Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Report: September

Date: September 28th, 2017

Water Conditions: The majority of this year spoiled anglers with great water conditions. In the last several weeks we did receive much rain, and because of that many of our rivers and creeks are very clear and lower. Flows are slowly getting thinner the longer we go without rain, but for the most part water levels are not much lower than average for this time of year. The water clarity being so clear presents more of a challenge than the water levels being lower. We could certainly use some rain to push us through the fall, but water temperatures are in great shape so the fish are pretty happy. Monitoring stream conditions on your local watershed prior to making he trip is always a good idea. See the Stream Flows page on the blog for a list of streams with USGS data.

Recommended Flies: Zebra Midges Size 18-22, Walt’s Worm Size 16-20, Flashback Pheasant Tail Size 12-20, Black Ant Size 16-20, Compton’s Cinnamon Toast Baetis Nymph Size 18-22, Frenchie Perdigon Size 18-22, Red PT (Pheasant Tail) Size 12-18, Bugmeister Size 10-12, Tan X-Caddis Size 12-18, October Caddis Size 10-12, Parachute Adams Size 12-20

Fishing Report:

With the water clear and flows getting skinny the conditions are a little more challenging than most of this year. Although, it’s important to note that this year’s overall great water conditions really spoiled us. Nonetheless, some rain would certainly help push us through the fall.

Spending time on the water during the lower flows can offer valuable lessons. The fish are still very catchable, but require anglers to be on their A game. Being cautious to splash and disturb water as little as possible pays dividends. Focusing on how to approach water and drag free presentations is key to putting extra fish in the net. Focusing on making the first cast/drift into a holding spot the right one will also put extra fish in the net. It’s a good time of the year to brush up on the angling skill set.

When the water gets skinny, the faster water that is slightly deeper usually fishes more productive. The slower stretches of river usually present more of a challenge, but can also fish well during the right circumstances and approach.

If you need a good low water primer, reread these 6 tips in a previous article – Trout Tactics for Low Water.

The leaves are just starting to turn on some of the trees in our local area. It looks as though the warm weather will fade away for awhile as temperatures are forecasted to cool down for this weekend. The fall in Pennsylvania is a great time of year to spend on the water. Go Fish. And Go Penn State.

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The Flow’s Beer Guide to Fly Fishing: Busch Light

The Flow’s Beer Guide to Fly Fishing: A series of blog posts about fly fishing that are in no way intended to help you catch fish. This series of blog posts will not help you cast farther, add new patterns to your fly box, or catch bigger fish than your buddies. These fly fishing beer related blog posts will add to your cooler, and increase overall angling satisfaction. Because there’s something about a day out on the water that just makes a beer taste even better. And because there’s something about a cold beer that just makes a day out on the water even better.

At any given time I’m out on the water, you could find cold Busch Light in my cooler. It’s light. It’s cheap. And I’m convinced it’s good luck, it’s a fishy beer.

A couple of my fishing buddies have come to expect a Busch Light if they are spending the day floating or fishing with me. I think some of them have come to enjoy it, and also drink it because they think it’s a fishy beer that brings good luck. Either that, or it’s the only option in my cooler.

Using advertising such as “crisp and cold as a mountain stream” probably adds to the ambience of drinking a Busch Light while fly fishing. Busch Light also featured a fly fisherman in a recent television commercial. Which again, adds to the ambience.

Busch Light seems to be a common can to find laying around rivers, but I doubt that has anything to do with fishing. Or maybe even people that don’t fly fish know that Busch Light is the appropriate choice for beer consumed on the banks of a river. But be responsible, don’t leave empties laying around.

I’ve noticed over the years that I’m not completely alone. I’ve seen other fly fisherman expressing love for Busch Light. It makes sense to me. If you are a Busch Light drinkin’ angler, cheers.

In the future, I plan to use this series of blog posts to highlight beers that are actually tied to fly fishing, or associated with fly fisherman. However, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about my own favorite [fly fishing] beer, Busch Light.

Since this post discussed my favorite beer for fly fishing, what is your go to beer for a day on the water?

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Featured Fly: Bugmeister

No fly box would be complete without the presence of a couple large, attractor style dry flies. The Bugmeister has become one of my favorite searching patterns for the summer and fall months, not to say that it might not work other times of the year as well.

A Peacock Bugmeister tied on a #8 TMC 900BL.

Peacock Bugmeister Material List:

Hook: Dry Fly Hook Size 8-10 (Shown is TMC 900 BL)
Thread: Black 6/0
Tail: Whitetail Deer Hair (Combed & Stacked)
Body: Peacock Herl (2-3 Strands)
Underwing: Pearl Flashabou Accent (4-6 strands) & Peacock Herl (2 strands)
Overwing: Whitetail Deer Hair (Combed & Stacked.)
Thorax: Peacock Herl (2-3 Strands)
Post:Jack Mickievicz’s Optic Poly Material — Optic White
Hackle: 1 Grizzly Feather; 1 Brown Feather


The Bugmeister is not new, it actually is a creation of John Perry in Montana that dates back to the mid 80’s. Like most things in today’s world this pattern is definitely not a secret, but this large dry fly still slips under the radar of most fly fishermen. Watching fish come out of nowhere to take the Bugmeister is what dry fly fishing is all about, and this pattern also functions very well for dry-dropper rigs.

Are fish eating the Bugmeister for a grass hopper, cricket, stonefly? I’m not always sure, this fly sort of looks like anything and nothing at the same time. All I know is that under the right circumstances fish have a hard time refusing the Bugmeister.

I prefer to fish the Bugmeister as a single dry in shallow riffles, or while fishing near structure such as bushes and trees. On my home water, I’ve found that fish in these situations are much more likely to be looking up and willing to take the dry by itself. When working water that is deeper, I tend to fish with this pattern as indicator for dry-dropper rigs. Not to say that the fish will not eat this fly in the deeper water, but I like to add a dropper to pick up the fish that will not rise from depth to the surface.

I’ll admit, I have a slight love-hate relationship with this pattern due to the tying complications. This pattern is a little difficult to handle, and takes more time at the vice than most dry flies I use. But, it works so well. So, I make sure to always have a few Bugmeister’s in my fly box.

All things considered, the extra fuss spent tying the Bugmeister is well worth it. Spin a couple up, watch them catch fish. Tight wraps!

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New Product Spotlight: Orvis Helios 3

Photo by Orvis. Visit Orvis.com for more information on the Helios 3.

Orvis recently announced the September 2017 launch of their newest fly rod, the Helios 3. Last week I had the privilege of casting the new line up of Helios 3 fly rods. While it is titled a “Helios 3″, this rod is really in a different class than the two previous “Helios” models.

The Helios 3 is a different design than the Helios 2. The Helios 3 is not only lighter in terms of swing weight, but it’s also stronger than the Helios 2. How light the Helios 3 felt in hand was one of the first things I noticed when I picked up the 9ft 5wt 3D for the first time.

The Helios 3 will be available in two different actions, 3D and 3F. The 3D stands for distance, and the 3F is for feel. In more traditional rod terminology, I think of the 3D as a tip flex and the 3F as a mid flex. Whether you will prefer a 3D or 3F will depend on personal casting preferences, and how you wish to use the rod.

The appearance of the Helios 3 is bold. The large white label stands out against the matte midnight blank and hardware. The Helios 3 will be easy to identify and hard to mistake. Some anglers are throwing a fit over this new, nontraditional look from Orvis. Personally, I like it. Maybe it’s my youth, but I appreciate the more modern, sharp design. Setting the controversy over the appearance aside, it’s hard to argue with how the Helios 3 performs.

Orvis is staking the claim for the Helios 3 based on “unmatched accuracy”. Instead of just saying that the H3 is more accurate than over fly rods, Orvis is using the science to back up the claim. If you read what they explain when discussing an increased hoop strength in the Helios 3, it makes sense. From a rod in hand perspective, I think it’s easy to see feel how effortlessly and true the H3 casts.

Another feature of the Helios 3 that I was impressed with was the reel seat. It’s also a sleek matte finish, but it was functionally built out of type III aluminum with a carbon insert. The piece that slides onto the reel foot is built on a groove that makes it super easy to attach. It does not look like reels will come and loose fall off the H3.

Regardless of how you felt about the Helios 2, you need give the Helios 3 a chance. It’s safe to say that I 100% favor the Helios 3 over the Helios 2. The hype with this new rod from Orvis is real. Go cast a Helios 3 when you get the chance this fall.

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Visit Orvis.com for more information about the new Helios 3 fly rods.

Fly Fishing Hacks: Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon

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A 200yd spool of 6lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon.

The goal for this blog post is to uncover a fly fishing “hack” to help offset the expensive cost of fluorocarbon tippet.


The large debate on the whole nylon vs. fluorocarbon issue in tippet selection has become tradition. Personally, I feel that both styles of tippet deserve a role in the overall play, but that’s a discussion for another time.

When it comes to tippet, at the present moment, I am not exclusively sold on one single brand. If you were to dig through my vest right now, you would find around 4 to 5 different styles of tippet from different brands. I use different tippet for different applications, but that’s also a discussion for another day.

Regardless of how you feel, I think everyone can agree that fluorocarbon tippet is expensive. Even if you feel that the advantages are worth the extra penny, fluorocarbon tippet is still expensive.

The goal for this blog post is to uncover a fly fishing “hack” to help offset the expensive cost of fluorocarbon tippet. Not everyone can justify the means to spend anywhere from 10 to 20 bucks on 30 yards of fluorocarbon tippet. I can’t blame anyone for that.

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a spool of 6lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon. In 6lb test Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon is .007″ in diameter, which is the same diameter as 4x tippet. The suggested retail price of Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon is $17.50 for 250 yards. I’m sure you can do the math, that is a lot cheaper.

In the right situations, using Seaguar Red Label is an excellent way to offset the expensive cost of fluorocarbon tippet. For example, nymphing faster, not crystal clear water with average size flies for fish that are easily landed on 6lb line. For a lot of fly fisherman, that situation can pretty much sum up nymphing. I’ve been very pleased with the performance of 6lb Seaguar Red Label while fly fishing in situations that require nymphing with average size flies, heavier weight, or in faster water.

I steer away from 6lb Seaguar Red Label for streamer fishing, small flies, or other situations that require tippet sizes other than 4x. I also feel it is a little too stiff for technical trout holding in water that is very slow and clear. In those situations, the more expensive fluorocarbon tippet is worth the extra money due to it being a little more supple, a bit stronger per diameter, and available in smaller sizes.

So what does this mean? To me, it means I keep a spool of 6lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon handy to be used when necessary. I use Seaguar Red Label in addition to the other types of 4x tippet I carry, not as a replacement. Is it worth carrying 6lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon just to supplement 4x usage? Well, if you use as much 4x as I do in a year, it is.

If you think fluorocarbon tippet is always worth every extra penny, ignore this post. If you think that using spinning line as fly fishing tippet is blastphemy, then definitely ignore this post.

If you’re looking to save a couple bucks on fluorocarbon tippet, supplement some 6lb Seaguar Red Label Fluorcarbon into your 4x arsenal.

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