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Mousing for Trout

Night Fishing

Night Fishing
Mousing for Big Brown Trout

It’s the middle of July and the majority of our hatches are complete. The terrestrial fishing is heating up, our weather is shifting to more humid and warmer days/nights, and the larger fish in our rivers still prefer to hunt at night. Night fishing is a way of life here in Michigan, traditionally it was a quiet pursuit that was only whispered about in the back of a fly shop or amongst anglers that were already in the know. It’s popularity has grown quite rapidly throughout the past decade and Night Fishing has quickly become a popular pursuit among anglers chasing the largest trout of their season. The Night Fishing arena offers a very unique venue and one that offers its own set of challenges with respect to presentation and tact.

Hatches Wind Down

As the Hex hatch winds down a lot of folks will retire for the season and start breaking down their gear and hanging up their waders for the year. In my opinion, this is the time of year that the Night Fishing really takes off and an approach we commonly refer to as “Mousing” provides us with the means to catch sizable trout in the dark. The crowds are mostly gone and food is limiting making for some hungry trout hunting at night. This is our second chance to seek out the larger trout we couldn’t catch during the Hex hatch. Simply put, as much as I love the Hex hatch and the opportunity it provides, I still firmly believe Mousing is your best shot at the largest trout of the year.

Mousing

Mousing is a form of Night Fishing that has gained considerable popularity here in the Midwest over the last ten years. This technique has been around since before my time and has provided anglers with a legitimate chance at a River Dinosaur while utilizing a completely unique time of the day to achieve success. Unfortunately in Michigan we need the darkness to make it work with conviction. Trust me when I say, “the night time is the right time and mousing is a hair raising experience!” Mousing is an aggressive and explosive way to fish, and much like streamer fishing you are targeting the larger predatory trout in a river system.

Fishing on rivers such as the Au Sable, Pere Marquette, and Manistee River will provide anglers with plenty of shots at trophy trout often leaving you on the edge of your seat. As with most fly fishing techniques presentation is very important. Fly placement, casting angle, pace, and moon phase are all primary functions to consider for your success. Understanding all of these critical variables will dictate your outcome and impact your chances for catching larger trout.

Mousing for Trout
Night Fishing in late Summer

Mousing is a searching technique and you want to cover the water thoroughly during each outing. Casting your fly tight to the bank and moving your fly with popping strips while creating a wake behind the fly are important for success. Remember mousing is a game of cat and mouse and you want to keep the fish interested as long as you can in order to elicit a strike.The darkest nights tend to provide the most productive fishing. Knowing when the full and new moon cycles occur will further assist you in determining the best times to go. There are plenty of Lunar Charts and Lunar Apps currently available on-line or for your phones. Having a couple of your favorite Lunar Charts book marked will aid you in planning your next night time adventure. The brighter nights surrounding the full moon tend to be less productive and the fish are often more shy about eating the fly.

Gear

Life is full of lessons and when it comes to fishing in the dark and you should never approach an outing unprepared and under-gunned. When it comes to choosing the appropriate gear and equipment essential to Night Fishing, I have a very short list. First off keep it simple (K.I.S.S). As far as Tippett goes there isn’t a need to get super fancy or overly creative here. I simply use Maxima Ultra Green in 30# for the butt section and I will often taper down to 15# or 12# on the terminal end for a total length of 4-6 feet based upon conditions. However, when it comes to the rod and line I have very specific needs for these categories.

For starters I want a “Big Stick” that can deliver consistent casts over multiple distances.  The Scott Sector 8’10” 7wt and 8 wt rods have been a work horse in my arsenal this season and they are definitely the customer favorite in the boat.  This rod loads quick and is very accurate from short to long casts with flies of varying size.  This rod has tremendous lifting ability which allows you to play fish quickly and confidently, both of which are important aspects to fishing in warmer weather and at night when you can’t see the bottom structure.  The overall performance of this rod has been impressing me with every use from the streamer fishing earlier in the season and especially now casting for giants in the dark.

The Scientific Anglers Frequency Magnum taper lines have been my favorite Mousing line for the past few seasons.  They are available in both Glow and Non-Glow versions.  I come from an old school approach, so NO glow lines in my boat. The line taper is the same in both Glow and Non-Glow versions so pick your poison.  The Magnum Frequency line is a very good choice for casting larger flies.  One thing I find helpful is to over-line my rods with a line that is one line wt heavier, i.e. run an 8wt on a 7wt rod.  By doing this it has greatly improved the short game which is ultimately where most people struggle in the dark.  I have tried a bunch of different lines and tapers, but I keep coming back to the Magnum as it is functionally superior for all my casting needs in the dark. 

Flies

Mice, frogs, Waking Flies, and Gurglers are all examples of fly designs we fish at night, just to name a few. Mice and frogs are pretty self explanatory. Flies that imitate the size, color, and silhouette of your local mammal and amphibian populations found along most river edges are a great place to start when building up your fly selection. Waking Flies and Gurglers are designed to float high and move a lot of water all while creating a very well defined wake. Having flies that can perform well at the surface interface are very important. However, patience is the most important aspect of Mousing and being patient before setting the hook is really important. Most people pull the trigger too soon on the strike and 9 times out of 10 will fail on the hook set. Having nerves of steel and waiting for the fish to turn on the fly before setting the hook is critical. You won’t catch all of the fish that blow up the fly at night, but much like streamer fishing, you should be able to capitalize on a handful per outing.

Many people are apprehensive about fishing in the dark. Mousing is not for everyone and Night Fishing can be safe and effective as long as you take the time to learn the water you are fishing before the lights go out. Fishing with a friend or a guide is a great way to increase your safety and knowledge of the water you will be fishing. The advantage of fishing in a boat is priceless, not to mention the safety factor compared to wading, but the ability to cover water can make all the difference in the outcome of your trip. If you love to hunt big fish and if chasing Trophy Trout is a passion, mousing can provide the angler with one of the best windows of opportunity to cash in on Michigan’s bigger trout.

Peak times to target trout while Mousing range from July to September. However, there are always exceptions to the rule and opportunities may present themselves earlier or later pending conditions. There really isn’t anything else in the world that can compare to the peace and tranquility of a clear star filled night being violently interrupted by the explosion of a large trout. The intensity of the eat and the anticipation of the next take is what keeps us up all night and by the night’s end it leaves you craving more. When all of your senses are on high alert and the fish are playing there best game with your fly, this is where the addiction becomes reinforced. These are the visions dancing through my mind that keep me up all winter craving/thinking about the next opportunity to take on the darkness in search of the next Personal Best fish.

Ed McCoy

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

Pere Marquette Fishing Report

This will be my last report for a few months. I will be leaving for Alaska in early June. Looking forward to seeing the boys at Anglers Alibi. I have been lucky enough to see a few lodges over the past 20+ years. Anglers Alibi is the most fisherman friendly and well run lodge I have been involved with. Its a small 12 guest lodge on the banks of the Alagnak river in south west Alaska.

Dry Fly

Its dry fly time!!! After doing a evening trip with flies and also a morning trip with lures I can tell you that it is for sure time to put the lures away and switch to night mode. We had good night fishing a couple days ago and turned around the next morning never moved a trout. This tends to happen every year around this time. The trout will wait until the bugs hatch. Sleeping in the log jams all day and moving into their feeding lanes for the evening hatch. A variety of bugs hatching and a buffet of insects for the trout to fill up on. We have had Sulphurs, Brown Drakes and some Caddis on the water. The trout seem to be liking them all. The caddis have been popping from mid afternoon on. Look for your mayfly hatch to start around dinner time. The best of it just before dark. Check out Ed McCoys all day boondoggle. It has been a goto for me as the weather and river temps start to warm.

Lures

If you are planning to fish lures start early. Very early. I would plan on getting out there a bit before the sunrise. I would bet the lure bite will be done by mid to late morning. The river has a fair amount of small minnows in the eddies. 2-3 inches in length. also some small stocker browns. The key to catching some nice trout on lures will be to get as close to the size of the food source. AKA match the hatch but with baits. Try to get a close as you can to the size of the minnows in the river.  Learn more about how I crank-bait fish, check out the YouTube video we did.

Future AK Trip


Mangled Fly is putting a AK Trip together for September 2022!! We are reserving the lodge for a week. This is going to be EPIC. The majority of the fishing that week will be hunting for monster rainbows. This is the time of the year when the trout are the fattest and fastest. Beads, Flesh and Mice will be the flies of choice. Mousing during the day! We are also planning on spending a day or two chasing Silver Salmon. Cohos if you are from the midwest. Silvers love the fly. And sometimes the silvers will eat topwater skating bugs. We also have spin rods ready to go for those windy days or after a few fish have worked your arms over. I am super excited to show our mangled fly friends the neighborhood I have spent my summers in for the past 25 years. Check out link to our future AK Trip

If your looking to book trips with this fall, contact Jon Ray via our contact page or give him a call.  I will be difficult to reach most days, Jon has my schedule.

Jeff Topp

top dry fly hooks

Top Dry Fly Hook Choices

Choosing the Correct Hook for Tying Dry Flies

Top Dry Fly Hook Choices
Top Dry Fly Hook Choices

When it comes to tying flies in today’s industry, the hook choices are almost unlimited and in many cases overwhelming. New Branding continues to increase the number of hook choices available in today’s market. However, if you pay close attention to some of the more important variables for good Dry Fly Hook choices you can eliminate most of the confusion. The purpose of this discussion is to help you think through your choices and to highlight a few of my preferred hook choices for tying Dry Flies. You can also check out the video where we covered some of our favorite hook choices on the Mangled Fly You Tube Channel.

Key Characteristics to look for in Hook Choices

Some important hook characteristics to consider in selecting an appropriate dry fly hook would be; hook eye orientation, hook gap, hook wire diameter/length, hook bend shape/point. Hook strength and hook up efficiency are very important aspects of hook choice and are directly related to the primary characteristics of the hook. The orientation of the hook eye, the length of the hook shank, and the width of the hook gap are all important components of hook design. that dictate your success. Finally a good range of hook sizes is also important in determining hook choice. If more hook sizes are available for a particular hook then you will have more variety of sizes to tailor your fly selection needs.

I prefer a down turned eye on my Dry Fly hooks. The biggest reason for this relates back to the hook setting angle of a Dry Fly presentation which is typically straight up. A down turned eye offers exceptional hook up efficiency with this type of hook set. For comparison a straight eye hook offers greater hooking efficiency with a strip set. Understanding presentation and how the hook will respond to the typical presentation you will be fishing with will determine how efficient your hook up percentage will be.

Whenever possible I will choose a wide gap hook for most of my Dry Fly hook selections as well. A bigger hook gap will tend to give you a better hookup percentage and more room for error while fighting hooked fish. Consider the style of fly you are tying as well. If you are tying extended body or foam patterns I prefer the wide gap hooks. Wide gap hooks have more of the hook point exposed and provide a bigger area for hook penetration. Most of the hooks I tie on are also chemically sharpened, this seems to be an industry standard, but hook penetration is very important.

The hook wire strength/length are important considerations too. Some of the larger insects we imitate require longer hooks to complete the platform for that bug. Longer wire hooks tend to give the fish an advantage for escape. Matching the length of the wire to strength, 2x or 3x heavy, and a wide gap would be my preferred choice. I don’t tie Dry Flies on a lot of long shank hooks basically for that reason. However, with that being said there are a few hooks available in this size combination that I have had great success with and I tend to use these hooks while tying my larger Dry Flies. Hoppers, Hex, and larger Stonefly patterns sometimes require that longer hook shank to get the appropriate size in your imitation. The TMC 5263 and Ahrex FW 570 are two of the long shank dry fly hooks I like for these larger bodied imitations.

Some of my Favorite Dry Fly Hook Choices

Here is the short list for the most commonly used Dry Fly Hooks that I prefer to tie my Dry Flies on. Feel free to substitute your own selections, these are just the hooks that I have the most confidence in for their performance on the water. You can check out the specs on the full Line of Tiemco Dry Fly Hooks

Tiemco TMC 100


The TMC 100 is the most commonly used hook for my Dry Fly tying. It is a standard Dry Fly hook that has a downturned eye, 1x fine wire, and a wide gap. This hook is available in a multitude of sizes from #8 to #26. I have used this hook in a number of flies and personally have a lot of confidence in this hook. The TMC 100 allows me to imitate countless hatch specific insects. I use this Dry Fly hook for most of my Parachute Mayfly imitations, Mayfly spinners, Mayfly/Caddis emergers, and Stonefly/Caddis adults.

Tiemco TMC 102Y


The TMC 102Y is a unique hook that has an unbelievable hook up efficiency! It was designed for fishing in Japan for quick striking trout. The TMC 102Y is a Dry Fly hook with a downturned eye, 1x fine wire, and a wide gap. This hook is available in sizes #9 to #19. The odd sizes are intriguing, but we do have some hatches here in Michigan where the insects are actually smaller than the even sizes commonly found in most standard Dry Fly hooks. The male Hendrickson Mayfly is one example that comes to mind. I have used this hook in Parachute Mayfly, Mayfly emerger, Stonefly, and Hopper imitations. It really shines as a great hook to use in a lot of my Mayfly extended body patterns, especially the All Day Dun series. This hook has quickly become one of my favorites for the majority of my Dry Fly tying.

Tiemco 5263


The TMC 5263 has a downturned eye, 3x long shank, and a 2x heavy wire. This hook is actually a Nymph and Streamer hook, but I will commonly use it in some of my larger Dry Fly patterns. I prefer to use this hook in some of my Hex, Hopper, and Stonefly patterns where I have a greater chance of encountering larger fish. This hook has a good hookup percentage and is tough as nails. I have not had one fail or bend while playing larger fish. Confidence is the name of the game with this particular hook. This is one of the long shank hooks that has a good balance of length to strength and hook gap width. This is important when it comes to hookup efficiency and battling larger fish.

Ahrex FW 570


The FW 570 is a 2x long Dry Fly hook with beefed up wire and a large gap making it a great hook choice for big fish flies. This hook is available in sizes #4 to #14 and the smaller sizes are still beefy enough to manage larger fish easily. I haven’t been using this hook as long as some, but so far it has been a great hook for some of my larger foam extended body mayfly and hopper patterns. It’s quickly finding its way into more of my tying and my confidence in this hook continues to grow. This is another great long shanked hook that has a great hookup efficiency.

Gamakatsu B10S


The B10S is a 1x strong Stinger hook that can be found in sizes #5/0 to #14. I have successfully used this hook in the smaller sizes from #6 to #14 in some of my Dry Fly patterns. It is a great hook for some of my larger foam extended body Mayfly and Stonefly patterns. It is very strong and has a pretty good hookup percentage. It has a wide gap which is great for extended body Dry Fly patterns. It meets a niche I needed to fill with a short shank hook paired with a wide gap.

Hook selection is a very important component to fly design. As you start to play with new materials and develop some pretty unique and effective fly designs, make sure you pay close attention to the hook selection. A fly is only as good as the hook it is tied upon! If you are struggling to hook fish with a certain pattern consider the hook choices available when you go back to the drawing board. Trial and error are all part of the game. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different hook types to find one that works better with a specific fly design.

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Best Fishing of 2020

Best Fly Fishing of 2020

I thought I would take a moment to reflect on a “best of fly fishing” collage from 2020 from our Instagram Feed. These are the highest liked images from 2020. If you’re not on Instagram or do not follow us via social media, here is a chance to see some of our best liked images. I thought I would go thru a couple of images and expand upon their meanings to us this year.

  • First Muskie – The top row muskie image was probably one of my best images of the year. Shooting underwater images is by far my favorite way to shoot photography, but the time, equipment prep, and special conditions add difficulty to making it work. While on our Northern Michigan Muskie adventure this past fall, everything fell into place. First and foremost we had a muskie eat our fly, then the water we were fishing was absolutely perfect for getting crisp images, and the sun was at a great angle. With shooting underwater there is a lot of luck involved and this image definitely fell into that category.
  • Sorry Brook Trout – The top row right side. Beautiful brown trout laying peacefully in my hand. This image was captured by Ann Miller as we were fishing together that day. We were fishing during the Sulphur hatch in May. One of the underrated hatches and a great time to be on the Upper Manistee as a dry fly angler. Ann made a great cast into a perfect seam next too an undercut bank. As the dry fly floated you just knew it was going to get eaten. Suddenly a brook trout smashed the dry fly, how did I know it was a brook trout? As we were fighting this little guy you could see it thrashing underneath the water trying to get away. Very classic brook trout behavior. As we brought the fish towards the side of the boat, a huge swirl devoured our brook trout. The 5wt rod suddenly buckled and we were not connected to a brook trout any longer. Mr. Brown trout had eaten our brook trout! Ann did a great job landing this beautiful brown on very light tippet. This is one of those stories I will not soon forget.
  • Middle Row Browns – Each of the brown trout picks in the middle row were caught on dry flies and really do represent some of my favorite hatches. The middle image is a short video we did of Ed McCoy and I getting a chance to fish Hendrickson’s. We had some great activity during high spring water. The far left is a slob of a brown trout that was caught during the day during the Hex Hatch. I love hunting these big fish with dry flies, so exciting watching them come up and slurp a big meal. Last but not least is an image of why you don’t need to always have your dry fly drifting perfect. I really like working with clients and twitching our dry flies in those likely spots. Having a brown trout blow up on your dry fly just like a bass does on a deer hair popper leaves you longing for more!
  • Kean Oh – Kean puts in his time and gets rewarded. The bottom right image is of Kean enjoying a day fishing with Ed McCoy hunting post spawn brown trout in November. Kean scored a great fish that had eluded Ed earlier in the year. One of the coolest things about big browns is how they hunt an area. Ed had a great chance at this fish during May and then did not see this fish again until November. Kean was rewarded with a great brown trout at the end of the year, summing up the best fly fishing of 2020.

Honorable Mention

Above are the best of fly fishing 2020 chosen by our followers on Instagram. Here are a few additional images chosen by the guides at Mangled Fly representing their favorite image of 2020.

Fall Steelhead Double Header
Double Header Fall Steelhead

Steve Pels with a father son double header. Not only to hook two at once but to land two is a true feet. Very special day and great image well done guys.

Best Fly Fishing of 2020
Kids First Steelhead

Jeff Topp with a young man’s first steelhead. Carson with a Birthday gift from his dad, landed his first steelhead. Is there a better gift?

Lake Trout on the Swing
Lake Trout on the Swing

Ed McCoy with a first in his guide career. A Lake trout on the swing, might sum up 2020 as a whole. Not what we were expecting, but roll with the punches and keep casting.

Tying Brown Drakes

Tying Brown Drakes

Brown Drake Video Series

Excited to announce a new video series to our YouTube Channel, this past week we focused on tying Brown Drakes. The video series is a 4 part series walking you through the step by step process of tying Ed McCoy’s Boondoggle Spinner Pattern and McCoy’s All Day Dun . To make it easy we created a Playlist so you can watch all 4 videos in succession, make sure to smash that like button and subscribe to our channel as well. During this quarantine of 2020, have goals of uploading some additional content while also abiding to the social distance requirements.

Cutting Foam

The video series starts off with the simple process of cutting the foam, we filmed this video series back in February 2018 for the sole purpose of brining Montana Fly Company up to speed on how Ed McCoy was tying brown drakes. So not all the details were layout within the videos so please if you have questions about something please leave a comment and we will do our best to get back with you ASAP. Already one question that has been asked is what size foam are you using. The Answer is 2mm foam, so before you start tying Brown Drakes make sure you have the right size foam on hand.

Tying Brown Drakes, Cutting Foam

YouTube

As I mentioned before make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel as more content is on the way. Also drop us a line and let us know what you might be interested in seeing. In the mean time stay safe, and we will see you on the water here soon. Thanks for following MangledFly.

Jon Ray

muskegon river brown trout

Big Brown on the Muskegon – Pic of the Day

Most years Kevin Feenstra will post some sort of Monster Lake-Run Brown he has guided too and this year is no different great job Kevin. Awesome fish.  Make sure to follow Kevin on Instagram for more amazing images.  Also click the link to see both images of this enormous Lake-Run Brown Trout.

 

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An amazing bonus fish today that made tough fishing seem not so bad…congrats Mark! #puremichigan #browntrout #ontheswing

A post shared by Kevin Feenstra (@kevinfeenstra) on

muskegon river brown trout

Pic of the Day – Underwater Mouse Eater

Photo by Ed McCoy of a Michigan Brown Trout snacking on one of his new mouse patterns.  Thanks for sharing the pic Ed.  Nice work.

 

Mangled Fly Camo Hat

Big Brown Pic of the Day

Kean fishing in Chile this week just sent us this picture of an impressive 23″ brown trout.  Kean continues to believe in the luck of the Mangled Fly Camo hat. (now in two shade of camo)  Nice fish Kean and glad the camo hat gives you a little extra confidence .

digital camo hat

 

Brown Trout Pics

underwater brown trout


Brown Trout – Pic of the Day

I enjoy the challenge of big brown trout during the day of the summer months.  This nice brown trout starts off my July just right.