Fly Fishing Hacks: Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon

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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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: 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 Wind Advisory & Small Streamers

Blane Chocklett’s Game Changer using Fish-Skull Articulated Fish-Spines and Minnow Grey Chocklett’s Body Wrap. I tied this “mini” version on a Gamakatsu B10s #4.

Last week the weather temperatures were pleasantly mild, so we hit the water with hopes of correctly timing a Blue Winged Olive hatch. While we did see a few BWO’s popping off shortly after we entered the water, it was pretty obvious that the wind would be problem.

In fact, the gusts of wind were so strong at times that it felt near impossible to nymph. Tight line nymphing methods were out of the question. The gusts of wind were so strong, that even indicator rigs were being blown across the water.

For awhile I suffered through the wind, and was able to pick up a couple fish on nymphs. But I’ll admit, dealing with the wind was not fun. There’s not much worse than the wind forcing drag into a drift. Rather than fight the wind any longer, I decided it would be much more enjoyable to fish small streamers.

On very windy days, I will often switch to stripping, or swinging streamers. Even the strongest gusts of winds have minimal impact on presentation while fishing streamers, comparatively. The streamers I swam were small, so casting in the wind was not really an issue either.

A small, articulated sculpin inspired by Rich Strolis’s Headbanger Sculpin. Tied with a Mini Fish-Skull Sculpin Helmet, Gamakatsu B10s Size #4 up front, and Gamakatsu B10s #6 in the rear. (Rear hook is out of focus.)

Problem solved, no more miserably fighting strong gusts of wind. Even better, the fish were on it. Fish were diving all over the place to eat the small sculpin, and minnow pattern that I offered. This creek is not known for large fish, but there are more than enough small fish to keep it exciting.

A lot of the anglers that I guide say that I refuse to take no for answer from the trout. It’s true, as I always believe there is a way. The next time you are struggling to fish in gusts of wind, give small streamers a shot. It just might save the day.

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Tight Line Nymphing: Sighter Knots

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.

It’s no secret that using a colored section of line for a sighter improves visibility. However, aspects of a sighter that I feel help me easily visualize strike detection and drift awareness are knots. The knots on a sighter create contrast points between different colors of material. These contrast points are the part of a sighter that standout the most to my eye.

For that reasoning I prefer to use a sighter that consists of three different sections of line alternating in color. This provides four different knots, or contrast points that stand out to the eye. By having multiple sections of line knotted together, it would also be possible to use a sigher tapered in diameter to improve cast-ability on a long tight line nymphing leader.

Somewhere I saw an angler leave the tag end of the knots on a sighter untrimmed in order to improve visibility. If necessary, untrimmed knots do tend to make a sighter stand out more. I was worried that these untrimmed tag ends would be more prone to tangling, but that does not seem to be the case. If you have trouble seeing your sighter, try leaving the tag ends on knots that join colors.

There are many two-toned indicator materials available from companies such as Rio, Umpqua, or Cortland. Even when using one of these two-toned indicator materials that naturally transition from one color to another, I prefer to cut the colors apart and knot them together creating a contrast point. My preferred knot for sighters is usually a blood knot.

The next time you are tying up a sighter, consider incorporating knots as contrast points that will help strike detection and improve drift awareness.

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