Fishin’ Report

Despite the less than favorable weather patterns lately, specifically referring to a general lack of rainfall and low water conditions, I thought I would present some information that might just spark your interest enough to plan a fall fishin’ trip.

Most streams in this part of Pennsylvania are experiencing low water levels, however there are a couple exceptions. The two locations I want to point out are Big Pine Creek in Lycoming County, and Penn’s Creek. Back over Labor Day weekend, there was some heavy thunderstorm activity in the Tioga County and northwestern Lycoming County regions that sent Big Pine Creek’s flow from a little over 100 cfs to more than 1200 cfs. Since then, Pine has been running well above its median daily statistic from data of 94 years. Today, after a spike to 350cfs on October 8th, Pine is flowing (at the Cedar Run gauge) at 209 cfs.

Penn’s Creek at the Penn’s Creek USGS gauge also spiked yesterday to 150 cfs and is presently spot on for its median flow at 89 cfs, with 83 years of data. Water temperatures in both streams are in the mid-fifties.

The fishing report for Penn’s Creek has Slate Drakes hatching most days from about ten AM until 2 PM, and there is also activity of October Caddis, Blue-wing Olives, and Crane Flies. Nymphs of these species would also take fish, along with some attractor drys, terrestrials, and streamers.

Following up on my fishing trip (article posted here on October 4th) to Spring Creek on October 3rd, the lower three miles of Spring Creek also has adequate flows to permit fishing, where you’re not having to worry so much about spooking the trout. There are no Slate Drakes on Spring Creek, but there are sporadic hatches of caddis, tricos, fairly regular but spotty, around mid-day, and #18 BWO’s in late afternoon. The flow at Milesburg spiked at 260 cfs on October 7th, and has leveled off at 139 cfs, right on the median flow.

For more information contact these fly shops:

Penn’s Creek Angler – Bruce Fisher, (570) 922-1053

McConnell’s Country Store and Fly Shop – (570) 753-8241

Slate Run Tackle Shop – (570) 753-8551

There are direct website links to all three fly shops on my links listed on the right. Get out there and wet a line. I’d be going out myself this weekend, but I have plans to work at the cabin with my huntin’ buddies in preparation for deer camp. Tight lines everyone!

PS: Oh, I have to add this, the band Flipside, with whom I sat in on drums a couple weeks ago on Mustang Sally; they are playing this Sunday from 5 – 8 PM at the Trout Run Hotel. It’s an odd time, but in between “games.” I saw the keyboard player / guitarist / band leader at another bar this past Monday. We enjoyed the cheese steak special and a few beers at The Crippled Bear. We already worked it out for me to sit in again on Sunday. Ride, Sally, Ride! I’d have someone video it, but my camera is broken and I have not yet replaced it.

Advertisements

Fishin’ Three, No, Make that Four Days Straight

Fishin’ three four days straight. Not all day, but every evening. It’s tough, but someone has to do it.

When I first wrote this post, I thought I had it right. Fishing’ three days straight. Then I remembered yesterday that as soon as I got home from the Pennsylvania Fly Fishing Museum Heritage Day Event last Saturday, I was all hyped up and had to have a quick “fish fix.” So over the hill I went to Lycoming Creek. Jim was fishing on Penn’s Creek, so I went alone. I took 9 – 1 0 trout last Saturday evening. Now, continuing with my original post:

It was funny, yesterday afternoon about 4:00 PM, I was outside exercising Abigail, my Cocker Spaniel, while taking down laundry from the clothesline. I noticed that my neighbor and sometime fishing partner, Jim Latini, was in his yard. About 160 yards distant. Nevertheless, I hollered, “Hey!”

“What?” Jim replied.

“Are we fishin’ tonight?” I asked.

“Sure,” Jim answered.

“I was thinkin’, since it’s been cloudy all day that we should go earlier than seven o’clock.” Most of the neighbors within a half-mile could probably hear our voices, but we don’t have that many close neighbors.

“OK,” Jim agreed. “What time?” He asked.

“How about I pick you up at six?” I queried.

“Alright,” Jim answered back.

The evening fishing was on my heritage stream, Lycoming Creek, two nights in a row. Last Saturday I had gotten an e-mail from another friend, Mike, who lives below Trout Run, right on the banks of Lycoming Creek. This friend had taken two twenty-inch browns last Friday evening, not sure on what stream, but both fish were hooked on flies that had been part of his annual spring fly order from me; one on my Floating Caddis Emerger pattern, and the other on a Cornuta BWO Para-emerger. In Mike’s message, he noted, “Slate Drakes are the gift that keeps on giving on Lycoming Creek.” Indeed. I replied to him that since June 10th, my six trips to Lycoming Creek had been Slate Drake fishing exclusively except for a few trout taken on my Floating Inchworm pattern on June 14th.

It was overcast all day yesterday, and cloudy half the day today. I checked the flow rates on Big Pine Creek, the water temperatures are in the 60’s there, current flow at the Cedar Run USGS gauge is about 434 cfs, and we’re supposed to get a couple days with temps in the 90’s. That could warm the water in Big Pine Creek into the upper 70’s, putting an end to the practical trout fishing there for the summer. But, one never can predict the weather…

I just phoned Jim and explained to him that my thought of giving Big Pine Creek a shot this evening might be a good idea. He was in agreement, so I’ll be picking him up about 5:30 PM this evening. I still have a whole series of photos and a fishing report to post here from my best ever day on Big Pine Creek of May 17th, and the last two evenings on nearby Lycoming Creek. And two or three trips to Spring Creek.

19 inch Big Pine Creek brown, one of two large browns taken on May 17th on my Extended Body Slate Drake Thorax Dun pattern. The possibility of hooking into trout like this is why Jim and I decided to head to Big Pine Creek this evening. It’s a longer drive than going over the hill to Lycoming Creek, but sometimes you just gotta give in to the lure of more exotic fishing than your home waters.

Big Pine Creek Stream / Fishing Report

This is from the Slate Run Tackle Shop website, Stream Conditions page:

06-05-12:  Pine is in great condition for this time of year. It has cleared over the past two days to an olive and the temperature remains in the upper 50’s. We still have Slate Drakes, BWO’s, Sulphurs, and some Brown Caddis. Trout are still active on the surface, and providing very good, but challenging fly fishing to some fine trout. The long range weather forecast calls for showers, and cool temperatures for the next week, so you should be fishing!

If you visit the Pine Creek Valley, be sure to stop in for a great deli sandwich on home-made bread at The Slate Run Tackle Shop / Wolfe’s Store.

The last time I was fishing on Big Pine Creek was Sunday May 20th. A tough day fishing-wise. A beautiful day otherwise. I had the best day of my life there on May 17th. That’s another blog post. But on this day, I was expecting to do very well. Wrong. Spent Brown Drake Spinners were on the water, more prevalent than the other 13 different bugs flying about, and I didn’t have any. I had generously given away my last few Slate Drake Spinners to my friends that I’d been fishing with on the previous Thursday trip. They were fishing Friday and Saturday while I was going to the cabin to cut firewood. So I didn’t need any Slate Drake Spinners. Or so I thought. A Slate Drake Spinner might have risen a few trout that were eating those big Brown’s, because being an extended-body size eight, they were a little smaller than the Brown Drakes, but they might have done the trick. But I just about threw my arm off, casting, changing flies, casting, changing flies, casting.

Here are some photos of the day:

My favorite section of PA Rt. 414. That’s right – this is a state highway, and even though this section was replaced in the summer of 2011, parts of it are still too narrow for two cars to pass at the same time. Nice! It’s not the interstate. And that’s another good thing. Off to the left you can see the creek, and the drop-off.

This is the drop-off. About 400 feet. You don’t want your car to go over the edge here; there isn’t much to stop it until you land on the old railroad now walking-hiking-biking trail near the bottom. Part of the trail is visible to the left of center right of the creek. That’s why the State Road Crews can’t make this a two-lane road. It’s practically built into the side of a cliff. A spectacular view of the creek, and the valley both ways, upstream and down.

Manor Hotel across Big Pine Creek from the rear of the Slate Run Tackle Shop. Note the large log pile. And the smoker behind the building. The small green structure with the black roof. Yup. That’s right. Bar-b-Que! They smoke their own. Good place to eat and drink. The original Manor Hotel burned to the ground in a spectacular fire in May of 2004. The stream Slate Run is right behind the Hotel and the log pile.

Pine Creek Valley at Slate Run, behind the Fly Shop, looking upstream. I just happened to catch the turkey vulture just above the crest of the ridge.

March Brown dun. Cool night and heavy dew. Who ever owned this truck had parked it there overnight, which was convenient for these photos. This fellow and the spinner in the next photos were my only companions as I suited up and rigged my rod.

March Brown / Gray Fox Spinner. There was also a Brown Drake Spinner there too, but I made the mistake of trying to reposition it for a better photo, and it flew off.

Nice Pine Creek rainbow, close to 17″ that fell to a 3x long #8 Ephemera nymph, swung just under the surface. This pattern could pass for either a Green or Brown Drake. This solitary fish was the result of 2-1/2 hours fruitless casting to rising trout feeding on Brown Drake Spinners. As noted above, I didn’t have any. But I gave it the old college try and threw enough different patterns to open a fly shop with. See where the fish splashed a drop of water on my lens.

On the way back to the car, I came upon this wild iris in bloom.

In the afternoon, I went to the lower end of the Delayed Harvest Section, first, to have lunch at the picnic tables. I had homemade potato salad, a turkey sandwich, and some corn ships. Oh, and an ice-cold Yuengling. Secondly, I wanted to nymph fish the riffles at the head of the long pool. I hooked a few fish there using a two-fly nymph rig, but didn’t land any. After fishing I sat at the tables having another beer and an agent from DCNR, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources – Forestry Department, drove in and stopped. He got out of his vehicle and came over to chat. I found it interesting that a forester was carrying a sidearm. He was actually a warden, but not for the Fish Commission, or Game Commission. In Pennsylvania, we have two separate departments for that. We are the only state in the Union to maintain two separate Fish and Game Agencies.

The annual toad mating was in full swing. Hundreds of toads, along the waters edge, in the water, and even floating downstream, some clinging together in the embrace of their instinct, bobbing along in oblivious delight. I could have gotten fifteen toads together in one shot, You had to be careful not to step on them, there were so many. Their mating calls were incessant.

The mating of the toads. I did see one female with five males, all clinging to her. While perhaps only one was actually giving her the business, I guess. I was going to take a photo of that but it was actually kind of revolting.

Late afternoon light on the Delayed Harvest Section below the bridge at Slate Run. I did very well here on the 17th, but this particular evening there was no major hatch activity.

Before I got into position to take this photograph, I spent an hour and a half parked in the shade at the Hotel Manor taking a nap. When I started fishing I was casting an extended body Slate Drake Thorax Dun Pattern. I hooked one large trout and lost him. I rose a few more and missed them. Or they missed me.

You can see the width of the stream here. I was using a 9-foot 6-weight rod with a 7-weight forward floating line. I like the heavier rod for the big water. It give extra advantages when the wind gusts up. Plus if I’m working a rising trout at 50- 60 feet away, I can cast above the rise, make a ten foot drift, pick it up, one back cast, and repeat. Very efficient to cover the trout. I sometimes fish like this with my left hand on my hip. Making the same cast over and over again, because I’m not stripping in line which then has to be reset to readjust the distance to the target. I finally wandered back to the bank and sat on a rock to rest for a while. As I did, this Slate Drake Dun fluttered by so I caught him / her. She, as I decided to call her, posed quite admirably on my knee:

Slate Drake Dun. This is a heavy hatch on Big Pine Creek. One that lasts, too. These flies will also hatch mid-stream. They do not all migrate to the shallows and edges to emerge. Note the lighter colored forelegs; this is why one Slate Drake pattern is called the White-Gloved Howdy, as if it’s extending for a handshake.

A friend who knew I was going to be fishing the area came by to join me. That wasn’t definite, especially with this particular friend, because you never know what he’ll get in to. I was kind of thinking of leaving before he arrived, but when a friend comes to fish with you, I did the right thing and stayed longer. He fished soft-hackles, I continued to cast my Slate Drake pattern, but neither of us rose a fish. I finally gave in to desperation, took off the dry tied on a  a #8 black beadhead Wooly Bugger and hooked this 18″ brown in less than five minutes.

18″ brown trout and #8 black bead-head Wooly Bugger. Sometimes desperation is a good thing.

Not too long after I released this fish, maybe twenty minutes, I called it a night. My precious, mallard wing-eating puppy dog, Abigail, had been at the cabin all day and I figured I’d better start back before darkness set in so I could let her out. I had a brisk quarter-mile walk to my car, put the rod in the car, took off my vest and waders, and hopped in the car. I had the wonderful drive through that beautiful valley ahead of me. Sunday evening. Fifteen miles to Morris. Leaving Slate Run, past Cedar Run, through Blackwell. Fifteen miles of driving without passing a solitary vehicle in either direction. That’s solitude for you. And by the way, no cell service either. I can’t wait to get back over there since the stream conditions and fishing are so — perfect.

On Monday morning, I sat at my vise and developed a perfect, two-tone, yellow on bottom, brown on top, foam extended body, three tails for a Brown Drake Spinner. So far, it’s just a body, a prototype. ready for a size #12 Tiemco 2488 hook. I need to finish a few flies. It will be suitable for duns and spinners both. But one thing is sure; with this new Brown Drake weapon, the trout will never do that to me again.

When the Fisherman is Away

There’s an old saying that I’ve heard folks say ever since I was a kid. Here it is: “When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” My version of this regarding a recent experience goes like this: “When the fisherman is away, the dog will play.” At least that’s how it sometimes goes.

I have a number of fly tying and dog stories that are mine or those of friends, stashed into a project I started three years ago. This project is the writing of  short humorous stories, accounts, and tales of various fishing and hunting experiences that I’ve had over lo, these many years. When the idea started I thought I’d have about thirty topics, but the list has swelled to nearly ninety at present. Seven chapters are finished. My plan is to publish these stories in a two or three volume set. But today, I need to write something; I am so far behind in my blog posts.

Since late April I’ve fished a number of times. The seven trips I have made to Spring Creek have thus far resulted in me hooking over 160 trout, a pretty good per-trip average of twenty-some fish. Two of them were days when I hooked close to forty. May 17th, while fishing nearby Big Pine Creek with two friends, I had the best day I’ve ever had there. I netted fifteen nice rainbows, all save one from nymphing heavy water riffles with four split-shot and a two-fly rig, five to eight feet under the indicator. I haven’t done that in a number of years, and it was refreshing and exhilarating to find out how much I love fishing like that. Hey, they weren’t rising, and a “Bugger” produced only one trout, so the tactic of nymphing is generally what works best under these conditions. I capped the day off with two big browns in the evening on a dry; a Slate Drake Extended Body Dun pattern of my own design. This pattern and several other Slate Drakes will soon be available for sale directly from me. You can post a comment here, which will give me your e-mail address, and from there I can contact you about placing an order.

Over Memorial Day weekend after my May 25th class at L. L. Bean, I fished in Maine with my brother, Larry, and my niece, Emily, for stripers, successfully. I have photos of all these excursions that I’d like to post. So far it’s been a good season. I’d love to fish more, but I am still backed up with fly tying orders, and then there’s the yard work both at home and the cabin.

On the earlier mentioned May 17th trip, I departed the house around 8:30 AM to meet my New Jersey friends at McConnell’s Country Store and Fly Shop in Waterville. http://www.mcconnellscountrystore.com/

Our friend Dave Rothrock was working in the shop and we chatted with him a bit, ordered sandwiches from the deli for lunch, and headed up to the Delayed Harvest Area below Slate Run. This post is about what happened when I returned home. The Pine Creek fishing story will be posted separately. For now I am writing about Abigail, my ten-year old Cocker Spaniel. She was a surprise gift from my wife Lou Anne, on my 50th birthday in 2002. On May 17th, she was “the dog that played while the fisherman was away.”

Abigail – companion, bird dog, comic actor, well-disciplined, mild-mannered, generally well-behaved dog. I love her more than any of the four dogs I owned. She’s just as cute as she can be.

My day of fishing on May 17th started out with me intending to stop and head home mid-afternoon to take care of a few things, one of which was mowing the lawn. Another was to receive and deposit in the bank a check that I had been expecting. I decided to stay and fish. Excellent choice. The check could wait (turned out it did not arrive anyway), and the mowing was no worse the next day. Abigail had the house to herself for over twelve-plus hours that I was away. She’s normally out several times a day, but when Lou Anne was living and worked full time, and if I traveled or guided, Abigail was often in the house for up to eleven hours. She was well-housebroken and there was never an incident, but we had learned to keep the trash containers out of her reach. She loved to get after facial tissue and especially, used napkins that might have a trace of food or other “intersting” aroma embedded in them. On occasion she would pull twenty or thirty feet of toilet paper off the roll. Otherwise, she’s always been a great pet; gentle, sweet, playful, great with my grandsons, and very good afield hunting grouse and woodcock.

A handful of times over the years she got into my fly tying stuff, though never causing a major catastrophe. Once she got hold of a 1/2 ounce bundle of schlappen, and even though Lou Anne was in the room with her at the time, she was occupied on the computer. When I walked in after the bundle was “separated” I asked Lou Anne why she didn’t stop her. She of course thought that Abigail was simply playing with one of her chew toys. Another time recently I heard Abigail chewing on something as I sat tying flies. For about minute I heard but did not pay attention to what she was doing, again, thinking she had her Nylabone. When I looked down, Abigail was right beside me on the floor, calmly tearing the nails off a jungle cock cape. I was instantly horrrified. She doesn’t eat the feathers, she just wants the skin. It’s the bird dog equivalent of beef jerky. I of course intervened to save the cape, and I now regret that my immediate dismay prevented me from the presence of mind to take a macro photo of her head, because she had about a dozen jungle cock nails clinging to her lips. That would have actually been very funny – in hindsight.

Abigail sleeps in bed with me, tucked up against my torso because she’s always been a lover and craves affection. When I returned home from fishing all day about 9:30 PM, I was up for only about fifteen minutes. I was pretty exhausted after fishing most of the day, being on my feet and wading the heavy riffs for a good nine hours. At 4:00 AM I was awakened by the sounds of Abigail retching and, well, without further details, she coughed up something. I was in REM sleep, and this was not welcomed. Not at all. I got out of bed, turned on the light, squinting in a half-daze at this slimy, four-inch long slug of broken feathers and quill stems on the comforter. Curious, because normally if she was into my fly tying stuff, I would see it right away. I knew she had gotten into some feathers, but there had been no evidence that she had disturbed anything. I cleaned it up with paper towels and we both went back to sleep.

It was not until I had my coffee the next morning and had been up for a couple hours when I located the scene of the crime on my living room floor, carefully hidden from view behind the coffee table.

See, Abigail is a good dog – disciplined to come, sit, stay, and she even posed for this mug shot. Since she is the only animal residing at my house, she was guilty as charged, the result of circumstantial evidence. This is the remains of a packaged pair of mallard wing quills. Feathers scattered about. What was gone without a trace were the wing bones that held any remaining sinew of dried flesh, tendons, and of course, that disgusting flavorful goodness that dogs love. My first inclination was to gather everything up and trash it, but when I started to pick the feathers up, I noticed that she had not really chewed most of them and they were still useable.

This set of wings was bought by me at The Bear’s Den in Taunton, Massachusetts, on February 25th when I taught a class there. I demonstrated to the class how to select, cut, and remove the individual right and left primary wing feathers to pair them up for the wet flies we were tying, so all the prime quills had been removed. Probably 80% of these feathers were salvageable.

Sorted mallard wing feathers, courtesy of Abigail, my Cocker Spaniel. At upper left are the gray, white, and black-tipped coverts used to tie wings on the 19th Century Orvis Bass fly, the Cheney. There are gray coverts for spoon wings on the Henshall and Mather. On the right are the long-barbed center quills that can be married easily with goose shoulder for married wing flies, and a few pairs of slate wing quills. And of course, a nice lot of practically unscathed dark blue, white-tipped quills for the McGinty, Good Evening, or the tips for the paired, whole-feather wing on the Hummingbird.

Abigail actually did me a favor, and the only downside of her behavior was a little tummy ache.

Today is June 3rd. Friday was overcast all day. Yesterday the sun poked out for less than a couple hours all day. Today it’s foggy and cloudy, and the sun is struggling desperately to gain a foothold on this summer day. All the while as I was typing this post, my fingers got cold. There’s a chill in the house with the outdoor temperature in the upper 50’s overnight, and it’s kind of damp. I can’t believe I just built a fire in the wood stove… but it is already providing a very welcome feeling of warmth and comfort.

More good news: The cooler weather and recent rains have kept Big Pine Creek cold and very fishable. I am definitely going to get over there and fish this coming week. There are still Slate Drakes, caddis, and olives hatching.

March Brown Spinners

Last Thursday I went up Big Pine Creek, following PA Rt. 44 into the village of Waterville, located at the confluence of Big and Little Pine Creeks in Lycoming County. The shop is 22 miles from my house, all on back roads. But it’s a nice drive through beautiful country; I take PA Rt. 973 West from Quiggleville through Salladasburg to get to Rt. 44. I was on my way fishing, and I wanted to stop in McConnell’s Country Store & Fly Shop to get a few tying materials. Here is a link to their web site:

http://www.mcconnellscountrystore.com/

I was surprised since it was  Thursday that my close friend Dave Rothrock, of Jersey Shore, was working in the fly shop. He normally works weekends. Dave and I chatted and caught up a little bit on things, but regarding the fishing, he said the shop had been completely cleaned out of March Brown fly patterns of every sort. This was due to the good fishing conditions on Big and Little Pine Creeks, in large part due to the warm winter, lack of snow pack, and stable stream flows. Good fishing created higher than normal demand for flies, consequently the shop was sold out. I haven’t tied commercially for quite a few years, but I figured I would tie up some March Brown Spinners for the shop to help them out, even though they didn’t order them, I reasoned they would be happy to get some. And I could use a little extra cash, can’t we all? 😉 So on Saturday afternoon, I tied up three dozen March Brown Spinners in size #10. Below is a group shot of my work:

March Brown Spinners, size #10.

After I did the first dozen, I thought for the heck of it, I wanted to see how my timing was. If I still “got it” for production tying. So I clocked myself, start to finish, one dozen. When I took the last fly from the vise, I hit my stopwatch and the timer read: thirty-nine minutes, twenty-eight seconds. That’s three minutes fifteen seconds per fly. I was kind of pleased with that, but I did mess with the tail for over a minute on the first fly right off the bat. The first fly was four minutes eighteen seconds…dismal for a commercial tying time.

I once had a visiting friend from England, who did not tie flies, but was curious about it, having never seen it done. He wanted to watch me one day. He sat there and timed me, commenting each time I finished a fly. I remember I was tying #14 Sulphur Spinners, my best time on those (with split tail) was two minutes, fifteen seconds. But I plodded on after my four-and-a-quarter minute March Brown Spinner. I did have the wing material prepped ahead of time. But that would really only add about two additional minutes, still keeping the average time -per-fly at about 3-1/2 minutes each.

Here is a macro of a single fly:

March Brown Spinner, size #10. The rabbit dubbed thorax actually suggests the legs.

March Brown Spinner

The ingredients are listed in order of tying procedure.

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size #10. This hook is a Dia-Riki 300.

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster, No. 47 Tobacco Brown. I’m going to start listing the Danville Chenille Company thread color numbers from their website for clarification with my fly patterns, after a recent forum discussion of the correct color of orange floss for Gray Ghost bodies.

Wing: Clear Hi-Vis or Enrico’s Sea Fibers (both are the same product, different name). This comes in a large hank or bundle, and it must be sorted – separated from the main bundle; and sized according to fly size – a bit tricky but not difficult once one does it a few times. Experience is a good teacher.

Tail: Two fibers of moose body hair. Moose body hair is very strong and durable.

Body – Abdomen: Brown Flexi-Floss, * wound over tying thread base.

Body – Thorax: Rusty brown rabbit dubbing.

Head: Tying thread, cemented.

* The footnote for the Flexi-floss – well, this is confusing. Like the Hi-Vis and Sea Fibers, fly tying material companies market the same product and call it by different names. I guess they have to do that. It is confusing, even to experienced fly tiers, to say the least.

Independently of other fly tiers, I began years ago using Flexi-floss for mayfly bodies, specifically for dry fly bodies. I made that decision because I discovered that Flexi-floss floats. Now, Flexi-floss, Sexi-Floss, Super-floss, Dyna-Floss, Floss-Flex, and I don’t know what else it is called, but this is a DuPont product. All the same. I googled “Flexi-Floss” and found a Fly Fisherman Magazine article by Mike Hogue, owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying Materials in Ithaca, New York. Mike would be a good material source to check out. http://www.eflytyer.com/

Mike’s article was about “The Flexi-Floss Dun.” I don’t get the photos on my computer for some reason, and Mike’s article of unknown date, was nevertheless informative. He did however lump Wapsi’s Span-Flex into the same group with Flexi-Floss, associating it as the same material. Span-Flex is not the same as Flexi-Floss, it is different. Span-Flex is a latex product. It has a dull, matte finish. It comes in different sizes, not diameters as the article stated because it is not round, but rather is rectangular or square depending on the size.  Span Flex comes in three or four sizes. The Flexi-Floss is also of a squarish shape, but more oval, not cut flat like Span-Flex. Both products are very stretchy. Span-Flex, however, will eventually rot. So it is not a good material for a framed fly. I have some Latex Caddis Larva in my fly box, made from Span-flex, that are at least five years old, and the bodies came apart. So what, you say? The Latex Caddis Larva is a pattern I got from Rick Whorwood in Ontario back in the mid-90’s before Span-flex came on the market. Back then we used dental gum bands that your kids put on their braces. One round gum band would make three size #18 flies, but the material had to be wound with hackle pliers. Span-flex cured that difficulty. The Latex Caddis Larva is a great fly by the way, one I would have on a short list of nymph patterns for anywhere in the country, due to its imitative effectiveness of the net-spinning Hydropsyche caddis larva.

I often used a #18 Latex Caddis Larva on Spring Creek during my live, stream-side instructional nymph fishing demos, more than once resulting in hookups of six, eight, or more trout, prompting immediate and keen interest in the fly by onlookers and their desire to obtain the “magic bullet” pattern. I usually planned for this and had some for sale. 😉  I have another story about this fly too, for another time. Span-Flex is a good material, it provides translucence and is very much affected by different shades of the tying thread. Just don’t make more than a year’s supply of any pattern with it.

Flexi-floss – is a glossy material. Also very stretchy. It floats. Span-flex by comparison, sinks. You can put Span-flex in a glass of water and it will sink. Put Flexi-floss in some water, and even if you force it down, it rises back to the surface. Hence, a superior material to incorporate into dry fly bodies. It is also translucent, and is the best synthetic quill body substitute I have ever seen. It requires no soaking. It is durable. It comes in many colors, and like the Span-flex, is also of significant advantage for fly pattern design, due to its translucence and being effected by the color of tying thread used underneath it. One color of Flexi-floss can be made into a number of different shades by changing the base thread color. It has been used for legs, ribbing, etc., but its real boon to tiers of trout flies is its ability to mimic not only the appearance of, as A. K. Best, says the “smooth, waxy-looking bodies of mayflies,” but it excels beyond other materials with its translucence.

I have samples of Blue Quills, Baetis (different colors), Cornutas, Quill Gordons, Chocolate Duns, Mahogany Duns, Slate Drakes, March Brown Duns, Sulphurs, Light Cahills, Pale Evening Duns, Pale Morning Duns, and spinners for these patterns with the range of colors of Flexi-floss.

Tying Instructions

Step 1: The fly is tied by first setting a short thread base for the wing. Then set the wing about 1/3 the distance between the eye and hook point, attaching it with a thread wrap and then securing it with about ten tight figure-eight wraps.

Step 2: Wind tying thread to the hook point, stop and attach two moose body hairs. Begin winding to the barb. By placing your finger on top of the fibers, they will slid to the sides of the hook shank. Moderate thread tension will move them into place on the sides of the hook shank by the time you reach the end of the body. Note in the macro photo, the tail comes off both sides of the abdomen, like a real bug, not off the top like most other patterns.

Step 3: Wind thread forward to the thorax, and attach the Flexi-floss with one wrap. Maximize thread tension (to hold the body material in place, if it slips out you need more tension), and s-t-r-e-t-c-h the Flexi-floss, then wind over it to the base of the tail, stopping a smidgen ahead of the tail, and then wind thread forward to the thorax. Leave a little room behind the wings for the dubbed thorax.

Step 4: Wind the Flexi-floss forward, secure with at least 3, and no more than 4 wraps. And I mean tight. Cut off. One six-inch section of Flexi-Floss, cut from the cable tie bundle, will make 6 – 8 size #10 flies.

Step 5: Dub the thread and wind the dubbing in figure-eight wraps, keeping the wing at right angles to the hook shank. Some spinners I have seen have a thorax that is too sparse, skinny. I like to imitate the natural bulge of the thorax of mayfly spinners; a more realistic body silhouette triggers more strikes.  Finish wrapping and whip finish the head, and the fly is done.

I just finished two dozen size #18 and #20 Dark Rusty CDC Comparaduns for an order; the nice thing about Flexi-floss, is it will split. Use your bodkin to skewer the middle of the material about a half-inch from one end, and pull the Flexi-floss away. This will split it; then simply grab the ends and pull it apart. This yields smaller width sections of material that can be used on tiny flies.

The bodies of these small patterns I dressed have a “quill body.” I’ll try to take photos tomorrow and add them to this post. That way folks can see the benefit of this stuff. Hope you like the flies!

(Edit – May 1st: One of these days I’m going to start making tying videos and put a few on Youtube I guess).

#16 Blue Quill Polywing Thorax Dun, tied with Flexi-Floss body.

March Brown English, Female Wet Fly

This wet fly pattern recipe is taken from Trout by Ray Bergman. I received an order for a dozen March Brown wets for fishing in Pennsylvania’s Big Pine Creek, and the customer actually got to select the pattern “in person” from viewing the authentic imitations of three variations in my framed reproduction of Wet Fly Plate No. 5 while I was displaying and tying at the Fly Fishing Show in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on March 5th and 6th, 2011. The three March Brown wet fly patterns in the frame are the March Brown American, and English version; Male and Female. My customer chose the female patterns based on the color combination to suit his preference. Here are the pattern details as shown in the photographs:

Hook:               Montana Fly Company 7026 2x long nymph hook.

Thread:          Danville Flymaster 6/0 Brown

Tip:                  None

Tail:                  Partridge

Ribbing:         Gold tinsel

Body:               Gray-brown (dubbing)

Hackle:           Partridge

Wing:               Pheasant (light) *

  • Pheasant is called for in the Trout recipe; the wing on these flies is finely mottled brown turkey, a good substitute and easier to work with than pheasant.
  • These flies were requested by my customer to be tied in size number 6, but he wanted a smaller hook gape. In this case, a #10 2x long nymph hook is dead-on equal in shank length to the Mustad 3399 #6 sproat bend standard wet fly hook, so I have effectively produced size #6 flies on size #10 hooks.

Note: The mini-barb, high-carbon steel modern hooks are unquestionably better for fishing than classic style hooks that have a barb height of sometimes 125% of hook wire diameter. And you can’t beat chemical sharpening, a great improvement for fishing flies over older style hooks. However, I still prefer classic hooks for “classic” presentation or collectible flies. I have recently made the decision to reserve my remaining vintage Mustad made-in-Norway wet fly hooks for use as collector, presentation, and framed flies, and I will be using modern wet fly hooks for filling orders for classic wet flies for my fishing fly orders.


March Brown Female Wets circle

March Brown Female Wet Flies, size #10 2x long

Macro of March Brown Female Wet Fly size #10 2x long

March Brown Female Wets Size #10 2x long