Tag Archives: trout fishing

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…

Going Up North

Guest Blogger: John Satkowski, Toledo, OH, fly tying demonstrator and instructor, you can find him @ River Raisin Fly Company on Facebook

The coffee was hot and the last drop of grease from my sausage breakfast sandwich was still lingering on my top lip as we crossed the threshold of the Zilwaukee Bridge. When you cross the bridge, you kind of know you are “up north”. Trout of any species were the target and we were going to fish hard for the next two days. We usually leave southeastern Michigan at 2:00 am to get to the river by a little before first light. Michigan’s Au Sable River is one of my favorite places to fish on this earth and I consider myself lucky to have it located in the state where I was born and raised. The river has brook, brown, and rainbow trout in many areas along the scenic banks of northern Michigan. Its beauty is only matched by its rich history and conservation.

The moment you step out of the car, you are greeted by the wonderful aroma of pine and the kind of air that catches dreams. The ever present bald eagle soaring over the river in the distance or the almost audible hum of the many prolific hatches on this historic water engrain themselves into your memory. Whenever life becomes a little too real, I close my eyes and return to this magical place in my mind. Even just driving to the different places to fish offers a glimpse into the logging life of northern Michigan and the Grayling area. If you are not into fishing, there certainly is enough beauty and history to study but we were here for the fish. A quick stop to the Old Au Sable Fly Shop gave us a bit of insight into the current hatches and water levels. I laced up my boots, put my pack around my back, and started down the steps to take my first step into the sandy, crystal clear waters. “Au Sable” in French means in the sand and you will find these sandy banks all along the river’s edges. more…