Golden Darter

December 4, 2018 – Northport

A while ago Chuck gave me three flies he tied. 

He called them Golden Darters, a name I believe he assigned to the creation.  I don’t recall the exact circumstances but they immediately were a hit with the trout where I was fishing, Carmans or Connetquot.  Maybe Nissequogue.  I lost one in a big fish and somehow lost another leaving me one.  I took it out of my kit and displayed it on my tying bench hoping to figure out how to duplicate it at some point.

Chuck’s Golden Darter

Earlier this month I put it under the magnifying light I have in the workshop and considered the components and the construction.  The feather was easy, a cree-grizzly of good color and well barred. The body is dubbed with a short matching tail. The thorax is a golden/orange floss wrapped around a soft hackle, it seems.

The head is finished with more body dubbing and a touch of Isonychia maroon. Four feathers, two on each side and the hook is a short one.  Overall length is 1 ¾ inches. No weight although a weighted version may be a good idea.

I give it a try and send Joe a photo of mine and the original. 

Joe and I often communicate back and forth when tying; sending photos, commenting on the work. I tie another and then more. I make some too long, others too skinny, splay the wings, crowd the head on all of them but they look like they may work. I send one to Joe and put a few in my streamer wallet.

They are not as elegant as Chuck’s but if they work, mission accomplished. 

Yesterday was a PHW day at the park. 

Project Healing Waters. I checked with Jim to see if he needed help.  He said they only have 4 rods coming so no river guides are needed but that I was welcome to come fish with them.   The session is from 10 to 3 for the winter months. 

It turned out that a fellow by the name of Chris Brown, a Marine who volunteers at the VA, who is fairly new to fly fishing was there.  Jim asked if I would fish with him.  “I would be happy to” was my reply. It was a nice day, above average in temperature with some wind blowing and the water levels as high as I have ever seen them. 

Chris had hippers on

…so we would work the water that didn’t require thigh high wading. I asked where he liked to fish and he said he was familiar with Beat 12, a popular spot with plenty of fish. I suggested we work our way down to it but start on 16.  If we can hook up there it will take the pressure off the rest of the day. He agreed and we discussed flies. 


He had a nice selection

…including a newly tied nymph which would work if we added some weight to get it down in the swirling waters of this hole. He said he was open to whatever fly would work and I offered a cone head Green Woolly Bugger. 

He had a ferruled leader

…and a full 9 foot mono leader tied to it.  There are times you would want all that leader but not now, not in this compact section where control of the fly in swirling water is what would be required. On the other hand I didn’t want to dismantle his rig as it would come in handy downstream.  He adjusted by moving his feet and bringing some of the leader inside the tip top, when necessary.  We worked it out.

Killer Fly – the Green Woolly Bugger in Olive

He covered the water well

…and we added some more weight to the fly to get it down,  environmentally friendly split shot. It is early and the fish are still a bit comatose.  As he worked the bottom I flipped a Joe-Stack on the top. Some lips came up for it and I hooked a modest one. Chris set his rod aside and took mine as I showed him the technique.  He handled it well and soon had a fish on. We dabbled some more and when Fred showed up we moved down giving him the pool.

Joe from Idle Hour was below and offered to let Chris come into his spot which had just produced a few nice fish including a real fighter. Orange Sparkle Bugger was his fly of choice and he showed Chris the way he used it, then moved down. I fished above and had some luck still using the Joe Stack. 

Then I remembered that I wanted to test the Golden Darters I had recently tied and switched to one.

No one cared until I was pulling the line in to move down.  That is when a big guy hit it as it floundered in the wash. The response gave me hope that my version of the fly was going to do the job. 

We moved down to the dock at 15 with the deep water.  Chris was still working the Green Woolly Bugger and had a nice one on that I released early by swiping him with the net while kneeling on the dock. We continued downstream, fishing 14 with a long line.  There were a few rises but not to our flies.

I moved back up and was working the Darter

…over one of the now submerged stone diverters.  I let the fly just ride in the back water and gave it a few tugs. Bang.  A big hook jawed Brookie took it in.  After a no photo release I picked up another.  The darter was working just fine and I gave one to Chris. It rides higher in the water than the weighted Bugger which, in this section, was a plus – but no more fish.

I sent Joe a text to let him know of the fly’s success. 

He wisecracked back that one fish does not a fly make. I let him know after the 6th fish came to the net.

PHW Chris Brown on Beat 12

13 was next and we pretty much skipped it in favor of the top of 12.  I went back to the Joe Stack and Chris the Green Woolly Bugger. We both hooked up. And so the day went.  We covered a lot of water and had fish at almost every hole.

On the way out we stopped again at 16. 

From the platform and with my polarized lenses, I could see two huge fish, bigger than I have ever seen – well almost. They were side by side and facing into the reverse current, mouthing whatever came by.  Chris moved into position to fish to them and I was his “sighter” since he left his sunglasses in the car. I would point to the fish with my rod tip and he would maneuver the fly into the zone.  Strip, strip, drop back, twitch and strip again. Twice the big fish took the Bugger into his mouth and quickly spit it out.  Very exciting stuff.

Chris Brown on Beat 16

After Chris’ last attempt

…I flipped the Joe-Stack in, not expecting these monsters to care about a surface fly.  They didn’t come up for it but out of nowhere a rainbow of at least 19 inches came up and sucked it in.  First rainbow of the day. What a day!

Chris and I chatted some as we walked to the cars, the last two to leave.  We were both smiling and looking forward to doing it again.

I am heading home to tie up some more Golden Darters. Thanks Chuck!