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.
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.
Here is a great video about how the Ska-opper came to be. Informative for everybody, all of the guys in the Smallmouth tying class should check this out. Make sure you stick around for the "Live Action" at the end. it is Awesome!
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!
Well, Vacation and recovering from vacation kept me off the river till Sunday night this week. I am happy to say the Brandywine is still fishing great. The flow was down when I hit the water and a quick check of the USGS site showed the river to be running at just above 90 CFS. I do not ever remember it being this low in the past! The water temps are holding well at 78 degrees. With all of the talk and posting of the Ska-opper over the weekend I decided to take my 2 hander and Ska-opper fish the entire evening. Now I will be the first to admit a 450 gr switch rod is a bit of overkill for 12" Smallmouth, it is still very fun to work through all the casts and land fish on top water. At the start of the trip I was landing nice, red-breasted sunfish on almost every cast with a few Smallies mixed in. When the sun went behind the trees is when the action started. I worked my way through one of my favorite runs and found several AGGRESSIVE fish, fish that would continue to strike the fly until they hooked themselves, sometimes 2 or 3 times. It was truly an enjoyable evening to be on the river...until the sky opened up and I realized I was about a mile and a half away from the truck! Oh well, a few wet clothes were worth it. BTY if you want to see a Ska-opper that has been through the wringer stop in.
We received a similar report from one of our customers Bob Flanagan about his fishing on Friday evening on the Brandywine and One Boot Ed sent me a awesome picture of a beautiful 16 incher he landed on Saturday morning.
Smallie season is in full swing, in fact the best time of the year is right around the corner. Get out and fish!!!!!
A 2 hander, Ska-opper, and a Smallie...Awesome!
One Boot Ed's Nice one from the weekend. Way to go buddy!!!
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