Here we are on Halloween eve and I just got a bit of news that I am very excited about. The blog has been a little quiet for the past few weeks. I have been working on something since June really, but very intensely these last few weeks and that has taken a lions share of my time. All of the details have been ironed out and I am very proud to announce that the Christiana Cabelas store will be hosting a series of Winter fly tying classes and O'Neills Irish Flies will be instructing these classes!
I am very happy to be affiliated with the world's foremost outfitter and I will do my very best to make your class informative as well as fun. I will be instructing three separate, six week long classes; Introduction to fly tying, Cold Water 101, and Salt and Streamers. Each class will meet on the same night of the week from 6:00 pm till 8:00 pm.
Introduction to fly tying is a class tailored to the beginning fly tyer. We will discuss everything from the basic tools, how to use them, using the hook to measure proportions, and the different types of thread we use. I hope to tie 10 to 12 patterns in this six week class. At the end of the class, if you do your homework, you will have the beginning's of a well stocked fly box suitable for our local waters. The introductory class will meet on Thursday nights.
Cold Water 101 is a class designed for those who love to chase cold water species such as Trout, Steelhead, Musky and Shad. Flies in this class will be of moderate to advanced skill level. Where the Introductory class gives you the foundation for solid fly tying, 101 takes things a step further. New materials, challenging patterns and diversity are sure to make this class a hit! Cold water 101 will meet on Wednesday nights.
Monday nights are set aside for Salt and Streamers. This is my favorite class because with all of the new materials and techniques out there today we can really push the limit of fly design / tying! All patterns in this class have "crossover potential" as they can be fished for Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, and with a hook change these flies will go right into the salt for Stripers, Flounder and Blues. A moderate to advanced skill set is preferred for this class.
Classes will meet on their respective nights starting Monday, January 12 th and run six consecutive weeks concluding the week of February 16 th. O'Neills Irish Flies will provide all of the materials for the classes, participants will need to bring a vise, bobbin, bodkin, thread and a quality pair of fly tying scissors. We will meet in the conference room of the Christiana Cabelas store. for directions click here. Arrival 1/2 hour before the 6:00 pm start time is beneficial to allow for set up time and discussion.
If you think you may be interested in one of these classes of for more information and pricing please use one of the contacts at the bottom of the page to get in touch with me. Classes will be filled on a first come first served basis.
I hope you are as excited about participating in these classes as I am about instructing them. I look forward to seeing you in class this winter.
P.S. Fly tying classes make GREAT Christmas presents...
I am very excited and proud to announce that O'Neill's Irish Flies is now working with Hareline Dubbin. The addition of a Commercial Tiers acct. will allow me the flexibility to explore new materials and new techniques. This new found freedom will provide better, more in depth, experience for my tying classes, private lessons and allow me to expand my "Signature Flies" section of the web site. Thank you to all of the staff at Hareline, you guys are awesome! I look forward to a long relationship between the two of us.
If you read my last blog post you may remember me referring to my buddy Rick as "my most trusted mentor." While that is the case, Rick is much more than that. How many people are fortunate enough to have a friend in their lives willing to share all the fly fishing knowledge they have amassed throughout their fly fishing "careers?" What about a buddy that will take you to one of those "secret" spots they found years ago so you and he can fish for native Brookies together? Well, that is exactly what Rick did and we had a great day on Sunday.
Before I tell you that story I need to share this one...
My fishing this week started on Thursday. I was excited as I left work because Thursday evening was to be my first "on the water workshop". We were going to do an Indicator nymphing workshop on the White Clay. Unfortunately, on the way to the river, my client had to cancel due to work reasons. Part of me was bummed because I was looking forward to doing the workshop, on the other hand I just picked up some free fishing time! I only had a short window to fish, so I went to my favorite section of river, tied on a Dry and Dropper rig and started to work my way up stream. At the head of the first hole I hooked and landed a beautiful 17" ish Brown Trout. After snapping a few pics It dawned on me that I have seen this fish before. This fish has a very distinguishing lower jaw. Back in April, in the same hole, almost in the same lie I hooked and landed a beautiful 17" ish Brown Trout and I was confident this was the same fish. I went home and dug up the pictures. The first set are the fish from last Thursday, the second set are from April. This section of the White Clay is pretty narrow, I doubt two fish of that size are living in the same lie.
These are from October
These are from April
Same fish? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
With the first week of October in the books and the Fall weather firmly taking hold it is time to go after some Brookies. Any self proclaimed Brookie nut will tell you if you want to get a Brookie in full colors, October is one of the best months to do it. Rick and I had been planning this day for about two weeks. A few texts Saturday night set us up for a 9:00 am meet and ride to the spot. On the way out we talked about many fishing related topics including Rick's recent trip to Martha's Vineyard to chase Albies, Winter Midging, and Trout rise forms to name a few. Always willing to give instruction the "seat time" with Rick to and from our fishing spots can be as rewarding as the fishing itself. We arrived at the spot and started to rig up. Short, light rods, a small selection of Dry Flies, a couple spools of tippet and maybe a spare leader pretty much will cover it.
The 6' Fenwick "White Stripe" and the new Redington Butterstick were the rods of choice. Both of these glass rods are suited perfectly for this type of fishing.
The hike in can be as much fun as the actual fishing. Whom ever was the first to say the famous quote "Trout don't live in ugly places" I am sure was a Brookie fishermen.
I once heard Eric Stroup say Brookie fishing is like Chicken Soup for the soul. With the beauty of the areas where they live, their willingness to eat flies and awesome colors of the fish I couldn't agree more. If you have never done this type of fishing before be prepared for a lot of walking, climbing, rock crawling, kneeling and sitting. The fishing is not what I would call technical. A simple 4x leader and a #14 White Wulff are all that is needed. Rarely leader shy and willing to eat a Dry Fly at the drop of a hat, Native Brook Trout may be the perfect fly fishing quarry. As mentioned the fishing is not technical, but the casting, oh boy the casting. Many was the time when I would hold the branches out of the way so Rick could drop a fly in to a "hole" that may be no bigger than your kitchen sink. As we Leap Frogged each other up the stream we would take turns moving branches to clear each others back casts.
I honestly don't know how many fish we landed, maybe 30. I do know that each one that came to hand was absolutely beautiful!
If you haven't done this type of fishing, do yourself a favor and give it a shot. Chicken Soup for the soul...that is the best way to describe fishing for Native Brook Trout.
I almost forgot to mention one other very important thing you need to Brook Trout fish. In fact this is probably the most important piece of gear for this type of fishing...
Believe me, I am feeling it today!
My favorite color is October, I have seen that message come across my Facebook page several times in the last few days. Usually the statement is accompanied with a picture of some trees in full Autumn splendor. I must say October is one of my favorite months of the year. I love the crispness of the fall air. I do enjoy the sight of the trees as the green leaves of Summer give way to the oranges, yellows, and reds of the Fall season. I like the look of a partially combined corn field, a sight common during the harvest time of the year. Yes, if you are an outdoor enthusiast like me, October is hard to beat. The trees and foliage aren't the only things in nature that don their Sunday best in October...
With the night time temperatures dipping into the forties on some occasion and as we await the first frost on the pumpkin that can only mean one thing, Fall Trout season is here! As typical this time of year we will head to our favorite Wild Brown Trout river and try our luck. Two or Three text messages the night before and the plans were set. "One Boot" Ed and I were to meet at 9:30, drive to our destination and fish the day. My Streamer box was recently filled and I was ready for what was sure to be a good day pitching some new patterns I have been working on.
I call this my Minnie Meat Locker. All sub 3" patterns, most of them are articulated. My favorites from Kelly Galloup, Rich Strolis, and a few of my patterns are here. As we rigged at the truck I opted for my 6 wt. I know, heavy rod for a wild trout river in our area, but when you are planning on dredging the bottom with a weighted fly and or a 6 foot Versa Leader you will be glad you took a little more stick. One pattern I was really excited to try came from my buddy Mark Erdsoy from This River Is Wild. You all know I am a sucker for a good Sculpin pattern and this Intruder inspired fly is a winner.
As soon as I saw that picture I knew I had to tie a few. I went a little smaller with mine as I am sure Mark is using this to swing for Steelhead.
It was not until after I tied several of these did I realize I forgot to put in the barred saddles on the back! Oh well, can't do anything about it now. They will still fish fine, I will get them on the next batch. Visit "This River is Wild" Facebook page here or their web site here. These guys are hard core! Check em out, you will be glad you did.
As mentioned I rigged my G Loomis Pro-4X 6 wt with a six foot Versa leader and my version of Mark's fly. After rigging up, Ed and I started the 45 minute hike up to the section we wanted to fish. The plan was to walk up, fish down and see what the day would bring.
The trees weren't in full color yet, but about another week and a half and they should really pop. On the way up we both noticed the river was a little low. I didn't think much of it until we reached the spot I wanted to fish and realized there was no way I was going to fish a Streamer with a six foot sink tip. As I stood there and contemplated my options Ed said he was going to go up above me about half of a mile and fish down. With only a integrated sink tip line Ed decided to stick with the Streamers.
After some thought I decided to take the Versa leader off and go with a dry and dropper rig. I still had my 6 wt, not the ideal dry and dropper rod, but I built a 9' leader tapered to 5X and gave it a go.
The first fish to come to hand was this thick shouldered brown. Under the dry fly (a #14 Stimulator) I had a #16 Flashback Pheasant Tail and tied to that I had a #20 Al's Rat. A former customer, Dennis Zak, fishes this type of rig all the time. His theory is the fish see the attractor type nymph and then eat the natural. Since hearing his stories of success on the White Clay I have been fishing this type of rig often and the results have always been positive. BTY, he ate the smallest fly on the rig.
After a few hours of fishing, one landed and one missed, I met up with Ed. He had some positive action on the streamer with some flashes and follows and he was gong to continue to fish down. He told me a few spots where he had moved fish and I was headed up to try to get them. By now it is going on 1:30 in the afternoon, the water temp had risen 4 degrees from the 42 that I got when I temped it in the morning and there was a little bug activity starting to happen. There it was, that little tell tail ring in the water that lets you know that things are getting ready to get real up in here! The rises were slow at first, then, in the rhythm that is the holy grail of fly fishing. I had several fish rising within casting distance. I decided to set up camp and try to pick as many as I could. I lengthened my leader to about 12' and tapered it to 6x and tried on my favorite topwater Midge pattern, the Sprout Midge. Over the next 45 minutes no less than 12 fish tried to eat my offering with me failing to connect on all 12. I don't know if it was the rust from not dry fly fishing for a while, if I was pulling it away from them, or I was just plain missing them. Ether way 0 for 12 had my frustration meter pegged in the red! I decided to take a break, eat a protein bar and collect my thoughts. I remembered something Rick Bender, my most trusted mentor, once told me. "When you see the fish take the dry don't set right away, in your mind say God Save the Queen then set." A valuable piece of advice! After my break I decided to put a little bigger fly on and have at it again. I tied on a #22 parachute Adams (because a #22 is so big). With Rick's little trick in my mind I proceeded to pick seven of the remaining 9 fish that were still rising.
It was about 4:00 by this time and the fish had shut off so I decided to start what would be the now 1 hour walk back to the truck. As I came up on my buddy Ed he was unhooking this beauty he had landed on a Elk Hair Caddis after going back to the truck and switching rods.
We both had a great day on the water. The rule of thumb is to "plan your fish and fish your plan" and usually that is a good credo to stick to. Every once in a while it pays to think outside the box, like fishing #22 and #24 dry flies on a 6 wt. As mentioned, the leaves aren't the only things in nature to color up in the Fall, Wild Browns do too.
Welcome to the "Irish Flies" blog. This is my first Blog post from my new site and I hope you all enjoy it. I will do my best to keep up with the Blog, putting up new content regularly. There is nothing worse than a blog that never gets updated or, when updated,the post is a smattering of poorly taken pictures just thrown up in no particular order with no content. You would have a better time getting your teeth drilled than reading some of the posts that are out there. I am hopeful that you will find the blog posts both entertaining and informative. Comments are always welcome and I would encourage your input.
This past Tuesday I was in a familiar spot as it was time for my bi-weekly private tying lesson with a former customer turned good friend. We have been doing this for quite some time now and I have really come to look forward to this particular Tuesday night. Our focus has been on articulated flies. Some nights we will do one of my patterns, other nights I will demo a pattern from one of the great tyers that are pushing the envelope of fly design. For this lesson I chose to teach a pattern from one of my favorite Tyers, Rich Strolis. Rich owns Catching Shadows, a great Blog with tons of videos showcasing his great patterns. For this lesson we tied the Masked Avenger, a great pattern that I have had some success with this past year. Marabou and Arctic Fox...you cant go wrong.
Set up and ready to go. I still love tying on that old Regal. It has been my travel vise for a long time now, it is kinda like an old friend.
The rear section of the fly complete. I wish I had a better picture of the Marabou tail. If you aren't palmering your marabou make a point to learn how. It really doesn't take much longer than tying a "bugger" style tail. It looks much better and moves like crazy! The reverse tied Arctic fox gives this fly a great profile without adding much weight.
Here is the tail section connected to the front hook. Thar Polar Chenille really lights up against the Marabou.
Over the shoulder pic as the front half of the fly comes together.
Here is the finished fly. I would say the lesson was a success, wouldn't you? To top it all off when we were done tying they had me stay for dinner and we talked fishing, fly tying, and about my new venture "Irish Flies" over some of the best Mussels Marinara I have ever tasted. It is nice to come into someone's home and feel welcomed, that is just the way I feel every other Tuesday night...welcomed.
For more information about the private tying lessons click here. If you would like to schedule a lesson or two please use the links at the bottom of the page to contact me. Until next time.