You can tell I am excited. Sulphurs can bring some of the best fishing of the year to the Gunpowder. Sulphur patterns are working as fish start to look up after a long, cool spring. The hatch is in its early stages and pretty sporadic, but the dry fly action is as good as it has been this year. Higher water temperatures are making trout more active overall, so this is a good time to get out there.
I just realized it has been over three weeks since my last post. Sorry about that–I have been on vacation in New England for a good bit of that time, and living in Baltimore I have learned not to broadcast my vacations… I did get to fish a little bit, mostly on smallmouth rivers and brook trout streams.
I’ll be back with Gunpowder Fishing Reports this week. Since I haven’t been on that river in nearly two weeks, any report I could give would be stale. To help make up for my laziness, I will clue you in to a very easy-to-tie fly that will be a key part of my arsenal this time of year. Terrestrials are gearing up on the Gunpowder, but my favorite and most productive dry from here through about October is the No-Hackle Caddis.
Credit for inventing this fly goes to Bob Wyatt (see the Spring 2013 issue of Fly Rod and Reel Magazine, www.flyrodreel.com), who calls it the No-Hackle Deer Hair Sedge. He ties it prettier than I do, but I can’t imagine it’s that much more effective.
The tie couldn’t be more simple. Dub a body, then tie on a deer hair wing. That’s it. I use all sections of the deer hair, but the thickest ones float best. This fly floats better than any fly I have ever used, yet trails its tasty looking dubbed body in the film. This often entices very aggressive strikes. Nearly any color dubbing can work. My favorites are yellow, gray, and natural hare’s ear, but I have had success with half a dozen other colors. I also typically tie in size 14 or 16. You can match your flies to the size and color of caddis you see on the stream, or use it as an attractor.
The best use of the No-Hackle Caddis is in slightly broken water, like a riffle or current seam. I have had very productive days with this fly not just on the Gunpowder, but on mountain streams from the Hyalite in Montana to the Appalachian freestoners in Shenandoah National Park. Last week on the West Branch of the Battenkill in Vermont, I only had 45 minutes to fish. I tied on the fly pictured above and raised 5 brookies in that short time without ever changing flies.
The fly has incredible floating properties. You can easily drop a small nymph off the hook. A special bonus: you can swing the No-Hackle Caddis like a wet at the end of your drift, and if you don’t get a strike on the swing (which happens more than you might think), false cast once then fish it again as a dry. You can do this for a surprisingly long time between applications of your favorite powder floatant.