Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Dark Montreal - A Fly For The Ages

I have literally stayed up nights tying this fly at the last minute before a trip. Some flies you never leave home without, for me the Dark Montreal is at the top of that list. The fly itself, looks like nothing, and yet it imitates everything. It works in the earliest days of the season, all the way through the dog days of summer, into the cool waters of the fall. I have hooked probably thousands of Trout on this fly. I even hooked a Salmon on one. If you were in Nova Scotia and had a new fly angler with you, this would be the best fly to give them as a first try to actually get a fish.

The fly was first tied by Peter Cowan, and named after the city of Montreal. (As a Montreal Canadiens fan i like to think their team colours played into it, but i can find no proof of it). It has a claret barbule, or sometimes a red duck quill tail, a claret floss body, wrapped with gold tinsel, and a turkey quill wing over the back. The hackle is claret saddle hackle. I often tie this fly without the wing, and the hackle when wet sways back and moves along the body of the fly with the movement of the water.

At any time right before the start of a hatch, or after the fish are glutted, the Dark Montreal will take fish. For seatrout, it is one of the most reliable flies i use. Here is the recipe:

Hook: Mustad 3399 Or Equivalent, #8 - #14
Tag: Flat Gold Tinsel
Tail: Claret Barbules(hackle) Or Red Duck Quill
Body: Claret Floss
Rib: Flat Gold Tinsel
Hackle: Claret
Wing: Turkey Quill

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mickey Finn - Whats In A Name

For those of us who have used these in the quest for Trout, and Sea Trout in Nova Scotia and elsewhere, the story of the Mickey Finns name is interesting, but comes as no surprise. The fly was first tied by Charles Langevin, and used on the Jaques Cartier river in Quebec. It was originally called the Langevin, and then later as the Red And Yellow Bucktail, the Assassin, and then finally as the Mickey Finn. For those who use the expression "a killer fly", the name Assassin is self explanatory. So where does the Mickey Finn name come from?

The name is actually an extension of the story of Chicago bartender Michael "Mickey" Finn. He became famous for his practice of slipping drugs into a customers drink, and then robbing them. The term of course, "slipping them a Mickey". The Mickey Finn is a streamer that is so good, it is compared to drugging the fish and making them helpless against the angler. The truth is, it is yet another great yellow and red fly which trout seem to love.

The Mickey Finn has a number of different tying methods. Silver tinsel on the body, gold tinsil on the body, and of course a whole range of sizes. My favourite, has a silver foil body, wrapped with silver braid, the standard yellow over red over yellow bucktail wing, and a jungle cock eye on each side of the head.

The real beauty of the Mickey Finn, is the situations you can fish it in. In stillwaters, salt water, brackish water, in riffles and runs or in deep pools. I have caught trout in all situations on this fly, and in all kinds of weather conditions. I never go fishing without some, and when the sea trout run takes place in nova Scotia, it will always see the water. It really is a "deadly fly". The fly is so well liked in Canada, that in 2005, Canada Post immortalized it in a special edition stamp series. (Pictured at the top of this post.)

Mickey Finn Streamer Fly Recipe

Hook: 3xl or 4xl streamer hook size 2 - 12.
Thread: Black 8/0 (70 Denier)
Body: Silver Mylar Tinsel
Rib: Silver Oval Tinsel
Wing: Yellow Over Red Over Yellow Bucktail
Head: Black Thread - Optional painted eyes
Eye: Jungle Cock - Optional

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Parmachene Belle - Nova Scotia Seatrout

This is the first in a series of the introduction of Nova Scotia Trout Flies. These flies didn't necessarily originate here, but they are effective here for a variety of reasons. The first one is an old Nova Scotia Sea Run Brook Trout standby, The Parmachene Belle.

My grandfather used to tell me that in Newfoundland, they would cut a fin off of a caught Brookie, and midge it to a hook to use as bait for more Trout. Sounds like cannibalism i know, but that was what they did, and it worked. That is a long standing story about catching trout. Two flies imitate this failry well, the Parmachene Belle is one, and the Trout Fin is another. The "Parma Bell" as it is known here, has it's roots in Maine, but uses a formula common to many trout flies, proven later by experiment, known only from experience before. The relationship of colour.

Ask any old salt Brook Trout fisherman what wet flies work in the Maritimes, and he will likely tell you something with red or yellow in it, or both. In the 1950 book "The Life Story Of A Fish", by Brian Curtis, he mentions experiments done with Trout and Bass that prove what the old anglers already knew. They like red and yellow in their bait colours over anything else. The Parmachene Belle brings the two colours together with a bit of flash, and a dash of white, and has proven to be a goto fly for the early summer seatrout runs, as well as a sturdy stillwater fly.

The Parma Bell, like many of its married wing wetfly counterparts were popularized by Ray Bergman, was first tied around 1878 by Henry P. Wells, and named after Lake Parmachene. The fly uses married duck quils to create a white over red over white wing, back over a yellow body, with silver rib wound the length of the body. A red and white hackle throat and red tail rund out a classic looking wet fly. The fly may be 130 years old, but it is as effective today in the trout waters of Nova Scotia as it was back then. It is an early to mid summer must have. The pattern is shown below.

Hook: Mustad 3399, #8
Tail: Red and White
Butt: Black
Rib: Flat Silver Tinsel
Body: Yellow Floss
Hackle: Mixed red and white
Wing: White with a Red Stripe

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What Do You Mean They Are Calling For A Hurricane?

At 12:19 on September 29, 2003, Hurricane Juan made landfall near Halifax as a category 2 storm. For most of us still able to feed ourselves, this marked the first time in our lives we had seen a storm of this magnitude. The funny thing was, even though we were all told about, hardly anyone prepared for it, hardly anyone really believed it was coming. It was a frightening storm. houses shook, trees fell and bent to 90 degree angles, pieces blew off cars and roofs got torn off. Sadly a paramedic lost his life. What does this have to do with fishing? A few things.

First of all, the storm brought a ton of rain and gave us a September with swollen rivers, and some of the best September trout fishing i can remember. It also brings to mind story about our camp. In 2003, the camp was done for about 3 years. The fishing there was incredible each year, without fail. The camp is also about an hour from Halifax.

Steven F lives across the street from me. The morning after Juan, i walked out onto our street. There was no power. No kids running on the street, no cars driving around. It was eerily quiet in some ways. I stood in the middle of the road and looked around at uprooted trees, siding strewn on the ground, pieces of leaves and grass plastered against homes and vehicles. Steven walked out of his door. He came over and said hello, and looked around with me, Everything was a mess. The whole city was shut down. For three or four minutes we just looked around, somewhat in awe of it all. Steven then looked at me. "I hope the camp is OK" he said. I laughed at the seemingly stupid comment, and then agreed with him.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An Interlude In The Wait For Sea Trout

My weekend got off to a great start when my wife got me my fathers day gift early. A Fuji Finepix A820 digital camera, which i have been wanting badly since i started this blog. So today i took advantage of it and brought it with me on a day trip up Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore. The day started at 6:00 AM in Judds pool on the Ecum Secum river. A nice sea trout and salmon hole that holds trout all year. In 90 minutes, i caught and released 4 trout, 14" being the largest.

From there i went was off to the Trout Pond in Spry Harbor. A quiet little stillwater on a long running brook that empties into Spry Bay, the Trout Pond is a go to hole if all else fails. Today it held a ton of fish, including one 15" long with a hunk out of it released quickly. What these fish lack in size, they more than make up for in sheer fun. I caught over twenty in the 8 to 10 inch range in around 2 hours. Lastly, the Grand Lake Stillwaters produced the nicest trout of the day in weight anyway. A video of the end of a fight of a small brookie from there.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Broman Odell Pro Staff

As part of it's entry into the North American Market, i will be setting up a Pro Staff for fly anglers, as well as pike/muskie anglers to help promote and work Broman Odell into the market. Anyone interested can email me at Please include your background and what you may be able to offer as a member of the Broman Odell team.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Container Ship

I found this going through some old pictures the other day. This picture really captures the feeling of what we did to try and finish a camp we wisely decided to build in the middle of nowhere. After a few weeks of building, we had a roof tight shell. We could sit inside, (on the floor), we could sleep in it, (on the floor), we could cook in it..... you get the picture. So it is late spring, and we want to get this thing ready for the next may fly season.

Once again, our trusty 8 foot punt became a commercial shipping liner. Loaded many times over with chairs, rugs, dishes, cabinets, counter tops and countless other household type goods we made trip after trip. When summer began we need only the bunks and the wood stove back there. Those are stories worthy of their own post.