I’m just not a morning person. A real fisherman would have been up at 4 and on the water at first light. I settled for being up at 6:10 and on the water by 8. Fortunately, most of the Muscoot River below Amawalk Reservoir is in the shade all day anyway, so the bright July sun wasn’t a problem.
I’ve never done very well on this beautiful stream. Today, I landed two, lost two others and had a few dismissive flips. I’ll settle for that, too.
What made it interesting was the fly. I’ve come across several mentions of big tenkara flies lately, so I decided to try one myself. It’s probably not unique enough to merit a name, but I gave it one anyway: the Stewart Stone, named for TenkaraBum Chris Stewart of New York.
It was Chris, after all, who popularized the yarn used to make the Killer Bug. That stuff has some serious mojo, and I think it’s the most important part of the Stewart Stone. In the water, the yarn (Jamieson’s Shetland Spendrift, in sand, colored with a Prismacolor marker, also in sand) is complex stew of shades that combine to create a meaty, live-looking pink, with a fuzzy halo.
The fly that became the Stewart Stone differs from a big Killer Bug in a couple of significant ways:
- It has a tail and a hackle, both olive-dyed Hungarian partridge. (Chris’s Killer Kebari has a hackle, but no tail.) Brown-dyed or natural partridge would probably work just as well.
- It has a pronounced taper.
I tied the fly on a size 8 Orvis 1524 hook – a 1X heavy, 2X long nymph hook that I would normally use for Woolly Buggers. I’m not used to tying or fishing nymphs that big. Sure, I’ve always had a few big black stoneflies handy, but only used them as a last resort and never had much success (probably because by the time I tie on the last resort fly, my own mojo is on the wane.) The Stewart Stone is not a lovely fly to cast on an Ebisu with a TenBum hand-tied line, but I can more or less put it where I want it. Yes, it makes a loud plop when it hits the water. This doesn’t seem to bother the trout. Most strikes to this fly have come right after splashdown.
I decided to think of the pattern as a stonefly last weekend, when I saw lots of big stonefly shucks on the rocks protruding from Esopus Creek. A few small, wild Esopus rainbows endorsed it that day. Two days earlier, on a hatchless afternoon at the Hale Eddy riffles on the West Branch of the Delaware, a chubby trout grabbed the fly as it swung below me, and several others nipped at it but wouldn’t commit.
I guess it might imitate a stonefly, but I think of it as more of an attractor. There aren’t many insects around right now, so maybe the trout are less fussy. At the very least I know they’re seeing it.