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Fall Fly Fishing Opportunities in Pennsylvania

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 11/20/2011 (5923 reads)
by Guest: George Daniel

There are no absolutes in fly fishing and that’s why I refer to this approach as a theory. While this “theory” produces good results, there will be times you will have to adjust your way of thinking as there are no absolutes in fly fishing. What I’m referring to is trying to get inside the mind of a wintertime feeding trout. Think about it, wintertime is a period when these cold blooded critter’s feeding habits slow down as water temperatures drop. In many river systems, trout begin to drop back into the slower moving bodies of water in an effort to expend less energy. Although their metabolisms may slow down, feeding is still on their mind and the wintertime can be the right time for the angler to venture out to the river. Often the most popular sections are void of anglers and I’ve had several days where the action would rival a May sulphur hatch. A wintertime feeding trout may not always mirror its springtime foraging behavior, but trout still need to eat and a larger presentation may be the ticket. Sometimes all trout need is a little encouragement so I often call upon larger patterns to create that desire.

winter troutBy larger, I’m referring to nymph patterns as large as #4 and small as a #10. Yes that big-even on spring and limestone streams. Think about this, trout feel sluggish and less motivated to continuously chase small food items down during these cold winter months. Instead, it seems logical that trout would be willing to spend less energy chasing down larger food items. Move less and obtain more calories! Large stonefly, caddis, egg and worm patterns are my usual wintertime suspects. Nymphing is normally my first choice as I can slowly present the flies. Streamer tactics also work well but only when trout are feeling up to the chase. The idea is to present a pattern that can fulfill a trout’s hunger with only one energy surge. In many ways, this relates to human wintertime eating behaviors.

During the warmer months I find myself constantly snacking throughout the day-mostly due to my high level of physical activity (Fishing, playing with my kids, my daily workout regiment and so on). However, I snack far less during the colder winter months as I expend less physical energy (less daylight=less playtime). This theory also plays out well for me when targeting trout during extreme cold weather conditions. Trout may indeed feed less during the winter but I believe they become more opportunistic foragers. Many of the live bait fishers I stay in contact with have their greatest results fishing larger baits (sculpins, night crawlers, and live crayfish) in the slower moving waters during the winter months.

The moral of the story is you still need to be dynamic-change when necessary but don’t be afraid to present larger than average patterns during the wintertime. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.


George DanielsGeorge Daniel is assistant manager at TCO Fly Shop, in State College, PA. He travels the country conducting fly-fishing clinics for various groups and organizations. George is a former member and current Head Coach of Fly Fishing Team USA. Some of his accomplishments include being a two time national fly fishing champion, won The Fly Fishing Masters, and ranked as high as fifth in the World along with other competitive achievements. George is currently working on his first book with Stackpole Book and will be available January 2012. The title of the book will be “Dynamic Nymphing.” He lives near Lamar, Pennsylvania. If you want to keep up with George in the Internet you can follow him on his Facebook page here.





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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/28/2011 (2052 reads)
Paflyfish
The 2011 Instructional Mini-Jam is in the books, and was a huge success.

A BIG "Thank You" to the instructors - you guys did a great job, as I knew you would. Sorry I had to cut each of you short - this showed everyone just how well versed you guys were. Most impressive!

Here's a list of our instructors:
jdaddy - Gear and TU membership.
JayL - What trout eat, and flies to immitate them.
pcray - techniques used to fish those flies.
skiltonian - Indicator fishing techniques.
fly_flinger - common knots.
JasonS - On Stream Instruction.
Old Lefty - Fly Casting.

I'd also like to point out the generosity of our senior members in attendance. Andy (surveyor06) sorted and distributed flies that were donated for our new/non-tying members. They received several dozen each!

Lastly, I'd like to thank all of our senior and newer members, friends, and family members that showed up, and braved the bone chilling wind in the morning. I counted 36 people in attendance at the time of the group photo, and several more showed up during the day. Some had driven close to 3 hours to attend - that's hard core!

Judging from how well this event was received, I'd like to see this become an annual event. Hopefully, it was a learning experience for all. Please post anything you think that would help make this event better for next year - there's always room for improvement. Link to the thread in the Forum.

It was really nice to see old friends, and make new ones as well. - Heritage Angler

A special note of thanks goes out to Heritage Angler for his effort int bringing this event together. Heritage Angler really demonstrates what the sport is all about. -dkile
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 07/07/2010 (5663 reads)
The USGS has been sharing a very cool and useful online database for many years that provides real-time stream flow conditions for many years. This web-based system provides timely details for many streams across the country with almost hourly updates being sent from radio and satellite transmissions to the USGS Water Watch web site.

rtextA truly invaluable tool for me and has helped determined many a trip especially during heavy spring rains.

The U.S. Geological Survey WaterAlert service now can send e-mail or text messages from the system. The WaterAlert system is supported through the USGS Cooperative Water Program, the USGS National Streamflow Information Program, and by USGS data-collection partners.

Real-time data from USGS gages are transmitted via satellite or other ways to USGS offices at various intervals; in most cases, once every 1 or 4 hours. Emergency transmissions, such as during floods, may be more frequent. Notifications will be based on the data received at these site-dependent intervals.

Thanks Bruno for the scoop.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/18/2010 (3857 reads)
"Numnutz," I figure that is what my dog, Bogey, is saying whenever she sees me rushing around packing for a trip. Lying there wagging her tail she somehow knows I will forget something.

fly fishing fliesSo as I gear up for the Paflyfish Jamboree this weekend I have decided to take stock in what I really need to bring on my fly-fishing trips.  Normally as I head out on a fishing weekend it looks like I am loaded up and heading out on some a family vacation to Florida. You know the trip were the station wagon is stuff with crap and you all you have to eat is warm chicken and mayo sandwiches as you looked longingly at South of the Border in SC because your parents would never stop.  My wife won't let me stop now as any an adult, but I'm not bitter.

Lately I haven gotten lazy packing for my trips.  I create some lame-ass list that is scribbled on an envelope and I can't even read the damn thing after 30 minutes because it was written in such haste.  My mental state is weakened by a litany of sideline questions from my family. I soon find a new sense of urgency to quickly escape before broken door handles and printer problems set me back even further.  I must leave as it would be wrong of me to impeded what could be wonderful lessons in self-reliance for my family.

Between my weakened mental state and crappy notes I toss anything that resembles my fly-fishing gear into the truck.  Thirty minutes into my trip I remember the first thing I forgot and then in my head I hear Bogey chuckling,"numnutz."  

So I am resolved to make a decent list that I can take with me on all my trips and not have my dog laugh at me or so I think.

Gear
Rods, Reel, boots, waders, hat, wading belt, gravel guards, and vest/chestpack

Gear in my chestpack:
Flies (seasonal), tippet, extra leader, strike indicator, split shot, thermometer, polarizing sun glasses, forceps, nippers, Gink floatant, Gore tex rain jacket, headlamp, knife, granola bar, insect repellent, 2x glasses, fishing license, TP in ziplock bag, sunblock and water-proof camera

Things I keep in the my car:
Maps, GPS, cooler with cold beer and food, extra flies, rod carrier, folding chair, iPod player, fleece jacket, wool socks, extra rod, extra reel, change of cloths, fly-fishing books from Landis and Meck.

Some options: 
cigars (keep even more bugs away), matches, wading staff and net

Fly-fishing Packing List PDF

_
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/05/2010 (1782 reads)
Recently I starting working with my son on how to fly-fish. He was a little apprehensive about going out with me our first time. I was pleased to learn that his concern was not because of my wonderful "bark and nag" approach to learning, but rather he was a little intimidated with the thought of have to cast a dry fly right away.

Since we were going out in March I explained that we were going to be using a lot of weighted wooly buggers that first day. We talked about how a roll cast was type of casting we were going to focus on his first day and not anything more complicated like an forward cast. Once understood he was put at ease and really did a good job just working on the roll cast his first day out.

The roll cast is pretty easy and frequently used casting method for subsurface weighted flies and streamers. It is also very good when there is very little room to back cast. The video explains the basic roll cast.



Getting line to carry a traditional dry fly involves the the forward cast. The basics for fly fishing the forward cast involves good timing as you stroke and halt your cast until it is released. In principle energy is built up into the rod and transferred to the line as it moves back and forth. Your fly at the end of your line is just a tourist as the line gets tossed out onto the water. Another video shows good form and practice for the forward cast.



I really encourage that you take some time and practice this out of the water first. Watch the videos so you can visualize the proper method for success in doing this first. Find a nice open field with little wind and give it a go for 30 minutes.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/08/2010 (2119 reads)
We have taken several posts to provide a brief overview on getting setup with a rod, reel and line. The configuration of a 9’ 5 weight graphite rod and matching reel will really serve you well for standard trout fly-fishing in most Eastern streams.

Let’s wrap up our Rod, Reels & Lines Posts with a look at some setups for entry-level budgets.

How Low Can You Go?
The Cabela's Genesis Fly Combos are good for anyone who wants to start fly-fishing at some of the lowest prices. Cabela’s gets you started with a graphite rod, reel, backing and fly line for less than $50. The biggest knock on this combo is the reel seems to have some amount of plastic in its construction. There are other Cabela's Combos that have better construction if you are looking to upgrade. I would only suggest this $50 combo for someone who is not really sure if fly-fishing is going to be his or her thing.

orvisA Name You Know
If you are willing to make a little more commitment to fly-fishing Orvis is a brand that provides some better quality and choices. Orvis doesn’t hold the luster it used to by some anglers, but it is still a very good start. The Orvis Streamline 905-4 Tip Flex Fly Rod Combo is a 9’ 5-weight fly rod, Clearwater cast-metal reel, WF Fly Line, and backing. This was the type of combo I started with over 27 years ago. I still have the 4wt version of this setup that I load into my truck every time I head out. The current package is $159 and will serve you well for many years.

Rolling Your Own
Scouting the Internet you can find a variety of brands and deals. A little bit newer company here in the East is Albright Fishing Products. They offer some surprisingly good values for rods and reels. Combined with some line you can pick up yourself and you have a pretty good deal for about $114.00.
• Albright Rod TW90562 5/6 9' 2 piece for $30.00
• Albright TWR5/6 aluminum built reel for $40.00
• Cortland 333+ WF Floating Fly Line $30.00
• Cortland 20lb. 150 yards Backing $14.00

Before making a purchase you might want to stop into you local fly shop and check what they have to offer as well. Aside from gear they should be able provide a lot of good local advice too.

Most of the products in this price point have some trade-off in construction and typically poor warranties compared to some of the higher end gear. There are many choices if you feel like you want to push your budget over the $200. You can jump into the forums to get plenty of sound advice.

Time to get started. In our next post we will tie this stuff together.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/28/2010 (1885 reads)
So we are closing in on all the feather tossing stuff. As mentioned in earlier posts it is the line that carries the fly not the fly carrying the line. This presentation of the fly to the trout is completed with proper line set up. The main course of any line setup is the fly line, but the backing, leader and tippet complete the meal.

fly lineThe first course of the line setup and attached to the reel is the backing line. Backing is a braided line designed to provide support to the overall line setup when your fly line gets striped out from your reel as a fish is hooked and then takes off and as a buffer to keep the flyline away from the arbor(or axle) of the reel. This keeps the fly line from being wound in larger loops and reduces memory.

The only place I have ever seen my backing while trout fishing in Pennsylvania is on my reel. Point being it will be pretty rare to have a brookie take you down to the braids on a typical stream. For larger game fish and even steelhead fishing it is highly advised to take more notice to proper backing configuration. Around a 20lbs test braided backing line at about 100 yards is plenty to get you going.

Our meat and potatoes is the fly line and this is the stuff that makes all the magic happen when casting on the stream. Most major fly line manufacturers create some really great products today. Lines are designed with specific capabilities for float, increased line speed, distance and accuracy of a cast. In principle a fly line is intended to float on the surface for dry flies or sink for sub surface action.

Often engineered around a braided line for core support, the outer coating determines if the line is a floating or sinking fly line. Floating lines are made up of a polymer, often a PVC, that will provide a stiff line in casting and contain lots of tiny air bubbles to keep the line afloat. Sinking lines will provide that same stiffness for casting, however the outer core will contain metals in the line for faster sinking action. Lines are rated by weight and matched to the rod weight. So you match you 5wt rod with a 5wt line. Go with the floating lines when you get started and you can add a spool of sinking line later if you want.

One of the final discussions about fly line is the designation of Double Taper (DT) or Weight Forward (WF) lines. DT lines can be reversed after the front of the line has worn out and use the back end of the fly line. WF can have a better delivery of casting. There are more nuances to fly lines with length of the tapers, sinking speeds and such. Some manufactures created products based on types of fish to make it easier when choosing the overall correct type of line.

Our fly line is often big, brightly colored and you would probably never have a chance of catching a fish with a fly all knotted up to it. Our setup of line moves from delivery to presentation. A smaller, lighter and less notable line is needed to present the fly to those cunning Salmoninae (trout).

A monofilament leader that is about 7’-9’ long attaches your fly to your fly line. It is a very thin line and better suited not to be seen by wary trout. I like a 9 ft tapered leader, but there are a lot of variations. Some even use a straight line of monofilament that you find for your spinning line. Of course there are weights to this too. Damn fly-fishing is a heavy sport! Weight and size of the leader really depends on season, fly, fish and water conditions.

The sorbet of our setup is one more piece of line that is often used especially when dry fly-fishing on the surface. A piece of tippet line of about 18”-36” is tied on to the leader and then attaches to the fly. This is even smaller piece of monofilament and even less likely to be seen by the trout. Tippet is rated using an “X” system that ranges from 0X (.011” diameter) to 8x (.003” diameter). 4X to 6X are popular for trout. Back to the heavy lifting, 4X and 6X would range from 6 lb. to 3lbs depending on manufacturer.

Truth be told with that many different types of line discussed there are probably about 110,345 different variations to do what I just explained and many different personal preferences just to toss that feather we have been talking about.

In our final post I will put some of this together with gear, brands, setups and some pricing suggestions.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/15/2010 (2037 reads)
In our previous post we discussed the characteristics of a fly rod. The reel is the next important piece of hardware and serves a much different role than with spin casting. With spin casting a reel is the centerpiece to bring in a fish. Not so much with fly-fishing for trout. When fly fishing for trout in PA the reel primarily holds all the line. With larger fish the fly reel plays a greater role in playing and landing the fish.

The finer fly fishing reels are machined from solid bar-stock aluminum. These higher quality reels will last decades. Most cost hundreds of dollars and in some cases are works of engineering marvel.

lamson reelLess expensive reels are made from die cast alloys and perform with less precision. There are many fine products in this class that will last the fly angler for years. My old standby Lamson reel is over 20 years old and is still serving me very well.

Several entry-level fly fishing kits provide plastic reels. These plastic reels might be adequate to get familiar with the sport, but don’t necessarily hold up very long.

Aside from a reels defining fit and finish are the materials used in the drag construction. Simpler spring and pawl drags just put a light resistance on the fly line as as it is played off the reel. A higher quality disc drag system provides a smoother, even tension when you apply pressure to the fly line. This can become very important when playing and landing larger fish.

Bigger is not always better, a reel matched for the rod and type of fishing is the way to go. Most trusted manufactures are very clear which reels work best with those criteria.

Our next post gets back to throwing feathers and our fly line.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/04/2010 (1645 reads)
How do you throw a feather?

You don’t.

You tie the feather to something heavy and then a toss the two of them together. This is the principle behind casting with a fly rod. See how easy fly fishing is!

I wish my friends Ron and Greg would have explained this to me when I first started fly fishing. I think it would have saved me some early embarrassing moments of fly fishing.

featherThe principle purpose of a fly rod is to deliver the fly line out towards a trout with a fly somehow attached to the situation. More about bad delivery and stupid fly imitations later on. The principle of spin casting is just the opposite as the weight of the lure carries the line to the fish.

There is a lot of kinetic energy and physics that is involved, but don’t worry we will get to that later when we cover casting. The good news is that we will cover that before we get to the entomology and biology if you were asking.

To do all this line tossing you need gear that will support that kind of physics. Before we start picking our rod let’s look at the whole fly delivery engine thing one more time. We discussed our rod, but as you can imagine there are many different sizes and types of rods. They are most often differentiated by length and weight. Since we are just getting started most common trout fly rods are between 7’ and 9’ here out East. The most common weight is between 4wt and 6wt. Don’t send me hate mail yet remember I said common.

Most popular modern rods are made of graphite. The very early fly rods were made of bamboo and these handcrafted rods are still highly regarded by many anglers. We are not going to talk about bamboo now because I would then have to go deep and talking about kilts. I think they are silly unless you are drinking scotch then who really cares anyway.

In principle the smaller the fish the smaller and less weight you need in your rod. For bigger fish the converse holds true. So fishing for sunfish an 8’ 4wt rod will do just fine. For trout you won’t go wrong with a 9’ 5wt rod. I like the 9’ because it helps when you are nymph fishing and need some extra reach. It doesn’t you’re your 8’ 4wt rod isn’t good for trout it is. I have a great Orvis 4wt rod and I still enjoy using it under that right conditions. Best suited for wild trout in small streams or when I am dry fly-fishing over smaller trout and fish.

Part two & three of this post we will look at reels, fly lines and a few modestly priced set-ups to get you started. Your assignment this week is to throw a feather and please don’t put on a kilt unless you are drinking scotch.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/26/2010 (3864 reads)
The off season is a great time to look at old books and to explore new ones as well. Some of the early books I read when I was getting started with fly fishing are still good reads and should not be overlooked. The more recent ones hold fresh insight to many of the locations and changes to many of streams in Pennsylvania.

Before you start striping any line or emptying your wallet you might want to take a look at The L.L. Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing by Macauley Lord, Dick Talleur and Dave Whitlock. It is one of the best all around general fly fishing books there is for any new angler to the sport. Their book provides essential information about flies, bugs, gear, concepts, traditions and everything from Atlantic Salmon to the zug bug.

A lot of good first hand information can be found in Flyfisher's Guide to Pennsylvania (Flyfisher's Guide Series) by Dave Wolf and Trout Streams and Hatches of Pennsylvania; A Complete Fly-Fishing Guide to 140 Rivers and Streams by Charles Meck. Both books are carried by seasoned anglers. They not only help in the where, but try to make sense of the what before you get into a stream.

Dwight LandisReading some of the Pennsylvania fly water type books is how I got started early on. Both these books I am about to mention will probably require a trip to a library. There are over 645 public libraries in Pennsylvania so be brave and track one down. When there check out Dwight Landis's book Trout Streams of Pennsylvania published by Hempstead-Lyndell and Mike Sajna's book Pennsylvania Trout & Salmon Fishing Guide published by Frank Amato Publications. Dwight's book provides a lot of hatch information and detailed maps about where to find many streams. Mike shares a lot of similar information, but adds some unique historic accounts of most of these locations. Both these books are what inspired me to start Paflyfish many years ago.

Also in the library look for An Angler's Guide to Aquatic Insects and Their Imitations for All North America by Rick Hafele. Rick's book is more of a 200 level or great read about insects and can get you going in the world of entomology. A more recent and popular bug book is Hatches II: A Complete Guide to the Hatches of North American Trout Streamsby Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi.

There are many more books to explore and even more dynamic information on the Internet. Please feel to share and comment on some of your favorites as well.

Our next post will be taking a look at getting you going with rods, reels and line.
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