This is my second season guiding in the Finger Lakes region of New York on the Fly. I got a late start last year and due to weather and late summer rains I was only able to safely guide a handful of clients. I decided to get a head start this year before the season really got under way. I began researching what others had used and reading up on other guide’s blogs to get an idea of what to expect and techniques depending on the water temperature. There is a ton of valuable information out there, you just need to dig a little bit.
I found a blogger that targets similar areas (Bob @ Southern Tier Fly Fisher) and he mentions a fly called a picket pin quite often in his posts. I dug a little deeper and figured out what it looked like – after which I dug the materials out of my kit and tied a handful to try. It’s a classic fly developed for trout fishing, with a consistent mix of hackle, squirrel tail, and peacock herl – sure to get a rise out of more than just trout. Panfishonthefly.com has a very nice, quick, blog on the pin, covering nearly everything you would ever want to know. Hands down it is a “don’t knock it til’ you try it,” kinda fly and really saved my butt a few times. It also turned me into some kinda wet fly fisherman, exploring the middle water column more and more. After fishing this fly I started making different variations, many of which I think look like fishflies or hellgrammites. I figured how to fish it successfully simply by going out and fishing it; it works just about no matter how or where you fish it. If one method doesn’t work, try the next. Eventually the fish are gonna find a presentation they like. It also works very well and an attractor while nymphing – it all started at the pin. Fish were taking these flies in temps that were barely above 40 degrees and not subtly either.
Here is one to really make you go, “yea, duh” – the next best fly in my go to bag are wooly buggers. You can never have too many in different sizes and weights. Black, olive, brown, and white are all good options and if one color doesn’t work, change the color. I have read or heard multiple times that you want the fly to match the water color, so I usually start there. These are also the first flies that lots of folks learn how to tie, stinkin’ easy and super effective, there is not really a wrong way to tie it.
Picket Pin Hybrid
A wildly successful fly I designed based off the picket pin has been one of my go-to options just about everywhere and every water temp I have fished. I don’t really have a name for it, but the premise is approximately the same as the pin, but I substitute a calf tail for squirrel. With colors inspired by the early Hendrickson hatches, I brought this fly to life and have retired many of them to fish and the hat. It turns out the subtle differences in color and texture make worlds of difference to fish that are curious or just plain hungry. Everything from trout to bass will eat that fly and they will usually swim out of their way to do so.
It doesn’t always work out, but when it does it is some of the most fun fishing – the mouse pattern. These things can really change the game when targeting naïve or aggressive fish and my favorite pattern is the deer hair “mouse-rat” variety. Bass love them and there is not much like taking trout on them. Think blind casting, not able to see your feet – the only thing you can go on is the feel of line on the water, sounds of fish gulping, and instinct to set the hook. Most effective times to use this pattern are when you are bored and alone on a Saturday night (or any night in warmer temps) or as an attractor pattern when a mouse hatch is going on (sometimes you can just sense it).
This year dry fly fishing has been good, but in unexpected ways. I like to fish a good hatch, but for the times the fish are not really keying in on one single thing (or rising at all), a good attractor pattern can go a long way. This year [for me] that attractor has been a bivisible. I believe it was named after its appearance, traditionally tied using two colors of hackle – though I like tying mine in all one color as well. They are mega easy to tie and are more than capable of taking even some of the most well-educated fish. On top of the effectiveness, you can also add a bead and a tail and make it work as a little streamer or wet fly.
Though there are many patterns that I have had success on this year, I would have to say these five I have had the most fun with. My biggest tip in fishing each of these is to make it move differently each time it doesn’t produce a fish – sometimes it’s less about what the fly looks like and more how you fish it. Once you have fished the fly every way you can think of then it is either time to change spots or time to swap flies.
Thanks for reading my post! Be sure to follow me on Instagram @jeremyxbest and be sure to check out Angler-Pros on Instagran and Facebook @angler_pros and at www.angler-pros.com. We’ll see ya on the water!
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