The Nearest Fly Shop

The nearest fly shop is not all that near to here and sells a lot of stuff besides flies, but it’s better than nothing, I guess. With a couple hours off and a specific pattern in mind, I motored over the mountain this morning, hoping for the best but willing to settle for a nice drive.

Hay fields and the Battenkill gave way to signs of civilization as the road passed through a golf course, and I once again wondered if golf wasn’t really invented by fly fishers, to keep a certain type of people off the water.

Just past the Range Rover dealership, I turned right, in front of the kind of hotel that has real bellboys stationed at the door, wearing plus fours and argyle stockings. Proceeding through one of those five-way intersections every New England town has at least one of, I was soon at the doors of the closest thing to a fly shop in this neck of the woods.

Above the Doors

Above the Doors

Of course, we’re not talking some Mom & Pop place with a small bin of dusty flies among the worms and spinners — the closest place for me to pick flies from a bin just happens to be the Orvis Flagship Store in Manchester, Vermont.

(This is not a review of Orvis, its people or products but I do have some Orvis gear and I have always been treated well when I go to their store. Thanks to Bill and Beau for tolerating me today. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and say “Howdy” for me and see how far it gets you.)

Some anglers of my acquaintance refer to a trip to Orvis as “making the pilgrimage” and look forward to it all year. I heard a story a couple of years ago, that word spread about #10 Hornbergs being the hot fly on Fish in a Barrel Pond (I just can’t imagine who would start a rumor like that) and somehow the bins at Orvis emptied out. New flies were stocked and sold out quickly, for several weeks in a row, resulting in an adjustment to inventory. Determined to not run out of Hornbergs, many more than usual were brought in, only to sit in boxes when suddenly nothing but a #12 Adams would do.

True or not, I don’t know, but I needed flies today and have a new camera.

Stained Glass Brook Trout

Stained Glass Brook Trout

On the west side of the store, this window reaches from the first floor to the second. If nothing else, you’ve got to hand it to them for fish and fishing art.

Sunday Afternoon Go-To

Sunday Afternoon Go-To

I enjoy skating caddis patterns, especially when my fishing takes place at what most consider to be less than optimal times. Those are #16 for those who relate to such references; for all others, they are small.

New macro capabilities are great, but the LED diffuser (optional on the Olympus TG-4) reflects on plastic bin bottoms and bead-heads. A lesson for next time.

The Noble Griffith's Gnat

The Noble Griffith’s Gnat

When there’s nothing but midges on the water, a Griffith’s Gnat can represent a mating cluster zipping across the surface. Those are #18, almost the same size as a six-midge orgy.

Rusty Spinners

Rusty Spinners

Itty-bitty down-wing patterns with some sparkle bring fish, especially late in the season. More little #18s.

It is late June and there are a lot of flies that will take trout in these parts at this time of year, but forget that tiny stuff. For those willing to face the usual summer evening risks (no-see-ums and lightning and coming in after dark), there is fun to be had tossing bigger stuff in the gloaming. I was not after tiny flies.



The Hexagenia hatch on Fish in a Barrel Pond will never show up on weather radar, but it is an anxiously anticipated event. I can tie a tolerable emerger with deer hair wings, dubbing and an Antron shuck, but don’t have the patience or materials for swimming nymphs. Throw in a few extended-body duns that will be destroyed in an evening and a good time will be had.

Two things about the Hex hatch: One, when someone says they did well during the Hex hatch with a # 12 White Wulff, it’s likely they were fishing the yellow drake hatch, which takes place earlier and with much smaller flies. We’re talking #8 and #6, just when everyone’s ready to head in, which brings up point number 2: During the 14 or so days the Hex hatch is on, they can pop off in small numbers –even a trickle — at any time of day and, during the accompanying feeding binge, trout will pounce on a Hex nymph or emerger even on a sunny early July afternoon.


As easy as it is to get all googly-eyed in anticipation of a good hatch, it is even easier to get that way about the fish that might show up for a late evening snack. I’ve always thought it was a special brand of torture for the folks at Orvis to put the fish they do in their casting ponds.

Fantasy Fish

Fantasy Fish

Spending a morning across the street, learning to cast and cramming as much information into your tiny brain as possible, and then laying casts across a pond full of 24-inch trout looking for pellets seems like a good, early humbling to me.

28 Inches, Easy

28 Inches, Easy

I have a lot of experience with anglers and I’ve picked up a lot of tips regarding the estimation of fish sizes. I’m still no expert, but I am pretty sure the average angler, if he or she were to actually hook into one of those fish would swear up and down that it was easily 28 inches and maybe 15 pounds. Of course, we all know that would be an exaggeration. Still, those ain’t no minnows.



As luck would have it, lightning, downpours, a bottle of Woodford Reserve Rye and some Long Trail Double Bag prevent me from hitting the water this evening but, all in all, it was a pretty good day.

Fish in a Barrel Pond, June 28

Fish in a Barrel Pond, June 28

Be nice to each other, you wubbas.









Categories: Fly Fishing, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Nearest Fly Shop

  1. TG-4. A most excellent choice. I remain at defcon TG-1 and keep trying to break it so that I can escalate to 4. But the damn thing is indestructible and takes pretty pictures so I remain frustratingly downlevel. Such is life.

    • My old waterproof point and shoot died and I was amazed at what has changed about small cameras in the few years since I last had to shop around. The TG-4 cost less than the macro lens I was looking at for my dslr and even does in camera focus stacking. As for the Live Composite, well, let’s just say I never would have thought of trying to capture fireflies and star trails in the same photo before. Pretty nifty.

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