The water ran clear so I made long casts with my Triple Threat streamers out into the moving stream so I wouldn’t be detected. The Triple Threat landed just below the pine boughs and I let it swing beneath the quicker current mid-stream. When it got directly downstream from me I began to short strip it in. It cut through the water with little resistance as I envisioned the Polar Fiber shedding off the water and current moving it like a minnow. I felt the line tighten and my rod hand felt the balanced 4wt all of a sudden get heavy on the rod tip. I strip set the hook with a sharp tug and than had to loosen my grip on the fly line from the pulling force on the other end. The heavy fish took the Triple in a deep slower pool below and I was hoping I could keep him from moving into the quick water mid-stream.
The fish stayed deep and thrashed about as my 4wt tip flexed and rebounded with each thwart. He didn’t seam to want to move into the fast current so I leaned back with the rod to apply more pressure. The 7 foot rod bent well into the middle and I took in line as the fish splashed towards me, just subsurface. His maroon lateral line extended onto his gill plates giving good reason to believe he’s been around for a while. I lifted the rod high with my right hand as I reached down and netted the rainbow with my left. After he settled down I unhooked the Triple Threat and released him back into the stream.
Tying ones own flies are an essence of the sport of fly fishing. It is the substance, in other words, that sets one apart and shows character from those who do not. I’m not saying that those that do not or can not tie their own flies are not true fly guys but one who ties, I believe, have a better feeling of accomplishment when they catch fish on their own fly. I get a greater satisfaction when one catches fish on my own ties and especially if it is a pattern of my own creation.
I have been experimenting with different Grass Hopper patterns for some years now. I have a tying book that has three pages dedicated to hopper patterns. Some are more realistic than others. The more realistic ones have more material and thus will take more time to tie and more patience to do so. Some are simple silhouette patterns that I’m sure will catch some fish but somehow don’t appeal to me and therefore my confidence level using these patterns will be nil. I believe that confidence catches more fish than luck so a pattern must appeal to me or be proven to catch fish before I have confidence in it.
Most of the patterns have pure yellow bodies. Behind the shop I have inspected the hoppers around during these hot summer dry evenings. None of the hoppers have pure yellow bodies. Their bodies range from having a faded yellow to brownish to even an olive tint. The only way to match the shade that would fool more trout, in my opinion, is to tie my own. Besides, if I was going to use something with a yellow body and a half decent silhouette I would use a stimulator pattern or the like. I feel if I want to imitate what I see and find along the fields and streams I should at least use a similar color.
I looked over all the hopper patterns and came up with my own concoction. After tying a few, I felt, they were fairly easy to tie, didn’t take a long time and looked convincible. The only way to find out was to try them out and hope they float well.
Streamers on the other hand should look fishy. I tie Triple Threats to look and imitate bait fish like minnows. Studying the balance of colors and shades of minnows, from top to belly, I came up with my own blend of Polar Fibers. Adding a few strands of sparkle gave them that shiny lateral line of most minnows. I tied them in a few different shades and the only way to find out how well they work was to try them out. That’s what this past outing was all about.
Jim and I wanted to concentrate on trout fishing. Because of the low water conditions of the small creeks and warm water conditions of the bigger streams we needed cooler water as to not stress out the hold over trout we would catch. There are only a couple of cooler waterways nearby, the Kinzua Dam area and the East Branch of the Clarion. We selected, on Sunday, the East Branch.
We reached the East Branch in the early morn under gray skies. Jim took the water temperature and it read at 59 degrees. The bottom release dam keeps the water cool practically all summer. Jim was hoping to get some top water action but with the shady, overcast sky, I didn’t think there would be much of a hatch on this September day. Terrestrials, I felt, were Jim’s best bet and I handed him 2 sizes of my new hopper patterns to try.
It wasn’t long before Jim hooked into a trout with a nymph midge pattern. I was stripping buggers and my new Triple Threat patterns in the deeper runs and slow water. We fished the morning without any more hook ups. I did have a lazy trout mouth a white bunny leach and another follow a Triple Threat but they wouldn’t take it aggressively and I got skunked for the morning. Jim said he had a few followers on his nymphs but none would take.
After lunch it warmed up a tad and occasionally the sun would peek down to see how we were doing. It didn’t take long for Jim to disappear around a bend as I slowly worked my way downstream tossing caddis dries, beetles and streamers.
I caught a small brook trout on a caddis dry before I caught the bigger rainbow, I described earlier, in a nice stretch of pines and boulders. A couple of hours passed by and I headed up to where we started in the morning and decided to practice my nymph fishing for the upcoming Steelhead season.
I stuck a Hupman Vintage Cameroon stogie in my mouth and took out my nymph box. I decided to use a #10 orange Humpy as an indicator and tied a brown Gold Ribbed Hares Ear as a dropper. I took my time fishing a nice run of deeper water and a slow stretch nearby while enjoying my cigar. I eventually found myself on a big flat boulder in the middle of the river. I happened to look downstream and seen Jim heading my way while fishing.
On one cast, upstream from my rock, into a flow of choppy water I saw a flash. From my higher elevation, on the rock, I watched the fish rise, take a look at my Humpy and then disappear back into the rippling water. I still had the Hares Ear nymph on but he evidently wasn’t interested in that either. I cast out a few more times but his curiosity was full filled and he didn’t want any more look-sees. I drifted the nymph and Humpy under the pine trees but to no avail. I decided to try one of my hopper patterns to possibly get the trout’s attention again. I had just gotten done tying on the hopper when I seen Jim was within talking distance.
How’d ya do?” I asked
“Caught about 5 trout on top with the hopper pattern you gave me earlier!” he replied. “All were in the fast water and under the pines.”
He also mentioned he caught a few on nymph patterns.
While he was casting and fishing below I cast out into the choppy water. The hopper bopped up and down upon the waves without a rise from beneath. My next cast was upstream further and closer to the bank. I had the rod tip held high and kept my eyes on the drifting hopper. I seen the turning flash of the trout and waited for him to strike the floating hopper.
“There he is” I called out to Jim. “Got’em!”
The fish fought well in the stronger current as the rod showed a good fighting fish. I stepped down from the boulder and reaching down netted the nice trout.
Back at the van we put our gear away and headed to where we left his truck at earlier this morn.
Jim and I haven’t fished together for a month or so and it was good to get out with him being he loves to trout fish as much as I do. I still recall the first time we met back in May in 2009. He wanted to learn how to fly fish and I showed him the ropes and helped him out. He hasn’t touched his spinning rod since!!
After dropping him off at his truck I headed on home through the darkness. The Fuente cigar, I lit up earlier, kept me awake for the rest of the ride home.
" It looks like I have a new pattern that should work for them steelhead!"