Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's In Your Fly Box?

My flybox for 2012
With the begining of trout season just around the corner, I have been giving a lot of thought to what my fly box should be filled with (I will only be talking about my freshwater fly box because my saltwater only has various clousers and blondes in it).  I have never been a "match the hatch" kind of guy....I'm not a big fan of spending more time changing flies than actually fishing.  As a tenkara angler I have been fascinated with the "one/any fly" approach but have shied away from that extreme as well for two reasons. One, with one fly, I don't feel prepared enough.  The second reason is that I love to tie flies....and tying only one pattern would get boring pretty fast.  So for this year I have elected to go with only one fly box (a small 3"x5" Flambeau foam box) to cover all types of fish and situations I may face.  During the year I may find myself fishing for small stream brookies, browns and rainbows in tailwaters and stocked lakes and bass and bluegill in shallow weedy ponds.  I wanted to reduce the number of flies I use so that I might concentrate more on my actual technique. For me, it would be a challenge to get all the flies that I felt I would need into such a small flybox and cover a wide range of waters and conditions. The following list of flies is my attempt to meet this challenge.

#12 Royal Sakasa Kebari and #12 Pheasant and Black Sakasa Kebari
Killer Bugs and #12 Kiwi's Killers
#12 Bead Head Royal Sakasa Kebari's
Wooly Buggers
#16 Usuals
#12 Bubble Kebari and extra kebari for specific locations...empty spaces are for flies from swaps or experimental flies
#16 "BWO" sakasa kebari's (olive thread and starling hackle)
I figure my Royal Sakasa Kebari and Pheasant & Black SK to be my "work horses" and the ones I will use in almost all situations.  I plan to use the Killer Bugs when fishing the tail waters of Westchester County and the Nissequogue R.  The Kiwi's Killer is my one fly for fishing ponds for bass and bluegill.  If I'm going dry I always prefer a Usual.  The Wooly buggers are perfect for the large bass I encounter and anything else that is not satisfied with just a few tiny bugs.  The bead heads will be good for when I need to get a fly down deep  and quickly. Throw in a few smaller #16's and leave some room for a few experimental flies, an Ausable bomber or flies from a swap and I think I have a box that's good to go......or at least that's what I think.  Who knows, the real judges are waiting for me out in the various ponds and streams I plan to visit in the coming season.  Even if this box is not the "ultimate fly box" that's OK the challenge and spending time outdoors is what's most important.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Awosting Falls, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New Paltz, NY
It dominates two thirds of our planets surface.  It has the power to shape the face of the land.  When it's frozen and on the move, there is no mountain on Earth which can oppose it. In it's free flowing form it can cut a path from the highest peak all the way to the sea.  As a force of Nature it displays many moods.  At times it can be seen as angry and will rush headlong down a mountainside tearing away boulders as it goes.  Other times it will meander slowly through a meadow and seem to be at peace.
Copperas Pond, Adirondack Mts, NY
It can bring devastation to entire coastlines in a single instant or color to a barren dessert landscape seemingly devoid of life.  Life cannot exist without it.  It connects every living creature on our world with everything else.  Snowflakes that drifted from the sky last winter melt and join it's brethren on the long journey back to the sea to start the cycle over again.  However, in this process, the substance gives life to the deer to slack it's thirst, it gives the trout an environment in which to live, it gives the frog a nursery to grow in, and it gives a child the chance to cool off on a hot summer's day.

The Earth has been blessed with an abundance of it.  It is this abundance which has allowed life to thrive and diversify into the amazing complexity of wonderful and bizarre creatures that inhabit our world.  EVERYTHING is dependent on it for it's existence.

Verkeederkill Falls, Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Gardiner, NY
As anglers, as boaters, as hunters, as kayakers, as humans and stewards of our home planet it is our responsibility to ensure that this natural resource is not abused, that it is conserved, that it will be protected today and into the future to ensure the survival of all other species as well as our own species.  Water has the power to destroy, to shape, to inspire, and most importantly to sustain life.

Sand Street Beach, Long Island ,NY

Friday, February 17, 2012

Translucency and the Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari

Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari's a visual characteristic that many aquatic insects display at some stage of their development.  It's also something many fly tiers try to emulate in their creations to fool hungry trout.  Translucency is the ability of a material or substance to allow light to pass through it but in a diffuse manner (it's not the same as transparency).  An insect with air bubbles or one that is shedding it's nymphal shuck will usually display some sort of translucency and this will act as a trigger for trout in some circumstances.  This principle is laid out very well in Gary LaFontaine's book on caddisflies.  He uses antron fibers to mimic this quality in his flies but others have explored other materials as well.  When held up to the light, Fran Better's Usual, with it's snowshoe rabbits fur, also displays translucency.  Many other synthetic materials have been used as well.  However, many years ago these materials may not have been available to the angler and he or she had to look elsewhere to simulate this property.  Many anglers who tied North Country Spiders created the effect of translucency by very thinly dubbing their flies with mole or muskrat fur.  In combination with Pearsall's gossamer silk thread, mole/muskrat dubbing "softened" the color of the silk thread underneath and gave the illusion of a an insect about to leave it's exoskeleton.  I love experimenting and using new materials to explore the possibilities of creating translucency in my flies but I always prefer to use natural materials when possible.  That being said, I'm posting another pattern for those who may be interested in "new" or "old" ideas.  The Blue Dun Sakasa Kebari is essentially the same as the Blue Dun listed in Sylvester Neme's book "Two Centuries of Soft Hackled Flies" with the exception the the starling hackle is tied "sakasa" style and not the traditional way with the hackle pointing to the rear (recipe is listed in the "Fly Box page").  It's a simple tie and with the added dubbing might just add a little something extra to your fly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Can You Say?

"Northern Lights"
I enjoy tying flies and if you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you already have a good idea of what my favorite kind of fly is to tie (sakasa case your not a frequent visitor).  But the fact is there are so many other patterns of flies that have interesting histories or present certain tying challenges or are just beautiful to look at.  Among one type of flies I have become enamored with are the streamers, specifically those in the Rangeley style created by Carrie Stevens.  There are some notable tiers out there still tying these "heritage" patterns but for the most part it seems there are far too few individuals creating new patterns in this classical style.  Fortunately, for those who enjoy fishing or tying these streamers, I know of a fellow blogger who's creativity when it comes to these flies is worth a second, third and fourth look. 

Alan, of "Small Stream Reflections" , ties some of the most creative and beautiful streamers out there.  The streamers pictured above are two of the latest that I have managed to acquire through a "mini-swap" with Alan.  I sent him several of my own flies, mainly sakasa kebari, in exchange...but I dare say I made out better in this deal.  This is the second time I have swapped with Alan and want him to know that I appreciate it.  His blog is outstanding and in it you can find these patterns as well as many other classic streamers.

From left to right..."South Bog, Shenandoah, Northern Lights, and Poudre Canyon Special"

Monday, February 6, 2012

The February Red....Sakasa Kebari

The February Red Sakasa Kebari
I had just finished tying up a bunch flies for The Tenkarabum, the other night, when the urge to do a little experimenting hit me.  Sometimes, when I place an order for tying materials I frequently use, I get "a little something extra" to play with.  A while back I picked up some peacock sticks that were dyed red because I thought the herl might add some sparkle to a new fly.  I was a little tired so I thought I would tie something simple.  The resulting fly is the one pictured above.  I call it a February Red Sakasa Kebari simply because it's predominantly red and I tied it during February (it's not related to or based on older flies in fly fishing literature with the name Feb. Red).  Besides the hook, it only consists of a hackle of starling, a body of red peacock herl and red Pearsall's gossamer silk thread. It's simple to tie and will hopefully be effective when I take it out for a "test drive" this spring.  For anyone interested, I will post the recipe on the "North River Fly Box page".