8am-5pm on Saturday & Sunday this weekend, on Monday 5/30 (Memorial Day) we will be open from 8am-2pm so please plan accordingly.
Our current store hours:
Monday through Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm.
We recently bought a huge collection of tying material from the same person in several batches over the past few weeks. It includes a massive collection of quality hackle feathers (Whiting, Hoffman, Metz, Keogh, and more), and a pile of hooks, dubbing, and other assorted tying materials.
We literally have dozens & dozens of new-in-the-box fly lines a customer traded in, all priced to sell! Anywhere from 40-80% off original retail, most priced from $15-30. All different brands, all different types & weights, including quite a few Spey & Skagit lines.
Up top is my first fish from last night, an 18” wild brown, and below that is my fish of the night, a handful of 20” class wild brown- nymphed both on them up on the trusty T&T Contact II.Third pic is Antoine’s client Wilf with a quality brown from this week. Fourth pic is a big brown by frequent fly Mike Andrews, and below that is a nice brown on a Caddis Pupa laid next to Joey’s 10’ 9” #2 T&T Contact II. Last but not least is customer Tony with solid holdover brown.
The new T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #2 rods arrived in March. The extra 9” is perfect for bigger water like the Farmington (allows you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts,casts easier/further, and cushions your tippet more), and the soft tip will protect 6x-7x tippet against big trout. Plenty of power in the butt section to handle bigger trout, and the extra flex in the tip is better for casting micro leaders (very thin butt sections) and lighter flies. I think this is going to be a very popular rod, and a good compliment to your arsenal if you already have a #3 Euro rod, which has been the “all around” weight for Euro Nymphing. The trend over time seems to be lighter & thinner in everything including rods,especially as thinner leader butts (6-10# test) have become popular to reduce sag, along with thinner tippet (5.5x-7x) that allows you to use lighter nymphs & get them to the bottom faster with more natural drifts.
Try the BMAR Mud Puppy Sculpin Streamer- limited quantities in stock, $5.99 each, get ‘em while they last.
Not sure if the MDC will make any flow changes, but as I write this at about 9am Friday morning the total flow in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R) is a medium-low 210cfs, a water level more typical in July than late May (350-400 would be normal for right now). This means easier wading, access to virtually the entire river, and more rising trout if you are on the water during a hatch. It also means you need to be somewhat careful & stealthyin your approach so you don’t spook the trout. I would rate the hatches as moderate overall this week, there is a steady trickle of bugs most of the day, especially Caddis which typically hatch roughly 10am-2pm, and then come back in the eves to egg-lay.You can blind-fish Caddis dry flies, with or without a dropper nymph.Vitreus is the other main hatch in the mid to upper river (late afternoon to eves, fast water). If you go way downstream (Collinsville/Unionville/Farmington) you likely willsee some #16 Sulfurs, but they are not up near the shop in any appreciable numbersquite yet- although I did see a few yellow bugs in New Hartford last night that might have been Sulfurs.
I fished in New Hartford last night from about 5:30pm until about 8:30pm and it was good. Steady trickle of assorted Caddis with occasional Vitreus popping. I would call the hatching activity light to moderate. I started out with an 18” wild on a #14 Frenchy in a very fast shallow riffle, it came on the current edge in a slightly deeper trough (still not very deep at all though, knee deep or less). Great fight. Ended up with about 7 in that run/pool (mostly on Caddis Pupa), the rest were a mixed of stocked Brookies & Bows on Caddis Pupa. Moved upstream to some shallow “C” water, found a slightly deeper trough with some broken current and was quite surprised when I pulled another 7 trout of that small slot (broke off 2 more, and missed several strikes). The last trout was a 20” class wild brown that was difficult to land while standing in fast shallow water. Got 2 more in the better-looking run above that. Hit one last slot in the permanent TMA in the last few minutes of daylight, managed a rainbow and a 17” very fat Two Year Old Brown. Not a bad evening at all! Used my T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #3 rod, was perfect for the short to medium range fishing I was doing & 6x tippet.
The Vitreus hatch (Epeorus Vitreus for you Latinizers) is one of the 2 main hatches. Caddis are still the major hatch, and they come back in the evenings to egg-lay. Vitreus average a #14, tend to hatch in the evenings until darkness (sometimes starting in late afternoon), are a fast water Mayfly with two tails, and are a close cousin to the Quill Gordon (Epeorus Pleuralis). The males are a dull yellow with light gray wings, and the females have a pinky/orange cast to their abdomens due to the eggs showing through- sometimes they are referred to as Pink Ladies, Pale Evenings Duns, and Pink Cahills. The dun emerges from the nymphal shuck near the river bottom, and then rises/swims to the surface (just like the Quill Gordon), making wet flies & soft hackles good choices during their evening emergence- try something with a yellow or orange body. The trout will also eat the duns on the surface when they are hatching. The best number of bugs will be in riffly water, which is the habitat the nymphs live in.
Caddis are the dominant hatch up & down the river, including the permanent TMA/C&R and also Riverton. Tan Caddis have mixed in with the olive/green ones, and we are seeing a mix of sizes & colors averaging #14-18, with some both bigger and smaller, and some other colors too (black, brown, gray). Caddis will be a daily player straight through mid Fall. Pupa are a consistent producer if fished in a nymph rig in the faster water where they are most abundant. Make sure to have Caddis dries, but be aware pupa patterns & soft-hackles/wet flies will frequently outfish the dries during Caddis activity.
Those being flexible on their fishing method & location are catching plenty of trout, and those who try to force it or sit in one spot all day are struggling- let the fish tell you ho, where, and what they want. Or get skunked, it’s your choice. Other than Caddis pupa #14-18, the other nymphing standby has been #14-20 Mayfly type nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, BWO/Olives, etc.). Attractor nymphs (flashy/gaudy, hot spots/fluorescence, etc.) & suggestive nymphs (Hare’s Ears, Walt’s Worms, Fox Squirrel, etc.) are definitely worth trying too.
Caddis are mostly averaging #14-18 (olive/green & tan are the most common colors) but running anywhere from #12-22 (also in brown, black, gray, etc.), and hatch mid/late morns through early/mid afternoons. You can try a dry/dropper rig during the hatch with a buoyant dry and a beadhead pupa 12-24” below the dry. The adult Caddis will come back in the lower light of evenings and lay their eggs in riffle areas- dries can be effective for egg laying (try twitching/skating them), but often swinging wets/soft hackles or pupa just under the surface is the way to go. Nymphing with Caddis pupa can be VERY effective both before & during the hatch, and even during evening egg-laying. Regular & Frenchy style Pheasant Tails in #14-20 will cover a lot of bases with the Mayfly nymphs that are currently active.
If the trout are rising, look carefully, as you can often pick out the biggest trout and target them specifically, especially in the evenings when the big browns come out to play. Depending upon the time of day, weather conditions, and the river section you are fishing, be prepared with Caddis dries & pupa #14-18, Vitreus #12-16, and Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s/Olives) #18-22. Caddis hatches are more mid/late morns through early/mid afternoon (and egg-laying in the evenings), Vitreus is more of an evening deal but can start as early as late afternoon (heaviest in riffly water), BWO’s are afternoons (on cloudy/cooler days). Caddis pupa are very active in the faster water, making that water type ideal to nymph in, hint hint. The East Branch was bumped up from zero to 50cfs last week and remains at that level. Unionville/Collinsville is medium-low and very wadeable at 449cfs (USGS median/normal flow for today is 589cfs).
The state heavily stocked the permanent TMA/Catch & Release in April, including the bigger 14-18”+ 2 Year Olds (a few were 20”+), it’s LOADED, plenty of good to excellent catch reports. The entire river outside of the permanent TMA/C&R has been stocked a whole bunch of times. No matter where you end up, you will be fishing over trout, so no excuses!
Caddis hatches will be on the menu straight through the Fall, so don’t neglect to nymph with the pupa in the fast water, especially in the mornings & early/mid afternoons when they are most active and hatching- can be effective in the evenings too. BWO (Olive) nymphs #16-22 and Caddis larva #12-18 are very common drift items too, and especially good choices for targeting holdover/wild trout that are more familiar with real bugs than the recently stocked trout. Adult Caddis return in the eves to egg-lay, and depending upon egg-laying behavior (various according to species) can be matched with dries, wet flies, soft-hackles, or pupa. Pheasant Tails/Frenchies & Hare’s Ears in #14-20 will imitate a lot of the different Mayfly nymphs common in the subsurface drift this time of year.
Nymph Color Selection Tip:
Quick tip for selecting nymph colors from late Fall through mid Spring: overall the cooler weather nymphs tend toward darker colors such as medium to dark brown, black, and medium to dark olive/olive-brown. When the hatches get cranking during milder weather and the leaves come out in the mid to late Spring (and going well into the Fall), many of the nymphs/pupa/larva are light to medium colored: tan, light/medium brown, amber/ginger, light/medium olive. This is a general rule, but probably about 80-90% true. Gives you a starting point, adjust from there- flip rocks to see exactly what the nymphs/larva look like.
Various single-hook & articulated streamers have their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Early & late in the day during lower light is a particularly good time to fish them. Jigged streamers fished on a Euro leader/tight-line rig have been deadly many days when other presentations & flies have failed. Bigger browns are usually looking for big bites to eat. Some of the better colors have been olive, brown and tan- make sure to have a good assortment of colors, it can make a big difference. Streamer retrieve speed can be important, try slower & deeper as well as some faster retrieves too, cuz ya never know. The trout will always tell you water they prefer, but only if you experiment and see what they prefer.
A quick note on water temps. Water temps moving TOWARD 60 degrees tends to turn trout on, and as temps move AWAY from 60 degrees it tends to shut feeding down. Even though 50-65 degrees water temps are “optimal” for trout, the direction of temp changes has more to do with creating a good bite than the actual absolute temp. Having said that, there can be a first light bite, even when air & water temps are cold. Typically late morning through late afternoon is overall the best time to be on the water this time of year due to the rising/higher water temps. Positive water temperature movements (toward 60 degrees)tend to make bugs hatch and get trout feeding too. Temp drops can shut the bite off like somebody flipped a switch.
Dick Sablitz whipped up some “Heavy Hare’s Ear Soft Hackles” with tungsten beads for us. Great point fly to use in a multi wet fly rig to get your other wets/soft hackles down deep, or use in a tandem Euro Nymphing rig. This is an all purpose fly that can pass as many different food items, and makes a great Caddis pupa too. The soft hackle gives it movement, just like a real bug. Dead-drift it and then let it swing at the end of the drift.
Effective streamers include standard single hook patterns such as Woolly Buggers, Zuddlers, Zonkers, etc., just play around with colors & retrieves until you crack the code for that day. Use bigger articulated patterns to catch less but potentially bigger trout. The old school Muddler Minnow is an underutilized but still deadly fly that somehow got replaced by the Woolly Bugger and forgotten about by many- try also the Conehead White Marabou Muddler. Smaller jigged streamers fished on a tight-line Euro rod/leader system can entice trout to eat even when they won’t hit a traditional streamer presentation (swung/stripped on a standard fly line)- this enables you to fish a streamer slow & deep, and put it right in the trout’s face so they don’t have to chase it. A little yellow mixed into in your streamers can be very effective some days, both two-tone (brown/yellow, olive/yellow, etc.) and all yellow. Olive, tan, and brownare all good starting colors for streamers this time of year. Also make sure to try some flashy streamers, some days they are the ticket- think about how effective flashy spoons & spinners are for spin fishermen.
Be aware that hatches vary from day to day and respond to water & air temps changes, variations in flow levels, and also light conditions. Be prepared to fish streamers, wet flies, or nymphs (Euro or Indy) if they aren’t rising. The same spot on 2 consecutive days can see a good hatch one day, followed by a poor hatch the next due to the weather.
Check out the latest Hardy Ultralite & Ultralite LL (Euro) rods. Very impressive series of rods, especially the 10’ 8” #0/2 Euro rod- don’t let the line designation fool you, it fishes more like a powerful #3 with a very light tip but fast recovery, with the lower 2/3 of the rod being surprisingly strong and capable of landing very large trout. Still light in the hand, sensitive, accurate, and well balanced. These rods are giving the T&T Contact II’s some competition! Euro specific rods in the Ultralite LL series include the10’ 2” #2, 11’ 2” #2, 10’ 8” #0/2, 10’ 8” #3, 9’ 2” & 9’ 9” #3 & #4. In the standard Ultralite the 9’ #4, 9’ #5, 9’ #6, 9’ #7, 10’ #4, and 10’ #5.
The T&T Contact II series (10' #2, 10’ 9” #2, 10' #3, 10' 9" #3, 11' 2" #3, 10' 9" #4 & 10' 8" #6) is a home run, arguably the best Euro rods currently on the market in our opinion and according to many experienced Euro nymphers. I’ve fished them for quite a while now, and they are all amazing. Brand new as of March is the 10’ 9” #2, it’s REALLY nice and rounds out/completes their line-up: a great rod that will protect 6x-7x tippet but is still has the butt strength to land large trout. It is fantastic for casting/fishing micro leaders (thin butt sections in 5-10# range) that are popular now. The Contact II series features new improved materials, new guide spacing (stripping guide on butt section), down-locking reel seats are standard now, plus a new fighting butt design that is more comfortable. Recovery is noticeably better/crisper, the actions "tweaked" for more big fish playing power, plus the newer materials they use to make the rods inherently store more energy and give the rod more power for casting and playing big trout. The blanks are incredibly strong and much much harder to break, even when you do something stupid. These rods are easier to cast, will give you more distance, and they deliver with improved accuracy. Retail is $855 and worth every penny.
*Vitreus #12-14: late afternoon/evening fast water hatch
*Assorted Caddis #14-18 (olive/green, tan): mid/late mornings to early/mid afternoons,
come back in eves to egg-lay in riffly water
-Baetis/BWOs/Blue Winged Olives #18-22: afternoons on cloudy/cooler days
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
-Midges #18-28: anytime
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs: Olives, Midges, Caddis, etc.
*Caddis Pupa #14-18: tan, olive/green: a fast water go-to from now through the Fall
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs, and also smaller Stoneflies
-Olive/BWO Nymphs #16-20: various
*Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
-Big Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black
*Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, all year
-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good during non-hatch periods, and also for higher/off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through a run
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns, we have a bunch of new ones
-Attractor Nymphs #12-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Sexy Waltz, Princes, Triple Threats, etc.
-Midges/Zebra Midges#16-22: olive, black, red: Midges are a staple food item, esp. when there aren’t many other hatches, and even fresh hatchery trout know them as food
-Assorted Patterns #10-18: Hare's Ear, DW Catchall, Partridge & Orange/Green/Yellow, Partridge & Flash, Starling & Herl, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, Partridge & Pheasant Tail
-best fished 2-3 at a time, on tag end droppers, spaced 20-30” apart
-dead drift them, swing them, twitch them, bounce them- let the trout tell you how they want them
-great when Caddis are active
-if wet fly fishing is slow, try using a weighted fly (e.g. Beadhead Soft Hackle Hare’s Ear/Pheasant Tail) on the end/point to get your flies deeper, and/or fish your rig on an intermediate/sinking line or sink-tip/sinking leader.
*Rich Strolis articulated streamers: Headbanger, Masked Avenger, Alter Ego & Dumpster Diver are all once again back in stock- lethal flies!
*Jigged Streamers #8-12: various patterns/colors, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig
*Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive, white)
*BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
*Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black
-Complex Twist Bugger & Mini version #2-6: assorted colors
*Muddler Minnow #6-10: old school, underfished, still lethal & very versatile
*Conehead White Marabou Muddler #8: favorite Muddler variation, also underfished
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (black, olive, white, brown, tan)
-JJ Special/Autumn Splendor/Tequeely #4-8 (brown & yellow streamers)
-Matuka #4-8 (yellow, olive, brown)