Category Archives: Fly Fishing Life

The Royal Coachman

Fred Klein Author, Fly tyer and fisher of early traditional flies. Fly fishing historian, author and speaker.

A Fly Endeared

With a new fly rod and fly box at the inquisitive age of ten, I learned to cast wet flies for brook trout in our Pennsylvania woodland stream. My life long relationship began with a beautiful fly adorned with green flash, bright white wings and a scarlet sash…

lets go back a hundred years to the beginnings of the Royal Coachman.

Beginnings

The story of the first Royal Coachman began with a fishing trip to the North Woods. The year was 1878 when a fly fisherman engaged New York City professional fly dresser John Haley to tie some Coachman flies and to “make them extra strong”,  to prevent the unraveling of the peacock herl body, and wood duck for the tail- thus the beginning of America’s favorite fly.  A few evenings later in a circle of fishermen, a discussion arose to coin the handsome fly with a name. L.C. Orvis, the brother of Charles Orvis said “ Oh that is easy enough, call it a Royal Coachman it is so finely dressed!”

Royalty was in it’s orgins, this fly which was derived from a previous favorite in America, the Coachman. A British fly originated by fisherman Tom Bosworth, also a coach driver for King George IV, Henry IV and Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

Tough Bugs

Guest Blogger: Mary S. Kuss, Life-long avid angler, licensed PA fishing guide, founder of the Delaware Valley Women’s Fly Fishing Association

“Stream channelization, pollution, and insecticides have taken their toll on the mayfly life that, according to trouting literature, once flourished in our waters. The eager rise of trout to emerging insects, that magical event for which many trout fishermen live, is unfortunately rare. Many of the classic hatches have all but disappeared from public waters in the Poconos. If one were to follow a source such as Schwiebert’s Matching the Hatch in preparing patterns for use in our area, he might find a considerable number of them can be eliminated because so few of the naturals now exist in major streams.”

Don Baylor
Pocono Hatches
Pocono Hatches was published in 1980, and as you can imagine this situation has for the most part only gotten worse during the forty years since. Even so, the Poconos still have much better and more diverse hatches than the waters nearer my home in the Philadelphia suburbs. The best thing I can say is that there isn’t much channelizing of streams going on anymore.

Those of us who love fly fishing, of course, have adapted to the decline of the classic hatches. Attractor patterns have become increasingly important in our pursuit of trout and other gamefish. Yet there are still hatch-matching opportunities. We simply have to turn our attention to the insects that have also been able to adapt. There are a handful of aquatic insects that still live, and sometimes even thrive, in our altered streams. Here are some of my favorites.

Midges

Chironomids are by far the most significant hatch in the streams I fish. They are ubiquitous, abundant, and a frequent trigger for selective feeding. Midges are very important during the winter, when they are usually the only hatch available. A relatively warm day in January or February often brings on an emergence.

I like to keep my workhorse fly patterns simple and easy to tie. Although I believe firmly that a wise fly fisher always carries some change-ups, I rely on two midge patterns. For the pupa, which is often the most important, I use an Al’s Rat. This pattern could not be simpler. On a standard dry fly hook, form a double layer of brown size 3/0 Danville Monocord. Add a small ball of Muskrat dubbing as a thorax. Done. I once saw a photograph of a real midge pupa next to a wet Al’s Rat and the likeness was uncanny. For the adults, I like a Griffith’s Gnat. I tie both in sizes 20, 22, and 24. more…

The “Odd” Cod, The “Odd” Yellowbelly, The “Odd” Perch

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Dana Stors Lamb was a New York investment banker, conservationist and author. His angling stories are renown for his poetic, lyrical style. He published nine titles in the 1960s-70s, mostly angling stories about pursuing Atlantic Salmon in New England, Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes. One of my favorite stories headlines the volume Not Far From The River (1967). Entitled “The Odd Salmon”, Dana laments a summer where salmon were scarce on the Miramichi, Magaguadavic, Nashwaak and Restigouche rivers in Quebec. A farmer on the river Nashwaak filled with anglers says,“There’s nothing in the river now.” Dana comments, “But surely there is something or they wouldn’t fish”. The farmer, while whacking the buttocks of a cow, “Oh well, they do get the odd salmon now and then.” At the tidal head of the Restigouche, anglers in boats plied the waters and Dana wondered to a local, “they must be there”. The local observer replied: “Of course they are there. They have to be, but all they ever take down here is sometimes the odd salmon.” Back along the Maine coast, Dana encountered a group of southern anglers extremely frustrated over the lack of salmon and crowded rivers. As Dana left the little Maine village, he wondered, “whether anyone [in the frustrated group] among the hundreds along the river bank would latch on to that famous fish so often talked about; so seldom seen; the so much sought but tough to kill the ‘odd salmon’.” more…