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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Pennsylvania Trout Fishing Report: August

Jessica Callihan showing off a beautiful brown trout. Check out Jessica’s WEBSITE to see her art. She’s awesome, and does incredible work.

Date: August 12th, 2017

Water Conditions: It’d be pretty tough to ask for better water conditions than we are seeing so far this summer. Our local area continues to receive rain at a pace that is keeping our rivers and creeks in great fishing shape. Yes, the rain created some days that were blown out, but thanks to the precipitation low, clear water conditions are being avoided. It’s nice to have extra water around for the fish, and to help keep the fishing rolling through the summer. Water temperatures are not currently a concern thanks to the cooler weather, but it never hurts to remain aware. Monitoring stream conditions on your local watershed prior to making the trip is always a good idea. See the Stream Flows page on the blog for a list of streams with USGS data.

Recommended Flies: Trico Size 22-24, Ant Size 12-18, Japanese Beetles 12-14, Cahill Size 16, Isonychia Size 10-12, Golden Stonefly Size 6-8, Zebra Midge Size 18-22, Red PT (Pheasant Tail) Size 18-20, Frenchie Perdigon Size 18-20,  UV Braider PT Size 16-20, Soft Hackles Size 16-20

Fishing Report:

This summer continues to be a good one for those of us fly fishing for trout in this part of the state. Not only has the fishing been productive, it’s also been very interesting due to water levels continuing to fluctuate. Thanks to water conditions that keep changing from precipitation, it’s been possible to catch fish with a variety of tactics over the last month.

The rain continues to keep the river systems full of water. We continue to receive large enough doses of rain that create brief high water conditions off and on over the last couple of weeks. During these time periods, the streamer fishing was productive and a lot of fun.

After a batch of rain, as the water continues to drop back closer to normal flows the nymphing and dry fly fishing was the way to go again. Overall, flows this summer are remaining at levels slightly higher than average for this time of the year.

Easy to love a hard fighting rainbow from the West Branch of the Delaware.

It appears that this trend of extra water is to continue since it is currently raining as I type. With another week or so of cooler day time air temperatures forecasted, the summer fishing should keep on rolling.

Normally this time of year the best hours to be on the water are in the morning. While the mornings are still fishing best, they are not the only part of the day for good fishing to be possible. Thanks to cooler weather this summer, the evenings are also fishing well as water temperatures are staying lower.

Taking full advantage of the extra water with August streamer eats.

As far as the bugs, the usual summer menu of smaller Cahills, Tricos, and Terrestrials make up a majority of what’s happening. As usual, this time of year is not the high point of hatch season, but there is a mixed bag of enough bugs around to still play the game.

It’s always great for the fish to have a wet, cool summer. It’s especially great for the fish to receive a wet, cool summer this year after the warm, dry summer last year. It’s also been a great summer for anglers. Go Fish.

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The Rebuild Raft & Maiden Voyage

A couple of months ago I fell into a very old raft that was rotting away in a field. There were holes all through the raft, 5 snakes living inside the old rubber, nests of bees around the NRS frame, and Cataract Oars that were worn down to bare fiberglass. It was junk, but it was a boat. And it’s now my boat with a new life.

A little character that was easily replaced with stainless hardware.

Over the last month or so, I invested a majority of my time replacing hardware, parts, and fixing what broken things I could. It would not have been possible without the help of friends and family that are a lot more handy than I am. From several accounts, I think this boat was originally somewhere around 10 years old.

After fixing up the frame, refinishing the oars, and purchasing a new AIRE Tributary 13 HD raft this boat has a new life. It was a lot of work, and the boat has a ton of character. But, there’s something about a little hard work on a boat with character that helps produce good vibes and mojo.

Andy puttin’ the first fish into the raft on its maiden voyage.

Early this week, Andy and I took her out for the maiden voyage. It was a day of good fun, and I can tell the mojo is off to a good start because we somehow managed to land the expected trout, a couple smallmouth bass, and even one largemouth bass. This raft is already off to an interesting ride.

A smallmouth is always a pleasant surprise for river rats like us.

Initially, I’m really impressed with the set up. I’ve fished out of plenty of drift boats, pontoon rafts, jon boats, and even a Towee. But, having never fished out of a 3 man raft before, I was a little skeptical of what I was getting myself into. I’ll wait until I’ve spent more time on the water to give a full review, but if first impressions hold true I’m in love.

So far, my buddies are taking full advantage that I am more interested in rowing them down the river than actually fishing myself. And who could blame them.

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