The big bugs are nearly here. Sulfurs (both of the tiny pale yellow mayflies ephemerella invarias #16 and ephemerella dorotheas #18), yellow stoneflies #12-14, brown drakes #10, isonychia bicolor #10, and of course, the hexagenia limbata (hex #4-6). It doesn’t matter that you know the Latin names of the insects that will be hatching over the next several weeks, but it will certainly matter that you match the size, shape, and color of them with your flies to fool the feeding fish. Size does matter.
This article appeared for the first time in Spring of 2003 as an article I wrote for Michigan Trout’s Shooting Lines. I suggested we reprint it in an effort to avoid a “silent hatch” this year on our favorite streams.
By Dave Leonhard
Many years ago, I wrote a fictitious article about two fly anglers fishing on a Michigan river during the brown drake hatch just as the hex were starting in late June.
The story revolves around two anglers who set out for a weekend of fishing. The two fellas had set up camp at a nearby State campground one Friday night in mid-June and hurried off to the river to find clouds of brown drakes over the water. Filled with excitement they found fish feeding all over the river. With nearly a dozen large trout feeding in front of them they each caught and kept two browns over 16 inches which they
The reach cast is a method of adding slack to the line above the fly to allow the fly to float without dragging in the current. (See Figure 1) Unlike other casts that add slack, the reach cast has the slack under control so that one can easily set the hook. It is accomplished by mending the line upstream of the fly while the line is in the air on the way to the target. This is referred to as a “mid-air mend”. For it to be successful though, all of the line must be above the fly when it lands on the water.
Two casting principles are in play with the reach cast. The first principle is: The fly goes where the rod is pointed when it stops. The second is: Whereever you move the rod tip after the stop determines where the rest
of the line goes. (see Figure 2) Because there is a short delay after the rod is stopped, some line fails to mend upstream. If I delay a little, a little line continues straight toward the target and the rest of the line goes upstream. If I delay longer, more line continues on toward the target and less line is mended upstream. Theoretically, for all of the line to be mended above the fly, one would have to mend at the exact moment that
the stop of the rod occurs. However, if one stops and mends at the same time, there is, in fact, no stop and the result is a lack of loop formation. The resulting wide loop often piles line in the direction of the intended stop.
How then does one consistently mend all of the line above the fly while in the air? Pulling the rod back gently as one mends upstream pulls the line that is going straight toward the target back in the same direction as the mend. Thus, all of the line lands on the water in a straight line from rod tip to fly with all of the line
One of the many casting techniques that our school teaches each year is the “haul”. As one begins to challenge their skills and attempt longer casts, one soon learns that it becomes increasingly difficult to add the increased amount of energy into the cast in a smooth enough manner to avoid tailing loops. The short wrist-and-elbow dominated stroke that sufficed for the twenty-five or thirty foot cast now requires more arm movement and a longer stroke to smoothly deliver the extra power needed for a forty foot cast. Once one approaches sixty feet, it becomes much more difficult to provide power smoothly enough to make the cast without a tailing loop. At