Friday, May 12, 2023

Friday 5/12/23 Farmington River Report: Hendricksons upstream, Caddis downstream

Store Hours: 7 days a week, Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, and Sat-Sun 8am-5pm. 


River Conditions:
We have the Diamondback Ideal Nymph 10’ #3 in stock, just got them in recently, they were unavailable for a long time.

Pictured up top is a handful of beautiful, classic wild Farmington River brown trout held by customer Colby Perkins- they don’t get much prettier than this, even in Montana. Next down is Joey with an upper teens holdover Survivor Strain brown trout caught in the evening Wednesday on a #22 Olive dry. Third pic is a net filling obese 18” wild brown I caught Wednesday evening on a swung Caddis pupa- evidently she has been pigging out for all of 2023, gave me a great fight. A swung pupa in the evenings can imitate an egg-laying adult Caddis. 

Friday 5/12 Report:
Lots to update. Multiple flow reductions this week, both at Goodwin/Hogback dam in Riverton, as well as from the East Branch (comes in ½ mile below UpCountry). As of this morning we are sitting at a total flow of 384cfs and dropping- a nice, medium level and much more wadeable. 260cfs of that is from the dam, and the Still River is adding in another 124cfs. East Branch is 50cfs. Water temp in Riverton this morning was 45 degrees, it reached about 49 yesterday afternoon there. I got a water temp of 57 degrees in New Hartford Wednesday evening. Unionville USGA gauge is reading 666cfs (!), median/normal down there for today’s date would be 542cfs. Things have really shaped up in terms of flows, and the long range weather looks relatively dry & mild, which will be good for conditions & fishing here. FYI the entire Farmington River was stocked this Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday, except for the permanent TMA/Catch & Release with get stocked 1x per year in April and has about 3,000 trout per mile (even more this time of year after mutliple stockings). 

Hatches are evolving rapidly with the water drop & temp increase. Hendricksons have moved way upriver. Not sure on the exact downstream boundary, but I wouldn’t be lower than Campground during the afternoon hatch, and they are definitely hatching heavier above that,well intoRiverton now, all the way up to the dam. Should see some good spinner falls with the mild to warm air temps, I’d say anywhere from about Church Pool to the dam in Riverton. Caddis have become a full blown hatch this week, from as far downstream as you want to go(Collinsville, Unionville, Farmington, etc.), and at least as far upstreamas New Hartford, and probably into the lower end of the permanent TMA/C&R (Bridge Pool, Ovation, Boneyard). And with warm to hot day today (Friday) and Saturday, hatches will keep moving upstream rapidly. Next up is Vitreus, they should start popping anytime now. 

Caddis are averaging #14-18, mostly tans & olive/greens, and some smaller #18-22 black ones in the mix too. Frequently troutdon’t rise during Caddis hatches and eat the pupa instead, so be prepared to nymph and/or swing pupa patterns- this is a fun time of year to swing soft-hackles & wet flies that imitate Caddis. Caddis come back in the hour or so before dark to egg lay,and this can be dry fly fishing when they are bouncing on the surface to lay eggs, or it can mean swinging pupa or wets/soft-hackles to imitate the egg-layers that dive/swim underwater.

These conditions are good for Hendrickson spinner falls. Spinners don’t fall if it’s cold, wet, or windy, and the long range forecast is mild (60s to 80s) air temps, sunny, and very dry- perfect for spinner falls! A flow cut from the dam means increased water temps, and that’s a good thing this time of year- it gets both the trout & bugs more active. All hatches start further downriver first (Unionville, Collinsville, Canton) due to higher water temps downstream, and then progress upriver. Riverton above the Still River sees each hatch last, due to the icy cold water (mid to upper 40’s currently) up there. 

A LOT of anglers have been out and about when the weather & flows line up, so be flexible on where you fish and please don’t crowd other anglers- give them the room you would want somebody to give you. With the rise in water temps, the trout are spreading out and can be found in a variety of water types, including faster water now. Bigger holdover & wild trout will often move into the current during bug activity to feed on hatching nymphs & pupa, as well as the Behavioral Drift of nymphs & larvae. Behavioral Drift happens early and late in the day when the light is low, and creates a spike in subsurface bug activity. FYI many nymphs in the drift are smaller and in the #16-20 range. Some of the stocked trout are still podded up in groups. Quite a few big trout have been landed recently, with a mix of holdover browns, wild browns, and broodstock rainbows, browns & golden rainbows. The bigger wilds/holdovers have been in the 18-22’’ range, and some giant (24”+)recently stocked rainbows & golden rainbows were also landed. 

You have to work and do everything right for the bigger holdover & wild brown trout, they don’t come easy- typical of pressured rivers. They are more dialed into natural food sources and imitative flies in general. Under normal flows, 5x-6x tippet is about right for most nymphs, and you can go as heavy as 4x with bigger Stoneflies & Mops. For dries, we recommend longer leaders (12 feet or longer) with added tippet in the 5x-7x range, matched to your fly size/wind resistance. Don’t neglect small, heavyjigged streamers on a Euro rig, if youfish them slow & deep, theycan be deadly when trout aren’t eating bugs- especially bigger fish. Olive, tan, and white are top streamer colors lately, but always experiment.. 

Pro Tips
When streamer fishing experiment with fly size/color/retrieve, it can make a BIG difference- make sure to also cover lots of water and show your fly to more fish. Try stripping & swinging weighted streamers on floating lines, as well as unweighted & lightly weighted patterns on sink-tips/sinking lines. If standard streamer techniques/flies don’t work and fish don’t seem willing to chase, try a tight-line smaller jigged streamer Euro approach that fishes slower/deeper, with a mix of dead-drifts/twitches, as well as swinging & stripping.


-Assorted Caddis #14-18 (mostly tan or olive/green): Dominant hatch on most of the river now, heavy in lower river (Canton, Collinsville Unionville), and good hatch in New Hartford. Probably as far upstream as lower end of permanent TMA/C&R (Bridge Pool, Ovation, Boneyard) and moving upstream rapidly with this warm weather.
-Hendricksons #12-14: hatch is way upriver now, try Campground to the dam in Riverton. Can hatch anytime from early/mid afternoon through early evenings.
*Hendrickson Spinners #12-14: books say it’s an evening deal, and it often is, but on the Farmington is can happen mid to late morning & during the afternoon hatch too. Try upriver from about Greenwoods/Church Pool up to the dam in Riverton
-Baetis/Blue Winged Olives #20-22: late afternoon & eves
-Summer/Winter Caddis #18-24: hatching in early to mid morning, often go later into the afternoons, adult egg-layers can also be present in the evenings
-Midges #20-28: afternoons, try a Midge Pupa subsurface
-Mole Fly #20-24 (olive, brown): deadly emerger that covers many small bugs & fools difficult trout in flat water


-Caddis Pupa #14-18 (mostly tan or olive/green): dead-drift & swing in medium to fast water, anytime
-Hendrickson-type Nymphs: something brown about a #12-14, can use a BMAR Hendrickson, or a Pheasant Tail/Frenchy- hatch is way upriver, try Riverton
*Frenchies & Pheasant Tails #14-20: various sizes imitate many different Mayfly nymphs & smaller Stoneflies and are quite effective everywhere- try #12-14 to imitate Hendrickson nymphs
*BWO Nymphs #16-20: best in the afternoons, most active in crappy weather
-Caddis Larva (olive to green) #14-16: anytime, lots of these in the river
-Cased Caddis #12-14: abundant bug, very effective during/after flow bumps (knocks larva into the drift) 
-Small Nymphs #18-22: Assorted. The Farmington River is LOADED with small bugs. Experiment and try drab, flashy, with & without hot-spots. Good on pressured fish, even big fish.
-Jigged Streamers #8-12: various colors/patterns- dead-drift, twitch, swing & strip, best 
on a Euro rod & leader
-Zebra Midge #18-22 (black, red, olive, brown)
-Big Stoneflies #8-12 (gold/yellow, brown, black): anytime, esp. during higher flows
-Antoine’s Perdigons #12-20: various patterns, all year
-Junk Flies (Eggs, Mops, Squirmies/SJ Worms, Green Weenies): good in cold water, during non-hatch periods, also for higher/off-color flows & fresh stockers, or just as a change-up to natural/imitative flies after you fish through a run with standard nymphs
*Attractor Nymphs #14-20: anything flashy, gaudy, or with a hot spot such as Rainbow Warriors, Sexy Waltz, Prince, Triple Threats, etc.- not uncommon for these to outfish drabber, more imitative flies, even on big wild browns

Soft-Hackles/Wet Flies:
-Hare's Ear, Partridge & Flash, Leadwing Coachman, March Brown, etc. #12-16
*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
*especially good for imitating Caddis, Isonychia and other faster swimming/emerging bugs

Big trout are almost always on the lookout for bigger bites, especially early & late in the day and during lulls in bug activity. Also a great choice anytime the flow is up or off-color. 
-Don’s Peach Bugger #8
-Rich Strolis articulated streamers (assorted), tied by the man himself, restocked recently 2 times
-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 #2-6: assorted colors
-Conehead White Marabou Muddler #8
-Woolly Buggers #2-14 (peach, black, olive, white, brown, tan)


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 very unlikely for long/thin leaders or Mono Rigs to work their way outside the frame- a common problem with most modern reels (very few are full frame, 90% have a half frame). The machined tolerances are also extra tight to help with this. It has removable weights so you can fine-tune the rod/reel balance. The ultra large arbor, large diameter, narrow spool 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. 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. If you need to take up slack quickly the reel is designed so you can hit the spool with your palm to spin it rapidly and take up excess line. Anywhere the line/leader can rub against the reel when stripping line has been machined round to eliminate abrasion. The Ideal Nymph reel is unique, with all the features you wanted and clever ones you never even thought about. They use the latest 5D-5 Axis machining to make this unusual & beautiful fly reel. These reels have already become a hot seller.

The T&T Contact II 10’ 9 2wt rod debuted in the spring of 2022, and itis an excellent addition to the best line-up of euro rods. I absolutely love it- the perfect rod for conditions that dictate lighter tippets & smaller/lighter flies: casts great, very sensitive, very low swing weight, and a blast to play the fish on. It is my current favorite rod, it’s really fun to fish with, and guides Zach St. Amand & Derrick Kirkpatrick are also big fans of it, as is shop employee/shop rat Joey. The length is ideal for rivers like the Farmington, allowing you to fish & cast further away, make longer drifts, cast easier, faster hook sets, and the soft tip will protect your tippet against big trout. Enough power in the butt section to handle bigger trout when necessary, and a bit of extra flex in the tip for casting thinner leaders and lighter flies. The new 2wt is a great compliment to your arsenal, especially if you already have the 3wt, which is the “all 'rounder” for Euro Nymphing. 

The new (as of 2022) Diamondback range of Ideal Nymph rods are in stock. These fantastic Euro nymphing rods are available in 10’ 1wt, 10’ 2wt, 10’ 10” 2wt, 10’ #3, 10’ 10” 3wt, 10’ 10” 4wt, and 10’ 10” #6, with more models to come in 2023. Joe Goodspeed, (formerly of Cortland and T&T) designed this new series in 2022, and he did a great job. At $525-550, these rods are a deal and easily the best Euro rods in the $500 range. Using the latest, state-of-the-art materials & construction, the rods are light with excellent recovery & sensitivity, plenty of big fish playing power, double rings on the downlocking reel seat, 3 snake guides on the rod tip for minimal line/leader wrap with thinner/micro leaders, and 2 single foot ceramic stripping guides to reduce friction & improve line shoot. The 10’ 10” #2 has been a best seller for the Farmington River, also the 10’ #1 (a unique & very fun rod). The 10’ 10” #3 has the backbone to handle larger trout & heavy jigged streamers. I’ve also noticed the 10’ #2 is very popular with top competition anglers who have access to any rods they want.