IMAGE OF THE WEEK ARCHIVE
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Special Places / Special People............................. February 11, 2013
One of the most special places I've ever had the chance to fish was this little gem in Colorado. The owner of the Platte Ranch invited a few of us to spend a day fishing his water on the Middle Fork of the South Platte near Fairplay, Colorado a few years ago. The fishing here was nothing short of spectacular and we caught fish everywhere you thought a fish might be. The fish were mostly browns with a few rainbows and cutbows mixed in. The owner of the ranch treated us like we were kings for the day with a delicious lunch and an ever more delicious dinner at the end of the day. A lot of elk and mule deer recipes spiced up with hot peppers and cold beer. Thank you Darrell, Cody and Carlo for your hospitality.
Lehigh River Float Trip April 15. 2012
Last week I floated the Lehigh River with one of my favorite fishing buddies. Good guy, great guide and one of the best fisherman I've ever known. Despite spending most of the day casting into a gale, we did get into some really nice fish. There were a lot of Brachycentrus caddis and when the wind took a break they were everywhere and the fish were all over them. a few scattered Quill Gordons were on the water too, but it was a caddis kind of day. All of our fish came on top and here's the best fish of the day, a really pretty brown.
Big Fish / Small World April 23. 2012
I just got back from four days in the Catskills; one of my favorite haunts. This fish was from the West Branch of the Delaware and a crazy story goes with it. Two fish were working tight to the far bank just before dark and I did hook the one that was farthest upstream on my first cast after a careful stalk. Needless to say it was very strong and tore up the pool before breaking me off. The second fish started feeding again 20 minutes later and rose to a Rusty DNA Spinner. After netting most of him (didn't quite fit in the net) I managed to hail an angler that was upstream to shoot a pic for me. After taking a few images we shook hands and he asked my name. I told him my name was Henry, and he asked if I was Henry Ramsay? Hesitatingly I said yes, and believe it or not, the gentleman turned out to be a fly customer who I have never met in person. Another angler came downstream and he too is one of my fly customers! Who would have ever scripted that one? A big thank you to Jack Hess for dropping his rod to shoot this pic, and to Bill Palmer for stopping as well.
Imitation vs. Attractor? May 12. 2012
Everyone that knows me has me pegged as a "Match the Hatch" geek, which is very true. Everyone that really knows me knows that I have a soft spot for a killer attractor pattern; the Ausable Wulff, a super search pattern created by the late Fran Betters. One of my all time favorite search patterns in a dry / dropper rig. The fly tied correctly will be a tannish orange in a dry state, but turn the color of salmon flesh when wet and sadly most shop flies are NOT TIED RIGHT! Blend your own starting with a burnt orange base and add a tiny pinch of pink, red, and tan to the mix. Flies tied with calf tail wings out float flies tied with body hair - another short coming in shop flies. Trust me on this one, a wicked pocket water / riffle pattern, one of the best for the job!
Swimming in the Madison May 20, 2012
Last year I fished the Madison River in Montana for the first time and was I excited to be there? Hell yeah I was. I stood there on the bank shivering with both anticipation and the chill of a typically brisk Montana morning. I stood there stringing the rod and knotting on a fly like a kid at Christmas and the water along the bank looked to be only a foot or so deep. When I stepped in I found that my guesstimate was only half of what it really was and I got enough water in my waders to get pretty soaked. After two hours of fishing and shivering I decided to strip down and let everything dry out, and thought I should capture this moment with my camera. I shot this image to a friend and titled it "Swimming in the Madison", he responded back to me, renaming the image as "Naked Dude Behind the Camera". A lesson reminder here: look before you leap..
The Big Bugs .............. June 5, 2012
One of our eastern bugs seems to evoke more interest and discussion in the hearts of anglers than any other, the mythological, elusive and yes the beautiful and famous Ephemera guttulata; the Eastern Green Drake. The Green Drake is truly a spectacle and fishing it when the big guys come up to feed is one of fly fishing's finer moments. Hitting the drake hatch seems to be a challenge as well, and a year as unpredictable as this has been so far only adds to the elusiveness of getting a chance to fish it. Last week should have been "The Week" to catch the hatch, and indeed I did, but sadly I only saw two drakes emerge on the West Branch of the Delaware, but I did manage to preserve ones image for posterity and for your viewing pleasure. Yeah, they do exist in the real world and yeah I'm jealous of those who did manage to fish the hatch this season. A beautiful female dun who sat still for the camera! If you're interested in a copy of this image shoot me an email.
The Soft Hackled Fly June 17, 2012
One of the cool aspects of the sport of fly fishing is a strong sense of honoring tradition with an equally strong desire to innovate and push new concepts. One of the most recycled fly designs of all time is the "Soft Hackled Fly". First written about well over 140 years ago; Soft Hackles have their roots in Yorkshire England in the writings of W.C. Stewart, Pritt, Theakston, Edmonds and Lee. In America Jim Leisenring brought them back into popularity in his 1941 book "The Art of Tying the Wet Fly", and a third wave beginning in the 1970's by Syl Nemes with his classic "The Soft Hackled Fly". Soft Hackles are the first true emergent insect imitations and use sparsely tied hackles from birds such as snipe, plover, water hen, grouse and partridge which move about freely as the flies are drifted in a very lifelike manner. This year I've tied a number of orders for them; this picture is of an old pattern called the "Snipe and Purple" from one of those orders. Try some, you may be pleasantly surprised!
More Than Just Fishing ........ June 27, 2012
One of the last speeches given by angling legend Ernie Schwiebert talked about the reasons why he fished and the substance of that talk centered around the "beauty" of the sport. He spoke of the beauty of rivers and the settings they flow through, the beauty of a well tied fly and the elegance of a hand made bamboo fly rod, the wildlife we encounter on the stream and the beautiful coloration and markings of a wild trout. Last year I managed to get this image of a pelican as it took off on the Henry's Fork in the Harriman Ranch section of the river. Yeah, we all go to the river for a variety of reasons; the escape from a busy life, for restoration of a tired soul, for the chance to charm a beautiful fish to accept a fly we tied and yes for the beautiful environments that rivers flow through and the wild life found there. Sometimes we go just because it is a beautiful thing .......................
You Never Really Know ........ July 6, 2012
I've been a reader of "Fly Fisherman" Magazine for more years than I care to admit, and has always been a good magazine. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would get an article in there but as an old friend used to say "even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while". A chapter from my book about the Little Yellow Stoneflies is reprinted in the July / August issue. It was the first chapter I wrote and my favorite; which talks about the small yellow stoneflies of Isoperla bilineata, which often trigger good feeding activity from the fish in many of our streams east and west. The pattern to imitate this insect was the first fly I designed and has been pretty good to me over the years. A big thank you to Ross Purnell for giving me a chance to be a part of the magazine.!
Madison River Monster ........ July 10, 2012
The take of a fish is always a difficult thing to read........ small fish can hit a fly like a truck and a big trout can do the same, but at other times be very subtle........ Deceptive would be a better word choice. The telling comes when you lift the rod. In this case the take on a stonefly nymph was slow and subtle, but told a far different story when I tightened up. I can't quote what came out of my mouth here, but I knew immediately I was into a lot more fish than I thought at first. I eventually lifted a very heavy net with most; but certainly not all of a rather large brown trout in it, and knew immediately I was looking at my best trout to date which turned out to be quite true......... a 25 1/2" brown. It's tough to get a really good image when your going it alone, but the best I could do here............. For a sense of scale the rod is a 9' 4 pc. Scott with a Lamson Litespeed #2 Reel.
Crocodiles ........ July 19, 2012
A hard core bass angler might call a big fish a "Hawg" or a "Lunker". An average bait fisherman usually calls anything of legal size a "Keeper" or "Dinner" or a big guy would be called a "Wall Hanger". I've heard fly fisherman refer to a big trout by a number of names....... a "Pig", a "Toad" and on and on. A big brown trout can get pretty gnarly and outright nasty looking with age, and to me the big males look like "Crocodiles" with their teeth, hooked jaws and battle scars. Another image of a big brown from this years trip to the Madison river in Montana. The business end of a 22" male brown that crushed a big stonefly adult pattern like he meant business.
Ranch Boss.................................... July 26, 2012
Another big fish image for your enjoyment; my best fish from the Henry's Fork this year. A very healthy rainbow from the Harriman Ranch water below the Third Channel, and the kind of fish that the Ranch is famous for. This was one of three big fish from a great evening on that section of the river; one of those tight to the bank feeders that make those slow, pushy rises and make your heart move up into your throat. All hell broke loose when I raised the rod, and this one just blew up and nearly ran me into my backing before it was over. Each fish took my Brown Drake DNA Parachute Spinner. A really big thank you to TroutHunter's own Adam Findlay who was fishing downriver and came up to shoot this pic for me. Thanks Adam! Hopefully we do this again next year?
More Big Bugs.................................... August 3, 2012
In the east our annual big bug is the legendary Green Drake. In the mid-west the word "Hex" can only mean the giant mayfly Hexagenia limbata; while in the west the big bug and I mean the really big bug is Pteronarcys californica or the "Salmon Fly". "The Salmon Fly" is the largest of all the stonefly species and a true spectacle of nature to witness. While most of my insect images are shot in very controlled conditions to get the best possible lighting and clarity, this one was shot free form without the benefit of my favorite macro glass or the stability of my tripod. A hand-held shot of a Pteronarcys stonefly shot during this years Montana trip along the Madison river. A cool image none the less. Let me know if are interested in a copy.
Last Casts .................................... August 14, 2012
Another good friend and member of the fly fishing fraternity just passed on to a better river after a long fight with colon cancer. Chris Harvey 1967 - 2012 was too young and will be sadly missed by many of us that knew him well. My thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy to the family left behind. Life is a gift that we enjoy for a time, some like Chris only hold on to it for a short time. There's a deep lesson to be taken to heart and lived out. Enjoy every day with the knowledge that each one is indeed a gift from above. Enjoy the people around you because you never know from one day to the next when you won't get another day with them. Enjoy every day on the water that you can, and fish out every cast......... down to your last one. Rest in peace Chris!
Wood Road .................................... August 22, 2012
There's just so many beautiful places to fish in this world and all of us have our own places that we like to call ours. Our favorites might be something close to home; our "Home Stream" or something in the distance that we think about, dream about or think back on from time to time. Whatever stream, brook, lake or river captures your heart or imagination; enjoy it. This weeks image is near the top of my list of favorites. A big thank you to Dan Barr from Salt Lake City, Utah for introducing me to the Wood Road section of the Henry's Fork. A truly beautiful section of a great river.
Flying Ants.................................... August 29, 2012
One of my favorite bugs to imitate is the lowly ant, and I've always found them to be one of those never leave home without it type patterns. A flying ant swarm is one of those moments on a stream that can be frantic and incredible unless you managed to leave your ants back in the car. Fish never pass up the opportunity to feed on them and often lock in when they are abundant. A cool pic of a flying ant swarm for this weeks post. If you don't have any make sure to tie some up!
The Golden Age of Fly Fishing.................................... September 7, 2012
Years ago when I first got into this game the natural progression as a fly tier was to begin the learning curve tying wet flies, and yes that's where I began my tying career. Funny today how far the sport / art form has progressed in terms of materials and creativity, even during my own life time. Our flies today have been refined to an incredible degree, and I share my own guilt in this (no I don't feel any guilt at all). Once in a while I like turn things back and build some traditional flies, and below is a few I recently tied from the "Golden Age" of fly fishing. There's something really cool about old brook trout patterns and below are two beautiful flies from Ray Bergman's classic book "Trout". Above is the "Fontinalis Fin", and below the "Tomah Joe" which are tied on antique Mustad "Kinsey" blind eye hooks and snelled with Spanish silkworm gut.
Birds of a Feather.................................... September 14, 2012
While I've always been a person who loves nature and spends a lot of time enjoying it, I have to admit this is one bird I've always held in low regard. Why? Probably because they kill trout more than anything else. I shot this image this morning and realized that he and I have a lot in common, more than I care to admit We both came to the stream to fish this morning. We use different methods but very similar approaches. We both came here for the trout; me because my fishing makes me feel more alive, while he came to fish to stay alive. I thought about this and came to the conclusion that while he kills his trout and I choose not to, a heron can teach all of us a thing or two about fishing because he is an expert, he has to be. A heron fishes with stealth, moving slowly into good position, he watches the trout closely and studies them.... something we should do more of. And when it's time to make the move, he does so with purpose and precision. Things that can make us more effective fisherman too.
Bugs of the Fall.................................... September 24, 2012
One of the coolest mayflies we see every year is Isonychia bicolor, more commonly known as the "Slate Drake", "Leadwing Coachman", "White Gloved Howdy" or the "Dun Variant". Whatever name you choose to call them by, they are an important hatch on many of our streams in the east and mid-west. Iso's are a unique hatch in that they have a bivoltine life history, with two broods emerging each year. The first of those occurs in June followed by a second emergence during the fall. Make sure to carry a few imitations in your fly boxes to be ready. Pictured here is a female dun, posing on one of my favorite old reels. Does anybody want to take a stab at what reel it is?
Elusive Bugs .................................... October 2, 2012
One of my photo projects this summer required a number of images of insects; both aquatic and terrestrial, and one of the most difficult to capture was the little green guy below. this project took me all over the place; from Pennsylvania to Montana and Idaho to collect some of the bugs I needed. Desperate men often do desperate things; and I spent hours (a lot of hours) trying to catch an inch worm. It started to turn into a panic situation until a buddy saved me. In the end this guy cost me 10 bucks worth of chocolate ice cream for two of my buddies kids. I would have bought them ice cream either way; but thanks none the less to G3 and his kids; G4 and Sadie for coming through on this one. Yeah, I shot a bunch of images of this bug! Next time anyone needs an inch worm image I'm very ready...............................
Discover Fly Fishing Program October 9, 2012
This past weekend we conducted an introductory program for kids at the Reading Public Museum titled "Discover Fly Fishing" which was really cool! The event was well attended and we had a great time with it. The kids had the opportunity to tie a fly, learn to cast a fly rod and learn about the aquatic organisms that we imitate with the flies that we tie. A big thank you to a number of people; Joel Weber and Wendy Koller of the museum, Tony Gehman, Jake Villwock and Chip Swarner of TCO, and Emily Ramsay.
Morning Glory.................... October 22, 2012
I truly enjoy mornings, why? Every morning holds the promise of a great day. The world is often very quiet and peaceful, and the lighting is soft and at times quite spectacular. A few great reasons to be a spectator at dawn. One of my favorite people I call "G3" met me here on Sunday morning with the hopes of him connecting on a musky with a fly. Muskies seem to have become his purpose as an angler lately. It wasn't to be on this particular morning. That point aside; it was quite a spectacular October morning painted in it's best color of the year, and a good day on the water with a great friend. Next time..........................
Brown Drakes.................... November 05, 2012
This years trip to Idaho and Montana was dual purpose; partly work and partly pleasure. I left Pennsylvania with a list of western insects that I had to photograph, and I spent a lot of time running them down and getting the shots I needed for a photo project. This particular bug was not on my list, but the Brown Drake ( Ephemera simulans ) hatch on the lower ranch water of the Henry's Fork gave me a chance to get a few nice images of female duns anyway. The hatch also gave me one of my most memorable days on that great river. Adam Findlay and I had an incredible evening of fishing on the Third Channel with some of those pig rainbows the Ranch is famous for coming to the net as well as some others that took us to the cleaners, the chance to watch an adult moose swim the river in between us, and the opportunity to fish a spectacular spinner fall of Brown Drakes.
Arts of the Angler Show.................... November 12, 2012
This past weekend was the annual "Arts of the Angler Show" hosted by the Catskill Fly Fishing Museum. The show is held in Danbury, Connecticut and is really a nice way to spend a weekend, and connect with my customers and friends in the fly fishing world. A big thank you to Jim and Erin from the museum, and to all of my friends who stopped by and said hello. I feel like I should list all of you, but certainly don't want to forget anyone. A really nice shot of my booth from the show. I didn't set it all up by myself, so no credit for me in this case! A really nice display and a good time all around!
Memories.................... November 18, 2012
Today was one of those days, the kind where you look backwards over the past year, the memories that were special as well as those that were less than that. For me; like it is for all of us, a mixed bag of high points and lows. I lost some people this year that were very special to me; people I loved, and other people that were very good friends and important parts of my life. I likewise had the chance to fish some beautiful places, some that I really love and some that have become very special. Through all of this I made some really great new friends and made some really great memories, ones that will carry me over a long winter while the stream sleeps and I spend most of my time at my tying desk, dreaming of next spring and a new year. A picture this week from a stream that's given me some really cool memories; the Madison River in Montana.
Brodhead Creek.................... November 27, 2012
This past season I had an opportunity to fish a stream I never thought I would have the opportunity to fish; the beautiful Brodhead Creek in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. This was angling legend Ernest Schweiberts home stream, and he wrote about his love affair with this little gem in many of his stories. It has also been a special stream visited by many people such as Calvin Coolidge, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok and a lengthy list of notable anglers. An image here of a friend, Peter L. fishing the "Lower Punch Bowl" Pool. A huge thank you again to Peter and Jeff for having me as their guests on the famous Henryville Fly Fishers Club water.
Thinking of Hendricksons.................... December 03, 2012
Today is the third of December and thoughts this time of year usually lean toward Christmas and gift shopping. While I should be thinking more about that; my mind is thinking about springtime and one of my favorite hatches, the Hendricksons. This past year was a great one with the hatch lasting much longer than normal due to crazy weather conditions. The hatches provided some great memories along with some great fish and sitting here cranking out Hendrickson imitations for a few customers has me thinking about springtime on the West Branch, knotting on one of these and watching for rises. Till then .......................
.March Browns and Other Clinging Nymphs.................... December 10, 2012
One of my favorite nymph patterns to tie and fish is my "March Brown Clinger" nymph. The group of mayflies that fits the "clinging" nymph profile belong to the Stenacron, MacCaffertium, Epeorus and Rhithrogena genuses, and important species are found all over the world. An important stage of these to imitate is the nymph as it swims to the surface to emerge. The nymphs are well suited to living in fast riffle and pocket water environments, but are poor swimmers who often drift for very long periods before they reach the stream surface to emerge. A deadly pattern to fish as a dropper below an emerger or dun pattern during a hatch. Chapter 8 of my book discusses my technique for tying this cool pattern. Check it out and more importantly, tie some up for this coming season.
Stonefly Nymphs, the other white meat .................... December 17, 2012
As a fly tier, one of the bugs that has always fascinated me are stoneflies, the nymphs in particular. Often large in size they offer a lot of room for creativity and expression. Patterns to imitate these run the gamut of styles from vague impressionistic flies like Pat's Rubberlegs to some highly realistic patterns that are intricate and beautiful. The challenge in my mind was to develop a fly that is relatively easy to tie, yet highly imitative without all of the stiff and static qualities of a realistic pattern. I wanted something chewy that a trout wouldn't reject immediately. This was the final result; a very imitative pattern that has done well for me and my customers. My book discusses this pattern and the techniques to tie it in precise detail. Check it out and be sure to add a few to your fly box.
The DNA Spinner .................... January 02, 2013
My favorite kind of fly fishing is casting to those sipping, flat water risers. Those tough technical situations where the fish make me work the hardest to make that perfect cast, to get a good clean drift, to get it all right. It's a rush when it all comes together and you lift the rod tip and feel something blow up on the other end. Places like the West Branch and the Henry's Fork demand your best efforts or you get your ass kicked. Looking back over the past seasons, my best fish on dry flies on those kinds of streams fell to my DNA Spinner. It's been a great go to fly and is often my first choice when it has to be right. Chapter 2 of "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" talks about the pattern and the correct way to tie it. I tie a number of hatch specific variations, and the Rusty version below is by far my favorite. Tie some up or order some and give them a shot, a great fly!
Cased Caddis Larva .................... January 14, 2013
Caddis Fly species that construct cases have always amazed me. Construction methods are unique and every specie has their own signature style which we can use to narrow down their identifications. The larva pictured here is a member of the Brachycentrus genus and can be instantly recognized by the chimney style casings build from tiny segments of twigs and vegetable matter which are cut to length and fashioned into an intricate square cross sectioned case. Common names for these caddis are "Grannom", "Shad Flies" and "Mother's Day Caddis". This is one of the brightest green colored larva I've ever photographed and was taken on the Henry's Fork last summer. A very cool bug!
Scenic Rivers ................................... January 21, 2013
I've been fortunate to fish in some incredibly beautiful places and probably one of the most dramatic of all of them is the South Platte River in Colorado. The segment that flows through Cheeseman Canyon is breath taking, not only due to the high altitude, but by the scenery itself. It is a river that threads it's way through a rugged canyon filled with giant boulders and is truly an incredible place. A birds eye view image of an old friend working a run in the canyon. We fished there together a few years ago and had a great time exploring many of the rivers out there. He liked it so much he went back there and seems to have gotten lost somewhere in the Colorado Rockies.
Inspirations ........................................ January 28, 2013
When I attend a fly fishing show or check emails from people in my fly fishing world I hear a lot of things. Things about how some one became inspired to learn a new fly pattern or inspired to get back into fly tying or just inspired to shoot me an email. I enjoy hearing those things which are often very cool stories. At the Somerset show this past weekend I met a guy who got an inspiration for a new tattoo, which was based on a mayfly image in my book. I never thought I would hear an inspiration like that one! Very cool indeed...........................
Golden Stoneflies............................. February 04, 2013
Stoneflies are one of the coolest aquatic insects we see on the stream each year. Here in the east we seldom see prolific hatches of the larger species and many of those emerge nocturnally. This past season I had some amazing fishing in Montana during a hatch of Golden Stones. Pictured here is one of those "Golden Stonefly" species. These are represented by several important species within the Acroneuria, Agnetina and Paragnetina genus. The specimen pictured here is an Acroneuria species adult photographed last year on the West Branch of the Delaware in New York. A very brightly marked example and a really cool image.
Gray Drakes............................. February 18, 2013
A really cool mayfly I saw last summer for the first time is the guy pictured here; Siphlonorus occidentalis, more commonly known as the "Gray Drake". If you have never seen one before they are a rather large bug (approximately a size #10) and are an important western specie on many streams. The male spinner pictured here was collected and photographed on the Henry's Fork on the Third Channel pool in the Harriman Ranch. A very impressive insect!
Brown Trout............................. February 25, 2013
Probably my favorite fish of all are the ones we call Brown trout. It seems like each one is unique in it's own way, much in the same manner as snowflakes and fingerprints. Every one seems to have different patterns of spots, differing quantities and varying sizes of spots. They have an uncanny way of matching their surroundings more so than Rainbows or Brookies that often are easier to see in the water. While we can all argue that the bright coloration of a fall season brook trout is something spectacular, a brown to me in it's best spawning color scheme is an incredibly beautiful thing to see. The bright golds, oranges and yellows on the sides of a mature brown, peppered in black and highlighted with a bright crimson andipose fin and tail edges is nothing short of perfection.
A Fly Tying Self Portrait ............................. March 04, 2013
This one could be called "Portrait of a Mad Man", but I guess when I think about it this is really what I am and what I do. I spent this past weekend at a fly show, sharing a table with Paul Weamer and legendary writer Charlie Meck. About three fourths of the way through the show Charlie asked me "Henry do you ever get tired of tying flies?" I thought about it for a minute and said without any hesitation "No, I never do". The fact is I've been a tyer nearly my entire life and actually took up tying before I took up fly fishing. It is something I do nearly every day and when I get to fish I am still filled with wonder like the kid I used to be, that I can create something beautiful with my hands that will mimic something graceful and natural and tempt something as beautiful as a wild trout. It's about magic; and no Charlie, I hope the magic never wears off.
Favorite Flies ............................. March 12, 2013
People often ask me "What is your favorite fly?" It's really a relative question, because there really is no killer one size fits all fly, it's really about the favorite fly for certain situations. I tend to lean toward imitative patterns because I find a lot of satisfaction in creating that fly design that works when fish are working a hatch more than anything else. In cases where trout are rising during a hatch the bug that usually gets knotted on my leader is this pattern; my "Half & Half Emerger". Why? Many trout follow swimming nymphs migrating to the surface to hatch, and at the transitional point of molting from nymph to dun, these insects are the most easy to capture. Fish do not need to work hard to feed by focusing on these hatching insects. I would confidently state that 60% or more of my fly orders are for this pattern! I tie them in a variety of colors and sizes to make them hatch specific. In the end, one of my best designs to date!
The CDC Adult Caddis ............................. March 18, 2013
The first day of spring is only two days away, but looking out my window as I write this one would swear that it was mid-winter with snow falling heavily. Not at all the kind of image that makes one think of fishing, but for me it's always thinking about the flies as I spin them out and dream about nicer weather, hatches and rising fish. I stumbled across an entry in my journal which records a super day on the Little Juniata River during the Grannom hatch. The bug of choice is this simple little beauty which is very simple to tie and quite simply the best caddis pattern I've ever used. Period. Check out chapter 13 of my book which talks about the thought process behind the design as well as the process to tie. I tie these in an array of color variations and catch fish everywhere fish are up feeding on adult caddis. Tie some, or give me a call and have me tie some for you. You won't regret it!
The Buddy System ............................. March 25, 2013
The two bad ass guys in this weeks image are two of my favorite fishing buddies. They are both really great fisherman and more importantly they are great people and great friends. They both have different fishing styles and sometimes I find myself at times having as much fun watching them cover a pool or a rising fish as I do actually fishing. They are both expert casters that can throw a loop that looks like you drew it on paper and yes they stick their fair share of fish. Here's a sweet rainbow from the South Platte River in the Cheeseman Canyon in Colorado.
Thinking of Sulphurs ............................. April 1, 2013
It's the first of April and most of our minds are on things that are currently hatching on the stream like Baetis Olives, Early Black or Brown Stoneflies or Quill Gordons. Maybe we're thinking about the hatches we should see in a few weeks out, but for me right now my thoughts are on Sulphurs and for a really good reason. This Friday evening I will be the guest speaker at the Fly Fisher's Club of Harrisburg's 66th Annual Dinner which will be held at the Radison Convention Center in Camp Hill, Pa. I'm honored to be asked to speak at this engagement and I'm looking forward to giving a presentation about my favorite mayfly hatch, the Sulphurs.
Even Olives Get the Blues ............................. April 8 , 2013
Within the Baetidae family are a number of tiny olive bodied mayflies we like to refer to as "Blue Wing Olives". There are a number of genus within this family including Acentrella, Acerpenna, Baetis, Cloeon and a list of others, most of which are tiny olive bodied mayflies with gray colored wings that are matched by hook sizes #18 to 22. These are often the first hatches we see on many of our streams each season and often the last ones to hatch each year with another brood that emerges in the fall of the year. The specie pictured here is Baetis tricaudatus , a female dun that I photographed this past weekend on the Yellow Breeches Creek in Boiling Springs, Pa. Spring is finally here.....................
Name That Bug ............................. April 15, 2013
I really enjoy chasing down insect hatches and trying to nail down a really tight shot of an insect. I equally enjoy getting a chance to sell some of these images and sharing them with you on this website and on Face Book. I took this image recently and decided rather than posting my typical talk about the image I would have some fun with this one; so this weeks post is for all of my "Bug Geek" friends out there. Let's see who is first on the buzzer. Two clues for you: first, I shot this image last week. Second clue: I captured this bug in eastern Pennsylvania. I need to hear the correct latin name to qualify you as a real bug geek. Nicknames won't get it done. Let me know if you want to buy a vowel........................
Name That Bug, Part Two ............................. April 22, 2013
I had a really good time with this last week, so let's do it again. This one should not be difficult at all for my eastern friends, but the western guys might have to dig a little to pin this one down. No hokie nicknames to qualify as a winner in this weeks "Bug Geek" contest, so in the spirit of accuracy I need the correct latin name, the stage and the sex. One of my favorite bugs on one of my favorite reels. Let's see who out there is really dialed in eh? If you are interested I'll be getting some prints made of this one, and an 8 X 10 print double matted and signed will rock you only $28.00 which includes shipping.
Drifting Back ............................. May 2, 2013
My start in this game began a long time ago; a time when Catskill Style dry flies were the standard. These elegant patterns designed by Preston Jennings, Roy Steenrod, Rube Cross, The Dette and Darbee families, Art Flick and others were so much fun to tie. I caught my first dry fly trout on a Catskill Style Gray Fox many years ago. Watching the dry fly evolve over all these years has been a great experience to watch and to participate in. While our modern patterns are so much of an improvement; the older traditional patterns still hold a special place in my mind. From time to time I get an order for some of them and my mind drifts back to those years. A few from an order of Catskill March Browns. Thanks for stirring the memories Scott!
Henryville Fly Fishers ............................. May 6, 2013
Growing up my favorite writer was and still is Ernest Schweibert. Ernie's home river was the Brodhead in the Poconos of north east Pennsylvania, which is an incredibly beautiful stream with a long history in the tradition of fly fishing. I never though I would be fortunate enough to get to fish it, but just got back from my second visit. This pic is the tailout of the famous "Ledge Pool". I watched a big fish rise here close to the bank a few times and got a refusal rise out of him. After resting him a while and making another stalk he came up and took my fly. I wish I could report landing him, but it didn't work out that way, but it was an honor to get to fish there and to hook up with a big guy, even if it was only briefly. I'll be back.............
Stoneflies, the Other White Meat ............................. May 13, 2013
Everyone that really knows me knows how much I like to tie flies; especially ones that imitate natural insects. Mayflies come in a huge array of colors, sizes and stages and get most of our attention. Caddis flies have finally gotten the recognition they deserve and have inspired many imitative patterns; but the bug that really always captivated my imagination in life is the stonefly, especially the nymphs. Beside the obviously large size and dramatic features, they are big enough to permit a lot of creativite liberty in designing imitations. Chapter 14 of my book talks about imitating them in detail and shows how I tie my favorite nymph patterns. Pictured here is an Agnetina specie stonefly nymph photographed this spring. A very cool insect!
Sulphurs, by Request ............................. May 20, 2013
Last week's image post actually triggered a request for the bug presented here! The Sulphur hatch is unquestionably my favorite of the entire season and it sounds like I'm not alone with that sentiment! Sulphurs are very widely distributed in the east and can often be found on nearly every stream; even those that have compromised water quality. Some of our tail water streams have extended hatches due to colder water temperatures and on every stream trout seem to really enjoy them. Pictured here is an Ephemerella invaria female dun I photographed on the Tulpehocken creek. the Sulphur hatch is comprised of two species; with the larger sized invaria specie hatching first, followed by the slightly smaller Ephemerella dorothea dorothea a little later in the season. I have a really informative presentation about this hatch that I have given at a number of clubs. Give me a shout if you have an interest in seeing this presentation at your club meetings, shop or Trout Unlimited chapter event!
Back in the Game, Back from the Gamelands ............................. June 03, 2013
I know, I know, I know.................. what happened last week? Well here's exactly what happened: a much needed vacation. No work, no fly orders and no website updates. Sorry, but sometimes you need to just fish and that's what happened. I hope this one makes up for it. A cool shot of a female Green Drake Dun I shot last Monday when I would normally be posting my weekly image. This beauty was taken on the Lower Gamelands section on the West Branch of the Delaware River. The drakes were just starting to pop and I wanted to shoot a few pics outside under natural lighting conditions; a tougher than normal shoot due to the nearly constant wind that made it hard to nail a really tight shot, but a few winners. I'll be making some prints if you have an interest in buying one. An incredible mayfly and a much needed break from the action, enjoy ...................
Cranberry Run ............................. June 11, 2013
I spent this past weekend as a guest at the Henryville Fly Fishers Club in northeastern Pennsylvania. Due to the rain that fell on Friday the main stream was running high and really un-fishable. We decided instead to fish this little gem of a stream; Cranberry Run. We had a great morning and caught a ton of fish, hopscotching pools as we worked our way upstream. A really great morning on a beautiful little stream with a good friend. What could be better than that? Thank you Peter for having me as a guest there again!
Big Things, Little Packages ............................ June 18, 2013
I'm always amazed at the variation found in nature, especially the variation found in wild brown trout. From stream to stream there's a wide variety of color intensities, brightness, spot patterns and even spot coloration. As you might imagine this little wild brown was caught in a small stream with a very pale gravel bottom as evidenced by the pale coloration of the fish, which helps it blend into it's surroundings and avoid predators. What this "dink" lacks in size is more than made up for by the richness of color in it's spots and fins; a truly beautiful little fish. What you may not imagine is this fish was caught in southeastern Pennsylvania in a stream just outside of the city of Philadelphia.
On the Road ............................ June 24, 2013
This past weekend I did a presentation and fly tying clinic at Great Feathers fly Shop in Sparks, Maryland. If you are a serious fly fisherman, this is a great full service fly shop that carries all of the cool equipment you will need. If you are a Soft Hackled Fly enthusiast this is THE place to find the flies or all of those essential materials to tie them like Pearsall's Silk, Snipe, Water Hen, Plover, English Grouse, and all of the other ingredients to tie those traditional North Country fly patterns. Nobody does it better than these guys! Check them out at www.greatfeathers.com A big thank you to Mike Watriss who hosted the event and cooked a heck of a nice lunch, but to the guys that participated in the class. Hopefully we'll do it again!
I Like Big Bugs ............................ July 02, 2013
Most of the big bugs are finished for the year unless you are fortunate to visit streams or rivers that see Hexagenia hatches or this years periodic cicada. I should be talking about the little stuff; Trico's, midges and terrestrials; but this is so much cooler. A few weeks ago these guys were hatching on Cranberry Run in the Poconos and it was the first chance I've ever had to photograph one; a rather rare caddis specie Hydatophylax argus, more frequently known as the "Giant Cream Patterned-Wing Sedge". A beautifully colored caddis fly that hits 34 mm in length, or just under 1 3/8" and a very dramatic bug to see!
Good Water + Good People = Good Times ............................ July 08, 2013
My math ability has actually improved with age and I've learned to do far more with numbers since I got out of school. My teachers tried, but this formula was one that I learned early on in life and one I enjoy more as time passes. Jeff G. has been a life long Henryville Fly Fishers member who more than anything else is truly a good man, good friend and really good fly fisherman. Jeff took me and another friend; Peter L. to fish one of his favorite pools on the club on my most recent visit. A pretty brown from the Jeep Pool that rose to one of my "Little Yellow Stoneflies" on an evening where they hatched in profusion and the math equation above proved to be very correct. Thanks Jeff, hopefully we can do this again!
Influences ............................ July 15, 2013
The largest influence in my approach to designing trout flies was Vince Marinaro who authored two remarkable books; "A Modern Dry Fly Code" in 1950 and "In The Ring of The Rise" in 1976. Both books present a thinking man's perspective on how to design dry flies that not only look like mayflies, but more importantly emphasize features and qualities that most of us would describe as visual triggers. Vince probably influenced most of the modern styles of imitative flies we tie and fish than any other writer and was the first writer to challenge the Catskill style dry fly which represented the "Standard" for many years. Pictured here is a Thorax Dun tied by Vince himself which clearly shows his thoughts on emphasizing the upright wings of a mayfly, a hackling method that puts the thorax in direct contact with the film, and forked tails which ensure a correct landing when cast on the water. In the end a great design! Thank you to Jerry Kerstetter for allowing me to photograph the Marinaro flies in his collection.
All About Ants ............................ July 21, 2013
The lowly ant gets a bad wrap as a picnic crasher and all around pest. The trout on the other hand seem to really enjoy them and over the years, imitations of ants have caught a ton of fish for me. A never leave home without it kind of fly. Fly ant swarms happen without real predictability and when they do, a dead stream can come to life in a heartbeat and unless you have a good pattern with you there's a good chance you will only be able to stand there and mutter to yourself. Chapter 16 of "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" has a number of my favorite ant patterns for sunken ants, parachute styles and flying ants. Make sure to have a good assortment of them with you from the big Carpenter ants down to the tiny size #20 and #22's and be prepared. You won't regret it!
Friends ............................ July 29, 2013
Most of my fishing is a solo experience which I enjoy because I call my own shots; where I want to fish and when I want to get on the water, how long I'll stay out, etc. When I'm fishing alone it's usually pretty serious business, but when I get to fish with one of my friends the experience takes on a totally different meaning. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, maybe it's because most of my fishing friends have passed on or moved away, maybe it's because I've learned to appreciate some things in life more than I used to. This guy is very high on my list of favorite people to fish with and although we don't get to fish together very often, each trip is really important to me. Sometimes I just enjoy watching him fish because it's cool to watch a guy with that much skill and other times the fishing is secondary and we just laugh like young boys and give each other shit. More than the fishing that we are passionate about; it's about enjoying something rare and special, it's about friends.............................
Mystery Bugs ............................ August 06, 2013
Ok, it's been a few months since we played this game and at a time of year when the hatches are mostly behind us here in the east a fun diversion from the dog days of summer. A few clues to ponder........ This bug is an aquatic insect whose larva can be an important food source for trout, but is not by any means common or even widely discussed in most fly fishing literature. As an adult insect their importance is completely marginal at best. To keep this one fair and fun I'm not looking for any latin, or an exact specie; a common name will be fine. Let's see who has their bug game dialed in and who earns the official title of "Bug Geek of the Week". Let's see who is first on the buzzer ................................
Round Two............................ August 12, 2013
Last weeks bug was a lot of fun so why not go to the well with another one? Last week's mystery bug was correctly identified as a Fish Fly by Shawn "The River Monk" Britton. Congrats to Shawn. This week we'll do another. For this weeks "Bug Geek of the Week" contest I need the whole thing: specie, sex and stage. No hokie nicknames needed; the correct latin tax only. Here goes.....................................
Close Friends, Closer Calls ............................ August 26, 2013
The people in this weeks pic are my two closest fishing buddies and have been for a while now. Every trip out is a good one and everyone has a take a way that will keep us laughing our asses off for the rest of our lives. The guy on the oars is moving onto his next adventure in life in a distant part of the country, so we took one more trip before he makes his move. I've always wanted to run a boat down the river and he trusted me to take the oars of the ship for a section. Needless to say I didn't listen to any of the coaching and nearly wrecked us running a riffle bend in the river and gave all of us another story we will laugh about when we are old men. We caught small mouths, watched muskies follow flies, laughed like boys and spent a great day on the river celebrating why we are the close friends that we are.
Working on the Work ............................ September 02, 2013
The past month has been a blur of four letter words; not the ones that are offensive, but ones that force a juggle of priorities. Words like "work" and "life" and you get the picture. After taking some time to concentrate on some of those types of things, time to get back to work on a writing project! A pic below shot by my camera ace daughter on assignment and on a stream I'll be covering in the next book project. Very nice work behind the camera kiddo!
Ant Eaters ............................ October 14, 2013
Growing up in Pennsylvania taught me a lot of things about ants, and more importantly about their importance in the diets of trout and their place in our fly boxes. The list of Pennsylvania tyers who developed great patterns over the years is an impressive one; which includes Vincent Marinaro, Bob McCafferty and Ed Sutryn. I learned early on that when trout have a chance to eat an ant they seldom pass it up and when flying ants are swarming you might as well sit back and watch the trout eat if you don't have any patterns in your fly box. The past month has been exciting on the stream and my most productive pattern has been my Parachute Ant tied in Black, Cinnamon and my favorite; the Red-Headed Ant. Tie some up and give them an honest shot. You will be glad you did!
Natives ............................ October 28, 2013
Yesterday found me in the mood to do something different, so a long walk in the woods took me to a special little thread of water, one of those quiet places where you can find these little jewels swimming. Fishing for wild brook trout is a cool experience and this poem captures the essence of it perfectly.
"We followed no trail, just stream sound tangled in rhododendron, to where slow water opened a hole to slip a line in,
and lift as from a well bright shadows of another world........................... " "Speckled Trout", Ted Kooser
Favorites............................ November 04, 2013
The first fly pattern that I can take credit for as being an original design is this one I call the "Little Yellow Stonefly". Most people call the little bugs that this fly imitates "Yellow Sallies". I saw my first hatch of these a long time ago on my first fly fishing trip to north central Pennsylvania, to Kettle Creek in Potter County when I was a 14 year old boy. This fly design came about years later in the 1980's on Little Pine Creek and to this day has given me, my friends and my fly customers a lot of great days on the water and a lot of great memories. When you find yourself tying this winter, be sure to make a dozen of these and be sure to knot one on next season when you see these little bugs in the air. Check out chapter 15 of my book that talks about tying and fishing them. You will not regret the choice.................
Favorites............................ Part II November 11, 2013
After a summer that didn't see as much time on the water as I would have liked, I spent a lot of time the past three months fishing pretty hard on a lot of different streams. A common thread has been the choice of flies that I tie on most of the time, and a common result wherever I've cast a fly. A pic here of my most used fly box this fall. A lot of empty spots in the box, but a lot of good memories of a great fall season ...........................
Favorite Bugs .............................. November 18, 2013
An image this week of my favorite mayfly hatch of the year the "Sulphur". In the east we have two species which are true Sulphurs; Ephemerella invaria (pictured here) and Ephemerella dorothea dorothea. There are also a number of mayflies that look very similar and are often miss-identified by anglers as Sulphurs due to their overall yellow or orange coloration. The Sulphur is important on many of our eastern streams; even on some that have environmental issues, and is important to both fish and fisherman alike at each stage of the lifecycle. There is also a higher than normal number of flies that are crippled or stuck in the shuck during this hatch, often making emerger patterns very important to your success on the stream. there is also a wide variation in coloration from a very pale yellow to orange shades depending on the water chemistry of the streams you fish. May seems so far away, but I'll be prepared when it finally gets here with my box of Sulphur patterns restocked and ready. Till then .........................
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Emergers .............................. November 26, 2013
During a mayfly hatch a unique occurrence takes place when nymphs which have lived hidden lives in the rocks and rubble of the stream bed migrate to the surface in massive numbers. At the surface film there's a time period where they become more vulnerable to predatory trout than at any other previous part of their lifecycle, a time when the make the transition from nymph to adult insect and struggle to free themselves of their nymphal exoskeleton. To a feeding trout that has followed this migration of nymphs to the surface, it presents a unique feeding opportunity and to the fisherman a unique opportunity to match this important "in-between" stage we call the emerger. Pictured here is a my "Half & Half Emerger" in the Sulphur coloration which to date is the best pattern I've used to imitate this stage. The pattern offers a suggestion of a partially hatched insect with attribures of both the nymph and adult stages that sits suspended in the film much like a struggling mayfly as it hatches. A super pattern that my customers order more than any other..................
The Catskills ................ December 2, 2013
One of my favorites places to fish is in the Catskills, and more specifically the West Branch of the Delaware. I love the East Branch and the Main Stem too, and really enjoy the Willowemoc when I want to fish smaller water, but in the end the West Branch steals my heart. A nice chunky brown from my last trip there this year that slammed a Circus Peanut like a truck as it was swinging through the Gentleman's Pool on a crisp October morning. April and Hendricksons seem like such a long time from now, but I'll be ready when it finally comes. Till then ...........................
The Big Drakes ................ December 9, 2013
All of the mayfly hatches we fish each season are a treat to fish, and developing patterns or learning new patterns to match them is something I've always enjoyed. I enjoy all of the hatches, but imitating the big drakes presents a new world of challenges and their size gives us a lot of room to be creative. This weeks image is my solution to imitating the spinner stage of the Green and Brown Drakes and they have been very successful for me, even on fish in some of our most difficult streams like Penns Creek, The East and West Branches of the Delaware and the Henry's Fork. A version of my DNA Spinner that adds a parachute hackle of genetic Coq de Leon and moose hair tails to give the bigger sized flies a better float with some extra surface tension. Pictured here is the Green Drake or "Coffin Fly" pattern. Check out "Matching Major Eastern Hatches" to see how to tie these and give them a try next year!
Thinking About Springtime ................ December 16, 2013
It's pretty hard to think about springtime tonight as I'm writing this; looking out the window at the snow and ice, my hands still cold from being outside and looking at the weather forecast it seems like a distant place. In spite of that I choose to be an optimist most of the time. Winter seems to get a solid grip on the world, and even though it often seems like forever it really isn't. Springtime will happen, and when it does these bugs will start hatching and trout will rise to them and it will have been worth the wait when we wade out into a stream and cast to a good fish. This weeks image is of a male Ephemerella subvaria dun, aka a "Hendrickson." This Hendrickson is from the Manatawny creek in southeast Pennsylvania. Put on an extra layer tonight, lay some materials out on your tying desk and tie a few up and be ready for springtime.......................
The Swimming Isonychia Nymph ................ December 23, 2013
When I was a teenager I often caught nymphs from the stream and put them in a fish tank to watch and try to learn to identify. As simple as all of that sounds it was eye opening and it strongly influenced the way I thought about designing and tying nymphs. Each of the four varieties of mayfly nymphs; the Clingers, Crawlers, Burrowers and Swimmers have something unique about themselves. In the case of the Swimmers, they move about freely and swim rather fast and their profiles are sleek and streamlined. Pictured here is my pattern to imitate the fast swimming nymphs of Isonychia bicolor, also known as the "Slate Drake", "Dun Variant" or "White Gloved Howdy." A very cool nymph and a very effective imitation of them!