This past week was probably the best week we have seen this year flyfishing the Gunpowder. Water temperatures peaking in the low 60’s have fish looking up, and they are seeing hatches of sulphurs (the size 16, pale yellow variety) and small tan caddis. I’ve had more success with sulphur emergers, but other reputable fishermen (if there is such a thing) have reported success with the duns.
I like fishing caddis imitations, and the Gunpowder’s browns have been responding well to caddis patterns fished in likely holding spots near riffles.
On a side note, I broke out the tenkara outfit for the second time this week, and had an absolute blast along with catching some pretty nice browns. Catching my first trout on a tenkara rod felt a lot like my first fish on a dry fly. That’s saying something.
We continue to seem to be right on the cusp of really good fishing. I have heard a couple reports of fish taking dry flies, and I have witnessed a rise or two, but fishing dries has mostly been a slow process of prospecting. I saw several small (size 16) tan caddis today, so that might be changing.
I caught this solid, healthy trout on a size 14 black stonefly nymph. Having seen caddis, I know what I will try next time I’m out on the stream.
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.