Fly Fishing Podcast on Leaders and Fly Casting by Harry Murray
In this months Fly Fishing Podcast I am discussing the many different leaders that I have designed and when I use these leaders. All of these leaders are hand tied knotted leaders which I prefer over the knotless leaders.
At this time of the year (late February-March) I use a Trout Nymphing Leader that has two Scientific Anglers Indicators on it. These cast smoothly and work well with my nymphs.
In the spring I use a Classic Leader (either a 9ft or 7 1/2 ft.) for my trout fishing.
The Bright Butt Leaders I use for my bass fishing from spring to fall. These leaders have a Scientific Anglers Indicator that I use for strike detection but also as a depth indicator.
The second part of this months Fly Fishing Podcast covers the many types of fly casts and a discussion on when and how to achieve the perfect cast.
Lazy S Cast
Roll Cast Strike
This is also the time of the year that many of you (myself included) like to hike into these remote areas and fish. I strongly urge you to be prepared before hiking into these remote areas. First, always have a map of the area you plan to hike/fish in your pocket or vest and keep it with you at all times. Second, I recommend carrying a Satellite GPS Personal Locator Beacon so that if you should fall or have a medical emergency someone will be able to find you. DO NOT rely on cell phones for maps or satellite service as many of these remote areas do not have cell phone service.
Many years ago Dupont admitted that in spite of their very best efforts some mercury accidentally escaped into the South River. The Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries promptly issued a ruling that it was illegal to take fish from the section of the river downstream for human consumption.
They did not suggest that we could not fish, which many anglers believed, just simply that we should not eat the fish. This greatly reduced the fishing pressure on the river. Many days I would fish all day and never see another angler.
At this time I was testing the effectiveness of barbless flies verses barbed flies. I would fish a specific fly tied on a barbed hook. Then the same fly tied on a barbless hook. I would fish these each for one half hour on water of equal quality. I counted only the smallmouth bass I hooked and how many of these I landed. Then I concluded that I landed 30% more bass on the barbless flies than I did on the barbed flies.
This testing went on all summer and the results were the same.
The reason for this difference rests in the fact that many of the bass I lost on barbed flies were the result of not being hooked securely. This is where the hook penetrated beyond the hook barb. These bass were just hanging onto the point of the hook. A slight flip of their body freed them from the fly. Conversely those fish hooked on the barbless flies showed that the hook had penetrated to the bend of the hook which held the bass securely.
Today I use only barbless flies for all of my trout, bass and saltwater fishing.
Do Not Freeze Up Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I am guilty of fishing later in the season and earlier in the season than I should. I used to have trouble with my fly line freezing in the rod guides. Swishing it back and forth in the stream helped for only a short time.
About ten years ago I started using this technique which helps greatly. Realizing that the water which adhered to the rod and guides was the main problem. This occurred most often where there was dirt on the rod. The most common place for this is around the thread wraps which secure the guides. It is also common where the guides meet the rod. In order to reduce this dirt, and thus ice build up, I use this four step procedure often in cold weather.
First I scrub the whole rod down good with a toothbrush and Ivory soap. I pay special attention to the guide feet and wraps. Next I rinse the whole rod thoroughly with water and dry it with a soft cloth. I set this aside for three days to be sure it drys completely. Next I put several drops of Scientific Anglers Fly Line Dressing on a paper towel and rub the whole rod thoroughly, especially around the guide feet. Finally I use a dry paper towel to rub the whole rod thoroughly. I sometimes use pipe cleaners to be sure to remove all of the line dressing in and around the guides.
This whole process takes me about 10 minutes and it adds hours to my fishing in cold weather.
Selecting a Fly Rod for Freshwater Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
The easiest way for me to select a fly rod for freshwater fly fishing is to first determine the size flies I plan to use on that rod. Once I know this I know what size fly line I should use. This tells me what weight fly rod I should use. The length of the fly rod is determined by how low the overhead canopy is on the stream.
Suppose I am in a hurry as I head for my Jeep to go to a small mountain trout stream. I accidentally pick up my seven weight 9 foot bass rod and reel. I do not realize my mistake until I get to the stream sixty miles away. Driving back home to get the correct outfit is not a option. I try to make do with my seven weight fly rod outfit. Even if I can find a 6X trout leader in my vest, the bass outfit with the seven weight line cannot give me the accuracy and delicacy I need with the small trout flies. I probably will not catch any trout.
Conversely, suppose I pick up my three weight trout outfit by mistake as I head to my favorite smallmouth bass river. By chance I have some size 6 bass streamers and Chuggers in my vest and one 9 foot 2X Leader. Even with this leader on my three weight line it is very difficult to cast the size 6 bass flies properly.The three weight line lacks the mass to cast those large flies and my fishing is a disaster.
Simply stated, my standard rule is a great help for me personally and for the students in my fly fishing schools. That is: The fly size governs the fly line size. The fly line size govern the rod weight size and the overhead canopy governs the length of the rod.
Selecting a Fly Rod Podcast by Harry Murray
This month since the streams are still a little too cold I have decided to do a podcast on selecting a fly rod. In this discussion I will go through the different types of fishing, what fly rods I prefer to use for each, and why.
Small Mountain Trout Streams–Years ago I developed the Murray’s Mountain Trout Rod (which Scott Rod Company makes for me). This rod is 6ft 10in, 3-weight, 3pc and will comfortably cast flies size 24 to size 10. It is short enough to cast under tree limbs and balanced with a 3 weight fly line it provides great accuracy and delicacy from 15 to 50 feet.
Spring Creek Trout Fishing–The new Scott G Series 9ft 4-weight 4pc rod is my favorite rod for spring creeks in the Rockies as well as in the East. I comfortably fish size 24 pseudocleon with it on 7X leaders and swim nymphs up to size 8 with it on 4X.
Large Trout Streams–The Scott Radian 9ft 6-weight 4pc is my favorite for fishing the large trout streams. My son gave me this rod as a present several years ago and I have used it on the Yellowstone many times. I can delicately fish a size 22 Blue Wing Olive on a 6X leader when the hatch is on and then switch to a size 6 streamer on a fast sinking head when the hatch is over.
Bass Streams–The Scott Radian 9ft 7-weight 4pc. rod is my favorite for any bass river I might be on. Its smooth action and great damping action enables me to make long casts with great accuracy. It is easy to cast a tight loop in order to cast poppers below overhanging tree limbs to drift them along the river banks. I can easily fish poppers as large as size 4 and nymphs as small as size 10.
Saltwater Fishing–The Scott Meridian 9ft 8-weight 4pc is an excellent bonefish rod. Its control and smooth power enable me to buck the wind and make the long cast that we used to have to go to a 9 weight rod to achieve.
Now keep in mind, these are the personal rods that I use but there are many other rods on the market that will do the same thing for the type fishing you plan to do. I have several fly rod and reel outfits available in the fly shop that will meet your needs and your budget. So if you need help deciding on an outfit, just get in touch with me and I will be glad to help you.
Mr. H.G. Tapply of Tap’s Tips Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Mr. H.G. Tapply of Tap’s Tips fame in Field and Stream Magazine was a fine write, a great angler and a superb fly designer. I considered him a special friend.
We wrote often and exchanged flies and tips for his column. I even guided his son, Bill on Armstrong spring creek in Montana. I have a great selection of flies he designed. These flies show how he could easily get to the bottom of the problems of facing the fly tyer in order to produce the flies which would catch fish.
Today I want to discuss the Tapply Deer Hair Surface Bass Bug.
This bug is so easy to tie that I teach my beginning students in my fly tying classes to tie it. As they go through the various tying steps I explain why each one helps to produce a bug which is both effective and durable. When they have all completed their Tapply Bug I explain that the bug in their vise will easily hold up to catch one hundred smallmouth bass for them.
Tying Recipe Hook: Mustad 9672 size 4 and 6 (or similar)
Thread: Kevlar (colors to suit)
Body: Deer Body Hair (colors to suit)
Tail: Bucktail (colors to suit)
Angling Tactics: I dress both the Tapply Bug and the leader with Bug Float. I fish these with a slow strip-pause-strip action along the shaded river banks. The water is three to four feet deep over cobblestone river bottoms. Another hot spot is the pool tails at dusk. A slow upstream presentation with a very slow swimming action brings up the big bass.
Flies of Yesteryear Part Two Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Standing in Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop in Livingston, Montana in the mid seventies , Charley Waterman handed me a streamer. Confidently, he exclaimed, “This will work well on your smallmouth back in Virginia as well as the trout here in Montana.”
Charlie said he bought six of them in a fly shop in Maine. They were labeled as Silver Doctors. He showed them to his friend Dan Bailey that summer on his trip to Livingston. He explained how these Silver Doctors were effective for both trout in Montana and smallmouth bass in Maine.
Dan who was a master of Atlantic Salmon flies, including the Silver Doctor, examined Waterman’s fly closely. Dan politely looked at Charlie and exclaimed, “Charlie, I am glad that fly is so effective but it is not a Silver Doctor. The fly tyer took so many shortcuts in tying that fly that I would have to call it a Silver Outcast.”
This really is one of the most productive streams I have found for smallmouth bass. These bass are feeding on natural shiner minnows along aquatic grassbeds. At dusk many bass crash into the grassbeds in water from two to three feet deep to cash in on this rich food supply. Many stretches of the Potomac, James and Shenandoah have such long areas of these grassbeds. I can often spend the whole evening fishing just one of them with the Silver Outcast.
The fly is unweighted and stream lined. This makes it easy to shoot a fast cast out in front of a bass chasing shiner minnows in the grassbeds.
Trout take the Silver Outcast readily in all types of trout streams. Its natural swimming action and realistic minnow-shape, I believe, accounts for this great appeal to the trout.
Silver Outcast Streamer Tying Materials Hook: Mustad 9672 size 4, 6 or 8
Thread: Black 3/0 Prewaxed Monocord
Body: Flat Silver Mylar Tinsel
Wing: White, Yellow and Blue Bucktail
Top of Wing: Peacock Herl
This months fly fishing tips podcast includes a variety of topics that I have discussed with customers and would like to pass along.
Fly Fishing Tip #1 –Many of you are fishing size 24 midges at this time of the year and you are having a hard time seeing that fly on the stream. What can you do? I use one little Scientific Anglers Indicator about 3 feet above my midge on a Trout Nymphing Leader. I have seen Jeff catch many large trout in this slough (pictured above) on Armstrong’s on size 24 midges by using a 1/8″ section of Scientific Anglers Indicator on his leader as a “fly locator”.
Fly Fishing Tip#2 –Cleaning Fly Lines–I have 5 steps that I use to clean my fly lines.
Wash the entire fly line with ivory soap
Rinse the entire fly line with water
Dry with a paper towel
Rub with Glide Line Dressing
Take dry paper towel and wipe entire fly line down to remove line dressing
This well help your fly lines last a long time and perform better throughout the year.
Fly Fishing Tip#3–Cleaning My Flies–Once a year I go through my fly boxes and put my flies into 3 groups. 1) Flies too old to repair or so far beyond repair go into the trash pile. 2) New flies go into another pile. 3) All other flies go into the repair pile. With these flies I either steam them with a kitchen kettle and then dry them or I put them in the vise and repair the heads to get them ready for the upcoming season.
Fly Fishing Tip#4–Saltwater Fishing in the Wind–Listen to my podcast and I will tell you the technique I use to cast in these windy conditions.
Flies of Yesteryear Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Many of you have asked me for more information on some of the flies that I used in the past. This is not meant to be a precise historical account of these flies. As you know many of the old flies were tied in different ways. This is just some information on these flies as I remember them. When I started fishing the Yellowstone River in the seventies many of us were big fish hunting. Dan Bailey who had a fine fly shop in Livingston, Montana was a expert angler. He was very helpful to visiting anglers like me. He said that many of the large trout fed on bull head minnows in the deep runs.
The two flies he used were the Dark Sprucefly and the Muddler. Dan said he fished these on a Scientific Anglers Hi D Fast Sinking thirty foot Head. He then attached this to one hundred feet of twenty five pound test mono. I followed Dan’s directions and caught many large browns.
A few years later, Donnie Williams, one of Dan’s guides, and Red Monical, Dan’s partner, decided to merge the Spruce Fly with the Muddler. The result was the Spuddler.
By this time the term bull head minnow was replaced by the name Sculpin Minnow. Certainly the Spuddler which Donnie and Red developed was one of our first effective sculpin minnow streamers. Today I use it for trout and smallmouth bass all across the country.
Yes, we have sculpin minnows in many smallmouth bass rivers. When I was a kid I used to seine them to use them as live bait when I was smallmouth bass fishing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at Edinburg, Virginia.
In fact, I was recently guiding two smallmouth bass anglers on a float trip on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The Spuddler fly was very productive that day! About two miles upstream of our take out spot a very heavy rain storm moved in on us. One of the anglers wanted to quit but his partner would not consider it. He insisted on fishing until dark and caught a nice smallmouth bass about every third cast.
My favorite tactic for both trout and smallmouth bass with the Spuddler is to cast across stream. After it sinks deeply, swim it back slowly across the streambottom by stripping it six inches every ten seconds.
Here is one of the recipes for the components used in tying the Spuddler. I just checked one of my old streamer fly boxes and I found Spuddlers tied in five different ways. They all came from Dan’s fly shop.
Spuddler Tying Materials Hook: Mustad 9672 size 4, 6, 8 or 10
Thread: Brown 3/0 Prewaxed Monocord
Body Weight: Medium Lead Free Wire
Body: Cream Yarn
Wing: Dark Furnace Hackle and Squirrel Tail
Head and Collar: Brown Deer Body Hair
Tail: Brown Calf Tail
Throat: Red Yarn
In my country most anglers call these madtoms. Some anglers know them as stonecats. These are those mean looking minnows that can sting you painfully if you do not handle them properly. The large bass in the river feed heavily upon them.
These minnows live under cobblestones on the streambottom. They like the sections of the river where there is at least a moderate current. Some are found in the riffles but when we seined them we would find the greatest populations in the lower two hundred feet of the tails of the pools.
They would come out at dusk, dark and heavily overcast days to feed. Many of the mid pool areas upstream of the tails of the pools have cuts which are six to eight feet deep. Many large bass can be caught here on this fly.
An effective method is to float or wade downstream to the side of these deep areas. Starting at the upstream sections of these deep cuts, fish your Stonecat slowly along the streambottom with a Sinking Tip III Fly Line or Fast Sinking Head Fly Line.
The feeding stations can be at many different locations in these cuts. I like to fish the whole area thoroughly by fanning my casts over the complete area I can reach. By moving downstream and stopping every ten feet to repeat this casting sequence, I catch many large bass.
Even though these minnows come out to feed mainly in low light conditions, these deep cuts are productive throughout the day.
When I was a kid growing up on the North Fork, I seined spring minnows to use for smallmouth baits. When I started fishing the Yellowstone River in the seventies, Dan Bailey handed me some Dark Spruce flies to use. He said they matched the Bull Head Minnows in the river which the large browns fed on. Later we all got smarter and cleaned up our vocabularies. We now call these bottom-hugging minnows sculpins.
I have designed this new sculpin using a tying style and material which enables us to produce two of the natural minnow-actions in the stream. It will produce a pulsating action when stripped sharply. It will produce a breathing action when retrieved slowly. Most of the real sculpin minnows in the rivers I fish are a greenish shade so I have matched these.
The riffles and the cobblestone streambottom for two hundred feet downstream of them are the homes of these minnows. An effective technique for both smallmouth bass and trout in large stream is to wade into the river right where the riffle empty into the main pool.
The first cast is across stream forty feet. After the sculpin sinks deeply, strip it six inches every ten seconds to swim it right along the streambottom until it is within twenty feet of you.
Successive casts are made five feet longer until you are casting as far as you are comfortable using the same retrieve. By wading downstream and pausing every ten feet to repeat this technique, you will effectively show your sculpin to all of the large fish before you.
I feel it is important to swim my sculpin right along the streambottom. In order to achieve this I carry three different fly lines on reel spools in my vest. These are a floating line, a sink tip III line and a fasting sinking head line. My choice as to which one to use for the water before me depends both on the speed of the current and the depth of the water.
Since the weather is so cold at this time of the year, this is the best time to design and tie better flies for the upcoming season.
In this fly fishing podcast I will be discussing a sound approach which has helped me in designing flies I personally use and the 68 custom flies I have designed and sell in my fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia.
My approach to design flies consists of:
discerning the need for a new fly
evaluate existing patterns
evaluate many tying materials
tie several test flies
try these test flies on the fish
incorporate the most effective materials and tying styles into your final master fly
I have learned many tips and techniques from great fly tyers such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Brooks, and Vince Marino. Many of my patterns have originated by catching a natural fly and looking at the color and matching it. Then looking to see how the natural fly acts and drifts on the trout stream so that I can get my artificial to act the same way. The same thing applies for streamers in matching the natural shiners on the bass rivers.
From June until September most smallmouth bass rivers produce great numbers of dragonflies. Most of the adults I see are in shades of brown and olive.
The dragonfly nymphs crawl from the streambottom to the aquatic weeds, brush piles or down trees lying in the stream. Then they crawl up out of the water. Here they split their nymph case along the back and crawl out as adults. It often takes up to an hour for the veins on their wings to fill with fluid so they can fly. This usually takes place in the morning, at dusk or at night.
Fish this along aquatic grassbeds beside the river banks and those which encircle the limestone ledges in the middle of the river. This can be very effective at dawn and dusk. A slow two to three inch stripping action every five seconds mimics the struggling action of these dragonflies. I believe this catches many bass.
Once the adult dragonfly become airborne, they fly low over the stream. They feed on adult mayflies, caddisflies and mosquitos. I often see bass leaping into the air in an attempt to grab these flies or possibly knock them into the river. They are such powerful flyers this is seldom successful but it opens the door on a very exciting and effective angling tactic. I dress my whole Murray’s Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Leader and dragonfly dry fly liberally with Bug Flote.
I cast down and across stream forty feet at a forty five degree angle to the area I see the bass jumping. As soon as my fly lands on the stream I remove all of the slack with my line hand. I then extend the fly rod high over the river at a forty five degree angle.
By using a series of two foot upstream sweeps every ten seconds with my fly rod I can often get violent strikes from these bass.
If there are few jumping bass this method is often very effective between the river-crossing ledges where the water is from four to six feet deep. Great fun!
Last summer many of you asked me to develop a very durable and more effective adult dry bass damselfly than the patterns that are available now for smallmouth bass.
By evaluating the various bass feeding stations and the feeding habits of the smallmouth bass in many sections of the rivers, I started experimenting.
Part of my challenge was the realization that smallmouth bass in different parts of the rivers feed differently on natural adult blue damsel dry flies. For example, those bass I found close to the aquatic grassbeds along the banks took the natural damselflies with solid sipping rise forms much like a trout feeding on a mayfly hatch. Those smallmouth bass feeding on adult damselflies buzzing above the
rivers in the large pools exhibit splashing or jumping rise forms.
Thus I needed to tie a new fly which could mimic both of these actions.
After testing a great number of materials and tying styles I finally came up with the Murray’s Bass Blue Damsefly Dry Fly. This fly catches many smallmouth bass in all type of cover.
I catch many bass which are feeding along the aquatic grassbeds on the sides of the river. I do this by wading or floating down the river forty feet out from the grassbeds. I then cast my fly tight against the grass. A slow line hand stripping action which swims the damselfly two inches every five seconds usually does the job.
I catch those bass which are rising and jumping in the large pools by skating my damselfly with two foot bursts every ten seconds across the surface of the river. When I fish this new damselfly dry fly I dress both the leader and fly often with Murray’s Dry Fly Floatant every half hour.
Rise Form Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Vince Marinaro taught me a great deal about the trout’s rise form. Suppose you are looking upstream and spot a rise form as a trout takes a natural dry fly. Over the next several minutes he takes three more naturals at the same spot. The glare on the stream prevents you from seeing the trout but you can easily see his rise form.
You know your artificial matches the hatch so you cast it two feet above the rise form. But you get no strike! However, the trout continues to feed. Several more casts bring no strike. Finally you sneak up the bank to where you can see the trout.
His holding station is actually five feet further upstream from where he rose to take the naturals. You slip back downstream to your original casting position and cast your fly to where you know the trout is holding. As your fly drifts into the feeding station where the trout had take the naturals he rises and takes it solidly.
Since I first encountered this long ago I have taken advantage of it to catch many trout.
Vince referred to these rise forms as Simple, Compound and Complex. A Simple rise form is when the trout takes the natural rights above where he holds in the stream. A Compound rise form is when he drifts straight back downstream from his holding position to take the natural. A Complex rise form is when he tips up, almost vertically, and drifts a long distance below the natural fly before taking it.
What the Trout Sees Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Vince Marinaro developed flies which looks as much as possible like the real insects to the trout.
While fishing Falling Spring in Chambersburg, PA he explained that mayfly duns rode on their feet. With their bodies high off the water. He said that in this position the dun’s wings were the most visible part of the insect to the trout.
In order to tie a fly that would show the trout this image he suggested tying a dry dun with a broad natural looking wing. The trout would be able to see this wing. So we tied one hackle so it would slope greatly 45 degrees forward on top of the hook . It would also slope 45 degrees greatly to the rear below the hook. The second hackle would slope greatly 45 degrees to the rear on top of the hook shank. It would also slope greatly 45 degrees forward below the hook shank.
This presented a natural clear window so the trout could see the wing and the fly rode delicately on the toes of the hackle.
Vince called this a “thorax” style of hackling a dry fly. Do not confuse this with the thorax term applied to popular dry flies used now. This refers only of the positioning of the hackle.
In order to prove his point about the duns riding on their feet, Vince suggested that I get my head down close to the stream surface during a heavy hatch and look upstream. He wanted me to see how the flies rode on the surface. He was correct!
This method of tying duns is a little difficult to master but I do believe it produces flies which fool very demanding trout.
Fly Fishing Podcast for December 2017 by Harry Murray
This months fly fishing podcast includes a detailed discussion on the trout fishing in December. Since the brook trout are still spawning in December I like to fish the stocked trout streams instead.
Many of the stocked trout streams such as the Jackson (near Covington), Bullpasture (near Williamsville) and Big Stoney Creek in Edinburg have natural springs that the trout love. You can find these springs on the steams by looking for the rich aquatic growth they provide. The trout will hold near these springs and feed on cress bug and shrimp patterns.
Many of my customers will come into the fly shop and ask, “can I go bass fishing in December?” Yes, you can. Are you going to catch a lot of bass? No–but you might catch a big one. I have some friends that are die hard bass fishermen that will go out in any kind of weather and they have been catching some big bass. They will float the river to find the deepest pools they can find and fish with big bugs such as a Madtom/Sculpin size 4, Magnum Darter size 4 and Creek Chub size 4.
Winston Kairos Fly Rod- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The NEWWinston Kairos Fly Rods are in and I have tested them extensively. These are great rods at a very attractive price. Here is my evaluations of the three rods which have very broad usage.
Winston Kairos 8 foot 3 weight 4 piece This is an excellent fly rod for small to medium size streams all across the country. The tip is very delicate that blends in smoothly to a full flexing action all the way to the butt section. This fishes flies from size 24 midges up to size 8 nymphs with great accuracy. This will cover trout fishing needs quite effectively from ten to fifty feet.
Winston Kairos 9 foot 6 weight 4 piece This fly rod meets a broad variety of needs. It is excellent for fishing medium to large size trout streams all across the country. It has a medium to fast action. The tip is fine enough to fish flies as small as size 18. The whole rod loads smoothly all the way to the butt section. The butt section is firm enough to cast nymphs and streamers up to size 6. It has excellent power for fishing sinking tip fly lines and sinking head fly lines for both trout and smallmouth bass with heavy size 6 streamers. The smooth loading action is ideal for fishing smallmouth poppers and deer hair bass bugs up to size 6 with great accuracy along the river banks and grassbeds.
Save That Trout Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I had three friends who had great intentions of returning their very large trout to the stream so he would survive. Unfortunately these fellows were just getting into trout fishing. They allowed the trout to get downstream of them. In landing the trout they fought him so long that the stress caused the trout to turn belly up and die.
This could have been easily prevented! If a large trout gets downstream of you in heavy water in a location where you cannot chase him to get downstream of him, rather than fight him to death just break him off. To do this point your rod straight at the trout, take up all of the slack with your line-hand and jerk. This leaves the fly in his jaw and he swims away. I have caught many trout that have hooks in their jaws and they are fine. Eventually the hooks works itself out.
Stop Twisted Smallmouth Bass Leaders While Fly Fishing
When the tippet of your smallmouth bass leader gets twisted, it can easily form small knots. These knots will weaken your leader. Then when you set the hook on a large bass, you break him off!
Twisted tippets can occur:
(1) If the fly is too large for the tippet being used. Fly Size ÷ 3= Tippet in X
(2) If the tippet is too long. Two to three feet is long enough.
(3) If the fly you are using is out of symmetry. Long legs and wings on Deer Hair Bass Bugs and Poppers can cause this.
(4) If you have gotten a pull-through on your fly where the tippet gets wrapped around the fly.
It is a good idea to check your tippet periodically to make sure it had not developed any twists.
Fly Fishing Podcast for November 2017 by Harry Murray
In my fly fishing podcast for November I discuss the trout fishing you can expect for this month in our large trout streams with sculpin imitations. The natural sculpin minnows are bottom hugging minnows living under cobblestones in and immediately downstream of heavy riffles. This is where I like to fish my Spuddler. Many of the tails of the pools give me some large trout by fanning the Murray’s Black Marauder size 8 over the last 100 feet. The gentle riffles along the far banks often attract large trout that feed on the slim silver minnows that live here. By casting a Murray’s Silver Ghost Streamer size 6 in tight against these undercut banks you can catch many large trout. For more details on the areas and techniques to use listen to my entire Fly Fishing Podcast for November.
The smallmouth bass rivers are cold but we can still catch some large bass by choosing the correct flies and fishing the correct feeding stations which the bass choose at this time of the year. They want to choose foods that give them the greatest food value for the least effort to capture it. Large minnows are a prime target. Therefore I like to fish the Murray’s Tungsten Cone Head Marauders in black, pearl or olive. In my personal fishing at this time of the year the back eddies that form below the riffles on the side of the river with the slow current are some of their favorite feeding stations. These provide an abundance of minnow life and protection from the powerful currents of the river.
Out With The Old Tippet Material Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Each year I like to replace all of my tippet material. This includes everything from 0X down to 7X. The tippet is the weakest part of our fly fishing tackle. I do not like to take a chance in breaking of a large fish for the few dollars it will cost to replace it.
Late Season Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
The back eddies that form below the riffles on the side of the river with the slowest current often hold large bass as the rivers get cold. The slow current and the abundance of minnow life prompt this mini-migration from the shallows. These back eddies can range from ten to fifty feet in diameter and four to six feet deep. I catch many of these bass on the Murray’s Magnum Bluegill Streamer size 4 and Murray’s Magnum Darter Streamer size 4. I strip them six inches every ten seconds to swim them slowly across the streambottom. A sinking head line is a big help with my Murray’s Fluorocarbon 6 foot 2X Sinking Line Leader. I want to hook these bass solidly in the deep water. I use a three foot fast line hand strike simultaneously with a powerful rod lifting strike.
Set The Hook With A Slip Strike Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
When I am fishing trout streams such as Nelson’s in Montana where there are some large trout feeding on tiny flies, I set the hook with a “Slip Strike”. For example, I will often fish a size 24 Olive Dry when the trout are feeding on a pseudocloeon hatch. If they are especially hard to fool I will go to 7X.
My idea behind this strike is to hook the fish solidly. Then instantly reduce the pressure on the leader. I hold the line between my thumb & forefinger of my line hand as my fly is drifting to the trout. Then when the trout takes my fly, I set the hook with a gentle pull with my line hand. The instant I feel the resistance of the hook penetrating the trout’s jaw I release the grip on the line between my thumb and forefinger. This hooks the trout solidly and protects the fine tippet.
Barbless Hooks Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Thirty years ago Virginia Game & Inland Fisheries closed the South Fork of the Shenandoah River to keeping fish for human consumption. This is after DuPont revealed they dumped mercury into the river. Many anglers believed that the river was closed to fishing. That was not true! Basically, I had the whole river almost to myself. The fishing was outstanding! This invited me to do a great deal of experimentation. Some of this included comparing the number of bass I landed on barbless hooks with the number I landed on barbed hooks.
After a summer of testing I came away convinced that I landed 30% more bass on the barbless hooks. I believe that many of the bass that got off were not hooked solidly with the barb penetrating their hard lips. Basically I suspected they were just hanging on the point of the hook. A slight flip during the fight set them free. Today I use all barbless hooks from size 24 midges up to size 4/0 saltwater hooks.
Since the brook trout are spawning in October, November, and December we feel it is not good to stress them by fishing for them even though we return them to the stream.
So let’s look at the nymph fishing tactics we use in large streams both in the Rockies and in the East.
I learned to fish nymphs from Charlie Brooks in the 1970’s and 1980’s in the streams around West Yellowstone, Montana. So in this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss in detail the two tactics of Charlie’s that I use often.
Swing Nymphing– This technique is used on deeper runs where upstream dead drift nymphing is not possible. Many beginners quickly master this method because the strikes are detected by feeling the strike rather than seeing it.
Fly Fishing for Bass in October
Many of the old timers around Edinburg where I grew up in the 1950’s caught many of their largest bass of the year in October by using live bait such as Hog Suckers, Bluegills, and Darter Minnows. Several years ago I designed my Magnum Streamer Series which both look and fish like a real minnow. Today I will be discussing the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, Magnum Darter, and Magnum Bluegill and the best way to fish each.
If you need help finding the access places on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River, then stop by the fly shop and we can show you the best areas on our stores master map.
I enjoy the challenge of fly fishing for smallmouth bass at night because I often catch some large bass. Choosing sections of the river I know well allows me to get in and out of the stream safely. This helps me to avoid old barbed wire fence and itch weed. I use a Folstaf Wading Staff to probe the streambottom. I do this so I do not trip over a ledge or wade into a deep pool.
The Best Time for Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing on the North or South Fork
Smallmouth bass feed the heaviest in low light levels. For my personal fishing this means the first two hours at dawn and the last two hours at dusk. Since I am in my fly shop until after 5 pm each day, I can easily grab my tackle. I can get to either the North or South Fork of the Shenandoah River for several hours of great fishing.
During these low light levels the bass often move to the areas that contain large populations of natural foods. Some of my most productive areas in the low light levels are the edges of the grassbeds where the water is two to three feet deep. Also in the tails of the pools. Also the two to three foot deep gravel bars where they taper off into the deep water.
For the last several weeks I have been catching many smallmouth bass along the shaded banks with the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4.
If the water is three to five feet deep over cobblestone streambottoms many fish feed in these shaded areas.
I like to cast my Shenandoah Blue Popper within a foot of the banks. I even use a side-arm cast at times to shoot my Shenandoah Blue Popper back under overhanging tree limbs. Often I use a gentle upstream mend to help hold the Shenandoah Blue Popper close to the bank as the current pulls it downstream.
This tactic is so productive that I often spend several hours using it as long as the stream depth and shade hold up.
If you see a nice fly rod and reel resting against a tree at a popular access point and there is no other car close by, just leave it there. Eventually the owner will realize where he left it and he will come back to get it. If you find a rod and reel underwater in a river, take it to the closest tackle shop and tell them where you found it. Also write down the manufacturer and the serial number on the rod. Then call the manufacturer, they may have the owners name and address on record.
Fly fishing in September can be tricky due to the low and clear water conditions. This months podcast I discuss how to improve your success when fishing dry flies for trout all across the country by using slack line casts so you don’t have drag. Which casts am I using?
Lazy S Cast
If you are interested in learning more about fly casting, then check out our Fly Casting 101 Classes .
Saturday, September 9 from 10a.m. to noon
Saturday, September 23 from 10a.m. to noon
Bass Fly Fishing
I always get great smallmouth dry fly fishing in September during the Hexagenia Mayfly Hatch. This month I discuss the tactics and fly patterns I use to take advantage of this hatch.
There are several tactics I use when fishing to get away from crowds of fly fishing anglers.
(1) When fishing rivers the size of the Beaverkill at Horse Brook Run, I wade across the river and fish up the far side. This same ploy works well on the Madison River at Slide Inn where I wade across the river.
(2) On small mountain trout streams such as the Crazy Mountains in Montana or the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I hike in well away from the access points before I start fishing.
(3) Get to the streams at daylight or stay until dark.
(4) Avoid streams for several years which are written up in national magazines.
(5) Do not let rain or snow stop you from fishing.
(6) Enter the large rivers at the public access points but fish upstream.
Two or Three Nymph Rig Systems Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Charlie Brooks of West Yellowstone got me into fishing two or three nymph rig systems many years ago. These flies can easily become twisted with the regular casts so I cast these with a slow wide loop. Another method is to make your back cast low to the side. Then turn your wrist and make your forward cast in a higher plane. In low and out high.
In September Harry will be conducting two Fly Casting & Rigging 101 Classes that will help you learn or improve your casting techniques. On our casting lawn, he will teach you how to perform all of the standard casts as well as roll casts, curve casts, and shooting line. After the casting class you will then proceed back to the fly shop where he will show you how to rig your tackle including the knots to use when putting your line and backing on a fly reel. We provide the rod and reel outfits for you to use for the class or if you prefer you can bring your own.
My most productive minnow imitation is the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Streamer size 4. For many years the bait fishermen have relied on the natural hog suckers to catch their largest bass. I fish these along the edge of the gravel bars where they drop into the deep part of the river at dusk. I catch many bass this way!
My most effective surface bug is the Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4. I rely strongly on this fly because it out-fishes other surface bugs by a great margin. I just do not like to change a winning game!
Good Nymph Fly Fisherman Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I have a friend who is an especially good nymph fisherman. Whether we are fishing the Madison River for browns or the Blue Ridge Mountains for brook trout, he catches many nice trout. He does this by fishing nymphs upstream dead drift.
When watching him, I detect a common trait which is a landmark of many serious nymph anglers. That is, at some point in the last half of the drift he sets the hook on the majority of the casts. Does this mean he is getting this many strikes from trout? No, but when he is not getting a strike, he is bumping the streambottom with the nymph.
This tells me that we should all consider fishing out nymphs deeply with a natural drift.
This podcast, Harry discusses the fly fishing in August for both bass and trout, techniques, and flies to use.
Trout Fishing in August
In August I like to fish with flies that match the natural foods the trout are seeing….terrestrials. In addition to the normal beetle, ant, and hopper patterns I like to use what I call my “change of pace” flies.
Oakworms–You can see many natural oakworms around the stream banks.
Yellow Jackets–These are normally found around the sod banks near the stream.
Wasp–There are many wasps around standing bush and brush piles.
Moths–You will find moths in the evenings around back eddys.
Horseflies–These are always around pasture fields with horses and cows.
Houseflies–These little things can be found everywhere and I consider this fly very effective to fish with.
Bass Fishing in August
The other evening while I was bass fishing on the Shenandoah River I noticed a great amount of little baby bass swimming around. That tells me the bass fishing will continue to be good next year.
Three Ways to Fish Streamers on Large Rivers Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
When Ray Hurley, my Yellowstone River Guide of 17 years, and I fished the Yellowstone, he encouraged fishing streamers in order to catch large trout. Here are our most effective tactics: (1) When we are floating the river with Ray, with the oars of his Hyde Drift Boat, he had me pound the banks with a Sculpin Streamer. When we beached the boat (2) Ray fished the heads of the pools with a Sculpin Streamer and (3) I fished the tails of the pools with a Sculpin Streamer.
I am very confident that these five smallmouth bass flies will give me excellent fly fishing in 2017 from July until October. This is because last year they gave me the best bass fishing I have had in many years.
During summer, as the sun intensifies I catch most of my bass in the middle of the day along the heavily shaded banks. This is where the water is three to five feet deep over cobblestone streambottoms. However, my very best fishing is at dawn and dusk in the tails of the pools. My standard leader for smallmouth bass fishing is the Murray’s Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Leader.
These are the flies I rely on from July until Fall for our wild trout in our mountain streams. In July I usually use the largest sizes listed. I then go down to the smallest sizes in August and September. I fish all of these flies on Murray’s Classic 9 foot 6X Leader unless the streams are very low. Then I go to a Murray’s Classic 9 foot 7X Leader.
Smallmouth Bass River Float Trips Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop
Smallmouth bass river float trips can be very productive and a great amount of fun. I like to hold my trips down to miles or less. This is because when I come to a nice grassbed and riffle, I like to beach my boat. Then I get out to wade and fish these areas.
Even though our Hyde Drift Boat has excellent leg-locks in both the front and back, I do not like to stand up in a boat when fly fishing for smallmouth bass. I believe that this will scare the smallmouth bass.
It is wise to carry a backup fly rod and reel in the boat in case something gets broken. One day on the Yellowstone River an outfit fell overboard and was gone. Even in the summer I always carry a raincoat and a change of clothes in a dry bag.
I like to park the vehicle that will carry or tow my boat at the downstream take our spot in case a bad storm comes up and I want to get away from the river quickly.
Many large smallmouth bass select their “primary feeding stations” according to the amount of natural food that is available. They also select it because of the low level of the natural light. This is why almost everyday during the summer, after I close my fly shop, I head to the Shenandoah River to fish the tail of a pool at dusk.
For this months fly fishing podcast I want to discuss some of the hatches that we are seeing on our trout streams and the best tactics and flies to fish them. There are some good Green Sedge Caddis hatches on the streams now. When you spot these feeders go one on one with each trout with a Mr. Rapidan Olive Delta Wing Dry Caddis size 16. At times it can be difficult to tell if a feeding trout is taking the adult or the pupa so I use a two fly rig (which I explain in detail in this podcast) using the above fly and a Murray’s Olive Caddis Pupa size 14.
The bass rivers are at a level where many large smallmouth bass move onto the shallow tails of the pools at dusk to feed on the chub minnows and dace minnows which live here. The most productive way I’ve found to fish the tails of the pools is to wade into the upper part of the riffle below them and wade upstream to just below the lip of the pool above that I plan to fish. From here I fan my casts up and across stream at a slight angle to cover all of the water I can reach. I use a line hand strip-pause-strip retrieve that swims my Floating Minnow just slightly faster than the current is pushing it. (For more techniques listen to the second part of the podcast.)
Every year I catch more large smallmouth bass on the Shenandoah Blue Popper than all of my other surface bugs combined. Its gradual up-sloping face and long tapered body enables us to impart a broad variety of actions. This makes the Shenandoah Blue Popper very productive in many parts of the rivers. This year the shallow water in the tails of the pools at dusk are producing many nice bass. The bass are very wary in this shallow water so wade very slowly.