Featured Fly: San Juan Worm + Variations

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San Juan Worm Material List:

Hook: Hanak Superb Jig Hook Size 16
Bead: Anodized Pink Slotted Tungsten 3/32
Thread: Red 6/0 Uni
Ribbing: UTC Small Red Wire
Body: Red Vernille (Burning the ends with a lighter can add to the attractiveness of the profile.)

Sparkle Worm Variation:

A #14 Sparkle Worm tied using Pink Pearl Core Braid.

Body Material: Hareline Pearl Core Braid

Tip: Melting the ends with a lighter will increase durability and add to the profile. Pearl Core Braid melts quickly. Be careful this melting process doesn’t leave your worm ends too short.

Squirmy Worm Variation:

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A Pink Squirmy Worm tied on a Hanak 450BL Superb Jig # 14 with a 7/64 Anodized Pink Slotted Tungsten Bead.

Body Material: Hareline Casters Squirmito

Tips:

  1. Exposing this material to head cement or excessive heat will cause your worm to melt or deteriorate.
  2. Using thin thread, or tight thread wraps will cut this material while you are tying it in. Try larger sizes of thread and start with loose thread wraps to avoid frustration.
  3. Purists Beware. If you are too “pure” of a fly fisherman these patterns will be certain to ruin your soul.

Whether or not you consider it a fly, there are few flies better suited to fly fishing high water than the San Juan Worm. I have no problem carrying worm patterns to effectively fish high water, or low water for that matter. To me, fishing a San Juan style fly to match the real worms that trout have no problem eating just makes sense. But then again, that’s me. If you refuse to fish San Juan Worms then so be it.

If you dislike a San Juan Worm, you will most certainly hate a Squirmy Worm. And come to think of it you will probably dislike the Sparkle Worm also. Both of them are other variations of the San Juan Worm that I also like to carry.

In pretty much every style of worm that I tie, I am prepared to fish in Red, Pink, and Tan colors. Although, other colors get thrown into the mix from time to time, such as Purple, or Burnt Orange.

Over the years, I’ve played around with using or not using beads on my worm patterns. In lower, clear water I tend to stay away from beadhead style patterns. In higher, dirtier water I tend to almost always use beadhead style patterns. I’ve really become a fan of using an Anodized Pink bead on many of the patterns. An Anodized Pink bead can be a great addition to red, pink, purple, and even tan worm patterns. Not only does it provide weight, but an Anodized Pink bead could be a trigger point, or hot spot. Some of this I think could be because the clitellum of an earthworm is sort of a differentiated “pinkish” segment.

Another interesting material that I have been playing around with is the “Glow in the Dark” Squirmy Worm. I doubt the material glows in muddy water the way it would in the dark of night, but maybe there is some effect. I have had success with them in dark, dirty water so I carry a few.

If you’re not to much of a “purist”, spin up a few San Juan Worms and the other variations to try. These flies could catch fish any day, but when you find yourself faced with high, muddy water you’ll be glad you have them. Tight wraps!

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Tight Line Nymphing: Sighter Diameter

As I stated in a previous article discussing knots on the sighter section of a tight line nymphing leader…

There are many materials and methods for building a sighter into a tight line nymphing leader. A sighter, or section of hi-vis line in a leader, serves as a reference point for anglers to detect strikes. In addition to detecting strikes, it aids anglers with the ability to visualize where their flies are underwater, and how they are drifting. Since strike detection and drift awareness are two of the most important concepts in fly fishing, it makes sense to me that the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader is equally important.

Sighter diameter is yet another element of a tight line nymphing leader to consider. There are many different types of material that could be used to construct a sighter giving anglers many different options regarding diameter, or line size. For example, Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet is available is sizes ranging from 1x-4x.  So what diameter, or size, should you choose? Well, that depends.

Incase you are unfamiliar with Rio 2-Tone Indicator Tippet, here is a video from the RIO Products Vimeo with more information about the product.

I think that the biggest deciding factor while choosing sighter diameter is dependent on the size of tippet you fish most often. If you frequently fished 3 or 4x tippet sizes then you would probably want a larger sighter diameter such as 1 or 2x. On the other hand if you frequently fish 5 or 6x tippet sizes you may want a smaller sighter diameter such as 3 or 4x. For example, I almost always fish Rio 2-Tone Indicator 3x Tippet as my sigher material. Most days on the water I fish with 5x tippet, but I truly want the option to be able to fish 4, 5, or 6x at any given moment. By using a 3x diameter sighter I am able to easily make minor adjustments to accommodate my preferred range of tippet sizes.

Another factor to consider when choosing sighter diameter is water conditions. On larger rivers with heavy riffles, the extra thickness from a larger diameter sighter will be a little easier to see. On smaller streams or in low, clear water a smaller diameter sighter will spook less fish. I know it might sound crazy that a sighter could spook a fish, but on some of the more technical trout streams I’ve watched it happen. I fish a variety of larger rivers and smaller streams, by choosing a 3x diameter sighter I feel as though I am well prepared to fish about anywhere.

Consider tippet size and water conditions while choosing a diameter for the sighter in a tight line nymphing leader. Basing your decision upon these two factors will help you construct a sighter that is based upon your own specific needs.

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Fly Fishing Cumberland Valley: Yellow Breeches Creek

A brown trout caught in the catch and release section of the Yellow Breeches.

I was recently invited to fly fish Yellow Breeches Creek located in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. Even being a Pennsylvania angler that fishes hundreds of days each year, I had never casted a line on any of the historic trout streams of Cumber Valley.

Yellow Breeches Creek, or Yellow Breeches, is a well-known limestone spring creek that offers a variety of recreational activities to those in the Cumberland Valley area. To fisherman, it’s a well-known stocked trout stream that also has a population of wild brown trout. This weekend, April 1, will be the opening day of trout season which will draw in many anglers to the area.

Similar to Letort Spring Run, it would be impossible to talk about the Yellow Breeches without mentioning the names of anglers that fished in the area such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, or Vincent Marinaro.

Looking upstream on the catch and release section at the confluence of “The Run” and the Yellow Breeches.

The mile long regulated catch and release section that runs through Allenberry in Boiling Springs is very popular among fly fisherman. There is talk of the possibility of a stream improvement project, and many other big things going on at the Allenberry Resort. More information on the Allenberry Resort can be found on their recently designed website. In all honesty, the Allenberry Sticky Bun’s are alone worth a trip to the Yellow Breeches.

A sign displayed at the parking lot near “The Run” where anglers can also access the Yellow Breeches.

There are many different sections of the Yellow Breeches to fish, but Boiling Springs is a very neat little town to get started in if you are new to the area. The outflow from Children’s Lake, or “The Run”, is another popular fishing area regulated as a catch and release section adjacent to the Allenberry catch and release section.

A couple of the many ducks that can be found on Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs.

Located along Children’s Lake, and very close to the catch and release sections is TCO Fly Shop of Boiling Springs. TCO Fly Shop has more than everything you would need for a day of fly fishing, and consists of a staff that is very passionate and knowledgable about fly fishing the local area.

The Yellow Breeches is a beautiful, medium-sized trout stream that offers anglers a number of different hatches. Hendricksons should be a significant hatch this week as the weather warms up. I saw a couple of Hendrickons while I was fishing the other day. There are many hatches on the Yellow Breeches throughout the year to keep your eye on such as Blue Winged Olives, Grannoms, Sulphurs, White Flies, Tricos, Terrestrials, etc.

There are plenty of places to access the Yellow Breeches, but there are also some sections of private landowner properties. It will be important to be conscious of these private properties and respect the rights of private landowners. Treating private landowners with respect and not leaving behind trash is the best way to ensure that properties remain open for public fishing.

Since the opening day of trout season is not until April 1, this week I fished the catch and release sections that are open to fishing year round. It was a very nice day on the water, and I look forward to revisiting it and other sections of the Yellow Breeches in the future. Pennsylvania has many miles of trout water to offer, but I think the Yellow Breeches is a special place that all fly fisherman should experience.

For more information about fly fishing in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania visit the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau.

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Fly Fishing Cumberland Valley: Letort Spring Run

I was recently invited to fly fish Letort Spring Run located in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania. Even being a Pennsylvania angler that fishes hundreds of days each year, I never casted a line in any of the historic trout streams of Cumber Valley before.

Letort Spring Run, or “The Letort”, is a famous 9.4 mile long limestone spring creek that flows throw Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Placed on Trout Unlimited’s list of 100 Best Trout Streams, The Letort is known for being a challenging fishery full of technical wild brown trout. It would be impossible to mention Letort Spring Run without noting anglers that fished there such as Ed Shenk, Charlie Fox, and Vincent Marinaro.

Because of anglers such as Shenk, Fox, and Marinaro, Letort Spring Run is a historic chalk stream here in the East. I could feel the presence of that history as I was stringing up my rod, walking down the nature trail to water, and preparing to make my first cast. Since Letort Spring Run is so well-known as a tough place to fish for wild brown trout, it can sort of serve as a proving ground for fly fisherman. Being able to catch a wild brown trout is one thing, but being able to fool a wild brown on The Letort proves skill as a fly fisherman. At the same time, there is no shame in being humbled on the banks of Letort Spring Run.

Looking upstream toward a nice “Glide” that produced several fish on a BWO dry fly pattern.

I was pleasantly surpised at how rural, or wild, it felt while fishing along the banks of The Letort, especially considering it flows through the town of Carlisle. A 2 mile Letort Spring Run Nature Trails runs along the stream from Bonny Brook down to Letort Park. This trail travels through marshes and woods serving as a great little escape from the “town” feel of Carlise. Not only is the trail great for hiking, it provides an excellent way for fly fisherman to access Letort Spring Run.

There are a number of signs, such as the one above, placed along the Letort Spring Run Nature Trail that provide information about the area.

Near the nature trail, The Letort is regulated as Heritage Trophy Angling by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. This section is a catch and release, fly fishing only section that is approximately a mile and a half in length upstream from Letort Park. If you are new to the area this is a great place to start due to ease of access, although there are many other sections of water to fish within the 9.4 miles of Letort Spring Run.

If you are looking for a place to grab some food and a beer after a day of fishing, I would recommend the Market Cross Pub in Carlisle. The food was excellent and the selection of beer was almost overwhelming.

Even a wild trout the size of this must be earned on Letort Spring Run.

The day that I fly fished the Letort the dreary, overcast weather was perfect for fishing. Thanks to cloud cover and relatively mild march air temperatures, Blue Winged Olives hatched through the afternoon. I fished at a very slow pace, and was able to catch fish on dries, nymphs, and even a streamer. I won’t bore you with all the sappy details of the beautiful wild brown trout I caught, or the nesting goose that tried to viciously to flog me…

Below are a couple more pictures from the day, and 6 tips that I think will help fly fisherman visiting Letort Spring Run.

6 Tips for Fly Fishing Letort Spring Run:

  1. Patience & A Slow Approach- The Letort is a stream where you first have to hunt fish before you can catch them. Approaching the water slowly, and having the patience to wait until the right opportunity to cast toward a rising fish can make all the difference.
  2. Wear Dull Colors- Colors such as dark brown, olive, or even camouflage will help you get closer to fish without spooking them. A bright color on a stream such as The Letort is like waving a warning flag for the fish.
  3. Focus on Casting- The first cast towards a fish is the best chance to fool him into eating your fly. Focus on making the best cast you can on the first cast, otherwise a smart, large wild brown on the Letort may not give you another chance.
  4. Fish Light Tippet- Smaller tippet sizes like 5x or 6x are suited to fishing small flies, and get cleaner drifts overall. While landing fish on light tippet can be a challenge itself, I believe it will help improve the number opportunities for hook ups.
  5. Fish Structure- Cunning wild brown trout love structure as it gives them a place to hide from anglers and other forms of prey. Structure such as weed edges, logs, or rocks are sure to hold fish. Don’t let the small size of the stream fool you, there could be a very large brown hidden by structure.
  6. Look for “Glides”- I refer to a glide as a section of water that slightly speeds up compared to an overall low gradient stream such as The Letort. In spring creeks such as The Letort, Glides often hold fish and are much more common than riffles.

Letort Spring Run is a limestone stream that I will certainly revisit in the future. I would never tell anyone that fly fishing The Letort will be easy, but I definitely think it will be worth it.

For more information about fly fishing in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania visit the Cumberland Valley Visitor Bureau.

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A Last Minute Trip

It was a last minute trip. You know, the go to the grocery store to buy a tooth brush, sleep on your buddy’s couch, and borrow a pair of waders kind of trip. Austen, and I weren’t really planning on fishing this day, but we weren’t planning on not fishing either.

We were eating a burger and drinking a beer at a local watering hole. It was around 9:30 at night, and I found out I didn’t have to work the next day. So, we decided to go fish. We both made “the call” to our girlfriends. You know, the “Hey Babe, as it turns out I won’t be coming over tonight. Yeah, I’m going to go fish tomorrow”. Fortunately, they were both really okay with us randomly deciding to go fishing. I think that’s by design.

I knew this day on the water was going to be interesting. Any day on the water that starts the way this trip did is sure to be an adventure. We floated for a few hours, but the early morning was fairly cold so the fishing was pretty slow off the start. We were sitting in the boat talking, eating a sandwich, and drinking a beer when the day to decided to take a turn towards more interesting. Something fell out of the boat. At first we weren’t sure what. All of a sudden Austen jumped up to realize, it was his phone. Ouch.

We pulled over to anchor up. Trying to find a black iPhone in the middle of a river is probably worse odds than finding a needle in a haystack. Nonetheless we decided to take a look. After a half an hour of searching relentlessly we were about to give up, but then Austen spotted it tucked beside a rock on the bottom. Wow. He stayed there marking the spot, I walked over to grab the net and a long stick. He held the net below the phone, and I popped it up in the net with the stick. We walked back to the boat with his phone that still worked thanks to a waterproof case. Crazy. I mean you can’t even make this stuff up.

To cap things off, about an hour later Austen stuck a real good looking, healthy female brown trout. Fortunately she was quick to the net, we snapped a couple pictures, and off the fish went to hide away and sulk in the depths. A few more fish for each of us and the sun set ending another day well spent on the water.

For me, days like these are what it’s all about. Fish and stories like this are not easily forgotten. The very reasons why I could fish 8 days a week, and fly fishing will never get old. Do you have any good stories from last minutes trips?

 

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