By Brian Davenport
I helped with a new fly fisher clinic a few years back. The clinic taught students how to tie knots and get the casting basics down. It also went over flies and where trout live. At the end of the clinic they took the students out fishing. Most mentors had their students fishing dry flies because that is what they like to fish. I know that some folks absolutely love one method over another, and that wet flies are probably not near the top of their list, but bear with me on this.
You have a significant other, a friend or a youngster that is interested in fly fishing, one of the easiest methods of taking trout is to swing a wet fly. My reasoning is this---first you do not have to be a great fly caster. If they can get the fly out a reasonable distance, down and across or across that’s good enough. Second- fishing a wet fly is really effective in one and a half foot to three or four foot of water, so wading is easier. Also, it does not require the new fishers undivided attention like watching an indicator or dry fly does. They may have to mend the line a little. The strikes are known- the fish pretty much hook themselves. That’s not to say down and across is the only way to fish a wet fly, but for a beginner it is a great way to get them hooked on fly fishing (pun intended).
Now for the fly tying aspect of Wet flies-
A tail, maybe a rib, some dubbing and a hen hackle or some other soft hackle like a Hungarian partridge feather. No expensive dry fly hackle or any really hard to obtain materials, and if its not a perfect tie the fish don’t mind. So it is something reasonably inexpensive to tie and you can work on the fundamentals of tying a fly while still giving the beginning fly tier/ fisher something that they can take from vise to stream and have success. Thereby furthering their enthusiasm for a new sport and basic skills you can help them build on.
Think about it and maybe try it with the next new person you help get into this sport that we love.
Some great wisdom here for the beginning angler and the seasoned veteran. I think wet flies work so well because people dont really fish wet flies much anymore, all the more reason to fish them! Thanks for sharing this with us Brian. Till Next time...
Tight lines - Tim
Tyler and I had the pleasure of fishing with central Pennsylvania's premier Smallmouth guides, Brian Shumaker. Brian is the owner of Susquehanna River Guides and has spent the past 30 years floating the rivers in and around west central PA including the fabled Susquehanna and Juniata rivers. Brian has become a good friend over the years so we jumped at the chance to spend a day on the water with him.
We did the 2 hour ride from our place to the meeting spot in record time where we then followed Brian with his Hyde drift boat in tow to the um, well, we will say...boat ramp. We were on a smaller piece of water Brain can only float in his hard hull during the Spring. later in the year there is simply not enough water to get down this particular river. Getting the boat in the water was interesting, but we got it down the bank and we were soon on our way.
Smallmouth are my favorite fish, they are beautiful, hard fighting and are tailor made for fly fishing. We spent the day pounding the banks and back eddies with streamers and slowly stripping them back. "Stripping them back" is really a bit of a misnomer, really we were just letting the flies hang and swing a bit and just keeping the line tight as the boat drifted down river. This is a cool technique as once you "get" it you can literally hold the fly in one spot for an extended amount of time to entice a big ole' bronze back to come up from the deeper water and smash it.
We started off a little slow, typical with spring time smallmouth fishing as the water was still a bit on the cool side at 52 degrees. When the sun got up and the water warmed so did the fishing. As soon as he stepped up on to the front casting position Brian was tight to a solid smallmouth. Literally it was on his first or 2nd cast!
nThis was not a guided trip, it was what we call a "row and go" meaning three guys are in the boat, 2 guys fishing and 1 rowing the boat. We would switch positions so every got to fish and every one would row. If rowing a drift boat is not something you do every day you will soon appreciate the skill of an accomplished oarsman. It is not as easy as a good rower makes it look...just ask Tyler. I really think you should spend some time on the oars if you can, it will give you a better appreciation of how everyone needs to work together for the boat to be successful. Tyler was picking it up toward the end, I am very excited for our Smith Fly raft to be completed so we can start floating some of our local (and not so local) rivers this summer.
On his second stint on the bow Tyler stuck a good fish followed by an even better smallie.
Tyler and I were fishing some of TFO's new gear, mainly the Axiom 2 X rods and the new BVK sealed drag reels. As mentioned smallmouth are my favorite fish to fish for, coincidentally we spend a lot of time chasing them each year. For years my go to set up has always been a 7 weight. We throw some pretty big flies when chasing smallies; Game changers, O'Neill's Controlled Chaos, O'Neill's Hovercraft, weighted crayfish patterns and the like. For me a 6 weight just doesn't have the muscle needed to punch these bigger, wind resistant flies through the air. It is not uncommon for us to be on the water all day and honestly an 8 weight was just too heavy to cast for 10 hours straight, that is why I prefer a 7 weight. Until now.
During one of my turns in the back of the boat I looked down in the rod holder and low and behold there was Tyler's Brand new A2X 8 weight. Will, I am not one to let a new rod to go to waste so I figured I would break it in for him. As mentioned earlier I am a huge fan of a 7 weight. That being said, if you get a little more than I light breeze the shortcoming of the 7 weight quickly comes to light, especially if you are trying to punch 60' casts with big flies. This was the first time I really got to spend with the A2X 8 weight. The first thing you notice is the overall weight of the rod. If you didn't know any better you would swear it you were holding a 6 weight. Load it up to cast and it is quite apparent what you are holding. Paired with an aggressive, weight forward shooting head this stick is an absolute rocket. It is light in the hand, you can cast it all day and it has plenty of punch to drive a big, articulated fly through the air with ease. It is a bit early to say it is my new favorite, but it will be a staple in my quiver for sure.
Several hours later and sever rotations on the oars we were at the take out. We had had a fantastic day with several Smallmouth landed along with a bonus Walleye, my first ever.
If you are looking for a fantastic central Pennsylvania Smallmouth experience Give my buddy Brian a call or check out his Facebook HERE. You will be glad you did. Till next time...
Tight lines, Tim
As many of you know Norvise ambassador Braden Miller was recently featured in a 5 page article in "Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Journal. It was a fantastically written article authored by Len Waldron. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Braden he is one of the most respectful, well mannered 14 year old's you will ever meet. Mature beyond his years, yet humble at the same time, Braden is the real deal when it comes to the fly fishing industry. I remember vividly as we were setting the booth up for the Atlanta "Fly Fishing Show" and my phone sounded. I looked at the incoming E mail and it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at...Braden was on the cover! (cover photo by our friend John McMinn) What a great moment that was for Braden, his family and for Norvise. Braden, his parents Will and Casey, brothers Blake, Brantley and Bennett have become family to us and we could not be more proud of his accomplishments.
To check out more of his work or to purchase some flies click HERE to visit his web site Miller Time Flies. He is also a great follow on Facebook and Instagram
Pretty cool huh? Till next time...
Tight Lines... Tim
By Norvise ambassador Brian Davenport
Congratulations on your new purchase. Hopefully you also bought a Norvise Automatic Bobbin as well. If you haven’t- you should go do that right now! The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. The only way to get the full potential of the Norvise system is to have both the Norvise and the Norvise Automatic Bobbin
There is a bit of a learning curve with the Norvise, but there are some things you can do to shorten the curve tremendously!
First things first, start by watching the video that came with your Norvise to see how the system works. If your brand new to fly tying this will be a great help and you will learn a lot. If you’re a seasoned tier, this will show you how to use the system, and how it differs from your prior setup.
(to see the video Brian is talking about click HERE)
After watching the video, I sat down behind my Norvise and got to work.
Now a Norvise Automatic Bobbin is a special tool that you will learn to love! In the video, Norm demonstrates how to wrap the thread around the leg of the bobbin, to provide adequate tension.
Here is a little trick to help with that. Once you have the thread through the tube on the bobbin, attach it to the thread post across from your vise. Do this by placing a few wraps of thread around the button. At this point, your bobbin will be hanging from the button on the thread post. Make sure the bobbin is oriented with the thread coming off the bobbin towards you. With your thumb, push the thread through the legs of the bobbin, and catch it with your finger on the back side. Bring it down, around the spool. Do this twice and then the tension is set. This helps so that you don’t accidentally pull the thread back out of the bobbin-- and once you’re done it is already secured to the post.
During the learning curve, this will be something you do quite a bit of! Part of the learning curve is to make sure when you cut your thread, to use your hand to put tension on the bobbin hub, so that it doesn’t zip the thread back through. It will happen-so just prepare for it! After a few times of having to rethread your bobbin, you’ll get the muscle memory down to do it and then you will do it without even thinking about it.
One of the things I missed when watching the video, is which way you spin the vise. It seems pretty straight forward, but I had a few issues with my flies until I watched the video a second time. If you watch carefully, Norm spins the vise towards him, rather than away from him. When I really thought about how I used my old vise and wrapped the thread on the hook, it makes sense. You need to turn the vice toward you so that it will wrap the thread away from you like on your old vise. Small detail, but easy to miss. And can make your first few interactions on your new vise frustrating if you don’t get it right.
Learn to tie a half hitch. The half hitch is your best friend when using the Norvise system. If you break your thread, it will save your fly from completely unraveling. It will also help when you use the vise for other techniques such as dubbing.
Also, when you go to move the bobbin off the thread post, be sure to keep enough tension on the thread, so that your material doesn’t unravel.
One final thing— materials go on the hook very easy with the Norvise—sometimes too easy! So it is very easy to crowd the hook eye. If you start your thread in the spot where you want your materials to end
Brian gives some sound advise in this article about the vise and the bobbin. Hopefully this will shorten the learning curve with your new Norvise. Till next time...
In this video Norvise ambassador Brittany Davenport of Hackles and Hurl shows us a cool hair wing Steelhead pattern. I really like this video for many reasons. First Britt does a fantastic job of explaining what she is doing during each step. This is something I believe is lost in a lot of today's videos. It seems, instead of teaching, many of today's video posters have adopted a "look at me" mentality and they forget the instructional part of tying videos. There are also several instances here where the Norvise and it's rotary function is used perfectly. Great video Brittany, thank you for sharing it with us.