Archive for the ‘Fly Tying’ Category

Brad Bohen Tying up a Chunky Predator Fly   1 comment

Here’s my favorite Musky fisherman, Brad Bohen, tying his Hang Time Optical Minnow. His method of tying bucktail on backwards gives these flies that ability to pulse in the water like a squid upon retrieval.

Check it out!

Fly Tying with Brad Bohem (Hang Time Optical Minnow) from TheNewFlyFisher on Vimeo.

Ready to Swing   2 comments

As I’d hoped, I was able to sit down for a few hours and tie some streamers to use in my pursuit of Steelhead on the swing.

Here’s the fruit of my labor. Those on the right are based on the Great Lakes Blue-Gold Intruder and those on the left are based on the Egg Sucking Tarantula Hairy Leg Leech, both found at OregonFlyFishingBlog.com. There are some other odds and ends in the box as well.

Hopefully these new flies will catch me some fish!

 

Steelhead Streamer Box

Steelhead Streamer Box

 

 

Just in Time for the Weekend   2 comments

I got a delivery today. Looks like somebody’s going to be tying some Steelhead flies this weekend…

 

Raw materials from The Caddis Fly Shop (Click the pic to go there...)

Raw materials from The Caddis Fly Shop (Click the pic to go there…)

Milwaukee Salmon and Steelhead Spey Fishing   2 comments

I’ll be heading over to Milwaukee for the weekend to visit family and while I’m there I plan to spend some time in the Milwaukee River, swinging intruder spey flies in front of Salmon and Steelhead.

Steelhead are what I’m after, of course. But I stopped in and talked with Craig Amacker, the fishing manager over at Fontana Sports in Madison. Craig relayed a story to me about a quick trip he took up to the Sheboygan River the day before. There were some salmon in the river, as you’d expect, and Craig was swinging flies. He found that many of the salmon were moving a long way to smash a fly. If I get some salmon in this manner I’ll be pleased. It’s the endless foul-hooking of salmon that I can’t stand.

So anyway…

Salmon moving to flies? Sure.

Steelhead moving to flies? You betcha!

Perhaps the odd lake-run Brown Trout? Bring it.

I have started to try tying Intruder-style streamers this fall. I found some inspiration at the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog where they have a page full of videos showing how to tie steelhead fly patterns. Last night I tied my first tube fly. We’ll see how they work out in Milwaukee…

 

Tom's "Olde Seminal Vesicle" Steelhead Intruder fly

Tom’s “Olde Seminal Vesicle” Steelhead Intruder fly

 

Tom's "Patrick Petitjean" Steelhead Intruder fly (Click image for a special treat)

Tom’s “Patrick Petitjean” Steelhead Intruder fly (Click image for a special treat)

 

 

 

Beastly Brown   2 comments

Stephen Rose, Gregg Kissel and I found ourselves in the Wisconsin Driftless late last week pursuing fall trout in a beautiful spring-fed creek. This particular creek, a trib of the Blue River, was littered with Chubs, which is usually cause for an obstreperous outing. Indeed, many of the fish brought to hand were Chubs, but the upside, at least in theory, was that any trout lurking in the big pools of this little creek were likely to have dined on Chubs, giving the trout license to grow big and beastly.

Stephen was dredging a pool with a white woolly bugger downstream from me. I heard a holler from him and turned around to see his rod arched into a crescent, his line piercing the water and vibrating like a banjo string. I ran toward him to lend a hand. I waded into the pool and scooped the fish at the exact moment the knot on his hook eye failed. In four years of fly fishing for Driftless spring creek trout, this is the largest Stephen has caught. We didn’t get a measurement but by any appraisal it’s a nice fish for a stream that probably has a flow rate of 10 cubic feet per second.

After some photos Stephen put him back and he darted for the depths to regain his strength for the upcoming spawn, and to grow even larger for another encounter in the future.

 

Stephen Rose with a nice Wisconsin Driftless Brown

Stephen Rose with a nice Wisconsin Driftless Brown

 

Wisconsin's Driftless Region in late September

Wisconsin’s Driftless Region in late September

 

 

On The Creek Closed?   7 comments

From the look of things, Todd Opsal has closed shop at On The Creek in Cross Plains. I’m sad to think that this is likely the case. I enjoyed visiting the shop, the only good fly shop in the area. Fontana has great flies but the atmosphere and personalities there are not as compelling as what Todd offered.

If anyone knows and cares to share what went down, I’d really like to know.

Black Earth Creek Headwaters Get Fixed   Leave a comment

Olde Timey Times in Cross Plains

Olde Timey Times in Cross Plains

 

Long ago, when the photo above was new, there was a mill dam on Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains. The dam provided power of some kind to aid in the production of something. It was a beautiful thing. To make the dam work better the channel upstream was straightened out (channelized).

Some time later, perhaps after electrification came to Cross Plains, the dam was removed, but the creek remained straight.

On April 3rd the Village Board of Cross Plains awarded the job of “remeandering” this section of Black Earth Creek to a local construction company. In the short time between April and late June, the job is nearly done.

I went to Cross Plains today to take a look, and stopped in to chat with Todd Opsal at On the Creek. According to Todd, the new work being done on the creek will not only benefit existing fish, but will also significantly add to the spawning habitat in the creek headwaters. That’s a very good thing because more spawning means more trout.

The section upstream of the reworked section is now flowing faster, so a lot of the silt has rinsed away leaving behind sand and gravel streambed that fish and fishermen love.

I look forward to watching the stream take shape and getting after it once the fish return. It should be a real pleasure!

 

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - no longer a muddy channel

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – no longer a muddy channel

 

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - look at those lovely curves!

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – look at those lovely curves!

 

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - the right side is the old channelized streambed

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – the right side is the old channelized streambed

 

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains - Looking downstream at the reclaimed streambed

Black Earth Creek in Cross Plains – Looking downstream at the reclaimed streambed

 

 

 

 

 

Tainter and Knapp Creek in April   5 comments

On Friday Stephen and I took a drive out to the Kickapoo River Valley to fish the fine waters of Tainter Creek. This river is loaded with fish. Perhaps I shouldn’t kiss and tell, as they say, but seriously, if you don’t already know about Tainter Creek, well, you need to talk to more fishermen.

For those of you who are angry about my use of stream names in my trip reports, I’m sorry. But it’s nothing you couldn’t get from reading a few books, going to a few fly shops, and attending a TU meeting once in a blue moon. Isn’t it sort of like saying there are Musky in Lake Minoqua, or that there are Steelhead in the Brule?

But, I digress.

The thing about trout fishing is that it isn’t a given you’ll catch the trout. Stephen and I started the day looking down into a pool from a bridge over Tainter Creek, where we spied perhaps 250 fish. We fished that pool a few hours later and caught exactly two trout from it. Some days the fish are willing. Other days, they’re obstinate.

After a lunch in the car we fished upstream from the bridge and found more fish, only some of which were willing. The sections we fished on Friday were gorgeous, natural, healthy and thriving with life.

We wrapped up fishing toward late afternoon, found a camp, and then headed to Soldier’s Grove for some food. On the way we crested the ridge between the Tainter Creek Valley and the Kickapoo River Valley, and Stephen’s phone chimed. He checked it and found a message from John Jackels, who said he was in Readstown and hoping to find us. We had driven down the hill a ways and Stephen had lost his signal, so I backed up about an eighth mile to regain the summit, and we gave John a call. He was ten minutes north of Soldier’s Grove, and we were ten minutes west of it. How about that?!

I really wish Soldier’s Grove had a bar with some good food. Or maybe my problem is that I picked the wrong thing to eat. I had the fried fish (Haddock, I think), with “baby red” potatoes. John had the same thing. Stephen had the baked fish with garlic mashed potatoes. My fish was akin to eating breaded and deep fried eraser. The baby reds were really just Russet potatoes cut into chunks the size of baby red potatoes, deep fried and sprinkled with canned parmesan cheese. Stephen’s baked fish was like eating a piece of bone that had been boiled long enough to turn it into a gelatinous lump. His garlic mashed potatoes tasted like pizza.

I’m in a critical mood today. Sorry.

After dinner we got some coffee and eggs from the gas station to prepare breakfast on Saturday, then we headed back to the campsite, made a fire, shot the shit, and went to bed.

Saturday dawned cold and breezy. We had breakfast on the road and headed downstream. We fished what I believe are some of the finest runs of trout water in the state. We all got several nice fish to hand and enjoyed the morning immensely.

We had lunch on the road and then hit a pretty section of Tainter where some “restoration” work had recently taken place.

I suppose after a few years these restored sections come back with vigor, but the section we visited was a ghost town. No fish spotted, and the habitat was much less varied than natural areas. It’s sort of like fishing a golf course. A thing that’s concerning about these projects is that, in the natural world, streams move and meander and find their way. The strategy used for restoration means the creek won’t move. It will stay in its channel for a good long while. Is this a problem? Does it exclude other species besides trout? I didn’t see a single creature moving around in this restored section, whereas the area we fished in the morning was full of birds and voles and stuff. I hope these restorations are being done in a way that considers all of this.

We wrapped up our trip on Knapp Creek, where we came upon a woman walking back along the road after a good day of fishing. Her face said it all. The fish were rising, she had said. We parked and dove in and, sure enough, rising fish! I got one out of a deep pool on a dry. It’s silvery body came from down deep and it shot out of the water straight through the fly. What a great catch!

Tired and happy, we made our way back home after a great trip to the Driftless.

All weekend, by the way, I had great success using a “black tadpole” streamer fly, shown in the fish pic below, with a “brassie” dropper. I got fish on both of these and I’m really a fan of this tandem rig. It seems the bashful fish are willing to go after the small brassie, while the outgoing (and usually, bigger) fish are all about gobbling up the black tadpole.

 

Breakfast on the road.

Breakfast on the road.

 

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own "black tadpole"

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own “black tadpole”

 

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

 

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

 

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

 

Lunch on the road.

Lunch on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superior X-Legs: The Fly of Choice for Brule Steelheaders   Leave a comment

The Superior X-Legs fly is the eponymous fly for those looking to catch Steelhead in Lake Superior tributary rivers. It is a nymph pattern created by Duluth’s Jim Pollack that many anglers swear by.

 

Superior X-Legs Nymph - Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website

Superior X-Legs Nymph – Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website

 

A common rig used on the Brule is to tie on the X-Legs below a float or indicator, and then tie an egg pattern below the X-Legs as a dropper (I like to use “Trout Beads”). The X-Legs bumps along near the bottom and the egg flutters along behind it.

 

Here’s the “Salmonid Seeker”, Dustin, with an excellent video showing how the fly is tied. Check out his YouTube channel for other videos of Steelhead flies. I’ll be trying out a few myself.

 

 

A New Spot   2 comments

I’ve been working my way up and down Black Earth Creek over the past few years, attempting to lay eyes on every stretch of that river. I was looking over satellite images of the valley and saw a bend I had not yet visited. So like any curious adventurer I headed west, rigged up, and hiked in to see it for myself.

The section is comprised of a few lazy but significant bends and riffles, and surely there are hundreds of trout hunkered down over a length of 100 yards of the stream. As I approached the tail of the bend I saw a few rise forms upstream where the current collides with the bank. Fish!

The sky was overcast and the stream was slowly coming up in temp from the 50’s to the 60’s. I tied on a little Elk Hair Caddis and cast to the rise forms. On my fifth or sixth cast I was drifting the fly through the zone and saw something floating downstream that I couldn’t identify. It was about the size of a baseball, but brown and shiny, half-submerged in the water. As it passed I looked back upstream to find my fly, but instead saw a turbulent ring in the water. A fish had slurped my fly. And I missed the take. But I had the fish on!

A short tug of war, dominated by yours truly, resulted in my holding the fish below, a beautiful, if diminutive, Brown Trout.

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

 

I fished a while longer, moving upstream through the bends, casting carefully with dries and nymphs to likely spots. After some time I put on a Pink Squirrel and made a few nice “reach” casts, making the fly swing around to the left and out of sight, hoping to sneak up on something. I felt a big tug and started stripping line. The fish came toward me with a strong fight and headed straight for the plunge pool downstream. I kept good tension on the line and tried to bring the fish up where I could see it, but I couldn’t raise it. The fish kept diving and fighting and I kept easing the rod tip upward to get it into view.

And then, nothing. Somehow my pink squirrel got spit out by that good fish and I was left to wonder what I might have held in my hands.

I noticed that the chenille collar of pink that was once wrapped around the neck of my pink squirrel fly had come unraveled and was now hanging there seductively, looking like a pink worm emerging from a dark gray husk. Perhaps the big fish I’d had on saw the fly in this new arrangement. Perhaps it was just the thing to entice that big fish. Or perhaps the fight with that big fish caused the fly to unravel. Either way, the thing now looked even more appealing, to me anyway, so I continued to fish with it like that. Funny enough, I caught five chubs on it but no trout. I may tie a few like this to see what happens.

I can’t complain about the outing. It was a lovely place with lots of wild and pleasing sounds, and I feel so blessed to be able to zip out and fish there for brief moments almost anytime. Hopefully you’ve got such a place in your life to unwind, recharge, and prepare for what life throws at you.