Blogs > Oneida Outdoors

An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring is prime-time for fly fishing

A couple weeks ago at the Trout & Salmon Expo in New Hartford some of the local Trout Unlimited members were giving kids lessons in fly casting and having clinics to assist adult anglers. A couple people commented that this was fun and not nearly as difficult as they had believed.
Have you ever thought that you would like to get involved in fly fishing? Spring is the prime time for fly fishing since many mayfly or other aquatic insects will be hatching and trout will be eagerly feeding on them. The hatches create enough action that even a beginner can have fun catching fish. Of course some of the recent weather with cold temperatures and strong winds definitely was not fly fishing weather.
Fly fishing is fun and easier than you might think. How should you get started? The best advice is to ask a friend who is an experienced fly fisherman. By asking a friend, professional instructor or local sports shop you will probably get the best advice on what type of equipment to purchase, and how to get started. Lessons from guides or pro shops can be very helpful.
Locally there are several groups that can offer advice, support, or even assist you in learning to cast properly or get started in fly tying. Mohawk Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited ( welcomes new members and is very helpful. The Madison County Chapter of TU ( is involved in casting clinics, fly tying, in addition to its stream improvements and stocking. Fly Fishing Anglers Association ( is a group based in Whitesboro that meets monthly and will provide lots of help and support.
For most of the trout fishing in this area an 8 1/2 to 9 foot rod, balanced with a 5 or 6 weight line will be ideal. Fortunately it is easy these days to balance equipment - i.e. the proper weight line for the rod. Simply match the number on the rod with the weight of the line. You will want heavier a weight for bass or steelhead fishing.
You should have a good quality reel with sufficient capacity and drag control, but basically they are just used for storing line. A single action reel with interchangeable spools for using different types of lines (sinking tip, weight forward, etc.) is what most of us need.
The variety of lines can be confusing but most of your fishing needs will be served by floating, weight forward lines. These are easiest to cast and allow for delicate presentation. Level lines are cheaper, but should be avoided for most casting purposes since they don't give you the distance or delicate presentation.
The last part of the equipment is a tapered leader. This allows you to present the fly so the fish will not see the connection. Although experienced anglers may opt for longer leaders, most of us will do fine with a 7 1/2 or 9 foot tapered leader. The tippet (end) should match the size of the fly you are using. Smaller flies call for more delicate tippets. You can attach the leader with a nail knot, but many people use various commercial leader connectors to easily attach the leader to the end of the fly line.
The third part of the equation is choosing the proper flies to use. This can be the most intimidating or frustrating part. When you see fish rising all around you but ignoring your offerings, you wonder if it is your casting techniques, fly selection, or a punishment for not mowing the lawn before you left.
You may not have to match the hatch exactly, but the closer you come, the better your success will be. When in doubt just try to come as close to the size as possible, then try to match shape and color and this usually produces some fish.
You don't need an overwhelming number of patterns and sizes to catch trout. Most of the trout in this area can be caught on dry flies in Adams, Light Cahill, Hendricksen, Caddis, Gray Fox, March Browns or Elk's Hair Caddis. Your wet fly selection should include Wooly worm, Royal Coachman, Dark Hendricksen and Hornberg. Toss in some Wooly Buggers, Muddler Minnows and Hare's Ear and some streamers and nymph imitations and you are on your way.
In addition to fishing dry flies on the surface, or trolling streamers, a common tactic of fly fishermen is to use wet flies like the Muddler Minnow, Hornberg or Wooly Bugger. These are best fished with a sinking line near the bottom of the pond and gently twitched or moved with the drift of the canoe.
It is true that the better you are at casting and fly selection the more fish you will catch. But you get better by practicing it on the stream or pond. Thus you can catch fish and have fun while learning.
So join the growing number of people who find that fly fishing isn't a difficult challenge - it's just plain fun.
LADIES ONLY SPORTING CLAYS CLINIC: On Sunday May 6th, Vernon National Shooting Prserve will be holding their first Ladies Only Sporting Clays Clinic. The Clinic will run from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, and will include a light lunch, clinic work book, instruction, targets and snacks at the clinic's end. All levels of shooters are invited, and will be grouped by ability level. They are taking a maximum of 15 ladies. You can register by calling Bonny at 315-941-6513 or Tom Fiumarello at 845-625-3151
FUTURE ANGLERS OUTREACH SETS RECORD: The Future Anglers Outreach (FAO) Program set a new record last Sunday with over 140 youngsters attending. The FAO is not a clinic, but is designed to give basic instruction to parents and youngsters, provide a fun morning of fishing under supervision, and give each young participant a rod and reel to keep.
The initial goal of 100 participants was reached by pre-registration and last minute additions swelled the number to 141. Fortunately chairperson Ted Dobs had planned for such a situation and had additional rods and reels and other supplies and food. The event went smoothly thanks to the professionalism and organization of the sponsor – S.H.O.T.S. S.H.O.T.S. (Sportsmen Helping Others Through Sharing) sponsored the event and provided lots of skilled volunteers. Other volunteers helped in instructing families in the basic skills of fishing.
The success was made possible by the efforts of Dave Alberico and Pete Siver of Marion Manor Marina. By providing a large secure area with plenty of cooperative fish it was possible to effectively spread out and have a positive experience with such large numbers. Thanks and congratulations to all involved.
SPRING MIGRATION FESTIVAL: The Great Swamp Conservancy of Canastota will hold its Spring Migration Festival this weekend, May 5 and 6. It will be 10 – 4 both days at 8375 North Main St., Canastota. There will be artists, crafters, “Talons” birds of prey, environmental displays, music, children’s activities, and guided bird walks. Call 697-2950 for more information.
FIRE TOWER TRAILS: Common Man Books has just released the latest in its popular series of hiking and guide books. The book “29 Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains” is about the 29 remaining fire towers, all of which are part of the ADK Firetower Challenge. In this book they have included explicit directions from Interstate highways, where to park, what you might see and what the authors found. They also included GPS readings and more than 60 full color photos.
You can ask for this book at your local bookstore or outfitter or order it from the publisher, Common Man Books at: or call them, toll free at: 866-793-0555.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home