Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Matching the Hatch: Elk Hair Caddis

For years fly fishermen and women have had one motto or truism when it comes to picking which fly to use next and that is "Match The Hatch".  In other words match your fly to what the trout are eating.  I've been thinking of this fact and wondering what I can do to make this statement come to life.  So I decided to make a Match the Hatch series of blog posts, possibly once a month, highlighting different baits, not just flies, and matching them to the bait species they imitate.  This way we can learn both how to fish said baits matching them to their real counter parts.

So with that in mind here is the first "Match the Hatch" post.  I first heard about caddis flies in particular the winter caddis when I lived in Connecticut and decided to learn how to fly fish.  The first question I asked that winter after learning how to casts a fly rod was which baits should I learn to tie first.  Well, the person working at Orvis, also a fly fishing guide, said I should start with the elk hair caddis fly but make sure I tied it in the winter caddis colors as that is what they were currently catching trout on the Farmington River with.  Which to me made no sense whatsoever because it was very much into the winter and from what I understood no bugs would be hatching or flying about in the winter.  Well I was wrong, caddis flies do hatch in colder months.  So a quick grab of the materials and I was off tying some not very artistic looking elk hairs with the hopes of catching a fish or two that winter. 

Needless to say I didn't get lucky enough to catch a trout on those flies that winter.  However what I did learn was that just about every fish in streams, ponds and lakes will gorge themselves on caddis flies during an evening hatch.  As that following spring I got lucky and experienced a hatch while casting wooly buggers for trout in a local lake.  So with a quick switch of baits I was landing way too many bluegill a couple of small bass and yes my first trout on an elk hair caddis, only on the tan color not the winter caddis pattern.  From that point forward I've always kept them in my fly box whenever I'm out fishing, which this year turned out to be another forgotten treasure as I learned pretty quickly that here in Michigan when the flying ants begin to hatch the elk hair makes a great imitation for them as well.
The materials needed to tie the elk hair caddis are:
  • Sizes #12 - #18  dry fly hooks  (Mustad R50-94840)
  • Elk Hair
  • Saddle Hackle in brown, grizzly or black
  • 6/0 Tying Thread
  • Super fine copper wire for ribbing
  • Dubbing your choice of color

The overall pattern is very easy to tie so it's perfect for someone learning, as we all are.  Below are  few videos with great examples and variations on this essential fly.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How to Use Straws For Waterproof Camping Storage

If you've spent any time in the outdoors where you were required to pack in to a given location then you know that limiting weight, saving space and water proofing are a must. So how do you get everything you "need" into your campsite whether you're hiking or canoeing in.  This is especially true when it comes to luxuries like cooking spices and necessities like fire starting agents such as matches.
Well, one of the simple tools I use to get small items into camp safe compact and dry are basic straws.  I personally store my cooking spices, matches, Vaseline soaked cotton balls and neosporin inside sealed straws when backpacking, kayaking or canoeing into my campsites.  Note: Make sure you label your straws with a needle nose sharpie so you don't mix up things like toothpaste and neosporin.  I don't think you'll like the taste...  Overall this is a very simple tool to make so below I'll show the simple steps of how to make straws into simple storage devises.

1. Assemble the tools needed to make your storage straws. A simple lighter, needle nose pliers (or small pliers of any kind) and a pair of scissors will be needed. 
2.  Cut the straws to whatever length you'd like.  I personally cut them pretty short in order to store spices in single serve sizes for camp meals. 

3. Pinch one end of the cut straw with your small pliers and burn the exposed tag end briefly in order to get the end to seal. (You may have to pinch the tag end with your fingers to seal it completely)

4. After having one side sealed place whatever you want to keep dry inside of your mini-container. Ie. toothpaste, spices, matches or anything else you can think of that you want to keep dry.

5. Repeat step 3 sealing the opposite end of the straw thus protecting its contents from the elements.

Here is a video of the actual process just to make learning this a bit easier:


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