Sunday, August 31, 2014

little creek, big rocks

I had to return to this stream. I gave it a try back in march while the water was still cold enough to need waders and I got skunked on this little rivulet. That doesn't happen very often and it left a bad taste in my mouth that's been festering for too long.

Yesterday I met up with my usual fishin buddy and brother in law, Stu, and we headed on up to the trail head where we were to meet up with "The angler formerly known as C4PZLOK" (sorry dude, I had to) If you are a Tennesseeanglers member you may have heard of him, or his more recent screen name, Fox. Fox is a regular contributor on the forum, seasoned angler, though fairly new to fly fishing and a pretty laid back dude. Introductions were made, jokes were cracked, rods got strung and then we started our way up the trail.

I'm pretty laid back as well until you get me on the trail. Stu always makes me walk in front so I don't keep poking the back of his head with my fly rod as I stare off into the forest like a kid from Southern Cal who never had so many trees. Though, I suspect its got as much to do with the spider webs strung across the trail.

We saw signs of bear and boar along the way, mostly in the lower part of the trail. Scat and paw prints on the trail were common. We found a mud hole as well.  Before long we arrived at the stream and started casting. It was a little slow at first, a take here and there but not much action. Fox fished a hole that looks like it has been marked.

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I took off my pink weenie dropper and just fished a beetle and things picked up a bit.

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An interesting flower I thought my daughter would like to see. Only one pic was worth a darn, I really need to get a little tripod.

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I've never seen a caterpillar like this before. The Kidd described it as "Epic" and I can't disagree.

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I also had just seen a big fuzzy chartreuse caterpillar dangling from a limb that I couldn't get a decent picture of. Seeing these caterpillars and little else in the way of bugs on the stream made me dig into the fly box for a green weenie when I saw another fly in there that made sense. I made one last year just messing around, and decided to make two more just in case it worked. They have just sat in my fly box for two years getting passed over for proven patterns.

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After I dropped a glass caterpillar off of my beetle my catch rate went way up. Stu and Fox found the same success with green weenies and san juan worms.

We passed three rock cairns where I only recall there being one last time. Or there is only one in my picture from the last trip. I'm not sure but I think this might mark a manway over the ridge that drops into another stream.

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The fish were greedy for chartreuse as we leapfrogged our way up the stream. I quit counting after 20 brook trout came to hand. Not a monster brookie day but respectable. We finished our day when we came to a place where the water cascaded over a rock formation that looked like swiss cheese. Stu fished the left side and I took the right. Two more brookies came to hand.

It is as good of a landmark as any to start from next time...

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

the foam beetle

As mild as the summer has been lately, make no mistake, the dog days are here. In the mountains, aside from the occasional stoneflies, there aren't any major hatches right now. While dry flies like the neversink caddis, poor man's stimulator, parachute and wulff adams, among others will still catch trout, the best bet is terrestrials. My favorite of these is a big black foam beetle. They will float any heavy stonefly nymph you can come up with, and your truck too. Maybe not your truck, but they do float well.

I have tinkered with a few different materials and styles the last few years and have finally settled on one that outdoes the rest. I started out tying the original peacock herl bodied foam beetle but that was too wimpy. A few trout teeth and it was done. Then somebody introduced me pearl chenille and rubber legs. I liked the durability but I also had fewer strikes. It just wasn't natural looking with the little plastic rectangles sticking out everywhere. Earlier this year I decided to try tying a couple with a dubbing underbody. I dug through my supplies and came across some Ice dubbing I hadn't been using. Bingo! The stuff is a bit difficult to use being synthetic but its durable, has a nice buggy look and not too much flash.

Teimco 2312 size 10-i prefer size 12 but i'm out
Black thread 70 denier
Peacock loco foam
Chocolate brown ice dubbing
Medium round black rubber legs
White para post

To start, cut the foam into a strip 1/4" to 3/8" wide and cut the corners of one end into a taper. Cut the legs into 1 1/2 inch lengths.

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Wrap down the hook and tie the last 1/16" of the taper above the bend. Wrap it loose at first, tightening as you go to prevent cutting into the foam

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Next comes the hard part. The plastic dubbing doesn't stick to the thread as well as finer dubbing materials, and sometimes comes loose while wrapping. I don't have dubbing wax so the way I found to beat it is to use a little at a time, wrapping up and down the hook in a few layers. Be sure to leave a gap behind the hook eye to tie down the foam.

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Fold the foam over and pull it snug. Wrap to hold it down the same as earlier, loose at first and gradually tightening as you wrap. Don't trim the remaining foam yet. Next tie in the rubber legs. One at a time i fold them in half around the thread, pinch the tips between my fingers, pull them tight and place them with a wrap of thread.

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Cut off a strand of para post, fold it in half and tie it on top of the beetle. I make a few wraps around it to make a true parachute post. Lift the loose foam and whip finish on the eye of the hook. Trim the foam, legs, dubbing and parachute post to your liking. I often use a drop of superglue to help hold things in place.

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I like the peacock foam but it is expensive as far as foam sheets go. It also blends with the water so it makes the para post a must, but any closed cell 2mm foam will do. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sometimes its hard to beat the beetle

Kyler is the son of a friend of mine, and he is also my friend. He likes punk rock and has a band he jams with, the Gorilla Skulls. You've probably not heard of them. He also likes to fish, though he doesn't get to do much of it as his parents aren't the great outdoors type. I think that people such as the members of  Pegboy and myself are the exception. Occasionally when Kyler has kept his parents pleased and I have the time I scoop him up and let him wet a line for a while. This has been going on for several years. When he was younger I would take him to the clinch and use bait. Now he's older, a little more coordinated and listens better so i have stuck a fly rod in his hand the last two trips.

Yesterday I picked him up and we proceeded Little River Outfitters to meet up with my brother in law, Stu before heading to the smokies. Last year he fished with us on North river and a little on the upper end of Tellico. I was hoping that some of what he had learned that day would stick with him and he would only need a few minutes of refreshing his memory. We stopped at a spot along the road, and after the refresher course I taught him the roll cast he would need on the bigger stream we were fishing. I put him on a nice run that looked like it would hold several trout, and as was expected, he was struggling to get his cast out far enough. He soon tangled his line and told me to fish the run while he sat on a rock and untangled. I sat with him a moment and explained that he had too much slack in his line to cast and how to prevent it, then gladly obliged the opportunity to demonstrate. After a few casts I saw a fish cruise up from the depth and inspect my foam beetle before eating it. I set the hook and was a bit surprised at the rainbow I had just fooled. I know there's some good ones in this river, but he was bigger than anything I actually expected to catch.

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We spent some more time working on the roll cast and hit a few more spots, but Kyler was really struggling with the big stream. Not wanting to sap his confidence I decided to take him much further upstream to a small, much colder stream that fishes as good as it looks. There are rainbow and brook trout everywhere in this tributary, some quite large for the stream size.

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We jumped in and Kyler hit the water first. I spent some more time coaching him on the where and how, and soon he was casting easily and getting a perfect drift. The trout were as promised and eager to take the beetles I had tied. His timing on the hook set was off and he never seemed to get the feel of it. I watched as fish after fish smashed, pecked or slowly sucked his beetle under and not one came to hand. I joked with him that he wasn't getting any lunch unless he lands one.

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Kyler fished ahead and I followed up, casting to the spots he had missed or couldn't reach. Eventually we found Stu. He said he was catching plenty on a san juan worm, so I dropped one off Kyler's beetle. The very next cast he hooked a little brookie that fell off when he reached for it. Soon he landed two little rainbows and lost several more trout. The san juan came through for him and it saved his day. Not to mention his lunch...

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