The Hendricksons are Coming

The Hendricksons are Coming

Spring is the time of year when what is arguably the best dry fly action of the season is set to come off. I’m referring to Ephemerella subvaria, the mighty Hendricksons. Like all hatches on freestone rivers, the Hendrickson hatch is a bit difficult to precisely nail down. In his book Trout Flies and Flowers, Ivan Mahoney connects the hatch with appearance of violets in the spring. Yet I have heard other people connect it to forsythia. 

In their 1975 book Hatches, Al Caucci & Bob Nastasi say that in the mid-Atlantic states the hatch occurs as early as the first week of April. Farther north into Southern New England, they report the hatch is typically delayed until the final weeks of April or even the opening days of May. North of there, the hatch can go well into May or even early June. This varied schedule is attributed to differences in water temperatures. Caucci & Nastasi write that the required temperature is between 50-55 degrees.  Adding that the hatch usually occurs in early afternoon until as late as 6pm.   

Lady Beaverkill Spinner

A Little Dry Fly History: The well known Hendrickson dry fly was created in 1916 by Catskill tier Roy Steenrod, who had studied tying with Theodore Gordon. Roy named the fly after his angling buddy Albert E. Hendrickson. Many years later Art Flick developed his famous Ephemerella subvaria dry fly – the Red Quill. (He borrowed the name from an old English fly) Flick felt his fly was a better imitation of the male Ephemerella subvaria, and Steenrod’s fly a better match for the female. During the hatch, Art believed one riffle might have only males duns and the next riffle downstream only females. For that reason he urged anglers to carry both patterns. By the way Ephemerella subvaria is the only mayfly with a distinct male and female. Note a popular fly called the Lady Beaverkill sporting a yellow egg sac just forward of the tail. The origin of this fly are murky, but some say DuBruce Blacksmith and George Cooper developed it around 1890. It is tied both as a dun and a spinner.

The Klinkhammer

The last fly I’ll mention is the Klinkhammer. This is a more recent fly originally created in the 1980’s for grayling. It is a unique dry fly in that the tail slopes underwater to represent a dun struggling to leave its nymph shuck. You might call it a dun/emerger.  Learn more here.  An excellent fly. 

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More on Soft Hackles

More on Soft Hackles

Been fishing. Unbeknownst to me the stream had been stocked the day before I arrived. That’s the good news. The bad news is everybody else in town must have known. The place was packed with anglers. Oh well, that’s the nature of public waters. And sometimes it isn’t just angling pressure you face. Many public waters have multi recreational uses. Tubers, canoers, kayakers, and swimmers. They can all get into the act. Grin and bear it, I guess.

A Soft Hackle Fly I tied

Well last time out, I started out with nymphs. But after a half hour of no strikes, I decided to try a soft hackles. Bingo, first cast!  Wow soft hackles are great. We covered them a few posts back , but lets take another look at them. This time we’ll examine how they are constructed. And I’ll tell you a little about the one I tied above.

The materials are pretty basic. A straight shank wet fly hook. Partridge hackle, typically. And a body material of your choice. That’s it. Now I’m going to add a tungsten bead. It is purely optional, but it helps get the fly down a bit. Some folks put the bead up by the eye.  I’m going to place it father back. Why? When tied behind the hackle it splays the hackle out, giving it more action in the water.

If you opt for a bead, you’ll want to use the right size. Here is some general advice. A size 3.6mm (5/32″) bead for a size 10 hook. A 3.25mm (1/8″) bead for a size 12 hook. A 2.7mm ( 7/64″) for a size 14 hook.  And a 2.0mm (5/64″) for a size 16 hook.

Now hold on. There is one more thing to consider.  You have to check if the bead will actually go on your hook bend! Some hooks can be a problem, believe me. Test your hook first to see if things are going to fit. I’m using a Mustad 3769. 

Put the bead on the hook. Then tie a thread base about a third of the way back from the hook eye. Build up the thread until the bead gets snug when forced on to it.  I like to put a drop of glue on the thread and then jam the bead on it. Next tie off your thread and cut it off. Move it behind the bead and tie in a body material of your choice. Wrap the body forward and tie off behind the bead. In the fly I tied above, I used silk button hole twist. It is easy to work with. Comes in a wide variety of colors, and doesn’t change colors when wet.

Cut your thread again and move it forward of the bead. Prepare a hackle as shown below, stroking the fibers back to expose the tip of the feather.  Then tie the tip in forward of the bead.  Using your hackle pliers, make two or more turns of hackle. Your choice. Tie off. Whip finish. Your done.

As you can see in the fly I tied above, the bead tends to splay the hackle fibers outward. I like that. How long should the fibers trail back? Some commercial flies use only a hook length of hackle fibers. I tie them much longer.  Around 1.5 time the hook length. But its your choice. Good luck on the water.


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Rescuing a 1987 17′ Aquasport: Part 2

Rescuing a 1987 17′ Aquasport: Part Two

Things are underway and the first step is power-washing off the years of dirt and grime. Believe there is a shit load of it. Black water was gushing out the scuppers and the bilge. But minute by minute the boat began to reemerge.

Man this is a big project. Still I have no doubt my son has the focus and skill to do it. And I bet it is going to look and run great. Even so, this vintage Aquasport is unlikely to see the drink for at least a year. Yeah it is going require a lot of sweat equity.

Don’t expect me to post steadily on this rescue, but I will return to the project as important things develop.  If you’re a card carrying member of the Aquasport fan club, and I know there are plenty of you out there, I’m sure you’ll want to see how the structural issues are handled.  The deck, the transom, come to mind. And I think my son is apt to make some modifications to the original design. So check back now and then.

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Rescuing a 1987 17′ Aquasport

My son has been jonesing to find a project boat. Something he could get for a song and rebuild. He had a line on three previous boats, but all three deals fell through. Oh well. That’s when my friend Phil mentioned a boat he has seen sitting in a yard for years. It was just down the road from his house. We had to take a look.

Well, this time the deal got done! It is a 1987 17′ Aquasport last registered about 10 years ago. Likely it has been parked uncovered and out in the elements ever since. Yeah time has taken a toll. The hull is full of leaves, rain water, and mold. Yes, the deck is spongy. So the stringers are shot. Inevitable. And the transom is lumpy and bulged. Obvious wet inside. Both will have to be taken out and replaced. But my son is ready and capable of doing it.

Thankfully the trailer was in decent shape. So we aired up the tires and drove the boat a mile to Phil’s house to do some emergency work. The trailer needed temporary lights installed and rewiring. Leaves and junk had to be removed. We had to get a taller tongue for the truck’s hitch. And at some point in the past the winch strap had snapped and been knotted. We secured that with a racket strap. A trip to the hardware store and an hour’s work got those things done. Then we were ready for a half-hour tow to my son’s home. Mission accomplished. Thanks Phil!

to his own

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A Look at Strike Indicators: Part Three

A Look at Strike Indicators: Part Three

In this final post, we are goin to look at two variants -the “Release Indicator” and the “Hopper-Dropper”. I believe both were developed out West. 

Release Indicators

Release Indicators were created for trout fishing in lakes and ponds. In these situations trout are usually feeding deep, typically on chironomides. So the distance between your indicator and your fly may be 15 feet!  You cast out, let the fly sink and patiently wait for a strike. Hooking the fish may go well; landing the fish may not. If the indicator stays securely in place on the leader, you can’t reel the fish in close enough to net. Especially from a boat, which is the most common way lakes and ponds are fished. A “release indicator” remedies that. When you strike, this indicator releases its grip on the leader, and as you reel, it slides down to the fish. Bingo, you land your trout. Clever that. 


I don’t use the “Hopper-Dropper” tactic a lot, but I do enjoy it. You should too. The idea here is suspend a weighted nymph or wet fly off the bend of a high floating dry fly. In effect, the dry becomes your indicator. Grasshopper flies are one choice, hence the name, but many big dry flies work too. Foam Chernobyl Ants come to mind, as do large dries such as a Stimulator or Royal Wulff. To made up this rig, simply tie your wet fly of choice off the bend of the dry on a short piece of mono. Typically 18″ of 4x or 5x, does the trick. Cast it out. Now you’re simultaneously fishing both a dry and a wet! Cool. You gotta love it.  

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