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.
Stop by a yard sale or garage sale and purchase a used food blender for several dollars. These are wonderful for blending your dubbing materials. Just wipe it down regularly with a Bounce Fabric Softener Sheet to hold down the static electricity.
For me fly tying cement has two main purposes. One is to hold the fly together and the second is to coat a pretty head on the flies. I make my own head cement so since I want the flies I tie to be durable I use a vehicle which enhances its ability to penetrate deeply into the materials and thread. This produces a fly which is almost indestructible. In order to coat a pretty head on my streamers I use my thicker head cement.
As I am doing this fly fishing podcast I am realizing that many of you are going to be enjoying the outdoors this July 4th weekend by the phone calls, emails, and orders the fly shop has been receiving. Please be safe and considerate of the land owners and others as you take in natures beauty. I plan to enjoy it myself!
In this podcast I want to discuss the how, when, and where to fish my new “change of pace” dry flies for trout that feed selectively. I thought that if I could develop a different fly which showed the trout a new silhouette and light pattern that matched a natural food they feed upon, I might be able to catch these trout. By experimenting I developed the Murray’s Housefly Dry, Oakworm Dry, Yellow Jacket Dry, Moth Dry, Wasp Dry, and Horsefly Dry. I fish all of these with a Classic 9ft 6X Leader.
The smallmouth bass fishing has been excellent due to the great food load and the rains keeping the water levels up. Hence, in a recent school one of our instructors stuck a smallmouth bass that was over 5 pounds on our Murray’s Crayfish pattern while showing the class the swing nymph technique. Our topwater action is picking up and we have been doing very well with our famous Shenandoah Blue Popper. I fish these on a Bright Butt 9ft. 2X Leader.
Fly Fishing Stream Report for May. In the first part of this podcast Harry Murray discusses the wonderful dry fly fishing that you can find in May by covering the aquatic insect hatch throughout May, the best fly patterns to match each one and the effective tactics. In the second part Harry discusses the specific sections of the rivers which gives us good smallmouth action in May. He discusses the flies, leaders, and fly lines that help us in the different feeding stations as well as the most effective tactics in the different sections of the river.
FlyFishing Report for Virginia including native brook trout and smallmouth bass fishing.
April is the favorite month for trout fishing by many serious mountain trout fishermen. With the ideal stream levels and water temperatures, the trout are feeding and the hatches continue. In this podcast I will be discussing these specific hatches, the order in which to expect them, and what flies to use to match these hatches. The number one selling fly to match these hatches–Mr. Rapidan Parachute Dry size 14. I fish these on our Murray’s Classic 7 1/2ft 5X Leaders. Also, check out our new Foam Leader Keepers. These are very handy for those that hate complicated knots and changing tippet material while on the stream.
The smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah River will start to take off in April as the water warms and the bass start to feed. I like to use streamers which match the natural foods the bass are seeing in the river such as Murray’s Heavy Streamers in Chub, Sunfish or Shiner all in size 6. These are fast sinking streamers which will help get through the spring currents. I use a Sink Tip III Fly Line with a Sinking 6ft. 2X Leader in fast currents and water over 4 feet deep. In moderate currents I use a Scientific Anglers Frequency Boost Fly Line with a Murray’s Bright Butt 9ft 2X Leader. The second part of this podcast includes the areas I like to fish (bank bays) at this time of the year and the productive tactics and gear including rods.
There are times when fishing streamers along the banks when floating smallmouth bass rivers can be very effective. However, some anglers on our guided float trips believe they are slow in detecting these strikes. We solve this problem by attaching a Shenandoah Blue Popper size 4 to our Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Compound Knotted Leader and attach twenty four inches of 2X tippet material to the bend of the popper hook with an improved clinch knot. I attach a Murray’s Pearl Marauder size 10 to this as a dropper. When floating the river this combination popper and dropper is cast down and across stream at a twenty degree angle so it lands close to the river bank. A slow strip-pause-strip retrieve will bring many strikes from bass along these banks. When the bass takes the popper the strike is easy to see and the bass can be quickly hooked. If he takes the streamer it will cause a quick movement of the popper which is the signal to set the hook and you hook the bass solidly.
Several years ago I stopped in a fly shop in Montana which was owned by a good friend. One of his employees was an excellent fly tyer and the gentleman, who had never fished for smallmouth bass but knowing I fished for them often, pulled out several beautiful, well tied flies he called smallmouth streamers for me to see. I complimented him on the great appearance of his smallmouth streamers, some of which he had skillfully incorporated more than twenty different body parts. When we were outside in our car I turned to my son, Jeff, and said, “Those were some of the most beautiful smallmouth streamers I have ever seen, but I do not believe they will catch many fish because with all that material on them it will be next to impossible to sink them.”
Several years before this we had done extensive testing on new fly designs and found that in many cases the most sparsely tied nymphs and streamers caught the most bass and trout. I believe much of this success came from the facts that these flies sank well, were strongly suggestive of the natural nymphs and minnows I was striving to mimic and could easily be made to duplicate the swimming action of these naturals.
Some of our flies which fall into this classification are groups of flies in our Shenandoah Simple Streamer series for both bass and trout, the Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle series for both bass and trout, many of flies (although they are drys) in my “Change of Pace” trout series, the Murray’s Marauders, the Murray’s Floating Minnows and the Murray’s Strymphs.
The outstanding book, Simple Flies by Morgan Lyle shows how to tie and fish fifty two flies for trout, bass and in saltwater. If you are considering tying some new flies for your personal use I believe using the simple approach I have used in many of my flies and those Morgan Lyle discusses in his great book will help you catch many fish.
Some of the most exciting smallmouth fly fishing takes place when they feed on natural Brown Drake mayflies. There are actually three different species that fall into the group which smallmouth anglers call Brown Drakes but since they act much alike in the stream and the fish feed the same way upon them we fish them all the same ways.
When the duns come off in the afternoon fish to the rising bass one on one with a Irresistible Dry Fly size 12 or fish beside the boulders in the riffles if there are no rising bass.
When the spinners fall at dusk use the same fly and fish these bass one on one by casting three feet ahead of a cruiser or by casting it quickly right at the riseform.
You are standing in mid-river using a 9 foot rod and you decide you would like to switch from a floating fly line to a sinking tip fly line. You can easily remove the reel spool with the floating line from the reel and insert the reel spool with the sinking tip line. Now pull fifteen feet of line with the leader attached from the reel. Take the fly rod apart at the ferrule in the middle of the rod and place the tip section of the rod under your arm. Thread the leader and line through both sections of the rod then put the tip section back on the butt section at the ferrule and you are ready to fish. This works fine with two piece and four piece rods.
Dry flies that are coated with old floatant that have matted hackles can easily be brought back to life by carefully steaming them over the stream of a teakettle spout. Be very careful when doing this because you can get a bad burn from this hot steam. I use very long tweezers or a tea strainer but I am still very careful. Set your revived flies aside, well spaced out for two days, then you can return them to your fly boxes.
When we make a back cast to pick a popping bug up off the stream to make another cast we may cause that popper to make a loud splashing noise that will scare many close by bass, this robbing us of a chance to catch a bass on our next presentation.
A tactic that can prevent this racket on the pick up is to point the fly rod straight at the popper when you are ready to make your back cast and use your line hand to strip in several feet of line that causes the popper to slide gently across the surface of the river. Now, make your back cast and the popper will jump quietly into the air and you will catch the next bass.
In order to catch large bass consistently on hard surface bugs it is very important to be able to adjust the bug action to the type of water we are fishing. I have designed the Shenandoah Surface Bugs with this goal in mind. (1) For example, we often find bass feeding in water two feet deep along the shaded banks and a gentle teasing bug-action is very effective. The Shenandoah Slider with its long slim pointed nose is very productive here. (2) Four feet deep banks with fast currents produce large bass to a bug that can create a loud water-throwing action. The Shenandoah Chugger with its fat body and deeply cut face quickly brings these bass to the surface with a firm stripping action. (3) Grass beds and gentle current areas hold many bass that will take bug-action between these two extremes. The Shenandoah Popper with its long tapered body and up-sloping face will take many of these bass.
Trout and Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Report Podcast August 2013: Listen in as the first part of this report Harry Murray discusses his “change of pace flies” for the mountain trout streams and the tactics to use with these wary trout. In the second part the fly fishing podcast we continue with the large stocked trout streams on where to fish and what flies to use. The third part consists of the best tactics to use for smallmouth bass during this unusually cooler weather and the Hexagenia hatch.
Flies discussed included: Murray’s Housefly, Shenk’s Cress Bug, Shrimp, Magnum Creek Chub, Poppers, Mr. Rapidan Skater
Late in the day when the sun gets below the horizon many large smallmouth bass move down onto the tails of the pools to feed on the abundance of natural minnows that live here. Apparently, they are simply more comfortable in the low light level.
You can approach these pool tails from the riffles below them or from the side of the river… Just be sure to wade carefully and slowly so you don’t send out telltale waves that will spook the fish. I can assure you that large bass feeding in water which is two feet deep are very wary. Also be willing to punch out long casts to help from scaring them.
Productive flies in the pool tails at dusk are Shenk’s White Streamer 6, Murray’s Floating Chub 6, Murray’s Floating Dace 6 and Murray’s Dying Chub 6.
If you are fly fishing a section of a river which you fish often, mentally mark the specific areas where you are successful because on future trips these same spots will probably hold big bass.
NEW for 2011 Murray’s Floating Chub Minnow (sizes 4 & 6) $3.95
I’ve been using numerous versions of this fly for the last 8 years and I am now very pleased with this pattern. It is very durable and it is one of the most productive smallmouth flies I have ever used. Last August I caught over a dozen large bass one evening in the tail of one pool at dusk on this Floating Chub Minnow. I like to fish this upstream and retrieve it just slightly faster than the current.
NEW for 2011
Murray’s Magnum Chartreuse Streamer (size 4) $2.95
The Murray’s Chartreuse Marauder which I put on the market ten years ago has been so effective I decided to add this larger, more elaborate pattern to our Magnum Series. Use this as a change of pace fly with a fast stripping action when your regular flies are not working.
The smallmouth streams are cooling and many large bass are moving to the deep pools and cuts. Use a SA Mastery Sink Tip III or Teeny 200 to fish your streamers along the stream bottom. The Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin in one of the best.
You have heard as many theories on what color fly to use in each color of water known to anglers. This evening I tried a few of my favorites and found black to work quite well. The visibility into the water was about two feet and the river level is high, too high to wade on the North Fork of the Shenandoah North of Edinburg.
Will other colors work? Sure, I had success with both Olive and Chartreuse patterns (Roadkill and Marauder). I did not try any others though. Vince Marinaro used to say he preferred black because of it’s contrast (darker) with the muddy water. Since I give Vince a lot of credit as a knowledgeable angler, I tend to start off with this theory.
Another favorite theory employed around the shop is match the color of the water i.e. Olive Colored water = Olive Colored flies, clear water = white flies and so-on. Chartreuse? I don’t want to see water even close to Chartreuse but it works, sometimes seemingly better than any others, and so, out go the two above theories.
This afternoon turned out to be beautiful, a pleasant change from our recent stint of rain. As we floated the river, we watched a few youngsters from Edinburg bank fishing with their parents and were quite pleased to see they were having success in the catching department.
As you read this, I hope you have just returned from a fantastic trip to your favorite stream or river. As for the fishing, it was great! We caught quite a few bass and sunfish on Sink Tip III and V fly lines, yes there is a lot of water…. All looked great with no signs of illness on any of them.