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Fly Fishing Getting Started - Mayfly Sex ...

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 05/05/2015 (6733 reads)
Green Drake

Recently going through my mayfly photographs I found a nice set of pictures from the Paflyfish Spring Jam in 2010. The Green Drake (Ephemera guttulata ) hatch was in full swing that year and photographs of these mayflies was easy and plentiful. Most of the weekend was overcast and rain as normally forecasted for the Spring Jam. Emergers (subimigo) and spinners (imago) were not so much active during the day, but lined the sides of the streams in the hundred's of thousands. I am always torn between fishing and photography on days like this but glad put down my fly rod for a while and captured a lot of great shots.

With so many mayflies and photos it was easy to get so nice shots of the Green Drake spinners, which are referred to as Coffin Flies because of their white extended body. I wanted to demonstrate the differences between spinner (imago) male and female. These two Coffin Flies attached show these differences. Most notably the male has longer extended fore legs and claspers at the rear of the body. Females as seen do not have these body characteristics.

Male (left photo)
Long fore legs
Rear claspers or forceps at rear of body
Eyes on a male tend to be larger

Female (right photo)
Short fore leg
Forceps do not exist
Smaller flatter eyes






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/26/2015 (4913 reads)
Trout enjoy a wide array of food and insects being the more popular. While mayflies (Ephemeroptera) enjoy much of the spotlight, caddisflies (Trichoptera) are incredibly plentiful in waters across the region. Not always the preferred insect of the fly anglers mostly due to lack of familiarity.

caddisflyCaddis are a hardy insect and has thrived in streams that have been decimated with pollution. Streams like the Tulpehocken, Oil Creek and Casselman are are just a few streams known for their abundant caddis fly populations in our region. For many of these streams the caddisfly is so prolific that mayflies are an often afterthought for anglers.

The caddis behavior is a little less predictable and is certainly one of the reasons it is not as popular for many anglers. Many mayflies can be timed to within a few days and hours. The Green Drakes on Penn's Creek are revered by anglers the same way the "Swallows" of Capistrano are anticipated at the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Caddis not so much.

That is not to say great hatches of caddis are not enjoyed by anglers and trout, as there can be wonderful evenings and days with them covering a stream. Just as often there can be sporadic emergers happening with without much fanfare.

There are over 1200 species of caddis flies in the country. They range in size and colors covering the gambit of black, green, tan, cream and white bodies. The more popular Grannom hatch do arrive across much of the region at the end of April and are much anticipated by anglers and trout alike.

To get some understanding of their cycle it is as easy to do as by simply lifting a rock the next time out on the water.

caddisflyMany types of caddis larvae can be found at the bottom of the stream in self-made protected cases or roaming along the bottoms of streams. Some these species create protective cocoons made of small stones or sticks held together with silk like threads. This thread is also used to secure the larvae to the larger rocks or stream bed where they live.

As the caddisflies mature they reach the pupa stage were they hold-up inside their cases and prepare to emerge out as adults above the water. This transformation from water to wing is the most dangerous for all insects. The caddisfly rise from their cases often with the help of a small gas bubble pulling them towards the surface. Once there they emerge with their uniquely folded tent-style of wings they take flight.

The caddis return to lay their eggs either on the surface or by diving to the bottom depending on the species. Like when they emerge, this is the time when they are most susceptible to hungry trout. The cycle of life then returns as these eggs transform into the larvae again.

Like mayflies, caddis flies begin in ernest in April and are big part of many streams. Continued sporadic hatches can be found through the late Fall.

To learn and discuss more about mayflies on the site head over to the Hatch and Entomology Forum. Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.

A great online site to follow and get deep into the latin is Troutnut and his Aquatic Insects of our Trout Streams. A must read!!
For further reading check out Gary LaFontaine's book Caddisflies.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/20/2015 (6397 reads)
A mayfly hatch is the grand finale in the year long seasonal play that returns annually for trout and anglers.

MayFly StagesThis show begins the previous season with mature female mayflies, called spinners, laying their eggs on the surface of the water(video). The eggs shortly hatch into small larvae and quickly change into nymphs.

The nymph phase of the mayfly is the longest and will last just about one year. Different species of mayflies can be found in different parts of a stream. Some prefer the faster water and rocks, while others are only found at the end of pools in deep mud. During this time a nymph will grow and molt regularly. Molting is when the mayfly breaks out of it's old skin and a larger one is exposed underneath to protect it during the next growth cycle. During the final molting these leftover soft shells are referred to as shucks.

The emergence stage out of the water can be a quick and dangerous time for these transitional nymphs. Trout can find and aggressively feed on these insects that normally may be hiding or burrowing at the bottom of a stream. Once ready to leave the water the hatch begins. The emerger swims to the surface film molts their skins and expose there wings.

Green Drake Spinner aka Coffin FlyThe cloudy, grayish wings they emerge with give them there name: dun. The duns sit on top of the water and prepare its wings for flight. On top of the film of a stream they ready their wings for flight. This can take seconds or minutes depending how fast the mayfly can take flight. During this phase, mayflies often can been seen in great numbers sailing down the stream with trout striking on an easy food source. Once the dun escapes the water, it will head for the trees for several days.

While maturation occurs during this stage a dun may molt several more times until it becomes a spinner (Green Drake spinner aka Coffin Fly pictured left). As spinners they have no mouths to feed, male and female mayflies will seek each other out only to mate. The females will quickly lay her eggs back at the water starting the cycle over again.

The cycle ends when the dead and dying mayflies drop to the stream. The spent wing spinner is the one final opportunity for tout to feed on the last stage of this great yearlong production provided by the mayfly.

To learn and discuss more about mayflies on the site head over to the Hatch and Entomology Forum. Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.

A great online site to follow and get deep into the latin is Troutnut and his Aquatic Insects of our Trout Streams. A must read!!







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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 04/13/2015 (4583 reads)
There are thousands of streams across the region where wild trout naturally reproduce as a result of ideal water conditions and the availability of food. With countless years of evolution behind them, trout have successfully learned to eat a wide variety of food sources. Even then for the trout, everything from geology to pollution influences what kind of trout food prevails in each stream. Stocked trout are no exception to this and within days when they are placed into streams instincts quickly kick in for them to key in on naturally occurring trout food.

These different types of trout foods may not only be specific to a stream, but seasonal as well. Trout are limited to what is presented to them much like many animals in the wild. Typically spring and summer offer a great abundance of food choices. Winter may only provide limited food supplies. Trout adapt to the cold water by naturally reducing their metabolisms.

Familiarity with the different food sources is one of the fundamentals of successful fly fishing. Let's have an overview of these trout foods.

March Brown Mayfly
March Brown - Maccaffertium vicarium

Aquatic Insects - mayflies (Ephemeroptera), caddisflies (Trichoptera), midges (Diptera), and stoneflies (Plecoptera)
For many, fly fishing is centered around the life cycle of aquatic insects as much as it is the trout's themselves. Many anglers unwittingly become pretty good entomologist in pursuit of fly fishing. These insects are a significant part of any trouts diet throughout the year. For most aquatic insects they live almost 98% of their lives in the water. Trout will feed on these bugs during all times of the insects life cycle. Most notably trout will key in on active or passing nymphs in the water. For a brief period at the end these insect's life they hatch from the water to mate, lay eggs and die.

For many fly fishing anglers, mayflies are the belle of the ball and can be found hatching in significant numbers from April thru July. They are found during all times of the year, but just more sporadically. Under the correct conditions, a few streams even have small occasional hatches of blue-winged olives (BWO) in the dead of winter.

Midges, stoneflies and caddisflies are very common in streams and have similar life cycles. Specific behavior with all these insects can vary greatly beyond the living, molting, emerging, mating and dying cycle. Certain types of caddis live under rocks with little wooden stick homes protecting them, while some mayflies burrow deep in the muddy ends of pools rarely being seen until they emerge. There is a lot of diversity and behavior between these insects that should be understood.

Fish - small trout, minnows and sculpins
A wide variety of small fish can be considered part of a trout's diet. There are many types of smaller fish including young trout, darters, minnows and sculpins that are trout favorites. Habitat and water conditions influence which type of small fish patterns are the most successful.

Terrestrials- ants, beetles, grasshoppers and caterpillars
These are all those bugs that don't live in the water, but can be found by late spring thru the fall landing in the water as trout food. About any insect that can fall off the banks or out of a tree can find itself in trouble with actively feeding trout. I have seen trout gorge themselves on caterpillars falling out of trees in June, but also quietly picking off ants by the edge of a stream in September. Out west grasshoppers are all the action during late July and August.

crayfish
crayfish

Crustaceans (Crustacea)- crayfish , freshwater shrimp and scuds
While crayfish are very common, scuds and shrimp are more often found in nutrient rich streams with abundant plant life in limestone fed waters. Scuds and shrimp need this type of habitat to survive. In limestone streams trout can be seen nosing into the weed beds feeding on these scuds. Crayfish can thrive pretty well in streams with just rocks and modest bottom structure.

Mammals - mice and other small rodents.
Trout can be pretty aggressive predators. On some streams, larger trout can key in on a mouse swimming across a stream that they can easily prey on. Anglers will typically try this approach in the evening since rodents are generally nocturnal creatures.

Fish eggs
Trout and other fish deposit eggs during their spawning seasons. Trout will commonly follow up behind these spawning fish and take advantage of this opportunity to get an easy meal. Sucker fish spawn in late winter and very early spring. Rainbow trout spawn in the spring, with brook and brown trout spawning in the fall.

Beginners can follow along and learn more in the Beginners Forum.



Online Resources
FlyFisherman - What trout eat

Other Suggested Books
Handbook Of Hatches: Introductory Guide to the Foods Trout Eat & the Most Effective Flies to Match Them by Dave Hughes

Trout and Their Food: A Compact Guide for Fly Fishers by Dave Whitlock







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Published by Maurice Chioda [Maurice] on 03/30/2015 (5350 reads)
flyfishing knots

While sharing some time on the water the other day with Dave Kile (dkile) I experienced what seems to happen often during a decent hatch with some wind, you guessed it, a wind knot! Or as Lefty Kreh calls them, bad casting knots. Everyone gets them now and then especially when combining a breeze, long leaders and fine tippets. Or for the chuck and duck crowd, of which I am often a member, weight and multiple flies. So as Dave stands upstream pondering my delay to cast to a rising fish, he asks, what’s the problem Einstein? I said I have a wind knot, and it reminded me of a tip I learned many years ago.

Back in the 80’s we were on a bus trip to the Breeches from the ‘burg and there was a video on the tube for those not taking the time to sleep. Being full of interest in sponging any and all info I could at the time, one tip in the video stuck with me. Terminal knot tying efficiency. Think about it, every time we tie on a new piece of tippet, a new fly, etc., we are out of the game. It stands to reason that the faster you can tie on a fly (improved clinch knot in my case) or a new piece of tippet (double surgeons knot), the quicker you can begin flogging the water again.

The video stressed the need to get your knots down to 15 seconds each. Practice, practice, practice until you can meet that goal. This will put your fly change or tippet adjustments into under one minute if you include the spooling off tippet, picking out a new and returning the old flies. If you find yourself taking 5-10 minutes each to accomplish that task, you could likely be wasting an hour or more tying frustrating knots. Practicing on stream is KNOT efficient! (pun intended)Now it’s not a race, and I don’t suggest it to be. But it is practical to be as efficient as possible when enjoying your streamside time. Plus, when a hatch is on, the fish and bugs don’t wait until you re-tie, it goes on as scheduled, often it seems to go faster as the trouts plop, plop, plop all around you.

So do yourself a favor by following these few tips;
• Get your knots down to 15 seconds or so.
• Accept the fact your eyes are going bad and get some readers if seeing the eye is getting harder every year.
• Keep your tippet handy, I keep mine outside near my left hip where I can reach it easily.
• Keep your flys handy with few boxes so searching is not too long.
• Know your limitations and adapt.

Resized ImageThat last one may seem out of place for a seasoned fly fisher but this efficiency exercise also applies to damage control. That's right, when you booger up your line with a collapsed cast, loose loop or wind knot, bring your line in gently and assess the damage immediately. It can be tempting to just begin pulling and tugging but try to resist. Take a few seconds and loosely pull on some of the loops to see what you are dealing with. Look for loops that exit the knot and pull them back through. Often its only one or two loops that cause the whole mess. If it looks too complicated to unravel it probably is. Clip off the fly, this often makes it a much easier task because you can slip the tippet through the knot. Remember it only takes you 15 seconds to tie it back on. Just be sure when you clip it off you put it somewhere you remember like a fly patch, or other handy outside vest place. Don’t keep it in your hands or put it in your mouth. Trust me, this never ends well…soon you are chasing it down stream with your net or trying to get it out of your lip.

Lastly, If it's a total mess clip it ALL off and start over, in one minute or so you will be casting again.

Now I consider myself a pretty good untangler…in fact, my slogan is “Fly fishing is the art of tangling and untangling lines of different diameters while trying to enjoy yourself”. But it doesn’t have to be yours.






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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 02/04/2015 (971 reads)
Personally one of the most difficult situations I still encounter on the stream to solve is tying together tippet and leader. Usually I need to do this in the least desirable time, like in the evening during the middle of a big hatch. Usually the scene includes a lot of trout leaping out of the water and laughing at me while a struggle with a knot I can barely see. Ughhh

To help with tying flies to your tippet Rio shares with us how to tie seven popular fly fishing knots including the clinch knot, improved clinch knot, loop knot, Homer Rhoads knot and others . They provide some easy to follow directions, laughing trout not included. I also like how the Zack and Simon explain when to use the knots and some of the advantages of each knot. I had chance to catch up with I enjoyed catching up with Simon again on the exhibit floor at Somerset Fly Fishing show.

A good video if your are looking to add or improve your fly fishing knots.



Seven knots for attaching a fly to leader/tippet material, and how to tie them from RIO Products on Vimeo.

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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 01/19/2015 (2347 reads)
Winter fly fishing can be a good opportunity to get out and take a break from your fly tying bench. The opportunities are certainly a little more limited during the winter months with many streams possibly iced up. Southcentral Pennsylvania can often offer several options in in the region during the winter with spring influenced streams and wild trout.

Trout during the winter are not as active as you might normally find them in the spring and summer. Spring fed streams offer a much more consistent temperature often in the 50's year round and thus more resistant to the cold weather conditions. Some of these popular winter streams in Southcentral Pennsylvania include Yellow Breeches Creek, Big Spring Creek and LeTort. The wild trout in these streams can be incredibly challenging when the weather is warm, so have some realistic expectations for your first trip to the region.

Dave Weaver offered some solid ideas in the forums. "My usual advice to CV [Cumberland Valley] newbies is to embrace the reality that trout in these creeks are bottom feeders and live on a year round diet of scuds, sculpins, midge pupa, and cress bugs. This isn't to imply that you won't find rising fish, you can, and there are hatches as well (mainly sulphers and BWOs) but for someone used to fishing upstate or in the Catskills....it's often a big disappointment. You can fish for days (esp this time of year) and not see any surface activity around here."

Fly Fishing Getting Started - Spring Creek Winter Flies

Dave Weaver on LeTort Spring Run


I asked Southcentral Pennsylvania fly fishing guide, Mike Heck, what are his favorite flies are for wild trout on his local spring fed streams. Mike shared, "If I had only the option to carry just a few flies. Toss all boxes in my vehicle and pull out five flies. I would without a doubt carry shrimp, cress bugs, black sculpin, BWO parachute and a olive CDC midge. These fab five should be just enough to fool a trout and cover any stream condition I may encounter."

Take a little time planning before you head on a trip to any spring fed stream in the winter. Knowing where you want to go, what flies to bring and tactics to try can really make a difference. There are other streams outside the Cumberland Valley that are spring influenced and open during the year. Doing a little homework can offer a few quite locations. I would suggest looking through the forums with key words like #spring creeks, #limestone and #winter to get you started. I also recommend you get a copy of the book Spring Creek Strategies (Mike Heck, Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 2008)
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/29/2014 (9624 reads)
Fly Fishing Getting started


Paflyfish is a popular spot for fly fishing anglers in the region for many good reasons. There are all sorts of great conversations and information shared in the forums on a host of different topics. We are very fortunate to have so many folks not only provide information online in the forums, but help out beginners at clinics and instructional jamborees. Also there are some darn smart anglers on the site coming from all walks of life. The site is filled with thousands of great post and threads that offer any angler any opportunity to expand their fly fishing opportunities. This section will be a dynamic page for beginners to find an index of information to get started with fly fishing. As relevant blog posts and threads are collected they will be added for quick and easy topics.

Take the Journey

Types of Trout

Trout Food
Trout Food Overview
The Mayfly Stages of Life 101
Mayfly Sex Identification 102
The Caddisflies
Stoneflies
Green Drakes: May Madness
Meet the Hendricksons

Gear
What Fly Rod and Fly Reel to get?
A Dozen Top Flies
Knots and the DBK
Trip Packing

Seasonal Information
Getting Ready For Fall Fly Fishing
Conquer the Cold: The theory of bigger being sometimes better
Getting out for some fall fly fishing
Try Some Winter Fly Fishing
How to Dress for Winter Fly Fishing


Forums
Beginners Forum
Fly Fishing Locations
Fly Tying
Stream Reports

Additional Online Information
Fly Fishing Hatch Chart
USGS Real-Time Streamflow Data & Mobile
Troutnut.com
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 12/14/2014 (1152 reads)
Winter fly fishing can a be a very rewarding time to get out on the water. The most important thing to an enjoyable day of winter fly fishing is dressing for the weather. After decades of winter activities like hiking, hunting and fishing you would think I would know better, but one of my worst days fly fishing was because I forgot my wool socks. Not so smart with my cotton socks. So let's take a look at the best approach wintering up for a day of fly fishing.

You've heard it before, but I'll say it again. Layers, layers, and more layers. The most important thing are the correct layers.

Feet
Alright Captain Obvious we know cotton socks don't work, so the best bet is a two layer approach with your feet. I first put on a thin polyester wicking sock. Overtop of the polyester sock I use a classic ragg merino wool sock. Bigger can be better, but make sure you can still get into your boots comfortably. If your socks are too thick and your feet are too tight in the boot this will not help keep you warm. What you are trying to accomplish is wicking away the perspiration from your feet with the polyester sock to the wool sock.

Legs and lower body
Winter Fly FishingAgain layers are the way to go. Keeping your legs and lower body warm while in the water is a non- negotiable. A few years ago I ended up getting a pair of Simms Guide Mid Pants. These pants are made of fleece and provide greater insulation than cotton. I would imagine you can get a decent pair of tapered fleece pants online that will do the trick. I like the tapered pants as they bunch up less at your ankles when you get into your boots. Often I'll wear a pair of light polyester long pants overtop of the fleece pants. A few ways to approach this but I'd avoid the cotton sweat pants.

Upper body
I generally have a three layer approach to the upper body. I use synthetic polyester base layer for wicking. I like the Under Armour mock longsleves. Offers a good base from the arms to the neck. The middle layers are your main insulators and going to keep you warm. A couple layers of fleece or wool always work for me. I found a great fleece shirt at Walmart for $10 a couple of years ago and is my goto whenever I head outside. A good down vest can work too, but you don't want too much bulk. The number of layers and type is really up to you and the temperatures you expect to encounter.

Finally for your upper body is a good outer shell. The key is something that will keep the wind from getting to you. With the layers you have already put on, a big winter coat is not best step here. A winter windstopper shell that is water repentant is the answer. This is the place I would invest my money. I have an older Simms windstopper jacket that works great and think I spent $200 at the time. With layering this jacket works from October thru April for me. Today I would look at the Simms Bulkley Jacket ($300) or Cabela's Guidewear WindStopper Jacket (on sale for $110, but not water repentant). Specific fly fishing wading jackets are usually cut short in length and make it easier fitting into your waders. Once you are dressed and have your waders on you want warmth, but also upper body mobility too.

The other stuff
Fingerless gloves or mittens are a must. Plenty of good options made of wool, fleece and polyester. Leave the ski gloves for the slopes. Last but not least is a wool hat.

You really should try all this gear on before you go to the stream. Adding a few more layers may cause some difficulties getting onto your fly fishing boots and waders. The holidays don't help either. No sense having all the right gear if you can't fit into your waders. I enjoy my fly fishing backpack this time of year with layers I am taking off or adding on. Finally, even if you don't think you'll need it, bring an extra layer to leave in the car.
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Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 10/16/2014 (9645 reads)
fall fly fishing


Fall fly fishing in the the region offers plenty of great opportunities. The cooler weather offers anglers some solitude of fly fishing while many are caught up with other fall activities. A little bit of preparation can be a rewarding opportunity for those who can make the time.

Reproduction plays an important part of the trout lifecycle during the fall months for both brook and brown trout. Brook trout, native to the US, usually begin to spawn during late September through October. Brown trout typically start spawning in October through late November. I have seen this go later too.

During the spawn coloring on the trout will intensify especially in the males. Females will often create gravel beds for the fertilized eggs called redds. It very important to be careful of these sections on streams when you see redds and not to kick them up when walking. Probably best even to leave trout overtop redds alone and give them a chance to protect the eggs.

fall fly fishingOften the water in the fall is low and gin clear. Spotting trout on a redd is pretty easy to see as in the photo to the left. The trout will sit over top of a small group of rocks that they have knocked around and they often will have a little more cleaned up look as if someone kicked up the spot. Take a little time before marching into the stream to check on the conditions. Good advice for any day.

As the trout begin to change so does the entomology or insect life in the stream. Activity will be different from region to region, stream size, earlier summer water temperatures, and geology. The fall provides a more limited selection of insects and often anglers enjoy bringing a more modest selection of flies and imitations. Some of the more popular collections include: Slate Drakes, BWO, Caddis, midges and terrestrials. Typical nymphs and streamers are very successful smart choice as well.

I like Dave Weavers suggestions for even looking for rainbows behind the redds feeding on eggs. Some small simple egg patterns can produce some pretty good results for these rainbows. The most common color for natural trout eggs are cream, pale orange and pink.

The full and fast spring streams can take a new characteristic once September arrives. Low clear water can create a challenge for some anglers, but stealth and patience can provide many rewards.

With summer holder over trout and newly stocked trout in many streams there should be ample opportunity for solitude and fish in autumn. Check out the PaFlyFish forums and stream reports to learn more about what is happening in your area.






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Polls
What color woolly bugger is the most productive for you?
Black 40% (64)
White 12% (20)
Olive 31% (51)
Brown 3% (6)
Don't use them ever 6% (10)
Other color 5% (9)
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The poll closed at 2015/5/14 7:05
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