Tag Archives: trout

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

My Three Favorite Trout Leaders

My Three Favorite Trout Leaders- Murray’s Fly Shop

Here are my three favorite  trout leaders:

(1) Murray’s Classic Knotted Compound Tapered Hand Tied 7.5 foot long Leader. This leader is perfect for small trout streams.

(2) Murray’s Compound Tapered Knotted Hand Tied Nymph 9 foot Leader with a built in Scientific Anglers Indicator. This leader is ideal for nymph fishing.

(3) Murray’s Classic Hand Tied Compound Tapered 9 foot Leader. This is leader is excellent for all dry fly fishing and also streamer fly fishing on large streams.

The tippet size of these leaders is determined by the fly size using this formula:
Fly Size ÷ 3 = Tippet in X

An example is: size 12 fly ÷ 3 = 4X tippet

We also have the Murray’s Classic Leader 9 foot Leader in a 3 pack. These are regular price $15.75 but they are on sale for $10.99.

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

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

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

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

Splash

Splash- Trout Fly Fishing- Murray's Fly Shop- Edinburg, Virginia
The natural cricket often falls onto the stream with a splash so presenting Shenk’s Cricket with a splash often brings solid strikes.

Today’s blog I will talk about how to present a fly so it lands on the stream with a slight splash.

From the middle of the summer until fall many trout feed heavily on terrestrial insects.  I experiment with various methods of fishing these from natural drifts to a twitching action to dapping. However, there is one type of presentation which often brings solid strikes from large trout when all other methods fail. This is presenting the fly so it lands on the stream with a slight splash. I assume the trout are attracted to an artificial fly which lands on the stream in this way because the trout are accustomed to feeding on natural beetles, wasp, hornets, grasshoppers and crickets which land on the stream with a splash.

This type delivery is easy to achieve by imparting a firm snap at the last moment when using a regular cast or a roll cast.

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

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.

Primary Feeding Stations for Trout

Primary Feeding Stations Jeff Murray Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Learning to identify the primary feeding stations in the streams is one of the most valuable things you can master.

Learning to find the primary feeding stations for trout is the most valuable thing an angler can learn.
The largest trout in the pool selects what I call the Primary Feeding Station. This location enables the trout to capture the maximum amount of food while expending the least amount of energy.
Experience on the stream will teach you to identify these with great accuracy. I saw my fishing partner prove this. He allowed himself only one cast into each pool on ten consecutive pools… He caught ten trout.

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

Fly Fishing Essentials- Must Haves

Fly Fishing Essentials- Must Haves Extra Fly Boxx Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop
I always carry an extra fly box in my vest or chest pack just in case I loose my main fly box.

Fly fishing essentials- must haves include a variety of gear, an extra fly box is an easy one.
For my trout fishing I carry the flies I need for each trip in one small fly box in my chest pack. When doing this on the Armstrong last year I lost my main fly box and had to fish with those flies that were on my dry fly patch. Ever since that day I have carry a second small fly box with a dozen emergency flies in my chest pack.

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

Chest High Waders or Hippers?

I find hippers ideal for fishing small mountain trout streams and go to chest high waters on large streams.
I find hippers ideal for fishing small mountain trout streams and go to chest high waters on large streams.

I use Chest High Waders when I am fishing large trout streams and smallmouth bass rivers.  I wear hippers when I am fishing mountain trout streams. If I walk into a mountain trout streams for two miles or less I wear my hippers to walk in. If I plan to walk in more than two miles, I hang my hippers over my shoulder and wear hiking shoes to walk in, then stick my shoes up on the bank and put my hippers on to fish.  After I finish fishing, I put my hiking shoes back on and carry my hippers to walk back out of the mountain.

The Angler’s Friend – Folstaf Wading Staff

Harry Murray Folstaf Wading Staff Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing Virginia
My Folstaf Wading Staff is neatly folded only inches away from my right hand where I can quickly grab it when I need it.

I never head into any stream without my Folstaf Wading Staff.  Many anglers readily see the safety advantages of using a Wading Staff when fishing deep water.  However, if you do slip and fall into water which is waist deep you get wet. But remember if you fall down in water which is ankle deep, you can easily break bones. I have tested many different styles of wading staffs, but I like my Folstaff Wading Staff best of all because it is very durable and dependable.

Watch out video on our Folstaff Wading Staff, https://vine.co/v/MOQHwvt0gAg

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

Fly Casting Classes

Jeff Murray On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools Murray's Fly Shop Virignia
We teach the students in our schools all types of casts and how to use each cast in different situations.

In my Fly Casting and Rigging Tackle Classes and in my “On The Stream Fly Fishing Schools”, I find that most beginning anglers are more interested in learning to cast far than they are to cast well.
Long casts are great when you need them, but for most trout anglers accuracy and delicacy in fly placement are the main goals which spell success on the stream. When I show my students my “flip cast” and my “pendulum cast”, they are astounded with the accuracy in fly placement they can achieve. The ultimate reward which thrills them is the great number of wary trout they catch in this way.

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

Sink Tip Mini Lead Head

Instant Sink Tip Class III (4 feet)
Instant Sink Tip Class III

I used to make these out of lead core trolling line in many lengths from four inches to ten feet long. I whipped a loop on both ends.  Today I have settled for a four foot model. By inserting these into a regular leader with a loop-to-loop connection, you can fish streamers and nymphs to extra depths. These do not work as well nor cast as well as the Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink Tip III Fly Lines but they are an inexpensive substitute.

Scientific Anglers Indicators

Scientific Anglers Indicators
Scientific Anglers Indicators

Many years ago when I showed Howard West, an executive with Scientific Anglers, how I made these with old fly lines. He was very excited and offered to build a hollow version and put them on the market as Scientific Anglers Indicators.  Today it is my favorite indicator because it preforms many invaluable angling functions in addition to detecting strikes.  Some of these include being  a depth gauge when swing nymphing, tippet locator when using a back up drift streamer technique, fly-locator when fishing midges on long leaders, depth gauge when using the escape streamer technique and strike detector when using a dead drifting nymph technique.  Many of you who have taken my “On the Stream Schools” will be familiar with these ways of using the Scientific Anglers Indicators.

Small Flies

Trico Female Spinner size 22
Trico Female Spinner size 22

In order to tie small delicate trout flies I hold the number of thread wraps to a minimum. The firmness of the wraps and not the number of wraps is what makes a fly durable. Also, experience has shown me our most effective small flies are tied very sparsely so I keep the number of components to a minimum. I also like to use out 8/0 thread or 6/0 thread.

Tailing Dry Flies

Murray's Sulphur Dry
Murray’s Sulphur Dry

Many years ago I used to tie my dry flies with thick clumps of spade hackle and could not explain why I got many refusals from rising trout. It finally dawned on me that I was using way too many hackle fibers in the tail.  I had been using so many that it possibly looked like part of the fly’s body to the trout. Even though I may have been tying a dry fly on a size 14 hook which matched the natural insects, by the time I tied in a very thick clump of tail hackle fibers, my fly looked like a size 10 to the trout.
I now use only enough spade hackle or straight moose body hair for my dry fly tails to help float my flies and my catch is greatly improved.

Durable Flies

Fly Tying with Murray's Head Cement.
Fly Tying with Murray’s Head Cement.

In order to improve the durability of my flies when I tie them, I like to place a mini-drop of head cement at each tie-in and tie-off spot as I add a new material. I find that a easy way to do this is to keep some head cement in a hypodermic needle and just place a mini-drop where I need it. In order to keep the cement from drying in the syringe and plugging the needle shut, I stick it in a cork between steps.

Streamer Flash

Accent Flash, Rainbow
Accent Flash, Rainbow

I often add a few strands of rainbow color accent flash in the wings and tails of streamers. These strands in with marabou, buck tail, calf tail or saddle hackle helps it look like a real minnow in the stream. This is easy to use and inexpensive.

Check out our fly tying workshops this winter!

Natural Animal Fur Dubbing Materials

Natural Beaver Dubbing Fur and Natural Mink Dubbing Fur.
Natural Beaver Dubbing Fur and Natural Mink Dubbing Fur.

For very small nymphs I often use natural furs right off the skin after removing the guard hairs. These furs produce flies with a very effective sheen which mimics the subdued luster of the natural nymphs. These are very easy to dub and are inexpensive.

If you are interested in fly tying, check out our Fly Tying Workshops we offer this winter.

Dubbing for Fly Bodies

Fly Rite is on the left and Hare's Ear Natural Fur Blend is on the right.
Fly Rite is on the left and Hare’s Ear Natural Fur Blend is on the right.
  • For dry flies I like to use a very fine poly blend of dubbing material such as Fly Rite 34 on the left which I use on my Mr. Rapidan Dry Flies. This material is very fine, making it easy to dub flies as small as a size 24 with a smoothly tapered body. It is lighter than water and is does not adsorb water thus producing a high floating dry fly. This comes in many colors and is inexpensive.
  • For nymphs and pupa I like to dub blends of natural furs because these produce buggy looking insect bodies. Counter wrapping these bodies with gold, silver, copper or olive wire produces a neatly segmented tapered fly body. However, if you wind the same ribbing materials with a forward motion you can produce an insect body with translucent living appearance.

Hen Saddles

Speckled Indian Hen Saddle
Speckled Indian Hen Saddle

Speckled Indian Hen Saddles are great for hackleing nymphs and soft hackles. They are dyed in many different colors, are inexpensive and you can tie hundreds of great flies with each saddle.
I like to keep this hackle sparse on my Mr. Rapidan Soft Hackle Nymph flies, Mr. Rapidan Bead Head Nymphs flies and all of my Murray’s Magic Caddis Pupa flies because I believe this conveys a realistic fly-action to the trout.

If you are interested in fly tying check out our fly tying classes we are offering in the winter.

Effective Streamers

Murray's Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer
Murray’s Black Madtom Sculpin Streamer

When you are designing a new streamer to match a specific minnow it is great to tie one that looks so much like the real minnow that it impresses your friends. However, when you are on the river fishing the fish appear to take the streamers which ACT like the real minnow they are accustomed to feeding on in that area. It is great when your new streamer looks like that specific minnow but for consistent success it is a must that your new fly ACT like the real minnow in the way it swims through the currents and darts for cover when it is chased by a fish. After a great deal of experimenting with materials and tying techniques, the Murray’s Madtom Sculpin Streamer evolved into a streamer which acts like a real minnow and the fish take quickly.  Check the prevalent minnows in your streams and see if you can developed an effective streamer.

Hackle Cape and Saddle

Metz Grade 1 Brown Rooster Saddle and Metz Grade 1 Light Ginger Rooster Neck Cape.
Metz Grade 1 Brown Rooster Saddle and Metz Grade 1 Light Ginger Rooster Neck Cape.

This photo shows the difference between a Metz Grade 1 Light Ginger Rooster Neck Cape and a Metz Grade 1 Brown Rooster Saddle.
I like to use the Grade 1 Rooster Neck Capes for my trout dry flies because they help the flies float well, are easy to use and the Grade 1 has a great number of excellent quality small hackle for the smallest flies.
I use the saddles for streamers, large nymphs, a broad variety of smallmouth bass bugs and even the head hackle on my Mr. Rapidan Bass Skater Dry size 6. The best Saddles will have a fair number of hackle feathers along their sides for trout dry flies in sizes 12, 14 and a few as small as size 16. If you need to hackle flies smaller than size 16 a good Rooster Neck Cape will help you.

Match the ???

Adult Mayfly Dun Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
By matching the color and size of the natural insects you will do well.

Personally I enjoy entomology. I found that working with Art Flick in the sixties in order to identify the aquatic insects in Virginia very rewarding and it was the beginning of a very special friendship.
We now have many excellent books on aquatic entomology so if you enjoy this I believe you will find it very rewarding.
However, one of the greatest trout anglers and finest gentleman I have ever known used a different approach.  He was not into technical entomology, but he did not seem to need it. When he saw large tan natural aquatic insects on the stream he would take an artificial fly from his box which matched it and catch many trout. If he saw small yellow natural insects on the stream he would go to his fly box and match it with great success.  His name was Jack Sperry and he was a true master angler.

Ideal Flies

Yellowstone River Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA

Ideal Flies. Select the flies you carry to the stream carefully so you can meet the demands at that specific time.  One day on the Yellowstone River at Livingston, Montana I handed my wife a small fly box containing a dozen flies and showed her where to fish a beautiful riffle as we entered the stream. My guide of seventeen years, Ray Hurley, and I headed upstream to fish some heavy water. Ray paused and said, “Just what twelve flies did you give your wife?” When I told him he smiled and said, “She is better equipped than ninety percent of the fishermen on the Yellowstone River.”
In order to help you have the right flies at the right time I have put hatch charts in my three trout books and two smallmouth bass books. I also present a podcast at the beginning of each month where I discuss the fly needs and the hatches for the coming month. My weekly “Anglers Club Newsletter” provides great timely information on the fishing and current fly needs as does my free Monthly Newsletter.

Maps

The mountain trout streams are excellent this time of year in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Be sure to have your map with you when you leave the trail head to go into the stream.
The mountain trout streams are excellent this time of year in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Be sure to have your map with you when you leave the trail head to go into the stream.

Last summer a friend took two of his fishing buddies into a small remote mountain trout stream.  He had fished the stream before and felt confident in taking them to the best part of the stream. Unfortunately, he forgot to take his map with him. There were many small trails leading off the main trail that he had forgotten.  They hiked for three hours and never did find the stream and finally climbed back up to the top of the mountain and came home.
I have been lost twice in the mountains when I was trying to take shortcuts to the streams.  Once you are on the stream you should be okay in finding your way.  However, some find mountain trout streams have no trails in or out and there may be private land at the lower end of the stream where trespassing is not allowed.
I always have the map in my vest for the stream I am fishing in the back country.

Thermometer

Stream Thermometer
Stream Thermometer
I rely strongly on my stream thermometer to help me select proper flies to fish.
I rely strongly on my stream thermometer to help me select proper flies to fish.

My Stream Thermometer is a very important part of my trout and smallmouth bass angling.  For example, on mountain trout streams the first thing I do is take the stream temperature. In early March if it is much below 40 degrees I know I will catch more trout on nymphs than I will on drys. In August a mountain trout stream temperature of 68 degrees in the afternoon means the trout are not going to feed heavily. The next trip I should get there about dawn when the stream may be several degrees cooler.
A smallmouth bass trip early in the spring with a river temperature of 52 degrees tells me to fish my flies slowly along the streambottom.
These stream temperatures go on my calendar at home along with readings over the last twelve years. Checking these helps me plan future trips on where to go and what to use.

The Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
The Blackfoot River

Every time I watch the movie The River Runs Through It my memory brings up the wonderful fishing I have had on the Blackfoot River. The abundance of trout and few anglers makes this a wonderful stream to fish.

Sunscreen

Bonefish Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Sunscreen is as important when fishing for trout and smallmouth bass as it is on a bonefish trip.

Some of the studies are now suggesting we reapply a broad spectrum water proof 50 sun blocking lotion every eighty minutes while we are on the stream. I personally use the little lip coating sticks about every hour also.

Keep Your Car Ready

Jeff Murray Harry Murray Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
Keeping your Jeep loaded with a variety of emergency equipment can enable fishing to be a wonderful experience in place of a disaster.

I keep a variety of tools in the back of my Jeep to help when unexpected events occur. It is amazing how often I need some of this for myself or angling friends. Here are some of the items I carry with me: a thirty foot long heavy tow cable, a ten foot wire cable with a winch, an ax, a timber saw, jumper cables, folding shovel, a variety of sizes of screwdrivers and wrenches, rope, large and small flashlights, change of clothes, extra fly rod and reel, extra flies, first aid kit, emergency food, a tire pump that runs off the cigarette lighter, fire extinguisher and a heavy duty battery to jump car battery.

Murray’s Strymph

Murray's Olive Strymph Smallmouth Bass Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
By carefully designing the Murray’s Strymph, Harry Murray was able to produce a fly that would pass for both a streamer and a nymph.

There are days when the smallmouth bass feed heavily on minnows and fishing streamers catches these fish. However, there are days when they feed mostly on natural nymphs and we catch these smallmouth bass on “artificial nymphs”. Realizing this, I decided to develop one fly to be fished as a Streamer to catch the minnow feeders as well as matching the natural nymphs which could be fished as a Nymph. I developed the Strymph drawing on Ron Kommer’s idea of using ostrich herl in the tail and Charlie Brooks concept of tying underwater flies “in the round”.
Thus the Strymph can be fished upstream dead drift and across the current in a swing nymphing method both of which match our natural nymphs.
The Strymph can easily be fished across stream with a deep swimming action which matches all of our minnows. Simply stated, there is no wrong way to fish the Murray’s Strymph, and it is equally effective for both smallmouth bass and trout.
If you are interested in learning how to tie the Murray’s Strymph, here is the tying kit or you can just purchase the tying instructions recipe sheet.

Clothing

Before the regular anglers around West Yellowstone got to know Charlie Brooks they called him Mr. Monotone. Brook’s, who was a very special friend told me one day when we were fishing the Madison that he finally figured out the name came from the camouflaged clothing he wore most of the time. Since Brook’s fished every day when he first moved to West Yellowstone, he was either on his way to the stream or on his way back when people saw him. Since Brooks was one of the most capable anglers I have ever known, I fully respect his desire to wear subdued colored clothing when fishing. To this day I always wear subdued colored clothing.
I really do believe this helps catch wary fish. For example, I was shocked the day a supposed well-traveled angler showed up for a bass float trip wearing a white t-shirt and white hat and insisted on standing up in the front of our Hyde Drift Boat to fish all day…nope, he caught no large fish.

New Scientific Anglers Fly Line, Part Two

Scientific Angler Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

Part Two Blog on Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 30 Warm Fly Line

The new Scientific Anglers Sink 30 Warm is an outstanding fast sinking head line.  The thirty foot head sinks at 4.0 to 8.0 ips (sinks four feet to fifteen feet) which has an intermediate running line.  The 200 grain line for five to seven weight rods is great for trout and smallmouth bass. The 350 grain line is excellent for eight to ten weight rods in saltwater. I find the 350 grain line ideal for my saltwater fishing at the Outer Banks. I use my Murry’s Fluorocarbon Sinking 6 foot Leader with these lines.  These lines replace the Teeny 200 and 350 grain sinking head lines.

See our next blog for more information on new Scientific Anglers Lines.

Ostrich Plume

Ostrich Plumes Fly Tying Flies Murray's Fly Shop VA
Harry Murray holding one pound of White Ostrich Plumes.
Ostrich Plumes Fly Tying Flies Murray's Fly Shop VA
Harry Murray holding one pound of White Ostrich Plumes.

This pound of Ostrich will tie enough flies to catch many thousand fish. Ostrich Plume is used to tie streamers, Murray’s Pearl Marauder is one example. It is highly effective because it has natural minnow action in the stream.

Also, different color Ostrich Plumes are used to tie Murray’s Hellgrammites, Murray’s Strymph and Murray’s Marauder’s.

Simple Flies

Murray's Olive, Cream and Black Strymph.
The Murray’s Strymph is an outstanding fly for both smallmouth bass and trout.

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.

Where are the Natural Nymphs?

Harry Murray relies strongly on his Murray's Nymph Leader with its Scientific Anglers Indicators to catch trout on nymphs in the spring.
Harry Murray relies strongly on his Murray’s Nymph Leader with its Scientific Anglers Indicators to catch trout on nymphs in the spring.

Many natural nymphs move to the downstream side of the cobblestones in the lower sections of the riffles at this time of the season in preparation of hatching over the next several weeks. Any nymphs dislodged here are swept into the pool downstream where they are easy prey for the trout. A very effective tactic is to fish a nymph such as the Mr. Rapidan Dry size 14 upstream dead drift right below these riffles and into the runs on each side of the riffles. The Murray’s Nymph Leader with its built in Scientific Anglers Indicators is a great help in detecting these strikes.

Selective Trout

If a trout rises to take your fly but refuses it, give him a few minutes to get back on his feeding station before you cast to him again.
If a trout rises to take your fly but refuses it, give him a few minutes to get back on his feeding station before you cast to him again.

A large trout comes up and looks at your dry fly but refuses it. There is a natural tendency to cast back to him right away to try him again. A ploy which works best for me is to hold my cast for five minutes until I am sure he is back on his feeding station before casting to him again. If he refuses the second drift I got to a smaller fly that creates an entirely different light pattern and this usually takes him.

Dry Fly Cleaning

Dry flies that have become mashed or dirty can be brought back to excellent condition by steaming them very carefully over a hot tea kettle with long forceps... very , very carefully.
Dry flies that have become mashed or dirty can be brought back to excellent condition by steaming them very carefully over a hot teakettle with long forceps… very , very carefully.
Ice
Ice

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.

Find the Good Water

Mountain Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Mountain Trout Fly Fishing Murray's Fly Shop VA
I have often gotten excellent fishing on the mountain streams in the Rockies by hoking into the remote headwaters.

Late last summer I drove a long distance to fish a mountain trout stream.  When I arrived at the lower end of the stream, I was surprised to find it was very discolored as a result of recent rains. Checking my topographic maps I noticed that two substantial feeder streams entered my stream just a mile upstream. By hiking up the trail beside the main stream until I got upstream of the two feeder streams, I found clear water and had outstanding fishing.
On a different trip to a different stream the high stream level forced me to hike several miles upstream to where a nice little feeder brook entered the main stream. I had never fished this little feeder brook before, but that day I had one of the finest days of dry fly fishing I have ever experienced.  Often you are rewarded with outstanding fishing after a short hike.