Browns in the Night

Michigan’s Pere Marquette is boasting the big browns of the past thanks to new catch and release rules on an important section of the river. Guide Tommy Lynch (see link to the right), who floats the river with great regularity, loves to fish for the big browns with mice imitations late into the darkness of night. And the rewards for his clients are remarkable. Look at this 29-inch hog, male brown that Tommy recently boated. I’ll take all those I can get.


PM (both Pere Marquette, and late night) guide Tommy Lynch with what can only be described as a hog brown.

Alaska or Bust

I’m headed to No-See-Um Lodge in Alaska with my friend, Dave Graebel, in pursuit of rainbows on the dry fly, king salmon in the King-A-Ma-Bobber, chums on magenta leeches, and sockeye on small bead head nymphs. The weather looks very Alaska-like; most days a chance of rain, with the occasional chance of sun (very occasional). I will post as I can.


Dave Graebel, ready to smile even more broadly with a big rainbow on a dry.

Hexs are Flying

Its Hex time in the Midwest, and the big mayflies are bringing up big trout. My friend, Jim Hagar, spent a night with guide Tommy Lynch (see here), on the Pere Marquette. Before dark, Jim nailed a big brown on a hopper, and then as the dark settled, he hung a 21-inch brown on a Hex dry, and missed three more. If you want the best dry fly fishing of the season in the Midwest, now is the time-nighttime that is.


During the day, big browns like this will come to a well presented hopper. Nice work Jim!

Jim with hex brown

The mosquitoes are thick (hence cigar), but the Hex’s are even thicker–cloud like as a matter of fact. This bg brown was gobbling its share before Jim hooked him.

Fry Flies and UV Cure Head Cement

I’m headed to Alaska with my friend, Dave Graebel, in search of some big rainbows on the dry fly. This is the time to do it. The trout are not yet so fixated on eggs that they will take nothing else. And, the mayflies are on the wing—both the Western Green Drake and the PMDs. I’ve got the dry flies all tied and resting patiently in the box. And I’ve got my Stroft tippet material packed, too (see here).

But this is also the time when the sockeye fry migrate from the headwater streams down to the first lake, there to remain for a year or two until they become smolts that migrate to the sea. The big rainbows eat the fry by the bucketful, and so, having a good selection of fry flies in the box is a wise move.

One of the chief features of the young fry is the very large eyes, relative to the size of their body. I tie the inch long or so flies on salmon egg hooks or other similar short shank hooks because the wire in them is extra strong. A caddis bend hook or other similar fly tying hook is often straightened by Alaska’s husky bows. And I fish them on 2X so that I can really pour the pressure to them on my 9 foot 6 or 7 wt Hardy Zenith rod.

In the past, I tied the flies, added stick on eyes, and then coated the head with epoxy, stuck them on a drying wheel and came back 24 hours later to claim the finished product. Not now. Now I use Silvercreek’s Crystal UV Coat. It cures in seconds, literally, and is not tacky when hardened. It comes in two varieties (1) the original, either thick or thin, and (2) Flexthin. I love ‘em all. Tie the fly, slap on the eyes, coat the head with cement, shine the UV light on it and voila, it’s done. When I coat the head, I go right over the eyes so that everything is fused into a single unit. Works like a charm. The little bullet head allows the fly to get under the surface with ease, and the eyes stay put fish after fish.

Silvercreek’s Crystal Coat comes in a 15cc bottle, with applicator, for $15.00. That’s enough for hundreds of flies. You can get it, and/or a UV flashlight or UV laser from (at this time they only ship to US addresses). Read more about this great product at



The first step in the fry fly is to tie in a little crystalline flash material. This will form the core o fhb body, and give a bit of flash from time to time.


Form a loop and spin a bit of cream fur to form a 3-D hackle. Wind over front half of shank to form body.


Add the stick on eyes, one on either side, obviously.


Coat the head and eyes with UV coat, hit em with UV light, and the fry fly is complete


Silvercreek’s UV coat comes in a 15cc bottle with brush applicator/ Easy and very fast to use.


Both UV Coats come in a 15cc bottle with an applicator brush. They are $15.00 each.


I also carry two types of UV flashlights and a UV laser.


Let  your readers know that they can reach me at for information. I ship only to USA addresses.


They can read about what I offer at:

Spare Time Exploits

What do fly fisher’s do when not fishing. Many of us tie flies, but that can’t occupy every brain cell. Theo Bakelaar is certainly a fly fisher and fly tyer, but his other interests run to things like the carving that you see below. This one features a polished figure standing in the stone from which it was cut. Very elegant.


One might expect a fly fisher or a fish, but not so.  This elegant carving is by our fly fishing friend, Theo Bakelaar, shows another side to his creative genius.

PM Fly Fishing School

This past weekend (6/13-6/14/2015) I conducted a fly fishing school at the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club on the banks of the Pere Marquette River at Baldwin, Michigan. The 20 students had a great time. We managed to do our casting exercises between the rain storms; none-the-less, we received between 2 and 3 inches of rain in two days, and the PM zipped up at least a foot, if not more. We were a bit worried that the water might be a tad high for the students to be wading about and collecting insects, so they held forth on the bank and Jim Hagar and I seined insects, scuds, and steelhead fry for everyone to examine closely, before returning all the collected critters back to the river.

Sunday evening Jim and I floated the river with guide Tommy Lynch in search of some big browns. We had hoped to “mouse” them up, but the high, dirty water dashed all hopes of that. So, under Tommy’s instruction, we slung big articulated streamers. I managed to pull 6 very nice browns out to roll on the fly without a single hook up. Jim had fish chase his fly, too, and managed to hook one on a chartreuse and white articulated streamer of Tommy’s design. Tommy know ever inch of the river, and fishing with him was great fun. The mosquitoes stayed home and the weather was very pleasant. All in all a very fine evening of fishing in high water conditions.


Insect collecting is always a highlight with the class. It’s great fun to see what the river holds, talk about flies to match them, discuss angling tactics, and so on, right there on the river bank. Photo by Krista Conard


A very nice PM brown in the hand of Jim Hagar. Look at the big fly it ate.


Just had an email from Theo Bakelaar about snails. He noted that snails are always around and so when the inset food fare is low, snails are a good bet. Yes, they certainly are. Theo tied a foam snail and did just fine. Bob Pelzl and I developed a snail fly back in the 1970s based on the Peacock Nymph.  It has proven  lethal on stillwaters the world over, and has become one of our “secret” weapons when fishing lakes. For complete tying instruction, see here.


Tasty escargot!!


Spring Smallies

Spring had sprung in WI, It was warm for a couple of weeks in April, but it’s been cold this last week and gonna be colder over the next few days. My friend, John Beth, and some fellow anglers had a chance in the early warm spell, to head out for some smallies. And they found them eager and ready to go. John took all his fish—any number of them in the 17 to 19 inch range—on a Bunyan Bug. Shades of A River Runs Through It. We’re trying to get something planned for later in the summer for another shot at those smallies, but that may have to wait until next summer. We shall see.


Now’s there’s a “happy camper”–er, “Happy Angler.”


Smallies this size are wonderful on the fly rod. See the red Bunyan Bug in it’s mouth?

Big Fly, Big Fish

One of the premises of my book “Long Flies” is “Big Fly, Big Fish.” I’ve seen it literally thousands of times in my six decades of fly fishing across the globe. For example, I’m head to Alaska in July with my friend, Dave Graebel. He loves to catch the big rainbows on dries, and we will try to focus on that as much as possible. But on the days when the hatches are not evident, I will be slinging really, really big leech and sculpin imitations on my Hardy Zenith 7-weight. The take by those big bows is very powerful; they leave no room for guesswork. Of course, the big kings, chums, and sockeyes on long flies fished on my Hardy 9-weght Proaxis-X will be great too.

What reminded me of all this was a photo that Theo Bakelaar sent of a big brown that gobbled a really big streamer. This is a great time of year for the big flies. The water is often cold and the hatches sparce. The big fish need plenty of food and respond very well to big stuff fished deep along the bottom. It’s a great time to haul out the fill sinkers or the 30-foot sinking head lines and scratch bottom with big articulated imitations.


Big Fly, Big Fish

Knotted Eggs—Clowns

There are those that love the “clown” eggs—eggs of two or more different colors. I like them, too, and tying them with the Knotted Egg method is very simple. Rather than using one strand of chenille, use two. The colors may be complimentary—like pink and magenta—or they may contrast more—like yellow and bright orange—or whatever. Just tie in both strands, tie the finishing knot and cut away the thread. Then, use both strands (or more if you choose) together to tie a single knot. Clip the chenille tight to the knot and apply a generous drop of flexible head cement.

Now, for the kicker. If you want to emphasize one color a bit more, use different-sized strands of chenille; the small one will be less apparent than the larger one. Further, you can use different sizes to achieve a variety of egg sizes. For example, in the photo below, the top egg is tied with one strand each of medium and small. The bottom egg is tied with two strands of small. Since they are so fast and easy to tie, you can experiment to your heart’s content—have fun.


By using two or more strands of chenille to tie the Knotted Egg, one can make “clowns” of all colors and sizes.