Sunday, August 28, 2016

Later Summer Distractions ... and Flies

Late Summer Ghost
Late Summer Ghost
Late summer and the vocational pursuits trump piscatorial adventure. Sadly.

Everybody has the summer blues. We need to be fishing but the weeks slip away with the other required activities of daily life. At first family, then the heat, and now the day job.

It's how it goes until we reach season's end and wish that we'd found one more outing, one more fish.

So, next best thing: the vise in the evening. (As my spouse would say: the vice).

Steve has a great fly over on the Soft-Hackle Journal here called the Turkey & Starling Nymph.

I've just received a huge handful of cock pheasant tails from a friend and so, used what was at hand.

The fly pictured here is a size 16 pheasant-tail soft-hackle using a peacock herl head for my friends: the brookies.  It is wire-ribbed and designed specifically for a buddy who likes to fish the same fly all afternoon.

This will do it.

I've increasingly come to like soft-hackles tied in the style of having the herl in front of the hackle. Some of the old spiders in Robert Smith's The North Country Fly: Yorkshire's Soft Hackle Tradition clearly follow this line of approach. I like the style because it enforces a clean-eye design. Summer flies for me often become over-crowded so much so that I have a box of "not quite" flies that didn't make the cut. Eye-crowding is the most common offense.

I should say it is only a varient of the pheasant-tail soft-hackle flymph so hardly anything original or distinctive. I do like the lighter hackles in fall and they seem to work (I've only done the lighter hackle for two seasons though so we're early in the objective evidence stage).

Late Summer Ghost:
Hook: Umpqua #16 (any)
Thread: Pearsall's in scarlet.
Tail: generous pheasant tail barbs more than you'd think would look good on any mayfly.
Abdomen: Pheasant tail ribbed with ultrafine in gold or silver.
Hackle: Ginger or bleached hen. Three wraps (which you'll think too many as you tie).
Collar: three strands herl counter-wrapped short and secured with a couple thread wraps running through.

This fly really isn't a very good spider. It is however a damn fine micro-streamer, iso, or pupae in the drift. It works. I don't know why but when in the water it looks "buggy."

Bushy tail. Longish active hackle. Herl. 

Weighted, this Late Summer Ghost is nice in a snap-jig motion. I'll tie some this week with four-to-six wraps of non-lead at the rear of the shank to be covered with larger pheasant-tail barbs. Sacrilege!   Weighted soft-hackle! Yep. There it is. 12, 14, 16, 18 and unweighted in 20.

I'll tie these aplenty and some Cougs (the coug) and some 18/20 CDC-only Caddis  [with thanks to Ed Engle for the pattern (Ed's book: Tying Small Flies)]. These should take care of my buddy at fall fish camp and give him plenty to fish even if he only ties on one pattern a day.

Now if I can just do a little more field research on the water I'd be all set. I've got some fox-squirrel and bucktail streamers I'm anxious to try.

In the meantime ... the vice. Er ... vise.



  1. Nice fly. Three favorite killing elements. Looks like everything.

    What's wrong with eye crowding? Check out Hans Weillenmann's ties. Consider that the heads of most aquatic insects are about the same width as the thorax and the same coloration. You see no thread head on Han's softies, the spring loaded hackle sprouting from directly behind the hook eye. When wet the hackle simulates head, wingcase/thorax, legs & creates the blunt headed profile of naturals. Of course the herl in front of hackle does this as well.

  2. I have found the block-like head to be a key indicator for the fish that rise from the depths for my flies. I think the blunt shape must be a contributing trigger differentiating the geometry from all the other detritus in the drift. My caddis - which are a huge component of the Michigan river drift - are quite blunt.

    If I'm drawing fish up, it is frequently from "blocky" flies.