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PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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Hi there -

I'm brand new to this place and just surfing around it seems like exactly what I'm after. I'm an Air Force officer stationed in Las Vegas who grew up in Pennsylvania (Philly area) and didn't get into fly fishing until recently. While I enjoyed a lot of coastal bait fishing as a kid, it's almost sickening to finally learn to fly fish as a 30-something and realize how much great water it appears I missed as a kid and young adult. That said, it's time to make up for lost time and see some of Central PA while I'm at it.

My mission: to make a mid-week, 1-day trip in or around Clinton County into a scenic, worthwhile fly fishing trip for wild trout.

Reason: I'm home for a wedding in Philly in mid-October and will have a day to spare to drive into the mountains and try some small water opportunities. My sister attended Lock Haven University and I never got the chance to see that area as I was away at navigator school back when she was attending. It's a must that I get to see the PA mountians in Fall once again.
The pictures I have seen show some beautiful country and reading the PA guides shows a lot of public access in the woods aroud the school.

The plan: look at all of the options in Clinton County for wild trout, throw a dart at one and see what the day brings. I love exploring and finding new places to go out on my own. The way I see it, any creek will do, provided I have public access.

I really need some help selecting gear and flies. Right now, I have zero clue what bugs I should pitch during that early/mid-Fall timeframe. As of now, all of my fly fishing has taken place in Nevada, Utah and Colorado, and mostly stillwater at that. As for rods, I presently own the following rod/line (all of which are probably too long for the wooded areas, but I'll make due):

8'6"/3-weight (full float line only)
8'6"/5-weight (full float, sink tip and full sink line available)
9'0"/6-weight (full float and Scientific Anglers GPX Hover hybrid line)

If you could pack just two of those, what would you take? In general, what fly options are best for that part of the state around that time? I know there are a ton of variables, but I’m looking for generalities here. An alternative option I considered is picking up a cheap, 6’ Temple Fork 2-weight rod, a spare spool for the Ross Flyrise reel presently on my 3-weight rod and slapping them two together for a relatively inexpensive tight brush solution.
What are your thoughts on these options and thanks for your help!

Posted on: 2013/7/30 19:36


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2012/1/13 15:28
From Ferguson Twp.
Posts: 2552
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First and foremost thanks for your service, on to the matter at hand. Have you ever tried a two weight rod before? This might not happen to everybody but I found that it's tough to keep them on the hook in those tight little streams too much wiggle I think, just something too consider that's all. Length of rod does come down to personal preference but a seven foot / seven and a half three or four weight is a very good choice. You could probably get away with an 8'-6" on small streams depending on how open it is. Personally I'd opt for a little shorter than you have listed.For flies and brookies there is not much need to match the hatch as they are very opportunistic feeders and most generic dry flies will turn their heads, same with nymphs if you so choose. If I was packing two of what you have listed it would be the 3 and six weight that way you could cover several different size streams if you run into a larger one.

Posted on: 2013/7/30 19:58
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
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lv2nymph -

Thank you very much - that's exactly the kind of info I'm after. To answer your question, no, I have not yet cast a 2-weight rod. I have had good luck on the 3-weight and just figured that some of those native brookies are so tiny that more sensitivity might be a good thing. I may bite the bullet and go for an even shorter rod than what you rcommended, purely because it will have to do in the VERY crowded creek waters in southwestern Utah when I return to my normal fishing areas. There are spots in that area where I'd probably be best served ditching the rod altogether and just flicking a fly downstream on a handwound spool of 2wt. monofilament line because the brush snags are simply that incesant.

Native brookies on a small creek sound like an awesome time. I just back from Colorado and did some fishing for exactly that brand of trout. I am stuck at work but will try to post some pics when I get home. It was my first serious moving water excursion. I did manage to hook a few itty bitty native brookies on #16 elk hair caddis and #18 black/white mosquitos along Boulder Creek and the Colorado River. They are a real blast to see hit if you are lucky enough to spot them striking from under the rocks in some of the fast flows going through there right now.

All that said, what flies would you pack if you were after some of the Browns in the mixed-species creeks in that area? In particular, what nymphs would you run?

Posted on: 2013/7/30 20:11


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2011/5/26 10:12
From Dauphin PA
Posts: 2766
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Any rod mentioned will work here. Right by Lock Haven is fishing creek. Opportunity for some little brooks and some bigger browns.

20 minutes to spring creek and it almost always fishes good. Pheasant tails or all purpose nymphs in 16 would be perfect.

I'm sure somebody on here will step up and show you around.

Posted on: 2013/7/30 21:07
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2012/8/21 18:22
From Chester County
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Six-Gun, if you're planning on fishing small streams, you will probably need 4X to 6X tippet, and you're 8'6 three weight will do. Small stream trout are not very picky, and you will not need a ton of flies. The following are some good general small stream flies.

Dries: Royal Wulff(#12-16) Elk Hair Caddis (#12-16) Stimulator (#10-16)

Nymphs: Pheasant tail nymph (#12-16) Hares ear (#12-16) Caddis Larva (#14-18)

Streamers: Woolly Bugger (#10-14) Mickey Finn (#10-14)

Those are some popular PA small stream flies, and that's all you really need if you're fishing the small, unpressured streams. If you're fishing more pressured streams that have a richer food source, than that is a completely different story.

Ryan

Posted on: 2013/7/30 21:38


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2006/9/9 22:43
From Delaware Co.
Posts: 3478
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Seen the title and thought JayL was in town

Posted on: 2013/7/30 23:45
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2012/1/13 15:28
From Ferguson Twp.
Posts: 2552
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Quote:

Six-Gun wrote:
I may bite the bullet and go for an even shorter rod than what you rcommended, purely because it will have to do in the VERY crowded creek waters in southwestern Utah when I return to my normal fishing areas.
All that said, what flies would you pack if you were after some of the Browns in the mixed-species creeks in that area? In particular, what nymphs would you run?

Ok, I wasn't sure how much if any small stream fishing you've played with. I see you are serious with thinking smaller than seven feet. I have a 5'-8" three piece four weight that I use for just the places in which you describe I didn't want to suggest that simply because a rod like that is such a specific type of rod. Some nymphs to have in fall: ant (wet), fox squirrel nymph, mink bead head, hares ear/ hr flymph, some caddis tan/green, pheasant tail, not sure if any of these will be where you'll be at but have a couple of nymphs for white fly ( just in case ) maybe even some for slate drakes, frenchie, smaller muddlers. Again for brookies you don't need this kind of assortment but for mixed species waters it couldn't hurt.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 5:27
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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Thank you all for the great replies. It's pretty embarrassing to step up and admit this glut of ignorance I'm sporting in regards to fishing a state I lived in for the better part of 24 years. About the only trout fishing I did as a kid (and it was sparse, at that) involved *gulp*...corn.

Anyway, no time like the present to get caught up and I will take the collective advice with me when I get back to PA. Much thanks for the stream suggestions: I will do my homework on some of them as far as access point and such and give them a try. Regarding much of the gear advice given, it appears I should be in good shape as far as tackle (though I really don't need much more motivation to commit to super-short rod sometime in the near future anyway). lv2nymph - yeah, I should've spelled out the fact that I was going to eventually need a short "brush" rod beyond the scope of this trip, but your info is wall-taken and thank you for the advice. What make is the 5'8" rod you have and how do you like it?

As far as flies, I did pick up a cheap, Lefty Kreh fly tying kit and have already made a stash of some of the suggested flies for my kit (hare's ear, pheasant tail, and wooley bugger) and will work on some of the other suggestions (Royal Wulff, Mickey Finn, etc.) I've already got all sorts of tippet from 2X up to 6X, but it's all traditional mono material.

As an aside, should I be worried about using fluorocarbon tippet material or is that splitting hairs when it comes to these trout? I know that in areas with really picky fish it can make a significant difference, but I have already done decent on the mono material and cringe at the price of some of that fluoro.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 10:16


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13555
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Well,

First, thanks for your service. And regardless of everything below, 95% of the time you want a floating line for trout in PA, and you can get away with it for the other 5%, so go with a floating line.

There are medium sized limestoners close. Example is Big Fishing Creek and Spring Creek. These are generally wild brown trout, though Fishing Creek has brookies as well. The brookies there act an awful lot like browns, how they act has more to do with location than with species. These streams have more and bigger fish. The fish are pickier, though, and are more "streaky". Meaning fishing might suck at one time of day, and then suddenly they all turn on like someone threw a switch. And the numbers you actually catch in the end usually aren't as high, but they are bigger, with the average being more like the trophies on the little streams, and these streams have some REAL trophies. For these, a 9 ft 5 wt is the standard, there's room to cast. Match the hatch if fish are rising. If not, you nymph likely looking water (pheasant tails, scuds, etc.). If water is up, throwing streamers can be effective. These are, of course, the famous waters and are more crowded, you are likely to see other fishermen. Even with the right basic flies and technique, the fish are picky. A little bit of drag on the fly, or if it floats a little too high or low, and they refuse it. Getting on fish is easy. Fooling them is a challenge. These streams also hold more consistent temperatures and conditions. So if we're in a drought, they'll have enough water to fish, whereas the freestoners can get real low, and if it's also hot out, they get warm too.

Then there are small freestoners, with mostly brookies, but usually some browns as well. The fishing is totally the opposite of the limestoners. Some of these are choked with rhododendron, which makes it real hard for a beginner. Others are a little more open (still thick by other standards). You typically want shorter rods on these streams. 7 to 7 1/2 ft. There is some disagreement on equipment. Some like the ultralight gear so that a small fish can feel like a fight, so the 2 and 3 wts and stuff. Others prefer broomsticks with heavy lines to punch casts into tight places. I'm of the latter group. Neither group is "wrong". But my recommendation would be a 7 1/2 ft 4 wt rod, and put 6 wt line on it. Seriously. When casting shorter distances than the line and rod were ratted for, "overlining" a rod based on rating isn't really overlining it based on reality.

These fish, brookies or browns, are generally very aggressive as the food supply in these streams is thin. Opportunistic is the term. They don't have to be rising, toss a standard attractor dry like a humpy, wulff, etc. in there and they'll travel halfway across a pool to nail it. Lots of fun in beautiful places. Finding and getting to good streams is part of the fun/challenge. These streams are everywhere, we have literally thousands, and Clinton County alone probably has several hundred of them. But finding information on which are better than others is difficult, and nobody talks about how good stream X is. Heck, it may only get fished a few times per year. Plus, the better ones usually require a hike or some real bushwacking to get to. And because of the tight surroundings, you often have to get close to get a cast in there. Too close. And they are spooky. That's the challenge. Getting there, and then keeping as much distance as possible while getting decent casts in tight places. It's not easy. You spend plenty of time retrieving flies from trees. Beginners often don't do well because they end up spooking all of the fish before getting in a good cast. But once you get a cast to an unspooked fish, actually fooling the fish is extremely easy. And on a good stream, a good small stream fisherman can rack up some real numbers. As in, 20 might be a BAD day, and on a few occasions it's possible to top 100. Many are dinks, and on some streams basically all of them are. But in some places, you can get an awful lot in that 8 or 9 inch range, which is nearing comparable to the average fish on the bigger, more famous limestoners.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 10:52


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13555
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P.S. IMO, traditional mono works better than floro for pretty much all dry fly fishing. It's softer, so less issues with drag.

Floro comes into it's own with nymphing/streamers, etc.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 10:56


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2006/9/11 11:30
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As to fluorocarbon, I've tried it and gone back to Orvis Super Strong and can't really say I have noticed any differences. I burn a lot of tippet material and didn't like the cost. As for invisibility, don't really see that much difference. Check for yourself. Put a piece of both in a glass of water and see what the difference is.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 10:58


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

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2008/5/29 15:28
From Lititz/Huntingdon
Posts: 933
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Quote:

Fredrick wrote:
Seen the title and thought JayL was in town



Same here.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 15:04
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2012/1/13 15:28
From Ferguson Twp.
Posts: 2552
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It's a Whiteriver classic, I got it at Bass Pro $129.00. I like it a lot, it's taking a beating and has not broken yet so it's all good. I like the action which is med-fast. I knew I was going to beat the heck out of it so I did not want to drop to much on it. As it turns out it's a nice little rod.

Posted on: 2013/7/31 18:23
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Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2009/10/15 13:45
From Eastern PA
Posts: 10291
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FWIW, why not head down to Laughlin and fish the Colorado for huge bows and stripers?

Posted on: 2013/7/31 23:05


Re: PA Prodigal son returning for fly fishing trip

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 312
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Wow - fantastic post, pcray. Lots of food for thought, particularly the schools of thought regarding rod/line weights. Speaking of which - and to also address lv2nymph's reply on his shorter rod - I actually did end up picking up that 2-wt TFO Lefty Kreh Signature Series II rod from Bass Pro today. I had the chance to and handle both it and the Whiteriver classic. I liked the feel of both of them, and while they didn't have a 3-wt version of the TFO in stock, the lifetime warranty and the idea of overlining it with 3-wt line made me go with it. The crappy part is that I gave up the hard case that I would've gotten with the equally suitable Whiteriver Classic. In the end, I guess it's a wash and both rod's are perfectly adequate for what I need them to do.

Oh, and as promised, here are some of the pics of a few of the trout I caught in Colorado last week:

From Boulder Creek:

Resized Image


From the Colorado River:
Resized Image


Resized Image

Posted on: 2013/8/1 0:08



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