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Tangled Lines


Patrick L. Sullivan caught a bass at a private lake that helped him understand why they’re called “largemouth.” Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

In which the wily trout continue to surprise our fly-fishing expert…

It’s baseball’s All-Star midseason break so let us take a similar look at the fly-fishing season thus far.

Much of the early going was spent on what us professional fly-fishing scribes refer to as “little blue lines” — those thin blue squiggles on the map that may or may not have a name and may or may not hold wild trout.


An old-school bucket hat protects the neck as well as the face on a sweltering day.  Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

What the well-dressed angler is wearing

Two weeks ago, after a long, chilly, wet “spring,” it suddenly turned into summer. I dutifully folded and stored the flannels and Viyellas and big old Filson wool shirts, and dug out and hung the madras, seersucker, aloha and summery shirts.

Then the temps dropped like a tungsten head nymph tied on a jig hook. Of course.


A typical dry-dropper rig includes a high-visibility, buoyant dry fly like a Stimulator and a weighted nymph on a dropper. The dropper is attached directly to the bend of the hook on the top fly with a clinch knot. Your mileage will definitely vary. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan​

The fisherman ‘goes deep’ on dry-droppers

The situation: The angler approaches the little blue line cautiously. The angler, disregarding the stiff joints and aching back, creeps up behind the boulder and peers at the plunge pool. The angler ties on a dry fly, and ever so carefully drops it right where the spooky wild brook trout is probably hiding. 


This Blackberry River rainbow was caught at Beckley Furnace in North Canaan in early April with a heavy squirmy red worm fly tied by Harold McMillan at Housatonic River Outfitters. The fish was returned to the water unharmed. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Looking back: Specks of good news in challenging year

There was one very good thing that happened in 2020: It was the year I finally got the hang of fishing with specks.

I define “specks” as flies size 20 and smaller.

Itty bitty bugs are present on all trout waters, usually year-round. Trout eat them, and anglers using the right imitations catch the trout.

Except me.


These are a representative sample of the tiny flies (or “specks”) the author has been using successfully in the last week. They are all size 20 or 22, except for the bushy one on the right, which is a size 18. The fish won’t touch it. Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Specks of hope as the 2020 fly-fishing season draws to an end

As the cooler weather arrives the idea of standing around in water becomes less and less attractive. Sensible anglers call it a season. They put their gear in the closet, and leave it there until April.

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