How many flies does one use on any given outing on their favorite stream or tailrace? 5 or 6 flies is tops for me, which got me to thinking the other day do I really need all these flies I carry in my fly box? I had flies in the fly box that I hadn't used in years and some had never touched the waters surface. So to make space for the new flies I was going to add I starting culling those I seldom use. Take note of the words “fly box” because that is the only box I use now days when fly fishing.
This little Orvis metal fly box 2 ½ by 3 ½ has all the flies that I will use on any given day on the water. It fits easily in my small chest pack that is lightweight and compact as well. The older I get the more I want to eliminate weight when wading and standing for long periods of time in 55 to 60 degree water. Notice the difference in the amount of flies in the box before culling and after.
Given the fact I had a well organized fly box and the Sipsey Tailrace was fishing some better than a couple of weeks ago; I decided to test the waters with some of the newer flies that I had added to the box. I was met with cloudy skies and of course high humidity and lots of fog on the water surface. As I waded into place at access 5 I could barely see the surface film for the fog coming off the water. I decided to cast one of my new flies a size 18 Black Drake dry in the direction of some trout feeding near where I was standing. I got a hit after a few cast and thought I was in for some rapid top action. To my surprise, just as quick as the surface activity started it ended I surmised I was fishing the tail end of the surface feed.
With the generation schedule changed I had to use my time wisely so after surface activity slowed I moved on up the gorge. I replaced the Drake with a fly Alan at Small Stream Reflections sent me sometime back. I thought today would be a good time to give it a try. I tied on the Salars Nemesis tight lining it across a wide section that had some fast water in the middle and slower water on both sides. As the fly drifted from the edge of the slow to fast water I got a take and lost it just as quick; poor concentration and slow hook set, not a good combo. I kept working the Salars slowly with some short jerks mixed in when a trout nailed it in the middle of the swing, strong hook set and the trout was in the net!!
Today was one of those trips where one fly pattern didn't produce on a consistent basis. In fact that can be the norm on the Sipsey at times. These trout see a lot of the same flies in the upper section of the tailrace so it's good to show them a little something different. My next stop was the log section in deep water where the better trout hang out below the submerged logs. I decided to tie on the Seal Leech to fish this section. This is a fly that David Knapp gave me some years ago to work in deeper water. I fish this fly a little unconventional by casting it down stream and working it back slowly against the current. As I work the fly I let it pause in the current and flutter, usually during the pause is when I get the hit. Today this type retrieve help me land a couple of stocker trout just above the logs. I was hoping for the bigger trout but I will take what this section gives up.
I ended today's trip at the Guide Hole, which is where the guys at the fly shop bring a lot of their clients to fish the slow water in this section. This part of the tailrace has a small seam with some fast current above some slower water below. I think this little seam is one of the best areas in the guide hole section. I've landed some nice rainbow in this little seam. I've had much better luck in this area using a small nymph with an indicator. I choose a red size 16 Copper John to drift through the fast water and hopefully watch the indicator sink quickly. It didn't happen quickly but I did manage to land one more rainbow using the little nymph. All the flies used for today's trip were some that I had never used here before and some that I hadn't used in years. As I was leaving at access 5 the trout were into the sipping mode, so I stopped to try to get a take with no success. I'm still having problems getting hits when the trout are feeding in this manner. I suspect they are feeding on tiny midges, but color and actual size is still a puzzle. I am thinking of purchasing a stomach pump----any suggestions are welcome!!