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Old 04-26-2011, 06:37 PM
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Default "Match The Hatch" Challenge

OK, first off, in this case, "Match The Hatch" may not be the correct term, but it's the best I could come up with.

This time of year, with the winter fishing season over and the spring / summer season nearly upon us, idle chat at my store (not fishing related) turns to fishing daily. One of the common ponds frequently mentioned is one I've heard my dad speak of so often, as he heard his father speak of so many times, and we've all fished there, and the vast majority of the time, fished unsuccessfully.

It's a small pond, roughly oval shaped with a muddy bottom, ~ 1000 ft long X 400 ft wide, fed by a marsh and drained by a small stream. It's well known for the number of 18-20" Brookies living there that are nearly impossible to catch. It's also about a 2 hour hike from the nearest you can get a car.

Every trout I've ever seen or heard of taken from this pond had a gut full of black leeches, ~ 1 - 1-1/2" long. Normally in this area, bait is a worm and spinner, or at best, a "Red Devil" spoon, and fly fishing for trout in the area where this pond is, is nearly uheard of.

So, to get to the point, I mentioned today that to catch these trout, you need to match what they're feeding on, as close as possible since their food source is so plentiful (hence the term "Match the Hatch" I used).

I had a few naysayers, who believed "Why try to feed the trout something they already have an abundance of? Why not try to give them something else to "supplement" their diet?" I told them I don't have an answer for that, except to say the general belief is trout will stick to and feed on what they're used to or what's hatching at the time, and if they're used to a fine meal of black leeches, that will do the trick to catch them. Several chuckles and guffaws later, I was presented with a challenge:

"If you really believe that will work, prove it."

So, to step up to the challenge, on the first reasonable day after the opening of the trout season (May 15th), my uncle and I will be headed in there, him armed with his spinning rod, worms and spinners, and me with my 10 ft 3 wt rod, sinking tip line and a selection of flies, including several sizes of Black Wooly Buggers (which I believe is the best simulation of the black leeches so prominent in the food chain of this pond).

Now, I still consider myself a Noob so I ask for some critique and possibly advice to make sure I can say "Told ya so!"

From what I've read, the best method is a slow retrieve ""all the way in"", probably using a "hand twist" style of retrieve to try to simulate the movement of the leeches through the water. I've also read trout seem to like to "smack" the leeches to make them roll up into a ball and then attack to feed, so when you feel the smack, stop the retrieve, let the fly sink, and wait for the hit.

So, for a couple of questions:
  • It seems larger flies are recommended, like a 4 or 6, but with a 3 wt rod, I'm worried about being able to toss a fly that size effectively. Should I use smaller flies, use a heavier rod, or will the 3 wt be able to handle that size of fly?
  • Are there any other flies I should consider and add to the fly box?
  • Most important, do I have my head up my butt thinking this will work and trying to prove these guys wrong?

Thank you in advance for reading, for answering my questions, and especially for any advice offered, I appreciate it!

Jamie.

P.S.: When I go to the pond, pics wil be taken and posted here.
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Old 04-26-2011, 07:36 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Jamie: I think the naysayers and you are both partially correct in certain situations, matching the hatch will usually up your catch rate, but sometimes having an attractor pattern can also be effective or you could use both.
Take some time and listen to this episode on Fly Fishing Internet Radio with Denny Rickards, he is a stillwater guru. Stillwater Presentation | Denny Rickards | Fly Fishing
Your catch rate will go up if you use some sort of boat, float tube, etc. to move out away from shore and then cast in toward the shoreline. When fish are on the feed they will often cruise the shoreline (especially in low light conditions early in the day or late in the evening), if your casting from the shore you will tend to scare the fish as the cruise near your position, you will have a better advantage by casting from off shore.
With the number of leeches in that water I think your correct, use a leech pattern or wooly bugger. I'd prefer to use an intermediate full sinking line (but if you can't afford a new line use the sink tip), I particularly like the camo intermediate that Denny recommends on his web site (the reason is it will keep the fly pattern in the correct zone for a longer period of time): www.flyfishstillwaters.com - Fly Fish Stillwaters
If you really want to learn how to fish stillwaters, get yourself a copy of Denny's book "Stillwater Presentation", that is by far the best book I have read on how to fish stillwaters. www.flyfishstillwaters.com - Fly Fish Stillwaters
Good luck and keep us posted!

Larry
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Old 04-26-2011, 08:57 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Jamie,

I don't have any of these without the orange salmon egg head but picture this smaller with no egg. Black bunny fur and I would make them large and take a pair of scissors so you can trim them to suit the size of any leach you may be able to find or see in the water. Here I see leeches up to 4" long in one of my home rivers and the Egg Leech works fine on trout. These have a squirming undulating action when retrieved just right and look much more like our leech than a woolly bugger.

Shown about 3";

[IMG]Click the image to open in full size.[/IMG]

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Old 04-26-2011, 09:25 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Brookies that size are likely 20/80 fish or feed on insects about 20 percent or less of the time depending on availability and minnows/leeches/crustaceans and even small mammals the rest. Seeing as how you've already sampled the stomachs of a few go with those leeches and imitate with a similar fly/retrieve. Adding a bright colored egg in front does work in some areas and in others may not hurt as it invokes a competetion response and can also be an attractor.
I like a combo of maribou and soft hackle, aka wooley bugger and to get that blackish green leech color often use an under body of peacock herl along with the black maribou tail and schlappen hackle palmered body.
A deadly leech can be made with thin chamois cut into a leech sized strip and fished on a slightly larger/heavier hook to get that up and down swimming motion when you retrieve it with a twist retrieve. I carry a variety of the tan strips, cut in various sizes and then color the chamois with magic marker to match the local hatch.

Although the may strike and ball a leech I've never witnessed that but have seen them take a leech just by eating it as it swam so I'd be tempted to strike first and should that result in missed fish then slow it down some?
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:20 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Jamieof, the term emergence may be closer to what's happening.
I used to think brookies were easy, till I fished over big wild ones.
They can be as tough as any fish can be!
You can out-fish the spinner/bait guys in this situation.
Spend some time watching a leech move, this will help. (Speed/movement)
My personal fav material, next to chamois, is muskrat dyed with a magic marker.
Then add a little black or silver bead-head.
Rarely are leeches seen in mid-water or deep.
Just slow swim them in shallows and rocky areas.
Chucks tip on dropping the retrieve when they bump it, is one of the toughest tricks to master, and very productive. Strip-setting is the best way to maintain touch.
Well worth the years it will take to make it automatic.

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Old 04-27-2011, 12:29 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigfly View Post
Spend some time watching a leech move,
This is good Jim! It is why I use fur strips or long black saddle hackle to imitate them here. They get big up here and they swim like a snake but submerged. I do a tight line tip shake thing to make the fly move like the real thing.
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Old 04-27-2011, 12:55 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Ard, compared to fishing (IMO), "watching" may be the best time spent, if someone wants to actually improve their fishing prowess. (Kudos for rod-tip fishing the retrieve.)
Ralf Cutters (Bug underworld) video is a good start, but sitting and watching fish/fry/bugs, and other food forms in the field, is essential to success on tough fish.
Your offering may look exactly correct, but does it move right?
Is it in the right part of the water column? Fish notice these things.
If you saw a car drive by without the wheels touching the ground, I bet you'd notice.
Doesn't take smarts, per say. Just awareness of the norm.
And yes, sometimes the "Anti-hatch" fly works too. They may just feel ambivalent about eating one more of those darned leeches.
Personal preference, on fish over 18" a 5wt.
Good fishin'.

Jim

Last edited by Bigfly; 04-27-2011 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

My favorite leech pattern incorporates olive flashaboo and a large black bead head. Size 6-10. Personally I've found it outfishes a plain black leech or olive/black wooly bugger in stained water. Not sure how it'd work in your neck of the woods, though.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:04 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

Oh!!!!!! So much fun! I think, win or lose, that is what the fun of getting out with friends and family is all about. I could care less if I won. The fun of the game, will result in stories, comraderie and memories with your Uncle you won't soon forget. And if you win, good on ya!

Have fun regardless.

-Jones
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Old 04-27-2011, 05:54 PM
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Default Re: "Match The Hatch" Challenge

I have to jump in on this Match the Hatch.......... now I hate Midge fishing more then any other Hatch that comes off but if large fishing are sucking down a large population of Midges it being black or cream midges these fish will fill their bellies! Being their at the right time and having a bug tied on ready to go is a key factor when being on any trout stream, knowing your state also helps with knowing what bugs will come off at certain times in that month. keep fishin' tight lines!
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