Tag Archives: harry murray

Flies of Yesteryear

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

Murray’s Stonecat Streamer

Murray’s Stonecat Streamer Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

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.

NEW Murray’s Bass Dragonfly Dry (Brown & Olive)

NEW Murray’s Bass Dragonfly Dry (Brown & Olive) Blog-Murray’s Fly Shop

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!

New Murray’s Bass Blue Damselfly Dry Fly

New Murray’s Bass Blue Damselfly Dry Fly Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

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

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

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.

Winston Kairos Fly Rod

Winston Kairos Fly Rod- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

The NEW Winston 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.

Winston Kairos 9 foot 7 weight 4 piece
This is an excellent smallmouth bass fly rod. It has a fast action which enables you to fish poppers and streamers up to size 4. This power makes it very easy to make long casts even in the wind with great accuracy. This also facilitates smooth mending when fishing streamers on fast sinking head fly lines across fast currents.  It is very easy to detect the strikes on deep swimming nymphs and streamers and then set the hook quickly with this rod.

The Winston Kairos is a very attractive fly rod with a clear graphite polished finish with Winston green thread wraps. The fly rod comes with a hard case and lifetime warranty. It is built in Montana.  The Fly Rod price is $475.00. We also sell combination packages with the Fly Rod, Reel, Fly Line and Backing at a great savings!

Save That Trout

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

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.

Out With the Old Tippet Material

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

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

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

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.

Enjoy The Challenge of Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass at Night

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.

Wade downstream and cast down and across stream at a forty five degree angle. This enables me to fish flies such as the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, Murray’s Magnum Creek Chub and the Shenandoah Chugger. I fish these flies with a firm noisy line hand stripping action and quickly feel the strike and hook the bass.

The Murray’s Bass Bug 9 foot 0X Leader is ideal for night fishing. These leaders cast the big flies well. They are also strong enough to set the hook on the big bass.

The Best Time for Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing on the North or South Fork

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.

Check out our Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River 101 Class on February 10, 2018 and March 17, 2018. This two hour class will show you the best access points on the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River by utilizing the master map and books, Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams and Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass.

How To Fish The Famous Shenandoah Blue Popper

How To Fish The Famous Shenandoah Blue Popper

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.

Check out our 2 Hour Workshop on Smallmouth Bass Fishing on the Shenandoah River 101.  This workshop will show you the best access points on both the North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River. Mr. Murray will show you the master map and the books, Virginia Blue Ribbon Streams and Fly Fishing Techniques for Smallmouth Bass.

Fly Rod and Reel Resting Against a Tree

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.

Fishing To Get Away From Crowds of Fly Fishing Anglers

Fishing To Get Away From Crowds of Fly Fishing Anglers Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

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

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.

My Three Favorite Smallmouth Bass Flies

My Three Favorite Smallmouth Bass Flies Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

In order to get good smallmouth bass fishing with underwater flies I like to use patterns which match the natural foods the smallmouth bass feed upon.

My most dependable nymph is the Murray’s Heavy Black Hellgrammite size 4.  The riffles are loaded with the natural hellgrammites. Fish these upstream dead drift by using the Murray’s Bright Butt 9 foot 2X Leader with its built in indicator system.

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 Fisherman

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.

Three Ways to Fish Streamers on Large Rivers

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.

The Best Five Flies for Fishing Large Trout Streams in the Summer & Fall

The Best Five Flies for Fishing Large Trout Streams in the Summer & Fall

I like to cover the spectrum of fly needs from drys to nymphs to streamers on the large streams during the Summer and Fall because these served me well last year.

Shenk’s Cricket Dry size 12
Dave’s Hopper size 10
Mr. Rapidan Streamer size 10
Murray’s Olive Strymph size 10
Mr. Rapidan Olive Soft Hackle Nymph size 14

I do well with the Dave’s Hopper and Shenk’s Cricket Dry fished along the shaded banks with a very gentle twitching action. The nymphs and streamers are very productive in the deep pools and in the deep pockets below the riffles.

The Murray’s Classic 9 foot 4X Leader is ideal for this fishing.

My Three Effective Hard Head Smallmouth Bass Bugs

My Three Effective Hard Head Smallmouth Bass Bugs:

(1) The Shenandoah Chugger has a fat body with a deeply cut face with which we can make a great racket to lure bass from deep runs.

(2) The Shenandoah Slider has a a slim body with a long painted nose enabling us to tease strikes from large bass in the shallows.

(3) The Shenandoah Popper with its up-sloping face and long tapered body helps us create a broad variety of actions. It enables us to successfully fish many different feeding stations.

Smallmouth Bass River Float Trips

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.

Smallmouth Bass Primary Feeding Stations

Smallmouth Bass Primary Feeding Stations Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

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.

The Murray’s Floating Chub Minnow and Murray’s Floating Dace Minnow which match the natural minnows here produce great action.

Fly Fishing Podcast July 2017

Fly Fishing Podcast July 2017

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.

Natural Caddis Fly Fishing
There are a broad variety of natural caddisflies on many trout streams and the fish feed heavily upon them all.

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.)

Bass Fly Fishing Podcast
Jeff Murray knows that if he fishes the tails of the smallmouth river pools with his Floating Minnow late in the evenings he can catch many large bass.

Learn to Fly Fish in our Smallmouth Bass Schools

Wild Trout

Now that the streams are low and clear, my favorite way to catch wild trout is to spot them on their feeding stations in the stream. I then go one on one with each trout. Subtle “signals” are the easiest physical features to help us spot the trout.

These signals include:
– the trout’s slight movement
– the difference in the trout’s shape and the stones on the streambottom
-the contrast in color of the trout’s body and the streambottom and the trout’s shadow

Murray’s Fly Shop
Harry Murray
121 South Main Street
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com

Fly Fishing Questions & Answers Podcast

In this fly fishing questions and answers podcast, Harry Murray discusses some of the topics that you have asked through email and phone calls.

Topics discussed include:

Fishing Tricos
Ed Shenk is a master at  fishing trico dry flies on all trout streams.

Fly Fishing Smallmouth Bass Schools throughout the summer at Murray’s Fly Shop.

Musky Fly Fishing

Musky Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

Musky fly fishing is becoming very popular in Virginia. We have Musky in both the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River.  If you stop in the fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia I can show you these locations. We keep a broad selection of musky flies, special leaders, lines, rods and reels.
You can purchase the St. Croix Imperial 9 foot 10 weight 4 piece Fly Rod for $270.00. This is an outstanding Musky Fly Fishing Rod that will help you take advantage of these large flies. We also sell this in a combination which includes the St. Croix Imperial 9 foot 10 weight 4 piece Fly Rod, Orvis Battenkill Disc V Reel, Scientific Anglers Sonar 30 Clear 350 Grain Fly Line, Scientific Anglers 20 pound 100 yards Backing and Special Mon-Wire Leader. This combination is at a special price of $498.00.

My Favorite Smallmouth Bass Fly, Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite


My Favorite Smallmouth Bass Fly, Murray’s Heavy Hellgrammite

It took me many years to develop my Murray’s Heavy Lead-Eye Hellgrammite. However, with the help of good friend like Charlie Brooks and Ron Kommer, this exceptionally effective pattern evolved.
This effectively duplicates the natural swimming action of the real hellgrammite. This fly can be successfully fished either upstream, downstream or across stream.
The students in my “On The Stream” Smallmouth Bass Schools catch most of their large bass on the Murray’s Heavy Lead-Eye Hellgrammite.

My Five Favorite Flies for Falling Water in the Mountain Trout Streams

My Five Favorite Flies for Falling Water in the Mountain Trout Streams

The mountain trout streams are dropping but the levels are still full so I use some dry flies and some nymphs. I still prefer coming into the heads of the streams from the trailheads I discussed in my books, Virginia Blue-Ribbon Streams and Trout Fishing in the Shenandoah National Park.
My favorite dry flies are the Murray’s Brown Drake size 14, Mr. Rapidan Black Delta Wing Caddis size 14 and Mr. Rapidan Parachute size 14.
An effective technique which is ideal in this water level is to attach one of these dry flies to a Murray’s Classic 7.5 foot 5X Leader. Then attach a Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymph size 14 or a Murray’s Dark Miracle Stonefly Nymph size 14 to a twenty four inch 5X dropper below the dry fly.

Switch Rods For Smallmouth Bass

Jeff and I have been using our Scott Switch Rods for bass fishing in the the rivers for many years. Here are a few of the great angling features  the switch rods help us with.  If I am wading a river where there is a solid line of trees behind me that would prevent a regular back cast with my regular, single hand, smallmouth bass rod, the switch rod easily lets me roll out long casts.
When I am fishing nymphs and streamers across fast currents the extra length of my switch rod easily helps me reach high in order to negate the fast currents before me that would rob me of depth. Also in similar situations I can use long controlled mends in order to swim my flies deeply.
Making long casts is easy with a switch rod so I can fish poppers along the far shaded banks when the river before me is too deep to wade.

Access Sites

Access Sites Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop– Edinburg, Virginia

I am presently working with land owners in order to develop more access sites for anglers on our streams. Most of them are very understanding and are willing to help. Trash left on their land is the land owners main concern. One even told me that someone had dumped an old mattress on his land. This was the exact spot I was asking him for permission for us to park and fish.
In order to have a good relationship with these land owners, I suggest we each carry a few plastic garbage bags in our cars. Then we can clean up the access sites where we park to fish before we start fishing.
It is also good policy to clean up access sites on the National Forest and National Park Lands.

Five Tips for Tying Durable Flies

Five Tips for Tying Durable Flies Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop

Here is Five Tips for Tying Durable Flies:

(1) I keep my diluted fly tying cement in a hypo-syringe so I can apply a tiny drop of cement at each tie-in and tie-off step.

(2) I use the strongest tying thread possible for each type fly. I also use Kevlar Tying Thread when tying saltwater flies and deer hair bass bugs.

(3) I rely on very tight wraps of thread to hold all materials snugly to the hook rather than a great number of wraps.

(4) I remove all extraneous fuzz and wild hair fibers from each pinch of deer hair, elk hair, calf tail and buck tail before tying it onto the hook.

(5) When I complete trimming a surface deer hair bass bug I paint the stomach hook shank with spar varnish. I cut this 50-50 with paint thinner.

Murray’s Fly Shop
Harry Murray
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Splashy Presentations

Splashy Presentations Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

In order to solve the problem of splashy presentations when you are fishing dry flies for trout ,just aim higher. Act like you are casting your fly to land on a coffee table a foot over the stream. This is very easy to achieve and it allows the dry fly to settle gently onto the stream.

Murray’s Fly Shop
Harry Murray
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com

Casts

Many beginning anglers make much longer casts on mountain trout streams than is required. This robs them of accuracy and delicacy. Most of all it robs them of their chance of getting a drag-free fly drift.
I recently showed a group of beginning anglers how to preform my “Flip Cast”. In a few minutes they were all making perfect presentation casts.
Holding the fly in my line-hand I have ten feet of slack line hanging between the rod tip and the fly.  I bend over and move in low and slowly to the spot I plan to make my presentation cast. The fly rod is help perpendicular while still holding the fly tightly in my line hand and retaining the ten feet of slack. I snap the fly rod forward and release the fly as the fly line rolls forward and presents the fly accurately to the target. You will be well pleased with the accuracy and delicacy you can achieve with my Flip Cast. Do not confuse this with a bow and arrow cast which lacks this accuracy.

Five Basic Angling Tools

There are five basic anglers tools I always carry in my fly fishing pack and fly fishing vest. These five items include: a clipper on a retracting reel, Murray’s Hook Sharpening File, Pocket Thermometer, Murray’s Dry Fly Floatant and Anglers Forceps.
Inside my fly fishing pack and fly fishing vest I carry an assortment of gadgets I may not use once a year but I do not want to b without them. These include a small waterproof flashlight, a police whistle, a small Swiss Army knife, a butane lighter, ferrule cement, extra rod tip top and two snake guides. It also includes band aids, extra leader clipper and an extra leader.
Murray’s Fly Shop
Harry Murray
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com

Fishing Nymphs and Streamers Deeply

Fishing Nymphs and Streamers Deeply- Murray’s Fly Shop

We have many excellent sinking head and sinking tip fly lines that are a great help in fishing our nymphs and streamers deeply along the streambottom. However, I find that in order to take full advantage of these fly lines it helps to use a Murray’s Fluorocarbon 6 foot Sinking Line Leaders. Longer leaders negate the forward sinking portions of these fly lines. They also prevent the flies from swimming as deeply as desired.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com

Heavy Angling Pressure

Heavy Angling Pressure Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The sections of the smallmouth bass rivers upstream of the take-out spots are the best because they receive light angling pressure. By the time the fishermen have floated this far, they are either running late or they are tired.

Heavy Angling Pressure Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

Frequently I find outstanding smallmouth bass fly fishing on rivers that receive heavy angling pressure. Mostly from floating fishermen in boats, canoes and kayaks. My trick is to wade into the river at the popular take-out spots.  Then turn and wade upstream for my fly fishing.
I have found that the stretched of the smallmouth bass river upstream from the popular take-out spots actually receive light angling pressure. It looks to me like that by the time most float-trips anglers reach the take-out spot they are wither worn-out, running late or are drunk! At any rate the serious angling pressure is light.

Check out our Smallmouth Bass On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools and Half Day On The Stream Fly Fishing Lessons. Also check out our Basic Fly Tying Workshop and Smallmouth Fishing on the Shenandoah River Workshop. Also check out our Learn to Fly Cast and Rig Tackle Workshop.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Rewarding Outdoor-Experiences

Rewarding Outdoor-Experiences Blog Murray's Fly Shop
Camping in the remote sections of the mountain trout streams provides wonderful fishing and experiences you will never forget.

Rewarding Outdoor-Experiences Blog Murray’s Fly Shop

One of the most rewarding outdoor-experiences is to hike into the remote sections of the mountain trout streams in order to camp and fish for several days. I like to set up my tent where two of the main feeder streams enter the streams.  This enables me to fish the main stream one day and each of the feeders the next two days. By choosing the location carefully and heading into the mountains in the middle of the week, you will often heave the whole stream to yourself and find outstanding trout fishing.

Check out our Mountain Trout On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools.

Streamer Fly Fishing

Streamer Fly Fishing Blog- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

Streamer Fly Fishing Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
Streamer fishing is very effective when you handle the swing of the fly properly for prompt strike detection and solid hook ups on the strike.

Streamers normally imitate minnows and bait fish. A very effective tactic is to cast these across stream and swim them back across stream so the fly is broadside to the current. As the current plays on the fly and fly line it is pulled downstream as it swings across stream. It is very important to keep the rod tip pointed where the fly line enters the stream. Then you can feel the strike the instant the fish take it. In this way you can set the hook quickly with a combination line-hand strike. You can also use a rod lifting motion before the fish detects it as a phony and ejects it. I find that by rotating my body downstream at the same rate the streamer is swinging, I can easily apply this technique.

Fishing Information

Fishing Information Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
An accurate stream log is extremely helpful when planning future trips.

Each evening when I return from a local fishing trip, I record the important fishing information on a large calendar in my kitchen. This helps me plan my later trips this season and during future years. Information which I find helpful includes: the stream fished and which section, stream level, stream temperature, the insect hatches and hot heavy, my most productive flies and the best sizes.
When I return from distant trips out of state that I fish for two to three weeks, I record the information in my stream log that will help me plan future trips. Some of this includes the best streams fished and what sections and weather. Other important information is stream levels, hatches, most productive flies and general information on food and lodging.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Stream Thermometer

Stream Thermometer- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I rely greatly on my Stream Thermometer in order to find good fishing.

Stream Thermometer- Murray’s Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia

I use my stream thermometer every day when I am on a trout stream and a smallmouth bass river.  This information gives me a more complete picture of why the fishing is as I find it that day. This helps me greatly on future fishing trips.
For example, if I get a reading of 36 degrees Fahrenheit on a mountain trout stream in the spring I know I will do best by fishing nymphs rather than drys . This is because the trout do not feed well at this low temperature.  Then by August if I get a 68 degrees Fahrenheit reading on a mountain brook trout stream I know I am going to have to fish very carefully because this is approaching the upper range of the brook trout comfort zone.

Check out for Mountain Trout Fly Fishing Schools, Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Schools, Half Day On The Stream Fly Fishing Lessons, and our Saturday Fly Fishing Workshops.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Loop Versus a Needle Knot

Loop Versus a Needle Knot Blog- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
I like to use a needle knot coated with thin coats of Pliobond for attaching my leader to the fly line on my delicate trout outfits because this slides through the guides very smoothly.

This week’s blog we will be discussing a Loop Versus a Needle Knot.

Most fly lines now come with a loop built into the forward part of the line. This is very convenient for connecting your leader with a loop to loop connection.  Therefore I use this on my seven weight smallmouth bass outfit. However, on my trout outfits for lines two to three in the East and lines four to six in the Rockies, I attach my leaders to the fly line with a needle knot. I coat these with three very thin coats of Pliobond. I prefer the needle knot on my lighter outfits. It slides through the guides easier than a loop to loop line connection.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Fool the Trico Feeder

Fool the Trico Feeder- Trout Fly Fishing- Murray's Fly Shop- Virginia
The Trico hatch brings up many large trout. I like to get to the stream early and stay late to catch the early and late feeders.

Today’s blog I will be discussing how to fool the Trico feeder.

I really enjoy fishing the Trico mayfly hatch all across the country. This hatch can be very heavy on some streams.

For example, one morning as I was fishing upstream, I came to a low-hanging limb of an oak tree. This limb had a fresh spider web that trapped many tricos. Holding my hand up beside the spider web and counting by tens I estimated that under the span of my hand there were two hundred trapped tricos.

At the peak of this hatch the trout are often very selective in requiring a drag-free drift and the pattern they will take. I have found an easy way to fool some of these tough trout. The best way is get to the stream an hour before the hatch starts. I also stay an hour after it is over.

The trout are much easier to catch when the Tricos are sparse at the beginning and end of the hatch.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email Address: info@murraysflyshop.com

Five Best Winter Trout Flies for Large Streams

Five Best Winter Trout Flies for Large Streams
Many large trout feed heavily during the winter in the large streams.
Five Best Winter Trout Flies for Large Streams
Murray’s Black Marauder, Murray’s Pearl Marauder, Mr. Rapidan Dry, Murray’s Dark Miracle Stonefly Nymph and Mr. Rapidan Brown Soft Hackle Nymph.

Last year from January until March these were our five best winter trout flies for large streams.

Fishing these nymphs and streamers deeply in the pockets below the riffles and in the deep pools produce many large trout. I do well with the Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly by fishing it along the edges of the riffles where the trout enter the pools.

I fish the nymphs and streamers on a Murray’s Trout Nymph 9 foot 4X  Leader with the built in Scientific Anglers Indicators. I fish the dry fly on a Murray’s Classic 9 foot 4X Leader.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email: info@murraysflyshop.com

Caddisflies

Caddisflies Trout Fly Fishing- Murray's Fly Shop Edinburg, Virginia
One can often catch many trout with a Murray’s Magic Caddis Pupa as a dropper below a Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Caddis when a caddis hatch is on.

There is a good hatch of caddisflies and you see several trout feeding in each pool. However, even though you try several dry caddisflies in different colors and sizes, you can’t seem to catch many trout.

What is the problem?

Many natural caddis pupa drift several feet just below the surface of the stream before breaking through to fly away as adults. Frequently it is difficult to discern if the trout are taking the emerging pupa or the adult. A good tactic to solve this problem is to fish a Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Caddis on a Murray’s Classic 7.5 foot 5X Leader with a Murray’s Magic Caddis Pupa on a twenty four 6X mono dropper coming off the bend of the dry fly hook with an improved clinch knot. This way you will catch the pupa feeders and dry fly feeders.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email: info@murraysflyshop.com

Fly Fishing Tackle Questions

Fly Fishing Taackle Questions
Here on Bis Spring Creek my 6X Classic Leader was perfect for fishing my Mr. Rapidan Ant size 18.

There are two  fly fishing tackle questions that anglers have been asking Murray’s Fly Shop so Mr. Harry Murray has answered those questions below.

  1. Why can’t you present a size 6 Popper smoothly on a 6X Leader?
  2. Why can’t you catch a rising trout on a size 18 dry fly fished on an 0X Leader?

The answer is simple: The leader tippet has to be chosen correctly to match the fly size. The formula below helps.

Fly Size ÷ 3 = Tippet in X

An example is size 18 Fly ÷ 3 = 6X Tippet

So remember this formula next time you are fishing!

Also check out Fly Fishing Questions and Answers Blog.

Harry Murray
Murray’s Fly Shop
PO Box 156
121 South Main Street
Edinburg, Virginia 22824
Phone Number: 540-984-4212
Website: www.murraysflyshop.com
Email: info@murraysflyshop.com

Slack Line Casts

Ever since Vince Marinaro showed me his puddle cast here on the Letort, I have relied on it daily to achieve drag-free fly drifts.

I have come to rely strongly on Marinaro’s  “Puddle Cast” in order to achieve drag free dry fly drifts to fool the trout.
Even though I have been using this cast successfully for many years, ever since Vince showed me how to present it, just this year I have found many special situations in which it has helped me catch many trout that I would not have caught otherwise.
Basically the forward presentation is stopped about thirty degrees above the stream with extra line in the air than is needed to reach the target. The cast is stopped suddenly and the extra line is allowed to fall on the stream in a puddle.
I have been able to extrapolate the refinements of the puddle casts by altering the elevation and angle of the rod and the speed of the line on the presentation.