Favorite Flies for Pennsylvania: 50 Essential Patterns from Local Experts by Eric Naguski
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The second in a new Stackpole Books series featuring 50 important flies from a particular region, tied by anglers with close ties and local knowledge of the place.
Pennsylvania has 86,000 miles of rivers and streams, including freestone streams, tailwaters, and spring creeks, flowing through 46,000 square miles of the diverse country ranging from mountainous terrain to farmland. This volume, by Pennsylvania angling expert Eric Naguski, showcases flies that work well on the diverse waters there and pays tribute to the region he knows so well. Though not a tying manual, each fly is featured in a spread that includes a large, easy-to-see image, recipe and tying notes.
From the Introduction
Pennsylvania is a cornucopia of possibilities for the fly angler. With nearly 5,000 miles of streams stocked with trout and 16,334 miles of streams that support wild trout, it’s no wonder that there is some outstanding fly fishing for trout to be had in the Keystone State. There are freestone systems of all sizes. From tiny headwater streams supporting wild populations of Pennsylvania’s state fish, the brook trout, to the placid limestone spring creeks of the Cumberland Valley, to sprawling tailwater fisheries like the Upper Delaware river system, the fly angler living or visiting Pennsylvania has a profusion of options that will satisfy any angler’s preference for water type, angling technique, and trout species.
When I brought up the Frenchie to Matt Kowalchuk, head guide at the Feathered Hook in Coburn, Pennsylvania, he agreed that it is a must-have. Matt fished for the US Youth Fly Fishing Team and said that for years, the Frenchie was his “confidence” fly. No matter when or where he fished, he started with this fly. The Frenchie came to the United States via the international competition circuit. Basically a simplified Pheasant Tail Nymph, the fly was championed by the French anglers and caught on with their US counterparts. It is still hard to disagree that when fishing new waters, and there are no bugs showing (or even if there are), starting with a Frenchie is a solid tactic.
CDC Bubble Back Caddis
Rene Harrop is a true master—an icon of our noble pursuit. The CDC Bubble Back Caddis is, without a doubt, one of the best caddis emerger patterns ever developed. If you are planning to dry-fly fish any of the heavily pressured wild trout streams in Pennsylvania, bring your A game when it comes to casting, and bring the right flies. The wild trout of fisheries like the Upper Delaware system, Penns Creek, or any of the famous spring creeks see a lot of artificial flies, and they see a lot of the real thing. The aforementioned fisheries have a substantial number of long, slow pools, and the fish have plenty of time to scrutinize your offerings. If you are fortunate enough to experience a caddis emergence and the fish are rising to the adults struggling in the surface film, the CDC Bubble Back Caddis is an excellent imitation to attach to your tippet.
The SOS was created by Utah angler, guide, and fly tier Spencer Higa. I first noticed Higa’s SOS in the fly bin at a Pennsylvania fly shop. The red hot spot caught my eye, and I went home that day and researched the fly a little on the internet and decided to tie a few up. I had good success with the original on streams like Spring Creek, Big Fishing Creek, Penns Creek, and Clarks Creek. The red hot spot and dark body of the SOS is really what caught my eye, and apparently it catches the eye of Pennsylvania’s trout as well. As stated elsewhere in this book, red is a proven hot-spot color for us here in Pennsylvania. So many productive flies incorporate it into their construction that it simply can’t be ignored when considering fly design for nymphing here in Pennsylvania.
Lite Brite Zonker
A variant of the original Zonker, the Lite Brite Zonker was originated by Bill Black of Spirit River tying materials. Feathered Hook Guide Service head guide Matt Kowalchuk’s enthusiasm for this fly was contagious when I first spoke to him about his favorite streamer patterns. Matt was singing the praises of the Lite Brite Zonker that Todd Johnson ties. Apparently, I must live under a rock, because before talking to Matt and researching flies for this book, I had never heard of the pattern. But when I started digging into it, I didn’t have to go too far to read and hear rave reviews about its ability to catch fish.