Hello fishing friends! It feels like spring is around the corner. Birds are waking up, Ducks are starting there northern migration. And the spring run of steelhead is on its way. The river is in great shape.Good flows for both floating and wading. The flow rate has been steady for the past few days. This means to me that the fish are going to be happy and snappy. As the river starts to warm the brown trout bite should start to pick up as well.
Early Spring Steelhead
The spring steelhead fishing is starting to get good. With the winter fish still in the system and the spring run fish starting to show up the river is about to light up. Float fishing has been the game. Float fishing is an important method for this time of year. The steelhead are starting to move from the slow deep winter water into the faster straighter runs. Soon they will be concentrating on the gravel runs to spawn and make more steelheads. Because the fish are living in so many different types of water makes the float fishing a great way to cover many types of water without re-rigging at every stop.
That being said, this is a time of year that you have to fish every type of holding water. Runs from 3 feet to 10 feet and from slow to fast flow rates. You never know where you might find them this time of year. This time of year it’s best to fish it slow and fish it all. Beads, yarn and stonefly nymphs have been producing strong results.
Brown Trout Fishing
The brown trout are finally starting to wake from the winter slumber. The brown trout have been on the egg bite. With the steelhead starting to migrate to the spawning gravel the browns will be following them to the gravy train. Also with the salmon fry exiting the river keep an eye on the slack water and back eddies for some nice trout eating salmon fry. The insect thing is still to come. With the spring coming the water warming it shouldn’t be long before we get some top water action. It is a great time to be out on the river. The PM is starting to come alive. We still have a few open spring dates. Let us know if you want to get out!
Booking a Trip
One of my favorite times of year is just around the corner, learn more about how I like to fish Crank-baits for troutand steelhead. As water temps start to rise, no better bite on the river. Contact me for open dates.
Now is the time to get out and enjoy the this Early Spring Fishing. We have seen a big change the last few years in when Spring Steelhead starts. Read the blog post about we are seeing regardingSpring Steelhead on the Big Manistee and Pere Marquette River.
Didymo on the Upper Manistee continues to be a problem as it expands its chokehold upon the river. During August of 2022 we found new Didymo growth from Yellow Trees to the CCC Bridge. Didymo was not found previously in sections upstream of CCC Bridge. To put it bluntly, I would consider the entire Upper Manistee River System to be contaminated. Didymo is considered a very resilient invasive species and anglers will have to practice safe gear cleaning techniques to prevent spreading it between watersheds. These same cleaning practices will need to be followed after every fishing trip. It can be spread very easily and can result in detrimental outcomes for our trout streams.
We continue to follow the current safe cleaning practices for our gear. Currently, there are no effective methods to eradicate Didymo once it is established in a river.
To prevent spreading Didymo Clean, Drain, Dry your gear before entering another Body of Water.
Clean your gear by removing mud and debris from all surfaces.
Use a 10% Solution of Dishwashing Soap with hot water for 10 minutes. Then it must dry for 48 hours (mandatory if your fishing different streams).
The extent of the Didymo bloom on the Upper Manistee in 2021 was unbelievable. Didymo was observed in every section we fished downstream of the CCC Bridge. In one winter Didymo covered nearly 60 miles of stream bottom! This single event is disheartening when you consider any effort to limit its expansion into neighboring watersheds. Any efforts to do so are going to require extensive stream monitoring and habitat resiliency testing.
To determine the overall affect of Didymo on the Upper Manistee River is going to take time. However, the short term implications haven’t been favorable. The impacts to the fishing and our hatches were immediate. The hatches were inconsistent and showed lower overall insect abundance. The most alarming trend was a 65-80% decline in our catch rates. This decline was especially noticeable in sections dominated by Brown Trout. I would argue that Brown Trout abundance was immediately impacted by the presence of Didymo.
I expect Didymo will continue to expand its foothold in the Upper Manistee River as we enter 2023. The fall leaf drop will allow more sunlight penetration through the canopy and the colder temperatures will promote new Didymo growth. Further habitat decline will continue to allow for it to take over and expand its range in previously unaffected sections. At this current time I am not very optimistic that Didymo has run its course and will become dormant anytime soon.
Change the Conversation
This has been arguably one of the toughest trout seasons I have seen. The amount of change that has occurred over the past 5 to 6 years is very alarming. The Upper Manistee River has some systemic issues and neglected circumstances that need to be addressed. Habitat loss, water quality, invasive species concerns, all have reached their tipping point. We need to institute some major changes in our management approach if our aquatic resources are going to last for future generations to enjoy. It’s time to change the conversation!
Our state needs to manage our lakes and streams from a watershed perspective with a holistic approach. You can’t ask one biologist to manage several watersheds with the expectation of being effective, efficient, and able to identify problems before they occur. We need to bring Fisheries, Wildlife, and Forestry divisions to the same table. These departments need to review all the management recommendations under one microscope before implementing any action plans. The old days of stream management “between the river banks” has long outlived its effectiveness and we need a new direction moving forward.
The Upper Manistee River is designated as a Natural River. A Natural River is afforded extra protections for “the purpose of preserving and enhancing its values for water conservation, its free flowing condition, and its fish, wildlife, boating, scenic, aesthetic, floodplain, ecologic, historic, and recreational values and uses. The area shall include adjoining or related lands as appropriate to the purposes of the designation. The department shall prepare and adopt a long-range comprehensive plan for a designated natural river area that sets forth the purposes of the designation, proposed uses of lands and waters, and management measures designed to accomplish the purposes.” Yet the river is failing to thrive under these protections!
Natural Rivers Act
The Natural Rivers Act designation was implemented to enhance the river, but the permitting process for habitat projects is making this crucial work more expensive and harder to complete. It may be time to retool this law and make it more user friendly for its intended purpose. It’s also time to have a serious discussion about increasing the stream buffer protections afforded by this act. Moving forward we need to hold our State agencies more accountable for their failures, but also applaud them for their successes. Unfortunately our State failed miserably at developing an effective awareness campaign for Didymo.
Many of the issues I have mentioned are fixable, but it is going to take time, money, and hard work. Didymo didn’t just appear over night, this problem has been several years in the making. Didymo is just a symptom of larger systemic issues plaguing an already unhealthy system. It has likely been in the Upper Manistee River for some time, but the necessary conditions for Didymo to take over are just now being exposed. The overall river health is at its tipping point. Habitat decline, nutrient decline, extensive low-flow periods, increased solar exposure, and uniform habitats characterized by increasingly wide, shallow, sandy areas have all accelerated in the past 5 years. Our streams are in desperate need of more habitat monitoring and rehabilitation programs to mitigate the accelerated pace of change and unbalanced outcomes.
The Upper Manistee River Trout Fishing has been up and down throughout 2022. Hatches were lighter and far more inconsistent than what we should experience. More intense rain events followed by longer low-flow periods and drought are increasing the stream width and sedimentation issues. The loss of large woody debris has now outpaced the recruitment of new woody structure. Changing Hydrologic conditions and the lack of stable woody debris structures have accelerated the loss of critical deep water habitats. These trends have all accelerated over the past 5 years and now we are seeing the effects of rapid habitat decline.
Unfortunately the river can no longer maintain its characteristic cold water flows as it has become too shallow and impacted with sand. In 2021, we observed a colder two degree water temperature difference between the M72 gauge and the 4 mile access monitoring station. During June and July of 2022 that colder 2 degree difference in water temperature was lost and temperatures were uniform between the two gauges. In recent years water temperatures have fluctuated 8 to 14 degrees over a 24 hour period. A healthy stream shouldn’t show this kind of temperature profile. As a consequence we are now seeing significant Didymo growth above the CCC Bridge where it wasn’t found a year ago.
The large swings in water temperatures have been one of the most noticeable changes throughout the watershed. These big swings in water temperature have had negative impacts upon our insect hatches. This is the first year I have experienced so much inconsistency throughout the hatch season. Normally the Hex hatch lasts about two weeks, but the hatch was stretched out over an entire month. Water temperatures would drop at night to around 58 degrees and climb during the daytime reaching highs of 70+ degrees. These big temperature oscillations will continue to impact our hatches and disrupt our fishing until the habitat conditions promoting these issues are addressed.
Unstable weather patterns had some negative affects on the fishing this year, but that wasn’t the only observable change. Habitat decline has accelerated over the past 5 years. Habitat loss has reached a critical threshold and now the river’s ability to buffer against drastic change is losing ground. The Upper Manistee River has become dominated by expansive wide, shallow, sandy areas of uniform habitat lacking woody debris. Large areas of shade providing deciduous trees have also been lost to disease and invasive species. This combination of declining habitat variables is allowing for more light penetration to reach the stream bed. Habitat decline and a warming temperature profile are two critical changes we are now seeing on an annual basis.
The Upper Manistee River is becoming warmer as the stream becomes wider, shallower, and more surface water is exposed to sunlight. During June and July, the longest day length of the year, the river is struggling to maintain colder temperatures under sunny conditions. Intense solar exposure is winning the battle and we are now experiencing more days with 70+ degree water temperatures. Water temperatures have still exceeded 70 degrees on sunny days with high temperatures only approaching 75 degrees for the day. The lowest water temperatures we observed during June and July were typically associated with cloudy conditions and cold fronts. I firmly believe declining habitat conditions are a prerequisite for Didymo to take over a stream.
Studies have shown that shallow, wide, cold streams with moderate flows, increased solar exposure, and low phosphorous are more susceptible to Didymo blooms. Statistically, low phosphorous conditions appear to be the primary driver for Didymo blooms in streams. Phosphorous is a critical variable in trout streams often impacting algal and macro-invertebrate communities. When stream phosphorous levels are too high you will often see explosive algal and plant growth. One would expect to see increasing macro-invertebrate abundances due to increasing nutrient loads, but often there is a subsequent decline in species diversity. Didymo is a strange case, it prefers ultra low-phosphorous levels to bloom. This diatom is quite the opposite of most algae and will only show extreme growth in streams when phosphorous levels hit rock bottom.
Interestingly, phosphorous levels are at an all time low in the Great Lakes Region since the introduction of Zebra and Quagga Mussels. The post-mussel Great Lakes are functionally different today than the pre-mussel Great Lakes. Today the Great Lakes are primarily nutrient poor systems characterized by very clear waters which is a 180 degree change from the late 1980’s. Today nutrient loads are very different, the lakes are exceptionally clear, warm differently, and winter is pretty much a thing of the past. One has to consider the functional change that has occurred throughout the Great Lakes region and how these changes have impacted our inland ecosystems. Just a little food for thought regarding the primary driver of change to our regional ecosystems.
Here to Stay
Didymo has had an immediate impact this season, especially in the sections downstream of the CCC Bridge. The Didymo mat was very extensive and in some areas we observed over 95% coverage of the hard substrates. The amount of Didymo particles suspended in the drift from March until Late July was unlike anything I have ever seen. It was a completely different looking river downstream of the CCC Bridge. The stream bottom was almost completely covered in Didymo and there was a steady stream of Didymo particles flushing into Hodenpyle pond for over 3 months. Based on what I saw this spring, I don’t believe we have a very effective strategy in place to prevent this from spreading.
Insect activity was visibly lower and we observed inconsistencies within our hatches. Several hatches were virtually nonexistent. The overall insect activity was the lowest I have ever experienced on the Upper Manistee River. Didymo also had a tremendous impact upon our trout fishing. Every section we fished with visible Didymo growth suffered from diminishing returns. In other words you can’t catch what isn’t there! We experienced a 65-80% decline in our catch rates and it became very clear that trout Brown Trout are impacted by the presence of Didymo. There is ample research currently coming out of New Zealand that resembles our own observations. Studies have documented a 70% decline in Brown Trout biomass within streams affected by Didymo.
The trout knew it was coming! Hindsight is 20/20, but I firmly believe Didymo was already impacting fish movement early on in 2021. In June of 2021 I would argue the river experienced significant fish movement from sections downstream of the CCC Bridge. We found clusters of large Trout surprisingly pooled up together which is a situation not commonly encountered before. Other reports from Upper Sections of the river mentioned more large Brown Trout in their catch. However, I have been finding more large Trout in poor overall condition during the past few seasons, probably resulting from crowded conditions and declining food availability. Studies in New Zealand have demonstrated larger Brown Trout are adversely affected in Didymo infected streams and those streams were dominated by smaller sized trout (lower biomass).
An interesting observation, that was confirmed by several other guides, was off colored water conditions for several weeks during June of 2021 and again in June of 2022. The water had a light tannic stain during a long, hot drought period. Typically the Upper Manistee River would have a gin clear appearance during low water conditions. Instead the water had a golden brown hue and the surface looked black during low light periods. Coincidently, Didymo cells are amber or golden brown in color. In August of 2022 we found significant Didymo growth in sections upstream of the CCC Bridge where the water color was off during June. It is my belief that these water conditions are a precursor for visible Didymo growth.
Didymo is a ghost and only becomes visible when it goes into bloom. In August of 2022 Didymo was discovered on the Boardman River in Traverse City, MI. It was found in a section that was previously sampled during the spring using rock scrapings. During the spring Didymo was not found anywhere outside of the Upper Manistee River watershed. This example demonstrates the importance of expanding our sampling techniques in an attempt to increase early detection of Didymo in our streams. Currently we don’t have an effective early detection method, this needs to be addressed if we are going to get ahead of this issue.
A study from New Zealand found Didymo in streams without bloom formations. In some streams Didymo was present only in the water column and not on the substrates. In other streams Didymo was present in both the water column and on the substrates, but no bloom formations were found in either case. The takeaway here is that Didymo won’t bloom unless the conditions to do so are favorable. Early detection, habitat rehabilitation programs, and an effective mitigation strategy are desperately needed to deal with nuisance blooms in the future. It’s time to change the conversation and to make the necessary changes to our prescribed management strategies in order to mitigate blooms in previously affected and unaffected streams.
So what does all of this mean and what will happen to the river? We are not sure, Didymo is a new threat, and the river has gone through a considerable amount of change over the past decade. Time will tell, but Didymo isn’t going to just disappear. I would be willing to bet it’s also more widespread than just within the Upper Manistee and Boardman River watersheds. After reflecting upon the past few seasons, I am even more convinced that Didymo is an indicator of overall poor stream health. Jon Ray fittingly compared Didymo to Cancer or Diabetes in an unhealthy individual. I totally agree with his comparison. Until you fix the root cause of the symptoms plaguing a stream, the stream won’t be able to become healthy and balanced again.
There is potential to avert further blooms on the Upper Manistee River. The State of Michigan hasn’t actively performed any stream habitat work in several decades. There have been several other projects that have been completed in that timeframe, but nothing at the scope of what Michigan Trout Unlimited has proposed. Michigan TU recently placed approximately 200 whole trees between Yellow Trees Landing and King Trout Ranch this fall. By using Helicopters to precisely drop large woody debris in-stream they were able to target the most diminished habitats in that section. I am excited to see the results of all this work in the upcoming season!
There are a lot of unknowns regarding Didymo. Largely, no one has any real answers to its native range or origin. Is it invasive or a native nuisance species? What are the environmental conditions that promote large blooms? How do we treat affected streams and prevent future outbreaks? These are all important questions that need to be answered, but the fact is Didymo is already here and it isn’t going to just go away.
Utilizing a holistic management approach and establishing long term monitoring programs should be top on the list. As we hear more on what you can do to help in this fight and as we find out more information regarding Didymo we will be sure to let you know. Right now the best thing you can do is voice your concerns with your local State agencies and demand change in how we manage our resources. Demand more from our resource managers and continue to help out with local projects that can help preserve and protect the future of our favorite trout streams.
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/didymo-on-the-upper-manistee.jpg?fit=640%2C360&ssl=1360640Ed McCoyhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgEd McCoy2023-02-16 14:12:502023-02-17 12:09:06Didymo on the Upper Manistee
As many of you already know, in 2019 I began selling my signature fly patterns through Montana Fly Company. This year I am excited to announce several new fly patterns that are available through Montana Fly Company in 2023! There will be two new dry flies, a Mouse, and Frog pattern to round out the new releases. The dry flies are an Isonychia Dun and Spinner variation. The Mayfly patterns have been some of my most productive searching and hatch matching patterns over the years.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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 ofTiemco Dry FlyHooks
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.
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.
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.
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 aPlaylist 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.
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.
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.
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/McCoy-Brown-Drake-Thumb-1-1.jpg?fit=1080%2C1080&ssl=110801080Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2020-04-11 11:29:422020-04-11 15:59:32Tying Brown Drakes
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.
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/muskegon-brown-trout.jpg?fit=639%2C378&ssl=1378639Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2018-11-27 10:08:182018-11-27 10:13:35Big Brown on the Muskegon – Pic of the Day
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/muskegon-brown-trout.jpg?fit=639%2C378&ssl=1378639Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2017-07-31 08:03:112017-07-31 08:03:11Pic of the Day – Underwater Mouse Eater
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 .
https://i0.wp.com/mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/camo-mangled-fly.jpg?fit=640%2C427&ssl=1427640Jon Rayhttps://mangledfly.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/mangled-fly-fishing.jpgJon Ray2017-01-05 11:31:292017-01-05 11:34:05Big Brown Pic of the Day