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Reach Cast

The Reach Cast

We are going into prime dry fly season right now. The third most important thing in your arsenal behind being able to cast accurately and picking the correct fly is the ability to execute an accurate reach cast. A reach cast is an in the air mend and, once perfected, will give you perfect drag free floats.

When fishing a dry fly when you  lay the line on the water the currents begin to affect that line. Often they create drag, moving the fly unnaturally on the surface. The classic way to deal with this is a mend, lifting the line up and moving it on the surface to eliminate drag. This is difficult to do without moving the fly and blowing the drift.

A reach cast accomplishes the line positioning in the air while casting. When you let the line hit the water it’s in a position to eliminate drag while the fly is going over the fish. The difficulty with the reach cast is learning to both reach and accurately place the fly on the water. Because you are pulling the line back to control how it lands you need to shoot line to compensate for that. Practice is what teaches you that accuracy!

In my opinion this is the most important specialty cast there is. Watch this video by Orvis and get on the water and master it! Your catch rate will improve because of it.

Tight Lines

Capt. Chuck

Tying knots in low light

Tying Knots in Low Light

Tying knots in low light

Like many of you as I’ve aged, knots are more difficult to tie as the sun goes down. These old eyes aren’t what the used to be. Through the years, out of necessity, I’ve discovered a few tricks to make tying knots in low light  easier. I’ll share some of these below.

Tippet Spools

First and foremost use a lot of line. Be it monofilament or fluorocarbon it’s still the least expensive part of all of our tackle. When adding tippet use a longer than normal piece which allows to make bigger openings to pull line tags through. Excess line allows for a bigger opening between your fingers and the eye of the hook when tying a clinch knot. Give yourself plenty of material to accomplish the task at hand.

Headlamps

A quality headlamp is a must. I’m a big fan of red light as your pupils don’t dilate making you night blind when you use it. In addition to my normal headlamp I also have a red headlamp designed for predator hunters. It is much more powerful than a normal headlamp and being red light it does’nt blind me or my anglers when I  use it in the boat.

Glasses

I also carry a set of “readers” with higher magnification than my normal glasses. This is helpful as the sun sets, those hook eyes just seem to shrink! I put those one when I need greater magnification.In addition to the readers I also have a pair of Costa Silver Sunrise Glasses that are very good in lowlight situations.  They cut glare, are polarized and they provide eye protection!

Finally, I carry needle threaders available in any sewing department. These little tools are designed to thread sewing needles but they do a great job of threading hooks. As you can see in the video below you insert the thin wire look through the eye of the hook then put your tippet through the loop in the wire and pull the wire loop back through the eye of the hook and you end up with the tippet through the eye of the hook. Prior to dark I put a bunch of the appropriate flies on these threaders, grease them and I’m ready to go. Changing and or replacing flies is a snap with this set up.

As the lights go out just a little preparation will keep you in the game rapidly, effectively and efficiently.

Tight lines,
Capt. Chuck Hawkins

Drake, Isonychia, Hex Patterns

Drakes, Iysonychia, and Hex Patterns

Drake, Isonychia, Hex Patterns

Drake, Isonychia, Hex Fly Patterns

Drake, Isonychia, Hex Patterns

Brown Drakes, Isonychia, and Hex Patterns

New Drakes, Iysonychia, and Hex Patterns

I am excited to announce a new partnership with Montana Fly Company and myself. I have recently released several new dry fly patterns from my arsenal. They are now available through Montana Fly Company this year. It’s been a while since I have put anything new out there. The flies that are included in the two series I have released are mainstays in my arsenal. They are for the Isonychia, Brown Drake, and Hex hatches and have provided countless memories for our customers. The flies are all foam based Mayfly patterns designed to imitate the Isonychia, Brown Drake, and Hexegenia species. You can fish them all day with some realism and an impressionistic silhouette fish can’t resist.

Here is a breakdown of the flies that are now available through MFC:

McCoy’s All Day Dun, Isonychia

The Isonychia hatch is one of our best and most lengthy hatches of the season. This fly is designed, much like the name, to be fished all day! It has a very realistic profile and is a great fly to fish over rising fish. This is also a great searching pattern throughout the day with or without actual bugs on the water. This one is a must have!!

McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner, Isonychia

This fly just looks crazy on the water! Like the name, the Boondoggle Isonychia has a “fishy” profile and just flat out hunts . It often creates some chaotic moments of intense excitement. This fly is more of a searching pattern that has a silhouette that will get the fish looking up with or without bugs on the water. Once the Iso hatch gets started, the fish are always looking for it.

McCoy’s All Day Dun, Brown Drake

Brown Drakes on our home water of the Manistee are often a complicated puzzle, often leaving you scratching your head. We commonly refer to this hatch as the “Great Houdini” hatch as it can disappear for days and then suddenly reappear in epic fashion. This fly fishes great with bugs on the water, but I will do just as well fishing it blind during the Brown Drake season. This fly was designed to be fished blind or over rising fish. It fishes well even during the rare daytime emergence that we will commonly see a few times each season. This is also a great pattern during the spinner fall especially on the cooler evenings when they spin early.

McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner, Brown Drake

Like the Isonychia version of this fly it has a very fishy appeal to it. I have fished it during both the daytime emergence and more typical evening timeframes and have had success with it in both situations. With the white calf tail wings it is easy to track in the low light periods and floats like a cork! It gives me all the confidence knowing my fly is still fishing even when I really can’t see it.

McCoy’s All Day Dun, Hex

The Hex hatch is truly the busiest time of year on our waters.  I wanted a fly that I could fish that was different from anything else. I wanted a fly that would work during the day and night, but more importantly when it was bright and no bugs to be seen. This has been my best daytime Hex pattern for a while now. When you get a rare, but not too uncommon daytime emergence, yeah…..this is the one!

McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner, Hex

The Hex version of this series is where the template all started for me. The original versions were getting smashed in the evenings well before the hatch would start and then again after the bugs disappeared while fishing blind and hunting for sipping fish in the dark. I love this fly, it just flat out hunts!! It was so good over a broad spectrum of circumstances that I had to have it for the Iso and Drake hatches as well. Thus began the evolution of this series.

Fly Shops

Check with your local fly shop for availability. If you can’t find it drop us a line and we will help to get these patterns in your hands. Look for more to be coming out in the near future as I have expanded on some old favorites and I am constantly tweeking new stuff and expanding on my boxes. Good luck fishing this season and I am looking forward to the upcoming trout season and some summer like weather!

Tight Lines,

Ed

Steelhead

Hawkins Outfitters Best Fishing Memories of 2016

Do you have Fishing Memories of 2016? We do! Hawkins Outfitters is fortunate to have a very large repeat angler business. Most of these repeat anglers are friends, we’ve spent many days together in the boat. I often get asked “why did you and the guys on your team choose such a difficult job”? There are […]

Double Fly Rig

Learn how to tie up double dry fly rigs

Double Fly Rig

There are times when trout are rising that you are unable to determine what fly they are eating. There are also times that trout aren’t rising much or at all that you would still like to catch fish. There is a tactic that we use to combat both of these situations. It’s the double fly rig.

Many or most of you have used or heard of the “hopper-dropper rig”. That is attaching a bead head nymph to a hopper pattern and using the hopper as your strike indicator. It can be very effective at times. It works because you are presenting two different food sources in different water columns at the same time.

Two Dry Flies

We use the same method with two dry flies. This can be the same fly with two different life stages, two completely different flies or the same fly times two! It is deadly effective during a hatch, especially a light one. By presenting an emerger and a dun you are covering both bases. The emerger attracts lots of attention because mayflies are vulnerable at that stage.

Complex Hatches

This method is also valuable during complex hatches. That’s when there are several different bugs on the water at the same time and trout are eating but you are unable to determine which bug they are eating. This can be common in June when there are several different mayflies possible during the evening. Sulphurs spinning along with bat flies doing the same, Isonychias hatching and/or spinning and maybe Brown Drakes. All of this occurring at dark. It can be tough to figure out which morsel the fish are eating!

To present two dry flies at once tie a piece of tippet to the bend of the hook using an improved clinch knot. Make sure you moisten the monofilament prior to cinching it down to maintain maximum strength. See the video that explains how to tie this below.

Tippet

The size of the tippet should be either be the same size as the tippet being used on the first fly or one size smaller. I make the decision on size based on two things. If I’m worried about losing two flies I use the smaller monofilament so if I hook the bottom fly on something and need to break it off I have a chance of saving the top fly. If I’m casting to or searching for big fish I will put both flies at risk so that I have stronger tippet.

Try this method, you’ll find it works!

Captain Chuck


Manistee River Trout, Dry Fly Fishing, June Hatches, Isonychia, Great Slate Winged Drake, Drake Fishing, Isonychia, White Gloved Howdy

Hexes, and other big bugs!

Hexes at night

Hexes at night

Hexes and other big bugs!

Manistee River trout fishing is some of the finest dry fly fishing that can be found in the Midwest. Trout can be taken on the surface regularly between April and October but Manistee River dry fly trout fishing really rocks when the big flies are hatching. Hexes, Drakes, and Isonychia mayflies provide Michigan fly-fishing anglers, some of the finest dry fly fishing to be found anywhere.

Drakes are important

For literary purposes I’m lumping together Gray and Brown Drakes, the awesome Isonychia, the mighty Hexes, and the lesser known Golden, Yellow and Green Drakes. These are the biggest bugs of the year from a size 12 to a size 6; these super-sized mayflies bring big, wary, brown trout to the surface to feed. That’s the good news. From there it gets a little more complicated. You need to know the habits and habitat of these bugs to be a successful “Manistee River Drake Angler”.

Habitat

The most numerous and famous of these mayflies are the Brown Drakes and the Hexes. Like the Green, Yellow and Golden Drakes, the Hex and the Brown Drake are all burrowing nymphs that live in the mucky areas of the river. So your first step is to locate those slower stretches of river where the muck is.

Preparation

Second step is to look for those areas with enough cover to hold big fish. Thirdly, figure out the drifts, ingress and egress from the river, and where to fight a large fish before it gets dark. When it’s dark out and big fish are smashing mayflies you need gray draketo know these things to be both safe and successful. All of these mayflies hatch and spin at, or after dark so you need to be in the river looking for them well before dark. Be prepared to fish duns and spinners, many times they will both be on the water during the evening. To see an example of this watch some Hexagenia Video.

How to fish Hexes and Brown Drakes

You are going to be fishing to large fish at or after dark. A couple of tips to help you be successful. First use a short leader to help you control the drift. I use a 6 foot, 2X leader for the hex hatch or spinner fall. Secondly, wade as close to the fish as you can. The most common reason for failure is drag on the fly because you can’t see to mend correctly. If you can get close enough to high stick you will be dead drift.

Identification

Identifying Brown Drakes and Hexes is easy, Brown Drakes have 3 tails and Hexes have 2. Both bugs have a yellowish cast to them with Brown Drakes a size 10 and hex a size 8 or 6. Because of the size of the hook patterns for both flies usually incorporate lots of buoyant material. Be careful of the heavily dressed “tourist hexes”.  The trout usually won’t touch an overly dressed fly after a couple of days into the hatch.

Grey Drakes

Gray Drakes live in opposite habitat. Look for Gray Drake Spinner clouds over riffles at dark. Gray Drakes are maybe the easiest bugs to identify; they are a size 12 mayfly with a white stripe around the head and eyes. Tie them with a very narrow, slight body. They are the skinniest of the bunch.

 Isonychia!

Manistee River trout fishermen have arguably the best bug available for imitation by a fly angler. It is the Isonychia, also known as the White Glove Howdy due to its cream colored forelegs. The Isonychia is a free swimming nymph that sometimes crawls out of the water to hatch and other times you will see them hatching in the water. When it hatches it’s gray like an Adams and when it spins it’s mahogany colored. The Isonychia is one of those bugs that trout just love to eat. It must taste good! Isonychias spin just before dark.  I’ve never seen a good Iso spinner fall that didn’t get the big fish up and eating. Look for Iso’s all of June and well into July in areas of heavy gravel. They like to deposit their eggs in the riffles. Isonychia nymphs can be fished very successfully by actively swimming the nymph into log jams and other heavy cover and stripping them out. Hang on, trout love these big bugs.

Conclusion

Hawkins Guides are experts, we know where to find Hexes and other big bugs. If your interested in seeing them and going after the trout that like to eat them, give us a call. You can reach us at 231-228-7135 or email Chuck directly at chuck@hawkinsflyfishing.com. You can also reach one of our guides by using our contact page.