Thursday, March 21, 2019

Make What You Have Work

I often find myself behind the vise into the late hours of the morning, trying to anticipate what the fish will fancy the next day. I’m burdened with an overpowering sense of being unprepared or missing that one niche pattern that could be a game changer. The problem is, I already have boxes of disorganized prep sessions. Many of the flies tied in these frenzied fits never touch water and as time passes I feel a growing need to better utilize what I have and simplify my approach. The truth is, the simple go to patterns will usually work and work well when utilized correctly.

One thing that I have learned over time, and euro nymphing has emphasized this, is that compensating for the limitations of your gear is paramount to success.

One of the big draws and advantages to euro nymphing is that it gives the angler the ability to change depth by how the rod is held, not by how an indicators depth is set. Let’s say you are fishing a regular indicator setup, and you don’t want to change the depth of your indicator. Rather than changing something with the gear, the angler can simply adjust their cast and their drift. Cast further upstream to get deeper. This would allow more time for the rig to sink before getting to the prime zone of the drift. Another option is to use a tuck or pile cast, which allow the rig to sink straight down without any extra drag from the current. In this same vein, if an angler finds their rig going too deep and they are catching the bottom, there are ways to compensate without adjusting the indicator. Simply land the cast with the indicator leading the flies. This will cause some drag between the flies and the indicator, which will not allow them to sink as fast or as deep. It’s these minor alterations that can be made on the go that separate a good angler from a great angler.

There are many examples to illustrate this point. When mousing at night, much of what determines success is not as much what pattern you fish as it is how that pattern is presented. The right pattern can make the whole process easier for the angler, as there is less to compensate for, but a great angler could catch a fish with a chunk of wood with a hook on it simply by mimicking the right movements in the water. I've even had success skittering a streamer or nymph across the surface of the water, making a v-shaped wake, which has induced fish to bite when they were actively looking up at dusk. It's all a matter of making the gear/fly/tackle do what YOU want it to do, rather than being at the mercy of what the gear naturally does.

The thing is, we have come to place in the world of fly fishing were a lot of stock is placed in the gear itself. Some considerable improvements have come along in the technology. But, if we are being honest, it always comes back to the competence of the angler. I can catch just as many fish on a Walmart fly rod and line as I can on a fancy G Loomis and Airflo line. One is far more pleasant to fish than the other, but ultimately it’s me doing the catching, not the gear. So to those thinking "if only I had that or this," remember, you probably have a rod, the line, or the flies in your box that will do the trick.

As for myself, there's no need to stay up so late tying that perfect pattern. I really should use what I have, and just try to think through the fishes behavior and perspective and do what I need to to match it while on the water. On the other hand, I'm a glutton for punishment, screw the extra sleep.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fly Tying: The Ichabod Artimouse

Can one think too much about mousing for trout? Maybe. If it is possible, I'd be more than guilty. As I spend most of my time mousing nocturnally, and the visual aspects are not the same as daytime, it has made understanding night-time trout behavior a slow process. To add to the difficulty, trout in different locations and different times of year behave differently enough that on more than one occasion I have been forced to question the meaning of life... or just my current tactic. I kid, but seriously, what else does one do when casting and retrieving in the solitude of the stars. And, just when I think I am starting to figure things out, some new idea or view comes to my attention. It's quite the process, but I love it.

Along this journey of piscatorial exploration fly patterns are like way-points. People who prefer to tie and fish their own patterns rarely stick with a particular pattern indefinitely. This may even be the case when a fly has proven effective. As new patterns emerge, those left behind serve as tangible glimpses into their designer's past. Many fail to see it, but both the tyer, and often their close friends recognize the memories held in one little fly. I see some of my own history through those little creations. It's a history of learning, and I often find myself wanting to tell people that "I used to tie it that way, but now I do it this way." When that urge arises, I often want to include accompanying explanations as to whys.

Well, here I am again, doing just that.

This post -->  Mousing: The hookup problem is a precursor to this post, and pattern. It presents some of the problems faced when mousing at night, many of which I try to address with this pattern.

Fly Tying: The Ichabod Artimouse

Fortunately, the Ichabod Artimouse is a relatively simple pattern to tie. Unfortunately, that does not make it a fast fly to tie. The following is a list of what you will need to tie one up.


-Size 2/0, Gamakatsu Fine Wire Worm Hook
-Size 4, Gamakatsu B10S Stinger Hook
-Size 1/0 Matzuo Baitholder Offset Straight Eye Hook (you could use a wire shank here)
-Foam head (old/cheap flip flop, large double barrel popper head, foam shop mat, or layered foam)
-Tube fly tubing (clear pen tube with a pipe cleaner, or any other sturdy fly tube)
-2 or 3mm foam sheet
-UV Glue
-Yarn Bee Gilt Eyelash Yarn (I use black when using this material) OR -Rabbit Strip, like the original Artimouse (whichever color you prefer)
-Ice Dubbing (again, I use black for my night pattern, but you could definitely mix it up. A bright color may even somewhat resemble the classic Hemorrhoidal Mouse if put in the right area)
-Medium Round Rubber Legs (I prefer medium because when furled, the knots usually hold. The larger doesn't without a speck of super glue) (whichever color you prefer)
-Rabbit Strip (for this pattern, I used black, but you can mix it up)

The two following videos are both tutorials for the mouse pattern, but the first is a very succinct version, for those who just want that. The second is longer, and has much more commentary on the different parts. After the videos, I have included the reasons why I came up with the pattern in the first place.

When I first shared the Artimouse, it was fascinating to behold the changes that occurred in the world of mousing for trout. I've noted many people and patterns influenced, many of which I'm sure have no clue. That's just the nature of the internet. Now I see angled, large foam floating heads, and furled legs on mouse patterns all over. It's cool to see such a ripple effect and I definitely love seeing the resulting beautiful fish from people using the pattern. People all over have since added their tweaks and personalized parts, which has also been fun to witness. But, I digress, so, back to the main idea. If the original Artimouse works, why change anything? I'm so glad you asked. The following video addresses the topic.