Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Tuesday 8/23/22 Farmington River Report: tips for success

Our current store hours:

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

We currently have a very good selection of used Euro rods from the low $100 range up to about $700 that are NOT listed on the website. These are for walk-in customers only, so you will have to visit the store in person if you want to see and purchase one of them.

Recently arrived, the brand new Diamondback Ideal Nymph Reels:
These are the most well thought out & designed Euro nymphing reels out there, the product of Joe Goodspeed who designed the Diamondback Ideal Nymph Rods. It has a full cage which makes it unlikely for long/thin leaders or Mono Rigs to work their way outside the frame. The machined tolerances are also extra tight to help with this. It has four 10 gram (1/3 ounce each) removable weights so you can fine-tune the rod/reel balance. It has an ultra large arbor, large diameter, narrow spool which is ideal for Euro nymphing where you don’t want or need a ton of line capacity- this also gives you a faster retrieve rate and less line coiling. The drag is ultra smooth to protect light tippet. 

Here’s where this Diamondback reel deviates from other Euro reels:
The most unique feature of all is the offset reel foot, which gives you the ability to put the mass of the reel even closer to the rod butt, improving rod balance by enabling you to use less weight and still achieve a proper rod balance (it can be easily switched around for R or L hand retrieve). A properly balanced reel makes your rod both more comfortable to fish, and even enhances your sensitivity. Joe also designed a special handle: it is narrow at the base and flares out, and it has 3 silicon “O” rings, the two combined give you an unusually good grip on the reel and makes it easier to grab the handle without looking. And if you need to take up slack quickly, you can hit the spool with your palm and spin it fast to rapidly take up excess line. Anywhere your leader/line can rub against the reel when stripping line has been machined round so that you won’t abrade or cut your line. All in all a unique reel, with all the features you wanted and clever ones you never even thought about. They use the latest 5D - 5 Axis machining (most reels only use 3D - 3 Axis) to make this unusual & beautiful fly reel. These reels have already become a hot seller.

We will be limiting the pics in this report to about 2 or 3 in total. It’s too time consuming to post a bunch of pics on here, but we will be posting additional pics & videos on our Instagram page story (which stays up for 24 hours and then automatically disappears), so follow us on IG if you don’t already. Up top is 
parenting done right by John Stratton, “Oh my Jesus big fish!” came out of his son Levi’s mouth haha. Second fish pic is Ashley (Joey’s girlfriend) with another fish to check off her list, a Golden Rainbow. Sight fished with a nymph, all by herself. 

The new T&T Contact II 10’ 9” #2 rods are EXCELLENT
. I recently acquired one of these for myself (Torrey) recently, and I absolutely LOVE it- perfect rod for the current conditions that dictate lighter tippets & smaller/lighter flies: casts great, very sensitive, and a blast to play the fish on. It might be my new favorite rod. 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. This is a great compliment to your arsenal if you already have a 3 weight, which has been the “all 'rounder” 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, as well as lighter & slimmer nymphs (like Perdigons) that sink quicker despite their smaller size/weight.

The new Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods  are in stock. These are fantastic Euro nymphing rods in 10’ #1, 10’ #2, 10’ 10” #2, 10’ 10” #3 & 10’ 10” #4, 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 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 has been the best seller for the Farmington River, followed by the 10’ #1 (great rod for light tippets &light flies, and/or smaller streams). Near future additions will include a 10’ #3 & 10’10” #6 (Steelhead, Lake Run Browns & trophy trout).

We’re excited to announce the 2022
 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, 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/fastrecovery 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.


River Conditions:
Conditions remain similar to what they’ve been, meaning low water and quite a few rising trout. Today is nice and cloudy with a high in the upper 70’s, perfect for Summer fishing. The water is still coming out of the dam in the high 40’s and then slowly warms as you venture downstream. Low flows = more rising trout. Also makes for some technical dry fly fishing, so bring your “A” game or you may be frustrated. Lots of anglers are doing well, but others are struggling. Longer leaders with long/light 6x-7x tippets help a lot, it’s all about a drag-free presentation most of the time. All things being equal, small flies are generally better right now. If they aren’t rising fish #18 or smaller nymphs, or do Dry/Dropper with small nymph dropped 1-2’ below a buoyant visible dry fly. If you are working over rising trout, change flies frequently until you figure out what they want, and that will vary depending on the time of day and how far below the dam you are. If you aren’t doing well in one river section, then move to another. Being a stick in the mud is a good way to get skunked. Fish new water. The spots you did well in June may not fish well in August, and the flies that worked then will fail miserably now, you have to change with the conditons and time of year. Adjust your leader/tippet. Present your flies from different angles. Try emergers/cripples, spinners, terrestrials (beetles, ants, hoppers), attractor dries, twitch your fly slightly. Don’t neglect terrestrials!!! Try bigger flies, try smaller flies. Try flies that float high, and especially try patterns that float low and snug down into the surface film or even just below it. Try to present your dries downstream & across with a Reach Cast so your flies arrives ahead of your tippet. If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t fit Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over & over and expecting different results. I see LOTS of anglers do this every day, and then complain that’”nobody is catching fish”- meanwhile anglers walk through our door every day with big grins commenting on how unusually good the dry fly fishing is this Summer in the low flows. Change up until you get it figured out. Ask successful anglers what they are doing and also observe how they cast & present their flies. And sometimes even the best fisherman leave the river scratching their head. You earn every trout you catch in these low water August conditions, there are no freshly stocked dummies to soothe your bruised ego, only trout that have been hooked multiple times. 

Total flow in the permanent TMA/C&R (catch & release) of 93cfs (88cfs from the dam in Riverton, and 5cfs from the Still River). MDC continues to run the minimum required release (despite having LOTS of water in the reservoirs), and DEEP is augmenting that with 30cfs extra from their small budget of water to keep the river cooler further downstream. Low flows = lots of rising trout & dry fly action. Many fish are rising in calf to knee deep water, so don’t make the mistake of only fishing the pools. At this flow the pools are flat & slow and create some technical dry fly fishing that often means 12-18’ leaders with long 7x tippets and #22-26 dries. It’s a lot easier to fool the trout in the knee deep runs that have a choppy surface, and there are PLENTYof trout in that type of water, many in the 18”+ range, with some over 20”. You can also get away with bigger dry flies,slightlyheavier tippet, and shorter leaders in that water type. Aneglected but deadly technique is wet fly fishing with both winged wets & soft hackles. It’s an easy way to thoroughly cover shallower water without getting hung up, and particularly good when Caddis are either hatching or egg-laying. 

You can still safely fish as far downstream as about New Hartford (where we are located) in the early/mid mornings, but by noonish I’d want to be at least as far upstream as Greenwoods/Church Pool. Water is still coming out of the dam 
in the upper 40’s, but it will eventually get to 70+ degrees if you go too far downstream, especially on hot/sunny afternoonspleasedon’t even think about fishing Collinsville & Unionville until the Fall. Have a thermometer & use it- ideally look for temps in the 50’s to mid 60’s, if it’s over 68 degrees go further upstream.  As long as you don’t venture too far downstream, you can stay in optimal water temps all day long. If the MDC ever starts releasing more water (they still have LOTS in the reservoirs) that will also cool things off more & further downriver. 

Due to lower flows & the heat wave we had in early August, the CT DEEP has created temporary small Thermal Refuge areas that are off-limits to fishing near tributary/brook mouths where cooler water flows into the mid to lower Farmington River downstream of the permanent TMA/C&R (they did this in 2016 during that extremely hot/dry Summer), starting just below the New Hartford Rt. 219 bridge and going down to the town of Farmington. I imagine this will stay in effect until about mid September. Other than these small areas the entire river remains open to fishing- just don’t go too far downstream and you will be able to stay in cold water without any problem. You cannot fish within 100 feet of the signs posted in these areas, here is a link that details this:

Fishing advice & hatches remain similar. The low water release from the dam this Summer has created a lot of dry fly fishing. Don’t limit yourself to just matching the hatch & rising trout. You can cover likely looking water and bring trout up to blind-fished dry flies, especially in riffly & pocket water. At moments blind-fishing dries has been outfishing nymphs more often than not, but both techniques are having their moments. Try terrestrials (ants, beetles, hoppers are a great choice from late morns through early eves), attractor dries (Stimulator, Mini Chernobyls, Mega Beetles, etc.), and #14-16 Caddis- you can also twitch the Caddis on some drifts. The morning Trico hatch is all up & downthe river. They are an early to mid morning deal, and the spinner fall is the main event. It happens when air temps are approximately 68 degrees. They average a #24, give or take, and you should be fishing a 12’ or longer leader with a long 6x-7x (prob 7x)tippet to present them properly (as in drag-free), and you need to be very accurate as trout won’t move off their feeding lane for tiny dry flies. The females have a white abdomen, and the males are all black.

The big upsides to low flows are easy wading/access and lots of dry fly fishing, but it is more technical. If you can get in some riffly water that makes it easier to approach the trout closer, and they don’t get as good at look at your fly so are more apt to make a mistake and eat it. 12’ plus leaders will help all your dry fly presentations, as will lengthening out your tippet sections to 3-6’. Pay close attention to what you observe hatching, and try to match it closely. For the fish sipping gently in flat water, it often takes a #24 fly on a long 7x tippet with a precise drag-free float to fool them. The other gambit is try a #12-18 Ant or Beetle on a long (4-6’) 6x tippet, sometimes this does the trick without going to a tiny fly and ultralight tippet. 

Mornings are bringing Tricos, Needhami (near the end and upriver only) & Summer/Winter Caddis hatches, all tiny flies #20-26, with smaller imitations generally better. Nymphing the fast water is always an option (mostly small nymphs though, #18-22), as is Dry/Dropper- try a buoyant visible dry with a small weighted nymph 12-24” below the dry. Afternoons see minimal bugs, with the exception being the mid/late afternoon and evening #18-20 Sulfurs in Riverton only (Lyman’s Rock/Rt 20 bridge at Hitchcock/Riverton Self Storage up to the dam, hatch is lighter and near the end). Terrestrials are a great dry fly choice from late morning through early evening, or anytime there isn’t much hatching. Evenings on most of the river are a mix of assorted #16-18 Caddis, various Light Cahills/Summer Stenos, a few #1014 Isonychia, and sometimes #20-24 Blue Winged Olives. 

You can also nymph the faster water, or Dry/Dropper it with a buoyant visible dry fly with a small (#18 or smaller) weighted nymph 1-2 feet below the dry. Just like with dries, for the most part the nymphing is #18 & smaller with a few exceptions (#8-12 Stonefly nymph from first light until about 10am, and #10-14 Isonychia nymphs in the late afternoons & eves). Frequently success with nymphing hinges upon just fishing a small enough fly, usually no bigger than #18 in the mid/late Summer when the bugs are mostly small and the water is low. 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, Stimulators, 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. Wet fly/soft hackle fishing is still good to excellent in the faster water, whether or not trout are rising. Many large trout move into shallow riffles when they want to feed, so don’t neglect that calf to knee deep riffle water.


*Tricos #22-26: early to mid AM, spinner fall is the main event (happens at approximately 68 degrees air temps)
*Assorted Caddis averaging #16-18 (tan, olive/green are common): hatch in mornings/afternoons, come back in eves to egg-lay in riffly water, ranging from #12-22 and also in black, brown, gray
-Isonychia #10-14: faster water, late afternoon/eves normally
*Baetis/BWOs/Blue Winged Olives #18-24: afternoons/eves, esp. on cloudy/cooler or rainy days
*Light Cahills/Summer Steno’s #12-18: eves, #14 is most common
-Yellow Sally #16-18: riffles & pocket water, a #16 Sulfur nymph will work
-Sulfurs #18-20: they are only way upstream now (Riverton from about Lyman Rock/Still River junction up to the dam), timing varies, typically mid afternoons through eves, hatch is almost over
*Needhami #22-26: AM hatch, duns & spinners, also called Tiny Chocolate/Mahogany Dun- hatch is near the end
*Summer/Winter Caddis #20-24: early/mid mornings usually, sometimes go later
-Attenuata #18-20: eves in upper river (Riverton), almost over, often mistaken for a Sulfur (light green/lime green almost chartreuse body, cream wings/legs)
*Beetles & Ants #12-18: great during non-hatch times (late morn thru early eves)
*Flying Ants #18-24: can be an ace-in-the-hole fly some days, especially in #22-24
*Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs
*Mini Chernobyls #12-16: very consistent foam bodied attractor dry
-Stimulator #10-14: great fast water attractor dry fly to blind fish, assorted colors
-Midges #18-28: anytime

*Small Nymphs #18-22: Assorted. 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 #16-18 (tan, olive/green): a fast water go-to straight through the Fall
*Big Stoneflies #8-12 (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 #16-22: 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 #18-22: 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 4-6” 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 for imitating bugs like Caddis, Quill Gordons, Vitreus, March Browns, Isonychia
-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 for trophy trout
*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 but 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)