Tag Archives: fly fishing advice

Nymphing Subtleties: Part 1

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

This is a two-part series on nymphing in low water conditions.

A few years ago, Wisconsin changed the opener of the pre-season catch and release season from the first Saturday in March to the first Saturday in January. If you live in the upper Midwest, you know that January is usually when we experience a stretch of sub-zero weather. You may be thinking, is this guy nuts (That’s a separate discussion we can have over a beer or two!)? However, in this case, we were experiencing a heat wave with temperatures approaching freezing and bright sunshine. The radiant energy in the sunshine is enough to minimize the ice in the guides and the reel, so I decided to go fly fishing.

I checked my fishing log to see what I usually use in the early pre-season and proceeded to rig my rod with a float indicator, a #6 bead head olive wooly bugger, and an 18-inch dropper to a bead head silver lightning bug. Within a few casts it became clear this was not a good choice as I was spending most of my time walking through my best spots getting my flies unsnagged from rocks and other debris on the bottom of the river. more…

Motivation to Use BIG Flies

Guest Blogger: Joe Dellaria, Woodbury MN

Larger streamers, wooly buggers, and girdle bugs can provide exciting fishing. There’s nothing like the jolt of a large fish crushing a fly on the retrieve. However, as I have gotten older, my casting shoulder has become increasingly less enamored with throwing these larger flies for hours on end.

Then a couple of years ago I caught 29 fish that were 15 inches or bigger. That was my best year ever for larger fish. Over 80% of the fish were caught on a nymph including the 22 incher! The nymphs were sizes #16-#12. An additional 11% were caught on wooly buggers or girdle bugs sizes #10-#6. The remaining 8% came on #14 parachute Adams and #10 hoppers. I also fished larger streamers, wooly bugger, and girdle bugs over the course of the season, but none of my largest fish took any of those offerings.

This success in numbers and size shifted my strategy in subsequent years to focus on nymph fishing unless there was an active hatch. While I have not reproduced the number of larger fish, I have consistently caught the largest fish on a nymph in the intervening years. And, yes, I still put on larger flies for 10-15% of the time. This served to solidify my belief (or bias, if you prefer) that larger fish can be caught consistently on smaller flies. more…

Salmon River Kings Redux

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

I recently returned from my second annual trip in pursuit of King Salmon, at the Salmon River, in Pulaski, NY. During last year’s trip I hooked many, but landed only two Kings in three days of fishing. I became familiar with their rather intimidating size and power, but never achieved any sense of control over a hooked fish. It was simply a matter of hanging on and hoping for the best.

This year, as the date of our trip approached, we’d been very excited to hear reports of charter boats on Lake Ontario marking huge schools of salmon on their sonar units. This presaged a strong run of fish up the Salmon River. Although salmon had been trickling into the river for a few weeks, the main run had clearly not started yet. The water was too warm and the river too low.

We arrived on Sunday, September 16 to find unseasonably hot and humid weather conditions. On Monday and Tuesday our activities were limited to hiking and sweating and swatting mosquitoes. Some fish were in the river; we watched them roll and porpoise and occasionally leap out of the water. They were completely disinterested in our flies. Even the spin fishermen weren’t landing any, although there were some brief encounters which seemed more likely to have involved (hopefully) unintentional snagging than legitimate hook-ups. I began to despair of having any good fishing at all. more…