The Rats Nest

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rapid River Maine, Here I Come.

Fly store is officially closed for the next week.  I will be leaving next Wednesday for 5 days to one of my favorite locales for some R&R.   No power, no phones, nothing but wilderness, Brook Trout, Landlocked Salmon and some peace of mind, going off the grid so to speak.  It has been 5 years since I last went to camp, and I can honestly say that although it flew by way too fast, it has been far too long since I've been back.  

I managed to spin up a pile of flies for myself this week, which was a nice change of pace.  I'll leave you with some photos of years past, and some of the flies I compiled thus far.  I will be packing all week in between work and tying, heck I may even add some more pictures to the mix.  Until my return, have a good week and happy fishing.
Pocket Water Delight

The View Of Umbagog From Camp

Landlocked Salmon, One of Two Species I'll Be Chasing

Real Northeastern River

Peace And Quiet
Rock Candy Pile
Ice Pick Brigade

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tying Material Update, Snowshoe Rabbit Dilemma, Some Fishing Too.

So, for you fellow fly tyers out there who may be interested, you probably have noticed in the last few months that snowshoe rabbit has become scarce if not non-existent at your local shop.  Apparently, there has been a small epidemic amongst those who are raising the rabbits involving some issues with their coats.  Sounds like some futuristic Frankenstein mad scientist freak show stuff I know, but to all of us who depend on this great material for some of the patterns we tie, it basically means we are in a holding pattern until further notice. 
BWO Shucked Up Emerger, Snowshoe Pattern
So, that being said I bought up as much as I could find so that I could keep pumping out orders, and of course flies for myself.  I hope that this situation gets rectified sooner than later as I know there are many anglers, commercial tyers and the like that use this material extensively.  

On a side note, I snuck out for the day yesterday, and actually got to put the Hyde in the water for the first time this year.   Nothing like a day on the oars on a big river, and one that had been unfloatable a few days prior.  A suicide run to personal favorite was the agenda in hopes of some streamer fishing and head hunting.  The 4:45 alarm  was rough after getting home from work at midnight, but a couple of rounds of strong coffee and I was right as rain.   Like most of my fishing excursions these days, it was a last minute plan that came together the day prior.  Floating a river alone is not really my cup of tea, especially when the water is up and off color as it makes it difficult to fish streamers in all the likely holding areas.  Being able to hit stuff while in motion is key, and when you're alone it just isn't going to happen.  My ace fishing partner Mike was tied up with work, so I needed a back up plan.  My neighbor Zack had mentioned that he was on vacation, but I wasn't sure if it was this week or last so I gave him a call and luckily he was free.
Cookie Cutter Brown

Zack had never fished this particular river before, and I was happy to take him not only for the first time, but also for the first time fishing out of a drift boat.  The weather was very New Englandish,  as we experienced intermittent 25 mph gusts of wind, sideways rain followed by sleet, snow and then the occasional bout of sunshine without wind.  Lucky for us, we managed to find several bugs and some pods of fish that weren't going to let the crazy weather deter their dinner plans.  After Zack managed what he termed a "fluke" brown on a streamer out the gates, the streamer bite pretty much shut off for us.  Aside from one really quality fish that I had on for a short 3 seconds after a lackluster strike, that was it.   
Bird Fur Brown

We opted to keep the nymph sticks in their cases and strictly search for heads and it paid off.  Throughout the day we had some steady surface activity on Apple Caddis, Blue Winged Olives, Hendricksons and Mahoganies.  
Olives, One of Many

The highlight of the day came when I located a nice fish feeding within inches of the bank.  I set Zack up with a cripple hendrickson, he made the cast and boom he was on.   Zack got to feel the burn on this guy as the fish made several runs both to and from the boat before being scooped up in the net.  That fish for me made the trip and it was a pleasure to see Zack get a small taste of what this fishery has to offer.  
A Nice Dry Fly Specimen

We spent the day hooking, landing or losing several nice fish on the surface in all kinds of crazy conditions.  I got schooled on 3 separate occasions by some rather large fish, that were just not having anything to do with being landed.  The most notable one was sipping olives on the shoreline in a very tricky spot.  Always up for the challenge, I just couldn't pass this one up.  Tight to the bank there was a small, and slow channel that was less than a foot wide.  The seam was separated by a large pyramid rock from the main flow of the river, which created a really slow triple conflicting current nightmare, a perfect spot to hold a big guy so to speak.  Zack wasn't quite sure that this fish was as big as I hinted as the rise was very small.   This fish was chowing hard and I knew if I could get even one good presentation to him he would most likely eat.  On the third or fourth attempt I hit it right and he at my size 18 BWO Shucked-Up Emerger.  One giant swirl, a couple of head shakes, an alligator roll exposing the enormity of this brown and then the fly is back in my face.   Only problem, it pulled open  on this guys mouth.   Gotta love big wild browns and what they can do to small flies.  
Busted BWO
We ended our float with a rainbow and a Bald Eagle watching over us from above, it was a nice way to round out the day.  The ride home on the other hand was a harsh reminder that it was back to normal.  Getting stuck in a construction pattern on I-84 for an hour was such a joy.  It's all good though, it won't deter me from taking the drive again soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Customer Spotlight. A Few Kind Words About C-S Flies.

Rainbow Hog Snare, Yummy!

 I'll start things off with a picture from Rob Nicholas of Housatonic Anglers, a good friend and guide who has been hosting trips to Chile for over a decade.  I sent Rob some Custom Hog Snares in Rainbow Trout Colors and he managed this nice 5+ pound brown, that as Rob put it "pummeled" this guy.  Thanks Rob.  I just might be hosting a trip to Chile with Rob in the future, so keep your eyes peeled on that announcement.

I know that I have been fortunate enough to guide several people over the last ten years, as well as pass along many of my flies to probably even more.  I have had numerous positive experiences over that time, and I thank each and every one of you who took the time to say thank you, it truly means a lot.  I thought it would be fitting to include in this blog post a recent testimonial from not only a student who has evolved into quite the fisherman, but from a guy who has become a trusty fly customer and good friend.  Here are a few words from loyal customer and friend JJ.
JJ As Always, Smiling From Ear To Ear...

"Rich, just a few words about my progression as a fly angler since I started in August of 2008. When I first started, my wife would always ask on my return how many times did I fall in the river and how much stuff did I loose.  My answers were generally "a lot" on both.  When I started to utilize your guide services I was only looking to catch a couple of fish and not fall in the river.  Through your tutelage over the last two and a half years, not only do I not fall in as often, but I have become a better than average angler.  Now,  I know where fish hang out during different times of the year, and thanks to you, I fish all year round.   I now know what flies work most of the time,  and I really catch fish.  Also, my progression as a "euro nympher" has really increased my catch ratio.  But despite all the techniques you taught me, your patterns and flies, especially in the sub-surface area have changed the way I fish.   My number one fish catcher is your Rock Candy Larva, followed by the Shimmer Stone, and the newest member the latest Jig nymph. These patterns are so effective that last Sunday in a two hour stretch I brought 25 Browns, Rainbows, and Brook Trout  to my net in addition to breaking a bunch off.  I actually doubled up twice landing in tandem a rainbow and brookie, and then a brown and a brookie!  What a thrill. I can only advise folks who really want to learn how to catch fish to visit your website frequently.  And, If you ever start guiding again, I'll be first in line. Much Thanks for all your patience..  JJ"
One Of JJ's Doubles.  Kissing Cousins As He Termed Them

On another note, May is just around the corner and I just got the word that I will be heading back up to a place I used to make yearly trips to, the Rangeley area of Maine.  The last time I was up there fishing was just about five years ago when my wife Megan was pregnant with our first daughter Tessa.  It seems like forever and a day since I have been up at camp,  and I am truly chomping at the bit to get back up there to chase some square tails and landlocks on one of my favorite watersheds.   In a week or so I will be shutting up the vise for orders for a few so that I can tie up some "bugs" for myself.  I will still accept any and all orders, but the turn around time will be delayed a few days.  
Flats Striper, Not A Giant But Still Fun

The other cool thing about May is I plan on doing some Striper fishing once again this year.  Last season Striper fishing just wasn't in the cards for me, so I guess you could say I have some catching up to do at some of my favorite haunts.  I am really looking forward to wading some flats and fishing some beaches this year for a real change of scenery.  With the current drought and low flows that we are experiencing on most of our watersheds here in the northeast, it's only fitting to change gears a bit.  Plus, it will give me something different to tie aside from all these bugs.  I think I had a nightmare last night about a caddis pupa, a giant green one at that.  Thank god I woke up before he flew off with me in his grille....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bugs, Fish and Some Shenanigans

The fishing has been pretty good from what I hear around here, only problem that I am hearing from most who have been out is the crowds are bad and the low water is getting old.   In all seriousness though, the real circus comes next Saturday when our lovely Nutmeg State has the official Opening Day of the Season.  More often than not, all participants typically play nice together, but with lower flows who knows what will happen.  At any rate, I wish all of you who do head out on that fateful day the best of luck and enjoy the day with friends and family, hopefully taking part in what you love, fishing.
Pocket Base Loaded With Hooks N Things

On a side note, the Fly Deal from earlier this past week has been a resounding success once again.  I wanted to thank all of you who took advantage of the special.   I have been tying overtime as a result, I think I am somewhere around the 35 dozen mark on this special.  Thankfully, I enjoy tying both of the patterns and I will keep this one rolling until further notice.  I may even mix it up in a few weeks, changing the color combos as some of the other caddis present themselves.
Tying Away, In My Cluster Of A Tying Desk

To continue with my promise to keep you posted on customer success stories, here is a great picture from a return customer and good Friend Bob, who recently got back from swinging his way through the Salmon River in Pulaski.  Bob tells me that a Tan BS swinger served him well while he was up there, lets let the picture tell the story.  Thanks for the update Bob.

I managed to get out there today for myself. I even hit a pretty solid spinner fall this evening if you can believe that.  All fish today were taken using dry flies, and boy was it fun.  The fishing was right on up till dark, and boy did the fish feed hard later in the day.  If you went home early today, you missed out.  The hot flies today were dark hendrickson Shucked Up Emergers and Rusty Spinners.  Enjoy the pictures they speak for themselves, now I gotta go print some shipping labels.....
Crippled Hendrickson.

Hendrickson Adult

Hendrickson Nymph Shuck

Solid Holdover Brown

Sitting Where Water Should Be

Some Wild Flowers

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Classified Caddis Pupa & R-F Caddis Pattern Showcase,

So as 2012 is a year of early starts, I figured I would showcase two of my top caddis patterns, patterns I turn to day in and day out when fish are keying in on pupa and adults.  Seeing as how most of our hatches are weeks ahead of time for a normal season, I figured it would be fitting to get a jump on the forthcoming caddis hatches.
Classified Caddis Pupa
The Classified Caddis Pupa as I have noted in the past, was my attempt to replicate the triggers in the late Gary Lafontaines deep sparkle pupa.   The Sparkle Pupa being a fantastic pattern, can sometimes give the average tyer fits, so the thought process was to construct a fly using the fish catching antron fibers in a manner that would be faster to tie but would yield the same result.  I got lucky and hit it out of the park when I came up with this pattern.  This fly takes less than 2 minutes to tie and is super durable.  When the fish are on caddis pupa, this is the fly I turn to. In an attempt to think ahead, as 2012 is shaping up to be the year of early starts, I figured I should showcase a couple of my go-to caddis patterns that I use during the forthcoming caddis hatches.  I could have conceivably added another pattern to the mix, but when the fish are in the riffles eating adults and/or pupa, these two flies are what I tie on.
R-F Caddis

Topside, there are literally hundreds of choices for caddis patterns, the flies fished the most day in and day out are typically spin offs of the Elk Hair Caddis.  Being a great pattern, I wanted something that was without a hackle making the fly ride flush in the film, but have a durable and easily dressed wing.  Enter snowshoe rabbit feet hair, and the R-F Caddis.  Inevitably, if you tie with snowshoe you will have all kinds of hair left over on the feet as we you usually end up cutting all of the center fur out for mayfly wings or emergers, leaving an abundant amount of hair that is a little less than ideal for winging material.  The beauty of this fly is you can use some of those more rigid fibers mixed together with the "fluff" to achieve that tent shaped wing, and it floats like a cork to boot.

So, where am I going with this post?  As you might have realized, I dumped the Fly Deals page in an effort  to simplify the site a bit, and because I haven't been able to offer any deals so to speak on a regular basis.  I will be offering up a fly deal here for a dozen of the two patterns in both tan and bright green for the forthcoming caddis hatches.  Each selection will sell for $18, applicable tax for CT residents, standard shipping, but free shipping for anyone who purchases 2 or more selections.

 In the dozen flies will be 6 classified caddis pupa, and 6 R-F caddis in the aforementioned colors, with a mix of the more prevalent sizes.  If interested in the deal, just drop an email to:, title it Caddis Deal.  In the body of the email state the number of selections you would like, how you would like to pay either  paypal, google checkout or via check, if you're a CT resident or not and then we can take it from there.  This deal will go on until further notice.

Lastly, I have been getting loads of feedback lately from local customers in regards to success they are having with many of the patterns that I have tied for them.  Whether it's via email, text messages or phone calls I have been receiving feedback on a very regular basis.  Some of the feedback has incorporated photos as well, some better than others (LOL).  I figured it would be fitting to include some of these photos and reports here to keep you all updated. 

Farmington Brown On A Hendrickson Shucked up Emerger

Farmington Brown On A Hendrickson Comparadun Emerger

Farmington Brown On A Hendrickson Comparadun Emerger
I will continually add more customer testimonials and photos in the posts to follow, and once again thank you all for your support.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Regal Vise, Customer Reports, Flies And The Season Thus Far

I'll start things off with my latest announcement.  As of now, I will be tying exclusively on a Regal Revolution Vise.  I recieved a telephone call about a week or more ago from Mike McAuliffe from Regal Engineering in regards to trying out their products.  Having met Mike beforehand while tying at the Symposium a few years back, it was like catching up with an old friend.  I won't get into the particulars, but I will say that I am very pleased with my newly acquired vise, and am proud to say that I am officially a member of the Regal Vise Pro Staff.

To kick things off with a step in the right direction, here is my latest tying video utilizing my new vise.  You'll notice a couple of things I changed in the video to try and freshen things up a bit.  I am using a new camera angle while tying as I thought it might be a little more beneficial to see the sequences as one would if they were seated at their own vise at home.  I am looking for feedback on this video in regards to the camera angles etc, so please feel free to comment good, bad or indifferent, no offense will be taken just please keep it civil.  To watch the video click HERE.

On another note, I finally managed to get my fishing buddy in the water.  After a rather hectic winter and the deer hunting season, Mike, aka: Uncle Fudgie as my daughters like to call him, got off his butt and in the water Monday for the first time this year.  Although we had ridiculous conditions (40 mph gusts of wind with whitecaps all day long), we still managed a couple handfuls of respectable fish, even some on dry flies, which actually was a nice change of pace.

So far this spring several of my faithful customers near and far have been sending pictures of fish they've caught on m fylies, which I truly appreciate.   Here is a recent fish on a Hendrickson Shucked Up Emerger, one of several caught by a trusty customer.

 To keep up with the continual theme of order laden posts, here are a few flies  from today's tying session.

One Of Several Weighted Jigs

Mixed Array Of Hendricksons

A Cluster Of Midges

And A Small Selection Of Weighted Nymphs

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Fishing Season, Some Overdue Fly Pictures And More Fun...

Egg Sac Spinner

Every season when March is in the rear view mirror and April is upon us, there are several things I look forward to that remind me longer days and good weather are on the horizon.  March Madness is wrapped up and a National Champion is crowned; Major League Baseball has it's season openers for all ball clubs, and being a Massachusetts transplant, another year of excitement or heartache watching the Red Sox.  What I also long for is warmer weather, blanket hatches with scores of fish rising,  first light streamer excursions, large browns sipping dries, and new watersheds crossed off the bucket list.
Size 24 Tungsten Midges

The unseasonable weather has ignited a bunch of our major hatches early this season, many of our local Free Stone rivers have already had Hendricksons for over a week already, with Olives for close to a month.  It has been a great spring so far for not only numbers but larger fish too, as many hefty fish have been caught through out New England and it sounds like 2012 is already shaping up to be a great season.
BWO Quill Dun

I decided to keep firm on my promise to showcase some of the patterns in my recent fly orders, and as a result of being a little behind the eight ball on keeping up to date on that,  here are a few quick pictures to wet your appetites.

I also opted  Monday to spend a day with my girls rather than hit the river.  A nice hike in the woods followed by some quality time was a little overdue.  It was nice to get out of the house and spend some time in the outdoors.  Now that the weather is getting better and better every day,  it seemed customary to hit the trails and a small pond with some more than friendly inhabitants, lets just say they girls slept good that night.

Lastly, I have been given a golden opportunity once again, and I am very thankful.  Below is a picture of a new vise that I will be trying out and very possibly turning into my everyday vise.  I will have more on this in the weeks to follow so stay tuned, I won't let the cat out of the bag just yet.....

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