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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Habits of Highly Effective Brook Trout Anglers

Be a Brookie Boss

Hefty Brook Trout taken from a remote lake
When it comes to emails and questions we get about our patterns, posts and fish we chase, we get a lot of interest generated by our obsession with Brook Trout. So with that in mind, I figured it was time to throw out some of the things you can pay attention to in order to get into these awesome fish. There are, of course, a lot of other factors, but these are some good starting points.

1. Research. Because most people are fairly respectful of the discretion that surrounds some of the better Brookie waters, you can't expect to just start asking around and get the skinny on these types of  lakes and streams. If you expect to get some information, you'll need to start digging. I usually start with stocking reports and Google Earth -- both publicly available and neither of them are moochy "Hey guys, give me some info on secret locations" questions posed on the interwebs. Books, some internet sites or even photo sharing sites can also be of help once you have a good starting point or places to go on. I even found some great information in an old outdated wildlife resources pamphlet I happened to stumble across. And don't assume that because you don't find a lot of information on a lake or stream that it's not going to pan out. Often, the least known locations will have the best opportunities. I once followed a hunch to fish a lake that I knew had Brookies but that did not turn up on any reliable sources I could verify. Those are the ones that will have the potential for huge payoffs.

2. Be willing to invest in the trip. Like most of their trout cousins, Brookies especially like cool
The ATV's come in handy
clean water which is more often found in higher elevation lakes and streams.  That also means, thankfully, there are not as many paved roads that lead to prime Brookie habitat. Whether it's a hike, an ATV ride or a bumpy 4WD truck trip, you need to be prepared to sometimes put in the time to get to where you're going. On the bright side, you'll see a lot fewer people and you'll often have the entire place to yourself. Don't let the difficulty of travel push you to an easier-access location. The best fishing will likely be at the end of a gnarly trail.

3. Know where they hide. In my experience, more than other trout (or char) species, Brookies are notorious for hanging out in and under structure. Whether it's fallen trees, weed patches, overhanging rocks or just shadows here and there, you'll most often find Brookies where they aren't as easily seen by predators. One of my favorite techniques, when fishing a lake with a rocky shoreline is to throw the fly as close as I can to the shore right next to overhanging or submerged rocks. I've seen really nice fish come rocketing out of nowhere to smash the fly. Not only that, but if you know a body of water has Brook trout, and you can find a cooler stream inlet or spring, you can probably be guaranteed to find fish in those locations. Combine the two -- structure and cooler water -- and you've just scored a touchdown.

4. Be "vewy vewy" quiet. You've probably all seen how fast Brook trout will scatter for safer confines when you spook them. So it's obviously important to keep a low profile and use stealth when approaching any holding lies. But what people often don't realize is that you can spook a fish without sending it swimming for cover. I've seen many times where a pod of fish maintains the same position, but will keep a zipped lip due to the heightened level of jitters caused by my presence. So stay low, stay quiet and you'll be better off.

Chimera army ready for some brookies
5. Fly Selection Matters. I'm not sure what it is, but I frequently hear the same thing about Brookies and other high mountain fish: "Oh, they'll take anything!". While that may be the case on some days under certain conditions, I've found that it doesn't usually hold true. Like most other trout, Brookies will most normally key in on their typical food sources. And while they'll be opportunistic in taking bigger flies like articulated streamers and mice patterns, I've really done the best with patterns that imitate a good variety of their day-to-day food source. And my favorite Brookie pattern, the Chimera, imitates a few different bugs at once.

So these are a few of the things we've found that help find these colorful and challenging fish. Now, get out and find a few!


A fall brook trout



Monday, October 20, 2014

Complex Twist Bugger

Complexity in a simple form

Olive Complex Twist Bugger

The Wooly Bugger is the first fly that I learned how to tie back in 2000, and I bet it was one of the first flies that most people learn how to tie because of it's simplicity and effectiveness.  As my tying skills increased, like many of you, I started to add lots of variations to my buggers including flash, different chenilles, and dubbing loops...  For the past few months I have been in full mad scientist mode at the vise, and dubbing loops have been my main medium for my madness (even though I kind of ditched the whole idea of dubbing.. and loops).  The first complex twist bugger I tied really made me realize how endless the possibilities are for this twist.  Here are some of the items that I have put in this bugger...

- Schlappen
- Cactus chenille
- Palmer chenille
- Polar chenille
- Simi seal dubbing
- Small animals
- Unicorn mane fibers
- Pictures of Curtis' mom

Now you can see that you can throw almost anything in this bugger, but I have kind of settled on the materials that are listed in the video and recipe below.  One thing that I realized is that it was hard to get a grip on all of the materials that I put in these flies, so I made a very rudimentary tool that just so happens to work so well that I made a bunch of them to sell on our store.  It's not too hard to figure out what it is, and if you want to make your own go right ahead...  For those of you who want a cheechcrafted original, you may purchase these gator grips here...

~ Cheech

Recipe:

Hook: Allen S402 #4 BUY HERE
Thread: 3/0 Uni - white BUY HERE
Bead: Tungsten - 3.8mm BUY HERE
Tail 1: Wooly bugger marabou - olive BUY HERE
Tail 2: Senyo fusion dub - tobacco BUY HERE
Body 1: UV polar chenille - rusty copper BUY HERE
Body 2: Speckled chenille - lime olive BUY HERE
Body 3: Schlappen - olive BUY HERE
Veil: UV ice dub - olive brown BUY HERE



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Junk Yard Soft Hackle

Turn your tying waste into fishy goodness

Junk Yard Soft Hackle - From trash to treasure


This is another one of those videos that isn't necessarily to show you a new pattern, but it's to show you a few different techniques.  I have dabbled with throwing a bunch of stuff in dubbing loops for years, but since I got my new Stonfo tools it has kind of gone into overdrive...  In this pattern I specifically use the "under-fluff" part of a coq de leon hen saddle feather to create a functional soft hackle.  If you like a really sparse soft hackle you can use fewer turns, and if you like a full hackle (like the one I was shooting for) you can load it up.  I also used a dubbing loop technique for the body that isn't anything new, but it helps really compact buggy materials into a tight loop.

~ Cheech

Recipe:
Hook: Allen D202 #10 BUY
Thread: UTC 70 - fl. orange BUY
Body: SLF dubbing - RFSN thorax BUY
Thorax: SLF dubbing - RFSN abdomen BUY
Hackle: Fluff waste feathers from coq de leon hen saddle - dyed salmon BUY 



Friday, October 10, 2014

Carp Dough Boy

Move over dough balls

Carp Dough Boy

Here is a little carp pattern that we have been playing with recently. With some of the new carp toys out like Cohen's carp dub, and Allen carp hooks, I couldn't resist messing around with some bugs.  This fly is also very functional as a mini crawfish and can be tied in a variety of different colors to match the forage in your waters.

A couple of keys for this fly:


  1. It's compact like a little edible nugget for the fish
  2. It is a low odor fly.  No superglue was harmed in the making of this film.  The glue was Loon water based stuff.
  3. It's tied on a beefy hook that will hold up to the biggest and baddest carp battles.
  4. Ice dub - it plain catches fish.
Recipe:

Hook: Allen MP003BL #4-#8 BUY HERE
Thread: UTC 140 - fl. fire orange BUY HERE
Eyes: Barbell eyes with eye - 4mm yellow BUY HERE
Tail: Wooly bugger marabou - hot orange BUY HERE
Legs: Magnum predator legs - grizzly barred rootbeer BUY HERE
Body: Cohen's carp dub - cray-zee orange BUY HERE
Collar: Whiting coq de leon hen saddle - speckled orange BUY HERE
Wing: Wooly bugger marabou - rusty brown BUY HERE
Head: Ice dub - pheasant tail BUY HERE


Monday, October 6, 2014

Rusty Mayfly Spinner

Sometimes you need to go a bit realistic


Rusty Mayfly Spinner
If you've ever hit a really good Mayfly spinner fall, then you can see the benefit of this pattern.
Because it features these "hyper-realistic" wings, in traditional spinner orientation, it's sexy as all get out and it's been a great fly to have in the box during these awesome hatch stages.

As far as this pattern goes, it features one of my favorite body materials: wrapped turkey biots (with the ribbing up). If you're a little hesitant to go with Turkey biots, we've done some homework for you and explained all you need to know about biots in general.

Another addition to this type of traditional pattern is the use of some specialty wings. The wings and the wing burners are from the guys as J:Son Sweden. They're an innovative bunch of fly tyers that put out some awesome materials. The wing burners, shown here, come in a variety of sizes and types. These are specifically for mayfly wings and I use them all the time. In this pattern, I use the matching wing material they provide, but you can also do this with any of the medallion sheeting colors we carry in the store.


Material List

Hook: Daiichi 1180 #14 - #20  -- Buy --
Thread: UTC 70 Denier, Rusty Brown  -- Buy --
Tail: Sparkle Emerger Yarn, Gray  -- Buy --
Body: Turkey Biot, Rusty Spinner  -- Buy --
Wings: J:Son realistic mayfly wing material, M4  -- Buy --
            (get the Wing Burner too...)
Thorax: Ice Dub, UV Cinnamon  -- Buy --

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Real. Easy. Parachute

Tidy up your parachutes


Real. Easy. Parachute

I remember when I got my first metz grizzly neck.  I went straight home confident that all of my hackle woes were solved, and that I would be able to tie top end flies just because I had better hackle. Well, the hackle helped, but I still had a lot to learn, specifically with parachutes.  Through the years, I have adopted several steps that have made my parachute tying life a LOT easier and cleaner.  As you watch the video, you will see some tips on tying in the biot, how to tie in the post without any bulk, and most importantly, how to tie off your parachute without ruining your work of art.  This pattern is more of a demonstration of techniques as opposed to a be-all end-all color combination.  Change up the body, tail, and basically any part of this fly...  Just incorporate the techniques in this video, and you will tie better parachutes.

~ Cheech


Recipe:

Hook: Daiichi 1110 #14-18 BUY
Thread: UTC 70 - olive BUY
Tail: Sparkle emerger yarn - gray BUY
Body: Turkey biot - BWO or olive BUY
Post: McFlylon yarn - white BUY
Thorax: Ice dub - UV lt. olive BUY
Hackle: Rooster saddle or cape - dun BUY


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Real. Easy. Mayfly.

Great for skinny water


When I was working my way through college, working in a local fly shop, one of my fellow shop rats invited me to head out and fish a PMD hatch early one June. As we ventured out, I made sure I had a few of my favorite PMD dry fly patterns at the ready. As we began fishing a very slow and glassy section of the river, my buddy was into fish right off the bat while I struggled to get any takers. My comparadun wasn't cutting it. I ended up swallowing my pride and took a peek at his pattern. It was nothing more than a hook with very sparse yellow dubbing and a few wraps of light dun hackle. No tail, no wings and nothing else. It was the only thing, on top, they'd eat that day. Since that time, I usually always have a variety of "sparse" style mayflies ready to roll. 

This particular pattern is nothing fancy nor is it ground breaking, but I've been on a kick lately incorporating UV resin coated bodies into my dry flies. Surprisingly enough, a UV coated body doesn't sink like you'd think it would. Granted, you're not slopping on a ton of the resin, but a light coating will work just fine without affecting flotation.

And I'm again impressed with the awesomeness that is the D202 hook from Allen. It's a great dry fly hook -- one of my favorites. And if you haven't tried UNI-Flexx for your ribbing (or bodies), you need to get some on your tying desk. It's basically a span-flex type material, but comes on a spool.

Material List

Hook: Allen D202 #14  -- Buy Here --
Thread: MFC Premium, 6/0, Yellow  -- Buy Here --
Shuck: Sparkle Emerger Yarn, Gray  -- Buy Here --
Body: Thread; UNI-Flexx, Gray  -- Buy Here --
Hackle: Whiting Bronze Cape, Dun  -- Buy Here --
Body Coating: Loon UV Fly Finish, Flow  -- Buy Here --
Thorax: Ice Dub, UV Lt. Yellow  -- Buy Here --

**(Obviously, you can mix and match colors here to get Baetis, Callibaetis, Tricos, etc)