When fly casting, the rod must bend and unbend. This sounds simple and actually is if you incorporate the fundamentals properly. With spin or bait casting it is the weight if the lure that greatly assists bending (loading) the rod. With fly fishing it is the weight of the fly line that does the job. In order to utilize the complete weight of the fly line, the caster must eliminate all slack in the line before and during the casting motion. Continue reading Fly casting effectively through eliminating slack and maintaining tension→
Although Labor Day marks the end of summer for many activities when it comes to trout fishing we are usually waiting for cooler weather to start up our pursuit. Like most fly fisherman I let trout survive the hot summer months and concentrate my efforts on other species, but there are waters that remain healthy with temperatures that are safe and very productive.
Many streams in Pennsylvania are Freestone. Which mean they are generated from water flowing over the surface of the land and depend on rainfall as their primary source of water. Therefore fluctuating in water volume, temperature and oxygen level. Yes trout do live in these waters year-round. Although, during the hot summer months they are doing everything they can to survive. In these types of conditions if trout are caught it often means death. The stress is just too much for the fish to overcome. Continue reading Where to Fly Fish for Trout on Labor Day weekend in Pennsylvania→
Fly fishing for trout in the summer can be challenging. This is why so many of us switch to more logical pursuits such as bass, carp and other warm water species. If I chase trout during the summer it usually takes place through a narrow bite window; early morning, late evening, or middle of the night. Of course as mentioned so many times before there are tons of exceptions; combine that with your schedule, and you may find yourself fishing in the hot mid-day sun. Which brings me to the emphasis of this post. Continue reading Plop goes the beetle→
Learning to become a proficient fly fisher is not easy. Some anglers luck out on their first outing and bag a bunch of fish but for most it’s a tough slog day after skunky day. I kind of feel sorry for the lucky ones that do have early successes because they may perceive that every outing will be filled with non-stop rod bending action. Boy will they be disappointed when reality rears it’s ugly head.
As with many great endeavors, you have to really love the entire process in order to progress. The fair weather fisherman is just like a fair weather friend; you only see them on good days and bail when the going gets tough. The complication is there are so many exceptions that it’s hard to decipher the good days. It is the angler that truly loves all aspects of the sport that witness great days and more frequently. They love the sport so much that it doesn’t matter if they catch fish nearly as much as just being out there trying. It is the old adage “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?… Practice.” Continue reading Advice to novice fly fishers→
The Little Juniata River flows south from Tyrone to Petersburg. Upriver from Tyrone, the river can seem marginal at best. The only exception to this is where the main stem of the river picks up productive tributaries, such as Tipton and Bells Gap. Downriver from Tyrone, the river narrows and becomes surrounded by large limestone cliffs. Past this point, the river becomes a limestone river, with at least ten limestone springs being added to the river as it flows. These increase the insect population and make for a large trout population. Limestone helps to keep the flow of the river moderate, and provides moderate temperatures.
If you want to fish the river from Barree to Spruce Creek, the only access is on foot. On this section of the river, which is four miles long, there are 15-foot deep pools, heavy hatches and productive riffles and lots of wild trout. From Barree to Petersburg, the river is wider and contains fewer trout. Be careful wading in the lower end on this section, because pools can be deep.
Casting a virtually weightless fly to the target requires skill. But it is not beyond anyone’s ability. If you can throw a ball then you can throw a fly. Just as throwing a ball, the farther your target the more every part of the action must be perfect. This is why some anglers have trouble at distances. One must understand and utilize fundamental casting principles for it to work. Continue reading Accelerate through the casting stroke.→
For most fly fishing trouters, mayfly fishing is the foundation of our game but from a strictly numbers point of view the caddis fly is much more abundant on most trout waters. They are hardy warriors that can withstand pollution better the most mayflies. If you asked me years ago I would have said Caddis flies were useless. Because I was repeatedly getting beat up on the famed Pine Creek, in north central Pennsylvnia. There I was watching thousands of egg laying caddis in the air while throwing my arm off with an Elk Hair pattern without even a nibble. Then while dazing off, my elk hair skittered below me on the surface. Blasto!! Fish on! Continue reading Caddis flies, top shelf insects for fly fishing→
We’re sure most of you get pretty busy during the spring fly fishing season. Just like us we all have the best intentions to get out and fish with of our friends that we meet along the way but who has time for all of them before it’s over? Or maybe you’ve been meaning to meet a couple like-minded anglers because you are sure you’re not the only one that chases the dog around the house to get that special color dubbing. Continue reading Are you interested in joining us for a fly fishing gathering?→
What’s the most effective method of fly fishing for trout? Nymph fishing. So I have done a lot of it and will continue to do so. If you are strictly after numbers of fish caught then nymph fishing trumps all. Of course this is a generalization and one should always choose the best tactic for the conditions at hand. But most often nymph fishing is more productive, even during a hatch with rising trout. Continue reading Wet fly fishing: What’s old is new again.→
Been toying around trying to improve the gold Stren style sight indicator that I have been using for years. Basically what the improvement consists of is using a blood knot coated with day-glo nail polish for visibility. This has kind of evolved. First I improved it by leaving small tags from the knot rather than clipping them neatly. This helped but in certain light they were still hard to see. Also it would pick-up debris even as much as I tried to keep it out the water. Next I added a small drop of day-glo colored nail polish which really helped. Finally I have added a coat of UV goo, like Loon or Clear Cure Goo. Continue reading Handy sighter indicator for fly fishing for trout→
For many the spring season starts with going to their favorite water to try and catch a few recently stocked fish. I have written about this in the past a few times. I have many great memories of opening days with my friends and I believe it’s a nice way to learn the game.
Often beginning fly anglers have difficulty putting together a fly box for opening day trout season but unless you are specifically looking to fish over hatches you only need a handful of productive patterns to get you through the day. These are some of the best flies for fishing in Pennsylvania.
Pheasant Tail Nymph (size 16 – 12)
Originated by Frank Sawyer the Pheasant Tail nymph has evolved since he first developed the pattern without using tying thread. Now many patterns incorporate a beadhead and hot spot. This pattern is typically fished near the bottom but floating version work extremely well during a hatch. Buy your Pheasant Tail Nymphs here >>
Prince Nymph (size 16 – 10)
The materials used for the Prince Nymph make it one of the all-time best flies to represent many aquatic insects. Peacock herl represents everything from a cased caddis to bubbles being released during emergence. The tail and body shape suggest a stonefly. The contrasting color used for the biot wing case helps attract fish in a naturally shaped manner. Buy your Prince Nymphs here >>
I get a bit geeky when it comes to formulating fly fishing leaders, unfortunately only to hack them up when adding new droppers. This usually happens after a few fly changes on the dropper and left with a stub. instead of cutting your main leader, try this nifty way to add a new dropper.
Be it a blood knot, surgeons knot, or whatever, leaving the existing knot is key to the process. Tie the new dropper above the existing knot by using a Uni-knot then slide it down against the existing knot.
My anxiety heightened when I felt the mass of this beast – approximately 10 pounds, and exactly 28 ½ inches long.
Yes there are unicorns!
Just returned from my hunt for trophy brown trout on the White River in Arkansas. The White River normally flows around 5,000 – 15,000 CFS during the winter months. But this year was different. Arkansas received a lot of rain and as a result the flows were much higher. Much higher – 30,000 CFS. The water was at flood stages. It pushed well over the banks and changed the fishing dramatically. This does not mean fishing is not good, in fact I have written about this before. Tight bank casts are typically required in many places on the White but due to high flows it was exponentially multiplied. I have casting skills but this situation tested me to the brink. The combination of 300 grain weighted fly line, 8 inch flies, and tight casts made for very challenging, but fun, casting situations. Throw in some 20 MPH wind and you have situation for real mayhem. “Your casts are sloppy, come on Leo you can do better than that”, buzzed in my head time after time. “Get it to the bank” was another repeated mumble. My understanding of the White, and my casting skills improved as the days ticked off. I only wish I could have spent more time down there; but isn’t that always the truth.
Maybe a little extreme but chasing the largest Brown Trout known in North America, if not the world, is something I must do. I have caught many trout, a few large Trout, but nothing like what lurks in the shadows of the White river. It is considered a hub for trophy chasers and streamer junkies alike. These beasts do not blink at a mayfly imitations heck not even four inch streamers. No these are the alpha predators, the One, the Master of their liar. Unicorns you ask? Well you don’t get many shots at these beasts even in the best conditions, some go years without witnessing one – but they do exist. This is one of the very reasons they have survived and grown so large. Continue reading In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas→
1. Sleep in. During winter there is no reason for hitting your favorite stream at the crack of dawn; unless a cold front is moving in. Typically the warmest part of the day is mid-day to early afternoon.
2. Say no to cotton. Outdoorsy types have a little saying “Cotton Kills”. This is due to it’s poor insulating properties. Contrastingly, wool maintains over ninety percent of its (your) heat when wet. I love the stuff and nothing trumps wool but it is heavy. Try synthetics such as fleece, polypropylene, or some other high-tech lightweight insulating material. Feathers are lightweight but keep in mind that feather down jackets are great for warmth but not very good when wet so leave them home unless there are no chances of getting wet (Hypothermia). Look for great deals at Patagonia, Campsaver, and REI.
3. Fish one handed. Try to fish without too much line handling because it causes ice build-up on your guides and freezes your hands. This is fairly easy if you are nymph fishing. Do this by fishing with a manageable length of line and leader; very much like Tenkara fishing. You’re still going to need gloves. I go fingerless when I can but for brutal days I love my Simms ProDry gloves.
If you haven’t heard of April Vokey let me give you a little background. She has dedicated her life to fly fishing. Her company, Fly Gal Ventures, is a thriving fly fishing guide business which she started in 2007 upon turning twenty-four years old. She pursues gamefish on the fly internationally and is becoming recognized as an authority on the sport.
Fly Gal Ventures
Fly Fisherman magazine
Fly Rod & Reel magazine
Fly Fusion magazine
Outdoor Channel’s Buccaneers and Bones series
60 Minutes Sports
The Steve Harvey show
Discovery Channel’s Refined
Discovery’s/OLN’s Close Up Kings
WFN’s Fly Nation TV
ShoreLines with April Vokey (written and hosted by Vokey)
When making your way to cover the water, be it a small stream, river, or lake one will usually come across sentinel fish. The definition of a sentinel is a “guard”. This is not completely accurate when it comes to my definition for fishing but the outcome is true. When foraging for food, smaller fish often take greater chances. Continue reading Recognize the Sentinels→
There is something special about the autumn season. In Pennsylvania by October the trees are glowing with brilliant color; add low humidity, crisp mornings and you have a great combination for doing anything outdoors. For me that’s definitely fly fishing.
For the trout, it’s also a special time because it triggers their appetite to stock-up on protein for the winter. Another even more important trigger clicks for Brown and Brook trout – spawning season. By September our friends are eagerly looking to spawn and by October/November they are on full blast.
This heighten level of feeding can make for a lot of fun but please do not harvest wild trout during the spawn. Give these guys a chance to reproduce and continue the lineage. Think about it, you don’t want to harvest next year’s fun. In fact always let the wild ones go. There’s plenty of stockers to be had if you really want to take one home. Continue reading Fly Fishing Fall Season, Learn how to identify wild trout.→
Just returned from a short trip to the High Peaks range in the Adirondack mountains. We took a couple great hikes and had only a morning to fish the AuSable river. The Au Sable has a long history with the fly fishing folks and it’s truly a river to add to your bucket list. Continue reading Fly Fishing the AuSable River, NY→
It’s easy to gear-up, wade into the water, and begin fishing, but this method is missing a crucial step. First, take time to observe the situation. Subtle indicators are usually present and noticed with keen observation: a small ripple below an overhanging tree, mayflies in a spider web that were not there yesterday, or the sudden gathering of birds near the water’s edge. Keen observation trumps all. Continue reading Observation is an extremely important fundemental to fly fishing→
Terrestrials are abundant and become a staple to trout in many waters through the summer season. Ant patterns are a must if you plan to fly fish for trout in the summer. Ants vary in size and color. Look for naturals on and around the water then match accordingly. But do not stop there. If you carry an insect seine, which can be as simple as an aquarium net, hold it beneath the water surface and most likely you will discover a big surprise – sunken ants. Continue reading The Incredible Edible Ant→
Don’t let a little rain stop you.
I received a question from a good friend of mine who is learning about fly fishing and getting better at an accelerated rate. He is constantly trying to gain knowledge. This combined with all of the rain we have received encouraged me to share the following thoughts about learning curves associated with fly fishing.
Many anglers new to the sport fish hard by getting out every chance they can, pushing to learn new skills, and find great success. Sadly, many level off and get into a rut. Continue reading The versatile angler→
Recently our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visited the Little Juniata, in Spruce Creek Pennsylvania.
Chasing hatches is always a gamble. This year we didn’t hit the Grannom. In fact the peak emergence on the Little Juniata occurred in extreme high water so the fishing never really turned on full blast. In this video we started with high hopes but fell back to our tried and true tactics – down and dirty nymphing. I managed to catch a beautiful “J” brown with big shoulders using a small PT nymph. Continue reading Fly Fishing The Little Juniata River, Spruce Creek, Pennsylvania→
One major key to successful nymph fishing is to get your flies to the bottom quickly. In this video I show you how to use the Tuck Cast which helps you reach the bottom faster. Several casts require an overpowered stroke; including the curve cast. In this video I demonstrate how to execute this stroke and make these casts.
We recently fished Meadow Run located in Ohiopyle Pennsylvania. A classic mountain stream, Meadow Run offering the angler an opportunity to catch trout in the beautiful Laurel Highlands. Afterwards check out the charming town of Ohiopyle – it’s got something for anglers and non-anglers alike. Here is more information about Meadow Run
In light of my recent article about enhancing and conserving wild trout populations instead of spending dollars on hatchery production. I believe this success story is worth sharing.
Maybe I am not so extreme after all. Enjoy.
Excited to get out and catch a few trout?
Hatchery trout are a put and take resource. This means they are raised in hatcheries then placed in streams and lakes to be caught and harvested. This is a great product to get beginning anglers involved in fishing. Continue reading Pennsylvania Trout Season, April 18, 2015→
If you spend any time researching insects used for fly fishing you’ll soon discover Entomologist Greg Hoover. I have used his co-authored book Great Rivers – Great Hatches for many years. Greg recently made a presentation at International Angler located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had the privilege to talk with him about fly fishing, and entomology. I hope you find our conversation as informative and enjoyable as I did.
We recently visited International Angler located in Pittsburgh to talk with Greg Hoover and we will be posting our full-length interview very soon.
The guys at International Angler are the real deal. As a complete full-service shop they have something for the beginning and expert angler alike. IA also offers a large variety of angling travel opportunities year-round. Stop by and say hello I’m sure you will not be disappointed.
I recently dug to the bottom of my pack and found some interesting things. The sunglass strap I couldn’t find all summer. A pack of gum the had transformed itself into a wad of aluminum foil and gob of something else. And of course, a few smashed unrecognizable flies. Both are favorite patterns of mine; an olive mutuka sculpin, and my own caddis dry which is used more for strike indicator purposes but ends-up catching lots of fish. Here is a way to breathe new life into bedraggled fishing files. Continue reading Simple trick to recondition your fishing flies→
This month is our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visits Yellow Creek in Bedford Pennsylvania.
It’s winter so I went to my go-to nymphing tactics. In this video, I show you the two nymph rigs used and how to set them up.
This month our crew at PAFLYGUIDE.COM visits Yellow Creek in Bedford Pennsylvania.
Bedford Pennsylvania is a charming town filled with nice shops and something for everyone. For us it’s definitely fly fishing. Just outside of town is a sweet little gem named Yellow Creek.
I show that you can catch fish in the dead of winter but it takes a little work. Hopefully this video will warm your hearts and spur you to go have some winter fun.
Trout begin their lives as egg then hatch and live as fry with yolk sacs for about 4-5 weeks. Once the sac is finished, they must forage on their own as tiny free-swimming fish. They stay in the somewhat protected shallow water and feed on midge larvae. At 3 to 4 inches long the fry begin to eat larger macro-invertebrates. In past posts I cover nymphs and nymphing tactics. You will see how a trout’s mainstay is nymphs and other sub-surface food sources.
Trout have many predators from below, minks, otters and other fish, and from above kingfishers, osprey, heron, and raccoon. This is important to understand because many times a stealthy approach is your only chance to catch easily spooked trout. Like so many forms of wildlife, a trout’s senses are keen. Continue reading Trout Have Keen Senses→