After a long winter of sub-zero temperatures, feet of snow, and an extension of cold weather well into April, May is upon us. The only bad part is the lack of flies I seem to have ready for the season. One culprit could be the recent trip I took to Colorado, which robbed me of tying time and also a good number of flies. Every time I fish somewhere new, especially for trout, I seem to lose flies. My theory is that our mind is typically overwhelmed since it is likely trying to take in new scenery, smells, and even tastes (Rainier) that you are not accustomed to on the East Coast, or wherever you are from. By doing so your mind tends to forget the basic stuff like the trees that are 5 feet behind you when you go to take that first cast. In the end flies are replaceable, trips out west or anywhere for that matter are not, its certainly worth loosing a handful of flies to dial in a new fishery and experience a new place.
Back to the tying, and the East Coast. Pike fishing is right around the corner, the only spot available to NH anglers is the Connecticut River. While it is a great pike fishery, it is almost like finding a needle in a haystack for a fly fishermen. The river is a vast piece of water that takes several seasons to figure out. The most important part of the puzzle is fly choice. Depending on the available forage, flies may range from 4" single hooked streamers, to a 12" tandem with several points of articulation to give the fly specific action. In Moore reservoir there are a lot of perch, bass, and small baitfish, so dialing in the right fly for the right time of year is essential. Early in the season the key is start with something small and go up if you get follows and looks, but no takes. Sometimes a larger fly will irritate the fish just enough to strike. In Vermont, the available forage is much different because of the habitat. Vermont has small to mid sized rivers containing pike unlike New Hampshire which only inhabit the Connecticut River. In a smaller water system, pike tend to hang closer to the banks of the river, awaiting a frog, snake, mouse, duckling, or muskrat to slide into the water nearby. In addition to these prey options, Vermont pike also have bass, trout, suckers, and minnows to consume. You can often find the pike looking for smaller fish on the drop off or center of the river as opposed on the bank. In the end, as a fly tyer, you must consider all these factors when designing or tying a pike fly. This time of year it is a good idea to keep the feeding habits of the fish you will be targeting in mind as you tie. You will be more ready for each part of the season as feeding habits change and can spend less time at the vise and more time on the water.