Joe Cambridge, an English professor by trade and professor by leisure in the fine art of fly fishing, returned to the BC Flyfishers on Thursday evening, November 19th. Joe was last on hand as a guest speaker and fly tyer at the October chapter meeting in 2014. Over 30 fly fishers of all experience levels attended. And it wasn’t long before interested anglers gathered around Joe as he tied up some of his favorite Finger Lakes trib flies.
Cambridge is a very experienced fly tyer and relishes sharing the finer points of the art with his audience. For this presentation, Cambridge demonstrated tying on video many of his favorite and most effective fly patterns, with fly fishing tips sprinkled in from time to time. The first fly to show was his version of Dan Blanton’s “Fatal Attraction”. Cambridge ties it using a size 6 heavy streamer hook with a bead head, 30 strands of silver flashabou, and flat pearlescent braid for the body. He stressed repeatedly to tie it sparsely with white and green bucktail. The pattern also uses a few strands of peacock crystal flash and a center stripe of peacock herl.
The next fly shown was what Joe referred to as “The Guide’s Stone Fly” which is a pattern from the Salmon River and a guide he knew up there from years back. The fly is started by building a bump of thread towards the back of the fly. 2 goose biots in black or brown are tied in, splayed out. Black chenille is then wrapped up half-way from the back. Black swiss straw is tied in centered on hook. Root beer chenille or estaz is then tied in and the wingcase is tied in over to complete the fly.
Other flies shown by Joe and recommended to have a home in any Finger Lakes tribs fly box are:
- Sawbelly Special, tied with purple flash, bucktail, and mallard – and a great lake trout pattern.
- Thunder creek minnows in various colors.
- Bibio – a soft hackle fly from Ireland.
- Fox squirrel nymph
- CK nymph
- Hot spot wet flies
- Undertakers, the Winter’s Hope, and the Dee fly (Scottish).
Joe interjected tips for fly fishing the Finger Lake tribs during his presentation. While the water is low and gin-clear right now, trout and salmon are coming in to the tribs according to Cambridge. And they can be caught but anglers must go after them “the way a heron would”.
Assorted tips from Joe include:
- Let the water do the work.
- When a salmon takes the fly, let him take it and turn his head, and say “God save the queen” before setting the hook.
- Don’t be in a rush under current conditions. Drink a big cup of coffee and just watch instead of fishing right off the bat. Sit and watch.
- Fish from good to better to best.
- Fish the ledge at the falls plunge pool carefully. There can be black ice present and make sure to dress for a colder, wetter environment. Fish your fly downriver along the ledge and remember that the current swirls in an eddy “upstream”. If a trout or salmon emerges, “give it to them”, as in don’t jerk the fly away.
- Nymph fishing can be very effective. Cambridge recommended a #6 Fox Squirrel nymph or stonefly, fished with a right angle indicator rig when the weather gets colder. He emphasized that as temps really cool down, casts and drifts need to be such that the trout needs to barely move to take the fly.
- In deeper sections of the creeks, use a sinking tip and short tippet or if using split shot, space them out like rosary beads to avoid hang-ups on bottom and prevent a hinge in the leader.
- Never fish in the fall without really small stuff such as #18 Stewart spiders, nymphs, and little egg patterns.
The tribs could really use a good push of water to get a run going and so far that hasn’t happened. But as the daylight shortens, the air and water temps cool, and the fall rains start, the Finger Lakes tribs can be a great place to catch some very nice lake-run fish. Besides browns and landlocked salmon, that are there to spawn, big lake trout will come up to feed. Many anglers stow their gear in late fall just when some of the best fishing of the year is about to start. Try a late-season foray into Finger Lakes country. Chances are good you’ll be back!