshirt. I popped open the top spring of my nylon shoulder creel.  The ones with the 12” ruler marked off on the snapped top flap.  It held a small box of #10 loose hooks, a spool of 2lb leader, some barrel swivels, a plastic container of assorted split-shot, a case pocket knife, and a jar of Mikes Natural color salmon eggs. I was set.  I pulled my rod out from behind the seat. It was a 5ft ultra-lite Abu Garcia rod with a Mitchell 308 reel & was already rigged. I adjusted my Case machinery ball cap, and waited for my Dad to lead the way. Following him down the muddy bank and along the trail through the short river bottom flat full of briars, I carried my rod backwards as he did to avoid the rod getting tangled. And I thought it odd that when I slipped twice going down the bank in the hip boots, he never turned around to ask me if I needed a hand? No matter though, since after all it wasn’t like I was a kid anymore.

            At the bank, we stopped to rig up.  I watched as he selected his sinker, and likewise chose the same size.  Then I skewered my salmon egg, making sure to pass through the egg sac as he had shown me before.  We both waded through a shallow eddy, and stopped short of a seam of deeper flowing water.  He said we would fish this run and pointed me to go upstream from him about 20ft. I pushed my way upstream on the slick rocks as he watched on. And when I had steadied myself against the current and looked back at him, he simply smiled and turned to cast his line. I did likewise.

            Through that morning, we never really left that spot. My dad seemed to hook fish pretty regularly, and soon began to drop many of them back in the water. I had hooked one fish of about 10” pretty much accidentally, since it took my egg as I was reeling in to make another cast.  It just didn’t seem like a catch at the time, but the feeling of the occasional flop in my creel was still comforting.  Then after most of the morning had gone by and I was pretty much soaked through, I felt the unmistakable TAP-TAP-TAP of a fish and lifted my rod to set the hook. This fish was a little better, and my dad quickly moved in to help net it for me.  Soon, with a little coaching on his part I had the weight of a 14” rainbow in my creel.  After some congratulations he asked if I was ready to go yet.  I stood there wanting to say no.  But I was soaked through to the skin, my hands were half numb from the cold rain and creek water, and I had slipped at one point so my downstream boot was filled knee-high with water.  I nodded and gave an apologetic smile in return.  He gave me a nod of agreement and turning for the bank said, “OK Bud, lets head for the truck.” After helping me drain my boot on the bank, he suggested I grab hold of the back of his belt going up the bank.  Thank God I thought to myself, because I was pretty concerned about that climb given my previously rough decline.

            Sitting in his truck with the heater running full blast and the windows fogging heavily, he grabbed a bag from behind the seat. Out of it he pulled a red scotch-plaid painted Stanley thermos and an extra cup.  He poured us both a cup of warm coffee and handed me a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich on my mom’s home-made bread.  The sandwiches were awesome in our hungry state, and my 1st personal cup of coffee tasted unbelievable. I instantly forgot about my cold and wet situation as we talked and recapped each fish. We talked for a good hour and I drank down 2 cups of that coffee before finally wiping the windows clear and heading back over the mountain to home.


            That event in my life happened 45 years ago, yet is still as clear to me now as the day it happened. It was the 1st day that I felt like I fished “with” my dad. It was my 1st cup of coffee from my dad’s thermos. It was my 1st trout caught intentionally & completely on my own. Yet the two most important things I took from that day are with me still. First-&-foremost, it is the earliest recollection that I can recall distinctly looking at my dad and thinking how much I loved the man. And lastly, with that one day of fishing in the rain he took a 7 year old boy and made him a trout fisherman. It’s been 13 years now since my dad left us. And much longer since I last cast a salmon egg to trout. That spinning rod has been replaced with a fly rod over the years, yet the feeling still remains the same as it was 45 years ago. Each time I’m out with rod-in-hand casting to trout I think about him, because he’s the reason I still find myself longing to stand in water. And oftentimes still I’m that same 7 year old boy, standing in the creek soaking wet and cold with one leg of my waders filled to the knee.  Knowing that while I truly want to keep fishing it’s time to head for the truck, and a warm cup of coffee. 



Thanks Dad.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Tying the Sunday Caddis

Sunday Caddis



Getting it's name from the "Church Window" feather utilized for the wing, the Sunday Caddis is a newer pattern that has shown initial promise on a couple waters, and is currently being evaluated on additional streams.

Sunday Caddis Recipe

Hook:  #14 Orvis Tactical Czech
Thread:  6/0 Black
Abdomen:  Groundhog Under-fur
Rib:  Fine Gold Wire
Hackle:  Tan CDC
Wing:  Church Window Feather
Collar:  Peacock Herl


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Morning on the Tully

Hitting the Tulpehocken with a Good Friend



With a few early morning hours available, I was able to get on the Tully for the first time this year with a good friend. The Tully can be a fickle witch at times....and this was one of those mornings. The water was low, the fish were there, and we brought one trout to hand.

I was able to hook 3 other fish,but I have a tendency to set the hook lighter when fishing boo. I need to get over that.   

But nevertheless, it was a great morning with a good fishing partner.


Not only can you see the fish, but you get up close and personal with their refusals as well.


The only fish brought to hand on the morning, aside from a few smallmouth dinks.

On leaving we spoke with a gentleman ho had enjoyed a somewhat more successful morning, informing us they were taking Frenchies. Huh?.....Frenchies?  Imagine that! I have Frenchies!



Fishing most of what was in my nymph box through the morning....surely I had tried a Frenchie?  You would think?


However...I was wrong. Since all of the Frenchies at the front of my forceps seem to have remained untouched.  Really? 

Oh well, I guess they were tied just to look good in the corner of my box?  &^%$#!!

Next time...we will fish Frenchies. And next time they will surely be taking little green caddis larva. 

Good luck on the water!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cabelas CGR Glass Fly Rod Review

Cabelas CGR (Top-to-Bottom: 7'6" 7/8wt, 7'6" 5/6wt, 7' 4/5wt)



There has been a lot said about the Cabelas CGR rod line on the internet since its 1st Generation introduction.  The chatter only increased with the 2nd Generation introduction a little over a year ago.  All that chatter, along with the Fiberglass Manifesto review is what pulled me into my original purchase of the 7’ 4/5wt model CGR. I began tracking the CGR prior to last year’s spring opener, and was about to pull the trigger on it for $129, when they suddenly dropped the price in half, and I promptly applied my points and had it in the mail for $49. A lot has happened since that purchase. After a few trips to the creeks with the rod I was convinced that I needed a light warmwater rod and began eyeing up the 5/6wt with it's shortened fighting butt. And after fighting with my lack of patience for a few months, Cabelas held true-to-form and dropped the price 50% again. That was my queue and I ordered the 7 ½’ 5/6 model. As a result, this summer found me hawking the prices again, until I was able to pick up the 7 ½’ 7/8 model for 50% off as well. Now…let me qualify all of that quickly to alleviate any misconceptions about these rods. After fishing and handling the first rod, I would have willingly paid $150 each for any of them had that been required. I personally feel the rod is under-priced in comparison to quality and performance at the suggested retail of $129. However, knowing the pattern of this rods pricing, I waited and held on to my dollars for a seasonal sale.
Now that I am into one season with the 7/8wt and 2 seasons with the 4/5 & 5/6….here is what I have found.





The 7’ 4/5wt
On the water I find the 7’ 4/5 to be a true 5wt rod. I fished it with a Cortland 444 DT4F line, and a WF4F Orvis Easy mend. But when I placed a DT5f on it the rod truly began to shine. It is extremely accurate to cast and is light in hand with virtually no excess vibration. It is on the faster side for glass, yet not too much so and it roll-casts like a dream. But it is a 7ft glass rod, and finds its home with dries and lighter nymph rigs. Weight it down too much and it struggles to pick up large amount of line. But for 90% of my trout fishing, this rod does all that I ask of it and more. I keep it rigged with a DT5F line, a 5’6” Uni-thread furled leader with tippet ring, and fluorocarbon tippet.







The 7'6" 5/6wt
            This rod pulls double duty for me. On one hand it is the perfect light warmwater rod, casting a WF6F Bass taper spot-on wherever you choose to point it.  And with that same line or a power taper it does all the streamer and nymph/indicator fishing the 4/5 struggles with. I would not hesitate to chase steelhead with this rod, as it has landed a number of 20" plus trout without an issue. The 5/6 CGR marries with a wide range of lines nicely, making it a great all-around rod in my book.  My favorite part of this rod however, is how much power it has. No need to hesitate on putting the base of this rod into play and applying leverage. This rod will turn heavy fish right down to the cork. I fish this rod primarily with a WF6F Bass Taper, 6’ Furled mono leader with a micro-swivel, and fluorocarbon tippet.
A blast to fish. The only shortcoming I found was when asking it to cast larger hair bugs. But not something you can really blame it for since that usually calls for a 7/8 wt regardless. Which leads me to the last CGR in my stable.








The 7'6" 7/8wt
           This rod...in my opinion, sets the standard for the entire CGR line. It is extremely well made with a well crafted cork and seat. It loads extremely smooth, and shoots line with little-to-no effort. That’s coming from a fly fisherman who does not like 9’and up fly rods as a rule, and prefers a progressive action. Some critics say  that it is not a “true” 8wt. I differ on that aspect. With a WF8F Bass taper this rod loads instantly and is deadly accurate. It does what an 8wt glass fly rod should with larger bugs. It really hits its stride however for me with a WF7F Bass taper where #2 and down bugs are the norm. If you are looking for a light, well made sub-8’ bass rod that is not a broomstick in the hand?....Look no further.  Will it bull its way through wind and toss graphite-tight loops into the surf? Nope. But it will accurately and effortlessly throw a bassbug size #2 down, into lily pads all day long without double-hauling your shoulder along with it. I fish this rod with a WF7F Bass Taper, 7’6” Orvis AR leader, and Orvis AR Superstrong tippet. Personally?....this rod is built with quality and performs as well as any $300 glass rod on the market.


Power to Spare


Conclusion
         I can’t say that I can honestly find a flaw in any of these rods.  If I had to pick something, it would be the aluminum furniture vs a good nickel silver setup. But then again, the existing furniture works flawlessly and I could go without an additional $50-$100 price increase. The fit and finish on all 3 of the rods I have are on par with top end rods, and I am a big fan of the spigot ferrules. Could they use alignment dots? Sure they could. Is it difficult to properly assemble these rods without the dots? No.  It appears the CGR line is truly on the mark. With quality accompanied by a very attractive price-point, with-or-without the patience to wait for a sale.   I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these rods to any level of fly fisherman, and I have found myself leaving much higher end rods in the den and grabbing a CGR more often than not.

(I am in no way affiliated with Cabelas)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Eggs & Coffee: A Fathers Day Dedication

Share the Day

Happy Fathers Day!



Eggs & Coffee
(An Excerpt from "Tomorrow's Fish")

            I walked down the hall and stood on the linoleum floor in the kitchen.  At 7yrs old I wore only pajama pants, and the spring air had the floor cold to my bare feet.  Having just woke up to get ready for school it seemed odd that my dad, who normally left before daylight each morning, was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and doing the newspaper  crossword puzzle. With one eye squinted closed against the bright over-head kitchen light and confused, I asked what he was still doing at home.  He looked at me with a smile just short of laughter and said, “My job got rained out today and I’m going fishing.  Wanna come along?” I couldn’t believe my ears! “But what about school”, I asked?  “I’ll leave a note for your mom that you’re with me”, was his reply.  I ran to the kitchen window and peered out into the grey morning.  You couldn’t see the rain right off.  But the puddles in the lane were showing a light sprinkle.  “When are we leaving”, I blurted!  He laughed and replied, “Let me finish this coffee while you get dressed.  Then we’re outta here.” In a blur I was gone.

            With the gear loaded behind the bench seat of the pickup, in short order we were on the road. It was just me and him, and life really didn’t get better than that for a 7yr old boy growing up in the country. Especially for a weekday when all my friends would be standing in the rain waiting for the bus to arrive, while I would be fishing.  We crossed over Jonestown Mountain and crossed over fishing creek. At Hickory Joe’s restaurant we turned left. Then in just a short piece we were there.  Today we would be fishing Forks, the location where Huntington Creek and Fishing creek merged. I had been there before on several trips, and knew the place.  But today would be different. Today I would be fishing on my own. We would both have a rod and would both wade separately.  That also meant I would be on my 1st solo run for doing all my own rigging and baiting. 

            When the truck stopped I bailed with a purpose.  And after a few minutes of hopping on one leg in an attempt to get my hip boots on without getting my socks wet, I was ready. The green rubber felt cold through my jeans, and the spring rain was pretty chilly through my baseball style wind breaker and hooded sweatshirt. I popped open the top spring of my nylon shoulder creel.  The ones with the 12” ruler marked off on the snapped top flap.  It held a small box of #10 loose hooks, a spool of 2lb leader, some barrel swivels, a plastic container of assorted split-shot, a case pocket knife, and a jar of Mikes Natural color salmon eggs. I was set.  I pulled my rod out from behind the seat. It was a 5ft ultra-lite Abu Garcia rod with a Mitchell 308 reel & was already rigged. I adjusted my Case machinery ball cap, and waited for my Dad to lead the way. Following him down the muddy bank and along the trail through the short river bottom flat full of briars, I carried my rod backwards as he did to avoid the rod getting tangled. And I thought it odd that when I slipped twice going down the bank in the hip boots, he never turned around to ask me if I needed a hand? No matter though, since after all it wasn’t like I was a kid anymore.

            At the bank, we stopped to rig up.  I watched as he selected his sinker, and likewise chose the same size.  Then I skewered my salmon egg, making sure to pass through the egg sac as he had shown me before.  We both waded through a shallow eddy, and stopped short of a seam of deeper flowing water.  He said we would fish this run and pointed me to go upstream from him about 20ft. I pushed my way upstream on the slick rocks as he watched on. And when I had steadied myself against the current and looked back at him, he simply smiled and turned to cast his line. I did likewise.

            Through that morning, we never really left that spot. My dad seemed to hook fish pretty regularly, and soon began to drop many of them back in the water. I had hooked one fish of about 10” pretty much accidentally, since it took my egg as I was reeling in to make another cast.  It just didn’t seem like a catch at the time, but the feeling of the occasional flop in my creel was still comforting.  Then after most of the morning had gone by and I was pretty much soaked through, I felt the unmistakable TAP-TAP-TAP of a fish and lifted my rod to set the hook. This fish was a little better, and my dad quickly moved in to help net it for me.  Soon, with a little coaching on his part I had the weight of a 14” rainbow in my creel.  After some congratulations he asked if I was ready to go yet.  I stood there wanting to say no.  But I was soaked through to the skin, my hands were half numb from the cold rain and creek water, and I had slipped at one point so my downstream boot was filled knee-high with water.  I nodded and gave an apologetic smile in return.  He gave me a nod of agreement and turning for the bank said, “OK Bud, lets head for the truck.” After helping me drain my boot on the bank, he suggested I grab hold of the back of his belt going up the bank.  Thank God I thought to myself, because I was pretty concerned about that climb given my previously rough decline.

            Sitting in his truck with the heater running full blast and the windows fogging heavily, he grabbed a bag from behind the seat. Out of it he pulled a red scotch-plaid painted Stanley thermos and an extra cup.  He poured us both a cup of warm coffee and handed me a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich on my mom’s home-made bread.  The sandwiches were awesome in our hungry state, and my 1st personal cup of coffee tasted unbelievable. I instantly forgot about my cold and wet situation as we talked and recapped each fish. We talked for a good hour and I drank down 2 cups of that coffee before finally wiping the windows clear and heading back over the mountain to home.


            That event in my life happened 45 years ago, yet is still as clear to me now as the day it happened. It was the 1st day that I felt like I fished “with” my dad. It was my 1st cup of coffee from my dad’s thermos. It was my 1st trout caught intentionally & completely on my own. Yet the two most important things I took from that day are with me still. First-&-foremost, it is the earliest recollection that I can recall distinctly looking at my dad and thinking how much I loved the man. And lastly, with that one day of fishing in the rain he took a 7 year old boy and made him a trout fisherman. It’s been 13 years now since my dad left us. And much longer since I last cast a salmon egg to trout. That spinning rod has been replaced with a fly rod over the years, yet the feeling still remains the same as it was 45 years ago. Each time I’m out with rod-in-hand casting to trout I think about him, because he’s the reason I still find myself longing to stand in water. And oftentimes still I’m that same 7 year old boy, standing in the creek soaking wet and cold with one leg of my waders filled to the knee.  Knowing that while I truly want to keep fishing it’s time to head for the truck, and a warm cup of coffee. 



Thanks Dad.


Never think they aren't watching,


Take them fishing.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dodging Thunderstorms

Another FBC Bass



With a chance to jump on water for a short time between forecast storms, I hit the pond with a single Foam Butt Caddis tied on.  Six bass later I pulled into the drive just as rain began to hit my windshield. 


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tying the Wet Slate

The Wet Slate



When the Slate Drakes arrive, this is one pattern that remains in my box year-after-year. A very consistent wet fly for me, fished in the film, down and across.


Wet Slate Recipe

Hook: Orvis #12 Tactical Wide Gape
Thread:  6/0 Olive/Dun Uni-thread
Rib: Fine Gold Wire
Hackle: Silver Badger Brahma Hen
Wing: Mallard Flank



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Evolution of the Foam-Butt Caddis

The FBC Pattern Evolution




Given enough time spent at the vise, sooner or later we are all bound to screw up and tie a pattern that works. Usually it works on a particular hatch, or stage of a particular hatch. Yet every now-and-then you REALLY screw up and tie a pattern that just flat out catches fish. The Foam Butt Caddis is that kind of pattern. 

Tied originally as a cricket pattern for the Big Pine in Northcentral Pennsylvania, it quickly became my go-to terrestrial pattern, both for trout and smallmouth. It was at this stage, tied on a #10 standard Mustad 94840 dry fly hook, that I thought I had nailed it.






Then one hot muggy day I broke out the float tube and took it for bluegills on a local pond. The gills would not look up for anything I had, from a Gaines Popper to a hairbug. Nothing I had would bring them to the surface. In defeat I decided to use the FBC as an indicator, throwing a beadhead on a dropper. Instantly I began to catch fish....but not on the beadhead....on the FBC.  As a result, over the course of a few years it established itself as bluegill candy. It still did well on trout as a cricket pattern, but truly found its mark as a bluegill pattern. I thought.






Then about 3 years ago, while fishing South Jerseys ponds and bogs, I decided to try tying it larger. I was beginning to get quite a few decent bass on it, but the hook just seemed to get shaken loose more often than not on the larger fish. The result was an upscaled version of the same pattern on a #6 Gamakatsu Stinger Hook. The change stuck, and before long I found myself hitting many waters with nothing but a handful of FBC's for both bass and panfish.

Fast forward to this year. Tied on a #4 Stinger hook, the FBC has most of my warm-water patterns collecting dust. On any given outing, the Big-Butt tied in either Ginger or Dun carries the day. It seems only the future knows just how effective the FBC can be, and I'm just along for the ride.