Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Tuesday 5/10/22 Farmington River Report: Hendrickson, Caddis, great flows, warm weather

Our current store hours:
Monday through Friday, 8am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 8am-5pm.

We recently bought a 
massive collection of quality hackle feathers: Whiting, Hoffman, Metz, Keogh, and more. Check them out in the sale fly tying materials bin, they are FLYING out the door.

We bought another big collection of tying stuff (same guy), this time it was a pile of hooksdubbing, 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. These lines are for in store purchase only, so please don’t call on the phone about them.

Fish Pics:
Fishing has been good for many anglers, partly due to lots of stocking recently, but also due to increasing water temps (well into the 50’s) and a lot more bug activity- Caddis have joined the fray, Hendricksons are moving upriver. The drop in water levels has made it more angler-friendly too. Up top is a smiling Hunter Bulak with a solid brown, next down is Derrick’s client Martin with one of the nice trout he caught during his guide trip. Third fish pic is Steve Hogan’s client Sam with a nice brown. And the fourth fish pic is Jo Tango of blogflyfish.com with a nice brown on a dry, and a big stocker on a jigged streamer. Life is good!

The brand new Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods just arrived! These are Euro nymphing rods in 10’ #1, 10’ #2, 10’ 10” #2, and 10’ 10” #3. Joe Goodspeed is the brainchild behind these, he designed all the amazing T&T Contact and Contact II rods. At $525-550, these rods are a steal and easily the best rods by far in that price range, no contest- they use the latest, state-of-the-art materials & construction. Light with excellent recovery & sensitivity, plenty of big fish playing power (even the #1 & #2), double rings on the downlocking reel seat, and 3 snake guides on the rod tip for minimal line wrap when using micro leader butt sections. The 10’ 10” #2 is the big seller so far, with the 10’ #1 not far behind that. The 10’ 10” #2 seems like it We have demo models in the 10’ #1, and the 10’ 10” #2 & #3 if anyone wants to try them on the water. Joe will be adding more models to this line-up in the near future, including a 10’ #3, a 10’ 10” #4, and a 10’ 10” #6 (for Steelhead/Lake Run Browns). They will also be coming out with a high-end Euro reel this Summer in a #1/2 & #3/4- Joe showed us a prototype, it has some unique features.

We’re excited to announce the recent launch of Sage’s new flagship line of fast action rods: the 
Sage R8 Core, using their new Revolution 8 tech and  axial fiber formulation. This is the first time in 20+ years that Sage has debuted an entirely new graphite composition. Available to see in person and purchase finally, we have the entire line-up from the lightest to the heaviest (3wt up to 9wt). We were able to cast the line-up with our Sage rep recently, and we were all surprised & impressed. While modern fast action rods have become very stiff and tippy over the years, this new series has loads of feel and casts easily. The flex is closer to the older popular Z-Axis & XP’s, and refreshingly closer in the trout sizes to a true line weight rating. The R8 Core flexes further down into the blank, but still has a crisp recovery and plenty of line speed. Sage says they are “Made to fish, not just to cast”, with “Effortless energy transfer and more connected feel”. These are real fishing rods, not rods just meant to win parking lot casting competitions, but break tippets and don’t fish comfortably up close. Kudos to Sage.

It’s that time of year to fish Bruce Marino’s  BMAR Hendrickson Nymph- it has a black nickel tungsten bead hidden in the thorax, very sneaky. Water temps are warmer now, into the 50’s, nymphs are active and hatching. Try also the BMAR Mud Puppy Sculpin Streamer- limited quantities in stock, $5.99 each, get ‘em while they last. 

Try some of Don’s #8 coffee/black Rubber Leg Stones- they can be deadly in the early Spring, especially when flows are up a bit, and even when they aren’t. RL’s imitate the common darker large Stoneflies, and can also pass as a Fishfly larva (they are tons of them in the Farmington and they frequently end up in the drift in early Spring- especially during flow bumps) and even a smaller immature Helgramite. The rubber legs give them movement that makes them look alive, just like a real bug. They even work in rivers where none of those bugs exist. In addition to dead-drifting them, try also twitching and even stripping them, you might be surprised at the results. 

The brand 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, and make longer drifts), 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 is currently the “all around” weight for Euro Nymphing. The trend over time seems to be lighter & lighter.


River Conditions:
Things are evolving rapidly, in a good way too. Hendrickson hatch is moving upstream quickly, in part due to lower flows (mid 200cfs)& rising watertemps- look for them in permanent TMA/Catch& Release (C&R) up to the Still River, and with the 70-80 degree weather (no rain & far less windy!) now through Sunday, heaviest hatching seems to be mid TMA/C&R up to about the Still River/Lyman Rock. I expect the warm weather to make for some heavy Hendrickson hatching this week, this may be the last week & weekend you see them hatching well in the permanent TMA/C&R, they will be in Riverton after that, up above the Still River. Caddis are starting early and overlapping the Hendrickson hatch, about a #16 (give or take a size) in olive/green. Caddis are roughly 11am-2pm, but this can vary-heaviest hatching is prob from the lower river (Unionville/Collinsville) up through New Hartford and the lower part of the permanent TMA/C&R, but they are hatching lighter through the top of the permanent TMA/C&R and even above that. Hendrickons are mid to late afternoon, with spinner falls in the evenings, but also sometimes mid/late mornings, and even overlapping the hatch- look for the female spinners over the riffles, they are rusty brown with bright yellow egg sacks. Nymphing with Caddis pupa can be VERY effective both before & during the hatch. Frenchy style Pheasant Tails in #12-18 will cover a lot of bases with the Mayfly nymphs that are currently in the drift.

If the trout are rising, look carefully, as you can often pick out the biggest trout and target them specifically. Depending upon what river section you are fishing, be prepared with both Hendrickson dries (emergers, duns, and spinners), wets (for when they are feeding just under the surface) and nymphs, as well as Caddis dries & pupaCaddis are more mid/late morns through early afternoon, and Hendricksons are more mid/late afternoon. Caddis pupa are active in the faster water. The East Branch was reduced to 0cfs. Still River is down to 77cfs, putting total flow this morning at 244cfs in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release- lower flows equals a greater chance to find rising trout. Unionville/Collinsville is down to an unusually good level, 413cfs (USGS median/normal flow for today is 600cfs).

Hendrickson spinners will NOT fall if it’s windy, cold (below about 60 degrees, give or take), or rainy. Look for spinner falls on milder, dry days that aren’t windy. The biggest trout will rise to the spinners because they are helpless, pinned to the surface film, and cannot escape. Plus in the evenings, the spinners are not competing for the trout’s attention with the hatching nymphs. Spinner falls will easily go at least a week after the Hendrickson hatch has ended in a given section.

The state heavily stocked the permanent TMA/Catch & Release recently, including the bigger 14-18”+ 2 Year Olds, it’s LOADED, plenty of good to excellent catch reports. For the recently stocked trout try Junk Flies (Mops, Squirmy Worms, Egg Flies, Green Weenies), Hare’s Ears/Walt’s Worms, nymphs with hot spots, and Woolly Buggers in black, olive. The entire river outside of the permanent TMA/C&R has beenstocked multiple times, at least 4x or more by my count.

Caddis have started, 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. BWO (Olive) nymphs #16-20 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. 

If you are targeting recent stockers, they often prefer somewhat different flies. Gaudier flies (with flash, hotspots, unnatural color schemes), “Junk Flies” (Mops, Squirmies, Egg Flies, Green Weenies) and small to medium streamers (especially in black, olive, white) will often outfish drabber more imitative flies- although any nymph tied with Hare’s Ear (like a Walt’s Worm) is often good for fresh stockers (might look like a food pellet once it gets wet?). It takes hatchery trout about 3 weeks to learn how to effectively feed on natural aquatic food according to what I’ve read. About the only aquatic bug trout raised in concrete raceways are familiar with is Midges, they can literally live almost anywhere, even a concrete hatchery raceway. Sometime a #16-20 Zebra Midge gets it done on fresh stockers when they ignore bigger and/or gaudier flies, especially when they are getting pressured hard. That said, normally it’s hard to beat Woolly Buggers & Junk Flies on freshly stocked trout. Until they get “educated” by angling pressure and start to avoid those flies.

Nymph Color Selection Tip:
Quick tip for selecting nymph colors from late Fall through early/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.

Fishing advice is to look for Caddis in the mid/late mornings through early/mid afternoon, and Hendricksons and/or Blue Winged Olive hatches & rising trout in the afternoons. If you don’t have rising trout, stay subsurface with streamers (regular & jigged), wet flies/soft hackles, Junk Flies (Eggs, Squirmy/San Juan Worms, Mops, Weenies), Hendrickson Nymphs #12-14 (BMAR, Pheasant Tails, Frenchies, etc.), BWO/Olive Nymphs #16-20, Stonefly nymphs (#6-12), Caddis larva (regular green/olive & Cased), Attractor nymphs (hot-spots, flash, gaudy/unnatural colors), Midge larva/pupa, and small/medium (#14-20) Mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, Perdigons, etc.). Higher flows typically means bigger flies, and lower water usually fishes better with smaller flies. Look for Winter Caddis in the early/mid mornings, Baetis (BWOs) & Hendricksons in the afternoons. Baetis/BWOs like cloudy afternoons and snotty weather, Hendricksons hatch best on milder days. 

Various single-hook & articulated streamers are having their moments, experiment with colors and retrieves. Jigged streamers fished on a Euro leader/tight-line rig have been particularly 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, tan, black, brown & yellow, and white- make sure to have a good assortment of colors, it can make a big difference. Streamer retrieve speed can be important- in general cooler water equals slower retrieves & deeper presentations, but try some faster retrieves too, cuz ya never know. The trout will always tell you water they prefer, but only if you experiment and listen to what the trout tell you they like.

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 (which in early Spring would mean upward) 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. 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, white, and tan are 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 #3 with a very light tip but fast recovery, with the lower 2/3 of the rod being surprisingly powerful. Still very light in the hand, sensitive, accurate, and well balancedThese rods are giving the T&T Contact II’s some serous 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 amazing. Brand new and just as of March is the 10’ 9” #2, and it’s REALLY nice and rounds out/completes their line-up: a great rod that will protect 6x-7x tippet but is still capable of landing large trout. It is fantastic for casting/fishing micro leaders (thin butt sections in 6-10# range) that are getting popular now. The Contact II series features new improved materials, new guide spacing, 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.


*Hendrickson #12-14: now hatching from the permanent Catch & Release, upstream as far as as the Still River (Lyman Rock), moving upstream daily, should be up in Riverton this weekend if not sooner
*Olive/Green Caddis #14-18: late mornings to early/mid afternoons, from the lower river and upstream well into the permanent TMA/C&R
-Baetis/BWOs/Blue Winged Olives #18-20: afternoons, esp. cloudy/cooler days
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
-Midges #18-28: afternoons
-Parachute Adams #12-24: imitates many, many different bugs: Olives, Midges, Hendricksons, Caddis, etc.

*Caddis Pupa #14-18: olive/green
*BMAR Hendrickson Nymph #14
-Olive/BWO Nymphs #16-20: various
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs from BWOs to Hendricksons, and also smaller Stoneflies
*Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good in colder water & 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
-Big Stoneflies #6-12: gold/yellow, brown, black
-Cased Caddis #10-14 (especially high water & after flow bumps)
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns, we have a bunch of new ones
-Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
-Attractor Nymphs #12-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Haast Haze, Firestarter Perdigon, Princes, Miller's Victim, 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, even fresh hatchery trout know them as food

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Assorted Patterns #10-18: Hendrickson, 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. 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, deadly fished on a tight-line/Euro rig
*Rio's Precious Metal #4 (Kreelex copper, olive)
*BMAR Yellow Matuka #6
*Zuddler #4-8: olive, yellow, white, brown, black
-Complex Twist Bugger & Mini version #2-6: assorted colors   
-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)