Spring Creek – Again

I paid a short visit to Spring Creek last evening. After all I was in the area for something else, and figured while nearby, why not? Turns out my friend Bill Shuck, a regular www.flymphforum.com tier, mentioning to me in an e-mail yesterday about the “cold front” putting the trout and bugs and fishing “off,” was right. There wasn’t much happening.

The high temperature for the day was barely sixty-five degrees, and the sun never even poked its head out, not even for a minute. I thought the sulfurs would be hatching gangbusters and trout would be up everywhere, but only in my dreams. I had driven down to State College to attend a visitation session for Gloria Humphreys, the wife of one of Pennsylvania’s celebrated fly fishing authors, Joe Humphreys. They were professional and personal friends. Gloria passed away on May 20th.

So after paying my respects I drove to Spring Creek, found a spot, geared up, and tied on my usual two-dry-fly tandem rig, a Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun and my Floating “Sulfur” Emerger – which as noted in the article and links from my previous post, started its life in 2006 as a Floating Caddis Emerger. Orvis added it to their fly catalog in 2013, and have continued it for this year as well. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A[/

I discovered two years ago that the same pattern, augmented for size and dubbing color, also does a “spot-on” mimic for emerging mayflies. At least that is the conclusion I have drawn, after hooking well over one hundred trout on that fly last season and this season, all while fishing the “sulfur” hatch.

I walked downstream to a slower, deeper section of water and watched for rising fish. Nothing was happening, there were no rises. I gave it all of one minute, which on Spring Creek at this time if year and time of day, if they are rising, I would have seen a dozen or more trout up. So I walked upstream, knowing what my next course of action would be, but for confirmation, I said aloud to myself, “If there are no trout rising, I’m going to fish the riffs and pocket water. No sense of fishing a pool with no rises.” Yes, I do talk to myself, sometimes it is the only way I can get expert advice. 😉

I stepped into this spot:

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line iout, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, started feeding line downstream to a deeper section.

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line out, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, made a cast downstream and started feeding line to a deeper section. A trout rose to the Floating Sulfur Emerger on the first drift, but he missed the fly. I caught one trout in about eight inches of water maybe three feet from shore. When a lot of fishermen are about, they usually scatter the trout from these shallow sections…for a little while at least. Most anglers don’t bother with this water, they are “pool oriented.” Their mistake. The area between the two rocks, not twenty-five feet away, produced two hookups and three additional rises.

Next I worked my way up to the area in the above photo, standing in water about a foot deep, and by this time I had not moved more than fifteen feet from the bank. I blindly cast about to the pockets, seams, and into the riffles, relying on experience as to where might be a good spot for a trout to be. None of this water was more than a foot or so in depth. Right away I caught this fish:

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger.

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger. He hit the fly when it was about eight feet from my rod tip. You can see the front end of the fly in his mouth. I hooked two more right after this one on the same fly, but they wanted no part of having their picture taken, so they rather rudely excused themselves by making my line go limp.

I rose and missed more than a dozen trout in the course of the evening, and it is important here to note; why I chose to fish the shallower water, pockets, seams, and riffs. There were no trout rising in the pools. I did not want to waste my limited time by “looking for rising trout.” The fish in shallower water are generally always more prone to impulsive feeding when something presents itself, even on the surface. These fish are accustomed by now to looking for sulfur duns and spinners, and also Baetis, or BWO’s, so that was my logic behind the choice to fish dry flies in the shallow water. Plus, I could get close to the trout with out spooking them, able to make accurate presentations, short drifts through targeted zones, repetitive if necessary, all while making pretty short casts. Also a factor besides this, there were trees hugging both banks and extended limbs so I had to keep it short. Managing your drift is easier when casting to close range target areas; most of the time I had about six to ten feet of fly line beyond the rod tip. My leader was about eleven or twelve feet long, including the typical George Harvey front-section formula of about six feet of 3x, 4x, and 5x. In this type of water, and in most dry fly scenarios, one does not want the leader to straighten out, but rather remain somewhat coiled and snaked about on the water’s surface in S-curves. This promotes drag-free drifts. George Harvey’s leader designs are from the 1940’s, when gut leaders were still used, and his formulas predate the present “Czech”, “French,” “Euro,” whatever you choose to call it, leader designs, that are being touted these days as “new.” In fact, one of these days, I’ll write a piece on the reality of every single aspect of this “new” method of nymphing – rods, leaders, flies, technique, all being as old as the hills. It’s all hype and marketing.

I saw just a handful of trout rise, and I did not have a great evening on the water, but I had a good evening on the water. Most of the trout that rose took, or tried to take, the Floating Sulfur Emerger, but a number did come up after the dun as well. Another thing I noticed; there were more Baetis in the air than anything else. This is typical – chilly, all-cloudy day, that is what they like. I saw duns on the water and in the air, but perhaps Bill was correct; the cold front had put the trout “off.”

Here is a pic of the first trout to take the sulfur dun:

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun. This fly is a modified design of Vince Marinaro’s Thorax Dun; the poly-wing version was created by Barry Beck. I made further material composition modifications, particularly the use of the Sexi-Super-Dyna-Flexi Floss for the “quill body” abdomen, and I generally use poly yarn for the wings rather than the old “Poly-Fluff” or Hi-Vis” – now called E.P. Fibers he used to use.

Here is an upstream shot of the section I fished:

Section of riffles, pockets, seams 0- shallow, but the trout are here.

Section of Spring Creek riffles, pockets, seams – shallow, but the trout are here. Note the larger exposed and submerged boulders – structure – these create breaks in the stream flow, “seams” where currents of two different speed intersect – creating holding areas for trout, allowing them comfort while having the ease of opportunity to intercept drifting food items. Work these areas properly, either with a nymph or a dry fly, and it’s Game On!

Here is another important point I want to make: In the comment thread from the previous article, Bill Shuck mentioned about how more than once he had been on Spring Creek and spooked the largest trout in the stream just by stepping into the water, because sometimes big trout are near the bank, even in shallow water.” Most of us look for the trout where we expect them to be. Happened to me last night. We all probably spook more trout like this, because while we think we’re pretty good angler / predators, we really don’t pay attention enough of the time. If I had been looking, I would have seen a brown trout about nineteen inches long, up ahead of me, on the right, in just eight inches of water, so close to the bank that the long grass slightly overhung his position. When I was about twelve feet off, of course looking and casting out into the stream, his take-off made a resounding splash, a plume of silt, and a large wake as I watched him scoot off.

Right then, I gave myself a little more “expert” advice; by saying aloud, “Expletive. If I had been looking for that fish, I would have seen him first and been able to make a couple casts.” Here is one more pic of a trout that liked my Sulfur Dun:

Spring Creek 5-29-14 006Enjoyable evening on the water. I learned a few new things, got more affirmation of some of the things I already knew, even entertained myself by singing a little bit while fishing, and had a good time. This is about catching fish though. Don’t let anyone fool you by summing up a poor day or few hours on the water, saying, “It’s just good to get out.” That is, in fact, true. But realistically, how many of those people would continue to fish if they got skunked, again, and again, and again, and again…hardly any of us would go out if we couldn’t hook up now and then.

Hopefully you found a few informative and educational things here and among the other articles on my blog to help you get “tight lines” on future trips.

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Commercial and Production Fly Tying

This is a short post on some of my experience with commercial and production tying.

After tying flies for 25 years, I began a four-year stint of commercial tying for Cathy & Barry Beck at their former shop, Fishing Creek Outfitters, near Benton, Pennsylvania. From autumn of 1989 to 1993 I produced over 3,000 dozen flies; a combination of patterns that were primarily drys, including: Marinaro Style Thorax Duns, Polywing Thorax Duns, Hackle and Synthetic spent-wing spinners, Comparaduns, Tricos, Catskill drys, Wooly Buggers, traditional dry fly patterns, mayfly nymphs, Elk Hair Caddis, Wulffs, bead heads, and more. During this time period I changed my preference from using hackle fibers for dived tails on drys to preferring Microfibetts exclusively. I like them because of their consistent quality and ease of use. Also, after watching Barry Beck demonstrate his technique, I modified and (in my opinion), improved on his figure-eight method of dividing Microfibetts with only the tying thread. Using Microfibetts, I can tie in and divide a three-fiber tail for Tricos and Baetis, or a double split: 2/2 – #18 – #22 Baetis; 3/3 – #14 – #16 PMD’s, Sulphurs, Olives; 4/4 – #10 – #12 Hendrickson, March Brown, Slate Drake; or 5/5 – #10 – #8 Green Drake, Brown Drake, Yellow Drake; in less than ten seconds. Speed of secure attachment to move to the next step is important to me in tying split tail drys.

I have said this for years – the amount of tying I did in the first year of commercial tying was way more than in the previous twenty-five years. I learned so much from the sudden intensity of commercial fly tying. That is when I learned to hold my scissors in my hand while tying. I was still using my original Thompson A vise, but in the first year I wore out the original set of jaws and bought new ones. In 1991 I bought my first Regal vise and am still tying on a Regal.

I still have half the skin of an entire deer hide with most of the hair cut off – all of which went one fly at a time, into the tying of Comparaduns. I also tied commercial orders for other fly shops, including Slate Run Tackle Shop in Slate Run, Pennsylvania, and The Maine Guide Fly Shop in Greenville, Maine.

More than once I went through an entire Metz hen back in one day tying Marinaro style Thorax Duns. More than once I went through a full spool of Monocord in one day tying woolly buggers. Many times, in a single day, all the size #14 hackles from a dry fly cape were pulled off and tied into flies. This experience was of great benefit to my tying ability and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.

The last time I produced a big batch of flies was in the fall of 2009, during a time period where I tied almost 300 dozen flies in about six weeks. No traditional wet flies were tied during this period, but rather I tied a wide range of nymphs and drys in the form of dun and spinner patterns, all for speculative sale. I have been selling some of these flies, but I still have about 175 dozen. I tied 12 dozen #22 and #24 Trico spinners; about 30 dozen Flash-back Pheasant tail nymphs from sizes #12 to #22; about eight dozen Male and Female Hendrickson Comparaduns, another six or so dozen same pattern Polywing Thorax Duns, twenty dozen BWO Thorax Duns from size #14 – for the E. cornuta, to diminutive #22’s for tiny Baetis imitations, and dozens more Sulphurs, Pale Evening Duns, Pale Morning Duns, Light Cahills, Stonefly and Caddis drys, Griffith’s Gnats, Baetis Spinners, and Rusty Spinners. I enjoy tying, and I can’t explain why but it is gratifying to see fly box compartments fill up to the point where you can’t see the bottom.

Here is a link to a forum with my original Hare E. Rooster nymph pattern – http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=64579 This fly is a really good attractor – searching pattern. I devised it using the best characteristics of two of the best nymph patterns ever created; the Gold-ribbed Hare’s Ear and Pheasant Tail Nymphs. I tie it in natural, olive, black, dark brown, and tan.

I have several more original patterns that I would like to present; my Goose Quill Nymph, my XB Larva, and my floating caddis emerger patterns. In the future I plan to expand my traditional wet fly and streamer offerings here with some of these recipes and photos.