Friday, April 30, 2010

Frank Sawyer's Killer Bug

Frank Sawyer's original Killer Bug is a very simple pattern tied with only two materials, red wire and yarn.  This scud or shrimp imitation takes on a completely different look when wet.  The original pattern called for Chadwick's yarn (color 477) which was a tan color with some pinks and browns in it.  Long since discontinued, the original material is no longer available.  Somewhere I have a three foot length of the original yarn but could never bring myself to use it.  Recently I found a reproduction of this yarn produced by Veniard.  I will have to dig up that original strand and compare it to this new product.  From the photos I found of both products, the original has that pinkish, tan, gray, brown coloration that the new product doesn't seem to capture.  But photos can be deceiving so I will reserve judgement until I can lay them side by side.
If you want to see a side by side comparison of three flies tied with three different yarns including the two above click on this post in the Fly Fishing Forums.  If these photos are correct there is not much difference between the three once the flies are wet.  A friend of mine recently posted about this fly on his blog Fly and Fin and recently I watched an Oliver Edwards DVD were he tied and fished the pattern.  So I decided to tie up a few myself.   I tried to follow Frank Sawyer's instructions to the letter including using two layers of wire and three layes of yarn, tying the fly off at the rear instead of the front.  
Bottom line...none of this makes a difference.  All this nonsense about materials doesn't matter.  Tie some grayish, pinkish tan yarn with brown high lights on to a hook and go fishing!  It's a simple pattern that works very well. 
 This fat rainbow could not tell the difference in the yarn colors either!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carp Reconnoissance

I have been looking for new water to sight fish to carp and I think I may have found something.  While trout fishing today I decided to take a walk down to where the stretch of river I fish empties into a small shallow lake.
Right off the bat things looked very promising.  Small pods of very large carp (some in the 20-30lb class) were slowly cruising about.
When I spotted a solo fish obviously feeding I took a few photos.
I followed this fish as he made his way against the gentle current.  Every few feet he would dip down and take something off the bottom.  I was armed with a 5wt Hardy glass rod so I resisted casting to him.  Finally I gave into temptation despite the fact that I was severely under gunned.  A carp carrot was dropped 5 feet in front of him and allowed to settle to the bottom.  A subtle twitch when he was about a foot away was all to took.  He slid over dipped his head and sucked up the fly.  Then all hell broke loose.  He shot out to the center of the "lake" scattering all of the other pods of fish.  There were carp flying everywhere.  I don't think that soft fiberglass rod offered enough resistance to sink the hook into those fat rubber lips.  After that first run across the flat the line went limp.  I ended up with a crushed ego and a very mangled fly for my effort.

Tally for 2010
Carp = 2
Jersey Angler = 0

Monday, April 26, 2010

Fly and Fin: Jersey Angler and Tenkara

A friend of put up some video of nymphing with a Tenkara rod from a few weeks back.  I like how he gets me on film almost falling on my ass but doesn't show me landing the fish.  Thanks buddy! Fly and Fin: Jersey Angler and Tenkara.  You may want to go directly to the u-tube links below, for some reason the whole video is not showing up on his blog.

Video 1

Video 2

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hendrickson Nymph

Unfortunately I missed most of the dry fly action with this hatch this year.  Every time I was out on the water it was a case of "you should have been here yesterday".  I did however catch quite a few fish on Hendrickson nymphs.  In fact, even though the hatch is effectively over the nymph is still taking fish.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another good day for the Cooper Bug

I am becoming very intrigued by this fly.  The fish went crazy over it today.  But the amazing thing was the distance they were moving to grab it.  Cooler water temps meant rainbows were the more active fish, brown trout were noticeably absent today and the river I fished is predominantly a brown trout fishery.  Subtle takes were not on the menu this afternoon.  The rainbows shot out of their lies and smashed this fly.  On three occasions I had 4x tippet snap on the take.
As far as insect activity goes there were a few straggling Hendricksons coming off, but that hatch peaked a week or two ago and should be all but over.  I did not observe any caddis activity (at or above the surface), but I know there was some earlier in the week.  The only other insects were a few small stone flies crawling about on mid-stream rocks. What are these fish taking this fly for??? ( I have a guess)  
There may have been a behavioral drift of green rock worms (Rhyacophila) occurring.  I was snagging these little buggers left and right.  In my opinion this fly bears little resemblance to the natural but I guess the fish disagree.  I even went as far as to imitate the obviously prevalent caddis larva with one of my rock worm patterns that did a better job "matching the hatch".
In the end the Beadhead Cooper bug out fished it three to one.  Without exception the larger fish of the day were caught on this fly.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bead-head Cooper Bug

Bead-head Cooper Bug
The Cooper Bug is a pattern that I have never really been able to warm -up to.  It is a very effective pattern on my home waters that used by a lot of the "old timers".  I need to be careful throwing the "old timer" phrase around because I am rapidly approaching that status myself.  My biggest problem with this fly is figuring out exactly what it is supposed to represent.  Funny thing is I have no problem tossing a pink Czech nymph around on the end of my line, go figure.
This winter I was teaching a fly tying class and one of the patterns in the curriculum was the Cooper Bug.  One of my students asked if you could tie the pattern with a bead-head, I replied "sure why not" and that's what we did.  That's the reason this particular pattern ended up in my box.
I tied it on the end of my leader on a whim and it produced like crazy.  Once again I have no idea why the fish were taking this pattern.  The only insect activity on the water were a few Hendrickson's , but the fly does not strike me as an imitation of that nymph.  After using it that first day, I went home and tied up a dozen.  The fish have chewed up those flies and its time to tie some more.

Hook:  Diachi 730 size 14
Bead: Gold or copper tungsten
Ribbing :  Red wire
Body:  Peacock herl
Tail and shell back:  Deer hair

Monday, April 19, 2010

Effective Patterns

The Pink Czech Nymph
I thought I would make a habit of sharing what flies have been working for me as a regular feature this season.  The this nymph was my most effective pattern on the season opener a few weeks ago.  This pink Czech nymph has been racking up some serious numbers with the rainbows on my local waters since the beging of April.  It is interesting to note that the fly has caught only rainbows, no other trout species, though plenty of brook and brown trout have been caught on other patterns. 

The Recipe:
Hook:  Knapek Czech Nymph #12
Thread: Brown uni 6/0
Underbody:  Adhesive backed lead tape (single layer)
Ribbing:  Fine gold tinsel and 4X maxima tippet material (the brown variety) or gold wire
Shellback:  Mylar tinsel
Abdomen:  Pink rabbit dubbing mixed with a little UV pink ice dub
Thorax:  Brown hare's ear mixed witha little brown ice dub

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fly Fishing and Photography

I seem to have an ongoing struggle with fly fishing and photography.  To set the record straight I am a fly fisherman, not a photographer.  In fact I know next to nothing about photography.  But its not the technical aspects of photography that I struggle with, its the physical part.  The simple process of manipulating a camera, a fly rod and a wet, slippery, uncooperative model (we're talking fish here, get your minds out of the gutter).
My main interest in taking photographs is to enhance this blog.  Posts are far more interesting with the addition of a few relevant photos, but I never dreamed it would be so difficult.  A quick recap of today's event will explain what is the norm for me...
First of all is remembering that I am actually carrying a camera.  Many days on the water go undocumented because I simply forget to take out the camera.  I tend to block out everything when fishing, concentrating only on the task at hand...the fly, the presentation, the drift, the take, the fight and ultimately the release.  It's usually only when the fish is swiming back into the current that I say "I should have taken a picture of that!"
When I do remember to take out the camera is when the the real problems start.  Trying to take a decent shot of a really pissed off 20+" fish while standing thigh deep in fast water, precariously perched on greased bowling balls,  holding a 10' fly rod in your teeth is somewhat of a challenge for me.  The end result?  A rod that is now 9'-6" and a fly box containing a winter's worth of tying slowly making its down stream.  If it wasn't for a few dams in the way, that box of Czech nymphs would probably be nearing the Atlantic Ocean by now.  Despite these misgivings I was determined to get a shot of this fish, so I wade to the bank take one crappy picture then finally get everything in order.  I compose the perfect picture, the fish finally lying still in shallow water, a moss covered rock catching the only rays of sunlight that broke through the rain clouds today and the the whole scene perfected framed with a rod and reel.  I double check my settings, place my finger on the shutter release and the f*@%$!& camera battery dies...
The Culpert

Friday, April 16, 2010

Field Testing

My seven year old son has been very anxious to test out a new wet fly pattern he developed a some weeks ago.  We had a few hours to spare after dinner yesterday so we loaded up a box with his flies and headed out to a local pond.
The fly...

A bright, buggy wet fly that the bluegills and crappie got stupid over.  I even connected with a largemouth about 3-4 lbs that threw the hook on the first jump.  It is gonna be a new addition to my panfish box.  I have to put him to work to tie me some more!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Recycled Waders

During the winter I picked up a 'Nook Sack from Recycled Waders.  This company reclaims old blown out waders and gives them a second chance at life.   Your old waders are "deconstructed" then cleaned and sewn into useful fly fishing accessories.  Each piece is unique, bearing the original wader's color patterns, stains, patches etc.  Send them your old waders to have them make something just for you or you can donate your waders with the piece of mind that they will be recycled into something useful for another angler.
This simple shoulder bag will hold everything I need for a warm-water outing.  It has a large main compartment, a smaller internal pocket and zippered compartment on the front.  Throw a couple fly boxes in there, some forceps, bug dope, nippers and extra tippet and your good to go.  As a plus, it will probably hold the largest fly box you own, perfect for larger bass and pike flies.  I carry far less gear when fishing local lakes compared to trips to trout waters.  Warm-water fishing for me means simplicity and this bag is perfect.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Running low on black hackle

My black, dry fly neck is picked over pretty good, I need to start looking for another!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Carp Carrot

I'm still working on the refilling my carp fly box and I am adding a few new patterns this year.  I came across a pattern called the Carp Carrot on Mr. P's Blog .  This fly is one is one of his original patterns and he ties it a little differently.  The hackle collar in the original pattern is yellow dyed pheasant rump.  Not having that on hand, I searched through my desk for an alternative.  I came across some grizzly marabou in a bunch of colors and tied some in an all orange version.  I like using marabou in this type of fly.  The material comes alive in the water even when the fly is at rest on the lake bottom.  I plan to tie up some of the original versions as soon as the big brown truck delivers my supply of yellow pheasant rump.
The Carp Carrot
Hook:  Size 6 (The hook pictured is an old, no longer made, ring eyed Mustad)
Weight:  Lead dumbbells (small)
Body:  Orange dubbing mixed with a little flash
Collar:  Orange dyed grizzly marabou