Mac-o-Cheek Reflections and The Piatt Castles

 “Mac-o-Cheek Wet Bridge” oil on 6x8 wood panel 
field study ~ Clint Bova spring 2017
The Mecoche Division of the Shawnee lived along the Mac-o-Cheek creek hundreds of years ago. Today the creek is still flowing just north east of West Liberty Ohio. Its a tiny creek that in most sections is no wider than a pickup truck. It runs cold year around and supports Brown trout that were stocked originally by the Piatt's in the late 1880's. The Mac-o-Cheek is one of my favorite little creeks not only in Ohio but in the North East. I designed the “Little Mecoche” cane rod specifically for this little creek which can be referenced in my main site under rod types.

A visit to the Piatt Castles is a must for any fly fisherman to uncover the mysteries of this little gem.
please visit: www.piattcastles.org
                              ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Upstream Approach

“Upstream Under Cover” field study, N. Lippencott 
oil on 6x8 wood panel ~Clint Bova

When fishing in narrow creeks and smallish streams the mantra has always been move slowly and fish in the upstream position. There is a lot of truth to these precepts for about a half dozen different reasons. If you have ever read In the Ring of the Rise by Vince Marinaro he speaks about moving in the upstream position with great conviction. Marinaro is a master of deception when it comes to remaining invisible to trout and moving with catlike stealth.

~The upstream position or 12 o'clock position allows you to move without creating any siltation that will often trigger a flight response from fish.

~The upstream position allows you to stay out of the fishes peripheral vision and what we call the absolute window. Just recently marine biologists are discovering that the fishes eyesight is much more acute above the surface than previously understood.

~The upstream position allows the fisherman to reposition casts without creating splashes and water disturbances that will eventually move over the fish.

Some simple common sense stuff that will make for a better day of fishing.
                 ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Venerable TMC 212Y Dry Fly Hook

Many people ask me what kind of emerger hooks I prefer to use on  my patterns? Specifically for caddis, midges, and mayflies. For many years I used the TMC 2488, 2487, Dai-Riki 125's, Gamakatsu C-15's, Daiichi 1167...and the list goes on. What I have found is that these are all good hooks in general BUT what makes a good all around emerger hook? There are three traits to the hook geometry that make it a great hook. 

~The first great hook trait is the fine wire diameter for properly suspending a fly in the surface film cast after cast. The hook needs to be strong and fine. The hook cannot be to heavy since the gossamer materials used to mimic this life stage need to be somewhat minimal or sparse in appearance.

~The Second trait is the hook profile needs to offer you enough real estate to actually tie a proportional facsimile. If the hook is too long it may only be appropriate for a very narrow genre of insects. If the hook is too short in gape, bite, shank, or bend, the materials used can inhibit the hooking potential. This is a bigger issue than you think and unfortunately not discussed enough among tyers.

~The Third Trait is what I call “hook mojo” in order for you to feel confident and actually use the fly on stream you need to have a good track record with a particular hook. You have to believe in it!

The TMC 212Y has always been very consistent in holding power and control in my experience. It offers the golden mean for proportion when it comes to gape and bite. If there ever was a Vitruvian Emerger Hook the TMC 212Y would fit the build.

                   ~Clint Joseph Bova


The Importance of Observation

“Deer Crossing” Oil Tonal Study, 6x8 wood panel
Mad River Spring 2017, Clint Joseph Bova
Often in the spring I just go for long walks along the river to observe all the changes that take place over the winter. Root wads move, limbs break, entire trees come down creating new prime lies.
Compound lies are created by sand bars and bank erosion that are really subtle indicators that will help you map in your brain where the fish may be before you even set foot in the water. 
“Deer Crossing” Oil on 6x8 wood panel
Mad River Spring 2017, Clint Joseph Bova
I create both visual maps and mental maps. Everyone who knows me knows that I spend a lot of time wandering about (often aimlessly and confused) sketching and writing in my journal. I think I would feel a bit lost if I didn't observe as much as possible. Taking notes in whatever form you feel comfortable with always pays big dividends in the long run.
Nice Spring Brown caught on a CDC midge emerger 
Mad River Spring 2017
Spring fishing can be confusing and often frustrating when dealing with hatches that last only a few minutes or weather patterns that change hourly. Being in the right place at the right time always helps. Simple observation and patience over time is a great means to a successful day.
Happy and productive spring fishing to all!
~Clint Joseph Bova


Early Spring on The Mad River

 “Old Iron” The Mad River, 6x8 Oil Field Study on Wood Panel 
Clint Bova Spring 2017

Spring 2017 has proven to be a great one thus far with some spectacular early hatches and some early warm weather. The peculiar spring weather has been a refreshing blessing. 

“Color is only beautiful when it means something”
~Robert Henri


The Four Season Emerger

Fellow fly fishers ask me all the time what kind of “staple” emerger pattern I use so I decided to share my “Four Season Emerger” pattern. The following is a simple emerger pattern that I use season after season. This fly is very durable, very convincing, and the TMC 212Y hook is a perfect canvas for this style fly.

The Four Season Emerger
Thread: Veevus 14/0
Hook: TMC 212Y 14-22
Wing: CDC natural or desired tint
Body: Dyed Peacock quill
Dubbing: (Thorax) Beaver Belly w/guard hairs
Legs: Knotted dyed Pheasant tail (double knotted)
Varnish: SH Hard as Nails

You can tie this up as a midge, mayfly, or even caddis imitation depending on your proportions and material selections.
First create a body on a TMC 212Y sizes #14-22 by winding a stripped and dyed peacock quill. Varnish with 2 coats of SH Hard as Nails.
After your bodies have dried tie in some knotted pheasant tail. Notice the two knotted strands, two legs on both sides of the hook.
Dub over your thread bump where the legs begin with Beaver Belly. Make sure you get a lot of guard hairs in your thorax area so loosely dub it on the thread.
Three CDC feathers will be more than adequate to float this hook. Tie in your CDC so that the feather tips are just shy of the rear of the hook, slightly over or under is fine. Now tie in a clump of Beaver Belly loosely dubbed at the head of your hook. It takes a little practice to get the proportions correct but after your third fly you should be getting the hang of it!

I carry these patterns in my boxes year round and I tie it up using a half dozen different colors. You can use legs on it or choose to leave them off. Either way it is one of my most killing patterns.
~Clint Joseph Bova


Cedar Bog ~ Urbana Ohio

 “Cedar Bog Treeline” Morning Field Study 
Oil on wood panel, 6x8 inches, Clint Bova

“Paint the flying spirit of the bird 
rather than its feathers”
       ~Robert Henri

Don't miss the Great Backyard Bird Count founded by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society. The Great Backyard Bird Count is the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. 

Contact Cedar Bog Nature Preserve at 937-484-3744 or cedarbog@ctcn.net to learn how you can participate.

Stay outside this winter!
~Clint Joseph Bova


The Infamous RS2 and Beyond

 above photo: One of my RS2 patterns, tied with three fibers of coq de leon, CDC puff, and dyed beaver belly using Ritt dyes.
The RS2 has been a deadly combination of materials and proportions for quite some time. For over forty years this fly has been a “last ditch fly” for many anglers. The RS2 is a fly that I have tied in many variations using a multitude of different materials both synthetic and natural. Rim Chung who originated the fly opened the floodgates and introduced a CDC fly that really could fool the most weary of fish.
After many years of fishing this fly and its many variations like many anglers I have some some common theories about it. One is that the RS2 could very well be imitating a cripple. Because its thorax is so close to the surface film and there are no hackles on the pattern the shuck may very well be represented by the CDC puff. Contrary to this theory the pattern has a completely exposed or freed tail and often the tail is still trying to escape after the body has broken free of the shuck. As far as imitating an adult fly I suppose its up to the imagination of both you and the trout. Regardless I have had great success with this fly in all kinds of circumstances.

Beyond the RS2 there is a lot of experimentation that an angler can immerse themselves in. While not trying to imitate an adult fly directly or rather in a traditional sense I reflect upon some of Vince Marinaro's theories and patterns and reinvestigate combinations of thorax patterns. A fly I have successfully used for a while is a hybrid of Rim's pattern and Vince's thorax patterns. What I have come up with is a fly that floats flat in the surface film, bears a pronounced thorax, wings, V-cut hackles, and a fine fanned tail using 2 or 3 coq de leon fibers or bristles from a sable brush.

above photos: Step 1/A dyed peacock quill, and two or three fibers of coq de leon separated by a strand of lose thread on a #20 TMC 531

 above photo: After tying in hen tips for wings, dub in a thorax using dyed beaver belly, the football shaped thorax is important to get the hackle fibers to splay out sideways.
above photo: Two or three turns of hackle is all that is needed to finish the fly, one directly behind the wings and one directly in front.

This pattern has served me well and has been just as deadly as my RS2 patterns. It is a relatively easy pattern to tie, and see, and floats well right in the surface film. With the elimination of the CDC I have observed nothing out of the ordinary and with the addition of the peacock quill nice segmentation is achieved. I carry these two patterns in my fly box year round in all sizes and color combinations. I will always continue to tinker with this fly...its what keeps me both on the water and up all night!
~Clint Joseph Bova