Category Archives: Fly Patterns

Green Drake Fly FIshing in Pennsylvania

Green Drake Leo Vensel www.paflyguide.com

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
  Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Class Insecta (Insects)
      Order Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)
        Family Ephemeridae
          Genus Ephemera
            Species guttulata (Green Drake)

One of the most famous mayfly hatches in Pennsylvania and throughout the eastern United States is the Green Drake. We can speculate that it has to do with its large size. When hatching occurs, every fish small and large will feed on the surface for these big bugs.

In fact even the alpha trout that have converted to a diet of fish and crustaceans will feed on the Green Drake because the bugs are so big. Combine big bugs and low light for a winning combination that brings the entire fishery to symphony of feeding activity.

Yeah that’s why we like it. Continue reading Green Drake Fly FIshing in Pennsylvania

Winter Micro Spey for Trout

winter pennsylvania brook trout: www.paflyguide.com

Swinging flies is a blast and when I find the right situation it’s game on. Typical Spey fly patterns are way too big for Pennsylvania trout. So I have been working out some trout sized patterns with the same lifelike qualities as their big brother steelhead and salmon patterns. As you can see in this photo, my latest creation the M1 mini spey is pulling out some hunkered down winter trout.
Continue reading Winter Micro Spey for Trout

Pheasant Tail Nymph Modified

The Pheasant Tail nymph is a staple in most every fly box. Inventor Frank Sawyer, river keeper of the River Wiltshire Avon used this fly to fool the most challenging trout. The Pheasant Tail nymph, routinely called ‘PT’ nymph has evolved to include beadhead, tinsel, rubber legs and other added materials. But Sawyer’s ingenuity is what gives the pattern such effectiveness.
Continue reading Pheasant Tail Nymph Modified

Plop goes the beetle

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Fly fishing for trout in the summer can be challenging. This is why so many of us switch to more logical pursuits such as bass, carp and other warm water species. If I chase trout during the summer it usually takes place through a narrow bite window; early morning, late evening, or middle of the night. Of course as mentioned so many times before there are tons of exceptions; combine that with your schedule, and you may find yourself fishing in the hot mid-day sun. Which brings me to the emphasis of this post. Continue reading Plop goes the beetle

Caddis flies, top shelf insects for fly fishing

Caddis FlyFlickr: Derek Parker

For most fly fishing trouters, mayfly fishing is the foundation of our game but from a strictly numbers point of view the caddis fly is much more abundant on most trout waters. They are hardy warriors that can withstand pollution better the most mayflies. If you asked me years ago I would have said Caddis flies were useless. Because I was repeatedly getting beat up on the famed Pine Creek, in north central Pennsylvnia. There I was watching thousands of egg laying caddis in the air while throwing my arm off with an Elk Hair pattern without even a nibble. Then while dazing off, my elk hair skittered below me on the surface. Blasto!! Fish on!
Continue reading Caddis flies, top shelf insects for fly fishing

Wet fly fishing: What’s old is new again.

Brookie Fin Wet Fly

What’s the most effective method of fly fishing for trout? Nymph fishing. So I have done a lot of it and will continue to do so. If you are strictly after numbers of fish caught then nymph fishing trumps all. Of course this is a generalization and one should always choose the best tactic for the conditions at hand. But most often nymph fishing is more productive, even during a hatch with rising trout.
Continue reading Wet fly fishing: What’s old is new again.

Seven must have flies for fly fishing Pennsylvania on opening day of trout season.

For many the spring season starts with going to their favorite water to try and catch a few recently stocked fish. I have written about this in the past a few times. I have many great memories of opening days with my friends and I believe it’s a nice way to learn the game.
Often beginning fly anglers have difficulty putting together a fly box for opening day trout season but unless you are specifically looking to fish over hatches you only need a handful of productive patterns to get you through the day. These are some of the best flies for fishing in Pennsylvania.

Pheasant Tail Nymph (size 16 – 12)
Pheasant Tail nymph
Originated by Frank Sawyer the Pheasant Tail nymph has evolved since he first developed the pattern without using tying thread. Now many patterns incorporate a beadhead and hot spot. This pattern is typically fished near the bottom but floating version work extremely well during a hatch.
Buy your Pheasant Tail Nymphs here >>

Prince Nymph (size 16 – 10)
prince nymph fishing fly
The materials used for the Prince Nymph make it one of the all-time best flies to represent many aquatic insects. Peacock herl represents everything from a cased caddis to bubbles being released during emergence. The tail and body shape suggest a stonefly. The contrasting color used for the biot wing case helps attract fish in a naturally shaped manner.
Buy your Prince Nymphs here >>

Rainbow Warrior (size 18 – 20)

rainbow warrior nymph

Team USA champion Lance Egan knows what works. This fly has been a staple on the team for many years.
Buy your Rainbow Warriors here >>

Continue reading Seven must have flies for fly fishing Pennsylvania on opening day of trout season.

In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas

fly fishing for large rarely seen white river brown trout. this image depicts their unicorn stigma.

Maybe a little extreme but chasing the largest Brown Trout known in North America, if not the world, is something I must do. I have caught many trout, a few large Trout, but nothing like what lurks in the shadows of the White river. It is considered a hub for trophy chasers and streamer junkies alike. These beasts do not blink at a mayfly imitations heck not even four inch streamers. No these are the alpha predators, the One, the Master of their liar. Unicorns you ask? Well you don’t get many shots at these beasts even in the best conditions, some go years without witnessing one – but they do exist. This is one of the very reasons they have survived and grown so large.
Continue reading In search of Unicorns: Fly fishing the White River Arkansas

The Incredible Edible Ant

Ant_Receives_Honeydew_from_AphidFlickr: Dawidi, Johannesburg, South Africa

Terrestrials are abundant and become a staple to trout in many waters through the summer season. Ant patterns are a must if you plan to fly fish for trout in the summer. Ants vary in size and color. Look for naturals on and around the water then match accordingly. But do not stop there. If you carry an insect seine, which can be as simple as an aquarium net, hold it beneath the water surface and most likely you will discover a big surprise – sunken ants. Continue reading The Incredible Edible Ant

Fly Fishing Meadow Run, Ohiopyle Pennsylvania

We recently fished Meadow Run located in Ohiopyle Pennsylvania. A classic mountain stream, Meadow Run offering the angler an opportunity to catch trout in the beautiful Laurel Highlands. Afterwards check out the charming town of Ohiopyle – it’s got something for anglers and non-anglers alike. More information about Meadow Run

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An interview with Greg Hoover, Professor of Entomology at Penn State University


If you spend any time researching insects used for fly fishing you’ll soon discover Entomologist Greg Hoover. I have used his co-authored book Great Rivers – Great Hatches for many years. Greg recently made a presentation at International Angler located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I had the privilege to talk with him about fly fishing, and entomology. I hope you find our conversation as informative and enjoyable as I did.

Thanks and remember: Go. Explore.

Simple trick to recondition your fishing flies

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I recently dug to the bottom of my pack and found some interesting things. The sunglass strap I couldn’t find all summer. A pack of gum the had transformed itself into a wad of aluminum foil and gob of something else. And of course, a few smashed unrecognizable flies. Both are favorite patterns of mine; an olive mutuka sculpin, and my own caddis dry which is used more for strike indicator purposes but ends-up catching lots of fish. Here is a way to breathe new life into bedraggled fishing files.
Continue reading Simple trick to recondition your fishing flies

Sulphur Time

One of the best hatches in Pennsylvania has to be the Sulphur. There are two variations Ephemerella invaria and Ephemerella dorthea .
Many times the hatch will trickle until the last moments of dusk then explode with numbers unimaginable. If you catch it right it could very well be one of the heaviest hatches you’ll witness through the spring season. As with most hatches, feeding activity starts way before the visually apparent top water rises.  I enjoy the nymph action hours before evening. Nymphing techniques can often be sloppy yet still productive due to the naturals preparing for the evening dash to the surface.  My latest favorite nymph pattern consists of the following (Don’t be afraid to tie it in larger sizes for high water and heavily stained conditions). Continue reading Sulphur Time

Fishing Fly, Mr. Wiggly

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It’s time to go out and play with the chromers. I have a great respect for Kevin Feenstra. Here’s my variation of his Psycho Sculpin.

Materials:

Hook: Tiemco 8089 #6, and Fish Skull Articulated Shank
Possum Fur
Pearl-Olive, EP Sparkle Fibers
Pheasant Flank
Red Plastic Eyes

I’ll try to post tying instructions soon.

Sulphur Magic on the Little Juniata

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Chris and Mike found their maiden voyage to the Little Juniata most pleasurable; in other words it was a total blast. PT’s worked through mid-day and the Sulphur’s did their typical delay until the last bit of light to finally emerge and give up a few nice ones for the gents.
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There’s a lot of hype regarding Euro nymphing techniques these days. George Daniel recently completed a great book , Dynamic Nymphing: Tactics, Techniques, and Flies from Around the World, about this topic which he covers all aspects of the game. In the larger pools we relied on the tried-and-true “suspender” rig resulting in some really great brown trout to hand. Eric Stroup knows the Little Juniata like the back of his hand so it’s always nice when I can show a couple sports the same high quality experience; less the crowds.

Sulphur mayflies Ephemerella.invaria, Ephemerella.rotunda, and Ephemerella.dorthea, in Pennsylvania you can expect to find them anytime from late April to late June depending on the region.
One of my go-to patterns is a semi-floating nymph with a plump wing case; it’s a champ during the hatch:
Hook: Dohiku 302
Thread: Dark Brown
Tail: Hungarian Partridge
Rib: Very Fine Dark Copper Wire
Body: Pheasant Tail
Wing Case: Black Foam 1/8”
Thorax: SLF Brown/Far and Fine Brown mixture
Legs: Hungarian Partridge

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Exploder:
Hook: Dohiku 302
Thread: Dark Brown
Tail: Hungarian Partridge
Rib: Very Fine Dark Copper Wire
Body: Pheasant Tail
Wing Case: Black Foam 1/8” (with a gap between the thorax and foam)
Thorax: Far and Fine Creamy Yellow
Legs: Hungarian Partridge

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Other Great Flies:
Craig Matthew’s Sparkle Dun
Eric Stroup’s Parachute spinner