Monday, May 31, 2010

Thanks to those who serve, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

God Bless America

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Bluegill Bug

This is one of my favorite bluegill flies.  This little floating triangle with legs has been doing a number on panfish and bass for over a decade.  The unique shape is perfect small mouthed panfish like bluegills.  The thin profile at the business end of the hook allows even the smallest fish to take it with ease but the broad head prevents the little buggers from taking it to deeply.  If you have ever tried to remove a deeply set hook from the mouth of a bluegill with out harming it you can appreciate this.

I tie this fly in small sizes (10) for panfish and larger sizes (6-2) for bass in a variety of colors.  My favorite colors are black, green and chartreuse, yellow and black,  and frog (white bottom green top).

Pattern Recipe:
Hook:  4x long streamer hook
Thread: 6/0 or 3/0 Uni color to match body
Body: 2mm foam trimmed to the shape of a diamond (for the bluegill fly pictured here I start with a rectangle of foam 1" long and 3/8" wide before trimming)
Tail: Bucktail
Legs: Round rubber color of choice

Tying up these flies could not be any easier.  Start by cutting a piece of foam into a diamond shape.   I use 2mm foam for the smaller flies and thicker stuff for the bass flies.

Tie in your buck tail and lash down the butts along the hook shank.

Tie in your rubber legs.

Take your bodkin and poke a hole in the center of the diamond shaped foam.

Slide this hole over the eye of the hook and coat the hook shank with super glue.

Squeeze the top and bottom together to form the triangle and lash down the back with your tying thread, tie off and your done


Friday, May 28, 2010

Gizzard Shad

I caught a new species on the fly rod...Gizzard Shad.  The day had started out as a trip for panfish.  I went out to a local lake at first light to play with some bluegills.  I heard a bit of splashing down in the creek below the lake's dam.  I went down to investigate and found water filled with good sized Gizzard Shad.  I forgot all about the blue gills and spent a few hours with these guys.  Caught a mess of them up to about 18"-20" long.  They put a serious bend in my 5wt Hardy glass rod.
Fly Detail 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Got one before all hell broke loose...

I managed one fish this evening before the skies opened up and the mother of all thunder storms sent me scurrying for my car!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Old Split Tail on Tenkara

A good fish on Tenkara...
We picked up a bunch of fish today plying the waters with tenkara rods and flies.  Landing fish in the 20" class with these rods is still the glass ceiling.  I fished the 13' Ayu today, the added length allowed me to cover even more water but really did not assist much with the big boys.  Rick does a good job playing this fish.  The key to landing larger fish is to keep them close once they run out on you and force you to lower the rod tip your done...
My friend Rick with a good fish on Tenkara.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tenkara USA Ayu

I fished the Tenkara USA Ayu this week.  I took this 13' rod down to a local pond and had a blast tearing up the local panfish and bass population.
Since fish in small ponds are oriented to shoreline structure there was not too many areas I would normally fish that were out of reach.  Playing bluegills and crappie on this rod was a lot of fun. Even a 4" bluegill put a serious bend in the rod.  That same rod had no problem landing largemouth bass up to about 16", which is pretty amazing.  I did lose one bass about 3-4lbs but I think I would have lost that fish even if I was using traditional fly tackle.  I was not looking to target bass on this particular trip but they showed a fondness for a black foam spider that was meant for panfish.
These 12"-14" bass were a blast to catch.  I was surprised that I was able to leverage them away from cover with this rod, but it worked just fine.  As I said earlier,  I had a bass between 3 and 4 pounds blow up on one of those foam spiders and he parted that 4x tippet like it was sewing thread.
One disadvantage to fishing such a long rod from shore is the overhanging cover.  You definitely have to pick your spots if you are fishing a shoreline with a lot of trees.  I can't wait to try this rod from the kayak.  With the 13' of rod and 18' of line and leader, there is no place I can't reach.  I find on average I probably don't cast more than 15 to 20 feet in these situations anyway.  In addition, I may have found the perfect set up for crappie.  I did not lose a single fish today.  The ultra flexible rod keeps the flies from tearing out of those paper thin mouths. More on that later...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Free Fluorocarbon Leader Material

Ohero is giving away free flourocarbon leader material.  We're not talking 6x tippet material but if your a warm water or saltwater angler and can use 10 free yards of 15lb test or greater check out the above link and get yourself some.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The minimalist approach of Tenkara

One of the things I like the most about Tenkara is the simplicity.  Rod, line and a handful of flies is all you need.
 Over the winter I picked up this simple set up with Tenkara in mind.  This handmade lanyard/fly holder is made by Goertzen Adventure Equipment.  They make two types; one with a fold out fly patch and one that will hold a standard Wheatley fly box (or similar sized box).   This simple accessory holds all the flies you need for a day on the water, extra tippet, tools, and what ever else you feel the need to attach to it.  I have two of these set ups.  The one pictured above is set up for pursuing bluegills, the second one holds my traditional Tenkara flies.
Open up the fly patch and grab what you need.  The design holds wet and dry flies without crushing hackles.  If you lined them up nice a pretty you could carry several dozen flies no problem.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Singlebarbed's Sixth Finger Scissor

I have been using the original version of Singlebarbed's Sixth Finger Scissor for several months now and love the design.  My one complaint was the delicate design of these scissors.  They work great for most materials but I would not use them of the heavy stuff.
Shortly after receiving my original pair Keith announced the next generation of the sixth finger scissors.  Same design in two sizes the original and a general purpose.  These new scissors sport tungsten inserts in the blades.  I picked up a pair of each but the larger general purpose scissor is quickly becoming my favorite.   I think Keith's words describe it best.

The “Big Dawg” has finally arrived, equipped with the same adjustable screw, larger and heavier jaw, and the obligatory tungsten carbide edges that allow it to chew through the awkward and ungainly.
We preserved the same sharp tip, which allows the large size to reach and cut with the same delicacy, and added the longer, heavier jaw to resist deflection, and allowing more force on the cleave without tearing up the screw hole.
The fingerhole spacing is identical to the 4.5” scissor ensuring the same amount of scissor protrudes above the hand as its smaller cousin. Interchanging the two models will not require any adjustment in the user’s grip.
Having spent the last four months testing and retesting finger placement, shaft lengths, and “dogfooding” all those really clever ideas that proved less so – I’m very much pleased by the final product.
I call these the “General Purpose” model, 5.5” inches in length and designed to be the scissor for all your flies, not merely the small or delicate. The larger blades allow for larger chunks of material to be cut in a single snip, and should plow through those awkward or large materials that cause the smaller blade to deflect.
I still wouldn’t cut bead chain with them, that’s the job of a heavy shear style scissor – not something with a refined point. Everything else is fair game.

Awesome scissors at a great price!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hatches Fly Tying highlights one of my favorites...The Flymph

Photo by Hatches Fly Tying Magazine

The Flymph is one of my all time favorite panfish patterns.  Hatches Fly Tying Magazine blog is featuring this pattern and showing step by step tying instructions.  Simple but oh so effective...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Inspect Those Hooks!

I'm surprised I hooked this fish!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ken Lockwood Streamer

A friend of mine recently introduced me to a old local pattern, the Ken Lockwood Streamer.  Ken Lockwood, was a outdoor enthusiast, conservationist, and journalist. Ken Lockwood's column in the Newark News was entitled "Out In The Open".  This daily column was featured in the Newark News for 35 years. "Out in the Open" was one of the earliest known outdoor columns. 

Thus it is befitting that one of the most beautiful wildlife management areas in New Jersey bears Ken Lockwood's name. This 260 acre tract of woodlands includes a two and one-half mile portion of the South Branch of the Raritan River.  This property has been part of the state's Green Acres program since his death in 1948.

I consider the South Branch of the Raritan River, particular the waters in the Ken Lockwood Gorge, my home river.  So I was particularly interested in this pattern that bears the name of the man that made this fishery possible.

I tied up a dozen earlier in the week and had a chance to get them wet today.  It turns out to be a great little streamer pattern.  It was neat to catch fish on a little known pattern from the 1930's on the very waters where it originated.

The Ken Lockwood Streamer
Hook:  4x long streamer hook of choice
Thread: 6/0 Black
Body: Red floss
Ribbing:  Gold tinsel
Wing: Black bucktail
Throat:  White bucktail or hackle
Cheek (optional): Jungle cock

The Ken Lockwood Streamer's First Victim


Friday, May 14, 2010

Jerry Hossum Bird and Trout #2

I have been after one of these knives for quite some time.  A friend came to the rescue a few months back and hooked me up with this beauty.  What really sets this knife off is the leather work by Dannyboy Leather.  This sheath can be worn around the neck or dropped in a vest pocket.

The unique little blade and the interesting shape of the burl wood handle make an unusual knife.  The previous owner changed the profile slightly by thinning the edge.  This little modification made it as sharp as a scalpel.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Video: Carp on a Dry Fly

 Big carp taking dries and lots of hero casts.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Backpack Fly Fishing's Tenkara Leader Management System

I saw this today and I have to share it.  Backpack Fly Fishing's tenkara leader management system is the best idea I have seen in a long time.  Simply brilliant, get the details on his blog.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CJTU's Fly of the Month - May 2010

As some of you already know, I am the president of a New Jersey Trout Unlimited chapter, Central Jersey Trout Unlimited.  One of the most popular features of our monthly newsletter is the Fly of the Month.  All of these patterns are tied and submitted by our members.  Many of the flies are only known locally and some of our tiers especially this month's tier, Ron Ruskai, love to bring back long forgotten patterns.  I though I would share these patterns here as well.  

The Vampire (tied by Ron Ruskai)
This pattern originated in Maine, and is proven effective on lakes here in New Jersey.

Hook - 6X Long 8-4
Thread - Black 6/0
Tag - Flat silver tinsel
Body - Black Floss
Rib - Flat silver tinsel
Throat - White Calftail and red hackle fibers
Wing - Red Krystal Flash and red & black hackles

If you are interested,  I have put together a website listing the last few years of patterns submitted, CJTU Fly of the Month.  You can also directly access the fly of the month patterns through CJTU's website

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Afternoon was a bust...

This afternoon's fishing was called off due to 40 mph winds that blew up as a cold front blew in.  I was planning to fish from my kayak but was blown off the lake. Sight fishing was out of the question because of the wind's effect on the surface.  So rather than walk the shore fishing blindly, I put the boat back on the roof and went for a hike.  It looks like the bluegill feast will have to wait a day or two.  Maybe tomorrow...

Warm Water Tenkara

The gills are on their beds, I'm on my way out the door to see if I can muster up some dinner.  Tenkara should be the perfect solution for these fish in the shallows.

Jersey Angler on facebook and twitter

I finally got around to setting up feeds to facebook and twitter.  Become a fan or follow if you use these services.

Landing large fish on Tenkara...HOW???

I'm at a loss on this one.  I know it can be done but I am having a hard time doing it.  Yesterday's fishing was stellar,  lots of fish, lots of BIG fish.  The problem was I could not hold the larger fish with the Tenkara rod. I was told that I should not fish with a tippet heavier than 5x with the Yamame rod.  With 5x tippet it has been impossible for me to land fish over 18"

Today I hooked more fish over twenty inches than I have in a long time.  I could not land a single one.  I came close twice but in the end the fish won.  The rest of the fish either broke me off on the their first run or took off for parts unknown at some stage of the fight.  This style of fishing really puts you on even terms with the fish.  Average stream trout 10-14" are more fun then they should be on this type of rod.  You feel every head shake and throb.  Getting them to hand is enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.
Even smaller specimens will put a good bend in this rod.  Fish seem more acrobatic as well, maybe it has something to do with the angle of the line and the pressure that is exerted on them but they seem to spend a lot of time in the air.
I did manage to land a few good fish in the 18" range.  The last fish of the day was a nice brown.  This guy was one of the larger fish I was actually able to bring to hand. 
 I hooked some real bruisers yesterday but simply could not control them!  As the day wore on I started picking up on mistakes I made that caused me to lose larger fish.  One big one seems to be lowering the rod tip on strong runs.  By lowering the rod tip you lose some of that spring effect and it often results in a broken tippet.  Keeping the rod tip high allows the flex of the rod to offer some protection against the line parting but a 20+" fish just puts too much pressure on the system and lines break or hooks pull free.

I have a request.  I know a lot of people are interested in Tenkara by the traffic these posts are generating.  Does anyone have suggestions for fighting large fish on Tenkara rods?  I would love to hear from you.  Post a comment or email me at 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tenkara Yamame

I thought I would talk a little about the Tenkara rod I have been using for nymphing.  The rod is called the Yamame.  This rod is has the most backbone out of all of the rods offered by Tenkara USA.  This rod can easily handle a team of two to three nymphs and is also your best choice for fish over 16" in length, which is a common occurrence on my home river.   Like all Tenkara rods this rod has an ultra soft tip section but it has a substantial amount of power in its mid and butt sections.  It feels considerably different from my second Tenkara rod, the Ayu, which is a foot longer but feels much lighter.  To date the largest fish I have landed on the rod this year was a 18" rainbow taken out of very fast water.  I lost a fish in the 22"-24" range on my last outing but I really can't blame that debacle on the rod.  The Yamame is 12' long which gives it excellent reach for my preferred method of nymphing.
 Tenkara rods are described with ratios, the Yamame is given a ration of 7:3.  As I understand it it means the top 30% of the rod is soft and the bottom 70% of the rod is much stiffer.  By comparison the Ayu has a ratio of 5:5.  I need to experiment with some of the other rods, but the Yamame is doing everything I ask of it when it comes to nymphing.  I can highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tenkara Nymph Leader

I would like to describe the leader setup I am presently using for my Tenkara nymphing.  As I previously stated I first became interested in Tenkara because the equipment seemed like it would work out well for Czech nymphing.  This method of fishing uses little to no fly line and employs longer than normal fly rods. As I found it very difficult to find a fly rod longer than 10' long in this country, I thought the 11'-13' Tenkara rods may be a viable solution.  As it turns out they are...

The Leader Material
Though I don't feel it is necessary I decided to try the authentic level line used with these rods. The level line comes in a bright pink color which works out quite well as a sighter.  It is available in two strengths 10lb and 15lb test.  What I do like about this line is its stiffness which I feel helps in delivering a team of flies.  I thought I may have a hinging problem because I use soft supple tippet material but the "casting" method used for Czech nymphing with Tenkara rods poses no such problem.

You will need to add a few new knots to your repertoire if you have never used this type of material or fished Tenkara before.  The knot illustrated on the right is used to attach you leader to the braided section of line attached to the rod tip.  This knot is extremely simple to tie.  The first time you tie it you think "this will never work", but it works like a charm and you can remove it from your rod by simply pulling on the  1/2 tag end that you leave.

You will also need a new knot for attaching your tippet to the level line, though you can probably get by with out it.  This tippet knot is also very easy to tie.  The illustration does not show it very well but you are only leaving a 1/2 inch of tag at the base of that figure 8 knot.  I played around with running droppers off the main line in this fashion but the line is too heavy/stiff for Czech nymphing (not to mention the bright pink color)
Detail of Tenkara rod tip

Leader Design
Tenkara techniques call for a leader up to a rod and a half in length.  So for the 12' Yamame rod I am using, that would mean a 18' leader.  That worked out to be too long for Czech nymphing.  It forced you to hold the rod tip too high, effectively becoming a high sticking technique.  If you high stick, then you may want to consider the longer leader.  What I ended up with, was an overall leader length of 13 or 14 feet.  This allowed me to fish close in and at full reach but still get my flies down.  You may have to experiment with the length of level line used but basically I am running a couple feet 5x tippet to my first dropper then positioning my flies 18"-20" apart.
Looking at the illustration above your level line will end at the surface of the water or slightly below.  This means you will have to play around with the length of level line and tippet based on the depth of the water.  The water I fish with this method is fairly consistent in depth so I have not had to do a lot of fooling around with leaders. I have not actually measured my level line section but I believe it is no more that 6'-8' long (I'll check this and post a correction if needed).   Once I worked out the details I have not had to change my leader much other than adding or subtracting tippet.  Your results may vary...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More on Tenkara Nymphing

I have been playing around with several Tenkara rods for the last few weeks.  Since there has not been much dry fly activity going on (at least not for me), my experiences with fishing Tenkara has mostly been a subsurface one.  I'd like to share a few early observations:

Tenkara rods work well for several styles of nymphing.  All of the nymphing I have done have been tight line methods meaning fishing without an indicator.  Being an avid follower of European techniques over the last few years, the Czech or Polish style of nymphing was the first method I tried.  This method works very well with Tenkara since you have little to no fly line past the rod tip wen fishing in this manner.  My first concern was being able to handle two or three heavy flies on a rod with such a light tip.  As it turns out, this poses no problem at all.  In fact I think that ulta soft tip may actually help more than hurt by giving you that extra split second to react before the fish ejects the fly. The extra length that these rods provide is definitely a benefit.  With a 11'-13' rod you can cover a lot of water.  My experiences to date have shown this is a very effective method of nymph fishing with this type of set up.

One issue that you have to take into consideration is how to handle retrieving flies that become snagged on the bottom.  I don't think you want to apply too much pressure or violent jerking with these rods, nor do you want to pull straight back on them.  As long as you can grab your leader you can just break them off.  But even 5X tippet resisted my efforts to break off by applying tension solely with the rod.  Often you can collapse the rod to get a hand hold on you leader.  A snag on a drift when the flies are on the bottom 13 feet away with deep angry water in between you and your leader is an interesting dilema.

I'll post more on this subject in the days to come.  Next I'll talk about a typical leader set up for this style of fishing.