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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Salmonflies
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

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.

Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 25, 2011November 25th, 2011, 11:54 am EST
We've had for one, a big name fly angler indicate he does not use head cement on his flies because fish can be turned off by the smell of the cement. Fish rises, turns away. Was it my faulty pattern? Was my fly dragging? Was my tippet to large?...or was it my smelly head cement? Could it be the smell of the head cement?
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 3:23 am EST
Are you serious or just kidding? I hope the latter...
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 3:28 am EST

No, very serious. I'll tell you the name of the angler that strongly suggests that the reason fish can turn away from your fly, especially in the Spring Creek waters he often fishes where trout can get a good look, and "smell" of your offering is Rene' Harrop. Rene' is an incredible angler that knows the bugs, and the stages well, and stalks big fish. He hunts when he goes fishing, and can sit on the bank for hours waiting for a chance at a big head. He says he NEVER uses head cement on his flies for that reason.
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 7:41 am EST
Interesting that you say Harrop says that, because in ALL of his tying videos he applies head cement.
Think about it, The cement is dry, and IF there were any retained scent, it would be diluted to parts per billion. Harrop advocates a long leader (at least 14 ft) and casts upstream (per his book Learning from the Water) which allows the scent to be diluted over a long distance float.
I don't think that it is a factor.
Famous guides in the Key's (Lenny Moffo for one) fishing for Permit (where you hit the fish on the head with the fly) used to say the same thing. Now, they use epoxy coated crab flies that are much more realistic than their predecessors and catch more fish on them.
Sorry to disagree, but I think that it is a load of crap.
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 9:09 am EST
He does? I heard that from his own mouth.
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 9:12 am EST

I figured he said that because he's a commercial tier, and didn't want to take the time for that drying process...maybe. The parts per billion thing can be contested I would think. Steelhead(rainbows) and Salmon locate their natal streams, in part anyway, by detecting those parts per billion. And the trout's face is can be right at the fly.
Gutcutter
Gutcutter's profile picture
Pennsylvania

Posts: 470
Gutcutter on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 9:19 am EST
I'm not disagreeing that you heard that from Harrop. I'm disagreeing that the smell of dried head cement will be the determining factor as to whether or not a trout rises to or rejects a fly.
Maybe a controlled study is needed? I'll participate. Fish elbow to elbow with Rene' Harrop on the Henry's Fork and trade shots. Me with one of his tied flies and he with the exact same fly. Only Bonnie will know which one has the head cement!
Anybody else up for this???
My guess is that he would win, whether or not his fly had head cement, but I'll bet that I'd hold my own. Now if wbranch were fishing with us, too, all bets would be off...
All men who fish may in turn be divided into two parts: those who fish for trout and those who don't. Trout fishermen are a race apart: they are a dedicated crew- indolent, improvident, and quietly mad.

-Robert Traver, Trout Madness
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 1:17 pm EST
Ha! Luckily trout don't have a brain to go along with their noses. I can see the blindfolded taste test now, "Let's see... I detect strong over-tones of beaver mixed with a finely aged chicken, undoubtedly from the Metz region. Is that bee's wax I detect? The chef didn't wash his hands very well..."

This is Jason's area of expertise, so perhaps he'll weigh in if he checks out the topic. I think their parts per billion olfactory ability is related to their need to locate their natal streams. I don't think their brains are wired to use the same sensitivity for choosing food. If they were that picky about scent, they would certainly be able to tell if that's a stick floating down or food. Within reason, I don't think they care. The volatiles in cements evaporate away over time and give off far less odor than all the other influences on our flies. Having said this, I still rub a nymph in moss, mud, or a fish just prior to release. It's good Ju Ju.:)

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
GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 2:39 pm EST
I have to disagree with you Entoman. Fish can smell their food, but how well they can depends on if the fish hunts primarily by smell, such as the shark and catfish.

Sayfu, I would say that for most sport fish it doesn't matter though. If you still want to play it safe just do a good whip finish.

Sam
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 3:13 pm EST
I think you misunderstand me, Sam. I agree trout smell incredibly well. All I was saying is luckily, their brains are wired such that when it comes to feeding, they rely more on their other senses. Good thing they do, or we'd be discussing which type of worms to use, not which type of flies.:)
"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
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 3:28 pm EST

Problem with me is, I don't whip finish. I use the double under Borger knot. Always forget what Borger called it, but it is a simple finishing knot, I saw Gary Borger illustrate years ago, and have used it ever since, BUT, I do feel I need to use head cememt. I don't take much stock in the smell of head cement causing a rejection.
GldstrmSam
GldstrmSam's profile picture
Fairbanks, Alaska

Posts: 212
GldstrmSam on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 3:43 pm EST
Sorry about that misunderstanding Entoman. I totally agree with you.

Sayfu, I'd say there is no time like now to learn. If you don't have a whip finish tool than I'd say get one as soon as possible or Google how to whip finish by hand. It is a great skill to know even if you don't use it.

In fact I have my fly tying vise in front of me right now and I'm working on mastering whip finishing.

Sam
There is no greater fan of fly fishing than the worm. ~Patrick F. McManus
TNEAL
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 278
TNEAL on Nov 26, 2011November 26th, 2011, 5:59 pm EST
Two things.: 1) Way too many large browns have been taken on flies that have had the heads fixed with cement. This has gone on year in and year out; I doubt that head cement odor is a factor. 2) A good whip finish requires no head cement to keep the knot secure. Half hitches seldom come undone without it, as well.
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Nov 27, 2011November 27th, 2011, 3:37 am EST
Sam...OH, I know how to tie a whip finish with tool, or without, but I don't use it, and have never needed it. That quick double under knot that Borger demonstrated has been a jewel. You can pull it up clear in front of all materials. You can even put head cement on the thread, and pull the knot up drawing head cement into the knot. Borger made a statement when he demonstrated it..."Are we fishin?...or wearing it in our lapel?"..convinced me. And most all of my flies now have bead heads. The dries, and the surface nymphs have a very small plastic head the bug head color I want..shiny brown, black, peacock, and the knot, and head cement get drawn in behind the beadhead. The thread doesn't show.
Softhackle
Softhackle's profile picture
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Softhackle on Nov 27, 2011November 27th, 2011, 10:14 am EST
An interesting thread, for sure. I agree with Tony. If the solvent has evaporated, any scent left on the head would be insignificant. Trout refuse flies, in most instances, because it's not behaving as they perceive it should.

Mark
"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
Strmanglr
Strmanglr's profile picture
Posts: 156
Strmanglr on Nov 28, 2011November 28th, 2011, 6:39 am EST
I'm gonna tie some flies up and suck on em the next day! Hopefully I won't get hooked. :)

Got to agree here, head cement is pretty stable after drying.

Personally, I don't use head cement. Just one more step I don't feel the need to do. I whip finish my dries twice and my wets three times, no it doesn't put too much thread down, at least how I do it. Out of all the years fishing I may have had one or two flies where one whip has come out.
Keystoner
Keystoner's profile picture
Eugene, OR - formerly Eastern PA

Posts: 145
Keystoner on Nov 30, 2011November 30th, 2011, 10:08 pm EST
I would also think that use of head cement would not deter a trout, and I use it all the time. In my humble opinion, if they want it they want it, and if they don't they don't.

Really, nothing used in the construction on flies even comes close to smelling like the genuine artical. Seems there would be about a thousand things to concentrate on besides, "can the fish smell my fly?" but maybe that's just me.

Also, I have NEVER seen a real nymph with a gold bead head, something that is rarely a deal breaker.
"Out into the cool of the evening, strolls the Pretender. He knows that all his hopes and dreams, begin and end there." -JB
Sayfu
Posts: 560
Sayfu on Dec 1, 2011December 1st, 2011, 4:33 am EST
keystoner...A lot of thoughts can come to mind, however, when the biggest trout you've ever seen rises, sticks his nose up against your fly, and turns away. And I have seen it.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 1, 2011December 1st, 2011, 5:18 am EST
when the biggest trout you've ever seen rises, sticks his nose up against your fly, and turns away


Sayfu,

This is probably why he's still "the biggest trout" you have ever seen...He doesn't make too many mistakes.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Jesse
Jesse's profile picture
Posts: 378
Jesse on Dec 1, 2011December 1st, 2011, 5:43 am EST
I have heard of trout turning down food based on smell, so i would guess that this applies to flies tied to imitate food. However, it's never stopped me from using head cement on my flies and that has never stopped me from catching fish. Whether it be streamers, nymphs, wets, midges or dries, and big or small fish in varies situations. I don't think that supple amount of cement is a factor. And your boy Harrop, is a little bit full of shit saying that kind of comment haha (no cruel intentions)!
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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