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All about Emergers with Tim Cammisa

Description: I get frequent questions about fishing emergers and it's a confusing subject. Do I fish one like a nymph, or do I fish one like a dry, and how deep should I fish it. My guest this week, Tim Cammisa [41:06], is a well-known fly tier who specializes in doing presentations on tying and fishing emergers, so I thought it would be great to get his tips on them.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the "Orvis Fly-Fishing" podcast. This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer and in this week's podcast, we're going to be talking to a highly respected and well-known teacher, Tim Cammisa. If you're a fly tyer, you've probably seen Tim's great videos on YouTube. Tim also does some presentations for clubs and things on various topics but one of his more popular ones is emergers. And because I get a lot of requests and questions about emergers, I thought it would be good to get Tim on to get his take on how to fish emergers. And, you know, it's kind of a confusing and difficult way of fishing for some people because it's not quite a dry fly and it's not quite a nymph and there aren't, you know, really standard techniques for fishing emergers. So, I thought talking to Tim would be helpful to get a different perspective on fishing emerges, and maybe Tim can answer some of the questions that I'm not always good enough to answer. So anyway, I hope you enjoy that good technique podcast.
But first, let me try to answer some questions on the fly box. And if you have a question for the fly box, you can send it to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can either type your question in your email or you can send me a voice file. And please try to keep your voice files fairly succinct. I've had a couple of voice file questions lately that I couldn't answer because they went on for over five minutes and I don't think you wanna listen to a five-minute phone call from someone. So, if you're one of those people who sent in a five-minute podcast question on a voice file, try to boil it down to about, you know, two minutes max. And then I can probably answer it better on the air.
All right. The first question is an email from Ken from Buffalo. You probably get tired of hearing from me but you always seem to have the answers I'm looking for. Now, Ken, I'm never tired of hearing from you. Question one. After a very long layoff from flyfishing, I've been practicing fishing. It started with casting and getting the rhythm and feel back. Now I've moved on to actually being on the water and practicing line control which is a bit more difficult. I was wondering how you handle split shot on your leader. I'll go from no weight to adding split shot for deeper pools but I have to cut off the fly in order to remove the shot when no weight is needed. Again, should I use a dropper for the shot?
Question two. I would like to touch up my grandfather's old cane rod where a little bit of the finish has come off. I remember from a previous podcast you answered the question about doing this to raps but I forgot the product you recommended because it was flexible. Would a thinned-out Marine Spar Varnish and a few coats work well?
Question three. I'm using old leader material from the Orvis Leader Tying Kit. I've noticed that the knots are difficult to sinch tight. Could this be because of the age of the material? It's been kept in a box and not exposed to UV light.
Question four. Do you ever get back to Western New York and fish on the water from your youth?
So, question one, split shot on the leader. Your thing, you're casting with split shot, you're adding a lot of weight to your leader and so for casting, you will have to cast a more open loop which means making your casting arc a little bit longer than you would use for a dry fly or a streamer because you just need that open loop to deliver that weight on your leader.
And as far as handling split shot and taking it on and taking it off and taking it on, it's a pain. There are split shot that are supposedly removable where they have a slot on both sides and there's a little slot on the backside and if you place your forceps carefully on that, you can sometimes open up the split shot. I don't find this works very well. And then there are people who grow their fingernails long to open up the split shot with their fingernail. There is a tool I've seen to open up split shot but it seems to nick your leader. And so, you know, it's difficult to use.
The one solution to that problem is a product called soft lead or tungsten putty which you can put on your leader and you's a putty and you just roll it on your leader and then, when you wanna take it off, you just pull it off your leader. It does come off fairly easily in casting although know, if you're careful in casting an open loop and the water is relatively cold, that helps to harden the stuff. It does stay on pretty well. And the nice thing about sink putty is that you can add to it or you can subtract very, very quickly and easily and it doesn't damage your leader. You will need a knot or a tippet ring or something to keep it from sliding on your leader. So, it's not the best but yeah.
And your idea of putting split shot on a dropper is a great idea. That's something else you can do so that you don't have to keep, you know, taking it on and off...taking your fly on and off to slide the split shot off. But as far as I know, there's no real good removable split shot unless you're really careful about crimping it on and I'm never that careful about crimping it on. So anyway, there's a couple of suggestions, anyways.
Question two. Yeah, you don't wanna put Flex Coat on a bamboo rod, to the best of my knowledge. I'm not a rod builder but I do know that Marine Spar Varnish is what used to be used on varnish bamboo rods and if it's an older rod, that's probably the best thing to do. Typically, when a rod needs revarnishing, it probably needs revarnishing on more than one spot. So, the whole rod may have to be stripped of the old varnish and then put a new coat on. But that's something that I'm not totally qualified to handle. But if there's just a little nick, yeah. I think the best thing to do would be to use that spar varnish. That's great stuff for fixing a bamboo rod, not the Flex Coat.
Regarding your old leader material, yeah. The real, real old nylon seems to get kind of an oxidation on the surface and that can come from ozone in the air. It's not just UV light that breaks down nylon. You know, there's ozone everywhere. Particularly if the leader tie kit has been stored by some sort of electric motor. So, yeah. It's probably the age of the material and you probably...if it's that, I can't remember the last time Orvis sold a leader tying kit. It's probably best to start over with a whole bunch of new spools. Leader material's not that horribly expensive and some of those heavier pieces will last you a long time because you don't use much of them.
And question four. Yeah, I do get back to Western New York. It's where I learned to flyfish and I love getting back to Western New York. My 93-year-old mother still lives in Western New York so when I visit her, I try to sneak away for a couple of hours and go fishing.
Simone: Hi, Tom. This is Simone from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina calling again to say hi and wow. I've been listening to the podcast, the recent one with your science guest and it's just... I'm sitting at my local fly shop and I can't go in until I just kind of process this a little bit. First of all, I just love the science and I was thinking as I was listening how everything is so connected. You know, you guys are talking about the ocean currents and the different temperature changes and the upwelling, and yet, you know, we're all connected and even the trout streams here in the mountains. You know, it's like one big ecosystem with smaller micro-ecosystems. So, it's always fascinating.
And a comment I have is all too often, species like sea lions and seals, the pinnipeds get a black eye from people that, "Ow, they're eating fish." Well, I get that, and yet, the disruption from all of this mess that we're in as a human species is due to human behaviors and irresponsible practices. And so, you know, when we start to vilify them, it just kind of irks me a little bit. I do understand the balance, the need for balance but that starts with humans and it doesn't...we don't need to blame other species for that.
And one other question I have and this is maybe for all the listeners is we hear all this terrible news about our climate and declining trout populations and other species that are overpopulating. And so, what do we do? I mean, you know, obviously, we can vote, we can spend our money wisely, support conservation organizations but it's, you know...when I think about losing these beautiful natural resources, it's very, very saddening. And so, I'm just putting out a question to everyone. What can we do individually to make a difference and practice that every day even if we're not out on the water fishing, if we're just at home listening to podcasts or tying flies or whatever, I just wanna thank you all for being good conservationists. Thanks, Tom. Bye.
Tom: Well, Simone, thank you very much for your comments and, you know, I get it that a lot of people that listen to the podcast love the science and I try to get scientists on as much as possible. You know, what can we individually do to make a difference? Well, you know, it's a matter of not only changing our lifestyle but, you know, being advocates for the resource and being an advocate for the resource can be anything from, you know, worrying about what's happening on your local trout stream in your backyard or bass pond or whatever to global climate issues. And, you know, if everyone was an advocate for that kinda stuff, we would probably be in much better shape. So spread the word. Try to recruit as many other advocates as you can and hopefully more people can make a difference. Not a great answer but that's the best answer I have.
All right. How about another email? This one's from Bob from Virginia. First, let me start by highlighting one of my favorite things about the podcast and what I think makes it such a great place for newer fly fishers to get deeper into things. Simply put, it is a lack of correction or gentle correction on your part when folks use terms that aren't considered the norm in flyfishing community. Too often, we are quick to pounce on terms we don't seem suitable and I think it perpetuates the snobbish stereotype.
I remember the late '90s. I had been eyeing the Silver Label 8-weight and a Battenkill Disc loaded with Wonderline as my first foray into flyfishing. I could've ordered from the Orvis catalog but we had a brick-and-mortar store locally and buying it there would put it in my hands immediately and support a local business. Once I had saved enough, I rushed up there. It was my first time in a fly shop versus a tackle shop and I remember feeling immediately out of place. Everything was so neat, tidy, rustic-looking and it didn't smell like bait. I walked up to the counter and proudly proclaimed to the manager, "I would like to purchase an 8-weight Mid Flex Silver Label Battenkill Disc Combo with Wonderline." I think I probably sounded like Ralph from the movie "Christmas Story" asking for a Red Ryder BB gun.
The first thing the manager said to me in a very stern tone was, "It is called an outfit, not a combo and we are out of stock." That pretty much ended the exchange. The place felt even more unwelcoming at that point and I ended up ordering through the catalog. In highlight and with the wisdom of age, I know now that people sometimes have bad days and he may have been having one. I also realize that my 20-something-self dressed in landscaping work clothes and reeking from equipment exhaust may not have seemed like the most serious of fly anglers back then. But that exchange has always stuck with me and I have witnessed other similar exchanges with other fly anglers over the years and it is a characteristic that is absent from this podcast and one of the main things I enjoy.
Now for a couple of quick questions that may have been asked before. Why do fly reels hold so much backing? I was loading a small reel recently and I was thinking how absurd it was and how did it even start on smaller reels. Even in saltwater with hard-running fish, most scenarios use the boat to limit how far a fish gets. Are you really ever gonna get a fish that's peeled 200-plus yards off? Then another question on the same vein, why are lightweight fly lines so long? I realize the machines that make them are probably calibrated to make a certain length for all lines. But why not save some material and make shorter lines? Thanks, and keep up the great resource and entertainment.
Thank you, Bob. That's a very thoughtful letter. And, you know, you're absolutely right. There is no excuse for a fly shop owner to correct your use of jargon. And, you know, yes, people have bad days but you know what? If you work in retail, you really need to get beyond that. You're not allowed to have a bad day in retail and that's why there are so few good retail people. You have to be always smiling and helpful and inclusive. And, you know, I think you'll see a lot less of that these days because it's hard. It's hard to run a fly shop. It's a hard way to make a living. Those people work super hard and it's not very profitable. They do it out of labor of love and, you know, the ones that weren't so good, the ones that were rude to customers, well, they're not around anymore and there's a good reason for it. And the fly shops that have survived are the ones that you walk in there and you feel immediately welcome and nobody feels like they're talked down to. So maybe it's a good Darwinian evolution that some of those snotty fly shops have gone out of business.
Regarding your questions, why do fly reels hold so much backing, that's a really good question because I've got lots of trout reels with 100 yards of backing on them and I have never gotten anywhere near close to 100 yards. And, you know, one of the reasons for backing, it's inexpensive and, you know, backing is really just to fill up the spool so that, you know, a lot of these smaller fly reels have really, really narrow arbors. And if you wind your fly line right onto that, it would come off the reel with lots of little kinks. Now there's, you know, there's a... you could put a spacer on there so that you wouldn't have that kink situation and, of course, large arbor reels eliminate that problem. They have a larger arbor so you don't have that kinking problem. But you don't need that much backing on a trout reel, for sure.
I think maybe I've...maybe in my 50 years of trout fishing I've had fish take maybe 50 yards, maybe 50 yards of backing. So, you know, I would say...but you can get away with...99% of the time you can get away with about 20 yards of backing and you're gonna be just fine. So yeah, there's more backing than you need on most reels. And in salt water, you know, there are times. You never know it. That's the thing about saltwater. You never know what you're gonna encounter. And you might be out there fishing for a 4-pound...2 to 4-pound bonefish and hook into a 40-pound permit. It's not out of the question. And you might need close to 200 yards for that 40-pound permit. I know it's a long way but it can happen. So, in saltwater, I think that, you know, there's that just-in-case factor in saltwater that you might wanna have 200 yards of backing on there. And again, it's not that backing isn't that expensive. It's cheap. Another 50 yards of backing isn't gonna cost you that much. So, it's probably good to have.
Regarding smaller fly lines, you're right. You know, you don't need more than a 60-foot fly line if you're fishing a 3-weight and you could use a smaller reel and, of course, you don't need a lot of backing for that. And I think it may be just the way the machines are set up. I'm not sure exactly but yeah. It's silly to have a 90-foot 3-weight line but that's the way they're sold and that last, you know, that last 30, 40 feet of fly line, you know, it isn't...if you'd cut that off, you wouldn't save that much on the cost of the fly line. So, you know, once you're running the machine and putting the coating on, you really wouldn't save much money with a shorter line. But, you know, it's perfectly okay if you have a 3 or a 4-weight and you can't get enough backing on your reel, then you can certainly cut, you know, with a weight forward line you can certainly cut back 20 or 30 feet of that fly line and you're never gonna know it's missing.
So, you know, maybe they make 4-weight lines 90 to 100 feet long because people wanna take them out in the parking lot and see if they can throw the whole fly line. That's all I can think of. Anyway, those are both good points. And thanks for bringing them up.
Here's an email from Dr. Ben from Columbus, Ohio. I've been doing more winter flyfishing this year in Central Ohio and I'm experiencing all the joys of fish bunched together, solitary waters, and frozen feet. I'm hoping you can help me with the last of those. The temperature rose to a balmy 41 degrees this past weekend so I headed out with a couple of buddies to one of our local streams. During this trip, the most productive area I found was a section of deep, slow, flat water, the kinda undistinguished water that I'd almost always pass up over in the spring, fall, or spring. I had decent success on this stretch and at one point had strikes on three successive casts. However, because I was Euro nymphing, I had to get relatively close to those fish which put me in hip-deep, slow-moving water for the better part of an hour. When I finally called it a day, I couldn't feel much below my knees for the next hour or so. Having listened to much of the podcast back catalog, I know that cold feet are a perennial issue with winter flyfishing and the consensus seems to be that the tips and tricks provide temporary relief at best. And in an older podcast, George Daniel said the only success he's had with cold feet is to turn to Bootfoot Waders so now I'm resigned to getting a pair to complement my primary Stockingfoot pair.
The problem is that options are pretty slim. I know Orvis makes a Bootfoot Felt-Soled option in the Clearwater line but I'm concerned about snow accumulating beneath the felt. The only other option I found is an $800 pair made by an Orvis competitor and while I'm not above going this route, I think I'd be sleeping on the couch if my wife found out about such a purchase. So, I'm on the hunt for other options. Because I know you're a bird hunter, I wanted to get your thoughts on perhaps turning to a pair of hunting waders instead. I'm very happy with my stocking foot pair for the eight warmer months of the year. So, these would really be just for winter fishing in, and again, those slow, deep pools. Are hunting waders a viable option for winter flyfishing? I suspect they have less flexibility than flyfishing waders but are there any other major differences? Any thoughts you could provide on the matter would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance for the help and thanks for the refuge the podcast provided while I was visiting family this holiday season. Listening to the political opinions of Uncle John was more tolerable when I could turn to the podcast afterward for a relief.
I hope Uncle John isn't listening to this. So Bootfoot waders, yeah. First of all, a good pair of Bootfoot waders are gonna be expensive. There are a lot of technical challenges to producing Bootfoot waders as opposed to Stockingfoot waders. Orvis is...we are testing a pair now and I've actually been wearing a pair. I don't wanna rub it in but I love them. And hopefully, they will be available late next fall, is the latest I've heard and they're terrific. But they're gonna be expensive as well. You're not gonna get a good pair of Bootfoot Flyfishing Waders cheap. They're gonna be expensive. They're gonna be a lot more expensive than Stockingfoot Waders but that's because of all the problems in the extra construction and other things that you have to worry about. There's a higher duty on Bootfoot waders coming into the country and they have all kinds of other things. Anyway, but you don't wanna wait for those.
I think a pair of hunting waders would be great. And you know what? I wouldn't rule out getting a pair of Neoprene Bootfoot Waders. We all gave up wearing neoprene many years ago because it was hot and bulky but for winter fishing, it'll keep you warmer. And so, yeah. I don't know, hunting waders are generally gonna be a little bit stiffer but for winter fishing, they'll work just fine. You can get them with cleat soles and you can even put studs in those cleat soles and I think they'll work out just fine.
A couple of other things. We've talked about these things before on the podcast but, you know, standing for an hour in one spot in winter fishing just doesn't work. Nothing's gonna keep you warm if you're not moving around. So, you know this now, of course, that you probably should've gotten out and walked up and down the bank a couple of times halfway through that session. That would've helped.
Another thing is don't drive to a fishing spot with the socks you're gonna wear wading because you're gonna sweat in them. So put a new pair of nice, dry socks on. And, you know, I have been really, really happy with the comfort I've gotten in winter fishing with a pair of electric socks. The electric socks, they make these days have great lithium-ion batteries in them. They will stay on medium power for, I don't know, six, seven hours. And my feet have been toasty. Don't ask me for a brand. I bought them online. I think they're all made probably in the same factory in China. But, you know, I would look into electric socks. I've really had good luck wearing them. So, try that.
And if you can hold off for the Orvis Bootfoot Waders, probably be another year or so. If you can't, then I think a good pair of hunting waders would work just fine.
Jim: Hey, Tom. It's Jim from Buffalo. Greetings from Steelhead Alley. I've got a comment and a question. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, me and my boys did a Children in the Stream flyfishing outing with Alberto Rey and I just can't say enough about this Orvis-endorsed guide of the year. Did a little walk and wade for a couple of hours and he was just the most gracious, knowledgeable person eager to share his knowledge with my 10-year-old and my 15-year-old. He's one of my favorite anglers in the area and thanks to him, my 10-year-old hooked his first trout on the fly. Kudos to Alberto.
My question regards fishing with pegged beads. Many center pinners around here and others swear by them while others claim it's not flyfishing. I was interested in your opinion. Last weekend I gave it a try, pegged a small, flesh-colored bead with a red-blood dot about a 1.5 inch up the hook, added a split shot about 18 inches up from that, and let her fly with my 6-weight to see what would happen. Well, I'll be damned if in the hour that I was out on the creek I didn't hook half a dozen rainbows between 5 and 10 inches landing 5. The nice part about it is that all of them were hooked on the outside of the mouth making removing the hook and returning them to the water in less than 30 seconds a breeze. I'm not all that concerned about whether other anglers would consider this real flyfishing or not but I'm still interested in your opinion and if you've had any experience using pegged beads. Thanks for reading my question. As always, thank you for fueling my addiction. I've definitely become a bead believer and from now on, at this point, will happily add them to my bag of tricks.
Tom: Well, Jim, I've also fished with Alberto Rey and I agree with you. He's a terrific guide, a wonderful gentleman, a talented artist, a fascinating guy and I highly recommend anyone who's ever considered fishing in that area to book a trip with Alberto. He's a true gentleman.
Regarding fishing with pegged beads, you know, I've looked at it and my asked for my opinion. My opinion is I don't wanna do it. I can't tie them. It's a piece of plastic and if I can't put something in a vice and make a fly out of it, I'm not gonna use it. So, it doesn't appeal to me and, you know, I spent my whole life trying not to hook fish in the outside of the mouth because I know that it's probably easier to unhook a fish but there's just something about it that makes me think I've foul hooked the fish and I just can't get out of that mindset. So, you know, that's just my opinion. Perfectly, you know, if you enjoy it and it works for you, that's great. Just go ahead and do it but if you're asking for my opinion. I don't think I'm gonna do it.
Here's an email from Kyle. This is a question I have long wondered. Do stock trout that end up being holdovers ever pick up wild trout habits such as spawning? Even though most stock trout won't or can't reproduce, do they still go through the motions because of their natural instinct to do so? And if mixed in with wild fish, will they follow or pick up their spawning habits? I've looked and I can't find any literature on this but here in Pennsylvania, there are wild brown trout and even a few wild rainbow streams. Being that neither of these are native to the area, it would lead me to believe that at least some of those stockfish fell into some sort of spawning cycle. Anyway, big fan of the podcast. Thank you for all you do. Happy holidays to you and yours.
Well, happy holidays to you and yours, Kyle. Yes, absolutely. Stockfish can and will reproduce. You know, the instinct to reproduce is pretty hardwired into them and they will try to do it and sometimes successfully. You know, there are probably some strains of stock trout that are so unfit for living in nature that they might not be able to reproduce. So, it probably depends on hatchery stock and, of course, sometimes they stock sterile triploids or hybrids that won't reproduce. But stock trout can reproduce if they survive. And they can also crossbreed with wild trout which, you know, introduces a problem that you've got a wild trout population in a stream, you introduce hatchery fish and they interbreed with the wild fish and you're probably gonna reduce the fitness of the wild fish.
But, you know, if there are no trout in the stream and you stock some trout in there and they're a fairly decent hatchery stock, they will...if there's good spawning gravel and the water quality is high, they will definitely reproduce. I mean, that's why we have trout in New Zealand and Argentine and Chile and Kenya and Hawaii and places like that. You know, trout, stock trout will reproduce if they survive. Part of the problem is that they generally don't survive predators long enough because they're not as wary as wild trout. But if they do survive, they should be able to at least attempt to spawn.
There's an email from Scott in Colorado. I have a tip and observation and a question. I have a tip, an observation, and a question. First, I purchased the Orvis Premium Fly-Tying Kit about a year ago to start my fly-tying journey. Over the past year, I've made some modifications to the basic but adequate vice. I've added a small alligator clip and a round magnet to the vertical shaft using two-part epoxy. The alligator clip serves as a material clip for a hackle and other materials while I add other parts to the fly. The small magnet allows me to attach completed flies that need time to dry. It also helps prevent head cement from sticking to my fly bench.
Now the observation. We have just passed my favorite flyfishing season in Colorado, late summer, high-country angling. Crowds thin out and so do the thunderstorms. High-country trout seem eager to feed readily before the ice sets out in lakes. Recently, I observed trout behavior that I have been able to exploit to my advantage. When throwing big, bushy dries or terrestrials to cruising trout, I have found that throwing to groups of fish to be much more productive than single trout. This has happened at numerous high lakes to multiple species. I find if I throw to a single trout, he will inspect the fly at his leisure and more often than not pass it up. However, if I throw to a pot of trout, this will trigger a frenzy to see which trout can take it faster. By exploiting this competitive behavior, I've become much more successful in sight fishing. Have you experienced this as well?
Finally, my question. We are now in the midst of winter flyfishing. Luckily, here in Colorado, we are blessed to have no close season. I have trouble on these lowlight days trying to find polarized sunglasses that work well. I fish a lot of deep canyons where you can go from bright sunlight with glare to dark shadows. I am a bit of a minimalist so I don't like to carry extra gear. Do you know of one pair of lenses that work well in low light or changing conditions?
Well, thank you for the tip, Scott. The tip on your vice is a terrific one. I think I'm gonna try that myself. It sounds like a really good idea. And yeah, I have experienced that with groups of trout, even trout rising in a pool in moving water, I've noticed that if you have a bunch of trout, it's generally...generally, they, you know...a bunch of trout rising together kinda makes commotion and allows you to get a little closer to them. I think they feel a little bit more secure. And because they're all making surface disturbance, sometimes putting your fly out there is less likely to spook them. So yeah, I have experienced that stuff and in various different kinds of species.
Regarding your question, I'm not a big fan of those glasses that change their darkness based on conditions. I've never found them to work very well. And I think that you're probably best off using two pairs of glasses. You know, I wear prescription glasses. So, I wear my sunglasses when it's bright and then when it gets too dark and, you know, I can't see as well with the sunglasses on, I'll just take my polarized glasses off and use my normal glasses. Generally, as it gets darker, there isn't as much glare and I don't need to see into the water as well anyway and I can't because there isn't as much light. So, I just switch back and forth. But in your case, if you don't wear prescription glasses, you're probably...when you take those sunglasses off, you're probably going to want to wear some kind of glasses to protect your eyes whether they're safety glasses or whatever.
So, I honestly...if you want the best, I don't think you're gonna be very happy with the polarized glasses that change with light conditions, at least not with current technology. There are lowlight polarized glasses. I don't use them because they, unfortunately, don't make them in prescription yet. But I think you're gonna need two pairs of sunglasses. I don't know if you're gonna be able to get around that based on what I've seen so far.
Evan: Hey, Tom. This is even from Santa Fe, California. Hey, thanks for all the interesting topics you keep covering on the podcast. And I have a suggestion and a question. My suggestion is that I've been using the mono-rig setup that's discussed on the Troutbitten website where you have a traditional fly line and then you have, like, 24 feet of 20-pound test mono and then a couple tapered mono sections. And with small adjustments in those tapered mono sections, you can use all kinds of different techniques including Euro nymphing, indicator nymphing, dry dropper, streamer, and so on. So, I find it very convenient to be able to switch to different techniques without having to commit to, like, a dedicated Euro nymphing line for instance. And then if you want to do traditional casting, you just take off that 24 feet of mono and you've got your traditional fly line for longer casts with dry flies or so on. So, people might wanna check that out.
My question is the Troutbitten website recommends that you attach your 24 feet of 20-pound mono to your traditional fly line with a clinch knot tied to the loop of the fly line because it's a much slimmer connection than a loop-to-loop connection. So, I'm wondering. I've been doing that but am I going to eventually weaken the loop on the fly line or, you know, wear through the coating or something like that by just tying it on with a clinch knot as opposed to doing a loop to loop there. So just wondering because I just bought an Orvis Pro Fly Line and so I don't want to ruin that fly line. So anyway, thank you very much.
Tom: Yeah, Evan. I'm a big fan of Troutbitten and Dom. He's a great guy, very thoughtful and very clever and there's lots of good advice on his blog and his website. I would not tie a clinch knot to a loop on a fly line. I think you're right. You know, a clinch knot, when it tightens down is going to cut the coating on that fly line unless it's really heavy. You know, unless it's really heavy monofilament, it's gonna cut into the coating. And I still think you're better off with a loop knot which is gonna distribute that stress over a longer part of the permanent loop on your fly line. You know, if you have used a clinch knot and it did cut into that loop on the fly line, of course, you can always just put a nail knot, put a permanent nail knot on the end of your fly line. Just tie a piece of butt material to your, end of your fly line with a nail knot, and then put a perfection loop in there and you can tie to that. But yeah, I wouldn't tie a clinch knot in fairly small mono to the permanent loop on the end of my fly line.
All right. Back to an email. This one's from Tanner from Utah. Tom, I am overwhelmed by the number of different hooks and beads I could consider. Can you please help me narrow it down to something like three hook and bead styles that I should get in different sizes to have the vast majority of my euro fly pattern needs covered or something even more catchall you'd suggest?
Well, Tanner, I do have a suggestion. I can tell you what I do. And, you know, I've limited it pretty much. I use two hook styles for my Euro nymphs. I use the Orvis Wide Gap Tactical Hook which is a wide-gape barbless hook. And I use the Orvis Tactical Jig Hook. And those are really the only two I use on my Euro nymphs. I find, you know, I either wanna tie a jig fly or I wanna tie something like a scud or, you know, a Polish nymph style hook. And I find those two hooks are just fine for Euro nymphing. And then regarding beads, you know, I think you need a shiny bead in a regular drilled bead and a slotted bead. And then I think you probably would want a black bead just to add a little more stealth. And that's pretty much all I use. I mean, there's patterns that call for these modeled beads and purple beads and pink beads and things like that but, you know, you can get that purple or pink color with a hotspot on your nymph. So, I would...if you wanna limit it, I would get those two hook styles and I'd get some gold beads and some black beads in regular and slotted and I think you'll be able to tie any euro nymph that you want. Hope that's helpful.
Ethan: Hey, Tom. My name's Ethan. Calling in from Cornish, Maine here in Southern Maine near the New Hampshire border. I've got a question about glasses. I wear prescription glasses like probably a lot of us do and I need an eye appointment, I need time to get a new pair of glasses and I'm wondering about getting a pair of prescription sunglasses for use while fishing and other times. And I wondered if you had a favorite color, a most useful color. If I were to get one pair of prescription sunglasses, what color should that be, basically?
And also, is there a good brand of prescription sunglasses that you like to use? All right. Thanks for everything. Bye.
Tom: Well, Ethan, yeah. I can tell you what I use and that I highly recommend. I think that the best all-around color and the only color I really use is a copper, amber, or copper color. So, it's not quite a dark brown but it's kind of a medium reddish brown lens color. I think they usually call it copper. But something with a light brownish shade will work. And for prescription sunglasses, I have a relatively difficult prescription and I have had super luck with Smith Optics. I think the Smith Optics prescription program has the best sunglasses that I've used. In fact, in nonprescription, you know, most of the really good guides that I know also prefer Smith sunglasses. So, I think it's a great brand and they do a really good job and they cater to the fishing industry so you know you're getting the right kinda glasses and someone that's gonna take good care of you. So that's what I recommend.
All right. That is the fly box for this week. Let's go talk to Tim about fishing emergers.
Well, my guest today is Tim Cammisa and if you watch fishing and fly-tying videos, you've probably seen Tim. He has a wonderful, friendly, no-nonsense persona on his videos and I really, really enjoy watching Tim's videos and watching his enthusiasm so I asked Tim to come on today. And we're actually not gonna talk about fly-tying. Maybe we'll do that with you some other time, Tim. But we're gonna talk about fishing emergers because I know that you do a presentation on emerger fishing. You said it was your most requested presentation. And I get a lot of questions about emergers and so I figured let's get somebody else's view on this stuff.
Tim: Well, that sounds great. Listen, there's something about emerger fishing that just is mystifying to so many people.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Tim: You know, but for those of us who love to fish dry flies or fish near the surface, we just love it. It's technical. You can get as nerdy as you want. You can dive into bugs. You can stay away from bugs. But without a doubt, out of all the Zoom presentations I've done over the last couple of years and just my in-person events, this is always number one. People just, they come to it, they have paper out, pencils, they're taking pictures. They want so much information and I say we give it to them today.
Tom: Great. That sounds good. Take it away.
Tim: You got it. Well, let's jump into this. We're gonna break this apart into mayflies and then caddisflies. So, we'll just jump into mayflies first. And the word that is going to be kind of the keyword throughout this entire podcast will be vulnerability. So just kind of plant that seed because we're gonna be focusing on insects that are very vulnerable and they're gonna be vulnerable throughout their entire emergence.
Tom: I love it. I love it.
Tim: Perfect. That's gonna be the word. Now I'll try to some little things in to help everyone remember that. But whenever we talk about mayflies, let's just...a 30-second lifecycle. We have eggs. From there they go to the nymph stage. From the nymph stage, they start kind of getting very active and they start their transition up towards the surface. And it's during that time we call that the emergence. So, these bugs will eventually get to the surface and all kinds of crazy stuff goes on up there. They'll transform into an adult which is also called dun. And then what's interesting about mayflies, they actually go on to a spinner phase as well but we're not gonna get into that one today. Instead, we're gonna focus on that transition from nymph to dun because that's where a lot of this craziness is going on.
Now, Tom, you had asked me originally, "Hey, let's give them some fly patterns and talk about fishing techniques." Whenever I'm on the water, I know there's going to be a hatch going down. Maybe we're talking about the Cahills, Sulphurs, Blue Wings. I'm always looking for clues and cues in the water. Maybe I start to see some fish starting to flash, maybe I know the water temperature's warming. But without a doubt, the first thing I'm gonna be doing is I wanna fish flies that even if I'm lower in the water column, I wanna fish something that's gonna be close to what the fish are expecting. So, I tend to fish flies like...we'll say a Frenchie but I tie a variation of it called a Cahill Frenchie where it's kinda like a Pheasant Tail but instead of putting, like, fluorescent orange up in the thorax, I like to put a color that's going to catch the fish's attention but also remind them of something they've been eating.
So, for instance, the Cahill Frenchie, that's tied with the Cahill dubbing for the thorax behind the bead. So, I still fish this as a jig nymph on a jig hook and I'll fish this maybe Euro nymphing or something along those styles but the way that I'm gonna be a little bit different when I'm fishing this...why it is that hatch starting to go down. I'm not gonna be just dead drifting this fly. I'm gonna impart some occasional jigs into it because that's what's going on down below. We have these mayflies that are starting to swim around because that's what's gonna start this little undulating motion to the surface.
Now there are some easy things we can also do if you're a fly tyer. Maybe you could bend your hooks. You could purchase hooks that are already pre-bent. Most of us are not crazy enough to tie articulated nymphs. I mean, there's nothing worse than losing a fly that took you 15 minutes to tie. You know, for the most part, we just wanna show these fish that there's something going on down there, and let's give them something that they could recognize.
So that's gonna start things off. But what's going to eventually happen is these nymphs are going to start their transition and they're gonna start rising through the water column. Now let's get into a quick fishing technique because I know so many people out there are like, "All right. Well, I don't see fish on the surface yet. What should I be fishing and how should I be doing it?" And this is where I point so many people doesn't matter if you're a traditional fly fisher with a traditional line, if you're European nymphing, or even if you're using a drop shot rig. I like to fish two flies where my heavier fly like that Cahill Frenchie is going to be on the point. And then I'm gonna have something a little bit higher up on a dropper, something like...I don't know. A CDC Biot. Even a soft tackle but something that's up about 24 to 36 inches higher in the water column which is going to represent that nymph that's really trying to hurry up and get up to the surface as quickly as possible because our keyword is they're vulnerable. The fish know it too. I mean, you and I have both been out when we've been fishing beginning with a hatch and you see our fish just jump out of the water. So many of us think that that fish is taking a dry fly out of the air. They're not. They're chasing a nymph that's making its way to the surface.
So that's kind of my initial thinking whenever we start getting into this hatch. But as we get a little bit closer to the surface, this is where so many issues start to happen. And let's go back to that word, vulnerability. So, we have these nymphs that are getting closer to the surface but they can't break through it because of just one really important thing and that's called surface tension. Now for us, we can take our hand, we can dip it into water. You know, we can dip our fly reel down. It doesn't matter. That tension doesn't bother us. But for a little nymph, for this mayfly, it is really difficult for them to get through that surface. And one really important note is the surface tension increases as the temperature decreases. So, I'll say that again. The surface tension increases as the temperature decreases. So that means these nymphs are gonna be stuck right underneath the surface because they're waiting to pop through it but they can't get through it, especially on cold water. We're talking spring creeks, tailwaters, and in the wintertime.
So, if any of you out there, you're like, "Hey, I fish a spring creek all the time and I see these fish rising and they must be taking No-See-Ums." They're probably not. They're probably taking a nymph that's drifting right under the surface. But those fish are smart. I mean, of course, they're gonna take it. It's a vulnerable fly. They see this nymph that's drifting right under the surface. We can't see it. They can see it. They know it's trapped. I mean, one of my favorite candies...we just had Halloween, it's, like, Peanut Butter Cups. This is like Peanut Butter Cups coming down the conveyor belt and these trout just get to pick them off one after another and it drives so many of us crazy because we don't see what's going on.
Tom: Right, yep.
Tim: Now there are some flies out there that I love to use. I used to guide on the Delaware River years ago and my number one fly...if you would've met me back then, I probably wouldn't have told anybody about this fly but it's called a Parasol Post Pheasant Tail. And it's basically just a little Pheasant Tail that's hanging underneath a piece of monofilament with some Antron or Zelon on top of it. I keep the post pretty tight. It's only about an inch to a half-inch in length. So, what that means, though, we have a little Pheasant Tail that's gonna hang under the surface about half of an inch and then we can put some fly [inaudible 00:49:55] under that Antron or Zelon so all I'm staring at is just a little pink or white puff. So, I see that. The fish, for some reason, they just ignore that. They just see this Pheasant Tail that's just slowly, you know, kind of going under the surface, coming their way, making its ascension towards the top. So that's without a doubt...that's been one of my favorite flies over the years.
Another fly that I've had a ton of success with was created by John Barr. He's the gentleman that created the Copper John. And whenever that Copper John came out, I mean, that was one of the bestselling flies at the time. So, you know, just like any, you know, great fly tyer, I wanted to figure out all of John's flies. I bought his book and, in this book, he talked about his number one emerger and it's called Barr's BWO Flashback Emerger. And it's this little Blue Wing Olive emerger. I'm not gonna lie. It's not the prettiest fly. It almost looks wrong because it's got a tail and you cut it with scissors and, you know, fly tyers, we don't cut that tail with scissors. That's, like, sacrilegious and it's got this olive body, then it's gray near the thorax and then you have these legs that are also cut. And at the time, it just didn't look right to me. Something just didn't connect.
Tom: Do you know that Tim Flagler and I tied that for our last competition?
Tim: No.
Tom: Yeah, we did.
Tim: No.
Tom: But he wanted to put a bead on it. It was in his pick. He wanted...and I said, "That's not an emerger. It's got a freaking bead on it."
Tim: No. No. Flagler said that? Oh, he's crazy.
Tom: He fishes them deep.
Tim: Yeah. You can, I guess. But I guess I was one of those persons that...I put this fly in the corner of my box. I mean, I knew John Barr said it's a great one but it just stayed there for an entire season. And I was in Central Pennsylvania one day. It was kind of a cloudy overcast day. I think I was on the Little Juniata River and there were Blue Wings coming off and fish were eating under the surface and I could not buy a fish. And I just looked in my box and I saw that fly and I put it on and that was, like, the winning ticket. But that's not the whole story. The key was I was fishing it right under the surface. So, I didn't want this floating on the surface. Instead, I took some type of a grease like Mucilin and I greased my entire line, my leader the whole way up to about six inches of the fly. So, I had everything just floating on the surface but about six inches of my tipping and the fly. It was just under the surface so I could kinda track its approximate spot based on, you know, watching where my line's going. And any time I saw a rise form or a swirl in that general area, I lifted my rod and most times I had a fish on. So that fly has has saved me so many times.
Tom: Yeah. And that's such a great method. You know, a lot of people wanna put on a big dry fly and then hang their emerger behind it and that works but it's a little clunkier, especially when you're trying to be precise casting to a rising fish and that business of greasing your leader is such a deadly technique.
Tim: Ow, big time. Now, I'll be honest. I will use occasionally strike indicators whenever I'm fishing emergers if I really think the fish are, like, keying in six inches or nine inches under the surface. It doesn't happen often. I was in Iceland last August. I host trips there every year and we had some arctic char that were taking some Hendrickson's...well, not a Hendrickson. It was a mayfly of some sort. We didn't know exactly which one it was. But they were taking them and it seemed like in a very specific spot. But we couldn't throw anything like an airlock. I mean, it made such a plop. So, we had to resort to something like either one of the New Zealand indicators or there's some really cool indicators from a guy in Central Pennsylvania called GHOSTech where they look like a little flower on the water and they land really splashproof. It's a great indicator. They can be a pain in the butt to cast but that's know, you have that option out there if you think the fish are really honing in. I mean, these arctic char, they were just zoned in on the fly. They just seemed to ignore our little indicators. But an airlock, there's no way. That would've just scared them all away.
Another fly, whenever I'm getting close to the surface, I love to fish these little patterns that are called shuttlecock emergers. My favorite one is tied by Devin Olsen. I actually had them on my YouTube channel and he shared his tying methods of this fly and it's a fly that helped him, you know, do really well. It performed really well in the flyfishing championships a number of years ago. It's just a simple little fly where it's kind of an olive body and you have a chartreuse rib going through it. But it's just a bunch of CDC for the wing. And that CDC really is what you're keying on. So, you don't see the body. Most of the body's kind of drifting under the surface and you're just honing in on whatever you can see on that fly which is why he chose something really smart. He put some pink CDC in it. So, you could see it if it's starting to get low light or if you're casting at a distance. It's a really neat little pattern to fish and it's one that' saved the day, you know, for me a number of times.
But I guess what we also have to kind of take a step back and let everyone know, we're fishing this, it's very vulnerable but you have to imagine what's going on right now. We have a mayfly nymph that's right at the surface. And there's an adult mayfly that's going to kind of crack the shell and crawl out of it at the surface and that's what's going on here. So, we're trying to find patterns that are fished right in the film or right below the film that are gonna show those fish that, "Hey, something's going on here. Like, it's vulnerable, it's stuck in the surface, there's too much tension, it can't get through. I gotta pick these off before it flies away." And that's what's going on during this emergence.
Now the last kind of segment that I like to think that kind of goes on here. So, we have this...imagine...I'm just gonna say it's like a Pheasant Tail. It's kind of hanging below the surface. That's my Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It's trapped in the conveyor belt. The top part of it cracks open and this mayfly adult, the dun, crawls out. What we see when we're fishing, we're watching from the surface and we're looking and everything looks like...we see this nice, little mayfly adult, this dun just floating down. It looks like this great sailboat. And we see a fish pick it off. And we're like, "Bingo. I got that fish."
And what do we do? We throw on something like a Parachute Adams when we make the cast and that fish ignores it. And we're like, "What's going on here?" So, we wait. We take a step back and you watch and you see another mayfly coming down and you see a fish come up and eat it and you're like, "Ow, there it is." You make that cast and it ignores it again. Now I don't know about you but I've been through this situation many times and I know what we do. I mean, as fly fishers, we're like, "We gotta change the color of the fly. We gotta change the size, maybe use a different silhouette of our pattern. Maybe we have to physically change our casting position, make more S curves, maybe change our tippet size."
Like, we wanna change everything possible. But more than likely, what we're missing is that we're looking at it and we're seeing a mayfly dun on the surface but what we're missing is there's a trailing shuck attached to that. So, whenever this adult mayfly crawls out of its nymphal skin, there's a period of time where it's still attached to that skin. We call that a trailing shuck. And when we're standing there and we're fishing, we can't see that trailing shuck but to the fish, that's, like, clear as day. And going back to that keyword, I know your audience is gonna get sick of me saying it. That's a vulnerable fly. They know that adult is still attached to that trailing shuck. They're gonna choose that one every single time because why are they gonna waste their energy to come up to have a mayfly fly away versus grabbing that one that's still attached to the trailing shuck.
So, 9 times out of 10, whenever I see fish at the surface and I feel like they're rising right in that film and I think they're picking off those mayflies attached to their trailing shuck, there's really two patterns that I'm gonna go to. One is an oldie but a goodie. It's the Craig Mathews Sparkle Dun.
Tom: Absolutely.
Tim: How many fish have you caught on this fly over the years? Be honest.
Tom: I have it tattooed on my forearm, literally, I do.
Tim: I know that.
Tom: Yeah. I have one tattooed on my forearm.
Tim: And listen, for the audience out there, for those of you that tie your own flies too, so many people...when you see pictures of this fly on, like, Instagram or social media, everyone has to have that deer hair wing at, like, 90 degrees. It's standing attention. Don't worry about that. It doesn't matter if that starts to come forward a little bit. It's gonna look more like a crippled adult or something along those lines. So, you know, don't worry how your fly starts to look because I don't know about you, Tom, but the more fish I tend to catch on these Sparkle Duns, the better they seem to perform.
Tom: Yeah, and you can catch 20 fish on 1 of these before it falls apart.
Tim: But let's tell the audience why this is such an effective fly and it's a really simple tie overall. You have a body. It's pretty much a tightly dubbed body, we can say a super fine dubbing. We have a deer hair, maybe an elk hair wing. I prefer some type of coastal deer hair wing. But the tail is not a traditional tail. It's not hackle fibers. It's an Antron or a Zelon. The colors that I prefer are kind of brown or camel tones.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: My little rule of thumb is the earlier in the season when I tend to go darker and as the season goes on, I tend to lighten my shade of trailing shot. But the weird thing...and I don't know if you have any thoughts on this. Twenty years ago, whenever I got it, I feel like my trailing shucks were as long as the body. They were super long and more recently, I feel like they've gotten shorter and shorter. And I don't know if the fish...if it makes a difference. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.
Tom: Yeah, that's a good question. I don't make them too long, Tim, because this looks like too much. I mean, just a little impression of a shuck. And you don't need a lot. You just need something that looks like a crumpled piece of chitin hanging off the fly. So yeah, you don't need much. So, I don't know. I haven't really usually make them a little bit shorter than the length of the body but might be good to experiment with.
Tim: Yeah, maybe. That's why I'm just curious because years ago, they were...I had them so much longer but now I tend to shorten them up. I'm kinda same as you.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: So that's, I guess...that would be mayfly number one when I'm at the surface. The second one...and I'll give a little shameless plug for my new book on fly-tying. There's a pattern that I developed called the Cammisa's Condor Emerger. This is nothing crazy but the's not on my YouTube channel yet. It's in the book that just recently came out. The gist of this fly is that it's tied on a hook that's called a Klinkhammer style hook. So, it's a hook similar to a scud hook that kind of naturally forces the abdomen and the trailing shuck further down into the water. So, imagine, for those people who fish a Parachute Adams, imagine it's basically a Parachute Adams with a little bit of a modified body but the hook is bent in a way where the hackle will be riding flush on the surface and the abdomen and that tail really gets forced down into the surface film.
So, it's a fly that any time I come across a really picky fish that I believe is taking emergers out the surface, if they ignore that Mathews pattern, the Sparkle Dun, then the Condor Emerger is my number two.
Tom: Yep. And a couple of things that I wanna interject here. First of all, there's a hook that Orvis sells called the Tactical Dry Fly Hook which is curved at the end and that is a really's barbless and it's a good substitute for that Klinkhammer hook if you can't find it. And the other thing is we forgot to mention your book. So, let's just take a little time out and talk about that for a second because I do wanna...your new book is terrific. I've got a copy sitting on my desk. And tell people a little bit about it.
Tim: Sure. Well, I appreciate it. And we won't spend too much time so don't hit the fast-forward button yet, everybody. I was reached out to by Jay Nichols. He was the former editor of "Fly Fisherman Magazine." He has his own book publishing company right now. He reached to me and said, "Hey, I'd like you to write a little book on fly-tying. I'll help you along the way. What do you think?" And I was like, "Ow, gosh. I don't know." Like, that wasn't my thing. I mean, for those of you, people who don't know, flyfishing is not my day job. I'm a public education teacher. I teach 6th grade, 12-year-olds, I love it. And this flyfishing stuff is just a passion that's on the side. So, to write a book while my wife was pregnant, I knew it was going to was gonna be difficult and in the middle of a pandemic. So, we got it through. It went really well. And the gist was simple. We wanted to lessen the learning curve for people but we also wanted to do it in a way that wasn't going to overwhelm them. That's kind of the mantra I try to, you know, instill with people whenever they're thinking especially about social media.
I love social media. It's there to educate, entertain and help us to connect with one another. I mean, that's why I am so drawn to it. But I also know that in the world of social media, everything is pretty much unvetted. I mean, we kind of vet each other in a sense but it's really difficult because...I don't know about you, but when I get into, like, Instagram, let's say, and I start scrolling on Instagram, there are so many flies that I wanna save and I know I can't possibly tie them all. So, whenever I think, "Gosh, if I was brand-new at fly-tying, where would I start? Is it gonna be the most popular? Like, where do I go?"
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: So, we wanted to put together a baker's dozen worth of flies that...these are modern flies. They'll catch fish. We talk about variation. I talk about ways to catch them. It's really, you know, high-quality photography so it's all macro photography step by step. We put a lot of time into selecting the patterns. And then I just went through and I tried my best to write it in a way that kind of spoke with my voice. So, I didn't want it to read as a book. I wanted it to be me telling about these patterns for everybody and why I think they're great patterns. I mean, the majority of them are trout flies. A couple of them I use in saltwater and warm water, you know, instances as well. But it's just a book for those who are interested in fly-tying who could be at the beginning or even the intermediate stage.
Tom: Yeah. I liked that you picked some more modern flies. And, you know, nobody needs another book with how to tie a Wooly Bugger in it. But, you know, these are good, modern, different flies but still great flies for someone who's starting out. So, I really liked that approach.
Tim: Yeah, thanks. And then the last selling point for everyone listening today. There's a section on dry flies, nymphs, including Euro nymphs, streamers. We have an articulated streamer in there. And I have a section on emergers. So, we can transition back on that one, okay.
Tom: Okay, that's good. Perfect.
Tim: The last thing I wanna mention with mayflies, we kind of got a little bit away from fishing techniques in there because we have to kind of think about what we're doing on the surface. And at least in my experience, I really go for drag-free drifts whenever I've kind of honed in on rising fish and I believe they're at the surface. So, some things that I really try to instill whenever I'm helping others or in my own personal fishing, I try to make a reach cast as much as I can. I try to instill S curves into it. There's a great cast out there called the wiggle cast as well. Now, I'm one of those people that I jumped down that rabbit hole of European nymphing so I love that. There are some decent dry fly and leader setups out there and anyone's more than welcome to contact me and I'd be happy to share those with them. So, you can also get away with using some type of a dry fly leader if you're into Euro nymphing. But the key I'm going for is I wanna get as long of a drift as I can and have that fly to just be going at the speed of the current.
Tom: Yeah, because once those mayflies are trapped in the surface film, they are not gonna swim at all. They can't. they're stuck.
Tim: Exactly. No, you're exactly right. Because they're trapped. You know, they're trapped in that surface film. We have that surface tension and then many times, they're still attached to their nymphal skin. So, you wanna make it as drag-free as possible. There's no wiggling going on whatsoever.
Tom: None, nope. Well, there is wiggling but we can't imitate it. It's wiggling that you can get with materials like CDC or hackle or something to get an impression of movement but yeah, they're not wiggling. Wiggling your rod tip ain't gonna do it.
Tim: No, not at all. Not at all. Ow, I think that was decent for mayflies. Is there anything else you wanna interject or did you wanna jump over to caddisflies?
Tom: No, because I think caddisflies, we spent more time...because caddisflies are so tough with emergence. They can be really tricky.
Tim: Well, let's go into this and we'll go back to that, kinda that initial starting point where we have their lifecycle. I mean, kinda same beginning where we have eggs but now, at the beginning, instead of calling them nymphs, we have larva. From there, they go into this case thing. They pupate. So that's called the pupa stage. And then we're focusing today on the pupa to adult transition because from the pupa, the adult then emerges, and, unlike mayflies, there's not a spinner phase. So, it's just the adult, the adults mate, the females lay eggs, and then that process starts again. And maybe if you remind me at the very end in case I forget, we may wanna talk a little bit about the notion of females laying eggs because so many people think that's almost an emergence in itself.
Tom: Yep.
Tim: You know, and I was tricked by it I don't know how many years ago thinking that's what was going on where it wasn't. So, if we have a chance to talk about that, that'd be great.
Tom: Yep. Good.
Tim: So, at the beginning, let's just kinda think back to when we're going back down to the notion of, we're fishing kind of the larva stage. And we're talking about some basic patterns when we're down there, things like...I don't know. The Birds of Prey Caddis. That's a fly that's done well for me. It's just a simple pattern that, you know, we tie with Hungarian partridge for the wing. I heard you mention CDC. I love to fish CDC, especially on flies that are fished subsurface. Most people assume CDC that's floating but, man, there is so much movement whenever you have patterns tied with CDC without a doubt. Go for it.
I mean, general, you know, larva patterns, we're thinking...and it doesn't matter if we're talking of, you know, free living caddis or if we're talking about one that lives in a shell or lives in a casing. We could go with, like, a Walt's Worm or something on those lines, Utah Killer Bug, I mean, those are just general larva. But we wanna now talk about as they get into that pupa and they start their emergence off. Most people are instantly drawn to something in the soft tackle realm. We're talking about something, like, you know, something with Hungarian partridge for the wing with CDC for the wing. I don't wanna say relatively sparse bodies because, at times, I think people get a little too think with their caddis emergers.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: There's a material that I love to tie with. And I know this isn't a fly-tying one but for the tyers out there, this material is called catgut. And catgut makes such a realistic imitation of a caddis emerger because, number one, it's not catgut. It comes from, like, the intestines of, I don't know, sheep and I believe goats and maybe cows and I've heard even horses depending on where it comes from. But this material, you allow it to get wet. So, you kinda soak it in water for a bit and when you tie it onto your flies as the body, it gives this translucency when it's wet. And it just looks like that [inaudible 01:08:49] adult. I mean, it looks like you have an adult caddisfly in its shell making its emergence to the surface of the water.
Tom: Do you buy catgut in fly shops or do you get...
Tim: Yeah, absolutely.
Tom: I've never seen it before.
Tim: Yeah, it was very popular over in Europe and it eventually made its way to Canada. There's a company in Canada or a fly shop called Frosty Fly. And the only reason I remember it, I tie a fly called the Frosty Fly Catgut and I just put their...I have no affiliation with the fly shop but that was, like, my own way to remember that's where I bought this stuff. And I think Henz is making it as well now and it's a little bit easier to find in the United States. Much, much easier now.
Tom: A new material I never heard of.
Tim: Ow, it's a really cool material.
Tom: Cool.
Tim: I will warn people ahead of time. If you tie them, don't tie dozens of these things because once they get wet, if you don't fish them on a regular basis, they will deteriorate in your fly box because it's a natural material.
Tom: Oh, like a Squirmy.
Tim: Yeah, kinda keep that in mind but I'm telling you, when it gets wet, it has this milky translucency. Plus, it will also take a marker or a sharpie. So, if you wanna, you know, have it kind of a cream color for the inside and then a dark brown over the top, man, does it look cool.
Tom: Interesting.
Tim: Absolutely. Now I'll throw up this next fly and this is kind of an oldie but a goodie and it's called the LaFontaine Sparkle Emerger. I mean, it's a fly that's been out there for years.
Tom: Killer.
Tim: I have tied it and I know Flagler will agree with me here. I have tied it with a bead before but I tend to fish this fly if I'm Euro nymphing and there's no fish on the surface. I'll have a heavier point fly. I'm talking something like a Turkey Tail Nymph or that Walt's Worm Blowtorch. And then as my dropper fly, a little bit further up my leader, 24 or 36 inches, somewhere in that realm, I'll have a Sparkle Emerger. And there's just something that's special about this fly.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah.
Tim: I don't know about you. I don't put a ton of Antron or Zelon. I used to put a lot more on the body.
Tom: Yeah, sparse.
Tim: I just want a mark there to show that there's something, you know.
Tom: Yep, sparse. Yeah.
Tim: All right, now this is the podcast and we wanna give away information so I'm gonna give everyone my sneaky tip. Now if you've already shared this, I'm gonna be so upset. But I don't know how many people know of this one. So, there's this fly floating out there. It's called Frog's Fanny. There's all kinds of variations of it. I'm pretty sure Orvis sells some type of frog as well.
Tom: Yeah, we call it Dust. We call it Fly Dust.
Tim: Ow, perfect.
Tom: It's very similar. Yep.
Tim: So, get some Fly Dust and put it all over the Sparkle Emerger but fish it below the surface. So have a heavier point fly to keep it down. And when Fly Dust or when any of those types of materials get wet, they just capture bubbles all around that pattern. So now think back. we have this caddisfly. It's starting its emergence. Fish are chasing it. This caddisfly, you know, nature is taking over. It's saying, "We gotta get our caddis from the bottom to the top of the surface as quickly as possible," because they know it's vulnerable. And there's all these bubbles that will then be encased around your fly. I'm not telling you fish will always key on that but there are times where I can put Frog's Fanny or I can put this dust on certain patterns, fish then subsurface and they'll just be encased in bubbles underwater. I hope some of your listeners right now are taking their little brush up, putting it on a fly, and holding that fly underwater. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Tim: It looks like a jig nymph. Just a killer technique that will really kinda show you that this is a way to help that fly show off the fact that it's rising to the surface.
Tom: Yep.
Tim: Now the one piece of this that I think we're also forgetting about. We talked a little bit about these patterns as we're starting our emergence for caddisflies and this kind of runs the same with the mayflies too. I think back to the spring. My wife and I, she loves to flyfish with me too. We bring our children with us and we just have a blast on the water. We fish as many days a week as possible. And I remember we were fishing these freestone streams early in the spring and we were doing decent and we tended to be fishing come slow or moving water and we were doing well and we were fishing more of, like, Pheasant Tails, these caddisfly larvae, like the Utah Killer Bug. And we had a pretty good thing going where we could show up and we could consistently catch fish and a pretty decent number of them.
And I remember, Tom, one day we showed up and we got to one of these spots that we had done well on before and it just wasn't happening. And we were like, "What is going on?" And we got a couple but, you know, just like everybody else. We were like, "Maybe the fish aren't biting today." Changed our flies. We just kinda poked around my box. And thank goodness, I took just a pause and I looked downstream closer to the riffles and I saw a couple of bugs in the air and it was like this, "Ow, come on. Are you kidding me?" I had never taken the water temperature and in the three or four days since we had last been there, it had warmed enough to really start these hatches. And instead of these flies, I think this was the caddisfly. I think this was, like, a random hatch. Instead of it hatching on the slower moving water where the fish were originally whenever it was colder, now they were...these caddisfly patterns were coming off in the riffles. And the fish, they moved immediately with the food. They were no longer where we were fishing. They were in a lot shallower water.
So, keep that in mind that if you've been catching fish consistently in a spot and you're not anymore, move around, take some water temperatures and try to figure out what's going on because more than likely, those fish have moved along with the flies.
Tom: Yep.
Tim: Now let's get back to my vulnerability. I promise I'll only say it, like, one or two more times. Whenever I think about mayflies, I don't know about you, but I tend to, like...even with my nymphs, I like them to drift about the speed of the current or maybe a little slower. But there's something about caddisflies. I love to speed them up. I feel like fish are more willing to chase caddisflies than mayflies. So, whenever I tell people like, "Slow down your drag with mayflies. You know, make a mend, you know, against the current." With caddisflies, I'm, like, saying the opposite. Like, you'll find me finding ways to increase drag. I love to swing flies kind of like wet fly style whenever I know there's a caddisfly emergence. I love to make mends with the current. Because these fish are used to seeing all these caddisflies. They tend to hatch in abundance and when they're making their transition to the surface, they do it in a hurry. And just like what we talked about with mayflies, these fish are willing to chase. You don't see them come screaming out of the water and you're thinking, "Man, are they taking caddisflies out of the air?" Like, absolutely not. They're intercepting those pupae because that's an easy meal for them and their momentum just carries them out of the water. It's crazy to see it go down but that's what's going on.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: I mean, you know, if you've ever been in the water, you tuck, you know, your rod under your arm, you're fiddling around in your vest and a fish, you know, eats whatever you had hanging off the back, some people think, "Ow, that dumb fish." No, it wasn't a dumb fish. It saw a fly that was in the middle of the water in a seam. It was just bobbing up and down. They said, "Hey, here's an emerger going down." So, if that ever happens, you gotta say to yourself, "Is there a fly that's about to emerge? I better, you know, I better try my best to imitate it."
Tom: Yeah, and it's interesting that some caddis pupae can really swim. They can really row along. They kinda twitch and it actually goes a little bit sideways in the current, unlike mayfly. Well, most...some...few mayflies swim. And I don't think all the caddis species do swim but some of those pupae really, really can zip along. So, you know, you need to experiment with a little movement.
Tim: Yeah, you nailed that one. And the ones that move, they have extremely long legs.
Tom: Yeah, yeah.
Tim: So, for anyone out there who's a fly tyer, if you ever tie a soft tackle with, we'll say, partridge or CDC and your fibers go past the body and your buddy tells you, "Hey, that's too long. Your soft tackle's too long." You can just smile at your buddy and fish it because more than likely, the legs are gonna be going past the abdomen anyway. That's why they move so fast. So, there are times where I'll fish...especially with that Birds of Prey caddis, I'll actually tie in a partridge tail. I'll dub my body then I'll put a partridge for the wing as well because I really wanna illustrate the fact that those legs are going past the abdomen and that's what's gonna help that fly swim so fast and get to the surface.
Tom: But everybody will say, "But caddisflies don't have tails."
Tim: Exactly. I have a YouTube video out there. I can't tell you how many comments there are that say that very thing and I think I replied once and I was like, "All right, that's it. I'm not replying anymore. I said it in the video. Go back and watch the video at the nine-minute mark. That's where I said it."
Tom: Yeah. Well, tails on a caddisfly could also imitate a shuck or the trailing legs. So yeah. Either one.
Tim: One hundred percent.
Tom: Yep.
Tim: Yeah. And let's kinda get to that point because similar to the mayfly, once the caddisfly gets to the surface, you have kind of the same deal going on where there's this [inaudible 01:17:25] adult. It's trapped in the pupal skin. Sometimes that pupal skin is transparent. But once it gets closer to the surface, that pupal shuck will split and the adult will either crawl or it can even eat its way out. It's almost like they're taking off a pair of pants at the surface. So that's kind of what's going on.
Tom: Yeah. Yeah.
Tim: And you can make that connection back to mayfly. So, it's the same deal. And the fly...I'm gonna apologize ahead of time and just so know, for all the audience as well. Tom does his homework. He was on my website analyzing stuff. He figured out that I gave this presentation and that's why he selected this one. But one of the first things that you said whenever you had read my book was like, "Ow, Tim, I'm so glad it's a book on modern flies." And I was like, "Yes, it is." And now I'm gonna tell everybody, fish a Matthews X-Caddis whenever there's caddis emergers. It's a fly that has caught me so many fish for I don't know how many years.
Tom: Well, it's still modern to me. It's still modern to me.
Tim: I don't know. It's one of those flies that...
Tom: You know, old to me would be, like, a Henryville Caddis.
Tim: All right, all right. I don't know. I mean, I've been fishing this fly for 20 years I think.
Tom: Yeah, it's still modern.
Tim: That's old. It's two decades. So, for people out there who are like, "What's an X-Caddis?" It's not that there's X on it like a Madam X. It's a really simple fly. It's got...again, it's got a tail that's gonna represent that trailing shuck. It could be Antron, Zelon, EP fibers. Typically, it's a poly-tail. We have a tightly dubbed body. And there's also some pretty cool materials out there where they have, like, almost the Chenille but it's more of, like, a tightly dubbed body. So, for those who are new to fly-tying, if you haven't learned dubbing yet, there's actually some now...some ways that you can kinda put strands on for your body.
Tom: Micro Chenille, yeah. It's great stuff.
Tim: Absolutely.
Tom: Great stuff. We used to call it easy dub where this used to sell...yeah, it's good stuff.
Tim: I think SemperFli sells something called a Dry Fly Polyyarn. It's super nice stuff but it tends to be from, like, sizes 12 and 14. I don't think they have it smaller yet. I'm sure they will eventually. But kind of least in my mind, where this fly earns its money is that we have a deer hair wing that's set back kind of like a tent in a sense but underneath that wing, the first thing that I tie on are a couple of pieces of CDC. I don't go crazy with different colors of CDC with this. I just go with the natural CDC. It's probably because I love to hunt ducks and my dad's best friend does too so I have a ton of CDC in natural.
But whenever I think about this fly, that CDC is really the thing that works because...and you said this earlier in the podcast. It's great to buy or to tie flies that have materials that will do that work for us, that will naturally move. So, when people see the CDC on this, they think, "Ow, that CDC's gonna help it float." And I don't care so much about helping it float. I want this fly to be sitting in the surface film and I want that CDC to get wet and those little fibers will just dance around in the film kind of instilling that proof of life that I think fish wanna see.
Tom: Yep. Exactly.
Tim: Yeah, so that's easily my favorite caddisfly whenever I'm faking at the surface. There's a couple more that I love to tie. One is...this can kind of pass for a crippled imitation too and by crippled imitation, we're talking about a caddisfly or a mayfly that didn't fully emerge and something happened, something stunned its growth which tends to happen especially in very cold water situations or when you have prolific hatches. Then we tend to see a percentage of flies that will be crippled. One of my favorite ones for caddisflies is called the Splitsville Caddis. It was created by Jonny King.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: He just did a killer job with this fly and it's basically...if you can imagine kind of a parachute that's brought through the middle of an elk hair caddis which...the technical term is there's a hackle stacker in there and he pulls the hackle stacker through the deer hair and it cases that deer hair to take on the delta wing formation. It's a little bit of a technical tie but it really seems to grab fish's attention at the surface. So that's a pattern that I love to fish even if we're just talking about, you know, having caddisflies with spent wings in a sense. That's a killer pattern.
Tom: It's a pain in the butt to tie. I did one once live with Jonny critiquing my tying. And I... it's a great fly. I hate tying them, though.
Tim: I do too. I'm not gonna lie. It's a killer one. I taught an intermediate class at a local fly shop a couple of years ago and it was on emergers and that was the last emerger and I told most of the tyers, after I'd seen them tie, I was like, "You know what? Maybe you wanna just take a break on this one. I've got a video on it. Just watch me tie it." And this one tyer was like, "Tim, I'm gonna tie along with you." And I'm like, "I'm just gonna tell you. The hackle stacker, if you've never done it, it's really difficult and I've done a lot of them. So just hang out." He's like, "I'm gonna do it with you." And he made it about halfway through that and his hackle unwound, like, five times and he finally gave up and I felt bad. I really wanted him to do it.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: But it's just not the easiest tie at all.
Tom: No. It takes some practice.
Tim: The last pattern that I guess I could recommend that...I don't wanna say there's necessarily a name for this but kind of go back to what I'd said about the Condo Emerger. I like to tie caddisflies on that Klinkhammer hook as well. Same type of situation where we have something like an Antron or Zelon shuck, a dubbed body. I tend to go with darker colors or tans. Tans and browns especially. And then at the abdomen or, I'm sorry, at the thorax, I like to put in a bunch of CDC and then I like to tie in deer hair and just let it splay at the top. So, whenever this fly rests in the water, we have this Klinkhammer hook that's kind of forcing again the abdomen and the trailing shuck down into the film and then we have CDC that's just dancing all over and then we have a deer hair wing that's just kinda sticking straight up. So, it just looks like an explosion on a hook and I wish I had it up. You know, this is a podcast. It's tough to paint a picture for all of your listeners but that's kind of the look that I tend to go for whenever I think that these fish are keying a light at the surface. So that kind of wraps up the notion of the caddisfly emergers.
Tom: Let's talk a little bit about presentation on caddis emergers, fishing techniques, and presentation because it is a's a difficult situation for a lot of people, myself included.
Tim: Ow, man. Yeah, no. I agree completely. Well, as I mentioned before, whenever they're in that pupa phase, I do like to speed it up. So, the one thing that we kind of mentioned, there's something you can get away with which kinda seems almost counterintuitive. There are times where I'll put on a heavier tippet. So, if I tend to be fishing, we'll say, a 5X or a 6X, I'll even go up to 4X tippet knowing that that's gonna grab the, you know...the water current's gonna grab that a little bit more and hold on to it and kind of swing my fly a little bit more which will help you out because if fish are grabbing at flies that are moving fast, they're gonna grab them in a hurry and they tend to break them off if you're not holding and kinda positioning everything correct. So don't hesitate, especially when you're fishing pupas or if you're swinging flies to go with the heavier tippet size because those fish will grab it. There's no doubt about it at that stage.
Whenever I'm faking closer to the surface, it's the same type of deal as mayflies where I really like to slow down my presentation. I wish I could say that...and if we could build in some type of, like, little mechanism in our flies to kind of move them around or dance them around, gosh, that would just, you know...we'd have a million-dollar idea.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: It doesn't happen but caddisflies, at least in my experience, they really tend to bounce and move around on the surface to the point where I know, there's this one fly fisher who lives in Western Pennsylvania. His name's Mike and he is able to just fish this caddisfly imitation on the surface and kinda dance it around. Like, this is the guy that will skate a caddis that will look like it's a caddis that's trying to take off in the adult stage and it just can't take off. So, this guy will just honestly completely put [inaudible 01:25:30] Mucilin the whole way down his line, down his leader, down his tippet within about two inches of the fly and he greases up the fly and he tends to go with more heavily hackled flies. And so, this is kind of...we're dancing between the emerger and the adult but he loves to skate it where he'll actually cast this almost directly across the stream at a kind of a 90 degree of the bank, maybe slightly downstream. He'll let it go down maybe, I don't know, six inches and he'll kind of mend against the current and then just do a little dance with his rod tip and it will just skate that fly maybe two or three inches at a time. And these fish will come running across the river to grab that because to them, it looks like a caddis that's getting ready to take off, it's trying out its wings and it's trying to fly.
So that's a deadly technique. It's a pain in the butt though because you really have to have...everything's gotta be finetuned because you almost want direct contact with your fly but you also have to make sure you have a pattern that's kinda wide on those currents. So, you know, you kind of have to select a current that isn't too fast so it'll just drag it away but it can't be too slow because those fish have to have a reason to come chasing it.
Tom: Yeah. And it's tough to skate a caddis in broken current because the fly bumps into the little goosebumps on the top of the water. You know, it kinda plows through the little wavelets so it makes it tough.
Tim: Yeah, absolutely. The other tricky part with caddisflies...and going to the notion of presentation, I feel like in so many of the hatches where I've fished with caddisflies...and I'm thinking, like, Missouri River out west. There are so many caddisflies in the water and it's also tough to pick out your fly compared to all the others. So, I would recommend to those people who especially like to tie, don't hesitate to add something like a pink Antron post to it or a little wing to it on top of your deer hair or your CDC so you can pick yours out because when there's so many naturals on the water and those fish are feeding, I don't know about you, but if it's low light especially, I feel like I'm setting the hook all the time thinking it was my fly when it wasn't. But I tend to like them to go the same speed as the current, you know, as much as possible and the one kind of area of casting and kind of setting up my position, I go back to what I learned from, I think, Joan Wulff years ago. Somebody had asked her in a casting class, you know, how she casts when there's wind. And she kinda got a chuckle and her short answer was, "You move so you can make an easier cast."
And I kind of take that approach when it comes to dry flies as well. I wanna get into a position, especially with caddisflies, where I can get...even if it's only a six-inch drift but I can do so in a manner where my fly will land, I won't have to manipulate the leader or the tippet too much and I'll get that six-inch drift to where that fish is feeding. Because I don't like to do a lot of blind casting if I don't have to. When fish are feeding in that emerger phase, you're almost gonna know it because they're not gonna take those typical patterns that you're going to wanna throw like the Elk Hair Caddis that everybody loves. But when those fish are ignoring the Elk Hair Caddis, that's when we have to think, "Why is this? Is it something that I can simply change the size or the color of my fly or are they keying in on an emerger and I have to truly find a fish and pick that fish, that one fish and just take my time with that one and try to figure out where on the surface film it's feeding?"
Tom: Yeah. Yep.
Tim: So that's kind of...that would be the notion that we have these fish now rising and they're feeding at the top. The one area that I like to explore, especially in my presentations, I like to also look at fish and say, "They're making a certain rise form. What could that rise form suggest? Like, are they sipping? Are they slurping or are they splashing or are they making a boil?" And now I'm not...we gotta say this. These are fish. They can transition from one stage to another and it doesn't matter. They could do a sip and they can immediately show a splash but whenever I'm thinking about caddisflies when I see splashy rises, I think to myself, "That's caddisflies. These fish are probably keying in on the caddisflies that are starting their emergence. So that's what I... when I see those splashes, that's when I'm thinking, "Ow, good. Now I can fish more soft tackles. Now I can fish a little bit more under the surface because these fish might be chasing these caddisflies as they're making their emergence."
Tom: Do caddisflies...are they chasing it more because caddisflies pop to the surface quicker than a mayfly?
Tim: In my mind, yes. And based on some of the reading that I've done over the years, that's what it's suggesting. When they're in their pupal skin, they can make that emergence really quick because they've trapped those air bubbles, or at least that's what many people believe. They've trapped those air bubbles inside of that pupa.
Tom: Yeah. I've heard both...I mean, it probably depends on the caddis species too. I mean, there's lots of species but I've heard some people that talk about the air bubble theory, and other people say, "I've never seen it. I've looked at them underwater and I don't see any air bubbles or gas bubbles." So, I think it's gonna vary with the conditions and the fly but it certainly makes sense.
Tim: Yeah. And let's also say this. This is something that's really...we kind of just generalize mayflies and we generalize caddisflies in saying, "Hey, this is how the emergence works." But we have to also, like, acknowledge that there are certain species, there are certain flies that will actually turn into an adult underwater and pop out as an adult. There's caddisflies that will swim to the surface and they'll emerge on the surface or at the shore. So, there's lots of different ways for these insects to emerge. We're not getting extremely technical whenever it comes to entomology. I'm not an entomologist and I don't wanna speak down that path but there a fly fisher, we kinda...we tend to concentrate on these ones because when we're fishing for, you know, trout or char and we're fishing moving water especially, this is what we can definitely, you know, represent while we're out there on the water.
Tom: Yep. Yep.
Tim: So, without a doubt, at the end of the day, I'm gonna recommend to people, you know, do a little homework. You know, talk to some local fly shops, talk to other anglers on the water, try to figure out what caddisflies, what mayflies are there and once you figured it out, it's like, "Hey, I know it's going to be a free-living caddisfly." You can do a little bit more research on it. I mean, there's a couple of books that I tend to point people to whenever I'm thinking about these. There's not many. I'll drop some of the names and if you have any, please, by all means...and you may have even written about them as well. A basic book just to get some understanding about trout and how they feed is called "Trout and Their Food". It was written by Dave Whitlock. It's a really simple read but he does a great job of just breaking it down into some digestible information.
As I kind of get up into semitechnical, there's a book called "The Bug Book". It was written by Paul Weamer. I think he has a new book on dry flies that's just coming out right now. But he did a great job with "The Bug Book" because he...Paul is based on the Delaware River and now he's out west. So, he kind of has an understanding of both East and West Coast entomology and he did a way to kind of bridge the two, talk about bugs but also give you patterns for those bugs. So, I thought that's just a great one.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: When we think know, there's a book called "Hatches". I think I would recommend "Hatches II" by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi. It's just packed with information, tons of information. The same as a book...there's another one called "Caddisflies" that was written by Gary LaFontaine. That was kind of always considered the Bible of caddisflies. And there's a newer version of that book, not the LaFontaine edition but there's a book called "Caddisflies". I think it's called "A Guide to Eastern Species" and it was written by Thomas Ames Junior. And I point people in those directions. So those have been great resources for me over the years. And I don't know if you have any too that you could throw out there.
Tom: No, those are a lot of the ones that I would recommend. What book do you use for western hatches because there's a number of them out there and I get this question a lot? What are the best books for, specifically, western hatches that you refer to, Tim?
Tim: You know what? I can't tell you off the top of my head. I would have to look. But because I tend to fish more on the east know, I'm based out of Pennsylvania so I fish, you know, the Delaware, the Watauga, the South Holston. I tend to stay in that realm. So that Paul Weamer "Bug Book" is one that I know...because he made that...he bridged that gap to the west to the west, to Montana. That's kind of one that I've always pointed people to but I don't have one off the top of my head that I would say, "Ow, go with this book by Dave Hughes or whomever." I don't have one. I'm sorry.
Tom: I have a couple but they're up in my library. I'll have to...on my next podcast, I'll have to give people the names.
Tim: Yeah, I'd like to google it right now but if I don't have it off the top of my head, I don't wanna say I'd recommend it so I'm not sure.
Tom: Yeah. And I've got a big library and I don't remember. I don't wanna steer people wrong but there are a couple of really good books. I think there's one by Leeson and Schollmeyer, Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer but yeah. People like me to recommend books so the next podcast, I'll do that.
Tim: Those are some good ones. There's no doubt about it.
Tom: Or through the intro to this podcast maybe.
Tim: Okay, perfect, perfect. I guess as we start to wrap things up, I mean, I hope the listeners out there can now say to themselves, "I kinda get it. I understand now why emergers appeal to trout. They're very vulnerable. They're representing an insect at a stage where they can grab onto them. It's an easy meal and it's something that doesn't...they don't have to expend a ton of energy for." I mean, always think back to that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on the conveyor belt. Like, if I could just get those all day long, life would be good. And that's what these fish get doing this. We've talked a little bit about some situations in which we turn to these and I think we shared some patterns that, you know, outperform others, at least in our experience.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: And just like we say with the [inaudible 01:35:15] forums. I mean, things do change where there's gonna be a fly that's gonna catch fish every single time. Then, you know, someone's gonna show up on the stream and it's gonna be in the middle of the hatch and they're just gonna be knocking them dead and we're gonna say, "What are you using?" And they're gonna smile and they're gonna say, "The Chartreuse Mop Fly." And you're just gonna laugh and say, "Good for you, man. Good for you. Let me have one of those."
Tom: Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait. You're not getting off so easy. You said you were gonna talk about egg-laying caddis now.
Tim: Ow, do you wanna we have time for that?
Tom: Yeah, of course. People love long podcasts.
Tim: Ow, perfect. Well, then I'll keep going. I don't know about my YouTube videos. They just keep telling me, "Tim, you talk too much." So maybe I should be in the podcast business.
Tom: Yeah, they like...people like long podcasts. Well, it depends on how long their commute is but nobody complains about podcasts being too long, especially when I have a great guest like you. So go ahead.
Tim: Well, thanks. I appreciate it. I appreciate it. And I will take a moment to tell your audience. I mean, you are very thorough in your research for these and you do an excellent job with them. So, I appreciate all you do not just for this podcast but for fly fishers and tyers out there. So, we really appreciate it all.
Tom: Well, thank you, Tim. That's very nice of you.
Tim: You're welcome. Well, for the caddisflies, let's...we'll get back to that, this whole notion of we have their lifecycle. For mayflies, we have females that will come down. They tend to lay their eggs on the surface. Then they, you know, their wings are spent. The females die. They float down. It's an easy protein, the last meal for fish taking a spinner. And those eggs will, you know, go down to the water and they'll hatch that way. For certain caddisflies, there are some caddisfly species out there that when the females lay their eggs, some will lay their eggs above the surface and they'll drop them into the water. But there are other female caddisflies out there...and I'm not gonna have their names off the top of my head right now but they will actually fly down to the water, lay their eggs and then pop back out of the water.
And this can drive people crazy because as you see this going down, you're gonna have these fish that are chasing flies and these fish will come...just like before, they'll come rocketing out of the water. And for, you know, people that are newer to flyfishing...and I shouldn't even say that. Just people in general. Whenever you're fishing and you see fish that are chasing flies and you start to see bugs popping off the surface, you say to yourself, "Ow, I'm in a middle of a hatch." And what fly do we tend to put on? We're gonna grab that sparkle emerger and we're gonna throw it on and they're gonna ignore it because they're chasing that female, that female diving caddis which tends to be the fly that I turn people to. Some type of a smaller pattern, especially on those streams where I fish, somewhere around a 14 or a 16 that's gonna have a dubbed body and it's gonna have something like black hackle depending on if we're talking about the granum or something else. And it's going to have just almost a, we'll say, kind of an Antron or a Zelon wing that's going back about the length of the abdomen that's gonna represent the actual adult wing. Those fish, they're not seeing an emerger anymore. They're seeing a female caddis that's trying to escape after she laid her eggs.
Tom: You know what looks just like that?
Tim: Go ahead.
Tom: A classic wet fly like a Light Cahill or a Dark Cahill or a Blue Dun with a Duck Quail Wing. Perfect imitation of a diving caddis.
Tim: Yeah. So now you're showing your age, going back to those. Now we've hit it.
Tom: They work, though. They work at those times really well.
Tim: I believe it. I believe it. I mean, unlike some, I don't like to drift them naturally. I still will...I'll try to go at the speed of the current if I'm Euro nymphing especially. You know, I'll fish this off a dropper. But just like before, I tend to speed them up because I feel like these females, they are trying to get out of the water. The one interesting thing, though, if you're trying to speed this up, you're going to be, you know, fishing your fly that's going to be going with the current speeding up in that direction. And in my experience, I do a lot better when I tend to fish this once it's directly below me. So, I try to position myself in a position where I can do something called the Leisenring Lift but I wanna do that lift where there's fish.
Tom: Yeah.
Tim: And what we mean by this Leisenring Lift is we're going to...imagine we're making our drift. We've cast out, we'll say, you know, at about a 90 degree, maybe a little less than 90 degrees. Our fly goes through the current. It's coming back towards us and it's directed downstream from us. And this Leisenring Lift, the gist of it is we'll lift our rods up really gently anywhere from...I've seen people go as little as six inches to as much as two feet. And it's just a gentle lift. And then we dip our rod tip one more down and then lift it up a second time. And whenever you show that emergence, those fish tend to hammer that fly. And when they're hammering it down there, you don't wanna be fishing six or seven X.
Tom: Hey, Tim.
Tim: Yep?
Tom: I gotta...somebody's banging something. I gotta go get...I don't know if you can hear that but...
Tim: I heard some knocking.
Tom: Yeah, I gotta go stop that. I'll be right back. All right, my son was cutting kindling upstairs on the fireplace. You know, it's either that or somebody's grinding flour upstairs in the kitchen. All right, so...
Tim: Well, my kids are yelling downstairs so I hope they're not popping up on the podcast.
Tom: I don't hear yours. I don't hear yours, no. All right, so continue on with the Leisenring Lift. Sorry, pick it up where you left off.
Tim: Yeah, you got it. So, imagine we have this fly that's pretty much directly downstream from us. We lift our rod tip anywhere from six inches to maybe two feet up in the air at a little bit of an angle. And then we allow it to dip back down. And what's going on at the end of our line? That fly is slowly rising, going back down and then rising again to imitate either the emergence or, in this case, we're trying to represent this female caddisfly. She's laid her eggs and now she's making her way out of the water.
The one thing that's...a lot of people have done this Leisenring Lift and they've told me they haven't had success with it. And the main reason why is because they're standing in shallow water and the fish is directly downstream from them, potentially in shallow water where there's no fish at that time. So, I have found that...I try to get myself in a position where I'm closer to, we'll say, more riffles or I'm closer to the head of a pool and I can perform that Leisenring Lift there somewhere where I know there are fish. Because if you're putting yourself in a spot and you're lifting your fly where there's no fish, well, of course, you're not gonna have success with it and you're not gonna do the Leisenring Lift anymore. It's kind of that same approach when there's so many people in the realm of European nymphing when they say, "Set the hook whenever you're done at the very end of your drift." But if you've allowed your drift to go into dead water, there's not gonna be anything there eating. So, you're never gonna have success lifting it.
So, you have to think to yourself, if I'm gonna try this Leisenring Lift, don't look at that as, like, a last resort. Try that as your first resort and say, "I wanna just concentrate on trying to imitate a fly coming out of the water and see if fish will queue on that."
Tom: Yeah. And, you know, the one thing I did wanna add about caddisflies and I've said this many, many times but I think that it's worth repeating and not everybody listens to everything I say but...especially my fishing buddies. But caddisflies are dishonest insects because they don't just hatch and then the next day go and lay eggs. They can live up to a month out of the water or out of the...yeah, out of the water as adults. And people see these flights of caddisflies and they're migrating. And often the air will be full of caddisflies and not a single one on the water. And for whatever reason, however, they decide, eventually, they decide they're gonna finally hit the water and lay eggs and drive the fish crazy. But often, they don't. And so, you need to be careful. You need to see those caddisflies on the water before you put on a caddisfly.
Tim: Yeah. That's for sure. I mean, that's what this all comes down to. You wanna find out that the fish are active on whatever stage...where you want them to be. I mean, so many of us, we wanna just say, "Ow, if I throw this, they're gonna come up and they're gonna eat it." But until those fish kind of get in that mood, they're not gonna look at it. Once that hatch is kind of over and those caddisflies are gone, they're done with them. Then you just start right back to whatever your typical approach is when you come upon water that doesn't seem like there's much going on.
Tom: Yeah. And if we can figure that one out, we'll be geniuses, right?
Tim: You know it. Absolutely.
Tom: Squirmy Worm and a Walt's Worm or Rubber Legs or Wooly Bugger, whatever.
Tim: We could throw out over gadflies next. We'll save that for the next podcast. It'll be the gadfly podcast.
Tom: Okay. All right. Well, we've been talking to Tim Cammisa. Tim, you've been awesome. You wanna let people know where your YouTube channel is so they can watch your tying videos?
Tim: Yeah, of course. I would think the best place for people who wanna learn more about some of my videos and that stuff is my website. It's called From there, there's a contact page. There's all kinds of information there. I sell autographed copies of my book too. So, I'll mention that. And I actually...because I was asked to give this emergers presentation so many times, I've recorded one of them, and then people can actually buy this presentation with a little bit more detail and a PowerPoint through my website. So, if you're really interested in emergers and you want a little bit more information and you wanna see what Tom and I were talking about, you can go to Trout & Feather and find it there.
But when it comes to social media, it doesn't matter if you're into Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, even TikTok, I mean, you can find, you know, just by searing for Tim Cammisa on all the social media realms and you'll find some information out there.
Tom: Awesome, thank you. And I want a commission on all those sales, by the way.
Tim: One hundred percent, I promise you.
Tom: All right, Tim. Well, thank you so much. It's been great. You've answered, hopefully, a lot of those emerger questions, and hopefully, people have a better idea of, next time they see an emergence, how to fish an emerger.
Tim: I hope so. And if they do have that...we'll say, if we've lessened the learning curve for these people, please contact Tom through the podcast, share your stories, and most importantly, tell us what fly you use and send us some pictures so we can steal your ideas.
Tom: Yeah, right. We always wanna steal ideas.
Tim: Thanks, Tom. I appreciate it.
Tom: All right, Tim. Thank you.
Tim: All right, I'll see you.
Tom: Thanks for listening to the "Orvis Fly-Fishing" Podcast with Tom Rosenbauer. You can be a part of the show. Have a question or a comment? Send it to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in the body of an email or as a voice attachment. You can find more free fishing tips on