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Chris_3gDecember 13th, 2006, 2:53 pm
Posts: 59 I was a bit embarrassed to post this on the forum, but decided to anyway. Anyway, my question is: Is being new to fly fishing as difficult as it seems? I'd say I've been out maybe a dozen or so times, and I've caught one rainbow about 6 inches long or so on a size 8 (or 10) Mickey Finn streamer. Living in Ithaca, the main places Iíve fished are Fall Creek (downstream of the falls to the first bridge), the Owasco Inlet (south of Locke), and Genegantslet Creek (north of Smithville Flats). These trips have been from late September to today.

I understand that this is a sport of patience, skill, etc., and a lot of times (like today), I didn't even care if I caught a fish, because I just wanted to go out and practice casting, etc., but taken as a whole, the lack of fish is a bit disappointing. It's a bit crazy, but I've already become enamored with the sport, and that's after only catching one fish and landing a number of branches, roots or rocks with flies of all shapes and sizes.

Obviously, no one can comment on my casting technique, approach, fly selection, etc., but I guess Iím just looking for some advice; I donít really have a local fishing guru to reference, so everything I learn is from books or the myriad of websites on the topic. Thoughts? Anything? Thanks a lot!

Chris.
JADDecember 13th, 2006, 4:34 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
Hello Chris
Let me welcome you to the forum. Lots of good guys and advice here, first you should tell us about your self. If your a young kid or a adult, I'll assume your an adult. I think you should look for, a Trout Unlimited in your area or some similar organization maybe a fly shop. Nothing better than friends in your local area that know a little bit about the subject, that will save you time and money.

Warm Regards
JaD

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
Chris_3gDecember 13th, 2006, 5:53 pm
Posts: 59Thanks for the reply David; lots of welcomed advice in there! I definitely agree that the thousands of patterns, gear choices, etc. out there can be a bit overwhelming. I sort of try to go middle of the road on everything and hope for the best, but the fly suggestions were very helpful!

To answer JaD about myself. Your assumption was correct; I'm a grad. student at Cornell. I'm married to a very understanding woman, i.e. she pretty much let's me fish whenever I want. I grew up in Indiana and did a lot of bass / bluegill fishing during the summers. My grandfather was big into fly fishing, so I guess that's where my fascination with the sport was initiated, but unfortunately, I never got the chance to go fishing with him, so I never picked it up until now.

Anyway, there is a TU here in town, so I'll have to check into that, and there's a course being offered next semester which seemed like a good opportunity to meet some people and pick up a few tips at the same time. Who knows?!

Chris.
Shawnny3December 13th, 2006, 6:43 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Wow, Chris, your post sounds exactly (I mean, word-for-word) what I would have liked to post to a forum like this when I started flyfishing... but that was before Al Gore invented the internet. Fortunately for you, this is a great place to get advice.

While there are a lot more knowledgeable people on this forum than I am, not many of them have started their flyfishing careers in Ithaca, in September, just after having graduated from college, without any help whatsoever... but I have. In fact, I remember distinctly getting skunked my first 10 trips to the stream, and we're not talking hour-long jaunts, either - we're talking 30-40 hours on the stream. On my eleventh trip to lower Salmon Creek I finally landed my first little snapper, and that started a hot streak - one fish each time for FOUR consecutive trips! Good thing I wasn't relying on flyfishing to eat, but it sure was fun, even then. As I look back and consider my abilities at the time, I am reasonably certain that those were the four stupidest fish ever stocked on an Eastern stream.

David's giving you FANTASTIC advice. The flies he mentions are consistent producers, if fished correctly, anywhere you go - hard to beat that list of patterns for just starting out. So I won't try. Just do what he says.

I would also advise you to find someone who knows what he's doing to show you the ropes - and not just some friend who beats the water alongside you, find someone who really knows what he's doing. I could spend 5 minutes showing you how to nymph and you could catch fish that way for the rest of your life (I think there's even a proverb about it...), or you could spend 5 years on the internet and in books and never really have a clue as to what you're doing. Remember, there's a very fine line between zero fish and ten fish, so find a guy who routinely catches ten fish and ask him to show you how he does it.

Streamers are easiest because you don't have to worry about line control so much - jerking the fly around sloppily can even induce strikes. But, ironically, you'll never consistently catch a lot of fish on streamers in a stream. A hint with streamer fishing, though, if you want to stay that course: Get the fly down by whatever means necessary. Only the most aggressive fish are going to come flying to the surface for a streamer in the dead of winter (although I've had it happen, spectacularly, with large fish before). So buy some split shot and change weight continually to suit varying water conditions and to probe different depths of the water column. Once you've learned effective line control (much, much easier said than done), managing weight is the single most important factor in catching fish subsurface.

I floundered around on my own for many years catching very few fish. Then I was fortunate enough a number of years ago to have been shown how to nymph by an amazing fisherman who happened to marry my aunt (years too late, from my perspective), and it has totally transformed my fishing. When you watch a master of the nymph or dry, it is like watching someone practice voodoo on the fish. You may even watch silently and think you know what he's doing, but in reality you probably have little clue... unless, that is, you can convince him to take the time to show you what he's doing and he's a good enough teacher to iterate what he intuits.

My parents still live in Ithaca, so I might be able to get together with you in a few months and show you what I know. But there are a ton of great fishermen in Ithaca - just find one willing to help you and you'll be on your way.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
TroutnutDecember 13th, 2006, 9:27 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2539
Living in Ithaca, the main places Iíve fished are Fall Creek (downstream of the falls to the first bridge), the Owasco Inlet (south of Locke), and Genegantslet Creek (north of Smithville Flats). These trips have been from late September to today.


That explains it! Don't worry, it's not you -- it's the spots. At least to some extent. I'll send you a private message with more detail on that.

Also, you picked a tricky time of year to start. Most people are fishing for big lake run trout and landlocked salmon, which is a very different ballgame, and around here it's hard because there just aren't a whole lot of fish in most places at most times. The cold water temperature makes the fish generally inactive. I'm sure somebody can counter that assertion with a story of fantastic winter fishing, and that does happen sometimes, but as a general rule it's harder to catch trout when it's this cold.

Truthfully, you don't need to know the taxonomy of a mayfly to pick an artificial with a similar size and silhouette.


That's exactly right. Most of the stuff on this site you don't need to know to catch fish. The science here is the icing on the cake, so to speak. It will help you catch more fish under some of the most fun situations in fly fishing, and more importantly it can help deepen your appreciation of everything happening on the stream. But you can catch fish and have fun without all the advanced stuff, too.

Streamers are easiest because you don't have to worry about line control so much - jerking the fly around sloppily can even induce strikes.


Nymphs can be easy like that, too. There is all kinds of depth and finesse involved in expert nymph fishing and I'm not very good at it, but even botched nymph fishing can produce a lot of fish. At this time of year it's all you should probably be doing around here.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
TroutnutDecember 13th, 2006, 10:43 pm
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2539
Are the salmonids not starting to spawn up by you? Right now, the season out here is closed for resident fish to protect spawning.


They are, and have been for a while. But the lake run fish are so few and far between in the Finger Lakes tribs (and unusually sparse this year from what I hear) that I wouldn't recommend lake run fishing to anyone who's new to the sport and just trying to catch something. I'm not doing any of it myself, either. The season is closed on most streams around here, but several of the main lake spawning tribs are open, and at least one of those has a good population of resident fish. I prefer to target those because I'd rather catch a half-dozen 8-inchers than zero 30-inchers.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
MartinlfDecember 14th, 2006, 6:14 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2902
Chris, I have little to offer beyond the excellent advice already posted, but it may help to look for stocked streams that have fly fishing only sections, if such exist in your state. Locate nearby special regulations sections that have hatches (local fly shops may be able to help with this) then try to get out when bugs are hatching. Next spring may provide you with a whole new ball game! An adams will often work especially well on recently stocked fish, and to my mind dry fly fishing is easier than nymphing, once you get the hang of casting to achieve a drag free drift. This is the way I started, and it can provide that confidence-raising day where you catch fish into the double digits. If your family doesn't marry into an experienced fisherman anytime soon, it may be worth it to pay to get some on-stream instruction from a local fly shop owner. If you don't have special regulation areas, look for stocked areas and try to get away from the crowds. As a grad student you may be able to fish some during the week, avoiding weekend anglers.

Streamers may be deadly on early season stocked fish also. After building confidence with dries and streamers you may want to move on to nymphing more frequently, and when you develop confidence with all three methods, start looking for wild fish, which can be very challenging to even experienced fly casters. But remember that everyone on this forum probably gets skunked from time to time. Also, as much as you can, enjoy the process. I used to get frustrated and have bad days when I was learning because I wasn't catching fish. Now I almost never have a bad day on the stream, even when the fish aren't cooperating as I would like. There is always something to see, something to learn, and walking a stream beats being in the library any day, no?

Two last suggestions: read some basic books on fly fishing to help with leaders, knots, etc., and get some casting instruction. Then practice casting every day you can in your yard. You will become more and more familiar with the rod and what it can do. As you smooth out your stroke and learn to cast high or low, at close or farther distances, aiming at a hat or hula hoop for accuracy, you will vastly increase your ability to put a fly where you want it to go with the right amount of slack in the leader. Accuracy is much more important than distance generally, by the way. I believe Joan Wulff and Lefty Kreh may have some useful casting books and DVDs to help with this. Best of luck, and welcome to the sport!
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
GONZODecember 14th, 2006, 6:32 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hi Chris,

I won't compound the information overload you've already experienced by trying to add to the fine advice you've received from David, Jason, Shawn, John, and Louis. But I did want to encourage you not to be at all embarrassed about asking questions and seeking advice. As you can see, everyone here is eager to help.

Is being new to fly fishing as difficult as it seems?


The relative difficulty of fly fishing (at least from a catching standpoint) is always related to when and where you fish. As Jason points out, winter fishing around Ithaca presents unique challenges that even experiened fly fishers sometimes find daunting, so don't be too frustrated by the low return right now. But take heart--many fine days await you, and your "winter of discontent" will fade in the warming waters of spring!

Best wishes,
Gonzo
JADDecember 14th, 2006, 4:06 pm
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362


Theirs something wrong with me, i just got a worm felling when Gonzo posted--- But take heart--many fine days await you, and your "winter of discontent" will fade in the warming waters of spring!

Best wishes,
Gonzo

Its only Dec and I'm feeling like that.

JaD

PS- Do you think Lloyd should be a writer

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
SofthackleDecember 14th, 2006, 4:58 pm
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Chris,
I have a son that works for Cornell in the maintenance department. He is an avid fly fisherman, as am I. Right now is not really the most productive time to fly fish. It's a little tougher right now, but not impossible. The best times are spring through summer if you can find cooler water-for trout, anyway. Warmwater species can also be taken on flies.

TU is a good organization to get started with, but you must remember they are primarily a CONSERVATION organization made of trout fisherman. There is also a Federation of Fly Fishers chapter close by you. They are the Five Rivers Chapter, I believe. They could definitely help you get deeper into the subject. I happen to know a few of their members.

If I can help in any way, feel free to ask, and I'm sure my son would help if you would like to contact him. Let me know.

My best,
Mark
"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
Chris_3gDecember 15th, 2006, 7:08 am
Posts: 59I wanted to thank everyone for the advice and / or words of encouragement! I got quite a bit out of this one post, so I'm sure I won't be so reluctant to post again if another question arises. Thanks again to all!

Chris.
SofthackleDecember 16th, 2006, 8:04 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Chris,
Check your private messages. I sent you a link.

Mark
"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
TrowpaDecember 20th, 2006, 5:46 pm
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
Complete newbie to this board, but had to jump in and encourage chris. I've been there and and still relatively new myself. I agree with the value of finding a "mentor" I was fortunate enough to take a job for a year in the catskills and got some GREAT advice from some legends up there when first starting out.

I've had good success with dry fies, but never really practiced nymphing too much and NEVER in the winter. This will be my first winter where I don't put the rod away and my first few outings were less than stellar.

So I'm back to being a newbie again and am looking forward to a winter of struggle along with you!

On another note - I'm glad to have found this site - feels like home as I went to college in Ithaca and live in PA (Actually have a house along the little lehigh - my little slice of heaven!)

Its great hearing about my old stomping grounds and would love to learn more about the fishing in Ithaca - i go up a few times a year, but haven't fished the area since college (92-96).

Chris - lets hope the Winter of 2006 teaches us a thing or two about nymphing!

-Steve
MartinlfDecember 21st, 2006, 7:24 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2902
Trowpa, in addition to midge patterns, a good winter pattern in many streams is a sucker spawn or glo bug fly. I just came back from a brief outing on a PA spring creek where I was able to pick up about 7 browns, two 13 to 14 inches, the rest smaller, on a pale yellow sucker spawn. Also, you may want to take a look at the thread on spawning fish. Best of luck this winter; dress warmly--it's getting cold out there.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TrowpaDecember 22nd, 2006, 4:08 am
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
Thanks Louis - I've never tried a sucker spawn, but they look very quick and easy to tie so i think I'll give them a shot. And yes, layers layers layers - luckily if i"m fishing in my back yard i don't have far to go to warm up :)
-Steve
Upnorth2December 22nd, 2006, 1:29 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 62
Forget yarn flies.....use Trout beads in the smaller sizes.

troutbeads.com
MartinlfDecember 22nd, 2006, 5:22 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2902
Upnorth2, thanks for the suggestion. I'll take a look. Trowpa, the Paul O'Neil quotation is the funniest. Thanks for including it.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TrowpaDecember 23rd, 2006, 6:40 pm
Eastern PA

Posts: 31
well - last on this post - don't want to hijack the thread anymore. But I had to report that I caught my first ever WINTER trout - fished the stream in my back yard this afternoon and... even with near flood stage levels and chocolate milk colored water - I got one 12 inch brown with a honeybug inchworm. It IS Possibile to catch them in the winter! woohooo!
-Steve
MartinlfDecember 24th, 2006, 2:48 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 2902
Congratulations! It sounds like you frequent the Little Lehigh Fly Shop, the only place I know that has honeybug inchworms. This, and the almost identical green weenie, are for me great all around patterns; I've caught fish on them almost every month of the year, and one fly shop owner said he's seen trout swim across the stream just to intercept a green weenie. That fish will be your first of many fish this winter, I hope.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell

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