Saturday, January 13, 2018

Paul's February 2018 Fly of the Month

The Usual

Hook:  Standard Dry Fly Hook.  Size #8 to #22.
Tying thread:   Fluorescent Orange 6/0 or 8/0 related to the fly size.
Tail:  Small bunch of hair from a rabbit’s foot pad.
Wing:  Larger bunch of hair from a rabbit’s foot pad.  Tied full as an upright clump, almost compara-style.
Body:  Under fur from rabbit’s foot.  Be sure to include some guard hairs to increase floatability.  Rabbit foots come in a variety of colors.  Grey/tans work great.  Also, I strongly recommend tying some up with a body of peacock herl. 
Head:  Tying Thread.

This is a mangy, scraggly, fantastic pattern. It originally appeared as a “Fly of the Month” over 25 years ago.  Recently, my local TU Chapter tied it at one of it’s Fly Tying Workshops.  It reminded me of how special and productive this fly can be.  It was developed by Mr. Fran Betters of Wilmington, NY.  He was also the inventor of the “’Haystack’ type flies which were the precursors to the ‘comparadun’.   

I’ve had such great luck with this fly over the years and tie them down to a #22.  I also tie them in size #8 and everything in between.  Why even the large size #8 ?   Well many years ago, HFFA member Max Ruggiero and I made the journey to Roscoe NY to fish the Beaverkill River for a week.   Late in the afternoons we would hit a ‘Green Drake’ hatch in a particularly slow section of the river.  The first afternoon we had very little luck landing fish during this hatch.  The trout had plenty of time to look at the flies that drifted by them and traditional green drake patterns were not working for us, or for any other fly fisherman on that section of the river.  My fly tying supplies on that trip were very limited but I did have a rabbit’s foot.  That first night I tied up a bunch of Green Drake sized Usuals.  Despite unusually long drifts, literally 3-4 minutes, Max and I did very well with that big usual pattern saving the day.

Here’s what I wrote about this fly more than 25 years ago.  Please note that back then I thought this fly could only be used to imitate sulphers, but it’s much more than that.  Change the colors to match the naturals on the water.

“This particular pattern is designed for emerging sulphers.  It has been particularly effective at dusk.  It gives the trout a very low profile on the surface.  Also, the orange thread shows translucently through the dubbed body when it hits the water.

Begin by wrapping the thread from the eye to approximately 2/3rds down hook.  1/3rd down the hook shank tie in a clump of pad hairs ‘comparadun’ style for your wing.  Measure the length carefully so that the wing is ‘mayfly sized’ when you stand it up.  Bring your tying thread in front of the wing and make wraps to stand it upright.  Next, tie in a clump of pad hairs for the tail.  Don’t be skimpy.  Remember the tail, and wing clump on top are the only means of floating the fly.  The tail should be approximately 2/3rds the length of the hook shank.  From the tail, dub the rabbit dubbing up the hook shank for the body.  Make sure to take 2-3 wraps of dubbing in front of the wing pad.  Tie and cut your thread off. 

This is probably the original rabbit’s foot emerger.  You will find that the pad hairs float the fly very nicely.  This fly is a double killer.  At the end of  your drift, try fishing it back wet with some twitches just below the surface.  Sometimes the fish can really zero in on this pattern and technique.  When I first started fly fishing I never fished this pattern much.  What a mistake.  If you are just learning to tie,  you can tie this pattern for virtually every hatch by simply matching the size and color of the natural.  A rabbit’s foot and dubbing can be purchased very cheaply.  You won’t have to mortgage your house purchasing expensive necks to imitate all the various may flies which can emerge throughout the course of the season.  As a searching pattern or during a caddis hatch, try substituting peacock herl instead of the white rabbit dubbing.”

Piscator Flies has a great instructional video on how to tie the Usual below:

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at .  This fly can also be viewed on my website at .

Friday, December 15, 2017

Paul's January 2018 Fly of the Month


Hook:  Standard Dry Fly Hook.  Size #12 to #18.
Tying thread:   Cream or brown 8/0.
Tag:  Gold Mylar Tinsel, extra-small.
Rear Hackle:  Brown Hackle.
Front Hackle:  Cream or White Hackle.
Body:  Peacock Herl.
Head:  Tying Thread.

It is believed that this fly was invented in Wyoming by a man named Taylor “Beartracks” Williams in the 1920’s.  It was also a favorite of Ernest Hemingway.  This was one of the first dry flies I attempted when I was first learning to tie flies.  Why this fly?   Well, I was an inexperienced tier.  The Renegade had no wings so I thought it would be an easier pattern to tie.

The Renegade is a great classic fly.  Many fly fishers believe this fly doesn’t mimic anything on the water.  Some believe it represents midges mating.  Others maintain that it represents aquatic “snails”, of all things.  I only know it catches a lot of fish! 

The Renegade has two hackles so it floats very well and is visible in many lighting conditions.  Now I’m going to tell you about a little secret on how to fish this fly.  At the end of your “dry fly drift” don’t pick it up.  Drag the fly under the water and give it a few short strips.  You can also sink it early on in your drift and fish it like a wet fly.  I’ve had great luck with both these fishing techniques. 

Begin by wrapping your thread from behind the eye to slightly beyond the bend of the hook.  Tie in your Mylar Gold Tinsel.  Wrap it approximately ¼ down the bend and back.  Now tie it off.  Next you’re going to tie in your rear Brown Hackle.  Make about 4-5 tight wraps in front of the gold tag.  Tie off and cut off the tag end of your hackle.  Now it’s time to tie in the peacock body.  Tie in a couple strands of Peacock Herl.  Before I wrap it forward I twist it around my tying thread to create better durability.  Now wrap it forward.  Make sure you leave enough room behind the eye to tie in and wrap your Cream/White Hackle.  Tie in your front hackle.  Again 4-5 tight wraps.  Tie it off and cut off the tag end.  Create a head with thread wraps.

Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions has a great instructional video on how to tie this Bivisible below:

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at .  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Paul's November 2017 Fly of the Month

Dave Whitlock's Red Fox Squirrel Nymph

Hook:  Tiemco 5262 or Nymph hook of choice.  Whitlock ties them in  Sizes #2 to #20.  It can also be tied on a curved emerger hook.
Tying thread:   Black or Orange thread.
Lead wire:  Approximately 8-10 wraps of lead wire.
Bead:  Optional gold, copper or black brass or tungsten bead to match hook size.
Abdomen:  Belly fur from a red fox squirrel skin mixed 50/50 with sienna or fox tan Antron dubbing or Dave Whitlock SLF Dubbing #1.  Abdomen should be ½ to 2/3 of the overall body length. 
Thorax:  Back fur from a red fox squirrel skin mixed 50/50 with charcoal Antron dubbing or Dave Whitlock SLF Dubbing #2.
Rib:  Oval gold tinsel or orange pearlescent Flash-a-bou.  For nymphs #16 to #20 use gold wire.
Tail:   Small tuft of back fur from a red fox squirrel skin.
Legs:  (on sizes #10 and larger) Metz dark ginger back hackle or back hackle of partridge, one turn. 
*Feel free to add additional materials like legs, antennae or shucks if you want to imitate stones flies or caddis pupa.

When I first started tying flies many years ago, there were a handful of well known ‘go to nymphs’.  Pheasant tails, Hare’s ear and Prince Nymphs were subsurface staples.  There was another ‘go to fly’ that is sometimes now overlooked by present day fly fisherman.  It’s Dave Whitlock’s Red Fox Squirrel.  Whitlock calls this nymph an impressionistic imitation.  It doesn’t imitate a specific insect but ‘looks alive, vulnerable, and edible to fish’.  Some fly fishermen/tyers swear that this pattern imitates stone flies and, when tied on a curved hook, caddis.

If your tying a bead head fly, affix the bead behind the hook eye.  If not place the hook in the vice and make 8-10 wraps of lead.  Place it in the middle part of the hook shank.  Cover with thread wraps.   Next tie in your tail.  The tail is comprised of a small tuft of 3 or 4 red fox squirrel back guard hairs and under-fur.  The tail length should be approximately ½ a hook shank length.  Next tie in your rib.  Now dub the abdomen.  In ‘the old days’ I would make my own dubbing in a coffee grinder.  In recent years I’ve just used Whitlock’s Dubbing blend.  If you make it yourself you can customize it to the type of fly your tying.  The diameter of your abdomen should be larger as you get closer to the eye of the hook.  It should be ½ to 2/3rds the length of the hook shank.  Next, rib your fly.  N ow dub your thorax, leaving room for your leg hackle.  Tie in your hackle and give it no more than one wrap.  Form a head with your thread, tie and cut it off, apply some head cement to your wraps.  You can fish this fly deep as a nymph or swing it as a wet fly.

Elkhorn Fly Fishing has a great instructional video on how to tie a Red Fox Squirrel Nymph below:

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at .  

Monday, August 28, 2017

Paul's September 2017 Fly of the Month

Paul's Golden Stone Fly

Hook:  Curved nymph hook of choice.  I use a TMC 200R.  Size #4 to #12.
Tying thread:   Wood duck, yellow, or brown thread.
Lead wire:  Approximately 10-12 wraps of .025 lead wire  (For size #6 hook).  Crimped and flattened with pliers to give the nymph body a wide appearance.
Bead:  Gold Tungston bead to match hook size.
Antennae & Tail:  Brown rubber legs.  Super floss can also be used.
Rib:  Medium Black Ultrawire.
Body:   Spiky Golden Stone Squirrel Dubbing.  Harline SLF Dave Whitlock dubbing in Golden Stone is also recommended.
Shell back & Wingcase:  Oak Golden Stone ‘Thin Skin’, covered with a coat of Solarez UV Resin
Legs:  Pheasant rump feather hackle.  Brown hen hackle can also be used.
Head:   Same as Body.

I hate tying Golden Stones, but I have no choice.  You cannot do without this fly in your box!  It’s an extremely large fly which requires more materials & more tying steps than most other nymphs.  The pattern is just a killer on the Housatonic & Farmington Rivers.  At times trout hit this fly viciously.  There are countless “Golden Stone Nymph” patterns out there and they all work.  Over the years I’ve tried to simplify the tying of my ‘golden stone’ and incorporate features that have proven to trigger hits and make the fly as durable as possible.  Whether you decided to tie this pattern or another version of a “golden stone” nymph, make sure you heavily weight it to get down deep.  That’s one of the most important techniques in fishing this fly.   You’re going to lose a lot of them, but it’s more than worth the price.  I use Brown Rubber legs for the antennae & tail.  I recently discovered how productive “Montana type rubber leg” nymphs are on the Hous & Farmy.   It led me to start substituting rubber legs for what traditionally would be goose biots on the nymph.  I also stopped tying in wing pads from hen feathers and found no drop in my catch rate.  Finally, I incorporated the use of Thin Skin for my shell back and wing cases.  I also treat it with a UV resin.  This increased the durability of the fly and gives it an appearance which mimics the insect better than traditional natural materials.

To tie this fly begin by placing the bead on the hook.  Before sliding it forward to the eye tie in two pieces of rubber legs behind the eye for antennae.   They should extend at least 1 ½ the length of the hook shank.  You don’t want to cut them too short.  You want them to provide movement in the water.  Half hitch your thread, cut the tag end, and put a drop of head cement on the wraps.  Then slide the bead forward to the eye.  Be careful not to wrap the antennae with too much thread. 

Next, with your lead wire, make approximately 15 wraps around the hook shank.  Slide it up behind the bead.  Affix your thread to the hook shank and anchor your lead in place.  Next take your needle nose pliers and flatten your lead to give the nymph a flat/wide profile.   Cover the lead with thread wraps and bring it to the bend of the hook.  Create a small dubbing ball and tie in two more rubber legs for your tail.  Tie in your black wire rib.  Next, tie in a piece of ‘thin skin’ and let it trail behind the hook bend.  The shell back/wing case must be long enough to extend the length of the fly.  It should be 2/3rds the hook gap wide.

Now, dub your abdomen/body.  It should extend from the tail to the midpoint of the nymph.  With your thread at the middle of the nymph, fold your shell back forward.  Tie it down but do not cut it.  Wrap your black wire rib forward to create a segmented effect on the body.  Tie and clip it off at the mid section of the nymph.

The remaining half of the nymph will be divided into 4 tying segments.  Dub the first quarter of the thorax.  It should be dubbed heavier than the abdomen.  Affix your ‘legs’ on each side of the fly.  You can do this by ‘notching’ your feather and tying both sides in at once, or one side at a time with feather fibers.  Repeat this process two more times, leaving the final ¼ of the thorax for the head of the fly.

Again bring your ‘thin skin’ wing case forward and tie it down before you dub your head.  Dub your nymph head and bring your wing case forward again.  Tie and cut it off behind the bead.  Use a little more dubbing to mask your thread wraps and whip fishing your fly.  Apply a thin coat of UV resin to the shell back/wing case and cure it with the curing light.  Finally, brush out your dubbing to make the nymph as buggy as possible.

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at . 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Paul's June 2017 Fly of the Month

Fly of the Month
 Joe Calcavecchia’s Striper Dragon

Hook:  Short shank salt water hook.  I prefer Gamakatsu SC-15 hooks.  This is a big fly.  Tie them on size 3/0 to 6/0 hooks.

Thread:  Heavy thread like Danville Fly Master plus 3/0.

Tail:  White bucktail extending 2-3” beyond the bend of the hook.

Tail wing:  4 saddle feathers – two white saddles with two chartreuse saddles paired on the side.  They should extend approximately 7-9” beyond the bend of the hook.

Flash:  Top the feather wing with 3-4 strands of holographic flash-a-bou, topped with 3-4 strands of pearlescent krystal flash.

Collar:  White bucktail.

Head:  White deer belly hair.

Eyes:  3 D eyes.

This is a great striper fly.  If you can master spinning a deer head, it’s a very easy tie. It’s a big meal and it will catch big fish!  I’ve tied this fly in white and chartreuse but feel free to experiment with whatever colors you prefer.  Black, yellow, and olive colors work well too. 

To tie this fly begin by placing your hook in the vice.  Lay a base of thread along the rear ½ of the hook shank.  Take a clump of white bucktail.  Stack it to even the tips and tie it on the hook shank extending beyond the bend of the hook.   This will be the support for your feather tail wing.  Next, pair two white saddle hackles, then place two chartreuse saddle hackles on the side of the white saddles.  You want to use long and thin saddles.  Tie them in above the white bucktail.  The feather tail should be approximately 7-9” long.  Above the tail wing tie in 3-4 strands of holographic flash-a-bou.  Top that with 3-4 strands of pearlescent krystal flash.  Next, tie in your collar of white bucktail.  This will prevent the tail wing from fouling.  When you tie it on the top of the hook  shank, after a few wraps, spread it around the shank with your finger nail.  Now continue to tie it down with harder wraps.  Now that you have the collar in place around the hook shank, takes clumps of white deer belly fibers and spin your deer head.  Tie off your thread and then trim a nice bullet shaped head.  Once the head is trimmed and shaped, apply your head cement of choice to the deer head fibers behind the eye of the hook.  Next, take your 3 D eyes and glue them onto your head.  You want to use a pliable cement to affix the eyes.  I  like to use goop.  Apply the glue to the back of the eyes.  Put them on the fly head but let the glue cure for about 5 minutes before you apply pressure to make sure they stick on the head.  That’s it. Go catch that monster striper !

Joe Calcavecchia of Salt Water Custom Flies has a great video on how to tie the Striper Dragon.  You can view it below:

He also has a great website at . 

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at . 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paul's May 2017 Fly of the Month

PT3 UV BL Nymph

(Pheasant Tail Variation)

Hook:  Your favorite nymph hook.  Tie and fish these in sizes #12 to #16.
Thread:  Black or brown 8/0 uni thread.
Tail:  Natural CDC feather fibers.
Body:  For size #14 nymph, 4-5 fibers of Pheasant tail.
Rib: Thin UV mylar tinsel or krsytal flash
Thorax:  Synthetic UV peacock dubbing or UV peacock black dubbing.
Bead:  Gold tungsten or color of choice.
Hot Spot:  Red thread.

This is just one of the best nymphs going without any improvements.  Why mess with a fly that works so well?  Well there are a few added “Trout Triggers” here.  If your fishing a lot of TMA’s, sometimes you can do a lot better fishing something just a little different than anyone else.  So what’s different about this fly?  First, the tail with it’s CDC fibers, create movement.  Secondly, the UV enhancement makes the fly extremely visible.  Finally, it has a hot spot, one that is very unique in that it is located in front of the bead.

To tie this fly begin by placing the bead on your hook.  Place it in the vice.  Take your red thread and create a “hot spot” in front of the bead.  Tie and cut off your thread.  Behind the bead start your black or brown thread.  Wrap down to the tail.  Tie in your natural CDC fibers.  For a size #14 Nymph I use almost an entire feather.  It should be a little more than a hook gap long.  Now tie in your UV rib.  Next, tie in 4-5 pheasant tail fibers.  Wrap them forward with hackle pliers just as you would for a standard pheasant tail nymph.  Leave enough room for your thorax.  Dub a thorax with your UV dubbing.  Tie and cut off your thread and your done.  How simple is that.

If you have any questions about this fly or would like to submit a Fly of the Month I can be reached at 203 305-3850 or at . 

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017 Fishing Report & Video of Will Stone landed a Hous striper.

Fishing Report April 17, 2017

Upper Housatonic – The upper river is flowing at 1,800 CFS this morning.  Keep an eye on flow.  As soon gets down to around 1,500 CFS you can wade most areas.  Reports I’m getting that the first Hendricksons have been spotted.  I love to fish this river the first time it gets to a fishable level in the Spring.  I’ve always done well fishing to fish that haven’t seen a fly in a long time.

Farmington River – As with most rivers the recent rain should improve fishing on this river.   The reservoir finally has a decent amount of water.  Water flow is high than we’ve seen in a very long time. The river is chock full of fish, hold overs and recent stockies.  That being said, the reports of fish being caught have been less than stellar.  This may be the result of the water temps being too cold at the moment.  Also due to the increased flows.  Hard to tell.  With this heat spell the water should warm up and the fish should become more active.  There should be a lot more insect activity too.  The first Hendricksons have also been spotted. 

Smaller Streams – This is a great time of year to fish smaller streams in your area.  They are loaded with fish.  I’ve been out a bunch of times fishing the ones in my vicinity.  Unfortunately, I have not been doing well fishing them.  Most are flowing at higher than normal levels and the water temps are on the high side.  I’ve seen a ton of “little black stones” on all the streams I’ve fished, but the trout haven’t been on them.  Again, keep your eye on warmer water temps and increased insect activity. 

Lower Housatonic – The lower Hous is fishing extremely well right now.  You don’t have to match the hatch,  traditional ties of deceivers & clousers will do the trick.  Migratory fish haven’t arrived in strong numbers yet but the river is full of hold over fish.  Some of them are decent size fish.  I landed my first keeper the other night.  Unfortunately I sliced my finger open on the striper’s gill plated.  A new first for me.  I went home all bloody and looking like a serial killer.  Best time to fish the river is on the outgoing tide. 

Below is a video of friend Will Stone landing a spring Hous Striper: