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The Flyfishers at The Crossing Catch and Release Board
In this new section we will answer your questions about fly fishing techniques, local hatches, tying techniques, future trips, why I'm bald, what flies to use - where and when, my thoughts about this great sport and more. Have a question? Just email me by hitting the "email me" button above.
Here is a great article on everything you need to know about midges. Please read it and you will have a better catch rate here in Missouri and elsewhere. Click on this for Life Cycle of the Midge!
The Best Uni-thread furled leaders and more...... Click on the Logo to go to their web site. A 20% discount on all furled leaders. Must use member discount code.
Best Fly Shop in St. Louis. Provides the FATC a 10% discount on all in store items - must show membership card for discount. Also they have put together three rod/reel/fly line combos for us - beginner, novice, and intermediate. Awesome prices!! Ask us!!
Quality Discount Flies!! Click on Logo to go to their web site. A 15% - 20% discount, free shipping and fast service. Must use member discount code. WB also makes our very own FATC Kits - contain only the flies that we use here in Missouri. Starter Kit, Dry Fly Kit, Midge Kit, and Terrestrial Kit. Owned by Jason Edwards a FATC member!
Special in store discounts for us at certain times of the year from 20 - 25%. Watch for dates of discount days on our web site or via emails.
If you fly fish on Lake Taneycomo this is the ONLY fly shop to use for all your fishing needs. Show your FATC membership card and they will give you a small discount for their appreciation. Shannon or Carolyn are usually working the shop.
Mystery of the Tattooed Browns Solved
In the past weeks several of our FATC flyfishers have fished the Meramec river just outside the park where browns had been stocked earlier in the month. They were told to watch for the Tattooed Browns by one of the Conservation officers in the park. Tattooed Browns? Now what was that all about? Why and how? So the investigation began. Browns were caught by our guys and sure enough they had the Tattoos, red markings, just behind the right eye (see pictures above). The FATC went to "our guy" in the Missouri Department of Conservation, Mark VanPatten, to get the answer. It was even a mystery to Mark at first but the answer was discovered. Read below the most interesting response to our question about the Tattooed Browns of the Meramec!!
Kenny see the reply I received from Wes Swee the Hatchery Manager at Meramec.
We marked these fish a little differently this year. The brown trout we stock in the Meramec river are usually marked with a fin clip from Shepherd of the Hills hatchery. The fin clip is rotated from adipose, left pelvic, right pelvic and none over the course of four years to monitor the age of the fish and when it was stocked. When the fish are electro-fished in the fall, the biologist can distinguish year classes of browns. Sometimes the fin will grow back but it will look different or have a bend to it sometimes. Sometimes it’s very difficult to see the clip after 3 or 4 years of growth on a fish so a new method of marking was tested out. The marks or tattoo is an elastomer gel that is injected under the skin and stays with the fish for a long time. There are many color and marking locations on the fish unlike the fin clip. The fish are sedated and a very small needle is inserted under the clear skin tissue behind the eye. The gel hardens to a rubbery material that can be seen very easily in the years to come. Another reason we marked these fish differently was that they were raised from egg at the Maramec hatchery and are a different strain of brown trout. We stocked 2800 (12 inch) browns from Maramec(red tattoo)and another 2900 (12 inch) browns from Shepherd of the Hills hatchery(Adipose clip). This fall, during our sample of the river, we can compare how the two strains survived in the river.
For future reference:
2009 & before- no clip
2014-adipose(SOH), right eye mark(Maramec)
So the Mystery is solved!!!!
Soft Hackles – the Go to Fly!
Most fly fishermen will tell you that nothing is more exciting than seeing a rise, targeting the fish and then catching it with a dry fly. I would agree with that! But then I would bet that the majority of those rises the trout are not feeding on adult dry flies but on those aquatic insects stuck in the film layer or emerging just below the surface. If you're ever observed the hatching of an aquatic insect (mayfly, caddis, or midge) they don't hang around on the surface very long, Many times they're up and out of there. It seems when they come back to lay their eggs they hang out on the surface a little longer. So what's my point? When the hatch starts I believe the majority of the rises are for those insects stuck in the film layer or emerging. So my go to fly is usually the soft hackle.
The soft hackle fly (wet fly or flymph) comes in all shapes and sizes, imitating mayfly, caddis, and midge emergers and cripples. And they are a blast to fish with strikes that sometimes rip the rod out of your hands to subtle strikes that need the most savvy of hook sets. In my many years of teaching fly fishing on the water I have found that beginners have difficulty fishing with soft hackles. They feel the strike and in their excitement, lose the trout with their hook set. Most beginners have the tendency to set the hook too fast and too hard usually ripping the hook out of the trout's soft mouth.
There are several techniques that I use when fishing soft hackles that bring me much success. First, I use the standard wet fly swing. If I am fishing to a rise I try to cast the fly line so that the end of the swing will drift near or in front of the rise. With that said, I watch about 9 feet behind my WF fly line (my leader being about 9 feet) for any type of rise or burble in the water. Knowing that my soft hackle isn't very deep the trout has to break the water surface to get to my fly. I take small strips of my fly line to make sure my line is taut. Depending on how the trout strikes the soft hackle, i.e. was it a hard strike or light subtle strike, I will set the hook two different ways.
First, if the trout strikes hard, I will literally release my fly line from my left hand. I saw this technique in a video by Gary Borger (famous fly fisher guy). When the trout hits the fly hard it usually will turn away and head back down in a hurry. With the trout going away from you and you pulling the fly line hard in the opposite direction will, most times, pull the hook from the trout's mouth. So if you release the fly line, the line going through the guides will be sufficient enough to set the hook as the trout heads away from you. Give yourself a second or two, grab your fly line and raise your rod tip. Fish on! Try it – it works.
Now if the hit is subtle – “soft hit” , i.e. you see the rise 9 feet from your fly line and you “think” the trout is on your fly (a very soft tug), I wait another second and then slowly lift my rod straight up. If the trout hasn't hit my fly yet usually it will on the lift, thinking that this insect is rising to hatch. Mr trout doesn't want that soft hackle fly to get away. A slow lift will help your hook ups during those subtle hits tremendously. Or as printed in a recent fly fishing article I read by Dave Hughes, “When the first cast entered an area where I'd seen trout working. I felt a soft tug, waited a moment, then felt the solid pull that indicated a trout had turned on the fly, taken it solidly, hooked itself. You've felt that tug, managed to restrain yourself, waited until the fish was on.”
When fishing soft hackles also remember to do you best to imitate the hatching insects and that size matters. I usually find going smaller in size always is better than larger. So try these two “hook up” techniques next time the rises start and I am sure you will increase your catch using soft hackles. They are fun to fish and easy to tie. Hey, if you think the trout are hitting the dry flies but they ignore your offers and let them just drift by, then hit them with a soft hackle! As Dave Hughes says in his article, “ If you’re not careful you can mistake all the violence for the killings of caddisflies (mayflies and midges) afloat on the water. Most of the murder takes place subsurface.”
The FATC introduces their initial FATC Fly Fishing Instructors. Your Instructor cadre has been hand selected for their experience not only in fly fishing but also in the fellowship that the FATC provides. The Instructors have been with the FATC for several years and have fished the majority of places that the FATC fish here in Missouri and outside the state. They have been chartered to teach and escort our new "students" that have completed the FATC fly fishing course on the river for their first time experience. Each Instructor has also completed a three hour fly fishing instructor course. Congratulations to our initial FATC Instructor cadre. As the FATC grow we will build our Instructor team so as to make the experience of fly fishing enjoyable to all.
The FATC Fly Fishing Instructor Cadre
The Smokejumper - a New Fly To Try!! Recently I found a fly that looked very interesting for fishing during those times when the trout are taking flies in the film layer. I wanted something small especially when those midges (winter) are trying to hatch but are stuck in the film layer. I discovered this fly through the web site "Catch and the Hatch" and thought I would give it a try. It seemed easy to tie and that was good but the look of the fly intrigued me more. It's a type of fly that sits just below the surface and looks like a tasty morsel and easy prey for the trout. If you look on our "Fly Tying" page you will find a video on how to tie the Smokejumper fly. Here is how to fish it which is very interesting and I think you should follow since I had trouble fishing it when I first took it out on the water. This article is from the web site "Catch and the Hatch" and they use this fly plenty.
Tips on Using The Smokejumper It Needs Proper Support
This fly is delicate and sinks easily. It's tied with CDC so all it takes is a few false casts to dry it out, but after catching a fish (which happens often) you'll need to dry it out.
Gink or floatant doesn't work on CDC and so you're left with using Frog's Fanny or some other CDC powder drying product.
Make sure you have frog's fanny or something that will dry out your CDC flies with this fly or you're going to struggle to keep it floating.
The other tool I'd highly recommend is a NZ Strike Indicator. This is the best indicator to use for dry fly fishing because of how delicate it is. If you're going to fish the smokejumper as an emerger, this is the best to use as you'll often throw this fly in slack water vs fast riffles. A thing-a-ma-bobber will spook every fish in the hole, but the NZ strike indicator is so soft and unobtrusive, it often gets eaten as well! It's a great indicator for this application and is highly recommended.
Other Tips for Fishing the Smokejumper
In addition to having the right tools to support the smokejumper, make sure you fish this fly to fish that are slowly rising in the ends of pools, runs and back eddies. As a midge emerges, it ends up in this slack water where it attempts to break the water surface and fly away. As this happens the trout key in on this and eat them. The smokejumper imitates this exact scenario and it's why it's so deadly successful.
Fish it in slack or slow water with 5x to 7x line. You won't get away with much less unless the fish are ignorant. This is a delicate fly to fish but the payouts can be huge.
Make sure you don't cast over the fish and "line" the fish, but instead approach him at a 45' angle downstream or upstream and drift it to the fish where the trout does not see your line. Thats where you'll find the best success.
NEW SPONSOR - Compass 360 Gear will be allowing us to purchase waders, wading boots, rain gear and more for up to 40% off. Contact Kenny Klimes (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details - For FATC members only. www.compass360gear.com
Rock Treads: The latest in aluminum cleats for wading boots. This unique design gives unbelievable traction and stabilty for vibram bottom wading boots. Rock Treads gives us an awesome discount of almost 50% off of retail. Must use member discount code. www.rocktreads.com
Dry Case products keep everything dry. Their unique dry case for cell phones allows you to take pictures and calls without ever taking your phone out of the case - keeping your cell phone bone dry when on the river. 25% discount on most products. Must us member discount code. www.drycase.com
Some of us have been fishing throughout the winter and others of us have not. Either way it may be time to tune up your gear for the upcoming spring and summer season. Here are some Spring tips from our friends at Cutthroat Leaders:
Spring to do list...
- Check lines for cracks, tears, broken loops, etc
- clean fly lines
- change leaders on all lines. Attach new tippet to new leaders.
- organize fly boxes. throw away bad flies, re-sharpen good ones you
want to keep.
- organize your vest/pack. Why wait until the night of your first trip.
- do you need any new tools / accessories. Maybe a new Strike indicator system?
- check waders, any tears from last year? Finish any patch work req'd.