Sunday, March 6, 2011

Friends with Animal Parts

Today was a rainy day here in New England. Earlier in the week I had a fantasy of stopping by a small stream but the rain coupled with the snow melt put the rivers in a raging, muddy mood. I satisfied myself with a slow Sunday morning, church and a fantastic lunch with my family at a great little restaurant.

The Emerger de Rosenbauer
as interpreted by Zakur
Once I was sated I could not resist a nap but was later awoken by nagging thoughts of chores, obligations and a wee bit of work that needed attending.

With chores complete I turned to the obligation -- filling a fly box for the upcoming TU fund raiser. I tied a half-dozen each of my three favorite flies -- the Lightning Bug, the Quigley Cripple and the Rosenbauer Emerger.

I tend to nymph fish more often than any other method but that's usually because I fish when I can and that usually means I'm fishing when no fish are rising. Rainy days. Windy days. Sunny summer middays. All times when the likelihood of rising fish is low, low, low. That said, like most people casting to rising fish is my favorite method and for my money there are no better flies for rising fish than emergers of some sort. Any low lying fly graces my leader from a parachute Adams to a CDC puff over a string body.

Emergers ready for the stream
I like the emerger type fly for two reasons: 1) it say's "easy meal" to me and by extension, I believe, to the fish and 2) it seems to work pretty good. I also like these flies for another reason. They're generally easier and quicker to tie. I find strapping some deer hair -- say for a Sparkle Dun -- or some Rabbits Foot (see above) to a hook shank a lot easier than hackling any type of fly be it parachute or full dun.

A couple of years ago I discovered the joy of rabbit's foot on a tip from Tom Rosenbauer. While I tied the Quigley Cripples in their "standard" form for the TU fly box, with a deer hair wing, I now tie them for myself with a little rabbit gracing the hook shank.

Rabbit is awesome. First, it behaves well on the hook when tying. Easy to mount, easy to tie down. Second, it floats like a cork. And if it does get water logged, a quick squeeze between the Amadou gets it floating high again. Finally, it's easy to see on the water. The wing sticks up and the white wing is easy to see especially in low light.

A few weeks ago a friend mentioned that he had some rabbit's feet hanging by his furnace drying. While this friend is a hunter the feet were obtained from another friend who stalks the rabbit. I was but the last in a supply chain that started in the woods of Vermont and ended at my vice in Connecticut. 

While I eagerly anticipate receiving packages of fly tying loot from Feather Craft and J. Stockard or wandering the walls at Upcountry fondling the twenty-seven colors of pheasant tail there's a secret pleasure in receiving dead animal parts from friends. I think it's the mojo. 

Store bought stuff doesn't have mojo -- or at least the same mojo. We all try to impart some additional mojo as we tie but the material lacks the special essence. Some rare materials, that come through secret channels with handshakes and late night phone calls have good mojo. But animal parts harvested by friends of friends.... that's serious mojo. And every fisherman needs more mojo.

So this new treasure is already being snipped apart to create tempting treats for trout. The "old" rabbit's feet have been relegated to the pile of stuff at the back of my tying desk where they will languish and attract odd bits of feather and dubbing.

It's only a matter of weeks before we see the spring hatches start. I'm looking forward to testing the mojo on the stream. I forecast that trout will be eating rabbit with abandon.

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