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.


Sulphur MayflyDuns – Four-pack Selection

These four patterns were just added yesterday to MyFlies.com as part of my product page. Here is the link: http://www.myflies.com/Sulphur-Mayfly-Duns-Four-pack-Selection-P828.aspx

I have made a few recent posts about some of these sulphur dun patterns and their fishing effectiveness, both on Spring Creek, and in the article on Muddy Creek in York County, Pennsylvania. Sulphurs occur on most trout streams across the country. This Four-pack Selection of Sulphur Duns presents together; mayfly dun patterns in the following styles: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun.

If you have read these previous posts you are aware that I’ve written several articles about the synthetic, elastic, and translucent material made by DuPont, but called by different names depending on the fly tying material company that sells it. For those of you who haven’t seen these posts, once more, here we go again: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Flexi-Floss, and the former Orvis name, Super-Floss (discontinued).

Here is a product review from The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop in Roscoe, New York:

“Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is a crinkly spandex material that is stretchable yet handles like floss (better and easier than floss – DB). Great for ribbing, wiggly legs, antennae, segmented wrapped midge bodies, and more. Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is easy to use and adds a little extra shine to your flies. Best of all it doesn’t break down like rubber legs, so your flies will last longer.” Here is the page to the product:


The same product, Sexi-Floss, from Montana Fly Company, is available from Chris Helm at Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies, in Toledo, Ohio. The bonus of ordering from Chris is you speak directly to him, he is an experienced and knowledgeable fly tier, he knows fly tying materials, and he personally receives and processes your order. Here is his phone number: 419-843-2106. Chris also has some of the best deer hair available, sorted and graded for specific fly tying uses. Here is a photo of the four pattern styles; all flies are tied by me, and all photos are mine as well:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun. All except the Comparadun are tied with a synthetic quill body, made of Sulphur Orange (or amber) Sexi-Floss, Flexi-Floss, etc. Notice how slim, smooth, and as A. K. Best describes mayfly bodies, “waxy looking” they are. Highly imitative and this material floats. Nice!

This collection of four sulphur dun patterns is representative of the mayfly Ephemerella invaria. The “sulphurs” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the Eastern US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size. This offering of four different pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a sulphur hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water so it is beneficial to the angler to have more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Sulphur Duns helps solve the difficulties of fishing sulphur drys to finicky trout. All four duns are tied with split tails.

On the tying recipes, all materials are listed in the order that they are tied in.


#14 Sulphur Comparadun. This pattern uses rabbit dubbing for the body, but the abdomen is reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread. You can see how this procedure adds realism to the fly, and it also tightens up the abdomen. For a video of my Reverse-Dubbing technique, check out my March Brown Comparadun youtube video.

Sulphur Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts, six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Amber rabbit dubbing, reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing, more robust than the abdomen

Head: Orange

You can see that the thorax is more robust than the abdomen, this is an imitative design feature, but it  also is part of the tying process because you are building the thorax over the butt ends of the clipped deer hair wing. Because of the color variations of the Ephemerella invaria duns across their range, similar but different thread and dubbing colors can be used. Alternate threads to use would include Danville #2 Cream, #4 Pale Yellow, #8 Yellow, and #61 Light Olive.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun. Note the Sexi-Floss abdomen and dubbed thorax. The parachute hackle helps the fly land right side up, and this design presents a different silhouette to the trout. In fact, while each of these patterns represents the same mayfly, each style presents a similar but different silhouette to the trout. Being prepared with multiple pattern styles can be your ace-in-the-hole when confronted with a sulphur hatch. In fact, this is true of most mayfly species.

The Sulphur Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

Sulphur Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – 18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene post

Hackle: Light ginger

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur orange Flexi-Floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

While I have used this material for years, I recently started using the polypropylene as a wing post, rather than the E. P. Fibers as posted on some of my recent flies. This was done for ease of use and less preparation time. More flies per hour means a raise in pay. I also found out that the crinkly nature of the polypropylene is much easier to wrap around, or post, at the base of the wing. The E. P. Fibers are very slippery, while the kinky nature of the poly yarn seems to grab and hold the thread, eliminating a point of (sometimes) fly tying exasperation. Check the photo, you can see the zig-zags in the wing material.

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun. This design features the abdomen of Flexi-Sexi-Dyna Floss.

The Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern.

Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Orange Flexi-floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun. I call this the Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

The Sulphur Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Sulphur Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. This is an asset to the angler who is prepared with multiple fly designs for any mayfly hatch.

As far as I know, Barry Beck created the Poly-wing Thorax Dun as an alternate style of making the Marinaro Thorax Dun, a fly design using the broad, webby part of neck hackles, created by Pennsylvania author and fly tier, Vincent C. Marinaro. Through personal correspondence, Vince’s Thorax Dun debuted among the New Dry Flies, in Ray Bergman’s second edition of Trout, 1952, with this comment: “I think it to be an outstanding development in fly construction.” And Ray adds, “Mr. Marinaro tells me he is working on a book concerning this and other flies. It should prove very interesting.” Modern Fly Fly Code was published in 1950, while I happen to know that the correspondence between Ray Bergman and Vince Marinaro took place in 1948-49. Ray saved every letter, and during my research for the Ray Bergman biography I wrote for Forgotten Flies, 1999, I was privileged to meet with Ray’s niece and nephew, Norma and Buddy Christian, of Nyack, New York. Ray hand-copied every letter into his own hand, in pencil, onto a tablet not unlike those we used to get in grade school. He did that for his wife, Grace, whom I believe typed all his manuscripts. It was a honor and a privilege to have access to this material. Getting back to Barry Beck’s Poly-wing Thorax Dun, along with Jim Smethers, one of the other fly shop tiers, I used to occasionally tie the pattern for them in the early 1990’s. Any mayfly dun can be imitated with this pattern design style.

Sulphur Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene yarn

Tails: Yellow Mivrofibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur Orange Flexi-Floss

Hackle: Light ginger

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

On the hackled patterns, alternate colors of hackle would be medium ginger, and various shades of light, medium, and sandy dun. I have a beautiful bleached grizzly cape from Bill Keough that would also make some great-looking sulphur dun patterns, considering the cream and light-ginger mottled coloration.

Here are a couple Spring Creek brown trout that were fooled by these flies:

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur

Spring Creek Brown – taken on a #14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur Thorax Dun.

Spring Creek Brown – taken on #14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

These four patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the flies in a boxed set makes this a tasteful gift. The set includes three each of the four patterns: Sulphur Comparadun, Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun,  Sulphur Parachute Dun, and Sulphur Thorax Dun. Available hook sizes are #14, #16, and #18. Individual flies are available in all three hook sizes, while the sets contain all patterns of the same hook size.

Don Bastian's Sulphur Dun Selection.

Don Bastian’s Boxed Sulphur Dun Selection.

What it imitates:  Ephmerella invaria mayfly sub-imago (dun)

When to fish it:  Depending on locale: mid-April in the southern Appalachians, late April through June in the northeastern US

Where to fish it:  Sulphurs inhabit most of the freestone and limestone creeks, streams, and rivers in the eastern and mid-western United States and Canada. They are also present in some tailwater fisheries such as the Delaware River.

How to fish it:  Sulphur dun patterns should generally be fished on 5x tippet, in some cases 6x, but only with smaller hook sizes and smooth water. My personal experience fishing sulphurs is always with 5x, using a leader of ten to fourteen feet.

Thank you for your time to visit and read my blog. To purchase these patterns or the boxed set, please visit: http://www.myflies.com/Sulphur-Mayfly-Duns-Four-pack-Selection-P828.aspx