Well, it seems we have moved out of the rain pattern that we have been in just in time for the heat to show up. With the Brandywine water temp up around 80 degrees and all of our local Trout rivers well above the 70 degree mark we are smack dab in the middle of Smallmouth season. A few cool evenings last week and some low humidity have the past few afternoons quite comfortable for fishing and many of us have been taking advantage of the nice weather. All of the reports from people on the river this past week have been strong. Ed and Mark floated the river last weekend. Ed's report was strong with several Panfish and Smallmouth landed. Ed's buddy Mark had an exceptional outting with two of the "biggest fish I have ever seen to come out of the river" according to Ed. Judging by the picture I would say Mark got a few nice ones.
Top flies have been the tried and true Rubber Legs, a shop favorite, Sculpin patterns of all types (my favorite) and any buggy looking fly have been getting smashed by the Smallmouth. A pattern I have been playing around with is the Howell's Big Nasty. Part Dragon fly nymph, part Crayfish and all fish catcher The Big Nasty is a fly that should be in every Smallie box. Buggers of all colors, Clousers, and Streamers all have been producing well. Don't forget about the surface bite! Poppers, Sliders, and Ska-oppers have been producing well just before dark or on overcast days. 'One Boot" and I had a pretty good morning on Saturday a week ago. I fished the Ska-opper all morning while he switched flies and techniques. Between the two of us I guess we landed around 12 fish, not bad for only a few hours fishing. ( I actually made it back on time to open the shop).
Last Monday I had the pleasure to fish with a new friend. Ben is a new customer and lives in North Carolina. Ben has one of those jobs where he flies up here to work all week and then flies home for the weekend. Being here all week by himself with all of his family in NC leaves a man with a lot of time on his hands. Ben has been a "regular" in the shop for some time now with a thirst for fishing knowledge that you don't see everyday. When He told me "I have never caught a Smallmouth before" I knew we had to fix that ASAP! We met at the shop one afternoon and I took him to a very productive (and very public) spot. You may have thought it was Christmas eve as we rigged up and prepared to spend the evening on the river. I set Ben up with my favorite "numbers" fly the Clouser Swimming Nymph. (He now calls it the "fly from the Smallmouth Gods"). Well, I am happy to say Ben landed a Pumpkin Seed, a Fall Fish, and a Smallmouth within the first 10 casts. Even a downpour could not dampen our spirits as Ben got a taste of Smallie fever.
Ben went back to the same spot a few days later on his own. Using what he had learned he managed to get into a better class of fish. Texts were coming to me at a feverish pace, the last one said it all..."I'me addicted"! Well buddy, I am glad I could help in your addiction. We will get out together again real soon.
We are set up to have a great Smallmouth season. Keep in mind the best Bronze back fishing of the year can be in October. That means we have a solid 3 more months of Smallmouth fishing ahead of us. Get yourself a few 2x leaders, grab your 6 weight and a basic selection of flies and hit the river. A few good evenings like we have had and you will soon be "addicted" like Ben, myself, and all the guys that have discovered this great summertime fishing opportunity.
Our Calender of events has just been updated with several items you may be interested in. Due to many requests we have added a fall fly tying class. This 4 week class will start on Wednesday night, October 23rd and run for four consecutive weeks. We are still kicking around ideas for this fall class, thoughts have included "Guide Flies" "Articulated Streamers" "Tying with Foam" or a "Steelhead / Tube Fly" themed class. Whatever Class we do it is sure to be a great time.
Our Winter tying classes will keep the same format as in past years. We will start the beginner class on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. The Advanced class will start on Wednesday the 15th and the Salt Water class will start on Thursday the 16th. All 3 of these classes will run for six consecutive weeks, weather permitting. Our winter tying classes are a great way to get out and have "fishing" fun during the winter months. Based on past years the beginner and advanced classes fill quickly, be sure you to get in early to hold your spot. For more information on our tying classes you can click here. Here are a few pictures from last years classes. Looks like fun to me...
If you look at the July calender you will see an entry on Sunday the 7th. We are going to do an informal gathering at Brandywine Creek State Park on Sunday afternoon. The goal here is for us to get together, talk fishing, fish a little, and have a good day on the river. Terry and I, as well as many members of the Rat Squad will be there with our Light Spey rods. Casting demos and informal casting instruction will be available. Kind of a mini Brandywine Jam if you will. If you have ever had an inkling to try this Spey casting thing, want to see some new gear, or just want to come out and hang out with some like minded people this is a great opportunity to do so. Light refreshments will be available. We are also targeting this date as the launch of our new Spey casting and fishing club. This formal club is something we have been working very hard on. Club meetings, conservation projects and hosted trips are a few of the things that will be a part of our ultimate goal. Time for this event will be 1:00 pm till 5:00 pm We will be posting more information about this event here as well as our Facebook page when it becomes available. This could be a great opportunity to cross a few fish off of your Smallmouth Challenge list as well. We look forward to seeing you there.
Last but not least we will be hosting the first annual Marblehead Flyfisher Spey Clave at the shop. We are still working out many details for this event with our biggest sales rep. We are shooting for the first Saturday in September, but that could change. Our goal with this event is to promote and showcase all things Spey. Similar to our "Open House" events this is another great opportunity to get into this very popular casting and fishing style. Many more details for this event will follow. Keep an eye on this website, our Facebook page and the Twitter feed as more info will be posted as it becomes available.
Fly tying, Smallmouth fishing, and Spey casting, there are plenty of things to keep us busy through the dog days of summer.
Last week Terry and I dunked the Outcast PAC-13 in the river for her maiden voyage down the Brandywine. Obviously we took along fishing gear, but this was to be more of a "dry run" for the float trips we will be running this summer. We put it in at our uppermost put-in (at this time) the Lenape picnic park and floated to one of our take-outs on a private section of the Brandywine.
We started off drifting down the river with Terry on the oars and me on the bow. One thing became apparent right off the bat. Casting and fishing out of a drift boat is NOTHING like walk and wade fishing! After a few impromptu lessons from the boss and a learning curve that I made much harder than it needed it to be we started to get in sync. Pick up, cast, strip, strip, strip, repeat. There is no time for false casting and the strip is an aggressive, long , fast strip. One thing I had to wrap my brain around is that the boat is always moving down river. Shortly into the trip the first ever fish to be landed on the boat came to hand...
As we continued to float down the river Terry remarked at how easy the boat was to maneuver. I was surprised at the complexity of the oarsman's job. There is much more to rowing a drift boat than just floating down the middle of the river. Positioning for a river left or a river right cast, back rowing, looking for casting obstructions etc. are all part of the job. With two fishermen in the boat this will be quite the intense job. Terry had me in the game the whole afternoon, a true professional!
About an hour into the float we really started to get things down and started to land a few fish including a few nice Smallmouth. Unfortunately, the nicest fish had other plans when it came to picture time and back in the river she went. A solid 15 to 16" Bronze-back was the days best. One thing for sure, once you float in this boat you won't ever want to float in a canoe again. The stability of this boat is amazing. Weather sitting or standing casting is no problem. With the two of us and enough gear to stay on the river for two or three days the boat floated in less than 6" of water! The bow casting platform is very roomy and easy to work from. At no point did I feel like it was too small. If my back started to hurt I would just sit down and cast from the seat, the line of sight was not as good, but it was a nice break from standing.
Here is a short video of Terry bringing the boat through a narrow section of the river. Believe me, he makes this look easy. This was a tough slot to navigate.
If you have been thinking about floating the Brandywine, or looking to cross a few fish off of your "Challenge" list let me say there is no more comfortable way to do it than in our PAC-13 drift boat. If you have been floating in a canoe you really should try the PAC-13, the stability in this boat is unbelievable. Give us a call at the shop (302)654-6515 or contact us through email here if you are interested in more details about out summer float trips down the Brandywine. July is already starting to fill, but August is wide open. We look forward to hearing from you.
What a great week it was. Good reports from our local Trout rivers, the Shad are showing up in good fishable numbers, and the salt water seems to be turning on. We had a much needed rain storm last weekend that blew all of the local water for a few days. No fishing was had last weekend, but, I will swap a weekend of fishing for good, strong water levels any day. The weather has been crazy. I actually had to scrape frost off of my windshield the other day, I don't ever remember doing that on the 14th of May. This "true" spring we are having will hopefully set us up for good fishing throughout the summer. During years like this in the past we have had great trout fishing until the 4th of July and that is just fine with me.
The East branch of the Brandywine has been fishing strong. Terry has taken a few guide clients there and good fishing for them as well as a few of our customers lead me to believe this is the place to be. A large influx of stocked fish last week will have attractor patterns bringing their fair of fish to hand. Weenies, Worms, and Buggers will produce on the fresh stockers. If you prefer to stay to the science side of things May is Sulphur time and Sulphurs have been spotted on most of our local rivers. Rick had a great day fishing a Harrop emerger last weekend. Check out some of the pics. The rises seem to start late in the afternoon and continue late into the evening. Before the afternoon rises a tandem nymphing or a dry and dropper rig should be just the ticket. Be sure to have plenty of Sulphur dries in all stages and a heavy dose of Pheasant Tails. Don't forget the Caddis as these bugs will be with us for the duration. Elk Hair Caddis, X Caddis, CDC and Elk and Goddard Caddis are all great choices for the adult, for the larva the nondescript bead head larva will fill the bill.
This pattern should hold true on all of our local rivers for the next several weeks. Get yourself a good supply of Sulphur and Caddis adults, add in a verity of nymphs and larva and have a blast.
A few of Rick's shots from last weekend.
The Hickory Shad are showing up in fishable numbers. This years run is not the epic runs we had in 2005, 06, and 07, but there are fish to be had. It seems like moving around is the better bet rather than camping out in a single area. The best report we have heard has been about 50 fish in a extended evening of fishing, but, more realistic numbers are 10 to 25 fish in an evening. The evenings seem to be more productive than the mornings. Last weeks rains have the water level in Deer Creek up so a Versa leader or a short sink tip may be a good idea. The shops "Deer Creek S Fly" have been producing well, as well as the Micky Finn streamer. Anything bright and shiny will get a reactionary strike. We are never sure how long this run will last, so get down there as soon as you can to take advantage of this ever changing fishery.
These next pictures are from a Shad guide trip on Monday. Special thanks to Jim S. for taking these great shots.
The salt water reports we are getting are promising. A 41 inch Striper won the local surf fishing tournament last weekend, and several Flounder were caught also. Reports of Weakfish have been coming in as well with the area between the piers at Cape Henlopen being especially active. Roosevelt Inlet and the ferry wall deserve a look. Closures and Deceivers are always a good choice. If smaller bait is present some smaller Sand Eel imitations or glass minnows will be just the thing. Grab your 8 or 9 weight and head south, you just may hook your biggest fish of the year now!
With good action on the Trout rivers, Shad in Deer Creek, and the salt water action heating up it is a great time of year. Remember, Smallmouth fishing is just around the corner. Until next time...
Just add fish..
Well, you can not have a Smallmouth tying class without some kind of Crayfish pattern. This week we tied TP's Brandywine Crawler. The issue with many Crayfish patterns is that there are just too many steps and the patterns take too long to tie. On the flip side there are many "speed" crayfish patterns out there but, many of these seem to be lacking the important features. The pattern we tied last week is a great blend of detail, functionality, and tying time. The class seemed to agree as I believe the completed flies were the best we have seen across the board.
First lets take a look at some Ska-opper, homework from the prior week. I was happy to see several great Ska-opper's come in last week.
Although not technically part of the class I wanted to share this mouse tied by "One Boot" Ed. The hair work on this fly is exceptional and anyone who has spent any time spinning Deer hair can appreciate the work that goes into a fly like this. Great job Ed, this was too good not to share!
The Speed Pattern for last week was the Rubber Legs. A true speed tie that can be used in many situations. Chris R came with a beautiful box of flies. He says he has been using this for a Stonefly pattern for years.
As mentioned you just can not have a Smallmouth class without a Crayfish pattern. Many people don't realize when those big ole' Browns decide to strap on the feed bag right at dusk a Crayfish pattern can be deadly. This pattern can be fished as a nymph, swung on a tight line or stripped like a streamer. It is a very versatile pattern and does not take to long to tie.
Here in the first step the marabou has been threaded through the Pro Tube junction tube and tied on each side of the shank. We have also added the dumbbell eyes on the top of the hook shank.
Here the Furry Foam has been cut to length, pushed over the hook shank and folded in between the "claws" to split them and make them lay out to the sides.
This is Davede's fly. The chenille has been tied in as well as the pumpkin neck hackle that we use for the legs. We are coming down the home stretch.
Here is a great example of what the palmered legs should look like. This is Paul R's fly. While looking at his fly from the other end of the table he said "man, it really looks good from here" I must say I agree.
After palmering the legs the last step is to fold the Furry Foam over the top to form the top of the fly.
Once you get the progression of this fly down it is really a 10 minute tie. Not bad for a semi-detailed Crayfish pattern. There are many others out there that take much longer to tie and don't have the versatility of this one. I think the boss hit one out of the park with this one!
Speaking of progression the second pattern of the night was "Gary's Albie Fly". Simple in design and materials (Ostrich Hurl and Cross Cut Rabbit) This fly is right at home on the Smallmouth river as well as on Martha's Vineyard searching for Albies.
Marblehead note; I fished this fly on a wild Trout river all day Sunday. the results were great. Stay tuned for the next fishing report to read about it.
Well, another week and two more great patterns. One more week left and we have a good one on tap for the final class. See you all on Wednesday.
We had the second Smallmouth tying class last Wednesday. This class really is turning into a bunch of fun. It is nice to teach the actual patterns that we fish on the Brandywine to others so they too can catch with them. We believe the guys in the class feel the same way because the homework we saw this week was great.
The pattern we tied this week was Scott Howell's Ska-opper. A hybrid fly that combines the waking action of a skater and the chugging action of a popper hence the name Ska-opper. Originally designed as an Atlantic Salmon or Steelhead fly, we have been fishing it successfully for Smallmouth for several years now. Truly a fun way to fish because it is very visual. There is nothing like watching this fly chug and spit it's way across the surface only to see a Smallie blow up on it. Once you catch a few on the Ska-opper you will be "hooked" forever. To hear about the origin of the Ska-opper and see it in action click here.
The second fly we did last week was the Rubber Legs. A simple tie with only 2 materials, chenille and rubber legs. We used verigated chenille for the class fly, but you are only limited to your imagination. One of out great customers, Ed Collins, asked that we combine the Green Weenie and the Rubber legs for him last year. We came up with this and he couldn't be happier.
Like I said colors are only limited to your imagination, but black, brown, olive, and chartreuse seem to be the most popular.
Here are the recipies for both patterns.
This first picture shows all the materials ready to go Note one of the sample flies tied earlier in the day hanging on the bobbin cradle.
In this picture the tag and tail have been added to the hook. Note how the tail is applied so it is angled upwards.
Here we see the legs have been applied, the body has been wrapped and the foam has been put in.
The next series shows the deer hair being applied to the shank. I believe Terry used 4 clumps of hair while tying the class fly. While applying the hair start where the yarn body ends and work your way forward. We used a stacker in class, but this is optional. The stacking and trimming of the deer hair takes as long to complete as the rest of the fly. We spent a fair amount of time in class doing this. When you get the progression down it seems like you can bang one of these out in about 10 to 15 minutes.
And here are the completed flies. I am really excited to see the homework next week, and even more excited to hear the stories when the guys start to fish and catch with this fly.
We started the winter fly tying classes last week and they went great! Tuesday night is the beginner class. This class is as full as we have ever seen with a total of 17 people attending. We started class with the venerable Green Weenie. A staple pattern in the White Clay and a perfect pattern to start beginning tiers off with. The second fly of the night was the Wholly Bugger. Terry used the verigated chenille for the sample pattern. It is easier to see the two tone chenille when it is being wrapped around the hook shank, and this is why Terry used it. After seeing the end result I think we may have stumbled onto something.
It was great to see all of the guys in class learning new techniques. We are proud to say that every fly that was tied in class is "fishable" and everybody did a great job. I am really excited to see some of the homework next Tuesday night.
Here are a few more pictures from the Tuesday night class.
Night two, the Wednesday night class, is the advanced fresh water class. This class has a core group of guys that return every year. This is a great thing for the shop, because it forces us to come up with new and innovative patterns to teach in class. We say "teach" some might say "torment" but it is all in the name fun. The best way to strengthen your skill set is to tie flies and patterns you might not normally attempt. We jumped right in with a cased Caddis pattern. Definitely an advanced pattern with a section of the fly tied with a dubbing loop consisting of Pheasant tail fibers. A mess for sure while tying the fly, but if done correctly it looks way cool after it is trimmed to shape. The second fly of the night was a "gimme" compared to the first one, the Teeny Nymph. With only 3 materials including the hook and thread this is a "box filler" as you can crank out a bunch of these in short order. Its ease of tying is only matched by its effectiveness in the water. A great night was had by all and once again the homework results will be interesting to see. I am sure everyone will do a great job.
Here are a few pictures from the Wednesday night class.
The third night of class is the Thursday night Saltwater class. Staple patterns were the theme of the week with the two flies being the Clouser minnow and the Half and Half variation. Do you think it is a coincidence that we start the saltwater tying class with arguably the most effective pattern ever? This is usually the smallest class, which is a shame because there will be a ton of knowledge gained by the attendees after the 6 weeks. The guys did great. The Stripers and Blues are going to be in real trouble this spring when these patterns hit the water.
Here are the pictures from the Thursday night class.
The tying classes are a great time for both the teachers and the attendees. If you think you may be interested in taking a class click here for more information. Till next week...
This came across the wire the other day. It is too good not to share! Enjoy.
As many know, I can be found chasing many species of fish with my Spey rods, when not guiding. I just PLAIN enjoy casting and fishing these rods. With the introduction of lighter line weighted Light Spey / Switch rods, trouting and river bass fishing have entered the world of “two handed fly rod fishing”. Of late, Sage and Redington have the latest in 4 weight Light Spey / Switch rods and Rio has introduced the 275 grain Skagit and Scandi heads to match these magic wands. WOW, how cool can this get!?!
Sage 4116-4 ONE: I matched up my floating Light MOW Tip to the 275 grain Skagit Short Head and began casting on the Brandywine River. Once I got over the fact it wasn’t my 7 or 8 weight rod(s), I started casting short, then longer, then long. I threw Ska-Oppers and streamers with 10-12 foot leaders. After a few minutes I got lost in this rod, WOW! It pitched line like my heavier rods, even with some wind. Of course when I kicked my 1st mend, the whole line flew upstream, because it was so light. When I switched over to some T-8 MOW tips, I figured the challenges would begin; NOT to be! This rod JACKS line, that’s all there is to it. Did I mention that this rod is handsome, not that this is very important to me. I can’t wait to get my first shad, smallie and trout on the end of this stick. GREAT rod, awesome job, Sage!!!
Redington 4109-4 Prospector: This is a different animal than the Sage ONE; softer with a different flex point. I matched up the same Floating Light MOW Tip to the 275 Skagit Short Head. Once again, I needed to erase my 7 & 8 weights from my mind. I threw the same Ska-Oppers and streamers. After settling down a LOT, I just let the rod do all of the work and casts began to head for the horizon. If I punched too hard, casts piled up, but when I let it “all ride”, line disappeared from my fingers. The rod was easy in my hand, light and very “caster friendly”. Distance came up a bit shorter and casting heavier MOW tips didn’t come as easy as the ONE. The 275 Grain head felt a bit “chunky” on this rod for me. I need to put some lighter grain lines on this one to see where it falls in my arsenal. The Prospector definitely has game!
It seems like one of the most popular questions we get in the shop lately is to whether to go with a pack or a vest. Vests will always have their place in the fly fishing world. I have used a vest for most of my fly fishing career as I am sure many of you have done the same. Vests are great and there are several high quality models available from company's like Simms and Fishpond. We have several models for sale in the shop. We always say there are a million different ways to do this obsession we call fly fishing and we never say one way is better or worse than another. The important thing is that you find a system that works for you. For the sake of this post I would like to focus on "fishing" packs. We won't go into backpacks, dry bags, boat bags or wader totes. That is information for another post. Here we will talk about packs you wear while walk and wade fishing.
There are many different types of packs available for fishing. Today's models are manufactured to top notch quality standards. The features that are built into them let you know they are designed specifically for Fly fishing. Everything from tippet pockets, ripple foam inserts, zinger and nipper holders, and external fly patches have been built into these high performance fishing tools. They are roomy, light to carry and you can get PLENTY of gear in them. Several different styles are available and we will outline a few here.
The first thing you want to think about is what type of pack do you want to carry. Chests packs are nice and they keep everything close at hand. Most of today's are "form fitting" and you don't get the bulk that you used to get in years past. Here is a new model from Umpqua. As you can see the people at Umpqua had one thing in mind when designing this chest pack. You can carry everything from fly boxes to flotant. There is even a D ring to carry your net. All of this is available to the fisher person within a 24" by 24" area located on the front of your chest. Truly a well thought out design.
Beware, packs that ride high up on your chest can block your vision of what is down by your feet. Be careful not to trip on roots or rocks while walking. Also this might not be the best choice for certain body types or for women. Remember comfort is the key.
The second type of pack would be the shoulder or hip pack. Many of the models today have both a shoulder strap and a waist strap so they can be worn as a shoulder bag or a fanny pack. We fish out of this type of pack a lot and we recommend using both the shoulder and the waist strap. Doing it this way will distribute the weight more evenly. Because you are using both straps they don't need to be set as tight which will make it easier to move the pack around your body.
Here are a couple of my personal shoulder bags. One is my "Trout" pack and the other is my "Smallmouth" pack. I also have a pack for Shad and one to use when I am fishing with my 2 handed rods. When leaving for an outing all I have to do is grab the correct bag and go. With the exception of maybe swapping a fly box or two everything I need is already packed and ready to go.
"Marblehead tip...If you buy your fishing license online print out several copies. This way you can have a copy of each state's license in each pack you own. If you trout fish in the morning then shad fish in the afternoon you don't have to worry about switching your license from one pack to another".
Like the chest pack these shoulder bags are designed specifically for fly fishing and will hold everything you will need for an day on the water.
The third type of pack is the Sling Pack. These bags are kind of a hybrid between a backpack and a shoulder bag. Typically only having one strap they are meant to be worn on your back and out of the way while fishing. When you need it you can swivel the pack around to the front and get what you need then swivel it around to the back out of the way when you go back to fishing. Seen more frequently in the salt, sling pack manufactures have made a big push to the fresh water with a big emphasis placed on the Steelhead crowd.
Here at A Marblehead Flyfisher we carry a full line of packs and bags from company's like Simms, Fishpond, Sage, and Clear Creek. Stop in and see what these new packs have to offer.
Keep up to date on all things flyfishing.