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 such distances withou
Here's a variation of the great pattern invented by Dan Byford in the mid-70's. Replacing the mylar body with a conehead and dubbed Hare'e Ice body is a fantastic sculpin/leach pattern that should be tied in several colors.
This first night pattern is simple yet effective and students tied some very nice flies.
Summer hatches are a distant memory, and the weather is turning colder. As the water cools, the sun gets lower in the sky, and the hours of daylight shorten, brown trout and brook trout put on their brilliant spawning colors and get aggressive as they build their spawning redds and begin the spawning ritual.
Watching over their redds turns them into protective predators who will eat anything that gets too close. Throwing streamers and stripping or swinging them across the river becomes the preferred tactic to fool some of the largest fish of the year.
Here are some tactics that may help you make your Fall streamer fishing more productive. First, since today’s modern s
The Lovells Township Historical Society Museum has a great series of podcasts featuring many interesting fly fishing and fly tying experts that share a great history of the sport in the Grayling area. This month's podcast features our own Dave Leonhard who shares nearly 60 years of fly fishing in the area. I think you'll enjoy the conversation around the ol' stove. JUST CLICK THE LINK BELOW:
Here are some trips worth considering...
SAN PEDRO, BELIZE
A RECIPIENT OF NUMEROUS AWARDS AND ACCOLADES, AND KNOWN AS A WORLD CLASS FLY FISHING RESORT, EL PESCADOR IS A TOP CHOICE FOR ANGLERS, ECO-ADVENTURERS, COUPLES AND FAMILIES LOOKING FOR THE BEST OF BELIZE.
JUNE 15 — DECEMEBER 14, 2021 "TWO HEADS FOR ONE" ANGLING PACKAGES
Book 3, 4, 5, or six day packages for the regular price, and take a fishing pal FREE! It's the best deal of the year in the Caribbean. Bonefish, permit, tarpon...
Our packages start with our all-inclusive standard package. You can add any additional activities to it for a fee. Most people customize a package to include the level and type of activities desirable to them. That's why El Pescador is the perfect place for your dream Belize vacation.
We also offer an all-inclusive fishing package plan for serious anglers as well as an all-inclusive diving package. Additionally, adventure packages are available for those seeking a broader Belize vacation experience.
When you have an idea what activities you would like, contact us. We will help you plan and price your unique vacation at El Pescador.
Call Streamside (231) 933-9300 to book your trip.
Fly fiish the beautiful South Holston River in northeast Tennessee for rainbow and brown trout near Bristol Tennessee. Your host for this trip will be custom boatbuilder and Michigan river guide, Phil Croff. The South Holston River is a fantastic tail water fishery that boasts more than 9000 rainbow and brown trout per mile! The South Holsten utilizes a bottom draw dam that stays very cold all year and supports a very healthy trout population.
The 2-day package includes:
*prices for additional nights and guided fishing are available upon request
The lodge is located only 2 hours from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, one hour from Asheville, North Carolina, approximately 8 hours from Detroit, 12 hours from Traverse City.
Trips are available from February 15, 2021 through March 19, 2021.
To book your trip, contact Phil Croff (231 330-5762.
Linehan Outfitting Company offers trout fishing on the fantastic Kootenai River in Libby, Montana. Just west and south of Kalispell, Montana and Glacier National Park, the Kootenai River flows out of the massive Libby Dam on the border of US and Canada. Fish for Kootenai rainbows (wild indigenous strain of rainbow trout, bull trout, and some browns as well. Linehan Outfitters has won the prestigious Orvis Outfitter of the Year award. Stay in one of the fantastic Yaak cabins or the fabulous River house on the River just outside of Libby.
For rates or to sign up, call (800) 596-0034, or call Streamside and we'll get rates and availabilities for you.
click here to find out more:
As the summer months arrive and the giant mayfly hatches slowly fade into distant memories of late nights, big fish, and massive riseforms, many fly anglers retire their gear for the season. Others embrace the midday warm sunshine and grassy banks to wander the river listening for the clicking of grasshoppers along the banks as the sun rises above the treetops. By late July, grasshoppers, beetles, and ants have matured and are gathering by the river’s edge to eat, drink, and mate.
Warm temperatures at midday brings these insects to the river to drink and eat the lush grassy banks and as the air warms, winds increase and blow them into the river. Large trout recognize this and align themselves along the bank waiting for them to fall into the river.
Ant colonies, now growing and expanding their sandy tunnels are regularly washed into the river by heavy rains that often accompany hot summer afternoon temperatures. Once again, trout become aware of this and key in on these tiny morsels.
Beetle populations grow this time of year in the dark shadows of the cedar swamps that line many sections of the cold water streams. They too become prey for the trout that lay along the edges of these swampy sections.
Just as many think the mayfly hatches are finished for the season, here comes the tiny tricorythodes (#20) hatch in late July. Fearful of baking in the hot, midday sunshine, the little trico’s emerge in the cool overnight, and early morning air. Don’t be caught off guard in the morning if clouds of these tiny mayflies gather, mate, and spin to the water bringing every trout in the river to the surface to feed.
Here are few tips that may help your success during this season. First, trico fishing is specialized and requires that you prepare to arrive early, fish longer leaders and fine tippets in the 6X and 7X diameters. If you intend to look for the feeders in the early morning light, be prepared with all phases of the hatch — emergers, duns, and spinners.
Hopper fishing utilizes larger flies in the #8 to #12 sizes. They are fairly wind resistant and require tippets in the 4X to 5X range. If you’re fishing faster, Western rivers, shorter 7½ foot leaders will be fine. In Michigan, 9 foot leaders are better for the slower, flatter water.
If hopper fishing is your game for the day, take your time getting started. Grasshoppers won’t arrive at the river to drink until the sun is high in the sky and the winds have begun to build. Remember, it’s the wind that builds in the afternoon sun that provides the insects to the trout. So, trout are not looking for them until the sun reaches above the treetops. Plan to fish areas that receive direct sunlight. It’s the grassy banks that boast good populations of hoppers. So fish sections that allow you to wade downstream and cast to the deep undercut, grassy banks. Listen for the clicking sound that adult grasshoppers make. That’s a sure sign that trout will be looking for these big morsels.
As you wade downstream in Michigan streams, be aware of your surroundings. If you suddenly find yourself in a dark, section shaded by cedar trees, change from a hopper to a beetle pattern. Beetles inhabit the rotted logs and decaying regions of the wet cedar swamps. Then as you emerge from the darkness to more grassy banks basking in the sunshine, change back to your hopper pattern.
Fishing terrestrials out West is a little different than fishing them on an Eastern river where one is unable to walk a bank because of the brush that grows thickly along its banks. Along the western rivers of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, Eastern tag alder lined banks are replaced by open banks and sagebrush. This allows anglers to walk banks and fish upstream. In this situation, you can cast upstream tight to the bank ten or fifteen feet upstream and lift the rod as the fly comes down stream toward you. You can then walk a few steps up the bank and cast agai
Fifty years ago, I visited a northern Michigan fly shop in early June. Ignorant about basic aquatic entomology and the concept of "matching the hatch", I naively asked the shop owner, "What's hatching?". The other two customers, whose conversation I had interrupted, turned to hear the shop owner's answer. "The Howdie", was his reply. The look on my face must have said it all. A smirk appeared on the lips of all three. OK, I thought. I'm the rookie that hasn't a clue. I'll bite. "What's a Howdy?", I shot back. "The white-gloves. The iso's. Isonychia bicolor.", he added. Oh, that clarified it. "Thanks", I said. Thoroughly embarrassed, I blindly went about picking a few flies that probably had no relation to the isonychia bicolor hatch I was going to encounter on the river that evening. It was that moment that I swore that if I ever owned a fly shop I would gladly try to share as much fly fishing knowledge as I could. And I have tried to do that for 27 years.