"Sometimes, you just need to go downstairs and waggle a rod..."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fly Focus: Rusty Spinner

I used to beat my head against the wall trying to match the midge hatch that was obviously occurring around me on trout streams throughout the Upper Midwest. It was usually around dusk, I couldn't see any bugs on the water, yet there were fish rising consistently everywhere I looked. I tried every midge imitation I could find, because what else could it be?!?!
Rusty Spinner, Size 16

I'll tell you what it could be, and probably was all those times that I was getting frustrated. It was probably a mayfly spinner fall, is was it was. I finally figured that out one evening, fifteen years ago or so, and once I switched to a mayfly spinner imitation, I started to consistently catch fish. What a fun breakthrough that was!

Mayfly spinners are fairly easy to tie. I like to use a goose or turkey biot for the abdomen, and dubbing for the thorax. But you can use dubbing for both. Or any other number of materials. For the wings I prefer antron yarn, but other things like poly yarn, hen hackle tips, and organza can work well, among other things.

For a while I liked to tie the antron wings spent, like a normal spinner, but then also add an antron post and a parachute hackle for visibility. That is an added dimension that can be frustrating to tie, so now I have gone back to the spent wings-only approach. Some people add a little piece of yellow foam over the thorax for visibility. That can be a good idea, since spinners can be difficult to see on the water's surface.

Here's how I tie them:

Rusty Spinner Pattern Recipe

Hook: Tiemco 101 or other straight-eye dry fly hook, size 12-24
Thread: Brown or rust, 8/0 or smaller
Tail: Mayfly Tails, dun
Wing: Antron yarn, white or dun
Abdomen: Goose or turkey biot in rust, brown or tan
Thorax: dry fly dubbing in rust, brown or tan

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I may be biased in this regard, but as far as I can tell it's almost impossible to not love The Riffle. If you do love this blog there are now three ways to show it. Not only do we have stickers that you can slap on the rear window of your Yugo, your tackle box, or your forehead...
I wouldn't recommend slapping one of our stickers on your forehead, but I guess I can't stop you. I am not sure who the handsome model is, but man, he's got some dreamy eyes, doesn't he?

But we also have fun buttons that go perfectly on your shirt, your backpack, your gear bag, or even your ear lobe, if you're into things like that...
That looks great on a flannel shirt, doesn't it?

And we also have super cool magnets, which you can stick on your fridge, the bumper of your Yugo, your tool box, or, for those of you with a metal plate in your skull, your forehead...
As far as I remember, I don't have a metal plate in my skull, so I used the fridge for this magnet photo.
If you would like any of this stuff to show your love for The Riffle, head on over to the Store page and place an order. While you're there, check out all the flies we have for sale, all of which are hand-tied in the Good Ol' USA by an expert fly tyer. You can even request a quote for custom flies, if you have a fly in mind but you can't find it anywhere.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Fly Focus: Female Adams Parachute

I love to tie a lot of Female Adams Parachutes, but I'm not really sure why. If you aren't familiar with a Female Adams, it's pretty much just a regular old Adams, only with a little yellow egg sac on the back end. I don't know if it actually looks like a female mayfly to the trout, or if they even notice the little yellow egg sac. Maybe they do. If I was able to think like a trout I probably wouldn't be typing this right now, because I most likely wouldn't have fingers. Let's just assume they do, and I will continue to tie them. Sounds like a plan to me!
Female Adams Parachute

Hey, I will also teach you how to tie a Female Adams Parachute. What a guy, huh? You can tie them in pretty much any size, but I usually tie mine in 14s and 16s. If you get much bigger than that, there aren't that many mayflies of that size around here. And if you get much smaller than that, the egg sac gets so small that you might as well just tie a regular old Adams.

All of the Female Adams I have ever seen have had a yellow egg sac, so that's what I am going to tie. I have seen a bunch of mayflies with orange egg sacs, though, so you could probably tie them in that color scheme. And trout seem to like pink, so you could probably tie some of those, too... just remember what my boss at Bob Mitchell's Fly Shop always used to say, "There are no rules in fly tying!"

Let's tie one, shall we?

Female Adams Parachute Pattern Recipe

Hook: Tiemco 100 or any other standard dry fly hook, Size 10-22
Thread: Gray 8/0 (or Red 8/0, if you like that look, like I do)
Tail: Brown Mayfly Tails
Post: White Antron yarn
Hackle: Brown and Grizzly rooster, sized for the hook
Egg Sac: Yellow dry fly dubbing
Body: Gray dry fly dubbing

Monday, October 15, 2018

R.I.P. 2018 Trout Season

Today marks the last day of the trout season around here. Since I am not out on the water, I thought it would be fun to take a pictorial look back on the season that was. Join me, won't you?

For me, the season started on an absurdly cold and snowy day in February.
This is Ted. He can be very persuasive about going fishing, even when the weather is terrible...
Ice in the guide.
I didn't actually fish this day, but I did have fun at the 1st Annual Kinni Mini Clave in May.
The "Clave" is a great place to try out fiberglass rods!
Going through our stuff before hitting the stream in Forestville State Park.

Trout Trip at Forestville State Park

Lots of fish in this stretch...
A nice, buttery Brown.

My buddy Bryon's first Brookie.

Smallest trout of 2018.

"Watching the woods"

A rare graphite appearance.

Just one of the dangers of trout fishing.

North Shore stream.

Appalachian stream.

The Madame X seemed like a good choice...

Another buttery Brown.

Wrong way!

Last fly of the season: a completely battered Mushroom & Swiss Bugger. Thanks 2018 trout season!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Rod Love Jr.: Scott F803/3

This is the second in my Rod Love series of blog posts. Again, just like on the first post, don't let the name Rod Love turn you into a dirty bird. This is about one of my awesome fly rods, not some sicko perv story, okay? Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about fly rods!

Actually, just one fly rod, my Scott F803/3. This beautiful rod was built for the Sansui Company's 100th anniversary. I know that because it says so right on the rod. Sansui is a Japanese company that used to make audio components and now sells televisions. I am not sure why Scott made a rod to celebrate the Sansui Company, but in the long run, who really cares?

This rod is sweet! I wanted a longer 3-weight than I had, in order to help keep my backcasts out of the weeds when I fish in small, overgrown brook trout streams late in the season. And so I can make some longer casts while fishing for panfish in any of the thousands of lakes around here. It does both of those things perfectly, and it also throws a beautiful tight loop, just like all my other Scott rods. If you have never had the chance to cast a Scott glass rod, get up off of your davenport right now and go find one! They are some of the sweetest casting tools you will ever lay your hands on.

It's also good looking! Scott has made glass rods in several colors over the years, including yellow, brown, and black, but this is the only model I have ever seen in this deep burgundy color. Maybe they only made these for the Japanese market? I don't know...

Scotts are some of my favorite glass rods, and this F803/3 is a wonderful addition to my arsenal. I Love this Rod!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Fly Focus: Mushroom & Swiss Bugger

There is not really anything new about the Mushroom & Swiss Bugger. It's pretty much just an ordinary Wooly Bugger, which has been around for decades now. The only thing unique about it is the color scheme. It's full of browns and olives and yellows and blacks and other shades of brown, and when you put it all together it turns into a real fish catcher. Especially in the late summer or autumn times of year. I don't know exactly what the fish think it is; maybe a small brown trout. Or maybe a sculpin or some other kind of small baitfish. Whatever it is, they oftentimes can't get enough of it.
Mushroom & Swiss, ready to fish!

As I mention in the video, I like to cast it across stream, or even slightly upstream, towards the far bank. Then I usually mend the line a couple of times to help the fly sink a little bit. Then as it's gets below me I start stripping it in in short, sharp bursts. Be ready for some fast action!

Let's watch how to tie it, shall we?

Mushroom & Swiss Bugger Recipe

Hook: Tiemco 5263 or other 3X long, heavy nymph/streamer hook, size 4-10
Bead: Black, Bronze or Copper, sized for the hook
Weight: 6-15 wraps of lead wire
Thread: 8/0 or 6/0, brown or gray
Tail: Spirit River Mottlebou, brown
Rib: Brassie sized copper wire
Body: Olive/brown mottled chenille
Hackle: Cree, sized to the hook

40 fish later...

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Favorite Creek

The Trout Season has been open around here in one form or another for almost 9 whole months, and in all that time I hadn't gotten over to my favorite stream yet this year. I really did not want to have to go into the winter without doing so, so I took the day off of work yesterday and hit it. My plan was to hit my fave first, and then head to a nearby brook trout stream in the afternoon. I wasn't sure what to expect since we have gotten quite a bit of rain in the past couple of weeks, but I was cautiously optimistic that the water would be in good shape. When I got to the first stream it was obvious that it had been up and out of its banks recently, but now just had a slight tinge of color in it. In other words, perfect!
My favorite stream...
Action shot!
There are not many reliable insect hatches on this stream, so I figured I would be fishing subsurface all day. The night before I had tied up a bunch of my Mushroom & Swiss Buggers and devised a new caddis pupae thingy with a CDC hackle. I love adding CDC to my nymphs, as I have written about before both here and in Fly Tyer magazine, but I had never done a caddis nymph with CDC. I was excited to see what the trouts thought of it.
CDC Caddis thingy...
A nice brown on the new caddis pupa thingy
I started the day with my new caddis imitation, and it didn't take long to see that the fish really, really liked it. I caught about a dozen in the first 45 minutes, all browns ranging in size from 6-12". After that first hour the water started to rise and get a little dirtier. The fishing turned off for a while.
A beautiful, brand new Mushroom & Swiss Bugger, ready to get chewed to bits.
This fish kept swimming up on the wet bank after I tried to release him. He should have followed the arrow, but he's a fish...
An old guy strolled by and watched me catch this modestly sized brown, then he insisted on taking my photo. At least I look good...

I was just about to call it quits and head over to the other creek to fish for brookies when I decided to switch to the Mushroom & Swiss. Right off the bat I hooked a nice brown, and then another and another and another. And a dark and fat brook trout. All the fish seemed to be in a hurry to fatten up. Maybe they were getting ready for winter or the spawning season or they hadn't eaten much when the water had been high and muddy, or maybe they have trouble pushing themselves away from the buffet, like me... Whatever the case, the fishing was so good I never did make it over to the brook trout stream. I am not much of a fish counter, which is good because that means there is no way for you to contradict my claims, but I would say I caught upwards of 60 trout throughout the day. All browns with the exception of the one brook trout and 2 chubs. And all of my Mushroom & Swiss Buggers were either lost or got completely chewed up.  I guess it's time to tie up some more!

Last fish of the day.
My last Mushroom & Swiss Bugger at the end of the day... It was a good run!

Gear Used: Unstructured Glass 804-4 fiberglass rod, Lamson LP-1.5 Lite reel, unnamed green biot-bodied CDC-hackled bead-head nymph size 12, and Mushroom & Swiss Buggers size 8.