PHWFF New City, N.Y.- Catskills Trip – September 2017

PHWFF Trip
The Willowemoc -Photo: Frank DeGrazio
The Willowemoc -Photo: Frank DeGrazio

A year ago our group embarked on a fall trip to the Catskills; a trip in which we were greeted with high temperatures and low water . On the other hand.. This year on the other hand, we lucked out! The temperatures were much cooler at night which kept the fish active in the early mornings, and rising fish were there to greet us in the evenings.

Ken back in the casting groove!

Myself and Ken were the first to arrive Friday afternoon. The leaves had just begun their journey into the bright yellow and reds that we are seeing now, and hopes were high for a good weekend. Shortly after that; the rain arrived as well. While it wasn’t going to be enough to help the water conditions, it was nice to have a change in weather from the previous year.

The two of us weren’t to be discouraged and headed straight for the banks after putting on our rain gear. We spent a few minutes scanning the area, discussing different parts of the river system and flipped over a few rocks in search of some roving trout snacks. Flies were tied on, the usual booming laughter was heard around the bend and after a little guidance from me, Ken was back into the groove of casting. A few fish strikes were felt but no serious takers and I stood back for a minute to take a handful of photos and video to show him later, of his major casting improvements. It’s great to see the lessons we do in the park being utilized on the water!

Rod holders on Creekside Cabins: -Photo: Frank DeGrazio
Rod holders on Creekside Cabins: -Photo: Frank DeGrazio

An hour or so later the rest of the group arrived. Everyone unpacked and settled in to their cabins, I myself was already situated at a different location in town, and we went over the game plan for the weekend.  We also acquired a few helping hands on board this trip, which created more of a one-on-one fishing experience for the participants. Aside from Mike McClelland,Tim Daly, Harry Kerrigan and I; we were fortunate enough to have guides Frank Degrazio and Bryan Caldero  of the Anglers Den joining us along with Ed Burgholzer.

Charlie nymphing a stretch of pocket water.
Charlie nymphing a stretch of pocket water. -Photo: Frank DeGrazio

As always, the guys had a few entomology lessons on the bank. One of my favorite things about our outings, is that we can take what is taught in class and apply it to what is experienced on the water. Questions are asked and realizations are found based on our teachings. When we can talk about caddis in group and why we tie them the way that we do, then be able to open a few cases to show first hand what they look like; it will out what is going on it into perspective for all participants.

Uncasing a handful of caddis -N. March

There is no shortage of knowledge to be absorbed, and for myself and the other volunteers to be able to pass on this knowledge, while simultaneously learning from each other; it is a very rewarding experience for everyone.

Mayfly shucks on the Willow.
Mayfly shucks on the Willow. -N. March

Early risers were up and ready to fish, so after a pot or two of hot coffee and breakfast Saturday morning, we split up into small groups and fished different areas around the Catskills. As many of us are all to familiar with, it can be difficult to find a section of public water for the guys to access on a weekend that doesn’t already have 4 cars in the lot at 9am on a Saturday morning. This time though, once again, we lucked out!

Some went to Junction Pool others headed for Hazel Bridge and others, all with the plan to meet back at the cabins for lunch.

Reports were mixed as we returned to Creekside for something to eat, with some of the guys hooking fish, and others seeing no action at all. The weather held up as we ate and dried off in our waders, but as the temperatures began to climb we decided to take a mid afternoon trip to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum where Dette Trout Flies was hosting the Partridge Days fly tying show.

Fly tyers at Partridge Days.
Fly tyers at Partridge Days.

We arrived at the show and the guys quickly dispersed around the room to see different patterns being demonstrated, and then something quite interesting caught their attention.

Watching how to make furled leaders with Rick Bobrick
Watching how to make furled leaders with Rick Bobrick

Furled leaders! If you have never seen this process in action before, you might be missing out! Rick Bobrick of Medusa Leaders demonstrated how it works and the guys were given a first hand look; complete with a quick Q & A session before we headed back out to fish.

Watching how to make furled leaders with Rick Bobrick
Watching how to make furled leaders with Rick Bobrick

We split up shortly after that and hit the water one last time before dinner. Some had luck nymphing, others chased risers but, all no matter the outcome; it was great to see everyone enjoying some quiet time away from their usual hectic lives.

Charlie with a catch!
Charlie with a catch!

As the late afternoon fishing came to a close we were ready to head to dinner at The Rockland House.  The guys ordered a vast array of food from trout to monster steaks and a great time was had by all. We were also in good company as the Catskill Fly Tyers Guild was having their Annual Dinner in the same room. On behalf of P.H.W.F.F. New City, N.Y. I would like to formally thank everyone who helped make this weekend another successful one for all of the participants attending.

See you at the next meeting!

Dinner at The Rockland House
Dinner at The Rockland House

“We all began as beginners”

My Words of advice for those of you who are beginning..

Let me start off by saying, I am no expert. As much as I enjoy tying, and as much as I am immersed in the learning and the teaching aspect of it; I am not afraid to say that I don’t know everything. Even after these 4 years I feel as though I have only begun my journey behind the vise, and to me; that is exactly why this is so exciting.

Just like everything else in life that you enjoy, it’s a never ending learning experience.

I am not afraid to ask questions, or to say that I dont know something, and that right there; is something you shouldn’t be afraid of either.

I am not ashamed to be sitting at my table, tying a at a show, and not have the answer to a question I am asked.  I have been known to look around the room for someone that DOES know the answer; such as Dave Brandt, Catskill John or Mike Romanwski or the many other tyers that I’ve had the pleasure of learning from while attending shows; and then accompanying that person to their table so we can both research the pressing topic.

I don’t see the shame in it, because truthfully; I enjoy it. I have many questions that I sometimes forget to ask in my busy life, but to be able to stand there with a same person and learn side-by-side with them, to me; isn’t a downside. Its an upside. Since now we both know the answer to a question, that five minutes ago neither of us did.

I’m OK with all of this, and you should be as well. But too often I find people would rather sacrifice the knowledge they could have acquired, by holding back a question in fear of sounding like a ‘beginner’ or an ‘idiot’ in front of others.

The bottom line is, “We all began as beginners”.

It’s its something that I say often, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Have you ever asked a question in a group or demonstration, only to see or hear someone turn up their nose and laugh at you? I have. It’s happened to me, and you know what? I don’t care. To some of us life has always been a personal journey, not a popularity contest.

So grab a notebook and pen and attend those shows, seminars and demonstrations! Look in your area for fly tying events and attend them. Then ask those questions.

Ask them, and ask them proudly. Ask them knowing that someone next to you may have the same question but be afraid to ask. And if you find that your questions are treated with disrespect and sneers? Then you simply ask someone else. Don’t let the response of one or two hold you back from learning, because the majority of fly tyers enjoy teaching and passing what knowledge we have, onto others.

Better yet, before you go to a show pack up a couple flies that have a technique you were having trouble with. As you walk around the show and see someone who’s end result is what you wish to have, show them your flies asked them how you can improve and then listen to their advice. Not to say everyone you speak to will be thrilled to help you, but the fact is that if they aren’t? You’re in a room so big that you’re bound to find somebody who will.

I hear people say to me, I can’t wait till I can tie like you, your flies are perfect. Actually they aren’t perfect. We may strive for a photo perfect fly, and while proportions are always important; every fly I tie isn’t perfect. For aesthetic purposes, I enjoy challenging myself to tie my flies the way that I do, but that doesn’t mean that everything I tie looks like the one in the photo every single time. And when it doesn’t, like many of you; I squint my eyes, make a frustrated face, pick the feathers out of my cold coffee and tie another.

The flies Im going to show you are ones that I found after unpacking and settling into  our new home. All of these flies were tied within the first two weeks of me starting. So for those of you that message me and tell me you are just beginning, and “wish to one day tie like that”, just remember where you started, and where you are now. Look at how far you’ve come, don’t dwell on where you wish you were.

This one here, is the absolute first fly that ever came off my vise.
This one here, is the absolute first fly that ever came off my vise.

I remember sitting there tying this one while watching a DVD I had received in a kit, I have no idea what it is. It was more of a “How to make a dubbing loop” fly.

I had never fished it, I just saved it.

I remember being so intrigued in the fact that I just took a bunch of craft fur and made this thing! 😂

Now mind you I started tying flies before I started fly fishing.

This fly here, as you can see, was fish quite a bit. I caught my first bass on this fly. That reddish orange color is rust.
This fly here, as you can see, was fished quite a bit. I caught my first bass on this fly. That reddish orange color is rust.

“Two over easy”Have you ever fished an egg fly? Tiny little thing made with glo yarn or such material?

..well i wasn’t aware they were so small the first time I tied them.

These “eggs” are on a streamer hook and are the size of peanut M&M’s hahhahha

“The Grass Fly”

Grass carp.. ohhhh the elusive thorn in my side. After getting aggravated trying to catch them, I thought to myself “If they like grass so much I’ll tie them a grass fly”

Needless to say, It didn’t work.

The Thing

This ‘thing’ accounted for more bass and trout when I began fishing than any other fly I tied.

Note my 'sweet hackle wraps
Note my ‘sweet hackle wraps” never made it around the shank.

such consistency.. such consistency..

Once upon a time.. I tried to tie a wet fly

Im just gonna leave this one right here..
Im just gonna leave this one right here..

Did I fish it? You bet! Did I fish it? You bet!

This was supposed to be a scud..

Somewhere in that plump body is wire ribbing.. somwhere..
Somewhere in that plump body is wire ribbing.. somewhere..

Way to crowd the hook gap! Way to crowd the hook gap!

The wooly bugger…

I fished it.. it worked like a charm
I fished it.. it worked like a charm

upon closer inspection.. upon closer inspection..[/caption]< /p#>

Practicing my peacock herl..

I must have used 5 strands of peacock herl for the body
I must have used 5 strands of peacock herl for the body

The Hammered Hares Ear”

Forgot the ribbing.. crowded the eye..
Forgot the ribbing.. crowded the eye..

Proportions ? What proportions. Proportions ? What proportions.[/caption]< p style=”text-align: center”>And you know what?

I didn’t give a crap what anyone thought because I was enjoying myself behind the vise and my time on the water. Not to mention, you would be surprised how many of these caught trout.

My final advice to you?

The bottom line is: I tied these with pride, and that’s how I fished them.

Don’t concern yourself with the negativity of others, no one needs that crap.

Always take constructive criticism and ask those questions.

Don’t look at something you create and down talk it, just remind yourself that the next one will be better, and challenge yourself.

Anytime you see a pattern that makes you immediately think to yourself “I’ll never be able to tie that”.. I want you to tie it. Tie them horribly, tie them beautifully, tie them upside down by accident (believe me, I’ve done it at a show when I was nervous!) but no matter how you do it; tie them.

Because at the end of the day, your own personal progress, the fact that you are enjoying yourself; is all that matters.

And remember, we all began as beginners.

P.H.W.F.F. Meeting Recap- August 23, 2017: The tying contest and a surprise for Harry!

As the deadline approached for the fly tying contest being held by P.H.W.F.F. itself, the guys unanimously decided that the low-water woolly bugger was their fly of choice.

A beautiful disaster.
A beautiful disaster.

After working on the entries which were to be mailed shorty after, the guys presented Harry with a flag and a plaque in honor of his service!

Thank you for your service Harry!
Thank you for your service Harry!
A close up of the inscription .
A close up of the inscription .

Good luck to everyone on the fly tying contest and thank you all for your service!

Fly tying tips and tricks: “How to prep tying material that contains a center cord, to prevent excess bulk.”

Chenille is a commonly used material when it comes to woolly buggers, a fly in which I tie by the dozen since you can fish them all year. But materials like this with an inner thread cord can create a bulking issue when tying in without prep.

An inner cord means its a separate material that is wrapped around a cord or thread which is when wrapped around the hook. Estaz and chenille are common center corded materials. If you are currently having this trouble here’s a quick tip that will eliminate that problem.

First let’s take a look at what happens when you tie it in without any modification.

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How to groom the cord for a clean tie in.

Prepping the material is as simple as stripping the outer fibers from the cord. Lets take a closer look:

Working with corded material

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That’s it! Keep in mind, this technique isn’t limited to only chenille. Over time you will find that many other materials; contain a center cord that you can benefit from by prepping them first, such as cactus chenille and estaz.

Working with chenille.
Working with chenille.

Patterns using Chenille

Low water woolly bugger

Material Talk: Articulated Wiggle Shanks

Isonychia Wiggle Emerger

The first time I thought about tying something with an extended body I tried to cut the ends off of my hooks, and after a few sticks to my fingers, not to mention the waste of money.. I gave up.

So when I came across these small articulated shanks I was thrilled and began using them for flies that I wanted to give a little more movement to.

Close up of a wiggle shank
Close up of the wiggle shank

Articulated Wiggle Shanks to put it simply, are a long shank hook without a point, that can be used to give a lifelike movement to your flies without having to sacrifice a hook. They can be used to tie a variety of patterns, such as the Pompadour Iso Emerger and the Wiggle frenchie. The only limit is your imagination! They can also be used for bigger nymphs such as stone flies and hellgrammites.

Techniques for using wiggle shanks:

How to use and attach wiggle shanks: A step-by-step tutorial

A finished shank ready to be tied in.

Fly Patterns Using Shanks:

Isonychia Wiggle Emerger

Wiggle Frenchie

One way to assemble the shanks to the hook.

These shanks make it a much easier to acheive the elongated body you are looking for, without all the extra work, but if you do have trouble working with them, I have a tutorial here that may help. Happy Tying!

Patterns using Wiggle Shanks

Isonychia Wiggle emerger

Wiggle Frenchie

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