Thank You For Reading My Blog

This blog is about my life as a fly fisherman, guide, and fly fishing instructor in and around Northern Virginia and Washington D.C.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Preparing Steelhead Flies For Salmon River, NY - Fishing Fewer Patterns

Its that time of year. I'm all geeked out about the trip to the Salmon River in New York (SRNY). I have more boxes of flies tied from over the years than I care to count. These are flies tied up on the river either on the banks or back at camp at night. Combine that with all of the flies I tie before the trip and it gets out of control. This year I am going to almost exclusively fish with Matzuo America hooks. Thus I have had to tie a lot of new flies.

I can go through all of these flies and look at what was the hot fly of that trip, what didn't work, and what I tied but never fished. Yet I still tie flies prior to each trip. I've been Googling all sorts of nerdy things like 'great lakes steelhead alley stonefly' and 'great lakes intruder fly zonker.' And then going to the vise to perfect flies.

Of all the flies I tie for different species I will have to say that tying steelhead flies is my favorite. I get more joy from tying these colorful flies than any other pattern.

This year I am going to limit my patterns. Here they are and where you can find the background on tying them:

Hoh Bo Spey- one of the easiest intruder style flies to tie. Very few ingredients and easy on the wallet. The most expensive part of this pattern would be the Lady Amherst plume and the Senyo shenks. I tie them in a motif of two colors and have been playing around for the past three years. I've been tying up pink/purple, chartreuse/pink, purple/chartreuse, pink/white, and some others. I was asked to film me tying this pattern so here it is below. The most violent strike from a steelhead will result if you swing this properly. As an easy pattern to tie and not much in the way of work when fishing it, I choose this as my go to streamer.  You'll notice that my melon gets in the way. I'll work on that for the next video. For this pattern, also check out Steelhead Alley Fly Tying. 

Sucker Spawn - I go way back with this fly. Chad Chorney introduced me to this type of pattern way back in the day. How long ago you ask, like 15 years ago. One of the most simple flies to tie. I go two ways with this one: natural vs synthetic. My natural ones are either made from Angora rabbit or yarn. The synthetic version is tied with diamond braid. My most successful colors of natural are pink and white. I just ordered a few skeins of more angora from Ebay and can't wait for them to get here. In the synthetic form I prefer yellows and oranges. 

San Juan Worm - There are those who do and those who don't. Kind of like picking your nose. We all do it, get over it. And yes chicks fart. Again I have two separate ways of tying these. The traditional San Juan made of vernille aka ultra chenille. Hot oranges, chartreuse, pinks, reds, and purple work for me. I tie mine about 3" long. The second variety is made from pearl braid. I don't burn the edges like a traditional worm. That stuff will melt on you (its plastic) and burn the skin right off  your paws. I prefer to put a drop of Clear Cure Goo Hydro on the tips and hit it with UV light. Seals it and stays that way.

Eggs - Again two types. The traditional glo bug yarn. I get the willies from touching the stuff. Its the same oogie feeling as when the dentist rubs your maw with cotton. Its not for me. You can easily  blend colors to make unique patterns. There are a lot of eggs in the river. A LOT. So this is as close to 'matching the hatch' as you can get. If you wanted to hook people at the state fair you'd tie a hook to a corndog right? Same with fish. The other pattern is with McFly Foam. Great stuff. You can tie a lot with a little material. Don't forget to tie them a bit smaller. We just call those micro-eggs. Pay attention to the colors of eggs in the river. They range from fresh out of a salmon's back end as bright orange to dead eggs along the shores that are whitish.

Soft Hackle, Flash Back, Bead Head Pheasant Tail - I started with black hares ears then olive. In 2004 I started tying with soft hackles. Tom's go to fly was always the flash back pheasant tail. I started tying them with a flash back. Over the years the fly has progressed to what it is now. I have a particular recipe I prefer and can tie several of these in not too much time. The latest advancement was the discovery of 12/0 silk nano thread. Some of my best fish have been taken on this pattern.

Blood's Dot - This is a new one to me. Beyond easy to tie. Credit goes to Tyler Straight for introducing this one. Very easy and inexpensive to tie. In the past two years I have landed some massive fish on this pattern. It looks incredibly real when wet. I've been writing this blog down for loads of customers at the shop. Good stuff. Want to know what to tie? Check out his site.

Evil Twin - The first of the intruder style flies I tied. Super easy. Video coming shortly. Takes just a few ingredients. I leave out the rib. My first year tossing these was magical. I'll never forget the violent strike on the chartreuse version. The fish swam under a tree and broke me off. What a rush. Pattern from Redspotfly.

Jumbo John - The first time I saw this fly was at Orvis Cleveland. I had no idea what the name was. You may remember the podcast from that trip. I didn't catch jack and was stuck in the hotel most of the time due to blizzard conditions. I do miss the free cookies at the front desk. So I had two of these in a clear box where they still sleep. I spent what felt like hours looking up 'rubber legged orange bead steelhead stonefly' or something like that. Finally I came across a video. I tie them in a variety of colors. The Charlie's Fly Box tutorial is pretty awesome too. Ivan from Urban Angler in Old Town ties some of these that will blow your mind.

Estaz Fly - I prefer a very soft 'estaz' style material. Just a few strands of Krystal Flash and wrap this. It works and its easy. I may try Estaz Spawn this year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Current Top Flies For (Largemouth) Bass

Per the most recent podcast: Itunes Store

My notes from the podcast:

1.       Worm
  • Wormie
  •  4” San Juan
  • Snallygaster
2.       Clouser
  • 1”
  •  Calf Tail
  • 4”
  • Super Clouser
  • Bucktail Clouser
3.       Slider
  • Boogle Bug
  • Sneaky Pete
  • Scorpion
4.       Hellgrammite
  • Skilton  | Snowhite | OMF | Murray
  • Heavy weighted
  • Light weighted
5. Reaper
  • Black/Chartreuse
  • Black/Purple
  •  Pumpkin
6. Curly tail
  • Black
  • Chartreuse
  • Purple
7.       Popsicle
  • Heavy weighted
  • Light weighted
8.       Damsel
  • Snowhite damsel
9.       Gutless Frog
  • Matzuo sickle x-wide | j-bend worm hook
10.   Jig
  • 1/32 oz
11.   Bead Head Nymph
  • Size 12 
  •  HNIC
  •  Prince
  • Hares ear
  •  Pheasant tail 
  • SnallyGaster Worm

    Wormie - The Hook Worm

    Spaghetti Worm


    Scorpion Bug

    Snowhite Hellgrammite


    Curly Tail Näkki

    Bead Head - Flash Back - Soft Hackle - Pheasant Tail

    Gutless Frog

    Snowhite Damsel

    1/32oz Jig

    Baby American Shad
    Super Clouser

    4" San Juan Worm

    Splat Rat

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why Do Fish Not Eat Water Striders?

Click here for a little background information on these bugs.

Have you ever seen a fish eat one of these?

I certainly have not. Water striders live in all sorts of bodies of water around here but nothing eats them. On the Potomac they will blanket the surface creating a massive shade spot below. If you toss a fly into the striders and let it sink you will surely find a fish seeking respite in their shadows.

Have you ever seen a fly imitation of a water strider? I haven't. Which further reinforces my hunch that fish just don't eat them.

So why do fish not eat them? Do they taste nasty? Do they sit high enough on the water with their hairy feet (to increase surface area which prevents breaking the hydrogen bonds in the surface film)  that fish cant' see them? I had a few in my aquarium and I sure could not see them from below (I can't see anything through the surface anyway, it's a mirror. Do they bite the fish back (these bugs are known to bite people when picked up)? Most nasty tasting critters have coloration to warn that they taste bad i.e., the Monarch Butterfly.

I will continue to ponder as to why I've never seen fish eat these bugs. Please leave a comment if you have insight into this matter.

On a side note, I once hear that if we (humans) wanted to walk on water like a water strider, our feet would have to be over 7 kilometers long.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

2015 ICAST and IFTD Pictures

Want to hear more about the tackle trade show? Type my name into Itunes ICAST & IFTD Podcast

Here is my badge. I put the sticker of Snow White on there for reference. The badges hang kind of low and they are rather hard to read. Thus this could identify me from a distance.

Waiting for my flight. It was cancelled. Then I was put on another flight after I almost went home and drove. The next flight was to Miami and was delayed. I got to the hotel 12.5 hours after I left home.
 This was my fuel during the trip and during the show. Paying two mortgages right now plus the expenses of a new house and this trip meant budget eating.
 This was how many people got to the customer service line before I did after all the planes in the terminal were cancelled.
 This is how many got in line after me.
 Then something else delayed us from taking off.
 There was a really cool sunset through her window. Oh well.
 Out in the ocean were islands lit up. Bahamas?
 Welcome to Miami.
 Then the doors were not working so we were stuck on the flight getting off for a long time.
 Look, a drift boat in the plane commercials.
 I got my order of four rounds of avocado rolls. And I punished them.
 At ICAST IFTD. This sculpture is made entirely out of ocean plastic.
 Cool crab lures.
 Huge fan of these.

 Follow them on Instagram. Updated regularly.  A gadget that all guides need.
 Fried food. Sold.
 This dog fishes from an SUP.
 Matzuo America booth. I got a custom air brushed shad.

 You really should be tying on these hooks. I will be using them on my intruders this fall.
 This is the nano croaker in yellow. You can throw it with an 8wt. Trust.

Finally got to meet Marianne in person.

One of my favorite hooks. All Reapers are tied on these.

 More fried food. I had spicy fried green tomato. Damn they were good.
 I find the lack of tying material companies disheartening. Only 4 showed up. These were some VERY big plumes of marabou. Get them for your steelhead flies.

 Seriously, look at that plume and its in a bag. Its bigger than my hand.
 Gonna need this game for the new house.
Rather ironic. The TV is off....
Happy hour to support PHWFF.
My next pliers. My current Pline are not  narrow enough to pull hooks out of smaller fish.
The twins. So much fun and energy.
Hook Eze.
Derek DeYoung painting a brown trout skin on a tarpon for a client who fishes fresh and salt.
Some flashy stuff over at Cascade Crest Tools.

Another source for 'reaper tails'.
You need to tie with this thread.
Bob Clouser at the Yeti booth.
Bonefish Tarpon Trust happy hour with Sweetwater Brewing.
FOOD. After a long day on my feet and a few beers in me I was glad Shimano had some hot chow.
Networking and happy hours. I'd prefer if the happy hour started later so I had more time to network and interview.
Line for the Yeti Colster giveaway.

Hanging with Conway Bowman. We will be doing MORE podcasts in the future. He also plays drums. Who knew.
Rebekka Redd. Expect a fascinating podcast from her in the future.
A.D. Maddox. Yup, podcast in the future.
What a group of randoms. Paul Puckett, Mark Crapo, Conway Bowman, and someone else.
Film festival. Had dinner with PHWFF beforehand. I hate watching these movies. All these places and adventures I don't go.

Talking with Danny of Delta Trout Force 
about Russ Schnitzer and look who walks up, Russ! Totally random.
Chap Stick Guns.
Waking back. I had been on my feet since 0730 and its now 0130 the next day.

So this egret is in my way.
New Orvis flies.

New Patagonia waders.
Breakfast at

Von Beardly aka Mark Crapo.

Very intriguing group. Please check them out. Absolutely amazing products and the hooks they gave me are on another level.

Finally met April Vokey. Could have interviewed her for hours. Be sure to listen to her podcast.

The Ty Wheel. You might just want to get this. Very well thought out. Perfect for the traveling tier.

Diablo CATamaran.

Finally met Dave after years. #FishChat every Tuesday on Twitter.
The Costa happy hour.

Ice, fruit juice, some booze. The perfect drink for the occasion.
Happy hour with the lads from Sweden on the right. Thad on the left.
These look like a bad idea and a waste of money.
Finally a greasy sandwich. One of my all time favorite meals.
I can't believe I ate this. That is below my level but I needed it.

Hotel room view.
That mold on my bathroom walls and ceiling.
Airport water.
Travel burrito.
Got a bunch of these for my fishing friends back home and loads of stuff for TPFR beer tie next week.
My custom painted Ikari.
That colster.
Snot Rocket fish game. The Pixie approves.

Trust me on the compression socks. Please listen to the podcast. I record it so I don't have to type too much here.

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