Monday, May 26, 2014

Tanner's LBT (Little Brown Trout)

I recently tied up a batch of Deep Green Beauties for a gentleman from Michigan, Jay G.  He's interested in big brown trout, and likes to swing featherwing streamers as well as soft hackles.   He asked me if I tied anything in the way of a Little Brown Trout (LBT) streamer.  I didn't, but did a good search of Google images and looked in all the books I have, hoping to find something that would work for him.  I suggested the standard hairwing LBT to him; he's used it to no good effect.
There are some other barred featherwing flies out there, but none struck me as particularly similar to a brown trout.  Time to hit the drawing board!

Viewing a few hundred brown trout images, the yellow in their body struck me first and foremost, and then, of course, there's the "dots."  I've seen brook and brown trout streamers with "painted-on" dots...don't care for that.   And then there's the silvery belly.   I really like tying Carrie Stevens'-style streamers with their cheeks of silver pheasant or wood duck or other feathers, but didn't see where a cheek would improve the look of the fly to a big brown looking for dinner, so I bagged the idea of a cheek.

Long story short, here's what I came up with:

This is one labor and material-intensive fly, but I really think its going to be worth the effort (Jay does too, can't wait for his first report on it!)

There are six feathers in the wing (three on a side), plus the Jungle Cock eye, plucked from these capes:

The yellow is an Whiting American rooster cape, the Cree came from eBay awhile ago (either that or I stole it from my buddy Wally; can't remember. heh heh), and the barred ginger came from my recent visit to Doak's in Doaktown, NB ( (Had a nice visit with Bruce Waugh, helpful Doak employee who also ties many, many of their flies, while I was there, too.)

I think the strong shaft of the Whiting cape will help prevent the wing from wrapping around the hook.

I use the same process to tie this fly as I do my Deep Green Beauty - you can check out how I tie that here:
Glued up, the wings look like this:
The body is actually the easy, least time-consuming part of the fly.  Looks like this:
I mount the wings at about the 11 and 1 o'clock positions at the head of the fly (a la' Carrie Stevens method):
Finished fly (again):
A bunch on the drying rack, heading to Jay tomorrow:

The pattern:

Hook - Mustad 3665A (sizes 4 and 6 in this instance)
Thread - Orvis 8/0 Pale Yellow
Wing - Whiting American Rooster dyed yellow under Barred Ginger under Cree (one set for each side); Jungle    Cock eye
Tag and Rib - Lagartun Metallic Gold Oval Tinsel, size small
Body - Bright Yellow Uni-floss
Belly - Hareline UV Minnow Belly and a Golden Pheasant crest over that.
Wing Flash -  Cascade Crest Tools Orange Crystal Mirror Flash.

I don't usually name a fly before it fools a fish, but I couldn't resist this time.  Here's hoping!  
UPDATE!  Ken F., friend of Jay that I tied this order for, just informed me that he hooked a trout on his first cast with the LBT I sent him!  So the name sticks!  Very cool.  Thanks for letting me know, Ken!           

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Miramichi Salmon Camp - Spring 2014

I left Vermont at 4:30 a.m., headed to Boiestown, NB, on April 24th.  Heading east, as the sun came up, I had to put my sunglasses on; clear blue skies.  Into New Hampshire, still pretty darn nice day.  Up around Bangor, Maine, winds picked up pretty good, and it started to rain.  By the time I hit Customs at Houlton, the wind was howling, and I had my wipers on "high".  Just into New Brunswick, a light snow was falling. By the time I hit Fredricton, with an hour to go before getting to my home-away-from-home, Boiestown, it was a blizzard.  Renate Bullock caught the moment when I arrived at her camp 10 hours after leaving Vermont:

Her son (and Bullock's Lodge camp manager) Dan came down to show me the river:

Lots o' ice!

I had several reasons for this trip.  I wanted to hear some presentations by various agencies on activities affecting (potentially or actually) the Miramichi watershed on Friday.  On Saturday, I attended the Annual General Meeting and then the Board of Directors meeting of the Miramichi Salmon Association (MSA).  I'm very proud to say I was elected to the Board at that meeting.  I look forward to working on that board on the river's and the salmon's behalf!

Mid-day my bud, Rene Warren, tracked me down just to say hello.  He gave me three flies he tied, which will have a place of honor back home:

The MSA's Icebreaker party/fundraiser was Saturday night, and I was pleased to once again be the evening's auctioneer.  That is one fun party, and the auction is always characterized by spirited bidding.  I didn't get a photo of it, but one of the finest items in the auction was a box of 48 Spring and 48 Classic Atlantic Salmon flies tied and donated by my friend Brian Cuming of Fredricton.  Really an incredible donation; I know how much time and money those flies take to tie.

In case you're wondering where Boiestown is, it's the geographic center of New Brunswick...or so the sign says!

Sunday was a kicked back kind of a day; Renate and I went for a walk along the river.

Renate says the sounds of the river going out are really something to hear.  This year it happened, in front of her home, at about midnight a few days before I got there.

Monday, yet another reason for my trip began: renovations to Renate's kitchen.  New flooring and tongue and groove cedar to replace old paneling.  The floor was one of many layers; all but the bottom one had to go.

Next the old paneling came off:

New paneling, then the new floor:

It took another day or so to replace sink, faucets, etc.  Here's hoping Renate, a great cook, is happy with her new kitchen.  I think she is.

Did I mention the deer?  They were everywhere: on lawns, in driveways, and, dangerously, on the roads.  I snapped a pic of them here and there:

Enough of the deer already!  But  they sure looked like they had come through a long, hard winter (and they had!).

Renate got a great shot of a grouse in the flower bed alongside her driveway.  The bird is actually standing in the spot my truck slid back into, messing up the bed, when I forgot to put it in four-wheel drive one morning. The drive was frozen over most every morning that I was there.

Ruffed grouse in the back yard, atlantic salmon in the front yard...what a grand place to live!!!

And yes, I went fishing!!!  Early in my visit, Vin Swayze and I went out for a couple fun hours, but no fish. After we finished the kitchen, Dan Bullock generously offered to take me out for the day on Thursday, which would be the last day of my visit.  And after two weeks of mostly gray, rainy weather, with ice in the river, the day proved to be about as nice a day as you can get in New Brunswick in the Spring!

Nothing like a box of Spring salmon flies in the bright sun of Spring!

In the morning, I hooked a nice, small, salmon:

Happily, the kelt took a liking to the Deep Green Beauty (obviously dragging it through some hay on its way to the net)!

After lunch, Dan hooked a nice salmon that jumped seven times for us.

His fish took my rendition (lots of "bling" added) of Carrie Stevens' Green Beauty, which was the inspiration for my Deep Green Beauty.  Very cool.

I'm REALLY glad that I took my Loomis 13 foot, 8/9 Stinger two-hand rod up with me.  My shoulder was killing me after picking that 300 grain sinktip up out of the water all morning with a singlehand rod.  Dan and I both used the two hander all afternoon (Rio AFS 8/9 head, fast sinking poly leader with 10lb tippet); life was good again!

It was a great treat to spend so much time with good friends again in New Brunswick.  And whether they like it or not, I'll be back in a month!!   CHEERS!