Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Tuesday 7/5/22 Farmington River Report: July mode

Our current store hours:

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

Antoine Bissieux is flying world champion French competition angler Yannick Riviere from France to the USA to do some clinics in August in CT, PA & NY. Don’t miss out, call Antoine to sign up before the classes fill. Yannick will teach you dry fly & nymphing secrets that you’ve never seen before, definitely will increase your success, especially on difficult trout- French trout streams have some of the most difficult to catch wild brown trout in the world. He is doing 2 separate clinic for UpCountry on August 9 & 10, contact Antoine directly at 860-759-4464 to reserve a spot. Go to the events/classes page on our website for a detailed description. 

We just acquired a massive collection of assorted fly fishing & spinning gear, literally all sorts of things ranging from assorted tackle, lures, tons of rods (metal, fiberglass, bamboo, a few graphite, mix of spin & fly), bunch of reels, nets, knives, fishing vests (M & L mostly)lots of creels, fishing prints, mounted fish and much more. We have the collection inside, but will set up tables and put them outside and do a tag sale on nicer days (especially weekends).

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. 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.

Fish Pics:
We’ll be limiting the number of pics per report to about 2 (give or take), it’s just too time consuming to put lots of pics on here. I’ll be sharing lots of additional pics on our Instagram stories, where they stay up for 24 hours- please follow us on IG if you don’t already. Up top is Leo Sperry with an exceptional brown, look at the cool sparse spotting pattern on it. Second is Zach St. Amand with a 20”+ wild brown that looks like it came out of the Delaware River system, tons of spots on this one.

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, faster hook sets, 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 recently arrived! These are Euro nymphing rods in 10’ #1, 10’ #2, 10’ 10” #2, and 10’ 10” #3, with more models to come. Joe Goodspeed (formerly of Cortland and T&T) designed this series, and he did a great job. At $525-550, these rods are a great deal and easily the best Euro rods in the $500 range- 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:
Now that’s it’s July, there are some things you need to keep in mind. With this time of year & lower flows (sub 200cfs), think “Summer Mode”. By that I mean that on average you are fishing smaller flies, on longer & lighter leaders, and you need to be stealthier (especially if you want to catch larger wild trout). The big exception would be the Isonychia (“Iso’s”), which we typically imitate with #10-12 patterns in July. Other than that, the majority of dry flies are going to be in the #18-24 (or smaller!) range, and your smaller nymphs should average #18-22. When nymphing, the exact pattern is less important than just fishing something small to imitate the predominately smaller Summertime bugs. If you aren’t confident fishing small nymphs, pair a small one up with a slightly bigger one. Except for Iso’s, your dry fly tippet should average 6x-7x, and nymphing 5x-6x. Leaders should be 12’ or longer, and I suggest adding tippet which makes it much easier to get a drag-free float. Most commmercial leaders only come with 18-24 inches, which is too short for technical dry fly presentations on flat water. 

As far as hatches, BE OBSERVANT and match closely what you see. Heard there were #18 Flying Ants on the water this morning. We have a large diversity of insects on this river, and it varies quite a bit depending upon the day, the time of day, the river section and the weather. Sulfurs are only up in Riverton now (Roberts/Pipeline/Lyman’s Rock up to the dam) and averaging a #18 (Dorothea). Isonychia #10-12 will remain a major hatch in July, occuring typically sometime between late afternoon & darkness- this bug brings some BIG trout to the surface. Remember Iso’s are a fast water insect, so look for them there, not in flat pool water. I often see #18 Blue Winged Olives in July evenings, followed by a #18 rusty spinner at dusk- look also for Light Cahills/Summer Steno’s averaging a #14. Midday & early eves beetles and ants can be quite effective. Still seeing Attenuata in the evenings, and good Summer/Winter hatches in the early to mid mornings. Cream Usuals in assorted sizes are an invaluable evening dry fly. We should start seeing Needhami (Tiny Chocolate Dun) #22-26 in the mornings anytime now. 

Flows are still moderately low, about 100cfs below normal. With Summer here combined with lower flows, keep an eye on water temps if you are fishing downriver (Collinsville, Unionville & below), they can creep up on hot, sunny afternoons. I’d recommend hitting dowstream in the mornings, and then be further upriver by lunchtime to stay in optimal water temps and not stress the trout out. If it’s higher than 68 degrees, move upriver for better fishing and to give the trout a break and minimize stress on them.

We are still in the longest days of the year currently, but they will slowly shorten slightly every day now. On clear evenings you can dry fly fish until well after 9pm before it’s pitch dark. This is also a great time of year to night fish if you are into that. Don’t forget about terrestrials, especially midday and during non-hatch times, fish those Ants & Beetles. Also you can prospect with attractor dries like Mini Chernobyls, Mega Beetles, etc. Dry/Dropper, with a buoyant visible dry fly and a small weighted nymph 1-2’ below it is a very effective tactic during lower flows like this. You get the visual fun of dry fly fishing, combined with the effectiveness of nymphing, win-win.

Riverton USGS gauge is reading 165cfs (normal would be 249cfs for today), and the Still is a low 21cfs (normal would be 42cfs today), giving us a lower than normal total flow of 186cfs from the Still River & below (includes permanent TMA/C&R)- normal total flow for today would be 291cfs. Downriver the Unionville USGS gauge reads a low 223cfs (historical normal flow for today is 380cfs). 8Am Riverton water temp at the Rt 20 bridge was 46.5 degrees, it reached 52.5 degrees yesterday afternoon. 

The lower flow is creating above average dry fly fishing & easier wading. It also means if you are dry fly fishing on flatter/slower water than you need to be on your “A” game: stealthy wading & longer leaders (12 foot plus) with longer/lighter tippets. The lower flows equates to more rising trout, because during a hatch it becomes efficient for trout to target bugs on the surface due to the slower, shallower water. When flows are up, it’s not energetically efficient for them to feed on the surface in most spots so they stay deep and gorge on nymphs, rather than wasting energy swimming up through the current to feed on the surface. Of course certain select pools, like Church Pool, virtually always have some rising fish, seemingly regardless of the conditions. When flows are up (not now!), wider slower pools that spread out the current & slow it become the dry fly spots. Right now if you are on the water during a good hatch, trout are rising almost everywhere. 

Don’t neglect terrestrials like beetles & ants, both are catching trout, especially during lulls in insect activity on warm, sunny days. You can also blind fish likely water with Isonychia, Caddis & attractor dries (Mini Chernobyls, Mega Beetles, etc.). Nymphing & wet fly/soft hackle fishing is still good to excellent in the faster water, whether or not trout are rising. Many large trout are moving into shallow riffles when they want to feed, so don’t neglect that calf to knee deep riffle water. Stonefly shucks are all over the rocks in the fast water, they crawl out at night & early to mid mornings, so make sure to fish some big Stonefly nymphs in the AM! Sometimes wets/soft-hackles will outfish dries, even during a hatch with rising fish. Isonychia are a full blown hatch all over the river. They typically hatch sometime between late afternoon and dark, normally peaking in early evenings, but you can see them anytime some days. They live & hatch in fast water, so look for them there, not on flat pool water. Sulfurs inhabit a wider variety of water types. The cold water tailwater effect from Hogback/Goodwin Dam in Riverton makes bugs hatch at times of the day and times of the year that contradict what all the bug books say, so keep your eyes open and match what you see. During the course of the day you may see assorted Caddis (#12-22, various colors), Attenuata #18-20, Sulfurs #18 (Riverton only), Isonychia #8-12, Golden Stones #6-10, small to super tiny Blue Winged Olives #18-28 , Cahills #12-16, and tiny Midges. Pay close attention to the bugs, people often mistakenly think Attenuata are Sulfurs, but they are smaller (#20), and have a light lime green, almost chartreuse green when they first hatch, with cream wings & legs. They are a major evening hatch in June and into July.

The further upstream you are, the more likely you will see “evening” hatches come off in the afternoons due to the cooler water temps. Downriver in Collinsville, Unionville, and Farmington the river behaves more like a freestone river and the warmer water temps means mornings & evenings will be the best fishing now- keep an eye on water temps downriver when temps start heating up again. Sulfur spinners fall in the late evening. This time of year first light to 10am is a great time to be out nymphing no matter what section of the river you are fishing. The big trout are out feeding and Behavioral Nymph Drift is occuring, and big Stoneflies will be hatching/in the drift. Focus on riffles, pool heads, and pocket water. Look for Isonychia in the faster water sometime between late afternoon & dusk. 

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. 

Water released from the dam in Riverton is still about 46 degrees (Riverton gauge 2 miles below the dam is reading 46.5 degrees this morning, it rises during the day, peaking in the afternoons). Water temps have been anywhere from mid 40’s (mornings right below dam in Riverton) up to the upper 60’s (warm sunny afternoons downstream in Collinsville, Unionville, and Farmington). East Branch release (comes in a little below our store) is 0cfs. 

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 pupa, Sulfur nymphs, and other assorted small nymphs & larva in the #16-22 range. 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. You can blind fish Caddis dries in riffly water, with or without a pupa dropper.

Those being flexible on their fishing method & location are catching plenty of trout- 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 smaller #16-22 nymphs (Pheasant Tails/Frenchies, BWO/Olives, Hare’s Ears, Zebra Midge, etc.), #16 Sulfur nymphs, along with #10-12 Isonychia. Bigger Prince nymphs #10-12 work great when Isonychia are active, and often outproduce more exact imitations. 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 sometimes swinging wets/soft hackles or pupa just under the surface is better as many Caddis dive and/or crawl under water to lay their eggs. Nymphing with Caddis pupa can be VERY effective both before & during the hatch, and even during evening egg-laying. 

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. 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, Isonychia are typically late afternoon/early to mid eves (fast water), Attenuata are evenings, and BWO’s are afternoons (on cloudy/cooler or rainy 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, as are cloudy & rainy days (especially if the water comes up and/or gets off-color). 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- think of them like a soft hackled Walt’s Worm. 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. Dry fly action is never a given, so be flexible!

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, our best selling premium Euro rods and 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#/0x-4x 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 #18: Dorothea Sulfurs, they are only upstream now (Riverton, from Roberts, Pipeline, Lyman Rock up to the dam), anytime from mid morning to dark (timing varies, mid afternoons have been good lately). You may still see a few #16 Invaria Sulfurs.
*Isonychia #8-12: entire river (faster water, late afternoon/eves normally)
*Attenuata #18-20: eves, often mistaken for a Sulfur (light green/lime green almost chartreuse body, cream wings/legs)
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
*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, ranging from #12-22
-Light Cahills/Summer Steno’s #12-18: eves, #14 is most common
*Beetles & Ants #12-18
-Flying Ants #18-24
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs
*Mini Chernobyls #12-16: very consistent foam bodied attractor dry
-Baetis/BWOs/Blue Winged Olives #18-28: afternoons on cloudy/cooler or rainy days
-Midges #18-28: anytime

*Small Nymphs #18-22: Various. In the Summer, often the secret is just going smaller, the size of the nymph supersedes the exact pattern
*Sulfur Nymph #16: all water types, doubles as a Yellow Sally Stonefly imitation
*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 first light to mid mornings
*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)