A refill for my box and enough to get me through a few days of guiding.
Fly selection is a funny thing. I love to share tips and swap flies in the parking lot with my pals. Sometimes, it’s the most basic flies that catch fish. I can remember fishing the Claremont Stretch with my friend John when I was a teenager and him insisting that wet flies were the ticket. Now as I spend my time on the Gunpowder, I find myself swinging wet flies more and more.
Part of why I chose wets is past performance and the other is faith in a particular pattern or two. When a method produces fish, anglers are a hard lot to change. If it worked last time in these conditions, why not this time. I often find myself starting the day with a dry-dropper combo but later swinging wets. If it keeps working, I’ll never change!
My faith in a few simple flies contributes to my style of fishing as well. I tie a few simple soft hackle and caddis patterns that I believe in. My “Fast Caddis” is a winner when swung in tandem and the simple orange or yellow bodied fly with a light colored hackle is a go-to for the sulfur hatch. I believe that having faith in the fly on the end of your line enables you to catch more fish. If you believe in that fly, you’ll work harder to present it to the fish, making sure it drifts or swings perfectly though the strike zone, and taking your time while wading and not getting distracted by “walking” during the swing or by a good cigar that’s threatening to shorten your mustache. If you think the fly will catch fish, and you give it an earnest attempt, you’ll hook up more.
Assembling a box full of tried-and-true flies that you believe in can ensure that you catch fish. Spending the day with a guide who knows the water is a great way to see what secrets are in his box. I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find in there!
The fishing is hot!
Wet or dry...have it your way
Nothing is new about fishing wet flies but I thought I’d share my go-to wet/dry sulphur pattern. Fishing the Gunpowder Falls anglers are treated to some great hatches of sulphurs and caddis. I think there are more caddis in the river but feel free to debate it with me. In any case, I fish this fly both dry and wet. I even fish a combo of it with just the wings dried off by a powdered fly drying agent. There’s nothing fancy about it except maybe the snowshoe-hares foot wing. The more fish you catch the worse it looks and the better it seems to work. I don’t leave the house without a full compartment of this fly if I’m taking other people along. As the season goes by I tie it smaller and smaller and even with a dun colored wing. I credit an old friend for turning me onto the snowshoe hare years ago and I put it in everything.
Wet flies are one of those things you just can’t get in your local fly shop (unless you have a great local shop…if so get in there and buy some flies and other stuff from them and keep them open) and when I hear people say “It’s not worth tying my own flies” I think of this one. They’re becoming a lost art. There are dozens of patterns that you just can’t pick up everywhere. Many tiers are picky about little details and swear by minor adjustments of old patterns. I’m definitely one of those folks; for me it’s the little tweaks that give flies the “life” that some store bought flies are lacking. Spending a few hours at the vise refining and learning can pay off on the stream. There’s nothing more rewarding than learning to tie your own flies and hitting the water and CATHCHING FISH with something you made!
Get out there while it’s still spring! And get on some of those sulphurs. Maybe call your favorite local fishing guide (hint, hint!) and ask about some fly tying lessons. It’s a sure-fire cure for cabin feaver when winter comes around again.