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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

Dorsal view of a Neoleptophlebia (Leptophlebiidae) Mayfly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
Some characteristics from the microscope images for the tentative species id: The postero-lateral projections are found only on segment 9, not segment 8. Based on the key in Jacobus et al. (2014), it appears to key to Neoleptophlebia adoptiva or Neoleptophlebia heteronea, same as this specimen with pretty different abdominal markings. However, distinguishing between those calls for comparing the lengths of the second and third segment of the labial palp, and this one (like the other one) only seems to have two segments. So I'm stuck on them both. It's likely that the fact that they're immature nymphs stymies identification in some important way.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 22, 2011May 22nd, 2011, 7:21 pm EDT
I ask this question because I have been having a rather frustrating time losing flies AND tippet during my latest outtings. I typically tie my flies on with an improved clinch knot, and my tippet with blood knots. Yet every time I have snagged a tree lately, it's the danged blood knot that breaks instead of the improved clinch, and it's the 2x end that breaks instead of the 3x (waters are high and off-color so I haven't used anything finer yet this season). Funny thing, I have read so many times that the improved clinch knot isn't all that strong and seen fancier knots recommended in it's place, yet the blood knot is usually recommended for connecting leader sections. I can accept losing flies but I'm going through a good 10 or more feet of tippet on every trip so far - I'm gonna have to stock up - and not only do I have to tie on a new fly but do that danged blood knot with a fresh tippet section every freakin' time I put one in a tree. DANG IT!!! What gives???

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Troutnut
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Troutnut on May 22, 2011May 22nd, 2011, 10:17 pm EDT
Are you using some old tippet material, or a lousy brand or something? I use the same knots and have never noticed a problem with the blood knots breaking. I can't say it's never happened, but it hasn't happened enough for me to notice.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 22, 2011May 22nd, 2011, 10:24 pm EDT
Jason, it's Orvis Mirage. It's not recently purchased, it might be as much as a year old or so, but the 2x and 3x were purchased at the same time, so why would the 3x NOT break first??? Whenever I check, the 3x is always completely gone and I'm left with a curled end on the 2x. Maybe it's time to throw it all out and get fresh new stuff???

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 22, 2011May 22nd, 2011, 11:09 pm EDT
As if to add further mystery to this situation, I just noticed little stickers on the back of each tippet spool. The one on the back of the 3x says, "Best used by June 2009", whereas the one on the back of the 2x spool says, "Best used by Aug. 20, 2013".

????????????????????????????????????

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Troutnut
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Troutnut on May 22, 2011May 22nd, 2011, 11:42 pm EDT
It's seemed to me like mirage gets fairly brittle, fairly quickly. I stopped using it a while ago, though, so you can take that poorly recalled anecdotal impression with a grain of salt.

My most recent preferred tippet material was Maxima chameleon for the large diameters and Frog Hair for the small diameters. Alaska grayling fishing has made me lazy about gear, though, and I pretty much use the first spool I can find of anything in the right general range of diameters. :-P I have a bunch of Orvis SuperStrong in the mix from somewhere, too, and it seems fine.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 23, 2011May 23rd, 2011, 8:59 am EDT
I had the Orvis stuff because when I was living downstate with my folks the Orvis shop in Royal Oak (MI) was the closest fly shop, about 15 minutes away, so that's where I bought most of my stuff over the last few years. Where I live now there's a small fly-fishing section in an outdoor sports shop (Nordic Sports) about the same distance away in Tawas City, but he doesn't have a lot of stuff. Perhaps I should order some Maxima online? Seems I have seen other troutnuts recommend it in some recent posts. Comments, guys?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Falsifly
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Falsifly on May 23, 2011May 23rd, 2011, 11:32 am EDT
every time I have snagged a tree lately, it's the danged blood knot that breaks instead of the improved clinch


and not only do I have to tie on a new fly but do that danged blood knot with a fresh tippet section every freakin' time I put one in a tree.


DANG IT!!! What gives???


Yeah, those dang trees can play havoc on leader, tippet and knots. I try to stay out of the trees.
Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Taxon
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Taxon on May 23, 2011May 23rd, 2011, 1:02 pm EDT
Which is stronger, a blood knot or an improved clinch??


Johnathan-

I believe the improved clinch knot would be slightly stronger, as a blood knot appears to be (essentially) two clinch knots, one for each leader segment end, which combine to form a single knot. However, I too would suspect your 2x leader material may be defective.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 23, 2011May 23rd, 2011, 3:47 pm EDT
Falsifly, you don't know what you're missing by not working those trees, man. There's trout a plenty to be had - no, wait, those are birds...my bad...

Yeah, maybe the 2x is gone bad, in spite of the cute little "use by" date label. I should mention that both the 2x and 3x spools got soaked by a spilled bottle of CVS Pharmacy's knockoff of Skin-So-Soft (world's best blackfly repellent, required carrying for the next couple of months), which, while at least not containing DEET, could have softened up the materials. But still, why the 2x and not the 3x??

Time to replace all of my leader materials with fresh stuff I guess.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jesse
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Jesse on May 23, 2011May 23rd, 2011, 4:52 pm EDT
Ok a couple of things here:

1. Orvis mirage, it use to be my leader material of choice, until..i started noticing the same thing your going through. The shit frayed easy. I think that orvis tippet and leaders has a tendency to do that so i would stay away. Jason made a good point with the maxima and frog hair, but really anything beside the orvis mirage will do ha ;)

2. The clinch knot is a better knot for connecting thicker diameters of tippet to thinner diameters of tipppet. The blood knot is good for thinner to thinner and lays down a little flatter.

3. Hope this helps buddy!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
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Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 24, 2011May 24th, 2011, 7:22 pm EDT
OK, no more Orvis Mirage! I do have some Super Strong so I'll give that a try, but I will go get some Maxima & maybe some Frog Hair. Thanks guys for the recommends!

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jesse
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Jesse on May 24, 2011May 24th, 2011, 8:32 pm EDT
Anytime brother and also you can't go wrong with the old RIO thats what i stick with now-a-days!
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 24, 2011May 24th, 2011, 10:31 pm EDT
Maybe I'll try that too - RIO is good stuff, huh?

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Entoman
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Entoman on May 25, 2011May 25th, 2011, 2:37 pm EDT
Hi Jonathon - Maybe it's not your knots or material. Mirage is florocarbon with amazingly long shelf life. In fact there are some circles that want the stuff banned because it doesn't break down like nylon. More than likely your fly was wrapped a little around a twig reducing pressure on your clinch knot, making the blood the weakest link.

BTW, The blood is a poor performer with floro. Because of it's "sticky" nature, it just doesn't draw up as nice as nylon. When it doesn't draw up well, it's amazing how such powerfull stuff can break so easily. Try a double overhand or surgeons when using floro instead. You will be happier with the results. Never tie floro to a copolymer (use either Maxima or itself). It'll cut through it like a hot knife through butter as often as not.

Jesse - I don't think you meant "clinch knot" since it isn't used to join leader material. Which knot were you refering to?

Regards,

Kurt
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Martinlf
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Martinlf on May 27, 2011May 27th, 2011, 8:28 am EDT
Jonathon, try a triple surgeon's knot or a ligature knot to tie on your tippet. They are both stronger than a blood knot. A regular surgeon's knot can slip with fluoro.

I'm liking the Davy knot for tippet to fly these days, or a Trilene knot, but that's just me. Whatever you use, the triple surgeon's or ligature will hold your tippet fast.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 27, 2011May 27th, 2011, 9:39 am EDT
Thanks for all the advice guys! I guess I'll have to learn and practice some new knots. I did also pick up some RIO, not fluoro, some tapered leaders to use for base material & some tippet spools to add on to them. I'll see how it goes & let you all know. Might be a few days before I'm back on the streams - today is pretty windy & I'm expecting plenty of tourists this coming weekend since it's supposed to be nice, so it might be the middle of next week after they're all gone back downstate...
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
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Jesse on May 27, 2011May 27th, 2011, 11:32 am EDT
Kurt haha thanks for catching that i was talking about a surgeons knot ha! Thanks bud. (double up on that knot too)
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com
Entoman
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Entoman on May 27, 2011May 27th, 2011, 2:08 pm EDT
Jesse - thought that's was what you meant, but wasn't sure since there are a lot of knots out there.:) Your observations about fraying with Mirage is a common fault with early generation floro (which Mirage is). Seagar's G-Max, Froghair, Rio, and Umpqua have reduced this "string cheese" phenomenon substantially and perform similarly (though I do have my preferences). Strangley enough, the fraying in floro doesn't weaken the materal as much as we would think. Nothing like it would nylon.

Jonathon - I don't believe there are "best knots" for everybody, but there are "best knots" for you. This is because everybody ties them a little differently. Consistency is the key and that comes through practice. That's why I wouldn't be too quick to change since you've been using your knots for years. Some materials will work better with the knots you use and tied your way so perhaps focus on materials first, especially if it turns out that you do have a bad spool or two?

A cool test is to take a one foot section of mono tied with different knots between two sections a couple of feet long (ex. a 4x section between two sections of 3x). Grab the outer sections and pull 'em until something gives. Do this a bunch of times, keeping track of which knot performs better for you. After a half dozen or so, a pattern starts to develop in most cases showing the clear winner. You may find the knots you always use will perform the best for you. BTW - you can also do the same thing with one piece between two flies to test knots for that purpose; or you can test materials this way as well. It won't tell you break strength, but it will show the strongest and most consistent material which is the more important anyway.

Louis -
Jonathon, try a triple surgeon's knot or a ligature knot to tie on your tippet. They are both stronger than a blood knot. A regular surgeon's knot can slip with fluoro.


For me, the triple doesn't perform well. It just doesn't draw up as nicely as the double. Slippage isn't the problem but easier breakage is. But again, that's me. Many like yourself find the opposite to be true. They're both examples of personal preference based on individual performance experiences.

Regards,

Kurt
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Jmd123
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Jmd123 on May 27, 2011May 27th, 2011, 6:08 pm EDT
To be prefectly honest, the blood knot is pretty much fixed in my "muscle memory", it's something I can do without thinking, "Now I have to do this and then I have to do that..." The hand motions pretty much come naturally, which is what I want when I'm on a trout stream with rising fish and more than a few mosquitos buzzing in my face. Been doing blood knots for over 20 years!

I really have to believe I've just got a bad spool of tippet, otherwise I just can't explain why the 2x would break before the 3x, especially since they're the same material. BTW Kurt, this happened when only the fly was stuck and the rest of the leader was definitely not wrapped around the branch. It's just very frustrating to have to tie two knots instead of just one to get back to fishing! Like I said, I just got some fresh RIO so I'll give that a try and see how it goes, and will report back to you all.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
Jesse
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Jesse on May 28, 2011May 28th, 2011, 10:00 am EDT
Kurt even though fraying on floro lines may not be as substantial as fraying on mono's, its still definitely going to weaken the line strength and raise the chances of a brake (especially if that part of the line happens to hit/rub against a rough surface). And even with orvis's regular monofilament tippets (super strong), it still frays more easily and more commonly right off the roll then the others

Jonathon my man try the rio and your going to like it i promise. Its great stuff! Let us all know the results.
Most of us fish our whole lives..not knowing its not the fish that we are after.
http://www.filingoflyfishing.com

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