Fall 2006 by Jim Holland, co-owner Shannon’s Fly and Tackle.
Fall is a great time to fish. Our local waterways will see an abundance of forage fish and other aquatic life that give the trout plenty of food to fatten up on before the onset of winter. There is plenty of activity around the shop including a great Fall Sale and many people are taking advantage of our complete gear packages which also includes free instruction. Further information on these packages can be found on our website page marked “store”. Charlie Bates is tying some great local patterns for us and many of you have complimented our new website designed by Mike McAuliffe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are new to the area or the sport, we also offer a premium guide service both in the Gorge and at the Raritan Inn, a recently renovated Bed and Breakfast located on 24 acres just north of Califon. Customers are beginning to book group trips at the Inn and all have been thrilled with the fly-fishing for trophy trout and the site both as a meeting place and for its genteel accommodations., The Raritan Inn will be kicking off a series of art events with a show by local landscape artist Dan Mulligan the weekend of October 6- 8, 2006. Dan’s work includes many local scenes and is very collectable investment grade work. Check out their site www.raritaninn.com for more details.
With increased flows and additional Fall Stockings beginning this year on October 1st in Ken Lockwood Gorge, it is now possible to resume some standard practices with regards to your fishing approach. Also remember that Daylight Savings Time lasts into November this year. Any extra daylight always helps. Nymph tandems catch serious amounts of fish and most guides I know employ them to produce good catches for their customers many of whom are just getting into the sport. The methods I will describe don’t involve the use of complicated knots and are generally limited to using two flies. Three or more flies can also be fished this way but the primary method of tying multiple flies in this manner involves tying them “In Line” which simply means that they are placed directly on the line in intervals. This method is very effective but can be difficult to rig up. Instead, I like tying off the bend of the hook because it is much simpler and produces a great many fish and takes advantage of the current to give the trailing fly a great deal of action.
Generally speaking, there are three main ways to fish tandems. The first is the classic “High Stick” method. This involves the use of a strike indicator. A good rule of thumb is to place the strike indicator based on the depth of the water that you’re fishing. A good estimate here would be to place the indicator on your leader twice the distance of the depth of the water plus one foot. So, if you are fishing in a run of three feet place the strike indicator seven feet from your lead fly (the first fly tied to your leader or tippet). The strike indicator helps to pick up the sometime subtle takes of the trout and also serves to add a little buoyancy to the nymphs keeping the just off bottom. This method allows the angler to seriously cover water upstream, across and just down stream of the angler and if you take your time, cover water methodically. It is also not uncommon to fish a small emerger or wet fly as the trailing fly because the second fly tends to ride up in the current. Choices for the emerger should be anything that may be hatching later that day or even hatching during your time on the water. A couple of important notes should be applied here too. First, the larger fly should be placed in front and the second fly should be tied off of the bend of the hook of the first fly. There are different opinions on this but I’ve had my best success using this approach. Second, any weight applied to this rig should be placed ahead of the first fly and never in between the two flies.
The second method to use is the “Greased Line” method. Here there is no strike indicator. The flies are cast just above and allowed to drift past the angler. Here it is very important to turn the rod downstream and allow a downstream loop to form in the line. This allows for a presentation that brings the flies across the current presenting broadside to the fish. Raise or lower the rod to maintain a drift at the same rate as the current to attain the necessary the “drag free drift”. I watched my partner, Eric Hildebrant, land thirty nine trout using this method during the Hendrickson hatch back in early May and it works year round. In high water, this tactic is deadly using a Wooly Bugger as the lead fly and a Prince nymph or Hare’s Ear nymph as the trailer.
The third productive method involves the combination of a dry fly and either a nymph, emerger, or wet. This is the classic “Dropper Method”. Tie on a dry that floats very well. Two good options here are an Elk Hair Caddis or any of the various Wulf dry flies. About two to three feet from this fly, and I like to tie all of them off of the bend of the hook, tie the second fly. This is a great way to get at suspended fish that may be resting a foot or more above the bottom. Trout tend to feed on food in front and above them rather than looking to the bottom. Fish holding on the bottom will feed there but they will also swim up to take prey. This use of forward thrust gives the trout the maximum advantage.
Young of the year baitfish: Dace, Chubs, Fallfish, and White Suckers provide plenty of opportunity to fish streamers such as Black Nose Dace, Mickey Finn, Grey Ghost, and a personal favorite, the Ken Lockwood Streamer originated by the late columnist and conservationist himself. Yes, the Gorge is named after him. Another fly favored by Shannon’s Co-owner George Cassa is the South Branch Chub originated by Bob Jaclyn now a famous Western guide. He got his start on local streams in Western New Jersey and this fly is a dead ringer for an important baitfish, the Brook Spine Stickleback.
A short selection of flies for fall fishing would definitely include Blue Winged Olives and Blue Quills size 16-20. This fly is a decent imitation for the several Baetis hatches we’ll enjoy. For the Baetis nymph, use a size 16-20 Pheasant Tail nymph. Isonychia will be active through September. For the dry fly action, use an Iso Dun, a Dun Variant, Iso Parachute or even an Adams size 12-14. Whiteflies are well imitated by either a White Wulf size 10-12 or a White Miller size 12. Generally speaking, look for Isonychia and Whiteflies at dusk in September. In October, look for more Blue Wing Olives (Baetis) to be active along with Tan Caddis size 16-18 and the Pale Evening Dun or Adams for the Paraleptophlebia debilis size 18. A winning approach to dry fly fishing in October would be to fish Olives during the day along with Caddis from the late morning through the early afternoon. Look for a continuation of Caddis activity but towards dusk you’ll see the little “Paralepts” as they’re generally known begin to garner interest from the trout. Finally, a small Parachute Adams size 18 or Rusty Spinner size 16-18 are good choices for the spinner fall.
Finally, don’t neglect terrestrials. Ants and Hoppers catch plenty of fish in the fall. Check our website www.shannonsflytackle.com for special events, programs, and sales. The Fall Sale starts Labor Day Weekend. We will be offering Saturday morning on-stream clinics along with a number of guest tiers stopping by in the afternoon and free fly tying lessons too on Sunday mornings with George and Eric. We ask you to try and register for these events. Just give us a call. These programs are a great way to brush up on technique or to introduce a new person to the sport. See you in the shop.-JH
Fly of the Month: The Blue Winged Olive
Wings: Blue Dun Hen Hackle Tips divided and tied upright
Body: Spirit River Fine and Dry Olive Dubbing or Shannon’s Olive Blend
Hackle: Blue Dun
Tail: Blue Dun Barb
Hook: Mustad 94840 #14-18 or Daichi 1180 size 14-18
Thread: Olive or Dark Grey
Source: Fish Flies: The encyclopedia of the fly tier’s art by Terry Helleckson
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