I really have a soft spot for sulphurs. My experience fishing “on top” is pretty thin. 2012 is the first year that I’ve really focused on fishing dries. I caught my first trout on a poly loop wing sulphur emerger a few years ago. I have occasionally had luck using a size 16 parachute sulphur as a searching pattern over stocked trout when nothing is hatching. I also caught my first wild browns on sulphur dries.

Ephemerella invaria. What's not to love?

An unseasonably warm late March/early April has had hatches running early in Pennsylvania. Early compared to the hatch charts lets say…Nature is never early or late, it just is. However, the last week or two of April has been significantly cooler and this seems to have tempered the mayfly schedule somewhat.

I had been hearing whispers of sulphurs going on some of my favorite streams so I took a drive to central PA. On the water at 11:00 AM and no bugs but I fooled a couple small trout on a size 20 midge pattern. This particular stream, as do most in central PA, receives a lot of fishing pressure. I hadn’t fished it since May of 2011 and that was during very high water. This time around it looked like an entirely different place.

I have been of the school of thought that when trout are “looking up” they’ll eat almost any dry that is close in size to the natural as long as it’s presented correctly. This is, in my opinion, why flies like the Usual and the Royal Wulff work so well. I still believe this but my experience on this trip has broadened my view of how trout eat. These fish, on this day, were extremely selective. Thats not to say “more difficult” but they were keying on one specific natural at a time. When they switched, that was it. You’d better switch your pattern too. It was almost machine-like.

Wild PA brown trout.

Sulphur duns could be seen riding the surface at about 2:00 PM. Honestly when the thrashy rises started it made me pause and look at the water to see what was happening. By about 4:00 PM the sulphurs had thinned out but the rises hadn’t stopped. The trout however began ignoring my yellow compara dun. Again, a closer inspection of the water’s surface this time showed a lot of size 18 BWO’s now riding the film. A switch in patterns had me landing fish again.


Then, just as fast as everything had started, they stopped paying any attention to my olive. There were white/cream midges in the air now. Their rises had changed too. They were much more reserved, just breaking the surface with their noses. I thought about switching to a more appropriate pattern but I was honestly satisfied with what had just happened. I just stood and watched the trout work for awhile.


All in all it was about the perfect day. Everything clicked. Right place, right time, right conditions. It was the kind of outing that I’ll use as a measuring stick against days to come.


Turkey strip wing

I’ve been tying a lot of dries lately…well a lot for me. I was kind of getting tired of tying on small hooks and even though steelhead season is solidly in the rearview mirror, I got out a few Blue Heron #2s from Dave McNeese. These hooks have an attractive nickel finish and are sticky sharp. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to swing this during the upcoming fall. Until then, it’s rising trout.

F.H. Paddock “Lemon Drop” build

I recently was fortunate enough to get my hands on a Fred Paddock two piece blank. This is one of his “lemon drop” series and weighs in as a 7’6″ 3/4wt. I had hoped to have a new build for this late April-early May’s hatches here in Pennsylvania but the weather has been so temperate that most bugs have been emerging about 3 weeks early. As I type this there are still sulphurs, cahills, and march browns to look forward to and this 3/4 weight (Fred has stated that he prefers it with a WF4F) should be just right.

Lemon drop blank with some components.

The blank arrived quickly and I ordered components as soon as I could. Coincidentally, shortly after I received this rod, Fred made the announcement on that he was getting out of the fly rod making business. Given this news I would like to make sure that I do this build justice. I’m not a pro builder, I wouldn’t even consider myself a hobby builder. The few rods that I’ve built have been very utilitarian and out of financial neccessity so we’ll see how this goes.

One thing that I’d like to add about components…if you plan on doing translucent wraps on your guides, the shape of the feet will matter as you’ll be able to see through the silk. I ordered Hopkins and Holloway snake guides (hey they’re good enough for Sage) and I am somewhat dissapointed with the guide feet. I’m sure the guides themselves are of great quality and if I was using color preserver it wouldn’t matter but I’m not. I worked on these all afternoon with mill file and sand paper and all I have is torn up hands. I’m going to try and borrow a Dremel this week and fix them to my liking. If that doesn’t work I’ll be ordering some Snake Brand guides.

I’m still waiting on my reel seat and spacer so in the interim I’ve mounted the tip top, located the spine/spline, marked the guide spacing on the blank, and rough fitted the cigar grip and nickel silver winding check. So far so good. More to come later…

Rough fitting the grip and winding check.