Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Tuesday 6/14/22 Farmington River Report: prime time for big browns & bugs

Our current store hours:

Monday through Friday 8am-6pmSaturday & Sunday 8am-5pm.

We recently bought a huge collection of tying material from the same person in several batches. It includes a massive collection of quality hackle feathers (Whiting, Hoffman, Metz, Keogh, and more), and 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. 

Fish Pics:
We’ll be limiting the number of pics per report to 2 now, it’s just too time consuming to put lots of pics on here. I’ll be sharing additional pics on our Instagram stories, where they stay up for 24 hours- follow us on IG if you don’t already. Up top is 22” of Farmington River brown trout by guide Dave Machowski. Second pic is an awesome brown by customer Lane Finley.

The new T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #2 rods are EXCELLENT. 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/0x-4x) 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.

The brand new Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods have arrived! These are Euro nymphing rods in 10’ #1, 10’ #2, 10’ 10” #2, and 10’ 10” #3. Joe Goodspeed designed this series, and he did a great job. At $525-550, these rods are a great dealand easily the best rods by far in the $500 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, 3 snake guides on the rod tip for minimal line wrap when using micro leader butt sections, and 2 single foot ceramic stripping guides to reduce friction & improve line shoot. The 10’ 10” #2 is the big seller so far, with the 10’ #1 in the number two position. The 10’ 10” #2 seems like it will be the ideal all-around model for the Farmington River, especially for lighter tippets & Micro Leaders. 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($525-550)- Joe showed us a prototype, it has some unique features like an offset reel foot for better rod balance.

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.

Try the BMAR Mud Puppy Sculpin Streamer- limited quantities in stock, $5.99 each, get ‘em while they last. 


River Conditions:
Fishing conditions remain great, and the fishing has been good to excellent for many anglers, with plenty of rising trout at moments, and lots of trout caught subsurface on nymphs, soft hackles & wet flies. If you are out later in the day, DON’T LEAVE EARLY!!! Many evenings the best fishing starts at 8-8:30pm and goes until until full darkness & beyond. If you position yourself correctly, you can use the glare on the surface to see the rising trout. A lot of happy anglers walking through the doors lately, and giving us too many pics of big trout to post them all. June is a fantastic month to fish the Farmington. #16 Sulfurs remain the glamour hatch, but they are just one of the bugs hatching. Assorted Caddis, March Browns, Light Cahills, Isonychia, Attenuata, Midges, big Stoneflies, small BWO’s, and more are in the mix. But in the mornings when I look on the side of my house (which is riverside in New Hartford,) by far the most numerous bug is #16 Sulfurs. Different river sections are seeing different bugs, so tell us how far up or down the river you plan to fish if you have us pick flies out for you. Time of day matters a lot too. 

Early to mid morning is a great time to nymph the faster water with a #6-10 Stonefly nymph, they crawl out/emerge then- you will see their empty shucks on the rocks in pocket water sections (Stoneflies luvvv pocket water). After that if you are nymphing try Caddis pupa, Sulfur Nymphs, and smaller #16-20 general Mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, Hare’s Ears, BWO nymphs, etc.). We’ve been seeing Sulfur hatches & rising trout anywhere from mid morning to evenings, and everything in between- mid to late afternoon/early evening has generally been the best time for that though. Hatch timing varies depending upon distance below the dam, and varies with daily weather. Sulfur spinners hit the water late in the day, sometime between 8pm and darkness- stay late or you will miss it. Mayfly spinners fall over riffly water. 

Spinner falls are best on dry (no rain), windless/low wind & mild eves. It’s “Bug Soup” out there lately at moments with all sorts of Caddis #12-22, #10-12 March Brown/Gray Fox, #14 Light Cahills, #8-12 Isonychia (lower river up to New Hartford), #18-20 Attenuata (lower river up to New Hartford), Midges, and more. I call this time period “Crazy Time” when everything seems to be hatching at once. Don’t leave before dark! 

The USGS gauge 2 miles below the dam is reading 165cfs, plus 55cfs from the Still River, giving us a medium-low total flow of 220cfs in the permanent TMA/Catch & Release (C&R)- median/normal total flow for today would be 346cfs. This is making for easy access & wading, and when there is a hatch plenty of rising trout all up & down the river. Unionville USGS gauge is a fairly low & very wadeable 324cfs, normally it would be about 500cfs in mid June. Water released from the dam in Riverton is still about 45-46 degrees (Riverton gauge is reading 46 degrees this morning, it reached 52 yesterday afternoon). Water temps have been anywhere from mid 40’s (mornings right below dam in Riverton) up to the upper 60’s (sunny afternoons downstream in Collinsville, Unionville, and Farmington). East Branch release (comes in a little below our store) was reduced from 50cfs to 0cfs last I knew. 

Sulfurs can hatch at weird times on the Farmington, not just in the evenings- often they hatch here in mid to late afternoon, and sometimes mid/late mornings, so pay attention. March Browns are a trickle hatch, they live & hatch sporadically (one here, one there) in faster water from about mid afternoon through evening- pocket water is the prime March Brown habitat FYI. MB spinner falls, however, happen in the eves and are a concentrated event. Obviously you want dries imitating these 2 bugs, but don’t neglect nymphs as they can be deadly if you fish them properly, and wet flies can be good too. Isonychia are primarily downriver (Unionville/Collinsville/Canton), but there are some at least as far up as New Hartford, maybe even further upstream. They normally are a trickle hatch in fast water from late afternoon through dusk. Attenuata are now at least as far upstream as New Hartford and probably well up into the permanent TMA by now, they are a #18-20 light greenish-yellow (sorta lime green, similar body color to an Apple Caddis like they get on the Delaware). They are an evening hatch, often confused with Sulfurs, but if you fish #16 Sulfurs you will get nothing but refusals if they are keyed on Attenuata. 

Caddis typically hatch roughly 10am-2pm (not set in stone), and then come back in the eves to egg-lay. However, most days you will see a trickle of Caddis almost the entire day. You can blind-fish Caddis dry flies, with or without a dropper nymph. We are seeing everything from #12/14 in gray down to #22 in black, and lots of #14-18 tan ones, some green/olive too. 

If you are nymphing in early to mid mornings, make sure one of your flies is a #6-10 Stonefly nymph of some sort. Big Stoneflies are hatching now, they crawl out on rocks in faster water to emerge. This takes place at night and first light until about mid morning (about 10am, give or take), and then the Stonefly bite fizzles out and they switch to Caddis pua & Sulfur nymphs. Big fish will key in on large Stoneflies.

Caddis are up & down the entire river. We are seeing a diverse mix of sizes & colors averaging #14-18 with tan the most common and olive/green common too, with some both bigger and smaller, and other colors too (black, brown, gray). Caddis will be a daily player straight through mid Fall. Pupa are a consistent producer most of the day 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 how, where, and what they want or you may fair poorly. Other than Caddis pupa #14-18, the other nymphing standbys have been #14-20 Mayfly type nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, BWO/Olives, etc.) and #16 Sulfur type nymphs, along with #10-12 March Brown nymphs. March Brown nymphs can be imitated with a specific imitation, as well as bigger Hare’s Ear & Fox Squirrel nymphs. Attractor nymphs (flashy/gaudy, hot spots/fluorescence, etc.) & suggestive nymphs (Hare’s Ears, Walt’s Worms, Fox Squirrel, etc.) are definitely worth trying. 

For Caddis 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, Sulfur #16, March Brown #10-12, Blue Winged Olives (BWO’s/Olives) #18-22, and even #8-12 Isonychia (lower/mid river. Caddis hatches are more mid/late morns through early/mid afternoon (and egg-laying in the evenings), Sulfurs can be anytime from mid morning to dusk, March Browns are late afternoon through eves in fast water, Attenuata are evenings, and 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 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!

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 (now) 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-the amber/ginger color is very prevalent in June/July. 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 brown 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 wet flies/soft hackles, nymphs (Euro or Indy), or streamers 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 balancedThese 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.


*Sulfurs #14-16: anytime from mid morning to dark (timing varies, mid afternoons have been good lately), #16 is most common currently
*March Brown/Gray Fox #10-12: fast water afternoon to dark
*Assorted Caddis averaging #14-18 (tan, olive/green and more): mid/late mornings to early/mid afternoons, come back in eves to egg-lay in riffly water
*Attenuata #18-20: evenings
-Light Cahills #12-16: eves
-Baetis/BWOs/Blue Winged Olives #18-22: afternoons on cloudy/cooler days
-Isonychia #8-12: lower river up to New Hartford (faster water, late afternoon/eves)
-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, Isonychia, etc.
-Terrestrials (Ants, Beetles) #12-18: afternoons, esp. on warmer days

*Sulfur Nymph #14-16: all water types
*Caddis Pupa #14-18 (tan, olive/green): a fast water go-to from now through the Fall
*Big Stoneflies #6-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): fish in early/mid mornings
-March Brown #10-12: fast water, especially pocket water
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #12-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs, and also smaller Stoneflies
-Olive/BWO Nymphs #16-20: various patterns, anytime
*Antoine's Perdigons #12-20: various colors & sizes
*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

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-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- 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)