Join us Saturday, March 11 from 10am-noon and learn about basic aquatic entomology,
The Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School returns to the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa just east of downtown Traverse City. Orvis Michigan will once again offer both one and two day schools. Conveniently located only a few minutes from downtown Traverse City, the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa will offer dedicated classroom facilities, private trout pond, and luxurious accommodations at special rates for Orvis one day and two day students.
Overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan, the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing Schools combine northwoods beauty and classic elegance at The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. After matching the hatch on Michigan’s famed Manistee, or Boardman Rivers, you can choose to relax at the beach, play some golf or tennis, or explore the beautiful sand beaches of Grand Traverse Bay. The Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is home to our two day fly fishing schools which include wading the famous Boardman River where the Adams fly was invented. Miles of streams are available after class, or take in the sun on the Resort’s private Lake Michigan beachfront.
Schools utilize private trout ponds and classrooms, as well as serene stretches of the Boardman River only a few minutes away. Orvis Michigan is designed to introduce the intricacies of fly fishing to an absolute novice, but even experienced fly anglers will find personal and advanced instruction tailored to their level of experience. From knots to entomology, casting to tackle, the instructors at Orvis Michigan will fully prepare you to step into the stream.
One of the attractions of the Orvis Michigan Fly Fishing School is the variety of rivers that surround the resort. While the Manistee River’s "flies only" water lures most of our float and wade trip anglers, the Boardman River and public access is only minutes away. (Note: The famous Adams fly was invented on the Boardman River in nearby Mayfield, Michigan.) The Manistee is nearly a mirror image of its sister river, the AuSable River. Miles of easily waded gravel and sand bottom and easy access makes the Manistee River the river of choice to set out on your own. The river is approximately thirty to sixty feet across in most stretches and boasts prolific hatches. While the Boardman River is a little narrower (twenty to forty feet across in the upper reaches) it too has open stretches that are especially inviting for the novice angler. Both rivers have easy public access, are two to four feet in depth, and are only twenty to thirty minutes from the shop. Spring runs of steelhead and fall runs of Chinook
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 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:
Early season trout fly fishing in Northern Michigan is typically centered on the Hendrickson (ephemerella subvaria #14) hatch. This three-tailed mayfly was given it's common name by Theodore Gordon who tied flies to imitate the hatch for Albert Everett Hendrickson. The Hendricksons are sometimes referred to as the “Gentleman’s” hatch because of its late morning emergences and late afternoon and early evening spinnerfalls. Theoretically, one could play cards all night, sleep in after a night of great intemperance, get to the stream in time to catch the emergence, return to lunch, a nap, and then catch the spinner fall in time to return for the cocktail hour. Now that’s a full day of hatch fishing. At least that's the story my late-rising, intemperant, ol' timers told me.
There are two important factors for good Hendrickson fishing. First, correct habitat is necessary for good numbers of Hendricksons who love faster moving water and gravel. So, don’t expect to find them where your favorite silt bed, Hex waters are located. Next, correct water temperature is crucial
for the emergence to occur and temperate air temperatures are needed for the spinner fall.
My mentors were careful not to go to the river during Hendrickson time without their thermometers. As the morning sun warmed the water, they carefully dangled their gauges in the water and checked regularly to see the temperature rise from the upper 40’s into the low 50’s. Most expected the hatch to commence at 53 degrees. The ol’ pros nymphed Hare’s Ear nymphs below Hendrickson emerger patterns as they waited patiently for the water to warm. Sure enough, as the temp reached 52 or 53 degrees, they popped. (Usually late morning or early afternoon.) The tiny dun-winged flies could be seen floating and leaving the water during a hatch that lasted about an hour and then sporadically throughout the afternoon.
Once leaving the water, the newly hatched insects would wing their way to a nearby tree or bush sporting freshly budded leaves. Over a period of two or three days, they would molt one last time and become sexually mature adults ready to mate. No longer a pinkish shade of gray and tan, they now are a rich brown color with clear wings instead of the cloudy gray. Warm late afternoon air temperatures and calm winds would entice the spinners to gather in the air over the stream. Clouds of the tiny bugs would gather as the late afternoon and early evening sun fell low in the sky. In the clouds of male adults, females would fly through, mate, and fall to the water to lay their eggs. Tiny yellow egg sacs would be visible to both angler and fish as the female spinners fell to the water, deposited their precious package, and then died. Males Hendricksons, now spent and weak, would also fall to the water and die. It wouldn’t take long for the eager trout to take advantage of this and start to feed on their remains.
There would be one more important element to consider for good fishing though. In Early May, trout are just coming out of a Winter-long nap. For them to aggressively feed, their metabolism kick into gear. Trout need several days of upper 40’s and 50’s to get their motors going. Warm daytime temperatures are common to encourage emergences. However, so are cold 35 degree nights that will once again cool the water slowing the trout's appetite. Many an early season angler has been frustrated with clouds of Hendricksons without a feeder in sight. No worries, the fish will feed tomorrow.
The tricky part of the Hendrickson hatch is that after a week of emergences, we will typically start to see tiny black caddis flies emerging all day long. Initially, trout will turn their noses up at the caddis, preferring to eat the Hendrickson. But, once the black caddis are around for a few days, the trout begin to eat them and look for them. In fact, trout will often avoid the Hendricksons choosing instead to look for telltale bright green egg sacs on the back of the egg-layin
There are three important choices to consider when choosing the right leader for fly fishing. They are the length of the leader, and the size of the diameter of the butt section and diameter of the tippet (or level portion at the end of the leader).
Three factors determine what length leader to use: the water condition, the type of fly line used, and the fish to be fished for.
One of the first purchases a fly angler makes is waders. Waders have come a long way from the heavy, rubberized canvas, lug-sole monsters that we wore in the 60’s and 70’s. Today, modern breathable membranes, lightweight fabrics, and interchangeable soles have made wading much more comfortable. In this article I would like to cover some of the basic choices one can make when purchasing waders, and then discuss some important wading issues that will help you wade more comfortably and safely.
By far, the most popular waders sold today are called “stocking foot”. That refers to the wader having a neoprene, soft, bootless foot that must be worn with a wading shoe that is purchased separately. They are most popular for two reasons. First, they can be made in a wide variety of sizes and shapes for both men and women. From small/short to XXL/extra long, modern stocking foot waders are made in sizes that will fit nearly everyone. Waders that fit properly are more comfortable and will last longer. Also, the wading shoe can be purchased in the correct size. For example, if you wear an extra large short size wader but have a size 8 foot, you can be fit properly. Secondly, because wading shoes will often last much longer than the stocking foot wader, replacing them costs less. This makes stocking foot waders more economical in the long run.
Several manufacturers still offer bootfoot waders, but because they offer only a few body sizes for each foot size they rarely fit as well as stocking foot waders. Consequently, some anglers are unable to find waders that fit properly and are thus less comfortable and get less wear out of them. Bootfoot waders are also much heavier and bulkier than stocking foot waders. That makes them less desirable for travel or long hikes to the river.
Buying waders involves two important issues: budget and fit. The cost of waders is directly related to the number of features that they boast. Waterproof pockets, padded knees, zip-fronts, drop-down systems, synthetic wool linings… the list goes on and on. However, let your budget determine the list of features you purchase. The most important budget feature that you should consider is the number of layers the wader has. This will directly affect the life of the wader. More expensive waders are usually four layer systems while the more economical stocking foot waders are generally three layers. Bear in mind that fit is a major factor in the durability and longevity of any wader. Waders that are too short in the rise will invariably leak in the crotch sooner rather than later. Also, since breathable stocking foot waders do not stretch, they should have at least a couple of extra inches in the inseam so that one can comfortably do a deep knee bend. This will ensure that one can get out of the stream by stepping up onto the bank. This is the most common cause of seam failure and the most common mistake anglers make when purchasing stocking foot waders. Having extra length in the seam from the crotch to the foot will ensure that the seam on the crotch will not be stretched too much and leak prematurely. Make sure that the waders are roomy enough to allow the breathable layers to breathe and circulate air. Since fit is such a crucial factor for waders to last, work well, and feel comfortable, take the time to try them on and walk in them before purchasing them.
What’s the most common question customers ask regarding waders? “How long will they last?” I have to honestly answer, “If you never wear them, they’ll last forever. And if you wear them every day you’ll be lucky to get three seasons out of them.” Most anglers wear their waders ten or twelve times a year and should get many years out of them. Bear in mind that pinhole leaks are easily repaired in seconds with products like AquaSeal UV and permanent seam failures and leaks are rare unless they are worn over many years, are abused, or fit improperly.
Next consider the soles of your waders. Today, invasive species such as zebra mussels, didymo, mud snails, and other highly damaging species are potentially carried from one watershed to another via wet felt soles, neoprene booties, laces, and other items. To avoid this, one should always fully dry items such as wading shoes, and waders before using them in a different river or lake. But if drying such items is not possible, throw them into a garbage bag and freeze them overnight. Freezing will kill the invasives.
Now that you have your waders, get in and wade. So let’s talk about some basic guidelines that will make your wading safer and drier. First, do not wade in water unless you can swim. “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” Make sure you have your polarized glasses to see how deep it is and if there is a rock waiting to trip you. Consider where you are getting in. Is there a silt bed where you are getting in? How deep is it? When you first get into the river, get organized and acclimated. By that I mean, “manhandle” the river a little. Don’t let the current push you around. Bend your knees and be athletic. You’ll soon feel stable if you resist the current with some effort. Then, as you move downstream or upstream, move your feet slowly by sliding them and “feeling” your way to the next step. Always set your foot solidly before moving the other.
One misunderstandings about wading is that if you fall into a deep hole and your waders fill up, you’ll sink to the bottom like a stone. Actually, when the waders are full of water in a pool or in a deep hole, the pressure inside and outside equalizes and they weigh no more full of water than they do completely empty on dry land. We all think our waders will drag us down because when we get a couple of gallons of water in them (at 8 pounds a gallon) and try to get out onto the bank, they are heavy. To minimize taking on a lot of water if you fall, we recommend wearing a wading belt. Wading belts will prevent a simple fall from becoming a wet, cold, day on the river. (Tip: When you put your wading belt on, kneel down and clip it. This will force air out and make you less buoyant and give you a more solid connection with the river bottom.) Normally when one falls in and gets water in their waders, air is trapped inside and they become buoyant. If you’re in deep water and you’re waders become buoyant and you lose touch with the bottom, arch our back and do the breast stroke to the bank, get out, and feel embarrassed. If you should fall and go down into the water, try not to panic. (Oh yeah, right.) Let’s face it, without exception, we all panic when we go down. However, even in the worst river, it’s unlikely that you will go shooting downstream like Brad Pitt for a half a mile. Rather, you will likely travel downstream about twenty feet and tail out into quiet water where you can stand up and get out to dry things. But that is a generalization. I won’