Andrew Lyons is legendary. He is one of the most productive anglers out there.
On my second outing to the Farmington, I saw someone pull in fish after fish. I congratulated him, and we started to chat. He not only shared with me what he was doing, but, he also gave to me one of his flies. That’s Andrew.
I’ve interacted with him a bunch since then, both offline and online. He’s consistently the same: extremely thoughtful, full of knowledge, and always generous. The Farmington is highly-pressured. The wild browns there are tough to dupe. Andy lands a 15″+ trout each time he’s out there. It’s amazing.
I’m very grateful that he agreed to this interview. Follow him on Instagram (here), and you’ll see the flies he ties and the fish he lands.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where were you born and raised? Your family?
Thanks for inviting me to participate on this blog. My name is Andrew Lyons and I’m a fly fishing/tying addict. I was born and raised in Windsor Locks, CT where I lived walking distance to the Connecticut River and Kettle Brook which is spring fed and home to plenty of native brook trout. Both river and brook were where I started a lifetime love affair with fishing. I currently live in Cromwell, CT with my wife and 5 yr old son. I’m still walking distance from the Connecticut River and a spring fed brook that holds wild browns and brookies that I take my son to on a regular basis. Hopefully I’ll be able to pass down my passion to my son with similar influences.
How did you get into fly fishing?
Since I can remember I had always liked fishing. Like most kids I started worm fishing. When I was 12 or 13 I bought a Martin Fly Rod/Reel at a tag sale in town. Shortly thereafter I was in the front yard casting when one of my neighbors walked by, his name was Rich Altieri and he was a fly fisherman. To make a long story short he asked my parents if it was alright if he took me fishing with him to which they agreed. This was how it all started…by luck really. Rich was the first person to take me under his wing and really introduce me to the art of fly fishing.
Your favorite fly-fishing moment?
That’s an impossible question to answer. There isn’t one…there are thousands. Every trip to the river yields memorable moments. It’s always great when you’re targeting a specific fish that you may have lost on previous trips and finally put them in the net. But honestly I think my favorite moments are related to the people I meet on the river and the relationships that evolve from those meetings. Everything fish related are just moments in time…but the relationships with new friends can and often do last a lifetime.
What is the best way to improve as a fly fisherman?
For starters you need to put in the time. There is no substitute for experience. Every trip to the river will be an experience that you can look back upon for future trips. If possible try to fish with people who are experienced. If you see someone catching fish observe what they are doing, don’t crowd them and politely ask for advice….most guys are willing to help if you approach them the right way. If you can find someone who is experienced ask them politely if you can shadow them for a day and watch what they do and how they approach the water. Of course read books, watch videos and learn how to tie flies.
Why is the Farmington your home water, and what is so special about it?
The Farmington is my home water because it’s a 40 minute drive from my house. It’s special for so many reasons but primarily because it’s a tail water that can be fished year round. The scenery and wildlife in the area are second to none. The river holds a healthy population of wild brown trout (my favorite fish to catch) along with the Survivor Strain brown that is stocked by the state of CT and are sought after for their strong fight. On any given day you can catch a trophy brown or possibly the Farmington Slam…browns, rainbows, brookies and a salmon. It’s also a challenging river because it’s heavily pressured which will make you a better fisherman. It’s said that if you can catch fish in the Farmington then you can catch them anywhere. I’ve been fishing the Farmington for years and still feel like I’m learning the river.
What is your favorite style of fly fishing?
Well if there is a hatch I love dry fly fishing…the visual take never gets old. That being said I want to catch fish when I’m on the water. People who know me know I always fish first light and most hatches happen in the afternoon long after I’ve left the river. To stay productive during non-hatch periods I stick to nymphing so generally that is my favorite style of fishing. To be more specific I enjoy nymphing with a long leader up and across. I will Czech or French nymph when the conditions are right and of course indicator nymph in the winter but my favorite is always up and across at a distance…I guess people would call that Spanish nymphing.
What is your go-to rig? Rod/reel, fly line, leader, tippet, etc.?
My go-to rig currently is a Sage ESN 11′ 3WT with a Lamson Litespeed 2. I’ve fished long French leaders for the past few years but recently switched over to Sunray World Champion Nymph MT line with a short 7′ tapered leader that has an 18″ coiled sighter with micro-swivels on each end. I then fish straight 5x or 6x depending on conditions with 1.5 mm tippet rings fishing either a 2 or 3 fly setup.
How did you learn tightline nymphing?
Mainly it was by trial and error. I did watch videos and read about it but that only gives you the foundation. What took the time was coming up with a rig that I liked and figuring out how to cast and present my nymphs in the water I was fishing. It took time to figure out sink rates of various anchors that you could get down with but not get snagged on every drift. Once I understood how to get down and stay in contact with my nymphs it was pretty easy from there.
What is the best way to learn the Farmington, given its length and dynamism?
You need to put your time in and be dynamic like the river…there is no secret. I fish from the dam all the way down to Unionville. That’s a ton of water that all holds fish if you know where to find them. Each day you are on the water you need to be observant and flexible. You need to rotate patterns and water if what and where you are fishing isn’t producing. The river holds fish everywhere so it’s not like they aren’t there. You just need to be flexible and figure out how to get them to bite.
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Your Top 3 must-have flies?
1. Gold Stone – I like Pats rubber legs
2. Caddis – Olive and Hares Ear. (Torrey’s Hares Ear is incredible)
3. PT / Frenchie variant
Your favorite presentation and/or technique when nothing else is working?
It depends on the conditions and the time of the year. For the most part I can catch on demand in the spring, summer and fall. Where it gets challenging for me is in the winter when there is runoff and the water temps are either falling or under 34 degrees. These are the times when the fish will slow down and the bite can just turn off. These are the days the best guys have to fight to keep the skunk off. When this happens I know I need to put the fly inches from the fish because they won’t move to eat. What I will typically do is switch to an indicator rig and make sure my flies are dredging the bottom…if you aren’t catching debris then you aren’t getting down well enough. I then focus on where I know fish are holding and rotate my patterns until I can get someone to eat.