Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Newsflash!! The Simms Wading Staff is not reliable for wading safely.
Monday, September 29, 2008
There is no one who knows more about fly tying and fly fishing on the Ausable River than Fran Betters. My first stop, on a recent trip to the Adirondack region, was at Fran’s store where I found him, as usual, tying flies. Fran seemed quite happy to be greeting customers, answering questions, giving advice, suggesting places and patterns to fish and generally being the sage of Wilmington, New York and the Ausable River.
I asked what flies he recommended for the day and Fran told me that I needed only four flies to be successful. He handed me a small plastic cup with four little treasures waiting patiently to begin the day. And what a day it was. The sky was a mile-high, cloudless blue. The air was clear, crisp, breezy and a perfect 72 degrees. The leaves in the forest were opening up in dozens of shades of spring green. A finer day for fly fishing could not possibly exist. After gearing up I set out into the woods to walk far from the other anglers, as I wanted this day all to myself. I found a place to begin fishing, but first I sat on a mossy, cool boulder and watched and listened as the river tumbled past. A while later I opened the plastic cup and there, on top, sat the fly of the day. It was a Haystack.
The Ausable Haystack has been around since 1949 and it has been a consistent fish-producer at every turn. But why? Because it is a simple fly. Two materials are used: deer hair and muskrat fur. That’s it. About as close to nature as you can get. It is a simple fly that rides well in the water. It looks like the silhouette of an emerging mayfly as it sits in the surface film. It might also look like a spinner drifting down the river. It could be a caddis riding the flume. It is one tough customer. The fly floats through the rough water and still comes out as a fish catcher. The natural animal hair reflects light beautifully and has coloration that can’t be beaten. There are several vital qualities to a good fly. First, it should have iridescence and translucency. Look at the Haystack as light filters through the deer hair of the tail and wing and the dubbed body. Sure, the fly does not actually imitate any single insect, but it suggests so many.
What else makes a good fly? Fran Betters thinks that it also should be usable in different color tones and shades. He likes having a lighter shade and darker shade version and chooses the one that fits the circumstances. Finally, as Fran says, the fly should have good skittering ability. This will draw strikes, but will also allow you to move the fly into position in the feeding lanes.
As it turned out I only needed one perfect fly for my perfect day of fly fishing—the Haystack. The day was filled with beauty and the inner peace that comes when one is truly in harmony with the natural world.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
We always bring a box, or many boxes, of selected flies that we think will be “right” or will work on our outings, but often things do not go as we think they will while fly fishing. So, what is an angler to do about fly selection under these circumstances? Answer: Think outside the box.
Let me give you a few examples of flexibility in fly selection from a recent weekend of fishing. I was at a lake that I have been fishing for several years. I knew what patterns have worked over the years and the fish have been very consistent in taking certain flies at certain times of the year. I was all ready to fish last weekend and tied on the usual suspects to catch a few fish. Nearly every cast came up empty. I caught one fish, but certainly not the numbers that I had grown accustomed to expect on this lake. I usually fished a small yellow Clouser Minnow with great success on the rock bass, but now nothing. The bass were sipping and poking their noses through the surface of the water. My mind immediately went to a dry fly. I switched to a floating line and a humpy. Bang! The rock bass were heavily onto the floater. Would I have ever used a dry fly to catch these rock bass before? No, but in order to bring fish to the net I had to be flexible.
The northern pike hanging out in the lily pads in this lake were the same story. No takes on traditional pike flies. What is an angler to do? Why not tye on a salmon fly? No pike were biting the usual way, so I decided to go the for the unusual. I used the super secret salmon slayer, a heavily-weighted, white marabou bait fish imitation. Bang! A decent-sized pike on the fly. This toothy critter was hungry for different cuisine. A few weeks earlier a pike grabbed a rather large, heavy Clouser Minnow. Pike flies were not on the menu that day either.
There is no need to flog the water with patterns that are not producing on a given day. Don't forget to read your water and see what the fish want. Make sure that when putting your fly box together you select a few oddball flies that may seem unlikely or outlandish. Include dries, wets, nymphs and bait fish imitations and a few flies that you think would never work. This makes for a much more satisfying day of fly fishing.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
UNI Products J.G. Cote Inc.
P.O. Box #222
Canada JOK 3AO
This new UNI-Stretch Shrimp Pink color was specially developed for the Shrimp Pink flies of Umpqua Feather Merchants. An exclusive offering from UNI Products - the UNI-Stretch
materials is easy to wrap, stays in place and makes excellent underbodies as well. UNI-Stretch is now available in 23 colors!
We’ve also introduced 4 new UNI-Flat Braid colors: Holographic Fuchsia, Green, Holographic Purple and Pearl-Green! UNI-Flat Braid makes outstanding butts, bodies and ribs for large
fl ies. You can also fray it for tailing. UNI-Flat Braid is 0.05” wide, highly reflective, and is now available in 10 colors!
Look to UNI for the best in spooled fly tying materials!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The wading on the River Diable was treacherous. Ironically, the name of the river suggests the conditions. The tea-stained water was raging and large slippery rocks and deep plunge pools made for tricky and scary wading. Hidden in the river, however, were some beautifully-colored brookies and browns. I managed to catch quite a few of both, but netting them was another story. Times like that I wished I had a few extra hands to coordinate the net, manage the rod, guide my wading staff and hang on to the rocks. In the end I managed to get four fish to the net and measured for recording in the competition with about a dozen plus solid hook-ups only to be lost in the whirl. Practice sessions on the river saw nine in the net and a few lost. The difference was the heavy rain that fell between the practice sessions and the competition sessions.
The lake sessions at La Baroux were another story. Three lakes and no fish. In practice I had four, but in the end I was disappointed. I don't really want to complain as the days were gorgeous and fishing is still my favorite pastime. I guess catching is another story.
The fly of the competition was the Olive Bunny Stripper. My teammates Morgan Thorp and Jason Baxter hammered fish on this fast sinking fly that is best fished on a deep sinking line. The retrieve is fast and the fly darts through the water drawing aggressive strikes.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
While at the Canadian Fly Fishing Championships awards banquet I sat next to Martin Lepine of UNI Products. I met Martin and his wife Sylvain several years ago while tying at the International Fly Tying Symposium and it was nice to catch up with Martin again and look at some of the new UNI offerings. I will be at this year's International Symposium in November and will have UNI Products samples and information available. They make some UNIque materials. Check out their website at http://www.uniproducts.com/.