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What are the best flies to use on the Gaspe Peninsula? Part of the - If I had a nickel series.

November 28, 2014

What are the best flies to use on the Gaspe Peninsula?

Part of the – “If I had a nickel” series

 

So I thought a good follow-up to my last Blog - “When is the best time to come fish the Gaspe?” would be, “What are the best flies to use on the Gaspe?” With that in mind, here is a list of my favorites and what conditions I use them under.

 

First of all you should all should know this is VERY subjective and can vary from angler to angler or guide to guide. This is simply a guide that I offer you based on my experience. One thing is for sure, this is NOT the gospel truth as whatever fly you have on at the time a fish “decides” it is going to take is the one that will catch the fish. Having said that, I do think that certain shades, forms and materials in the fly can make a difference, although I cannot prove it.

 

Let’s start with June, a month where we usually experience higher water level, colder water temps and fresh fish arriving from the sea. These are important factors when choosing the right fly to swing. I generally will suggest using larger flies for early season fish and the reason for this is that these incoming fish still have smelt on the brain and will chase after larger flies and take them with tremendous enthusiasm! I generally tie on anything from a 3/0 in super high water down to a 5 or 4 if you are using the traditional scale. Before I go any further, let’s get sizing down. The Alec Jackson hooks I often use on my Spey flies are sized 3/0 1.5, 3, 5, 7 and 9 (but only in the steelhead irons). Traditional hooks are 3/0, 2/0, 1/0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc… The 3/0 being the largest and 7 or 8 being on the smaller end of the range as you work your way down.

 

Ok, now that we have that established, a good place to start for early season (higher water) is 3/0 or 1.5. Remember that when you are going to tie one of these big suckers on the end of your leader, that leader needs to be fairly hefty so that you can turn over the fly at the end of the cast. I generally use 15-20lb tippet. There is no need for really long leaders with larger flies so you can use 7.5’ to 9’ leaders on single hand rods and 12-15 foot leaders on your Spey rods.

 

Let’s break all of this down by water level and outside weather conditions: Please remember that it is the WATER levels and visibility of the river that determines my fly choices, and NOT the time of the year, although that can have a bit of an influence as well. I will put my personal fav’s by season at the end.

 

High to very high water with good visibility these flies will work from June 1 through September when fishing these conditions.

 

  • John Olin Long Wing – 2 & 4

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 3/0, 1.5 and 3

  • Paul Caron Stonefly (usually rides higher on the water) 1.5 down to 5

  • Magog Smelt 3/0, 1.5, 3 ( I like silver and bronze hooks)

  • Dylan Spey and Dylan Dark Spey (darker one on darker days) 3/0, 1.5, 3

  • Pompier 1/0, 2

  • White Muddler 1/0, 2, 4

  • Alley’s Shrimp 1/0, 2, 4

  • Grey Heron 3/0, 1.5, 3,

  • Black sheep 2, 4

  • Black and Green Stonefly (often fished double hook) 2, 4

  • Ghost Stonefly (often fished double hook) 2, 4

  • Out to Lunch 3/0, 1/0, 3 (Gold hook)

  • Green Spey 3/0, 1.5, 3, 5

  • Jones Special 1.5, 3, 5

  • TUBE FLIES: Aluminum, brass, plastic or copper. 1” to 2” mostly temple dog style. Color combination of your choice.

 

High water to very high water with DIRTY water from June 1 throughout the season these are my go to flies for really high water that is dirty. This can run from June 1 through the end of September.

 

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 3/0, 1.5 and 3

  • Out to Lunch 3/0, 1/0, 3 (Gold hook)

  • Alley’s Shrimp 1/0, 2, 4

  • Green Spey 3/0, 1.5, 3, 5

  • Jones Special 3/0, 1.5, 3

  • HEAVY TUBE FLIES

 

High to medium level of water (normally clear at this stage) from June 1 through first week of July these flies are always in my box and on the end of my line.

 

  • John Olin Long Wing – 2, 4, 6

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 1.5, 3, 5, 7

  • Paul Caron Stonefly (usually rides higher on the water) 3, 5, 7

  • Magog Smelt 3/0, 1.5, 3, 5 ( I like silver and bronze hooks)

  • Dylan Spey and Dylan Dark Spey (darker one on darker days) 1.5, 3, 5

  • Pompier 1/0, 2, 4, 6

  • White Muddler 1/0, 2, 4

  • Alley’s Shrimp 1/0, 2, 4

  • Black sheep 2, 4, 6

  • Black and Green Stonefly (often fished double hook) 2, 4

  • Ghost Stonefly (often fished double hook) 2, 4, 6

  • Out to Lunch 1/0, 3, 5 (Gold hook

  • TUBE FLIES mostly aluminum or plastic bodies

 

Normal water towards a falling river (just on this side of low) with excellent visibility; these flies continue to work for me and many other anglers on the Peninsula.

 

  • White Muddler / Regular Muddler 2, 4, 6, 8

  • John Olin Long Wing – 2, 4, 6, 8

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 1.5, 3, 5, 7

  • Paul Caron Stonefly (usually rides higher on the water) 3, 5, 7

  • Magog Smelt 3, 5, 7 ( I like silver and bronze hooks)

  • Dylan Spey and Dylan Dark Spey (darker one on darker days) 3, 5, 7

  • Pompier 4, 6, 8

  • White Muddler 1/0, 2, 4, 6

  • Black sheep 4, 6, 8

  • Black and Green Stonefly (often fished double hook) 4, 6, 8

  • Ghost Stonefly (often fished double hook) 4, 6, 8

  • Out to Lunch  5, 7 (Gold hook)

  • Blue Charm 4, 6, 8

  • Green highlander 4, 6, 8

  • Red Francis 4, 6, 8

  • Black Francis 4, 6, 8

  • Black Bear Green Butt 4, 6, 8

  • Willie Gunn 5, 7

  • Undertaker 4, 6, 8

  • Bombers of every color usually in sizes 2, 4, 6 (Labatt Blue / Shrimp / Carter Bug / Chocolate / Orange / Green body white wing with brown Hackle / Grey with grizzly hackle

  • Jones Special 3, 5, 7

  • TUBE FLIES: Mostly plastic or aluminum in ½” to 1” sizes

 

Low water conditions with excellent visibility is a time when you need to start to lengthen up your leaders, fish with a bit more sparse flies and consider your line speed a bit more carefully. This is also a good time to fish dry fly as water temps usually are a bit more in that optimal 54-59 degree range.

 

 

 

  • White Muddler / Regular Muddler 6, 8

  • John Olin Long Wing  6, 8

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 5, 7

  • Paul Caron Stonefly (usually rides higher on the water)  7

  • Dylan Spey and Dylan Dark Spey (darker one on darker days) 5, 7

  • Pompier 6, 8

  • Black sheep 6, 8

  • Black and Green Stonefly (Switch to SINGLE hooks) 4, 6, 8

  • Ghost Stonefly (Switch to SINGLE hooks)  6, 8

  • Out to Lunch  5, 7 (Gold hook)

  • Blue Charm  6, 8, 10

  • Green highlander 4, 6, 8, 10

  • Red Francis 6, 8, 10

  • Black Francis 6, 8, 10

  • Black Bear Green Butt 4, 6, 8, 10

  • Willie Gunn 5, 7

  • Undertaker 4, 6, 8, 10

  • Bombers of every color usually in sizes 2, 4, 6 (Labatt Blue / Shrimp / Carter Bug / Chocolate / Orange / Green body white wing with brown Hackle / Grey with grizzly hackle

  • Jones Special 3, 5, 7

  • TUBE FLIES: Mostly plastic or aluminum in ½” to 1” sizes. Micro tubes are also a good choice under these conditions

  •  

Super low water conditions with warmer to very warm water. First thing to remember, do NOT STRESS THE SALMON! If the temps are above 69 degrees, it is my humble opinion that salmon should not be played on a rod. Thankfully for us in the Gaspe, most of our rivers never reach those temps and if they do it is for a very brief part of the day. Anglers should remember to lighten way up on their tippets, lengthen them quite a bit and swing flies a bit slower than normal. Early morning and late in the evening (just before dark) are the best times to fish. I usually stick within darker colors and shades for the early and late part of the day with brighter flies during the middle of the day if I should choose to fish then. Remember that faster runs where there is more oxygen will most likely hold fish that are a bit more willing to chase a fly.

 

 

  • White Muddler / Regular Muddler 6, 8, 10

  • John Olin Long Wing –6, 8, 10

  • Picasse (yellow or orange) 7 (sparse)

  • Paul Caron Stonefly ( I may hitch this or fish it dry as well) 7, 8, 10

  • Dylan Spey 7

  • Pompier 8, 10

  • Black sheep 8, 10

  • Black and Green Stonefly (Single) 8, 10

  • Ghost Stonefly (often fished double hook) 8, 10

  • Blue Charm 4, 6, 8

  • Green highlander 8, 10

  • Red Francis 8, 10

  • Black Francis 4, 6, 8

  • Black Bear Green Butt 8, 10, 12

  • Undertaker 8, 10, 12

  • Bombers of every color usually in size 6 (Labatt Blue / Shrimp / Carter Bug / Chocolate / Orange / Green body white wing with brown Hackle / Grey with grizzly hackle

  • Jones Special 7

  • Green Machine 8, 10

  • Brown Bug 8, 10

  • Orange Bug 8, 10

  • Blue bug 8, 10

  • Ackerman 7

  • Green machine white tail 8, 10

  • TUBE FLIES: Micro tubes and hitched tubes

So that is my list for certain water conditions. Again, it is just a guide. There are a TON of other local and more traditional patterns I am sure you have heard about but are not on my list. That is the point, it is MY list – so this is what you are stuck with. Now let’s talk about a few flies I use under very distinct conditions like;

 

  • While it is raining out but water is not colored

  • Dirty water conditions

  • Super clear

 

When it starts to rain the first of three flies I will reach for is the Picasse – usually the yellow winged and original version. I absolutely love this fly when it is raining or when it is really overcast. Hell, I love it just before dark early season as well! The second fly I will reach for will be John Olin Long Wing. There is just something about that long-flowing wing that just turns on a fish like few flies can. If that does not work, I usually will put through a nice Paul Caron Stonefly swung pretty fast and just under the surface.

 

When things get dirty I will usually use one of three different flies again with the Out to Lunch being one of my favorites (remember, gold hook) or if the river speaks to me and says that I should put on a Jones Special I may go that way too. If either of those do not get results for me I will put on a big-ass Green Spey and if that does not do it, my last resort will be a honking big TUBE FLY, usually one made from brass or copper. Do not get caught up in needing to use a COLORED fly under dirty water conditions! Although most of my choices are indeed colored, I will stick on big black tube flies and get great results when I do.

 

Super clear rivers can pose a bit of a challenge for anglers, especially when the water is getting low and warm. There are many things you need to think about like; sizing up your tippet to suit the fly you are using, pay attention to your presentation which should be a bit gentler and slow and it is also a good idea to vary your fly selection a bit more throughout the day. I know you will think I am stuck on these flies, and I admit it, I am, but the Paul Caron Stonefly size 7 is a tough fly for me to take off my line as is the John Olin Special, however, I am a also a big fan of the following patterns too: Green Machine (white tail version too), Undertaker/Black Bear Green Butt, especially just before dark in really small sizes, Jones size 7 when it is super bright, BLUE Picasse in size 7, small dry flies, and smaller tubes and micro tubes. This is also the time I will skate or hitch some flies as the fish are most likely a bit stale and I want to wake them up. I will also change my FLY SPEED from slow to very fast.

 

I hope this helps you plan a bit better and maybe even get a few ideas to try out while you fish this summer.

 

Screaming reels to you all,

 

David 

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