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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the last few months I’ve noticed that every time I sit down to tie I’m picking a surface pattern. Steelhead bees, Wulff style dries, TRC and of course muddlers. Since I started tying in hand there has always been a constant intrinsic push to test my limits and see what is possible sans the vise. First it was spun deer, then the Lemire dubbing loop of moose, wrapping a dry fly hackle and now smaller hooks.
When I would talk with friend Ryan Taylor about tying he would always mention little bits of knowledge and things I would note and look up later that I never considered such as thread tension and your wraps. One thing that stuck out with our talks was his need to preserve old styles of flies the way they were designed. I think there is a certain connection to doing things the way they were done years ago and if lucky with the same materials and hooks.
When I first started tying I did a lot of “freestyle” tying thinking that I was thinking out of the box to catch fish but the truth is I just wasn’t good enough or confident enough to follow a pattern and have it actually come out the way it was intended. At this point in my tying I feel a bit more confident to be able to follow a recipe and use the same techniques.
I have this goal that I set for myself to raise a Great Lakes fish on a dead drifted fly. Through tying larger style dries and reading as much as I could about the history of the bee, I came back to the original catskill patterns. Would it be possible to tie them all in hand using the methods used in the past?
So, I purchased a book to use as my reference guide and I’ll be making my way through these patterns in hand as a fun exercise. I also have a goal to tie one stream side and catch a fish as I’ve never caught a trout on a catskill classic pattern on the two systems that I fish regularly.
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For a bit of reference I tied a few Hendricksons with the materials that I currently have on hand (not accurate) to get a feel for the style and not waste the good stuff. These will serve as my “control” to note what I’ve learned after reading through the book and tying to the listed recipes
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I’ll keep updating this thread as materials that I’ve ordered arrive and I make my way through the book. I know this isn’t swing fishing but I don’t swing flies for trout. My two systems have steadily rising fish from May through October so in my opinion there is no need to fish any other way then on the surface.
 

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Those are really well done, they have a timeless quality to them. I'm no catskills expert but I think the hacking really captures the essence of the style. Much prefer it to the current trend of Instagram dries, over hackled with one side stripped. I'm going to have to pick up that book at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Those are really well done, they have a timeless quality to them. I'm no catskills expert but I think the hacking really captures the essence of the style. Much prefer it to the current trend of Instagram dries, over hackled with one side stripped. I'm going to have to pick up that book at some point.
I agree wholeheartedly and that was also what brought me back to the catskill pattern. I tie most patterns sparse anyway and this was kind of what I thought of as the ultimate sparse dry fly. I used to think sparse = easy to tie but I think it’s just the opposite. It’s so easy to overdress so I’m already thinking about thread wraps and what that translates to a few steps into the fly and how to keep bodies thin and hackles sparse. Fun stuff, thanks for looking
 

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Those are really well tied Hendricksons that will take selective fish. Great work. If you ever find yourself on the river on a day where the hatch doesn't go or if you arrive early, give swinging a try with a size 12 brown soft hackle. Hendrickson nymphs have a way of occupying the upper water column and fish can key in on them even if they're not emerging. It doesn't always work but it's cool when it does. On these days, swinging can be the most effective way to take fish. Excerpt from Hatches on the subject:
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Those are really well tied Hendricksons that will take selective fish. Great work. If you ever find yourself on the river on a day where the hatch doesn't go or if you arrive early, give swinging a try with a size 12 brown soft hackle. Hendrickson nymphs have a way of occupying the upper water column and fish can key in on them even if they're not emerging. It doesn't always work but it's cool when it does. On these days, swinging can be the most effective way to take fish. Excerpt from Hatches on the subject:
View attachment 377424
Appreciate the information. Unfortunately my trout fishing does not (or should I say has not in the past) been focused on the most effective way to take fish. Much like fishing a dry line in the winter I prefer the challenge of tough selective fish on the surface. I mostly float and head hunt targets and enjoy the game played between a rising fish vs the angler.
I have always toyed with the idea of soft hackles for fish taking bugs just in the film that won’t take an emerger or cripple (summer sulphurs on the Delaware River) but usually concede that I’m not good enough on that day and move on to the next fish. Maybe I’ll experiment with this in the future. I’ve certainly thought about it before but it all comes back to if I caught the fish would I be happy if it wasn’t the game that I wanted to play?
 

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I agree wholeheartedly and that was also what brought me back to the catskill pattern. I tie most patterns sparse anyway and this was kind of what I thought of as the ultimate sparse dry fly. I used to think sparse = easy to tie but I think it’s just the opposite. It’s so easy to overdress so I’m already thinking about thread wraps and what that translates to a few steps into the fly and how to keep bodies thin and hackles sparse. Fun stuff, thanks for looking
i've been working a lot on sparseness and fishability in my flies lately. I think to some extent technical abilty, as in the ability to make flies that look good is a lot easier to come by that flies that both look good while maintaining their essance and fish catching ability. The later takes a lot more experience in my mind. With trout dries especially, we have amazing genetic hackle now, which makes it easy to tie precise looking flies. But a lot of that loses the fact that we are trying to imitate a bug with six legs, one pair that is pointed back, a pair in the middle, and one pair pointing forward. I like to think that a more sparse hackle (like these) lends itself to be a better imitation of that, the hackle can move and looks more leggy. Course I could be over thinking it a touch ... But that's what happens when you're in school and can't fish.
 

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Congrats......nicely dressed and those hackles will not only keep this fly floating in broken water but allow you to skitter it across the surface and fish this fly as a living insect. Fluttering a fly on the surface draws the attention of trout and steelhead to your offering.
A late spring will extend the Steelhead season around the Great Lakes and frequently match the Hendrickson hatches with hungry dropback Steelies. A size 14 dry fly inhaled by a six to 12 pounder makes for a memorable experience on a 5/6 wt. switch rod.
Regards from the Restigouche.....Jim
377434
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Congrats......nicely dressed and those hackles will not only keep this fly floating in broken water but allow you to skitter it across the surface and fish this fly as a living insect. Fluttering a fly on the surface draws the attention of trout and steelhead to your offering.
A late spring will extend the Steelhead season around the Great Lakes and frequently match the Hendrickson hatches with hungry dropback Steelies. A size 14 dry fly inhaled by a six to 12 pounder makes for a memorable experience on a 5/6 wt. switch rod.
Regards from the Restigouche.....Jim View attachment 377434
Forget the reel. Let’s see a picture of the 12lber that you landed on a dead drifted size 14 dry fly! Truly awesome!
 

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Very impressive my friend!!

Those are really well tied Hendricksons that will take selective fish. Great work. If you ever find yourself on the river on a day where the hatch doesn't go or if you arrive early, give swinging a try with a size 12 brown soft hackle. Hendrickson nymphs have a way of occupying the upper water column and fish can key in on them even if they're not emerging. It doesn't always work but it's cool when it does. On these days, swinging can be the most effective way to take fish. Excerpt from Hatches on the subject:
View attachment 377424
A pheasant tail body with one turn of light partridge hackle and three sprigs of fine moose body for the tail, makes for a deadly flea during the Hendrickson hatch!!
Many resident browns and brookies have come to hand with that flea.


Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another practice tie with a quill body. I had some reservations about how I’d keep the body thin but I switched to 12/0 Giorgio Benecchi thread which I feel is a great option for tying in hand. It’s very strong and takes wax well.
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Forget the reel. Let’s see a picture of the 12lber that you landed on a dead drifted size 14 dry fly! Truly awesome!
I’ll have to try and find it. That steelie and two smaller ones were caught on the May 24 weekend on the Ganny in 2005. I remember watching them sipping duns in the tail out of a large pool with the same delicacy as 12 inch browns feeding in the midsection. I didn’t realize they were Steelies until the larger one started to chase the two smaller ones around the pool.
The Hendrickson bite doesn’t occur every spring as most fish drop back by mid May here in Southern Ontario. An exception are rivers like the Saugeen that have numerous spring holes and aquifers in sections, that keep the fish longer with their cooler temps. I would target a river that has a reputation for holding late season steelies to better your odds. This bite is definitely worth locating.
I recommend a 10 to 12 foot switch rod, or an 8 or 9 ft single hand, for this fishing with a floating line that can be spey, rolled, and overhead cast for a delicate presentation. A Wulff Triangle Taper spey or regular TT floating line works well. I was using an 11 foot Sharpes Scotty 7 wt cane double hander rod with a DT silk line and a nine foot furled leader tapered to a 5x tippet. The added length of these switch rods can perform delicate roll and overhead casts. They can also mend and lift the floating dry fly off the surface and jump or skitter it to draw attention and imitate a crippled dun. They also protect fine tippets, 4 to 5X, necessary to present the size 14 to 16 Hendrickson emergers or duns. Die hard steel headers I know regard this late spring Hendrickson hatch as the most challenging and rewarding fishing of the season.
Regards from the Restigouche.....Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I’ll have to try and find it. That steelie and two smaller ones were caught on the May 24 weekend on the Ganny in 2005. I remember watching them sipping duns in the tail out of a large pool with the same delicacy as 12 inch browns feeding in the midsection. I didn’t realize they were Steelies until the larger one started to chase the two smaller ones around the pool.
The Hendrickson bite doesn’t occur every spring as most fish drop back by mid May here in Southern Ontario. An exception are rivers like the Saugeen that have numerous spring holes and aquifers in sections, that keep the fish longer with their cooler temps. I would target a river that has a reputation for holding late season steelies to better your odds. This bite is definitely worth locating.
I recommend a 10 to 12 foot switch rod, or an 8 or 9 ft single hand, for this fishing with a floating line that can be spey, rolled, and overhead cast for a delicate presentation. A Wulff Triangle Taper spey or regular TT floating line works well. I was using an 11 foot Sharpes Scotty 7 wt cane double hander rod with a DT silk line and a nine foot furled leader tapered to a 5x tippet. The added length of these switch rods can perform delicate roll and overhead casts. They can also mend and lift the floating dry fly off the surface and jump or skitter it to draw attention and imitate a crippled dun. They also protect fine tippets, 4 to 5X, necessary to present the size 14 to 16 Hendrickson emergers or duns. Die hard steel headers I know regard this late spring Hendrickson hatch as the most challenging and rewarding fishing of the season.
Regards from the Restigouche.....Jim
I’m going to approach the dead drift from a slightly different perspective. Late spring on my waters have fish holding in specific pockets where a two handed rod is not necessary. An 8ft 7wt bamboo rod will be my choice for casts to very specific holding areas. I’ve seen larger stones and caddis come off here before Hendricksons and I think that will provide the right opportunity for a dead drift steelhead. This catskill tying challenge is strictly for sake of tying these bugs in hand on small hooks
 

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View attachment 377407
For a bit of reference I tied a few Hendricksons with the materials that I currently have on hand (not accurate) to get a feel for the style and not waste the good stuff. These will serve as my “control” to note what I’ve learned after reading through the book and tying to the listed recipes
View attachment 377408
View attachment 377409
I’ll keep updating this thread as materials that I’ve ordered arrive and I make my way through the book. I know this isn’t swing fishing but I don’t swing flies for trout. My two systems have steadily rising fish from May through October so in my opinion there is no need to fish any other way then on the surface.
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These are incredible for in hand ties! very clean. For the proportions of the original catskill style have a look at this website. The variants (no wing) have longer hackles, but the winged dries tend to have shorter tails and hackles. also tied sparse. I used to fish the variants and the Art Flick dry style on the upper credit almost exclusively for several years. They worked well and is still my favorite pattern to tie and fish. I just love to watch these drifting and watching a brown come up and sip it off the surface.

 

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Nice ties in hand! I always struggle with proportions on those Catskills, but looks like you nailed it. I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding some players on your home water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I’ve gathered materials to starting tying the flies that I’ll ultimately end up framing for “my” room in the house. The first two are the Red Quill and March Brown.
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378563
 

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Very nice work! That red quill reminds me of many awesome hendrickson hatches on the Oatka in upstate NY. I am a long way from there now but think of it often.
 
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