I’ve always had a soft spot for older fly reels. Beyond their obvious utilitarian purpose, they bring a lot more to the dance than that alone. There’s obvious craftsmanship in their machining, a well thought out use of materials and a fine sense of aesthetics. Most of them have taken on a beautiful patina over the course of time and use. Some of them carry the mark of their maker stamped on their inner surfaces as a symbol of pride in their skill as machinists and artisans. In the end they are the perfect complement to a nice cane rod, bringing balance and beauty to the pairing of equipment and an enjoyable day on the water. And yes, they sing a beautiful song when a strong fish runs against the drag. This week’s pic is a new addition to the herd; one I’ve had on my wish list for many years, a 3” Hardy St. George. This one was made in the 1930’s and is stamped on the inside “T.A.G.”, the makers mark of Thomas Armstrong who began working for Hardy Brothers in 1928. I’m looking forward to mounting this one on one of my favorite cane rods next spring when the Hendricksons begin to appear over the water. Till then …….

My journey as a fly tyer has run both long and wide and has encompassed a deep dive into a variety of traditional and contemporary styles and patterns. My normal tying is focused on the subtle intricacies of designing and tying imitative trout flies for those tough, selective fish and tying orders for my customers. There are periods in the year that I often take an abrupt departure from my normal fly tying. Lately my attention has been on the traditional Yorkshire Spiders of Pritt, Edmonds, Lee, Stewart and others. While I am fascinated by their simplicity; their sleek lines and the way they play in the water, I’m even more intrigued by the creativity and thought behind them. I sometimes imagine what it must have like to be a fly tyer in the 1800’s and having a collection of tying materials limited to those you could collect from local hunters, trappers and farmyards, and using these materials to craft imitations of the insects found in your local stream. Imagine tying them without the benefit of a vise, a bobbin or other modern tools. When you look at these flies thru that lens you can begin to truly appreciate them. This week’s pic is TE Pritt’s No. 11 pattern, the March Brown with some of the materials specified in its recipe. In a few weeks I will be offering a collection of these flies I’ve tied in a handmade leather fly wallet. Till then ……

Last night I fell asleep listening to the sound of rainfall on the roof over my bedroom. A week ago, I fell asleep listening to the sound of rain on my tent in the mountains of north-central Pennsylvania. The rain that fell a week ago was just enough to settle the dust on the dirt roads, but not enough to bring the much needed relief that our mountain streams so desperately need. Last night I said a quiet prayer for those little ribbons of water, hoping that the rain was falling there too. Fishing these streams in the autumn is often a spectacle; both in the shades of bright color found in the fall foliage, and in the even brighter tones found in the wild fish that swim in those cold waters. Last week’s trip was different than others in the past; and my time spent camping and exploring those thin blue lines felt more like a funeral for a friend than a fishing trip. Many of those streams were reduced to mere trickles of water and in some cases, stream beds that were completely dry. Some of the roads saw a steady parade of heavy trucks carrying fracking brine, supply water and residual waste from an energy extraction industry I remain highly skeptical and fearful of. I know all too well that nature is a mixture of extremes; from beauty and resilience to harshness and downright cruelty, with or without mankind adding to that struggle for survival. Pictured this week is a stream that is classified as a Class A Wild brook trout stream. Under the current drought conditions, there is barely enough water to keep a crayfish wet, let alone support a healthy population of wild brook or provide the conditions needed for successful spawning season. Say a little prayer for these waters and do a little rain dance for extra measure. Till next week ….

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© 2018 by Henry Ramsay