Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nymph Fishing the Fast Water

It isn't nearly as fun as fishing a dry fly to a sighted fish, but nymph fishing can be a necessity. In periods of high water flow we need to get down deep and get down quickly if we want fish to see our offerings. Let's take a look at two nymph fishing strategies. One of them is the common strike indicator method and the other is a European import called "Czech Nymphing".

The first setup is one that most fly fishers have encountered before. For this rig I suggest attaching a 7.5' to 9' leader tapered to 4x. (In times of slower clearer stream conditions I would use a 5x leader.) Tie on 20" of 4x tippet at the end of the leader. Attach your first fly to the end of the tippet. Attach a second piece of tippet (4 or 5x) to the bend of the first fly using an improved clinch knot. About 15" is perfect. Attach your second fly.

Once your flies are tied on it is time to add some weight and your indicator. Place your weight about 12-15" above your first fly. Do not put your weight more than 15" above your first nymph. The closer your weight is to your fly the deeper it will get.

There are several options for weights. The most common weight used is split shot. For faster water conditions a size BB shot or two should do the job. An alternative is lead or tungsten putty. I have used tungsten putty reliably for years. I find it easier to adjust the amount of weight needed. One problem is that putty tends to shift during fishing. To counter this, tie in 2-10" pieces of tippet instead of the first 20" piece. Place your putty on the knot 10" above your first fly. Having the putty on the knot reduces its tendency to shift during fishing.

To finish up, place your strike indicator 8-15" down from the end of your flyline. Indicator placement can be adjusted for fishing varying depths of water. The standard formula is to put your indicator 2 times the depth of the water above your first fly. If the water is 3' deep place your indicator 6'above your first nymph. In faster moving water I leave the indicator high on my setup to allow the flies to sink more readily.

There are countless types of indicators. For fast water nymphing a large extremely buoyant indicator is a necessity. For the Black Hills a 3/4" thingamabobber is a good bet. If a thingamabobber isn't for you, choose an indicator you like and stick with it. In fast water conditions avoid stick-on foam indicators.

Take a look at this crude diagram to clear up any failings of my text.

I have run out of time for now, but check back and I will tackle the Czech Nymph rig. Following that will be a post on fast water nymph fishing strategies.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Snow

Walking home from the Elks Theater last night wasn't fun. Well, it was fun but man was it wet. Christine and I went to the Banff Film Festival (it was great). When we left for home the air was filled with huge snowflakes. When we woke up this morning a solid 4-6 inches covered the yard. And the snow continued throughout the day.

Well, I guess this means more high water. The next few days are predicted to be cooler and wet. That will mean continued high water levels in the creeks for a few more weeks.

Castle, Spring, and portions of French Creek will be the best bets for this weeks stream fishing. If you own a float tube, kayak, canoe, or pontoon boat head out to the lakes. Great fishing is to be had on these seldom fished waters. Center lake fished well this past week. I have been meaning to get out to Sheridan to find some of its large rainbows.

Coming this week:
I will add to the fishing report as I get fresh information. I will also try to post some fresh photos here on the blog. My next blog post will be a primer on leader setups for nymph fishing in fast water. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

May 16th Open House Event

We are going to have a big day on the 16th of May. It will be an open house and a season kick-off event. Tom Andersen, our Simms/Sage/ Rep., will be in house to answer questions about simms, sage, rio, and his other product lines. We will be having a few specials and a few prizes. Please stay tuned for more announcements. Please join us starting at 10:00 am at the shop. See you then.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Great Deal- Order an Orvis Rod and the reel is FREE!

Another quick note: From now until May 15th order any Orvis Rod in the TLS, Superfine, or Helios rod series and get a free Battenkill Bar Stock, Mid-arbor, or Large Arbor reel. Orvis' current line of rods are great and their reels are durable and very popular at the shop. Please contact me if you're interested.



High Water

Just a quick note here- Black Hills streams are running high. Most of them will not be fishable for a week or two. The discharges below Pactola Reservoir into Rapid Creek are at 203 cfs this morning. The water will be clear but tough to fish. The northern Black Hills streams are at a similar flow rate and they won't be running clear.

For anglers looking for a spot to go try the lakes here in the Hills. Float tubes, pontoon boats, canoes, and kayaks provide ready access to some of the most under utilized trout water in the hills. Sylvan, Sheridan, Pactola, Deerfield, Center, Legion, Bismark, Stockade, Reusaw, Dalton, Roubaix, and Iron Creek lakes are all ripe with opportunity.

Also, take a day and drive over to Pierre. The white bass, smallmouth bass, and carp fishing are just about to hit their spring/early summer peak. This is the fishing I daydream about.

That guy at the Fly Shop told me...

I know that the "fly shop guy" should always have his finger on the pulse. He or she should have a rapid reply for "Where should I go?" and "What should I use?". I most always do, but lately the information I have given has been derived from the fishing exploits of others. Yes, believe it or not the fly shop guy doesn't get to fish as much as people think. I am not complaining (well I am a little bit).

On my last outing I took the Black Hills Fly Fishers Youth Progam troop above Canyon lake. We (read the kids) caught a few rainbows. It was great watching their eyes grow big when the line went tight and the fish made its first run. Even more satisfying was watching them smile as they released the fish for someone else to catch.

Hopefully I will get out soon. Yesterday was a great day to be out chasing something, but instead I helped put in a new window at the house. So if anybody reading this has been out please leave a comment about where you went and how it was. I will pass the information on to another angler looking for a place to catch the big one. Feel free to disguise your secret spot- the general specifics are fine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Product Review: Sage BASS Series "Bluegill" Rod

I don't know what kind of bluegill these guys had in mind, but to me this is a perfect South Dakota smallmouth, largemouth, and northern rod. It is incredibly light in the hand and will cast very large air resistant flies with ease. Granted, my casting experiences with it have been out on 7th st. I have scared a few women coming out of the salon next door and have hooked the sale board out in front of the women's clothing store two doors down, but I have yet to catch a bluegill (read bass) on this rod. I can't wait to take this thing to the Missouri river or down to Angostura for South Dakota redfish (read carp).

The rod is the newest in Sage's Bass line up. At 7'11" it feels very light in the hand, making it one of the lightest eight weights I have ever held. However, you won't find 8 weight stamped above the cork on this rod. Instead you will read "230 grains". This is to indicate the grain weight of the specialty line Sage includes with the purchase of the rod. The shooting head nature of this flyline makes for easy distance without umpteen false casts.

One of the goals Sage had in mind for the BASS series was to keep the rods under 8' in length, allowing fly anglers to enter BASS tournaments. I don't think I will show up at any of the local tournaments wearing a jacket festooned with patches any time soon, but my next warmwater trip will be with this rod in tow.

Don Polovich has already had a few outings with this rod and has found it to be quite right for white bass. Don caught his first "bluegill" with this rod this past Monday over in Pierre.
Anybody interested in this rod can check it out and try scaring pedestrians on 7th street any time.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The "Other" Fly Fishing

For most folks, trout are what fly fishing is all about. They operate under the assumption that fly fishing's sole goal is to catch trout. This is unfortunate because thinking this way closes the door on numerous other angling opportunities.

Trout are great and I love to catch them. However, I often find myself looking for something different than two-fly nymph rigs or midge patterns fished on ultralight tippets. In other cases the trout stream isn't in the best of shape due to runoff etc. So...I chase after my two current fly fishing obsessions- carp and smallmouth bass.

Carp and Smallies are well distributed in our state. My favorite waters include the Cheyenne River, Angostura Reservoir, and Lake Sharpe on the Missouri River. Other options include the Belle Fourche River, Orman Reservoir, Shadehill Reservoir, and countless bodies of water east of the Missouri River. Take a look and you will find carp or bass water nearby.

Carp have all of the cunning of any other sporting fish, so don't let their "trash fish" reputation keep you from giving them a try. The fight that begins after the hook set is enough to make any fly angler smile.

Smallmouth are the best fight I have ever found on a fly rod. They are my current fly rod quarry of choice. Think of them as a cross between a brown trout and a largemouth bass. One day you will find them gently sucking mayflies off the surface like a trout. The next day they are slashing through herded schools of baitfish or hunting crayfish.

Next time you find trout fishing routine or find your local stream too high to fish, try expanding your horizons. For me those horizons have led primarily to smallmouth bass and carp, however the horizon doesn't end there. In our corner of South Dakota I have caught largemouth, smallmouth, crappies, walleyes, bluegills, catfish, goldeneyes, northern pike, sauger, and white bass all on the fly. Do yourself a favor and get out and give it a try.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Zealand Video

Here is a link to a video from last year's trip to New Zealand:


It was uploaded to youtube a few days ago.

This is the biggest trout I have ever caught. It couldn't have been in a better setting, with better people, or on a nicer day. It taped out at 30" and it weighed in at 12 - 12 1/2 lbs. It took a size 16 black all purpose nymph. The fish was holding in the head of a pool and ate the nymph without hesitation.

My thanks to Rich Meyer for being a great fishing partner that day.

Bryce Curle, a super guy all around, did an awesome job guiding us in our day in the backcountry. Without him this fish and the video wouldn't be possible. Cheers mate.

First Blog Ever- Black Hills Fishing update

With a homebrew in hand I am going to take a swing at this blog thing. My goal is to provide regular updates on happenings here in the Black Hills fly fishing world, and maybe I will throw in the occasional rant. Here goes...

This has been one of the snowiest springs I can remember in quite awhile. The northern Black Hills have received over 7 feet of snow in the past 2 1/2 weeks. The reservoirs (except Angostura) are all full and there is plenty of snow pack upstream of them. Flows out of Pactola Reservoir are already around 100 cfs; which seems like quite a bit when compared to the 13 cfs of the last several months.

All this moisture is a welcome change for the trout streams of the Black Hills. Rapid, Castle, and Spearfish Creeks are going to be in great shape this year. I hope the Boxelder, French, and Spring Creeks make up for what was lost due to the drought.

The next few weeks will see high water in our streams. Runoff and additional rainfalls could get flows up to unfishable levels in Spearfish Canyon. Rapid Creek below Pactola should be fishable as long as releases don't get out of hand. Get ready to use bigger flies, heavier tippet, and a bunch of weight.

I will report on fishing conditions in coming blogs. Stay tuned for more.