Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Forgotten Posts

A nice little mountain stream
Today's post was one that I originally intended to write earlier in the year.  Somehow, like many other small things, it was swept to the side and forgotten about until just recently when I was "cleaning" the folders with various pictures on my computer.  While out on a quick fishing trip earlier this season chasing my favorite quarry, the small stream brookie, I caught this little guy.

A nice little brookie
I caught him at the head of a small mountain stream pool on a size 14 "fancy" Killer Bug.  I had been tinkering with a regular Killer Bug by adding a peacock herl head to it to dress it up a bit and maybe make a very good fly a little better. It is similar in an appearance to some caddis nymphs I have seen in one of Dave Hughe's books. Below is a picture of the fly.

A "fancy" Killer Bug
Funny thing is that I have not really fished it since then for some unconscious reason.  I think it's a cool fly and easy to tie.  But what I thought was somewhat interesting was the coloration on the brook trout's jaw.

I have never seen a yellow patch on a jaw like that on any brookie I have ever caught.  I guess that is one of the very cool aspects of spending time in Nature.  For me, no two fishing trips or even two days outdoors are ever the same.  I am constantly reminded to never take anything for granted.  There is always something new and interesting to find...one only has to look closely enough.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Is Not Just A Speed Bump To Christmas

With TV bombarding you with commercials of Santa dropping a Lexus off at Biff & Buffy's house and Christmas carols rubbing you the wrong way since before Halloween I just wanted to remind everyone out there that one of the best holidays is nearly upon us.  Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite holidays in recent years.  It's not because it's a day filled with turkey, pumpkin pie and football (although those items are awesome!) but because it is a day meant for family and friends.  It's one of the few holidays that does not have the greedy hands of commercialism all over it.  For that... I'm thankful!  So from my family to yours enjoy your feast, save room for pie, pick a team to cheer for and enjoy your Thanksgiving (because Christmas is nearly at the front door).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tenkara Fly Swap V: The Classics

West Branch Ausable River, Wilmington, NY

Well tenkara fly swap number 5 has been completed and I just received my flies yesterday and once again they did not disappoint.  I must say there are some very talented fly tiers out there and just want to congratulate everyone on a job well done.  The theme for this swap was to tie a tenkara interpretation of a classic western fly.  This swap was a little smaller than previous swaps but I think it worked out well because everyone tied two of their fly contributions, one to fish and one to put in a fly library if desired. I would also like to thank Acheateaux (user name on the TenkaraUSA forum) for hosting the swap.  So without further delay below is a list of the swapped flies with their TenkaraUSA usernames and the name of the classic western fly that was interpreted through tenkara.

Anthony-Pass Lake Wet Fly


Acheateaux-Hare's Ear Variant

erik.ostrander-Purple Haze Kebari

Albertyi-Glossosma Caddis Larva

TenkaraAshley-Snipe and Purple Kebari

Goneflyfishing-Royal Coachman

My contribution-South Platte Brassie, Brassie Sakasa Kebari

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Flyosophy

You have just arrived at the water you intend to fish and ask yourself the age old question....What fly should I use?  Every single fly angler asks themselves that question on each and every outing (sometimes repeatedly).  It's a simple question to ask but sometimes an extremely difficult one to answer.  First things first, what are you fishing for?  Second what type of water body are you fishing? Lastly, what are the weather and water conditions you can expect to face?  As you can see that first simple question has now spawned at least three more questions.  In a way that's not all that bad because these questions are designed to narrow the choices.  But when those choices fail it will only lead to more questions.  The experienced angler, however,  has learned with time what works and what doesn't and this eventually leads to each individual developing their own "flyosophy." 

The Usual created by Fran Betters
Any anglers flyosophy is unique to him or her but is usually the product of many different influences.  These influences can be anything from what your buddy uses to fish, to what was gleaned form an "expert" in a book.  In many instances there may be significant overlap of one anglers flyosophy with that of another.  This sometimes leads to "schools of thought" regarding which is the best fly to use and in what particular situation.  Sometimes this flyosophy comes to dominate how everyone fishes as can be seen with the use of dry flies on the chalk streams of England.  At other times the average angler will feel the pull of two opposing ideas.  I have primarily been a tenkara angler for the last few years and constantly move back and forth between the "match the hatch" crowd and the "one/any fly" concept (though I admit I lean heavily in the latter's favor).  Many ask which is better?  I don't think there is an answer to this question or should there be.  If you catch fish with either method and you enjoy it who cares?  If any method employed to catch fish didn't work then it would not last very long would it?

Olive Takayama Sakasa Kebari
This brings me to my own personal flyosophy on what makes a great fly (I am planning to write a future post about my ideal fly box).  In order to describe MY idea of what makes a great fly to use I feel I should quickly describe what my background is and where my influences have come from.  For the new arrival on the fly fishing scene this maybe crucial to developing his or her own ideas of what  fly to use.

The Killer Kebari created by Chris Stewart (aka TenkaraBum)
I was taught how to fish by my Dad at around 6 or 7.  I grew up using spin gear "chucking" worms or casting my beloved Mepps spinners for bass, pickerel, yellow perch, catfish and panfish.  Somewhere around 16 my interest in fishing faded while football and school took a front row seat.  I re-acquired my love for fishing about 5 years ago while living here on Long Island.  This was mostly spin fishing in saltwater for fluke, bluefish and striped bass.  Somewhere in the summer of 2009 I became aware of tenkara fishing and thought it would be a great way to get into fly fishing without all of the expensive equipment.  Fly fishing is something I had always wanted to do as a kid.  The thought of wading in a stream with a wicker creel catching trout on flies I tied always appealed to me.  So began my love affair with tenkara (and mild obsession with fly tying).  I eagerly read all the literature available on tenkara and every book I could get my hands on related to the best fly patterns to use.  I bounced back and forth constantly on what type of flies I wanted to tie and use.  Eventually the flyosophies of two anglers, made it to the top of the heap...Sylvester Nemes and Fran Betters.

Haystack created by Fran Betters
I admit I'm a little biased towards Fran's flies just because he hailed from one of my favorite places, the Adirondacks, in my home state of New York.  Ultimately though, Fran's flies are made from simple materials, they are durable, easy to tie, and most importantly they work!  I think these characteristics should always be considered when it comes to the selection of a particular fly. 

March Brown Spider a soft hackled fly
Sylvester Nemes' books, "The Soft-Hackled Fly" & "Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies," are among my favorite fly fishing books.  Between these two books he clearly lays out his reasons for using soft hackled flies and a summation of the history behind them.  Soft hackled flies are very effective flies because they very easy to tie and give the illusion of "life" to a hungry trout.  Many patterns have been around for hundreds of years.  That alone testifies to their effectiveness.  

Royal Sakasa Kebari
Shortly after discovering tenkara, I discovered the traditional flies that developed alongside it hundreds of years ago in Japan.  I immediately fixated on the sakasa kebari with their reverse tied hackle.  They, like the soft-hackle flies of North Country tradition, were simple to tie and possesed similar characteristics that suggested life and a struggling insect caught in the current of a stream.

A nice brown trout caught earlier this summer.
With my background in mind, I now give you "my flyosophy."  Any fly that I carry with me to the stream will have the following characteristics.  The fly'sreasons of expense and ease of tying).  It should be easy to tie.  The fly in question should be durable and able to withstand not only the elements but the abuse doled out from more than a handful of trout.  It should lend itself to easy variation (for those anglers who lean towards the "match the hatch" school of thought).  It should be capable of being fished in more than one type of situation.  Finally it should look like almost everything and yet nothing specific at the same time.  Almost every fly I have used fits this bill.  I am constantly adjusting my fly box to have patterns that conform to these characteristics ( sometimes it's difficult because lord knows...I love to tie tons of flies). Examples of the flies I usually carry are the time tested flies such as Fran Betters' Haystack and Usual, the Partridge & Orange and Stewarts Black spider soft-hackles, Frank Sawyer's Killer Bug and Chris Stewart's Killer Kebari and most importantly several variations of sakasa kebari including my Royal Sakasa Kebari variation.  All of these flies are composed of 3 or 4 materials (excluding hook) or less.  They are also all a cinch to tie and I have been able to carry a small box of them everywhere I go from spring creeks and tailwaters to mountain streams and shallow weedy ponds and have success. 

One of my favorite brookies
Is my flyosophy for the right fly correct?  I don't know but it works for me.  Will it work for another angler?  Maybe, maybe not.  Each individual must find their own way on this path but hey...isn't that one of the greatest things about the sport of fly fishing?  My ideas are fluid and I may change depending on my own experiences reading the literature and actually being out on the water.  Where will I end up?  Who knows? However,  I do know that I will enjoy the ride.  Good luck to all in finding your own "flyosophy."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Putting A Brown Into My Creel and Getting A Monkey Off My Back

Last brown trout for the year?

I think I know, to a certain extent, how an athlete feels when they finally break a slump.  If your a baseball player and you have gone 0 for 29 it finally feels good to get that hit even if it is only a single.  For me the last 6 fishing trips to various places has yielded nothing, nada, zip, zero, zilch (you get the picture).  This even includes recently stocked ponds here on Long Island.  What was even more frustrating was the sight of so many fish within reach of my fly and nearby anglers pulling them in one after another.  I can be alright with the occasional skunking because I get to spend time outdoors just getting away from it all but 6 trips without a fish! Come on!  Well after another near skunking I finally landed a nice brown.  This last trip to Upper Yaphank Lake seemed to be going just like the previous trips.  I was used my 12' Yamame and about 14 feet of line (including tippet) and proceeded to run through every fly I had on me.  For the most part, the browns ignored every fly with barely a second glance until I reached for the guy pictured below.

Chartreuse sakasa kebari
I had one chartreuse sakasa kebari in my box that I have used for bluegill.  I thought what the hell?  I cast it once or twice then it barely hit the surface and then wham!  I had broken my slump.  It was a nice one maybe 12-13".  It may not have been a homerun but it felt good.  Who would have thought a "picky" brown would take such a fly but I was glad to have one with me.  On my next cast I promptly landed the only tree behind me and lost that single fly......figures.  Oh well.  Even with fishing slowing down in many places I hope everyone else is having better luck...tight lines!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Lightning Bug

The Lightning Bug
One of the great things about fishing, kayaking, hiking or any other outdoor activity is that it gives those of us who are willing to observe and pay attention the ability to know what time of year it is without the obvious signs like temperature, humidity or snow etc.  For instance, I always know it is around the last week of April or the first week of May when I see my first Baltimore Oriole and trout anglers can generally tell what time of year it is based on the emerging hatch of aquatic insects on the water.  One of my favorite insects is the lighting bug or firefly (from a biological standpoint, they are truly amazing creatures).  I always know it must be mid-June when I spot the first one of the summer.  With the trout season coming to a close in many places, and the exception of those few year-round streams here and there, my thoughts are turning more and more to "creative" fly tying.  The other night I was thinking about fireflies when I wondered about them during those early evenings in the first few weeks of summer.  Surely a few of these guys must fall into the water and with those lanterns of theirs (lanterns are the term for the section of a firefly's abdomen that lights up)  they must attract some attention.  Do trout eat them?  I don't know but I thought I would tie up something a little different.  The result is The Lightning Bug.  It's not an exact match but I think it may catch a few fish with the various triggers such as the "hot spot" lantern, the starling soft hackle, and the peacock herl shellback but I will have to wait to ask the "real judges."

The Lightning Bug

Hook: C49S Mustad, size 10

Thread: 6/0 Uni-Thread, black

Lantern: 6/0 Uni-Thread, chartreuse

Hackle: starling

Body: (shell back) peacock herl

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Blue Demon S.K. Gets Skunked at Beat #7

Keeping abreast of fellow bloggers posts can be very helpful sometimes.  As an example this past Sunday I was able to fish beat #7 on the Nissequogue River here on Long Island because of reading a post by Morgan Lyle on his blog, The Fly Line (definitely a blog worth checking out).  Normally the portion of the Nissequogue that runs through Caleb Smith State Park is closed in October.  However, after reading Morgan's post, I found out that the season was extended till November 13th due to the effects of Hurricane Irene.  So I promptly reserved beat #7 and went fishing....or at least casting. For the entire session I managed two splashy refusals and one brief hook-up.  The trout were there in abundance but many were sitting on beds so I knew they wouldn't be interested in any offerings and I left them alone.  As for the others...I threw everything I had at them and there just were not any takers.  I even used a newly tied fly that I call the Blue Demon Sakasa Kebari.

Blue Demon Sakasa Kebari
I have read elsewhere that even though blue is not exactly the color that most trout see on their normal menu it does work.  Therefore I tied this guy up one night and kept it in a little corner of my fly box.  This fly along with a Royal Sakasa Kebari and a Killer Bug seemed to be the only flies that I used that generated ANY interest.  I watched a number of Rainbows and Brookies moving here and there.  Not a single one was less than 12" in length. This includes two gorgeous brookies that were less than the length of my 11ft Iwana away from me.  One rainbow had to be between 16-18" which nearly made my heart leap from chest when my fly bumped him on the nose.  Getting skunked as I have been the last few outings can get a little frustrating at times but I'm usually able to keep it in perspective.  A day out on the water will always beat a day at work and just about anything else except time with my wife and kids.  If anything, I can take away from this trip is the knowledge that the next generation of trout on the Nissequogue is on their way and that their rather large parents will still be there to tempt me to return as soon as April rolls around.

Blue Demon Sakasa Kebari

Hook: C49S Mustad, size #12

Body: Uni-Thread 6/0, Silver Doc Blue

Hackle: Hungarian partridge, white

Collar: Peacock herl

Tail: India Blue Peacock, blue body feather