Why I Still Fish The Muddler Minnow

The Jacques-Cartier river brook trout never resist a well presented muddler
The Jacques-Cartier river brook trout never resist a well presented muddler.                                   Photo: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis

The Muddler has been a family story for me. My dad loved it and just like when your dad loves a particular hockey team, I grew up liking it as well!

Today, lots of fly anglers have evolved to use giant meaty streamers and put aside the classic bucktail. The Muddler though, is some how the best of both types of streamer. It’s often light enough to cast without trouble but moves lots of water due to its buoyant deer hair head.

This post is about the different reasons why I love to use the Muddler Minnow so much

The Buoyancy

trout streamers box. Photo: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis
trout streamers box. Photo: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis

Because of its head made of spun deer hair, the muddler moves a lot of water when swung or stripped and it is one of the reasons why it provokes strikes the way it does! The trout, even if it doesn’t see the fly right away, feels the vibration of the wake the muddler makes. The fish will then be looking for it or strike out of reflex if it’s passing close by.

Multi Functional

The muddler can be served in many sauces! Although it is a streamer, some anglers also use it as a big dry when hoppers are around and they have no fly to match the hatch. My dad for example, would use the muddler in both ways. First, by always dead drifting it and second, when the drift is about to end, stripping it like a streamer.

If the muddler has been around for a while, it’s because it is a very effective pattern. Have it in your streamer box at all times and in different sizes. Trust me, or every body else for that matter.

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Featured Gears : Fall Steelheading

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Photo by: Gabriel Bizeau-Régis

Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T fleece Pullover:
Fluffy and thick, perfect for late fall early mornings and river bank lunchs. Super durable and will keep warm even when damp.
http://www.patagonia.com

Simms Wool Half Finger Glove :
Real wool will keep you warm even when wet and can be a good piece of layering!
http://www.simmsfishing.com

NBD 550 Lanyard – “Con Mas!” :
Keith made these himself and the good work that he put into it shows in his products. Super solid super practical! If you’re in to lanyards check him out!
http://natureboydesigns.com/

Industrial FC Beanie:
These classic beanies are light and easy in and out of a pack! If it was good for M. Cousteau it’s definitely good for us! FayetteChill is an awesome outdoor company influenced by the Osark Mountains of Arkansas!
http://fayettechill.com/

Galvan Torque 8wt :
This reel from Galvan is a work horse, smooth and adjustable drag. Good for both one handed rod or spey. The Galvan family makes their reels in the USA.
http://www.galvanflyreels.com

Suicidal Little Brown

Grand River brown

Either you haven’t had lots of success trout fly fishing, or your starting out and your intimidated or, you simply feel super lazy and don’t feel like working too hard on your day off. So, go fly fishing for trout right after the stocking of the small one!

I was on my way to Fergus, Ontario, with my friend Mike one Monday last June. Since I’m fairly new to Ontario I have only heard of the Grand and how great it is. I also hear that if you don’t nymph, you won’t catch much. Since I grew up on a so called easy brook trout river, I’ve never really been into nymphing – streamers, bushy dries and swung flies have always been my norm.

The river as been filled with 10 inchs brown trout a week before and they would be biting at everything. My friend called them the suicidal little browns. It was time to get my nymphing straightened up.

The suicidal browns, the newbies, the uneducated – call it the way you want, are the perfect fish to exercise any fly fishing skills you want to work on. Casting technique, new flies, leader size… Even netting the fish properly if you want!

For more information about the Upper Grand River Stocking Program, click on the link image below:

FOGLOGO

Animated Knots By Grog

http://www.animatedknots.com/indexfishing.php?LogoImage=LogoGrog.jpg&Website=www.animatedknots.com

This is the link of a very good website with instructional animated knots I just find. There’s a bunch of very good knots in the fishing section and in all the website for that matter.

Check it out!

Socks Matter.

Socks and Wading boot
On your way to the water, you get excited and grab your fly fishing gear, your lucky cap and put on your waders. Sometimes, you (and I) tend to forget the little thing!

That’s why I want to talk socks. Because it’s finally warming up, it’s easy to forget how important it is to have the proper socks while spending the day in your waders.

Because your feet prespire, especially inside the noeprene socks, it’s imperative to have a pair of socks that is breathable and quick to dry. It doesn’t matter the season, you got to protect your feet from cold and humidity.

Stay away from your classic white cotton socks. Cotton is a plant based fabric so it soak all the water and retain it as long as it can. Not good!

There’s now waders socks on the market but anything polyester and wool based will do a good job! The thicker the better, since waders neoprene booties are quite large – a thinner sock might fit loose sometimes but would do the job.

So give your feet a favor, stay away from cotton socks, and always bring more than one pair! Even during summer!

Why Visit Your Local Fly Shop

flyshop01
Rob at Wilson’s Fly Shop in Toronto

There are many good reasons to pay a visit to your local fly shop, here are some reasons that show that the local fly shop plays a valuable role in a fly fishers life.

Local river knowledge.

First, they know the local water. Rivers cross many towns, just because where you live there’s a caddis hatch every day of June around 5 and 6 o’clock, it means that there is one if you drive an hour north of the same river. I use to fish a part of the Jacques-Cartier river in North of Quebec city where they would always have a classic caddis hatch in the evening. If I would bike up the road to the “one way” bridge in Shannon, when dark is really starting to pick up, big salmon fly would be hatching. I have never seen a salmon fly at my brook trout spot. So you see, 15 minutes bicycle ride, same river, different hatch.

You can’t always know these details if you don’t chat the guys at the fly shop, guys that usually spend quite a bit of time fly fishing their region. Also, they are the one to ask when it’s time to choose flies and even more importantly, fly tying material. A Mickey Finn and an olive Woolly Bugger doesn’t always do the trick, locals are the best people to ask about an effective streamer pattern, a specific popper colour or if it’s a size 14, 16 or 18 dry fly that works best at the time that you are there!

Products knowledge

Staff at local fly shops have a ton of fishing knowledge as well as product knowledge and they won’t only be super helpful for fishing tips but also to put outfits together, fly line knowledge, reels and a lot more. This summer for example, I really wanted to start tying my own leaders but I didn’t exacly know how to do it and what I needed. I had a pretty good idea but by visiting the shop I learned a ton about the leader tying science. Since then, I have yet to buy a single knotless leader and my blood knots are looking better each time!

flyshop02
Wilson’s Fly Shop in Toronto

Local implication

It’s important to participate in the life of a local fly shop. They are a small business built by hard work and awesome customer service. I’m not saying that big surface outdoor super stores are bad, but fly shops often offer guiding services, host events and get some sweet gig that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Wherever you’re from Toronto, Kalamazoo, Pont-Rouge or Fergus. Give your local fly shop a visit and start the conversation.

(Something you can’t ask though! Never ask for a good spot! If the guy that knows it all is willing to share some secret spots, that’s his own choice. Don’t insist.)

Pet Snakes, Smallmouth And Fly Fishing Mammal

I love Mouse
I love Mouse

Warning: you will not learn about any fly fishing technique in this post but the sadistic butterfly feeling I get in my stomach while looking at other animal eating small mammal.

Casting a mouse fly to a big fish is like watching your pet reptile inhale a baby mouse and getting something pleasant out of it. I remember, back when I was living in Quebec city, when my friend was about to feed a mouse to her pet snake . Most of the time it was already dead but here and there, she would sacrifice a living one just to keep awake the predator skills of her reptile. I always took a pleasure of watching it happened. “here he comes, ohhh ohhhh ohhhhh, ET LE BUT*!!!”

When I think about it, or when my girlfriend will read this, she will probably ask me what’s wrong with me, that’s just weird. I don’t blame her.

But let’s come back to fly fishing. Like watching the snakes, I love sight casting a mouse to a fish I can see he’s going to attack it. I remember last summer, in one of my favourite shallow spot, I was casting a size 2 Moorish Mouse to smallmouth bass and I could see them creeping up on the fly for at least 3 to 5 meters before taking it. I had that same butterflies feeling in my stomach, and I was saying again…. Here he comes, OH OHH OHHHHH…. ET LE BUT!

Et Le But!
Et Le But!

At night for big Michigan brown, any time during the day for smallmouth or in the Ontario and Quebec north for brook trout, go out there and mouse. It gives you butterflies!

* “Et le but” means “And scored”! When I’m watching hockey.

Fly Fishing In The Winter, Don’t Get Cold, Layered!

Braving the Canadian Winter with a fly rod and nymphs
Layering is about warm not fashion, you will look chubbier.
It’s definitely Winter now, the time of the year when you grow a beard to keep your face warm but it’s still prime time to catch some migratory Salmonid, like steelhead and brown trout. Even pike if you have a chance!
 
But it’s no time for wet wading anymore and if you don’t dress up properly, your most likely going to have a pretty crappy, cold and wet (icy) day on the water.
 
If you want to stay warm and dry, there’s no secret. You HAVE to layer! The big ass parka wont do it anymore. It is sure warm as hell, but goose down don’t breathes so you will end up wet, and if you’re wet you’re cold.
Wet your knots, even during winter.
Wet your knots, even during winter.

In the outerwear world, we call it the layering system. I will start by the first layer to the last, from your head all the way down to your feet. When you spend most of your day knee deep in a stream, it definitely takes importance.

 
The first part of the layering system is the base layer. It’s the MOST important! It’s the roots of the system. Your base layer should be a moisture wicking one. Polyester fabric and merino wool are among the best on the market. The polyester is great for days that are cool but not too frigid and merino wool is perfect for very cold days. Inside your waders you’ll need a base layer, since your going to hangout in cold water, get a one that’s very warm like a thicker merino fabric. Merino is great because you can wear it during a extended trip without getting smelly because it is bacteria repellent.
Cold!
Cold!
Then come the mid layer! The mid layer is meant to trap the heat that your body produce while remaining as breathable as possible to evacuate the sweat. The best mid layer are made of fleece and sometimes down or polyester base isolation sweater. There’s a lot to choose from out there. You got to do your research of what works for you. I have been using a heavy fleece myself and I’m very please. Don’t forget your waders! Find a pair of pretty thick fleece to wear on top of your long underwear to protect you from the coldness of the water.
 
Now let’s talk outer layer! This is the skin that will protect you from Mother Nature’s elements. Wind, snow, rain, sun…. sometimes two at the same time! You have many options in terms of an outer shell. A soft shell is super comfortable, it will protect you from the wind and little rain. But soft shells are only water resistant so if you get stuck in a downpour, chances are, you will get soaked! Many waterproof shells pack super light, this is good if you’re on a backcountry trip when you need to pack as small as possible and also if you wish to layered down.
 
Protecting your extremity is very important too! If your body is warm but you don’t dress your head, hands and feet the right way, it doesn’t matter, you will be cold! Make sure you wear a toque and wear a liner in your outer gloves. Layered your socks by using a finer mix wool sock and then put a thick pair of socks on top of them. Leave some space though because if it’s too tight it won’t work. Avoid using cotton because it gets wet and take very long to dry, or would even freeze if it’s very cold.
Perfect spot for a nymph
Perfect spot for a nymph

 

 
Here you go, you should be enough informed to start building your layering system from scratch. It takes some time and money to do it because technical clothing is not cheap. But you can dig out some surprise items on sale and by digging through thrift shops.
 
There’s a ton of great information on the web for winter layering and the concept behind the layering system. So go do your homework!
 
Dress warm, stay warm and go brave the winter by fly fishing!

There’s Nothing Like…

Talking globug tying
A visit to your fly shop to regain some confidence after a bad fishing period! That’s what I did the other day. I needed to get some fly tying material to tie some globug and some strike indicators because swinging streamers for steelhead as not been working for me this fall.
 
I got to mention though, I’m definitely not equipped for real steelheading fishing. All I have with me since I moved to Southern Ontario is my 5wt fly rod and reel and an old 8wt Martin that’s 8.5 feet long. I’ve basically been fly fishing for steeles with a 8wt rod combine to my 5wt reel with no sinking line. Please don’t judge, I’m starting to slowly build my outfit!
Classic fly shop advertisement
So I’m turning to nymphing for this winter and I’m kind of excited because, although I have been fly fishing for quite a bit, I’m not that familiar with nymphs.
 
Anyway, chatting with Rob at Wilson’s was a real pleasure, about how the steelhead run has not been the greatest this Fall and talking bad against float fisherman.
Orvis strike indicator

The 10 Commandments Of Wading

waiding
1. Get to know the river. Come by in the middle of summer when the water is very low and check out the bottom and the structure. Take photos if you can!
 
2. Make sure you’re able to come back to shore! Getting caught in the middle of rapids sucks! Trust me.
 
3. Use a wading stick. I never did but I heard good things about it….
 
4. Make sure your foot is well secured before lifting the other one! And try not to walk on loose rocks.
 
5. Make sure you’re able to take your waders off easily if you fall in, waders filled with water are quite heavy.
 
6. Water reading skills aren’t just good to find fish, it’s nice to figure out what’s lying under the water before diving in.
 
7. Don’t do it just to do it! It might sound stupid at first, but you could scare a trophy fish away from jumping in the water when you really didn’t need too.
 
8. Try to always put your back to the current, it’s a lot easier to walk true!
 
9. This one is more towards float fisherman than fly fisher but please, STOP wading  in front of other fisherman! That’s just sooooo rude! ( I experience it almost every time now on busy river!)
 
10. Don’t be stupid! If the river is too high and the current is too strong, don’t try to get to that sweet spot. A long fly fishing life is better than one big fish.
wet waiding