During a pandemic, when every day starts to feel about the same, my fly-fishing outings have started to blur together, too. This wasn’t intended to be a dry-fly summer, and, trust me, I’m not complaining. But, I’m feeling the need to mix things up next time.
Yesterday found me again waking up at 2:30 and again fishing for about 12 hours, starting at morning civil twilight. With each passing week, the fish have become more and more picky. And, one midge pattern inexplicably looked fine, but two good fish were able to free themselves mid-fight. Some flies just have awful karma.
I fiddled with the #000 fly rod and 8x in the afternoon. I wanted to see if going from 7x to 8x mattered to the fish. It actually did. There were more takes with the lighter tippet. Of course, using it involved “the 8x blues,” a phrase I first heard from a Swift River angler.
For example, I pulled out a good distance of 8x to add to my rig, and, the next thing I knew, it was gone. I thought I had it pinched between my finger and thumb, but that wispy stuff had other plans. I then put it on my 7x with a blood knot, which required many false starts and inordinate patience.
And, I didn’t land a fish with it. My first few hook sets, which I thought were light to the touch, busted off the flies. Gentle hook sets meant that fish were only lightly hooked. Two such trout bid farewell when they jumped into white water and shot downstream. The fish ignored the tiny size 30 dries that usually stick with a light hook set.
Does anyone have good advice on fishing with 8x?
Later, I threw wet flies to add some variety. For some reason, it worked. Two fish quickly said hello, including one large rainbow that absolutely crushed the fly. It had a beautiful yellow hue to it, which I’ve seen only on the winter ‘bows at the Deerfield.
I saw quite a few trout, but they definitely made me work. The tube and bikini hatches were strong (sadly, many people didn’t practice social distancing, and this can make the pandemic more dire and last longer).
The bug hatches? Less so. I think it’s mostly an evening-hatch game these days, but that’s tough for me to do. I like to be home for family dinner as much as possible.
There was no hot fly yesterday, but low-riding size 22s did best. The fish weren’t keyed on any particular pattern or profile, although size 18 Sulphur variants did better than expected. The best one had both yellow and just a touch of orange. I’ll be tying up more later today.
If you’re fishing today, stay cool. A high heat-index day is upon us.