Follow by Email

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pimping a Fly Rod...rod name withheld; essentially some fun reading on fishing midges...from my perspective


The water-releases were exceptionally low for mid-spring on the tail water of the Little Truckee in California. There were no consistent aquatic hatches occurring; consequently, there were no steady risers to target. I had received reports of some sporadic success using imitations of the large, winged-black ants that appear in the high Sierra region of Lake Tahoe during the first warm days of spring. Although I knew my best chances of a hook-up would be to fish down deep near the bottom, I was in no mood to do such; being in a purist-kind-of-mood.

I attached a #8 Black Chernobyl Ant to my 4x tippet; a go-to searching pattern I use when venturing down to Chilean Patagonia in my “off-season”. Approaching a deep-run with an intriguing, dark, deep, cut-bank I presented an upstream presentation. From 5-6 feet down, a slowly-ascending, shadow rose and ingested the fraud.

Since the water was crystal clear I had to present this air-resistant fly from about 45’ back…out of sight. My #$%^&* 4 weight rod performed beautifully; tracking true and turning over nicely. It performed flawlessly for the situation at hand. This amazingly light-weight 2-1/2 ounce rod had sufficient back-bone to turn the deep-bodied 19” rainbow as it made several lunges for the security of the cut-bank and highly-likely, tangled root-wads of the cottonwood tree that hovered, bank-side, over the run. Had the rainbow got there it was a sure severed connection.

I purchased the &^%$%^**+_% because I wanted to use it for the smallish bugs present at this meandering meadow stream; not large, dry flies. Thin tippets and sized 18-26 imitations were on my mind; such as the black or brown winter stones, fall’s late brood BWO’s and must importantly…M-I-D-G-E-S.

"Simply, midges (Chironomidae family of Diptera) are the most prolific aquatic insect in the Little Truckee River; for that matter, on many tail-water fisheries throughout the country. Trout will eat them in all their life-phases; all day, 365 days per year. Deep, dead-drifting of midge imitations is, arguably, the most effective and productive technique…but fishing them on or in the surface film is so much fun, not to mention challenging."

"Use 'searching', tandem rigs. The selected flies can vary; larva/larva, larva/pupa, larva/nymph, pupa/worm or egg...whichever you choose. The midge patterns are sized #20-#26; best colors are black, olive or grey. When using these tiny hooks off-set the point to 'open the gap'; providing a better hooking angle. You want the trout to ingest your fly. To set, merely tighten-up slack or lift your rod. If you are heavy-handed, use a 'slip-set' by quickly releasing a loop of line on the take; the loop of line is pinched between your line-control finger and the reel. You hope the teeny hook gets stuck in the mouth, the bony nib, an upper-lip cartilage or slides into a corner of the jaw. "

"Another dead-drifting technique is using a larva/pupa set-up; trailing the pupa off the bend of the larva hook. Upon finishing the drift, lower the rod and let the line swing below you. The pupa pattern will then mimic an ascending midge emerger; hopefully, triggering a grab. Do not use thin tippets because the take will be aggressive, not “soft”.
"At times, a seemingly impossible task is to make a downstream, slack-line, reach cast to surface feeding trout munching on tiny midge emergers and adults…doubly tricky when there is an erratic, upstream wind. The situation demands a rod with two counter-intuitive qualities; one that can effectively cut through the gusty winds when false-casting and delicately lay-down a #20-26 pattern in an exact feeding lane. Both of these attributes my +%&*(-=%* possesses."

NOTE: the above four (4) paragraphs are exerpted from an aricle I authored in the Summer '09 issue of Sierra Fisherman (

There is a hallowed ‘alliance’ that most trout fly anglers strive to join; the “20-20 Club”. To be inducted we strive to hook, net and release a 20” (…or larger) trout on a tiny fly pattern sized #20 or less. Regardless of where the event occurs, whether at the renown spring creeks of the Paradise Valley of Montana, the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania, the tail waters of the floatable Green River in Utah or the newly exposed, wading-only-water of the Little Truckee River in Lake Tahoe area of the Sierra Nevada… it is a an incredible adrenalin rush.

In order to accomplish this unique accomplishment; four components are required the angler, the trout, the fly and the lever…a fly rod. The @#%+& +# performs its part flawlessly. It tracks well, directing the fly where it needs to be. And, most important it makes a precise, “thistle-down” (...per Glenn Brackett, master bamboo-rod maker in the DVD "Trout Grass". I met Glenn when he was an apprentice at Winston Rod Company in San Francisco in the early -70's...snow I'm really showing my age) lay-down of the tiny fly.

The +(&%^%#$@#! rod is ideal for any small-fly, spring-creek or any flat-water situation. There are (3) reasons; it manages winds well, at 10 feet it functions efficiently for on-the-water or aerial mends, and as mentioned above, is stout enough to “turn” the 2-4 pound trout that you are likely to encounter if you frequent this type of water. The bonus is that it can deliver both large and itsy-bitsy flies.