The Rats Nest

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Latest Project With Front Range Anglers of Boulder Colorado

Recently, you probably heard me talking about having several irons in the fire, and working on a couple of really cool new projects with some other's in the fly fishing world.  What I am about to talk about, I am very honored to be a part of, and even more proud of what it has turned into.  I was approached by Paul Prentiss, the Customer Communications Representative for Front Range Anglers a few months back.

Paul mentioned that he was in the process of revamping the fly tying section of Front Range Anglers website, and asked if I was interested in being a part of the project.  Paul not only expressed the idea of updating their video library, but that of a vision he and fellow employees had for an absolute customer resource of fly fishing tidbits.  Sounding like something very cutting edge and fresh,  I jumped at the opportunity, and the first installment of what should become an ever growing cornucopia of fly fishing information is now live.  Check out the link below, and let us know what you think, good or bad.  Any and all feedback is welcome as this idea grows with each installment.

Click here for more about the BWO Hatch Guide

For more about Front Range Anglers, visit their website at:

We are working on a second installment as I write this, and it should be even more jam packed with information then this particular one.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Jig Style Nymphs For Fly Fishing

Just a quick post today folks, introducing the first installment of a series of jig style nymphs for fishing in a tight-line or euro-nymph rig.  In the Olive Quill Body Jig video, I demonstrate how to tie a particular color scheme that is working very well at the moment.  I can only assume that the fly is being taken for either a Blue Winged Olive Nymph or a Caddis Larva.  Click either picture to be redirected to the video
A Nice Brown Who Approves

These particular patterns are very productive fish catchers, and the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do in terms of what flies you can convert to jigs.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I unveil several different successful color combinations with the quills, as well as some jig conversions of several household nymph patterns.  Enjoy the video and happy tying. 
Olive Quill Body Jig.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Brown Trout Streak Continues, Getting Jiggy With It

I'll keep the post brief again, I am off to a great start in 2012, it's nice to fish again.  Even though I get out about once a week on average these days, which is great considering everything else I have on my plate, I have no complaints with fish like this.  I guess you don't need to fish 200 + days a year to catch nice fish, boy was I wrong when I was younger.  This guy is to date, my largest river brown so far in 2012,  made my day to say the least, and I'll let you all ponder the dimensions.
Here Fishy Fishy

This fish was worth the price of admission, but the one that opened up the jig hook on my streamer prior to this guy would have been even better.  For real, 1/0 Gamakatsu jig 90 hook , bent  open, I should have kept the fly to show you all, but I ended up straightening it out and fishing it some more before losing it later.  Nothing like sticking fish on streamers, probably hands down my favorite way to fish.   Jig style streamers are as I've stated in the past a very overlooked method for trout.  Floating lines, longer heavy leaders and down and dirty, sometimes you never what you'll drum up from the depths.

Fished two rivers today, all with streamers in various sizes and configurations.  I hammered out a pile of smallmouth on tan and yellow Hog Snares today which was cool.  While sticking those bronzebacks, I actually saw thousands of stones, olives and believe it or not a couple of Hendricksons.  In March I know, it's crazy.
Slotted Tungsten Beads, Key Ingredient In Jig Nymphs

Speaking of jigs, I recieved my shipment of materials from Kevin over at Performance Flies  to get cracking on those promised weighted jig nymphs videos  I promised.  Looking like a series of conventional conversions and some different jigs that are just plain fish catchers.  Should have the first video up in the next week or so, but then again, I did promise a couple of fly deals, sorry bout that but I just can't seem to catch up on orders.  I think I may have to change my thought process on that.....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unseasonable Weather, Hungry Trout And Some Preseason Expectations

I'll make this one short, as it is self evident that we are experiencing May/June weather in the middle of March.  Although it may be very pleasant, just what does it mean for trout fishing in our neck of the woods?  Well, in short, the mild winter never saw the fish in our tail water fisheries seeking out winter lies so to speak.  Fish were continually caught all winter long in water that you could find them in during the spring, summer and fall months.  Although this is great for us fisherman, it may be an entirely different ballgame next winter, or may not even be a good thing if this weather pattern continues into the summer.
Solid Holdover Browns

The spike in higher air temperatures has our freestone and tail water fisheries peaking in the mid to high 50's for water temps, and typically, most insect activity (hatches) are habitually triggered by sustained water temperatures.  So what does that mean?   You just might start seeing some of the first major hatches that typically emerge in April and May in the next days or weeks, plain and simple.  Although this sounds like great news, it can also be troubling.  Mother Nature has a way of balancing herself out, either by a radical change in precipitation, weather pattern etc.  Our reservoirs are a little lower than preferred after a virtually precipitation free winter, so unless we get some rain, we may not have a very sustainable cold water bank for the summer months.  In essence, enjoy it while you got it, as it may change soon.  The other thing that can happen is we end up with a spring smorgasbord of hatches all at once.  Good for the trout when it's happening, but high air temps can equate to warmer water early.  Lower reservoirs with insufficient water can result in a low cold water bank which will prevent a prolonged summer fishery.  Enough of the negative speculation, in essence hope for some rain in more seasonable air temps.
Dry Fly Browns, Tons Of Fun

If you've been out at all in the last 6-8 weeks, you've probably experienced some of the best fishing for this time of year that you may have ever had.  The trout have ideal water temps, and their metabolism is cranking, which usually equates to some bent rods for most anglers.  The flip side to this is lower water, which is the opposite of what spring habitually brings.  Although good for the angler, it can be less than desirable for the fish.  Pressured fisheries and low water can equate to stressed trout, so there is some benefit to higher water early in the season.  So basically, enjoy it while you got it like I stated before, all this could change pretty quickly. 
Got A Feeling The Magic Number Might Fall To The Fly In This Guys Mug

With the season essentially kicking off early, I have set some season goals for myself that I plan on sharing with you, chart my progress and hopefully check off the 2012 bucket list.  Here are a few of the plans I have in store;

1.  Fish less on the Farmington, and more elsewhere.
2.  Hopefully eclipse my personal best dry fly caught brown of 24 inches.
3.  Become more and more adept and versatile with the 2 handed rod (well on my way).
4.  Try to eclipse my personal best day time river trout of 27 inches.  (30 would be nice, but I'd take 28)
5.  Get out and fish the saltwater more, and concoct a few new viable striper flies.
6.  Catch a striper in excess of 36 inches on the flats of the Cape.
7.  Get a dozen more of my flies (primarily streamers) in the 2013 Pacific Fly Catalog.
8.  Get that first tying DVD completed by November and up for sale by Christmas (hope so).
9.  Get back into night fishing regularly again.
10.Pen a couple more articles for some magazines.
11.Develop at least 4-5 solid new patterns for the upcoming year.
12.Fish more with my wife (will happen end of July in Montana)
13.Get my oldest her first fly rod caught fish.
14.Spend more time with friends and family..... not really fishing related but a priority.

Plan On Fishing A Lot With This Rig This Year
Hopefully, most of these will come to fruition even though the expectations are higher on some more than others.  I'll keep you all posted periodically here as the season progresses, but for now, back to the vise I got another idea brewing......

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Now You Got Company....

Interesting phrase for the title of a fly fishing blog?  I suppose, but traditionally when you hear these words it could be related to a slew of different scenarios.  The first that comes to mind is when your doorbell rings and the UPS or FedEx delivery man is there on your front steps, holding your new rod you've been eagerly awaiting for like a little kid on Christmas morning.  Or, when you get that unexpected knock on the door and it's one of your family members who just showed up unannounced for dinner.  As you can easily see, depending on how you look at things, having company can be construed as either a positive or negative experience, depending on what the outcome may be.
First Olive Jig Victim

Today, while fishing, alone, without a soul in sight both up and down the river, this particular phrase rang out from behind me, "Now you got company".  Not really something that you're expecting while waste deep in river, but nonetheless, it happened.  It wouldn't have been so bad if the mouth these words came from continued on walking downstream, leaving a wide enough birth between eachother.  Unfortunately that wasn't the case, lets just say about two rod lengths downstream of me, this person jumps in and starts fishing the run.  Rather than create a scene, I simply retorted back, "Not really", and motored on to new water.  Sometimes you just gotta be the bigger person.    Either way, it was the only blemish to an otherwise great day.  Sometimes I guess we fly fisherman are our own worse enemies.
Full Size Shot Of The Same Fish

I'll try not to dwell on the negative, it really was OK though, I had already caught and released some nice fish in that particular riffle so a move wasn't really a bad thing.  Luckily for me, their was a nice stretch of pocketwater about a 1/4 mile downstream that was begging to be fished, so I jumped on the opportunity.
Another Cookie Cutter Brown

On a side note, I have been playing around at the vise with some  Dohiku jig hooks, Polish Quills and Tungsten Beads in the past few days, as I had some free time between orders (I'm buried again mind you) and wanted to replenish some of my jig style nymphs that I currently had left some empty spaces in a few of my fly boxes.  I decided to mess around today with nothing but these style of weighted nymphs as the flows are low, the water is unseasonably above normal temperatures and the trout have been hungry.  This turned out to be a wise choice.
Light Olive Quill Body Jig

The hot color combo today was a gold beaded light olive quill jig for the entire morning. These flies are very easy to tie, sink like a rock as a result of being very streamlined and also have a multitude of color variations depending upon thread color, rib, and quill.   The great thing about the quill bodied flies is you have segmentation built in in the material as a result of the darker banding on one edge of the quill.  Couple that with some different thread colors and wire ribbing and you can make some really neat looking patterns that are just plain fishy.
Olive Quill Body Jig

The other hot fly was a smaller version in standard olive with a silver colored tungsten bead.  I guess that little guy was probably taken as some sort of BWO nymph as there was a pretty good hatch of them in the afternoon.  I would have to bet the nymphs were very active today, hence the success with any olive colored pattern early on.
Another Olive Jig Victim

Later in the day before the fishing dropped completely off, a ginger quilled jig was the ticket and accounted for several rainbows and a handful more browns.  Stay tuned for a tying video on these patterns folks, they are easy and very deadly, I almost forgot about how much I enjoy using these particular style of  flies.
Ginger Quill Jig

As the morning unfolded I managed a healthy number of what appeared to be wild browns, holdover rainbows and a couple holdover browns. The largest landed was a female, with a green elastomer around the left eye that stretched the tape to 20.5 inches.  So the streak continues, and it would have been completely blown out of the water if I managed to land the toad that broke my heart.
The 20.5" Female Holdover, Long And Lean

So here I am, drifting the same olive quill jig and mini olive jig combo through a rather fishy looking piece of water when the line stops dead and I think I've stuck bottom.  I naturally set the hook anyway as habit sets in, and the line doesn't move.  As I start to make my upstream trek to unload this apparent snag, the snag begins to move.  Sulking on the bottom with a couple of moderate head shakes, I get my first glimpse at whats on the other end.
Another Nice Brown, A Jumper To Boot

I've caught a lot of fish at or over that magic 20 inch mark in my life, and typically something in the 2 foot range or larger is (not to sound conceited) what it takes to get the juices flowing these days.  Lets just say that this fish was all of that, maybe even slightly longer.  A couple small runs and some thrashing on the surface and it looks like this tank is going to give up without incident.....  WRONG.    As I reach out to try and get my net under this guy, Walter decides to make a run for it and buries himself so kindly into a logjam across the river and it's game over.   This was one of those instances where 5x and a size 12 nymph weren't going to cut it.  Kinda wish it was a 6 inch streamer and 20 pound maxima but what you gonna do.  At least I know where he's hanging now, so maybe next time it will be Walter zero, Rich one.
One Of Several Bows In The Mix

After a few curse words and retooling of my leader, I got back on track and had a day of it.  I'll let the pictures paint the rest of the picture.  I will say this, the Sage ESN has turned into my favorite nymph stick, and I can't see fishing with anything but this rod right now when I choose to nymph.  Lastly, I guess there were a couple lessons learned today;  sometimes it's better to walk away rather than create a tumultuous situation, and secondly, sometimes fish have a mind of their own........

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick Update, Fly Photos, Cool Project With 2 Handed Trout

I'll keep the post brief, finally caught up momentarily.  I am sure that will change in a day or two but I will take it for the time being.  I managed to spin myself up about 4-5 dozen flies to fill some of the empty spaces I accrued in the last couple of months.  Maybe I will get a fly promo together for you folks for the upcoming hatches....... hmmmmm, sounds like a plan, stay tuned.
Hog Snares, Shucked Up Emergers, And Some Midges

At any rate, here is a small sampling of some of the recent smaller orders I have put together.  I guess you could say I am honestly not caught all the way up, little fib there actually.  I have an extended deadline on a couple of larger jointed streamer orders.   More on that later.
Mixed Bag Of Weighted Nymphs

I thought I would throw a plug back to Dave at Two Handed Trout, as he is going to be doing a season long updated blog in regards to the Shanked Ice Pick.  Dave has a great website centered around fishing with a two handed rod, and if this is something that interests you I highly recommend checking it out.  Dave reached out to me recently in regards to this idea, and I jumped in with both feet.  Should be interesting to follow his ventures.  The idea is to fish the fly for the duration of the season and continually report back with updates on his efforts, should be really cool.  For more on the blog post, check it out HERE.
Rainbow Shanked Ice Pick Featured At 2 Handed Trout

Lastly, I couldn't resist putting this up even though the photo isn't of the best quality, but it most definitely captures the moment.  My oldest daughter Tessa, who is now 4, inquires about tying flies on an almost daily basis with old daddy.  I try to get her and her sister Nora down in my tying area on a regular basis when they ask, as I don't want them to be deprived of anything fishing related you know.  Well, here is a quick shot of Tessa from today enjoying some Q-T with daddy spinning up some creativity.   Good Times!  No hooks used in the production of Tessa's masterpiece (I'll post photos of her work later), she enjoys tying on the shanks, so I have to think she is going to be a two handed fisherwoman at some point, probably steelhead but who knows right?
Quality Time At The Vise

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting My Weekly Fix, March 7, 2012.

Well it looks like my luck has turned for the better and I managed to venture out again today, definitely nice to get back into a routine again.  This time I fished elsewhere, outside of Connecticut and back to my home state.  I'll keep the post brief, as I gotta get back on the vise as I am currently about a half dozen orders behind and spring is gonna be here before you know it.  I gotta get my boxes back up to speed for the upcoming season too.

Winter Stones En-Masse
The mid 50 degree weather had the fish hungry and the winter stoneflies active.  I saw so many of them fluttering on the water today, it was no surprise what the hot fly was going to be, and go figure, the Shimmer Stone struck again.  Although it took some time today to finally settle into a groove, once I did I managed to stuff a handful of nice fish.  Hard to imagine that it is already March, boy does time fly these days.  I was lucky enough to keep the 20 inch streak going sticking this beauty that stretched the tape to exactly that mark.   It is starting to look like I am going to make good on my plans for 2012, hopefully this is only the tip of the iceburg.

Notice The Bug In This Cat's Mug
I am gonna have to tell you folks, you probably won't see me around my local waters that much this year as I am planning on fishing all over New England this season.  Sometimes it's good to branch out hit some old haunts, new ones, takes you out of your comfort zone, and keeps you on your toes.  You can only get better as an angler if you constantly challenge yourself.

Picture Perfect Brown Trout
Got the news today from good friend Mike Schmidt at Anglers Choice Flies that he is officially coming up for a visit this spring/summer to do a relentless sleep deprived suicide trip worth of fishing, "Strolis"  style.  Other than some serious beer drinking, belly laughs, fly idea sharing and of course some long days on the water, my motto of sleep when you're dead will be the focus of our efforts.   I won't let the cat out of the bag as to what our plans are, I'll keep that under wraps till the days arrive, but it will include a mixed bag of fishing locales.
Cookie Cutter Brown
I should have some fly pictures up in the ensuing days as I catch up on some of these flies.  I hope to also have some cool new videos to unleash in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned on that front as well.  Hopefully the streak keeps going next week, guess we will have to wait and see.
Swung Some Streamers Today Too, But No Love In that Department

On a final note, my latest acquisition arrived today.  I like my Sage Tcx 11'9" 7 weight switch rod so much, I ended up ordering the same rod in a 6 weight.  Realizing that the 7 could easily handle stripers in the salt aside from steelhead and salmon, and being a bit overkill for my standard trout foray's, I opted for the 6 as it will easily chuck those jointed streamers I love to fish while also being able to fish nymphs, swing wets and launch dry flies too.  Should be a fun stick to play around with this season, and it seems that I am slowly but surely transitioning into a two handed finatic.  Did I mention that I caught all fish today on a switch rod?  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fly-Fishing, Solitude, New Flies And A Couple Of Milestones.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much a few hours standing in a river can clear a racing mind.  If you've been following the blog lately, you're fully aware that life has been very hectic over here as of late.  Nothing earth shattering, just the typical dialy grind of work, kids and daily obligations.  In a nutshell, the last time I managed to wet a line was somewhere around the 6th of February when I caught that nice brown on the Deerfield.
The Shanked Ice Pick, With Matching Colored Barbless Octopus Hook, Video Forthcoming

So, to finally get out on the water again was a much needed reprieve.  I started out my day with the switch rod and a spin off of my Ice Pick Streamer.  Being such a good pattern, I had to conjure up a converted prototype that would be equally as effective when fished on the swing, yet had a trailing hook built into the design.  I think I found the right blend of both, and the fish seemed to think so too.

From 10 AM till about 1 PM i stuck to my guns and swung away.  The first run I stepped into had a lot of promise, after  a few minutes I had managed 3 good pulls, but no fish to the net.  Figuring this would be a great day for swung flies as a result of my early efforts, I continued to grind it out, but with little if any success.  After about 3 hard hours of swinging, 7 pulls with no fish and a pair of numb feet, I hung up the switch rod, drove down to Rocky River Sweet Shop and got me a nice bread bowl of Beef Barley Soup and half a Roast Beef sandwich.
A Fresh Path Is Always A Good Thing
After warming my feet with the heat on full blast in my truck, and the pure gluttony that ensued, I decided to string up the ESN and go hammer out some riffles with some weighted nymphs.  Sometimes change is a good thing, and today that proved to be the case.  An untouched snowy path greeted me at my post lunch stretch of water, and I was eager to get back in the riffles and take that skunk off.  Knowing that the nymph fishing has been hot, I anticipated a good afternoon, and it didn't disappoint.

After thoroughly picking apart a usually productive run without so much as a bump, I moved on to a nearby ace in the hole.  On the second drift I managed to connect with this nice holdover brown.
Rock Candy Larva Eating Brown
I was fishing some larger nymphs for a change, just to see if my theory that some of the bigger fish would show themselves as the majority of the fish I had taken a few weeks back were on micro nymphs, however most of the fish topped out at about 17-18 inches.  Let's just say this fish was a bit bigger than those fish were, by a couple of inches that is.
Rock Candy Larva, The Hot Fly Of The Day
After thoroughly picking apart this particular run I moved on but not until  I managed a couple more nice brown's, nothing close to the size of the first guy, but pretty and fun to say the least, and once again falling to the Rock Candy Larva as well.  
On A Shimmer Stone, Those Work?
The next spot that I targeted is usually a solid producer, but today unfortunately it wasn't.  A couple of fish were caught, but nothing in the large department.  After netting and releasing this particular fish, I was asked a few questions by a member of the DEEP for an angler survey, been a while since I was asked to participate in one of those.
Shimmer Stone, The Secondary Hot Pattern Of The Day
The snow decided to roll back in, and the temperature began it's downward trek .  At one point I was fishing in a pretty solid downpour of snow, and my daylight was fading even faster than anticipated.  I opted to hit one last spot before I called it a day, and once again, I was glad that I did.  On the 3rd cast , I managed another nice holdover brown almost identical in length as the first bigger guy that I had managed earlier in the afternoon.  
Nice Brown To End The Day On
It was nice to end the day on a positive note, and a pair of browns of this stature made for a memorable day.  By the time I got back to my truck, the cold had settled in and a bite was in the air.  I was actually looking forward to getting home and in the warmth of the house, but I had a pretty good day out there to say the least, and I was virtually alone on the water, which was even better. 
Hot Fly Of The Day
On the fly front, I have been consumed by a couple of larger streamer orders.  I have slowly but surely been making a dent in both of them on a daily basis.  I have been going through Arctic Fox and Schlappen feathers like you read about lately, and I have a slew of staged Hog Snares that are 2/3rds complete, waiting on the business ends to be attached.  When they are complete, I will be sure to put a few photos, but in the meantime here is a shot of some of the staged flies.
A Pile Of Hog Snares Waiting To Be Finished
On a final note, today was my oldest daughter Tessa's 4th birthday.  It really is amazing how fast time flies, two weeks ago Nora turned 2, and we had a party to celebrate their big days over the weekend a couple of weeks back (that's the night my wife and I both got the stomach flu).  
The Birthday Girls Rocking Their Ice Cream Cake
These two girls may give my wife and I a run for our money daily, but I wouldn't trade them for anything.  It seems like just yesterday they were both just born, and to think in a year Tessa will be in Kindergarten and Nora in Preschool.  Time does fly, albeit way too fast, Happy Birthday girls, sometimes I wish I could freeze time........

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