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
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.
Many of the rivers in Virginia hold very large musky that offer exciting fishing with fly rods. For example, both the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River hold good numbers of musky that can be reached by either wading or floating.
A great deal of success one can experience in musky fishing relies on selecting the proper rods, reels, lines, leaders and flies.
In this podcast, Harry Murray, discusses the new selection of musky flies that are available in his fly shop and how to effectively fish them. He covers the proper leader and what fly rod and reel outfit he recommends for this type of fishing.
If you need help finding the areas of the Shenandoah River that offer musky fishing, stop by the fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia and he will show you the best areas on the map.
In reviewing my stream notes from last year, here are the five best early season smallmouth bass flies which were the most productive from March through June. Based on this success I plan to rely strongly on these for my early season smallmouth bass fishing this year.
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.
In today’s fly fishing podcast Harry Murray discusses the tactics and fly patterns which are effective for fishing for trout during the Brown Sedge Caddisfly hatch which is on during September. His discussion of fishing the emerging pupa as a dropper below the Mr. Rapidan Delta Wing Dry Fly will help you catch many large trout. Harry also discusses the special feeding stations in the pools where he is catching many trout on the Mr. Rapidan Ants and the special casts which help him.
Over the last three years Harry and his son, Jeff have been developing special Riffle Hitch Techniques and flies which are effective for smallmouth bass. Today Harry describes how to fish this riffle hitch and the new flies which are effective.
In this Fly Fishing Question and Answer Podcast, Harry Murray discusses questions that he has been asked over the last month through phone calls and emails at his fly shop in Edinburg, Virginia.
What type of fly rod should I be using when nymph fishing? How can I enjoy fly fishing when I have hurt my casting arm? How can I improve my fishing in low, clear water when the fish are easily spooked? How many reels should I carry with me when on a fishing trip?
Recent rains have left the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River high and muddy (6/5/16). We’re hopeful the upper North Fork of the Shenandoah will be fishable by mid-week.
I find it rewarding and exciting to mentally mark the hot spots of each days fishing and then take advantage of this on my future fishing trips. Knowing where that exceptionally large smallmouth bass lived on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River close to Edinburg, Virginia enabled me to catch the large smallmouth bass several times over the years. The upper section of Lemar with the big boulders below the last bridge always produce several large cutthroats. And the most productive area on the Outer Banks for sea trout was twenty four power poles North of Buxton in the Sound.
In this Virginia Fly Fishing Stream Report, Harry Murray discusses the trout fishing in March including the natural nymphs that are active early in the month and what flies to use to match the hatch. He also discusses the importance of the water temperature and how this prompts the nymphs to emerge into the adult flies.
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.
In the forties and fifties, smallmouth bait fishermen on the Shenandoah River who were after the largest bass used live Hog Suckers for their bait. Then several years ago when a huge smallmouth bass chased a real hog sucker onto a shallow gravel bar to capture it just twenty feet from where I was wading, I decided to develop a Magnum Hog Suck Streamer to catch these big bass.
This new fly is effective from April until November. Fish it with a slow line hand stripping over the edges of all gravel bars along the banks and the downstream ends of the islands.
In 2016 we started a new item, Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker Fly Tying Kit. This kit contains a photo of the Murray’s Magnum Hog Sucker, the complete tying instructions, and enough materials and hooks to tie 24 of these flies. This fly tying kit is $35.95.
Learn to Fly Fish with our Fly Fishing Workshop–This November we will be starting our fly fishing workshops on Saturdays in the fly shop from 10a.m. to noon. I will be covering various topics throughout the winter into the spring including fly casting, fly tying, trout fishing in the Shenandoah National Park, smallmouth bass fishing in the Shenandoah River and NEW this year Selecting the Proper Fly Rod Outfits.
For more information or to register for a fly fishing workshop …click here or call 540-984-4212
In this Fly Fishing Report Podcast we discuss Early Fall Fishing Conditions you will encounter in Virginia and around the mid-Atlantic region. In this podcast Harry Murray discusses the fly fishing tactics to use in order to get your best fishing on the stocked trout streams and delayed harvest trout areas for the months of October and November. Effective flies: Pearl Marauder size 10, Black Marauder size 10, Shenandoah Silver Ghost size 10.
Fly Fishing Stream Report Podcast – Late Summer 2015 with Harry Murray
In this fly fishing stream report Harry Murray discusses the best areas to find the trout in the stocked trout streams and the most productive flies and techniques including Ed Shenk’s Cress Bug. Also with the water levels dropping for the end of the summer he touches on the best flies (Murray’s Moth, Housefly, Oakworm, & Yellow Jacket) to use to catch those brook trout in the mountain trout streams in the Shenandoah National Park using the hands and knees approach.
The last section of this podcast covers the smallmouth bass fishing on the Shenandoah River. He discusses when, where and how to catch the bass feeding on the Hexagenia Mayflies along with a new technique and flies (Mr. Rapidan Skater, Shad Streamer) for catching bass with a riffle hitch.
See our video on the riffle hitch (click here).
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.
The most valuable skill a smallmouth angler can develop is learning to read the water accurately. The few minutes spent analyzing a section of a river in this way will give you more bass on the spot and a better understanding of all sections of the rivers in the future.
I see this as a three step process. First I strive to determine where the bass will be holding. The best of these areas are a combination of a feeding station and a holding area. The second step is determining where to present my fly so I can fish it effectively through the basses feeding station. The third step is positioning myself at the precise spot which will enable me to make my presentation accurately and swim my fly convincingly through the basses feeding station.
My angler’s calendar is very large, having about two inch square spaces for each date. This allows plenty of space for me to write in where I fished that day, the water temperature, the hatches, water level, my catch and any other important information. Each January when I get a new calendar I write in the above information from previous years. This brings back wonderful memories as I record these previous trips. It also helps me plan future fishing trips as I correlate the present stream conditions and hatches with what I did on past trips under similar conditions. Great fun!
I have a good friend who injured his right shoulder badly. Since he cast with his right hand he was very disappointed that he would loose a season’s fishing while he recovered from surgery. I encouraged him to just switch over and cast with his left hand which he did and he was able to fish the whole season.
In my fly fishing schools I have always had to cast with both hands to help all of my students. If you have not tried this give it a go. You will be pleased how well you do. After all you already know the proper casting technique.
In the first part of this fly fishing report podcast Harry Murray discusses the effective flies and tactics for fishing streamers below the riffles on our stocked trout streams. (Hot Fly–Murray’s Marauder in Black or Pearl size 10)
Fly Fishing Report for Smallmouth Bass & Trout–May 2014
In this fly fishing podcast Harry Murray discusses the streams conditions plus the techniques to use at this time of the year on our smallmouth bass rivers in the first part. The second part includes the conditions of the trout streams and what flies and techniques to use.
I snapped this shot of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River on October 25, 2012 near Edinburg, VA. Fall is definitely here. The leaves are past their peak and are quickly falling from the trees. It’s beginning to look more and more like winter.
We now have great drift boats that permit us to stand in the front of the boats to cast while drifting the rivers. Recent studies reveal that by showing the large bass this high angle of a fisherman we are scaring many fish. The solution: Stay seated and do not wear white or brightly colored hats and shirts.
When you are fishing streamers across stream for trout or bass as you wade downstream stop and stand still before stripping your fly back. This enables you to quickly detect the strike and set the hook.
Listen to Harry Murray’s Podcast discussion on Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass from late May through early summer. Harry discusses stream conditions, smallmouth bass feeding areas, effective flyfishing tactics and productive flies to use while fly fishing this time of the year.
TheNorth Fork of the Shenandoah Riveris currently in great shape at Strasburg, VA but upstream from Edinburg, VA to Fulks Run, VA there is a lot of water. The USGS Streamflow Gauges show that the river has reached it’s crest on both the Mt. Jackson Streamflow Gauge and the Cootes Store Streamflow Gauge. This is what we call “quick water”. Quick water leaves the area quickly because it fell in a short time frame and was not able to soak in. This doesn’t help the water table, it is mostly just a speed bump in the Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing. Fortunately you can usually get ahead of or behind the extra water as it moves through the Shenandoah Valley.
The North Fork of the Shenandoah River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River will both have “fishable” areas through the weekend. Give us a call if you need help determining where the extra water is or track it on the USGS Streamflow Gauges.
Come on out an support the cause of cleaning up the Shenandoah River with good food, good times, and great music. More info at www.shenandoahriversidefestival.com
This is Earth Korps primary yearly fundraiser so if you cannot attend, donations or volunteers are always welcome and greatly appreciated.
If you’d would like your company or organization to be a part of the Shenandoah River clean-up campaign then go to www.earthkorps.wordpress.com and check out our sponsors page. Then contact the Captain with the level you’d like to be on. (email@example.com)
Earth Korps has been doing alot of work here on the Shenandoah River lately. Just wanted to let everyone know some of the things we have been getting out. In a few hours today we got 3 stoves, a fridge, a safe, a king size mattress, 10 tires and much more.
The North and South Fork of the Shenandoah are both in great shape for floating. The temperatures are in the upper 50’s to lower 60’s. We have done well with streamers fished slow and deep with sink tip fly lines. Olive Marauders and Black Madtom/ Sculpin in Size 4 or 6 have been working well.
Use caution if you are wading since there is still a lot of water in the river.
I have watched several anglers wading without a wader belt…. please do not do this! A wader belt is designed to keep your waders from filling up with water should you accidentally take a swim. Waders which are full of water make it very difficult to move/ swim which can lead to dire consequences in fast or deep water.
The warm weather has kicked the local fly fishing in to gear! The North and South Fork of the Shenandoah River are both in great shape and are fishing well (for April). Kelly landed this 15 1/2 inch Smallmouth Bass on an Olive Marauder #6 on 4/7/2010. A Sink Tip III Fly Line will work well for helping to swim your flies deeply through the ledges and deep pockets. An 8 Wt. Fly Rod will help you cast the heavy flies and lines a bit better than a 6 or 7 that we typically use in the summer.
Fly Fishing for Brook Trout in the Shenandoah National Park has been very good with mayflies and caddis coming off throughout the day. There is still a lot of water so if you are willing to hike into the upper reaches of your favorite stream, you will likely be rewarded with a few more willing fish.
EarthKorps (a non-profit whose goal is simply removing trash from the river) is holding a Shenandoah Riverside Music Festival Fundraiser. Please support their efforts if you are able. They do a great job of actually cleaning trash out of the river. As of right now, several of our guides have made plans to attend. If you cannot come for the entire weekend, come for a day or part of a day.
Not quite frozen… the ground that is. Â As we launched the new Hyde Skiff, my muddy boots gave the hint that we might be in trouble. Â We went about our casting of Â the new Scott T2H and returned to find that in fact the truck was stuck. Â After getting covered in mud and the help of a Jeep with a tow strap, we still made it to our dinner plans on time! To quote Yvon Chouinard, “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong”. Â How many times have I moved the tow strap out of my way when doing more mundane things??
With snow in the forecast and tomorrow’s high of 35 degrees, our smallmouth bass fly fishing might be coming to an end. It seems that the extra water from Wednesday’s rain slowed the fish on the North Fork of the Shenandoah a bit more than last week. We landed two fish in three hours and needed a Hi-D Head to achieve success. The water temperature was 48 degrees. However, we are enjoying our new Hyde Rocky Mountain Skiff more and more!!
The South Fork of the Shenandoah drainage received more rain than the North Fork drainage. The North Fork of the Shenandoah is still in great shape for fishing and floating. The South Fork is coming up and looks as though it reached it’s crest but it is becoming discolored above Luray, VA. If you plan on fishing the South Fork today, somewhere North of Luray will be your best bet. Otherwise, head to the North Fork.
The water levels are great right now for floating just about anywhere on the North or South Fork of the Shenandoah. Fly fishing with poppers was great yesterday and the fishing should only improve with the forecast. Remember early mornings and late evenings will be your best bet on days with bright sunlight. If you must fish in the middle of the day, look for shade or deep water.
For those of you interested in Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing in Virginia, check out the Smallmouth Bass River Report from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. There are quite a few interesting numbers like a 14 inch Smallmouth Bass in the South Fork of the Shenandoah is typically over 10 years old.
Saturday fishing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah (before the rain) was great. Many smallmouth bass cooperated with our poppers, nymphs and streamers. This is a Rock Bass (aka: Goggle-Eye, Red-Eye) that was caught very close to a few spawning beds of its kind. Guess he thought my Brown Marauder looked like a threat to its nest.
Many fish (Redbreast, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Rock Bass and a variety of minnows) are either spawning now or making preparations to do so in the near future. If you are wading the rivers, please use caution not to step on/ in/ close to these redds.