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.
The "Smallmouth Challenge" is designed to be a fun, non-competitive fishing challenge we will be hosting in the shop this summer. The premise is simple. Bob Clouser, most famous for the Clouser Deep Minnow, has seventeen great fly patterns in his book "Clouser Flies" all designed to catch Smallmouth Bass. What the challenge consists of is tying three of four of each of the patterns in the book and landing at least one Smallie on each of the seventeen flies in one season. I personally did this on my own last year and it was a blast. You can read about my completing the challenge here. Everyone that completes the challenge will be eligible for the prizes we will award at the end of the challenge. As mentioned this is meant to be a fun, non-competitive fishing challenge designed to push your skills at the bench as well as on the river. We are not big on rules as this is recreation. Here are a few things you need to do in order to help us host the challenge.
1) Go to www.facebook.com/smallmouthchallenge and like our challenge page, then message us with your name, email address and let us know you want to take the challenge. We will set up an album within the page with all of the participants names. Each time you complete a set of flies or catch a fish on one of them send the picture to us and we will put it in the appropriate album. When you have tied all seventeen flies and caught seventeen Smallmouth, on each fly, you have completed the challenge and are eligible for the prize drawing.
2) All flies are to be tied in the "spirit" of the pattern. Some substitutions such as hooks or some of the harder to find materials can be made, but, lets try to keep things as close to the original pattern recipes as we can. You may tie the patterns in any color you wish.
3) If you have tied any these patterns before and would like to use them that is fine as long as you can provide a picture of them. I had tied several of the flies before, but thought I owed it to the "Challenge" to tie all new flies, the choice is yours.
3) We would like the fish to finish their spawn before we start fishing for them. For that reason we would like to start the "Fishing" portion of the challenge on June 22nd and run until October 19th. You can tie as many flies before hand as you like.
4) All fish are to be released after carefully photographing them. For a few tips on fish photography click here. The challenge is open to any and all people who want to participate. Please be sure to follow any and all fish and game laws in the state you will be fishing.
5) Have Fun!
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck to all and remember...get out and fish!
A Marblehead Flyfisher would like to present our second annual "Spring Fever" open house!
We have finalized the details for our "Spring Fever" open house we will be having on Saturday, April 13th 10:00am till 5:00pm.
Dick Kondak from G Loomis will be here with all of the great new Loomis rods and gear. If you have been thinking of a new Loomis rod or are curious about a new model this is the perfect time to "test drive" one. NRX, Pro-4, Switch and Spey rods will all be here. We will also do a few casting demos throughout the day. We will also be raffling a 9' 5wt NRX rod at the end of the day. Stop by and take a chance on this beautiful $740.00 rod!.
A new venture here at A Marblehead Flyfisher is the addition of a woman's sportswear collection from Redington. As mentioned "Athletic Elegance" is a new venture spearheaded by Mrs. Marblehead Flyfisher, Mary Ann. Bring your best gal in to check out these SPF rated, comfortable, easy to wear designs for women.
Frank Swarner will be here tying flies at the tying bench. Frank is an accomplished Spey and Dee fly tier. Frank will be tying some Spey type flies as well as some articulated streamers, Trout flies, warm water flies and maybe some salt water stuff. Don't miss this chance to see a great tier up close and personal. You can read more about Frank and check out some of his work here.
Other highlights include;
20% off all "T" shirt designs from last year.
10% off Redington Versa pants, Sanabel Island Shorts, and Top Water Shorts.
We will have several great items in the shop's raffle as well as plenty of door prizes especially items for the kids. Come join us for good friends, good food, and great fun. We look forward to seeing you here on Saturday, April 13th.
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!
Well, the "Holiday Open House went off yesterday and to say we had a good turn out would be a huge understatement! The shop was packed from the time we opened the door until the time we shut down at around 6:15 pm. It was great to see all of the familiar faces as well as many new faces. Terry and I would like to apologize for not being able to spend as much time with all of you as we wanted to, there were so many people to get to. Hopefully everybody had as much fun attending as we did hosting. Here are some of the pictures taken throughout the day.
The first thing we did was to unveil the new shop logo. As I hung the new "shingle" I was very proud of my son Tyler who made the sign for us. What a great job he did cutting, routing, and finishing it. I Feel it is more a work of art rather than a shop logo. Thanks buddy, you did a great job and should be proud of your work.
Phase two of the new logo unveil was the "wear your Marblehead with pride" package. We had the new shop hat in several colors available at the show. We bundled it with our new window decal, a custom machined key chain, and a shop fly box. Response to this was strong as several of these packages went out. I am really looking forward to the first time I see a window decal or a hat on one of out local rivers.
Speaking of works of art, local artist Bart Gelesh laid out a showing of his work that was unbelievable. I truly admire the artistic abilities of others as I literally cant draw a stick figure. The fish in his paintings look like they are going to swim right off of the page. I really like the "Forest Brookie" and his renderings of the American shad. Check out www.bartgelesh.com to see more.
What Bart is to the brush and canvas Andrew Neithe is to the vise and thread. Andrew spent the day tying and talking flies with everybody. It is a pleasure watching him tie and teach as he really takes the time to explain in detail the patterns he is tying and the techchniques he is using. I was bummed as I only got a limited amount of time to watch him tie. Hopefully you got to spend more time with Andrew than I did.
A late, yet welcome edition to the open house was author Beau Beasley. Beau spent the day signing books and magazine articles and talking conservation. Anybody who has spent more that a few seconds talking with Beau can tell he is a very passionate individual. We should all take a page from his book (no pun intended) and get involved in some of these environmental issues. To see and read more check out Beau's site here.
Here is Beau working the crowd.
Our new drift boat was on display and we think it was received well. You can check out more information about our float trips here. We are looking forward to a fun and fish-filled summer on the Brandywine. Book now as we think these spots will fill quickly. Congratulations to the grand prize winner!
On top of all of this we had our shop raffle with may great prizes, a ton of great food prepared by Mary Ann, casting demonstrations by Terry, impromptu casting lessons by Tim, and all in all a great day at the shop.
A Marblehead Flyfisher would like to thank Andrew, Bart, and Beau for their involvement in the event, Mary Ann for all of the wonderful food, and the members of the "Rat Squad" who helped out working the crowd. Most of all we would like to thank you the customers. Without you events like this don't happen. We really appreciate all of your support and want to extend our sincere gratitude.
From all of here at A Marblehead Flyfisher INC.
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!
Keep up to date on all things flyfishing.